Joyeux Anniversaire mon petit amour!

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In December of 2009 I found out I was pregnant again. Emma was only 14 months old (and never slept), I was in graduate school, I was in therapy for the wild anxiety that hit with the birth of my first and I was totally not prepared for another baby. I liked the idea of another baby in the house but I was completely scared of going through another rough birth and didn’t think our sleep deprived family could handle another. I considered not having the baby but my husband convinced me we should.

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The first few months were rough because I am the lucky recipient of horrid morning sickness in the first trimester, and that combined with a nursing toddler was enough to drain me. I remember when Emma would run into the bathroom and pretend to throw up like mommy, which was awesome! Despite not feeling great, I had the added pressure of figuring out how to deliver the baby. 14 months prior to getting pregnant, I had received a questionable c-section. That story is for next month but as soon as I found out number 2 was coming, I needed to find a different method of care because I was not stepping foot into a hospital again.

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So I did my homework and tried to find a doctor who would deliver the baby VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section). I was definitely interested in a homebirth because everything I read told me that it was safe, and was the only real chance I had to deliver the way I wanted but my insurance company told me they would not pay for a homebirth. They were, however, full of shit! Anyway, I researched doctors with high VBAC rates and made appointments. I immediately disliked all of them because they all said the same thing. They would deliver the baby and give me a chance for a VBAC but with the first complication I was going under the knife due to fear of uterine rupture. I knew what they said was wrong because the research shows that uterine rupture is really rare (less than 1 in 100 women) and “a VBAC might help you avoid the risks of multiple cesarean deliveries, such as bowel or bladder injury and placenta problems.” Also, I was not a high risk pregnancy. I was only 32, had a very healthy pregnancy with Emma and my medical records showed a fairly normal labor. It had resulted in a c-section but that was due more to my knife-happy doctor and not a true emergency.

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I knew I wanted a midwife but since I had hospital midwives the first time around, I knew that their power in the hospital was limited. As they were wheeling me into surgery, my midwife turned to my husband and said that if the doctors had given me more time, I would have delivered the baby on my own. They were at the will of the hospital and had to walk on a very thin rope to stay in the hospital. So, I did some more research and found that a homebirth would indeed be paid for by health insurance. The insurance companies like to tell you no but if you have the right people asking the right questions, they have to pay for it! I called around to homebirth midwives in those early months but they were either full or not interested in doing an HBAC (homebirth after c-section). One midwife told me that if in a few months I could not find someone, to call her back. This is what I did and this is what changed everything, and clearly we were happy about that!


I have to be honest and say that I was surrounded by supporters. I live in an amazing community of women who focus on helping women find the right birth path, and this makes research and support very easy. I attended regular ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Netword) meetings and these women gave me such great advice. They taught me how to fight for what I wanted and their resources helped me achieve my goals. So, I called back the midwife who said she would help and she agreed to take me on. I could not have asked for a more caring, intelligent, strong and helpful midwife. Joan Bryson (who is now retired) made the remaining months of my pregnancy happy. I didn’t have to worry about my delivery because Joan believed in my ability to birth my baby and taught me to believe in it too. She took such good care of my family, and helped all us feel comfortable and informed. The greatest gift she gave to me was finding my inner birth warrior. I was not afraid of how I was going to deliver the baby because I trusted my birth care and my body!

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At 10:00 pm on September 10, 2010 I felt my first contraction. Emma was asleep, Jason was asleep and I was just crawling into bed. It hit me hard and fast, and since I had never felt a real (non-medicated) contraction, it was totally manageable. At first I worried that the contractions would break my water and I would get thrown into the same situation as with my first child but as the contractions came regularly that feeling disappeared. I tried to sleep between contractions but once they started they came evenly; 15 minutes at first, then 10, then 7, then 5, then… I managed to walk through my contractions and birth alone while my family slept. I paced, I squatted, I sat in the bath, I crawled, I stretched and I labored completely normally. Around 2:00 in the morning Emma woke up and I rushed in to soothe her. I sat in her bed, sang her a song and tried to breath between hard, fast contractions. Luckily the birth gods saw fit to put her back to sleep and I went on.

