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Every year I make a list of New Years Resolutions. Every year. Except this one.

What can I say? I'm not feeling that whole "fresh start" minty anticipation. While I see that many good things are going to happen in 2010, I am painfully aware that many of us are still digging out of our holes from 2009 - literally. Not that getting out of these holes won't be miraculous in itself, mind you. But it's a process, isn't it? A long, graceless process at times. 

What I feel about 2010 is this: Still me, better shoes. 
This morning I was holding Asher as he slept and I whispered "Not too fast. Take your time" because I'm nervous his childhood and August's are going by too fast for my taste. I often find myself so caught up in the daily details that when I stop to look at my kids they have changed from the last break we had. August is sassy and Asher is quite opinionated. When did that happen? Mike will turn 30 this year. Holy hell, somebody slow this thing down!

In my life, something has shifted. It's a good thing. "One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it, and then it's done." says Joan of Arc. Moral of the story: Slow down. S L O W  D O W N. Enjoy this. Enjoy the snow.; it won't last. Enjoy the house - it's home. Enjoy your kids -they will grow up. 

So, I guess if that's a resolution, I'll take it. Be present. Relax. Enjoy.

I hope the same for you.

One year ago:
 And now:

Louder Than Bombs

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So, I have one hour to type this. To unload from the depth of my soul. It makes me want to throw something.

Yesterday I had to submit a video about myself and my photography to Me Rah Ko in hopes of winning one of the three amazing SOAR Scholarships. I'm a little ashamed that I haven't mentioned this contest before now. I think I was trying to protect myself from whatever negative thoughts might run through my mind about my photography skills or my worthiness of being granted a scholarship. In the negativity department, we are quite busy  these days.

My sister, Alice, is the one who told me about the scholarship and I nearly did not apply because I kept thinking about how much she deserves it more than I. Her story is so much more compelling and frankly, she is more of an amazing person in general having a total of four kids, graduated from college, and spent countless months as a single mom while her husband serves in the military. Presently, he is in Afghanistan. She is the one who always sent out holiday cards, told me what a jerk I was being to our mother when we were teenagers and became the kind of mother who bakes muffins for her Sunday school class. She's also a mentor to teenage girls. Did I mention her youngest child is a toddler? As I said - amazing. Can I say that I am more deserving of the prizes and education that SOAR is offering? No. 

When I started making the video, I hated it. Just to look at myself on screen was humbling. Thus my post about needing a new hair style. Then there was the fact that the video could only be two minutes. Sell myself in two minutes? Dude, I'm not even sure any blog I've written could be read aloud in two minutes, let alone show photos and give a brief summary of who I am. 

Interestingly enough, after the 30th take, I started to feel pretty annoyed. Imagine that. I wanted to look at the camera and say, "I'm just like everybody else. I'm a stay at home mom who walks the tightrope between sainthood and institutionalization. Some days, I am very witty. Other days, not so much. These are my photos. I see potential for greatness there, but I need help. I hope this is the time and the way that I finally get to be my creative self and earn enough money doing it. Because, the fact is, unless I make some money doing this, it will be hard to convince everyone around me that it's worth them helping me out with my kids so I can pursue it. Thank you."

That's just sad. I truly feel that the only way I will ever be taken seriously in my creative efforts is if someone pays me to do it. I'm not sure that's how I feel art should be. And that is what I consider myself to be. That was another surprise I saw while entering this contest. I AM an artist. It's all there in me and it always has been. But I have been so afraid of walking that path because it is not practical. When you are sensitive to instability like I am and you surround yourself with creative people your whole life, it can be automatic to play the supportive role. How many artists did I date? How many live shows? How much energy was spent being "level" in my world of movers and shakers?

When my husband, Nick and I divorced in 1999, he started painting. He was already a very creative person. A world traveler who loved music with every cell of his being, he had only done notebook drawings before as far as I know. But I visited him at his new place and saw it littered with paints and canvases. Even his very first pieces moved me. After the divorce was final he continued painting. Years later when I attended a showing of his work, I remember thinking; If nothing else, one good thing came of our heartbreak - this. It propelled him into his art. In truth, I envied him. From then on, I wondered what would force me to come out of my shell?

