Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Meta

Otherwise known as, the obligatory blogging about blogging post. This is inspired by Sarah's recent post reflecting on her nearly-decade old (!!!) blog, which just happened to come at a time when I've been similarly weighing the pros and cons of continuing to spend my time and energy here and contemplating new ways to keep it fresh and interesting.

When I took my recent unintended "break", it did occur to me that this could be permanent. I didn't have to muster up the motivation to generate new content. Its a hobby I'm doing solely for myself, not a commitment I've made to anyone. It wasn't that I didn't want to keep writing. I'm just a generally…lazy type of person. An object at rest and all that. The longer I go without doing something, even something I really enjoy, the more motivation and energy it takes for me to get back into the habit (see: exercise. also…sex). Sometimes I do have to push myself over the hump, and then I'm good to go.

Why do I enjoy blogging? Mainly its the sense of community. I like virtually discussing things with you guys, getting your thoughts on my little dilemmas, weighing in on yours. A comment on Sarah's post (by OMDG) brought up the question of whether having this virtual community takes away from the desire/motivation to find and nurture off-line friendships. To some extent, this may be true. But mostly I feel that the relationships I've developed here are more of a complement than a substitute to real-life social interactions. And, as I've mentioned before, there really are some topics that are off-limits in many of my IRL friendships. Its not that I'm talking about it here instead of with non-blog friends---I'm talking about it here instead of not talking about it at all. 

I also find it therapeutic to write things out, it helps me process and confront my issues. I'm extremely conflict-averse, and prone to avoid even thinking about upsetting topics, but having to write about what's going on in my life---and striving to be honest about it---pushes me to unearth things I would've left buried. I honestly don't think I'd have started actively working on my marriage (and we're already seeing rewards!) if I hadn't been blogging.

So, yes, I plan to continue blogging. And I'll probably spend the bulk of my time here on the same old topics of work, marriage, motherhood. Maybe I'll throw in some more diverse topics---I do think about other stuff, like politics, feminism, TV, fashion, etc… Given that I can and do often discuss those things with friends, acquaintances, my husband, they are less critical to delve into here---but I'm also interested to hear your take on those things.

Ha! You're stuck with me, I'm not going anywhere anytime soon!!!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

How 'bout me?

G & I joke that we need that title emblazoned across a T-shirt for L, because he says it upwards of 50 times a day. Anytime we do anything with B, hug him, tickle him, tell him a joke or a story, tell him to do something...sure enough "How bout me?" repeated until we do the same to L. Also heard upwards of 50 times per day in our house is "Aargh, isn't he the cutest?" Because he is. He is one of those kids that people stop to comment on...big eyes, bilateral dimples, long eyelashes, wicked smile, and a ready "HI!" to anyone in earshot.

L is our snugglebug...he'll happily cuddle on my chest. He's still into "BUTTIE" (belly button), and I have to watch out in public because he's prone to pull up my shirt and exposure my least favorite body part to the world. He sucks his thumb whenever he sleeps, is sleepy, is upset, or is wary of a new situation.

He'll greet strangers all the live long day, but gets shy when someone actually talks to him. He loves to make funny faces or do little dances to make us laugh.

L is also my naughty one. He'll take B's things and purposefully run away with them, throw them down the stairs, shut the door and proclaim "That's BETTer!" He says that like a cartoon villain with the catch-phrases...he KNOWS we think its funny. He is the one to throw things into the toilet, or dump out an entire GALLON of liquid soap on our bedroom floor after lugging it up TWO FLIGHTS of stairs. He'll push the step stool over to where ever he's not supposed to reach, get what he wants, and stealthily move it back (this is where we usually catch him).

He loves everything his brother loves, like Toy Story, scootering,  painting and Laurie Berkner. He still can't figure out how puzzles work but wants to do them and then "HELP me!" but "NO, MY turn" when we try to show him how it goes. He is very much my "Do it self" or more accurately "I try!!" kid. He has gotten really good with the paintbrush, and the scooter outside just by sheer obstinance.

