Sunday, July 7, 2013

Objects Of My Affection

The lyrics to this song aren't nearly as impactful written down as they felt while I was parked at the red light on Cesar Chavez and Congress yesterday, singing them passionately at the top of my lungs and drumming my hands on the steering wheel as if I were Neil Pert. I bobbed my head to the catchy beat, nodding in affirmation and maybe throwing in a fist pump and an "Amen!" here and there. That is, until I glanced to my right and saw a Matthew Mcconaughey shirtless lookalike with a perfect tan stopped in a red Jeep Wrangler, top off, bumpin' some rap song I had never heard of before and staring at me through his cool Raybans with a cheesy grin on his face. Damnit!! I slid down in my seat and tried to downplay the theatrical shenanigans he had just witnessed. Doing my best to seem remotely attractive and cool, I twirled my hair around my finger, slowly lowered my sunglasses, eased up on the high-hat steering wheel symbol tapping and prayed for the traffic light Gods to turn the light green. They quickly answered my prayer but unfortunately, the doppleganger was in a left hand turn lane as well so we crossed the intersection parallel to one another, him smiling and trying to make eye contact while I mumbled curse words and did my best to downplay the fact that my ugliest old-lady bra strap was showing and my chin housed a pimple the size of mount everest that could rupture at any moment.

Back to the song. The lyrics have resonance, especially after this past year which has felt personally uninspired and lackluster. 

I can only speak for myself, but I think both Mike and I similarly question what our lives have become these days now that we have officially been parents for three years. 

The first two years of being a parent are easy breezy. In the beginning, your role beyond being as nurturing as possible is to make sure your child eats, wears clean diapers, avoids bumping their moldable skulls into table corners while they are learning to walk, avoids electrical sockets, doesn't take naps in the washing machine or crawl outside while no one is looking and hitch a ride with a stranger. These early times also involve lengthy and numerous naps during the day which allow you to maintain a sense of independence. Back then, nap time offered an oasis of solitude, reading, writing, sewing and sometimes social interactions. It was marvelous.

After two years is when, for me, my role as a mother became much more strenuous and demanding.  Two was when having time for myself and the activities that made me happy and passionate outside of motherhood became much more limited. Two was when I realized that it was seriously important that I dedicate 100% of my attention to Quinn while we were around one another so that I could teach her how to be a sweet, loving and smart human being. I need to make sure I don't wine up raising a Regina George from Meangirls

It's tough! These days it feels as if we are living in a house with a tiny schizophrenic. Have you ever imagined what it is like to live with someone that literally says NO to everything? What about someone who refuses to put their clothes and shoes on when you are seriously running late? What about living with someone who is fine one moment but then gets frustrated because you aren't finding her favorite cooking show on Youtube (Nerdy Nummies is so good, check it out!)  fast enough and they fall on the floor and flap around like a fish out of water screaming?

Mike and I were laughing the other day about what it's like to hang out with Quinn all day long.  Here is a typical conversation with Quinn:

Quinn, "Mommy, can you pwaaaay with me?"
Tara, "Sure Quinn, in just one second."
Quinn, "Pweeeeeez!! Mom...Mommmmm....pweeeeeez!"
Tara, "::hesitation:: Ahhh... okay. ::drops whatever I was doing:: What do you want to play?"
Quinn, "Let's pway Littlest pet shops!  Follow me! Okay, you be this guy. I'll be this other guy. 'Hi mommy cat!'"
Tara, "Hi baby cat! ::taps cat around the floor::"
Quinn, "::high shrill:: NO!!! You're not DOING it right! That not how she talks!!"
Tara, "Oh, oops...okay...uhh...::deep voice:: Hi baby cat! ::taps cat on the tree::"
Quinn, "MOMMY!! ::rolls around on floor like a crazy person:: Cats don't GO on trees!! You're not playing right!! ::fake whine::"
Tara, "Ahh...shit okay. Uhh. Do you want to do something else?"
Quinn, "::suddenly very calm:: What does 'something else' mean?"
Tara, " can engage ourselves in an alternative activity?"
Quinn, "What does alternative mean?"
Tara, "Well back in MY day, alternative was totally bands like Blink182 and Pearl Jam. You have no idea how much mainstream music today has plunged as far as creativity is concerned."
Quinn, "....Pearl jam?"
Tara, "Yeah! No Code was an incredible album."
Quinn,"...uhhh..  I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!!!!!!"
Tara, "::sigh:: Okay. What do you say first?"
Quinn, " Pweeeeeeeez! Thank you mommy!!"

