Monday, February 27, 2012
Julia: Mama, were there people around millions of years ago?
Me: Millions? Um...no.
Julia: Just animals?
Me: Um...I think dinosaurs?
Julia: What about billions of years ago? Were there people around then?
Julia: What was there back then?
Me: Just....the earth. Land, and...everything was probably in an ice age then. I don't really know.
Julia: No people or animals?
Julia: Just earth and ground and water. Nothing else.
Genevieve [chiming in to the conversation]: And just one tiny piece of string that could talk.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Yesterday after Genevieve left for kindergarten I also attempted to get a (tiny, pathetic) bit of exercise. I'm afraid my muscles are wasting away since all I've been doing for 17 days or so is sittimg on the sofa and, recently, consuming Girl Scout cookies. Because I am realistic about one's fitness level after an episode of lethargy this long, I turned on Level 1, not Level 3 (my usual) of Jillian Michaels' The 30 Day Shred. And that's all I'm going to say about that.
Today I go back to my daughters' classrooms where I (usually) volunteer every Thursday afternoon. Because I've been sick for so long, it's been three weeks since I've been there, so my girls are thrilled and I am looking forward to being out of the house. However, I'm pretty sure that volunteering in elementary school every Thursday afternoon may have been how I contracted this illness in the first place. I'm just saying.
I've got more things to tell you about soon, but for now let me leave you with some humor. Yesterday an unusual number of things caused me to literally laugh out loud. Actually, "snort" may be a more accurate word. I snorted with laughter. In case you need a laugh too, here they are:
First, the picture of the...ahem...homemade shorts in this post on another mother runner. OMG. Words fail.
The photo of Caitlin's dog's BENT NOSE in this post on Healthy Tipping Point.
The ending of this post by Catherine Newman on Ben and Birdy (warning: profanity included), which may or may not be as hilarious if you haven't read Catherine since she wrote on babycenter.com years and years ago and fielded all sorts of comments about her gorgeous son, I don't know, because I have read her that long, and I can just imagine her saying that (and loving it).
And these comments from my Facebook friends, after I posted that my doctor advised me to take my medication with a little food, and that surely that meant six Girl Scout cookies, right?
"A spoonful of sugar..."
"Makes the medicine go down!"
"Six Girl Scout cookies sound perfect as medicine. Now what will you do for the food?"
Among many others. Because I have witty friends.
So, it's 6:20 a.m. Do you think Girl Scout cookies work for breakfast?
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
I hope you'll join me, and spread the word to any Facebook-using moms you know. This could be really fun!
In the meantime, I'm still sick but now at least have prescription medication. More from me later, friends. Stay well.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
My latest article for Minneapolis Examiner.com, a short piece on the health benefits of belonging to a Community Supported Agriculture farm, is up today and just got selected to be a highlighted article on their main Health & Fitness page. Happy reading (and eating)!
Monday, February 20, 2012
No, I didn't go offline completely. I stayed on Facebook, because Facebook has become my most frequent and reliable avenue for communication with my large circle of local mom friends--and that is integral when you've been largely laid up at home for the past two weeks and aren't running into anyone at playdates or gymnastics class or the elementary school. My local mom friends are awesome about sending me love and get-well wishes and Girl Scout cookie connections, all of which can be very restorative when you're feeling sick and low.
But I didn't read any blogs, I didn't work (I freelance-write for an online company when possible), I didn't do any Internet shopping. I didn't read the New York Times online, nor write, read or answer any e-mails other than an exchange with my two best mom friends and some business correspondence regarding a spring book reading at a famous out-of-town bookshop. I didn't hang out on twitter. I didn't write any essays for publication on various websites. I didn't draft any future blog posts.
My online vacation didn't cure my illness. But it gave me a lot more time in my day with which to focus on getting better, and with which to think about some current big life questions. It was much more pleasant to hang out with my babies than to conduct a bunch of business online. It occurred to me that I haven't had a vacation of any kind since August of 2005. It reminded me of what life used to be like before the Internet, smartphones and other various technologies took over the world.