And boy this kid could make a mule look like a pansy-ass pushover with his stubborness. There is no reasoning with him when he wants something. There isn't a punishment or argument in the world that would get him to change his mind. Either we give in, or he cries/screams/rages himself out---and then continues to bring it up for the next 3 days. I tried to take him up for a nap last Sunday, he used to be OK with napping with us in the bed, but as soon as we got up there he lashed out, clawed at my eyes and pulled my hair and screamed until I brought him downstairs and he snuggled on my chest and sucked his thumb.

Food is a major area where the obstinance kicks in. The kid exits almost completely on fruits and the syrup he sucks out of the waffle in the morning. He used to eat oatmeal every day but lately has asked for other things that he completely ignores. The one food he eats is tacos. His favorite book is "Dragons love tacos". Coincidence?

Tantrums and all, L is a delight. He keeps all 4 of us laughing every day. I can't wait to see him grow up, I'm sure it will be entertaining if nothing else.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cherish

B loves to listen to music. His current favorite CD is Madonna's Immaculate Collection (I wonder who prompted that one…) and his favorite track is #14 (he memorizes the NUMBER of the songs so he can find it on the laptop and put it on…his work-around for not being able to read). You know the one "So tired of broken hearts and losing at this game..Before I start this dance, I take a chance, in telling you I want more than just romance…" (totally appropriate 4-year old boy song, but at least better than the one he used to like "Some boys kiss me, some boys hug me, I think they're OK…") We like to put it on and have a little dance party. B, L, and I can really break it down!

B at 4 is constantly fascinating and infuriating me. I love his curiosity, his humor, his love of words and puns and stories. We share little inside jokes, he tells me about his dreams, he asks some really great questions that force us both to learn about new topics (most recently, sewage treatment plants because "but what happens to the poop mommy?"). I love his enthusiasm for music, painting, mixing and seasoning in the kitchen, running and climbing. In many ways he's a typical kid, in others, he is decidedly unique. He once spent 30 minutes re-arranging our pile of shoes near the front door, trying and re-trying with single-minded determination to make them all fit on the boot tray like it was a game of Tetris. He tells me he wants to be a girl so he can have long hair and wear barrettes, but the next day he wants a haircut because he can't see when hair is in his face.

I can't stand the whining, the feigned helplessness, the constant "I can't do it" and "I NEVER get to do xyz" (with xyz=something he was literally just doing, but had to stop for health/safety/time reasons).
He's smart, but he doesn't like to try, which worries me for his future. I am trying to instill a growth mindset, but he is pretty stubborn in his insistence that he "can't do anything"(swimming, soccer, putting his clothes on) because its not easy. He is just as stubborn in his insistence that he actually does "know everything"(how to keep himself safe, choose healthy foods) when he doesn't like what we are trying to teach him. He likes to make excuses for his bad behavior, or shunt the blame to someone/something else; I assume this is normal behavior for 4 year olds and 20 years and 40 year olds alike.

My time with B is full of contradictions. I both look forward to and dread the morning and bedtime routines. I can't wait for the weekend, and can't wait for it to be over some times. I am cherishing the joyful moments, and slogging through the monotony of constant reprimanding/scolding/reminding. As G said it so succinctly this weekend "This parenting thing is HARD". But awesome. Really awesome.

But also hard.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Jumping right back in

I didn't really mean to disappear. Nothing changed or happened, I was just spending my time doing other things---reading books, becoming addicted to a stupid i-phone game, taking the kids to the park after work,  reading more books, on-line shopping, and trying to get through Season 7 of the West Wing. So...pretty much status quo.

I'm so relieved that its finally spring. Even though its been in the 30s the past few mornings, requiring winter coats, at least its light out. There are finally some cherry blossoms in bloom, and weeds are poking through in our planters. Its time to schedule the dreaded garden store run (either we all go, and its chaos, or G goes and I watch the kids for 4 hours straight).

I had a pretty easy weekend of call. Both days I was out of here by 11AM...which was a mixed blessing. I got all the stress of early morning rounds PLUS all the child-care and chores of a normal weekend. And no chance to go for a run (or have a glass of wine) to relieve the stress of it all.

I'm still working on my resolutions for the year. I think I'll be working on them for months, if not years, if not the rest of my life. The things we struggle with, I think they are always struggles in some ways. Hopefully the tiny changes I'm making now will help things be a bit smoother down the road, though.

