Sunday, January 18, 2015

The sun


We took M to Los Angeles (and Portland) for a three-week holiday.  I'm still thinking of the time spent with my family in California, the sunshine, the ocean, the tamale-filled festivities.  One day, while staying at my sister's house, we walked to the neighborhood pokÄ“ restaurant.  It was a breezy 80 degree day, in late December.  I stared up at the towering palm trees and my thoughts swirled around how cold it must be in DC.

I always enjoy time with family but, with M now in our lives, those interactions take on another level of meaning for me (sorry if that sounds blow-hardy).  I'm starting to wonder if I would be fine with my daughter seeing her cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents -- in many ways, her (and my) cultural anchors - once or twice a year tops.  I'm not so sure.  Yet, I'm not exactly ready to move back to California either.

There are other things I'm thinking about, some more frivolous than others, but someone is calling for me.

And my time is up.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Documenting a walk (drive): An afternoon in B'more


A few weekends ago, we drove up to Baltimore to visit Stu, who hadn't yet met Madeleine.  We brunched at Woodberry Kitchen, a cavernous space in a renovated mill.  I was not disappointed - it lived up to the hype. It was also such a baby-friendly restaurant, which seems like a rarity these days, at least in this country.  We then enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee at Artifact before driving back to the city.  M is a fairly happy baby, particularly in the morning, but her temperament and level of patience take a sharp decline as we edge toward early evening. We squeeze in all the roaming around, errands and coffee dates in the mornings and early afternoons.  It helps keep me sane.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Recent acquisitions: Embracing mom pants



Earlier in the year, I committed to listing out monthly acquisitions - if only to hold myself accountable and to curb spending habits.  

I failed.  I haven't listed anything in months, even though I have been fairly active with internet purchases. I should have known that pregnancy and post-pregnancy would do a number on my spending - with my changing body shape, pre and post-partum hormones shifts and late nights/early mornings spent comforting an infant, I was bound to make a few irrational internet purchases.  I'm not going to list every single purchase here. That would be far too embarrassing.

But I will say that my purchases of late have been spurred on by my realization that my too-precious silk numbers aren't going to work, at least for now.
  • I've wholeheartedly jumped on the Ace & wagon.  It's funny.  I first heard of Ace & Jig when I still lived in Cambodia and back then I could not justify the prices, not when I could make linen/cotton shift dresses in Russian Market. In retrospect and objectively, my gut instinct was probably right. But when I finally purchased a piece, I realized how beautiful the textiles were and how wearable. I was sucked into the hype. These pieces aren't cheap, however, and I don't see them becoming more affordable in light of the the growing cult following, particularly from moms. Bottomline: I need to ease up.   
  • For the last year I've also been itching for a new pant silhouette.  Can you believe I've been wearing skinny jeans for over 10 years? While I still wear a black skinny jean regularly, I also welcomed two pairs of slouchy Black Crane pants into my rotation. I must say I'm loving the elastic waist and looser fit. I wear the quilt pants at least two times a week. I also own the carpenter pants in olive, but that pair doesn't get as much use.
  • As for shoes, I rotate between three pairs of boots: the Rachel Comey Mars (for days I don't intend to walk very far); the Dieppa Restrepo Mer boots; and the IM Dicker boots, a "maternity" purchase from last year.  To my credit, these are not new purchases.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Thanksgiving holiday


I realize I use this space to whine about some of the realities of motherhood.  Today, I'm thinking about how tired I am, how I'm still not sleeping well, how I don't quite fit into my old clothes, and how postpartum hair loss is horrible, if not scary.

I think it throws friends when they ask me how I am doing and I launch into my grievances.  I see the look on their faces. But that is what's going on, dear friends.  Yes, I love my daughter, fiercely. Her smiles make me forget (for a while) some of the difficulties of motherhood.  And life is richer, in ways I didn't understand before.

