Friday, June 26, 2015

Love Wins

The strange power of Emma Watson

When The Circle by Dave Eggers was first released I was mildly intrigued by the hype and glowing reviews but opted not to read it for a couple of reasons. I thought A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, his Pulitzer Prize finalist debut, was staggeringly overrated. And frankly, the subject matter of The Circle totally freaks me out. What I gather from the blurb and reviews is that the book is about a young woman who lands her dream job at a google-like company where sharing on social media is a requirement and then things get all out of hand and scary. Or something like that. I happen to find social media more than a little alarming so I decided not to read The Circle because I was afraid it would scare the bejesus out of me way more than any book in the actual horror genre could. (Yes, I am well aware that I am sharing my fear of internet sharing through a blog on the internet for the entire world to see, but I figure my only readers at this point are my husband and some lady in Delaware who stumbled across this while looking for gardening sites. And for the record, I am not on twitter, instagram or snap chat--whatever that is--and I pretty much only use Facebook to post pictures of my baby. BECAUSE HE'S ADORABLE. Incidentally, Ray Bradbury totally nailed society's current obsession with social media and pacifier technology in his short story "The Murderer." In 1953. The man was a prophet! Well, maybe not about that robot grandmother thing.)

So, yes, all that. But now I have to read The Circle because I just found out that Emma Watson has been cast in the lead role. And in Emma I trust (The Bling Ring notwithstanding). After all, Emma Watson was Hermione freaking Granger. And she was in one of my four favorite movies of the past three years, The Perks of Being a Wallflower (the other three being Pitch Perfect, About Time and The Way, Way Back). She was the best thing about This Is the End. I am peeing my pants excited for her turn as Belle in the upcoming live action Beauty and the Beast, my favorite Disney movie, though I have to admit that Stitch takes favorite character honors. (My husband is excited to see Luke Evans as his hero Gaston*, but I'm not quite convinced there's no one as burly or brawny. And there may actually be bits of him that are scraggly and scrawny. I'll reserve judgment until I see the movie. That whole cast is pretty incredible, actually. Ian McKellen as Cogsworth! Emma Thompson--another amazing Emma--as Mrs. Potts!)  In my eyes, Hermione Emma Watson can do no wrong. Well, not even Emma Watson could make me sit through Noah, but I'm sure she was fantastic in it. And she can rock a pixie cut in ways I can only dream about.

If The Circle is good enough for Emma Watson, then it's good enough for me. Onto the To Read list it goes. I've also been meaning to read the Queen of the Tearling books by Erika Johansen which Emma's not only supposed to star in, but produce as well. This hasn't popped up on her IMDb page yet so who knows if the movies will actually get made. Iffy reviews on amazon had slackened my Queen of the Tearling interest, but my sister just read the first one and liked it so I'll probably get around to it one of these days. And I should never have let amazon trolls make me doubt Emma Watson.

I could mention that two people, an old boss and my niece, have told me that I look like Emma Watson but that would turn this nice post from a genuine, well-balanced fan into something creepy and weird, if for no other reason than I'm way older than her (not helping my case). Besides, I don't see the resemblance. Nor do I see a resemblance between myself and Claire Danes, but I used to get that ALL THE TIME.


Monday, June 22, 2015

The nocturnal gymnastics of infants

When the little bedbug was 11 weeks old we moved him into his crib. I was anxious to get him out of the Fisher Price Rock 'n Play sleeper, for reasons I won't rant about go into now, but I'd read horror stories online about how difficult the transition could be. At this point he was sleeping up to 8 hours at night, and although the thought of ruining that bliss was daunting, I was determined that it was time for him to sleep in his crib, in his own room.

By this time he was already busting out of the Aden + Anais blankets we'd been swaddling him in, but his startle reflex was still so strong that I knew there was no way he'd sleep without his arms snug and secure. Enter the Miracle Blanket. It's basically a little straight jacket for babies and I figured there was no way he'd be able to Houdini out of it (ha, wait for it…). That first night of Mission Crib I fed him his last bottle, rocked him sleepy, wrapped the shit out of him, re-rocked him to sleep, laid him in his crib and prayed.

