Sunday, December 27, 2009
So, I just wanted to take a moment to look back on this year.
For most of 2009 I was pregnant - almost 9 full months. This meant lots of doctor's visits, lots of blood tests, and a surprising love affair with my body (which sadly has not lasted as long post-partum). It also meant stress for my husband, strangers poking and prodding, and an amazing amount of fluid weight gain. I saw pictures of myself the other day and was in complete shock. I honestly don't remember pregnancy being anything other than blissful. I suppose this is how the earth is populated.
Then came the monkey. Look at him. It's okay, spend some time staring - he is that beautiful:
Evan has brought with him some amazingly unexpected (for a first time mom) gifts. He is complete joy (most of the time). He has an interest in life that re-energizes me and I want to share this entire world with him and watch him as he learns all about it. He has taught me to trust myself in a way nothing else ever has and of course, the ultimate cliche, he has made my ability to love grow exponentially.
Of course, he has also brought dirty diapers (and my own conscience trying to come to terms with using disposable diapers), bottles (again, my conscience struggling with not being able to breastfeed longer), and lots and lots of laundry. I think I've mentioned the laundry once or twice before.
And, because of Evan, I'm now a stay at home mom. I do love my new job and I seriously wonder why people would think I am not busy... like all the time. I mean, the laundry alone...
And now, to finish out 2009, the Castruccis are starting their next adventure - Atlanta and city life. Right now I'm too stressed to even feel excitement. Oh wait, I think I feel something... no, that is just exhaustion - sorry, still no excitement. But I know it's there, waiting under the surface and it will surface soon.
Another change in life - gotta run, baby is having a meltdown. Have a happy new year and I'll check in next week.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
For instance, this is (was) my den:
Looks a little empty... huh? But as you can see, we've decided to keep the cats.
The den is one of the more soothing rooms as of today. Get a look at my kitchen:
What you can't read is that each post-it note either says "loft" or "storage." Just to complicate our move more, we are spending our first 6 months in Atlanta in a 1000 square foot loft (as compared to a 3200 square foot house). So, I have to go through all of our stuff and indicate what is coming to the loft and what goes to storage so the movers/packers/designated lackeys who will help me coordinate the movers and packers will know what is going on.
Every time I walk in to this room I get over-stimulated. Here is another view of the room where I spend most of my day:
It's never ending. And, to make this worse, I had to move stuff around so every morning I'm looking for a spoon and I end up with barbecue tongs. But I'm not trying to get used to this new layout since in a week everything will be in a new location in a new kitchen anyway.
Here is the number one thing I've learned about moving - we all have too much crap. Now, keep in mind that I supposedly learned this lesson 4 years ago when we moved from New Jersey to Austin. This time things are a little different because now I'm deciding whether or not something is important enough to pay for in storage... and most things aren't - it's amazing.
And I know, you are reading this thinking that you are a thrower-outer... but you aren't. You might be good at throwing out someone else's crap, but when it comes to your grandmother's table cloth or the first gift your husband gave you, you've kept it. You probably thought just keeping that one thing was no big deal, but you kept more than that.
You probably kept your towels from college in case you have 18 people come to visit so you would have a towel for each person. You probably kept the queen sheets you love even though you don't have a queen bed anymore because someday, you might get a queen bed again and then you will have sheets. I bet you even kept all of the doll clothes you had as a child so that someday your child could play with them... and then you probably had a boy, gave in to the stereotypes, and realized you don't have any of the dolls anymore anyway. Oh wait, all of this is me. Apparently I'm not a thrower-outer... I'm just a semi-organized keeper.
And so Goodwill and the Salvation Army are making a killing. I've even been able to fill the shelves at the local Food Bank - I hope someone really appreciates the artichoke hearts and capers.
Maybe this time the lesson of keeping everything "just in case" or for "someday" will finally sink in and I won't be going through this in another 4 years. Somehow I doubt it though, because I might need to sew a button on as shirt someday and I wouldn't want to not have that button laying around somewhere.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Before I jump right in and start to share my thoughts with you, there are some facts you need to know in order to understand this post.
Fact #1: My husband works in the area of maternal child health and is a strong public and private advocate for breastfeeding.
Fact #2: For some time I worked with my husband in the state health department (even though I worked in Medicaid) and so the same people know of us.
