Friday, January 17, 2020

20 for 20

My list that I wrote in December and finally found (in my 2019 planner)

1. Go to 2 live music concerts
2. See "The Cursed Child" on Broadway
3. Trip to Maine
4. Girls trip
5. Camping trip with my sister
6. Indoor water park weekend (this is scheduled for next month!)
7. Summer staycation (1 week off work/school, doing local stuff/day trips)
8. Run a 5K as a family
9. Volunteer in some capacity for the democratic presidential candidate
10. Teach B to make one meal on his own
11. Do all the new puzzles in our house
12. Plant herb garden
13. Finish laser hair removal treatments
14. Couples weekend trip
15. Chaperone a field trip for each kid
16. Short hair cut (DONE!)
17. Quit facebook for 2 months in a row (in progress)
18. A weekend at home alone
19. Read one "actual" (physical) book per month (I've got at least 12 on my shelf that I've ignored because reading on the Kindle app is so much easier!)
20. Take a dance and/or music class

I think of this list as more personal and fun, vs. goals that are more about improvement and achievement. Thus, no work stuff, and lots of travel stuff.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Running, Theater, Babysitters, Booze, and Work

i.e. random catch up post

I'm finishing up some work I had to get done.  G is getting B ready for his basketball game, L is reading on his kindle, dog is snoozing on the basement couch next to me, and laundry is going in the washer and dryer. So...I have some time to write!

Its oddly warm today, like 60 degrees. At some point will get the kids to the park. We thought about doing a quick hike but in between basketball game & practice, and both of us needing to get some work done...its not going to happen.

I started running with a friend at the end of December, and it went so well we decided to keep it up---our goal is twice a week, 30 minutes if a weekday and longer on the weekend. Today we did about 4 miles, going up & down the art museum steps a few times in the middle, so it took about 45 minutes. I bought myself some new leggings with a pocket for my phone so I can actually track distance. I have no way to track my pace, but I suspect I'm pretty slow (had to beg my friend to slow down!)

We had a date night Thursday to see one of our theater subscription shows (The Band's Visit, it was great---very low key, quirky, funny, but also poignant). Our old after school guy came to babysit and all of us were so happy to see him again! No one else we've had, including our current person, has been even half as fun, sadly.

I went for reliable over enthusiastic with babysitters this time, and the woman we chose is super sweet, but...the kids haven't really taken to her and just do their own thing while she's around, instead of playing with her. I need her to stay through the end of this school year. Next year I will make sure they are in the after-care program at school (we didn't get them in on time this year and they were full when I tried later). I can write a whole post on pros/cons of the sitter vs. aftercare (ooh...idea)!

G and I have been cutting back on booze (i.e. not drinking at all) after LOTS of wine to cope with winter break, but since we had some time to kill before the show, we went to a funky bar near the theater and I had a cocktail. And then a glass of wine at the show. It was fun but I remembered at 5:30 AM the next morning why I shouldn't drink on weeknights. Oh aging.

Work this week wasn't too bad. I had 5 clinics, so 2.5 days for other stuff and I got a lot done on Tuesday & Thursday. Friday afternoon was kind of a wash because of meetings and random patient care stuff that came up...which is why I'm working today. Next week I have 6 clinics, & lots more meetings, so I doubt I'll get much else done. And I'm on call next weekend/week after. Blah. Three more call weeks of this academic year and then I get a break from April----at least June, hopefully September.

I have my meeting to discuss next years schedule in February so I need to spend some time thinking a bit more about this. Part of me really wants to go to 80-90%, but G keeps telling me that he thinks I will end up working the same for less $, which is a very fair point. I also have a meeting to discuss a possible leadership role (I'd looked into this last year and it wasn't a good fit at the time, but they are willing to be flexible on some things now so I'm open to more discussion). So who knows what July will bring.

