Happy Weekend.

Happy Weekend, my friends.

happy weekend

We spent much of yesterday at the Cape, measuring walls and windows and cabinets in the new house while my parents helped us tremendously by taking the babes for a mystery ride.  After dinner at Brax Landing, we headed back to the city with a plan (and a healthy to do list) and some sand in my favorite peace moccasins. 

happy weekend peace shoes

The sun is shining in South Boston and baby Nick slept for nearly 6 hours in a row (it’s been a struggle to get more than a couple hours of sleep lately; please reference the dark circles under my eyes and/or my lack of patience for more information).  The morning is aglow with possibility.  And piles of laundry.

You know how I preach getting your Sunday things done on Saturday? I have a feeling, this week, they’re getting done on Tuesday or next Thursday.  Or two weeks from tomorrow.  There’s something to be said for taking it easy when you can.

I hope you’re having a happy and relaxed weekend.

Also On Tap for Today:

What are your designated Sunday things?

Vegan snacking with Lightlife + The Boston Veg Food Festival

You know my favorite meal is snack time.  No secret there.  I love a good snack plate.  Grace says, “Me too.”


vegan snack


I recently had the chance to try Lightlife‘s new vegan Smart Jerky, the perfect addition to our afternoon snack plates, along with a few of the following:

Each serving of Smart Jerky contains 9 grams of protein and is 100% plant-based, Non-GMO Project Verified, and Certified Vegan.  It’s also really good. It’s low in calories (90 per serving) and shelf stable, so I could see this being a great on-the-go snack for fall adventures.  Which reminds me… I really want to take a walk (a hike?) in the Blue Hills while the trees are still looking so spectacular.  And we’ve yet to go apple picking.  Jeez.

lightlife smart jerky

Smart Jerky is available in two flavors (original and teriyaki) and can be purchased in the Boston area at Stop and Shop.  It will be available nationally in 2017.



Lightlife is one of the sponsors of this weekend’s 21st Annual Boston Veg Food Festival at the Reggie Lewis Center.  The event is free and open to the public and features food sampling, 120 exhibitors, cooking demonstrations, noted speakers, opportunities to learn about protecting animals and the environment, children’s activities, and shopping.

I’ve attended this event several times in the past and learned a great deal about new products and local vendors who cater to vegetarians… as well as how to live a bit healthier, a bit greener and a bit kinder.  I recommend bringing a shopping bag (or two) with you and planning to spend a few hours checking out each booth and exhibit.  It can get crowded, given the popularity of this event.  (We vegetarians and vegans are very fun people to be around, after all.)

You can park for free at the Reggie Lewis Center or take the T to Roxbury Crossing station (orange line), which is right across the street.

The Boston Veg Food Festival

  • Saturday, October 22nd 11 AM – 6 PM
  • Sunday, October 23rd 10 AM – 4 PM
  • Reggie Lewis Athletic Center, 1350 Tremont Street in Boston

vegan snacking

Alright… snack time!

This post was sponsored by Lightlife.  All opinions are my own.  Obvi.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your favorite on-the-go snack?

Sweet potato toast with a kick.

When it comes to trends (and cool things, in general), I’m rarely on time.  I think sweet potato toast reached its peak coolness this summer, so it’s fitting I just popped my first batch out of the toaster in mid-October.  We’ll get to that in a second.  Let’s relish in my uncoolness a bit longer.

sweet potato toast

I was the last to read the first Harry Potter book and never got around to reading the others.  I did, however, watch all of the movies while icing my knees after marathon training runs.  I’m still not really clear on how things end.  Like, did Harry turn into a baby snake under a bench at a train station?  I realize this entire paragraph will horrify many of you.  I just can’t get with imaginary stuff.

Sun In: No.  The Titanic:  Never saw it.  Snapchat:  Still mostly a mystery to me.  Crop tops: I think everyone’s okay with me skipping that phase (a sales girl at Nordstrom did recommend I try one on a few months ago… I blessed her with all the power my postpartum body could muster).  

