Courtney Naliboff lives on North Haven, an island off of midcoast Maine. There she teaches music, theatre and English, takes her daughter to the beach, plays music and teaches Pilates. Her writing can also be seen in MaineBiz and Working Waterfront.
The writing was on the wall as I bolted awake at 2 in the morning. My left breast, always a little troublesome and prone to blockages, was hard as a rock and hot to the touch. I rolled over on my…front and went back to sleep, hoping the pressure would somehow help it to empty. I woke up again an hour later, shaking uncontrollably. “Are you OK?,” my husband asked. My tremors had woken him up. “I don’t think so,” I said. He got my pump from downstairs and wrapped me in pillows and blankets… >> Read More
I live on an island in Maine. We bring our trash to the town transfer station, where we pay by the bag. Periodically the trash gets driven off island and put in a landfill. It’s a great inducement…to compost and recycle and keep as much trash out of the system as possible. With that in mind, I wanted to use cloth diapers when we had a baby. But at first, we encountered some discouraging words. “We tried it…until we encountered the reality of baby poop,” said some friends. “Ugh, just wait until… >> Read More
As a new-ish mom, I appreciate my mom friends. They taught me about cloth diapering and baby-led weaning, commiserated about wacky sleep patterns, and talked endlessly about everything baby. But…after complete submersion in baby land, time with my non-mom friends is refreshing and necessary. Being a great non-mom friend to a new parent might seem daunting. Parenthood is like a parallel dimension. You, the non-mom friend, can see your friend inside their bubble, but the laws of physics have changed for them. They love… >> Read More
A small miracle happened here.
We went away for the last weekend of February break, visiting friends who live further down the coast. We had a great time, went to a restaurant where Penrose ate…lemon and ice and charmed the toddlers at the table next to us, and enjoyed seeing friends and leaving the island for a few days. We came back on Sunday and did the loads of laundry that accumulated while we were gone--clothes and diapers. >> Read More
For eight-and-a-half months postpartum, I was more or less a stay-at-home mom. Penrose went to a babysitter for an hour a few days a week so I could go in to the bakery I open in the summer, and once…a week since school started I’ve been breaking my sabbatical from teaching to be my own substitute band teacher. But for most of the time I was with my daughter from sun up to sun down, and quite a bit of time after dark, too. >> Read More
When Rebecca Melsky, a Jewish Day School teacher in Washington, D.C., found out she was having a girl five years ago, she and her husband were determined not to put her in pink. But when her daughter…became a pink-loving, dress-wearing toddler who also enjoyed space ships and dinosaurs, Rebecca was surprised that she couldn’t find a dress featuring a science theme. She teamed up with her friend Eva St. Clair to start Princess Awesome, a small clothing company offering hand-sewn dresses with patterns from pirates to pi, trucks to trains, and… >> Read More
After lighting the menorah at home, we went to California for Christmas with my husband's family. My in-laws and their extended family all live within a few miles of each other in San Diego County,…and we see them every other year or so for the holidays. Penrose was a champ on the plane, napping and playing and eating airplane snacks, and playing peek-a-boo with the family seated behind us. My in-laws picked us up at the airport--we arrived in the late morning--and brought us to their house. Once we… >> Read More
My hair never looked so good as when I was pregnant. It had grown out from the bad-breakup-short-haircut-I-gave-myself, and it hung to my waist. My halo of frizz was gone; each curl was shiny and…healthy. For almost a year, instead of losing a disgusting wad of hair with each shower, each follicle clung to its hair. I got a few new grey strands, but overall it was a good hair year. Having long hair again, like I had my whole childhood in Maine, felt like a return to my… >> Read More
I love to cook and I love to feed people. At the theatre commune where I interned during college, I was the one who baked the vegan cookies for the Tuesday night “Shapenote Sings.” The happy…stress of preparing the seder for 20 of my closest non-Jewish friends is the highlight of my spring. I love cooking so much that in the summer, when I could be relaxing and enjoying my time off, I run a small bakery and breakfast restaurant. I assume it comes with the territory of being Jewish,… >> Read More
When my in-laws came this spring to meet Penrose, they brought with them a DVD containing several months worth of baby videos of my husband. They were taken in 1981, when household-use video…cameras were new on the market. His grandparents and aunts feature prominently, as does his mother, and of course, my husband, baby Bill. His father is behind the camera, being directed by his grandfather. The videos capture the family sitting around, happy together, and there's lots of loving footage of tiny Bill, who looks so… >> Read More
As soon as I discovered I was pregnant at the end of last summer, I set the wheels in motion to take a half-year sabbatical from my job teaching music, theatre and English at Maine's smallest K-12…public school. We're allowed a full year at half pay every seven years, but my family wouldn't quite be able to swing that financially. Besides, between my six-week maternity leave, summer vacation and a four-month sabbatical, I piled up eight months of time at home with my daughter Penrose. The second half of the school… >> Read More
Sleep, baby, sleep.
Penrose is 4 months old. She babbles, laughs, grabs her feet, rolls over, bangs on her xylophone, and does not want to go to sleep.