Fact #3: I breastfed Evan for approximately 12 weeks (combination of from the breast and pumped milk). I don't know why (and I'll muse more on it later) but breastfeeding didn't work out for Evan and I.
Fact #4: I attempted a drug-free natural birth and ended up having a heavily drugged c-section.
So, since you now have the pertinent background information - let me share. Earlier today Brian went to work for a going away party (this is his last day before Atlanta). I came as everyone wanted to see Evan and I'm Evan's minion in situations like this. While I was there, 3 different people asked me if I was breastfeeding. Due to facts #1 and #2 above this really isn't an odd question for people to ask even though I find it to be kind of personal. Almost similar to them asking me my bra size.
So, being an honest person, I said I wasn't breastfeeding any longer. To their credit, no one came down hard on me, but they did give me the look. Come on, you all know the look (and this isn't paranoia). And, even though I had promised myself I wouldn't ever explain my actions as a parent I heard myself telling them that I had breastfed for 12 weeks but that things went awry.
Next, when we came home, I checked my blog. Often, when I go to my blog, I click on the "Next Blog" link at the top left of the screen. Since my blog is about family and pregnancy I'm usually taken to another blog with a similar theme. Today I was taken to a midwife's blog and her topic of the day was breastfeeding. More specifically about how she is sick of people saying things like "I didn't breastfeed and my baby turned out okay," or "I had drugs for my birth and it was just fine." Well, probably due to my earlier interactions in the day her blog really got me going and I left a comment (something I rarely do). There were TONS of comments to her blog and sadly most of them agreed with her.
Because her post annoyed me so much, I'm going to share with you all some of my belief.
First off, the writer based her argument on the fact that breast milk is the natural drink because "in the wild" that is all we have. I have to state that I DO believe that breast milk is the best milk for a baby and I will definitely try to breastfeed any other children I have. That is not the part of the argument I have an issue with - it's the "in the wild" argument.
Here is the sad truth. If we used the "in the wild" argument then I would never have Evan and millions of other women would never have been able to conceive or give birth. In some cases babies would have died that survive today (my niece probably being one of them) and mothers would be dead who are healthy today. "In the wild" if I had conceived I would have eventually died since I never went in to labor (even with modern medicine). I don't know the reasons why, but I know that modern society is far from "in the wild" when it comes to childbirth. And judging people based on this mentality leads to divides that shouldn't exist.
I don't know why breastfeeding was difficult for me. I had the lactation nurse in the hospital and 2 post-partum doulas who tried to help me out. Maybe I couldn't learn, maybe Evan couldn't learn, maybe my body, since it has trouble conceiving and giving birth, also has trouble providing milk for my offspring. Either way, no one who simply asks me if I'm breastfeeding knows the reason I'm currently not. But, people are comfortable making assumptions.
I ask that we create a society in which breastfeeding and natural childbirth are supported as a choice for mothers. But, I also ask that when we find someone who didn't take that path we don't make assumptions about the reasons why. Yes, breast milk is best, but formula isn't evil. Yes, a natural childbirth is best for mother and baby, but if the only way a woman can have a peaceful birth is through drugs then she isn't evil.
Fact #5: I love my son and attempt to make choices for him that are the best.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
And, I realized I don't know if I ever thanked those that made this journey possible:
Bubba fulfilled his responsibility yesterday - he had to get shaved:
I know - he looks adorable. It's okay, you know you want to pet him. Don't fight it, he will galdly welcome any love you want to give him.
Look - he's commanding you. Pet him now!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
In case you haven't figure it out yet, we are moving... to Atlanta, GA. Brian is going to be the Director of Maternal and Child Health for the state of Georgia (fabulous promotion - so proud) so, yes, we are packing up our 4 cats, 1 baby, house that seems to hold more crap than anyone needs and moving back to the East coast.
Rather than have some long rambling post about the move, I thought I would share with you a "Pros and Cons" list. I'm going to start with the "cons" so we can end with the "pros." Of course, these are the "pros and cons" for today - check back tomorrow, it might be something completely different.
- Moving 4 cats. I know, as my mother is always reminding me, we could always leave some behind in a deserving home somewhere, but would you do that to your grandmother (and I'm assuming you aren't the Griswalds)? So, that really isn't an option. Instead, I have to drag all 4 of them to vet appointments to get certificates of health, buy 2 more cat carriers, schlep them to the airport, deposit them in the loft in Atlanta, visit them daily until our furniture shows up so we can live with them, etc, etc, etc.
