Friday, August 29, 2014

Tangled Snakes

I've been so ANGRY these past few days. I feel like a snarling swarming pit of vipers. I just can't control my temper. I am trying to do all the things they say to do (and they're right! they usually work) to calm down---sleep more, exercise, take time to myself. Sure, I'm fine while I'm taking a walk by myself, but as soon as I enter the house, someone does something and I. Just. Snap.

I've had bouts of this recently. I haven't been tracking it, so I don't know, but it may be related to my birth control?

Its at work and at home. I feel like I'm constantly NEEDED. Even at night, L will eventually come upstairs and cry in my ear until I get up and scoop him into bed. These nights, its been both of them, with summer colds. Needing noses wiped, comfort, water for coughs and sore throats. I used to really like tending to them when they are sick---its so satisfying to be such a comfort. But this week it just drives me up the wall. First thing in the morning, no matter how early I wake up, someone---or everyone---is up. Needing things. I rarely shower alone, or use the bathroom alone (or if I am technically alone, someone is pounding on the door or crying loudly outside). The pages, texts, emails, URGENT red flagged messages. Fires to put out because someone did not do their job so now its my job. Ruffled feathers to soothe. I won't start in on the work of running the household, so cliche.

I'm annoyed, frustrated, overwhelmed, exhausted, and several times each evening I allow myself a brief fantasy of running away and spending 48-72 hours with no one needing anything from me.

We are going to the beach this weekend with my family. A whole week with 6 adults (including the very adults that have made me crazy my whole life, and whose presence instantly transports me back to my bratty snarky pre-teen days) and 4 little kids with snot and bottoms needing wiping, and constant snacks & entertainment needing administering.

Lets hope I don't hurt someone.

(whew, that was quite a rant, but it felt pretty good to get it out of my system).

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Relax and refresh

I remember writing up a whole list of things to do with unexpected bits of time. And yet I always do the same thing---play around on my phone. Whether its 15 minutes or an hour, I generally waste any breaks I get with this unfulfilling unsatisfying activity. And then I feel like my whole weekend was drudgery, because I never took advantage of the free time to fit in something that actual enhanced my life and was memorable. I decided to re-think the list and add to it. I'm then going to print it out and keep it somewhere (taped to my phone?) so I can remind myself, when I find myself with 30 minutes to myself, that I do have time to do things, I just need to do them. Some of these things may be considered "chores" but if they are relaxing/enjoyable to me (or at least more enjoyable than refereeing the wrestling match going on 24/7 in our house...)

  • Read book
  • Read New Yorker
  • Watch episode of TV show
  • Listen to music
  • Sit on deck 
  • Nap (put phone away and get in bed!)
  • Clean out drawers
  • Iron (with TV/music)
  • Pull weeds from container garden/sidewalk (I find it soothing)
  • Run an errand for me 
  • Paint nails
  • Dye hair
  • Plan a more complicated or new meal (find recipe, make shopping list)
  • Plan a night out
  • Look into vacation/travel options
  • Go for a walk or run
  • Exercise---crunches, planks, push-ups
  • Try on make-up (I never wear it because I don't know how and want to practice)
  • Do one step of a sewing project (find tutorial, measure fabric, cut, iron, pin, sew)
  • Plan out work week
  • Work
  • Call a friend
  • Write a blog post
  • Comment on blogs (not just skim on phone)
 What do you do if you get an unexpected hour to yourself?

Thursday, August 14, 2014


I really love clothes and shopping. There I said it. Maybe a grown woman with children and an important career and responsibilities should be above such frivolities, but buying and wearing nice clothes makes me happy.

In the past two years I've completely revamped my entire wardrobe. All my pants, shirts, and most of the dresses in my closet were bought in 2013 or 2014. Now I don't fret when I have a week of call coming up---I know I have at least 7 hospital-appropriate outfits ready to go. I don't have to "save" my more professional outfits for important meetings or lectures, because almost all of my work clothes fit that category now. I also have a selection of practical and comfortable weekend-wear and a couple of nicer things for the occasional evening out.

