Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ha!

So I said I felt great yesterday, but alas. That mildly queasy feeling I had in the morning that I thought was just a lingering side effect of the weekend's excess turned into a full out yucky GI illness.

I really wanted to go home but the housekeepers were there, so I just slumped on my desk and waited until time to leave, answering emails/phone calls sporadically as necessary. The evening was useless. I managed just enough energy to cajole the kids through their homework and eat some toast before I crashed into bed, lying awake as waves of nausea/cramps kept coming & going.

I feel tentatively OK today. I'm sipping tea and prioritizing. I do have to give a talk to the fellows at noon which I can't reschedule. I have a long overdue grant closeout to complete (I had my part done on time but was waiting on a letter from someone who apparently was out on leave and not checking email). I have crackers & soup & fizzy water and I will get through the day. I'm hoping I feel all better by Thursday because G brought home a freaking turkey and I need to do my part in eating some of it!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Back on the Wagon?

Whoa, I fell off the blogging wagon big time! One busy day after another and then I just forgot. I'm just sorry that I left off on such a negative note last week. I did find writing that post to be helpful---once I identified the things bringing me down, I could go through and take steps to change things.
For example, I made myself stay up a little later to hang out with G and I scheduled a date night in early December. I contacted a friend about running together in the evenings, since I can't motivate myself to go alone in the dark.

The weekend was good. My sister and her family came down Saturday morning and stayed until Sunday afternoon. The kids had a BLAST with their cousins and basically left us adults alone to chill out and chat all day, which was great. We also took it a step further and were up past midnight drinking & eating too much. It was extremely fun but I paid for it BIG TIME Sunday. I haven't been this hungover in a long long time. 4 hours of sleep after mixing cocktails, beer, and wine just...ugh.

Thankfully G was feeling fine and able to pick up some slack with chores. I did manage to plant my fall bulbs (tulips, daffodils, hyacinth) and do laundry. I went to bed at 8:30 PM and woke up 9 hours later feeling 110% better.

I had my PT appointment this morning and am feeling hopeful! My back feels better and we "challenged it" a little with some strengthening exercises. I like forward progress. My sister is letting me use her barre3 subscription and actually made a list of "back-friendly" workouts from when she had an issue last year, so I may try a few of those out this week.

I am definitely feeling less blah. Maybe because the sun is shining. Or the 9 hours of sleep I got last night. Or the prospect of a day off (I do have to work on Friday). I'll try to make up for the lost posts this week (I think I owe you guys 5 extra).

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Getting me Down

I've been feeling a little blah lately and I was trying to figure out why. Turns out, I have good reason. here is a list, in no particular order:

  • Not being able to work out. I miss it. It's one of the few things in my day to day life that is just for me and is actually fun. I just start off the day feeling energized and confident after a good workout. I need to think of some way to re-incorporate some fun (i.e. not indoor elliptical machine at the gym by myself)  physical activity that does not aggravate my back pain.
  • The news. I spend minimal time trying to stay up to date, but even 2 minutes is enough some days to make me doubt humanity.
  • The impending holiday season. I mentioned that I love Halloween because its a holiday that lacks family obligations and drama. Thanksgiving and Christmas are ALL ABOUT obligation and drama. I feel like its all on ME and me alone (because G is completely uninvested) to create some sort of joy and magic and tradition for the next 6 weeks, and its exhausting. 
  • The kids have been in bad moods. Especially L, who is tired in the morning and tired in the evening and I think has reflux (we have his well child in 10 days so I'll discuss a trial of H2 blocker) which makes meals an post-meals quite grumpy (poor guy). But I am over him hitting me and calling me names. Then I yell. Then I don't like myself for yelling. Vicious terrible cycle which is pretty much our everyday lately. I'm not sure when he made it to school today because I left him after 10 minutes of him not putting his coat on, so that B wouldn't be late. (G was getting ready & took him when he was done, but I don't know the timing of all that).
  • G and I haven't really spent much quality time together lately. Its been over a month since we've had a date night, and at home, I either go to bed right after the kids, or we watch TV. 
  • I also haven't had much social interaction lately. I need some quality time with friends every couple of weeks and again, its been about a month. 
  • Our amazing (seriously, best ever in the whole world) dog is getting old and its starting to show. I probably shouldn't have read Lily and the octopus, its making me look at her with a sense of impending loss. We had to get an afternoon walker because she's been having accidents frequently. She is 11ish (we don't know her actual birthday), which is really quite old for a big dog. :(
Thought download over. Next up, how to cheer myself up. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Phoning it In

I've written and deleted a few different post ideas for today, so I'm just going to make this a quick and theme-less collection of thoughts.

The recipe for the soup I made this weekend.  I doubled the recipe since I was making 10 servings. I mixed the coconut milk in after blending it, instead of the pretty swirls, and I skipped the lime. Yum. I just had it for lunch.

The boys are trying a new aftercare place for 3 days this week. today is the first day. Its WAY more convenient to our home, which is the huge plus. Also cheaper. But there is no karate, which is why we wouldn't move them full time.

I finished a book: Lily and the Octopus. I was, predictably, crying at the end. but the story itself was not completely predictable. I'm not sure if I recommend it. This reminds me that I need to do a books post again. Next up: Freedom.

One of my goals for this week is to plan out a nice Thanksgiving dinner for the 4 of us. B has already petitioned for pumpkin pie, which I hope to add some kind of chocolate into. I want something that isn't roasted root vegetables for a change. I'll let G handle the meat portion of the meal, as usual.

This is the first day in a LONG time that I'm not seeing patients. I've been decompressing a bit, just taking care of odds and ends, most work-related, some not (I need a new dentist, I need to follow up on why my black pants haven't been delivered when they were shipped 2 weeks ago).

I love love LOVED the finale of Stranger Things 2. I was whooping with joy during the last scene. Cuteness overload. And an implied promise of season 3. We may try Black Mirror next, or just watch old episodes of The Office or The West Wing as a palate cleanser. 


Monday, November 13, 2017

Weekend 11/11...the good/bad/ugly

Forgot to write yesterday so you'll get double posts one day this week, because my goal was 30 in 30.
 
here on a rainy Monday morning, with a hopefully not too negative perspective on the weekend.
 
The Good:
  • Friday night movie night was definitely a win-win. The boys watched Charlotte's Web while G and I had cocktails and conversation.
  • I gave a talk at a CME program my division put on for primary care providers. It went well despite minimal preparation and I got good questions
  • We went to my cousin's house for dinner and it was nice. She lives in the area yet we never see each other, because an hour drive is still a bit much. She is pretty cool and a fantastic cook and this was a good step in trying to establish a closer relationship.
  • I made a big batch of Thai curry butternut squash soup for the neighborhood soup group (6 households take turns making soup and sharing). It turned out perfect, and I've got 3 servings for lunches in the fridge.
  • I tried on all my new clothes/shoes and had many winners! I'm wearing my gray wedge boots today!
The Bad:
  • I didn't get to exercise at all. My back hurt at baseline and I didn't feel comfortable pushing my luck with a run.
  • I overate/drank all weekend
  • The new pizza place was meh.
  • I forgot to plant my bulbs. Its getting pretty late in the season.
The Ugly:


  • The undercurrent to all of this was that the kids were in terrible form all day Saturday and most of Sunday. B just woke up grumpy and complained his way throughout the weekend. L likes to egg him on and there was lots of fighting/hitting. Ugh.
 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Frivolity

Ummm. Sorry for the depressing, heavy post on a Friday. Shall we talk about clothes?

(click away if you aren't into the topic)

None of my pants fit anymore, literally falling off my hips as I walked around, necessitating constantly pulling them up so I didn't a) step on the hems or b) flash anyone.  I also realized I had  very few winter clothes. I was making do the past few winters, layering cardigans over tanks and tees, but sometimes you just want to wear a pair of pants and a sweater and be done with it.

So I've been doing some shopping. I mentioned I ordered a bunch of stuff and most of it has come in!

The winners were 4 pairs of the extreme stretch Columnist fit mid-rise "barely boot" pants from Express, in SHORT sizes (whoo hoo). Fit straight out of the box and work with flats and low heels, no need to hem! I got 2 kinds of gray, a navy, and black.

I also ordered several different kinds of gray booties, from Nordstrom and Anthro. I've already returned a couple to Anthro, and am debating between the other Anthro and the Nordstrom ones. I have black ankle boots and tan booties, so I think gray will round out my winter shoe needs.