I'm feeling uncharacteristically optimistic about work overall. I have a few new and exciting ideas for grants I want to write, and I've got a line up of papers to work through---and a game plan for when I'm going to do them (i.e. days blocked off in my calendar). I have this overall sense that I do LIKE what I do, and I'm good at it, and I realize how lucky that make me.

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

You don't know what you don't know

I forgot a big one on my list of good things yesterday...therapy.

I've been going regularly for a year now (or is it longer? I honestly can't remember) And its so so helpful.

Today we talked about how reactive I get to B's persistent grouchiness. He's always complaining, saying no, wanting more, unsatisfied, and letting us know it loudly and demonstratively. And in typical therapist fashion she "was curious" about what he was feeling that was driving this behavior. And also curious about why it triggered me so much.

Part of it is that his chronic negativity brings to the surface my underlying fear about his future---his ability to integrate socially, academically, professionally---his ability to become a functional, helpful, contributing member of society. If he can't handle running out of his favorite bread at dinnertime, gives up on a playdate over one difference of opinion in what to do, and resists taking a shower even on our twice-weekly winter schedule---how will he hold down a job, make friends, build any kind of life? (i know, catastrophizing)

But another part is just that I learned early on (and still likely believe somewhere deep down, even after I learned otherwise), that negative emotions should be pushed down out of sight, to make things go more smoothly in the world & not upset others. Don't make a fuss, go with the flow, smile like you mean it, etc...

So my belief that something is "wrong" with him, and that he should change, and just f**($ng be HAPPY for once, because it'd be much more pleasant for all of us---those are my thoughts, not necessarily the facts. And those thoughts drive my feelings of frustration/anger/hopelessness. Which then lead to my actions of yelling at/shaming him or detaching completely. And then guilt and shame for MY behavior. The vicious cycle.

And as much as I read about parenting strategies and KNOW the right thing to do is to validate feelings, and sit with him and let him open up or just be quiet, until it runs it course, it is really f-ing hard to do when HIS big feelings bring up MY big feelings and I sure as hell don't know how to deal with those.

I guess my "homework" this week is to try to step back and focus on what I'm feeling when he begins his inevitable grunting & griping.

Monday, January 6, 2020

2019---The Good Stuff

I was working on a "what worked and what didn't" post, and was getting bogged down in the "didn't" part. So to start the week off on a positive spin, here is a list of good things I remember from last year!

  • Beach Body workouts in the basement
  • Red hair dye
  • Laser hair removal
  • After school sitter
  • Having a deep bench of babysitters
  • Lots of theater
  • Camping with friends
  • Our first annual family summer camping trip
  • Biking as a family
  • Pizza/movie night
  • Family dinners---all 4 of us, sitting together, eating the same thing---about 75% of the time
  • Continuing to read a lot of books!
  • Amusement park weekend with my sister
  • Book club
  • Playing board games with the boys
And that's all I got in 5 minutes. Happy Monday!

Friday, January 3, 2020

2020 Word(s) of the Year

Here we are, new year, same me...full of plans & goals & hopes and...less full of energy and motivation to actually achieve them.

No, no, I'm going to be positive!!! But, seriously, I'm tired. And its dark, cold and rainy and we have a million basketball related things this weekend and our house is a mess. Winter break sucked. Like really really blah, boring, stressful. So I'm very relieved actually to be back home, back at work, in the thick of activities and playdates and all of it. Just...tired.

I couldn't decide on one "word of the year" so I'm going with a combo this year. Drumroll please...

Clear and Control

I want to clear my head, my house, my schedule...just get ALL the unnecessary junk out of there. The digital distractions, the wine, the things I say yes to that clog up my writing days, the CLUTTER that is taking over our house after 2 kid birthdays, and Christmas and 2 boys & a husband who are in the middle of a billion different "projects" all in our living room area.

And I want to feel like I am steering the boat of my life instead of being pulled along by the current, sometimes very abruptly and uncomfortably. I am thinking carefully about my work and our family schedule, looking at the year as a whole and trying to anticipate what we will need and building it in.

