Friday, July 25, 2014

Toddler Schedules and Daydreams

   We are daydreaming a lot lately, of creating a more permanent home and moving the studio there. The stress of operating a retail space and the back and forths and restrictions of doing it with a kid in tow gets to us. The extra rent doesn't help either. I am not gonna lie, its not easy. We get overwhelmed. and tired.
Caleb "helping" me in the herb garden 
   The reality is that we have 3 more years on our lease, and sometime soon, will start trying for another baby. With those things in mind, I have to start adjusting, make peace, and take a deep breath.
   With a rambunctious 18 month old, a work day is full of interruptions. I am about half as productive as I used to be, and our lives are full of his wonderful messes and our half finished work. The stress bubbles to the surface quicker when you are tired and stretched to thin, so I am just checking in and turning more focus on what is best for Caleb and us versus the business at this point. Making room for all of us so that when we add one more, we have already carved out some room.
Painting with edible finger paints I made. 
    Tuning into Caleb and what he needs has helped me along in this process of slowing down. He needs a bit more focused time & attention from us throughout the day, more activity and engagement. I try really hard to rotate activities for him to do independently, and have now started to introduce things as a "together" activity and then let him explore things independently over a few days. This helps, but also, I am making it a more concrete schedule - more for our benefit than his - so that we look at making room in the day for toddler time as a non negotiable instead of getting swept up in the stress of the day. He does so much better when we are "tuned in" and 100% in the parenting game through our typical days, I am always so surprised how easily it can get lost and how much I have to check us back in and get everything back in line.
    The best weapon I have is to go through my pinterest and pick a few activities for the week and set them up on Monday night so they are ready. This has resulted in some weird rainbow colored projects left forgotten in the fridge, but for the most part, it works well and helps me stay focused on being "Mom" even when we are at work. I can set him up in the high chair next to me with some homemade playdoh, or set him loose in his play yard with a bin full of rainbow colored spaghetti, or introduce stickers with pictures of his favorite animals.
I make popsicles with extra green smoothies from breakfast, they keep him busy for about 30 minutes.
    We split his time now with the independent activities and then at least one period of physical activity with one of us - play ball, go on a walk, blow bubbles, that kind of thing - which as my wise mother pointed out - wears him out and ensures a better nap - which is when we get the most done.
   The schedule I have made up is below. Mike and I are a solid team, and it is a rotation, so that one of us gets a half day of no interruptions, Caleb gets some quality time every morning, and during his morning nap, the person at home can get some personal things taken care of - or in my case yoga and dreaded computer work.

Caleb's Day

 7:30 Nurse, Wake up, get ready for the day
 8:15 play independently
 8:30 activity: go on a walk, out to breakfast, yoga with mommy, play in the garden
 9:00 Breakfast
 9:30 - 11:30 Nap
12:00 Go to work
12:30 Lunch time with parent that has been at work all morning
1:00 activity with above parent
1:30 independent play
2:30 - 4:30(or 5) Nap
4:30 snack
4:45 independent play
5:00 home with parent that came to work first
5:30 playtime/activity
6:00 dinner
6:30 bath, bed time routine
7:00 bed

    This makes my work schedule as follows: (in theory)

AM- home with Caleb                                            
yoga or walk with Caleb                                
9:30-11:30 Nap time Office work                                      
12:00 -8:00  studio                                                                  
8:00 home

8:00 - 12:00 Studio Heaven
12:00 - 1:00 lunch & activity with Caleb
1:00 - 5:00 Studio
5:00 home with Caleb

9:00 everybody to work
5:00 Family Date

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Taking Care of My Body

   If becoming a mother has taught me anything, it has been the importance of taking care of myself. I was quite athletic all the way through my pregnancy and before, but got sidelined by my hip injury for the better part of a year.  The injury & recovery has changed my perspective and helped slow me down enough to really appreciate my body and the small things I can do to stay healthy and active. Being a mom is demanding enough, but when you add a 60 hour work week - 40 of which include a baby - and the physical and mental strain that come with my job - which involves 50 lb boxes of clay, a lot of lifting, moving and sitting hunched over as well as running the business - being healthy becomes extremely important.
    Living a healthy lifestyle came into focus as we began to plan our family, and has become the central focus. Not only do I want to be successful at work, but I want to set a good example for my kids and be healthy and active so that I can enjoy my family.
   I feel a little strange writing about this stuff, and am still trying to find my voice on this new blog, but I hope it gives you a little insight and maybe some inspiration!
A rare warm winter day, hiking at around 8 or 9 months pregnant. 

