Sunday, May 26, 2019

5 Things I'm Loving

In an effort to maintain perspective in the wake of my (impending) job loss, I've started a gratitude journal. Each night before bed, I list three to five things I'm grateful for. Here are five material objects that are making my life easier:

(1) Haaka manual pump. If you're a nursing mom, you probably know all about this already. If not, you NEED to know. The haaka is this silicone bottle/flange that you suction on to one boob while you nurse the baby on the other boob. It collects milk that might otherwise get wasted and allows you start building a stash of breast milk without pumping. It is THE BEST.

We've been working on getting Baby G to gain weight and breast feeding burns a lot of calories for baby (and mama) so, at the advice of a lactation consultant, I started topping her off by giving her a bottle after some of our feeding sessions. It totally worked (she was 7lbs 3oz with clothes on yesterday!) and it's super easy. I can collect 1-2 ounces each time so I already have several ounces frozen, too. And it's inexpensive. I have the first generation, which costs $12.99 and is as simple as it gets. I'm playing it fast and loose without a topper or suction cup bottom (available on other models) and I do fear that it will spill sometimes before I get it transferred to another container, but I'm not buying a different one because even thought it feels like breastfeeding will never end, I know that this stage of leaky boobs and tiny infant will actually be over really soon.

(2) Loopy phone case. This thing is a lifesaver. You know how you need to carry a million things and then you drop your phone? Not if you have a loopy phone case.

I admit that I don't love the price (should a silicone loop really cost so much?) but it's been worth it for me. To be able to literally loop my phone over one finger while I carry water, bottles, baby, diaper bag, etc. has been revolutionary. I'm still tracking baby feeding and diapers on my phone (I am ready to stop tracking diapers, but still in the habit), so I need my phone with me because my head can't remember what time it is, what time I last fed her, or what side we started on, so I rely on the phone to be my brain. (I use the free Baby Tracker app and it's been great.)

Plus the Loopy seems to be kind of cool... when I was in the hospital with Genevieve, a few of the nurses commented on it and said they loved my phone case or wanted one, and they all appeared to be much younger and cooler than I am, so maybe it's a thing? I'm not sure. The practicality won me over, but the cute prints on the cases are also fun (I have the rose gold marble because I like my cell phone to be a little extra).

(3) Family Reading Time app. So... I have a summer bucket list for this summer that is probably way too ambitious. It has every little thing on it that I'd like to do this summer, from making our own popsicles to visiting my brother's cabin in West Virginia. I'm telling myself that it's just a list of suggestions rather than a to-do list. When I asked the girls what they want to do this summer, they said go to the pool and watch movies. Coco also wants to go to a baseball game. I feel like we can manage these things.

BUT The thing I want to focus on this summer is reading--reading out loud to the girls and having them practice reading. We'll sign up for the library reading challenges and Zuzu has a reading log to keep for school, but I remember it was a pain to track the books we read last year. So THIS year, I have an app for that! I heard about it on a podcast. The free app allows you to create logs for two readers, but I went ahead and upgraded to the full featured app for $1.99 so that I could have a list for Zuzu, a list for Coco, and a list for reading aloud. (I track my own books in Goodreads because some of my students like to follow me and see what I'm reading for fun, but I may create a list for me in Reading Time if that ends up being easier...).

Zuzu's reading has come such a long way this year and I'm so proud of her and so excited to get her reading some of my old favorites! This summer we plan to get through Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The Secret Garden, The Penderwicks, Understood Betsy, Matilda, the Birchbark books, and some Beverly Cleary, as well as lots of picture books! (And I have a whole list of summer reading for me, too!)

I heard about this app on a podcast recently and the same podcast (Sorta Awesome) recommended picking one thing for the summer--just a focus for your family rather than a huge to-do list. We still have a to-do list of things like Ted Drewes custard and go to a matinee movie, but I'm focusing on reading as the thing we're going to do every single morning. This feels manageable since I can do it even with a baby on my boob, and manageable because it's something I WANT to do (as opposed to teaching Zuzu to finally ride a bike without training wheels, which I need David to just freaking DO ALREADY because she's definitely old enough and coordinated enough but she's got this mental block against it and also we don't have a flat street to practice on and I don't have the patience for it). All this to say: She may get to August on training wheels, but we're going to read a shit ton of books in the meantime.