In some cases (see Sun In and Titanic), I wear my uncoolness like a badge of (midriff covering) honor.  But in other cases, I’m disappointed I didn’t catch on sooner.  Such is the case with the aforementioned sweet potato toast.  It’s really delicious.  And easy.  And gluten free. And all you need is a sweet potato.  And a toaster.  Ok, and a knife.


sweet potato toast


  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • A toaster (I guess that’s less ingredient and more equipment, but whatev)

Suggested toppings:

  • 1/2 ripe avocado, mashed
  • Shredded cheese
  • Black beans
  • Plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • Pico de gallo 
  • Hot sauce


  1. Wash sweet potato and slice lengthwise evenly (each slice should be approximately 1/4 inch wide)
  2. Arrange sweet potato slices in your toaster so that they don’t overlap; toast on the highest setting until slightly browned (this took about 10 minutes for me)
  3. Add toppings as you wish + enjoy

I finished my sweet potato toasts off with a bit of Poor Devil Pepper Co.’s Cajun Widow lacto fermented hot sauce, recently sent to me by my friends at Small Batch Daily.  This stuff is the real deal (read: hot) and added the perfect cajun kick.  It’s also organic, raw, probiotic and decidedly cool.  For once, I feel sort of ahead of the curve.  Maybe?

sweet potato toast

If you’re looking for similarly cool food items, I definitely recommend checking out Small Batch Daily’s shoppable Instagram feed (@smallbatchdaily). They release new small batch finds each Monday and Wednesday.  You can learn more by visiting their website.

Okay.  But seriously.  What happens to Harry?

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s the coolest thing you’ve done lately?

Happy Weekend.

Happy weekend, my friends.  

happy weekend cape cod

I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for ages.  Today we’re showing the kids our new vacation home on the Cape for the first time (we closed on the property yesterday– this is the happy surprise I alluded to earlier in the month).  

Some of my happiest memories were made in Harwich; it thrills me that Grace and baby Nick will get to make similar memories finding hermit crabs at low tide, devouring Sundae School ice cream after dinner, swimming with their cousins, and racing around the backyard with Clark.  

I couldn’t feel luckier in this moment.

After a quick trip over the bridge, we’ll be back in the city for baby Nick’s baptism.  At 10 months and 20 lbs., I fear we might need several priests and nuns to help hoist him over the font.  We’ll see.  I can’t wait to share this occasion with our family.  Grace is especially excited for “wearing party shoes and being quiet at church!”  Again: we’ll see.

It feels so good to be occupied by happy things, and to have family and friends to share them with.  Wishing you and yours the same.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s at the top of your gratitude list this week?

October goals + a printable calendar

This hand painted calendar is coming to you live and direct on October 3rd.  So I suppose my number one goal for the month should be… punctuality?  


october goals printable calendar

Materials used: Two leaves, 8 x 10 Gelli Plate (for mono-printing — such a fun tool to have on hand!), brayer, various acrylic paints (Golden liquid + high flow acrylics, Dick Blick matte acrylics, Martha Stewart craft paint), cold press watercolor paper, Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolor paint, #2 round brush (for the October hand lettering), calendar text added digitally (because it took 9 months for me to accept I can’t paint in a straight line, apparently)

You can download your free, printable October calendar here.

I went in a bit of a different direction with this month’s calendar.  My distaste for fall colors is well documented here (plus there was the time I almost committed a crime against our wedding caterer when she suggested decorating our wedding reception with fake pumpkins and leaves…).  But I do love a good fallen leaf.  Whatever that means.

Grace and I collected a few on our way home from this morning’s workout and used them in today’s art project (I haven’t been doing much painting on my own these days, but we’ve been killing the mom/toddler art scene.  Again… whatever that means.).  Using my Gelli Plate to pull prints of these leaves was a lot of fun, and the result was just fall-ish enough to be October appropriate… without being a fake pumpkin.  

