Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I've noticed a tendency in myself to get easily flustered by even the tiniest of hiccups. I don't when I got so rigid and obsessed with schedules and plans....I used to be spontaneous and fun. I could blame it on parenthood, but really, a lot of things that freak me out have absolutely nothing to do with the kids.

I do know that certain things make it worse---sleep-deprivation, being hungry, being physically uncomfortable. All of those things make me more likely to flip when the plan changes. I also know that I don't like where this is going. G finds it baffling and I'm sure the boys would prefer me to a bit more laid back (or they will, when they get older).

There was an incident last week (after a night of literally no sleep with L pawing all over me for 6 hours) where G's cousin was coming over for dinner...instead of coming at 6:15, she came to our neighborhood and went to get a drink at a nearby bar at 4:45. I had to go to the grocery store and pick up pizza for the boys and take out the dog...and had timed it so I'd be home by 6:15. When I got G's text at 5:05 (when I was still in my office) that she was there and could I please text her as soon as I got home, I got so frazzled that I forgot half the items I needed at the grocery store and was literally running with my bags and coat to the pizza place. When I finally  made it home by 5:50 and texted the cousin, she was all "oh, I'm still working on my wine here, I'll be there around 6:15".

I mean, really, who cares if she's sitting at the bar twiddling her thumbs for an hour. Or that the meeting was shifted by a half an hour without any prior notification. Or that the dog took twice as long doing her business this evening and dinner wasn't ready by 6:15. Or that G decided to take the kids to Whole Foods for dinner on the way home because they were sooooo hunnnngggry. Or that I need to turn in another revision to the IRB because of one word that I inadvertently left in when I changed an aspect of the protocol. Or any of the million little and unavoidable things that happen in the course of a day that throw off a carefully planned schedule.

I'm not sure why I'm writing about this. Maybe because seeing it written out in black and white drives home how ridiculous this is?  I already know that. I think its mostly because I could use a fail safe trick for how to prevent my blood pressure from rising next time I'm confronted with a miniscule molehill. 

Monday, November 18, 2013


After working 2 weeks without a break, I really needed a chill weekend to reconnect with home and family. And that's exactly what we had. I know the weekend play-by-play is pretty boring for you guys to read, but I like having it here as a reminder or really a prototype of how I'd like my weekends to go!

Saturday morning the 3 of us (G, L, and myself) got up around 6. I was feeling "lazy" and lingered a bit over coffee and magazines, but left by 7ish for a run. Since we had nowhere to me, I ran longer than my usual 3 miles, but not too much since we had a full day ahead of us...maybe 4.5? It was perfect running weather, mid-40s, overcast.

After getting ready and having breakfast, we all went grocery shopping together, came home and had lunch, and the boys and I went to a birthday party at an indoor play gym (one of B's little friends). There was the usual social awkwardness around the other parents, saved partly by the fact that L (the smallest one there) frequently got himself stuck in little ball pits and needed me to get him out. I liked the low-key nature of the party---snacks and a cake, no meals. A pinata and little bags to take the candy home in, but no favors. By the way, it took the group of 15 preschoolers 30 minutes to get that cardboard princess pinata open. Some of the 5-6 year old girls were amazing with their stance and technique of bat swingings---my boys needed help from the assistants because they did not get the concept. Sports are likely not in our future. But I'm so getting (making?) a pinata for B's birthday party.

G stayed home and worked on home repair stuff. After getting home, the adults lay on the floor while the kids built train tracks around us and Skyped with grandma. Dinner, bed, hanging out with G. Good day.

Sunday morning we did a ton of cooking for the week and then took advantage of the unseasonably warm day to go to the park and have a picnic. Of course G & I got into a fight before hand and I was pissed the whole time, but I could still appreciate the nice outing. After coming home, I lay next to L for almost 2 hours so he could nap (naps have become quite...shit...these days) while G & B watched Monsters, Inc (he's moved on from Toy Story 3, which was watched every weekend for 3 months).  I thought I'd nap, too, but couldn't fall asleep and ended up just wasting time on my phone* since I hadn't thought to bring a book or magazine.  We then sped through all our chores and the bath routine because we had a sitter coming! We had a nice dinner at a new-to-us place (and I got to wear my new dress!), were home by a little after 9, and I promptly fell asleep with a belly full of creme brulee and sparkling wine.

The nice, low-key kind of weekend that keeps me grounded in life.

