Vata-types are shitty at routines, but apparently GREAT at making cake stands!

This may look like a picture of a chubby baby sleeping with crazy mad-scientist hair, but what it actually is, is a picture of me failing for the eighty millionth time at keeping Olive on a schedule.

Here is the deal. My daughter has always skewed more towards the “night owl” end of the spectrum than the “early bird” end. This never surprised me, because this was the schedule that I kept the whole time I was pregnant – working until 9pm at night, eating dinner at 10, going to bed at 1-2 am. It is the schedule that feels most natural to me, I feel my most productive after 10:30, and get the most done in the wee hours after midnight,

So, it was no surprise when 3 month old Olive was going to sleep for the night at 11, and I never did anything to change it, because who cares, really.

Then at around 6 months old she settled into a 10pm-10am routine, and that was fine too. And then she started waking up a million times a night and I got so so tired that I would go to bed shortly after she did, and sleep in with her until 10 am to make up for all of that broken sleep, and the result was that other than naptime, I didn’t really have time in the day when I was awake and Olive wasn’t.

She was awake with me or I was asleep with her and dang, I wanted some time, you know? I wanted some time in the evening to read a book that didn’t involve farm animals or sound effects, to eat snacks without having a tiny grunting face appear at my knee begging me to share. Plus there is the fact that even if I have the same amount fo awake, productive time as someone who wakes up at 7 am, it just feels lazy to wake up at 10am. And awkward when mom friends text at 9:30 saying their kid has just gone for a nap and do we want to get together after and I have to admit that we’re not even awake for the day yet.

Ha.

Lazy moms for the win! To this end, several times in the past month I have attempted to ward off this night-owl behaviour and put Olive on a routine scheduled situation: Awake at 8, nap at 10:30-11:00am, nap again at 2:30-3:30 and bed by 8pm. Sounds good, right?

Well Olive is not the type of child you can just start putting to bed an hour, or half an hour, or even fifteen minutes earlier. My girl is fascinated and engrossed and inVOLVED in life. And she doesn’t want to miss a thing. So to start this thing off I had to approach it at the other end, and just start waking Olive up at 8am.

Brutally, meanly, cruelly waking a sleeping baby when she’d only had 9 or 10 hours of sleep instead of 12 and in the process of conducting this evil experiment I realized that holyshit that two hours was the key to the universe.

That two hours was the difference between my sweet, smiling, giggling goofball and a surly PMSing teenager who would be cranky and ornery and every time we had to change her diaper or get her dressed or put her in her car seat or take something away, every time anything happened at all it was the END. OF. THE. WORLD. and it was horrific.

Nonetheless, I committed. And let me tell you, those days when she went to bed at 8pm, bliss! We watched movies! We shoved popcorn in our faces without having to feel guilty for not sharing! I read books! Plural! We sometimes left her with grandma and went and did things! Fun things! Adult things!

Memories.

I don’t know how, then, to explain how we always seem to end up back here. Here where she went to bed at 11:30 last night and I sat there at 8am this morning and looked at that face – the one in the picture above – and just could not bring myself to wake her. How do you wake a sleeping baby? It’s sacrilege! And after only 9 hours of sleep?! I feared for my life.

Anyone who knows me knows what I am like when I’m not getting enough sleep, Olive is like that but tiny and screaming and not even allowed to have coffee, which just seems unnecessarily cruel.

So I sat there and watched her sleep. I took a picture with the intent of outing myself as a bad mom on The Internets. And then at 9:30 I started softly playing music, and I called Adam in, and as she slowly opened her eyes she saw her two weirdo parents having a dance party in her bedroom. That’s pretty good payback for being woken up  three hours early, right?

The problem here is me. I can not do routine. I am allergic to it. I have never signed up for anything without missing at least one or two classes. I never went to 100% of my university lectures or had perfect attendance in high school. My schedule varies wildly from day-to-day, sometimes I wake early and eat three full meals and go out and do things. Other days I sleep in and subsist on little more than coffee and overwrought internal melodrama.

This is my jam. I love it. It’s like the soundtrack to my life keeps switching stations instead of playing the same song over and over, but I know that this mix tape isn’t great for kids. Kids love routine and repetition. They love to hear the same song on endless repeat.

