Hello!

Thank you for all the responses on the last post – I commented there to share my decision and also the ridiculousness of our no-common-sense security here.

We had a lovely weekend – lots of closet-cleaning, laundry, a Goodwill run, playing Crazy Eights with a certain four year old who cannot get enough of Crazy Eights, and pre-cooking all the meals for the week.  I even tried my hand at making poached eggs – with mixed results.  (This was the recipe, and it was delicious - as for the eggs themselves, I basically ended up with good runny yolks yolks with a tiny bit of white on the outside, but it was a good first try).  Jack had some Boy Scout stuff and some playdates, we all did some errands together, we even played a board game one night as a family after Craig went to sleep, and had a lot of fun with the big boys.  Since this baby started sleeping 11-12 hours at night, it’s like the Hallelujah chorus is playing every day.  I feel unstoppable.  I have an awful cold and yicky cough and I still feel unstoppable.  My body doesn’t hurt so much – sleep gives it the opportunity to knit itself back together after a day of hoisting kids and their stuff around.  I’m not so irritable.  The world isn’t so black.  Our problems remain our problems but I feel a little more resilience in meeting them.  Lordy  never underestimate the amazing power of a solid 8 hours each night (or the pure torture that a non-sleeping infant can inflict!)

Last night we had the veggie enchilada quinoa bake – as good as ever – plus a chopped salad of purple cabbage, a tiny bit of romaine, bell peppers (all colors), and carrots – a bowl of fresh crunch.  I put a little feta, chopped olives, and salami in the leftover salad this morning for a tasty lunch.  Yum!  The world seems full of color and possibility these days . . . such a dramatic turn from my recent mood, and probably 90% facilitated by good sleep.

Wishing you all well.  Have a great week – and again, thanks for the input on my running-the-stairs question!

 

 

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Question

Here’s a genuine question for you – mostly ladies, but gents, too, if you have an opinion.

My law firm is way up high in my building – 20+ floors up.  So a couple times a week I want to put on my sneaks, then start at the bottom and walk up.  We had to give up the gym membership as part of our everlasting struggle to balance the budget, so I’m looking for alternatives besides taking a jog outside and then having a sponge bath in my workplace bathroom (never as effective as a full shower, BTW, grooooosss but my cardiovascular health is important) (I always wait til after 2, so as to have minimum post-stinky-sponge-bath time at my desk).

I haven’t done this yet because our building is “secure” for whatever reason, and my security pass only gets me into my own floor.  So between the bottom and the top, I’m stuck – I either gotta go up or down to get out.

So . . . . I’m not worried about a heart attack or anything – if I get to floor 11 and I’m dying, I can always rest a bit and then go back down and take the elevator up.  However, in terms of the threat of some kind of assault by an assailant lying in wait . . . what’s my chances?  Is this completely foolish, to wall myself off in a locked stairwell with no chance to get out if I encounter someone with unwholesome designs?  (Locked, but well lit stairwell with very wide steps and security cameras?)  Or am I exchanging a sure risk (lack of exercise/swivel chair spread) for a totally outside paranoid risk (the minimal chances that someone who is a rapist will actually happen to be in one of the four stairwells at the same time as me on a random midweek day, especially if I don’t do it at a regular time/day/corner of the building).  Could I mitigate the latter in a satisfactory way – i.e. carry pepper spray, notify the girls at work that I’m going and to check on me, seeing if my cell phone works in there, or (ideally) get a group to go with me?

I was really jazzed about doing it last week, but then a handyman I don’t recognize with a hammer on his tool belt caught my eye, and I thought – am I being really dumb here?  Not all men are threats to me, yes I know – but yes all women . . . I don’t approach all individual men as threats but I do have to live my life in the real practical world where a small handful of men are indeed threats to every woman they encounter.  Such men would totally dig a lady locked up in a place with escape many steps away.  I grew up post-Central Park jogger . . . perhaps I’m just being paranoid?  Anyone have thoughts?

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Get Into the Groove

(You’re welcome for the earworm.)

Liam had the novel experience this morning of being “the well-behaved one” for once, and I wanted to get the event down for posterity.  As you may recall, the Professor does his professor-ing in a different city and state, and travels there each week to stay three days in a teeny apartment.  You may also recall that he has not done this for over a year – we were blessed with a well-timed research sabbatical plus paternity leave, which gave us the precious gift of a consistent two-parent household during Craig’s first year of life.