But I'm not one to sugarcoat things and some days I surprise myself with my ability to get out of bed, get dressed and pretend to be functional, maybe even mildly coherent.  Today was not one of those days. I stayed at home in my pajamas while taking conference calls.

This post was about Thanksgiving in Colorado: There was snow and family. I didn't bring my work computer. I didn't think about human rights or the uphill battle we face. It was great.  And, speaking of M's smiles, here's one that melts my heart.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A year later



My little sister (above) flew out yesterday, after spending two weeks with us.  Tomorrow, M takes her first flight, to Colorado, where she will be surrounded by more family -- hopefully I can catch up on well-needed sleep and finally get over this nagging cough.

There's so much to be thankful for this year.  Last Thanksgiving holiday was a difficult one.  I alluded to many things, but never really wrote about everything.  In addition to my aunt's sudden death and some upheaval at work, this time last year I discovered I was pregnant, only to suffer what I believed to be an unequivocal miscarriage mere days after my discovery.  I was devastated.  I remember flying out to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving that day and how the airport seemed to swarm with babies.  Once in Wisconsin I remember confiding in Ethan's grandmother Megan, a petite woman who, with her steely eyes, sternly told me that this would pass, that women dig deep to find the strength to keep trying.

Well, a few delayed doctor appointments (and a few weeks of sickness) later, I discovered that I was, in fact, still pregnant.  

I didn't write about it then because it felt too close.  I carried it with me, even through the pregnancy, a little secret, a nagging fear.  But I've always tried to be honest in this space.

So it's crazy that a year later I will be flying with my little squishy daughter.  Motherhood is difficult, but I am so grateful for the presence of her in my life, and for the love of my incredible family and friends.

Monday, November 3, 2014

My balancing act


I took this picture of M when she wasn't yet two months old, when I was still on maternity leave and the days seemed to stretch out before me.

I went back to work in October, during a pretty full-on week.  But thanks my fabulous my in-laws, who flew into the city and hovered around my meetings so that I could nurse M every few hours, I survived that hectic time.  At more than one point in the week, I felt overwhelmed, out of sync, and ready to quit my job!  But I pushed through. One afternoon late in the week, I found myself seated at a table with two human rights defenders from Guatemala. As we discussed their case, I remembered why I fell in love with this work to begin with. 

I don't know how this work/life balance thing will ultimately pan out, but I hope I can strike a healthy medium.  Right now, my attempt at balance includes a mix of working a (very) slightly reduced schedule, leaving the office at 3:30pm most days, working remotely, and carving out time to spend lunch with M everyday.

One of the things that causes me the most anxiety now is something that I have thrived upon - namely, international travel.  I've managed to push off any international travel this year. There was the three-day trip to London that I jumped on and immediately backed off of once M was born. On the horizon is a meeting that keeps getting pushed back. Initially scheduled for Thailand, then India, the meeting will now either be held "somewhere in Africa," in Turkey, or in Thailand.  I won't be able to escape that trip, but I'm hoping that by the time I go - for a week - M will be a little older.  And then, there's the work trip to Nepal that keeps getting pushed back (indefinitely) and Peru, which will happen next October.

This is the longest period of time I've been grounded without international travel, and I crave a new stamp on my passport - but not yet, not if it means being apart from her, and not when she is so little.  A dream I have, someday, is to travel across the world with her, or at least to a few far-flung places.  I think fondly back to the French father-daughter pair I met in a ger in Mongolia.  She, a blonde bubble of energy, was on her gap year.  Father and daughter met in Mongolia for a three week tour of the Gobi Desert, after which she would travel to Nepal alone.  I remember their talks, his encouraging words to her about hiking in Nepal, of the Annapurna trail dotted with tea houses.

That's the dream, but baby steps first.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Distractions



images via

I'm exhausted and a little ragged from attempting this whole work/life/baby balance thing. Frivolous distractions are welcome. Plus, aren't they healthy at this point? Rugs from Bohem.
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