Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Universe, you are f&*@ing with me, right? One of these things, I can handle. Two---well, it'd be tough but I could deal. But THREE  anxiety-inducing, time and energy sucking problems (on top of the USUAL work/parenting/marriage cluster) all at once? COME ON!

So these are the things that have me tossing and turning all night (when my children aren't randomly waking up screaming, because, yeah I need THAT right now)

1) An unfortunate combination of home repairs, family traveling, annual bills and delays on getting my conference travel reimbursed layered on  a few months of my own indulgent online shopping habit and our "lets go out to eat" compulsion has completely depleted our emergency fund. I even had to transfer $2K out of savings this week to pay some bills before my paycheck is transferred today. Given that we have 2 reasonable incomes, this SHOULD NOT HAPPEN and freaks me out.

We do have a lot of fixed expenses  (mortgage, utilities, childcare, food in a very high-cost-of-living area), and we always "pay ourselves first" in terms of savings/retirement/life insurance/long-term disability insurance (for me) AND we pay extra on our mortgage each month. So when all the "outs" are subtracted, there is not too much to play with, so here we are.

On the positive side, we are getting serious with our budget and talking a lot more about our financial goals and plans. Living frugally also feels more natural and comfortable to me than the more extravagant, lets-throw-money-at-the-problem way we've been going on for the past few years.

But its scary, not knowing how we are going to FINISH the home repairs we were in the middle of...and how we are going to deal with #2 and #3 without said money to throw at them...

2) B started stuttering, pretty severely...and its getting worse over the past few weeks. Our pediatrician said it's common at this age and should resolve on its own in a few months. My reading suggests that he is exhibiting "warning signs" that this is beyond the typical "toddler stutter". Also there is a strong family history---G stuttered severely as an older child and required intense therapy. My father has a mild stutter. Our insurance doesn't pay for stuttering therapy. Right now, we're watching & waiting, and reading a lot (there are great free resources on the internet with tons of information for what parents can do to help their child). Its heartbreaking, though, when he looks at me and asks plaintively "why can't I talk mommy?"

3) And the worst for last. Oh god. Shudder. We got home from a week away to find...an infestation...of disgusting household pests. (I can't even...write about it...ewwwwww). I am afraid to be at home and especially to turn on a light in the dark, or go to the basement to do laundry. I saw one last night when I went to soothe the crying boys and couldn't go back to sleep for several hours, picturing them.... I have done the most revolting internet research in my life to figure out the...species...and the proper DYI method of extermination. Again, there are fabulous free online resources with information on identification and eradication. Supplies are being picked up tonight, including boric acid (only $2 a pound!), powdered sugar and vegetable shortening.

Wine is not helping. I think I need some short-acting benzos...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My parenting philosophy...

...is that I don't have a parenting philosophy. At least in the way that "parenting philosophy" tends to be discussed these days--a catchy name, an approach to the most common needs of infants, and an insistence that your way is the "One True Way" to raising a happy successful child.

Certainly I have priorities. I know what I consider important, things I want to spend my time & energy on for my kids, things I want to teach them...but none of that really falls into a "philosophy" that you may find a book or blog about. I make important decisions deliberately, but feel free to pick and choose whichever things happen to work for me, my child, my family. Unmedicated, epidural, formula, breast, cry-it-out, co-sleep, baby-wear, daycare, purees and chunks ("baby-led-weaning" I believe its called)...I did those things, still do some of them. And I suspect the coming years will continue in the same vein, driven even more by my children's unique needs.

This post (read it, its great) sums up my discomfort with clinging to a philosophy---each kid is different, each developmental stage is different, how can you be so sure about what you're going to do? I find it particularly...eye-roll-inducing...when a pregnant woman announces her parenting philosophy*. I love the part in the linked post when she mentions how newborn/tiny kid-centric many of these "philosophies" really are: "you can't "babywear" a ten year old, you know? You can't breastfeed a teenager".

I understand...I see the appeal of having a One True Way to follow, knowing with certainty that this is the best way. It takes away a lot of the inherent uncertainty involved in parenting. I consider it akin to organized religion in some ways---follow our rules and everything will work out OK in the end. And by attaching yourself to a label, its easy to find others who will applaud and support your parenting choices...your parenting congregation where you sing the hymns of breastfeeding or preach against the evils of co-sleeping.

