Only 2 weeks of the semester left.  I am somehow muddling through my first semester as a working mom.  Exhausting yet pretty good.  In the next month, I need to finish grading, plan a family trip to Sweden, grade all of the papers and final exams, and plan/execute Leon’s first birthday party.

Here’s what we/I have been up to these days:

1) Running:
I have run 2 5Ks this semester.  The first one didn’t have an official time.  The second one, I finished in 24:50.  Not bad, not great either.  I’d love to run it in around 22 minutes.  Leon came to the race and he wasn’t impressed. But he did want milk (OMG, aerobic activity leads to a totally noticeable spike in mom juice, due to the spike in prolactin.  Boobs are just sexualized sweat glands, it appears).

2) Reading: I read library ebooks on my phone while feeding Leon (still)
Red Love by Maxim Leo (62% done)
Mad about the Boy by Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones is 50!)

3) Eating:
These days, we’re all about getting food in mouth. Ideally, whole grains, greens, and beans. I can’t believe how many times I’ve done Italian Wonderpot.  Our variation: use whole wheat linguine and add white beans.  It makes it more hearty and protein-y.

4) Major childrearing dilemma:
Nightweaning. Should we or should we wait until he’s older? Even some of my most crunch/attachment-y friends have night weaned by age one. But I’d like to wait until he’s verbal. We tried to have Blokey put Leon to sleep and get him back to sleep the one night I went out with girlfriend (I didn’t come home until 11!) but then Leon ate SO much when he finally got milk in the morning that he puked it all up.

5) Thinking about:
Toddlerhood, a possible second child (this may remain only a fantasy for quite a while), wishing I could read Thomas Picketty’s new book, new research, new papers, new administrative roles.

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Balls in the air*

If you have been reading this (and I’m not sure anyone does), you may have noticed that I post a lot about the difficulties of juggling stuff.  And the crazy thing is that pre-Leon, I just assumed that I would be competent and good juggling a child with everything else I like to do- namely being a professor, maintaining friendships (near and far), being a loving/caring spouse, maintaining a vaguely clean household, cooking most of my meals at home, exercising regularly, engaging in volunteer/community/activisty things, traveling, and maintaining some sense of style.  Oh, and not just being a mom, but being some kind of super involved, uber-ambitious attachment-style parenting mom- exclusive breastfeeding, bed-sharing, not sleep training, baby wearing, organic food feeding, blah blah.  We also have Leon in zero hours of non-parental care right now.  And I’m meant to do this while continue to save money for Leon’s college/home repairs, while keeping my stress levels moderate/manageable.  Oh, possibly watching TV, fun readings, etc. 

In retrospect, hahahahaha.

I generally fail at some aspects of my goals, in some way, everyday.  While I have had the fortune of BF, not sleep training, and babywearing, I haven’t done the best at many other things.  But I try.  Like I have been running 5Ks with a few friends, but I don’t have much time to train.  Often, I only get to run 1 or 2 times a week.  (But I did run a decent 5K on Sunday).  But because I wanted to volunteer at the Brooklyn Baby Expo afterwards, at the Babywearing Lounge, I brought all this crap with me, and asked Steven to bring Leon as well.  After I crossed the finish line, I had to change and nurse Leon, and he was screaming (didn’t like getting your diaper changed at Riverside Park, eh?) and I got flustered, and dropped my phone.  We eventually found it (thanks to Google phone locator services, and the nice honest young man who picked it up) but it was super stressful. 

Other brilliant things I’ve done recently include burning the gross plastic handle of my rice pan (I just bought this to replace it- not plastic to melt), and then miscommunicated the baby hand-off to Steven last week, resulting in Leon serving as the “guest lecturer” of my 12:15 class.  Not the worst thing in the world, but stressful for all the parties (except the students, who seemed to enjoy his presence).  These past few weeks have been especially tough, as I’ve been doing regular site visits to my internship students’ placements.  But the worst will be over, soon enough.

On a daily basis, I feel like I am beat by around 5 PM.  I say to myself, “OK, you just need to get to 8 PM” (which is when Leon start to lose it, if we don’t put him to bed. Although he can stay up later if there’s stuff going on- like guests or a new location) and then Leon will sleep, and I can try to get some work done.  But not too much, because he needs to night eat, and eat, and eat. 

