Category Archives: Blogging

So many drafts, so little time…

I have started so many draft posts during the past year, mostly since I started commuting to work again about 7 months ago. It’s frustrating to feel like I never finish my posts or don’t post enough, but you know what else is frustrating? Typos! Realizing post hoc that you’ve been a poor editor. My first order of (blogging non-) business is to fix my recent post on the “Science vs.” AP podcast. Yikes! It’s all over the place & typos galore. 

When I started this blog, I spent a lot more time at an actual computer. Now, I mostly write on my phone during my commute or sometimes on my tablet at home. I’m not sure either is conducive to my best writing self, so I may have to be (even) more intentional about my writing in the future & find some time with an actual keyboard.(Ao old fashioned, I know!) 

In any case, I have posts in the works (& in various stages of completeness) about cultural appropriation, sleep, AP myths, attachment theory (& the “strange situation” experiment) & a review of the recent book Being There.

What should I publish first? Or what else would you like me to write about on this blog?

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We’ve had a baby!

Little Mom, JD, Jr. (aka “M”) is here & has actually been here for about 2 months now! 

Yikes, life is busy with 2 kiddos! Whereas with T, I started this blog in the early days of his life… with M and T, I haven’t found much time to do any writing. 

Little Baby M has been a joy & I’ve waited so long for her to join us that I find myself just staring at her most of the day in wonderment at the miracle that she is. Nursing time has been (a) meditative, (b) restful, (c) time to jot down ideas for the blog, or (d) wasted on Facebook. 

And when she’s not eating or sleeping (usually on someone), I’ve been trying to engage with T (who is the most amazing big brother) or take care of household stuff (which means managing various states of chaos, if I’m honest…).

I have managed to stay off of my work email (aside from purging emails so that I don’t get locked out of my email system entirely), though I may start working remotely for a few hours a week one day soon.

I have so many thoughts about motherhood in the early newborn days, postpartum living, birth after miscarriages, parenting, maternity leave, work-life divides, and living radically… But mostly these thoughts are just swirling in my sleep-deprived brain. I hope to get some of them out of there one day soon.

So, yay, she’s here! And she’s waking up, so that’s all for now…

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Mother Birthday(s)… Blah, blah, blah…

   
Since starting this blog, I have written yearly on the anniversary of T’s due date, which happened to be exactly 2 weeks before he arrived into my arms. Well, I missed not only his due date this year but his actual birthday, too. (On this blog anyway … I missed writing about his birthday because we were busy planning & celebrating his birthday, so no time to write about it!)

To be honest, I didn’t even notice his due date anniversary this year (which I’ve treated as my own mother anniversary here & here & here & etc.). Partly because I was traveling for work & expending all of my mental energy on that. But I also think I missed it for a couple of other reasons, the first & biggest being the passage of time.

T turned 7 this year. S-E-V-E-N! 

It has always been his birthday, but in the past I’ve also felt like his birthing was a moment of becoming for me, too. Being a mother has changed me in so many ways, and I’ve wanted an outlet for celebrating that. The anniversary of his due date has been that outlet for me. A moment to reflect on how far I’ve come as a parent & a woman. A time to nod at my entr√©e into motherhood, and wonder at how much has happened in & to my inner life. 

But now T is an honest to goodness individual. With interests & friendships & struggles & triumphs all his own. His independence is growing exponentially. As is his personality & inner life.

This season is so much less about me than it is about him. That pregnancy, labor & birth are starting to fade in my mind’s ever-shifting landscape.

He will still hold my hand across the seats in the car. He will still (sometimes) fall asleep in my arms. 

But the seeds of separation are there. He doesn’t always want me as his playmate. He sometimes asks to be left alone. He is more interested in trying out activities outside the house. 

In short, he’s dipping his toes in the world of independence. 

In my heart, we will always be intertwined, but I know that I have to get used to the idea that our paths will slowly part in the future. I just hope that he will always know how to find his way back to me when he needs to. (Great… there I go making myself cry as I write this on the train…)

So as my parenting goals shift, so do my feelings around T’s birthday. I’m just grateful for every new year I get to spend with him, physically & in spirit. It’s still nice to be able to reflect on the journey of motherhood, but sometimes it’s more delicious to simply step back & reflect on the young life taking shape before me. 

I mentioned there’s at least one more reason I missed T’s due date anniversary this year & that’s because I have another due date on my mind. Another small person will (hopefully) be joining our family this summer. That’s right! Mom, JD & MFA Dad have finally hit the “sperm meets egg” jackpot & the tiny one seems to be aiming to stick around this time. I still have my doubts, but there will always be doubts. For now, I’m looking forward to this new due date! Of course, even this pregnancyhasn’t been easy, but that’s a post for another day. 