I woke Jason up because I stopped being able to time my contractions. He woke up, called Joan and timed my contractions. At this point, 3 or 4:00 in the morning I was losing confidence. I couldn’t do it alone anymore and the pain was intense. I told Jason to call Joan and tell her I couldn’t do it anymore. He got on the phone with her and she told him this was a good sign and that the baby was coming soon! At some point I began throwing up and things got better. I screamed from the bathroom “TRANSITION!!!” and knew I could make it. Over the next few hours I pushed, Emma woke up and was rushed to friend’s house, pushed some more and continued to push for an eternity. At some point, I started to fall asleep and lose my ability to stand or push but being a resourceful midwife, Joan asked her assistant to make me some tea. The iced, green tea came at just the right time because the caffeine kicked in and I pushed this amazing human out!

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My memories of this moment are probably blurry and filled with nostalgia but what I remember is a moment when time stood still and I experienced the true meaning of humanity. I delivered a human with only my body and my support team. It was a moment of pure power; pain and exhaustion too but pure power! She came into this world quietly and only cried a tiny bit. While Joan dealt with trying to get me to stop bleeding and get all the tiny pieces of my placenta out (it tore apart during labor), I held the everything in my arms. She was beautiful, strong, big (weighing just under 9lbs) and very sleepy. We cleaned her up, she nursed a little and we fell asleep in our own home. As we laid there together I just could not help but notice how perfectly she fit next to me and how this experience would change my life forever.

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I wasn’t changed because of birth (although truly magical), or because of motherhood (I was already a mother), I was changed because of Adeline. She was what our family needed at a very difficult time. She was the zen in a household of imbalance. She was quiet, joyful, sleepy, patient, gentle and wild at the same time. She continues to teach me to be patient, mindful, creative, sensitive, wild and fun. We constantly find ourselves saying when we do new things that “Adeline will have fun” because she always does. She appreciates life despite too often feeling insecure without her family around, despite finding transitions difficult and despite being introverted. I know we always say that we need to respect and listen to our elders because they are full of wisdom but having this child has made me realize just how much wisdom comes from even the tiniest creature.

Happy Birthday to the most spirited, imaginative and affectionate person I know!!!

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Radicals, Marriage, Love, Birth Control, Part 2

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Voltairine de Cleyre is one of the most fascinating people in history. She was a contemporary of Emma Goldman but until she was plucked from obscurity by Paul Avrich in the 70s, many had not heard of her. She is not exactly “known” now but at least in certain circles her voice lives on. Unlike many of the historical anarchists we know of, de Cleyre was American born. She was born in Michigan in 1866 to an American mother and a Communist, French father. Her father was born out of revolutionary French fervor and therefore he named her Voltairine (after Voltaire).

Her story, like many of those born to immigrants (or who were immigrants) starts out in abject poverty. Her father worked odd jobs and her mother took care of the children. At a young age, de Cleyre was sent of to a convent for her education. It was in this staunchly religious environment that she began to form her ideas about religion and politics. From her essay “The Making of an Anarchist” de Cleyre speaks of the pain of growing up in a convent, “the old ancestral spirit of rebellion asserted itself while I was yet fourteen, a schoolgirl at the Convent of Our Lady of Lake Huron, at Sarnis, Ontario. How I pity myself now, when I remember it, poor lonesome little soul, battling solitary in the murk of religious superstition, unable to believe and yet in hourly fear of damnation, hot, savage, and eternal, if I do not instantly confess and profess!” Perhaps it was her upbringing in a Communist household that prevented her from believing in God, or perhaps she was innately suspicious of religion as a female growing up in Victorian America. This strong atheist view point stayed with de Cleyre her whole life and it is at the heart of her feminist philosophy.