I strongly believe that if you're sick for weeks at a time, something about your life is not working or is not supportive of your health. Our bodies send us messages all the time. It's just up to us to hear and interpret them. I believe my body is telling me to get off the laptop for awhile. It's been a tough couple of years, this creating of my book and getting it published. I've done it all while also working around the clock taking care of my children, a job that's beyond exhausting even when you don't have anything else going on. I think my body is crying uncle. Think about it: I got sick the evening of the day of my book's full release. The minute my book was out in full, I got sick. My body said, "Enough for awhile, girl."
So I'll be back online again this week, but consider yourself warned: I'm setting limits. At least until I'm finally healthy again.
Friday, February 17, 2012
You've decided to stay home with your kids. Congratulations on making a very important, yet often difficult decision. And welcome to your new role as CEO of a cottage industry called: Your Kids, Inc.
No matter how thrilled you are to be with your kids, going from the boardroom to the playroom can be a drastic change. "Much of stay-at-home mothering is harder than any other job," says Shannon Hyland-Tassava, Ph.D., author of The Essential Stay-at-Home Mom Manual: How To Have a Wondrous Life Amidst Kids and Chaos."Can you think of any other profession that has 24/7 shifts, no coffee or lunch breaks, and no vacation or sick days?"
Click here to read the entire article.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
I didn't get a ton of photos, because I was too busy reading and signing books (also coughing and sniffling and drinking tea, sorry you all), but my husband snapped a few. Truth be told, considering the fact that I'd been sick for a full week at that point, and had gotten very little sleep recently, preserving my ill appearance via digital camera to witness for all eternity was not exactly on my list of things I wanted to do. I honestly hope I generally look better than this, although if I do not, please keep it to yourself.
But that's not what was so important. What was important was that I was feeling the love, big-time, from friends and strangers alike. I wish every one of you had been there. It was a lot of fun and I got a lot of laughs--just what any author wants to hear as she's relaying personal anecdotes about debating going to the bus stop in pajamas and being stymied by the Target school lunch box aisle.
Oh, and guess what? We left our girls with a sitter, and NO ONE CRIED. There was no hysterical screaming upon separation, no trauma, no drama, no problem whatsoever. This may truly have been the real milestone of the evening.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
school. I decided that children should come home from school to milk
and heart-shaped cookies on Valentine's Day. I forgot that the kindergartners
got to have ice-cream sundaes for their Valentine's party. Sugar overload FTW!
Today's the day of my book reading and signing for The Essential Stay-at-Home Mom Manual at my town's indie bookshop, Monkey See Monkey Read. If you're local, come on down to the shop at 7:30 tonight! I'd love to see you there.
If you're not local, like Rita, I will have to imagine you sitting in one of the chairs. I know you will be there in spirit.
Of course, I've been sick for a week, which means: a.) good news--there's no way I could still be contagious, so seriously, come on down to the shop tonight! but also b.) I'm a coughing wreck and my voice is raspy, which, you know, isn't exactly the ideal book-reading condition.
My sister joked that I'd have to make my husband read for me, and I'd just sit there with a surgical mask on, signing books. Fun for all!
In reality, I will be reading myself, but the fact that I've been up coughing all night for the past several days in a row means that I will be looking the part of the sleep-deprived mom this evening. The circles under my eyes definitely rival any night-nursing mom's. Any photos taken tonight will need to be doctored considerably.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
The truth is, I'm glad she sometimes still says "l's" for her "r's." It shows that she's still got some baby inside her.
Every year at roughly this time I get the illness I have now: some kind of Super Cold, a Super Virus, that turns everything from my neck up into a throbbing mass of congestion and pain, and tops it off with a cough that keeps me up at night. At its worst, it turns into a sinus infection and usually pinkeye as well. Every time I get sick like this now, it takes me right back to the first, and worst, time I had it--when my girls were just one and three and I was alone for nearly a full workweek while Christopher traveled on a business trip. I was on my own, solo-parenting, and Genevieve still nursed and no one was really sleeping through the night, and they were at that baby/toddler stage where just taking care of them involved constant physical exertion on my part--and I was sick as a dog. I remember it so vividly, like it happened yesterday.