He slept seven hours! Hallelujah! ALL PRAISE THE MIRACLE BLANKET!!!

My sister says he looks like the little caterpillar from The Fox and the Hound
(Of course I didn't sleep at all that first (or second) night, as I was up each hour frantically checking him on the monitor.)

We settled into a new routine, nice long stretches of sleep for everyone, the little dreamer snug as a caterpillar in a cocoon in his Miracle Blanket. Until, that is, the night I woke up, looked at his monitor and he was gone! I leapt out of bed and ran to his room, totally freaked that David Bowie had stolen my baby (I certainly didn't remember saying the words). Thankfully I did not burst into the little pill's room to find a spandex-clad glam rocker, twirling his crystal sphere and telling me to forget about the baby. The only little goblin in the room was my own. He had wiggled his way to the bottom of his crib and out of view of the camera. There should be a section in baby books reserved for the first heart attack I gave mommy.

And so began the phase I like to call "How will we find the little inchworm in the morning?"

Like this?

Looks pretty satisfied with himself, doesn't he?
Or my personal favorite?

That little stinker turned a perfect 180 degrees! At this point I started wishing the camera recorded so we could have a time-lapse of his nocturnal traveling. Youtube gold, people, youtube gold.

We tried other swaddle blankets.

Though super cute (and that Aden + Anais one on the left is SO SOFT), these never worked as well as the Miracle Blanket because his arms are loose inside. The MB has arm flaps that loop over his arms and then under his body, keeping them lashed to his side snug and cozy, plus a looooong flap that wraps around and around the baby (yes, there's a learning curve to it). So even though he sometimes broke out of it once he woke in the morning, we kept coming back to the Miracle Blanket because that's what he slept best in. Subsequently, I did find on youtube (google "batwing swaddle") that some enterprising soul came up with the idea of using a regular receiving blanket to do the arm flaps and then using one of the velcro swaddles over that. GENIUS. Unfortunately, for us, it was too late for that because well, summer, and also someone had started rolling over. 

The little squirmer started rolling over at about 4.5 months. Before his startle reflex was gone. Uh oh. Goodbye swaddling. Welcome back sleepless nights? Nope. Now he sleeps 11-12 hours a night, plus naps, in a Zipadee Zip swaddle-transition blanket and he loves it!

Little starfish baby
And now that he's more mobile, his nocturnal (and nap time) perambulations are even more interesting.

We still never know how we're going to find him post-nap, or in the morning (to say nothing of throughout the night on the monitor) but it's almost always with a great big smile.

Except that one time (two weeks ago) when that first tooth popped through. Then he woke up screaming bloody murder.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

So apparently this is a thing

Over the course of my long, spotty, sometimes successful (no doubt requiring a special alignment of planets) running career I've had just about every running-related injury imaginable. Plantar fasciitis, tendinitis of the achilles, patellar and peroneal insertional varieties, IT band syndrome, countless calf strains, shin splints, stress fractures, micro-tears, compressed metatarsal nerves, heat exhaustion and you get the picture. Actually I shouldn't say I've had every injury because I'll probably jinx myself and get the one or two I've not had during my next run. Like a labral tear. Or a pulled hamstring. At least I don't think I've every pulled a hamstring. Maybe in high school. Not sure. Those years are starting to get a little blurry.

Three of those injuries listed above hit me back-to-back-to-back during the year and a half we were trying to get pregnant. So when I finally did pee out a double line in April 2014 I was in horrible shape. I was barely running 20 miles a week and still struggling with patellar tendinitis. At that point it seemed silly (and probably unhealthy) to try to keep running during the pregnancy. So I started walking, hoping that the long, enforced time off would heal EVERYTHING.  

Lo and behold, it did! The little tyke was born in January so once the weather was nicer I started running again. And after a couple false starts (cranky knee, tweaked gluteal attachment) I'm actually running pain and ache free for the first time since January 2013. I'm still in abysmal shape and up until two days ago I hadn't run anything longer than 4 miles, but I'm getting stronger (slightly) and faster (marginally) and I'm starting (actually) to feel like a runner again. With the baby it's harder to find time and opportunity to run, though I'm getting the hang of stroller running and my husband and mom have been great about helping me fit in runs on my own. Still, it's going to be a long road back to where I want to be fitness-wise so I need all those opportunities I can get, with or without the little stink bug.

