Attachment Parenting, Engorged Boobs, Women’s History, Moose, and Muse


I know I posted on Facebook (facebook.com/memomuse) and Twitter (@memomuse1) that I would post the Monday Mooseletter Monday night.  I just didn’t get to it.  I don’t like to make promises I can’t keep.  So, here it is on Wednesday.

Afterall, I don’t want a riot to start because I didn’t have a fresh post on my blog. Ha ha. Seriously, I wonder who are my loyal followers.  What I think about when I get a new like on Facebook is not about the number, but the actual number — the person. The fact that one person in this great big universe decided to go to the sidebar and hit like.  It means a lot to me.  It means you truly heard me and recognized and appreciated  my voice. And I thank you.

So, here are some moose:

Mama moose and her little one

Here is an update of what is going on:

1. Remember 35 mm film and photos you hold in your hand

This post will be short (this is an out right lie) because I have a photography deadline to meet. I am going through my photos (35 mm film prints) from Wyoming (my home state) to find color photos for a Wyoming tourism brochure I was invited to submit photos to.  I have so many photos (literally thousands) of film prints to go through.  I am so biased when it comes to Wyoming because my heart still lives there even though I live in North Carolina now.

Moose on the road in Yellowstone. They are enormous in size.

It takes my breath away and it makes my heart swell.  It also breaks my heart that there are so many wildfires going on in the West, especially Wyoming and Colorado.  My sister lives near the High Park fire and she is safe now, but it was frightening to wonder if she would lose her farm.  See — here I said this post would be short, but now I want to write about my sister’s farm.

I love Wyoming. Photo taken in 2004 on my honeymoon.  We went to Yellowstone for our honeymoon.

2. Working on Two Books

An agent in New York is reading over my motherhood memoir (proposal and full manuscript requested).  It is a creative nonfiction memoir about Attachment Parenting, as it relates to me, as a new mom trying to find her way.  It is NOT, I repeat NOT, a how-to book.  All I know how to do is be the best mother I can be to my son and write pretty well.  I can do other things too, but you get my point.

BlogHer CEO and c0-founder, Lisa Stone, recently declared Mamalode magazine America’s Best Parenting Magazine. Mamalode publisher, Elke Govertsen, has agreed to write a blurb and endorse my book.  She is such an amazing person and has really taken Mamalode where it was meant to go — a publication with subscribers in every state and many countries around the world.  Elke is a true trailblazer and visionary.  Check it out.  There is a link to the magazine on my sidebar too.

3.  More Details about Book Projects

I have to just hit enter and go to the next number or I will ramble on.  I have so many ideas for blog posts, but they require research, development and crafting.  I just don’t have the time right now to develop the blog posts I want to write about.  I have been thinking about turning them into articles for magazines, but then I am brought back to #2: my books.  I have to finish these projects.

These two books (AP motherhood memoir and historic food memoir) are my priority right now.  The Attachment Parenting motherhood memoir is a book about my experience as a new mom. I kept detailed journal entries in graduate school for an independent course on motherhood I designed. It was called,  Motherhood: The New Frontier.  I picked five books to read, and basically had free reign to write whatever I wanted to about motherhood.  Well, to say the least, it is raw, edgy, hopeful, honest, vulnerable, and loving (and about a dozen more adjectives).  One of those books on my reading list was Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott.  Read it if you are a new mom.

Anne Lamott and me at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC.

If you haven’t met Anne yet, let me introduce her.  Reader, this is Anne Lamott. She is a recovering alcoholic and addict, absurdly funny, and radically Democratic.  She is not afraid to speak her mind.  She writes as if in a confessional, and turns a phrase with the craftsmanship of a needlepoint artist.  Anne, this is my reader (feel free to introduce yourself to Anne in the comments — I’d love to know more about you).  You two should talk.

One of  the themes of my motherhood memoir is the fact that I was practicing Attachment Parenting without even knowing it.  AP is flexible and you can adapt the 8 principles to fit your family’s needs.  People are up in arms about AP and the recent Time magazine cover.  I really don’t understand all the hoopla and outrage, but the Mommy Wars are a real thing. I’m a lover, not a fighter.

Motherhood is beautiful, ugly, difficult, easy, complicated, simple, textured, smooth, heart-breaking, heart-pounding, and one of the most complex relationships.

My road to motherhood was not easy; I struggled with infertility, postpartum psychosis, postpartum depression,  breast feeding, co-sleeping, and anxiety.  As they say in the South, I was a hot mess.  The thing is, nobody really talks about how hard motherhood is.  In fact, it is a taboo subject.  I guess it easier to talk about the joys and blissful moments instead of talking about nipple scabs, cracked nipples, sleep deprivation, and all the other little dirty secrets mothers live through.