I would like to take this opportunity to blame this allergy to routine on Ayurveda. Remember Ayurveda? I am a Vata dosha, as I’m sure you all remember. Vata dosha types are the ones who benefit most from routine, but perversely, are also the types for whom keeping a routine is the most challenging (heard that!) So Ayurveda is working against me while Olive’s adorable surrender to sleep foils my attempts at early(ish) mornings and here we are. Again.

We’ll give it another go. I’m hoping for a 9:30 bedtime tonight, and a 9:00am wakeup tomorrow, and then a 9;00pm bedtime, and then an 8:30am wakeup, and so on and so forth and maybe I can finally stick to something for once in my life goddamnit.

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In other news, CAKE PLATES! Here’s what happened. For Olive’s birthday (are you sick of hearing about it yet? One more month and then you’ll never have to hear about it again! Except for endless recap and “remember when?” posts. Apologies in advance.)

I am making two cakes. One, a big cake for everyone to eat, and the other is a mini cake for Livvie to smash and destroy and smear around her person as she sees fit.

I really wanted to get my hands on a vintage cake stand or two for the occasion, but damn if those things aren’t impossible to find! I finally stumbled across one in a Victoria thrift shop and snapped it up on the spot. It looked like this:

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I took pictures because I was going to do a dramatic before and after post, featuring it spray painted it to get rid of the old lady flowers, into a jadeite green or happy yellow.

Long (Looooong) story short: no. There was scraping of the gold paint with razors and an attempt at covering it with porcelain paint and finally a guilty guiltfest after we realized that it was marked “Handpainted Porcelaine de France” on the bottom, which sounds all sorts of fancy and I suddenly felt horrible for befouling what was probably a grandma’s prize possession at some point.

Anyway, when Olive was napping one day I adventured to our local thrift store (secondhand junk, I love you) and bought two plates and two glass candlesticks. I washed it all, used Gorilla glue to attach them together and HELLO adorable cake stands!

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A sunny yellow for the big cake, and a tiny one with sweet designs along the edges for Olive’s smash cake. The whole thing cost me $12 including glue. I kind of want to make seventeen more, now.

This birthday party is quickly getting out of control. I need to stop (I can’t stop!)

Anyone want a cake plate?

Tough Love Thursdays

(Yes, I know it’s Tuesday, this couldn’t wait!)

Apparently the groundhog predicted 6 more weeks of winter for you yankees, so this post is quite timely, actually.

Let’s talk moisturizer! Ladies, how many bottles of moisturizer do you own? I’m guessing between 4-9,  there’s probably the giant one you got on sale, the travel sized one you keep in your purse, some special cream for your hands and nails, and maybe some bullshit you regret wasting your money on like gradual tanning moisturizer, or firming moisturizer, or hair growth inhibiting moisturize or some such schlock. We all have our weakness.

But wait! Imagine! In place of all of that crap, you could have… (drumroll)

                   

Oh my gah! It’s SESAME OIL!

This will replace all of your moisturizers and your skin will feel SO smooth and your wallet will thank you and your husband will never stop groping you even when you are JUST TRYING TO DO THE LAUNDRY ADAM!

Seriously though, smoooooooth.

I started using Sesame oil in place of store-bought stuff about two years ago when I started looking into Ayurveda. Ayurvedic practice recommends an oil massage every morning, so, obedient disciple that I am, I went and picked up a bottle of sesame oil from our local health food store.

Except I didn’t read the label properly and I bought toasted sesame oil, which, guys, don’t do this.

Toasted sesame oil is what they use in stir-frys and look, I love stir-frys, I make them all the time! Get some bok choy and rice noodles and kale and hey, we’ve got a party! But as much as I love the stir fry, I don’t like smelling like a stir-fry (add that to the Apple Cider Vinegar hair rinse and things were getting a little weird).

But, orce course the oil was organic and expeller pressed and unrefined and transported ounce by ounce through a pristine sesame field by virgin monks and thus, SO expensive that I couldn’t just waste it.

So I still used it. Every day I rubbed myself down with that toasted sesame oil and let me tell you, toasted sesame will ensure that your husband will sigh loudly every time you come within a foot of him and say “If I wanted to marry a STIR FRY, Madeleine, I I would gone to the Mongolie Grill.and then you might feel it appropriate to respond by saying “Look, you’re just upset because you have a Pitta imbalance, here why don’t you drink this cucumber water and do those breathing exercises we talked about?” and then he will sigh a little too loudly and leave the room muttering something about a crazy lady.

