Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hard Times?

I was reading a blog post today about "winter being a hard time for everyone". And it made me wonder---what time of year ISN'T potentially a "hard time". And is in our best interest to keep thinking and talking about an entire season as "hard", when its a predicted and unstoppable fact of life?

So winter is hard. OK, its cold & dark. Maybe spring is "easy" for most people, but then we get to the end of the school year that is regularly touted as "crazy busy". Summer rolls around. After a while, parents get a little overwhelmed by the chaos and lack of routine. So the end of summer with kids at home may be "hard". But then back to school in the fall is a little nutty as well, right? And many many people struggle with stress during the holidays. So I guess we have April? May? July? Three months that no one can rightfully call "hard", can they?

I wrote last year about trying to embrace winter, and it sort of worked. Or maybe my kids not needing help getting their gloves on did the trick, but really, it was fine. This winter has been incredibly mild, weather-wise, so I have nothing to complain about. I'm not counting down days or desperately waiting until spring. Sure, its dark when I get home from work, but I still enjoy the walk, and the views of the city from the bridge are even more spectacular when I can see it lit up against the black sky. Its getting lighter every day, noticeably so by now. I may miss the coziness of arriving home in the dark and settling into our evening.

I do all my usual things, and have added on some winter activities. B and I are doing ice skating lessons which is fun (and super challenging. I have weak ankles apparently). We played in the snow a few weeks back, and are looking forward to hopefully having more. We are eating more soup and roasted veggies. I don't mind turning on the oven every night.

The "winter" phenotype of cold/dark lasts about  4 months around here, so finding it "hard" would doom 1/3 of my life to slogging through a difficulty. I don't want to live that way! And if I hated it that much, I'd seriously consider moving back down south (where summer is "hard" so you really can't win unless you find yourself in paradise).

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Mornings lately

I was thinking this morning of how completely 100% our mornings have changed since I last wrote about them four year ago. Our mornings are downright luxurious these days, due to my usually flexible work schedule, B's late school start time, and the fact that we no longer have toddlers.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays:
Wake up at 5:30 with alarm. Drink coffee while reading blogs, checking email, and scrolling news. Get ready and leave house by 6 for gym. Run to gym, work out, walk home by 7. 7-7:20ish, walk dog, feed her. 7:20-7:30, drink water, chat with G, go wake up kids, then G makes & feeds them breakfast. 7:30-7:50---get ready. Shower, dressed, fix hair, lipstick if I'm feeling fancy. Go downstairs and eat breakfast/make my lunch/clean up kitchen/help kids get ready/get our bags ready and by the door. This rarely feels rushed. 8:20, get B into coat/shoes and out the door by 8:25 to make it to 8:30 drop off.

Wake up between 6:30-7. G has gotten up at 5:40 and gone to the gym---he gets home at a little after 7 and walks the dog. Have coffee, make my lunch. 7:30, wake up kids. G makes/feeds them breakfast while I do the same routine as above.

Wednesday and any other day I have to be at work by 8:
Wake up at 6:20, drink coffee, make lunch, get ready and leave immediately after waking kids up at 7:25 (G goes to gym/walks dog...then when I leave he does breakfast and takes both kids to school).

Some of the time the boys head upstairs and brush and change on their own. More often then not, B gets distracted and need prodding. Sometimes they revert back a few years and make me brush their teeth and put their clothes on. Sometimes they play on their own or together until its time to go, but sometimes they fight or need me or whatever. I.e. the usual "dealing with small children" type stuff.

Once L is in KG, and there is only one drop off and pick up, I am planning to shift my schedule a bit earlier so that I work from 8-4:30 and pick both kids up by 5, while G takes them to school at 8:30 and can work a bit later (he gets to work super late these days, 9:30ish, needs to leave at 5 to pick up L and ends up working after I go to bed, whereas I am at my desk at the latest by 9, and can work until 5:30ish most days, getting a good 8.5 hours in).

It'll be way more efficient, and take advantage of my high-energy hours for work, but I'll miss the luxury of our mornings!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Case of the Mondays

I usually relish the clean start to the work week, but today kind of sucks, and I'd rather be home, warm and dry, rather than in my freezing cold office with wet socks and squishy rain boots, unable to warm up water for tea because the microwave in the break room is disgusting (the only thing tea is remotely good for is warming you up from the inside on a cold, rainy day). And dealing with annoying IRB modifications and mystifying data.