I like the ideals behind attachment parenting but we will probably have to do some night weaning soon.  Leon eats throughout the night, and although we are lucky that he sleeps about 12 hours, he demands boob and nothing but the boob to go back to sleep, sometimes up to 8 times a night.  I am still feeling rested enough, but I wake up all dehydrated and starving.  STARVING!

To alleviate some of the crazy, we are hiring a babysitter, a former student of a friend (another professor but at a different school) to come watch Leon 4 hours a week so Steven and I can have a little bit of time together. Oh, and maybe time to unpack.  (Still got boxes).

Leon is over 10 months old now, standing (with support), crawling everything, being vocal (he and his dad say “NOM NOM NOM” when they eat and look at pictures of fruit.  Tomatoes, apples, and oranges really excite him), exploring, playing with balls (haha), and chasing cats.  It’s a big blur and I’m trying to enjoy, while also trying to survive.

The conclusion to all this is: I really respect and appreciate moms so much now, including my own.  And my own choices (and the difficulties they create) make me happy that I’ve made mine, but also more understanding to those who make other ones.  I may not always agree but I understand why moms do what they do.  And also, having a feminist husband who is a more than equal co-parent is the amazing.  I am a lucky lady.

*When I think of all the juggling I do, I think fondly of the “Balls in the Air” song from “Notapusy”, one of the many funny episodes of Arrested Development, Season 3.

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Working mom

Working mom

(Leon being a little koala bear before I left for a site visit in Lower Manhattan.  It can be really hard to leave this guy.)

These past couple weeks have been extra busy, as I’ve had papers, exams, and now more papers to grade, on top of site visits. I teach an internship class and as a requirement of the class, the instructor needs to visit the student at the worksite once in the middle of the semester. I am deeply grateful to have this assignment, as I mostly work on the class (an online one) when Leon is asleep. But now I find all my days really full, and with a deadline looming, life feels so hectic.

But it’s not all work and no play. E-Jo visited and it was very fun to meet up in real life. Of course, Leon was a huge fan. He loves smart ladies in glasses, and he especially enjoys chestal arenas.  Another Canadian friend, who is now based out of Manchester, is also visiting this week, so we’ll be hanging out at least twice this week.  (Once for teaching purposes.  It’s a “field trip” with his undergraduate students).

I’ve been doing the working mom thing (albeit, privileged flexible schedule working mom with incredibly supportive and progressive feminist spouse) for just 2 over two months now and man, it is hard.  But I also realize that not working is also hard.  Leon is sleeping right now and I have a 164 page document on “social condition” (a Canadian jurisprudence concept- see a theme?) and it’s very exciting to read.  But I have to keep one ear open in case King Leon wakes and demands milk.  It’s a privilege to be able to do research and have a career, and a privilege to have Leon, and as difficult as it is to balance, I can’t imagine my life without either.  That said, finding ways to care for an infant in this country has been really hard.  We can’t afford full time center based care, we live far from family, and our little guy is very attached- he won’t take bottles, needs some help taking naps, and is really flexible as long as a parent is near by.  So what do seems to work, given our shared needs. My husband could do the “cool dad” thing, but I think that’s bad for his career (no money for his retirement, hard to re-enter the workforce after long periods of unemployment).  But anyway, the point of this long rant is that going through this mom/work/life balance thing makes me appreciate a much fuller range of choices than I have in the past.  I realize now that all the choices that moms make, working outside the home or not, are hard choices.  We’ll all doing the best we can, swimming in a sea of unideal circumstances.

That said, when I have the free moment to set away from it all and reflect, I know that we’ve got it pretty damn good.

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Restricting AGAIN

Man, the things I happily do for my kid.

Leon has had some pretty nasty eczema for the past 6 weeks or so.  I tried using some over the counter stuff but it actually got worse (thanks a lot, Vaniply! Recommended by the National Eczema Foundation. pFFT).  We got a steroid cream but we shouldn’t use it too much (skin thinning, etc.)  Plus, the worst of it is on his knees, which the doc told us to avoid.

