In celebration of Mother’s Day, here’s a photo of the last time it was socially acceptable for me to wear a crop top and hot shorts at the same time. These days, it’s one or the other. Just kidding… it’s very much neither.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you. And I owe you the world.
There are moments when it feels like she has just arrived, and others when I can’t believe she hasn’t been with us all along. Maybe it’s the sleep deprivation, but there are times when I cannot imagine life before that instant when she was placed on my chest in the delivery room and everything changed.
Left: Grace is 6 hours old. Right: Grace is 100 days and 6 hours old. Both: I am overjoyed, overtired, and in need of a hairbrush.
We started going to a new moms’ group when Grace was almost three weeks old. I am so grateful for that community. And I want all eight of our babies to grow up and be college roommates. Or live on an organic farm together. Or something.
At our last formal meeting, the group’s facilitator asked us to share something that is going well, something that is challenging, and something that has changed. What stood out to me was the confidence I had gained over those first weeks. And how much we’ve grown and developed and changed together. And how I love her more than I could ever adequately express.
In honor of Grace’s first 100 days, 50 thoughts and reflections on life with our beautiful baby… I would have given you 100, but let’s be serious:
I think the first thing I noticed about Grace was her nose. It is so tiny and sweet, I kiss it all the time.
I’ve found so much love and support in both expected and unexpected places.
More so than ever, I need other people. I need help. I need support. I need to be told that my crazy hair and (unintentionally) tight pants look good.
It’s all very humbling, especially for someone who has always preferred to just do it myself.
I am more grateful than ever for Nick, for our families and friends, and everyone who has been so kind and gentle and supportive to us.
Having a community of new moms, sharing similar experiences, has been invaluable. (If you live in the Boston area and are expecting or have children, I highly recommend Mama and Me in JP.)
We were discharged from the hospital on a Friday evening, but had to see our pediatrician early the next morning (I love that they’re open on weekends) for a weight check and some testing. The only thing more overwhelming than being sent home with a very new, very small, very needy baby… is packing her up and taking her back out in the world less than a day later.
… but because we needed to, we figured it out. There wasn’t much time for panic or worry, and eventually necessity lead to competence (sort of… once I had the child locks on, got in the back seat to move Grace from her car seat to the Ergo… and then got trapped inside my own car).
After I made a few solo trips to the doctor without, like, losing our child, Grace and I started going to more fun places, too.
I made it my goal to get out of the condo at least once a day while on maternity leave.
We spent Thursdays at my parents’ house, walked to Castle Island when it was warm enough, spent a shameful amount of both time and money in the stationary aisle at Target, and even got our first library card. Start ‘em young.
I am so grateful to have good health care.
Same goes for a wonderful pediatrician and group practice. They have been so helpful and supportive. And they don’t make me feel like a nutty first time parent. Even though I am a nutty first time parent.
Breastfeeding is hard. Pumping at work isn’t exactly a walk in the park, either. But, for me, it’s worth it.
I say, “Let’s take this one day at a time” to myself a lot lately.
I am convinced the face babies make after they eat is the secret to world peace.
I can’t remember the last time I’ve slept for more than 2-3 hours at once. I do remember the first time I slept long enough to have a dream after Grace was born though. I dreamt that President Obama was making a very important speech about Olympic figure skating.
I don’t know why I thought this, but I was certain both Grace and I would be sleeping through the night before I returned to work. She wakes to be fed 2-3 times each night, meanwhile I have friends whose babies were sleeping through the night after a couple of weeks. It’s all very mysterious.
I ‘m embracing our middle-of-the-night wakings as our time.
Grace’s smile can stop me in my tracks. Even (or especially) at 3 AM.
It’s the best gift.
When I was pregnant, it was obvious (except at the beginning, when it was a little more like… maybe she’s pregnant, maybe she ate six pizzas). Especially towards the end, even complete strangers were nicer to me. People wanted to know when I was due, if I was having a girl or boy, how I was feeling. I appreciate that more now than I did a the time.
I attract similarly well-intentioned attention when I am out with Grace, but when I’m by myself, I sort of feel a bit adrift. Like that I want to tell the mailman I have a baby, or I nearly tell the lady in line ahead of me that I am a mom, too.