It was a great weekend, though. Busier than usual. Saturday I went to the gym, then rushed home to make signs with the boys for the Women's March. Oh yeah, I took the boys and we lasted about 45 minutes total, but we marched, we chanted, we saw neighbors, I answered lots of questions and explained a lot about inequality. It was good. Then some lunch and down time before heading to see "We Are In a Play" which was a thoroughly boring (to me) but clearly hysterical (to the boys) children's theater production. Then some more down time/board games/fighting and the SITTER ARRIVED so we could go on a completely unplanned (i.e. we planned to go out but not where we were going) date night. We had a drink at one place, Malaysian satay at another, and ice cream to top it off.

Sunday, I woke up at 5:30 despite going to bed after midnight. I couldn't fall back asleep, so I finished Truly Madly Guilty, which turned out to be not as amazing as it started off (the "big mystery" was a little mundane, though I still enjoyed the spot-on observations of everyday relationships). B & I went for our ice skating lesson, then we met G and L at the science museum for a play-date with L's BFF and his parents, who are lovely. We went through most of the museum until melt-downs began and we headed home. The boys enjoyed screen time while we finished up chores in the afternoon and something something and I went to bed by 9 (I was so tired, I have no idea what we did in the evening).

At your prompting (and you know who you are!), I logged off and changed my Facebook password to some random already forgotten, combination of letters/numbers/symbols and I'm not going to log back on for two weeks (randomly chosen to come before a few events for which the invites & details will be only on FB and I'd like to attend (this annoys me, but what can you do? for this reason I can't ever really LEAVE leave, but I want to curtail my random scrolling and have it be a more deliberate get on weekly or every few weeks to check on events). This includes a party a friend is having at her house, the neighborhood book group, a school PTA informational meeting, and a volunteer organization I was hoping to join that posts dates where they need people on their FB page. I'm trying to INCREASE real life socialization, not cut it out of my life!

Ugh. Better finish up work and head out there. Squish Drip Shiver Grrrr.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Mostly Black

I'm wearing a black dress, a black jacket, black tights, black boots, black earrings...and a psychedelic peace sign necklace plus a neon bead necklace (from my children).

Breathing. Focusing on work, and getting things done. I had lunch with a friend, it was good timing. We commiserated. And ate yummy food.

I am mostly likely taking my boys to our local Women's March tomorrow. We'll go for a short time. Then we have a packed weekend. Fun stuff: a play, date night, a play date at the museum. And the mundane: grocery shopping, food prepping, working out.

It feels surreal. I keep saying that, because it continues to be true. I woke up in the middle of the night, and remembered. And its like the bottom dropped out. How can this be our reality? What does the future hold?

I usually stay clear of melodrama, but I really wanted to make a statement. So I'm in mostly black.

Thursday, January 19, 2017


Several times in recent months I've experienced that old middle school feeling of being "left out". And damn if it doesn't still sting.

I don't want to go into all the details of all the incidents, but basically I found out that friends, old and new, had done something big (a trip, a party) without me. I thought I'd be over it by this age, but it really hurt, and took me a long time to get over.

As I try to integrate myself better into the community---joining the PTA, going to neighborhood events, lingering at drop off to TALK to people...I realize that they are all already friends.  They are hanging out with their families or at girl's nights, their kids have play dates and sleepovers, there is a whole social scene I had no idea existed. I had no idea we were so uniquely isolated. I feel my old social anxiety resurfacing---what do these women make of my sudden insertion into their clique? Do they talk about me after I walk away (and they continue talking and walking together).

Its been years since I felt like I was really "part of the group"...any group. It is a great warm feeling to know you will ALWAYS be invited, you won't be an afterthought, you have a go-to bunch of people with whom to celebrate & commiserate. I certainly have friends, here and there, scattered throughout the city and country...and I appreciate those relationships. I try to meet my now-defunct book club ladies every couple of months, I text & email far-flung friends. Its not the same though.

Since he was 2, I've been telling B these stories I made up, about 3 little goldfish, George, Charlie and Suzie, who go to school together and hang out together and get into absurd adventures and misfortunes. The other day I was telling him one in which the 3 were hanging out together on a holiday. He looked up at me and said "I wish I had friends like that, that I could see everyday, and do things with", and I said "I know buddy, it seems like it'd be really cool, huh".

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Keeping Me Sane right now...

Well blah, I got sick again this weekend, some sort of hybrid cold/stomach thing and I had to bail on meeting a visiting blog friend, which sucked. I'm feeling OK now, it was thankfully short-lived. I'm glad we had the 3 day weekend for a little wiggle room.