This is what life is like now and sometimes it can wear on my big time.  After a long day, I catch myself just repeating "Uh huh, yeah...ohhh...yeah...uh huh..." when talking to Quinn after seven conversations in a row that resemble the one above. And I feel so guilty for that. When I finally have time to myself, I feel emotionally exhausted and find it difficult to devote time to the things i used to love doing.

Insert reassurance for future mothers: I apologize for making motherhood sound so bleak! I promise, it is a very beautiful thing and I can't imagine my life without Quinn, she is incredible.  I think, for me, it is really about finding a balance between raising a child and holding onto your independence... which I am just now realizing can be an incredibly challenging thing to do. Another perk of motherhood is that you develop new and improved life skills such as "increased patience","empathy", "tickling skills", the ability to not throw up after seeing someone else throw up next to you (or on you), effectively removing potty-training-induced urine out of carpets, scraping hardened play dough out of grout like a boss, etc.

And here we are. Back to the lyrics.

                                "And the question is...was I more alive then than I am now?"

"I happily have to disagree, I laugh more often now, I cry more often now.... "

"I am more me." 

It's true. I think back to the days before motherhood. Back when Mike and I walked around NYC all night long, stayed up late, spent all of our money on things that made us temporarily happy, acted like teenagers with no responsibility. Mike was in a crazy band. I wore funky dresses each day and hung out with cool friends. We were still our own people back then. These days, we buy a six pack of Blue Moon and sit on the front porch staring into the darkness, talking about the good ol' days until we get over emotional about not having any friends or social lives and finish off said six-pack before passing out in bed after watching the same episode of Family Guy that we had already seen eight times. (I just re-read that sentence and LOL'd.)

But, the positive, life-changing aspect of all of this is that  becoming a mother has forced me to do a lot of introspective digging that I most likely would have never done if it weren't for having a baby. If not for Quinn, I would have never been put in such testing situations that truly made me examine what kind of person I am and what kind of person I would like to become. I have moved on from that person I used to be who unknowingly thought of only myself, didn't place a value on what my time was worth, who often times only lived in the moment and didn't plan for the future, was ignorant to a lot of ideas and experiences, the list goes on.

I genuinely laugh more often now...and definitely cry more often now too. But I am more alive now than I was then. I just have to remind myself of that, have patience and learn how to manage the balance between being a mom and being myself. It can be done!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Make time.

Happy new year, everyone! (I know, I know, I'm a bit late...)

I'm not one for making resolutions, as we all know how unlikely it is to keep them up for an entire year (hence my annual "must work out" and "eat healthy" regimens which are always an epic fail.)   But this year, the theme is going to be "Make time". I am feeling optimistic about making some tiny adjustments that will hopefully promote happiness, inspiration and encouragement to my crazy busy life.  Maybe if I keep my goals small, they will feel more obtainable. And if they are small goals, they won't take too much time to do so I won't have any excuse for not accomplishing them.

Overlooking the city of Dorgali on the Italian island of Sardinia and feeling happy and overwhelmed. 2007.

Tara's list of things to strive for in 2013:

- Last week, a close and inspirational friend gave me some stellar words of advice, "You can do anything for five minutes... Instead of taking a day at a time, take five minutes." How true! When overwhelmed, discouraged, excited, anxious, I have been putting that motto to the test and have felt a much-needed sense of peace and motivation. I'm going to keep that in my back pocket for 2013.

- Tackle my pinterest inspiration list. I used to feel frustrated and think, "Who are these super moms who find the time to DO all of this amazing stuff while dealing with work and little kids each day??" But, I am changing my tune. (Note to self: Add "Be more positive" to list for 2013) So, instead, I am going to try to do an artsy project each week to keep my creative urges hustlin' and bustlin'.

- This summer, get our organic garden going again. Eating natural fruits and veggies is a major goal.