I guess I hadn’t given much thought to what navigating a new identity would be like, and in that way, I sort of miss being pregnant. Sort of.
I like that we are creating new rituals and traditions with our sweet girl and our family.
Children’s books either totally awesome, or totally weird. I’ve yet to find anything in between.
I have partnered with belVita and Dannon to help promote the belVita and Dannon partnership. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program, which includes writing about the promotion and product. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.
For the past (nearly) three months, my routine has been… welp… a total lack of routine. It seems like the second I started to get comfortable, and Grace and I had fallen into a pattern of sorts, things changed. She started eating more. Or less. She started sleeping more. Or less. Morning was the best time for us to get out for a walk or do a few errands. And then afternoon became a better time for that. Some days I’d be showered, dressed and out on the town (or more accurately, cruising around Southie with Grace in her stroller or baby carrier) by 8:30 AM. Other days, I’d be in pajamas until 8:30… PM.
The sole constant: We’ve been figuring it all out together. Me, Nick, and Grace (and Clark, but let’s be serious… he’s a go with the flow little guy). Becoming a parent has been challenging, exhausting, and at times, overwhelming. It’s also been the single most amazing experience, and I know I am better for it. The time we’ve had together these past few months, and all of those transitions from one non-routine to the next, have been so special, so sacred.
Tomorrow we make our next big transition, as I head back to work and Grace begins daycare. In a perfect world, we could do it all and have it all. We’d be together all day long, be attentive parents, and be productive while enjoying our fulfilling careers. We’d achieve the perfect balance. But the world isn’t perfect. (Duh, lady.) I know I am lucky to have both a beautiful family and a career that challenges and excites me. As anxious as I am about the changes to come, I know we made these choices for all the right reasons. We are so lucky to have options.
Um… this post was supposed to be about breakfast. Not feelings. (I’m sure I will have much more to say about being a workin’ mom once I have more than 15 seconds of experience as one.)
Back on task. Breakfast. Mornings.
While there are plenty of new challenges we’ll need to navigate in the coming days, weeks, and months, I am hoping that making a plan for how we start each day, and making an effort to streamline our mornings, will help. I’ve never been much of a breakfast eater, much to the chagrin of my parents, my husband, people that I flip off in traffic, my primary care physician… you get the point. Despite having good intentions, sitting down for a healthy meal at the start of the day always seemed to fall by the wayside when faced with a time crunch. I can skip breakfast, but I can’t (in good conscience) skip walking the dog. Or, like, bathing. Having someone else depending on me in such a real way has been the ultimate game changer. More than ever it’s clear: I need to take care of myself in order take care of other people.
BelVita and Dannon have partnered to get me (and my fellow Americans) to ditch the excuses and make time for a quick breakfast that boasts 12 grams of protein and nutritious, steady energy (…maybe we can have it all. Just kidding. Too soon. Pass the Kleenex.). I’ve been pairing Dannon Oikos 0% vanilla Greek yogurt with apple cinnamon Crunchy belVita Breakfast Biscuits, along with an apple, in the mornings. The combination is delicious and convenient and is sure to become part of my workday routine (bonus: if when I forget a spoon for my yogurt, a biscuit is the perfect stand in).
Do as much as you can the night before. Leave as little preparation as possible until the last minute — you’ll thank yourself in the morning.
Spend 20 minutes at the end of each day planning your to-do list. When you download the next day’s activities beforehand, you can devote your morning to enjoyment rather than stress.
Be sure to start your morning with a delicious, balanced breakfast. Together, the nutritious steady energy of belVita and 12 grams of protein in Dannon Oikos Green nonfat yogurt along with a piece of fruit will help you get more out of your morning.
Welp, my breakfast is set for tomorrow… our bags are packed… I guess we’re ready?
Grace turned a month old and I turned 32. Nick crushed 14.1, Clark discovered heating blankets. Speaking of Clark (and Nick), a few people have asked how I switch back and forth between my Instagram account (@ElizabethEv) and Clark’s (@clarkthefrenchie). The answer: I don’t. Clark’s account (and his recent summer slim down plan…) is all my husband’s doing. They’re quite the pair.
I spent my birthday morning the best way possible: curled up with my little family.
