Let’s get physical.

This is not a post about Conneticut. Well…not directly.

One of the greatest struggles I’ve undergone since becoming a mom is nursing. The following is a list of google searches I’ve performed over the past 5 months, mostly concentrated between months 2 & 3 (which is about the time I began to lose the ability to breastfeed my first daughter): why am I not producing enough milk, what to do when my production is low, is my baby getting enough to eat, what to eat to help milk production, will my baby stop nursing if I supplement formula, how can I tell if my breastpump is working properly, are some people just not meant to breastfeed.

Not a single link or article that I found during one of those frantic searching sessions has stuck with me or made me feel more encouraged as an insecure breastfeeding mom.

You know what would make me feel better? Having someone sit beside me while I’m feeding my daughter, chatting and helping to take my mind off of the struggle, offering to hold my daughter when a particularly frustrating moment arises so I can take a few deep breaths. Can you even imagine? Who has the time?? Who would even think of invading my personal space, potentially seeing me at my scrubbiest, hanging out for no other purpose than to simply be there. And would I ever ask?? No way.

With the recent events in the news, so many people have felt the need to sound off on one of the many modes of communication available via the internet. Our feelings are validated by likes and affirming comments. While I think it’s normal to want to express our sadness and emotion when something terrible happens…and Facebook has become the outlet for doing so, in the words of one of my favorite movie characters, “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

I don’t believe people are winning souls by posting condemning pictures. I don’t think votes are being swayed by sharing critical videos about the other side. We are not changing anyone’s opinion regarding gun control by posting a blog post that matches our views.

Our virtual presence is taking over our lives. Our living, breathing, human, physical lives. We are deceived to believe that likes and comments on our posts and pictures create meaning for us and add value. We are not taking the opportunity to truly connect, to sympathize, or to reach out when all of our interactions are happening in front of a computer screen or handheld device.

One of our family goals is to start having other people over to share in a meal. This is extremely hard for me because I feel uncomfortable if my house doesn’t look amazing and the food prepared is not the most delicious thing a person has ever tasted. I struggle to keep up with the constant messes made by my 3 year old (yep, it’s all her – wink, wink) or having any groceries on hand beyond our staples. Last night, John’s family came over and we kept it really, really simple. I still got huge compliments on the box of Campbell’s Sweet Potato Tomatillo soup that I whipped together (it’s sooo good….go out and buy it immediately. GO…I’m serious!) but I did not spend hours peeling and chopping and coordinating. It was a great night. We shared stories, we played games, we ate good food, and we ended the night with the most awkward group hug that had us all laughing as we moved toward the door. None of this happened over email or text message or Facebook chat. It was a precious moment…and we simply can’t know how many of those we will have in our lifetime.

Hug someone. Look someone in the eye. Schedule a coffee date, a lunch, a dinner. Squeeze a shoulder. Ask someone how they are doing, let them give a one word response, and then ask them again. Let your physical presence encourage someone today. I believe it will impact them more than a hundred blog posts, a thousand likes, or a million sought out answers on Google.

