Saturday, March 8, 2008

Cara Bambina - By Yourself

Cara bambina (and you are still my bambina),

I can't believe it's started already. You are not quite 1 year old yet, and already you want to do almost everythings by yourself. You want to hold your water cup by yourself, get the toy yourself, go up the stairs yourself, do just about everything and go everywhere by yourself.

It is hard for me to stand back and let you do things on your own already. You are still just learning about the world and figuring out how to do thing. When you can't do something yourself, you get frustrated. So I try to help, but lately that frustrates you more. I just want to help you, but I know I need to stand back and let you figure it out by yourself. I guess I didn't realize you'd be at this stage so soon.

We are all muddling through this as we go along. Hopefully, we will be able to find the right balance of helping you, letting you do it by yourself and keeping you out of things that you shouldn't get into--and that last one I'm sure will be the hardest part of all!

Ti amo con tutti cuore,
Mama

Friday, March 7, 2008

Passing the Non-Olympic Torch

Growing up, my dad made a point to do father-daughter activities with me. My dad would think of some group or sport that he thought sounded interesting to both of us and ask if I wanted to do it. The first one I remember was Indian Princesses, which was kind of like Girl Scouts, but specifically for fathers and daughters to do together. It was great fun.

When I got a little older, he asked if I wanted to try gymnastics. I always loved tumbling and climbing. I had always had great balance and flexibility. Gymnastics sounded perfect to me. This may not sound like a father-daughter activity, but my dad had done gymnastics when he was younger and understood a lot about the sport. So, he would take me to the gym for my Saturday morning classes, and he would sit up in the waiting area that overlooked the entire gym. After the classes, he would drive me home and we would talk about what I did, what I liked, what I wanted to work on and also what he used to do and like.

And let me tell you, I loved gymnastics! That sport was right up my alley! I had so much fun in the classes, learning all the equipment, tumbling, climbing, flipping, dancing around. But the best part was feeling a special connection with my dad, who not only took the time to drive me there and back, but stayed to watch the whole time. Because he understood what the moves were and how the equipment was supposed to be used, he could relate to what I was doing and give advice when I needed it. It was more than just a sport, it was a father-daughter activity.

Tomorrow morning, I will take my almost 1 year old to her first tumbling class. At this point, since she is so young, I am picking what activities we do together. We are doing a free trial class at Little Gym, and it's a parent participation class so that the toddlers have our help. If she seems to enjoy it, I will sign us up for the rest of the semester and continue as long as she seems to enjoy it. When she gets older, I will not push her into any sport that she doesn't want to do, but I will come up with ideas and give her options I think she will like, as my dad did for me. The Pumpkin has been early with her gross motor skills and loves to roll around and be flipped up and down. I have this feeling that right now, for her and for us as a mother/daughter activity, this class will be perfect.

I am participating in The Parent Bloggers Network's Blast from the Past today. They are celebrating Highlights Magazine's new publication High Five, which is for ages 2-6. Remeber Highlights Magazine? They are celebrating 60 years of publication. If you are feeling nostalgic, you should participate. You might win a prize!

Fun With Words

I've gotten tagged with another meme and did another meme-ish thing. Both are really around words, which is my kind of thing.

First, Karen at The Rocking Pony tagged me with the following meme.

(1) You must post the rules on your blog before you answer the questions.
(2) You need to list one fact about yourself using each letter of your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name use your maiden name instead.
(3) When you are finished with your answers, you tag one person for each letter of your name.

Well the problem with this one is that I have two middle names, my middle name from birth and my maiden name. That is a total of 12 letters, so I'm not going to do both. I want to do my birth middle name... but here is my confession... Cara is actually a nickname from my middle name--or at least, I consider it a nickname for it. I really prefer it to my first name and real middle name, and have always liked going by that name.* But my real middle name is... Clara. I never go by Clara, so don't use it. But see how Cara is a shortening of Clara? It makes sense, right?