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iPad vs. child

For years now I’ve been exploring, questioning & writing about children & screens, especially around the time of Screen Free Week. Again, Screen Free Week is upon us (it actually started today–we’ll start tomorrow, promise)! What a better way to welcome the (slowly) improving weather than by putting down our devices for a bit & exploring life beyond our screens! In celebration (& hopefully to offer some inspiration), I thought I’d reflect on how my family’s interaction with technology has changed over the years & share a parenting fail that provided me with a wake-up call…

Things have drastically changed in my house since T’s arrival in this world. When T was born, we had a desktop computer & I had a laptop for law school. We had a TV. We did not have cable. We did not have smartphones. We did not have handheld devices aside from our not-so-smart, basic mobile phones.

So as I started learning about babies & screen time, it was an easy enough parenting choice. The TV stayed mostly shut up in its cabinet. There were no apps to tempt us.

When we moved halfway across the country, we ditched our old tube TV. (No, this was not the 90’s… this was 2011!) The old desktop stopped more or less working.

But what we lost in size I gained in handheld power. We had recently upgraded the laptop so I could avoid having to take the bar exam on paper… Seriously, terrifying thought! With law school & the bar exam behind me, MFA Dad took over. I acquired an iPhone. Eventually I got an iPad, too.

T was older, and as he exited the toddler years, we loosened up a bit. We now allow some videos: a mix of Netflix cartoons, documentaries, a few movies (everything from Frozen to Lego Movie to Episode IV of Star Wars to Sponge Bob in 3D, which is a story unto itself).

We haven’t yet had to set time limits. When T was younger & we were more strict, he never saw a screen he didn’t like, no matter what was on it. Now that the mystery is gone, it’s a bit easier to quietly manage his access. I don’t anticipate this will last, though… We haven’t yet entered the world of video games…

What I’ve learned is that my use of technology will prove to be heavily influential in how T views & uses technology in the future… And let’s just say I have a lot of room for improvement…

T & I had a quiet night together while MFA Dad had a rare Friday night out with one of his best buddies. I was looking forward to spending the evening with T. I meditated on the train ride home & prepared myself for parenting with awareness & compassion (as opposed to parenting under duress, which is how parenting after work sometimes oftentimes feels…). I was feeling relaxed, focused & ready for an enjoyable evening with my energetic little guy. 

And things were going well. We had a lovely dinner together. He sat mostly still & ate all of the chicken taco salad I had quickly thrown together (with the help of some tortilla chips). T then made himself dessert: a mash-up of frozen blueberries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, plain yogurt & cinnamon. We were chatting & laughing. It was one of those (rare) magical parenting moments.

He was so cooperative. I thought, why not get get a jump on the weekend chores & get his help planning meals for the week ahead. (I like trying to include him in the planning as a way to get him invested in this family activity, hoping we’ll be able to more easily cajole home into helping with food prep & eating. It sometimes works, but usually it makes no difference. Oh well, I keep at it…)

We use Plan to Eat for meal planning, so I grabbed my iPad. Things continue to go swimmingly & I get some input for meals & snacks.

But then things start to turn…

T asks me (very sincerely), “Why are you such buddies with your iPad?”

Shit…

But he doesn’t stop there… Oh, no…

“I think you’re better buddies with your iPad than with me.”

Heart, in pieces.

Young children are astute. T recognizes that I have a relationship with my iPad. He also recognizes (& painfully pointed out) that my interactions with my device interfere with my relationship with him.

If I’m completely honest, I use my iPad a lot. It’s the way I connect with people (via email, messaging, Facebook, FaceTime, etc.). It’s the way I connect with myself (through meditation timer & apps, yoga videos, journaling & blogging). It’s the way I take care of household chores (meal planning, cooking, finances, shopping). And it provides entertainment (Netflix, PBS, etc.).

T, who can’t yet read, has no idea what I’m doing on my iPad unless it involves looking up a Jangbricks Lego review for him to watch. (Strangely entertaining, by the way.) Our lives are so intertwined with technology & it is so difficult to create & keep to boundaries when, really, we use our devices to manage everything from birthday parties to grocery lists. Not to mention our jobs! 

Since that fateful Friday night when T schooled me, I’ve meal planned in his presence again. I told myself I’d do it on pencil & paper, but, nope, iPad… It’s just so darn efficient when time is at such a premium.

So what is the appropriate way for us to use technology in the presence of our children? I don’t have an answer & I fail daily. I think eye contact is a start. I’m trying really hard to put down the device & make eye contact when T (or anyone) is talking. It’s kinda lame that I have to remind myself of that, but it’s the hard truth. 