I'm still trying to BREATHE (now that I can, without coughing), there is so much that seems uncertain and out of my control. To restore some semblance of control and peace to my life, I've been relying on the following:

  • Decluttering/organizing and giving stuff away on Buy Nothing. I'm more than half-way through my "top to bottom" purging, and things are looking & feeling way better. The less stuff I have, the more I am inspired to use it, too. And I am sort-of, maybe, just a little bit...obsessed with Buy Nothing. I am posting "gives" and organizing pick ups like a fiend. I love when my trash becomes someone's treasure. As I constantly tell G, you really never know what someone may want or need! My unwanted Indian traditional clothes are going to Bhutanese refugees. A large bagful of broken crayons are being made into a craft. Someone wanted to see if my unused magnesium tablets helped them sleep.
  • Planning. I'm planning my work days, my evenings, my weekends, and it feels good to know what I have to look forward to (or not, as the case may be). Order.
  • Reading. After a few mediocre reads, I finally hit the jackpot. I am LOVING "Truly, Madly, Guilty". Cannot put it down. Dying for 9 pm when I can read it again and get closer to figuring out the "big secret". I hope its not a let down. Even if it is, the book is peppered throughout with amazing observations about friendship, marriage, motherhood, work. Read it.
  • Meal delivery kits. I'm going to try all of them (well, some of them, maybe 4 or 5) and do a (non-sponsored, obvs) review post when I'm all done. Takes ALL the planning/weekend prep out of it, though there is a significant amount of work on the actual day to cook the damn thing. But its nice not to have to think about it. We've learned some new recipes too, which I guess is the point, to get out of your rut. We've been in a 7 year rut of rotating the same 4 recipes, eating the same thing all week, and we were both getting sick of it. Its kind of fun to have new things every day, or 3 days a week. 
You guys are killing it with the posts, too. Noemi, SHU (look at the picture of the morning pep talk), Coffee and Tea...among others...really inspiring and thought-provoking.

Back to working through my list!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Breathing Through It

This week has been a tough one, and I find myself coming back to Sara's word: Breathe. And its saved me. I think I'll add it to my word; its a perfect counterpoint: SAVOR the good times, BREATHE through the rest.

Call weeks are always tough, and I'm still dealing with the lingering sickness. But more than any of that, the reality of what is happening in this country is hitting me yet again, after allowing myself to be distracted by holidays & celebrations & travel. I am firmly back in the Upside Down and while I am somewhat angry, worried & fearful,  right now I mostly just feel...bereft.

I watched Obama's farewell without shedding a single tear. Yet when I heard him call Joe Biden his "brother" the way my sweet, loving L does to his best friend, I lost my composure and haven't quite gained it back. I'm breathing through my grief. While I don't agree with every decision our president has made in the past 8 years, I am without a single doubt that he is an intelligent, thoughtful, kind, and decent man. A good man, that I am proud to call my leader, that I want my kids to look up to and emulate. I just can't reconcile what is happening right now---every day brings some new horror that keeps me up at night (because of course, my husband likes to have conversations at 9PM, and hell if I can fall asleep with that on my mind).

Breathe in...1...2...3...breathe out...1....2....3. Its getting me through the day and night.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Driven Snow

This phrase always confused me...until I realized that "driven" meant "blown into drifts", I assumed it meant it had been "driven on" by horse-carts or cars and thus anything but pure or white. Our snow is grey and dingy today and I hope it melts soon. Also because this would mean temps above freezing.

I am now the proud owner of a brand new planner and bullet journal notebook. I hope to spend tonight organizing both. Now I just need some fancy pens! Something about the fresh new planners has inspired me to buy some nicer writing implements.

Our HelloFresh box never showed up yesterday, so we each ate our own random dinners. It was so relaxing, even with making essentially 4 different "meals" (I ate frozen TJ's pot stickers with sauteed green beans, G ate leftover homemade chicken bites and nuts, L ate instant oatmeal, and B ate mac & cheese from a box with peas). The whole act of figuring out something we would all like, making it, nagging the kids to eat it...sometimes its too much. Its nice to have a break. Maybe we should just eat random freezer & pantry foods 2-3 times a week, and have home-cooked meals the other days. Cooking & feeding my family healthy, homemade meals used to be a big priority for me, but its starting to move way down the list as other things vie for my attention.

I made it to the gym this morning! It was...hard. I had to stop a few times and catch my breath/shake out my legs (jumping lunges, I hate you). I had a friend text me last night for motivation...and then she snoozed her alarm and never made it.

The past 2 nights I've randomly woken up at 1AM feeling up and ready for the day; its taken me about an hour to wind down and fall asleep again Weirdly this same thing happened to me last January. I thought it was the medication regimen that I started last spring/summer that was helping me sleep, but maybe I have some weird seasonal insomnia disorder?