So yeah. Just buy the normal stuff. 

Self-massage is also, by the way, one of the treatments they recommend for those suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, and even if your body image is fine, I still think it’s a great idea to actually connect with your skin instead of viewing it impassively in a mirror, perhaps wishing you looked a little less like Adele and a little more like Gisele.

Just feel your skin, connect with your body. Maybe chant or light some incense. (Hahaha, omg, just kidding, no chanting or incense required. Unless you want to, I mean, there’s nothing wrong with incense or chanting. I’ve been known to chant a little myself now and then! Just last Friday in fact! But that’s neither here nor there. I digress…)

Here’s what I usually do. For the full body massage I usually do it after a shower, when your pores are open and more easily able to accept moisture. I recommend sitting on a towel, because you don’t want any stray oil drops to stain your carpet. I keep the oil in a plastic squeeze top container, that way I can immerse it in a cup of hot water to warm it up. You can also add essential oils like lavender or sweet orange if you want some scent.

Just work the oil into your skin, starting at the base of the neck and working down to the arms, chest, belly, legs and feet. You don’t need a ton of oil, you don’t want to be greasy-feeling, just work in as much as your skin will take.

Your skin absorbs up to 60% of what you put into it, so it just makes sense to use something that’s edible. Plus, my skin has never been more smooth.

If the idea of sitting naked on a towel, rubbing yourself with oil makes you uncomfortable (weird!) just use sesame oil as needed, like you would any other moisturizer, you’ll reap the same skin-smoothing, wallet-saving, husband-groping benefits

( Hey, did any if you try the no-shampoo? Did you love it? Hate it? Did your mom/roommate/boyfriend laugh at you and call you names? I’d love to hear your experiences.)

So Efficient

                

                                             Ganesha, by The Wheat Field

Last night, as I often do,  I took a book to bed with me (I got a sweet stack from the library this week. As my teens would say, SWAG!) and while I was hungrily devouring the words of a certain Ms Sherry Turkle, I accidentally fell asleep. It was pretty early and as such, I still wearing my clothes (I’ve been extra tired lately, which usually means it’s time for a blood test and more medication but that, in turn, means I have to remember to get a blood test and pick up more medication, which is next to impossible because as my energy goes so does my memory and at this point even writing things on my hands doesn’t work. Can I have a wife please?)

Anyway, so I woke up this morning a foggy, groggy mess, book jabbing into my spine, still wearing clothing (and makeup) from last night and guys? I feel SO efficient! I just knocked one step off of my morning routine! We should all start doing this! Let’s just eliminate pajamas altogether, sleep in our next-day outfits and embrace our world of rumpled, drool-stained fashion choices.

This is the future!

Also today, (fittingly, given the above intro) I’m going to try and wrap up loose ends on the waking up early/Ayurveda debacle. In case you’re new here, it’s a constant (and boring to read?) mission of mine to wake up early, but a number of factors collude daily to prevent this from happening, including but not limited to: my torrid love affair with sleep, a job that doesn’t begin till 1pm, chronic low energy and a long and celebrated history of hating mornings.

When we last left off in this exercise of navel-gazing I was going to try and stick a little closer to the schedule dictated by Ayurveda and embrace the designated morning schedule for my Vata-type. Do I sound like I’m talking gibberish? Only half-true. Maybe I should back up a bit.

Ayurveda (pronounced Ae-yur-vayda) is a system that uses the principles of nature, to help maintain a state of emotional and physical health by keeping a person’s body, mind and spirit in  balance. it’s thought to have originated in India 5000 years ago and identifies most people as one of three Doshas or mind-body types: Kapha, Pitta or Vata, or some combination of the three.

You can read more about it and see what Dosha you are, here.

I used to eye-roll about stuff like this because it seems a little like astrology- if you read enough characteristics, you’re sure to identify with some of them (“Wow, I am stubborn- oh man, what a Capricorn!”).

But when my friend Chloe started talking about this and then made me take the quiz I became obsessed and read tons about it and did research into it, and gradually it started making sense.

One of the main reasons I’m a fan is the fact that Ayurveda specifically allows for different diets, schedules, and care for different mind-body types. And- YES!

