Saturday, December 19, 2020

2020 in Revue (Whew)

Hindsight's 2020, right?

Reviewing 2020 feels like looking back on seven years.

Despite everything, 2020 had some incredible bright spots. I got to stay home with Minna until she was 11 months old. I started a new job that I love. Quincy's hour-plus-long commute evaporated into WFH quarantine. Our kids started a lovely new daycare and are thriving. We connected with our neighbors in incredibly meaningful ways.

I'm not sure all of this is reflected in my Year in Revue mix, but I hope it shows the joy of toddler dance parties and the pain of missing far-flung family; the quiet reflection that solitude affords and the screaming stress of overlapping responsibilities. It was a year of baby cuddles and election struggles. It was a year of deepening relationships. It was a year of growth.

So here it is: All of the songs I fell in love with in 2020. I hope you enjoy.

2020 in Revue

1. Sarah Vaughan - Day In Day Out
2. Beck - Colors
3. Travis Scott & Kid Cudi - The Scotts
4. Dave Mason - World in Changes
5. Elvis Presley - Blue Moon of Kentucky
6. DJ Schmolli - Take a Bow to Kenny Rogers
7. Lauren Eylise & The Part Time Lovers - Peaks and Valleys (Tiny Desk Concert)
8. The Donkeys - Black Cat
9. John Prine - I Remember Everything 
10. Bill Withers - Lean on Me

Stream the mix on YouTube

Download the file

If you'd like an actual CD in the mail, this year's model includes a stick of Palo Santo to aid in your energy cleansing, meditation, or to just blow the stink off this year. Your call.

Just email me your address and I'll drop it in the mail.

Here's to continuing to grow in 2021. 

Friday, February 28, 2020

Take a Pique

I have made two humans.

I still can't quite believe it. I have the power to propel into existence adorable people that I assume will someday be stellar adults. I am a kiln that bakes kin.


snuggle party

So many people told us that doubling our kid quota is exponentially more difficult. I'm not a big proponent of folks trying to "helpfully" warn me of horrors, so my husband and I kind of laughed off their forebodings. It struck me that having a second child is definitely harder on dads, who have to step up so moms can see to the newest addition. And with the fantastic dad that Quincy is, we didn't really believe that mo babies = mo problems.

And it wasn't. Actually, the second tot seems easier to me because I already knew the storm of responsibility wrought by a new life force. Once you've successfully herded a youngster though infanthood, you stop questioning your decisions and just dive in.

lunch datin'

And so, throughout my three month maternity leave, we were a cute family of four, having adventures and learning a new and lovely family dynamic.

Then I went back to work. And my man started a new job an hour and a half away. And suddenly, all the incredible support offered by my partner was sucked into a serious commute and new employment, and I was often left alone with a terribly two (though irrefutably cute) toddler and his helpless sister.

It's hard. It's hard being the person to wake, dress and feed two little people, one of which is a complete lunatic as his newer brain expands by impressive bounds. And it's hard to run to the daycare multiple times a day to nurse the baby, who you worry isn't getting enough loving attention. And it's hard to worry that your work is suffering because it's not getting enough attention, either, as you sit in a dim office, pumping milk into a sanitized container. And damn. Dinner is hard. Picking up the kids, who are ravenous on top of being ridiculous, and prepping, serving and cleaning up after.

Tired. So tired.

If we're lucky, my husband will be home in time to give the toddler a shower.

And if we're lucky, the toddler will fall asleep with minimal tears.

And if we're lucky, the immensely patient baby will have had a snack and sleep peacefully while my husband and I melt into the couch and discuss our days like soldiers falling back from the front lines.

sleepy angel

I know this is hard. I expect it and I handle it. But what surprised me is the well of resentment I found springing up inside of me. I am by nature a purely positive person but without my own awareness, I sunk into a funk of self-pity.

After about a week and a half of primary caregiving, my husband's grandmother passed away, and he called to confirm his travel plans.

"Are you going to be okay alone with the kids all weekend?" he asked.

"I guess I have no choice," I choked out through gritted teeth.

"Are you... Mad at me?" he countered.

And there I was. Angry at my partner for trying to fly to a funeral.

I looked at the adorable duo of children at my dinner table.

"Am I a bad mom for not wanting to spend all of my time with them?"

My husband answered, "It doesn't mean you're a bad mom. It just means you aren't crazy."

And in that moment, it dawned on me how heartily I'd internalized my own strife. There were hundreds of tiny, perfect experiences with these two incredible people I brought into existence. And while it was extremely hard to handle, it was also an opportunity to soak up moments that were fleeting.