Naturally, Clark wasn’t far away. I love his squishy face and greying beard. He’s like a distinguished old gentleman (if you ignore all the farting).
Nick put together a lovely dinner (takeout from my favorite Mexican restaurant, grown up things like candles and place mats, a perfectly portioned cake) while Grace napped (hallelujah). It’s been ages since we sat down together for a meal. It was wonderful. And so appreciated.
I love wrapping paper. Maybe when I am old and retired, I can get a part-time job merchandizing wrapping paper at Homegoods. If you’re going to dream, dream big.
I’m all for inspiring tea quotes, but the “warmth and love of my soul” has been no match for this frigid polar vortex nonsense. It was, like -100 in the midwest this weekend, so 18 in Boston probably seems balmy, but enough already. This lady needs some fresh air.
My parents, sister and brother-in-law stopped by on Sunday after Mass with all kinds of treats (including a hundred CDs from my childhood bedroom… more on those gems later). These macaroons are incredible.
I channeled my inner Donna Meagle and treated myself to a new electric kettle. I’ve been drinking quite a bit of tea lately, and have become paranoid about everything potentially unsafe. Like boiling water and open flames and stoves. I like that this kettle sits a safe distance from our counter ledge, promptly turns off when the water boils, and stays cool to the touch. Also: I like cute things.
You’ve heard this story before: I’m attempting a full month of #fmsphotoaday. Saturday’s prompt was yellow. What’s the over/under on me making it past Tuesday?
As I mentioned earlier, Clark recently discovered heating blankets. He’s nothing if not resourceful.
My ten year reunion from BC is coming up (Speaking of which, have you seen this video? It’ll make you super happy, I promise.) While it’s hard to believe it’s already been ten years, it’s even harder to believe how much has changed since 2004.
Ten years of highlights
I’ve worked for two organizations (I am pretty sure a speaker at our high school graduation claimed that our generation would have 912 different jobs before we turned 30. Proof that grown-ups lie. Or whatever.), lived with cool roommates (my parents) for a few years, and some slightly less cool roommates (not my parents) for a few years, met Nick and tricked him into falling in love with me, bought our first home, freed Clark from the home of a Russian dentist (true story, mostly), got married, bought our second home, and welcomed a beautiful baby girl. And those are just the highlights.
Ten years ago, 2 AM was for getting my high heel stuck inside my pant leg and falling into a glass door (and living to tell of it). It was for cab rides home and late night snacks. It was for adding everyone with my last name as a “friend”on a just hatched Facebook, laughing hysterically with my actual friends, and then remembering I had a French presentation involving medieval puppets to finish.
These days, 2 AM is for nursing, diaper changing, swaddling, singing, cooing, and cuddling. I have officially become one of those grown-ups that will talk about your generation. And I wouldn’t change it for the world. Though I do hope my daughter wears more sensible shoes, avoids those swinging glass doors, and maybe chooses a cooler major than French. Maybe.
Here’s where Grace and I have been spending our early mornings.
A peek at the nursery
We tried to avoid picking a theme when putting together the baby’s room, but clearly I am a fan of grey. Nick’s dad mixed the wall color for us (California Paints Cloud); it’s the perfect shade of cool, soft grey.
Rather than buy an actual changing table and a dresser, we opted for furniture that can grow with the baby, or be used elsewhere later on. I fell in love with the clean, modern lines of both this dresser and Grace’s crib. The chevron hamper (which matches one of our sheet sets) was a gift from my sister and has been invaluable. How do such little babies produce such a large volume of laundry? And forgive me for talking shpoop, but I am pretty sure we found the world’s greatest diaper pail. Not only does the Ubbi look sort of chic (I mean, as chic as a waste receptacle can look), but it doesn’t require special bags, which means we save a bit of money by using our regular garbage bags. Plus it’s steel (doesn’t absorb, welp, odors), really easy to clean, and comes in a bunch of colors. Including grey.
Enough about that.
Nick secured a changing pad to the back of the dresser, and I found the perfect sized basket at Homegoods to store the baby’s diapers, wipes, and other necessities. We used a really helpful chart from our doctor during our first few days home to track feedings, diapers, etc., but also found the Eat Sleep app and this notebook helpful (in hindsight, a regular notebook would totally do the trick #clearlyfirsttimeparents). I’ve forgotten my own name by 3 PM, so it’s been helpful to have various charts and lists and reminders scattered about the condo.
