33 posts categorized "Love & Marriage"

An "other" wo/man: infidelity, open relationship, or separation

September 09, 2013

I am sixteen years into my monogamous relationship, and I am thirteen years into my marriage.  In these past years, I feel lucky there have been no other love interests on my end, and I am not aware of any other love interests on my partner's end.  There have been close friends who have decided to open their relationship to others.  There have been people close to us who have opted to have extramarital affairs.  In some cases, the affairs have become known to all parties.  In some of these cases, they have decided to stay together.  In other cases, they have decided to separate or divorce.

Many of these scenarios have occured in relationships that are over the decade mark, and some of these relationships are closer to the two-decade mark.  

What I wonder about recently is: is this part of our progression in a relationship?  Is want for "another" a reality for many as a relationship stretches into the decades?  I became all the more curious when we received a media pitch from a company that promotes itself as a "discreet social network for men and women seeking secret affairs."  I found myself wondering whether I am in the minority and whether we adults are increasingly looking for new partnerships and connections, especially after our relationships stretch into the decades.

Marry a Family, Divorce a Family?

May 29, 2013

DSC_0650Somehow, through my extremely long and messy divorce, I have managed to stay somewhat close with my in-laws. My ex-husband's dad and step mom have been committed to my girls and me from the very beginning. This is not to say that they're not in a difficult position, but they are very diplomatic and still consider me family. We go on long weekend trips to the coast and they sweetly remind me that if I ever move on to a new relationship and decide to grow my family, those new additions will be welcomed into their open arms. This relationship has been so comforting and I'm incredibly grateful. I recognize how lucky I am and how unusual this probably is for most ex-daughters-in-laws.

So here we are, almost 3 years since the separation and I still adore my in-laws and they seem to find value in our relationship as well. Sometimes I think that my father-in-law tolerates me, my homemade life and my choice to homeschool my youngest daughter, but I know that I can quickly bring him back around when I cook or bake for him. My mother-in-law is the most comfortable of the two and probably one of my closest friends. In spite of the circumstances of the last few years, we have been able to talk with utter transparency which is sometimes really hard and other times it's really healing. I'm starting to think everything is going to change though.

My ex has a serious girlfriend. He's had many girlfriends in the last few years, but nothing so serious. This girlfriend has a child and seems to be on the prowl for a stable relationship. My ex is either serious about her or he is just playing along- I can't tell yet and we are not able to talk about much, let alone our relationships.

It's funny because I don't care that he's moved on (although I used to). I don't want to know too much and I don't really like hearing my kids prattle on about what they do when they're visiting their dad and his girlfriend. I get mad when they tell me that they spend so much time with her when really all they want is to be with their dad, but when it comes to my ex moving on to something more serious, I don't care... except that I really love my in-laws.

It's already getting complicated too. My mother-in-law feels torn between me, who she loves, and her stepson and his new interest. She knows that at some point she is going to have to meet this new girlfriend (sooner than later) and it will get even more complicated because she will probably like her. This will be the first thing that we won't be able to talk about. In the history of our 12 year relationship, this has never happened. She's not going to want to hurt my feelings and frankly, I'm not going to want to know too much. I expect that I'll feel jealous of their time together and of their new relationship and as childish as it might seem, I worry that I will be pushed out.

I have been lucky to count my mother-in-law as one of my best friends and it's devastating to be sensing this shift coming into our relationship and realizing that there's really nothing I can do about it. I just have to stand back and let it unfold. It really has become one of those situations that keeps me awake at night as I search my brain for ideas that would keep us close, and yet I continue to come up blank.

I'm really going to miss her, that I know for sure.

Caught Off-Guard: Date Night Tonight

November 04, 2011

"We're going out tonight" read the text message from my husband.  We've been talking and talking for a while about how to squeeze in a little time together without the kids, but life has been busier than ever for us.  It all came to a head this week when I confessed feeling so distant, given the various commitments, our respective work/school needs, domestic chores.

Wtih the generousity of nearby family, we suddenly have a couple of hours away tonight.  But: what to do?  Go to a cafe and talk?  Maybe take a walk?  Go see some art or spoken word and get inspired?  Go to a bar and ...  hang out?  Find some live music?  Feeling indecisive, I am inclined to just stay home and catch up on sleep.

If you had a couple of hours, just you and your partner, what would you do?

The Novelty Parent: It's not me

March 01, 2011

Many evenings, while I get dinner onto the table, my partner is relagated to toddler- and child-management.  I bustle around in that very stressful pre-dinner hour, and I often hear squealing and giggles coming from the other room, surely the result of my husband nuzzling his head into the toddler's tummy.  More squeals come from the other kids, playing around with their dad little brother.

