Time, You’re Gonna Need To Slow Your Roll.

Me+Dee

Oh, what a long strange few weeks it’s been. An excellent and exciting and affirming few weeks (month? has it been a month already since we did this total life about face?) but long and strange (read: exhausting) no less. My baby is about to be five. Gone are the days of introducing solids and learning to walk and rudely ousting are homework (albeit with crayons) and extracurriculars and drop off lines where she doesn’t even look back at me.

It hurts some. In a way it feels like we’re going through a breakup — she screams at me, she hugs me, she wails that I don’t like her any more, that she misses her old mommy, and then she kisses my cheeks (yes both!) and tells me she loves me to the sun and around the stars and back. Which is further than the moon, she says. Some days I don’t get to see her before she goes to sleep, so Scott lets her sleep in our bed so she and I can still snuggle. I smell her hair, which might be creepy to do to anyone you didn’t give birth to, but it’s my obligation as her mother to memorize the way she smells right now…like lavender shampoo and dirt.

In thirteen years she’ll graduate high school and move out and these hectic days of grammar school will be their own nostalgic memory. THIRTEEN YEARS!!! We’re more than a quarter of the way through the time this baby bird will call our nest her own.

…And just when I think my heart can’t take anymore, along comes college tuition. 

Thankfully, in honor of National College Savings Month (segue magic, there) my generous friends at ScholarShare are making it rain future tuition with their “Share Your Spirit” sweepstakes which will be hosted on their Facebook page. 

At the end of each week in September, ScholarShare will randomly select one entry to receive $500 toward a new or existing ScholarShare College Savings Plan account. And on Friday, Sept. 26, one entry will receive a grand prize of $2,500. THIS IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. Check it out.

To enter for the chance to win, submit one official entry form through the ScholarShare Facebook page where you can even upload an image of their loved one sporting school spirit for their dream college (optional, but fun!). 

The sweepstakes will run through 2 p.m. PT on Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. So go pay for some college!

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[A big thanks to Scholarshare for sponsoring this post. I’m an ambassador it says so on my sidebar.]

This One Time, Children’s Hospital LA Saved My Life #MiracleMarathon

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I was three years old. My recurring ear infections had given way to mastoiditis, and there was a chunk of my head that had to go before the infection could spread to my brain.

My Dad worked for himself, so my parents carried private insurance that excluded my ears on account of how expensive they’d become. While footing the bill for the occasional round of antibiotics wasn’t a problem, when it came to major surgery and a seventeen day hospital stay it didn’t take long for the bills to become insurmountable. 

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It would be years before I would fully comprehend the terror my parents must have experienced. Their child was sick, really sick, and turning down the six figure surgery was not an option. 

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(That’s my late Grandpa George in the picture with me. Delilah George’s name source.)

Fortunately, they didn’t have to. My surgeon, a legendary ENT named Dr. Cohen, told my parents early on they didn’t have to worry about the cost of my care. This was Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. They were in the business of saving kids, not bankrupting families. The hospital had a fund that would cover the lion’s share of the costs.

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At three, life-threatening illness aside, I have extremely fond memories of CHLA. I played, I did arts and crafts, I got a LOT of absurd toys. I made friends with the boy in the room next to me. The nurses gave me stickers. When it was over, they rolled my goodies out in a little red wagon, and I remember being sad to leave.

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As a parent, I see the experience through new eyes. Children’s Hospital saved my life, but it also carried my family through an unimaginably scary time. There’s no proper way to say thank you for something like that. But at least by participating in the Miracle Marathon, I can kind of try.

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Miracle Marathon is a 27-day virtual event raising funds for 170 individual children’s hospitals across North America. Participants run/walk (or achieve forward motion of any kind) one mile per day at their leisure. The first 26 days are completed at the participant’s own pace—at a time and place of their own choosing. On Day 27, the final 1.2 miles will be started as a group at the same time (2:27 pm EST).  Why the number 27.2?  It’s a marathon, plus a mile, for the kids! 

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I’m the Los Angeles team leader, and I really want you to join me. (If nothing else, a mile a day is good for you!) I’ll be raising funds for CHLA, where they’ll be allocated to the departments that need them most. You can get 10% off registration by using the code: MiracleMorgan. Join my team HERE, and help me pay it forward.