Yesterday the package with OODLES of tops from Loft came in. Loft is really good at certain things, and I've always love their "interesting back" sweaters (pattern, bow, zip in the back of a plain-front sweater so its all "business in the front, party in the back") This season, they've also added in crazy sleeves. I'm not a huge fan of the crazy sleeves. I don't mind a subtle puff or ruffle or bell, but I got a couple of tops that were full-out clown and they are going back.

I realized I hate 3/4 length sleeves. My wrists get cold, and its hard to layer because the sleeves get pushed up to your elbows as you put on a cardigan. Blah. So I'm still working on the tops/sweaters situation.

Last but not least, I am going to buy myself my first ever pair of designer-ish (i.e. not from Express) jeans. I have one pair of Rag and Bone high rise skinny jeans to try on later today. (On sale, Nordstroms, under $100) If those don't work, I'm eyeing a Madewell high rise pair.

Maybe I'll come back and add some (non-affiliate, of course, duh) links but I'm out of time now!




Friday, November 10, 2017

Perspective

I didn't have anything planned to write about today so I'm going with what's on my mind as I sit here post-rounds*.

We were walking into a patient's room this morning when the nurse stopped us and informed us that he had passed away this morning and there was a lot of family at the bedside. We hadn't met the family yet this week, it was a patient whose care our team was peripherally involved in, and we were just checking in today so we could write a formal follow-up note indicating a minor medication adjustment we were making, to tie things up before the weekend. So really, we had no personal relationship to this patient and we knew that the prognosis was poor so it wasn't a complete shock. Yet it still affected us. We were sad, subdued. We took a moment and then went to the next patient on our list, but we walked slowly and didn't talk. I felt like the loss of a life too soon needed to be acknowledged in some way. I never get used to it, and I don't want to.

There is a patient on our service with one family member that is very aggressive. Verbally abusive. Whenever I see this kind of thing, my first thought it "don't you think your loved one would get better care if you weren't scaring and angering the providers caring for her?" But yet, when I dig deeper, I realize that there is likely profound and utter fear underlying this behavior. He can't control the disease that is taking away the life he knew, he can't control the emotions that are overwhelming him, so he tries to control the day to day care, and the minute details, in some hope that this will all make senses somehow. Does he realize he needs to change his behavior, but can't figure out how? I still am glad he wasn't at the bedside today but maybe I am developing some modicum of empathy for him.

Friday afternoon is a always a wild-card. People love to squeak in non-urgent (often B.S.) new consults at 4:30 PM, as if that is more humane than calling on Saturday when you actually have the whole day ahead of you. I am looking forward to my pizza & wine tonight (with the kids watching a movie so we can chill) so so so much.  

*details have been altered, etc...


Thursday, November 9, 2017

thursday Tidbits

  • Tidbits is a funny word. But I don't really care for the word "bullets" right now
  • I went to PT again today and...no bodypump or barre for me for a few more weeks. Its not about the level of impact, its avoiding putting flexion on my spine, which squats apparently do. But I can do a short, non-early-morning run on Sunday if I'm feeling OK. Sigh. Trying to keep this in perspective but it is definitely getting me down.
  • B had been having trouble falling asleep at night, and his constant coming to find us to tell us about it was really messing with my evening relaxation and our couple-TV-time (its almost 9pm by the time we finish bedtime these days and I am done by then. DONE). So I got him a little adjustable book light that clips to his bedrail. We can adjust it so it doesn't bother L, and he reads away until he feels sleepy. I think reading in bed helps him wind down (duh) and also gives us back our evenings. Win win.
  • He's reading through the Magic Treehouse books. But they must be read in order, and the library had 6-9, and then 11-14. I have to hunt down 10. I think I can borrow from a neighbor. I better get on it, because he reads one per night and he'll need #10 on Saturday.
  • Exactly one year ago today was...not a good day. Can you believe its already been a year? that its only been a year? Sigh. 
  • B's teacher stopped me at drop off today to ask how things were going, and told me he seems to love writing. I was surprised to hear that because he complains about writing in his reading journal, but what you like to do in the middle of the school day and what you like to do at 7pm when your brother is playing Legos are obviously not always a perfect match. 
  • I told her that he went on and on about how FUN the math homework on Monday was. So she asked if he said the same about Wednesday's homework. Ummm....he told us he didn't have any, and he hadn't brought anything home. He also said that the teacher took the reading log out of his folder and he didn't have to do it that night...which, apparently also wasn't true. ADHD (and being 7 and having to remember things) is a bitch, but why you gotta lie, kid? just tell us you forgot it so we can start working on systems to help you remember!
  • Two more days of call. Its been the longest week eeeeeeeevvvvveeeerrrrr

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Dinner Delight

We went back to our old ways for this week and batch cooked a big ol' meal on Sunday. Burrito bowls with meat, rice, veg, and various toppings, including store-bought guacamole and salsa. Easily customizable for picky kids and change-able so we are not eating the exact same thing every day. Maybe today I'll throw the fillings in a taco, or on some chips. Even the kids aren't complaining, which is pretty remarkable.

I don't know what the best part is, the fact that the meal is absolutely delicious (seriously, it made my "3 good things" for the past 3 days) or the lovely feeling of coming home and not having to do any dinner prep or clean up other than throwing things in a bowl and heating in a microwave. Yesterday it was pouring rain and cold and late when I came home, and yet I kept myself cheerful knowing that a hot filling meal and PJs was in my very near future. Of course I changed my clothes and heated up my food just as G reminded me I hadn't voted yet, so back into regular clothes and into the rain I went (because of course I'm going to vote), but still.A break from the dinnertime disasters is quite welcome.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Things I am Excited About

Continuing in the vein of positivity...

  • Trying out pizza & movie night this Friday
  • The new pizza place we will order from (exciting options)
  • Having a cocktail (or 2) on Friday after work
  • Working out Saturday morning (assuming my knee is still OK I will go to BodyPump, which is low impact repetitive weight training and should be fine for my back)
  • Making and eating soup this weekend (hope the butternut squash is still OK, its been a while...)
  • Arrival of new boots, sweaters, and pants I ordered online in a fit of retail therapy (and annoyance at nothing fitting)
  • Getting to watch a couple more episodes of Stranger Things with G 
 So...basically I am looking forward to this weekend.

Monday, November 6, 2017

One at a time

I try really hard to take each day as it comes, and appreciate the good parts and make it through the rest. One of the biggest changes in my mindset over the past few years has been learning not to automatically "count down" big chunks of my life, and also to let go of the pre-emptive worry and dread which basically doubles (if not triples) any given misery.

Most days do have some upsides. A really invigorating workout, a cozy moment with the kids, nice weather, getting to read a good book, a delicious meal, etc... I've gotten myself in the habit of noticing and writing down three good things each day. Sometimes that involves digging really deep. Ummm...the leaves look nice? I finished a lingering task?

Call weeks are when its hard to put this into practice. Call weeks where I can't work out and I'm in chronic pain and I'm attempting not to cope with carbohydrates and even the weather is gray and wet are even worse. Five more days. It was easy to wake up early this morning and I got some laundry done. The patient's family who yelled at us yesterday wasn't there during rounds today.  Its the little things.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Fallng Apart

Quite literally. My body is failing me, after several decades of good service. The lower back pain I was dealing with late summer is an ongoing saga. I've been going to physical therapy regularly, and while I've learned some ways to ease the pain, I've also figured out that it is a disc issue and it is aggravated by certain kinds of exercise. My favorite kinds of exercise.

I was basically told by the PT last week not to do the following for a few weeks: high impact workouts, running more than 20-30 minutes, and exercising in the morning (when the disc is swollen and more prone to injury). Other exercise is on probation---I can try out a weight training or barre class, an evening run, etc... and see how I feel after (i.e.do I have pain running down my leg or not).

OK. So I decided this weekend would be the perfect test...I had to be at work pretty early, so I planned to run 3-ish miles (which took me about 25 minutes last week) after I got home. Then on Friday my right knee was achy. It got achier throughout the evening and I realized it was swollen. I have NO IDEA what happened but it still hurts. No running. No barre. No squats.

I have to do these back extension exercises multiple times daily which are basically like triceps pushups. Doing them one morning at 5:30, I felt a twinge in my shoulder. The twinge intensified and now I have a sore shoulder on top of everything else.