 DIET  I have always leaned vegetarian, but now keep a dairy free house. My husband calls us " 99% vegan." We eat what we want when we go out, but at home, you will not find any meat, dairy, or refined sugar  and everything in our pantry is organic. This has been a process over about 3 years, and as our diet has become even cleaner,  I feel better physically than I ever have.
   I also drink around 80 - 100 ounces of water a day, drink alcohol very minimally. I have not had a hangover in 2 years, its amazing, can't even imagine trying to do everything I have to do in a day hungover- those days are over!
   I cook once per week, and in a future post, will share my system. I think its easier to eat healthy when you have healthy meals, snacks and treats ready to go. I don't  know how people come home after work and cook, or if they even do. I am way too tired at the end of the day. You can see examples of the meals I cook on my Pinterest boards.

Excercise  My goal is to work my way back to the level I was before my injury, but  after a year of being injured, I  have a little more patience and self acceptance, and am now ok with where I am today. Exercise is good not only for your body, but for your mind, so I look at it as a benefit even when it seems to be easy and/or slow - which is the case at the moment.
    I walk wherever and whenever I can. Now that Caleb is walking, we go out together a few times a week up and down the street at work for about 10 - 15 minutes. I also walk him to the store on my weekends and try to get at least one solo walk in sometime during the week. We may walk up the street to a restaurant or to get coffee, etc, I absolutely count this as exercise.  I have a rule that I must always live within walking distance to something, I love the convenience of adding an errand or a coffee run to my "exercise."
  My Yoga practice is currently at the lowest level I have ever been, but I practice, albeit slowly, 2 - 3 times a week for about 20-30 minutes.  At my peak fitness, I was doing Bikram 4 times a week, for 90 minutes a session,  though I don't see how I could fit in that sort of intensity at this point in my life.  For now, I do a self guided practice or a video in my new little nook.
    I have found that exercising can either set me up for a more productive day or relax me after a particularly challenging day, and thankfully my husband understands the necessity and encourages me to take these small breaks for myself.

Health Care  I get a Deep Tissue massage and/or receive Craniosacral Therapy at least once per month at a Holistic Medicine Center. When things are crazy and my body is in revolt, I go once a week. My work is very demanding, if my body is not functioning well, I can't do my job, nor can I take good care of my family.  Finding Holistic Medicine was a game changer. I turned to this when my injury became too much to bear and I needed to find a natural way to manage my pain and recover, it has become a way of life now. If I find myself starting to feel off balance, or my injury starts to flare up, I head in for a tune up immediately.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Room of MyOwn

   Its been at least a full month now, of this new commitment I have made to listen to myself more. I have been writing this entry in my head for a few weeks now, and then rejecting it, over and over. I am sure very few people are even reading this, and honestly, if you are judging me, then - shame on you -  I should not bother myself with the thought.
     I have been rediscovering myself since this "aha" moment of mine. Its brilliant, and funny, and sometimes a little sad, and ultimately, it has been wonderful for my spirit. I am finding that balance I have been searching for for so long. I am finding the me that I left in the dust of trauma and stress and work-aholicism.
    One of the first things I did after my big date with myself to the bookstore,  was work on carving out a space for myself at home, a reading nook, a place all my own where I can unwind and be with myself if I wish. I was inspired by one of the books I picked up, which encouraged making a cozy spot for yourself to read, or I would add,  to have a cup of tea, or watch a chick flick, or eat junk food, check email in the mornings, whatever. It is all mine. It is brilliant. It didn't take much. I found a chair on Craisglist and ran to Tj Maxx for a light fixture, rearranged some stuff in my bedroom, and ta-da! a room of my own!
     I think its a symbolic thing for me, I feel more secure knowing its there, even when I don't use it. I have a new found sense of groundedness, concrete, feet on the ground security. I have a little corner that I can retreat to regroup.
  I have spent a lot of time on my home during this little honeymoon with myself. I have spruced up almost every room in the past 6 weeks, and have plans for more when the budget allows.
     I have also asked for more help, made a new friend, come up with 3 new designs at work and taken 2 three day weekends. I have exercised 4 times this week. what! This new turn has really helped me to be more present with Caleb, staying home in the mornings to do office work during naps, and gathering activities for him to take to work.
    Life is good, this has been a great turn. It is time, now, to get reaquainted with myself, to remember, to honor, to relearn how to relax and enjoy a little bit more of life.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Remembering to Listen

