Friday, September 27, 2013


I've been having a crisis of motivation lately---for pretty much anything productive, which seems to include blogging. More on that another day.

G and I had our first couples visit with the therapist yesterday. She did the whole listen/make noises thing (peppered with a few "and how does that make you feel") which I really did think I would hate, but found to be surprisingly effective in giving us a safe space to talk things over. I'm not quite ready to go into great detail yet, but we both thought it was helpful and plan to go again. In terms of concrete action, we decided we would: a) have dinner together one night a week after the kids are in bed so we could talk (and G would clean up afterwards, because the thought of eating dinner so late and then staying up later to clean up stressed me out incredibly) and b) set up one day a week for me to pick the boys up from school and one day for me to drop them off (we have been doing this unofficially for a couple of weeks, but G mentioned how helpful it was). Also, when telling each other our problems, we need to specify whether we want advice/solutions or simply listening/empathy. Oh, and I have to try to be more physically affectionate (hugs, hand-holding, etc...). The amazing thing is that we came up with all of those things on our own, talking together, the therapist was simply there. I guess there is a reason she does it this must work for some people.

We have a action-packed weekend ahead. Friday I am picking the boys up early (daycare closes at 4:30 the last Friday of each month). We have friends coming over bringing dinner (my friend from my old lab and her fiance, we've been plotting to get the men together for ages, we hope they'll get along). Saturday is swimming lessons in the morning, block party/fundraiser in our 'hood in the afternoon, and then we have a sitter coming around 7 for us to go to a co-workers house for a barbecue (I'm not quite sure this will be "fun", but we have very few social events in our division, and I feel its important to go for a little while at least). Sunday my parents are coming for a very short (2.5 day) visit (my dad has a conference a couple of hours away, so they are coming to see me for a couple of days, then down to my sister's for a couple of days, and then to the conference for the rest of the week). It'll be nice to see them, and to get some help with the boys. G & I have dinner reservations somewhere low-key on Monday; I might stay home part of the day so I can spend some time with my parents, too.

My on-line shopping addiction returned full-force after my August spending ban. I tend to get itchy for new clothes at the change of seasons. In my defense, I realized over the past couple of months that a LOT of things no longer fit me (my boobs seem to have grown, making formerly conservative work-appropriate tops kind for the clinic).  So there are huge piles of clothes in the "donate" pile of my closet right now. I also got rid of close to 50% of my clothes at the end of last winter for similar reasons, so I need to add some things back in. Since my sister raves about it constantly, I decided to try Boden again, and have a ton of stuff coming in the mail. I'm fully expecting to need to return at least half (last time, I returned all except one item, but I think I've got a better idea of sizing now). I also have 2 dresses from eshakti on the way. I heard about them on some blog, and the dresses are so so cute, and can be customized (though the only thing I did was change the length, since I'm a shorty). Overall I'm trying to completely make over my wardrobe into something more age- and stage- appropriate.

Well, I thought this would be a quick post, but I had a lot to stay. Thanks for sticking around.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Little Kids in the Big City

We went on a little mini-vacation to visit G's cousins in the big city. It was wonderful, except for the parts that were awful, as all vacations with kids go.

The weather was perfect. The cousins were gracious, generous, and very flexible hosts. The trips up and back were drama-free. Lots of delicious food and probably a bit too much delicious booze was consumed. The boys loved the attention; I loved having an extra pair (or three) of hands and legs to hold and/or run after the boys.

The kids didn't sleep enough nor did we; there were several fatigue-induced meltdowns had by kids and adults alike. We tried to do way too much the first day and the lack of downtime led to impressive over-stimulation and truly frustrating behavior. (I'm HUNNNNGGGGGRRRRRYYYY. I WANT PIIIIZZZAAAA. I don't like this pizza, I don't want pizza, I want a snack. I want crackers. No not those crackers. OOH HOT DOGS. I don't like this hot dog. WAAAAAHHHHHH.)

Friday night, when both kids were awake at 11PM and L was walking around in the dark enjoying the FREEDOM on his first night not in a crib and fell down a short flight of stairs to bonk his head on the hard kitchen floor...I regretted the whole thing.

Saturday morning, when the cousins had dragged me to an uber-trendy techno-music fueled spin class and G was left with the boys who had slept a mere 7 hours that night and had thrown no less than 5 fits each in the 2 hours I was gone....G was ready to pack up and go home.

But Friday afternoon, as we had beers on the deck of the ferry while all the kids sat and munched popcorn and turned their faces up to the wind, and Saturday afternoon, while we sat in the park and had amazing wine and cheese while the boys threw balls and frisbees, and Saturday night when L was acting like he actually took a few sips of the margarita he had grabbed from G because he was dancing and singing and hamming it up and B was stuffing his face with tortilla chips and too-spicy guacamole, and on so many other occasions, we were so so glad we came and were planning when we could do it again.