I have a mile long list of reasons I do not fully pursue my art. If I thought it was hard ten years ago, it seems nearly impossible now. But I know that I am not alone in this feeling. This feeling of having "everything", yet nothing. 
It's totally shitty the situation most mothers are placed in these days. In my opinion, we really screwed ourselves when everyone moved to the suburbs and the village effort toward raising a family became a thing of the past. Older generations want their fun time and we want our houses to ourselves. I can't understand why we couldn't have both. I don't want to send my kids to daycare. I have trust issues! I want my mom or my mother-in-law or my sister to be the one who has the honor of being with my kids during my sanity breaks.  I want family dinner around the table. I want to spend time with my husband without feeling like someone is doing me a huge favor by hanging out with my children. I want to stop thinking of an uninterrupted meal/shower/minute as a luxury. I want to stop feeling guilty that I cannot handle 12 hours a day, five days a week with no breaks of my job as a stay at home mom. 

Can you imagine if you worked 12 hours each day Monday thru Friday for, say Target, and every other week someone said, "Maybe I can give you a couple hours on Sunday to have some time alone." And during that time alone you cleaned your work area and tried to feed your creative spirit by listening to music while you took a much needed shower?

It doesn't matter how we got here moms and dads. What matters is how we are going to fix this problem. We equip the breadwinner of the family - usually the husband- with all he needs to do his job. Money for commuting, lunch out, good clothes, coffee breaks, time to surf the net for inspiration or research, dinner when he gets home. But the person who is doing this all confessed "Most important job of raising the kids" barely has time to get dressed in the morning.  It's not right.

I know that some people reading this might think that I am trashing my husband here. But I'm not. I'm trashing us both for not planning this out better. I'm trashing anyone that knows us who thinks that we are okay with this situation and anyone who thinks I'm "lucky" when I hire a babysitter to come to my house next week for three hours.

I deserve something like the SOAR scholarship if only for the simple fact that I want to use my skills and the money I earn to make life a little easier for the women around me who are in the same boat. Our children deserve whole, calm, happy people around them so we can teach them to break this cycle in their generation. 

Right on cue, Asher has woke from his nap. I'll post the video submission and out-takes as soon as I can.


...for the anxiety of pregnant women. 

I'm not sure how I have managed to escape writing about this pregnancy on my blog. I'm trying not to feel guilty about already not giving the 2nd kid as much press as the 1st, but all that is about to change.

As easy as my pregnancy is compared to so many other women out there, I feel obliged to admit that I am not the baby making machine that I *might* appear to be. Being pregnant, overall, isn't bad, but it's not something that I wake up marveling about. Perhaps I should, come to think of it, but really, I just wake up thinking morbid thoughts like, "Are you still there, little guy?" and "Will my water break now?" Frankly, I've lived the last nine months in disbelief that this is working, that I am growing a healthy baby boy in there and that he will join our family without any trouble.  This is what happens to your mind when you have had a past miscarriage.

I'm writing about this because in the last two years I have run into countless, and I do mean "too many for me to count" women who have become pregnant, only to have the fetus / baby die before it's born. As a matter of fact, I hardly know any women my age who haven't experienced a miscarriage. It's been a shocking thing, to hear these stories and to understand that this happens more than I ever imagined. 

Couple that with the information, or lack of information on why this happens and it can leave a woman feeling very vulnerable and scared at a time when she should feel excited and happy. In layman's terms - It sucks. 

I've thought about this kind of tragedy a lot in the last two years. Why are some babies born and some aren't? Is it nature taking care of things or are we doing something that is causing more miscarriages than ever? Is there something we can do to stop it? How do we morn those babies that don't live? What do you say to someone when they have a miscarriage? 
Knowing that "it happens a lot" doesn't really make a difference when it happens to you. But when you do conceive and carry to term a healthy baby, it does drill one thing into your head: LUCK. This very unlucky woman feels lucky in the midst of her worry. Damn lucky.