Regardless, we’ve got so much to look forward to this month — Nick’s birthday, my sister’s birthday, baby Nick’s baptism, dressing up Clark (and the children, obvi) for Halloween, football football snacks, and a really exciting thing I’ll tell you about later, because I seem to have become superstitious.  And vague.


Keeping it basic.  Like a PSL.

  • My primary wellness goal is, once again, consistency– consistent workouts, consistent hydration, consistent nutrition.  (I’d say consistent sleep… but… #babiesdontsleep).  The Mama Beasts fall challenge is underway, which gives me some much needed structure and motivation.
  • Make 1 new-to-me recipe each week.  You know, in an effort to stop making the same three things over and over.
  • Be more intentional about our weekends.  It’s often the only solid family time we have during the week.  I’d prefer we not spend it buried under laundry and/or rushing around.

And on that note: laundry awaits.  The glamor of my life continues to abound.

Also On Tap for Today:

What are you most looking forward to this October?

Prioritize sleep.

I missed an entire night of sleep this week (baby Nick were at the hospital– he was having a little respiratory trouble, but is much, much better).  Remember when we were in college and did that on purpose, stay up all night?  I’d like to travel back in time and give 2004 Elizabeth a real talkin’ to.  

And while I’m at it, I might as well travel back even further and tell 1982-ish Elizabeth that staying up all night and skipping naps is just wrong.  Plus, it’s a crime against your sleepy parents. 

34-year-old me cannot hang on no sleep.  And even on a good night, I could stand to catch a few more hours of sleep.  I’m guessing you can relate.

September sunsets are pretty great. So is sleeping for more than 2 hours and 12 minutes per night.

September sunsets in South Boston are pretty great. As is sleeping for more than 2 hours and 12 minutes per night.

So I’ve become obsessed with learning how to prioritize sleep.  How to fall asleep sooner.  How to stay asleep longer.  How sleep affects our brains and our bodies and our moods and how many plates of nachos we want to eat and/or actually eat.


A few things that have caught my attention:

prioritize sleep bath

Spoiler alert: If it works for you, do it.  (Slight bummer: It doesn’t work for everyone.)  A good soak definitely seems to help me quiet my mind and relax my body after a long week.  I love this epsom soak, especially after a tough workout.

prioritize sleep book

I really enjoyed this book (and it is little, relatively speaking, perfect for overtired readers).  There’s an entire section devoted to sleep, one of the master keys of health, as Dr. LoGuidice calls it.  

  • Sleep Like a Champion: Sleep Tips for Athletes from Casper

prioritize sleep casper

We’re big fans of Casper (even Clark, who has never missed a minute of sleep in his life and is currently cuddled up on the Casper dog bed Nick recently ordered for him), and I thought this info sleep stages, in particular, was interesting.  I know my fellow Mama Beasts and I are likely years (decades?) away from getting 10 hours of sleep, but I like knowing that any increase in quality sleep could improve our speed, reaction time and overall athletic performance.  And maybe it’s time I learn to nap when the babies nap.

This gentle, nighttime flow is heaven.

prioritize sleep smoothie

Kale, check. Yogurt, check. Banana, check.  Seasonally inappropriate glass, check.

Even better: Most of these are already in my kitchen — tart cherry juice (also great for workout recovery), yogurt, whole grains, kale, bananas… even Cheerios.

This is one my go-to tricks for falling asleep quickly.  It’s sort of like counting sheep, but with, like… breathing.  It seems a little weird, but trust me.  Try it.

On that note… time for a responsibly early bedtime.

Also On Tap for Today:

Do you have a bedtime routine?  


Grocery haul + food prep + meal plan

Grocery haul + food prep + meal plan…. but no Netflix.   There’s no time for that.  I’ve got snacks to eat.

grocery haul food prep meal plan

I hit up Target and Whole Foods by myself on Sunday.  I had a list, and miraculously, that list wasn’t covered in crayon scribbles.  It didn’t end up folded into a “turtle shape” (Grace seems to have taken up toddler origami), nor left hidden among the bananas.  As much as I love grocery shopping with the kids (it really is fun), going solo is a bit more… efficient.  