Both de Cleyre and Goldman were radical, female Anarchists. They believed in full emancipation from the government, from men and from the rules that confined them to pregnancy and ignorance. Around the time that Goldman was beginning her activist career in New York, de Cleyre was moving to Philadelphia. She moved to Philly and wanted to live independently, so she started working as a teacher and tutor to some of the poorest in the city. She never worked in a traditional school but taught piano, reading and writing to immigrants in the City’s tenements. This work confirmed her feelings towards government, religion and women’s issues. She saw some of the worst living conditions directly related to how immigrants were seen by society and how women were seen by men.

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De Cleyre had very strong opinions about marriage and kids. In her essay “Those who Marry Do Ill” de Cleyre discussed the issues of marriage and how it is equal to sex slavery for women. Marriage to women of the early twentieth-century was similar to that of a prison according to de Cleyre, she wrote that men are “our Masters! The earth is a prison, the marriage-bed is a cell, women are the prisoners, and you are the keepers!” She would not agree to marry in her lifetime and believed that “men and women [should] so arrange their lives that they shall always, at all times, be free being in this regard as in all others.” Freedom above all else is what de Cleyre sought and so when she gave birth to her only child, she felt the confines of motherhood and abandoned him with his father.

In 1890 Voltairine de Cleyre gave birth to her first and only child Harry Elliott. The event was not something she enjoyed and fell into a deep depression. She spoke of the event in “An American Anarchist” by Paul Avrich, “I think I hardly laughed once for the year preceding and accomplishing his birth.” Having a child according to Emma Goldman, “did not fit into her life, her plans, at all…She had things she wanted to do with her life, and he was not part of them.” Getting pregnant and raising a child in de Cleyre’s position would have been very complicated. Beyond being poor and not having access to proper birth control, she was not married and her son was destined to be a bastard. Harry was lucky enough to be raised by his father but would suffer the injustice of being born out of wedlock and the rejection of his mother. De Cleyre writes many essays on the topic of birth, children and marriage because it was something she believed women were forced into by man and church. They were not in charge of their own bodies and since birth control was illegal, a woman was destined and subjected to many pregnancies. Often these multiple pregnancies had ill effects on a woman’s mind and body. She would be forced to bear children despite the health and safety of her and her family.

De Cleyre’s politics were very clearly about emancipation and the right for women to chose their paths. She was not anti-marriage because of the loving union humans may have sought but rather because of the religious and political ties. She was an early advocate for free love, homosexuality and birth control. She did not advocate for people to stop having sex or stop having babies but yet do so out of free choice. De Cleyre writes, “while I’m am not over and above anxious about the repopulation of the earth, and should not shed any tears if I knew the last man had already been born, I am not advocating sexual total abstinence.” She later writes “I would have men and women so arrange their lives that they shall always, at all times, be free beings in this regard as in all others.”  She felt the government and the church had too much power over how women conducted their reproductive business. The lack of freedom to decide if and how many resulted in many unwanted pregnancies leaving “little babies, helpless, voiceless little things…forced into this world to struggle and to suffer, to hate themselves, to hate their mothers for bearing them to hate society and to be hated by it in return.” She had first hand knowledge of this experience with her own son and went on to write a very lengthy poem called “Bastard Born” in 1891.

(excerpt)

Why do you clothe me with scarlet of shame?
Why do you point with your finger of scorn?
What is the crime that you hissingly name
When you sneer in my ears, “Thou bastard born?”

Am I not as the rest of you,
With a hope to reach, and a dream to live?
With a soul to suffer, a heart to know
The pangs that the thrusts of the heartless give?”

I am no monster! Look at me —
Straight in my eyes, that they do not shrink!
Is there aught in them you can see
To merit this hemlock you make me drink?