Not every household has two parents, but - for those that do - each of the two parents often settle into roles.  For me, thanks to my efficiency and love for edible arts, it is my role to mange the kitchen.  My partner, then, has the role of managing things outside the kitchen - in this case - the kids.  In other cases, I often still take on the role of primary caretaker, tending to the basic needs of my family such as laundering, kitchen inventory, handling the calendar.  It wears on me, while many times I find my partner takes on the role of playmate, sports coach, tickle monster.  To be honest: I get jealous.  To be honest: I sometimes get bitter.

To be sure, I can challenge the roles, start a mission to lowly change them.  But, who has the time?  Right now, I do feel that efficiency trumps, and I am indeed the Mistress of Multitasking.  My skill set is better suited for the caretaking and nurturing tasks.  I just want to know I'm not alone.  Does it happen in your house too?  Is there a primary caretaker, and does the secondary caretaker get all the fun jobs?  And, dare I ask: have you managed to swap roles here and there?  Has it worked well?

When other mamas are single... on Facebook

December 12, 2010

Is_single
I was idly browsing my Facebook page in between dishwashing jags when I saw the familiar-but-ironic little heart next to one of my relative's status updates. "___ is single," it read. Though I've always considered her a favorite family member, we don't spend much time together outside of Facebook, and I only met her husband once or twice; I had no idea things were rocky between them, and now his absence at more recent family gatherings looms large.

Only the latest in a recent spate of relationship status changes, it seems to be the vogue among friends and family and people I barely know to "like" such declarations of independence. I've seen situations in which the singleness was quickly reversed (a regreted overly-public blowup after a bitter, alcohol-fueled argument perhaps?) and these make the "liking" even more piercing than it is, in the most straightforward of situations. I can't find myself to "like" anyone's singleness, even if the relationship was especially tortured and obviously a bad one from the start. It seems too much schadenfreude, even if the one on the other end of the sudden singleness was terribly unkind to someone you love.

My relative's status was liked by someone else I like and whose judgment I respect, and I think the generally-accepted Facebook subtext for this is, "the marriage was bad for you." But, as with so many Facebook singles recently, little children resulted from this star-crossed entanglement. I know a bit of what it's like to be a single parent (though all my single-ness is temporary); I know what it's like to have a marriage-with-kids that is rocky. As is often the case with my rawly-single Facebook friends, I want to reach out. I want to act in support of this fellow mama, when things are obviously hard.

But: I never know what to say. I don't want to "like" it, I don't know if public comment under the status update is a better or far worse option. (And what, then, if there's a reverse?) It's so easy to get Facebook grant you a permanent separation. It's a lot harder, slower and more tortuous to do so legally; if one wishes to celebrate singleness, I think to myself, the end of that process is the time to do it.

I know lots of mamas who read this blog have gone single on Facebook, and have gone through the months- or years-long legal process following that social media break. I know others who have watched friends go through it, or go through the up-and-down of argument, separation, reunion, separation, divorce. What is the best approach? Speak publicly now, email, phone, pray?  Or simply wait until... what? If you've liked, or been liked, in situations like this: what resulted? What advice do you have, now?

How often do you do "it"?

October 19, 2010

By "it", I am not talking about how many times you wipe a snotty nose with your own sleeve or bare hand.  I am not talking about how many times you wipe a poopy butt.  I am not talking about how many times you load/unload the dishwasher/laundry machine.  I am not talking about how many times you say "put your jacket on, let's go!" in the morning.

I'm talking about SEX.  This morning, a mama friend exclaimed, "we had sex two nights in a row!" with a strong sense of proud accomplishment.  Gone are those days for us, honestly.  We used to be very robust performers, with a matinée for the early risers and several more showings following.  Now ten years into our lives as parents, we are lucky for a weekly episode.

Even if we have some tips on how to get in the mood (a la Confessions of a horny mama and Let's Talk About Sex), we still cannot make the time.  Or can we?  

What is your routine?  How often does sex happen for you?  Is it the right amount, too little, too much?

Seeking support for a partner

July 26, 2009

Many of us are in lifelong relationships, and our roles as mamas and papas must fit in with our roles as supporters, confidants, best friends, and significant others.  An urbanMama recently emailed, seeking suggestions for supporting her partner:

I am wondering if any urbanMamas can offer advice or ideas for how to support a husband who has hit a particularly difficult and rocky patch.  My husband has been struggling for months (and even off and on for years) with some general dissatisfaction regarding his life and his career.  A lot of it stems from a job that he doesn't like but he feels trapped in for financial reasons.  Some of it could be a version of a midlife crisis.  It has made him very difficult to be around at times, and I am having a hard time not taking it personally when I feel like he is unhappy with the life we have built for ourselves (while I am more or less satisfied with how things are going).  I know he loves me and our two girls (ages 2 and 4), but I am struggling to be patient with this particularly depressed, angry, miserable phase that he is going through.  Aside from marital counseling, which I am sure we could benefit from, how do I help him day to day when I am trying to juggle my own work and home demands?  Any insight?

Dating as a Single Mama: Do you involve the kids?