But what's funny is that when I think of that time, there's this part of me that feels a distinct twinge of nostalgia. Not for being miserably sick while solo-parenting two babies and being awake for hours at night coughing, and getting up to do the diapers and the nursing and everything else, powering through, and just getting sicker and sicker because there was no one else to do it all. Not nostalgic for that. But nostalgic for that time, I guess, when I had babies ages one and three.
It was super hard, so exhausting and draining--and yet, I have fond memories of lugging those babes and the carseat and the diaper bag all over town, shuttling us through our days together and getting through it all with all my other mom friends who had babies one and three too, who were similarly exhausted, who were running on caffeine and fumes just like I was. It was like we were in this little parenting army together, one we'd enlisted in voluntarily, one we were proud of, but that still required us to face battle every day together: would the baby sleep through the night? could we finagle the simultaneous nap? who was still nursing? who was weaning? which toddler was going through the throw-herself-on-the-floor-at-Target-and-scream stage? and how would we survive it?
There's nothing like that time. It uses every cell in your body; it burns every calorie, it runs you ragged all day and puts you straight into bed at night. Mothering babies and toddlers is demanding like nothing else--and then it's over and gone, and the next time is nothing like that previous time. The next time is better in a lot of ways, but it's just not the same, and you do miss big chunks of what your life was like before, when the babies were little. You really do.
So you're secretly glad she says "glapefluit." And when she says, "I need to work on my "r's," Mama, so I don't say it like an "l"," you say to her, "Oh, honey, it's okay to say it like that for a little while longer."
were one and three and I was so sick.
And secretly, you mean "forever."
Monday, February 13, 2012
Genevieve finally, for the first time EVER, allowed me to put her gorgeous, corn-silk hair into a ponytail.
And, I found (and purchased) a pair of bright red patent leather loafers at Target on sale for twelve dollars.
Oh yes, I did.
I bet you thought I was going to say I got a book published and had a birthday.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
I was reading the current issue of the New Yorker yesterday, and I came across this cartoon, which made me laugh out loud, even though doing so triggers a giant coughing fit:
In case you can't see the caption, it says, "Those who can't do, comment."
In light of my online trolls--you know, the ones who leave scathing "reviews" of my book and/or send me anonymous hater blog comments--this cartoon seemed particularly hilarious, and so very true.
(I haven't looked at any online anonymous comments or reviews of my book in weeks and weeks, in case you were wondering, and have no plans to do so ever again. You can't be bullied if you never see the comments. And anyway, now that my book has been fully released and people everywhere have begun to buy and read it, I've been getting real feedback from the only audience that matters--fellow at-home moms for whom the book was written, and readers who actually sign their real names--and that feedback has been so enormously positive that I'm honored and humbled to my very core.)
Happy Sunday! I'm going back to bed now.
Thursday, February 09, 2012
I started getting this cold on Monday night but (foolishly) thought I'd dodged it. In fact, by 7 p.m. on my birthday I was miserable and ready for bed. I went to sleep at 7:30.
So, you won't be seeing or hearing from me on the Internet much today. I'll be busy entertaining Genevieve with children's television while I lie on the sofa and moan softly every now and then.
But I wanted to show you something before I do that. This is what came for me yesterday:
Birthday flowers from my husband and daughters. Aren't they beautiful?
And if that weren't enough, from my long-distance BFF Veronica, a dozen ginormous stawberries, fully enrobed in chocolate, rolled in chopped nuts and mini chocolate chips, and packed in a complicated box of padding and ice packs and instructions for enjoying them fully. (Um, stuff them into your mouth while the juice runs down your chin? No?)
I don't think the photo does them justice. They are seriously each the size of a child's fist.
So, I can handle being sick on (and after) my birthday. It is a small price to pay for a birthday that started the day prior with the full release of my book and the book's Amazon sales rank of #28 in its category by my birthday eve.
