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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sharing Stories of Miscarriage

Two of my blogging friends, actually both participants in my Having It All Project, have recently had miscarriages. It's a topic I've thought a lot about since the BlogHer/She Knows wrap up party after the Boston Listen To Your Mother show, when I was interviewed and asked about why I started blogging. I told a version of the story below, which I also left as a comment on one of my friend's blogs. I thought last weekend at BlogHer that the footage might appear somewhere, and I had only said in the interview that "I'd suffered a loss." I'd been preparing myself to have to explain what loss that was, but the moment never came. Seeing the bravery with which my friends have shared their recent stories, I've decided to share a bit of mine. Here's the comment I'd left for my friend.

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I lost a pregnancy at 10 weeks back in 2006. I started bleeding on a Friday night, and after a series of hospital and doctor visits, I had a D&C the following Thursday. So much of that week, all of these years later, stands in high relief in my memory.

I had told everyone, including almost 3yo Hannah, that we were expecting. I'm terrible at secrets, and I'd never had a fertility issue, I was only 28, I thought everything would be totally fine. I didn't think I knew anyone who had ever had a miscarriage before. I was so embarrassed to have to tell everyone afterward. At least Hannah seemed to understand it at the time.

I had to take a full week off from work. Since I had to wait to get an appointment for the D&C, I was scared to go to work and lose the baby there. Or on the train. So I stayed home. I told my (not current) boss, and his assistant send a plant. I threw it away. My best friend sent me the first season of "The OC" to pass the time. I never opened the shrink wrap (sorry, J). What I did do was to search the Internet relentlessly for blogs and articles on miscarriage. I needed to know that others were like me. And that somehow, life would go on.

I started my blog a few months later. I haven't ever really written much about my miscarriage, though there are references to it here and there. But I wanted to give something back to the forum that had given so much to me when I was so shattered.

I got pregnant again a month later. Had I not lost that baby, the one that was born would never had been possible. I still wonder about the baby due on 7/7/07. I always will. But the kid born the following New Year's Day is really awesome.

I guess all of this is to say what you already know, which is that you're not alone. It's a club far too many of us become members of along the way. I applaud you for sharing it like this, and you should know that some day, someone might be looking for an article just like this one, and she'll be very glad that it's there.

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So just in case that someone doesn't find my friend's blog, and stumbles across this one instead, the story is here too.

Monday, July 13, 2015

5 Things I'm Looking Forward to After Our Renovation

The new, unpainted back of my house. Note the old red paint on the right.

About six weeks ago, at the start of June, I told you all that we were six weeks into renovating our house. So that means we're now 12 weeks in, and my husband Marc wrote a post on *his* blog about some of the details that I didn't share in mine. Like who we used for an architect, how we've made decisions so far, and a rough estimate of how much this all costs.

Go ahead. Click over. I'll wait.

Twelve weeks in means we're at a stage where daily progress is harder to see, or at least less interesting to take a picture of, I guess. There are new pipes and valves. Windows are in, but they mostly look like regular windows. Boxes for light switches and outlets are waiting for the finished light switches and outlets.

Twelve weeks in also means I can't find any scissors. Anywhere. I know we should have multiple pairs, and I guess there's the kitchen shears meant for cooking if I'm really desperate. But I'd rather go with things left uncut.

So despite steady daily progress and what seems to be the hardest working building crew I've ever encountered, we're still not done and I'm kinda ready to be done. As Marc mentioned, we've really been looking forward to making many of these changes for NINE YEARS. That's a lot of waiting. So to get me through these last few weeks of waiting, here's a list of what will be super awesome about our new home.

1. The window seat. It's silly, but going back to when I would read angsty-middle-school-girl books and the characters always sat somewhere cozy reading their own angsty-middle-school-girl books, I've longed for a window seat, with lots of colorful, comfy pillows collected from all over. Hannah and Max are already calling the new living room space the Reading Room, and I seriously can't wait for a rainy Saturday afternoon where we all grab a spot and read a book. (Please do not ruin this dream for me by stating how unlikely it actually is to happen that way!)

Getting closer to my window seat.
2. First floor washer and dryer. Our basement is basically a hole dug under a house. Well, okay, it has a cement floor, but that's the only amenity one could try to claim. For nine years, I've owned the same yucky pair of Crocs for going down to the basement to do laundry. For the past five years, since my back surgery, I've feared carrying laundry up and down the narrow basement stairs. No freaking more. I might burn the Crocs.