June 25, 2009

Single mamahood has its unique challenges, one of which involves how much (if at all) to involve our young ones.  An urbanMama recently emailed:

I have been a single mother since before my daughter was born, so I have been raising her 24/7/365. She has always had men in her life, one especially who is a father-like figure, and has been an on-and-off partner over the years. Currently, we are just very close friends. But recently, I have met someone and I think that it could lead to some sort of ongoing relationship (I’m not counting my eggs before they hatch…) and I am wondering about how to deal with this with my almost-4 year old. She has been included in several get-togethers over the past couple of weeks, and seems to be handling it ok, but she may not be aware that we are anything more than just new friends. I have single mom friends who date, and everyone seems to handle it differently. Some keep their parenting lives and their dating lives completely separate, which I imagine would be easier for those who share custody and have some time to themselves without having to find a babysitter each time. Others include their kids in the relationship from the beginning. Some concerns I have are how this new friendship will affect my daughter’s relationship with our close male friend, and also how it will affect her if he becomes part of our lives, and then the relationship ends at some point (as many relationships do….). I am feeling all sorts of guilt related to my daughter and my relationships and I don’t want to stress her out too much. But I definitely want to see where this new friendship is going to lead, because Mama is definitely having some fun!  Can anyone give me some guidance from their personal experience with dating as a single mom?

Divorce while parenting: You're not alone, but it sure feels like it

April 09, 2009

My husband and I were watching a Discovery Channel show on the science of reproduction a few days ago; the show posited that humans are more likely to look for a new mate after their first child grows old enough for one parent to raise him alone. "Well then!" I said. "I guess we're fine." We have three children, after all. We laughed, but given our often-tense relationship, it was through a lens of concern. Not only are we occasionally very un-fine, but many of our close friends have been through separations and divorce in the past few years, and the prospect of raising a child alone -- or as part of an awkward parental tag-team -- is too familiar.

Mama_and_babe
Another urbanMama emailed me yesterday to say she, too, was in the painful process of separation and divorce. It's easy to see everyone else through your lens, and think, oh, they're fine! They don't have my problems. The marriage wasn't fine, and now she's just looking for advice and wisdom. While I sympathize, I haven't been in her shoes, so I'm hoping some of you, who have, can lend your stories to her.

Do the kids hear you fight?

March 02, 2009

Last night, a domestic squabble ensued in our household, involving raised voices, angry tones, and some swear words for emphasis.  One of us was hanging laundry, the other was handling kitchen duties.  The kids were nearby, and quickly came to our assistance at the thought that it may help diffuse the situation.

When I was a child, I heard some pretty terrible verbal jousts between my parents.  Many times, it brought me to tears myself.  Sometimes, even, it brought me to my knees in prayer, hoping that they would soon work it out and return to their playful, loving selves.

Arguments are a reality.  How and whether we expose the kids to these tense moments could be a different story.  I'm curious: do you fight in front of the kids?  Are you careful and certain to only discourse in private?  If the kids have caught you in the crossfire, how have they reacted?  Have you discussed and explained the arguments with them?

The functional family revolution in D.C.

November 23, 2008

I loved reading about Senator-Vice-President-Elect Joe Biden's impending move to Washington, D.C. in today's New York Times. What struck me first was that, though he's been working in the Senate for 36 years, he's never become a "fixture" in the Washington social scene: mostly because he's been rushing home to his wife and kids in Delaware. This has seriously impacted his political career, probably leading to failure in his own presidential campaigns.

What's more, he's certainly going to bring his 91-year-old mother to Washington, meaning that both the presidential and vice-presidential families will have three generations living together (President-elect Obama's mother-in-law is planning to move to the White House, too).

Many things about these family dynamics thrill me; one, that Biden's choices (to let career come after family) are more attractive examples for American managers and workers than those of Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin.  Two, in light of our recent conversation about multi-generational living, it demonstrates uncommonly functional family relationships on the part of both Biden and Obama. I admit that, at first, my opinions of Biden were mostly those of the guy who made a bunch of awkward, minorly offensive statements; and now I'm starting to believe that he was chosen for his unusual values -- values best illuminated by the many quiet choices he's made as a father/husband/son. Having these ethics in the executive branch gives me hope (even if "hope" is becoming a cliche) and makes me feel more secure about our future. What do you think?

Confessions of a Horny Mama

November 11, 2008

OK. I confess.  I took on the moniker ‘nude mama’ last Valentine’s Day when I shared how I took naked photos of myself to give as a love gift to my significant other.  Now, I confess.  I’m a horny mama.  But, I tell ya, it’s hard to keep the lust going when that constant juggle wears me down.  How do we keep that energy going, amidst worrying about bill payments, birthday parties, family schedules, school functions, and swim class?  How do we keep that love flowing when there ain’t nothin’ dirty in the house but laundry and dishes? 