This Screen-Free Week, I’m aiming low… Take my cue from T, who likes to do stuff with his hands, like IRL. Maybe play Uno. Make eye contact with my boy.

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Filed under Blogging, Gentle Discipline, Mothering, Parenting, Screens, Simplicity, Working

A new (school) day

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Things have been quiet around here the past two weeks… I’m in between jobs (yay!) & trying to hibernate a bit & build up my anxieties energy for my first day at my new job (today… yikes!).

Which really just means that I’ve been doing a bunch of batch cooking (freezing lots of yummy stuff for the busy weeks ahead!) & playing Legos with T (mostly flipping pages of the instruction booklets & searching for tiny pieces among the piles…).

Oh, and of course trying to get my entire life in order while I have the chance… Clean the closet, go through piles of paperwork, etc…. Yeah, that didn’t happen (though I did manage to make an even bigger mess by starting to clean out the closet & pantry simultaneously & without finishing either…

Mostly, I’ve been thinking about food, as usual (see my prior post about my mild obsession).

Not just my food, but T’s food.

T will begin going to school full-day today & I’ve been agonizing over lunch. There’s hot lunch, but is it good enough for my child who has been eating low-grain, no gluten with us this summer?

We are lucky.

T goes to a small private school & for a reasonable price he can receive the hot lunch, which is organic & doesn’t have nasty preservatives, flavorings, or additives.

But letting go of that control is hard for me. Other people (including T, himself) are making choices about what goes into his little body!

I’m terrified.

But this is just the first of many letting go’s that I will have to suffer as T grows up. In fact, this is far from the first. There was the first time I left him as an infant to go to work & school. There were those first steps he took away from me & MFA Dad. T’s first interests, his first “no,” his first nanny, his first day of school, weaning (which just happened & about which I hope to write something soon).

I’m not sentimental. I didn’t cry at any of these momentous events.

But I cringed at the loss of control.

Then I took a deep breath & moved along.

I’m trying to do the same this morning as T & I both embark on new adventures. Not easy, but I’m trying.

Because I need that mental space to concentrate on learning my new job, making a strong first impression, & saving a little bit of myself for home.

I’m not sure how my new job will impact my home life (hoping for less stress & more time at home), my blogging life (maybe less anonymity in the future?), me (really… I could use less stress!).

Talk about the ultimate loss of control! I’m about to turn myself over to strangers. I’m OK with it. I now have tools to navigate just about any workplace dynamic & I’m confident I’ll make it work.

Now, I have just enough time on the train to close my eyes & breath.

Happy Monday, all!

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Filed under Blogging, Feminism, Food, Lawyering, Living, Mothering, Parenting, Partnership, Simplicity, Working

The dangers of blogging about food

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I learned a new word yesterday.

Orthorexia.

An ironically unhealthy obsession with healthy or “clean” foods.

When I was a vegetarian, I was a fastidious vegetarian. For over 20 years. It’s how I learned to be an astute reader of labels. It was my first (& failed) attempt at healthy eating.

But looking back, my vegetarianism was also an attempt to exert control in any situation involving food. I was dramatic. I was dogmatic. I was, in a word, annoying & likely insufferable. (My only redeeming quality was a lack of preachiness.)

Orthorexia.

That word hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew what it meant before reading the definition.

Sometimes I think I would have discovered healthy eating years, if not decades, sooner, had the Internet been around when I was still a teenager, eating no meat but not quite sure what to eat in its stead.

But today, I simply think I know too much. Too many diets, philosophies & factions. Too many sources, recipes, opinions & anecdotes. Too much. Yet not enough.

Thankfully, I don’t think I have orthorexia, just orthorexic tendencies. Even toward the end of my vegetarianism, I was less dogmatic as I began to listen more to my body. I ate fish when I felt I needed to. I let myself enjoy it. When I quit vegetarianism, I vowed to leave the dogma behind for good.

… But then I read about “Traditional Food” & “WAPF” & “Paleo” & “GAPS” & “SCD” & etc.

I mentally globbed on to one & then the next & then the next. Luckily, I haven’t had the time, money, or energy to commit to any of these in reality.

I say “luckily” because yesterday I was introduced to the blog Chicken Tender & I read a lovely post there about moderation:

Eating sausage that is not from a local, pasture-based farm, hoping to do better next month: moderate.

Eating sausage three times a day with no intention of diversifying my diet: immoderate.

Not eating sausage, or much of anything else, because I can’t find the perfect source for it: extreme.

I’ve taken a hard look at my own motivations & thoughts about food since I read that piece. I am suddenly grateful to not believe in gurus & to not feel aligned (in life & on this blog) with a single diet or “food belief system.” Passionate about certain aspects of food? You betcha. But “unaffiliated” with any single way of eating.