I've noticed that its about the choices I make. Not the big sweeping ones, like who to marry or where to live...but the tiny ones, like how to react to B hitting L in the face, or G leaving the dishes for me to wash when I also put the kids to bed. How to handle being 20 minutes late in the morning and the kids are still dawdling, or exhausted at night and they want "one more story mommy!". How to respond to the annoying email, or answer the same question the 5th time from a concerned patient. Lots and lots of little choices throughout the course of a day. I hope to choose right more often.

Every day I wake up and make the conscious decision to try to do the right thing. And then when I fail (I always do, in big or small ways), I decide to try again.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Translation

So far this year has been a year of reflection and gaining insight. About my marriage and what makes it work, and what threatens to break it apart. About how I work, what motivates me, and how I sabotage myself. About how my children push me over the edge, and what I can do to back up a few feet so I don't fall. About what feels right for my family, and ways to make our lives fit that dream.

I'm collecting insights like…things you collect (sea-shells? stamps? coins?) but the challenge, of course, is putting them into action. I know I should plan my work days better, not snap at my husband, take a deep breath before yelling at my kids---but I don't always do those things. In fact, I rarely remember to do them. Its quite hard to change patterns of learned behavior, especially those that have been there for years.

In biomedical research, we talk a lot of "translation", the critical process of taking molecular and functional insights gained from basic science and using that knowledge to actually improve clinical care; "bench to bedside", as they say. It doesn't always work, of course. Understanding how a gene or pathway functions in a mouse or in a cell line isolated in a laboratory with exposures that you carefully control doesn't necessarily tell you what's going to happen when you modify that gene or pathway in a human actually interacting with the world and making independent decisions.

Similarly, knowing what I should be doing given in the hypothetical situations I've created in my head doesn't necessarily translate to what I actually do in the heat of the moment, with emotions and discomforts and the wants and needs of others. Yes, next time B starts whining about not wanting to go to school, I should really sit down and talk to him about why he doesn't want to go, to figure out if something happened, or something is bothering him. But when its already 8:30 AM, and L is painting the sofa with watercolors, and I haven't eaten anything in the 3 hours I've been up---I simply snap "I don't care, you're going". And I know in the mornings that I need to get to work, sit down, and start working on my most important project first. But when I've had a morning of bickering kids, snappy spouse, no breakfast, and just walked for half an hour in 15 degree windy weather, I make myself a cup of tea and tell myself its "just a little break" before I realize I've spent 30 minutes on decidedly non-work activities. And at the end of the day, I know I should talk to my husband. At least a few minutes of connection, and find out why his day was so "awful", but by the time I've finally got B to stop getting out of bed because "I'm not tired. I want to sleep with you. I want a NEW bed. I want to watch a movie", etc… I just don't have it in me to be encouraging or supportive. So I nip any any possibility of connection in the bud with a quick "I'm tired, goodnight" and go upstairs to read while he hangs out downstairs.

I guess what I'm realizing is that learning about myself is great, but I need to get a lot more practice to ensure that this education actually leads to any positive impact on my life.





Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lets just pretend that never happened...

Jumping in with updates on my resolutions:

Marriage: Continues to go mostly well. However, that date night I was excited about in my last post---ended in a huge fight over little nonsense and the whole evening sucked. The whole fight centered around trying to impromptu plan where to go after our quick dinner. Our next date is coming up soon…this time  we have planned well in advance. We are still having weekly date nights at home. And spending plenty of time snuggled on the couch with wine and TV (we finished House of Cards…sad!)
Still no eye rolling. Doing better at expressing my feelings. We've watched two movies together so far this year: Argo and Cloud Atlas, both of which I loved.

Parenting: Constant work in progress. Yes, I still yell at my kids more than I'd like to. I also do read them lots of books, make up tons of silly songs and stories, and yesterday I took them to the park for an hour and a half after work. We've been doing swimming for 2 weeks, and soccer starts on Sunday. My goal for the spring is to do more after-school park trips, and other things that may deviate every so slightly from our routine.

Work: Another constant work in progress. I've slacked on my weekly planning and my long-term goal planning. The paper planner didn't really work out, its buried under mounds of papers and I'm mostly back to google calendar. I just downloaded a Safari plug-in called "WasteNoTime", basically leech block for Safari and its working pretty well at keeping me from a few major time wasters.