Well, mamas, I have some thoughts.  I have some ideas on how you can maybe keep that love alive with your life partner or the person you happen to be seeing at the moment.  There are some things that have worked for me.  Mamas, I bring to you: the confessions of a horny mama:

  • Go multi-media: Text, email, IM/chat.  Send naughty messages on IM or text.  It’s fanciful and fun.
  • Visuals are powerful.  Take pictures of self and send form your phone.  It works wonders.
  • Drop hints at all times of the day.  Especially if I know he’s in a meeting, I employ tactic (a) or (b).
  • Show affection, even in front of the kids.  We aren’t shy with our French kisses in our household.  No, siree.  When we kiss and we find one of our girls watching us with a smirk, we kiss again and make sure she’s watching.  We want the children to know that we love each other.
  • Sunday night movies: choose a ‘chick flick’.  ‘nuff said.
  • Sleep naked.  Just think: less laundry with less clothing.
  • Be open.  If we’re talking about our *life* partners here, we have many, many, many years together.  I can’t imagine doing it the same way, every time.  It’s fun to try new things, spice it up, experiment with time of day, location, position, extra-added items.

Let's talk about sex, mamas, again.  What are your success stories for you to get it on?  What are barriers to entry?

Tit for Tat: your night out, my night out

September 30, 2008

Life in the partnered relationship can pose challenges when we each want time away from the family to pursue non-kid activities: sports, nights out with friends, theater, art, photography, or other hobbies.

The other day, I was chatting with another mama about getting our families together.  When I suggested Wednesday, she admitted it'd be a tough evening because it was her spouse's night out: "Wednesday is his night, and Friday is my night."  It hadn't been the first time I'd heard of "his night" and "her night".  Other friends of mine have Tuesday nights, while the spouse gets Mondays.

My partnership doesn't have a "my night" and a "your night."  I guess we just work it all out as it comes.  If I want to have drinks with another mama tonight, then it'll be my night.  If you happen to have some freebie tickets to the pre-season game next Wednesday night, then it'll be your night. 

So, do you have a "night" to your own?  A weekly night, a monthly night, a bi-weekly night?  I'd love to hear how other mamas and papas juggle the need to have nights out on their own.

What do you do when two is enough? The big V?

July 28, 2008

We've talked forever about our decision to go with an IUD for our preferred method of birth control, with well over a 100 comments and going.  We have an urbanFamily looking into the big "V", a vasectomy, and seeks your doc suggestions in and around Portland:

Our family is looking at the big V this year for my husband. I'm looking for doctor recommendations.

Any more tips, tricks, or advice?  It's always welcome.

Happy Heart Day, Mamas!

February 14, 2008

Back in the day, I think I hated Valentine's Day.  A day for Hallmark to capitalize on all of America!  A day for overpriced chocolate and roses!  A day that had been bastardized as time had gone by, symbolized by this completely symmetrical figure that had little resemblance to a real human heart.  Did anyone tell Hallmark that a human heart wasn't symmetrical?

That was then, this is now.  My husband and I now have two little people who symbolize our love for one another.  We love to celebrate this holiday of love.

We know that not all of us will be celebrating anything special today.  But, if you are -- We urbanMamas want to know how you are hearting all those loved ones around you.  What does your day entail today?

Valentine's Day Suggestions

January 29, 2008

It has been 2 years since we talked Valentine.  The holiday is coming up again, and -- if an urbanPapa asked for ideas to celebrate with his beloved -- what would you suggest?  An urbanPapa emails:

I have known my lovely, wonderful wife for almost ten years, this means ten years of birthdays, Christmases, anniversaries, and...wait for it....Valentine's Day. Over the years, I have tried to stay away from more routine ideas on these days - giving flowers and chocolates for instance. Coming up with new and unique ways to show my adoration was pretty easy in the early years, became harder once children arrived on the scene, and now I find myself a little tapped out on ideas. So please help me urbanMamas! I need some creative ideas for celebrating Valentine's Day.

C'mon urbanMamas, help an urbanPapa out....

Let's talk about sex ... again!

January 04, 2008

It's been almost two years since we've boldly brought up the topic of what gets you in the mood, which was soon followed by Sarah's Ten Ways to Help Get Mom in the Mood.  There are lots of suggestions -- from looking through your honeymoon album or listening to your wedding song to getting your partner to bathe/diaper your tyke or folding the laundry.  Even going solo to watch a cheesy romantic movie.

With recent talk about resolutions to spend more quality time with a partner, and - specifically - to be more 'intimate', we got to thinking: what really gets you going?  A clean house?  A clean baby?  Talk about yesteryear?  Talk about the future?

B&B Romance for the urbanParents

June 01, 2007

What an absolutely lovely idea:

My husband and I are coming up on our 10th wedding anniversary and we'd like to make it more special than the usual dinner out. With young kids and other committments it isn't practical to go too far, but oh, how romantic it would be to spend the night at a local bed and breakfast (instead of returning from a candlelit dinner to the mood-killing sight of legos all over the living room). Can anyone recommend a nice B&B in town? (It doesn't have to be super-upscale.)