At 1AM, I made a list in my head of all the things I needed to discuss with G. Why don't I think of these things at 9PM? I have nothing to say at 9PM. I finally unloaded it all on him at 7:15AM when he woke up. So now we have a date night planned in 2 weeks, a family dinner with friends on Saturday, a trip to visit my sister in February, a June concert we need to buy tickets for this week, and children/dog logistics for the rest of the week done. 

 Thus end my random musings.

Monday, January 9, 2017


Title inspired by Justine's recent comment on my post re: trying to savor your kids even though they are driving you bananas.

Guys. My boys are challenging me right now. Especially B. He's been SO ANGRY all the time. His "New Year's Goal" (G gave him a lecture about S.M.A.R.T. goals when he brought up "resolutions" from a Winne-the-pooh movie he watched) was to work on handling his anger (try different methods for breathing, distraction), and we've had LOTS of time to practice, discuss, and fail. He is just constantly sad/upset/lashing out and its hard to be around. I've lashed right back at him, somewhat shamefully at times. We may need to look back into outside help. L is his old stuff, alternating between cheerful, cuddly, hilarious monkey and shrieking, spitting, squawk-bird. He's so refreshingly typical even if a bit of a "handful".

So this weekend was...OK. Despite my oh-so-productive first morning back, right after I hit "post" I started feeling not so good. So I'm sick. I haven't worked out since we've been back, not once. This weekend I barely left the house. It snowed. We played in it some. L actually enjoyed it.

There were highlights. I met some colleagues after work Friday. It was a "planned exception" to the dry month and I had one beer. I never see these people socially, so it was new, and I was pretty quiet, but it was nice to get out. We (the younger faculty) are going to try to make this a regular thing, and its never a bad idea to commiserate about your struggles to someone who gets it.

Sunday I was one of two judged for a neighborhood "Chopped"-style cooking competition. This was SO FUN. I got a delicious (though unusual...there were weird ingredients) brunch and met some awesome neighbors. This will also turn into a semi-regular thing and we have plans to make it more fun (wine!)

I also uncluttered like a BOSS and got rid of so much stuff. I'm done with: bathrooms, my clothes & jewelry, books, office supplies, kids clothes, & kids toys. Some of these categories I keep up with regularly so there wasn't much to do (kids clothes, I get rid of all of L's clothes at the end of each season). I still need to do: kitchen (excited about this one), paper (filing cabinet), pantry, coat closet, kids' books. This does not include any of G's stuff---he's on his own for that, and I have no idea when/if he is going to work on it. He says he wants to, and he's best when left alone to find his own inspiration.

I slept terribly last night despite the usual medication combination. I couldn't fall asleep until after 11, then I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't go back to sleep. I'm on call this week which...blah. I am DETERMINED to go to my Tues and Thurs AM work outs.

Happy new week.

Friday, January 6, 2017

2017 Word of the Year: Savor

I know its become a "thing" in popular culture to complain about the year we just finished, but SERIOUSLY, 2016 was not awesome for me on so many levels. Any year in which you become depressed and take several months to realize, and then treat, said depression is forever labeled a shitty year in my book. Add on everything else (B's issues, diagnosis, and continued issues, both of my parents were hospitalized several times, we are spending $$$ trying to bail MIL out of her financial troubles, rejected grants and name a few off the top of my head).

I feel like a large part of last year was about just getting through. Head down, power through, try not to think or feel too much lest I get stuck. I don't want to live that way forever, though. I want to get back into the practice of stopping, noticing, wondering, and feeling.

Hence my pick for this years word: SAVOR. I thought about "slow" or "quiet", but sometimes what you really need is to run FAST or sing LOUD. I just want to take time out of each and every day to appreciate and linger over the amazing things you can miss if you forget to look.

I'm hoping this word will also translate to my relationship with food. I eat, and drink, as if its a contest. I want to stop the habit of gobbling and gulping mindlessly, and really focus on the flavors and textures. I think it will be more satisfying, and...hopefully...lead to eating/drinking less. Maybe? This one is a stretch, I know.