Era "helping" with Minna

That weekend of single parenting, I tried to record in my mind each sweet moment so I could share it with my husband. My son learning to sing, "Frère Jacques." His silly impression of a crab... pinch pinch! His sweet determination to push his sister's stroller and clean up the cat barf all on his own. His use of the potty. His inspired idea to give his baby doll a bath in the sink, just like Mama does with his sister. And my daughter's languid giggles. Her determination to roll over. Her watercolor blue eyes as they look up at me while nursing.

Wash that baby!

It was revolutionary. The dread dissipated, replaced by an expanding appreciation of the fun before me. The feelings of being put-upon slowly ebbed, and I began to feel fortunate that I able to be present. And yes, I can feel both overwhelmed by challenge and overwhelmed by awe. But I do not want to be the person who wallows in irritation when I can choose to be who I've always been: that preternaturally positive person.

beach barbecuing

I've written before about the tedium and exhaustion involved in raising infants, but even when I wanted to cry in the corner, never before had I lost my sense of self. Drifting into bitterness not only made me a stranger to myself, it made everything else much harder.

Kids are expert at living in the moment, so I take my cues from them. Is this season of life still difficult? Heck yes. But I can choose to make it less tough by plowing through with my optimism intact.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

2019 in Revue To-do

How was your 2019?

Mine brought fun and family, calm and chaos, and work and wonder.


I suppose most of these things are reflected in my 2019 in Revue mix CD, though these songs are slightly more somber than I would have expected for such a stellar year.

I did attend the funeral of a friend. But I also made a cute new human, saw spectacular friends, and had adventures with my man.

So, here's a weird melange of music. I hope you enjoy it.

2019 in Revue
1. The Dead South - In Hell I'll Be in Good Company
2. La Palma - Plum
3. DJ Schmolli - Back Door Pill in Ibiza
4. Hardy - Rednecker
5. Sharon Van Etten - Seventeen
6. Ultimate Painting - All I Wanna Do
7. Orville Peck - Dead of Night
8. Molly Tuttle - Take the Journey
9. The Band - Atlantic City
10. Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again

2019-12-11_10-49-07 2019-12-11_10-49-26

Let me know if you'd like me to mail you a mix CD, replete with fun booklet.

Or, download everything here.

Or, stream on YouTube here.

Happy 2020, friends!

Monday, August 26, 2019

On Jokes, Jugs, and Joy

I am not often disappointed by the wealth of weirdo crap on the internet. Just the other day, I searched for a lady chicken in business attire and am pleased to say that the web offered up an array of professional hens. Yes. Thank you, internet.

However, the selection of decent pregnancy memes is sorely lacking. I'm expecting again and while I languished for weeks with crippling morning sickness and overwhelming fatigue, the internet could only console me with badly-drawn moms and the occasional listicle. Not cool.

Here is a list of smells that made me sick early in this pregnancy:
- My own clean hair
- My own deodorant
- My own breath
- My own son

I couldn't even sniff the hair of my first-born, one of my all-time favorite activities.

This level of self-pity requires military-grade memes.

And so, I offer to you a few homemade memes that might have alleviated my spirits:

pregnancy doge
I made this last maternity go-round, but who's keeping track?

Is doge not the greatest meme? It is. So wow.

I know you think it's weird, Karen.*

*Based on an actual Karen.

This is all I picture when wiggling into maternity britches.

Remember last pregnancy when no one touched my tummy? Yeah. Apparently, I look much more approachable now. 

Dream Meme
Based on a true story.


I reached what I feel is a turning point in my motherhood journey: I threw away all my old bras.

Those who know me will not be surprised to learn that I pitched nearly a garbage bag full of unmentionables that hadn't been worn in more than two years. All the cups that kept me up before I got knocked up were sent adrift on the thrift sea and may be seen at a Goodwill near you.

Tiaras are here to stay, however.

Unlike my first pregnancy, where I thought I would just duck into maternity life and then skip back to my previous condition like a I was hopping off a carnival ride, this time I'm coming to terms with the permanent changes that occur when evolving into a parental persona.

It felt both slightly sad and liberating to acknowledge that I'm moving on without my old stand-by supports. But I do not know when I'll wear non-maternity, non-nursing bras again. I do not know what size I will be when I do return to that condition. And, I have no clue what style of underpinning I'll be pining for.

I will find out when I get there. And in the meantime, I will not carry the baggage of neglected negligees.


Hey, remember when I blogged about my sister sighing about how Fate tends to bend to my wishes?

Well. At the risk of tempting said Fate, I am pleased to announce that said sister Laurie and I are both knocked up. At the same time. Just as I had dreamed.

I basically had to arm-wrestle Laurie to get her to take bump pics with me. WORTH IT.

When chatting with a friend a few weeks ago, Laurie was asked if she's having a boy or a girl. At the time, she didn't know, but replied, "Well, Becky wants me to have a girl. So I assume I'm having a girl."

And hey, guess what? Laurie's having a girl.