But those tendencies are there & they’re strong. (Particularly when you’re doctor has recently put you on an elimination diet & food is all you can think about… dreaming of a day when you might actually figure out what to put & what not to put into this body…)

And herein lies the danger (for me, at least) of food blogs. They make it seem so simple. So easy. So straight forward. So right.

If so-&-so writes a Traditional Foods/WAPF blog, then that’s it. If so-&-so writes a Paleo/Primal blog, then that’s it. These are presented as complete systems of eating &, gee, they do it so well, &, oh my gosh, every damned meal at so-&-so’s house must be awesome & follow rules X, Y, & Z!

But figuring out what or how to eat in today’s world is anything but straight forward. And it’s a shame that more of these blogs don’t engage in a more active engagement in the gray areas. (Is that much butter really good for me? … Won’t eating that much meat kill me, my family & the planet? … Isn’t it a good idea to cook at least some of my food?… Will I drop dead if I eat raw nuts or if my butter isn’t from pastured cows or if my chicken previously ate some corn?!)

Plus, many food bloggers are doing the blogging (& cooking & image management thing) full time or for profit. This doesn’t cancel out good intentions. But it should make the rest of us stop & question a blogger’s motivations & sincerity & credibility. Any blog written by a full-time blogger should feature a prominent warning: Check your reality at the “about” page because you will never accomplish this, at least not on a daily basis!

And yet I care about food. I’m learning that putting some things into my body feels better than other things. Blogs written by folks who dedicate they’re days to food can be great resources. But the sheen of perfection & “rightness” (& sometimes righteousness) is unmistakable.

So I’m trying really hard not to measure myself against so-&-so’s perfect food blog. And I’m trying not to get hung up on “pure” or “clean” foods. And I’m trying to accept that the human body can adapt or cope with a few (or maybe even a lot) of indiscretions.

Which isn’t to say that I won’t still seek out direct-from-the-farmer meats & eggs. Or that I won’t buy certain things organic (Dirty Dozen list) or only in season (tomatoes). But if I want an apple out of season, I’ll buy one. If I don’t feel like operating the salad spinner, I’ll buy packaged greens. If we’re out of eggs, I’ll buy them from the grocery store.

And I won’t feel bad… I think.

And, I vow as a sometimes-blogger, sometimes blogging about food that I will do my due diligence to not make it seem easy (it’s usually not) or “right” (because who can really know).

Real food is a topic near & dear to my heart. I’m committed to cooking wholesome & whole foods. I’m committed to local foods. Blah, blah, blah. But perfection & dogma are hereby banished.

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Filed under Blogging, Food, Living, Working

Having it all… except time for writing

20130604-105339.jpgI’m starting to understand the ebb & flow of writing & the importance of habit… I just haven’t been in the writing mood lately. I have a handful of notes & unformed ideas but I can’t seem to connect thoughts to typing out text.

That & I’ve been reading a ton.

And I’ve been riding my bike to work (which cuts out my train-commuting-writing time).

Ok. I could think up a million excuses. But the truth is I’m simply feeling uninspired & I don’t have a disciplined writing habit to help push through.

Everything I’ve been reading is related to topics I write about here, so I expect I’ll be getting some fully-formed posts in a bit. I’m working on finishing Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma (which I had to return to the library mid-way through). I started reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In (which is due back at the library very soon). And in the down time between, I picked up Smart Casual by Alison Pearlman (a critical book about restaurant & “foodie” culture).

Phew!

Meanwhile, I can hardly believe that MFA Dad & I just celebrated 10 years of marriage. T is about to finish his first year of preschool. I’m looking at wrapping up my current job in a couple months. I’ve acquired a couple bacteria-yeast pets (kefir grains & a kombucha SCOBY). The garden needs serious tending. Summer is here & life is full… & there are only so many hours in the day.

Thinking of life as full (& not obnoxiously busy) reminds me of one more project I’m working on: shifting my focus from less worry to more confidence & happiness. Unsurprisingly, there is a chapter in Lean In on the notion of “having it all.” It’s (in part) about how mothers beat themselves up upon discovering that, despite empty (feminist?) promises, women cannot “have it all.”

On a certain level, I don’t think Ms. Sandberg is wrong. But I’m proposing a shift (or positive spin). Instead of telling myself that I can’t have it all, my mantra is that I do have it all. Because I have all I have in this moment. If I want something else I have to either make it a goal (& work towards that goal) or I need to forget about it. Sounds cheesy (& it probably is) but it’s working for me right now. More later.

What are some of your summer projects? Or summer coping mechanisms inspiration?

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