All the conventional wisdom out there says that eczema is not related to diet, but at the same time, even conventional voices agree that kids with food allergies often have eczema.  I’ve not been a eczema person myself (except my fingers during the coldest winters of Minnesota), as I am an oily skin type, but Steven is eczema-y.  That plus a cold winter and strong, dry apartment heat= scaly baby.  The crazy thing is that he is actually still very cheerful and happy (other than teething) and doesn’t seem to itch much.  BUT he still wakes up a lot at night (which other moms on the internets are saying is because of pain/itching), and if I can switch thing up to minimize that, I’d love it.

So I am back on a restricted diet.  Gah, I hate it because BF makes me uber hungry.  I am going egg, gluten, and dairy free.  I thought about excluding tree nuts, but I need calories.  We picked up a bunch of rice crackers for Leon and me (and I should grab some Rice Chex for a snacking), and I need to go buy some coconut ice cream, because I deserve it.  Otherwise, most of our meals will stay about the same.  But no more bagels for this NY baby.  I’m one day in and starving, as usual.  Leon’s skin has been improving but it’s nowhere near healed.  Here’s hoping.  (I will happily cut all fun foods out of my life permanently if that improved my bub’s health.  But I probably won’t have to).

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Whizzing through

Whizzing through

How is it already week 8 of the semester? Since we have a LONG spring break (Passover) and quite a few other holidays that match us with the NYC public school calendar, we are not quite half way through, but it feels pretty close. My students have their midterm next Monday and it’s finally start to feel a bit springy.
Days are flying by. Although sometimes the hours drag (and the nights when there is teething or other pain), I can’t believe how quickly everything is going. My little boo is almost 10 months old- pulling up to standing, cautiously cruising, babbling up a storm, and taking it all in. After 6 PM everyday, I can really get much done- it’s all about getting dinner ready, on the table, baby bathed, nursed down, and then asleep. Since he still nurses at night, I need to stay close by so he doesn’t properly wake (thank you laptop, for allowing me to continue to maintain some productivity).
My mom called me the other day to inquire about his first birthday party. Oh Lordy, another deadline. But it’ll be a cute one.
(This photo wasn’t staged, exactly. When he insisted upon being taken out of his high chair during dinner, I put Leon on my lap and then he started eating my dinner. The sight of the pasta hanging out of his mouth was so cute, I made Steven run and get the camera. OK, I’m a bit posed but Leon is pure, un-staged baby Blue Steel magic).

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Life lately- 9 months!

We are slowly getting into rhythms of a work/childcare life. Leon’s separation anxiety seems to be easing gradually. He and his dad are great friends:


We have been visiting friends, going to brunch, baking, battling kitties (there was an unwarranted face scratching incident last Thursday).


Leon is a big hit at the Political Science department. We are going to a colleagues’ house in Jersey this weekend to celebrate an early Fat Tuesday.

I can’t believe that Leon is 9 months old today. It is just flying by. I love you, my sweet chunky monkey.

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A long time reader of this blog might remember the trip S and I took to Gothenburg last year, where I became enamored with Swedish cardamom-y pastries. So good. A Facebook exchange and happenstance brought to Fika (Swedish for Kaffepause) where we saw semla, this poofy and creamy confection. It is a cardamom soft roll with a marzipan and whipped cream filling (with some bread filling scooped out). It is traditionally part of Swedish pre-Lent gorging, but evidently it is available in bakeries and cafes around Christmas until Easter.
We didn’t get a semla the first time we went to Fika but since today was basically tropical at 45 degrees, I got off the subway a few stops early and picked up a semla and decaf.


We saved half for Steven. Leon got a taste of the bun, which isn’t very sweet.
Tonight, Leon joined me and my lady colleagues for tapas, as most 9 month olds enjoy. The cutest moment- when we toasted the fun of a get together, Leon insisted on sipping my water glass (which I used to toast) as everyone else had a drink. He couldn’t have timed it better. (Then he ate roasted Brussels sprouts, whole wheat pita, spinach, and empire beans).
It was a long day. Semla, Central Park, tapas, and charming a gaggle of young college girls on the train home. All in a day’s work.

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