Have you lost that lovin' feelin'?

May 30, 2007

Parenthood, no doubt, has a powerful impact on our relationships with our partners.  How do you keep love alive?

My husband and I have one baby (15 mos) and pretty much since she's been born our sex life has ground to a halt.  We are still very affectionate and snuggly - I know we are both very much in love and delighted about our family - but the, uh, lust that used to be there seems to have just vanished.  I feel perplexed about this and wonder how other parents have dealt with it?  The first few months I chalked it up to lack of sleep and the general haze of new parenthood but that is not really an issue anymore.  We both work full time so I definitely feel more harried, but we could definitely make time any night after 7 or weekend naptime if we made it a priority ... it just seems we don't have the urge.  Or, at least, I don't.  We haven't really talked about it much, except to kind of joke about it, though on pretty much any other subject we're excellent communicators.  I'm beginning to think about it more and I'm starting to wonder if I should talk to my doctor (hormonal changes?) about this, or ... a marriage counselor?  Anyone else had a similar lack of libido after parenthood?

A Time for Us

May 09, 2007

Every relationship has its ups and downs.  For recurring issues that are never resolve and for learning new approaches to old conflicts, sometimes a third-party can make a world of difference:

I am thinking that the urbanMamas community is the place to come for a good referral for a couples counselor.  My husband and I are still figuring out life as a couple with a kiddo and it's been long enough that I think we're going in circles more than really figuring anything out. So who have you seen? What did you like about them? I'm sure we're not alone in this, but it's such a hard one to talk candidly about (and I'd rather go on recommendation than start in the yellow pages).

Thoughts on Number Three

March 19, 2007

At date night last Friday, my spouse brought up the topic of number three.  I have to say, I wasn't fully prepared for the discussion.  There is a huge part of my heart that would love to conceive another baby (the fun part!), and I would more-so love carrying another life inside of me and delivering another little bambina/o.  I look less fondly on the ensuing challenges of having baby: postpartum issues, sleep deprivation, nursing, feeding, diapering... 

I have two siblings and my husband has three.  Our family dymanics have been robust and generally happy.  Now that I'm all grown up, I'm happy to have two brothers to call on for occassional back-up childcare or to invite over for Sunday night dinner.  I'm happy to have my husband's siblings, the aunties and uncles who are all beloved and important parts of our girls' lives.  Family affairs when our families gather are rambunctious and overjoyous.  Shall we keep the cycle of our families growing by growing our own nuclear family?

By the time our first daughter was 3, her baby sister was soon to come.  Now that our second daughter is 3.5 (!!!!), I get to thinking, "Should we?  Could we?"  The past few days, I have looked at our younger daughter with a few ounces of wistfulness and nostalgia.  Her days of babyhood are now years behind us.  Our little Tati is 3.5 years old going on 35: she looks like a little woman, a dalagita as they say in my parents' language.

Granted, having a baby just to prolong the sweet smell of baby in the household isn't reason enough to go for three.  Tati's best friend, who almost 3 years old, is expecting a baby sister within weeks.  Tati has come home saying, "I want to be a big sister."  I'm having a hard time coming up with a way to respond to her.

Have you decided?  Do your Thoughts on Number Two also apply to your Thoughts on Number Three?

Kaiser Marriage Counselor

January 11, 2007

Starting the new year off right, here is a request for recommendations of Kaiser therapists who specialize in marriage/couples counseling:

Does anyone have experience with marital or couples counselors in the Kaiser system? I'd be interested in hearing about both positive and negative experiences, in order to know whom to try but also whom to avoid.

KISS: Keep it Sweet, Silly

October 10, 2006

Mamas. It is hard enough keeping stuff clean and keeping people fed. Diapers changed and laundry folded. But, how in the heck are we supposed to keep it all sweet, too? Many of us are in long-term relationships. How do we keep that fire burning? That yearning going?

Swap it up. Find a family with little one(s) who get on well with your litte one(s). Even a couple of hours, spent sharing some wine over a candle or something similarly saucy, can help reinvigorate. In the meantime, know that the little one(s) are having a fun playdate with your friend's little one(s). Everyone wins!

Keep it regular. Don't let it fall by the wayside! Do an outing on a regular basis, be it every month, every other week, or every even-numbered month of the year.

Take turns. So, the game is: you organize the outing and the childcare this time, then your partner organizes the outing and the childcare for the next time. Repeat. Again and again.

Short is sweet, too. Recently, we asked someone (gratis) to spend an hour reading to our girls at the Powell's down in the Pearl. Sure, it was to give us time to go to back-to-school night, but it proved to be so easy that we could/should do it again. Next time, we'll go to Vino Paradiso for a flight (or two).

Tell us, uMamas, what is the secret to your marital success??

let's talk about [looks over her shoulder and whispers] sex?

