Thursday, November 30, 2017

A glimpse of the elephant's ears...

(a little bit about what's on my mind these days)

I hinted at some work-related issues, and while I'm not going to go into detail here, I can share the gist of what's getting me down. On the research front, I had yet another grant rejection---this one on a proposal for which I was actually (despite all my best efforts to lower expectations!) becoming hopeful of receiving funding. It was a resubmission, was very tightly revised and I was actually quite proud of my work. It had moved on to the final round of review and I really started having HOPES and DREAMS and already had the IRB submitted and approved and then I got the rejection two weeks ago.

Beyond the initial sting, which I'm getting used to, I had the depressing realization that I've been working on getting funding on this particular area for SIX YEARS. Many many others have now surpassed me in this niche, which was BRAND NEW when I first started begging for others to take interest and let me explore. That thought is really sobering and is making me question my abilities to succeed in research at all. Enough so that I have completely zoned out and got nothing done for the past couple of weeks.

Of course, when the research part isn't quite working out, I usually console myself in envisioning a possible clinical career. But even this aspect of my job has been disappointing lately. I started working in a new area recently---something I was kind of excited about, joining a team of great people, working with a challenging population. But the reality is that I am all by myself on my days there, with >50% no shows, and patients that are indeed challenging but not necessarily rewarding to care for in this clinic. I feel like I'm unprepared, I've had no specific training in this area, and I have no one to really ask for help since I'm all alone. There are also lots of issues in how the program is run, and I was hoping to be involved in effecting change, but realized that there is a lot of administrative beyond-my-scope BS that is in the way of anything but the status quo.

So yeah, I'm not sure where I'm headed with any of this. I do know that the zoning out was not helping on a professional or personal level, since I then felt guilty and more depressed so I sat down this morning and made myself a very strict schedule for the day with 30 minute blocks and discrete tasks in several different arenas that I need to complete. When inspiration and motivation fail you, discipline and planning are the fall back.

This elephant has another ear that I'll give you a tiny glimpse into, as well. Things on the parenting front have also felt like constant failure and backsliding. I feel like I am failing as a parent. Like I am just not the right mother for this combination of very very challenging children, who need so much patience and acceptance and a form of guidance and nurturing that I haven't yet figured out how to provide for them. Despite my recent post, I've been over-reacting and making things bigger and way way worse. Evenings these days are so stressful and negative and full of nagging and sighing and yelling and then the guilt and zoning out once they go to bed.

A new month is here and that always fills me with optimism, no matter how artificial the "new start". I'm determined to do better. And now my "eat lunch/blog" time is up and I have to outline a paper.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Calling it...

OK. I admit to failure on the whole 30 posts in 30 days things. It was a noble attempt, and it did get me blogging more frequently so I guess it served its purpose even though I'll end up several posts shy of the goal.

The remainder of the long weekend was great. Low-key, because B got sick (and I've mentioned before how I might be terrible because I like my kids better when they are sick, right?) He just doesn't have the energy to be as big of a PITA as usual. We had an  unexpected date night (sitter who wasn't available became available and texted!) on Saturday, friends from out of town come for brunch on Sunday, got the Christmas decorations up, attended a birthday party, etc...

A lot of what's swirling through my mind these days is work-related, and I don't want to go there on the blog, so its hard for me to think of things to post. Its like a big huge elephant in the room is blocking my access to all the smaller more blog-appropriate animals (huh? OK I'll drop the analogy)

I have two evening outings this week, and planning something for next week and the week after. Its like feast or famine! For a whole month I was home every evening (and feeling blah about it) and now I feel like I won't be there for bedtime for a few days at a time...I actually canceled something I had planned on Thursday because 3 days in a row is a bit excessive even for someone who does like to socialize and avoid kids' bedtimes.

We got ranitidine for L yesterday (for what I strongly suspect is GERD) and he threw up immediately after taking it and refused to try again. I took it back to the pharmacy to have it flavored, but seriously, this stuff smells and tastes DISGUSTING. I'm not sure what to do...