The problem, of course, is that if your One Way is right, then all the Other Ways are by definition wrong. And that is where every mean-spirited internet comment thread, every headline-grabbing Mommy Wars feature, and many a lonely, isolated, and fraught mother are born.

Can we all admit that there is no One Right Way but just The Best Way for This Kid and This Parent at This Time? And acknowledge that the parent who just as thoughtfully and deliberately chooses different than you most likely does love her child just as much**? And that we really don't know how our kids are going to turn out in the end, but we are all just doing our best and hoping it all works out in the end?

Maybe that IS my parenting philosophy.

*and smugness-inducing when she realizes she may have been wrong...either immediately or commonly when child #2 is born

**should go without saying, but certain things ARE excluded. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Flies and honey

Maybe its spending my formative years in the deep south, but...ya'll...I feel there are very few reasons to not be nice.

Especially in a professional setting...if you disagree with someone's plan, there are nice ways to express your disapproval and to work together to figure out a sensible alternative. Hell, both of you may learn something from the encounter.

It is not helpful to degrade, shame, or talk down to anyone---a colleague, a trainee, a student, or an employee.

Clearly, this has happened to me, not infrequently.  Do I look like someone who will take it? Is it because I am petite? Young (-looking)? Soft-spoken? Female? 

I consider working with people---annoying people!---part of my job. I try very hard to err on the side of politeness-- a friendly voice, a smile, a willingness to compromise on the unimportant details as long as the important things are happening. I am getting better at it---I think mothering my boys has helped grow my patience muscle a little, and with time and age I've gained perspective into what really is important and worth getting upset over.

And being nice can yield its own rewards. Work days are more pleasant when you're not wasting energy being angry and rolling your eyes. My overall goal is for people to want to work with me and for me---how would I accomplish this with rudeness?

I wish others took the same approach, I'm tired of self-important big-shots that frequently consult me to help manage their patients (I won't name specialties here) thinking its OK to be an a**-hole.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Heavy and the Light

The Heavy G & I are in a rough spot. Nothing HAPPENED, we are just getting on each others' nerves...fighting and bickering in a way we never have before. At least once per day, one of us mutturs (or shouts) "I just can't TALK to you". So its clear that our issue is in the way we communicate (or don't) with each other.

Our current tactic for dealing with this is the oh-so-helpful denial and avoidance. By the time the kids are in bed and we actually can have a discussion, neither of us are want to stir things up. So I go read in bed, or we sit side by side and watch TV. And it begins again the next day.

We finally had a talk last night which cleared some of the air. We both acknowledged that we are putting each other last in terms of priorities in life---not purposefully, but by default, since other things whine and demand and have deadlines or stinky diapers. He's going to work on thinking before he speaks, I'm going to work on more clearly articulating my needs so he doesn't feel he has to be a mind reader. Basic basic remedial marriage 101 stuff. I guess its about time for a refresher for us.

The Light L is an extremely touchy & grabby child. Until recently he was obsessed with ears. One thumb in mouth, the other hand fondling someone's ear---anyone who happened to be around. Sometimes even strangers we happened to be standing near, like a dad in our swimming class, or the guy watching the monkeys next to us at the zoo. Awkward. He's moved on from ears, though. To belly buttons. Ummm....more awkward...when he goes up to people and lifts their shirts to poke their "Buttie". I don't want to know what's next.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Getting back on track...

With travel (and more coming up), visiting guests, and the great stomach flu of June 2013, I have completely and totally gotten out of the exercise habit I had built up through the winter/spring. Its amazing---it takes so long to build up a good habit, but no time at all to erase it!

My problem now is that I just can't get up early enough to make working out feasible. Also its hot. And humid. And rainy. So many excuses.

I've got a two-fold approach to this problem. 1) Lights out by 10PM every night (at least every week-night). This means going upstairs around 9:30-9:45. This means no TV shows with G unless by some miracle we get the kids to bed and everything clean & ready by 8:30. After a week of solid sleep I will start 2) Set alarm for 5AM. L is still waking up anywhere between 4:45 and 6 (if the former, he can be coaxed back to sleep eventually by bringing him into bed with us---this means one of us is pinned under him in bed until he wakes up again around 7). I have the best chance of working out if I get up BEFORE he does and get going.