As we still see today, De Cleyre’s criticisms about the church and government having too much control over our reproductive lives are real. Women continue to debate with government over access to affordable birth control and the legality of abortion. See here an article where a fully insured woman has to wait 6 months to get approval for an iud (and could obtain a gun in less than 2 days), or see here, an article where Pope Francis is considering pardoning women who have had abortions. Sure this sounds like a progressive step for the Catholic church but it also sounds like a lot of power given to a man, and institution over how you conduct your sexual and reproductive life. At some point we have to walk away from these traditional notions of what women’s roles are and declare reproductive emancipation! power

References

An American Anarchist: The Life of Voltairine de Cleyre (1978)

Bastard Born, Voltairine de Cleyre (1891)

Those Who Marry Do Ill, Voltairine de Cleyre (1908)

Growing Food, Not Lawns with Michelle Gring

I would like to welcome Michelle Gring back to Golden Mama for another great post on the way we raise food and eat! Michelle is an urban farmer and you can read her previous post here. Thank you Michelle, take it away!

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I grow food. In my yard. It’s not always easy, but I feel it is something that just should be done. I guess you could say it’s a passion of mine. I think about food a lot. Not just how to grow it, but how to cook it, eat it, how it affects our bodies as human beings, how different cultures view it…I read cookbooks for fun, and probably spend waaaay too much time on the internet, lol. But it’s important, this food stuff, and there is a lot of conflicting information out there, so I’m always looking for newer, better nutritional expertise. I mean, everyone has to eat, right? I find it sad that so many people in this country don’t spend much, if any, time considering what they are putting into their bodies. I think it is terrible that so many don’t even have access to fresh, healthy food, that the best food is often unobtainable financially, that this country is growing fatter and sicker every day. I see chemically greened grass as I walk down my street and I want to shout “grow food, not lawns!” at my neighbors. I want to wrestle the Roundup out of their hands and replace it with worm castings, pull up their snap dragons and plant peas and carrots, but that is not the right approach, I know. My neighbors already think I’m crazy (I mean, c’mon, I raise chickens in my backyard and planted kohlrabi in plain sight); trying to spread the farming bug past my property line in such a way would just land me in the loony bin, I’m sure.

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But what if everybody grew just a little food, a potted tomato on the patio, a row of lettuce instead of petunias; what if organic and humanely raised food was not only affordable, but just a few feet from the back door? I realize that not everyone has space to do this on a large scale. Heck, even I am pretty limited in that department. But just a little something. Not only would people be better off, but the planet would be better off, too. Did you know that during World War II, the government called upon U.S. citizens to grow victory gardens in efforts to free up commercially­ farmed food for soldiers overseas, and Americans ended up growing 40% of food consumed right in their own backyards? Amazing! It would be awesome if we could do this again. I don’t want to preach, but I want to help people, I want to help communities, and so I am going back to school to learn how to do just that. Because it is important. I am not crazy, not really. And the fact that there is a degree for my particular passion tells me that I am not the only person who feels this way.

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How far I’ve come and faith in how far I can go!

Amanda Savala is 36 years old and a single mother of three teenage daughters ages 12, 15, and 17. She is a Registered Nurse and works in critical care, as well as healthcare computer informatics. She has worked in hospitals since she was 20 years old, a mother at 18, and was married for 14 years. She has also been a friend of mine since we were 14 years old. I’m really happy to bring you this piece; it very thoughtful and I feel like many woman/mothers will relate. Thank you for this Amanda!

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I have a picture on my wall that says “take pride in how far you have come and faith in how far you will go.” I bought it shortly after moving into an apartment after leaving my husband of 13 years.  At the time I had 3 daughters ages 13, 11, and 8.  