Its never all good or all bad. Sometimes its even hard to separate the good from the bad moments, things can turn on a dime from second to second. Just throw it all in there and blend it up, pour it in a glass and chug it down.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Two Years

Happy 2 year blogoversary to me!

I realized I completely missed the one year birthday of this blog, so I made a note on my calendar (is it only me that consistently has trouble spelling this word right?) to mark this day.

I love this space. I really do. I love the connections and friendships I've made. I love having somewhere to craft and release my thoughts and feelings. And I love the somewhat-ridiculous but utterly effective exercise of crowd-sourcing solutions to my most personal problems.

And of course I love you guys. I read and consider every single comment I get, whether I reply to it or not. And every time I get an email with a comment, I still get a tiny twinge of excitement. I wish you guys were all here, and we could sit down with big full glasses of malbec (or your beverage of choice) and talk about life and love and marriage and kids and all the wonderful and horrible in this world.

And for you lurkers (I know you're there, I've seen my stats...way more people read here than comment)---I love you too, simply for being here.



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

On Mindy, Nina, and playdates...and why we need to talk to our kids about race

So we got cable hooked up this weekend (it was cheaper to get cable + high-speed internet than to get our usual low-speed internet for a 9-month period). G turned it on so I could see the picture quality (crappy) and we happened to land on the season premiere of The Mindy Project. I only watched a couple of minutes (once the commercial break came on I remembered why I don't watch TV on TV) but I was struck by how unusual it was to see an Indian-American female lead character of a sitcom on a major TV network. I'm certain its never happened before---the only Indian female I can ever recall playing even a small part on television was that girl on ER for a bit (and I she wasn't American). 

I was even more struck by how Mindy Kaling would be perceived by a 13-year-old Indian-American girl. I can only imagine how much hope it would've inspired in me at 13 (when all I wanted was the fair skin, blond hair, and blue eyes of the Wakefield twins that I envisioned as the epitome of beauty) to see someone looking kind of like me jump off the screen not as a stereotype, but as a successful, strong, sexy, and hilarious everywoman. I believed (because I was told this, directly and indirectly, by every student and teacher in my school) that my ethnicity doomed me to be the uber-smart, nerdy, unattractive, and boring girl with the weird name for the rest of my life (or until I, you know, "went back to where I came from" which befuddled me because why would I move back to Brooklyn?).

I think beauty pageants are ridiculous, and I had no idea Miss America had even happened until I saw a friend link an article on facebook about how Nina Davuluri would never have succeeded in beauty pageants in India because her skin was too dark. Unfortunately clicking that link led down a scary rabbit hole to multiple articles displaying the horrific racist (and uneducated) tweets and responses to her win. Now I know that most minorities aren't the least bit surprised by this, as Anandi points out in her post.  But I, clearly naively, was shocked. Not by the fact that people may hold these opinions---I've heard and experienced plenty of anti-brown sentiment, especially post-9/11. What shocked me was that a lot of the "tweeters" were young girls and boys. Given the ubiquitous infiltration of Asian immigrants into every major and minor city in our fair land, I'd wager a bet that most of them shared sandboxes, juice, and germs with an Indian-American kid at some point in their early childhood education.

This proves to me, beyond a doubt, that simply exposing our kids to "diversity" is not enough. Anyone who thinks we live in a "post-racial" world has never read the comments of any article that mentions our country's president. Love and acceptance may be a default for young kids, but as they grow up, they are listening and watching what their elders say and do. And some of them are hearing explicitly racist viewpoints from their parents and family. Or witnessing exclusionary behavior where somehow only people who look like them are coming around the house and being invited to birthday parties. Saying nothing is not enough to counteract that. We have to talk to our kids about race. Answer their questions, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you. State our beliefs. We have to spread the message of acceptance and love, because the other side is clearly spreading theirs. 

I've seen some people argue "well its only a few ignorant people, the majority of people are not like that". I call BS. To quote that disgusting analogy, racists are like roaches---you see one, there are a few hundred more hiding in the baseboards. You don't have to "say racist things" to be a racist or to show your kids how you really feel. You can turn away when someone is trying to talk to you. You can "forget" to send an email inviting participation in the PTA. You can "be too busy" to schedule a playdate, as noted in this post, which incidentally made my chest hurt in fear and anger that this could happen to my boys in a couple of years.