Anyway, I will use Clara for this meme because games have rules, and I follow them:
C - Caring towards people (especially children), animals and the environment
L - Lazy when I can get away with it
A - Angelic outwardly, but a little bit of the devil underneath
R - Reasonable in general, but speak to me in terms to which I can relate
A - Articulate (I totally stole that from Karen!) in writing and speech

I have to tag 5 people, so I'll make it ImpostorMom, Burgh Baby's Mom, One Tired Ema, nutmeg96 of Two Shorten the Road, and Don Mills Diva.

Second, Rhea of Word Tangle invited me to participate in a meme-ish word game**, the 6-Word Writing Challenge. My 6-word memoir is:
Each year even better than previous.

Want to give it a try? I'm not tagging anyone, but opening it up to anyone. What would be your 6-word memoir?

*I especially love going by "caramama" because of the double meaning, combining my favorite name to go by with the italian language that I love. I was very proud of myself when I thought of it. ;-)

**UPDATE: As I look into this a bit, and read a recent post by Girl's Gone Child, I'm learning that there is more to this one. There is a contest at SMITH Magazine for 6-word memoirs because a book has recently come out full of 6-word memoirs called Not Quite What I Was Planning, by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser. Pretty cool! Check it out.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

At Least I'm Feeling More Normal

Thank you all so much for you sympathy and advice on yesterday's post. I will work on being patient (not one of my strengths) and accepting that I will have a new normal, post-child(ren) body. I've been working on eating even better than I had been (minus my super crazy sweet tooth, but I've always had that).

Speaking of feeling normal, I've been dealing with everything so much better lately. As we head into spring, my Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is improving, as it does every March/April. Because of that, my postpartum depression (PPD) has just about gone away. These two were obviously very closely tied for me.

Let me give you an example of how much better I'm doing. Londo was away on business from Monday until yesterday evening. I can't believe I didn't even mention it while he was gone, but that was because I was doing really well by myself! Yes, it was during the work week, so I wasn't home with a fussy baby all day, but it was still a lot of work to take care of her, the animals, the house and everything else by myself. Londo really shares the childrearing and housework with me, so I'm not used to having to carry the load all by myself. And it's tough.

Last time he went away, I glossed over how bad I felt and how hard it was on me. I didn't get into it here on my blog, but boy did I talk about it with my therapist (who I see for my PPD)! The big mistake we (Londo and I) made was not setting up an adequate support system. I didn't realize that she would not be sleeping as well or that she would skip a nap each day on the weekend while he was gone. In February, I spend 2 or more hours a day in front of a special light that mimics the part of the sunlight that I need (without the harmful UV rays or the rays that would give me a nice tan). When she missed her nap, I didn't have enough time in front of my light. (Babies and kids eyes cannot be in front of the light, because it is very bright and could damage their developing eyes.)

When I don't get enough light, it's like I miss a dose of anti-depressant medication. Not good. Something as simple as her not taking her nap started me on a downward spiral. I couldn't do my light, which filled me with anxiety, which turned a minor frustration into something momentous in my mind, which made me depressed and even more exhausted, which made the baby harder to watch and deal with, which made her fussier, which made me more frustrated and depressed, etc. etc. Doesn't that sound like a fun weekend? Luckily, I wasn't like that all the time that weekend he was away, because the Pumpkin was in general in a good mood and slept pretty well at night. Also, I did reach out for help when I finally realized I needed it, and my mom came over. But I should have had more help or asked sooner. Lesson learned.

But on to the good news... I did great while Londo was away these last few days. I don't just mean outwardly, because I went through all the motions just fine last time. I mean inside my head and emotionally, I did great. Was it easy to do it all by myself? No. Was the Pumpkin fussy on and off? Of course. Did I get frustration? At times. Did it send me on an emotional downward spiral? NO!! It did not! I was able to be frustrated, take a deep breath and move on. This sounds like such a small thing, but it is huge. If you've never been truly, seriously depressed, I don't know if you'll get it. So just trust me, this is a big deal!