Nick grabbed the travel alarm clock from Target, likely after the 700th time I called from the nursery, “Honey, what time is it?” The mysterious little bottle is infant vitamin D drops, and the sweet pink lamb was a gift from our niece.
We bought the crib, dresser, and glider from Jordan’s Furniture, and I think we ordered the crib mattress from Amazon. Shopping for a baby (especially when we essentially had no idea what we were doing) was a bit overwhelming at times. We wanted to make sure we had the best, most safe options… but we didn’t want to have to sell our dog to afford them. I found Lucie’s List to be really helpful for sorting through what we’d need, when we’d need it, and what options were available. No nonsense. Just the way I like it (most of the time). I highly recommend checking out their registry cheat sheet and weekly emails if you’re expecting.
For now, Grace is sleeping (sort of… mostly, she’s awake at night…) in a co-sleeper attached to our bed. We also have a Moses basket from my parents (seen next to the crib in the photo above) for napping, and a Boppy infant lounger, welp, loungin’. We’ll likely move her to the crib around three months… but who knows.
How adorable is this Frenchie pillow? My sister brought this for Grace in the hospital. Our real Frenchie has been so good with the baby so far. I think all that practice (um… on other people’s children) as a therapy dog has paid off.
We took a class called “Barks and Babies” with Clark’s trainer early on in my pregnancy. We implemented a lot of Jen’s suggestions as soon as we could, knowing it would be a big adjustment for the French fry to no longer be the (only) star of the day. We put a bed for Clark in Grace’s room, installed our baby gates right away, and let him check out all the various swings, tiny clothes, and diaper bags coming into the condo. So far, so good. Really good.
I clearly need to work on a better book storage situation, but in the meantime, Grace’s growing collection is within arm’s reach of our glider… if I glide that thing just right. I love reading to her, and will share some of our favorites soon.
We looked for a matching ottoman or pouf for the glider but came up empty. Fortunately, the $20 nursing stool we got at Babies R Us approximately five minutes before I went into labor more than does the trick. Side bar: Would it have been too much trouble to name the store Babies Are Us? And what does that even mean? Everyone working there seems, like, fully grown.
You might recognize the storage cabinet from our first condo (we have a pair, and used them as light/dark laundry storage). A little Lysol and some shelves later, and it now holds bath supplies, extra books, and an infant silver set. In other words: it holds the stuff I had no clue what to do with. It looks good… and that sort of all that matters. Sort of.
Nick installed blinds (which let in tons of light during the day, without giving the neighbors a direct shot of the changing table and/or my boobs) and blackout drapes this weekend to finish off the room.
I’m thrilled with how it all turned out. And I’m thrilled to be a grown-up.
In other news, it was a lovely fall weekend in Boston. I feel like, lately, I am doing whatever is the opposite of nesting– running around from one thing to the next, spending as much time as possible with family and friends, and enjoying how wonderful I’ve been feeling recently. The third trimester is just around the corner, though, and I have a feeling the urge to nest isn’t far away either. In the meantime, I love being about chase Clark around the park, watch my niece climb and slide and swing at the playground, and catch up with friends in and around the city.
Clark has taken to pawing down various blankets and pillows, making himself little thrones throughout the house. If he had has own credit card, I imagine one of his first purchases would be a La-Z-Boy recliner. Or a giant tub of cheese balls.
‘Tis the season to break out the legwarmers. I wore one of my favorite pairs (complete with little heel openings) to prenatal yoga on Saturday afternoon, and for a nice walk through Charlestown with my pal Alyson on Sunday. While I do not care for most things fall, I do like being cozy. And looking like a jazzercise instructor.
My Project Xbulldogs and barbells tee has gotten a bit too snug. Thankfully, their stickers are one size fits all. They make really fun, limited edition gear. I heard Bob Harper was wearing one of their tees in last week’s Biggest Loser episode. Cool enough for Bob? Cool enough for me.
Speaking of cool, this little miss is off the charts.
Tina‘s recent posts about English muffin pizzas got me craving one of these childhood favorites. While I am still limiting gluten, my pregnancy m.o. has been if it sounds good… eat it. Within reason. Mostly.