Here’s what I picked up:



  • Mini bagels
  • Goldfish crackers
  • Happy Baby pouches for Nick
  • Gingerbread Larabars
  • And boring non-food stuff… like safety swabs and toothbrushes

Whole Foods Market

  • Produce: 3 Honey Crisp apples (the biggest apples I have ever seen), 3 Gala apples, 4 pears, 3 lemons, 6 bananas, 2 avocados, 3 tomatoes, 2 navel oranges, 2 sweet potatoes, 1 red onion, spring mix with herbs, kale (the lazy person kind that comes pre-trimmed), 1 European cucumber, carrots, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, heirloom cherry tomatoes, chopped pineapple (see again: lazy), butternut squash, basil, cilantro, salsa fresca
  • Dairy: 1/2 gallon Crescent Ridge skim milk, Stonyfield Organic kids smoothies, extra sharp cheddar (shredded), string cheese, plain Greek yogurt, fresh mozzarella
  • Grocery: Annie’s Mac + Bees (G’s favorite), tortillas, lemonade, couscous, fresh squeezed apple juice, kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans


This week I split up food prep between Sunday afternoon and mid-day Wednesday.  In total, it probably took 2 hours.  If you don’t include doing dishes.  And, like, sampling.

meal prep smoothies

Life changing tip: Put your chia in a small shaker/spice jar. Then wait for the angels to sing.

  • Kale + strawberry smoothies (with banana, pineapple and chia seeds) pre-blended and frozen in muffin tins (in the future, I’d use muffin liners — these suckers did not want to come out)
  • Chopped veggies: cucumber, carrots

meal prep sweet potatoes squash

  • Roasted sweet potatoes
  • Caprese salad

meal prep iced tea

  • Pitcher of iced tea (David’s Tea organic Peppermint Amour — I sometimes get real fancy and add a splash of lemonade and/or pomegranate juice) – this is how I avoid going to Dunks for ice tea… and driving away with a donut
  • Cook quinoa

meal prep kale chips


Nick (the grown-up one) usually makes his own dinners during the week, while I tend to eat with the kids.  At 5 PM.  Like really young senior citizens.  Grace is getting more and more adventurous, and usually eats at least some of what I would be making for myself (she doesn’t eat meat either). Baby Nick will eat anything he can get his hands on– animal, vegetable, various pieces of furniture– which is fun… and also a little terrifying.

meal planning fall salad

  • Baked sweet potatoes with black beans, onions, cilantro + sharp cheddar
  • Kale and roasted sweet potato quesadillas with black beans and salsa fresca
  • Green salad with apples, walnuts, dried cranberries and crumbled bleu cheese
  • Vegetarian chili for lazy people (these are the themes of my life: laziness and good food)
  • Quinoa with basil pesto and tomatoes

And now it’s Netflix time.  

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your grocery shopping/food prep/meal planning style?  And what’s your go-to weeknight dinner?

Guard your spirit.

“Guard your spirit” is something I used to jokingly say to my dog, covering his eyes if there was violence on the evening news.  I would tell Nick that our little Frenchie was very sensitive and needed to be protected from things like swear words and fighting and pizzas that have mini hotdogs where the crust should be (I still can’t believe that’s a thing.  And we wonder why people think Americans are not okay.).

guard your spirit clark

My (spirit) guard dog

I think I’ve always been a somewhat sensitive person.  But I’ve gotten considerably more sensitive with age.  And ever more so as a mother.  I chalk some of this up to the fact that I haven’t slept since May of 2012, but I sort believe that the older we get, the more ourselves we become.  (Please don’t check my grammar on that last sentence.  We’ll both be disappointed.)  