Which is why I am most unhappy to have suffered my first BABY RELATED injury. Yes, apparently this is a thing. I must have missed that chapter in my Baby 411 book. Yesterday morning, while holding the little cherub, I reached down to pick up one of his toys and felt something wrench in my mid-back. My first thought was, "Oh no, that's not good." I immediately ran for the Advil and was pleasantly surprised to not have it be much of an issue throughout the day. Until, that is, I got home from work. I only did one massage, but the necessary forward leaning appears to have been enough to really flair up whatever strained because it's mighty uncomfortable now. I probably could have run this morning, because I mostly only feel it when I bend forward, or take deep breaths. Or move. Still, the last thing I want to do is make it worse. Fingers crossed it feels better tomorrow and I'm able to start running again. With my new little coach, how could I not be anxious to get back out there? 

Watching mommy work hard is very entertaining.
I am looking forward to him being big enough to sit forward facing in the stroller so I can lose the extra weight of the carrier, but I'll miss seeing that face while I run. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

I remember when change was scary

Just before the start of my freshman year at the University of Michigan, while at team cross country camp, I called my mom balling my eyes out about how I wasn't ready for college. Similarly, the night before my wedding, standing in my closet trying to decide what to wear to the rehearsal dinner, I came the closest I've ever come to a full-on panic attack. But once cross country camp was over and I arrived back on campus and moved into my dorm I was completely fine, totally unflappable, and ready to take on anything the big scary university could toss my way (except, as it turned out, Econ 101). And once dressed and at the wedding rehearsal I was cool as a cucumber. I slept like a baby that night and woke up ready to marry the love of my life. Indeed, my hair stylist commented more than once that I was the calmest bride she'd ever seen.

So perhaps it's just the anticipation of change that totally freaks me out. And, to be fair, that closet panic thing happens ALL THE TIME because I have no clothes. But regardless of whether it's the change itself or just the thought of change, having a baby has cured me for life. Or maybe not. Life is a long time. But certainly for the foreseeable future, I'm all "I got this mommy stuff DOWN. What could possibly be harder than this?" Of course, he's not walking yet. He's not driving yet. Okay, now I'm starting to get scared again so let's stay in the moment.

My husband and I are currently house hunting and hoping to soon move out of the condo we've been renting. Buying a house? Big change. Even bigger when you consider that we're almost definitely moving out of the town I love (grew up here, came back after 9 post-college years in Chicago and 5 unfortunate months in Nashville). Bring it. I am also about to start a new job. I'm leaving the office I've been at for almost seven years, along with the client base I've built up over those almost seven years, in order to work closer to home (until we find a house and move away, that is). If that's not scary enough, I'll be working for a chiropractor who has never even offered massage therapy before. This is exactly the type of thing that would have me waking up panicked and obsessively stressing over. Nowadays? No sweat.

Taking care of and adjusting to a newborn was (is) the hardest thing I've ever done. At 38 years old I was used to a lot of freedom, my greatest prior responsibilities being keeping two cats alive and trying to make dinner more evenings than not. Not all that difficult. I'm sure I'll return to this theme often (the babies are hard thing, not the cat thing, but maybe the dinner thing. Well, probably the cat thing too, since that turned out to be a lot harder post-baby as one of those cats is no longer actually alive). Anyway, there's pretty much an entire blog of material packed into the first five months of my son's life. It took a lot to get me this comfortable and confident, laughing in the face of impending change, but I got there. Or maybe it's just the pills I'm still taking after tripping face first into postpartum depression and anxiety at the two month mark (definitely will be returning to that topic someday soon), but I don't think so. My son, the little 6 lb 5 oz bundle of need and reflex, was like an adorable basic training drill sergeant; he completely broke me down before building me back up. He, along with the incredible support of my husband and our families, built me up so much that I actually believe I'll have time to post regularly to this blog (along with taking care of the little tyrant, cooking those dinners, finding a house, working, training, and everything else in my suddenly very hectic life). Time will tell if that's the drugs talking.