I leave you now to go claim my space on the couch. In the meantime, if you have read my book already, or when you do, and if it is something you enjoy(ed), I hope you might consider writing a quick review on the book's Amazon page (note: there are separate pages for the paperback version and the Kindle version, in case you are searching for the Kindle). Publishers love to see favorable feedback shortly after a book is released. Just a gentle suggestion.
Have a wonderful day, my dears.
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Some media outlets have called it a "parenting manual." Or people have joked, "I didn't think there was such a thing as a manual for raising kids!"
These people are under the mistaken impression that my book gives advice on raising children. But that's not what my book is about. At all.
The Essential Stay-at-Home Mom Manual: How to Have a Wondrous Life Amidst Kids and Chaos isn't about taking care of kids---it's about taking care of moms. True, I did include a "bonus chapter" of simple, at-home kid activities ("that won't break the bank or drive you crazy") at the end. But, as every stay-at-home mom knows, go-to ways to entertain kids are for the sanity of moms more than they are related to raising children.
For the most part, my book is a gentle and encouraging but firm guide to taking better care of yourself as an at-home mom: for learning better skills for adjusting to mothering, getting good sleep, eating healthier (which may include losing the baby weight), exercising regularly, feeling less stressed, nurturing your romantic and friend relationships, maintaining some semblance of a social life, appreciating and living in the moment, and basically having as much fun and experiencing as much joy as you can during your at-home mothering days.
My greatest hope for this book is that it comforts, inspires and cheers any at-home mom out there who struggles to take as good care of herself as she does of her children (which, by the way, I've noticed is pretty much every mom). That it gives moms a laugh now and then. That it props up any moms who need specific guidance in how to begin an exercise program, or how to follow a better diet, or how to live more easily on one income, or how to keep the house clean without going crazy or getting cranky. Even more importantly, how to cope with the inevitable stress and lousy moods that are as much a part of mothering as are the joys and thrills.
And there is certainly a manual for that. It's right here. I just wrote it.
[*Edited to add: I can't believe I forgot to tell you that last night at about 9 p.m., my book publicist texted me to tell me that the book was, at that moment, ranked as #28 on Amazon for sales among all books in the Motherhood category. NUMBER TWENTY-EIGHT, PEOPLE. I want it known that this was above Tori Spelling. Woot!]
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
I never did find out who sent it to me. It was an angel by artist Kelly Rae Roberts, sent by an anonymous guardian angel, one who knew that my greatest dream was to put words to paper and write a book that included parts of my own experiences as a mother.
I hung the angel on the wall above my bedside table where I would see it upon awakening each day and before going to sleep each night. Its quiet message encouraged me toward bravery and creativity all the long months of writing my book and, later, trying to get it published.
Awhile back I planned that I would put up photos of my angel when I announced my book's release. But then I forgot. Oops! So I'm doing it now.
It seems fitting to revisit my angel today.
My faithful friends and readers! MY BOOK IS OUT!!!!
You can now--at last--order the paper copy of The Essential Stay-at-Home Mom Manual: How to Have a Wondrous Life Amidst Kids and Chaos. (And I hope you do.)
I can hardly believe this day has finally come--and the day before my birthday, no less. Having a book published is pretty much the best birthday gift in the history of the world, in case you were wondering.
You know what else is an awesome gift? Having all of you out there, reading, caring, waiting, encouraging, commenting, and sending me your love and support. You all played a part in the birth of this book, I hope you know that.
Monday, February 06, 2012
For my local readers:
Please join me for a book reading and signing on Wednesday, February 15th, at 7:30 p.m. at Monkey See Monkey Read Bookstore in downtown Northfield. I will be reading selections from my book The Essential Stay-at-Home Mom Manual: How to Have a Wondrous Life Amidst Kids and Chaos, which I promise has plenty of funny parts and even some anecdotes and conversations that likely feature some of you (anonymously, of course).
Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the bookshop that evening. Come support your local independent bookstore and buy your copy from Jerry!
Spread the word, if you would. I hope to see you there!