This is one of the most ridiculous things about diets and the medical community in general, we presume that every single human body processes food, stress and environment in the same way. And we don’t.

This is why you see skinny people eat a ton and not gain weight. This is why extreme heat makes some slow and sweet, while it makes me want to rip someone’s head off and suffocate it deep in the depths of my sweaty armpits because AM I IN HELL?! DON’T YOU DARE TOUCH ME!

We can’t approach every body in the same way guys, we are all unique- special snowflakes.

You heard it here first.

SO. I am Vata. Vata people are dry, light and quick. Easily distracted, they benefit greatly from routine because it grounds them, but Vata people are also the most likely to resist routine because they are flighty and easily distracted (SQUIRREL!) .

In the ideal situation according to Ayurveda, my days would look like this:

6:30 am- Wake up. Neti Pot. Full body coconut oil massage, a series of sun salutations.

Throughout the day: Eat warm, heavy, spicy foods to ground my flighty nature. Drink hot water. Avoid things with caffeine, foods with bitter/astringent tastes, or cold foods/drinks as they aggravate Vata.

10:00pm- Bedtime. Coconut oil foot massage. Sleep on my back.

For a Kapha and Pita person, this routine would be totally different, from wake up times, to the type of oil to use for the massage, to which way to sleep. I like having this structure,  it makes sense to me and it also explains why different people do so well with different diets and schedules.

My Father-In-Law recently started an Atkins-type diet to reduce his blood sugar and lose weight. The diet basically consists of eliminating carbohydrates and starches, and eating more red meats, fats etc. This is working incredibly for him. His cholesterol is down, he looks like he’s lost 1/2 his total body weight and he says he has more energy too. He’s a huge champion for his diet and I am also a huge champion for his diet but it would never work for me.

He laughs at Ayurveda but, I suspect he’s a Pita that had a severe Kapha imbalance (too much slow, heavy, moist foods) and this was making him slow and thick and heavy. He’s eliminated Kapha-causing foods and so his natural Pita state is prevailing and he is becoming balanced again.

But, conversely, if I were to eliminate those same foods, and eat tons of red meat, deprive myself of heavy, slowly digested foods like complex carbohydrates, I would become even more flaky and light, my Vata would go even MORE out of balance and I would go insane and end up homeless or getting arrested for stuffing someone’s decapitated head into my armpit.

See? It all makes sense!

Anyway this has been a unnecessarily long-winded post about Ayurveda, when all I needed to say was that I am still not getting up early.

BUT, while I was looking through my archives I realized something funny. Most of my daily posts, the big text ones, are published between 12:00pm-1:00pm. And I started thinking about why, and I finally realized it’s because I usually wake up at 10am, do all my massaging and neti potting and get my coffee and sit down to write at 10:30-11:00 and then have a post finished up by 12/1.

Guys, I DO have a routine! It’s just running about four hours later than I want it to be!

This makes me feel good. Does it make you feel I’m crazy?

(RELATED: How do we feel about the “read more” breaks…would it be easier to have the whole post on the front page, or is it nice to be able to skip it when you don’t want to read the whole thing and are just checking in to see if I’ve posted more embarrassing glamour photos?)

Wake Up Call

      

I’m the only person I know who actually has to wake her dog up in the morning. Today I rolled out of bed (and, this morning was not a 7am wake up like yesterday, by the way) stumbled into the kitchen and put some water on for tea, then went downstairs where Gus was snoring, sprawled out across his too-small bed (seriously, do we need to get him a twin mattress? It might need to happen. Oh I could get him cute striped sheets and a comforter and tuck him in at night! Too much? What?). I walked to the back door and slid it open, called him to play the second part of that fun game we have where I feed him and then he makes daily deposits of giant steaming mounds of crap onto our freshly mowed lawn.  

He ignored me the first two times I said his name and dude, I’m seven feet away from you. You start salivating when you hear the UPS guy who gives you treats coming from three blocks away so don’t give me any of THAT. The third time I say “GUS” in a strict-mom voice, (which, really Madeleine what are you going to do if he doesn’t listen? Count to three? I need to get out more) then he half-lifts his head just enough to give me the side-eye, then stretches, yawns and slowly gets up. He stumbles outside, craps and then I kid you not people, goes back to bed. 