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And at CHLA, they still use those red wagons to help their patients transport goodies.

This is a damn bra state of emergency.

For five years, seven months, one week and two days I worked from home. And you know what happened during that time? I completely effing forgot how bras work.

Let’s start at the beginning: Bras suck. They’re awful. They’re legit the worst part of leaving the house (although their removal is in the running for the best part of returning home) and ever since I gave birth to a person they give me heartburn. A few years ago I switched to wireless bras because I got really tired of plugging my boobs in (I did not get tired of lame jokes) and for the most part, for the past several years I’ve been bra-less, unless I have somewhere, like, really special to be, in which case I wear a ‘bra-lette’ — something cute and structureless that I’m pretty sure was made for teenagers and not grown-ass women who have breast fed children. But I digress. The point is, now that I have a job where I see actual humans on a daily basis, it seemed sort of prudent to start wearing bras again. But OMG you guys, how come none of you reminded me that bras are effing horrible?

Defeat is not an option. I work with women fresh out of college whose boobs can still provide a cushion for their own chin. I don’t think there’s a bra in the world that will make mine do that any more. And if there is, it’s not one I own. The last time I had to leave the house on the regular, my boobs were in their heyday. Pretty much any bra would do. Now I  apparently have to be paying attention to things like t-shirt bras, vs. v-neck bras, vs. any which way bras, and Anna Nicole forbid I pick the wrong bra for the wrong article of clothing because there will be armpit fat, or back fat, or fat sticking out somewhere else it totally doesn’t belong. I spent an hour trying on bras this weekend, and I walked out of there with one measley brazier which I’ve already decided makes my boobs look too pointy, a’la Madonna’s Blonde Ambition Tour.

Man, I miss my old boobs.

Gravity? You’re a sonofabitch sometimes, you know that?

Safety in Numbers 

JodiI am writing this post on the eve of the end of my maternity leave and I have basically been crying on the hour for the last six. My little guy turned three months old today, and tomorrow morning I will leave him with a wonderful babysitter and become an employee – commuter – executive again. I will even re-sync my work email to my iPhone.

These past three months have been unreal – I mean we had a freaking baby! OUR LIVES WILL NEVER BE THE SAME. It’s been both the fastest and slowest months of my life. When our son was a month old, my husband and I left him for two hours with my in-laws and went to a friend’s birthday party at a bar and proceeded to wig everyone out with sleep-deprived eyes and psychotic need to hear about the OUTSIDE WORLD. I apologize officially here for making all our single friends who came to meet the baby tell us about their dating lives while holding him. 

IMG_3760I am sitting here typing while my nose drips, trying to hold in tears, and realize it’s not just the separation anxiety, the nervousness about work, or even that Malcolm decided a few weeks ago that he won’t drink from a bottle. (You will have to learn REAL soon, buddy.) It’s also the nostalgia for what has been a totally amazing adventure. 

While I haven’t completely ditched work (I check in everyday and have done the occasional conference call), I have loved being PRESENT at home, having my top priority be taking care and spending time with my son and savoring the first months of motherhood. As I mentioned above, I even deleted my work email account from my phone so my “checking in” could be on my own terms and my own time. THAT move alone is what I advise all new moms to do. 

Complaints about the United States Maternity and Paternity Leave Policies aside (that’s a whole other post – maybe like 10 posts), my leave has been totally awesome. Besides the miracle of birth and coziness of newborn-ness and the team that my husband and I have become, it was totally magical because, hiding right under our noses, was a community that I now can’t imagine my life without.

We were near the end of what I jokingly referred to as the “Baby Guantlet.” From October to July, IMG_3205basically a new baby born every month from friends here in LA and around the country. In our NEIGHBORHOOD ALONE, 5 little boys all born to us and close friends, all to be the class of 2032. When my son was a couple weeks old, 4 (and eventually 5) of us got together on a Wednesday after morning naps and brought food (salad, some cookies, some non-alcoholic sparkly drinks, warm soup – whatever we felt like trying, picking up or making), our boys (born in October, November, January, beginning of April and end of April) and our questions, worries and sometimes even gossip. (Who am I kidding, always gossip.) These ladies, who either work from home or were on leave like me, who were already close friends, became something entirely different. Rachel deemed these weekly gatherings “Mommune”.