I used to be able to watch six documentaries on serial killers in a row without needing to booby trap my own house.  I could listen to the baddest, most inappropriate music on the dial without flinching.  I could (for the most part– we all have our limits) hang with negative, bossy, rude people and not turn too awful myself.  And I could watch the evening news without covering Clark’s eyes, and plotting to lock everyone that I love in a closet (with plenty of snacks and a good ventilation system, obvi) so that nothing bad could ever happen to them.  Besides the whole being locked in a closet thing.  Speaking of which, add claustrophobia to my growing list of issues sensitivities.  

So these days, when I say Guard your spirit (most often to myself), I actually mean it.  And what I mean is this:  I am the person who I am.  And that person is part-sponge.  And that’s okay.  And I can do things to avoid becoming wrung out or water logged.  Here are a few of those things (I’m pretty sure they work for all types of people).


Be picky in the best way possible

guard your spirit plants

My best friends are self-sufficient plants.

  • Choose to spend time with people who bring out the best in you.  People who are kind, motivating, and encouraging.  (And be that sort of person for other people.)
  • Take advantage when opportunities present themselves.  For me, this means embracing even a tiny bit of alone time. There are days when I sort of want to yell, “No one talk to me, no one touch me, no one look at me, no one stick a Duplo in my bra, no one breathe near me!” But that would be rude.  So instead, I pretend I have to use the bathroom… and just hide in there for 3 whole minutes.  For more civilized people, this might mean prioritizing a last minute coffee date with a friend over some other obligation.
  • Be mindful of your goals and work to ensure your priorities (and like, daily behaviors) are aligned with these goals.  Don’t do things that work in opposition to these goals.  (Easier typed than done, I know.)  Your time and energy are not endless in supply.  Use ’em wisely.

Be careful about what you consume

guard your spirit waves

  • This goes for food and drink and things you put on your body (like clothes and make-up and glitter gel from the 90’s and dogs that demand to sit directly on your chest whilst you try to relax).
  • …But it’s equally important when it comes to media.  You don’t need to follow everyone and their grandmother (and let’s be serious, the grandmothers are present and accounted for on Facebook).  If what someone shares– tweets, photos, commentary, what have you– affects you negatively, unfollow.  And don’t feel guilty.  Think of it this way: our mental and emotional feeds are limited.  Don’t waste that space on pictures of cats eating steak or racist Facebook rants. Save it for waves gently crashing onto the shore.  Or whatever floats your proverbial boat.  Get it… waves… boats…. cool.
  • Know what works for you.  I don’t read fiction or watch shows or movies that contain much violence (especially if it involves violence against women or children).  This is not entertaining for me, and doesn’t make me a more informed or helpful person.  YouTube videos featuring baby pigs eating tiny cupcakes do entertain me.  Jury’s still out on whether or not they make me better informed or more helpful.  
  • Have a stash of treasured books, music, poems, artwork, movies, podcasts, drawings, pig videos, plants etc. at the ready when you need a little (or big) boost.  Some of my favorites: Mary Oliver, Hafez, Rumi, the On Being podcast, Wendell BerryParis to the Moon, Peggy: A Brave Chicken on a Big Adventure.

Default to kindness

  • On my worst days, I default to giving people the finger as they cut me off in the Columbia Rd. rotary.  But on my best days, I default to kindness.  It’s a habit that takes work.  I try to practice in little ways, like saying hello to strangers (but not in a creepy or unsafe way).  Or being truly patient (rather than pretending to be patient, but actually being annoyed) while people cross the street.  Or giving people the benefit of the doubt, that they’re doing their best for the moment.
  • So much of being a parent to two young children feels reactionary.  And prior to being at home with Grace and baby Nick, I worked in a very reactionary, which-fire-should-I-extinguish-first, kind of field.  I’m (very) slowly learning to react with less stress, less need to be right, less authority… and more kindness.  I think it’s sort of like when robots are re-programed so that they are, like, friendly robots instead of war robots in those war robot movies that you couldn’t pay me a trillion dollars to watch.  Just a guess.