I've already begun working on this. I spent a long time playing with L as he took a bath the other day---reveling in how his growing body can barely stretch out in the tub anymore. How much longer will he want to play with his bath toys, pretending they are cakes and ice creams he is serving me from his rest-u-ant. I slowly ate my lunch, chatting with a colleague, today, tasting the crunch of the peanuts, the chewy rice, the hearty chicken. I slowed my walk and looked at the way the sun hit the clouds, and the breeze swirled around. I relished each sip of hot, pleasurable tea....ha ha NO! Just kidding. I still hate tea.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2017 First Quarter Goals

I love the idea of quarterly goals---just the right amount of time and pressure to accomplish meaningful things. This is what I've laid out for winter '17

  • Declutter/purge house top-to-bottom
  • 1 on 1 time with each kid at least every other week. I signed B and I up for a 5-week ice skating class on Sunday mornings so we'll do that. I'll have to think of what to with L 
  • Plan our summer: camps, vacations, grandparent time & sign up for camps/time away as needed
  • PTA involvement (I'm running for secretary but even if I don't win, I'll join and help out...apparently the whole thing fell apart recently and we want to build it back up)
  • Weekly "political activism" hour for phone calls. I HATE this so I need to "eat the frog" and do it every Monday because I've definitely fallen off the wagon on this and I don't want to become complacent. Nicoleandmaggie post great "action items" on their blog
  • Call parents and MIL at least weekly
  • Call 4 best far-away friends one time each before end of quarter. Set up phone calls by text/email if needed
  • Submit 2 papers (it never happened in December)
  • Submit pilot grant in January
  • Start re-submission for April grant in February
  • Weekly planning time every Friday morning (the afternoons are too crazy and it gets dropped)
  • "Dry" January (G and I are doing this together which will make it easier!) and then stick to recommended weekly limit
  • Challenge myself with reading. Aside from my usual contemporary fiction, read 1 non-fiction and 1 classic (Anna Karenina? There are lists for this sort of thing)
  • Try various guided meditation apps and find one I can stick to for 5-10 minutes/day. Try various locations & times of day to find the one that sticks. My therapist, internist, and psychiatrist all keep telling me that meditation is a great adjunct to therapy/medication for anxiety and yet...
It looks like SO MUCH all laid out like that, yet a lot of it is stuff I already need to do (i.e. work, plan summer) and the rest of it is supposedly good stuff.. I will certainly have to look back in April and see how I did.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Winter Break Wrap-Up and New Year Kick-Off

And we're off to a fresh start yet again! Before I drown you with my usual deluge of goals and words and plans (and don't worry, I have plenty of those in store!), I'll fill you in on our winter holiday happenings.

I not only survived, but mostly enjoyed, our long, LONG trip to MIL-land. Something has definitely shifted in our relationship, and its made a world of difference. We arrived on Christmas Eve and put up the tree and wrapped up presents for the kids. They were super excited to see that Santa (and mom & dad & grandma) pulled through with toys and games that they played with for about 30 minutes before asking to "watch something". B's birthday was the next day and we only had moderate drama (mostly L, because it was intolerable that it was not HIS birthday). We went to see Moana, made a triple-chocolate cake, and had some family over for pizza in the evening. Also more presents. We did absolutely nothing special for NYE, though we did stay awake, watching a movie. 

We also went and saw two grown up movies: Rogue One, which put me to sleep immediately---or maybe it was the wine & dinner preceding it, and Manchester by the Sea which was the saddest thing I have EVER seen in my life. It was wonderfully written and acted and so so heartbreaking.

We saw two sets of friends and had a few dinners out, took the kids to the museum, jumping place, movies, and 3 different parks, went to the gym several times (I let G show me around the weight room and did strength training, which I hadn't done in years. I realized why I stopped doing it---its boring and involves a lot of waiting for people to finish things), completed many household up-keep projects, I did 3 whole puzzles, played hours and hours of "Mini Metro" on my phone (its super fun and addictive) and drank an ocean's worth of wine (I was at my MIL's house for 11 days. Sure its BETTER, but come on). The kids had limitless screen time, because that's how my MIL rolls, and whatever, it was vacation for them.

After about a week I was starting to get really antsy and ready to get back to real life and start the fresh year. I definitely have a limit to how much "nothing" I can do. We got home last night & I crashed as soon as I put the boys to bed. I left the house before they woke up and saw 7 patients, wrote 7 notes, cleaned out my EMR in-box & called 3 patients, met with my research assistant to plan experiments and study visits, ordered a new planner & bullet journal notebook, scheduled the dog walker, emailed my dad, and had a lunch with a friend/colleague in which we came up with a potential idea for collaboration! After I write this, I'm going to plan the rest of the week and then I have to leave to take B for his flu shot at the pediatricians office. Tonight I unpack, move my stuff into my brand new shiny & waterproof backpack, and get back to the book I'm reading for book club before I get in bed for my 5:30 AM wake up and work-out.

MAN I'm ready for this year. Bring it on!