My buddy Craigsy is about to turn a year old.  (Went fast, did it not?)  Which means that the Professor is back in the professoring saddle again, which means we’re back to our normal weeks of single mom/SAHD split.  Today was the first day that I had to get all three kids (plus myself) up and ready and out to the bus stop by 6:40 am.   Today is our first day of the “normal” groove, and I’ve been dreading it . . .

Those of you who know my darling 4 yo in real life know that he is going through a challenging phase (to phrase it in a loving parental euphemism).  Following instructions ain’t his bag, baby, and getting him dressed and ready for the day is a Sisyphean struggle that is turning my brunette locks gray.  Anticipating (and hoping to avoid) many mornings of dragging him out to the bus in his pjs, I’ve been prepping this kid for a few weeks now.  “When Daddy’s gone, I need your help . . . you’re a big boy and you need to make sure I can get the baby ready . . .” etc. etc.

It appears to have worked, at least on day one.  He marched down the stairs towards the breakfast table, saying “I’m ready to be a big boy today!”  He moved from breakfast table to his clothes, laid out for the day, and said “I’m gettin’ dressed wifout you havin’ to tell me, mom!”  I asked him to go brush his teeth, and a minute later he appeared by my side, gently touching my arm.  “It was dark in da bafroom, but I just turned on da wight!”  Each of these was met with heroic cheering and praise on my part.  I tried not to look too startled . . .

His exemplary behavior was, without question, nourished and encouraged greatly by his big brother’s poor behavior.  Something set Jack off this morning and he moved through the morning ritual with his “droopy sad face” on.  The more Jack sulked, the more Liam perked up.  “Jack’s bein’ bad and I’m bein’ good!” he said more than once.  It was pretty hilarious to see their usual roles reversed, and what joy it gave Liam to not be the one in trouble for once.  I discouraged the comparison, while secretly grateful that Jack picked today to be a pill.  Whatever it takes to get through the morning, man.

Anyway, even a sullen Jack will eat and get dressed toot sweet – just with a frowny face on.  And Craig is about the easiest baby you ever met.  So with Liam cooperative, this morning went smooth as silk.  I got up at 5 and got myself ready and everything breakfast and packed-lunch-wise set out for the boys.  While the boys fed themselves, Craig had a bottle, gulped down some yogurt, and then allowed me to wrap him up like a burrito in the stroller, arms and legs completely pinned under the stroller straps with just a little head sticking out, and continued to squeal and screech with delight at the world during out little family walk to the bus.  Liam held the dog’s leash (“I’m walkin’ the dog like a big boy, mom!”)  Jack dragged his feet and never did smile, but got himself out there in time to catch the bus.  Then I had the two littler kids in the car and heading to school by 7:10.  I was at my desk at work by 8.

And I only had to get up at 5 am to accomplish it.

Posted in Domestic Bliss, Jack, Lawyerin', Liam, Tex | 5 Comments

2015: Resolve

The last of the “pre-written” posts . . .

I very much look forward to 2015, for a lot of reasons.  2014 was not a bad year, but it was one that had to be “gotten through.”  It was not a banner year for my health, that’s for sure.  I’ve hit or miss some long runs and some pilates classes, and I kept us in vegetables and nutrient rich meals, but there’s been no regular exercise and lots of comfort eating.  And of course, I have not regularly slept more than a couple of hours per night in a year and a half.  The deprivation and self-neglect takes its toll.

Craig made 2014 crushingly hard – in the most worthwhile way.  He is an easy, happy, chill little baby – but a baby nonetheless, and a heavy one.  I’m here to tell you – I love that kid so much.  He makes my heart sing.  He’s my little soul mate, my little bestie – wherever I am in the house, he crawls to me, then pulls up on my lower legs, clings to my knees, and happily chills there.  Sometimes I get hollered baby instructions wafting up to me from down there, sometimes I get happy babble, sometimes he just stands quietly next to me, observing the world from the safety of my shadow.  Most times I cannot resist picking him up and holding him close.  My back suffers in turn electric zaps of crippling pain, and a dull burning ache – my wrists are carpal-tunnely, my shoulders and rotator cuffs throb, my feet cramp and my knees are stiff most mornings.  There aren’t many people in the world for whom I would suffer such bodily discomfort.  I’ll miss Baby Craig and his indomitable attachment to me, and I’ll be a little wistful to see him grow more and more independent as he moves from age 2 to age 3.  But my body is ready for him to transition to full toddler.  And I say with glee that as I have weaned him almost completely, at last at last he has finally begun sleeping twelve solid hours each night, as of the past week.  Just like Jack – as soon as I turned off the taps, he lost interest in being up all the livelong night.