- Try new things. I have been feeling so stagnant, repetitive and bored for longer than I would like to admit.  The goal is to keep an open mind.

- Cook more with Quinn.

-  Live more in the moment. "Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have."

Those are just a few of the things I am going to work hard to tackle this year. What are some of your goals for 2013?

Encouraging words.


             Photo by Julia

Monday, January 14, 2013

Rainbow Cupcakes

After being unemployed for longer than I ever have been and Mike carrying our family's financial stress solely on his shoulders, it was very apparent that we were going to have a pretty low-key Christmas last month. Not until Christmas eve were there finally presents under our tree, and thankfully our families really helped out in the gifting department. As disappointed as he and I were to not have a ton of gifts for her to try to sneak peaks at for weeks prior to Christmas, Quinn, our sweet girl, surprised us again with her easy going personality and desire to play with non-toy-related items. Quinn seemed excited about the toys she received, but quickly went back to her favorite toy, my iPad from over a year ago. It has been the main source of entertainment for Quinn since we have had it.

At first we were kind of worried. Can playing on the ipad really be that good for a two yearold? You hear stories of kids who play video games and turn into antisocial nerds when they grow up (haha, okay maybe that is a bit of an over exaggeration.) I just didn't want Q to turn into a Dungeons and Dragon's wizard girl and one day marry her dragon slaying boytoy via a virtual ceremony next to a magic bag of crystals or whatever.

ANYWAY. The ipad has been a really great tool for us to discover what Quinn is really into, which has been the greatest gift of all. Thanks to the trusty apps we have downloaded, Quinn has taken a keen interest in books, puzzles, matching games, and most of all, process-oriented activities. For instance, no matter what youtube video she starts off on, she somehow always navigates to a cooking tutorial or a how-to video. Whether it is someone from Japan showing her how to make erasers, or a little girl demonstrating how to use her new toy castle, Quinn will sit patiently and watch the video from start to finish. No matter what the length. It is really intriguing to watch her focus on every step leading up to a final result. So after she watched a "How to bake rainbow cupcakes" tutorial for the 193857493875th time, I decided it was time for us to make these badboys ourselves using the steps listed in her fav video.

It was so much fun! She seemed really excited as she realized she already knew which step came next in the process. Here are some photos...

First, Quinn mixed our cake box mixture in a large bowl with the water, eggs and cooking oil. Once blended together, we separated it into five separate bowls. I had Quinn put a few drops of food coloring into each bowl and stir it until the color magically appeared. "Mommy, these are magic soups!" Haha. We talked about how primary colors could make any color in the rainbow if they are mixed properly. Oh, and Thumper was there to help.

 Then, we took a scoop of each colored mixture and filled up the cupcake wrappers (use foil ones so the dye doesn't bleed through the wrapper,) layer by layer until they eventually looked like this. Next time I know to purchase two boxes of cake mix, because we started to run out of some of the batter...hmm...I wonder why...

 Oh, that's why. Because someone kept scooping spoon fulls of the batter into her mouth when I wasn't looking. Watch out for sneaky batter-eating-kids. You can spot them by the mass amounts of food coloring all over their faces and hands. BUSTED.

 Once they were done baking, they looked like this...

 Hold on, Quinn! Let them cool first!!! THEN we will put the frosting on.

 Ummm, I tried to take a picture of the final result, but she devoured hers too quickly. Oops! I guess they tasted good.

It was our first adventure truly baking something together and it was so much fun, especially because I know it really peaked her interest. We took a few extra ones over to Holt's house. Quinn said she wanted to give him a cupcake present. Hehe.

 I am going to see what baking videos she navigates to next and maybe we will try another baking project next week. Fun times!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Things that made me smile this week!

My desperate attempts to get Quinn to eat anything besides Yogurt and bread. Girl, eating is fun!

                       Seeing my buddy, James VanDEERbeek each time I walk through the door.

                                                        Quinn's new monster bathing suit!

                                                      Ellie, photobombing my snapshot of Olivia.

                                           Chillin' beside this adorable guy at the stop light!!!

    Quinn expressing her dislike for our Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody impromptu dance party during breakfast this morning.

                                                                    Kitty snuggle time.

          Our last few nights of Christmas lights. Sorry guys, you're coming down tomorrow!
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