I spruced up the living room this week!
       The past few years have been full of some pretty extreme ups and downs for me. Just since getting pregnant two years ago, I lost my best friend and my studio space, moved into my new one, brought my husband on full time, had a baby, experienced a chronic injury and doubled my business. Can you say stress?
   Having a baby changes you so much, and I feel like I only had a few minutes to enjoy it before I was back into a pretty grueling work schedule over the summer. There have been a lot of tears over the last year. Trying to keep up with the day to day can be so overwhelming for a new mom. Figuring out how to juggle baby sleep schedules, teething, breastfeeding, developmental changes, new roles in your marriage, changes to your personal identity, a new body, and on and on and on. Its an emotional roller coaster even without a 60 plus hour work week.
We went out to dinner! Bonus of early bed time, we can go out on Friday night and still have the place to ourselves.

   I am so hard on myself naturally, and there has been this insane sense of pressure (see my last entry) to cram everything into this neat, little tidy package that would somehow constitute a "normal life". News flash, Heather, "your life is not normal." All this cramming and conforming and pressure and stress has been taking its toll, and honestly, making me a bit depressed. I haven't been coping very well as of late.

     It occurred to me  that I have stopped listening to myself on many levels, creatively, spiritually, and physically, I just shoved all the signals down in the name of work and obligation. In reality, yes there are times when I will not have so many choices, but do i really need to stuff down my inner voice at all times? Probably not.

   My mission right now is to listen and act, no matter what. Practice makes perfect! That means if I feel that I need to stay home with the baby in my bathrobe, that is what I am going to do. If I want to take my family out to dinner instead of working late, that is what I am going to do. If I am on a roll in the studio and feel the need to work an 80 hour week, then THAT is what I am going to do. I am hearkening back to the good old days when I took really great care of myself. And now that I am finally pain free, maybe I will even start using that gym membership I have been paying for.

C spent a few days not feeling so well this week, I got a lot of housecleaning done. Babywearing is the answer!

Since making this new promise to myself, the baby got sick for the first time, and cut another tooth, so it has been a good week to get practice staying home in the mornings to work from home and slowing down a little. I even went to the bookstore, got a giant cup of coffee, curled up with a pile of design mags and brought home some new source books - all by myself!!!!! Its been so long since I did that - I can't even remember when it was!

   I have joked quite a few times about getting a tattoo on my wrist that reads, "remember."  It may be time to seriously revisit that idea. Momma's should really be the first on the list sometimes.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Tales of a 5 day work week

  Things are hectic right now. Its that push as the slowness of winter lets up, always a surprise for some reason.
    This year, I committed to a 5 day work week-at least when possible - this is a first for me since starting my business 7 years ago. Deadlines and the nature of ceramic work can push me hard at times, and make this impossible, but that is just the reality of owning my own business. I am doing my best to honor the commitment to having a weekend, for myself and my family. It gives us much needed leisure time together, and time for Mike and I to just be married people with a baby, since our work days are double duty. A 12 hour work day when you are also parenting is challenging and will burn you out quickly, and lets face it, I am not getting any younger. A 12 hour work day, even without a baby, has gotten more challenging in the past few years.
Reading to C at a few weeks old
   The shift to having a weekend, plus C's current schedule, is leaving me both rested and deflated. On the one hand, the beginning of the week starts out awesome. Tuesdays are great, I bounce in to work ready to take on the world, but by the time I get half way through the week, I really miss my baby. The weekend taking has made it so I have to cram all 60 of my work hours into this neat little 5 day package, and you see, I hate missing bed time. Its the worst.  This has come up for me at various times over the past year, its gotten a little easier to keep working and not think about it - I used to sit at my work table and cry after Mike took him home - actually, I'm crying right now just thinking about it - breaks my heart that it has to be this way.  Last night, I kept him in the bed with me, just to make up for all the goodnights I miss. To smell his shampoo and hold him close.
    There is always going to be a trade off. I am so lucky to be able to keep him with me every day and still have my career, but it hasn't been without sacrifice and I couldn't do it without the unwavering support of my husband, who takes over those bed time duties 5 nights a week so that I can stay and work. I know that this schedule will change, his bed time will move to a little later again at some point, that there will be slow times and vacations when I don't have to miss a thing....... Being a Momma sure does break your heart a lot, in lots of little ways.
    For now, I am doing my best to adjust, to soak in the days I get to stay at home, and know that its a good trade I am making.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