- Waiting for the furniture. I remember this well from our move to Austin (and you can read about it if you so choose). What I don't understand is that if I drove to Atlanta it would take me about 15 hours straight... but it might take the movers one week? So, we had to choose to be homeless in Austin or homeless in Atlanta and we chose Atlanta (start out the new year in a new city and all that). We will be staying in a hotel/suites while we wait.
- Staying in a hotel/suites while we wait. Yeah, this sounds like a lot of fun with a 4 month old baby. It will be similar to our stay in the hospital with one small room holding tons of people and equipment - only both sets of parents won't be there and Evan has a lot more stuff now.
- Anything that is going to involve moving with a 4 month old baby. Now, I know I'm not the first person to do this... but good lord - what were we all thinking. The stuff that Evan "needs" with him is enough to just push me over the edge - never mind the logistics of diaper changes, bottles, etc. Oh my, how many diapers do I need anyway?
- Fighting with my husband. It's inevitable, we will fight. Mostly because we deal with big events in two very different ways. Because I hate planning (and what else is a move but one giant plan) I have to be organized. So I start by making lists. Then I make some lists for my lists, then I color code my lists, and then I start crossing things off my lists. Yes, I am that insane. Apparently, Brian waits for me to tell him what to do and if I don't tell him he thinks nothing has to be done (even though I'm running around with color coded lists). So, we are going to fight.
- Leaving Austin. I really do love this city. I love that the people who live here care about their environment and I love that this is a place where cowboys and hippies have found some sort of peace with each other.
- Leaving the Texas Sky. Aaah, my Texas sky, how I will miss you. You are so vast and so blue that you make me want to just stand underneath you and inhale, then exhale, then inhale, then exhale. You are my own personal yoga class.
- New city means new adventures. It is quite possible that even though I will miss Austin, that it is all played out for me. I'm sure I've said this before - I get bored easily (Brian is constantly surprised I'm not yet bored with him). And I'm a little bored with Austin (or at least my Austin, this is nothing against the city). I'm looking forward to having a new city to explore - in fact, a new state and a new part of the country.
- Lessons learned. When Atlanta became a reality I made it very clear to Brian that I didn't want to move to a suburb and thankfully he agreed. I grew up in a pristinely white suburb and while I have incredibly fond memories of my childhood, I don't want to live there again and I want to give Evan something different. When we moved to Austin I think it was such a big change for me that I wanted something the same so we moved to the burbs. In Atlanta, we are going to live in the city. We are going to live around people that don't drive mini vans, that don't assume people are Republicans, and that don't expect me to hang out in a cul-de-sac. I am honestly so excited.
- Building a house - kind of. Brian found the most amazing Real Estate agent in Atlanta (another Internet search, I swear for Brian the Internet is like prospecting and he comes up with gold a lot). For the first 6 months we are in Atlanta we are staying in a loft with 1/3 of our furniture (the rest is going into storage). During that time we are going to build a house on a lot we are buying in the East Atlanta Village. While there is a standard plan we will follow, we can add customization where we want it.
- Having a basement. I never thought I would miss a basement as much as I do. The main reason I miss it is because without a basement - where does the litter go? In our current house the cats actually got one of the bedrooms (and yes, that is just wrong). In Atlanta we will have a basement.
- Packers. I love my husband simply for turning me on to packers from our last move. I used to be stubborn that only I could pack my things. Well, not so much anymore. I don't care who packs my stuff now - bring on whoever (I would even let GW do it if he needs a job in his retirement).
The most exciting part is that by the 2nd week of January when we are in the loft and more settled, most of the cons will be moot and I will have all the pros to look forward to.
Monday, December 14, 2009
1. Rolling Over. Yup, my big boy has learned to roll from his back to his front. Sounds exciting, but there are some caveats. He can only roll to his right side, he can't roll back, and he has no control over his rolling (I mean it, it's hard wired in him that he must roll over no matter how tired he is). So, what we've learned is that no matter what you think, no matter how impossibly small the space seems, Monkey will roll over and then he will cry because he can't roll back. Oh, and goodness me, don't EVER lay him down until at least 60 minutes after his bottle. Hmmm, he is kind of like a mogwai (come on 80s kids... you know the mogwai - pre-gremlin) in that he has 3 basic rules: 1) Don't leave him alone anywhere, 2) Don't lay him down after feeding for at least 60 minutes, and 3) When he rolls over be prepared to roll him back.