I started to run again as I was building the courage to leave. One day I ran around the block and I tracked the distance by driving it in my car first. It was just over a mile. I began jogging and walking unable to run the complete mile. I convinced a neighbor to wake up and jog with me one morning at 6:00 am, but she never did that again.  “That’s only for crazy people,” she said. I continued alone until I was able to run the complete mile, and then decided to change my trail to the country road outside of my neighborhood; adding another mile. I was scared; I’m not sure what I was scared of exactly, maybe rapists, murderers, dogs, or being alone?  You see my 3 daughters have been my entire world nearly all my life. I was 18 years old when I had my first child the February following my high school graduation. I think only a mother can understand separation anxiety but I’m not sure all mothers experience it. I remember leaving them when they were very young to go fishing and felt so nervous I actually became shaky. I was very protective and I felt like I should be with them all the time. I worked, but many times I took odd shifts or worked part time; leaving them as little as possible. My life was entertaining them, looking for ways to educate them and make their childhood great. As my kids were getting older, I began to realize that it really was ok for me to leave the house and run. The reality was they were home alone before I got home from work a few days a week. At some point, I realized that I was allowed to do things for myself.  Wow! That’s an idea that had been difficult for me to accept. As I mentioned before I had fear, but I persevered until I could run 2 miles and…I lived and came back unharmed each time. My kids even continued to sleep. I could do this!  How liberating it felt to conquer my fears!

My endurance and fitness levels improved. As I progressed, I got braver and stronger both mentally and physically. Soon I was running up to 3 miles a few times a week, and doing a steady workout. I tried the Insanity program, a few other workouts but favorite was Jillian Michaels. She’s a rock star!  

Then one day, I finally had the strength to do it and I filed for a divorce.  I started to explain this situation further but I realized the details aren’t important.  This is part of the strength I have gained because you see, I felt guilty that I was giving up on my marriage and turning my kid’s world upside down. I believe in marriage and the promises I made to God. Failure is what I felt, as well as fear.   

My ex-husband had made threats to kill me, any man in my life, and himself.  Fear is what I felt. It may seem crazy but I was able to draw strength from the fact that I could run 3 miles at that point and not get kidnapped or whatever it was I was afraid of. I felt anxiety that I would be considered a terrible mother if I wasn’t only in existence for my children. Anyone who has had to go through a divorce knows how ugly and incredibly draining it can be.  On a scale from 1 to 10 of ugly, I’d give mine an 8 or 9 and I really don’t want to waste time on details but to say I felt stress in an understatement.   

Moving on and moving up…

Running gave me sanity, a free therapist. I was in Atlanta with my oldest daughter a year later and right outside our hotel was a big run for the cure race and I saw a sign that read.  “I run to keep my crazy away!”  I love that and it epitomizes one of the great benefits of running for me. That incredible feeling you get when you finish your run and know you got a great workout. That feeling also comes after meeting a personal goal for the day or from doing something you didn’t think you could accomplish. I was really unaware how well I was doing. I was just sorting out my thoughts and coping with life. Sometimes I literally cried, and sometimes screamed at the top of my lungs while running by myself. One day a friend at work asked me my pace. When I told him my last 3 mile run was 8min mile, his response was, “Wow, that’s pretty fast.” I thought really?  

Like Forrest Gump said, “I just felt like running so I did.”

I have a place I like to run and it used to be my secret place. I didn’t tell my kids where it was at the time out of fear they would tell their dad. I have since shared this special place with them and it gave me joy to do that. One day at this place I saw a huge bird that looked like a bald eagle and I was in awe.  As soon as I got back to my car I searched the internet to see if I really could find a bald eagle in Oklahoma.  To my surprise, yes, they do live in Oklahoma and I’ve been seeing this bird and its 2 now grown babies every year since. It’s fantastic! I have felt drawn to large wild birds since I was young and this quote from pure-spirit.com (http://www.pure-spirit.com/more-animal-symbolism/629-eagle-symbolism ) expresses my feelings exactly.  

“When an eagle appears, you are on notice to be courageous and stretch your limits. Do not accept the status quo, but rather reach higher perspective. Be patient with the present; know that the future holds possibilities that you may not yet be able to see.  You are about to take flight.”   

The Native Americans saw the eagle as a symbol of great strength and seeing this bird gave me great strength.  

