• Baby,  Boston,  Essay

    Missing the Liquor

    Well it’s practically March and oh my goodness do I miss cocktails.

    I just finished the Dinner a Love Story cookbook (so good, so good, by the way) and Jenny frequently mentions her retreat to an evening gin and tonic whilst cooking, and especially while cooking with toddlers. Her loyal love of one good cocktail (with “only fizzy tonic”) made me like her all the more, but also made me desperate for my own.

    “This is a tough time of year to live in Boston,” I announced to Joe.

    “I think it’s a tough time of year to live anywhere,” he said, too moderately for my taste, especially at 8am.

    “I don’t think it’s a tough time of year in Mexico.”

    Joe gave up alcohol and coffee for Lent, which is extremely noble. I pretended to dither about it, but really I can’t give up another thing. Pregnancy is lent, as my dear friend and priest’s wife so nicely pointed out. Last night with the doulas we discussed what a mysteriously big baby Lux was (9lb 10 oz) and I blamed it on a protein shake I drank a lot while pregnant with her. “And no white sugar or white flour?” one asked. My mind blanked as I searched for something I was currently eating that wasn’t comprised mostly of white sugar and white flour. “Uh well, a lot of pasta,” I said lamely. “A lot of macaroni and cheese,” I clarified. “Oh.” she said. I mentally scratched off a few more items to feel confident about when eating.

    My twenty-three-year-old brother Leighton offered to not drink for my entire pregnancy if, I also, did not drink. Imagine the audacity.

    Like most modern conversation topics, whether you drink or do not drink is treated as a highly personal decision that one makes for themselves based on highly personal feelings. The conclusions on whether the fetus is affected by occasional drinking are bounced back and forth between opponents like a swinging ping pong game. Nonetheless, if you visit an OB office in America, a nurse will probably say something along the lines of “It seems silly to say, but of course you’re not drinking?”

    Leave it to family to cross the safe line of modernity’s “It’s your decision, not mine!” politeness. I took him up on his offer because it was so thoughtful. This is a kid who, at the time, probably got a safe quarter of his weekly calories from beer. I couldn’t resist his offer of co-denial in its sheer chumminess…and because of a slew of other implications that seemed to lie within it.

    It seemed implied, for example, what kind of barbarian was I? If he could go without a glass of wine now and then, why couldn’t I do it? In the past, a tiny part of me admired women who completely abstained, but a larger part of me held them off as a little juvenile. Like, if everyone’s having mimoas at brunch, is it really necessary to wave your hand and insist on only orange juice for yourself?

    But it was pointed out to me by my dear, over-curious family (keep in mind I’m the first one to have a baby among them) that to decide to drink simply to satisfy my rebellious counter-cultural francophile streak was absurd indeed.

    True that.

    So I think I’ve texted him a total of five times for exceptions to our plan, i.e., very special occasions. Five drinks in 22 weeks is certainly a more moderate environment than Lux abided in. Soak it up, baby, and let’s see it in the SAT scores in 18 years, ok?

    February 28th and it’s bleak folks, bleak! There are still small slumps of snow on the street, each protectively harboring its own disgusting pile of soggy trash. Mmm, this looks delicious, Lux says, as she picks through each one like a little alley urchin.

    Mercifully we were at Formaggio Kitchen this morning for coffee and they had piled up a basket of the darkest cinnamon bread loaves I’d ever seen. You know how you want cinnamon bread, not some-bread-etched-with-cinnamon? This was it. As a rule Lux doesn’t eat bread (white carbs, Mom! she says reproachfully) but we both tore off hunks and ate it as we walked.

    We’ll get through this yet.


  • Baby,  Life Story,  Pregnancy

    eleven thoughts for new moms

    This extreme heat combined with Lux’s approaching first birthday has the early days of motherhood on my mind. The sticky floor in our kitchen, the faint hum of a hundred air conditioners through the window, the smell of baking bricks has triggered a wave of memories I’d forgotten in the last few months. I know several of my readers are expecting babies soon! I thought I would share a few things I would have loved to know in the first month or two.

    Lie about your due date on Facebook. Smudge it a little starting two or three weeks beforehand, no one will notice. Majority of first births are late, up to two weeks! To keep the dear friends and family at bay during those endless last days, give yourself a little leeway.

    Ask for food instead of gifts. If you have friendly neighbors and hopeful friends, tell them you would love for some hearty food in the weeks after the birth.

