Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Year Resolution -- Just One

I've really got only one New Year's Resolution.

And it's to be more present in my life, mainly with my girls. I feel like I can easily just rush through my days with my girls and wake up to find them grown. Or grown away, even if still at home.

There's two sub-goals to help me achieve this one overarching goal: one, aim for eight hours of sleep a night. When I'm well rested, I am much calmer and saner and happier. I probably won't often achieve eight hours but it's a good goal. Seven hours is pretty good but eight is better.

And two, check off at least one item from my to do list every single day. Preferably in the evening, before I relax. (Daytime items are good too but I need to be more disciplined about not just throwing in the towel every evening.)

Like Shannon, I'd like to eliminate sugar (again). I manage it for a few days and then fall off the wagon. I'm pleased that I exercised every day of my 10 day break but one, when I was instructed not to for medical reasons. But I don't want to make a resolution about it. I feel like I need fewer resolutions and more self love for the time being.

Being home over the break and especially, potty training Amelie and being forced to slow down and just BE with her, really helped me realize I wanted to prioritize goal number one.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

"Vacation" Update and December Photos

First two wheeler (with pedals)! 

Calliope, Amelie and I are staying put this holiday break. Mostly, it's been lovely. I've spent more time than usual playing with
them. It still doesn't feel like enough, but it's more. I've gotten a lot accomplished around the house and in life. I've potty trained Amelie. Sort of. We aren't across the finish line yet, since it still is requiring a lot of thought, but I will let her be in another room for a few moments without me. That's progress, considering we did a three day bootcamp and it's only day four. Of course, I'm freaking out that she won't finish figuring it out and it will be high maintenance for ages but I'm hoping for the best.

My queen

She's got big shoes, er, boots to fill.

This snowsuit has been worn by a multitude of cousins. A little piece of history.

Sisters goofing around at dinner.

Fourth night of Hanukkah. (Amelie is signing "water" mid photo.) 

Dress up play date with her school besties.

Finally got a video of my toddler practicing her "spelling. "

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Twenty One Months

I got possibly my first three-word sentence last night, "Thank you Mommy." Though maybe "thank" and "you" don't count as separate words since kids learn them together as one "thank you." Anyways, it's a sweet little development.

Amelie's more cooperative in some ways, following along nicely when we go downstairs, across the lobby, and outside to the trash and recycling area. And more challenging in others -- constantly saying "no no no!" and "stop!" and "otch!" (ouch!). She's much more ferocious in her opinions than I remember Calliope ever being.

She's obsessed with shoes and tries on every pair she can find, her own and everybody else's.

She's been eating up a storm and feels a ton heavier than just a few weeks ago.

Calliope is doing well. She's pretty even keel. She wears nothing but fleece pants (from the boy's department, because god forbid her pants be more snug fitting like girls' styles), preferably topped with pink flowered snow pants. She's generally the only kid in her class wearing snow pants but I respect the fact that she doesn't care what others wear. She's very interested in "math facts" at the moment. Also in drawing. She draws constantly. I love her creativity. We got home from work today and she immediately set to work transforming a cardboard grocery box into a car that became a stroller that became her bed for the night.

I'm working really hard on being more patient with her. It's hard when we are always rushing to get out the door to get to school and then rushing back home again. Five year old pace seems unbearably slow to me. I've started getting up a bit earlier, though not entirely by choice, because Amelie has decided that the world has started at 5:30 AM. So I get up then and get Calliope up by 6 (instead of 6:15) and try to stay in the room with her and keep her on task instead of yelling from the other room as I get myself ready. Then she gets to play briefly before starting the process of putting on snow pants TWENTY MINUTES before we leave. But I'm mostly succeeding in not yelling. And it's paying dividends in much more cooperation and less dawdling if not actual speed.

Does anyone else worry about their grown kids not liking them if they aren't nicer to said children when they are small? I feel like that was my experience with my own parents and I desperately want grown up Calliope and Amelie to like me. So this line of thinking torments me a good bit.