“they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31   

I’ve seen many hawks as well, even collected their feathers on my runs. As I increased the length of my runs to 6 and 8 miles, there have been times I felt tired and thought maybe I’d just walk – then I’d see a few hawks flying lazy circles in the Oklahoma sky.  This also evokes very strong emotions in me and brings tears to my eyes. This image gives me new strength and I am able to keep running, to persevere. These majestic birds also have symbolic meaning to me, as if God’s whispering in my ear you are stronger than you think.  

My girls are now 17, 15, and 12 and we all are stronger and better than ever.  We struggled and went through challenges as we healed our wounds. We continue to grow and learn every day.  The old saying  “if mama isn’t happy, nobody’s happy” is so true. Running keeps mama happy and, in turn, keeps “everybody” happy.  In short, running and improving myself betters all of us and encourages my girls. I believe 100% that our actions speak so much louder then any words we can ever say. My girls… our kids…are watching. All the time they are watching.  Watching when I failed to love myself by allowing myself to be in an unhealthy environment. I was teaching them to not love themselves and that what they saw and believed was normal and expected. Now I am training for a Marathon, I have completed 3 half marathons, along with other runs including 5k’s, 10k’s and a 15k. I continue to work on improving my speed and distance. They are still watching and they think mom is a bad ass!

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When the City gets gritty…

…the Catskills are always pretty!

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When we left Brooklyn 3 years ago, we did so because we couldn’t handle being in the City anymore. We had two young kids and a mountain of stress, and we rarely left the city. So, instead of trying to leave the city more, we fled to California. That trip lasted 2.5 years and, as of last fall we were back in NYC. This time we are trying to do it right by creating a balance between city life and non-city life. We promised ourselves that if we came back to Brooklyn, we were going to get out often so we didn’t feel so trapped by everything. So far it is working out!

May I introduce you to the Catskills! This spot was located on a peninsula and therefore surrounded by WATER (Mongaup Pond), which is apparently the most perfect, most excellent thing for young girls!

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We left after work on Friday and arrived to our spot around 8:30 (pm). It was getting dark but that did not stop these two from jumping right in. The water was calling to this girl and she succumbed to the sirens of the pond!

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The only thing that forced her out of the water was the s’mores, and that equaled dinner for night #1!

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For some reason the peninsula was mostly empty which is a rarity for NY camping. We kept joking that a murder had taken place in the 4 empty spots next to us. I have yet to confirm this but I am just going to keep it alive as an urban legend! When we woke the next morning we found plenty of friends to play with though. After a couple of days, these guys really started to get annoying, cute but annoying (the ducks, not the kids)! The girls also got junior naturalist work books to fill out while camping. They answered some questions about conserving wildlife and then ended up getting 3 badges each! They received two extra badges for being able to talk extensively about owls and deer (so freaking proud).

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The ducks were not our only wildlife find. We spotted a bald eagle and her kid hunting in the pond each morning (no pics), owls hooting at night, bats flying around the trees, more birds than I can name here, cray fish and this guy; which is a green tiger moth. It liked to hang out next to our bathroom and pretend to blend in!

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The water was really our zen and fun for the weekend. The girls splashed in it at our campsite and then swam in it at the campground beach. Can you spot her little, tiny head? She is the only one in the pond (the mystery of the empty campground)!

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My kids totally embraced the outdoors on this trip, and apparently each other too (seriously, they got along like 3 times this weekend)! This is just one of a dozen pictures of them hugging each other or holding hands, and it is totally not staged!

hugging sisters

There are so many pictures of these two in the water but this is probably my favorite. I couldn’t help shoot the dusk scene; the trees, the water, the mountains, the colors, the light, the reflections and the girl trying to fish with a diy pole!

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Of course, it would not be a proper NY camping trip had we not brought a little Brooklyn with us! And yes, we always create circular patters with our beer caps, it makes it easier for our wardens to keep track of our intake (mommy, you’ve had two beers tonight, I think that’s enough)!