Other stuff:

  • I'm starting to up my distance with running. I did a gorgeous 5 mile run outdoors on Sunday---working my way up to 10 miles over the next 6 weeks.
  • I have FOUR books from the library on my Kindle that I need to finish. Our library lets you put e-books on hold but then when they become available you have to download them within 72 hours and finish them in 14 days, without an option to renew. I had all these books on my holds that suddenly became available. (Currently I've got: Someday, Someday Maybe; The Lowlands; The Husband's Secret, and Life After Life). I'm halfway through "Someday, someday Maybe" and its an easy read. 
  • Realized I'd gained about 8 lbs since last fall. Yikes. Working on eating less.
  • Very much looking forward to wearing spring clothes again, and shoes that aren't snow boots! And ditching the winter coat. Alas, not yet, its dropping into the teens later this week. 
  • Daylight Savings Time is kicking my ass this year. We've had 2 days of being late for work because no one is waking up on time. Also the kids are going to bed late and then waking up multiple times overnight because they are off their schedule. 
  • We went to Ikea this weekend and bought a bunch of stuff for the kids. Really, all of it was for the kids. We got them a little table & chairs for their "projects" so they don't take over the dining table with their water painting (current obsession), and B a twin bed because he and his 10 billion blankets, toys and animals he insists on keeping in there are spilling out of the toddler bed, and black out curtains for the guest room where L naps, and a clock so that we can teach time-telling (we didn't have one!), and more cloth napkins to use since they go through about 8 per day. Plus they got ice cream at the end of the trip. Oh! We did get some beer glasses for us. 
  • I lost L at Whole Foods the other day. We were eating in the eating area and he ran off and then B ran off. B ran OUTSIDE the cash registers to the exit, so I went that way. L snaked IN past the cash registers into the store but I hadn't seen where he went. A really nice women who saw this happen bolted after L and caught him all the way across the store and carried him back to us. L became a minor celebrity and all the other diners were playing with him and talking to him, which he obviously adored, so no lesson was really learned.
  • They both also ran away multiple times at IKEA, several times where I couldn't see them. This is why we order everything online and avoid going to stores. 
Back soon, promise!


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bullets for all!

Nothing to report, just nothing to write these days. Things are...OK. We were all healthy for a while, but I'm sick today, and working from home. Its been miraculously productive, so I'm taking a wee break to bring you some random thoughts.
  • For the first time maybe EVER I kinda felt envy for those whose partners were doing something (anything!) for Valentine's day (I know! Its not like me). It was an absolute non-event here, except the kids got a lot of candy from school and were annoying in the evening. I think part of me deep down expected something? And then I feel ridiculous because its not like I did anything for G, either, so...
  • I cannot stop listening to "Super-symmetry" by Arcade Fire. Its been on repeat for 3 hours and I have no urge to change it. I haven't listened to a song on repeat like this since the 90s.
  • I lined up a sitter for Saturday evening but have no plans. I wanted to just wander around and find somewhere to eat. Its supposed to be a nice day (not freezing, not raining, not snowing). 
  • Because its going to be such a nice day, I'm bummed that I have to work that morning (which will likely stretch into afternoon). I appreciate that we do need to improve "patient access" but I sure hate giving up a Saturday to see non-urgent clinic patients. 
  • Whenever I start feeling blah, the urge to shop starts building up. The first step is admitting you have a problem?
  • The boys are so so cute and infuriating and delightful and exhausting every minute all in one. So much EMOTION it is constantly just bursting out...for better or worse.
  • I've been reading a LOT this year. Its given way this week to watching House of Cards. So deliciously evil and addictive. Its interesting watching that with the other show we're making our way through...The West Wing. Total juxtaposition of feel-good vs. feel-like-you-need-a shower political drama. Everyone in the Bartlett administration is just so likeable whereas everyone Frank Underwood comes into contact with seems to be capable of murder or worse.
  •  I started training for a 10-mile run. Well. "Training". Today I did a 2 mile walk/run because there was just still so much ice out there and I kept slipping. Back to the treadmill I go. I ordered some supposedly small and comfortable headphones made especially for women because regular ones just do not stay in my ear (and they hurt). Music and podcasts will help.
Hope its thawing out where you are! Only 29 days until spring!