So, all that to say I am not saying good-bye and good riddance to 2014 exactly – we were blessed by a largely boring, almost hibernating year.  The baby kept us close to home for the most part.  I savored him, but also struggled to survive him, if that makes sense.  We could not have closed out our family with a more perfect baby – one I love, and one whose babyhood I have enjoyed, but one whose giant baby body has made my creaking 36 year old bones very glad that they never again have to endure the slog of a baby’s first year.  2015 will be about putting my postpartum pieces back together.  Here are the resolutions I have chosen, to that end.  I was careful to be as realistic and kind to myself as possible – after all, the Professor’s sabbatical is over now, and I will once again be a single mom for several days a week, now with Three!  Little!  Boys! in my care.  There’s a lot here, but each goal is fairly modest.  I guess I’m just excited to get back into life again, because I tried to trim this down and just couldn’t of any of these things that I didn’t desperately want to do:

Self: After sharing in my birthday post that maturity had turned my focus outward, I’m kind of chuckling at how much of this list is ME ME ME.  But ya’ll – I cannot help you unless I help myself, and I need some big style help after this year of baby-driven self sacrifice.  So it’s a me-heavy resolution list, divided into the typical three sub-sets.

  1. Body. Morning yoga – daily, even five short minutes.  Quarterly massage or facial – Treat Yo Self.  3x a workweek exercise at lunch – run or even walk if I can’t sweat because of an afternoon meeting.  1x a weekend exercise.  2x meatless days a week.  Explore more grains/quinoa meals, cutting down on pasta and bread.  More spinach/smoothie breakfasts, fewer bagels.  Make dessert count – if I’m going to indulge, it needs to be good, mindful indulgence of something worthwhile, and not distracted noshing on mini candybars to alleviate boredom at work.
  2.  Mind. Read all the Man Booker prize candidates for 2014.  Try to make a habit of one tv-free day a week – make it some of the days the Professor is out of town, and use that night for a bath or novel or writing to friends.  Some nights he should be in town, and we could read together.  (Were you expecting me to say we could talk?  ;)  We do talk a lot.)  Blog regularly.  Research printing and binding of archives of this blog, and a few others I kept over the years (private journals for the boys).  Learn computer coding or at least more to do with computers, so I understand them better in my work and play.  Choose boredom more often than mindless phone interaction – be purposeful in my phone/internet time.
  3.  Spirit. Quarterly haircuts (instead of annual!)  Make an effort to get out in nature much more often – like I did during Craig’s maternity leave.  Two hours kid-free every other weekend, returning the favor to the Professor on the alternate weekend – going to the grocery store alone doesn’t count.  Continue the practice of removing electronic clutter that detracts (read: politically strident facebook feeds, reactionary and non-educational news, ads, keeping all push notifications off my phone).  Add one desired furniture item to the house that makes life easier – I’m thinking either end tables in our room, or some sort of drawers in our room, so I can get my undies and socks out of the crate where they currently reside.  Find storage solution for growing stash of digital photos/videos.

Family: 1x month outdoor outing as a family (Mardi Gras parades count!).  Take one day off work to spend with each kid, alone – random mid-week day.  One day per quarter – in the fourth quarter, take a day off for spouse.  Figure out video game regulation with the boys.  Work harder on Jack’s piano practice.  Keep the older boys in baseball and get them to their practice somehow.  Slowly add to the kids’ chores.  Take a date night every other month.  Eat outdoors on the porch more often when weather allows.

Friends: Plan on hosting a friend in NOLA a weekend this late winter/spring.  Write more letters to out of town friends – facebook and blogging are good group updates but nothing beats targeted attention.  Cultivate local friendships beyond my work group, by continuing to invite people to things.

Career: 2 hours per week, in 0.5-1 hour chunks, reading “the latest.”  Begin forwarding all electronic newsletters to legal secretary and have her compile a digest of articles, then flag the ones I want to read and have her print them for me.  Bring in one client myself.

Social Activism/Charity/Volunteer: Work in my new role with Moms Demand Action to bring a cultural shift in America’s attitudes towards guns – making safe storage a no-brainer and easy to do, and keeping them out of the hands of domestic abusers and terrorists.  Status quo with our church involvement – keep it up.  Continue to do work with the Volunteer Lawyers’ Program, and on the Board on which I serve.  Maintain our charity budget at last year’s level – this will go up once daycare goes down, but for now we’re good.