I really believe I'm moving past my PPD. I will still do my light therapy for a couple more weeks and take my fish oil to get those fantastic Omega-3 fatty acids, which help with mood. And I will still be very aware of when to ask for help and keep backup plans in place. Because I just never know if a few bad nights of sleep will send me down the spiral again, but for now, I'm feeling very good. I'm enjoying motherhood even more. And I'm even more in love with my daughter!

For anyone else who is suffering from PPD or is pregnant and is concerned they may develop PPD, please check out the following resources:
-Ask Moxie has a PDF on the left side of her site (under Download This) with 14 Tips to Prevent Postpartum Depression
-Ask Moxie also has a few Q&A posts about people dealing with PPD, such as this one, and if you search her site you will find many others
-Check out Dooce's blog, especially the recent post she wrote about her depression, PPD and taking medication
-Here's a post by Dooce's husband, an important look at how a person's depression affects their partner
-Here's a site specifically for Maryland residents
-This is a site where people suffering from PPD share their stories in order to not feel so alone

There are many other resources out there, too. This parenthood thing isn't easy on regular days. When the fog clears, it's amazing how much better even the hard days are. If you or someone you know is suffering from PPD, please get help or help them to get help. It's worth it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Will I Ever Be Normal Again?

So, it's been almost a year since I gave birth to my firstborn. I must admit my surprise that some things from pregnancy or post-pardum as still going on. I really thought by now my body would be back to normal (as normal as it gets). I don't know if it just takes longer than I thought to recover, if some of this is because I'm still nursing, or if something is truly haywire with my body. I have talked to the Ob/Gyn at my last appointment, and although she checked my thyroid, it was normal and she thinks it all just normal. But that was months ago.

Here's what's still going on:
-My hair is still falling out like crazy. I don't know how I have any left, but I won't if this keeps up.
-The very real possiblity still exists that when I sneeze, I may pee my pants a little if I'm not careful. I didn't even end up delivering vaginally, so what is the deal?
-My breast are still itchy. I think it's worse when my allergies act up, but they never itched prior to the birth of the Pumpkin, so what gives?
-My appetite is still insane. I'm sure this is because I'm still nursing, but I think she recently went through a growth spurt or something, because I've been ravenous.
-Part of my C-section scar is still a bit red and sore. I really thought it would be all healed up by now. It's not infected or inflammed or anything like that, just still sore.
-Emotionally, I'm still a bit of a roller coaster. Any hint of a sad story, especially involving kids, will literally make tears well up in my eyes, if not outright crying. Even if I just read the headline! I've always been sensitive and a softy, and I do cry to release emotions, but it's been slightly over the top since pregnancy.

There are other things too. I am trying not to worry much, at least until I'm done having kids. Then, I'll start to worry. But they do drive me a touch crazy.

I guess it could be worse. I could be pregnant again already and have these things in full force. HA!!! Oh, that's funny now, only because I know for sure I'm not pregnant. A week ago, that would not have been funny...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Books, Books, and More Books

As I said yesterday, I was able to finish my February read thanks to the extra leap year day. I probably would have gotten through it faster if I'd enjoyed it more. It's a shame, because I was really looking forward to it, but either my expectations were off or the book itself could have been better. Probably both.

My February TBR Challenge book was Desiring Italy, a collection of stories edited by Susan Cahill. I thought that a book with well-known female writers writing about how they love Italy would include interesting stories of their time in that country. I was expecting stories like I've read in the Travelers' Tales series (excellent books!), like A Woman's World, or stories reminiscent of A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemmingway about his time in Paris.

This book was a collection of stories by women writers, yes. Some stories were true, autobiographic stories and some were fiction taking place in Italy. But they were really all over the place, and I don't mean geographically. For example, Mary Shelley's piece read like a Fodor's guide to what to see or a walking tour of sites in Venice, while George Eliot's selection was parts of Middlemarch that take place in Rome but didn't really speak much about the details of Rome. It just didn't feel cohesive to me.