3. First floor bathroom. I think I can just say "no more close calls" and leave it at that.

Our front hall closet will soon be a bathroom.

4. A walk-in closet. Honestly, it's never really been something I dreamed about having. We had a decent one in our condo, and when we moved to the house without one, I wasn't crushed. But now I'm really, really looking forward to having a place big enough for all of my clothes such that I won't have to swap items out each season. Bonus: lots of space to store all my extra diabetes supplies.

5. A real space for me to call my own. I'll be getting some kind of desk/vanity area in our master bedroom, and when it becomes a reality, I think I'll probably cry. Other than my half of the bed, which is where I'm writing this blog post, where I blow dry my hair and do my make up each morning, and where I spend an inordinate amount of my time in this house, I've never really had much room dedicated to me.

A corner all my own. Eventually.
And there really is so much more. Hannah's new room and improvements to Max's room. New heat (no more radiators!) and central air conditioning. Being able to walk the first floor of the house in a giant circle. Better access to our back door. Finally bothering to decorate our master bedroom. Fun new lighting.

I'm so grateful to be able to do this Big Build, and grateful to have Marc as a partner helping me to figure all of it out. We've had a great first nine years in this house, and I'm ready for many, many more.

Imagine all of that wood becoming a closet, bathroom and master bedroom.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Seeking Inspiration at #BlogHer15

In just under two weeks, I'll be in New York City, attending my fourth blogging conference and third BlogHer. My train ticket is bought, new business cards are on their way, and I think I'll come up with some version of an outfit plan in the next few days (what to wear is a big deal with this group). I know I'll be attending the Voices of the Year reception, the highlight of the conference for me, and I'll be stopping by the Listen To Your Mother open mic afterward. I'm even a bit excited for the closing party with Boyz II Men.

But I'm absolutely aimless when it comes to the rest of the agenda.

Don't get me wrong; I'm sure there are many things I could learn to improve my blog, but I'm not totally sure this old dog wants to learn any new tricks. I don't monetize, I'm not trying to win at Instagram, I doubt I'll be the one to come up with some bit of hashtag activism. If I haven't found my online voice after eight years of writing here, it's unlikely to come to me while attending a session. So why go?

I go for the inspiration. Each conference I've attended has brought something new and dynamic into my life. At Springboard in 2012, I conceived and developed The Having It All Project, a series of 50 interviews that took me through all of 2013. At BlogHer13 in Chicago, I got the courage to apply to bring Listen To Your Mother to Boston. 2014's BlogHer in San Jose led me to pitch my writing to BlogHer itself and a couple of paid opportunities there, plus it solidified a tribe of like-minded writers and friends.

I know I need a new project. These last few months I've felt aimless, despite everything keeping me busy with work, the kids and the house renovation. I know I need something new, but I haven't figured out what it is just yet. So maybe I'll find it in the halls of midtown Hilton. Maybe in a conversation with someone new. Maybe in a quiet moment where I have the time and space away from work, the kids and the house. Maybe in the throng of one of the biggest, most diverse communities where I've come to feel at home.

So bring it, BlogHer15. I'm ready.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Half Life

Copley Square, one recent morning.
Today, exactly half my life ago, according to Microsoft Excel's day count function, I moved in to my freshman year dorm room in the suburbs of Boston. So now I've officially lived in Boston for longer than I lived in Cleveland.

I remember being in the car with my Mom when she observed that it was some anniversary she held with my Dad, and her remark that she had known my Dad for longer than she hadn't. At the time, I couldn't really imagine having an anniversary like that of my own. But I did realize this "half of my life" one was getting close a couple of years ago, and I've been waiting for it since then.

I remember my carefully selected outfit for my first day of college. It included a "Planet Hollywood" shirt that no one would be caught dead wearing today. Back then, I said "pop" instead of "soda," "freeway" instead of "highway," I mispronounced the names of most of the local towns and I never said "wicked." I don't say wicked often now either, but I think I have a bit more authenticity when I do, especially more than I did when coming home for winter vacation that first year.

I've always hated when people ask me if I'm rooting for the Cleveland Indians or the Boston Red Sox (the answer is likely neither, unless it affects my commute). Tourists always seem to seek me out at the train station for directions, ending their ask with "you're not from here, are you?" as though someone from Boston would never have been as helpful. But when my town was hurt, there was no doubt where my allegiances resided.