Take care of yourself

guard your spirit salad

  • There are going to be plenty of times when we miss an opportunity to guard our spirits (like when you try to not watch the debate, but then you have to take your sick baby– he’s fine!– to the ER and all the TVs are tuned to CNN… WHY?). And there will be times when life goes sideways, in tiny or tragic ways.  And the better we’ve cared for ourselves, the better prepared we will be for those unexpected, unwelcome, unhappy or un-whatever times.
  • So take care of yourself.  Eat well.  Drink plenty of water.  And then a little more.  Sleep well (assuming that’s an option and you don’t have a tiny human yelling at you all night).  Exercise.  Pray.  Meditate.  Paint.  Hold a sleeping baby.  Hold an awake baby.  Do hula hooping in the park.  Let a dog sit on your chest for no apparent reason other than that’s what he wants to do.  

Be a nice person to yourself, and a nice person to other people.  And don’t watch recaps of the presidential debate.  Just kidding… kind of.

P.S. Happy Birthday to the best mother and grandmother we could ever hope for!

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever said to your dog?  How do you guard your spirit?


The week according to Instagram

It’s been a while since I shared an Instagram-ish update, mostly because that used to be a weekend thing… and there’s not much difference now between my weekdays and weekends.

2 Exceptions:

  1. The number of adults present (a.k.a. persons capable of rational thought + behavior, most of the time) in the home during the day — There are twice as many of these on the weekends.
  2. The number of leotards worn to gymnastics class– That number is 1 during the week.  And 0 on the weekends. (… please note that I did not simply say the number of leotards worn).

week according to instagram

I love a good ill-informed, politically charged Facebook post from a middle school friend happy life update from an old pal as much as the next person.  And as you’ll see from my Twitter “likes,” I can’t get enough tweets about the Pope.  Or preserving tomatoes.  Or Jeopardy! contestants’ opinions of Alex Trebec.  And don’t get me started on Pinterest.  It’s the best way to waste time, while pretending that it’s going to help you me more productive in the future.  If only I’d remember I pinned that workout for slim and trim hips.  Or a month’s worth of dinners in 2 hours flat!  

But Instagram is my favorite.  While I aim to keep things light-ish and bright-ish, these are still very real moments.  Ones that I want to share, but mostly ones I want to remember.  Here’s a bit of a scoop on the last week’s posts.


It’s rare for Nick to fall asleep in my arms any more, but he seems to get extra cozy in his new ring sling.  We upgraded from the linen sling to silk, which feels much more snug for my toddler-sized infant.  I took this selfie (us-ie?) after we finished watering my parents’ plants when then you were away.  Pretend gardening is tiring work apparently.

Quinoa and pesto had been a late summer standby.  And you already know how I feel about heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella.  The spicy micro greens are from Whole Foods and make a nice addition to this warm salad.  (You could eat it cold, obviously… but that would require patience.  And they were sold out of that.)

These are my new shoes.  The ones my husband bought for himself, and then I copied him and ordered a pair.  So, that’s special.  I’ve mentioned the On Being podcast before, but I sort of feel like I’m going to keep talking about it until everyone is listening.  What do shoes have to do with a podcast?  A recent episode that aired during the Olympics featured a group of runners sharing how running is a spiritual practice for them.  I was listening in the car on the way to Mama Beasts and, as soon as I grabbed a parking spot, grabbed my phone to jot some quick notes from the episode.  

“The blessing is outside your comfort zone” is something someone said to Ashley Hicks, co-founder of Black Girls Run, as she was prepping for the Chicago Marathon.  I thought that was pretty powerful.

I also found myself wanting to learn anything and everything about Billy Mills, the first (and only, so far) American to win Olympic gold in the 10,000 meter race.  His interview was really compelling, too.

Such a good episode.

These two are the cutest.  I love how gentle and playful Clark is with both kids.  The old guy has seen better days, health-wise, so I’m feeling extra mushy about him lately.  We are so lucky to have him at our sides.