    A doula might be a bit expensive, but it could be the best money you’ve spent. It could save you the cost of an epidural and c-section! And be enormously comforting to you and husband. It isn’t an indulgence, it is a wise investment. If they do postpartum visits and help, all. the. better.

    Sleep with a favorite bed companion for your baby before they arrive, and infuse it with your scent.

    Never post about how well your baby is sleeping on Facebook. Nothing marks a new parent more than this boasting, and unfortunately, it can really hurt some friends’ feelings who’ve had more difficult babies. Stay savvy and avoid this topic.

    Things that are easiest when the baby is smallest: day trips, plane trips, eating at loud restaurants, and evening adventures.

    Nap when she naps. Truly truly truly. If you can do this as much as possible, you’ll feel way better about the bizarro sleep patterns.

    Avoid sleep training until three months. Do not spend hours googling methods when they are two weeks old. Your hips have to learn to sway, your mouth has to learn the comforting noises, your baby has to stop being a foreign alien to this world. It takes time, and no one’s cheap tricks will help.


    Here’s what the hours of Googling inevitably results in: yes other babies do it. No, no one knows why. Yes, it will stop soon.

    The sooner you can quiet the fear of your own intuitions, the sooner you and your baby will feel confident in your decisions.

    Three questions you might ask yourself and will later look back and wonder if you were insane: Is little Lux getting enough stimulation? Am I keeping her from learning? Am I being a “good” parent at all times?

    *Do you have bits of advice you whisper to new moms? I’d love to hear them, please share. Please ignore these until (..if ever) they are useful to you. : )


  • Boston,  Joe & Rachael Projects,  Using technology

    My Skillshare workshop!

    Have you heard of Skillshare.com? It’s a super website operating with the goal of encouraging everyone to teach anyone about anything. It’s well designed, in all sorts of cities, and is connecting passionate folks to curious topics all the time.

    I love this idea. I frequently find myself hunting for people’s secret passions and expertise in conversation, but it can take forever to discover, even from your good friends! However when skillshare finally came to Boston, I was a little disappointed that none of the classes interested me. What could I teach and be excited about?, I asked myself.

    and I realized: all the little lists of things I’d wished I known before Lux came, the discoveries I made in the first few months, the many tips I’ve learned from my fellow moms, the useless baby stuff I gave away, the I-wished-I-woulda’s….that could be a class!

    And so:

    A one night workshop for expecting moms in Boston! Obviously I’m a little nervous about it, but I’m also excited! I would have loved something like this when I was pregnant, it will be a good way for expecting moms to meet each other (which is so important!), and (inspired by the methodology of the fabulous blogshop) I will have yummy snacks and delicious mocktails to make the class even more festive. If it’s as fun as I hope it will be, I’ll do another!

    Can I ask you a Twitter favor, dear readers? Would you minding tweeting about it (link: http://skl.sh/JP6pUr) even if you’re not in Boston? I have my postcards to pin around the neighborhood, the strangers I will ask to retweet, and other news-spreading ideas, but I’m firm believer in the serendipitous power of Twitter. I’d be so grateful!

    And what about you? What topic do you love to talk about with interested listeners? What would you like to talk a class in? If Skillshare isn’t in your city, you can still sign up and suggest your city next!

  • Baby,  Entertainment,  Good design,  Pregnancy

    Holiday Alcohol

    The #1 question I get from my non-pregnant/male friends is: do you miss alcohol? For the first 20 weeks, I did not. These days, yes I do. It’s not really the day-to-day, it’s the alcohol associated with occasions. Bloody Marys on plane rides. Margaritas with Mexican. Dinner with friends with a new wine.

    Joe and I don’t do gifts for Valentine’s Day. We usually make cards: his a meticulous transformation of what was once just paper. Mine: a wordy, prosy, metaphor-laden 4th grader’s handwriting exercise. Anyway, we usually spend the money on expensive champagne and maybe make scrambled eggs and salmon or something that involves not going into the slushy world outside. Do I plan on having a glass or two? yes.

    But for the rest of the non-special times, when the guilt of impeding the development of a single brain cell stops my hand, I thought these drink ideas put together by Alyson at Unruly Little Things where just great. When it’s warmer, I’m looking forward to homemade lemonade being my drink of choice, perhaps embellished with a little rose water.