We are not the Cosbys…

At some point this summer, after our second daughter Ruby was born and we found ourselves around the house a bit more, we discovered the entire collection of The Cosby Show available for our viewing pleasure on Netflix (it has since moved to Hulu, should you find yourself seeking it out). Imagine our delight! We started watching episodes as little breaks in the day which typically coincided with dinner. Somehow, because it was The Cosby Show, watching t.v. during dinner seemed justifiable. Inevitably after an episode (or 3), John would start walking around the house ac-cen-tu-a-ting e-ver-y word, contorting his face, and then go make himself a hoagie. I responded to everything with a fast, sharp, quick-witted speech where my finger would shake and my head would bob. Jemma ran around singing “Baaaaybaaaay…baaaybaaay….won’t you please come home?” and referring to herself as Mrs. Griswald (both references from two of the most memorable episodes in Cosby history). In these moments, it also went without saying, to all of us involved, that in a few years, Ruby would be as precocious and adorable as Olivia during her early days on the show…but nothing like the actress who later starred in The Cheetah Girls (I’ve never actually seen this show, but don’t really feel I have to in order to make such an assessment). Right before dinner was ready, someone would start to chant, “Cosbys, Cosbys, Cosbys!” and we’d all start to smile and settle in to watch an episode (or 4). Unfortunately, watching t.v. during dinner is a slippery slope and quite the challenge for a 3 year old. Eat and watch? Take bites and look up at a screen? Impossible! And I’m sure you good moms are going, “um, duh, idiot parent, this is why we don’t watch t.v. during meals.” It’s just that in the moment, it seems so much easier. It seems like it’s going to be a break. Particularly if John is gone and I’ve been alone with the kids all day, I just want a minute without questions, demands, and the whining. But instead it turns into, “Jemma, take a bite. Jemma, take a bite. JEMMA, take a bite. Jemma, TAKE a bite. Jemma, I’m pausing the show until you take a bite.” Folks, I’m not proud of myself that this is occurring in my home. One present deterrent from eating at the table are the piles of Christmas cards and real estate magnets covering our dining room table in organized chaos that only we understand (story of my life). So, it leads us to the coffee table, which inevitably leads us to look to the thing that is staring us in the face. And that is why one of my goals is to take back dinner. For as much as I am able, I’m going to insist that all of my family is present for dinner each evening. What’s more, we will give thanks that we are blessed to have food readily and conveniently available to us. And that food in front of us will be served on a plate at our dining room table.

Writing it makes it real.

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As I mentioned in my last post, I was hesitant about starting this blog.  Don’t get me wrong – I love to write. As a matter of fact, I’m a published author – a poem of mine was chosen to be published in a book…in 4th grade. In 7th grade, I spent a day away from school at a Creative Writing workshop where I was instructed to make a list of interesting words and then put together my two favorites, which turned out to be “luscious passion”. I’m sure the instructor thought I had careless parents who let me watch afternoon soaps and read filthy romance novels but on the contrary, I was simply naive and unaware.  So unaware, that in 4th grade, while playing Boggle with my mom and best friend Liz (who, I later found out was the love interest of my husband, a year my junior and a fellow student at my elementary school. Somehow I, with my perm that “didn’t take” resulting in a second one – hello, frizz and damage! escaped his notice), I claimed that I saw the word “testicle” in my list of words. This caused my mom to pause and ask, “So, Kar, what does that mean?” “Like, intestines,” I responded without hesitation. Needless to say, the two of them had a good laugh at my expense before my mom (to my embarrassment) explained what testicles were.

All this to say, I was an unassuming, boisterous child (child being me until I was, say, 24). I had lots to say and I wasn’t afraid to say it.

Well, that was then, this is now. I’ve learned the hard way that what I say has the potential to hurt, to be misinterpreted, to be judged. Due to some difficult life experiences, I’ve become more cautious and fearful that what I say might come out wrong or be misunderstood. Add to this, I am a mom, who often times doesn’t speak to another adult for sometimes days and more often than not, when I do speak, it comes out a bit like I’m some sort of insecure, bumbling idiot. Even more than my limitations in effectively communicating these days, my real fear is that writing it makes it real. It doesn’t make it right or true, but it does make it known by more than just me. And particularly when it comes to the purpose of this blog – making life altering changes as a family – it’s scary. Today, I put my fears aside and move forward. As a relational being, I want to share and connect and relate and be known.  So, without further adieu, explanation or disclaimer, here are the things we’ve committed to doing as a family, each item corresponding with one day of the week:

1. Find 5 unnecessary items in our home and give them away.

2. Eat as a family, choosing more nutritious, whole foods, inviting people into our home to share in a meal.

3. Finish DIY projects around the house. We buy foreclosures and typically don’t finish them until we are about to move out…there’s lots to be done and the unfinished projects often plague us and immobilize us from doing other good things.

4. Save money,become more aware of how and where we are spending and who we are giving our money to.

5. Volunteer as a family. We’ve already started delivering meals for Meals on Wheels every other Wednesday. Jemma delivered with John this past week. Upon meeting a woman with only one tooth, she said “Mom, maybe the tooth fairy will come to her house.” Thankfully, this was said in the privacy of our vehicle.