As far as me... well, things are slowly, gradually improving. Today at work I felt, for the first time in over a month, like I wasn't terrifying behind in my list of things to cram into precious breaks between patients. Of course then I had a frantically busy day with patients, alternating between those with the stomach virus and those who needed a pregnancy test before the holiday break. Good times.

I've had a couple little social upsets recently. One was with a friend, who often seemed a bit short with me. I couldn't tell if it was just her style or something about me, so I tried to ask her if I had done something that had bothered her. I really don't like being on the defensive like that, in principle, asking "how have I annoyed you?" but I just couldn't figure out another way to ask. To my shocked disappointment, she seemed totally surprised and completely offended by my question. I can't quite figure out why she's offended. And the more I tried to fix things, the worse it got. Finally we agreed to drop it but we still haven't seen each other and I'm worried about what that will be like.

And then my brother called me and proposed a couple of "ground rules" for my visiting him in the future. The first being that I not visit when we are sick. Well, I called him the day before we left and informed him that Amelie had thrown up and asked if he wanted us to not come. He told us to come the next day if the night was quiet, and it was. It seems that Amelie developed a runny nose on the trip up (because my nanny swears she didn't have it the previous day, and I certainly didn't notice it) and his wife and him are very upset that my thirteen month old niece got her first cold as a result. Plus Calliope got the stomach bug the night after we arrived and then a bunch of cousins got it a day later, and while I felt absolutely terrible about that, a) I did call the doctor and get guidance from them about when it was safe to travel, and followed it, and b) his family had already had the stomach stomach two weeks prior and none of them got the stomach bug again. Obviously if I had had any idea that Calliope would get the stomach bug (plus a high fever that no one else got) and would share it, I would never have come. Spending Thanksgiving alone in someone else's house with a feverish child was pretty miserable, even without all the packing and loading and the eleven hours of driving alone with sick children.

His second ground rule (his expression, not mine) was that my life be "less complicated, without an agenda, like doing laundry or teaching Calliope to swim or ride a bike." I spend a week with them every summer and not surprisingly, I think, I always have things to accomplish.

This condition really took me by surprise, not in a good way. I was outraged. My life is, indeed, complicated. And packing us up (especially from a 6th floor apartment building where I don't have a garage spot) and getting us to a different state is incredibly "complicated." Of COURSE I'm going to do laundry when I'm there! I generally miss my cleaning lady's laundry day when I'm there, and even if I didn't, why wouldn't I do my laundry there when they have an actual laundry room, of all blissful things, which I can use while my children are ALSEEP (my laundry room is 6 flights down, and involves bringing both children along, including my runner, which is, shall we say, challenging.)

Anyway, I have a really hard time with people being mad at me. I think because of my codependent mother. I learned that it's always my fault if people are mad at me, and it's my job to fix it. I'm trying really hard to just sit with the discomfort and remind myself, over and over like a mantra, that their reaction is not my responsibility. But it's very uncomfortable.

Thank goodness tomorrow is my last day of work before the break! We are absolutely definitely not going anywhere this break! At least, we are not staying with anyone. I wanted to be sure there was no risk of infecting anyone -- the guilt over sharing the stomach bug was enormous -- and also, I'm am so freaking burnt out from the election plus stolen wallet plus Thanksgiving illness extravaganza (for our family alone: three stomach bugs, one extremely high fever, two bad coughs, one scary asthma exacerbation, one possible asthma exacerbation, one persistent case of laryngitis for me which lasted five days) plus my car getting crashed into plus my keys getting stolen (by the same kid who stole my wallet... I called the police this time) plus two sex ed presentations to 9th graders who were great but also absolutely exhausting plus, of course, the loss of Bethany. An absolutely challenging month, shitty in many ways but thankfully we are all healthy and I am gainfully employed.

