Friday, November 10, 2017

Exhiliarating, Exciting, Anxious, Demoralizing Weeks

First, the great and exciting news: it looks like I am purchasing a three bedroom apartment, two floors down from me. As much as I don't like the way the building is run, it's home. And I love my apartment. And my neighbors, especially the fact that one of my best friends lives one floor down from me (one floor up once we move). We are not just good friends but also important sources of logistical support to each other since she is an SMC too. Our girls are like cousins and adore each other.

It's a strange thing, buying a new apartment. I'm beyond thrilled to have an additional bedroom. But I love my current apartment and the new one isn't as nice... yet. My current place was redone in the few years before I moved in, and it looks nice. The kitchen is shiny and bright (though the veneer is starting to peel off the cabinets in a couple of hidden areas) and the bathrooms are relatively current. I'm also on the top floor of my building and have a relatively large terrace (which I never use because I'm too paranoid about the kids falling, even though piratically speaking, it seems extremely safe).

The new apartment overall looks a lot like my current one in terms of overall look, but it's two floors down so a little bit darker. And it's crowded with an excess of furniture (even with the seller attempting to pare way back for staging). And the kitchen looks ancient and so do the bathrooms.

But. I am going to be able to make over the kitchen and bathrooms to my specifications. Something I never dared fantasize about, but now that I have the unexpected opportunity... wow. My sister and brother have both built new kitchens and bathrooms in the last couple of years and I would have drooled with envy over both of them if I had let my head "go there." But I didn't dare, and made the best of life in my comfortable if slightly cluttered and crowded space.

But the thought that I could have the kitchen of my dreams, at least, if my dream kitchen was a galley kitchen... wow. I'm very very excited.

But also overwhelmed and intimidated. My friend Talia is an architect and very generously came over and measured some things and also shared a recommendation for a contractor she likes, Larry. I talked to him once and he was lovely but now he won't return my calls. He did deign to return one text, when I asked what his window of availability will be to work with me. Which was nice? Should I be grateful? I know that contractors are notoriously hard to work with but if we haven't even started to work together and he's already not returning my calls... that feels ominous. Not sure what to do about that. I did reach out to the neigborhood listserves and get some recommendations... but of course they aren't from professionals like my friend. And I have a friend who is a handywoman that is coming over to look at things... not sure if it's too big of a job for her. Or if she can handle it, staying with her mom in NJ most of the time.

The one time I did get to talk to Larry, he was great. Which is part of why this is so confusing. But he told me that he wants all the materials ready before he starts, so he doesn't have to waste any time. Any supplies he has to purchase adds 10% to the cost. Fair enough. But cabinets can take a while to get made, depending on where I get them made. Both he and Talia recommended Ikea so I am going there tonight... luxuriously alone. I'll get dinner and hopefully spend time with a kitchen planner. I've already done a bunch of research so I have pamphlets of info and tons of ideas and even my laptop, in case they get show me how to use their kitchen planning tool on my own computer.

So I am very much hoping I might be able to get everything lined up for placing an order... but then possibly wait until Black Friday to pull the trigger on purchasing it. Talia recommended their appliances (apparently made by Whirlpool, who knew?) too so it could be a big purchase.

Then I have to figure out flooring... there's crappy plastic fake wood squares in the kitchen, and real wood planks in the rest of the house. And I want an extra deep bathtub for the girls' bathroom, and a frameless glass shower for my bathroom... and what do I know about ordering these things???

Talia gave me some good recommendations for some of these things but I wish I had a little hand holding from someone knowledgeable and patient.

In the past two weeks I also put 10% of the purchase price on the new place into escrow, signed the contract, and signed paperwork to list my current home. Then I also massively decluttered my apartment and moved all the excess into the downstairs apartment. The super painted the hallway, kitchen, and dining area. I need to pluck some picture hooks out of the hallway, clean off my desk and hall table, and make sure every last toy is put away and then I am ready for professional photos of my (current) apartment to be taken, hopefully early next week. Open house will be the following Sunday. Right before Thanksgiving. Not ideal timing for negotiating the best prices, holiday season, but my broker (did I mention she's also the seller of the place I am buying???) says she has a lot of folks interested because they wanted her three bedroom but didn't get it, thanks to me. So hopefully that goes well and quickly. But not so quickly that I can't get most if not all the work done on the new place!

Is anyone still reading? This sounds insane, right? Advice???

So I've been going a million miles a minute and worked all weekend on preparing my apartment for photos and open houses with adrenaline just flooding my system. Every morning I woke up in a shit panic and leapt out of bed with a new fear but with unlimited energy to attack it. And now I'm coming down off of that mania. I'm still anxious, though a bit less, but feeling incredibly spent.

I'm not doing that well with intuitive eating the last few days. I don't think my body agrees with the introduction of white flour and in particular, toasted sesame bagels with butter. But they are so good! But I'm really not enjoying my pants feeling tighter, either. Fairly discouraging. I know i am not eating consciously all of the time, though, because I've been so stressed and then I want to unplug with food. So I can't say the method isn't working, because I know I'm eating less when I eat consciously. But I can't say I was losing even when I was eating consciously at every meal. So I don't know what to do about that.