Parenting is tough and fun and challenging and wild. And it’s just the beginning. To watch my friends become parents and thrive is incredible and inspiring. And to become parents TOGETHER is totally priceless. We’d spend every Wednesday asking advice, comparing Malcolm’s development to where Teddy’s had been a couple months earlier, telling poopsplosion stories, wanting to know where that awesome recipe came from. 

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“Boureg”

One Mommune, Peggy’s mother was visiting and had cooked an entire table full of Lebanese and Armenian food, including a cheese/pastry thing they called “Boureg” that I could have eaten 10 pounds of.  Amelia got her book galleys and we ooh’d and aah’d over the cover art. Rachel answered emails for work while we watched her son, the oldest and most mobile of our crew, zoom around the room on his hands and knees. Carolyn gave us the scoop on the zoo camp her 5 year old was loving and gave us a glimpse into the future of having school age boys. 

It was also a place for us to share worries and ask questions. Is it ok to swaddle Mal now that he can roll from back to stomach? Is this a “diaper rash” or a “horrible diaper rash”? These women, who have always been some of my favorite people in the world, became some of the most necessary to my life. We were supporting us as friends, moms and women. I just started crying again thinking of how important OUR SONS will be to each other as they grow up. 

Mommune is going to happen this week without me. As readers of this blog know, the first weeks, months, years of motherhood are not always snuggles and happiness. They can be rough. For me, there was safety in numbers – the ladies of Mommune, my friends who were already parents, my husband, our families, and even the friends who weren’t parents yet who told us those awesome stories about the real world and snuggled my baby like pros. 

There’s a strange grief I am feeling tonight. Like someone is removing a part of me. It’s so silly. Malcolm will be my son forever. I will be a tough working mom and role model. He will be social and adaptable and just as cute as always. And these ladies, and their boys, will be there. Crap, I am crying again. Might as well just go full sap. Though I won’t be with Mommune tomorrow, Mommune will always be with me.  

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The Original Mommune

Monday Morning Time Capsule (Yes, I Know It’s Tuesday.)

6a0133f30ae399970b01b7c6cc9cc3970b-800wiYou guys. In the words of the great sage The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, my life’s been flipped turned upside down. Eventually I’m bound to blog about something other than making the transition from work-at-home-freelancer to work-in-an-office-staffer, but for the moment it’s kind of all consuming. For starters, everything that would have been on the top of my to-do list has been eclipsed by a whole new kind of to-do list that has left me feeling strangely out of touch with my old life, and the online community (you guys, and my friends and colleagues on the independent web) who were so instrumental in this weird and sudden left turn I’ve taken into corporate life. (Albeit a super fun, cool, and creative one. Wanna see my stuff?)

6a0133f30ae399970b01a511f84be2970c-800wiMy friend Ilana Wiles at MommyShorts.com along with her partner in creative crime, photographer Raquel Bianca, have been capturing the Monday mornings of Moms all over the U.S., and I was super honored when the project’s sponsor, Allstate, selected me to participate as the sole blogger in the series. (Well, except the inimitable Ilana herself whose own Monday Mornings shoot with Raquel inspired the rest of the series.) If you don’t know Mommy Shorts (unlikely) or haven’t checked out the full series, you really should. It’s phenomenal.

6a0133f30ae399970b01a511f84ca3970c-800wiWhat’s surreal about seeing what Ilana and Raquel captured about our morning, is that it’s a routine that had evolved for us over five years, and suddenly no longer exists. The events of morning Raquel joined us just a few weeks ago have disappeared into distant memory. That day I woke up at 7:30, Dee had to be at camp (loosely) by 9am, and then I came home to tackle my amorphous work day. Now that I’m working and have someplace to be each day, Scott’s taking over most of the child care duties, and Dee’s got to be at Kindergarten by 7:45am, our morning, and every aspect of it, feels almost unrecognizable.

6a0133f30ae399970b01a73e03a1a7970d-800wiI couldn’t be more grateful that the opportunity to participate in this project came when it did. It’s instantly become a treasured memory for our family. 

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For the full photo shoot, and my interview with Ilana (who is basically blog genius, by the way) visit MommyShorts.com like, RIGHT NOW.