April 20, 2006

Hey, we're all friends here, right? I got together today with a SE Portland mama who'd written a funny and sweet essay published in the New York Times' "Modern Love" column. Lainie doesn't exactly love the idea that her name might forever be connected with the most juicy part of our lives as parents, spouses, and human beings. But she was a great sport as we whispered through our discussion at Papaccino's.

I'm writing a piece for AOL on the ways moms get in the mood. For Lainie, it's those cheesy romantic movies. They allow her to take a step back from the chaos of life as a mother and remember why she fell in love with her own Prince Charming. For me, it can be a variety of things from a long shower in a clean bathroom to a night out with the mamas. All assuming, of course, the boys are sleeping when I get done.

I wondered if any of you might share with me ... and all of us ... what it is for you. Feel free to post anonymously or email me outside of the blog if you're a bit shy. I won't use your names in my piece (unless you'd rather ;) - I'm looking for more informal statistics to support my thesis.

"We Like To Dig"

March 31, 2006

I classified this post under "Love & Marriage", because Matt and I where having some "discussions" about how I wanted us to work harder on getting the back yard ready for the summer.  The looming project was to dig out the grass from around the deck to put in a path that will lead to a future sandbox and raised garden bed.  With a 2 yo and a 7 month old prancing/rolling around, this project was too big.  I decided to suck it up/take stress off of us, and put a posting on Craigslist to solicit some help.

This guy calls - at 6am.. and says he and his twin brother "like to dig."  Well, ok - so they come over the next day and they just get started.  These guys where great, they where prompt, worked their fannies off, friendly, knowledgeable, where always up front about how doing this or that may affect the cost.    They charge $15/hour per brother - $30 total/hour.  There is a leap of faith involved as they are not yet bonded, licensed or insured.  They are apparently working on this as they are starting their own company.  I thought I would share their names and number because we where so pleased with them.

Erik and Peter Elder 503-957-9648 

New Portland Find

March 20, 2006

A movie with babysitting?  Thanks to Ann for sending us this tidbit:
My husband and I just checked out a new theater in our neighborhood http://www.academytheaterpdx.com/.  It is a 3 dollar theater with Flying Pie pizza (best pizza in town if you like lots of meat) and will be serving beer soon.  What makes this theater so great is that they have babysitting. I checked out the baby space and it's nice.  We went to a 5 pm movie and the babysitting area was full, so make sure you call to make a reservation for your child.  Happy date night without scrambling to find a babysitter!
Babysitting at the theater?  How novel!  Cost is $5 per child for the first two children, $3 for each additional sibling.  Sitting is available Wednesday through Saturday, from 4pm to 7pm, and for children ages six months to seven years.  NO drop-ins!  So be sure to reserve: (503) 252-1705 or email beforehand.  Movies actually seem to be a great selection of recent Oscar nominees.

Calling All Foodies

March 07, 2006

Wendy is new to Portland and needs some suggestions for date night.  Can you help?

The husband and I are planning a night out away from the kiddo for the first time in six weeks - really. I'm sure everyone can empathize how well you usually need to research and plan date nights when they come so infrequently. Anyway, my question: If you and your significant other were turned loose on Alberta or thereabouts with $80 or so in your pocket - where would you go for dinner, drinks; etc? Any recommendations are appreciated - we don't want to waste our one night out on somewhere not interesting.

OH VALENTINE

February 10, 2006

Next Tuesday is Valentine's Day. Did you know this? It always creeps up on me. What are hubby and I doing? Oh, well, pretty much what we do every Tuesday night. Do I mind? Not at all. Are we giving each other presents? Mmm, no. At least, not that I am aware of (he has been known to break our No Gift agreements). Do I even care about Valentine's Day this year? No, honestly, not at all.

My husband and I have been together since 1993. We're going on 13 years together this year, and yes, I really do love him more each day (ick, I know, but it's true). In these almost-13 years we've spent many a Valentine's Day doing all of the couple requirements: fancy dress up dinners, roses, concerts, jewelry, picnics, elaborate gourmet homemade meals, sentimental cards. And now...I'm feeling kind of "done" with V-Day.

For me, it's a day for singles or newer couples to get together and their chance to profess their love. I think it's my responsibility and my husband's to profess our love every day, not just a random Tuesday during a very busy week when we may not necessarily have the funds for dinner at (insert insanely expensive restaurant here), when we don't have the energy to find a babysitter, or the energy to think of a creative V-Day celebration instead of dinner. We do go out to fancy dinners and get each other sweet gifts and remind each other how lucky we are to have found each other and go on crazy fun adventures on the spur of the moment together -- just not on a day predetermined by Hallmark.

Will you and your significant other celebrate Valentine's Day? If so, what are your plans? Is it a big deal in your house? Do you have fun ways to incorporate your kids into the day? Are you a huge Valentine's Day fan and think I'm nuts for not caring about this day?

When Two is Enough, Part II: it ain't all that.