Dogs really are like their owners! Except I poop inside!

Lately I’ve been wishing that I could find a way to get up early, every single morning – this is a very, very recurrent desire of mine. I get so much shit done when I wake up at 7 am, if I got up at 7am every day I would never forget anyone’s birthday, I’d always look immaculately put together and my house would be spotless. My teeth would be whiter, my husband more romantic and my car cleaner. This shit needs to happen. But HOW?

Guys, I feel like I’ve tried everything. #1: Alarm clocks, obviously. But here’s the thing. I’m a heavy sleeper. Married to a light sleeper. Which means that all of my alarm clock plans, like plugging it in across the room or getting one of those clocks that runs away from you, or setting the volume to decibel shattering volumes just means that Adam wakes up at 7 every day. And I sleep through the whole thing while having awesome dreams about dance parties in loud nightclubs, or running away from a bank robbery while the security alarm sounds.

So not only do I not get up any earlier, but when I do wake up I find all of my clothes in the freezer or  “IF YOU WANT TO WAKE UP EARLY WHY DO YOU SET YOUR ALARM FOR 7 AND THEN SNOOZE UNTIL 11?!! AHRNSNFHGYGYEHJ?!!” written in blood and sleep-deprived tears on the bathroom mirror.

#2: I bought these Greens pills that promised increased energy. Because they were Greens I assumed that it was some crazy, natural, vegetable energy but when my heart started racing after I took one I looked at the ingredients and Internets, it was caffeine. Um, if I wanted to have more energy from caffeine I could have just spent my $35 on 37 iced coffees from McDonalds. Thanks for nothing, dicks.

I have a feeling that the solution is something so crazy it just might work. Like: just to decide to wake up. And then do it. But I can’t get my mind around that without wanting to try some sort of fancy gimmick that involves me buying something. Like this light clock.

So right now I’m trying to do what I do with my teens when they are stuck with a problem they are being pigheaded about. I put on my Youth Worker voice and when they say “I can’t pass math, I’m horrible at math.” I say “Is that true?” and when they stubbornly reply that it is, I say “Was there ever a time, even once, when that wasn’t true?” and then I hound them, because since they are teenagers they will say “No” eleventy-seven times before they actually admit that yeah, actually they were pretty good at math last year and they aced the geometry unit earlier this year. And then I ask what conditions created that result.

The bonus of this approach is that at the end of what can sometimes be an excruciating painful conversationwe get to the real issue which is that last year they weren’t partying as much and they really actually liked the geometry unit, so it was easier to spend the time required to understand it. And then instead of being stuck with a kid who just throws up his arms and says he’s horrible at math, we have a kid who gets that he’s doing poorly at math because he’s prioritizing other things and not putting in the necessary time. It’s something he has the power to change, he has agency in his life.

SO. The question is can I Youth Worker myself? Hey kids, gather round, lets have a cheesy imaginary dialogue!

Me: I can’t wake up early in the morning

Youth Worker me: Is that true?

Me: Well, most of the time, yeah. (see! I’m more self-aware and cooperative than a teenager!)

Youth Worker me: Most of the time, ok so that means that sometimes you can wake up early. What happens on those days?

Me: I can wake up early when I have an early appointment that I can’t miss.

Youth Worker me: Like what?

Me: Like getting touch-ups on my tattoo of Adam’s face on my face, or when Gus needs to get his hair and nails did (what?)

Youth Worker me: When else have you been a rockstar at getting up early?

Me: There was a two-week period when I was in strict Ayurveda mode and since getting up between 6-7:30 is optimal for Vata-types I was doing that.

BOOM. (and oh my god how are you still reading this? I’m transcribing my internal monologues! What do you DO all day that this is an acceptable distraction? And why am I heckling you? Er..carry on)

Based on the above exercise in self-absorption and vanity, all I have to do to successfully wake up early is get back into Ayurveda, or schedule daily tattoos and/or grooming appointments for Gus.

Even with the amount of coconut oil I use for the daily full body massage I think Ayurveda would be cheaper.

Phew. I’m glad we sorted this one out.

p.s. What the hell is Ayurveda? Click here. And if you’re curious about what dosha type you are and thus, when you should be waking up and what kind of oil you should be using for YOUR full body rubdowns  click here.