So I'm very much looking forward to some quiet time with my girls. Hoping to make gingerbread houses with them, if it's not too many steps (I have a Manichevitz "Hanukkah House" kit on standby, just in case the from scratch recipe is too much) and taking Calliope ice skating and maybe potty training Amelie. My main goal, honestly, is just to not snap at them. To slow down and actually enjoy my girls.

Kicking off the break with a child free night, since my sitter volunteered that she'd be happy with a few extra hours. So my friend Emily and I are going to the Russian bathhouse tomorrow night for hopefully a relaxing evening free of awkward encounters with Russian (or otherwise) men. Hopefully the fact that it's the night before Christmas Eve will work in our favor. I'm hoping this will set the stage for relaxation over the break.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Twenty Months and More

Time marches on and my little girl is closer to two than to her first birthday.

This month has been noticeable for her discovery of singing. Suddenly she can sing. Sort of. She still misses more words than she hits but she's wildly enthusiastic about any sort of music. Her most favorite is probably "Ginkle ginkle little 'car." Pretty cute. If only she would perform for the camera. I get a couple lines at best.

A couple of days ago she learned to apologize. Only she doesn't apologize to others, only to herself. Or inanimate objects. So she bumped into the glider and fell down, quickly calling out "Sigh!" (Her pronunciation of sorry.) Likewise knocking over her own tower, "Sigh!"

Her curious toddler ways are still in full swing so I finally installed toilet locks -- it was just too much fun for her to toss things into the bowl. I likewise put locks on a drawer in the hall table where I keep little travel packs of tissues because she has a fondness for deliberately removing one tissue at a time from those packets until every tissue is lying on the floor.

A funny second child thing is that she scribbles while she "spells" -- she says "A" and carefully scribbles a bit, then "E" and more scribble. Funny girl!

Calliope seems to be doing great as well. To my amazement, she recently sounded out and wrote her first word. Backwards, to be sure, and entirely lacking in vowels. But still. No one taught her (her school doesn't believe in "training" kids to read before first grade) and she was alone in my office (while I dealt with a terrifying asthma attack, not my own, upstairs) when she composed it.


There's also this piece of artwork.

So much to say about this picture! The fact that she's acknowledged that two adults can marry each other. The fact that Amy has a baby in her belly. The fact that Seth has his penis out. For the record, I don't think the penis has anything to do with the baby in her belly, and this is certainly no depiction of a shotgun wedding -- she's oblivious to the idea that someone might not want to be pregnant at the time of her wedding.

Things for me have been a bit challenging of late. Post election blues and then the shocking news of Bethany's death. We have only seen each other a handful of times over the years but we were fitness buddies (virtual) last winter and were in daily contact for months, and we had booked a shared hotel room in Jamaica this winter. My heart aches for Elsie and for her auntie, now mother, and her grandmother. And just the suddenness, and the realization of the frailty of life. Words are inadequate. 

We've also all been sick, twice, and drove to Massachusetts only to sit alone in my brother's house on Thanksgiving Day with a puking, feverish child. Fever took a few days to come down and then was replaced by a scary asthmatic cough that required oral steroids. And then Amelie got it. And then my parked car got hit, and the front fender ripped off. No note was left.

So it's been a lot lately. I feel like maybe, possibly, I'm finally digging myself out of this hole. But I have fear about this post-election world we live in, and what will happen come January. Like mortality, I can't bear to think about it. 

So much more I want to say, and photos I want to post, but this has sat in my inbox far too long. And I need to sleep.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Next Conversation: Embryo Donation

Leslie and I spoke on the phone a couple of days ago. She met with a lawyer a few days ago, out on the west coast where she lives. The lawyer said I have to get a lawyer as well. Which I get, intellectually, but emotionally it feels distasteful. I feel like once the embryos are handed over, she's the mom and should have all decision making rights. But I guess we have to spell out the terms of how many of the embryos (I have four but prefer not to hand them all over in one fell swoop).