I've restarted my habit of getting up earlier than I absolutely need to, so I can feel in charge of the day and how it unfolds. And making sure I check in with my planner every morning and evening to re-orient myself to my goals. Later this afternoon I am taking time to think about seasonal goals for self/family/work---and I'm going to do the whole year at once, to take a bigger picture view so I don't keep pushing winter goals into spring and then summer when they don't happen, haha.

Plan for tonight: take down Christmas and hang out with L + make dinner while B is at Bball practice. Dinner/stories/early bed.
Saturday: work out in AM. Plan meals for the week so G can go shop. Take B to basketball game. Clean up/declutter in living room and hang out with B while L at Bball practice. Haircut. Pizza/movie night (please no more Star Wars)
Sunday: work out in AM (run?). take L to basketball game. Cook soup. Dinner/stories/early bed to get ready for the first full week of the year!

Upcoming: my 20 for 2020 list, seasonal goals, best books of 2019

Thursday, December 12, 2019


I saw a post recently that the inane "Are you ready for the holidays?" is a question asked exclusively to women, assuming they bear the brunt of orchestrating a magic-filled and memorable holiday season for their (nuclear and extended!) family. Yes lets pile on more expectations! There isn't enough to be stressed out about with work and parenting and trying to stay sane and healthy!

Yes, I guess I am "ready" for the holidays. We did a little decorating, I got some presents for the kids online that have been delivered either here or to MIL's house, and we booked our travel (several months ago, actually). When we show up at MIL's house we can put up her little (fake, pre-lit) tree and wrap presents.

This weekend is B's birthday party---just a few friends, like he wanted. We made this super-simple---rented 2 lanes at bowling alley for 2 hours and bringing (per his request): Doritos (3 kinds!), donuts, pizza, and Sprite. I need to double check that we have plates/napkins/cups left-over from L's party---if not, we will get them at the same time we get the Dorito's and Sprite on Saturday AM. We will pick up 2 dozen fresh donuts, and order pizza. He didn't want party favors (they are babyish) or decorations (same).

His actual birthday is 2 weeks away---he asked for one gift (Harry Potter Yule Ball Lego set) that we ordered, and for pizza and chocolate cake (we will bake the cake and order the pizza). He also wanted to go see the new Star Wars movie on his birthday so we can make that happen.

The holidays are so chock-full of stress for me, because of (ugh) family stuff, and so much togetherness, and no time or space for myself---just surviving without having a freaking meltdown is really all I want this and every year.  Happy %*#$&* holidays. I can't wait until January 2nd.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

On the plus side

There is absolutely no way we can financially make it work. I've accepted that. I am still very happy I came out to see how different it can be in a less toxic but still highly regarded academic environment, and to get the incredible ego boost of knowing I had something valuable to offer. I gave a talk, which will go on my CV, and I also met some potential collaborators.

Basically, the answer I got (repeatedly) when I wondered how people made it work on our poorly-paid salaries was "marry rich". Too late for that and even if I wanted to find a sugar daddy I am well past my prime and doubt I'd be in demand (lol).

While work stress is problematic, living beyond our means is an even worse soul-sucking proposition. The day after the interview, after falling asleep perusing real estate, I woke up at 3 AM (as one does traveling 3 hours west) in an intense panic about how we would pay double our mortgage amount (and that's for renting a small apartment in a not-great area with a long commute) and could only breathe again when I remembered that I still have a job here and have no requirement to move anywhere.

G agrees, he likes our financial stability and the opportunity to work not-so-hard at a job he likes well enough for not that much money---so that he can spend his energy on hobbies and other interests as well as lots of time with the boys.

I'm looking out for other opportunities in other (less insane COL) areas, and will absolutely go interview if anything catches my interest. And I'm reveling in our ability to enjoy our lives, with lots of lots of extras, and still save and plan for the future.