Thursday, July 13, 2017

Five Weeks of Summer

Its actually closer to 4 weeks by now. The amount of time we had in between the boys getting back from their time with cousins/grandparents and us all going to visit MIL (and leave them with her for a couple weeks). I didn't account for the 4 days I'm going to be away on a solo trip visiting friends. So yeah, its short.

I'm trying to plan our weekends to include our summer fun items. Also trying very very hard to say YES to things. I've been playing hours of games with B because he keeps asking, and I know he'll be out of the Phase 10 phase soon enough (that's how he rolls, serial monogamy with obsessions), even when I really really want to just chill out or get started on dinner after work.  We are trying to loosen up on bedtime and treats (but not screen time, because it messes with their heads and makes them crazy). I've thought about doing more stuff in the evenings but its really just so hot, and I'm so tired by the time we get home, that I just want to sit around.

I'm still having that vacation-brain where I don't WANT to work, even though I want to HAVE WORKED. Its taking all kinds of tricks (internet blockers, pomodoro timers, changing locations, giving myself little rewards) to get done what i need to get done. I am coming in early since I have to pick B up by 5 at camp, which is at least taking advantage of my morning clarity.

Hope everyone is having a taste of summer!


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Checks

The weekend was OK. The kids were really really challenging and I don't think either of us was quite up for the challenge. We did have pizza on Sunday, we went to a neighborhood place and actually sat outside in the gorgeous weather enjoying prosecco and pizza. On Saturday after the park we stopped to get lunch and I had a vegan tahina-based Turkish coffee milkshake which was so so so so good (I can't drink milk so I haven't had a milkshake in decades). So maybe THAT was the highlight.

Despite the bewildering "food should be boring" statement, which I've decided is just not for me, you guys really should listen to that podcast. I keep finding myself thinking about some of the ideas, not for food at all, but for general coping. I don't mind taking what I can from a resource and leaving the rest, and there was a lot of wisdom there that I suspect would be useful to anyone.

On the (long-ignored) advice from our therapist, we started behavior charts for the boys. They get checks for avoiding bad behaviors/executing good behaviors. I tried to keep it simple but it ended up having way too many rows because I was trying to cover EVERYTHING. And that is a lot. No hitting, no bad words, do chores without complaining, etc... G made a joke that we needed one for ourselves and I made those last night. Mine has 3 items: No yelling/mean talk, No junk food after dinner, and Put phone away. Of course I have several other things I am working on, but I track those on an app on my phone (meditate, exercise, go to bed by 10, avoid alcohol, avoid certain foods, etc...).  Sunday I got zero checks, but Monday I hit all 3.

I haven't quite figured out all the details for the charts. What do the boys get when they get x number of checks? Right now I told them it was related to screen time on the weekend (they lost their screen time last weekend, so we never did watch the HP movie), which is their most coveted prize. Last time I bribed them (to stop bedtime shenanigans), I got them books after x number of nights. That was pretty straightforward, and it worked. I have a feeling this may go the way of the "marble system" or "pennies in a cup" we had in the past. They were excited and motivated initially, and then just didn't care anymore and we ended up ditching it. I dunno. My sister has been using her marble jars for YEARS with her kids and they still want to earn them...but my kids are very different from hers.

We are also working on anger/frustration and rigidity with B with his group social skills therapist. We talk about "being bendy" (flexible) and try to place events correctly on the "big deal-o-meter" so that every little slight and injustice is not the end of the world (or of our family's peace). Man this stuff is so so hard. Definitely not an innate skillset for me, but I'm learning as I go. 


Friday, July 7, 2017

Back Into It

For such a short week, Friday took a surprisingly long time to come, didn't it?

Our kids are back, the 4th is over, we are back into the grind of camp and daycare and activities and cooking dinner and not drinking every night.

I've been listening to a very interesting podcast and thinking I need to work on my relationship with food. It called "Weight Loss for Busy Physicians" but has practically nothing to do with physicians and is actually applicable to a lot more than weight loss. She talks about stress and coping and basically CBT (changing your thinking so that you can change your emotions, your outcomes, and your results).

One thing she said that I'm still trying to wrap my head around is this: "Make your food boring, and your life exciting".  My first thoughts: "Wait, what? But food is often the ONLY excitement, and reliable source of enjoyment, in my day!" Which, when said out loud, definitely sounds a bit sad and like a person who needs to make some changes in their life. Even when I'm eating exceedingly healthy foods, I still look forward to eating way too much.

To illustrate, I have been considering our weekend activities. Sunday we are going "hiking" (walking on trails in a woodsy park) which may or may not involve whining for snacks and hitting each other with large sticks, and hopefully will not result in us bringing home more ticks. I also told the boys I'd watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets with them, and we would get pizza. Its supposed to be nice out, so probably some more park time, and the boys are super into playing Phase 10 (B) and Uno (L) so certainly we will be busting those cards out. Plus the usual chores. Of all of those things, I have to say, the only one I can say for 100% will be enjoyable is...the pizza.  I mean, I can't control weather and wildlife and moods and behaviors of children. And I don't want to stake my expectations too high on any of those things, because disappointment is sure to follow. Food is just such a constant.

If you've figured this whole thing out, help is welcome.



Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Sound of Silence

The kids have been away since Saturday. Its been...nice. Really nice. We got back at dinnertime Saturday evening and went to have some sushi. Sunday I worked out, cleaned and cooked all day to get ready for a dinner party of friends. Which was quite fun & low key.

We've been at work every day this week, but getting extra workouts. We even ran TOGETHER this morning, which was great, because I wasn't really feeling it and needed the push. We've gone on walks after dinner. The weather has been gorgeous, just perfect so far, so lots of walking and talking.

