Monthly Archives: August 2014

Vlogging: How hard can it really be?

There are countless quotes about the value of trying new things or pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone. Now that my baby is off to PreK and I have time to resume writing, I can finally take a stab at something I’ve been wanting to try for some time. Vlogging!
True confession: The first time I saw the word vlog, I thought it referred to some sort of log kept by women for things related to … uh … something else that starts with the letter V. Upon learning what it actually is, and soon enough starting a blog of my own, I’ve been super curious to see what there is to this video-blogging thing. One of the sessions at a writers conference I attended in February was all about using social media to “build an audience” for our books. The fabulous speaker encouraged us to use our cell phones to keep video recordings simple and spontaneous. Huh. That had never occurred to me. So I tried to see what it looked like when I took a selfie video with my phone.

 

Yeah. I didn’t really love that one. It wasn’t helped by my post workout glisten and frizz. So I quickly moved on to would-be shots of my face using the built-in web cam on my laptop.

Then, I couldn’t even figure out when it was recording. I may not be an expert on technology, but nor am I a complete moron. And most of the times, it’s all pretty self-evident. Not here, man. For some reason I couldn’t figure out how it worked at first. Meanwhile, the camera kept snapping photos of me, without my knowledge, looking bewildered.
And bemused.Then at one point, the video recording function finally worked. Though as you can see, I still wasn’t sure.

 

 

That was back in April. I quickly gave up, and eventually, summer and family events took over. Yesterday I decided to try again. And in the spirit of true confessions, it wasn’t until yesterday that I knew the photos and video from April had even been saved on the computer. That was a pretty hi-larious discovery. So yesterday I opened the web cam on my laptop, and:
Damn it! Again it took a picture without me knowing. And yes, I own a William and Kate wedding coffee mug. My family went to London a month after their famous wedding in 2011, and I got very caught up in the excitement while shopping at a souvenir store. I like using it for tea.
But, back to my camera practice. Finally I was rolling.
This was the video that really drove home for me the importance of keeping my mouth closed no matter how confounded I am by what’s going on. That’s a tough one. You should see me at yoga class. Next, I tried to focus on looking at the camera instead of at myself. You can see the precise moment when I saw that it was rolling.

 

Finally, I tried looking straight at the camera, without laughing. Not as easy as one might think.

 

You know, I’m going to keep at it. It’s new to me … a work in progress and all that stuff. Next step will be trying with an actual camera we have; see if that’s any different. I’ve got this idea for a video blog series about awkward moments that have happened to me, and I’m working on at least one of those installments for a … ahem … vlog post. (Is that even correct lingo?) And if nothing else comes of this, I can tell you one thing: I’ve cracked myself up so hard in just two tries with camera shots, that that’s already a major win. I mean, what’s the point if it’s not fun? And don’t worry, having my family talking in the background is not part of my long term vlogging plans.

Update: I just looked at some vlogging tutorials on Youtube and realized the full depth and breadth of my cluelessness on this matter. Invest in lighting? I’m a stay-at-home mom with no paycheck to my name! And how the hell do I do a jump cut?
Well …
Sh*t.
But I shall not be deterred! I am nothing if not a good student. Just wait and see.
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The Midnight Poop

Pet peeve: When parents with one or two generally healthy, thriving children overstate the sacrifices of parenthood. My theory is moms do it more than dads. You know, the type who love to say, I’m a mother! like that explains all there is to know about them. Like motherhood equals that they never finish a sentence or a book or a movie, or get any sleep, anymore. Sometimes an entire meal for them is nothing more than the scraps left by their children. Worrying is a superior way of being. They wear their self-sacrifice like a badge of honor. I refer to them as Martyr Mamas.

Here’s a real doozy I heard one time: “A friend of mine went to brunch over the weekend. <Chuckle> Obviously he’s single. I mean, brunch? Ha. It must be so nice to be able to go to brunch! I don’t even know what that looks like since I had kids!”
Okay. Let me tell you what it looks like. You get in the damn car, and you go to brunch. Have a mimosa, maybe it’ll help you lighten up a little bit–consider having your husband or a girlfriend drive if, like me, you are a lightweight. Oh and guess what? Kids like brunch, too!

Last week I was in Puerto Rico with my four-year-old son, visiting my parents and siblings, and all of my boy’s cousins. My husband David stayed home in DC, working. A terrible, terrible habit I fall into whenever I’m not with David is I go to bed wayyyy too late. Last week was no exception.