My little miracle. Hard to believe something as wonderful as being a mom can be so downright terrifying at times.

I remember calling my friend, Debra Elramey in tears saying, “Debi, my boobs hurt.”  My milk had just come in.  I was not told it would feel like the lower falls of Yellowstone were dammed in my breasts.  I was parked in the parking lot near the super strip mall and my husband was getting me a Subway sandwich.  I was trying to be strong, and the baby blues were coming on something fierce.  Ben was sleeping peacefully in the car seat, probably a week old.  Debi said, in a voice only a good friend can emulate, “Honey, you’re engorged,” she paused while I cried, then said, “you need to get a pump.”  I was like, “What is engorged?”

She explained the situation and what I needed to do. I got a free hand pump from the lactation consultant that spent ten minutes with me the next day.  She said, “Yep, you got this, you’re doing it right,”  as if I was some tick mark to check off on a list.  I wanted to call her out and say, “Lady, I think you are mistaken — I have no f#@&ing idea what I am doing! Please sit your a$$ back down on my couch and please don’t leave.”  Instead, I just kept a stiff upper lip until she left and then I cried.  My next call was to the La Leche League and that is a story for the memoir…

Historic Food Memoir — The Community Kitchen

My other book is a historic food memoir about women in the kitchen and history in the making.  It is about my great-grandmother’s (Elizabeth Hawley Odell) food business. The Community Kitchen started as a food conservation project in the basement of the Evanston’s Woman’s Club in the summer of 1918, during WWI.  Read this blog,  to find out more about it.  I am working on the book proposal for this book.  Two agents have expressed interest in this book already.  The history is incredible, as it spans 1918 – 1951.

The Community Kitchen store front (600 Davis Street, Evanston, Illinois)

My grandmother, Elizabeth Odell Welch, was an executive chef for Alice Foote MacDougal, Schrafft’s, Birdseye, and General Foods.  “In 1926, she joined the staff of Alice Foote MacDougal in the tea shop business in New York. Later she did experimental recipe work for Schrafft’s and before she returned to Evanston in 1947, she was on the staff of General Foods preparing foods for advertising photography.” – The Evanston Review — May 31, 1951

Juney was a 1930’s version of Peggy Olson from Mad Men.  In fact, she had the beauty, style, and sass of Joan, the sense of humor and charm of Roger, and the creative vision of Don.  She was a trailblazer.

My grandma, Juney (nickname), was something else! She was a Taurus, athletic, smart, sassy, and beautiful — honest and funny too.  She loved New York so much that when her husband bought a home in Long Island when they were newlyweds, she said, “Take it back! We’re going back to the city.”

She loved my sister, Kathleen and me dearly, as we were her only grandchildren. She adored her nieces, Mary Liz Price Hunt and Virginia Price Ware and her grandnieces, Harriet Hunt Brown and Mary Hunt Newcomb, and nephew, Lewis G Hunt.  She loved her daughter (my mom) more than anything in the world.

I know this story is powerful: women’s history, food history, American history, and most important — family history! Did I mention how excited I am about this project! I am the sieve of this story.

Please tell your foodie and history buff friends about it. Word of mouth is a powerful tool in marketing. I hope you enjoy following The Community Kitchen as it evolves.

The photo below is a photo of my grandma, Juney — isn’t she just something else?  She was the only grandparent I ever met.  She passed away when I was ten.

This is my grandmother; her nickname was Juney.

4.  Moving on, as I am rambling on.  I am thinking about self-publishing a lot lately.  I have the motherhood memoir written and am working on final editing.  To be or not to be.  That is the question. I do like the glamour of a publisher and agent from New York, but the more I read, the publishing process is not very glamorous.  My grandma was a New Yorker and my mother was a New Yorker.  There is something magical for a writer to think their manuscript is traveling like a tourist in New York.  I hope that both my books not only travel New York City, but become residents, ultimately securing a book deal and publishing contract.  For now, I am enjoying the cab ride, gazing up  at the tall skyscrapers of possibility with wonder filled eyes.

5.  Artist in the Schools and Writer-in-Residence

I was selected by the United Arts Council to be an Artist in the Schools and a writer-in-residence.  If you are a teacher in Wake and Johnston County (North Carolina), you can apply for a grant to bring me to your school to conduct residences and workshops on Poetry (The Bicyle of Poetry: Riding through the Senses), Memoir, Poetry Slams and Spoken Word,  Photography (A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words) and any other writing program.  I am more than happy to tailor it to meet your classroom needs.  Email me directly if you are interested.  Don’t worry, I can tone it down for the public school setting, as I was a teacher for thirteen years (Special Education, Elementary Education, Middle School, and Residential Treatment Center).  There is nothing more powerful and rewarding than helping children and teenagers find and hear their own voice.