I HATE not being to exercise in the morning. A morning workout leaves me feeling amazing. Motivated, energized, ready to tackle the day. I want to do what I can to prevent anything from worsening (the PT said the next stop is the spine surgery center for imaging and possible steroid injections and...ugh) so I will follow instructions. But I hate it. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Friday Night Fights

Friday night is where the distance between reality and expectation is a long and insurmountable void in our house these days. We crave an evening to kick back and relax, give in to the building fatigue of the week and just relax and have fun for a few hours. I've tried to create some kind of ritual, pizza & board games is the latest. But yet...

We are all tired. And kids don't just chill out and go to bed early the way sensible adults do when they are tired. They get a bit wild. They act out. Defiance, moodiness, tears. And the adults, who just want one evening that is EASY for the love, are not in the best state to deal with these emotions.

Anyways, Friday night usually ends in someone yelling at someone, consequences of some sort, and an overall feeling of disappointment. If, by some chance, we get the kids to bed without incident, Friday night is also when the majority of our special couple bickering and arguments crop up.

As much as I want us to connect and enjoy our time together without activities or homework in the way, I'm thinking Friday night is not the best time for meaningful interaction.  I think our new Friday night tradition is going to involve screens for all.

Do you have a Friday night ritual I can steal? Or is pizza and movie the secret that I have somehow failed to pick up on all these years?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Yay November!

I've unfairly harbored a mental association of November with dark, gloomy and dreary. In reality, its a lovely month, mild in weather, yet encompassing all that is good about fall.  So I'm trying to switch my mindset and embrace the month.

Alas, I'm on call this weekend/next week and I'm also trying to be more cheerful about that, as well. Not quite "Yay call!" but at least looking forward to some aspects of the weekend.

Things I am looking forward to in November:
  • Sister visit which is always SO fun for the kids. Nothing beats cousins.
  • Low key Thanksgiving
  • A break from our kids' activities
  • Soup! Chili! 
  • A date night or two I'm trying to set up
  • Perfect outdoor running weather
 Things I will try to do this weekend if call schedule allows:
  • Run
  • Plant spring bulbs
  • Make butternut squash soup (we have the squash already)
  • Watch a couple of episodes of Stranger Things with G
  • Read more of my book (The Girl with All the Gifts). Its weird and a bit creepy but also enthralling so far. I have no idea where it will go.
Back tomorrow!



Thursday, November 2, 2017

Dinner Disasters

Family dinner is just not happening at our house these days. Blame after-school activities, homework, cranky kids, tired parents, laziness...I don't know, its probably a combination of all of those and more. I get the benefits of a family dinner---where you sit and nourish your body and soul and reconnect after a long day apart, with thoughtful conversation and curiosity and listening---in an ideal world. In the real world? There is a lot of yelling. And whining. Saying food is yucky. Asking for treats. Getting up from the table. Throwing forks at brothers. You know what doesn't help me connect with my children at the end of a long day apart? Any of those things.

So here, for your reading pleasure, is a play by play of my family dinner shame.

Monday: G takes B to social skills class; I pick up L and bring him home by 5:30. We both are hungry when we get home and eat loads of cheese & crackers & fruit and carrot sticks. L is full and that's his dinner. I make some Annie's shells and cheese for B and add in peas and some chopped up grilled chicken breast which he devours after arriving home at 6:45 wailing "I'm HANGRY" over and over until I set the bowl in front of him. I'm waiting for our Plated meal box to arrive, but by 6:30 it still hasn't been delivered and I have no plan for adult dinner. G hunts around the freezer and decides we can have samosas and frozen TJ Indian meals. We make the samosas and eat them around 7:30 and realize we have eaten 2 servings each and are full.

Tuesday: eat snacks/pizza/candy at Halloween party

Wednesday: We all get home around 6. L is starving and asks for cheese & crackers and fruits which I give him, and then he eats half and says his belly hurts. I eat the rest. During this time B is happily counting & making lists of his Halloween candy. Make a Plated meal for G and I, but have to stop halfway through when a potential new dogwalker stops by at 7. I finish our meal and we eat at 7:30. While I'm talking to the dogwalker, G takes L upstairs for his reading practice. Somewhere in there, B has eaten the leftover mac & cheese/peas/chicken and gets back to his list-making. L gets hungry again and eats strips of chicken and fruit while I'm making lunches & B is having his bath. I give him carrots but he refuses them.

You know what didn't happen during any of those eating experiences? Yelling. Whining. Yucky/gross/disgusting. (throwing things at brothers and getting up from table will never ever not happen in my house, I'm convinced). I would like to get back on track with all of us eating the same thing together...someday. But I just...can't. We will always have cheese, crackers, mac n cheese, frozen peas, fruit, carrot sticks and frozen TJs meals on hand, and we will all be adequately nourished. We will get our connection outside of the dinner table.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Spooky Spirit

I am now certain that Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love that its just about...fun and friends and letting your freak-flag fly. There is little weighty tradition and zero family expectations around the day. You do your usual school/work/etc... and don't have an entire day to try to make special. It does not involve hours in the kitchen to make a meal half of your family will not enjoy.

We went ALL IN this year. We decorated the outside of our house with spider webs and bats hanging from the tree, and strings of bat-shaped lights. We all dressed up in completely non-complementary costumes of our choosing (L: Lloyd the green Ninajgo ninja, B: a runner, me: Wonder Woman, and G: Obi-Wan). The boys and I dressed in our costumes for the neighborhood run (5K for me, 1 mile for the boys), and we ROCKED it and had a blast (I finished at an 8:30 pace which amazed me because I hadn't run in months, and the boys both finished which amazed me because they've never run a mile before). G didn't run but volunteered as a marshal so it was a family affair. We topped off the run with games and candy at the school yard and then carved pumpkins at home.

Yesterday we left work a little early to get the boys who had already enjoyed fun at school and aftercare (treats, movie, a parade in the school yard, costume karate with candy for good performance) and got ready for trick or treating. I think I've written about this before but Halloween in our neighborhood is so much fun! Everyone is hanging out on stoops, drinking and giving out candy and we ran into so many friends and neighbors. There are also some impressive decorating displays on certain well-known streets. We were out early and kept going until the boys filled up their pumpkins with candy and then settled in at a friends' for beer/pizza/snacks while the kids burned off some energy. I didn't even have to make dinner. I didn't have any candy but I had 2 beers so I guess that is treat enough for a Tuesday night.

And now its November. We will make our way through the candy in small near-daily doses. And, surprise!, you will also start seeing me here in small near-daily doses as I plan to post 30 times in November (mostly daily but sometimes I'll double up if I need a day off).

Friday, October 27, 2017

This is your brain on...(Part 2)

The digital distraction edition.

You guys know my new thing is binge-listening to podcasts and in late summer I was on "Note to Self" with Manoush Zomorodi. I was intrigued by the concept of "Bored and Brilliant"---of needing some distraction free time to let your mind roam in order to facilitate creative thinking. I realized, somewhat ironically, that I had lost a lot of that much-needed empty brain space to...podcasts.

I always used my walking commute to think things over, process, brainstorm, problem-solve, and write blog posts in my mind. It also served as a nice transition between the dueling demands of work and family life. While having soothing voices imparting wisdom or humor into my ears is pleasant, it also ends up with me feeling unprepared to take on the tasks that await at the other end of the commute. I resented having to turn off the podcast to see a patient or pick up the kids and interact with them (they are real pills in the evening, in my defense).

So I decided to reinstate quiet into my commute and the blank space is back! Plus I get to save up the podcasts to add some joy to the truly uninspiring moments of life, like laundry-folding and kitchen-cleaning.

Of course there is more to discuss here, because like many, I struggle with the role of technology in my life and specifically the negative effects of constant pull of social media and other online distractions on my productivity and mindset.

I'll admit this here---I'm back on facebook (I put the app back on my phone when they d/c the Groups app in September) and I'm OK with it. I thought about it seriously (on one of my "boring" commutes) and realize that there are definitely more positives than negatives at this point. I  only check briefly 1-2X a day to make sure I haven't missed anyone giving away a Sodastream on BuyNothing (this has happened twice this month), to note/share any school/PTA related posts, and to keep up with book club and other neighborhood events. I've removed myself from any non-local super-large groups that  allow/encourage endless scrolling and toxicity.

I rarely check other social media accounts---I have to remember to check WhatsApp and realized my cousin had a baby 3 weeks ago when my mom told me (we have a huge extended family/international group chat going) and I joined instagram so L could browse Lego updates while on the bus.

I have whittled my blog reader feed down considerably. I follow people I feel personally invested in (i.e. all of you!). I usually do my blog-reading on my phone while I have my morning coffee (its so exciting to see bunches of new posts like today!) so I don't comment as much as I'd like, but I am definitely reading and feeling everything you guys post.