Few things make me laugh harder than when infomercial actors get fake-injured doing simple tasks. After I chopped a bunch of vegetables for the week’s salads, Nick suggested I film an infomercial for my “2 minute, fail proof salad creation system.” My draft script currently includes losing a thumb, spilling lettuce into some obscure place (like my shoe), and falling off a ladder (which I climbed in an effort to retrieve my 1970’s salad spinner… naturally).
Things start to feel really real when you go crib shopping. Trust me. After a surgical strike at Jordan’s Furniture (we were in and out in an hour, and five weeks from now we will have a crib, a dresser — which we will also use as a changing table — and a glider), we spent a bit of time walking around Babies R Us. Those little folks need a lot of stuff! I am so excited for her room to come together though. While I am not wishing away then next couple of months, I just can’t wait for our baby girl to arrive.
After another long week (and yes, I did end up with a third nail in one of my tires…), I was tempted to skip Sunday’s workout and sleep in. A little encouragement from Nick and a fresh pair of Nanos from Reebok (thank you!) got me out the door, though.
The WOD required a bit of creative scaling, but it felt good to get moving. I strict pressed 50 lbs., but I think my days of PRs will likely be on hold for a bit. I’m getting more and more comfortable doing my own thing, substituting and scaling when needed (crossfitmom.com is a great resource for pregnant CrossFitters), and focusing on the fact that doing something is better than doing nothing. Especially when it feels like I am wearing a weighted vest… all the time.
I could make six different trips to the paint section at Home Depot and I imagine I’d leave with the exact same paint strips. Regardless of the intended room. We used chinchilla (Martha Stewart, surprised?) in our first condo, and I’m leaning towards the same color for the baby’s room. I love color. It’s like nail polish for your house.
Can we discuss the fact that I missed number 5? To quote my husband re: pregnancy brain, “What will you forget to think of next?”
This little snail keeps showing up on our front steps. I like his outfit.
Running low on mascara (my personal nightmare), I ducked into Sephora… and accidentally bought one of everything. While reaching for a fresh tube of Diorshow Black Out, a pre-teen (or tween… or maybe she was an actual teen) complimented me on “my makeup taste.” She then followed me around the store and approved of everything that went into my basket. She made my day.
I got to spend some quality time with my favorite blondes (my younger sister and our niece) this morning. We did baby yoga, hid in closets, sprinkled bagel crumbs everywhere, read a book about penguins, sang “head, shoulders, knees and toes,” put a human sweater on a baby doll, and made monster noises. I wish every day started that way.
Back in Southie, Nick and I took advantage of the gorgeous weather and coaxed the Frenchie up a thousand stairs to enjoy the gorgeous view of the city from Dorchester Heights…
…which explains why Clark has been asleep for approximately 50 hours.
To make up for the lack of #5… a bonus instaphoto:
If I were one for keeping score… This week: 1, Elizabeth: 0.
Thanks for the stellar protection, stupid bracelet. Just kidding… kind of.
I’m a little cranky and a lot tired. I’m feeling a bit like the Universe has conspired against me. On top of other stresses, things that normally would roll off my back have instead rolled down my back and turned into total pains in my ass. Is it okay to say ass? I hope so. If not, my apologies.
I got to work Monday to find out our office fridge somehow broke during the move (we just relocated to a new building, and by new… I mean it’s so old the tampon dispenser in the ladies’ room charges nickles. And it’s also broken, but that’s sort of irrelevant), so my lunch perished before I had the chance to eat it. Note to self: Yogurt and various leaves are delicate. Especially when the heat is on. The relocation process itself has been nothing short of awful, but I won’t burden you with that. Not when I can talk about holes in pants.
I spent much of the day Tuesday unknowingly walking around with a gaping hole in my favorite, best fitting pair of maternity pants– the skinny, black ones that make me feel all “I’m not a regular mom, I’m a cool mom.” I wonder now if they fit so well because of the hole.
On Wednesday morning, I had a complete meltdown (hormones are weird and poking yourself in the eye with a mascara wand doesn’t help). When I finally got my act together and put my face back on, I headed out to my car discovered I had a second flat tire in eight days. I am not sure how I ended up with a nail in my left rear tire and a screw in my right rear tire, but I can now navigate to the auto body place in my sleep. Also, one of the light bulbs in our bathroom exploded.