*I discovered GOMI and got lost in a rabbit-hole of snark about some of the healthy living and fashion blogs I used to read. I have since banned myself from it, because its awful, even as a guilty pleasure. I prefer to spend my limited leisure time on something even slightly positive and life-improving!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Good things can happen after 9pm

Life is nothing but a constant stream of conflicting interests. While I should have time enough for the things I prioritize (a la Laura Vanderkam), I still haven't figured out the secret (time turner?) to managing two priorities at once. There are the obvious conflicts of career vs. family, save vs. spend, etc... that we all experience. But there are also the smaller, everyday ones that I never can resolve.


  • Be "present" with kids in the evenings vs. get chores done so I can relax after they go to bed.
  • Socialize with friends vs. soak up time with kids on weekends.
  • Take advantage of flexibility at work for more time with kids during weekdays vs. get stuff done so I don't have to work evenings/weekends. 
  • And the one that inspired this post: go to bed early to be better rested vs. spend time with husband in evenings.
I go back and forth on each of these, swinging in one direction for days to months and then over-correcting to the other. As one who prefers order and schedule in her life, this drives me nuts. Can't I just pick one way of doing things and make it a habit so I know what to expect from day to day and month to month?

In addition to starting my week on call last Monday, I came down Sunday night with a nasty but thankfully short-lived stomach bug. And it was "Fall Back" day. I was exhausted all week, and knew my sleep would be interrupted, so I simply went to bed at 8:30-9 every night. It was amazing, I woke up alarm and kid-free at 5:30, worked out, had breakfast, and had enough energy to make it through the busy days---until I crashed again at 8:30. I decided to keep to that schedule indefinitely. 

By the next Monday, though, G started looking a little sad when I said "good night" as soon as the kids were in bed. I realized we hadn't sat down and chatted, or even watched a show together, in 10 days. After 8:30 was the only time we had to talk to each other. So Tuesday night I stayed up. I planned to watch one 22 minute show and have one drink...which turned into two shows, two drinks, and then a long but productive conversation about finances, investments, home improvements---things we really needed to talk about but never have the time and energy to delve into. 

I went to bed at 11pm and it was really hard when the alarm went off at 5:45. I decided it was a mistake and went back to the 8:30 bedtime on Wednesday. Then Thursday we had friends come over for dinner (takeout). They came at 6:30 so I figured we could finish up dinner and conversation and be in bed by 9? 9:30? We did finish dinner by 7:30, but the wine and conversation kept flowing, it was so much fun. The next thing we knew it was 10pm. We still had to clean up the kitchen, take the dog out, etc... Another 11pm night. Another tired morning where I actually didn't wake up until 6:20 when B came up to our bed, quickly followed by L. 

The lesson? Stick to the schedule so you're not tiredin the morning? Or don't stick to the schedule and have fun? Something about moderation? Hell if I know.

Monday, November 11, 2013

I survived...

It was a call weekend for the record books. Saw 30+ patients each day, rounded for about 9 hours (with a 20 minute lunch break), only to go home and spend 2-3 hours writing notes on said patients.

I am taking a bit of a breather today, working from home in the AM and going to check some personal errands off the list in the PM (return clothes, pick up books on hold at the library, get eyebrows waxed...nothing strenuous).

G really rose to the challenge and managed to provide fun outings for the kids AND take care of all of the household chores. When I got home yesterday evening, I was shocked to realize that everything was done. What an absolute relief, he really deserves a medal for that!

We ordered a pizza for ourselves instead of making even the simplest of dinners because we were both totally spent. It was delicious. The kids ate leftover pasta and chicken nuggets. I have no shame about reaching for the "kid food" when life gets tough. There is time to expand their palate later.

Then we all hung out in the living room, the boys climbing over us and laughing hysterically, having races with their ride on toys and coming around every few minutes for tickles and hugs while G and I were collapsed on the rug, marveling at their cuteness. It was a really good evening, like life was handing me the very thing I needed at the exact moment I needed it.

I noticed it, and I appreciated it, because it doesn't always work that way.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Two Under Two (years apart): The Good

There was a little discussion in the comments of one of my recent posts about the pain of having two kids close together in age. I've talked about this before.  But, to my readers that are currently in or expecting to be in the situation---take heart, its not all bad!

In the past couple of months we seem to have fallen into a really good rhythm. L turned 2 in early October and he really began to develop in leaps and bounds. His speech has caught up, his clinginess has decreased (mostly), and he has started to play independently for short pockets of time. (No his sleep has not improved).  I can sometimes go to another floor of the house by myself, to change out laundry or quickly use the bathroom, without him freaking out or getting into some mess.  All in all, things some a touch easier right now, and I am starting to appreciate some of the good sides of having kids close-ish together.