January 19, 2006

Previously in this series, we talked about the too many choices involved with our decision to curb production.  We decided on the copper IUD, aka "Paraguard".  Just wanted to let you know how it's been going for the past 7-1/2 weeks since insertion.  Contrary to studies showing 1) tons of immense pain upon insertion for a few days and 2) subsequent earth-shattering monthly periods, I have had neither.  Nope.  None.  No pain upon insertion.  Maybe a twinge here and there by a uterus wondering about the new foreign object in it, but no screaming or major complaining.  And, the previous time I had the hormonal IUD (aka "Mirena") inserted, I did have aforementioned immense pain upon insertion.  Maybe this is why no insertion pain this time?  Also, just finished up my first period on the Paraguard and it was fine.  Usual variety of PMS, nothing out-of-the-world.  The flow itself was extremely, extremely abundant.  Perhaps that is the unusual thing.  I have always been a low-flower, but this Paraguard period was something else.  I was flowing buckets.  The weird thing is, there was very little uterine discomfort.  It was strange to have all that flow without accompanying cramping.

Anyway, I feel lucky.  I think this is the start of a beautiful relationship.

Also, since I sometimes have nightmares of this, I thought I'd link a recent Q&A on oregonlive's Ask the Midwife about an IUD Pregnancy.

Portland mamas are getting published!

January 08, 2006

Portland mamas are making their literary mark! Lainie Keslin Ettinger's hilarious essay about how sappy romantic comedies are her "porn" appears in today's New York Times Modern Love column. Margaret Foley (co-founder of the new zine Thereby Hanges a Tale) writes for the Christian Science Monitor about about why her family vacation to Montreal was spent mostly in the ice rink.

Balancing Act

December 06, 2005

A friend and I were talking yesterday about balance.  The conversation was started because a friend of hers recieved a grant for her work as an MD.  In accepting the grant, this busy mama of 3  is to do research or writing on how to balance work, marriage, kids, etc.  So, what is balance?  Does someone appear to be balanced because they manage to keep everything together?  Or, is it because they are able to do things for themselves.  I guess for me, life would be balanced if my family and I were able to do things together as a family, keep the house in presentable shape, manage to get the trash out on Mondays, and Jason and I would each be able to do things for ourselves.  Some running, biking, a haircut more than 2x/year, etc. you get the picture.  Additionally, we need to do things together without the little man who constantly craves mama and papa time. 

Right now, life seems pretty unbalanced; I'm in school, working nights and being a mama.  Jason is working full time, studying for the Bar and being a papa.  We tend to play tag team on the weekends so that we both have the study and/or sleep time we need.  We have yet to find a regular babysitter (who has time to look for one) and barely have time to look into any of the work that we would like to have done in the house.  I can barely keep up with the wash and am forever putting away folded clothes.  It all seems a bit crazed; but, who doesn't have a crazy schedule these days? 

What about the rest of you busy mamas?  Do you feel like life is balanced?  How do you define balance?  How do you achieve balance?  I'd love to hear how other people are doing.

Be Thankful and Prepared

November 24, 2005

Recently, I got a call at work from my husband.  It went something like this:

Husband:  "Hi. I'm in urgent care.  My headache hasn't gone away, I'm waiting for a CAT scan.  I've been here since 2 pm.  Can you pick up the kids?  You might want to call the sitter. I've gotta go."

Me: "Um, sure.  It's a quarter to five.  It's going to take me an hour.  Have you called the sitter?"

Husband: "I haven't had a chance. Can you?  I've gotta go."

Whaa?  The phone call caught me completely by surprise since (a) I usually don't get very many calls from my husband at work (b) we have not yet encountered a bind where I absolutely needed to pick up the kids (c) I only got enough information for all sorts of crazy scenarios to go through my head.

In the end everything turned out fine.  The diagnosis wasn't conclusive but something to the effect that he probably caught a virus and the side effect was a head-splitting migraine that left him unable to function normally for at least a couple of days.  However, for me, this was a good time to reassess our ability to deal with the impact of these worst-case scenarios.  When you're young, healthy, and financially stable you barely give thought to thing ever going wrong in life.  You start thinking about it more when you have kids.  And, then you really think about it when a situation scares you into more thoughtful consideration.

In my head, I made a mental note to check my husband's life insurance policy.  I have one for myself for enough to probably cover our mortgage, but that's it.  So, I googled to figure out how much insurance we would need. The results are dizzying.  According to a simple lookup table of just income replacement, my current insurance coverage probably would not be sufficient if something were to happen to me.  My husband's coverage would also need significant readjustment.  As a family, we do need to make the time to talk seriously about planning for life insurance. 

As I was chatting about this with a mama friend, she suggested also putting together a will.  So I mentioned this to my husband.  He thought this was a good idea.  "Sure.  Can you search for a form on the Internet?" he replied.  Yes, that's right.  That's what my lawyer advised!  There are plenty of documents that you can find or buy on the Internet to plan out your will and file with the local courts.  So, for those who have gone through both processes, it would so nice to hear from you, to see what's worked best for your families.