I'm motivated by the fact that I am woefully out of shape right now: I have trouble carrying my 21-month-old very far, I notice that people are PASSING ME when I'm walking into work (this never used to happen unless I was pregnant), and I get out of breath chasing L around. I'd also like to lose some portion of the 15 lbs I've gained in the past 5 years. (its a lot on my small frame).

I know exercise isn't going to get all those pounds off, but when I work out I actually feel motivated to eat better so its good all around. Plus when I workout in the morning I am hungry for breakfast. Otherwise I have no appetite in the morning. I've seen a couple of recent studies (one in mice, one in women)* supporting the idea that the majority of one's calories should be eaten in the morning (evening for mice), with a moderate lunch and a light dinner. This is how my kids naturally eat. By 6:30 PM they are done with their day and not needing more energy input.

 I tend to eat in the more typical American fashion of skimpy breakfast, moderate lunch, and ginormous dinner. I'd like to change that. My biggest hurdle is that if I get hungry at bedtime I absolutely CANNOT sleep until I've eaten. I've tried to ignore it---it resulted in being up until I finally gave in and came down to the kitchen at 1AM to have some cereal (at that point it was 2 huge bowls of cereal). I guess I need to make gradual changes, so my body doesn't freak out. Bigger breakfast, reasonable lunch, afternoon snack so that I'm not ravenous by dinner time? I actually cut out the snacking because I was eating that in ADDITION TO everything else, and I figured since I wasn't pregnant/nursing anymore I really didn't need it. So I'm wary about that approach.

Anybody successfully change their eating patterns and have any advice?

*The study in women (unpublished abstract) had 2 groups of women with PCOS eating the same total calories but one group had a heavy breakfast, the other a heavy dinner. The breakfast-heavy group had improved glucose metabolism. In mice, both groups received a high-fat diet. One group had 24-hour access to food. The other was restricted to eating during their active cycle. The group that ate only during the active cycle were resistant to the effects of diet-induced obesity (weight gain, diabetes, etc...). In humans, that would translate to "don't eat at night". I won't even get into the data on the effects of night-shift working on metabolic health. Glad I worked out like a fiend in medical training or I'm sure it would have been easy to gain weight eating all kinds of crap at all hours.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Calm Before

Everyone is asleep. Its nearly 8 AM and I am the only one awake in my house. L did wake at his usual 5ish but somehow G fed him, watered him, and they both went back to bed. B is snoring away, predictably, after being up until past 9 last night.

I had my coffee. Took the dog for a walk. Put some laundry in, that is rattling alarmingly in my ear (there must be something somewhere needing tightening or greasing). I should get started on prepping lunch, my family is coming in right around meal-time and once everyone wakes up, it'll be chaos as usual.

Or maybe I'll just sit and enjoy this unusual quiet. Hope this long weekend falls exactly where you need it to on the peace---->>excitement continuum!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Wash

The entire weekend and this whole (short) week. A complete wash.

Friday evening I was all set to take the boys to the pool, but neither wanted to go. In fact, L seemed almost somnolent on the way home from school. When I pulled him out of the stroller I realized he was BURNING UP. Temperature=103. He went to bed at 5pm and we had a rough night.

Saturday morning we head out for a little dog walk. G ran into the drug store to get something while I let the boys out of the stroller near a fountain. I heard B whine "I want to go home", and turned around to ask him why when...blaaargh. Puke.

Got him home, cleaned up, decided to skip (obviously) swimming lessons, and headed out grocery shopping. Stopping twice to clean up B who continued the trend.

Did not leave the house again all weekend.

Sunday night---after a yummy dinner and productive evening getting set up for the week---I started feeling really really tired. And then....it was a rough night/day.

I missed work all day Monday & half of Tuesday, am dealing with contractors at our house and 6 family members arriving tomorrow morning.

On the up side, I may have lost 0.5 a pound? And G & I realized we really do eat way way too much for dinner. A slice of peanut butter toast is probably perfectly adequate sustenance for lounging on the couch watching TV.

My god this is the most boring post in the world. Will do better next time.