Thursday, April 23, 2015

getting it DONE and also: pasta/salad

Well. In good news, I can finally get this kid napping! Unfortunately, this has to take place on my person with a bare boob pressed against his chubby face OR in the stroller while being kept in constant motion, preferably on bumpy asphalt while a light, westerly breeze wafts through his gauzy blanket. Seeing how these efforts account for several hours of our day, you can imagine this really cuts down on Mommy's free time.

Lately life has been great at doling out these types of lessons to me: get it done however you can and don't wait for the perfect conditions (read: BABY NAPS IN CRIB WHILE MOMMY TENDS TO BASIC LIFE NECESSITIES LIKE SHOWERING). Kinda like the photo above, taken in crappy lighting while DP was upstairs taking his turn tending to a screaming child as I nervously gulped a beer and made dinner, quick-and-dirty-like. Or like this blog post, hastily typed with one hand as I lightly jostle Louis into his next sleep cycle (God willing).

I still fight my obstinate old habits where, before doing anything creative (or hell, to feel like a successful human), I require zero dishes in the sink, a made bed and a completely crossed off to do list. That's not happening these days ever, creative endeavor or no. So here I am, working on letting it go, getting it done despite ideal/perfect conditions. In all areas of my life. Crap, this is HARD for me. All I do is bump up against my control issues. However, I know it's good practice for me because control issues. Have I mentioned I have control issues?

Four months in, DP and I are getting into an easier groove over here with our awesome little dude. We are still in the weeds, but instead of requiring a machete to hack our way through, they're lower now. We can actually see up ahead but those pesky weeds are still knee-high and the fuckers sometimes tangle around our shins something fierce. At this point I've been in the thick of the hard stuff a lot and often in my desperate, exhausted overwhelm I've thought: I can't do this and then I realize: I am doing it. It's happening. I'm getting up in the middle of the night for the fifth time because he needs me. I'm bouncing this kid on an exercise ball even though my back is killing me because this is what it takes. I'm "showering" with baby wipes, pumping breast milk and driving to an audition all at the same time because otherwise it won't happen. You get all kinds of resourceful when a small, helpless human is depending on you for love and food and survival, no matter the conditions. You dig deep. And thank God there's immense beauty and laughs and fun peppered in there so you don't lose your shit. The hard stuff is hard but the good stuff is better. And that cliche is true: It does get easier. There's tremendous momentum in making it through those rough patches. You start to remember you can. You are insanely capable. You will figure it out, despite conditions presenting themselves in ways that hardly feel ideal*.

serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side dish
adapted from Jamie Oliver's Funky Spaghetti

I forgot how much I like this one-pot meal--I'm bringing it back into heavy rotation, especially now that summer's around the corner, when tomatoes, basil and arugula are on their best behavior. Throw enough greens in there to make it healthy.

3/4 pound dry fusilli (I used TJ's quinoa/brown rice pasta)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 dry pint cherry/grape/baby heirloom tomatoes, halved and gently squeezed to remove most of the seeds
2 handfuls chopped basil
4 handfuls baby arugula
1/3 cup evoo plus more to taste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar plus more to taste
good sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good grated Parmesan plus more for serving
1 package (4 big links) cooked chicken sausage of your choice (optional)

Bring a big pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta according to its directions on the package. While the water boils and the pasta cooks, prep all your vegetables. Add these to a big bowl along with the garlic, basil, arugula, evoo, a good dozen shakes of the vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir together and let marinate. Meanwhile, slice the sausage into coins and brown in a skillet. Set aside. Drain the cooked pasta and while hot, toss it with the tomato mixture. Add the cheese and browned sausage. Taste for seasoning. (I usually wind up adding a bit more olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.) Serve warm or at room temperature topped with more cheese.

Love you guys,

*Once you clean up your fifteenth poopy blowout in a public bathroom you freak out about it less and laugh about it more. Especially if you've had a glass of wine first.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

right now

My friend Amy gave me some great parenting advice: whatever stage you're in with your child, add the words right now to the end of the story. As in: my baby is having trouble nursing right now. My little one isn't sleeping through the night right now. My toddler has crazy tantrums right now. And you're smart to add it to the good stuff and the hard stuff. Because all of it's always changing and it helps not to get too attached to labels and results. Turns out this is much easier done in theory. Case in point:

Louis tortures me by hating to take naps...(wait for it)...right now

Yet (MOTHER OF ALL THAT'S HOLY) he's actually day-sleeping right now so I'm on borrowed time as I write this. Being extremely nap-determined today, I bent over his swing for twenty solid minutes and shush shush shushed so fervently I got woozy and almost passed out but IT WORKED, Y'ALL, so here I am trying to hurry a blog post.