Think that’s enough?  Really, most of this would just put me back where I was before Craig crashed the party – but even reading it gets me psyched up for the year.

This ends the series of posts that I’d started before.  From here on out, it’s real time.  Lots to say about the inclusion of video games in our lives, about the boys, about lots of things – but I think 3 posts is enough for one day, even if I wrote them all weeks ago!

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2014 in Review

For this year’s annual review, I’m revising the questions a bit to reflect the life events that I’d actually like recorded year after year . . . 

1. What did I do in 2014 that I’ve never done before?

I gave birth to a b — no wait.  Done that before.   I nursed a little baby b — nope, done that as well.  A lot of 2014 was generic baby welcoming, which is emotionally different with a new kid, but reads pretty much the same to ya’ll as it did back in 2008 and 2010, when I did it before.  Let’s see . . . I went to a wedding Charleston.  No wait, I’ve done that before.  Uhhhh . . . I went to a wedding in Alabama?  Not exciting, but literally true.

2. Did you keep your resolutions?

I did not make any this year.  Had I made any beyond “keep it together, moderately,” then I would have broken them all, so we’re cool.  However, I did draft a post of “lilypads” – little mini events that I was looking forward to.  It was fun to read it and remember the stuff that did happen, and think about the reasons why the stuff that didn’t happen, didn’t.  I got a (free) massage but no facial (I was being frugal), no FQ Fest (too postpartum to handle!), no Panama City Beach trip (it was a Thursday and Jack couldn’t miss Friday school, so I went alone just for the day), no jazz half (attended the Charleston wedding instead), and no Pensacola marathon (HAHAHA YEAH RIIIIIGHT I’D HAVE TIME TO TRAIN FOR A MARATHON THIS YEAR).  I did manage most of them, though – Jack’s 6th birthday was indeed fun (the delta cruise); Easter and spring break were the bomb; my sister’s May visit was perfect; the Professor went backpacking in May and made a huge diet change that we’re still living with; the beach trip did go forward, but in June instead of August; we did go to a minor league baseball game though not til later in the summer; Liam’s birthday was a great one (Spiderman at the park); Nashville Fourth was the best; the holidays and weddings and birthdays were all wonderful.

3. What new lives brought you joy?

My own little sweetheart, my baby Craig, was born on the second to last day of the first month of the year.  He’s always on my  mind, I love him completely.   A few MILPs had little ones as well as a few facebook friends – i.e. people who I care about, but whose babies I must hold and squeeze and love on only virtually.  Also, four people I care about got married – two in Charleston and two here in town.  So though they are each hovering around 30 years old, their life together is sort of a new life.  And their weddings brought me joy.

4. For whom did you grieve, if anyone?

My husband’s aunt passed away as autumn came on.  She was loved, and is mourned.

5. Did you travel anywhere exciting?

This year, we stayed close to home.  It was about all we could handle.  We did do a trip to the beach down here, and a few trips to see family.  The Professor and I had a great little weekend excursion to Charleston, with a stop by the town where we got married.  That was a lovely day, unfortunately capped off by a return home to puking children.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

A backyard fence.  Or maybe bedroom furniture – a chest of drawers.  It’s a toss up, but those are the things I covet, mostly for the ease they’d bring to life.

7. What are your most memorable moments of 2014?

I’ll never forget January.  January’s culminating event was the triumphant and empowering birth of my little best buddy.  But I also remember proudly the physical and emotional challenge in the weeks preceding, and that I came through it.  We can do hard things.

April 11.  Jack’s Field Day.  I go to play at being a SAHM, and boy was that fun, to get to go to something with his school for the day, without having to check email the whole time.

Palm Sunday, when Jack almost drowned himself at Pensacola Beach with Brian and Sabrina.  The week after, when we traveled to the Professor’s hometown and enjoyed his second cousins and their kids, a museum, a pic with the Easter bunny . . . lots of fun. Easter Saturday, another beach day, a different set of friends, some royal reds and good conversation.  An Easter hosting good friends.

Jack’s birthday – spending his actual birthday having cupcakes and lunch with him at school, and his birthday party hosting friends on a delta river cruise.  Liam also took off in a golf cart – I’ll never forget the heroic leap to stomp on the brakes that saved him (and the cart) from certain destruction.

Some time in May – lunch in the courtyard of an Italian restaurant with my sister.