Thursday was night three and I was dragging my Puerto Rican behind, feeling loopy and irritable from lack of sleep. Finally, at midnight, when I realized I was falling asleep with my finger resting on the screen of my e-reader–something I don’t recommend–I decided to put it down and call it a night. My son was in the room across the hall from mine. I still use a baby monitor at Mami and Papi’s house because it’s a large-ish concrete house where we sleep with all the doors shut to keep the AC from the individual units contained in each room. I thought I heard my son stir in his bed across the hall, but still fell asleep hard and fast.

One afternoon, he asked to go to bed for some quiet time. I gladly crawled into bed with him. The “nap” lasted about 45 seconds.

Then I felt the door to my bedroom open. “Caca,” was all my typically crazy-verbal boy said before heading to the bathroom. It was past midnight, and I suspect he was pissed–pun?–about being awoken by a call of nature when he, too, was exhausted from all the family fun that day. Naturally, I got out of bed to help him. He was loopier than me at that hour (this is saying a lot) and cried the whole time, that’s how bothered and inconvenienced he was. I understood the sentiment perfectly. We wrapped things up quickly and he was asleep again roughly 1.25 seconds after his head hit the pillow again. Mama, on the other hand?

What if this was the start of a tummy ache? Wow, even with the monitor on, I really can’t hear him get out of bed or leave his room, until he’s in my bedroom. What if he slipped all the way downstairs and past locked doors and dark rooms downstairs, and ended up in the pool? Damn it, we have yet to sign him up for the next round of swim lessons. That’s probably bad parenting. Ugh, that was a nasty big green iguana by the pool this afternoon. I wonder if it’s in my bedroom right now? [NOISE] What the hell was that?! My baby with a tummy ache? The iguana? Which one’s more upsetting? Good question. I have good ones like this sometimes. Did I say something unkind about that person during the conversation I had with Mami earlier today? I can’t stand the way I feel after I think I’ve been unkind. Boy, single moms are super heroes. I’ve been solo parenting my only child (who’s pretty darn easy going) for three days, and I feel so tired! I’ve got three new issues of O Magazine that I haven’t read–this never happens–and I haven’t even opened the one I brought on this trip. Man, parenthood is so exhausting–Wait! Shit. So there may or may not be a tummy ache, or perhaps an iguana that sneaked upstairs to my bedroom, and now I’ve turned into one of those Martyr Mamas?! Ugh!

These were just some of the thoughts I had in the hour(s?) I spent awake after the midnight poop. My boy, meanwhile, slept like a freaking log (no tummy ache, thank God(dess)!) the rest of the night … until he burst into my room again at 7AM. This time he was fresh as a cucumber and ready to face the day, asking (I think, I was mostly asleep and don’t remember) whether Abuela was awake, to see if it was okay for him to move on to her room as he continued on his top-o-the-mornin’-to-ya rounds. Needless to say I was not nearly as chipper.

At a mall in San Juan.

But I got over myself soon enough. Mercifully, even through the snipping (sorry, familia), sleep-deprived haze of the day, perspective reasserted itself. I wasn’t sleep-deprived because of motherhood: I was a fool who was going to bed too damn late! If I haven’t read O Magazine lately, it’s because every minute I don’t spend wife-ing or parenting, I’ve spent working on my novel. In truth, most of the time, I manage to finish movies and books and conversations. Maybe not in one sitting, but still! I don’t declare, I am a mother! in that tone that implies that martyrdom and disappearing as an individual are my methods of parenting. The midnight poop made me tempted to feel like motherhood is nothing but a succession of sacrifices, but ultimately, that’s just not the case!

Would you believe it, sweet boy was polite enough to go to the bathroom right before bed the following night! As I tucked him in and kissed him goodnight, I thanked him for pooping, and told him how much I love being his mama, that I was having a great time with him on our trip. Then I thanked life for him. And for the opportunity to visit my parents. And for my parents themselves, whose love and generous spirit never fail to draw and envelope all of their kids and grandkids. Life is good. Poop is good. And parenthood? Oh sure, it’s tiring. It is the hardest work I’ve ever done! I never had to be so selfless, and I worry way more than I should. Also, though–cliché but true–I have never been happier. Parenthood is by far a greater gift than it is a burden. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. And guess what. I still go to brunch, too!

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