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We had a hard time leaving on Sunday because the weekend was a love fest. We were able to truly shut ourselves off (no phone service) and breathe, which is a rare thing when you live in a crazy city. This trip was easy, the weather was great, the kids were entertained and the parents were left alone. The kids kept saying “this was the best camping trip ever” and in true Adeline spirit “Mommy, I want us to stay like this forever. You, Daddy, me and Emma are just so great together these days!” You know what, she is right, we are good together!

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If you don’t camp (I don’t know why) and if you do camp, where are your spots? We seem to have some good spots in the Catskills but are always looking for more!

Watching it Live with Blake Mills

Sometimes I go out with adults and do adult things; like see live music! It is a very rare thing for me to leave the house after my kids go to sleep and stay up until 1:00; I almost felt like a human again (and then not so human the next day). Me and the huz used to see live music all of the time, it was our thing.  However, once the kids came, no more live music (insert sad emoji), unless count the summer, outdoor concerts that are kid friendlish! We are occasionally invited by friends to see bands but usually he goes. NOT THIS TIME though, this time it was ME!

So, my lovely friend sent me a text and asked if I wanted to see Blake Mills. I had no idea who he was but it was in my hood, she has good taste and it was a free ticket (win, win, win). She transferred the ticket to me via email (21st century biotch) and all I needed was my phone to get it because they just scan the code from your email.

Remember ticket stubs, those things were magic (Elliott Smith 2000)!

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Anyway, I put the kids to bed, kissed the man goodnight and jumped on the unicorn to freedom (seriously, I ride a unicorn and no I am not crazy, see previous post here)! I showed up like I was 21 with only a phone, credit card, id and keys! I was so excited to be out, that my joy spilled over into the real world and the bouncer asked if I was in a hurry! “Yes, I’m in a hurry, I’m here to meet adults and there are no children involved, let me in!!!”

I was really excited to see my friend, and drink a beer, and see live music but have to admit I was a little sad about the venue. The club formerly known as North 6 (I know, it changed a million years ago) used to be my favorite place to see music in the early aughts and now it is a fancy place. The actual stage is pretty much the same but they have this new fancy bar downstairs that just screams “new Williamsburg” yuck! I mean glass and metal, so corporate 5 years ago!

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Anyway, enough complaining, the night was fun.

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I managed to have some good chats and hear some good music and drink some good beer! It was pretty much a perfect, adult evening. As for Blake Mills, he put on a great show. At times he enjoyed his instrument a little too much and I felt like I was part of a jam session but he was good. I particularly liked the drummer, he looked like Kris Kristofferson and played the hell out of some drums!

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At the end of the evening, I had to admit to myself that I have been denying myself a life for almost 7 years. Maybe this is what happens when you have kids but I think it has been the result of my own parental control issues. Sometimes I need to remind myself to “step away from the baby, it will all be ok!” So here’s to making plans for new adventures and saying yes more often (like Frankie and Grace) because I managed to feel normal, and not mommy anxious for the first time in a long time. Thanks to good friends, thanks to my unicorn, thanks to Brooklyn and thanks to Blake Mills!

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Fittin’ in the Fitness…

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This is not a post on how to lose weight or get your pre-mama body back (it will never happen), it is a post about ways to feel better through exercise. For me it is running, bike riding, swimming and oceaning. I apparently have a lot of demons to exercise because when I’m not exercising, I’m a demon! I have always loved to run and maybe it is in my blood because my mom loved to run too. I’m not a running-junkie only because I have no time for it. If work and kids didn’t stand in my way, I would be a running-junkie! I go through running phases and unfortunately I am not currently in a running phase but only because I’m in a biking phase.

Once I discovered commuting to work via bike as opposed to stinky, hot, subway I’ve been hooked. My commute to work from Brooklyn to Manhattan is only 9 miles round trip, and takes about 20 minutes each way. I really want to run in the mornings but have found it difficult (if not insane) to run before I ride! I started commuting by bike 3 months ago after purchasing a cheap bike on craigslist. I didn’t expect to fall in love with riding but have totally changed my mind and luckily, this cheap ass ($80) bike has served me well.