2. Grabbing. He can unclench his fist and grab things. But since Monkey is my son he is rather peculiar about this grabbing thing. He will only grab things if they are dangling from the bar on his bouncy chair, dangling from my head (my hair), or hanging off Daddy's chest (his hair). He isn't interested in grabbing any old thing you know. And when he does grab, make sure it is something you don't need because his grip is serious and pray that I've cut his talons.
3. Smiling. Oh my, we smile at everything. It's that giant toothless grin that is just awesome. His three favorite things to smile at are (in no particular order): 1) Mommy's hair - the curls must do something to the light because he LOVES it, 2) The sounds of the letter "W" - it's a no-fail - who knew, and 3) Pretty much anything Daddy does - he is a funny guy.
4. Evading Sleep. Apparently, sleep is for the weak and Monkey is not weak. This child will fight sleep up to the very end. I kid you not when I tell you he almost fell asleep sitting on someone's lap the other day. And the worst part is that he won't always cry, he will just pretend all is well. This is why I have pictures of him sleeping in his bouncy chair, floor, and swing. These are the places he lost a battle... but he is still waging the war.
5. Watching TV. Much to the chagrin of his parents, Monkey watches TV. No Monkey is enamored with TV. And what does he love the most - football (E-A-G-L-E-S). I make myself feel okay by saying it is really just the movement and the colors that he likes but I am secretly (and now not-so-secretly) concerned that he will turn into Mike TV from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
6. Thumb Sucking. Yay for self-soothing. No more looking for pacifiers, putting in pacifiers, holding in pacifiers, losing pacifiers, well - you get the picture.
(This picture shows both thumb sucking AND watching TV - possibly even evading sleep)
There are other small things that I won't bore you with and there are new things every day. It is a complete joy to watch his personality emerge. Now, if he could just learn to roll back all would be perfect (but then this blog would be called This is Perfect).
You already know two of my targets. Brian, my wonderful husband, quickly became "Bubs." Evan, my amazing son, has almost always been "Mr. Monkey Pants" (credit to my mom but I don't think she realized how far Brian and I would take it) and now he is simply "Monk." I can't wait for the first day of school when the teacher calls out names and my son has no idea that his name has been called because I will have to register him as "Evan" for school.
I've also renamed every single cat... and we have 4.
This is Bubba Cat Castrucci (nee Assisi). Bubba came to me through a friend's fiancee who was a vet. Someone found Bubba on the steps of a church, St. Francis of Assisi, and thus his original name. It took a few months of me living with him to see how sweet and laid back he is (I hum "dum de dum de dum de dum" whenever he walks) to realize he needed a different name. What was more perfect than Bubba? And he has been that ever since. Sadly, he will only came when I call him "Assisi" so he hasn't embraced his new name the same way Bubs did.
This is Lucy. Brian found her on the Internet (different website from where he found me, but doesn't he have some mad Internet skills?). She was an alley cat and when she was "rescued" her foster mom named her Lucy because of her red hair. Then she came to me and I starting calling her "Lucy Goosey" which quickly became "Goose." Poor Lucy, she became a whole other animal.
These are the kittens (almost 4 years old now, but they will always be the kittens, the same way the first two cats, the fluffies, will always be the classics). The gray one was originally named "Saber." What?? She was so not a "Saber" so we (I use "we" out of respect for my husband because I totally chose the name, but he claims he did, so I'll say "we" did) changed it to Isabella and now she is Bella, or bel-bel - depending on if she is being bad or goo. Or, more often, I refer to her simply as Gray Cat.
Her brother (literally, same litter) was named Socks because of his white feet - how original. And he has pretty much kept that name except I started calling him Socksie-Biloxi which eventually led to just calling him Biloxi. Unless he is trying to get Brian's attention and knocking things off the counter, then he is Bad Cat.
So what does all this mean? At first I didn't care, I just thought it was odd. But then I realized it had to mean something... I'm thinking it's purely an ownership thing. I think, for me, in order for me to "own" you I reserve the right to "name" you. And the naming comes from your personality. In this way, God help me for what I'm about to say, I'm kind of like Michael Jackson. He didn't want to name his children until their personality shone through. The only difference is I'll give you a temporary legal name until I figure out what I'm going to call you.
