Saturday, March 16, 2013

A reason to smile

It's a hard day.  A frustrating hard day.  My body is aching from the ballet class I took last night, the baby was up until 2am and back up at 6:30, then decided to skip her morning nap, and I really, really just need sleep.  Oh, what I would give for a nap right now.

But I can hear Eliza moving around in her playpen while I sit quietly out of view on the couch.  And then two little hands reach the top of the playpen and I know she's standing up trying to find me.  And then a tiny little head peeks out over the top of the playpen, she's looking around for me, but can't see me.  And then whomp, she falls down.  Over and over and over again.

How can I do anything but smile?


I've never done a traditional workout in a gym.  If you plopped me down in a gym I'd look around and have no idea what to do.  I'd probably walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes and call it good, but I don't really count that as a workout.  To me, a workout is a ballet class.  I started taking ballet classes when I was five years old and continued all throughout high school and college.  And now as an adult I still love to take a ballet class.  I love how a good ballet class isn't just about movement and getting a sweat, it's also so mental. It's a place where I can truly stop thinking about anything outside of the dance studio, I don't worry about if my baby is napping, what's for dinner, I'm totally focused on my body. I'm thinking about the combination and where my legs and arms are going.  I'm thinking about the music and the counts.  I'm thinking about my muscles, is my center tight, my tail tucked under, my knees pulled up? Am I turning out from my hips, beveling my feet? Am I using the floor? Even when I'm taking an "easy" class it just means more time to focus on my body, my technique, and it can still be a really good class. But I love a good advanced class, a class that makes me think about the combination, that pushes me to try for a double instead of a clean single pirouette.

It's been a long time since I've taken a ballet class.  I think the last class I took was about the same time I met Shawn, so three years.  But in January when the UVU Community Classes catalog came and I saw an Intermediate Adult Class listed I knew I had to take it! I knew that it was what I needed both mentally and physically, a good ballet class.

Taking ballet again has made me so appreciative of my ballet training. I'm grateful for the big, beautiful studio where I learned to dance.  I'm grateful for the sprung wooden floors.  Most of all I'm grateful for the instruction. I had two wonderful and very different ballet teachers. Stacey was straightforward with her instruction.  She was clear and precise. And after taking ballet from her for around a decade I could just about predict what she was going to say next, but that's not to say her classes were every boring.  Julie was completely different.  She was brillant, challenging, and might just change the exercise in the middle of a combination. You might not do the same exercise on both sides, but her choreography was amazing and it always made me feel beautiful. When Stacey and Julie worked together they brought out the best in us.  Stacey would clarify any confusion in Julie's instruction, and Julie would find the step, the movement that didn't feel quite right and fix it.  I loved dancing for them.

I'm grateful now for such quality training. I'm grateful for those years and that working with two teachers who were so different made it easy to understand new teachers I'm not familiar with. I'm grateful that I can pick up combinations easily, that though I may not have the technique, that my extension is gone, and my flexibility is laughable, I remember the steps, the names, the moves, and I can still do it.  It might not be pretty, but I can still do it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

If You Can't Beat Them. . .

Shawn's method of putting Eliza down for a nap, join in!
I dread nap time.  Every day when it nears the two hour mark since Eliza's woken up, I start to think about nap time and how much I don't want to go through the nap time routine.  There's nothing about the routine specifically that I don't like.  And naps are good, I love naps.  And it's not that I want to keep my baby awake to play with me.  It's just that. . . I don't have a good napper.  I've read the books, I've followed the advice, and yet. . . Eliza has no nap time consistency. One day she'll take two good solid naps, the next day it's only a morning nap, and the following day it's only an afternoon nap, and the next day no naps at all.  Add to that the pressure of the experts telling me that my baby should be napping for 2-3 hours twice a day, and the fact that I feel lucky if I can just get her to take a 30 minute nap makes me feel a bit like a failing mom. We've got the lovie, the sound machine, the pre-nap time routine, the only thing missing is the nap.  And to make it even worse. . . now she will only fall asleep for naps while I'm nursing her.  Which any Mom will tell you is a no-no.  The baby is supposed to be put down "drowsy but awake." But Eliza doesn't have that stage.  It's either awake or asleep.  And then there's the dreaded part when I have to actually put her in her crib.  I think that's the part of nap time I fear the most.  It's a big gamble, will she stay asleep?  Will the act of putting her down wake her up? Because once she wakes up that's it, the nap is over.  There's no gently coaxing this one back to sleep!

So, after MONTHS of struggle, countless articles read, talking to friends and family about nap time, I've decided, if you can't beat them, join them.  If she closes her eyes and all she does is sleep for 20 minutes in my arms, well, at least she got 20 minutes.  I'll try again in another 2 hours and see if she will take a better nap.  And if I get more than 20 minutes, if I successfully put her down in her crib and she stays asleep for an hour, it's time to celebrate!  But if she wakes up just a few minutes after I put her down, we've instituted quiet time.  She gets to play in her crib, and I get to shower, or eat lunch, or whatever is at the top of my agenda.  It's only been an attitude adjustment on my part, and it's only been a week, but it's already made a difference.  Not on Eliza's napping, that is still as strange as ever.  But giving in, not struggling to get her to take two good naps every day, not worrying that she's not getting enough sleep has made it so much easier on me. I'll still try every day.  I'll still watch her after she's been awake for 2 hours, and try to catch those first signs of drowsiness.  But I'm no longer going to feel like a failure if she only sleeps for a 30 minutes instead of 3 hours.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Favorite Things when I'm Sick