Meet the Ross Unicorn (purchased for it’s name)! It is light enough I can carry it up two flights of stairs but should not be confused with being light! I’ve not had to purchase anything special for the commute to work but would like to replace the backpack with some kind of paneer.

the unicorn

One of the things I enjoy and hate the most about commuting to work is the engagement with the city. I enjoy being outside and experiencing all the wonder, weird, great and horrible the city has to offer. My commute over the bridge can be intense (especially in a heat wave) but the view is superb and the exercise feels really good.

biking to the work

wburg bridge

Aside from commuting, biking is a fun way to exercise and explore. I recently challenged myself and rode to the Rockaways from my house, which was almost 20 miles and took about 2 hours. It was insane and luckily I got a ride home because I was not making it back!

riding to the rockaway

Riding is also a good family activity. For years I have ridden my kids around in various ways. They are old enough to ride themselves now but not really for long distances. My oldest (age 6) just got a 20 inch bike and is getting used to it in the park. My youngest (age 4) has taken over the 14 inch bike and LOVES it. Before they were riding on their own, however, we did the bike trailer, and after we did the trail-a-bike. I highly recommend the trail-a-bike for kids 3.5 and up, my girls loved it.

bike trailer

trail a bike

As for running, I don’t find this to be a family activity. It is a ME activity, and a time when I love to be alone. I don’t mind running with other runners but really like being in my own head. Running is probably my favorite exercise because it makes me feel amazing. I enjoy running in cities mostly because I find pavement to be more dependable. As a runner it is good to know the surface you are running on because an inconsistent surface can fuck up your body. I enjoy running in these Mizuno Hitogami shoes (no socks, I hate socks) and these Everlast shorts.  After years of running in calf-length pants, I recently discovered these shorts and they are perfect for runners with athletic beefy thighs! It is really hard to run when your shorts are constantly going up your thighs or cutting off the circulation. So far these are great, and I might write a review for them because LOVE!

running

One of my favorite things about running is what you see while you are running. Yes, running makes you a little high and so you tend to like everything you see on a run but I’ve seen some pretty spectacular things in theses early mornings. One of my favorite pictures was taken during an early morning, snowstorm run. I was the only person out running, and the only tracks in the snow were my own. You don’t often feel “alone” in NYC and this was on of those moments, a rare and beautiful!

tracks in the snow

One morning I managed to capture an early morning hunt. This bird (who we have nicknamed Snatch) is a juvenile hawk who is a little on the crazy side, and cares not about humans. A park ranger told me that Snatch, snatched a pet Yorkie from the park (thus the nickname Snatch). Regardless, he is pretty amazing to witness!

seen while running

And, sometimes it is just nice to appreciate your everyday view, and running certainly facilitates that. It is a nice way to run along the river and snap a pic of the City I love!

as seen while running

Most importantly though is the mix to which you run. Spotify is great for helping create free playlists. Mine is called Running Home for the very, cool reason that I used to run home (super creative here)! Although I am not a pop music groupie (please do not judge me by my playlist), I love to run to pop music because it is the most fun thing ever!

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Lastly, finding time to exercise is difficult if you have children and work full time (or just have children). When I’m in a running groove, I get up at 5:00 and run a few miles before they wake up. I like mornings and so this works for me, and it really is the best time to experience a sleepy Brooklyn. It is also a little scary to run early mornings in the winter, and so I try to find a partner. Running to work is good if you have a shower, which I don’t and so I don’t run to work. When I’m not riding to work, I will run home. This is a great way to shake off the office. The morning/afternoon commute is really the best way to exercise because it combines getting to work and exercising while awake (cannot say I’m 100% functioning during a 5:00 am run)!

What are your exercise routines and how do you fit it in with kids and work, kids and kids, or work and work?