What do you do when two is enough?

November 23, 2005

About a year after our second child was born,  we started thinking in earnest about birth control.  I'll be honest: we were never good at addressing birth control.  We didn't have any real good "method".  The array of hormone-based options out there right now is pretty expansive: Depo-Provera - the injection every 12 weeks; Norplant - the surgically inserted progestin lasting 5 years; Ortho-Evra - the weekly patch; The Pill - the daily dose of hormone ; and Mini-Pill / POP (Progesterone Only Pill) - apparently suitable for nursing moms.  Despite all these options, there was one thing I knew for sure - I didn't want to do the hormone thing.

So, then there are the barriers: Diaphragm, Cervical Cap, the Sponge.  Condoms, of course, are condoms.  Cumbersome and inconvenient.

Then, there was one other thing I had always heard about but never thought too hard about: the IUD.  There are two IUDs: a hormonal IUD called "Mirena" and a copper IUD called "Paraguard".  I was intrigued.  My doctor walked me through the IUD process.  Insertion was relatively easy, but the uterus usually responds angrily with the insertion of a foreign object.  So, "expect really, really bad cramps for a day or two after insertion," she said.  With Mirena (the hormonal one), users tended to have fewer and lighter periods.  WIth the Paraguard (the copper one), users tended to have more intense periods.

Well, if I couldn't persuade my husband to do the *snip-snip* (and since we weren't even sure if we were really done), I decided to give the IUDs a try.  It sounded great.  Worry-free sex!  Leave it in for 5 (the hormonal Mirena) or 10 (the copper Paraguard) years!  I was so very apprehensive about the low levels of hormone that the Mirena emits in the uterus, but my doctor convinced me that the levels were so low and trasmitted very locally (and not systemically like the Pill, Depo, etc).  So, I chose the Mirena, also because of the period-supression.  Worry-free sex AND a period-free life!  Sounded too good to be true.

I guess it was too good to be true.  After about six months, my body started changing in very small ways.  If I wasn't so hyper-sensitive, I may not have noticed.  I had a dull pain in my lower back and I felt ever-so-slightly bloated everywhere.  One night, I googled the heck out of "Mirena side effects weight gain" and found several message boards where women talked about Mirena's negative side effects.  I think Mirena has few and far between negative effects, but some women did experience similar things that I was experiencing.  So, the next morning, I made a quick appointment to get the thing out.  It was easy.

That was about 4 months ago, and we've been practicing our haphazard birth control.  And, I am finally going to bite the bullet and try the Paraguard.  I know, I know.  They say you get earth-shattering, god-awful periods.  But, everyone is different.  They said I'd love the Mirena.  And, I didn't.  So, I'll try it.  I always said I'd be willing to try everything once.  My appointment is Monday.

Finally, I leave you with some insight given to me via email from a [male] OB-GYN friend:

The Ortho-Evra patch is a great invention.  It's probably the most commonly prescribed birth control these days - it's taking over the pill.  It works just like the pill in terms of hormones, and the advantage is that you only have to change the patch once a week.  Yes, once a week.  It stays on your skin, surprisingly, despite taking baths, swimming, etc.  You put it on once a week for 3 weeks and the 4th week is patch free (when you have your period - like the placebo week of the birth control pills).  The side effects are similar to the pill - some breast tenderness, a bit of nausea (yet less than the pills), but NOT weight gain.  Also, because it's a patch, the most common side effect is local redness where the patch is placed.  Overall, women LOVE this because of the ease of use.

The IUD (intrauterine device) is quite good as well.  This is for monogamous ladies who want longer acting contraception.  There is a 10-year IUD (Paraguard) and the 5-year IUD (Mirena). Basically it's placed into the uterus, an office procedure, and there's little pain involved and it's quick.  The advantage of this is that it provides over 99% protection from pregnancy without needing to take a pill, a shot, etc.  It's low maintenance.  The side effects of the Paraguard IUD is that the periods can initially be longer than usual and this may last for many months.  Also there may be a clear discharge from the vagina - many women love this as well.  The Mirena IUD is a bit different - not only because it lasts 5 years but it's actual realeases hormones, progesterone-type, in the uterus.  (vs. Paraguard which is made of copper) This only acts on the uterus and has very minimal effect on the blood - essentially none.  Women love this because after one year of use, your period decreases by 80-90%.  Yes, I said 80-90%.  Some women even stop having their periods.  We use this device for women who are bleeding too much and don't want surgery.  Anyways, those who WANT a period will not like these "side effects" of Mirena.  Most people don't want their period.

Both are great.  If you're looking for something longer term, easily reversible (can just pull the IUD out and there's no delay in trying to get pregnant) and low maintenance then the IUD is a great way. But it's all preference.