I'm still sick.  One entire month later.  I haven't cooked dinner or done any sort of house cleaning for a month.  I've turned to multiple people to watch Eliza to let me sleep or rest or go to the doctor.  I've taken drugs, tried natural remedies and spent a lot of time online trying to figure out what to do next. And at today's doctor visit it was decided that I have allergies. These are the worst allergies I've ever had, but I'm willing to give the inhaler, nasal spray and OTC allergy medicine a try if it can give me some rest from the cough, sore throat and runny nose that's been accompanying me for a month. And here's hoping that Shawn, Eliza, and I can all get some sleep tonight, because we were ALL kept awake last night by my cough.

Here are the things I can't live without when I'm sick (besides my Mom who we all want when we are sick, and she has certainly saved the day MULTIPLE times this time around!)

1. Halls Vitamin C Drops  I don't like cough drops, I can't stand them.  I think it's the menthol in them, but even when I have my worst cough I can't keep a cough drop in my mouth for more than a few minutes.  Then one day I discovered Halls Vitamin C Drops.  It's got 100% of your Vitamin C for the day, which you are supposed to take when you are sick anyway, and this is a much more attractive way to take Vitamin C than taking a pill with a glass of water.  Plus, it does a great job of shushing my cough or soothing my sore throat.  When I'm sick the first thing I do is make sure I have a package of these on my night stand.

2. Hot Orange Juice My Dad wasn't the parent who would take time off to take care of his sick kids when I was little, so it wasn't until I was a teenager and he was semi-retired that he shared this sore throat secret with me, a nice tall glass of hot orange juice.  I balked when he told me, orange juice on a sore throat?  It sounds like lemon juice on a paper cut, but I'm telling you this actually works!  And not only does the heat make it easy to swallow, the entire thing soothes your throat for hours.  I think I'll go pour myself a nice tall glass of hot OJ right now.

3. Puffs Plus Lotion with Vicks When Shawn and I were dating he got sick and I brought him a little get well package of Halls Vitamin C drops, a bottle of orange juice (with instructions to heat it) and a box of Puffs Plus Lotion with Vicks tissues.  A week later I was at his house, the OJ was still sitting unopened in the fridge, the Vitamin C Drops had been put away, also unopened, and the Puffs were sitting out where just anybody could use them! I told him, you can't just leave the Puffs out!  Those things are GOLD for a sick nose, you have to protect them, put them away for next time, don't just waste them or let them get used up!  These tissues are truly MAGIC when you are sick, the lotion part soothing the nose, and the Vicks part easing the congestion.  Sadly, Shawn and I have been searching for months for these beautiful tissues, but they don't seem to be sold in our area. But according to the website they still exist!  So, if you have some in your area, hoard them!  You don't know when you'll need them!  (Oh, and if you could send me a box, my nose and I would really appreciate it!)

4. Netti Pot My lovely former roommate was kind enough to share her grandmother with me.  Grandma Durham was full of wisdom and funny stories.  She was generous and charming and if nothing else Laura always came home with an amusing Grandma Durham anecdote. One day Grandma Durham found out Laura had been feeling under the weather and sent her home with a Netti Pot.  We all declared it was crazy, gross and we would never, ever use a netti pot.  We were all wrong.  I'm not sure exactly what led to me actually using this contraption, but I'm telling you, it works.  It helps with my seasonal allergies and with my colds.  It's still working this time around, but this cold + allergy misery seems to be besting even the netti pot.

5. Mom Blanket Of course the best thing when I am sick, the thing that can never be matched is my Mom.  But, while my Mom has been incredible the past month, sadly, she still has to go home after a few hours of her magic, and sadly, I can't live on her couch anymore.  So, the next best thing to my Mom is a blanket she made for me when I was 8.  It's worn and needs to be mended, but my "Mom Blanket" has led me through many sicknesses, be it a broken heart or jaw surgery or your average cold.  Wrapping up in my red, white and blue comforter is almost as good as being wrapped in her arms.  It has the magic ability to keep you not too hot and not too cold, it's perfect in both weight and softness.  I may have had it for 20+ years, but I predict it will be around for another 20 years.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Why I Blog. . .

When I returned to my office after my honeymoon there was a lovely basket sitting on my desk and in the work refrigerator there was a bag labeled "Annie W." and I didn't know who Annie W. was.  After I got married I suddenly had this identity crisis, who was Annie Walker?  And that is why I started this blog, to figure out who I was as a married person.  Shawn and I have been married just over two years now, and while I certainly feel more like my self now as Annie Walker, having a baby has added to that identity crisis.  Becoming Annie Walker is more than just figuring out who I am as a married person, now I add who am I as a mother, as a homemaker? Who am I now that I don't have a job outside the house?

Being a mother, being a stay at home mother, it's hard.  It's isolating at times. It gets boring, frustrating. What I miss most about working is having a community.  Having people to talk to about life. And that's why I blog now, to create my own community, to have a place to talk about life, my life now as a mother, as a wife, as a woman.