Oh, and in case I haven't said it recently, the fact that Brian and I have a wonderful son, 4 kooky cats, friends to say goodbye to, and a move that doesn't break our bank... well - this is as good as it gets!
For those of you who didn't attend, this should make you jealous:
This was the "br" portion of the brunch. There were bellinis, juice, frittatas, a crustless quiche (which tasted a lot like ricotta cheesecake... yummy), some sort of puff pastry thing I made and tons of other yummies.
This was the "unch" portion and the dessert portion - not included in the word. We had London broil and roast beef, salad, cuties, raspberry thumbprints, pizzelles, and other good sugary stuff.
And this beautiful sight is my almost empty fridge (yeah) and I'm happy to say that very few things went back into this fridge. What a beautiful sight.
But the one thing I can't figure out how to manage is visitors and Mr. Monkey Pants (who has know been completely abbreviated to Monk - poor child). He didn't take his morning nap yesterday so he was exhausted when people showed up. But I know they wanted to see him, so I left him up. He feel asleep on my old boss, then on me, then he went down for an hour and that was it for the entire day.
He may seem like he is happy playing here, but look closely. Yes, those are bags under his eyes. My baby has bags under his eyes. Oh, and this picture was taken about 5 seconds before complete meltdown.
The poor Monkey - it's tough being the cutest baby in the greater Austin area.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
So, what are we doing all at once this time? Not only did we just have a baby... but we are moving to Atlanta. Yup - Brian and I, Evan, and the 4 cats are all packing up and shipping out. For some reason this move feels much more complicated (more on that in a later post) and so I figured why not also throw in a going-away party? Since we have friends all over the place, it would make more sense for us to do it. Oh yeah, and I'll make everything since I want to clean out my fridge and pantry.
And so, here we are. It's noon-thirty the day before our brunch, thankfully Evan has decided to take some sort of nap today (failed at the first attempt but the second one was definitely successful) and I want to share the insanity with you, because that is really the point of insanity - to share it.
And this is the inside of my fridge. Look at all those eggs - lots of frittatas to make. My goal is to have all of this gone (or most of it) by Monday. I hope everyone is hungry!
This is my kitchen counter top which will become the coffee station. I'm a little anal about parties. I list out all of my dishes and drinks and set everything out as soon as possible to get it positioned and cleaned.
This is my dining room - more dishes waiting to be filled. Not sure where I'm going to put everything tonight but I'll know before I go to bed.
I'm sure a normal person would have just donated their food, had a few dinners with friends and moved on to their new city. But, I'm not normal and I believe in sharing food. Hopefully I can post pictures of an empty refrigerator on Monday.
Friday, December 11, 2009
To commemorate my return, I wanted to provide you with the top 10 reasons why I haven't been posting:
10. Laundry. Oh my goodness there is a lot of laundry. Burp bibs, onesies, towels, sheets, changing table pads, and anything else that can be pooped on, peed on, or spit up on. Laundry takes time.
9. Visitors. Apparently, when you have a baby people want to meet said baby. And while people will give you a break on your cleaning standards since you recently gave birth, they still need a place to sit and a bathroom to use. This all takes time people.
8. Sleeping. Sorry, but when baby slept so did mommy. There was no posting going on.
7. Leaving the house. This takes time and preparation when you first start you. You have to remember to get the diaper bag ready, get the baby ready, put the baby in his car seat, bring the car seat AND the diaper bag out to the car, go back in to get your car keys because you forgot them inside... etc.
6. Being with baby. Contrary to what anyone tells you, there is a lot to do with a newborn. I had to stare at him in awe for hours. I had to touch him to make sure he was real and check to make sure he was breathing and make sure I didn't miss one cute thing he did.
5. Routine. His changed. I used to blog at the same time everyday and then that time became an awake time. I never gave blogging a new slot.
4. Laundry... did I mention that there is a lot of laundry.
3. Computer. Ours is in our den. About 50 feet away from where Mr. Monkey Pants hangs out and there is a wall between. Therefore, I can't watch him and blog at the same time.
2. Life. Yeah, it's this little thing on my "to do" list every day. It includes cooking dinner every night (or almost every night), cleaning, running errands, taking care of 4 cats, 1 baby, and 1 husband, having fun, and all those other miscellaneous things.
And the #1 reason is...
1. You tell me, when you have free time would you rather post or spend it with Mr. Monkey Pants: