Sunday, March 29, 2015

Look at the dim side...

First---thank you guys so much for all the support on my last post. I felt better immediately, reading your comments, and its incredibly soothing to know I'm not alone! And yes, its 21 DAYS, I saw that the second I posted it, and fixed it, but I think the original must be on your readers?

I can't express how enamored I am of the strategy of low expectations. If things turn out awful, you have the satisfaction of having predicted it. If they turn out OK, well you win again!

So far the weekend went way better than the pit in my stomach Friday afternoon predicted. When I got home Friday, L was at home with my MIL and he wanted to come with me to walk the dog, and he insisted on riding his scooter. After the dog did her business, we had a blast scootering and running up and down the garden block full speed.

Saturday, after a KILLER workout, I took a surprisingly cheerful B to karate and then out for lunch in Chinatown. G, L, and MIL took a car to go to L's classmate's birthday party. When B & I got on the bus to go home, I realized my keys were not in my pocket. We hopped off, retraced our steps, did not find them at the restaurant or the karate studio, and needed to find a way to spend 2.5 hours before the rest of the family came home. There was a library branch around the corner from karate so we went there---this library did not have a separated kids' section, so we couldn't read out loud. Thankfully we found a box of crayons and some print-outs to color and then a computer opened up and no one else came in, so we spent the over an hour playing "Dora's magic castle". I had to help him maneuver the mouse and we had multiple lessons on "how to left click". B was so GOOD---cheerful and flexible, despite walking miles all over the city in the cold, that the whole thing was quite enjoyable. We headed home and the kids watched a movie while G & I got to go on a magical kid-free grocery & liquor store shopping trip! It was so relaxing! We got to chat along the way!

Got home and played with the kids who were both in great moods. I was laughing hysterically at the games L invented, including "hide and seek" with dinosaurs. Except the way he plays hide and seek is to excitedly tell the seeker where he hid the dinosaur. We had to physically restrain him to keep him from telling B where all of our dinos were hiding! Finally calmed them down and got them to bed and G & I went out for a post-dinner date night.

It was pretty lame, actually. We went to a wine bar nearby---for some reason they had the music up SO LOUD everyone had to shout to have their companions here them. We each had 2 drinks and shared a cheese plate & then a dessert, but halfway through (it was 9:30 at this point) we both started yawning and the conversation stalled. I'm glad we went because it would've seemed like a waste of free babysitting to not go anywhere, but honestly we could've gotten 3 cheeses from TJs and split a bottle of wine at home for a fraction of the cost, and without the hearing damage.

Today has been meh. I'm tired, probably from going full out yesterday without a break. Its even colder. The kids are fighting and grumpy. Everyone left a while ago for the science museum, and I have been cooking/making lunches/cleaning up. I'm supposed to be hemming a night gown for my MIL but I'm writing this instead. I better go re-learn how to set up the sewing machine, its been 2 years since I last used it.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Thoughts

Whoa is me edition. In bullets for easier consumption
  • Insomnia is THE WORST. I've been tired for all sorts of reasons, and the one thing that keeps me going is the thought of sweet sweet sleep at the end of the day. Except with insomnia, I've got the thought of yet another night tossing and turning despite being so tired you want to throw up. 
  • My mother-in-law is here. This is the end of day 6 of 21. Her being here makes me so anxious for so many reasons. Ugh. Its not even like I get all this free time to do other things because I've either been busy with work or I don't actually have anything fun to do.
  • I'm sure those two are related.
  • We did plan a night away NEXT weekend. We booked a car and a night at a dog-friendly hotel (so we don't also have to find & pay a dog-sitter). The kids will get almost 2 full days of being totally and completely spoiled rotten with sugar and screen time. 
  • Hopefully the time away will give G and I a chance to talk about several issues we just haven't had the time/energy to discuss despite living in the same damn house.  Including the 25th time we discuss WHY we don't make time to talk/energy to talk to each other.
  • This weekend we have: saturday: Karate for B, birthday party for L and sunday: swimming for B, science museum for all (except me, since we only have 4 passes in our membership I'll stay home and cook & clean whoo!). And its going to be cold. I'm not super looking forward to it.
  • I really need some friends. I have no one to complain to/bond with over all this crap. Also no one to do fun things with that isn't my immediate family. If there is anything I miss about being younger, its having a handful or more of good friends.
  • I don't think I'm as much of an introvert as I thought I was. I just need some quiet time at home once in a while, and I don't love  am terrified of meeting new people or small talk. I very much like and NEED interaction with people I feel comfortable with. I HATE that I work in an office all by myself and can go days without talking to anyone, and have no one to commiserate or celebrate with over the day to day things or the big life-changing things. Its very isolating. I miss the cameraderie of working in the lab. I wonder how much my success during that time was driven simply by being happy where I was.
  • Its surprisingly easy not to buy things that I don't need. I have spent $0 on material things for myself in 2015. Its near impossible to get costs down on our needs, though. Our grocery bill is astounding and I have no idea how to fix it without spending a lot of time going to various stores or inventing new recipes. G and I are at loggerheads about the cell phone plan (he wants to keep the fancy expensive one). Its not HARD but its miserable not to spend on experiences that aren't needs but are wants---eating food outside the home, activities for kids, travel. We are continuously having to tweak our budget and less goes into savings than I plan each month because we spend it all.
  • Reading about certain things still causes intense feelings: third pregnancies, nursing babies. I try to tread lightly but I can't help it, once I notice it, its too late. (feelings such as: jealousy, inadequacy, regret)
Well its 5pm, lets get this party started. (by party I mean, walk home, walk the dog, deal with tired no-nap kid who's home with MIL, side step prickly MIL comments, await cranky had to go to school kid, and begin weekend)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Springing Ahead

The snow has melted, the days are longer, and we all just got better from a week of alternating illnesses (upper respiratory and GI in a wondrous mix). Everything's coming up Ana!

I was inspired by reading SHU's evening routine post to make some changes to our own evenings. For multiple reasons, we've completely switched things up lately. We enrolled B in an evening activity (karate, 2 blocks from his school, 5:30-6, M/W) so we have to tag team the pick up, where one of us takes B to class and the other gets L home & walks the dog (typically G brings them home and I go home & walk the dog, the daycare is 2 blocks from his office). That means more one on one kid time which both of us find so much more enjoyable than trying to wrangle both kids. Because B is starving after karate, we started sending a small "dinner" for him to eat before class. And then, since he liked that, we started sending dinners with both boys some days. Which means we no longer eat together as a family most nights. It also means we can: go to the park, stop for a treat on the way home, go to the library, or just PLAY together instead of struggling through trying to get kids who are excited to be home with their toys to wash hands, sit at table on bottoms, eat, use manners, wait until everyone is done. There was always nagging, often yelling, and sometimes tears. And G and I had to hoover down our food while we tended to the kids' needs for more this and I dropped that and the DAILY bathroom breaks during dinner (gastro-colic reflex must be strong).

We don't do it everyday (because we frankly can't get it together to pre-cook a dinner every weeknight), and we'll probably take a break from it when G's mom is here for the next 3 weeks, but it was just so so freeing to finally recognize that no one was getting anything except rage out of family dinners right now, and our time with our kids has way more quality doing other things.

Since I now have to leave work early to head across town twice a week, I started going in earlier on those days. Which means our mornings have changed, too. Negotiating this schedule led to a realization and then a discussion about my need to start working as early as possible to take advantage of my energy cycle. I am a morning person, and using that precious morning energy on wrangling kids (which also sometimes led to fights with G)---which left me spent by the time I even got to work---was a really poor time/energy management. I will no longer take the kids to school outside of special circumstances (I used to do it once or twice a week because the kids asked me to) and I will not wait around watching the kids while G gets ready (his morning routine is a whole different arena and his problem to solve). They can play alone or watch a show the way they do on the days I leave early for clinic.

I'm sitting here writing this after a very atypical day. I woke up at 5:30 to work out, got ready, then did laundry and lunch prep for tomorrow waiting to take B to the dentist at 9:30. After the dentist, I met G and we went to the bank to close on the refinance of our mortgage. We finished early and got lunch from a food cart and ate it at a park near city hall. Then I walked home and worked full tilt from noon-5, got everything done in half the time, and now I will take the dog out. G is taking the boys to the park since its the last nice day this week so they may not be home until late. We'll give them a snack, get them to bed, and eat dinner while watching...not sure...we finished House of Cards last night.