But you all, I just want you to know that last evening I saw the finished interior of the book--all designed and formatted and proofed and perfect--and you guys, it is beautiful. It is ready to go. It is coming.
Thursday, February 02, 2012
So in honor of the fact that, um...it's Groundhog's Day? it's six days till my birthday? you've all been so angelic about waiting for my book to come out (I swear there really is a book)? it's almost Valentine's Day and you deserve a token of love from you to you?...you can pick one of those. In honor of that, here are a few things this Mama in Wonderland loves.
Ritzy Misfit wax seal pendant. The credit for this discovery goes straight to Susan Wagner, who wrote about it on her blog recently. I fell in love with it at first sight. It's so writerly--a perfect "congratulations, you published a book!" gift. For example.
Land's End Audrey-style UltraFit Slim Leg jeans. I am evangelistic about these jeans, and won't stop talking about them. But seriously: they are the ultimate skinny jean for a mom who wants to be stylish but doesn't want to look cheap or as if she's trying to be a teenager. Check the reviews on the Land's End site! These jeans are SUPER popular--and no wonder. Lightweight, a bit stretchy, stylishly skinny but not skin-tight, and very flattering to a variety of body shapes, these jeans will take you to the supermarket or to the movies on date night. Perfect.
Maybelline Volum' Express Falsies Flared mascara. What the WHAT? I have eyelashes? That a person can see from a few feet away? How did this product work that kind of magic? I don't know, but I love it, despite the annoying missing 'e' in "Volum'" (come ON, now) and the ridiculously long and silly name. Listen, if you're a sleep-deprived mama whose eyes could use a little waking up, try this mascara and be amazed at how much brighter your eyes look.
Target's Merona Women's Ultimate Long-Sleeved Tee, in sailor stripes. I love this tee in any color--it's super soft, slim, and long (uh...until you accidentally put it in the dryer for too long; don't do that)--but the stripes are especially classic and awesome. This is the gray and black stripe, but there's also a fresh ivory and gray option. Yes, I do have both. Several of the moms in my town love this tee so much we have to be careful not to show up for the same school event in matching tops. Snatch it up, ladies; it's usually $12 but can be found for as low as $6 at times. Take my advice and buy several.
WeWOOD wooden watches. I received the DATE style in natural beige for my birthday last year from a generous and fashion-forward friend, and I looooove it. SO stylish, it will attract questions and compliments everywhere you go. Check out the beige/brown and beige/army striped ones as well--super stylish. OMG. Love.
Title Nine New School dress. How adorable is this? Sporty, warm, hooded, unique, did I mention sporty? This dress appeals to the runner mom in me. How cute would this be with leggings and boots during the chilly months, for running errands around town or doing school bus stop duty?
Target's Mossimo pink patent ballet flats. What the WHAT, again? These shoes are currently $7.48! Pink! Patent! Ballets! Imagine these flats with the Audrey Fit skinnies above. Adorable! Excuse me while I make a little Target run.
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
Awhile back, a writer from my local newspaper interviewed me about my new book, The Essential Stay-at-Home Mom Manual: How to Have a Wondrous Life Amidst Kids and Chaos, and about the experience of stay-at-home parenting. Today the feature ran in the paper.
“Becoming a stay-at-home mom was much harder than I’d expected or heard, even though at the same time I loved it madly, too,” said Tassava. “I figured that if I felt that way, most likely a lot of other stay-at-home moms felt that way too. What if I could laugh and cry and empathize with those other fellow at-home moms about this crazy-wonderful experience, and then also use my psychologist skills to propose strategies for making the rough parts easier?”
A “survival manual” of sorts, Tassava’s book provides suggestions for creating a healthy and satisfying experience of at-home mothering, combining professional self-help advice for better self-care with real-world, practical strategies. Along with tackling issues like mood, stress management, sleep, nutrition, fitness, relationships, and finding balance, Tassava also provides ideas for kids’ activities, for staying mindful and even for managing housekeeping chores with greater ease.
[Book coming soon soon soon, so unbelievably soon, so so so soon, it's practically here. Hang tight, faithful friends.]