This is all to say that I'm over the frickin' moon and trying my best all day every day not to inundate my sibling with my "expert" opinions about what she should do. (Giving unwanted advice is second only to criticizing other peoples' parenting as the top perk of generating progeny.)

Each holding something we love... Laurie would like the internet to know that she did not partake of any libations

So, between my squelched beseeching of my sister to invest in a bouncer and take a breastfeeding class, I've really struggled to hone my own best guidance as one of my favorite people on Earth creates someone who I am sure will also be one of my favorite people on Earth.

And my greatest advice? Trust yourself.

I know it's cheeseball and unsettlingly reminiscent of a sepia-toned Insta meme, but learning to trust my own instincts when it came to caring for my infant changed everything. Not that I was always right about everything (though it pains me to admit that, especially in front of my younger sibling), but I knew I never had to do anything that felt crappy.

If "crying it out" feels crappy, don't. Cuddle that pup.

If you feel crappy because you're worried that the babe might be unwell, call the doctor. Don't think twice about looking dumb.

If breastfeeding feels crappy or the novelty onesie a friend gave you feels crappy or visits from well-meaning acquaintances feel crappy, do not discount your discomfort.

Never question your own intuitions. You're going to be a great mom. It's Fate.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Surprise Possessions

Did you know that babies don't know how to fart? 'Cause I sure didn't.

I was amazed that this perfect football of a person, with all of his bountiful baby brilliance, couldn't master passing gas. Between his terrifying screams of discomfort, I actively wondered if we'd begotten a defective babe. I would arrange him in yoga's happy baby pose and hope he benefited from its "wind relieving" properties.

Fortunately, in the grand tradition of his family, Era figured out farts. Just as I've slowly figured out some of the more abstruse aspects of parenthood.

hanging in the hall last weekend

In celebration of that and of Era's first year (he's 14 months old! Jeez!), I offer a few of the experiences I least expected when I was expecting.


I've written before about how breastfeeding was a huge focus, and I feel pretty fortunate that nursing was relatively stress-free for me. But even so, I vividly remember tying myself in tormented knots when I couldn't produce enough milk. I haunted the aisles of Whole Foods, searching for the lactation tea that would rescue me from decreased supply while my happily chubby cub was bewildered by my panicked behavior.

Looking back, I wish I could have convinced myself to chill.

Era didn't care where his next meal originated, he just wanted to enjoy time with his mom. There was no reason for my weeping as I packed the occasional formula bottle into his daycare bag and absolutely no call for added misery when mastitis decimated my supply.

At the time, it felt like a monumental failure. But the reality was that a little more formula supplementation would have saved me a heap of heartache, and that could only benefit my family.

learning to go with the flow


Babies actually rub their eyes when sleepy. I did not realize that that is a real thing and it's delightfully adorable every time Era does it.

ay, there's the rub


While I don't necessarily resonate with all of her experiences (and actually, actively dislike a few of her characterizations of mom life), one passage from Meaghan O'connell's book And Now We Have Everything hit me hard. She writes that she hadn't just created a life. "We created a death."

In early parenthood, I became obsessed with death.

And I realize how bizarre this sounds and now, it's hard to recall the all-encompassing pathos that adhered to every aspect of my life, but I do know that terror tinged everything I touched those first couple of months.

Yes, of course, I loved my son and wanted to protect him from all hurt. But this was an irrational, integral anxiety that drove me to distraction every time the sun touched his skin, a bottle was washed, or a plaything was purchased. I harped at my husband for everything from thermostat settings to stuffy nose remedies. I hated that we had knives in our kitchen. I resented the hot water tap.

Finally, after months of suffering from unwanted imaginations of every awful thing that could befall a baby, the mists of anxiety finally lifted. I knew that as a mother, I would love beyond all reason and worry more than ever before, but nothing prepared me for the hurricane of concern as hormones and sleep deprivation took the enormous adoration I felt for my son, and twisted it into enormous apprehension.

I wish I had known that this was as normal and impermanent as a spit-up stain.

happily adventuring sans mama drama


I was listening to an NPR story about the retirement of skier Lindsey Vonn as she explained that due to her career on the slopes her "body is broken beyond repair." While I never personally felt beyond repair, I did feel particularly broken immediately following Era's birth.

I might mention my physical ailments to colleagues or doctors, and was often rewarded with a patronizing smile and, "Ah, yes, but wasn't it worth it?"

No one is asking Lindsey Vonn if it was "worth it." Because, yes, OF COURSE it's worth it. She is the winningest female skier in history, and I created a human being from scratch. But it doesn't come without a price, and no amount of condescending reminders of my blessings negates the physical distress.

I believe my cheesy schmoopface says it all here.