That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it at all. The short story by Edith Wharton (I can't remember the name) which took place in Rome was absolutely perfect. There was plenty of scenery which set the mood, the writing was excellent and the story itself was brilliant. I also discovered some fascinating women writers who I did not know before, and my next amazon order will include non-fiction and fiction books by Mary Wortley Montagu, Elizabeth Von Arnim and Iris Origo.

But it will also include Travelers' Tales Italy: True Stories, because those are the kinds of stories that I love to read about people's travels. It will also include a couple other Traverlers' Tales books, because looking up the links above brought some new books to my attention, such as A Mother's World: Journeys of the Heart and Family Travel: The Farther You Go, the Closer You Get. If any of you internetters enjoy travel writing, I highly recommend this series.

For March, my TBR Challenge book is Amy Tan's Saving Fish From Drowning. I love Amy Tan. She is such an excellent writer and story teller. If you like her but haven't read her book of essays, The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings, you really should go out and buy it right now.

Of course, there is a story about this particular book sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read. This book is actually my aunt's book which she has lent to me (for like a year and a half). As an adult, it's been very special to connect with this particular aunt through our love of books. She has lent me some fantastic books, such as The Dream of Scipio by Iain Pears and The Blessing Stone by Barbara Wood. The latter was such a great book, I bought my own copy so I could re-read it and lend it to others. So for my aunt's 70th birthday, when my sister and brother asked what we should get her, I volunteered to go to the bookstore and pick out a bunch of books I thought she would like. She loved them and agreed to lend them to me after she had read them. This is one of those books. She has moved in with her son in Texas, so I don't see her much lately, but I still need to read this and give it back to her. Which is why it's my next book on the Challenge.

I plan to start that book tonight. Over the weekend, I got in a quick fun read--one of the romance novels in a series I love. But now I'm back to the challenging books. I better hurry through my March book, because I'm going to head over to amazon now and buy a bunch more books!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Question of the Week - Deja View

Wow. For a while there on Friday, all I heard was the chirping of the crickets. I felt like I was just hanging out there with everyone silently staring. Thank you to those who did comment on Friday's post. That makes me feel a little less uncomfortable putting my thoughts on the matter out there. I always feel better if people comment.

Anywho... on to other things. This is my 100th post! The big 1 0 0. I'm pretty proud of myself for keeping up with the blog. I love the new people I've met, and I love that I've gotten in touch with old friends and acquantinces through the blog. Thank you once again ImpostorMom for getting me hooked into reading and then writing a blog.

It's a new month, and I'm happy to say I finished my February book of the To Be Read Challenge on the night of the 29th, right before bedtime. Thank goodness there was an extra day in February this year, eh? I will do a review of Desiring Italy and an intro to my March book, Saving Fish Before Drowning, later this week.

Now, on to the Question of the Week and my very bad pun in the title of today's post. The following has been on my list of questions to ask, and recently I saw someone else ask the same basic question. So I figured this was a good week for it.

What movie(s) could you see over and over again?

I can give my answer immediately: Clue. I love this movie and I really, truly don't get sick of it. This has been proven when I watched the movie four times in about a week a year ago. Londo kept joking with people about how I'd just watched it and would watch it again because I will watch it anytime. And people kept saying that they'd either never seen it or hadn't seen it in years. They expressed interest in watching it, and I popped it in the DVD player. It's just such a fun and funny movie.

I also could (and have) watch the original three Star Wars movies again and again. There are others I could watch many times, but I would get sick of them. I just don't get sick of Clue and the original Star Wars movies. Hmmm, maybe the first Matrix movie, too. I'm not sure I'd get sick of that one, but I haven't tried.

How about you? What movie or movies would you watch to the point of annoying everyone around you?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Cara Mama - Feeling Clumsy

Cara Mama,

I don't know why, but I keep stubbling and losing my balance! Just when I was starting to get the hang of this whole walking and climbing stuff. I know you said I must be going through a growth spurt or developmental spurt which is throwing things off a bit, but it's very frustrating!

I get so upset when I fall or bang my head. I was doing great the other week, but now I feel so clumsy. Maybe starting that Little Gym place next week will help. It sure does sound like fun!

Ti amo,
Pumpkin