Goodbye, weekdays. Hello, weekend. ✌🏻️ What's on tap for your weekend? #southie #castleisland #weekendviews

A photo posted by Elizabeth | On Tap for Today (@elizabethev) on

We’ve been spending a lot of time out at the island lately– running, walking, counting boats, learning about fishing (Grace has taken a particular interest, which grosses me out, but hey), playing on the “big kid” swings, and looking for seagulls.  Oh and marveling that people are still playing Pokemon Go.  Apparently Castle Island is a hot bed of pokemon activity (I don’t really know what that means, but I heard it somewhere… so it must be true).

But seriously. I would eat snacks for every meal.

I love everything about seeded eucalyptus — the color, the varied textures, the incredible fragrance.  I always pick up a bunch when it’s in stores.  Same goes for new issues of domino.

No Lifeguard on Duty (#storyofmylife) 🏊🏻 Are you a risk taker or a play-it-safer? #instacapecod #wickedcapecod #itsstillsummer

A photo posted by Elizabeth | On Tap for Today (@elizabethev) on

…and the full view of the tiny Instax shot included in the photo above.  Nick and I were down the Cape for a quick half-day trip (we’ve got something really fun in the works) and I couldn’t resist a quick stop at the beach.  It was quiet, overcast and a bit chilly– perfect off-season weather. 

And last, but not least, confetti from the best date night ever with Nick, seeing Adele live at the Garden (I forget what the real/new/current name of that place is).  The show was incredible, and I couldn’t help but grab a few pieces of confetti (each piece had a lyric or note in her handwriting… but despite what people were claiming, I don’t think she hand wrote all 9 million pieces… or whatever).

She performed for just over 2 hours, I think, with no breaks and no opening act.  I loved the format– especially the short acoustic set in the middle.  I have been listening to “Don’t You Remember” and “When We Were Young” and “Hometown Glory” on repeat.

Semi related: Lemon water with a bit of honey is great for your throat… you know, if you’ve been walking around your condo pretending you can sing and sort of lost your voice.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your favorite social media platform?  If you could be any diva (current or past) who would you be?

Labor Day | The second time around

On Labor Day two years ago, I shared Grace’s birth story (still hate that expression, still love becoming a mother… obvi). Today marks the first Labor Day since baby Nick was born and he’s exactly 9 months old today, so this seems as good a time as ever to reflect on the day we welcomed him to the world and to our family.

labor day birth story

Waiting until Labor Day was sort of a convenient excuse for me to take nine months to digest, reflect on and embrace those sort of bizarre, sometimes anxious, but ultimately amazing 24-ish hours of labor. And because all people and pregnancies and labors and deliveries and babies and postpartum meals (peanut M + Ms for life) are different, I’m sharing less about what actually happened and more about how I remember things.

labor day birth story

My hair is full of mom secrets.

Because the second time around, you have an experience to compare things to. You have expectations (even if you know you shouldn’t). You sort of feel like you know what you’re doing, but you also know you’re not a medical professional (unless you’re a medical professional). You’re a little bit further removed from the childbirth classes (regardless of whether you paid attention… or if you, like me, left the room for fear of being grossed out and read pamphlets about influenza in the hallway). You know what it feels like to have that baby placed on your chest for the first time. You just can’t imagine how your heart could get any more full.

I don’t want at all to sound like, Oh… I’ve done this before. I’ve got it under control. (If anything, it’s quite the opposite.) Or that I am in any way better equipped as a parent than any one else. I also think it’s important to express that families come to be families in any number of ways. All are good. And there is no better place for a child to be than in a loving family.

labor day birth story

So back to those influenza pamphlets. There was an aura of blissful ignorance about me as I delivered Grace. I didn’t want to know any more than I needed to know, and because I had no experience—personal or otherwise (this is very real: I fainted during sex ed in the 6th grade and again in 9th grade biology… and then skipped the video during our childbirth class mostly so I could remain conscious)—it was relatively easy to trust the process. To surrender to labor. To let my body (and Grace) do its thing.

In the days before Nick was born, I knew he was coming. He was allegedly two weeks early… but given the fact that he is nine months old and already the size of a Buick, I’d be less surprised if you told me he was two months late. Right around Thanksgiving, I woke up every day thinking, this is it. And it wasn’t. Until it was.