It was a rough morning. I've been bringing Louis into bed to nurse around dawn and even though this requires about 27 pillows to make it not uncomfortable, at the very least it lets us remain prone a little while longer and if I'm lucky, we can both doze for a spell. (Surprising parenting tidbit #472: I've gotten really good at nodding off while someone sucks on a nipple. Who knew?) This morning while he was intermittently eating, he was thrashing about, doing lots of punching and kicking and pulling off the boob while his needle-sharp fingernails kept busting out of his pajama's hand covers. God bless the kid, he was scratching me something fierce and kept kicking me square in the C-Section. Giving up on any more sleep, I reluctantly climbed out of bed and took him to nurse in a chair, hoping the change of posture would help. Freaking exhausted, I frustratedly took him in my arms and assumed the position. He stopped wiggling, looked up at me with his twinkly eyes and dimple-smiled for a full five minutes. And just like that, when I come to a breaking point and think I can't do it, I'm bolstered with such overwhelming feelings of love and pride to be this awesome kid's mom. Turns out a burp cloth makes a good kleenex in a pinch.

I'll say it again (and probably keep saying it): I have such newfound respect for moms. Holy shit. I never realized how hard it is. It is nonstop 24/7. Your heart lives outside your body and your body is not your own anymore. It carries and holds and rocks and feeds and shushes and gets punched and kicked and tugged at. And time is not your own anymore either. When Louis's taking a (rare) nap, I have a constant low-grade anxiety about how I should spend the precious time. Shower? Laundry? Bill pay? Or something more spirit-nourishing like writing or meditating or exercising? Also, it could be 15 minutes or 2 hours so it's impossible to budget. Yesterday Louis's grandparents came over to visit and give me a couple hours to myself. By the time they arrived I was desperate for a break (again, zero naps), yet overcome with indecision on how to spend it. I finally decided on a nearby hike and then could barely tear myself away from him when I had the chance. I cried for the entire first half hour feeling like I was gonna miss out, felt blissfully child-free for six whole minutes, and then spent the hurried thirty-minute walk back to my car feeling like I was missing my right arm. I couldn't get home fast enough. Of course he was fine. Me, on the other hand? Oy. I've never been called to be in the moment more. And I'm learning that is truly the only way to have peace. God, help me do it.

Mommy is a little cuckoo right now.
Mommy is figuring it out right now.
Mommy is enjoying addressing herself in the third person right now.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

27 Things My Sleeping Newborn Sounds Like in The Middle of The Night While I Lie There Praying He Doesn't Wake Up

A loose fan belt

A dragon with a head cold

A crappy ventriloquist

A rusty accordion

An injured pterodactyl

An entire family of raccoons

The grape lady

A haunted house's door

Anything needing WD-40

A constipated bird

A constipated grandpa

A constipated pirate

Little Richard

James Brown

Donald Duck





A peanut in a vise

A ticklish horse

A swarm of bees

A donkey that's tired of carrying your shit

A basket of angry snakes

A broken radiator

An ancient tomb being pried open with a crowbar

A stolen car peeling out of a gravel parking lot


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

the new normal/oatmeal chocolate "breakfast" cookies

My friend Shannon told us that his mom sooooo adores completing things on her To Do list that she will literally write wake up as the first entry, just so she can have the satisfaction of crossing it off. David and I laughed and laughed. And then we started living with a newborn. Dear Shannon's Mom: I GET IT NOW. In my new baby-land of adjusted productivity, waking up is a huge accomplishment worth celebrating. You have a newborn and you managed to make coffee and drink two hot sips before said newborn stirred? Mad props. You took a nap? Miracle of miracles. You wrote a thank you note, dug up the correct postage and walked it to the mail box? Noble Prize territory. In the middle of the night last night, I started a To Do list and actually wrote shower on it. With zero irony. God, help me surrender to this new normal. (And also sneak in a shower.)