Having clothes that fit and flatter has been extremely helpful  in coming to terms with my changed body. When my clothes were tight or clingy, I just felt so aware of my poochy belly. With more structured tops, and larger sizes, my clothes skim my body, hide the pooch and erase it from my memory. I even got higher waisted swim bottoms, that cover the whole situation up so I don't have to feel self-conscious when I accompany L to swim lessons. Everything fits. I don't have to deal with the frustration of pulling on my favorite skirt or dress and realizing it no longer zips or buttons. No more muffin tops or straining seams creating discomfort and distractions.

This is huge for me. I went through a long phase of really hating my body, grieving the body I used to have, and seriously contemplating saving up for plastic surgery. That loathing is completely gone. Maybe it was time that did the trick, but I really do think the clothes are part of it.

I rarely pay full price for anything. I like when the whole store has a sale (i.e. 50% of everything) rather than shopping the sales racks for leftovers (I wear a popular size that tends to be sold out); also when items are on sale, they may be "final sale" and thus non-returnable. No way. I made myself a budget this year and I've been adding every purchase to my spreadsheet. It was hard to  figure out what to cap my budget at---what is a reasonable amount to spend on clothes?

Where do I shop?
  • Ann Taylor Loft (though I've recently cut them out, the quality has recently become terrible. I had two sweaters get runs & holes after only 1-2 washes this winter. I ordered some summer clothes recently that ALL went back because the fabric was so thin/cheap/wrinkly). Also, their vanity sizing is the worst I've seen. Only when they have the 50% of everything sales.
  • Boden (somewhat pricy, but generally good quality, and excellent return policy); one drawback is that their clothes run really long, so if they don't have a petite option (and they often don't) I have to skip it. And I'm not that short (I'm 5'3" and have a short torso but longer legs. I often can't do petite pants/skirts/dresses in certain stores, since they are too short). The only skirts that work from Boden are called "mini-skirts" and they hit right to my knees. The biggest sales they have are 30% off.
  • Gap (their fitted button downs are awesome and I have a cute shirt-dress from there) 
  • J Crew Factory (I only order from them when I'm about to travel somewhere that has a store, since we do not have one in the city; I often have to return their stuff since I haven't quite got a handle on the sizing). Only with 50% of everything sales. 
  •  I still have a lot of Old Navy, and H&M stuff, but I'm definitely steering away from the super-cheap side, unless its something trendy I want to try out (I have a few pairs of bright-colored Old Navy Rockstar jeans, and 2 pairs of the Diva pants, which fit pretty much like the J Crew Minnies for $15 vs. $90).
  • Most of my pants are the Express Editor, though I own and like nothing else from that store. They are ridiculously long and only come in one length, but I get them hemmed.
  • EShakti, an online-only store, has amazing dresses that all include POCKETS (I have a whole rant about pockets, and how the lack thereof in women's clothes is most certainly an oppressive tool of the patriarchy, but I'll leave that for another day...). There return policy isn't great, I was  lucky I picked a size that seems to fit me perfectly. You can customize the dresses for an extra fee but I've never done that. Also awesome, you put your height in so it isn't too short/long and you can control the length of the dress (i.e. put a taller height in so you get a below the knee height in an "over the knee" dress)
  • Surprisingly, I've found 2 amazing dresses from Land's End of all places (though please, for the love, stay away from the pants...while they are trying hard to make their line younger and more fashion-forward, the pants are still marketed to the 60+ set)
  • I've tried to find something I liked at Anthropologie but I just...can't. Lots of things look cute from afar, and then you find some wacky detail that makes it completely unwearable (cute top, oh, its completely backless). I really do like some of their dresses, but they are WAY too pricey for something that is so unconventional you can't pull off wearing it every week. 
  • I have a big shopping cart full of dresses from ModCloth. My sister tells me they are good quality and flattering. I haven't pulled the trigger yet. 
Anywhere new I should try? Where do you guys shop for work clothes or fun clothes?