I had planned to take Grace to see the fox at the Trailside Museum (they have some sort of special connection) on a Friday morning, but my back felt especially achy and I remembered I needed to pick up Clark’s prescription (honestly… why are these the things I remember? Imagine what powerful thoughts my brain could harness if it forgot about ridiculous things like phone messages from the vet?), so we headed to Castle Island for a walk instead. After a loop or two, I called our midwife.

labor day birth story

She called back just as I was getting to the vet. So I was the super normal person talking about being in labor while sitting in the waiting room next to a man cradling his sick cat (it might have been healthy, I know even less about cats than I do childbirth… so, I know literally nothing about cats). In essence, she told me to leave the vet’s office and come to, like, the human doctor’s office. I remember thinking how weird it felt to be in public, and knowing I was in labor. Should I warn people? I don’t know. (I should warn my husband, I decided. Yes. That was a good call.)

While I waited for Nick to get home and for my parents to pick up Grace, I chatted with our neighbor, who is a former cop. He told me he had delivered six (maybe it was four) babies in his squad car. All he needed was a blanket. I mostly hoped it didn’t come to that. I thought for sure I’d need more than a blanket. For starters, I wanted one of those peanut-shaped yoga balls. Also, medicine. And a sanitary environment.

labor day birth story

This is sort of how the next 15 or so hours would unfold. I knew baby Nick was coming. I knew it would be soon, but I didn’t know how soon (more than 15 minutes, but less than a day… that was my guess). I knew I was uncomfortable, but I also knew I could manage.

Nick was born at a different hospital than Grace, and I had to consciously remind myself to trust the process despite everything feeling very unfamiliar. We stayed in triage from 10:30-ish that Friday night until finally getting a delivery room around 3 AM. During that stretch, we had to listen to all kind of things through the thin curtain dividers. And other people had to listen to me throw up and make groaning noises. For that, I am sort of sorry.

When we were finally moved to a room, I got wrapped in warm blankets and spritzed with lavender water by a particularly kind nurse. She turned on the hospital’s equivalent of the Nature Channel and encouraged me to be “soothed by Earth’s beauty.” Not normal, per se, but I kept telling myself to trust the process. To surrender.

labor day birth story

During morning rounds, the midwife on duty said baby Nick would be born that day… which seemed like an awfully big window. She told me to relax as much as possible, and encouraged grown-up Nick to grab coffee. I worried that the baby was hearing the crashing waves, cawing seagulls and distant foghorns from the nature channel and thinking “This lady’s trying to give birth to me in the middle of the Atlantic. I should stay in until she finds dry land!” No sooner had she left the room than we were pressing the call button to have her and the labor and delivery nurse hightail it back.

Less than 30 minutes later, baby Nick’s tiny, perfect, warm body was pressed against mine. My husband was kissing my head, tears streaming down his face. And everything, everything, everything was right.

And really. That’s the only part of this story that matters.  (I probably could have skipped the part about the cat at the vet, but I believe in setting the scene.)

So much of becoming a parent and becoming a family is unpredictable. It’s messy. It’s strange. It’s uncomfortable. It can get real weird, real fast. It’s anxiety producing. And once you are that parent, and you are that family, it doesn’t get any easier. Your heart lives outside your body, vulnerable and exposed. You worry. You cry. You stay awake for, like… ever. Some days you forget to put on pants because you’re too busy pureeing organic kale.

labor day birth story

But every day, you trust the process more and more. You embrace surrendering as not only something very good, but something (to quote Salt-n-Pepa) very necessary. You remind yourself that the best possible place for child is in a loving family. And you’ve got that covered.

Whether you’re sitting on a beach soaking up the last waves of summer, or cradling a newborn in your arms (like my beautiful and amazing sister!), or somewhere in between… Happy Labor Day.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your best tip for getting through the messy days, or savoring the heavenly moments?