I've been reading and listening to podcasts a lot. So much less cleaning to do. We actually don't need to clean the kitchen after eating leftovers if the kids aren't here to spill & smear.

Do I miss them? Kind of...maybe? I know I will see them again in 3 days and life will go back to its routine chaos and noise level so for now I'm just enjoying the silence.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Twelve Years (and 5 days)

guys, I've been trying to write this post since MONDAY. (hence the 5 days)

Lets just do some quick bullet points so I can get over it and move on to the next topic:

1) Sunday was our 12th anniversary. What a difference 4 years makes. We were in a VERY different place back then, with a 1 and 3 year old and my untreated anxiety and chronic sleep deprivation.
2) We celebrated by going to a (very big, stadium-type) concert. It was hot and steamy and a late LATE night for a worknight, but work it. Nostalgia galore.
3) The night before we had a fantastic meal, and fab conversation on our (blog-friend + spouses) triple-dinner-date. So fun, like meeting old-new friends.
4) It was also a late night, and I ended up waking up at 9:30 on Sunday and had to rush to get Father's Day Brunch/Late lunch on the table. I was pretty proud of my cooking, though, I made this and this from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook.
5) B finished 1st grade. It was anti-climactic because we went to his karate studio/aftercare for camp on Wednesday. Thursday I took him to some appointments, and then today we went to see...
6) L graduate from pre-K. cuteness overload + pizza and cake. Now I'm back at work while G hangs with the kids.Thankfully I got the kids to help me pack yesterday for...
7) Their 9-day-parent-free cousin/grandparent adventure. As pay back for watching her kids over here for spring break, we are dropping the boys off tomorrow (and turning around and driving the 3 hours right back home) to enjoy a nice kid-free week. We've planned minimally, and really just want to relax and maybe work on some home-repair & carpentry projects (G) and do some more adventurous cooking (me).
8) We are making our way slowly through House of Cards. I'm not loving this season. I really want to watch The Handmaids Tale, but we don't have Hulu. I'm reading Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (thanks for the rec, SHU)---I chose it for our book club in July. I'm also finishing up the Prisoner of Azkaban (I wanted to ensure it was appropriate before I read it to the boys, it is so far). And I've got a couple other books going (phone/Kindle/real...I always have at least 3). I'm giving Josh and Hrishi a break and making my way through the Happier podcast archives.

Have a great weekend all, I'll have loads of time (theoretically) to write next week!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Spring Fever

(or I think I need a vacation)

Its been really hard for me to focus at work lately. I'm writing this now as I obsessively check my phone for texts from G, who is at urgent care with L, to see if his arm is broken  after a fall off the monkey bars last night. So today's version of scatter-brain has a good reason. (UPDATE: its not broken, I still don't want to work)

But for the past few weeks its been a daily struggle. Every morning its that "ugh, I have to go to work now" feeling. Which isn't unusual, mornings are kind of like that. Typically, though, I arrive and dive right in, immersed and productive, until I'm dragged back ashore by my "leave to pick up B" phone alert. These days its like pulling teeth---forcing myself to get through tasks, frequently finding myself daydreaming, or doing completely non-work-related things like planning vacations, shopping, looking up recipes. I'm doing what I absolutely need to do, but I'm hating every minute of it.

I'm not falling into that amazing phase of "flow", where my brain  finds its rhythm and happily runs along, writing/thinking/researching/analyzing and the time just slips away. This is what I love about academia, the reason I put up with all the associated stress. Without it, I question my whole career.

It has been beautiful outside, particularly on the weekdays. I want to enjoy it. I have good books to read, I want to get back to them. I've been wanting to go shopping, to actual stores. I haven't actually had more than one day off from work since the holidays. We usually take a week off in May or June, and I typically go to a spring conference, that I'm skipping this year. So I probably DO need a vacation, or at least a stay-cation, though I don't have spare vacation days and I really really need to get some papers written before our trip in August.

I'm going to try taking my laptop to a coffee shop on campus later today. Or put my head phones on and listen to background noise or music for a change. I can't keep doing the same thing and excepting different results. I don't want to work, but I want to want to work.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Being Ana

Lately I feel like I'm a different, but vaguely familiar, person to who I have been for the past decade or so. I think I'm rediscovering the real me, buried under years of working too hard, sleeping too little, being too anxious and sad and exhausted, to really have much of any personality at all.

Maybe its also age, and giving way less of a fuck what others think. Or my kids growing up and finding a bit of space outside the constant subversion of my wants for their constant, all-consuming ones. Or feeling a much more stable foundation in my marriage and my mental health, upon which I can actually branch out, and grow. 

Probably its a combination of all those things. But its definitely a good thing. 

I've been way more extroverted. Just this month I've planned several social outings as a family, a couple, and myself with friends and colleagues. Last weekend we went to a neighborhood picnic and I mingled and had a blast. We invited other friends over for dinner Sunday. And that was after a mid-week BFF happy hour. Next weekend a triple dinner date and then a concert with G. I got a group of colleagues together for a drink Thursday evening.  I bought plane tickets to visit friends down south this summer for 3 nights, solo. 

I'm reading constantly and unapologetically. 3 books going at any time---phone/kindle/"real" book. Trying new music after years of promising to without actually committing, and excited about seeing more concerts. Instead of trying to plan things every minute of the weekend to stay out of the house, I'm enjoying our time at home. There is puttering. I missed puttering. It leads to ideas, and creativity, and conversations that sometimes just need space to evolve. The constant need to DO DO DO was driven at least in part by my fear of stillness, and the thoughts and feelings that would invade.

Writing it out it seems minimal and pretty mundane, but life certainly feels different. And better.