I do have one guilty blog pleasure that I am trying to eliminate--shopping-enabling fashion blogs. I just get filled with longing & wanting and I honestly don't need any more clothes right now so I took those out of my reader and am trying not to even check in (I am so tempted because one of the bloggers I followed lives in my neighborhood and always posts cool local stuff that I am not hip enough to have been aware of on my own).

Funny that the one thing that was a supposedly better alternatives has turned out to have a downside for me---reading books on my phone. I have books on the overdrive and kindle app and I definitely end up reading more if I pick up my phone in spare minutes and get little chunks read. The problem is that when its a really good book, I resent the interruptions from my family, which lead to an annoyed and impatient mindset, waiting for the next minute no one freaking needs anything and I can get back to my book god dammit!  I'm calmer if I just give myself over to family time and use a larger block of uninterrupted time to do my reading.

And last but not least...the games. Basically if I have a game I'm playing I'm apt to want to play constantly so I don't play at all in daily life, but will sometimes intentionally decide to play unlimited amounts of a game when I'm traveling. When I find myself WANTING to play, its a tell that I'm anxious. I was really intrigued by the Note to Self episode with Jane McGonagell about purposefully USING games, in pre-prescribed doses, for stress reduction or mood boost. I've been trying that this week. I'm about to give up on my current book, and we don't have a show to watch, so I've been playing a game for 15-20 minutes before I go to bed to unwind. So far its working, but if I feel pulled to play at other times, I'm going to delete it.

I think I've found a good balance for now. This is obviously something that I'm going to regularly revisit with evolving technology and changing demands on my life. The next challenge is finding time to blog regularly, I really have so much to say, but when I have the time & energy I feel compelled to use if for getting caught up on so many other things.


Monday, October 16, 2017

Behind behind behind

After a whole weekend at home just the 4 of us, I definitely feel more on top of things on the homefront, but still feeling woefully behind at work. Not sure exactly why, but I've been fuzzy headed and tired, having trouble concentrating, so everything feels like a slog. Also, as usual, new things keep coming up that take precedence over my plans and I just don't know when I'm going to catch up. I am on consults this week, have three days of clinic next week, and so on.

Anyways, you guys don't want to see my to-do list, so I'll update you on some other things.

L is having a surprisingly rough transition to kindergarten. He misses his old pre-K teacher & friends, and the long day with no rest is getting to him. We've had meltdowns in the morning for a while and several evenings where he basically just screamed from the time we picked him up from aftercare, until he fell into bed, a writhing, snotty, tearful mess.  No, he's not an infant. He turned SIX this month. He just has trouble articulating his big big feelings. And while I do get it, I really truly do, I am also not a fan of being abused by a tiny tyrant. He enjoys taking his emotions out on me, hitting/spitting/calling me names. Things seem to be settling down and I am grateful.

No one is traveling anywhere until we all go away for winter break. Activities are winding down, by November we'll just have the afterschool karate. Just in time for me to really push into grant writing. I need to have EITHER work or home be chaotic. I can't deal with both. Maybe you can, but I need my margins somewhere.

Speaking of margins, I have been experimenting with more ways to create blank space and time for thinking/processing. Its working. And its helping my time at home immensely to be more engaged and present. (blah blah buzz words, I know, but seriously! Its true!) More on that later. I need to actually eat my lunch during the break from rounds.


Friday, October 6, 2017

The Process

I was having a text exchange with a friend yesterday about how I tend to write more "negative" posts here because it helps me process my thoughts. Its very much a version of therapy for me. Having the space to not only express my issues, but the additional necessity of articulating them in a way that is understandable to another person, often helps me see my problems more clearly and often identify my own solutions.

In fact, this post began as a "woe is me" litany of all the things making me frantic and overwhelmed right now. Its been feeling like an unusually busy month and I keep waiting for things to calm down.
Then I realized I'd written a similar post this summer. And probably another one a few months before that. In other words, the "extra" in my life may actually be my new normal.  I can continue to feel overwhelmed and frantic and count down until I can reclaim my precious margins in my life, or I could work to find some moments of peace amidst the craziness.

One of the worst things I've noticed in the past few weeks is the distance I've been feeling in my marriage. We've both been traveling a few times, and have had to divide and conquer a lot of household projects and kid management, and then I head to bed early and exhausted. We haven't had time to talk or even watch a TV show together in weeks. And since we are both feeling stressed and overwhelmed and not quite clear what all the other person has on their plate, we can't really help, and we find ourselves getting easily annoyed and snippy.

I realize it would have been a good idea to realize this ahead of time and book some date nights into our month. I have a tendency to put that off when we are too busy but in actuality, that is when we need it most. Thankfully we have greatly expanded our arsenal of sitters this month, as we've had "needing to be in two places at one time when only one parent is in town" happen a few times and we've got a few excellent kid-approved neighborhood sitters on the ready.

We also have had some drop-the-ball moments, like the day neither of us made it home early enough for our old dog's poor bladder's liking.  We discussed that I would get the kids and whoever "got home first" would take out the dog...which was unwise, as we both got home the exact same time which was clearly too late. With the different evening activities, we need to sit down, calendar in hand, EVERY week and clarify who is doing what, and book dog-walkers as needed.

That same night, I found myself resentfully eating bowls of chips for dinner because we didn't actually have enough leftovers for all of us and I wasn't about to cook at 8:30 pm when the kitchen had already been cleaned (I'm not knocking chips for dinner as a valid option, I just was in the mood for the hot meal I thought I'd be having, thus the "resentfully"). We were completely out of the TJ's frozen meals because we've been resorting to those options a lot lately. We just need to keep them permanently on our shopping list and buy extra so there is always a yummy, no-cook option.

My parents are in town, and I have to head home to walk the dog and bake cupcakes for L's birthday party tomorrow so I better finish up work. I will be back next week, still have a lot to say, positive and negative and in between.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

This is your brain on... (Part 1)

"To alcohol...the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems"--Homer Simpson

G and I realized our drinking had really ramped up over the summer, what with vacation and rosé and not having our kids in the house. It had gotten to a point that was making me uncomfortable, as I found myself thinking "ooh, a drink would make this more fun!" about pretty much every experience, from play dates to movies to board games with the kids. I've definitely successfully cut back before, but I often felt deprived, and I realized to my shock that I hadn't gone longer than a week of call without drinking since my last pregnancy six years ago.

I was idly googling "cut back drinking", as you do, and came across a slew of blogposts singing the praises of "The Naked Mind", by Annie Grace, which is a short book (that I somehow got a link to a free copy) about changing your thought processing around drinking so that you can quit/cut-back without feeling deprived. In brief, she talks about the neurologic changes that occur with habitual drinking, and the dopamine surges that alter your hedonic setpoint so that things really aren't as fun for you without a drink. She also lays out how alcohol actually worsens anxiety and depression and that you don't really relax/sleep well/become more social under the influence, despite popular opinion. It was eye-opening and encouraging. When she started a 30-day-alcohol-free Experiment, we decided to try it for the month of September (I actually signed up for the on-line program, G just said he wouldn't drink).

The underlying mantra of the program is to use this time to see how your life may (or may not, who knows, its an experiment!) be better without alcohol. She is a classic Questioner (like me!) so obviously this approach spoke to me much more than any kind of "challenge" or "streak" or "accountability" would. Every day there was a blog post and a video that centered around, basically, do-it-yourself cognitive behavioral therapy. Teaching your brain different ways to respond to cravings, to find new go-to ways to respond to stress/boredom, to convince yourself into a self-fulfilling prophecy that you will have fun at the party drinking seltzer instead of wine.

We both succeeded (well, I made it 28 days, with a planned ending before my weekend at the retreat, and G did take a 2 day break during his work trip) and it absolutely worked. We drank liters of seltzer, and on crazy Saturday nights we'd spike it with some juice! I made it through a family vacation, work trip with networking events, date night, book club, and countless evenings that I would've just reached for a glass of wine (or two, or three). I totally feel like I can moderate better going forward, and if not, I will abstain again, maybe for longer, because I know I can do it and I won't feel like I'm missing out.