So that's how this particular journey started out. Happy and terrified - that was us for the 1st 35 weeks. At that point, we kind of eased up a bit, knowing that we were past the most scary part. It was then that we began to get practical, wondering if the kid will have enough socks to wear and a place to sleep. Frankly, it makes the actual labor and birth look like an evening well spent. Cuts down considerably on the worry about the physical pain.

One week left until the official due date. We have a dresser full of clothes, diapering necessities and many, many pairs of socks. We even have a name picked out. Though, if you know me, you won't be expecting to hear that name until after the birth. That's the way we do it. We keep the crazy bits to ourselves until it's legal and no one can do anything about it. (Marriage, pregnancy, names - you know the drill) 

Meanwhile, we did take more photos. I'd love to share the perfectly posed images with you to print, but that's not how how photographer earns her money. This will have to do.


patio set.jpgWe just spent a small fortune on patio/ deck furniture. Guess we better get a patio.

The point of this new ensemble is part of my master plan to create an outdoor living space where me and the other moms in my neighborhood can drink large quantities of alcohol without worrying about spillage on the carpet. Well, sort of, anyway. 

Obviously since three of us are pregnant we wont be drinking anytime soon. But still. we could sit there in the shade of an enormous umbrella, on the plushy cushions and look like we haven't a care in the world except for the raging demands of our toddlers. We would converse because that's what the set is called. It's a conversational set - not a Sleeping Set or a Reading Room. Conversational. I prefer adult talk but you can sit there and converse about anything as long as you aren't doing it with a stupid voice for that of a 5 inch tall stuffed monkey. Throw in some pretty landscaping and a nice sized swing set and I'm in heaven.

And Happy, Happy Mother's Day to me.


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I'm the first to scream at expectant mothers that I want to see a photo of the pregnant belly, so I don't know why it took me so long to get this out there. 
But here is more proof that I am, indeed, quite pregnant and everything is fine. Thanks for asking.
I'm approximately 24 weeks along in these photos.

One side.jpg
24 weeks.jpgfrom the front.jpg

May 15th

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On May 15th the new babysitter/ Love Of My Life will be starting the Summer of Love with us. On that day I expect I will pace around the bedroom a few times wringing my hands, repeating "So much time! So much peace!" I'm not going to say that I won't know what to do with myself. The list is long.

This also means that I will have to fire the current babysitter. And it may surprise you to know that I find nothing fun about that. The problem has become, not so much her lack of creativity with August, but Augusts lack of respect for her. August bosses her around like a servant. It's true that she has been trying this Cleopatra persona out on everyone lately, including me, but I get to dish it back to her or ignore her completely when she's over the top. The babysitter... she's a bit lost with this. As a result, August has been telling me that she doesn't like the babysitter. Hard to argue with that. 

But what to say? "It's not you, it's the kid. She just doesn't like you."  A bit harsh, right? 

On the other hand, judging from the way my child has been acting the last few days, the babysitter might have to stifle a huge sigh of relief when I tell her she longer has to endure August's unreasonable demands for - well, everything.

Out of Order

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I'm pretty sure I talked about this on my previous blog but what the hell. It's happening again.

We all have heard the being pregnant makes a woman more emotional. But to say that's what happens with me is like saying that the main result of the fall of the Berlin Wall was that it made a small section of Germany more breezy.
See what I mean? If you were pregnant, you'd get that.

Anyway, what happens to me when my hormones are messed with is that my emotional filter dissolves. Meaning, all the self control and wisdom I use to keep myself from being angry, crying or generally drawing too much attention to myself or my insecurities is gone. If I feel angry, I lash out. If I feel happy, I laugh. If I am moved or saddened, I cry. And no matter how much I prided myself in my ability to remain stoic and unfazed during times of stress in the past, these present days are littered with moments when my true emotions jump out there for all to see.

It's maddening for a self control freak like me.

That being said, the worst possible place for me to be is a family gathering. A  gathering  where I am not actually blood related to the family. One where dinner is served at 8:30 - 2 hours past my normal time to eat and a half hour past my daughter's bedtime.