It's not a huge accomplishment, just living somewhere for a long time. As an adult though, we don't get to hit too many milestones anymore. So here's to half my life, Boston. I'm still happy to be here.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Blessing for Sara


I've been in San Francisco this weekend, by myself. Hannah is now at overnight camp for the next seven weeks (more on that in a future post, I'm sure). Max spent a few days in CT with my in-laws, and Marc later joined them there. 

I'm here, along with my parents, to meet Sara, my brother and sister-in-law's first child. Today we are all taking part in a blessing ceremony for her, and Allison and Ryan have asked me to be Sara's godmother. I've never had that role before, and I've been thinking a lot about what I would most wish for Sara at this auspicious moment. 

There are many old jokes along a similar refrain: two Jewish people, three opinions. But behind the joke is a serious thought: we are encouraged, at all levels and at every age, to question, question hard, the world around us and what we are supposed to believe. Nothing should be taken at face value. We are instructed to learn, to research, to develop our own beliefs and opinions and find the things that bring meaning to our lives. And then once we have found those things and our purpose, we should use our voices to tell stories and to bring about change, to improve our world. 

So my blessing for Sara, my prayer is that she will grow and learn and share her voice and who she is with the world. I may be 3,000 miles away most days, but I hope that some day she'll be loud enough for me to hear her, wherever she is. 

In the meantime, Sara, just work on the growing piece. And maybe sleep through the night once in a while. 

My first selfie with Sara. The first is always the best, right?

Oh, no! Don't yawn now! It's picture time. 

Well, you might not like it much in this moment, but know that I love you. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Kid is Alright


Today is Hannah's last day of after school care. Her last day ever of needing daycare, as far as I can  see.

After entering family daycare at 12 weeks old, she received full-time care, first by a loving, caring and dedicated family, then in three daycare centers as we moved and things changed. In kindergarten, she began the after school program at her elementary school. The first month of school was all half days, and aftercare filled in the rest. Then she had two full and three half days from there. In first grade, she attended five days a week from 3 pm on. 

In second grade, because we added in religious school, she began attending on only Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, which she has done for third, fourth and fifth grade too. I've handled Tuesday afternoons while working from home, and Marc worked from home on the random Thursday afternoons off that she also had. (And a special shout out to our friends the Pellers, who have brought Hannah home with them most Thursdays and took her to Hebrew school; we're so grateful to have you in our lives!). 

And now she's done. 

Now I know she's my kid, so of course I'm biased, but I think she's awesome. She has great friends, does well in school, has a close relationship with her family, and a good head on her shoulders. While I'd like to take all of the credit for that, I know that I've had the assistance of many fabulous caregivers and teachers along the way that have helped shape and guide her too. 

I also know how lucky we've been, and how privileged we are. I've read the daycare horror stories and I know this isn't what everyone's experience is like. But as a young working mom, I held out hope that she would be okay, and she really has been just fine. I only have a sample size of two, but so far, Max has been just fine too.

She's moving on to middle school, where she'll have options for how she gets home and what she does after school. I'll be thankful for cell phones and I know we'll be checking in a lot. I'm excited for this next step, and am truly grateful we've made it this far.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Status Update: Overwhelmed, But In a Good Way

I made up a new word at dinner a few weeks ago. Defleated. It's a combination of deflated, depleted and defeated, and it's aptly summed up the recent period for me. I have had so much going on that there hasn't been enough of me left for blogging, which always makes me a bit crazy (or "cray" as Hannah would say). So here's a random update post to catch you up.

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My most exciting writing outside of here at BSB was having my LTYM piece published over at The Mid. It's called "The Geology of Motherhood," and I really hope you'll click over and give it a read. It's still incredibly validating to see my words published elsewhere, and exciting to receive a bit of money for them too. I love the fact that something I came up with completely on my own is resonant enough that more people get to read it and connect with it. Here at BSB, I recently passed 200K pageviews, which is pretty cool too. A good portion of them are probably robots though, but if you're not a robot and have been reading along, thank you. So many personal bloggers seem to be quitting lately (or taking an extended break for summer), and I'm always bummed to see that, because I love reading blogs almost as much as I love writing my own (maybe more, since I read everyday, and only write very so often). So I appreciate you sticking with me if you're here, and if you're a blogger, maybe I'll see you next month at BlogHer15? I'll be looking for the other non-sponsored types to have a "what the hell are we doing here" breakdown with me.