I am luckier than many mamas, but no matter the birth, we all deserve to have the repercussions taken seriously. "But wasn't it worth it?" silences the conversation about postpartum recovery and plus, it's just rude. I can admit that childbirth is physically difficult without needing to be reminded about the cute baby I made.


I didn't know it at the time, but the best advice we received about parenthood is: the days are long but the years are short.

Those word were damn near meaningless to me mere months ago, but they became a buoy when the monotony of new motherhood seemed insurmountable.

I also often found myself reflecting on this passage my excellent friend Jen Short wrote on Facebook:
Looking back, I would give anything in the world to have one more bottle-fed day with my babe, one more diaper to change, one more load of tiny things to wash and pack. Eli is 11 now and I don’t even know when I stopped being able to pick him up. The last time I held him, I didn’t know it was to be the last time I’d hold him. I’m sure someday I’ll look back and lovingly wish for my 11-year old, filled with preteen angst and attitude, too.

Everything can pile up in your brain to make you feel adrift in this new parental identity. But these wise words returned me to the moment, reminding me to enjoy every single cuddle, even the ones at 4:30 a.m.


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Peer Revue

My parents always called the first year of parenting "The Year of the Fog," and man, have I learned why.

But through the fog of infant firsts, the slog through sleepless nights, and the mist of missing family and friends, 2018 has been a hell of a year.

Era took his first steps and Quincy and I took a giant leap into home ownership. Era was promoted to solid food and I earned a promotion at work. Era began communicating and Quincy quit his commute and became a work-from-home dad.

Yes, things are a little foggy, but I'll have this mix, my 2018 in Revue, to help me remember the hard work and happiness that happened these past 12 months.

And track #1? That's Era's favorite song.

2018 in Revue

2018 in Revue
1. Dancing in the Moonlight – King Harvest
2. Jean Grae & Quelle Chris feat. Dane Orr – Gold Purple Orange
3. Fuzz – Raise
4. Aretha Franklin – I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)
5. Clairo – B.O.M.D.
6. Amanaz – Khala My Friend
7. Erika Wennerstrom – Extraordinary Love (WCPO Lounge Act)
8. Benny Goodman & Peggy Lee – On the Sunny Side of the Street
9. Dolly Parton – I’m Gonna Sleep With One Eye Open
10. Dead Moon – It’s O.K.

Download the whole happenin' here.

Float the stream on my YouTube playlist.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Frump Up the Pump

I was reading Like a Mother, absorbed in scholarly pondering about the metamorphosis that motherhood imparts, and the author quoted a woman as saying that she just didn't feel like herself because she couldn't wear dresses while breastfeeding.


I completely agree that feeling like "myself" is a tall order these days, given physical changes, emotional eddys, and revolutionized roles. But I'm telling you now: there's no way on God's green Earth that I'm giving up dresses just because I'm giving out milk.

So I offer: What I Wear While Breastfeeding and/or Pumping

Button-Down Dresses

In the hazy days after Era arrived, I lived in loose button-down gowns. Even if I spent 90% of a given day unbuttoned and curled up with my newborn, the routine of getting dressed felt comforting and empowering.

Alfani from the clearance rack at Macy's

This was (is?) my favorite postpartum frock. It's roomy! It has pockets! It's easily laundered! To top it off, its style speaks to me in way that reminds me of life before I was concerned about cleaning someone else's body fluids from my togs.

Donning this dress five days into motherhood

Button-down dresses were the best, especially as I explored the world with my little on while on maternity leave. Need to feed the babe in a friend's office at an environmental education center? No problemo.

A seven-week-old, a snake, and a sweet little button-down dress... Hi Veronica and King Henry!

Wrap Dresses

I was excited to return to work but struggled to find attire that would be appropriate in a board meeting while not impeding my need to pump twice a day.

Just a little Venn diagram I concocted

Enter: the wrap dress

Flattering, sassy and with easy access to the ol' bosom, wrap dresses are a godsend for working mamas.

I got this number for a song at Loft

Plus, wearing a wrap dress is fabulous because it feels like stomping into the office in your jammies. I defy you to find something more comfortably functional for lactating professionals.

Another clearance Macy's find

Skirt Separates

Here's the deal. I love dresses because they're so easy. It's just one thing! Pull it on and go! But sometimes, between the spit up stains and the blow-out blots, there aren't any good options. That is when I search out some suitable separates.

Top from Anthropologie last fall, skirt from Whole Foods

Hah-hah! Don't tell me I can't wriggle into a turtleneck while breastfeeding! MAMA DOES WHAT SHE WANTS.

Era at seven months, a vintage skirt and a top that I've had for eons

So, there you have it. A pantless approach to lactation fashion.

With everything moms sacrifice in the process of become a parent, I simply won't surrender my sense of style - or sense of self.

It's a tough path to navigate, but I've got a pretty cute co-pilot by my side.