Tomorrow I meet with the same psychologist I met with before using donor sperm to conceive Calliope. I journeyed out into Long Island by train to meet with her last time, no small feat after a full day of work, only to discover that she is a parent of one of my patients... and she dropped her son off to school every day!

This time we are meeting for tea at the Chocolate Room and she is charging me the price of a cup of tea. When we meet with Leslie, too, and she has to fill out a bunch of forms certifiying our mutual psychological well being before the transfer of embryos takes placed, she is charging me with bringing her a bag of bulbs to plant at the public school across the street from her home.

I love my village!

Anyway, the more the the idea of donating my embryos to Leslie percolates, the more excited I get. I'm suddenly remembering how physically miserable I was in my mid-pregnancy with Amelie -- the reflux was so awful and I was so nauseated and had to sleep sitting up so often. I will never miss that! And while I do adore infants, it's so lovely to put my children to bed at 6:30 pm and be pretty much assured that I have the rest of the night to myself. I love sleeping all night, every night. Well, almost every night.

And I very hesitantly told Leslie that I loved the idea of donating an embryo to her as a way to grow my family. The thing I didn't realize when I decided to become an SMC is that not only would my child only have one parent, she would also be missing an entire set of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. And now they have no grandparents, and all their first cousins (currently four of them but a fifth is expected this winter, hooray!) are at least four hours away. Too far to see on a weekend.

So having a donor sibling (is that even the right term?) possibly in upstate New York would be wonderful! Calliope has a "milk sister" -- a little girl who received donated milk from me when I was nursing Calliope -- and this little girl is now in our school. And both girls are fascinated by each other. I imagine she would love the idea of even more family. I mentioned the idea of calling the kids "Super Cousins" and Leslie loved the idea. It's complicated because they are not "diblings" -- donor half siblings -- they are full siblings. Yet calling this other child a brother or sister feels like a disservice, to me, to the beloved relationship between Calliope and Amelie. This child won't share a room with my girls. He'll belong to his own family.

Why V*ginas Are More Relaxing

We are riding quietly in the car when suddenly,

Calliope: Vaginas are more relaxing.

Me: Ah. Um. Well. What makes you say that?

Calliope: Because with a vagina you get to pee sitting down. If you have a penis you have to pee standing up. That's more tiring.

Me: Ah, I see.

Calliope: That's why vaginas are more fun.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Nineteen Months

A rare moment with just Amelie and me. Super delicious! Like her apple.
Things are actually getting slowly, slightly, easier!

Amelie has discovered a newfound interest in cooking. Every morning, I sneakily try to prepare my smoothie very, very quietly... to no avail. Amelie comes prancing into the question, "Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?" until I pick her up. She sits on the counter and helps dump the ingredients into the bowl, generally sticking her finger into the bowl between each dumping to taste each items. Then she helps hold the immersion blender with me.

It's a nice little morning ritual together before we spend many hours apart. Even if it does slow me down.

Helping me tear the kale for dinner. There's a wooden spoon because naturally (?) she
wanted to stir it.

She's also discovered counting. And counts everything. "Why, do, fee" (her version of "one, two, three.")

And singing. She loves Twinkle Twinkle and the ABC's. And gets in about every tenth word.

She had her first episode of wheezing, naturally as I was rushing to get her out the door to go meet Calliope for Trick or Treating. Being a second child, I just gave her a couple puffs of Calliope's inhaler and resolved to see the doctor the next day. And since she was mostly better, I decided to just call the doctor the following day. She's fine now but I suspect she'll start wheezing with the next cold, again, just like Calliope did. Calliope, happily, has not had a wheezing episode in a year though she was on inhaled steroids all winter and spring last year to prevent them. But now she's been steroid free for a number of months without any symptoms. Fingers crossed she's outgrown it! And that Calliope has too. But since it happens to me occasionally, too, they may not.

Having a blast eating apples at the Farmer's Market with our beloved friends Eleanor and Leo.