A New Beginning

Me & C

        I took a break from my blog to catch my breath and think. Its been bothering me that I felt a disconnect between what I felt I should be writing and what I felt called to write. I really needed a break after the push of the huge project over the summer and then the combination of really big press and the Christmas rush....... honestly, I was feeling like I didn't want to have a blog or that this one needed a complete overhaul. Its weird and hard to explain, it just felt like a burden, and I needed to step away.
      So here we are. I have been digging around in my brain, trying to come up with some grand concept, a reinvention, a new direction, a new name, etc, etc..... What I have come up with is this. I will be reposting everything I feel is truly authentic and relevant to the journey I am on now. When we started getting ready to become parents, my life really started to change, and it really is now in a constant state of transformation. I can honestly say that I have changed almost every aspect of my life, and those are the things that I am called to write about now. Cooking nutritious food, running a household as a business owning mom, running an art studio with my husband and with the baby in tow, finding out who I am again, how I keep it all straight in my head, natural parenting, baby wearing, my lack of a social life, my reliance on Pinterest for EVERYTHING.......
    So, from this moment on, what you can expect is a look into my most authentic self, as a mom, wife, artist,  passionate home cook, and business owner.
    Cheers to spring time, and a fresh start.

Friday, October 11, 2013

I made the Right Choice

   I have been in a place of gratitude lately. It has been so nice to wind down from the busy summer, at least emotionally and spiritually, to let go a little.
   As I sit here in my newly minted office/playroom/nursery on the back of the studio in a rare quiet moment with no husband, baby or customers, the theme I have been reflecting upon for the past week or so keeps coming up. "I made the right choice." This has become my mantra.
    On Facebook this morning, a friend of mine from high school posted an article,
and was expressing some sadness over the judgement she feels for making the choice to stay home with her
 daughter - she also started her own photography business when she left her "job." It brought to the surface what I have been thinking about a lot lately, that we judge each other so harshly, especially women, when we should be happy when someone we know is strong enough to make bold choices that she feels are best for herself and her family.  It is heartbreaking when someone you think of as a loved one or friend shows a lack of respect for your choices.
my loves the first day of production after we rearranged
      It has taken some therapy and a lot of time, but I have decided that I am not going to apologize for my own choices anymore. When I met Mike, my life changed significantly. I never had someone to love and protect before, not the way I love him. I gained this big sense of responsibility, and took our relationship very seriously from the very beginning. Once we were married and  started preparing to open our lives to the possibility of a baby, that sense of responsibility grew. We changed our diet, I started on a spiritual journey that has become more clear now that I am a Mom,my work week became shorter and more concentrated, we changed our lifestyle, Mike came to work with me, some people have left the circle. Things have changed so much for us over the past 3 years, not all of it has been easy, but it all has been for the better.
my new desk
    My blessing is my family. I do, every day, what I have to do to love, protect, nourish, feed and house my boys. I have made sacrifices. I have made mistakes. I have, at times, suffered. My husband, myself and my child are healthy. We have a clean, simple and extremely busy lifestyle that grows richer with each day.
       I don't get much time to myself or to have a social life, being "Mom, Wife, Boss" leaves little else if I want to do at least 2 out of 3 well each day. I don't have time to make apologies any more. I am confident now that I have made the right choices - to take care of what is important. If you don't like it....... well, I feel sorry for you.  Our lifestyle may be different, or maybe you can't grasp the concepts of change and growth, or respect that I want to do what is best for myself and my family. I hope one day, you can find a more open place in your heart.
The nursery coming together
   I am so thankful that I can work to provide for my family while being with them all day. The new room  is going to see us through for many years to come and help us function better as a business and as a family. It is already giving me some much needed reflective time over coffee in the mornings, watching over my baby that is free to roam in a safe place to play, a dark quiet place for all of us to take naps and express ourselves privately.  Mike and I have been finding joy at work again, rearranging and collaborating, finding more of what works and getting rid of what doesn't. It feels good to make choices, and even better to know they are the right ones.