6. Brain Tumor Thursday

I have a profile for Brain Tumor Thursday, which will be posted tomorrow.  It was submitted by a man named John. He was an archeologist and his profile is moving.  I don’t find these profiles sad, but then again, my mother has brain tumors and has lived with them for the last twelve years.  They were diagnosed in 2000; she most likely had them longer. Brain tumor survivors submit their profiles to me, using the template I created.  They fill in the blank:

I hope…

I wish…

I dream…

I am…

And then they can share their diagnosis, treatment, photos, and three things about themselves.

Well, I should be wrapping this post up.  I do have that photography deadline to meet. Have a great day.  I hope to see you here tomorrow for John’s post.  It is whimsical, funny, hopeful, and beautiful. The photos he submitted are quite magical.

Find me on Twitter (@memomuse1 or @600DavisSt).  You can find me on Facebook too (facebook.com/memomuse).  I would love to chit chat with you there.

I leave you with one more photo, as you have been reading a rather long post (thank you for reading the whole post, even though I said it would be short). If you click on the photo it will take you directly to the food memoir blog.  If you are interested in this book, read the about page, as the history is fascinating.

This is a photo of my great-grandmother. She is the woman on the far left. The three women pictures founded the Community Kitchen.

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Love is Not Always Flood Lights and Fireworks, but Sometimes, It Is


Love is Not Always Flood Lights and Fireworks

But Sometimes, It Is

My son is sleeping on my husband’s chest. Snuggled in an O against his broad shoulders in a snuggly nest.  Resting easy, gently.  I want my son to wake up because I haven’t seen him this morning.  My husband let me sleep in this because I stayed up late last night writing and working on grad school work.  I woke refreshed and awake, not my usual still-feel-like-I-need-two-more-hours-of-sleep-grogginess.  Dare I say refreshed.  Yes, I was refreshed.

Photo by Sara Turner

As I walked by my two darlings, my husband was singing a song and waving me off – as in, Go away! So you don’t wake the boy.  He is almost asleep. I went to the kitchen to get my breakfast and make coffee.  I toasted two slices of cinnamon raison bread and slowly buttered it, taking my time.  I put my son’s toys in the basket that I washed yesterday, placing them in,  like an organizer would, quite a difference than their daily throw it in the basket routine.  I did some laundry, changing over a load in the washer to the dryer and taking the dried clothes out of the laundry room.  That load is in the kitchen. Still.

I am wanting my little one to wake up.  I miss his little face, his little body.  His tiny little shoulders — how they’ve grown — yet he is still so tiny. 

"Daddy's Hands" - Photo by Sara Turner http://www.sturnerphotos.com

I can hold his hand now and it makes me giddy, my hands and long fingers inter-twined with his little mini fingers that will grasp so many tangible and intangible things in his lifetime.  He will hold the hand of the woman he will marry with those hands.  He will hold the hand of the woman who will break his heart with those hands.  He will hold a pencil to take the SATs with those hands.  He will hold that same pencil in his hand, as he may struggle in college.  He will hold the crayon that he writes his name with for the first time with those hands.  God forbid, he may hold a beer in those hands in college.  For now, those little hands give me glee.  Give me goose bumps — how beautiful they are.  How magnetic they are — drawing me to them, as my eyes are magnetized — heart pulling me closer every day to this new and joyful love of mother and son.

My husband and my son are in the same room as I write this, their chests breathing in and out together in unison.  The same hearts, bonded with mine.  Love is an amazing thing.  It isn’t always flood lights and fireworks, shining brightly above a star filled sky, with fiery, colored flames sparkling down and dropping into a scenic river or lake.  Sometimes it is blurry, like a rainstorm and the windshield wipers aren’t working or better yet, are jammed.  And you can’t see a thing and have road rage because you’re stuck in the clogged, congestion of life’s freeway, with people honking at you to hurry up.  But sometimes, just sometimes, not all the time — it is pure magic.  Photo by Megan Oteri Copyright 2011

It stops you dead in your tracks, as if alone in a white fluffy filled forest, frosted with elegance, whistles at you, and shouts its name. Stitching — beating — breathing — beating — breathing heart murmurs all over your sky filled soul.  You sit on a lawn, with a blanket below your knees. Hot warm, summer skin, dark sky, filled sky, stars bright and plump like ripe apples, and wonder, working willfully, scattering wisdom and love across your own family sky.