The downside? I did not lose weight like I thought I would. Maybe it was because I took a 2-week hiatus from exercise thinking it would help my back. Most likely it was because I weirdly developed a sweet tooth for the month (that promptly disappeared last weekend after the Friday night wine social), craving the dopamine hit in the form of cookies and ice cream. So it made me wonder---am I just replacing one bad habit with another? Can I really train myself not to look for those mini-doses of "fun" and "excitement" in the form of unhealthy addictions? I think I finally understand the "food should be boring" thing from Katrina Ubell's podcast I mentioned earlier---its not that food should literally be bland and unsatisfying, but that if you do want to lost weight or change your relationship with food, you absolutely do need to find a non-caloric way to meet those needs.

Someday maybe I'll figure this out. For now I'll look forward to ending my day with 2 squares of dark chocolate, a 100-calorie Yasso yogurt bar, or a sensible serving of wine.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Finally Fall

Hello hello! I promised I'd be back and here I am! The crazy continues, this week includes L's 6th (OMG how???) birthday and treats we have to take into school, my parents flying in to help him celebrate, L's birthday party and the pinata/cupcakes/planning involved, and me traveling again for work (leaving Sunday night-Tuesday afternoon). And that's on top of, you know, work, the kids karate/soccer/running club/woodworking class/therapy, and the usual needing to be fed, read to, consoled and put back to bed for the 1000th time.

Honestly, our lives are usually quite full of blank space, but everything just sort of coalesced into a clusterf&ck of crazy, as it does, and we will have our usual boring routine back soon enough, so I'm trying to just go along for the ride.

I was away this weekend, but it was NOT for work, it was an amazing 2 nights away in the mountains for a "Women's Wellness Retreat" with my BFF and a bunch of women from my neighborhood book group. We drove up Friday and came back Sunday. In between we hiked, rode horses, rock climbed, did yoga & archery, zip-lined, and ate and drank and talked for hours. It was many women (some strangers) in one cabin several of whom found it appropriate to set early AM alarms and snooze them, and some of whom snored & coughed & sleep-talked, so I did NOT get much sleep and came home way more tired than I left. But happy. Very happy. I highly recommend doing something like this should you get the chance. It was super-empowering and rejuvenating. Just bring ear plugs.

G did amazing holding down the fort at home (i.e. keeping children & dog alive and fed), but there were ALL the weekend chores to be done when I got home at 3pm yesterday and I just wasn't up for it. So I am working from home today so that I can simultaneously change out laundry and can get dinner prepped before I go pick up B for his group therapy session.

Things I have to tell you about: recent self-improvement projects, the ongoing back pain saga, L and his kindergarten woes, recent books I've read, and much much more. But I just heard the cute little tune the washer plays when its done, so time to put the clothes in the dryer and work on the "final scientific/invention report" for my completed grant.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Its a little nuts around here...

Guys, these past few weeks have been unusually busy and its not letting up anytime soon. I just have no energy or desire to put my thoughts down on the page right now. They great thing is that...I don't have to! And since every single other goddamn thing on my list is a "have to" or at least a "really really should do for the long term benefit of my health/children/marriage/carrier" I'm going to put the blog on the back burner for a couple of weeks. I'll be back in October!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Goodbye Summer

We are all back home and into our routines (sort of). G went last Friday to get the kids, but they couldn't fly out until Monday. So I got a few relaxing/boring days at the beach alone with my parents until the boys joined us Monday night. Wednesday we flew home and Thursday B went to school. Of course while they were away I imagined a glorious reunion with lots of hugs and happiness and patience. The hugs did happen...

While at the beach, the lower back pain that had been bothering me off and on all summer began to more than bother me, and our flight on Wednesday was excruciating. I ended up spending Thursday (when I was supposed to be working from home, with L, since KG doesn't start until the 12th) dealing with this, starting by going to the doctor. She told me she had no idea what the problem was, but prescribed steroids, muscle relaxants, and PT. I went and got the meds, which did help some, though the non-sedating muscle relaxants still made me slightly loopy. I also got the appointment and referral for PT, and found some exercises online to do, which also helped some. I got zero work done that day. I'm feeling antsy because I can't exercise---I need to take two weeks to relax/heal---but it hurts the worst to sit, so I'm just really restless, and spending a lot of time pacing.

So the summer is over. While I definitely had some fun moments, it was overall a string of mild to moderate stressful things happening one after another, all on a background of constant kid whining and fighting and the crescendo of pre-apocalyptic horrific current events. I've been extremely distracted the past couple of months and have been sucked back into non-ideal coping mechanisms (booze, social media). Add to that my sudden increase in clinical duties (I went from 20% to 50% clinical in July) and I completely dropped the ball in prepping for a major grant submission. I am going to have to postpone the submission until the next cycle which sucks, but is also a relief.

I absolutely love early fall. The crisp, cool air renews my energy and clears my head. I'm ready to focus and get things done. I'm actually at work right now, finishing up a poster for a conference I am going to next week, so I will stop here. I have so much to say and hope to find time to write more this week, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

When you can't breathe...

Soon after I hit post yesterday, I had one of the scariest hours I've experienced. G called me to tell me that water was rising up the driveway in MIL's house and neighbors were going to help them leave, using a KAYAK (!!!!) to navigate the flooded streets to a van waiting nearby that would take them to a family member's home a few miles away.

I gave them about an hour to undertake this mission (and thankfully had a scheduled catch-up phone date with a friend/collaborator) and then began to call. And MIL's phone isn't working. So I called the aunt who's house they were going to---no answer. And then I freaked the fuck out because OMFG. I called my parents, texted my sister, and then had no idea what to do while I waited.

So I turned on a podcast, found a long ignored addictive game on my phone, and opened up some cheese puffs and distracted my way through the hour or so until MIL finally called me (they are completely fine).

Guys, this is so hard. I'm doing the absolutely necessary things at work and home, and trying to exercise/meditate/sleep/eat well, but I've also been spending LOADS of time on social media (including facebook, which has been a good way to keep up with what's going, since I have lots of friends/"friends" near where the kids are and also keep people updated & get support), and overall wasting time and drinking more wine than I should.

I did get a lot of things on my list done, and had thankfully planned a lot of outings for this week, because the last thing I need is MORE time to sit at home & fret. But man, it has not been the least bit relaxing and I'm farther behind then ever at work.

Oh, and please donate to hurricane relief AND (or) efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change. Because we know there is no government looking out for us in any regard at all.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Breathing

They are OK. No flooding in the house as of last night, but its still raining for the foreseeable future and they can't actually LEAVE the house, so hopefully provisions last.

G changed his flights and will hopefully hopefully fingers crossed go on Saturday morning and bring them to the beach Sunday. I am keeping my flights and will go on Friday as scheduled. I can fret on the beach, with my parents, as well as I can fret here.

I'm feeling much calmer today. Got a lot of work stuff crossed off the list this morning which helps with that frantic sense of overwhelm. I skipped my work out and slept in, which I desperately needed, too.

Things that are helping me stay sane: exercise & walking, friends, music & podcasts, G's optimism. Also....wine. Had a very fun evening out with good friend yesterday and it just felt good, though the wine did catch up to me (explains the sleeping in this morning).

Everything is going to be OK.

Monday, August 28, 2017

What was I saying about raining and pouring?

It was a gorgeous weekend here. And instead of relaxing and enjoying it, I spent the weekend in a frenzy of chores and activity to keep my mind off the fact that my children are 1000 miles away from us in a freaking hurricane. 

They are safe and sound and hyped up on sugar and screentime and the sense of adventure. But I'm not going to relax until I hold them again. G was supposed to get them on Thursday and bring them to our beach vacation with my parents this weekend. But I don't think he's going to be able to get in/out of there safely until later this weekend. And there may be another "tropical weather condition" affecting the beach locale. So yeah.

Instead of working on the thing that's due on Thursday I've been reading GoT recaps all over the internet, and refreshing facebook and the weather reports incessantly. Summer 2017 has been kicking my ass from every angle. I sort of want school to start and to get back into our boring, predictable, contained in a 1-mile radius life.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

We left our hearts...

The kids are with MIL for the next 11 days. G and I got home Saturday night after a pretty busy and not-quite-relaxing week with all of us together. I feel like we should REALLY TAKE ADVANTAGE of our kid-free time, and yet, we have nothing major planned.

I feel like I've been given an incredible opportunity that I don't want to squander away.