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If you follow me on Instagram (why not start now?) you've been seeing my almost daily updates on the main disruption delight happening all around me right now: the renovation to our house. I keep wanting to write a post on it, titled "Renovate Me, Baby" but this will have to do. We're adding a two story addition on the back of the house, which included a new foundation for that section. The main goal is to add bathrooms to the single one we have now, and so we're adding a half bath on the first floor and a master bath on the second. Hannah is moving into our current master bedroom when she gets home from camp later this summer, and Marc and I will be getting a new room with a walk-in closet. We're also moving the laundry to the first floor from the basement, replacing lots of windows, and putting in a new heating and cooling system (shout out to my window AC unit that is serving me well for the SIXTEENTH summer--that is, if it ever gets warm again here). It's a huge project, we're currently six weeks into it, and no, I don't know when it'll end. Our team has been working very fast, I think, and we're really thrilled with everything so far. But it's disruptive and time-consuming and I feel like I'm playing human Tetris as we try to reconfigure all of the stuff in our house into the remaining spaces. It's all an amazing wonderful thing though, and I know we're going to fall in love with our house all over again when it's done. Here's how things look right now:

Did I mention my window seat? I'm so going to blog from that window seat.
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We've started to do more to plan Hannah's bat mitzvah, which is about 18 months away now. I'm already overwhelmed thinking about it, though not about all of the specific aspects of that day itself. I get the "I can't believe we're here already" overwhelm. She's finishing elementary school later this month, going to middle school in the fall. She's done with our synagogue's version of Hebrew school. She's going to read from the Torah for the first time at family services soon. She's acting in another play this weekend and she's on Pinterest and she's got braces and her social calendar reflects how in demand she is. And she's awesome--though she'd probably tell me I can ditch the punctuation here, because it's all too formal for her, before she texts you "gtg" (that's "got to go" for the uninitiated). I'm not usually the "my baby" type, but it's hitting me hard lately, and I don't know how I'll hold back the tears when the 5th grade sings "Don't Stop Believin'" at their concert next week.

Hannah and me before "Pitch Perfect 2"

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Fortunately, Max is still very much a seven year old boy. He's growing by leaps and bounds, but I still know so much of what is to come for him. Though I didn't expect this new style of dressing he's rocking these days, with an open-front button-down short-sleeved shirt on top of his t-shirt, accompanied by his fedora. He was very excited to have Hannah and me attend his end of the year French class play, in which he played a pirate searching for treasure and candy, but all in French. Thankfully the acting was so good that I could understand it without subtitles. ;) He continues to work on his beat-boxing as well, especially with an after school teacher who has taught him some more specific techniques, including how to "solo," meaning making sounds from three different instruments in a pattern. And he's looking forward to this year's Color Day at school, since last year he had a broken wrist at the time. He's had a great year, and I'm excited to start spending Tuesday afternoons with him next year.

Max at the bus stop, wearing a vintage Red Sox shirt to boot.

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I have a new niece! My brother Ryan and sister-in-law Allison welcomed Sara Gloria to the world at the end of May. She's completely adorable and I've fallen in love over FaceTime. I'm going out there to meet her at the end of June, and I can't wait to meet her in person.

Welcome to the world, Sara!

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My post-LASIK eyes are doing really well. I went back to the doctor just this morning, and I'm seeing well and still can't quite get over how wonderful it is to see without glasses or contacts. Even the simple act of reading a book at the end of the day is easier. The doctor said I might not need reading glasses until I'm 50, so I'm recording that here for posterity and hoping it really stays that way.

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I'm still really liking clothing rental service Gwynnie Bee. I'm in no way compensated by them, so this isn't a plug, it's just me telling you about something I've enjoyed. I get new clothes just about weekly, since I'm pretty good about sending back things quickly if I don't like them or they don't fit. I've bought a couple things, and have worn others once or twice before sending them back. But mostly, I don't seem to hanker to shop as much. Adding things to my virtual closet is enough, and I don't seem to spend as much time shopping online (and therefore, less buying too!). Wanna try it out? Click on this to get started.

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Phew. I feel like we're caught up now. How have you been? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!