Thursday was a marked improvement (though that’s not saying much). I got a ton of work done at the office and made progress on some important projects, ate a delicious non-wilted salad at lunch, and successfully hid my husband’s birthday presents before he got home… but I was almost too exhausted to enjoy the lack of catastrophe. I barely made it 10 minutes into Scandal before needing to climb into bed. Semi-related: I am considering weaving my own line of WWOPD? (What would Oliva Pope do?… in case that’s not obvious) bracelets.
This has not been a normal week, and yet I am sure there’s a lesson or two in there somewhere (besides wear a helmet and safety glasses in the master bathroom and invest in a full length mirror lest ye flash your underoos unto thine neighbors). It’s important to slow down. It’s important to take people up on their offers to help. It’s important to ask for what you need. It’s important to schedule down time (and abide by this schedule). It’s important to prioritize health and rest and balance.
Despite there being more downs than ups this week, there have still been plenty of bright spots. My sister left me a weird voice mail yesterday (apparently someone joined her in the elevator just as she started leaving the message), which I will save for eternity. I bought my first outfit for the baby (just touching the fabric made me long for the second we get to hold her). I have a wonderful husband who helps put things into perspective and can somehow get away with laughing while I am crying like a fool (he’s lucky he’s so handsome). I enjoyed a really great workout at CrossFit Southie on Wednesday aaaand got a push jerk PR. I’m lucky enough to pass by three street pianos on my way to work and have loved seeing people stop to play this week. Clark and I spent lots of time on the beach and at the park… and just when I needed a laugh, he posted a status message about farts and the government shutdown. He’s so thoughtful.
Those are just the little things.
I know I have so much to be grateful for, especially during a week like this one. Oh, and if you need a flat (or two) patched… I know a guy.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Erica Cornejo, a Principal Dancer with the Boston Ballet and a new mother to a wonderful baby boy. I have long loved ballet, and as a mother-to-be, I was curious about how the roles of dancer and parent compliment one another.
I am truly grateful to Erica for generously sharing her time and responses, and to the Boston Ballet for the opportunity to get to know one of their talented performers better. I especially loved Erica’s comments about knowing at such a young age that she was born to dance. That passion certainly shows through on stage.
When did you first start dancing?
EC: I was 4 years old when I started ballet.
When (or how) did you know you belonged in the Ballet?
EC: From the first day, I knew I wanted to do ballet. I was very little, but somehow I felt that passion for ballet inside of me at very early age.
Do you hope your child will pursue dance? Why or why not?
EC: My husband, my brother, and I are dancers – for sure our child will be around ballet, music, and all kind of art because we love all that, but he will be what he desires to be. We love to do many things besides ballet and we would like to expose our child to try different things.
How has your routine changed since becoming a mother? How has this affected your dancing?
EC: Well I guess the routine of everyone who is a parent changes. Now I have to adjust my schedule to my baby’s schedule, to be able to be with him as much as I can and do all the care for my baby. He is my number one priority and I will do my best to be a good mom. As for the moment, I haven’t start dancing yet but what I feel already that my baby’s happiness brings more strength to me and just thinking about him makes my day more special. I’m a lucky person, I have the most wonderful husband, the best family and now my miracle, my son who is my life.
What do you love most about ballet?
EC: What I love the most about ballet is that I’m able to transport myself and became a different character in each ballet I do. Being able to express my emotion through my dancing and make the audience experience what I feel is the best feeling.
If you had a full day to yourself, how would you spend it?
EC: With my loved ones always!
What is one misconception about ballet dancers you’d like to dispel?
EC: I say it all the time, dancers are humans, we have our good and bad moments like everyone else. Sometimes people tend to think that we are like machines, that everything has to be perfect all the time.
Which performance are you most looking forward to this year?
EC: Because I just had a baby, I was not able to be around to learn some of the new ballets. But I’m looking forward to whatever I will be cast in when I come back. I will try to be the best of myself.
Many thanks, again, to Erica and the Boston Ballet. And my sincere congratulations to you and your family!