Things I want to do (other than the usual "catch-up and hopefully get ahead on work" list that is miles long after a week away).
  • Cook a few fancy meals for the two of us
  • Visit 2 summer beer gardens
  • Harvest and do something with the overgrown herbs in the backyard (suggestions for what to do with basil that isn't pesto? How about oregano, sage, and thyme?)
  • Re-organize the boys clothes for the school year and fill any wardrobe holes
  • Massive de-clutter of clothes & toys and give away/donate (i.e. get the hell out of my house) everything
  • 2 outings with friends
  • Use restaurant gift card for low-key dinner out
  • Buy myself some new pants for work (its SO FREEZING in our clinic space that I can't wear my standby of dresses/skirts until I can add tights again, and now that I'm there for full days, its a quality of life issue!) Current pants are all too big! I will keep them for sure, but now I wish I didn't get rid of all my old ones when I gained weight)
  • Try a couple of workout classes: BodyCombat at the gym, beginner yoga, SolidCore  and try some evening workouts too for the days I have to get into work too early to workout
  • Think through some ideas/changes for our new routine this fall. With L starting KG and aftercare, new activity schedules, and my new work schedule, we are going to need to shake-up our mornings/evenings some. I want to streamline dinner so we can actually just PLAY and hang out in the evenings and come up with ways to further decrease the "chore footprint" on the weekends so we can relax
Writing it all out makes it seem pretty ambitious, actually. I'll report back on the 31st.

Friday, August 11, 2017

When it rains it f'ing pours

In the past 10 days we have dealt with:

  • Lice
  • Fleas
  • Basement flooding
  • B getting stitches on  his face (this is happening right now, G took him to urgent care)
All this on the backdrop of the kids constantly fighting and whining, and me doing full days of clinic every other day.

And of course we have to pack our shit up and fly to visit MIL tomorrow morning.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCKKKK

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Wind Down

Those 5 weeks of summer are coming to an end. They have been more challenging than I expected. Parenting has been kicking our asses the past few months. Hopefully its just a phase. I've been looking forward for 2 years to the boys being in school together again, and now I'm terrified that it'll be fighting and whining at drop-off and pick up every day.

I did have an amazing, much-needed break, when I spent 4 days visiting friends at the end of July. I didn't have to worry about ANYONE ELSE. No one's wants, needs, feelings, resentments. I felt so loved and cared for by my awesome friends. We drank and talked late into the night, and I spilled everything and got so much support. It was like therapy. I should try to do it more often.

The changes at work have been tough, too. I haven't quite gotten into a groove with my new schedule. The clinic days are busy and go fast, but I feel like I don't have enough uninterrupted time on the research days to really get going on anything. I may need to move around my clinic schedule so I can have 2-3 days in a row, since there is a lot of start-up energy required to get my head in the game of writing.

We are leaving this weekend to visit MIL. I'm the usual stressed about it, but also somewhat looking forward to a bit of a break from our daily routine. Its not going to be FUN but hopefully it can be a little relaxing. At the very least we can just leave the kids and go watch a movie or something.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Measure of a (Wo)man

There was a fascinating "Note to self" podcast early in the archives about the downside to the use of health-tracking technology. About how logging and seeing every step you take, calorie you eat, water you sip, minutes you sleep can make you anxious and hyper-focused on yourself. I definitely experienced this with calorie tracking, as you may remember from several years ago. I found myself really anxious about going over on any given day, and putting way too much of my self-worth on whether I was "good" or "bad" about staying in my calorie goals (and the app makes it easy to assign value judgements by putting you in the green & giving you happy faces, vs. red & exclamation marks!!!!). I was also running running running without any focus on speed or form, just to get a bigger calorie buffer into my day. My perfectionism came out full on, too, the thought of "incomplete data" when I just could not remember every bite I put on my mouth at a potluck, or had not even a ballpark idea of the ingredients or calorie count of some concoction I imbibed drove my CRAZY. I had to stop.

After a couple years of having it sit in a drawer, I pulled out my old fitbit zip in January and replaced the battery and worse it almost daily. I did it only because I signed onto an app that would import data and then award you points that ultimately translated to $$$. A friend of mine told me about it and I figured free money was reason enough to pin the tiny thing to my waistband or bra step. It took me 6 months to get $10, so its not a get-rich-quick scheme. When the battery died yet again in July I put it back in the drawer. The fitbit NEVER motivated me to walk more, maybe because I know I walk plenty most days and if I don't hit my goal by the end of the day, something in my routine was off enough that it would take way too long to do enough pacing around my house to get there.

The perfectionism thing I noticed with MyFitnessPal extends to spending tracking as well. We had a bit of a snafu that ended up with an overdrawn bank account and scrounging our house for cash for pizza last week (long story, it was a good reminder not to slack on keeping an eye on our bank balance and transferring from emergency fund when needed instead of planning to do it "later"). Said snafu had us updating all our Mint passwords and deciding to go back to YNAB. Notice I said "us". G said, "sure, sounds like a good idea" and then promptly never logged a thing unless I reminded him of it. I logged my few meager purchases for 3 days and when I didn't notice the groceries he brought or the packages that came from Amazon, I started getting all twitchy about the incomplete data. I had two options: remind him (i.e. nag) to do it, or let it go. I chose the latter. I'm keeping a close eye on our bills and balances, but we are NOT going back to logging every purchase. If G ever decides he wants to be consistent with it, I'm on board, but I CANNOT keep reminding him daily or, worse, just looking at bills and ATM withdrawals and trying to piece together his spending FOR HIM to enter into YNAB, which is what I was doing for many months before.

There was an episode on the "Happier" podcast where someone mentioned that YNAB similarly made him nuts because of this intrinsic NEED to account for every single penny and he had to quit, and I was so happy to hear I'm not alone in this lunacy. I don't know if it is the scientist in me or what, but if I am collecting data, I want it to be as complete & accurate as possible! How can you begin to make sense of estimates & guesstimates and days of blanks? What conclusions do you draw from that? I think some would argue that some data is better than no data, and "perfect is the enemy..." etc... but I can't get my brain on board with that.

Things I do track currently: water intake (because I sometimes forget to drink enough & then don't feel well), meditation (just a yes or no, so I remember to do it every day), and my plank challenge (again, yes or no, and I try to do it 3X a week, on non-gym days...I'm up to SIX MINUTES). Yes, sometimes I'm chugging water to meet my goal, but there isn't really much of a downside to this. Maybe forcing myself to meditate at night when I'm falling asleep (sometimes I just completely forget during the day!) isn't necessary, but I like seeing that streak (85 days!). Those things are actually more of a to-do-list then really getting into hard numbers and data, so they don't lead to that sort of hyper-focus and anxiety.  I sometimes write down what I've eaten in my planner for a week or two at a time, to make sure I'm not fooling myself with excess snacks or letting my lunch "creep up" (I sometimes start adding more items just to use up excess fruits or because we bought something I wanted to try, for example).

Anyone else let a tracking app make you crazy, or am I truly neurotic? (actually don't answer that second part!)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Itchy and Scratchy Show

They fight and fight and fight and fight and fight...

Fightfightfight
Fightfightfight

You get it.

Seriously the boys are in a phase of wanting to be together constantly but then annoying each other, ultimately leading to physical violence and tears and shouting and MOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!

We try to keep them apart but they just gravitate back together. L is like a mosquito, he follows B around and irks and pesters until B lashes out. And B is bigger & stronger. And L is a drama queen.

When they aren't fighting, they are egging each other on to annoy US in inventive and ever-more-irritating ways. Again, L is the mischief-maker, trying to get rule-follower B to go along with his nonsense. Which he does, because he is seven and full of energy and that little-kid-wildness. 

One on one, they are fun, but together they are truly a PITA these days. I am a little worried about leaving G alone for 4 days, I'm leaving Friday straight after AM clinic to visit friends, and won't be back until right after bedtime Monday (I am so excited, I can't wait!). I advised him to go against his instinct and make lots of plans, so they aren't at home too much.

In other news, I am really into bingeing podcasts. I like starting at the very very beginning and listening to every single episode in order. I just finished both Happier, and Happier in Hollywood, and I'm sad, because I loved them both. I know I can listen to a new episode each week, but that style of listening doesn't appeal to me, so I think I'll wait for a whole bunch to pile up and binge again. I'm now on "Note to Self" which is quite good so far. Any podcast recommendations for similar styles?

Also, we are planning on winter break trip. We booked flights already but need to figure out what we are going to do. Anyone live in/near or traveled to San Diego in December and have thoughts for us? (don't tell me any stories about horrible rain, I realized the whole "rainy season" thing AFTER I booked the flights). It'll be the 4 of us (boys 6 and 8 at the time) and my MIL and we will have 5 full days (not counting the 2 travel days). We are doing 2 days at Legoland, but not sure about the other 3 days.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Nolite te Bastardes...

Carborundorum....bitches.