 

memomuse believes in magic, especially magic in words.  She is a mama, poet, writer, and photographer living in Eastern North Carolina.  She is a graduate student in the MA in Creative Writing program at East Carolina University.  You can view her magic in words at this website: www.memomuse.wordpress.com.

Photo by Sara Turner

 

The Baby Naps


 

Photo by Richard Oteri Copyright 2010

 The Baby Naps

 

            When this times arrives I almost don’t know what to do with it.  It is so peaceful.  He is not kicking at my keyboard while I try to check email and facebook.  I usually just give up because it is so frustrating and he just will not resist, even with my pleas –

            “I’ll trade you one status update and email for one nap on my shoulder where I don’t try to put you down in your crib.” 

            “No deal!” he says in kicks and squirms and baby curses. “You’re mine.”

            So nap time is such a precious time.  I wander through my mind as he falls into the deep oasis of sleep. 

            What should I do? 

            Well, actually I plan my get away first.  Position the baby so when he does fall deeply asleep, when he is drinking boobie juice in his sweet baby dreams, winking at the girl in the bassinette next to him, I am thinking about how to slide him onto the pillow underneath my arms and lift him quietly and tiptoe to the next room where his crib is.

            Or like today when he just wouldn’t give me up.  I tried to pull my body pacifier off his mouth and then the silent scream, where he opens his mouth to wail, but nothing comes out.  That is the worst because the expectation is a blood curling scream, but all that comes out is tiny whimpers the size of  millimeters. Poor sick baby can’t even scream. 

            I should stay here all day with him while he naps.  What are you freaking crazy?  You have laundry to do.  You have a house that needs to be cleaned.  Woman – you need your sanity.  Who are you kidding – you are be lining it for the computer room and you are going to write about all the things you have thought about today – remember all those moments of frustration, beauty, patience, lack of patience, calm, storm…what was I going to write about again?

            Well, the classical music is playing.  If he can’t have his mommy wrapped around him tightly, he can have Chopin and Mozart growing brain cells in his baby brain.  Replace emotional nourishment with enlightened culture, right!

            I am a selfish bastard.  I just want to get away sometimes.  Especially during our morning routine.  I wake up.  Well, actually this morning he woke me up – by scratching my face.  It worked.  I got out of bed.  I had slept in until 9 AM.  Heaven forbid.  I already have guilt about missing the morning shift of playtime so don’t even roll your *mommental eyes at me.  I can see you through the screen ya know!

            *mommental – mom judgement from other moms

            Can I have an amen from the mommentals on my side! Oh yeah.  Take that you judgmental moms out there that just do everything so damn perfectly and sacrifice your soul for your children.  I want a little soul for me – memama.  Mama of me!

            Mommental is my new word for mom judgment that goes on.  I think mostly the judgment comes from ourselves.  I think all moms out there have compassion for each other.  We are in it together.

            I was at Wal-mart solo the other day doing last minute Christmas shopping while my beautiful wonderful mother-in-law watched my B Man. I saw a baby and what did I do – yes – you know.  I went over and oohed and aahed at it.  Daddy was holding the baby all proud. 

            I asked, “How old is the baby?” and raised my voice all funny and goofy.

            He said, “5 weeks.”

            I looked at mama, who was pretty young.  Well, young to me because I am an old geezer (36).  She must have been in her early twenties and that is being generous.  She easily could have been 18. 

            I asked her, “How is mama doing?”
            She gave me a dirty look and continued making the bottle. 

            I wanted to say, “I know your pain.  I get it.  You are crazy sleep deprived and…”

            But I smiled and walked away.  I’ve been there.  I don’t even remember those people that did exactly what I did.  It is just a blur the first 2 months.  In fact, the first four months were a blur.

            So as 2010 dwindles down to the curb of 2011, I pretend to reflect on 2010.  I am just happy I became a mom.  Something I wanted for a very long time.  Something I endured unsuccessful infertility treatments, a diagnosis and surgical correction of a uterus septum, one so extreme that the doctor said I could be in a medical textbook, a miscarriage, acupuncture, and many tears and heartbreaks.  So I guess I am just happy to be a mom.  A mom that is by no means perfect, but the mom guilt wants me to be.  A mom that is trying her best, and thinking someone else is doing it better than me.  A mom that loves nap time so much she wants to make it a national holiday.  It is my mini holiday where I am me again.  No babe on my arm.  No babe in my lap.  No babe to entertain.  Just mama – just me.

             Happy New Year 2011!  I am looking forward to more nap times…

 memomuse is a new mom and although there are moments of utter craziness being a new mom, she is utterly inflated with pure joy.  memomuse writes during her baby’s brief naps.  She is pretty interesting, they say.  She is looking forward to going out to dinner with her friend tonight because she has been cooped up inside her house all week with a sick baby.