Liam’s birthday – his Spiderman in the park party, with both sets of grandparents in attendance.

Delicious meals at the beach condo with the Professor’s family.

Fireworks in the mall parking lot with my own – we bought KFC, sides from the grocery.  Liam had just started wearing his patch.

Early August – sitting on the porch with the boys, at Jack’s request, having a “tasty snack” and a “cold drink” and a “chat.”

Our Charleston trip.

The holidays – Thanksgiving in SC and Christmas in TN/IN.

8. What was your bravest moment and/or biggest achievement of the year?

Craig’s pregnancy, birth, and first year are pretty big deals in my world.

9. What was your biggest failure and/or disappointment?

None really.  I’m disappointed that I haven’t been able to exercise, but without sleep I just couldn’t make it happen.  It’ll get better.

10. Any memorable lapses in wellness?  (Illness, injury, etc.?)

Liam started wearing glasses, and wore the patch through the last six months of the year.  Otherwise, we are all still blessed with good health.

11. Where did most of your money go?

OMG DAYCARE JESUS IT COSTS SO MUCH UGH.  Plus student loans of course, which cost more than daycare (or the mortgage, or anything else), but you’re tired of hearing me bitch about those.

12. Is there a song or pop culture moment that will forever remind you of 2014?

Ice bucket challenge!

13. Compared to this time last year are you (a) happier or sadder? (b) heavier or lighter? (c) richer or poorer?

(a) happier.  Though this varies day by day depending on the amount of sleep I got.

(b) lighter. I was pregnant with Craig a year ago, so obv.  He’s a lot heavier though! (26 pounds or so!)

(c) same.

14. How did you spend (a) Mardi Gras, (b) Easter, (c) Fourth of July, (d) Thanksgiving, (e) Christmas, and (f) New Years’ Eve?

(a) We kinda skipped it this year, due to Craig.  (b) local friends came over for dinner on my wedding china, and we had an Easter egg hunt in my backyard and a kids’ table on the back porch.  (c) Fourth in Nashville, at a mall parking lot.  (d) Thanksgiving in South Carolina, much of it spent “supervising” a turkey as it smoked on the grill outside.  (e) Christmas in Nashville, which you just read about.  (f) NYE in Indiana, watching the ball drop and clinking champagne glasses before bed!

15. Any new loves/friends/positive forces in your life?

I have met some like-minded folks involved in meaningful gun reform, with whom I plan to meet more regularly.

16. What was your favorite tv and/or movie?

Breaking Bad was rad – watched it during maternity leave.  I think it is possible I literally did not see a single movie in a theater in 2014, and likely I didn’t sit through a whole one at home either.

17. What was your favorite book?

Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder.  That’s about all I read last year, but it was really fabulous.

18. What did you want and get?

Craigsy, the Craigerator, Craigerson, my baby Craig.

19. What did you want and not get?

A fence, which is incidentally the same answer I gave last year.

20. What did you do on your 36th birthday?

I believe we hung out at home and I was given a yellow Angry Birds pillow and a tube of lipstick by Liam and Jack respectively, which was quite a darling set of gifts.  The Professor helped them make it a fun day for me.  Labor Day birthdays rule!

21. Anything notable in your fashion or appearance in 2014?

I bought some professional clothes with some birthday money/gift cards, and am feeling less droopy and frumpy at work.  Casual clothes are still lagging behind however – a project for another day.

22. What kept you sane?

I was sort of not sane for a lot of this year.  Not enough sleep.  Literally the lack of sleep is probably the defining feature of the year, at least vis a vis my own health and well being.

23. Anything in the political arena you care to recall?

Very rarely is there, but I do recall the mystery of the missing plane . . . yet to be resolved.  Also, although this is not political, I have closely followed the progress of a little boy with leukemia, and been on pins and needles on his behalf many times over the latter half of the year.  He was discharged recently, in remission, and though he’s been briefly readmitted due to some Graft vs. Host issues, we continue to hope he’ll be out of hospital for good very soon.

24. Who did you miss?

Our friends from the Professor’s hometown, who we did not make time to see much of this year (mostly because my employer does not have an office conveniently located within driving distance of that town, and so it is harder for me to get there).  My own family, with whom I stay in constant contact via text and email . . . but that is not enough.

25. Closing remarks?  Life lessons/morals/catch phrases, etc.?

The moral of my life these days is Done is Better Than Perfect.  With that . . . I’ll hit publish on this thing.

 

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