I'm not happy with this post, its poorly written, but I know its better to just start back up and the more inspired posts will come. Still haven't worked out a blogging routine. How do you guys make time?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Odds and more odds

Obviously can't get it together to tackle all the meaty issues I really want to discuss here, but our noon conference got cancelled so I'll throw out some bullets

  • My parents came for a few days earlier this month. They couldn't have come at a more perfect time, when we sincerely needed some help and distraction for the kids. It was also nice to spend time with them. I'm so grateful they are both still in relatively good health at 67 & 70 years of age.
  • We've figured out school (or, it was figured out for us) for B next year. I also put a deposit on after school care. Regardless of my concerns about this momentous transition, its nice to have it sorted. We also went to a meet & greet with parents/kids of next year's KG class and it was amazingly fun for adults and for B. Its a good group.
  • Buying plane tickets certainly upsets the budget! We bought 4 tickets to fly across the country (1 will be reimbursed, since its conference travel for me), 4 tickets to fly down south for our annual beach trip and 1 ticket to fly my MIL down next month for a visit, all in the past 5 weeks. Since I just started budgeting in January, I hadn't added anything to our "vacation" fund yet so its all a big mess.
  • Clothes shopping ban is easy peasy. Its too cold to wear anything "cute", but I do feel like I'm wearing half of the clothes I own all at the same time on any given day. 
  • e.g. Today I'm wearing 2 pairs of socks & snow boots, fleece lined tights under cords, a tunic under a sweater dress, and a scarf. and that is INDOORS because my office is ridiculous. But last time I asked them to make it warmer, I had to strip down to tank tops in the middle of winter, so I'm not sure what's worse.
  • My HIIT  coach is leaving for at least a few months (if not permanently). I was actually quite sad when he told me. He is a rare gem of a teacher that can motivate me to work out without annoying the ever loving crap out of me. I hope the new teachers aren't terrible enough to make me quit because I've never been stronger. 
  • Another cold/snowy/rainy weekend ahead. Must think of "anchor events" to prevent total despondence. 
  • L has wind burn on his little face. Its the saddest thing. "My cheeks are COLD FIRE"
  • Its like we're sleep training again, trying to get L to stay in his own bed over night. So far bribes are working the best, but he tends to forget and come upstairs and we have to get up in the cold cold and take him back down. We are tired. But the partial co-sleeping was making us more tired because he's gotten to be more noisy, grabby and annoying in his sleep and both parents were bleary-eyed and angry (its a special kind of exhausted irritability. sleepy angry. slangry? can we make that a thing?)
  • Pretty much every person north of the MDL says this every year around this time, but I really can't wait until Spring! After too many home-bound weekends, we start a whirlwind of activity mid-March: visit to sister, MIL visit--which will enable G & I a weekend away, our cross-country trip, and then few weeks later our (early this year because 3/4 cousins start KG in September) beach trip!

Whoo hoo, I managed a 10 minute blog post! 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

By a very thin thread

We have arrived (yet again) to a low point in parenting. Just today I told sneered at B that "I hate you" "You're stupid" in response to his outbursts. I know. That was immediately after I told him I'd smack him if he didn't listen. And before I locked him out of the room because I was worried that I would. And only one day after I used the cruel (but ultimately effective) trick of completely ignoring him for  when I simply could not deal with him anymore.

B is testing our limits and pushing us right past them these past few weeks. After remarkable improvements in his behavior this fall, when we honestly believed we had come out the other side, things have gone rapidly downhill this winter. No he's not sick (I hoped it was something short lived like that), nothing happened at school, we are feeding him plenty and he is getting sufficient sleep. Activity levels are definitely less, with the cold weather, and that may be contributing. But truthfully, while that explains some of the end of the day wildness that we see in both boys, it does not explain satisfactorily to me why B wakes up (on his own!) grumpy and defiant at 7AM every day and continues that way until bedtime.

There is constant back-talk and excuses. Whenever we ask him (nicely, the first 8 times) to do something (mostly put away toys or help out in some marginal manner) we get "You do it". "I don't have to. Its not my job." and it goes on from there. Everything is hated, stupid, the worst. I hate school. I hate this house. I hate the park. I hate you. He had gotten really good at sharing and being patient for his turn---that's gone. If he wants it, he'll grab or complain bitterly and loudly until he gets his way. He hits. He throws. Anytime he sees someone with something he wants, he gets petulant and whiny "why can't I have that. Can you buy me that. Its not FAIR that you never buy  me that".

We've tried time outs, a sticker chart, a penny jar, carrots, sticks, hugs, more one-on-one time you name it. Everything I've read about or heard about or got from my therapist, we are trying. We've taken away privileges until there was literally nothing else to take away and had a endure weeks without music, screen time, legos, treats. Any admonishment or discipline is followed by hitting/talking back and then lots and lots of loud, dramatic, wailing. 