I can't believe I never gushed & raved about how much I love love LOVED the Hulu series "The Handmaid's Tale". The book is amazing...and touches almost a little to close to home given the state of the world these days. But the way they brought the story to life...the acting, the scenery, the music...really enhanced the story. I actually literally binge-watched the whole thing in one day and then sort of regretted not stretching it out to really savor (but the kids were coming back and I knew I'd never get this kind of chance to just immerse myself in something so fully again).

This weekend was not great. The one socializing plan we did have, we canceled due to massive thunderstorms Saturday evening, so we didn't really see other people. I've realized lately that all of us do better with some socialization each weekend. The boys have been fighting CONSTANTLY lately, and L has really been pushing boundaries. Of course, us parents don't react as calmly and logically as we'd like every time and overall nobody was really happy or relaxed. On Saturday night I completely forgot to take my P@xil, and I woke up at 5AM Sunday morning, brain racing, unable to go back to sleep. Even though I took it right away, I went through a mini-withdrawal for most of the day and was not in the mood for adventures so we mostly stayed home.

Its G's birthday today. I made most of the components of the strawberry shortcake he asked for yesterday, so I just have to whip cream and assemble tonight. I did have the boys make cards yesterday, which took up a few hours of time, as they got really creative with it. We are going out tonight, for a very very casual dinner.

If I try to think on the positive side, I can say this weekend did include the following: 2 workouts for me, a woodworking class for B & coffee shop adventure for L & G, park trips, reading 2 chapters of "The Prisoner of Azkaban" out loud, me reading a big chunk of my current (very long) book, a great dinner I made on Friday night, a successful baking project, and creative pursuits for the boys. Oh, and G and I watched "Arrival" Friday night (it was $0.99 on iTunes) which was excellent. And of course, Game of Thrones last night.

My samples are probably done thawing on ice so I better go aliquot. Did I ever mention that my research tech left and I'm all alone until I can hire someone else? And how much it sucks? I have to figure out how to print labels today, something I haven't done in years and years. Everything just takes me FOREVER to figure out, the learning curve is steep.

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. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Perfect Young Summer

June. My other favorite month (in addition to May and October). I love the whole anticipation of summer, the leading up to the solstice. Lots of celebrations, from our anniversary to the end of school. This June promises a lot of fun outings---I've already got several planned, and I'm sure we'll squeeze a few more in. It starts with lot of family time and will end with a kid-free week when we drop the boys off with my parents, at my sister's place (i.e. payback for Spring Break)

May had its ups and downs. To focus on the ups: I think I've cemented my meditation habit---I have a 32 day streak going, after lots of stops and starts and missed days here and there. I am doing 10 minutes of "Calm Light" on the free "Calm" app. There is a minute of guidance and then silent meditation for the rest. Sometimes I totally get in the zen and feel amazing---sometimes my mind wanders constantly. It all counts, and I keep trying. I also did a plank challenge, and worked up from 1:30 to 4 minutes in about 5 weeks! The challenge expected people to go from 0:10 to 5 minutes in 30 days, which is insane. I'm going to keep at it on my rest days from the gym/running and hope to get a solid 5 minutes by July.

I've been listening to old episodes of Gretchen Rubin's "Happier" podcast, which I actually quite enjoy. One of the episodes mentioned a quote I'd heard before (probably on the blog) but never fully got: "Work is the most dangerous form of procrastination". I thought it was about how I used to organize my socks instead of studying in college, or similar. But when I listened to them talk about it, I realized it is way more insidious and its been my downfall the past couple of months. I hate writing papers. Hate hate hate. Love writing grants. Hate writing papers. Love analyzing the data, and doing literature reviews, and planning experiments. Hate writing papers. You get it. For a while I was flat-out procrastinating---social media, vacation planning, online shopping. But then I decided to get my butt in gear---and did every single non-paper-writing work-related task I could conceive of, crossing items off my list, and ending the day with a feeling of false accomplishment. Yes that stuff had to be done at some point (most of it), but it was not a priority.

Recognizing the problem is the first step, and today is going better. I've cut myself off email and even allotted a very short time for patient messages, so no "urgent" things derail me. We have a belated birthday date-night tonight, and I've got a fun new dress to wear. For the first time in a while, I'm loving all the clothes I'm seeing in stores, and I couldn't help myself from buying some new things for summer.

Happy June!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

41 and...having fun?

I had a pretty nice birthday and extended 4-day weekend. I took Friday off, and managed a quick run and then crammed in some "me-time" in the 3 hours I had before I had to pick B up from his half-day of school. I got a pedicure and then wandered around shopping, and made a regret-purchase that I now have to return (the thing I wanted was sold out in my size, but I wanted something, so I bought something not-quite-right).  B and I hung out all afternoon; he was in a GREAT mood which made it quite pleasant.

G bought me a beautiful necklace and gave me a really heart-felt card. I was super excited to get a present...I never get presents and apparently they are one of my love languages! We had a mediocre dinner out at a neighborhood place that I forget isn't very good.

The rest of the weekend involved lots of exercise and lots of good food and wine. Lots and lots and lots. Also a good amount of outdoor time, kid birthday parties, reading, board games, etc... I like our lazy weekends.

I am not feeling the writing today. I'm pretty sure this post sucks but I have already put it off for 2 days and just wanted to get something written before the end of the month. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dealing with It

I am still, and likely will be forever, working on developing healthier coping mechanisms for life's inevitable setbacks. Yesterday I got to put these into practice, and I'm fairly proud of myself! I got an email around 3:30 PM that a foundation grant I submitted in April was administratively rejected because I didn't comply with some (as yet unclear) rule. My stomach sank; I had worked extremely hard on this and thought it had a decent chance of funding. My disappointment was overwhelming and I knew I wasn't going to get a whole lot done on paper writing.

I wrote back immediately asking for clarification (take action) and looked over the submission again and couldn't find anything wrong. I finished up essential tasks for the day and decided to leave 45 minutes early. I went and got my eyebrows threaded (self-care) and picked B up from after-care early (quality time with loved ones). We walked home, stopping to point out flowers, a cat, a bird (mindfulness) and then took the dog on a long walk (exercise, time outside). I patiently helped B with homework (more QT). Then I made lunches for the rest of the week and cooked dinner while listening to the "Happier" podcast (accomplishments, positive distractions). When G got home, we talked about it (sharing) and when he asked me if I wanted a glass of wine I said no (sticking to my goals), but did ask him to pick up some seltzer when he went to the store later, and a healthy-ish post-dinner treat (asking for what I need). I read stories to the boys and put them to bed (QT), and then G and I had a 150-calorie Yasso ice cream bar, some seltzer, and watched Sunday's episode of Silicon Valley(QT, reasonable treats). I went to bed by 10 (self-care).

I'm still super annoyed and waiting for them to get back to me about what the heck I did wrong, and if there is any possibility of reversing this decision. But I'm planning a productive day.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Weekend Whip

(the Lego Ninjago theme song, its quite catchy)

The end of last week I wondered if my P@xil was switched with a placebo because I was feeling so out-of-control anxious and unsettled. I think it was related to MIL leaving, or something weird, but I felt better by Monday. The weekend, all in all, was pretty good.

Friday night G and I went to see Real Estate in concert, thanks to tickets from a blog friend. I had never heard of them before I was offered the tix, but I liked the sound. The concert was AMAZING. Live music is definitely up there on the list of "things that make me feel alive", though it isn't something I do very often (can't remember last concert). As I was leaning over the balcony, sipping my vodka soda and swaying to the beat, G's arms around me, I felt young in a way I haven't in a long time. Which reminded me of "Here I Am" and the story of how the main character equated (sort of, I can't articulate well) "feeling alive" to "being a teenager" and definitely bumped the book up in my estimation, since I was still pondering its themes months after reading it.

Saturday I was tired, but I spent 2 hours digging and planting a vegetable garden at the school, and met some new people. It was social but also meditative. Love getting my hands in the dirt! I came home JUST in time to see MIL off; when the boys left for the airport, I changed into shorts and went on a 4-mile run. Running is not my favorite exercise---my body mechanics aren't built for speed or endurance (I can go forever but my joints will pay), but nothing burns off stress like sprinting at intervals. I was spent at the end and felt really chill. I spent the rest of the day at home, hanging with the kids and reading our book club book (Bel Canto).