6. Spend quality time together as a family. This doesn’t necessarily mean anything more than enjoying and appreciating each other in an intentional way. Phones off, t.v. off, everyone involved and fully present. This one, I think, is going to be harder than it seems.

Looking forward to sharing bits and pieces of our experiences as they unfold.

p.s. Much of this list was inspired by Jen Hatmaker, who wrote a terrific book called 7: An experimental mutiny against excess. It is a worthy read. She also writes a blog that is both hilarious and compelling – two of my favorite things. Check her out at: www.jenhatmaker.com

Here comes the blog…

This isn’t my first go in the old blogosphere. I started, named, and contributed to a blog I never invited anyone to read. This blog could have started a month or so ago but I came up with a million excuses as to why I couldn’t start it, the main one being that our website wasn’t done. Well folks, today’s a big day in lots of ways. The Welcome Home Productions website is officially live and I am writing my first real blog post for others to read.  I promise they won’t all be this long (…famous last words).

It’s interesting, as I reflect on the business John and I started almost 6 years ago, more than becoming an LLC, getting our first “paycheck,” or picking our name and logo, our website is the thing that makes me feel the most legit as a business owner.  Sign of the times, I guess.  I have high expectations for this website…as in, I think it has the potential to change the course of our lives.

But first, a little background.  My husband John and I are what I like to call kindred spirits.  We felt it the minute we met and the energy and specialness of our connection still presents itself from time to time, though 6 years of marriage and two children (bless their little hearts) have perhaps caused our spark to fizzle a bit.  We have rare blissful moments but mostly we struggle to find balance…to connect…to thrive in the day to day.  These variables have taken their toll on our relationship and our ability to work together as partners, as parents, and in effectively maintaining our home.

I am much of the problem.  I remember reading an excerpt from a bible study last spring where the author described herself as “tending toward the morose.”  I found this funny because for one, I can sort of relate, but also because it’s really just a fancy way of saying she’s most likely a bit of a depressed person, a Negative Nancy (no offense, Nancy’s), if you will.  If I had a flowery term for myself, it would be “insatiable”…which really just means I am constantly unsatisfied…unsettled…discontent.  I hate this about myself.  If I was a scientist or professor, this quality might be to my benefit as I would not be able to rest until I mastered the algorithm for how cancer cells quantify (I don’t even know what I’m saying).  But as a stay at home mom who isn’t always good at staying at home or being a mom, this quality…well, totally sucks.  Add to this, I live with an eternal optimist who is, in all circumstances, content.  While in this moment I am actually quite contentedly listening to good Christmas music, which makes everything right with the world, on a typical day, in an average moment, I’m critical, cynical, and often times wrought with anxiety.  It’s no wonder we struggle to thrive.

When John and I began to talk about him leaving his job to pursue real estate sales and  property management full-time, I saw it as one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities…like that time between high school and college where some people take a year off and travel (why didn’t I do that???).  Not only did it seem to be an opportunity to pursue a mutual long-standing dream (born entrepreneurs, the both of us), it felt like a bit of a do-over for our family.  We’ve never been a typical 9-5 family with our evenings and weekends free to do as we please.  I’ve often had jobs that require me to work in the evenings and/or weekends and John has always had work to do for our rentals or for real estate clients.  All this to say, the Pecchias are known by others as being spread too thin and by each other as being inconsistent and without routine. No cleaning day, no normal dinner hour, no lazy Sundays.  With John now doing full-time what he was previously doing during all of his free-time, it felt like we were given a precious opportunity to create some structure and balance in our lives.  As the excitement for all of this began to build, a similar enthusiasm was growing for even greater ideals, like being a generous family, a family that serves, an environmentally friendly family, a family that does not hoard.  So, this culmination of variables has led me to this blog…this declaration of change for our family.  Throughout this week, I’ll be sharing with you the ways in which we are making changes.  Thanks for joining us on this journey.