He's his normal self at school. At home, when and if we can get him engaged in something---like coloring, or building a snowman, or making a lego creation, he's fine---until something sets him off again (he wants a piece that L is using). Its like pulling teeth to get him out of the house to do something, but once he's at swimming, he's grinning and splashing (after 15 minutes of "I HATE swimming. You go swimming. Swimming is stupid. I'm not wearing my coat")

On top of it all, of course, we have L. Who is  sweet and hilarious but also...three. Lots of wanting to do it myself but can't but don't help me but I can't but AAAAGHHHH. Still needing lots of carry you, and sit your lap and getting up at night to climb into our bed and keep us from sleeping. Still trying to kill himself in creative ways if we are not constantly vigilant (swallowing pennies, climbing onto stove, running into street, putting plastic bags on his head, etc...).

And the fighting. oh lord the constant squabbling and wanting exactly what the other has regardless of how useless and dinky that thing may be. The constant "MOMMY, L did x" "WAAAH. B did y!"

I am running out have run out of patience most days. I'm discouraged and demoralized and I loathe myself for the way I lose it and yell and scream and grab his arm. And then I see G lose it, in his own (bigger, scarier) way and I lose it with him, too. Maybe we're not cut out for this, but that doesn't really matter at this point, does it?

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Only Way Out is Through

Well I dived right into the "learn about money" thing and I've gotten a lot further than I could ever have hoped in 3 weeks. The hardest, and best (because isn't that just one of life's truths?) part was just taking my head out of the sand and shedding some light on our financial situation. In some ways it was much better than I expected (we do have some assets saved up!), in some ways worse (there really isn't much fat to trim in our budget, we have a lot of very expensive monthly expenses). Money had turned into something stressful and scary and the way I deal with stress & fear is to turn off the light, close the door, and slowly but surely sidle far far away from the situation.

Of course, denial is not an effective method of dealing with shit in life. And knowing that scary thing is still there, somewhere, and may have actually grown bigger & scarier ends up being more stressful than the initial situation. Once I actually confronted the situation, and got over the initial fear and anxiety, I could approach it in a very practical, emotion-free, and step-wise manner. I'm doing the math and the research, and making things happen. Seeing the cold hard numbers has also surprisingly helped me get over any guilt or remorse over sunk costs. Yes we lost this, but we still have that, and we overspent on this, but we can cut back on that and make it up. I feel like I'm in charge of this, and its all about choices I (we) make, and that is pretty empowering.

So, of course, I naturally started thinking about other areas of life I could implement a similar strategy and I've thought of several. These are all things I've actively worked on in the past and been completely unable to make much forward progress.  I have decided (and I literally just had this epiphany last week) to approach such problems with equanimity. While not initially obvious to me, I've recognized that there are elements of fear and guilt associated with issues as diverse as marriage, body image, parenting and work. (i.e. pretty much my entire life!) and I need to entangle those emotions to be able to see what the actual problems (if any!) are and then work on addressing them. Its not going to be a quick fix, it may indeed be a lifetime's worth of work, but I am up for the challenge.

Monday, January 5, 2015

2015 Word of the Year and Fun List

I admit I like the "one word" for the year thing. Its completely arbitrary to declare a focus for any specific 365-day period, and to begin that period on January 1st makes it even more ridiculous. But, I like reflection and taking stock and making plans and goals so here we go.

My word for 2015 is: Strength.

This one came to mind immediately when I thought of my goals for the upcoming year. I've been working really hard on personal strength, both physical and mental (HIIT! Therapy!) and also on strengthening my marriage and relationships. I want to continue working on these things, and have no desire or space for starting anything new.

The Fun List for this year has a few repeats---things I did and want to do again, as well as things I didn't get through and still want to try.
  • Vacation, just the 4 of us
  • Orchestra performance
  • Summer concert in the park
  • Museum exhibit without the kids
  • Do an "activity" date---take a class, go bowling, etc...
  • Find 4 new bands/artists that I like
  • Ice-skating, with B (G refuses, L is too little)
  • Host a party at our house
  • Celebrate birthdays in big (yet small) ways
  • See Fourth of July fireworks
  • Weekend away without the kids 
These seem manageable---some are already in the works and some just require me booking the sitter and getting tickets. I really want to have a party, its been several years, and there isn't anything seriously wrong with our house that would preclude having party---just laziness on our parts.
I'm looking forward to it!