Sunday was our crazy sports day. I went straight from the gym to soccer with B, then home for shower/lunch and swim lesson for B, then shower for him and haircut for B (while G and L did T ball pictures and the second game of the weekend) and FINALLY got home around 4 and poured some wine and did cooking/meal prep. I finished Bel Canto that evening (it was good, not great). G and I stayed up way too late drinking wine and watching "Master of None"---this season is way better than last season, IMO.

It was supposed to be a 3 day week for me; I was taking Thursday off to volunteer at a school event and Friday off because its my birthday and I've decided to make it a tradition :) But the event was canceled due to rain so it'll be a 4 day week. My goal is to go to bed by 9:30 every night, and not drink until Friday---the stress and celebratory (really I can always find an excuse) eating and drinking have gained me back a few hard-lost pounds so I need to get back on track.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Shadows

I was going to write yesterday, and then hesitated, because I felt like a bit of a fraud. What do I mean? Well, after my perfectly well-adjusted non-therapy-needing post last week, this weekend was a bit of a...backslide. I was sad, and anxious, and uncertain, and things were really getting to me. I still feel that way somewhat, but that is part of real life. And real life is what I'm trying to sell here, so I may as well write anyways!

Mother's Day was, as usual, mostly OK. G had the kids make cards, and he cooked a yummy brunch with mimosas.  I did sort of feel like it was MIL's day, with me as the runner up. Also there were lots of little MIL-related-stressors going on, the usual (and I don't feel like reliving it all to write about it), but still annoying. B's been back in his "I hate school" mode, which is always really stressful for us, because we start wondering if something is going on (there isn't, as far as I can tell) or if he's just prone to having a bad attitude (seems pretty likely), and how do we help him or if we can't help him, how do we cope? I did a barre class. It was OK. The thing I don't like about barre is that its pretty slow-paced and repetitive, so I have lots of time to think. Not a great choice when I'm already brooding.

People (well a few people) keep asking me about our summer travel plans.  I tell them we are going to visit both sets of family, including a family beach trip with my parents, some time with my sister, a week in MIL-city perhaps with another nearby beach trip. But they want something more interesting. Is it a given to travel somewhere new every summer? It seems to me like an enormous luxury! MIL has also been harping on "us all" going on some kind of trip.

The weird thing  is that I don't even WANT to go anywhere. Its not only a matter of money or mother-in-laws, I just feel like laying low. The kids are pretty good travelers at this point, so its not about that. The drive to explore and get out of the routine just isn't there for me right now. On the contrary, I feel like really sinking into the routine, being present and in the moment and savoring our lazy weekends in the backyard or the school playground. I want to cook, and exercise, and read. I want to take the kids to the splash parks and ice cream shops, have friends over for cook-outs, and try out some new family friendly eateries in our neighborhood.

Then this winter, we will fly somewhere warm. That's the plan.




Thursday, May 11, 2017

2017 Quarter 1 BOOKS

Whoa. Guys, I read TWENTY books January-March of 2017. This pace will not continue, because I've only read 2 so far in Q2. I'm going to play around with different ways of talking books---and I'd love your feedback on what works and doesn't. This time I'm going to review all the 3-5 star books I read and just list out the others (reviews upon request).

The WOW! These are the must-reads. READ THEM. Winter 2017 was an unusually good book season! I don't usually have more than a couple of Wow! books.

Born a Crime (Trevor Noah): So well-written, emotional and informative. There were funny undertones but this wasn't a typical comedic memoir. I learned so much about the history of apartheid in South Africa and was blown away by his depiction of his family relationships.

Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson): I mentioned this one before, but it should be required reading. I admit that capital punishment hasn't really been on my radar as a cause, but reading these incredibly moving stories brought it front and center. The inherent racism, ableism and classism in the criminal justice system guarantee that those with the least will bear the brunt of our "war on crime".

The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver): I can't believe I've never read this before! Its amazing! Its actually my first Kingsolver, and I'm awed at her descriptive passages. While the stories of the missionary family are fascinating, the main character of this book is the Congo, and she really brings it to life.

Exit West (Mohsin Hamid): This was an unexpected favorite. I love how matter-of-fact the protagonists were in their relationship---she really took the "foreign" (and thus "fearsome") aspect out of our young Middle Eastern characters so they were instantly relatable. And I was definitely not prepared for the way we approach the refugee crisis issue by mixing realistic depictions of a war-torn  city whimsically with fantasy elements.


The Storied Life of AJ Fikrey(Gabrielle Zevin): Heart-warming. My favorite kind of story in which random strangers find what they need in each other. And books! 

The Good Books I enjoyed reading or that stayed with me for a while.

Maybe in Another Life (Taylor Jenkins Reid): Chick-lit done (mostly) right and with a cool "Sliding Doors" twist.

The High Mountains of Portugal (Yann Martel): This was truly bizarre but I liked it. Its actually a collection of a few stories in completely different styles, but with an underlying theme (men dealing, or not, with grief).

Today Will be Different (Maria Semple): I related somewhat to that feeling of ennui and desire for self-improvement (obvi), though the ending was unsatisfying.

Truly, Madly, Guilty (Liane Moriarty): This one started off SO GOOD and really engaging. I won't spoil it.

The Mothers (Brit Bennett): The story of the main character was engaging, though the whole conceit of "The Mothers" left me cold.

The Girl Who Saved the King of Scotland and The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared (Jonas Jonnason): I found these funny. I like his wry, humorous style, and they were both pretty good (if far-fetched) stories. I also learned a lot about history and politics. "Hundred-Year-Old Man" was a bit Forrest-Gump-esque and I overall liked it less, but maybe because it was the second one I read and his style was starting to wear on me.

Dark Matter (Blake Crouch): The concept this is based on is mind-blowing. I recommend it for that alone. The execution...could be better.

Here I Am (Jonathan Safran Foer): It took me SO LONG to get into this and I nearly abandoned it until a small anecdote hooked me into the theme. I greatly disliked the main character, and the  pornographic inserts in the beginning added NOTHING to the story. Yet...the theme...really stuck with me. Middle-aged ennui and the overwhelming desire to feel alive and be in the moment. Definitely something I relate to. I also love how he weaved one of the most fascinating parables I've ever heard (Abraham and Isaac) throughout---I've been awed by that story and how it embodied the concept of faith since I first read it many years ago.

My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She's Sorry (Fredrick Backman): Weird and interesting. Not for everyone---but I enjoyed it. If you're expecting another "Man Called Ove", you'll be disappointed, but I'm a sucker for a precocious, outcast kid finding connections in unexpected places.

The Meh Self-explanatory? These are mostly not TERRIBLE, but forgettable.

Vinegar Girl (Anne Tyler), Amy and Isabelle (Elizabeth Strout), The Intersection (Brad Windhauser), The Girl Who Fell from the Sky (Heidi W. Durrow), The Messenger (Lois Lowry), Son (Louis Lowry)

Graduated?

I had a pretty good meeting with the therapist, ending in her telling me that I no longer need therapy! I am staying on her roster, with the plan to contact her if anything changes, and to pro-actively start coming back when I'm considering going off the P@xil.

I told her about the MIL issues, about certain things that happened and how I responded and she told me I'd "achieved great interpersonal growth" in dealing with her. She's absolutely right. I mentioned this a while back, but something changed during her visit last summer and I no longer demonize her or hate her and she no longer has the power to completely ruin my mental state. Sure its still annoying and stressful around her, she's a challenging in-law, but I can handle it. I even challenged her on something last week, and I didn't completely curl up and die. I can take the worst of her and survive, and its empowering.

We talked about how we are working hard to help B right now, how I put a lot of that off last year because I just...couldn't. I am planning to focus my time taking him to weekly social skills groups and continuing to see the family therapist with G on a regular (but limited) schedule to stay on track.

We talked a bit about work, about how I've stopped beating myself up or thinking I'm a complete failure when I can't stay focused and productive every single day or even week. I realize I work in spurts, getting unreal amounts of work done in a few weeks and then just...stalling out. I have been trying SO HARD to be a more steady producer, churning out equal amounts of product every day and I just keep failing over and over and over. Maybe I need to allow myself to work the way I enjoy, and give myself more time & space to really fall into the flow when I'm feeling it, and using the less laser-focused time to take care of the many many administrative and mundane aspects of my job.

I brought up the question of going off the SSRI and we both agreed to wait until fall (and actually October, after I submit my R01) because of the changes coming up to my work schedule, kids' schedule, and travel this summer, in addition to my desire to simply ENJOY this summer.

Overall she said I seemed to have most of my issues under control and she didn't believe in "over-therapizing" and that she trusted I would return should I need it. I felt pretty damn good.