I should have known that I was setting…myself up to fail when, weeks one through 12, when people asked, "And does she sleep?" I would respond, "She sleeps!" She did, two, three, four, even six hours at a stretch. But suddenly, at 12 weeks, she stopped. When I put her in her crib after nursing her at night she would suddenly tense… >> Read More
Lately, being Jewish on North Haven--the small island in Maine where we live--has felt like a non-issue, though I still tend to think of myself as the only one. Which made it all the more…surprising when, as I was getting ready to leave the seasonal bakery I run and go pick up 3-month-old Penrose, my friend Rosa, one of the nearly 1,000 summer visitors we get out on the island, stopped me. “The girls and Mark and I were talking and we wanted to organize a naming ceremony for… >> Read More
Like a lot of primates, I really don't like snakes. In Maine, we only have non-venomous, ecologically beneficial, pest-eating garter snakes and rat snakes, but the unexpected sight of one gliding…eerily past my feet in the garden gives me major willies. This wasn't always true. I remember happily holding a little red-bellied snake that a preschool classmate brought in for show and tell. I was 3 or 4 years old. Shortly thereafter, I was playing outside when my Birkenstock-clad mother nearly stepped on a snake… >> Read More
I don't like surprises.
That's how I explained our decision to find out, as early as possible, if we were having a boy or a girl. And as soon as the verdict was in, out it went on Facebook and…into excited texts to our parents. My mother-in-law found out while she was in an airplane, en route to Maine for Christmas, and I wouldn't be surprised if she told the whole plane. So there you have it, right? Penrose is a girl. >> Read More
Now that I've been a parent for a month, I'm hoping to see evidence of an emerging parenting style. Am I an Attachment Parent? Or am I Detached? What are my philosophies on where, when, and…how the baby should sleep? Or eat? To wear or not to wear the baby? Our days go something like this: Wake up. We've already woken up several times, this waking up is unique because it's daylight. Perhaps the baby is in the crib next to the bed. In this case, we're Room Sharing. More… >> Read More
Two weeks and one day ago, I gave birth to my daughter. It was a pretty amazing experience, all the way up to the point when she was born. Then, while I was luckily distracted by holding my little…girl skin-to-skin, I had a postpartum hemorrhage, eventually treated by a Pitocin drip, and some stitches. With those two surprises on top of the exhausting work of giving birth, I was glad to spend those first two nights in the hospital. Knowing that help getting to the bathroom was just a call button away, that… >> Read More
Living on an island in Maine--unreachable other than by boat, plane, or helicopter--has its challenges and its pluses. For every moment of feeling like I live in a Manhattan-sized fish bowl--for…every canceled ferry boat--there are moments when our tiny community, with just 350 or so year-round residents, functions like a loving family. If someone has a medical emergency, not only are they often cared for and transported off the island by our volunteer emergency medical service, but a card will appear at the island's one… >> Read More
It took my husband and I seven years of cohabitation to decide to get married, and another year to decide that we wanted to have a baby. In her newest Kindle Single,
author and…comedienne Mara Altman attempts to make the same life-changing decision. She interviews experts, crashes a prenatal yoga class , inflicts a practice baby doll on herself and her husband, and wears a pregnancy belly as she hilariously and candidly explores the innards of her biological clock. I appreciate her candor and humor and was thrilled… >> Read More
The Maine island we live on is in transition from winter to spring. Ice and snow have given way to alternating drizzle and sunshine. Frost heaves (out here we call them “Thank you ma’ams!”)…are flattening themselves out, and back yards and sheds are filling up with freshly painted pot buoys. Murders of crows are sharing the roadsides with flocks of robins. I’m transitioning with the seasons. We saw the baby in 3D at our last ultrasound, and checked her for growth restriction (all good!). My baby shower was… >> Read More
Allow me to kvetch for a moment. At 32-weeks-pregnant, pelvic instability has become my constant companion. The tendon connecting my left leg to the rest of my body feels like it’s been tightened…past its limits. Something deep in my butt just feels wrong. The outside of my right hip aches. And my lower back feels out of joint, and I can’t lie on my stomach to have my husband crack it. Oh, and he woke me up twice last night to ask me to please stop snoring… >> Read More
My husband and I have been in our house for almost seven years now. After moving houses (all on the island, which has a dearth of year-round rentals) a total of seven times in our first two years…here and resisting the accumulation of a whole lot of stuff (besides the necessities, including a complete menagerie of musical instruments), we’ve been able to relax, spread out and acquire. We sort through things annually and donate to Goodwill or bring things to our town transfer station, which functions as an on-going free swap meet… >> Read More
When I read about the Evil Eye as a kid, I imagined it as an eye in the sky, ready to glare at anyone who boasted of their accomplishments or counted their chickens before they hatched. But the…Evil Eye is, and always has been, other people. Salon.com recently published an essay by (Kveller contributor) Elissa Strauss discussing the new tyranny of the “bad mommy": Instead, today’s bad mommies are as smug, and even sometimes smugger, than those good mommies they aimed to resist. These parents, products of a culture that thinks it… >> Read More
The surprising thing about living on an island is just how much there is to do. Once my husband and I bought a house and made a long-term commitment to life on North Haven, we became a hot…commodity. In addition to our jobs (teaching for me, plumbing and now programming at our community center for my husband), we serve in town government, volunteer with the ambulance crew, teach music lessons, and attempt to maintain a social life. I direct three or four plays each year, for which my husband either acts or… >> Read More
On New Year’s Eve, two of my dearest friends announced that they would be throwing me a baby shower. They also did my wedding shower, a co-ed garden party in my back yard. Guests were only…allowed to bring plants or gardening products (seven years of pre-marital cohabitation meant we had all the pots and pans already, and we were doing a travel registry for the wedding itself). It was gorgeous, the food was delicious, and it was exactly the way I thought it should be. “You have to let us… >> Read More