In certain ways it's not so hard. This little peach of a dude is so cool and delicious. I am in awe of his littleness and his chirps and his emerging personality. AND: he started smiling this week. Bliss! Heartbreak! Wow.

In other ways, ALL of my buttons are pushed as I attempt to make peace with this new world of Never Getting Shit Done. As I nurse Louis (for a total of five hours a day, people), I look around me and take stock of things I'd like to do. These aren't even the fancy, enriching ones in my fantasies, just the dumb things that I can see. And they drive me nuts. Water that saggy plant, recycle those ancient magazines, get to that stack of taxes, fold that dusty pile of laundry. The neat-freak in me needs to take a long vacation. Most likely for the next 18 years.

No wonder moms are so good at multi-tasking. For reals: I am hooked up to the breast pump as I write this. I want to take a picture of it so bad but am afraid that instead of making you laugh, I would scar most of your eyeballs. (Poor David has seen too much.)

In good news, despite my growing list of To Dos, here are ten ways in which I've managed to adjust to this new normal so far. If I do say so myself, I have acquired some mad new baby skillz, yo:

1. I can type and text with one hand like a boss.

2. Picking up pacifiers with my feet? In the dark? No biggie.

3. Time me: I fall asleep in 9 seconds flat.

4. I can compile a stack of tax paperwork without getting poop on even one 1099.

5. I can disappear stains like a Vegas magician.

6. I've learned to scale back my beauty routine to the austerity level of a monastic.

7. I have swiftly stopped spit-up in a single bound before it's spewed onto the couch, a computer, and down my ample cleavage.

8. I have contained and harnessed said cleavage. (<------------ giant feat)

9. I not only welcome but find supreme delight in being farted on.

10. I discovered there are cookies (COOKIES!) for the express* purpose of producing heaps of breast milk.

*see what I did there?

Listen up. Let's just call these Breakfast Cookies because trust me on this: a.) you will definitely want to eat them for breakfast, and b.) you will FREAK PEOPLE OUT if you offer them a Lactation Cookie. Your normally sweet-toothed, cookie-loving husband will whiten and flinch like you are offering him sardines on a turd. The truth is they are really delicious morsels that just happen to make you squirt milk. If you are male and/or not lactating in the first place, they are just oatmeal cookies with chocolate. Nobody needs to know. Deal?

"Breakfast" Cookies (that also happen to help with lactation)
recipe adapted from
makes 14-16 cookies

2 T flax meal
2 T water
1 stick butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 t vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
2 T brewers yeast
1/2  t fine sea salt
1-1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup good dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine the flax meal with the water. Stir well and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar together for five minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well, scraping down the sides occasionally. Add the flax/water mixture and mix again. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, brewers yeast and salt. Add these dry ingredients to the wet little-by-little, stirring until just incorporated. Add the oats and chocolate and stir to combine. Drop on parchment-lined baking sheets by the tablespoonful and bake for 12-14 minutes, until lightly golden on top. Cool on racks.

Extra credit: if you make these cookies from start to finish with one hand while holding an infant in the other, they are guaranteed to quadruple your breast milk output.

With love from the four of us,
Jolie, Louis and Jolie's boobs

P.S. It only took me 3 weeks to write this post. Good times!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

the agony and the ecstasy

Greetings from Baby Central:)

For almost a month now I've been meaning to write when I have a moment but then said moment winds up being so fleeting between nursing and napping and procuring coffee and (God willing) sneaking in a shower. As I've been riding the wave of this early baby time (more like trying not to drown), I've been attempting to gather my thoughts about it. I don't know how I could ever be concise about what this experience means to me so far. It's a million fragmented thoughts and feelings swimming around inside my brain and heart. At this point, I can definitively say this: It's the hardest and most glorious thing I've ever done in my entire life. And also this: Whoever designs baby clothes with BUTTONS is a thoughtless asshole.

This new motherhood thing involves so many simultaneous extremes that to process even one of them is impossible. There's the profound, heartbreaking miracle that this little guy is here after all these months (years!), and the recovery from the huge mental, emotional and physical experience of childbirth. There's the ragged and thrilling haze of the hospital stay, and the sobering realization that you are suddenly and completely responsible for a helpless, tiny human. Pepper in some profuse hormone-balancing night sweats, someone sucking your virgin nipples raw every two hours around the clock, and then top it all off with a massively heaping dose of sleep deprivation. It's like first love, finals week, base jumping, jet lag, boot camp, seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, and being awake during your own open heart surgery. You want to grit your teeth and get through it and simultaneously savor every second.