I had hoped things had changed drastically in the 30+ years since my classmates in the deep south told me my skin was dirty, and informed me that my father must own a convenience store and that I must eat monkey brains, and asked me what tribe I'm from and whether I live in a teepee. Nope. Racism and ignorance is alive and well, and we still need to talk about it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Our Summer Story

Yet again, Laura Vanderkam made me rethink things...this time, with her post "The Stories We Choose to Tell Ourselves"

She recounts what most people would agree represents a pretty tough week. Yet amidst the toughness were amazing moments. Isn't that how it is? Nothing is ever ALL good or ALL bad. We can change how we remember those periods by how we tell the story.

When I think back on this summer, I could see it as the summer G & I fought all the time, had no money, and never made it to the beach. Or I could see it as the summer of picnics, library visits, swimming, and enjoying all the fun, free stuff our city has to offer. All of those things are true, but I'd prefer to remember the latter. And the more I remind myself of all the good stuff we did, the easier it is for my mind to automatically associate this summer with all those wonderful things.

I've noticed that I've been doing too much of the opposite---labeling periods of time as "awful", thus making it really easy to conjure up the awfulness whenever my mind thinks back on that time. "Ugh July was the WORST." "My maternity leave with B was AWFUL. It snowed all the time and he cried all the time". Yet, we had an absolutely amazing fourth of July. We had a lot of fun bonding with other new-parent friends in the neighborhood when we were all snowed in with our  newborns. What's the harm in focusing on the good stuff? 

I don't think its disingenuous to focus on the positive. I think there is enough focus on the negative in our society. I'm choosing to change my story.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Where have I been?

Its been a while, what've I been up to? Bring on the bullet points...

  • Not sleeping. L started sleeping "like a baby", as in, not sleeping at all, and crying and fussing every 30 minutes from the moment we put him down until dark-o-clock in the morning when he wants "beckfoost". And even if he does get a stretch of sleep in, I'm up for other reasons. 

  • Scratching. For the past 3 weeks I've had intensely itchy arms and legs, with no visible rash to explain it. I can restrain myself all day, but man oh man, in the middle of the night I wake up and go to town. And then I can't go back to sleep (see: "not sleeping") My legs look like they've been attacked by a million angry kitties---all bloody and scarred up. Gross. (hydrocortisone cream and calamine lotion didn't help. Benadryl didn't help AND made me feel like I had general anesthesia for 24 hours). I finally was desperate enough to try to get help. 
  • Going to doctor's appointments. Regarding above scratching (Answer: "Its a mystery, isn't it?" $35 co-pay and 3 hour wait for that?), and other stuff.

  • Talking to the therapist. I went on Tuesday. It was....OK. I was nervous and unsure what to expect. She just had me talk. I realized that 100% of what I felt like talking about was related to G. She wants me to bring him in, but thinks we need one more individual session to get more into the specific issues we want to address. She basically asked open-ended questions and made supportive noises while I explained things. No suggestions or exercises or anything. Not sure if this is standard or just her style. We'll see how it goes. I'm going back Monday.
  • Dealing with the heartbreak of science. Like, when you do all your experiments exactly per protocol and nothing works and you want to cry. Or maybe its just because I'm so so tired.

Off to go try and prop my eyelids open during  faculty meeting. Wish me sleep tonight.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chief Complaint

So, I still haven't called the therapist yet. No, that's not true---I did try to call but never left a message. And I was hella relieved that no one picked up. The thing is, I have horrible phone anxiety. I really need to plan out what I'm going to say in my head before I make a call. And I'm kind of at a loss here.

As a clinician, I would imagine that she would want to know exactly how she could help me. What is it that I am reaching out to her about? My favorite phone calls from patients are those with a clearly outlined problem for which I am tasked to find a solution. The worst are long, rambling, full of multiple complaints (many of which are completely outside of my expertise) where it takes many minutes to guide the caller to let me know what it is they need from me.

I fear I would be that long rambling caller here. I've got lots of issues...and they are all kind of mild and inter-related. I can't meld them together into one single "chief complaint" that is amenable to a certain form of treatment. For example:

  • I feel overly anxious sometimes about seemingly little things. The anxiety is usually related to the following situations:
    • Social interactions (meeting new people, talking on the phone, asking for professional favors---like letters, advice)
    • Extended family relationships (esp. MIL)
    • Talking to my husband about anything that may elicit conflict (money, family, "us")
  • I lose my temper with my kids. Well, with B. I'm losing it less frequently (maybe once every couple of weeks?) but much more spectacularly recently. Screeching and yelling, threatening, rough hands. Ugh. I've got ways to avoid getting riled up, but when all those fail, it gets really really ugly and I kind of hate myself for a while.
  • I feel a loss of connection in my marriage. I suspect this is partially related to my absolute inability to bring up any touchy subjects with G. I don't know how this started, but the longer it goes on, the harder it gets. He hates that I let things stew until I explode---yet when things are going well, or going good-enough, I hate to rock the boat and ruin the moment. On the other hand, though, he never actually brings anything up himself. He says he's happy with how things are, but...really? 
OK, writing it out helped a bit. I'm actually thinking to maybe skip the phone call altogether and simply make an appointment. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Weekend Recap

Taking a break from Operation Head-shrink for a moment. I, no we, had a truly fabulous 4-day weekend. I need to document it for posterity (or at least for myself, for when I feel myself sliding into the grumpies).  We all woke up Friday morning feeling just fine, and continued that way throughout the weekend. The boys were happy, G & I were happy, even the dog was happy.