(4) Family Movie Night. I guess this isn't a material item, but we've started doing movie night on Friday nights and it's been really fun. We started with the first three Harry Potter movies, then we watched a couple animated films, and last week we watched Annie. I want to watch Parent Trap with the girls (the one with Hayley Mills), David wants to watch Smallfoot, and Coco just requested "that Santa movie we watched at Uncle Buck's house" so I guess we'll watch The Christmas Chronicles again for a Christmas-in-July themed movie night! Speaking of Uncle Buck, I feel like we should watch Uncle Buck as well. The girls get really into it and it's such an easy and fun thing to do to make it a Friday night ritual.

(5) Books... I have had a book called Stitch in my kindle app for a while, and I started reading it while nursing Baby G. This book was written by a fellow baby loss mom who has become a friend of mine, Samantha Durante. Sam has been hugely supportive of my own book project and I trust her because she knows the process of book writing and all the different methods of publication.

Full disclosure: I was a little nervous to read her work because what if you read something written by someone you like and then you don't really care for it? But Sam's books (there's a trilogy) are great page-turners. They are dystopian fiction, but not predictable. Here's the official description, which is spot-on: The opening installment in a twist-laden trilogy, Stitch spans the genres of paranormal romance and dystopian sci-fi to explore the challenges of a society in transition, where morality, vision, and pragmatism collide leaving the average citizen to suffer the results.

I totally thought the first novel was headed one direction and then it did an about-face that I did NOT see coming and was way better than what I had been imagining. I think I actually liked the second book (Shudder) even better than the first, and I'm about to start on book number three (Stuck) today--I'm so curious to see how she wraps it up, especially the love triangle (rectangle? pentagon?). 

Another book I highly recommend: This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. I thought this book was absolutely beautiful and I love how it captures the tender and fierce parts of parenting, especially parenting a child you know will struggle in the world. I finished reading it in the NICU with G and this passage made me weepy:

"You could sit down with another mom, even one halfway around the world whose life was very different from your own, and find easy conversation, shared spirit, someone who understood why you might bring your ten-year-old into a malarial jungle rather than leave him behind, someone who understood what unspeakable things sometimes befell children and to what lengths you might to go fend them off, someone who saw the horrors and the threats and the carving up and the carving out and also how hard they were to schedule around and how little they cared about your job and how much they wanted just to be touching you all the time and what they looked like when they first woke up in the morning and how they learned to talk and walk and read and how quickly they outgrew their clothes and how it was to live every moment of every day in that world..."

Even though this passage is about motherhood in general, it made me think particularly of the connection bereaved parents have with one another, no matter how different our lives are, and that sense of understanding that we have with one another. The entire book is fantastic, though, and I love the way it depicts marriage and family and the central questions of identity and gender.


  1. Following you on Goodreads (hope you don't mind!)... I love seeing what other people are reading! Love your picks for the girls' reading & movies this summer. "The Parent Trap" with Hayley Mills is one of my all-time favourites. :)

  2. We are doing family movie night too. We tried Finding Nemo yesterday but Ethan and Matthew were too scared. sigh. We all loved The Christmas Chronicles. Lucas and Matthew have been questioning me a lot about santa lately so might be a good one..I'm not ready for them to stop believing yet!I will have to check out the reading app.-Angie

  3. Ahhh thank you so much for the shout-out!! (You know I am a huge fan of your writing so it truly is a big compliment! I'm blushing!! :-) So glad you are enjoying the trilogy and very gratified to hear it's giving you a bit of an escape from the real world. Also, all these other recommendations are awesome as well, def checking them out!

  4. I have an iRing and love it --- It's a solid metal ring you attach to whatever case you have. It's $15-19 now, I think, and very versatile cause you can use it as a kickstand for the phone. Like a pop-socket but it's a ring so you can carry your phone with one finger (as I often do...)