When you're about to become a parent, the party line is either Oh My God, It's Nonstop Bliss! or Get Ready, Your Life Is Over! The problem is each of those clich├ęs individually does a disservice to both the experience and the new mother. In my sleepy, overwhelmed haze (even while consciously knowing it's all being lived through the filters of sleepless nights and haywire hormones), I cried to my own mom this week about all of it. After yearning for so long to get pregnant, I thought that every single second should be utter bliss, that I was an ingrate if a moment felt impossibly difficult. She lovingly comforted me. "Oh darling, all that you're feeling is crazy and okay and totally normal," she said. "Welcome to the agony and ecstasy of motherhood."

I get it now. The pain and the bliss aren't mutually exclusive. They intermingle into something that has its own unique label, its own custom blend, moment to moment.

You know what is pure ecstasy in this moment? This gorgeous little four-week-old face, baby clothes that feature snaps, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

three things that are one week old today

1. This guy:

Our Louis ("Louie") Rocket Pagani was born on New Year's Eve at 6:00pm!

8 lbs.
14 oz.
22 inches long

We are so smitten and in a dreamy, hazy bliss over here. More to come.


2. My outfit
3. My fervent and loving return to caffeine

Thursday, December 25, 2014

(some dis)comfort and (lots of) joy

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, my sweet readers. There has been no baby boy arrival yet but I am happy (and shocked) to say that I've made it to the point in my pregnancy where the websites tell me he is the size of a 7.5 pound, 22-inch watermelon. Nothing says Christmas like a giant, internal, kicking watermelon:)

After 38 weeks of blissful pregnancy, I caught a cold last week. And not a pretty one. For the first time in my life I had a bum eye that wouldn't quit weeping, and my lips were so chapped from my profuse nose-blowing and kleenex-rubbing that I appeared to have a tiny, red mustache. Despite these ailments, we kept an appointment to meet with a prospective pediatrician, where I was forced to incessantly dab at my one eye like a mourning widow. I pointed to it and apologized non-stop like it was happening in spite of myself but I'm sure that that (along with the chapped mustache) just helped me come off like a crazy lady. All this to say: it caused me to slow down a whole lot. Although if it weren't for the sake of the cold, I'm sure I'd be slowing down anyway. This belly is big and I now only have one official week to go until my due date.

Health-wise I'm on the upswing but all my edges feel fuzzy. Like my whole self is going into power-save mode before the Big Event. My clumsiness is epic, my waddle is in slo-mo, my voice is raspy, and my vision blurry (another fun pregnancy symptom). And not surprisingly, when I sit down to meditate these days, I slip into that altered state with practically no effort. I'm being seduced to go within. How lovely that it's coinciding with this Winter Solstice/Holiday/Year End time when everyone is naturally slowing down and becoming more introspective. That makes it easier.

I read a great article about honoring women who are in their last days of pregnancy. That they experience a poignant, sweet, sharp, blurry, unique time of in-between that we have no words for in our culture and language. The writer names this Zwischen (the German word for between). I can SO relate. There's this panicky feeling of My life is going to change forever! I gotta hurry up and do a million things before it does! coupled with exhaustion and discomfort, what with all the waddling and efforting to move around and tie shoes and get out of bed to pee 20 times a night, all while juggling a wiggly watermelon. Pepper in some clumsiness, forgetfulness, and a weeping eye and you're just about there.

Aren't we all in our own Zwischen in some way or other? We're usually in such a hurry to finish up something so we can "relax" or get to the next thing so we can "have a fresh start" but there really is something profound to be said for making peace with that cross-over time. For recognizing that place between two worlds doesn't need to be fixed or changed. That it just needs to be honored and experienced in all its odd and conflicting emotions and physical changes. Especially when the duration of it is unknown. If you're lucky (or you decide to lean on it), some good old-fashioned faith can work wonders.

So as I surrender into this rare, weird, wonderful time in my own life, I wish you happiness in both the chaos and the quiet of the Season. And peace and faith (and maybe even some joy) as you move slowly through your own personal Zwischen:)

Merry Christmas today!
Love Love Love,


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