Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Lighter Side of 26 Weeks

I've been such a crab lately that I'm even bothering myself. And it's infectious. If I am grouchy at Johnny, he gets defensive and grouchy back, and then when I tell him he's being a real sourpuss, it is absolutely within his right to point right back at me and say that I started it. (Which he does.) Still and all, when I get called out on my grump, I sometimes think about all the reasons I have to be grumpy and feel like everyone should cater to me. I work so hard! It's hot! I'm pregnant! I have a toddler! My back hurts! Blah blah blah. Poor me.

But I'm turning into Daisy Downer. I'm annoying.

My wonderful friend M read my last blog entry and promptly reminded me that if I want a seat on the subway, I should just smile and politely ask for one. Johnny reminded me that I took a bath every night during the second half of my pregnancy with Thora to relax and soak my feet, so maybe I should try doing that again. (I did and I am.) I reminded myself that when I'm organized and prepared, I am very productive at work, so I spent a couple late nights this week catching up, rewriting my to-do list, answering emails, filling out forms. And while I love love love my podcasts - from Dan Savage to Dave Ramsey and lots of NPR in between - one morning I clicked on "music" instead of "podcasts" on my iPod during my commute for the first time in six weeks, and rocked out to the March Violets, the Sisters, the Cult and a bunch of other high energy "poppy goth" on the subway and as I walked down the city streets. I think I've been avoiding music because listening to it is an emotionally charging experience for me. Understandably, I've been avoiding things that make me cry. But music can do the opposite for me too. I made myself a playlist of energetic dance tracks and the next morning my belly and I were practically dancing down Lenox Ave to the subway.  I was smiling and singing to myself. And wouldn't you know it, I wasn't on the train two minutes when someone offered me a seat. And that made me so happy that I cut into Johnny's DJing at home and put on old Siouxsie and danced around the living room to Fireworks and Cities in Dust and got all excited to listen to a ton of stuff I hadn't heard in months, or maybe years.

And positivity is as infectious as grouchiness. Suddenly, things are looking up. For example, Thora's favorite word these days seems to be "Mama." It means anything and everything from "Hi Mom!" to "Where are you, Mom?" to "Fix this for me, Mom" to "I'm about to poke you in the eye or nose, Mom" to "I love you, Mom." I'll take all of that. It's the best word in the whole world and I can't imagine I'll ever tire of it. My chiropractor pronounced me ready to move to two sessions a week, down from three. I'm definitely in less pain. My prenatal appointment on Thursday went very well and my midwife seems fairly certain my placenta previa will go away and that the stars will align for an easy birthing, likely at home. Then I figured out something really challenging at work and had an important presentation go very well. Our family budget is balancing - thanks to our diligence and to Trader Joe's - and I am making the time and effort to ensure it stays that way. Last night, Johnny and I watched the live streaming of the NY State Senate's last evening in session and through chills and happy tears, we saw history being made as they voted marriage equality into New York State law. I am finding the time to read a book (!) and this morning, miracle of miracles, I napped when the baby napped. It's been a pretty good week!

Another thing that's making me happy is the Garden Committee in our building. About a year and a half ago we bought a co-op in a brand new building in Harlem. We moved in with a six week old baby. (I do not recommend this.) I had all these ideas about being an officer on the co-op board, about getting involved in the building, the neighborhood, the community. But who was I kidding? I really don't have the time for all of these activities. So instead of signing up for everything or even just something, I signed up for absolutely nothing.

Since our trip to Florida is early May, Thora has been flower crazy. At Disney she leaned in to smell every flower she saw, including the Pooh topiaries.

When we walk to the elevator at Whole Foods we pass their entire flower collection. We have a routine of stopping and smelling at least one flower while we wait to go down or back up, and touching the petals very, very gently.

In her Grandpa Terry's garden she discovered all kinds of plants and flowers, including chives, peonies and rhododendrons.

She loved the peony her Pa picked for her so much that while being very, very fussy during a recent trip to Target, she came across a nylon peony and suddenly, she was completely happy.

We bought her the peony. Here it is a week or so later, minus half its leaves:

So when some of the other residents formed a Garden Committee and decided to work on our corner of the concrete jungle, we wanted to pitch in. They set out to make the front of the building and the courtyard in the back prettier for everyone. When we moved in, someone planted new trees out front. Last month, the Garden Committee organized a small group of people to put flowers in around the trees early one morning. We decided to help. We had no idea what we were doing but we tried to copy everyone else as they dug up rocks and stones and mixed new soil in and planted marigolds, petunias, and something else. Thora helped by collecting all the plastic tags from the plants and by touching everything: the dirt, the fragile petals, the garbage and standing on the newly planted flowers. 

Then the committee ordered planters for anyone who wanted to maintain one. Though I would like to be, I've never been much of a plant person. Sure, I've had philodendrons, ivy plants and your other basic greenery, but I've always had some combination of cats, dogs and parrots at home. I just couldn't keep up with the toxicology details of whatever I wanted to grow, so my green thumb slowly turned black over time. Now we have cats that dig up plants, so everything we have is either out of their reach or a cactus (hehehe). But Johnny's always talked about having a garden someday, so we signed up for a planter. And I started to get excited. I did lots of research, asking the few people I know who are very into gardening for recommendations and ideas. We went to Home Depot and two urban garden stores and asked a million questions that surely outed us as the neophyte gardeners we are. But I learned about tomato plants, and what flowers work with them. I learned about hard-to-kill flowers and the difference between annuals and perennials. (I didn't know! Don't laugh.)

We got twice the space we expected, and had less trouble filling it than we thought. We did it in two tries. The first time was this morning. The sun was strong and there was no shade. And every time we put a scoop of composted soil in the planter, Thora tried to be very helpful by scooping it out and dumping it all over the concrete. This got very frustrating very quickly and I got self conscious that everyone in my building had their windows open and could hear me yelling "Thora, cut it out already!" to my kid who was just having a good time. Not wanting to earn a reputation as an impatient and stressed out mom, I hurried us along. Hot and bothered and not wanting to be rushed, Johnny complained as he located and unrolled the hose. I complained that he was complaining and I got blasted with a stream of freezing cold water. We ended up having a water fight, which diffused the tension, cooled all three of us off, and cleaned up Thora's mess all at the same time.

After a trip to pick up more impatiens, we took advantage of nap time and finished planting while Thora slept, her stroller parked in the shade. She woke up just in time to enjoy the puddles from our second bout with the hose (no water fight this time) and to smell the flowers we planted. 

Thanks so much for putting smiles on the faces of these grumpy parents, Karina and the rest of the Garden Committee!

Our next project is composting. I am so excited about this! After the worms in my dear friend J's wormbin met with an unbalanced end a few years ago, I have been composting-in-NYC shy. Luckily, the Garden Committee is prepared to take this on as well. I'm looking forward to being able to reduce our waste, keep fruit flies at bay, and make my own plant fertilizer. And I think there is a trip to the Botanic Gardens in store for our Bea. In the meantime we're going to take care of our "ows" (flowers, in Thora speak) and keep smiling. Updates to come!


  1. I love this post! I'm so glad you're gardening and composting with us, and your enthusiasm makes me so happy. I'm looking forward to seeing your plants grow and flourish this summer!

    And, I did not hear you arguing with Thora! But even if I did, I would totally commiserate because I always feel like I'm in a fishbowl down there and get really self-conscious when the girls have a breakdown... like everyone is looking out their windows and tsk-tsking my bad mothering!


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