Friday, November 24, 2017


This is the mantra I keep repeating to myself these days, mostly regarding my interactions with my children. But it also works well for work, marriage, extended family...

Outside of a few notable exceptions involving safety, there is nothing bad that will come for not reacting negatively to something my kids do or say. "Bad" (i.e. not what I want) behavior is not an emergency.  There is time to step away, take a breath, think it over, before yelling or criticizing.

The other part to this is to remind myself that they are not doing it TO ME, even when it really really feels like it (i.e. when L hits me and calls me stupid). They are just acting out their feelings in the ways that come naturally to them. 

I really committed to this yesterday, in a very intentional way, and it was immensely helpful. I let a lot roll of my back and it stopped the usual escalation. If left to their own devices, they will calm down and distract themselves with some activity or another and eventually behave differently. If, however, we keep criticizing and disciplining, there are more and more bad feelings all around.

Its not that we don't give consequences. I firmly believe in them. But 1) pick battles, 2) make it quick and unemotional i.e. you were throwing this toy so we are taking it. no you cannot have it back today. goodbye. and 3)move on myself (don't keep harping on it, or being grumpy, move on to the next activity).

All of this is easier said then done, and sometimes it just doesn't work, they keep acting out until I crack or the bad mood lasts all day. Its not perfect, but its a good intention to start with and for a back-up, there is wine.

Perfectly Pleasant

The wondrous joy of low expectations! Our Thanksgiving was actually quite a nice day, partly by design, partly by serendipity, and overall because I expected NOTHING.

I made sure we had the essential elements: active time, time outside, social time, screen time for the kids. We planned a fairly simple meal and I nagged gently reminded G to start the turkey early enough that we could have everything ready by 6pm.

Our Turkey Trot ended up being an outing with the boys' friend and his mom---we went "running" at a big park, racing from one area to another. Overall we got in 1 mile, quite interrupted, but I'm calling it "interval training". Bonus: my back felt great afterwards, so I am going to do 2 miles tomorrow.

The best/worst part? The kids became MONSTROUS at the end, all three hitting/grumpy/whiny. I let it roll of my back. I did not engage, I did not get angry, I did not get filled with despair that my children are terrible and our holiday is ruined. I laughed (which enraged them) and commiserated with my friend and moved on to the next thing.

Same friend also came over later with leftover pie and stayed for a beer. I don't usually like drinking in the afternoon, but I couldn't let her drink alone, so we had a really nice break in the day while the boys watched a movie. We will take them leftover turkey today.

Our meal came together nicely: G made a turkey (our first time) and it made the whole house smell amazing all day with all the butter and fresh herbs and citrus and beer involved. This was the one thing everyone enjoyed eating. We also had biscuits (fave for me and B), herbed rice (L's love), and roasted cauliflower (the kids put a tiny bit in their mouths). G and the boys made brownies from scratch in a complicated recipe involving a double boiler, and we had the aforementioned pie.

Since we don't do it often, it was actually special all sitting down together to eat the same thing. We went around the table saying what we were thankful for before we dug in. And then we did our usual routine, got the kids to bed, and G and I watched another episode of our show & I got to bed on time so that I could get up at 6AM to get ready, have coffee, walk dog, and be at work in time for clinic.

It helped immensely to stay off social media. Definitely need to institute that as a hard rule during holidays. No matter how nice your day is going, its hard not to compare to others. Its just...human.
We did stay in touch with family---we facetimed everyone we wanted to talk to.

I'm writing this during a cancellation+no-show break in the schedule. I may write another one if I have another no-show, I know I'm way behind if I want to get to 30 in the next 6 days (yikes!)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

In Defense of the Meal Kit Delivery Services

I've been seeing a lot of hate about the meal kit delivery services around, and I get it...until I tried it I never understood the point. Its expensive & time-consuming & there is so much packaging!  But we've been trying them for about a year now, and I have to say, I find the occasional box to be a helpful addition to our dinner-cooking arsenal.