Monday, August 11, 2014

I run so I

Have you seen that disgusting slogan "I run so I can eat". It is emblazoned on T-shirts and headbands, usually in pink, always marketed to women. I once saw it on a blog, on a headband, on a 5-year old girls head. Gross.

L is my wild one. Usually he is devilishly mischievous, but sometimes he can be quite feral. All of us have the bite marks to prove it. He also tends to...get away from us. I've lost him several times, once for about 10 minutes in a very busy children's museum (with multiple openings to the outside). He had gone up to the another floor. I've also had numerous occasions where I've had to sprint after him to keep him from obliviously laughing, looking back, and running into traffic.

I always catch him. I'm sure the adrenaline would power anyone long enough to catch their fleeing child, but I'm never more grateful for my training than these occasions. I am glad I am in good shape so I can run after my kids. Or the bus, train, plane, etc... The dog when she gets spooked and pulls free.

There are loads of reasons to exercise. I am mostly driven by the amazing high I get pushing my body to its max, and my love of personal challenges of any sort. I also will admit to wanting to look and feel my best in my physical body. But I also like being able to do things in everyday life. The more I run, the faster and further I can walk without breaking a sweat. I can take the stairs and not waste time waiting for our incredibly slow elevators. I want to increase my upper body strength so I don't huff and puff when I have to replace the huge water jug on the water cooler at work, and can push the stroller with one arm and hold the dog's leash or groceries in the other (I am envious that G can do this, its a feat of lower arm strength).

For months I've been aiming to run 3 times a week---two short runs on the weekdays (3-4 miles) plus a longer weekend run (6-8 miles). I'm actually going to cut out the weekday runs and do a class at the gym with a friend that works on total body strength. Its a 30 minutes class twice a week in the early AM and we decided to commit for the month. We went last Tuesday and were SO SORE we actually had to skip Thursday, but will be back this week. My cardiovascular fitness and endurance are good enough for me, and I can continue to keep that up with walking and stairs and maybe a long run if the weather is nice on the weekends. I am woefully lacking in upper body strength, and even my legs are uneven, since running doesn't necessarily work everything. I'm hoping the class will motivate me to work on strength (I have a hard time motivating myself, and tend to half-ass anything I try to do on my own).

We'll see how it goes. Regardless, I'll eat.

Friday, August 8, 2014

At the end of the day

Perspective. Its important in all facets of life and I'm working on keeping some semblance of it and using it to guide my decisions, both big and small.

I keep asking myself "at the end of the day, will this matter?" With "end of the day" being shorthand for some near or distant point in the future. While I don't always take the time or energy to think things through, its definitely a quick and easy exercise to keep me focused on longer terms goals, whether in work or family life. 

At the end of the day does it matter if we go to this 3-year old birthday party that is complicated to fit into our schedule? No

At the end of the day, will the last 15 minutes of my day be better spent returning a patient phone call (about normal lab results, which technically we have 48 hours to deal with) or filling in a few references on this paper? The phone call might actually lead to some relief for someone!

At the end of the day, do I want my boys to be neat and tidy? No, but I want them to be kind. Discipline for the hitting, not the messes.

At the end of the day, will skipping this workout (because I"m still sore from the last one), undermine my fitness goals? No. But injuring myself by running with  poor form due to sore muscles might.

At the end of the day, do I really care if I do one extra chore than G, or he does one extra bedtime for the boys? No, it'll all even out in the end, though we try to keep it fair.
At the end of the day, is it better to get this data into a top-rate journal or get it out quickly? (in this instance) quickly, we've been sitting on it for too long

 You get the point.

By the way, I know I've been drifting in and out of this space. I've been trying to keep to a regular posting schedule but I can't seem to make it happen. But, at the end of the day, does it really matter?