The obvious: you have the stuff. Since we had two of the same gender, we really needed nothing for L except newborn diapers. If you have a boy and a girl, you may need a few clothes to replace the obviously gendered ones, if you care about that kind of thing. But you've got everything else: the pack and play, the changing pads, the bouncy seat, swing, baby car seat and snap n go, rattles and toys, the carriers, the bottles, THE PUMP. And since we had just used it, it was all still out and arranged in our house or stored easily in the boys' closet. We hadn't given anything away yet, nothing was getting dusty and cobwebby in the basement.

Not so obvious: you have the routines and are still in them. We knew how to get ready for daycare in the morning, we HAD a daycare picked out and expecting us, I knew how often I needed to pump and how to store milk in the freezer, how to pack a diaper bag, how to make and freeze baby food, how to trade off overnight wakings and morning wakings with G, I had diapers and wipes on Subscribe and Save on Amazon, I had a babysitter, I had lists of what to bring when traveling. All that stuff you have to figure out when you have a newborn, we had JUST DONE, and were still doing in many cases with a toddler. Also, the house was baby proofed. B wasn't yet old enough to relax any of that, so we had no tiny choke-able toys or breakable items in reach. The baby gates were not only in place, we were still in the habit of using them regularly.

The sublime: very very soon they will be playmates. Suddenly, with L's recent advances, they are close enough in development that they are interested in the same toys. This DOES mean that we need duplicates of a lot of things to prevent fights, but it also means a lot less need for mommy and daddy to play cars and dinosaurs. They build "birthday cakes" out of Duplos together,  race cars on the floor, listen to music and dance around, watch Toy Story and Monsters Inc, and laugh and shout hysterically a lot. Yes, there are still many many instances were L seems hell-bent on destroying whatever project B is working on (play-doh and puzzles in particular), and he still can't be trusted with painting or crayons or anything that might end up in his mouth. But he'll grow out of that, or he won't, and we'll have to keep them separate for certain activities. Being at home on the weekends is just a teeny bit less exhausting because they can entertain themselves for a while (before the next fight breaks out..but hey, even 15-20 minutes for me to get a chore done or read a magazine is better then I've had in the past 3.83 years since B was born!)

Of course what I'm hoping for, the whole reason I spaced them close together (no, L was NOT in any way a surprise) is that they'll grow from playmates into friends. There is, of course, no predicting how a sibling relationship will end up, but I'm hoping I've created two friends for life.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Fine Print

Thanks for all the advice and support on my last post. I felt really vulnerable posting that ( so whiny!), and even more so as the comments starting appearing. Instead of posting long responses to the comments that would likely never be read, I would instead like to lay out a couple of disclaimers. I'd venture that these should really be universal advice for reading and commenting on blogs.

1. You don't know the whole story
I tend to be pretty open on here. I do, in fact, discuss my marriage and mental health fairly regularly. But there are things in my life that I don't blog about, either because they are not my story to tell, or because the experiences leave me too raw to open up to the wide world. I don't like to "vague-blog", so if I can't share it all, I usually just don't mention it.

No matter how much it seems that someone is laying there whole life out there, trust me, they are not. There is more to the story, and the "perfect life" may not be what it seems.

2. Mental Health and Attitude are two different things
I am a huge proponent of the notion of "choosing happiness" and believe its true that no one but ourselves can make as happy. I have, and am continuing to, work really hard at maintaining a positive attitude, reframing my thoughts to be more grateful and less cynical, and to embrace habits that lead to more contentment in my life. The subtitle to my blog "...to change her mind" reflects my intention to do what I can to recognize and fully experience the many joys I am fortunate to have in my life.

And that's the point. I realize I have a lot to be happy about but sometimes I am depressed and anxious. That's the fundamental thing about mental health issues---they are not caused by a "negative attitude". And positive thinking and "Happiness Project"-style lifestyle changes are not the cure for depression or anxiety*. Yes, I do believe that maladaptive cognitive processes play a role in affective disorders and that specialized cognitive behavioral therapy can help "un-learn" those negative thinking patterns. But it involves pretty intensive and long-term practice to get there; you can't "wish it away". I'm pretty determined, f I could have done so, I would have done it by now.

3. Yes I recognize my privilege
I do. I really really do. I know its nothing but simple luck that I was born healthy into a loving and healthy family with sufficient means that encouraged and supported my education. And I am good at standardized test taking. I realize that those things play an enormous role in any achievements I have garnered along the way.

I will not feel the need to point out my privilege in every post I write about my life and my feelings that is not 100% glowing and grateful. I will leave it as a given, and hope my readers "know me" well enough to not need reminders.

*I don't believe that I currently have true clinical depression, though I've had it in the past, and may well have it again. What I have more frequently (and seem to be having right now) are shorter, less severe bouts of "semi-depression"---depressed mood with many of the classic symptoms (lack of interest in things, poor sleep, changed appetite) but that lift on their own without meds or therapy.