What made it so amazing? Several things. We had so much time each day that we didn't have to rush the kids, which relieved a LOT of tension. I went out and about with both boys on my own Friday which was really confidence-building. It was almost easier, not having to consult another adult. I had a loose schedule but let the kids call the shots. I also planned very well how to get our chores done (early in the AM) without them intruding on our entire day. We both decided that our cooking would be done by Sunday so that Monday would feel like a "free day". We had really easy meals that didn't involve much cooking/clean-up (noodles, hot dogs, sandwiches for the boys, take-out, pasta, and a meal out for us). G had some time off to spend with a friend (I didn't this weekend, but I often do, and he NEVER does...I was so so happy he took the time). G & I actually spent time together after the kids were in bed instead of going our own way, or collapsing in front of the TV. 

Here's the play by play:

Friday: I went for a morning run. G went to work. I hung out at home with the boys, slowly getting ready and then we left the house and were out ALL DAY, from 10-5 with B on his scooter and me pushing L in the stroller. We went to the "dinosaur museum" (Natural Science Museum) for a few hours, then to a nearby park to eat and play in the water and eat some more and then BACK to the dinosaur museum at B's insistence. L slept in the stroller for a short nap around noon (when B was eating at the park) and a longer nap after we left the museum. To lengthen the nap as much as possible, we got home and immediately headed back out with the dog for a walk and then to a nearby park where B played.

Soon after we arrived home, G was back and in rare form. The break he got from the daycare drop-off and pick-up routine seemed to have revitalized him. He was playful and fun with the boys, delighting them with magic tricks and roughhousing. The boys got through dinner/bath/bed without incident and then the two of us had a drink and sat outside. We ordered Thai food and started watching a movie (fell asleep halfway through). I thought to myself as we went to bed that it was a perfect day in every way.

Saturday: I got up early with L and had my coffee outside while he ran around playing. G went to the gym while I got the boys ready. I took B to the grocery store with me (him on scooter, me pushing empty stroller that is essential for grocery transport) and we got our week's shop done. Got home and played for a few hours. Went swimming at the Y in the afternoon. L slept and B & I watched part of a movie (Toy Story for the millionth time) while G made hummus to take with us to a party. Went to friend's house for block party---boys had a BLAST eating all kinds of food and jumping on the bouncy house (and eating lots of chocolate; said friend sells chocolate on-line as a side business and had tons of samples to try!). Got back too late and got kids into bed quickly. I fell asleep while G was reading stories to B.

Sunday: I worked out at home and then proceeded to cook up a storm. Before 10AM I had made the following:
  • peas hummus for boys' lunch
  • steamed carrots for boys' lunch
  • pesto from my basil plant
  • baked seasoned tofu
  • vegetable/tofu stir-fry with my own peanut/lime/ginger sauce concoction
  • garlic/wine kale
  • seasoned chicken sausage and mushrooms to put on pasta or use in omelets throughout the week
G went to brunch with a friend. I read lots and lots of books to the boys. After L's afternoon nap, went BACK to the dinosaur museum (B's request, he wanted daddy to see the T Rex since he missed it on Friday). Got ice cream on the way home, and then dinner/bath/early to bed.

Monday: Plans fell apart when it was pouring rain and B slept until nearly 10AM. Made pancakes. Tried to go the park during a lull in the rain but got soaked within 5 minutes. More books were read. While L napped, we convinced (with tantrums and tears) B to watch a different movie, and the 3 of us watched Finding Nemo. He approved, eventually. Popcorn helped. It actually stopped raining for good so we headed to the park. L finally learned to scooter! Which caused B to get jealous and possessive of his scooter and now I'm hunting down a used one to buy. Headed back home and had a bit of a rushed time trying to get the kids fed and bathed and ready because we had a sitter coming! G & I went for a nice (though pricey) meal. Well-deserved night out. Probably should have drank a bit more water and less booze...headache-y this morning and skipped my run for the first time in a loooonnng while.

There were certainly tantrums, and lost tempers, and mountains of laundry but there were lots of laughs and honest-to-goodness fun

Have a busy day (and week) ahead, but I'm actually already looking forward to next weekend!