The truth is, even on a good day, MJ's large family gatherings unnerve me. They yell and interrupt each other a  lot. The atmosphere is chaotic and stressful compared to how I grew up. Each get-together sets me back a day or two on whatever discipline/schedule progress I've made with August. When I'm with them, I sort of feel invisible because I lack the energy or desire to scream loud enough to be heard. Baring in mind that these are totally nice people and I know I am lucky they are so kind and well intended. It does not change the fact that even after sharing their last name for 2 years, I still feel no more a part of their clan than I would feel a part of the Boston Red Sox if I attended all their home games.

And I think all of these things are the reasons why I left the Seder Saturday night and  sat in the downstairs bathroom crying while everyone else was eating matzo ball soup.

Admitting that I am this lonely for some familiarity and this irritated by lack of connection to a family I should be able to trust and feel secure in is not something I ever wanted to do. Were I not pregnant and my emotions able to be controlled, I believe I would be still convincing myself that none of this matters. I would have eaten my soup, stumbled through the rest of the Seder with a convincing smile and possibly even enjoyed myself once I blocked out the fact that I have no meaningful conversations with anyone that do not revolve around my daughter. I wouldn't have been angry; I would have been numb. I would have liked that because with the stoic scenario, there is no possibility of hurting anyone's feelings.

But I don't have that luxury. I cried like a baby when we watched Juno in the cinema a month or so ago because I have an enormous amount of sympathy for teenage moms and mom-hopefuls. And I cried harder Saturday night because that is truly how sad I am most days to not have the relationship with my husband's family that I wish I did.


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At the park today I actually broke a sweat. The sun came out like a rescue plane on LOST and all the mothers and toddlers flocked to the playground. They were weeping, tearing at their clothes. August looked at me with wide eyes and asked if God had come back.

If it goes back below 45 degrees in the next two days, I'm afraid there will be mass suicides in NJ. For now, life goes on.

aj sunglasses.jpg

littlehitler.jpgI've been Googling this sentence:
"2 year old hates babysitter"

That should tell you how my afternoon is going. 

Before I type the rest of this story, I feel obliged to inform you that everyone I know considers my daughter to be the best behaved child in the county, the country, the universe... okay EVER. She sincerely is adored and worshiped by all who know her. And so I can't, for the life of me (as my mother says), figure out why she has succumbed to the commonplace actions of a typical two year old. 

I remember the first few times I heard her say the word "No". It was cute. Look at her, I thought. My daughter, asserting herself. She knows what she wants!
But here lately, when she says it robotically, repeatedly, what I am thinking is, You will not win, you little turd. I am bigger, wiser and I will not let you break me.

Thankfully, she cannot read my mind - though I swear she's trying. She looks at me with the contempt of Stewie. She searches my eyes for any sign of weakness.

But the hardest part of parenting these days is when she is acting the opposite of what I've just spoken. She clings to me as if we are on a sinking ship and I am her only hope. And at no other time is this drama higher than when the babysitter arrives once a week to give me a much needed three hour break from mommy-hood. You would think our 15 year old, cheerleader babysitter is a 300 pond monster who wields a cigarette as a disciplinary tool. Granted, the sitter isn't exactly the brightest star in these polluted skies, she is certainly nice. And I am always here, within listening distance, all three hours of this torture. I am merely upstairs, typing a blog entry for example.

The Great Wise Internet tells me this is just a phase. I've concluded that is what most of parenting is. Outlasting the Phases without damaging you or the child too much. I've given up on not damaging her at all. I dig my heals in for her early teens. At some point, I expect her to hate me.

But not now. Right now she adores me, needs me. If anything she is dependent upon me as someone with who she can safely try out her newly discovered ability to demand M&M's and "One more book". She needs to practice reading minds. She will need this ability when she gets married someday or tries to work through health insurance problems.

Countdown to Florida. Ten hours or so until we hit the road to the Atlantic City Airport. 

Yep!  All clear from the Doc.

And guess what else the Doc said?

Looks like we're having a boy. Holy crappa.

I'll write from the poolside. Be jealous.