Most weeks we still use our tried and true strategy of batch-cooking a big meal on Sunday and eating it all week. Burrito bowls, chili, lasagna, curries, etc... work really well for this. But sometimes we get tired of eating the same recipes we've been having for years (and you really have to test the recipe a few times before you can agree to commit to a week of it!) Also, not everything works that well as leftovers (i.e. seafood). If you have to cook some portion of the meal fresh each night it doesn't end up saving time.

So once a month on average, I order a box with 3 meals that look good for the adults. G and I take turns making them that week, though I tend to make more, because I enjoy it, whereas he has a bit of undiagnosed ADD and has trouble following multi-step recipes. We will have the kids try a few bites (sometimes) from our meals, but they generally get easy kid-food on these weeks.

We've tried several so far (Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, Marley Spoon, Terra's kitchen, and Plated) and my favorite is Plated. They have the best selection, easiest process to choose/order, and best tasting recipes. But these are all subjective attributes, so try them yourselves if interested, they all offer free/reduced kits for new customers.  There are many more out there that I just haven't tried.

What I like about the kits:
  • new and interesting recipes
  • learning new cooking techniques
  • portioned ingredients (no waste)
  • ingredients that are hard to find (i.e. would involve going to ethnic stores or multiple stores for one recipe)
  • eliminates mental energy needed for meal planning and then finding all the ingredients, and especially planning meals with overlapping ingredients to reduce waste because you cannot buy just one stalk of celery for example (but they will send you one in your kit!) 
The kits are not cheap. They are not for people on tight budgets. But I actually went this summer and bought the ingredients for 3 meals and I spent MORE than the price of a box. Organic, free range meat and exotic veggies and spices are not cheap.  I do purposefully choose more "bang for your buck" options so I feel like I am getting my money's worth----I avoid vegetarian meals and choose seafood for 1-2 meals.

They are not "easy" meals. Part of this is by design---I choose things that look challenging and fun to cook & eat. I can make "easy" meals on my own without step by step recipes! I enjoy cooking and learning new techniques that I can then translate to our own meals. Something about the fact that everything is portioned and packaged together, and the step by step instructions, make the whole process fun for me. You just grab the bag from the fridge, pull out the card for the recipe, and get started.

The one big con I have is the packaging. There is some waste. It is getting better, with more of the packaging recyclable or biodegradable, but still...there is cardboard and ice packs involved. Various services to vary somewhat on this, but not by much.

I totally get that its not for everyone, but its working for us right now. We had a yummy Plated dinner last night (cod cakes with creamy mustard sauce over arugula) and I'm looking forward to another one tonight (fish tacos with avocado sauce and crunchy slaw) and Friday (chicken chili rellenos)! 


I'm feeling better. Physically, that is. Mentally....meh. I've got a full day of patients ahead (and they seem to running late). Thanksgiving is always more fun in the anticipation than the execution. And I'm sort of annoyed about having to work on Friday.

I have posts ideas that I get excited about in my head, but when I sit down to write them I just freeze. It all seems very boring. Maybe I truly have nothing to say?

I realized I get a bit of FOMO around this holiday, seeing/hearing about everyone's big family gatherings. Its really stressful & expensive to travel this weekend; we prefer to save our energy/$ for a longer trip, and we don't live close enough to family to just drive down for a day. So its just the 4 of us, and we somehow still haven't quite hit the groove of a tradition. The idea of a big group gathered around a table loaded with food sounds so cozy and fun (in theory...I'm sure there is also a lot of drama as there tends to be when families unite).

Things I am legitimately looking forward to:
  • A glass of wine
  • Staying up a little late and watching an episode of our new show: Ozark. I like it so far though it is quite dark, and I feel the need to follow up an episode with a light-hearted comedy to clear my head.
  • Going on a (short, slow) run with B tomorrow morning. He was quite taken by the term "Turkey Trot". This will be my first exercise in about 4 weeks.
  • Biscuits for dinner tomorrow. (we are also having other stuff but the only thing I'm actually excited about is the biscuits). 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


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


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


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 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 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 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).