Fall Photo Shoot 2017, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Those chubby little hands slay me.

That fierce look of adoration on Amelie's face! 

the light on her hair, the joyful laugh.

she's so elegant in her tattered tutu and hand me down tutu. not sure how she possibly came from me.

mischievous twinkle in her eye.

Amazing how her camera can capture those droplets of water.

Amelie is so much more affectionate (and willing to receive affection) than a few months ago. I'm very grateful.

I'm in awe of their bond. May it last forever.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Intuitve Eating Update

In my six remaining minutes of my lunch break -- I set a timer -- I wanted to report that I am feeling really good with intuitive eating. I've been reading and listening to works by Geneen Roth and feel inspired. And peaceful.

Because of her books and also an SMC online friend who agreed to be buddies and GR groupies together, I am really forcing myself to not multitask while eating.

I set my timer for my lunch break so that I don't force myself to start working again as soon as I am full. Otherwise that's a real punishment for stopping eating! As a result, I ate my lunch slowly and peacefully... except for my mind that was going a million miles a minute. Lots of little arguments in my head with imaginary enemies. Not sure what that's about. Seems like a little anxiety is brewing.

I love the GR approach because it's more about inner work than eating. I think that maybe, just maybe, I have reached the acceptance phase of the journey, where I accept my body with all my failings. Even if I wish it was different, a little, I accept that this what it is and I wholeheartedly declare that I won't battle my body anymore. Not even to address the prediabetes (which has resolved, at least for now). My sanity is more important.

So now I am very intentionally sitting down to dessert every single night. Last night I had a Kashi oatmeal cookie and milk. I try to eat as slowly and consciously as I can to really savor the taste but it's so hard not to let my mind wander. GR talks about a reader who says "for all that I obsess about food all day long, when I am actually eating I barely taste the food." No wonder we aren't satisfied when we eat like this!

But I feel like eating consciously and slowly also feeds my soul. Which is hungry. For something. Not entirely sure for what but this conscious self care feels good.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Struggling to Get Back to Conscious, Intuitive Eating

I’ve finally restarted having my every other Friday night babysitter (who picks up C from school so I don’t have to go home first – two separate separations from the kids would never work for them).

What a difference it makes to have some time away from children! I feel positively jubilant, just walking around the city alone as darkness falls. Very much awake and alive in a way I didn’t realize I was missing. Both times, I’ve gone to see an early movie in our local independent movie house, then met a friend for dinner afterwards.

I’d like to do more things to get that alive feeling back. I’ve just started taking Vitamin D again because I feel SO tired after work. It’s like I go go go all day long and the adrenaline keeps me strong but then I get home and collapse.

I’ve been reading and listening to book by Geneen Roth. I find that I eat when I’m tired. I love the feeling of lying on the couch and reading and snacking. But then I feel bad about myself the next morning. Just a couple of days of NOT doing this and I feel a noticeable different in my body. But now I’m back to it for the last two nights and I feel a very noticeable difference in the other direction.
Geneen Roth says that compulsive eating is a result of trauma in our childhood. When we didn’t have enough love, we learned to turn to food for love. But now that we are adults, we have other tools in our toolkits. I don’t binge to the extent of getting sick, but still, I think I’m eating when what I really need is emotional nurturing and rest. I’m trying to find ways to get that rest and refilling.

My best idea so far is to just get into bed as soon as I finish cleaning the kitchen once the kids are in bed. I think I feel more tired than I feel I am “supposed” to and so it feels crazy to get into bed before 8 pm. But reading makes me feel refilled, emotionally, and if I was in bed reading then the kitchen would be that much further away and I could just go to sleep if I felt sleepy. Right now, being sleepy makes me feel hungry.

I want to have a rule that I only eat at the kitchen table and only without reading (or watching) but that feels so hard sometimes and I don’t want to feel like I am punishing myself. I think healing has to come from a kind and gentle, non-punitive place. But on the other hand, those couple of days when I didn’t snack, I felt so good about myself. But last night was a bad night for it. I snacked too much and felt bad about myself and then stayed up even later in a self destructive way as a result.

Anyone else struggle with this?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Struggling to Find Equilibrium

We're about a month into the school year and I am still struggling to find my balance.

On the one hand, I'm enjoying my job more than I had remembered. That's a welcome surprise. I think the summer off really helped in that regard.

But the pace is really intense. Mostly because of the excessive amount of documentation that is healthcare today. If I don't do all my documentation as I see each patient, it takes me twice as long later on because I have to work a lot harder later to remember what I did. But I feel guilty keeping my young patients waiting while I do all the documenting... so I race through the documentation as fast as I can. Which makes me much more efficient but is exhausting, day in and day out. racing as fast as I can. I feel like I have adrenaline pumping all day long, except for a very welcome half hour lunch break.

The problem is when I get home... I'm suddenly exhausted. I feel bad not having more energy for my own children. Just getting the dishes done when they are finally in bed (those last fifteen minutes with them are endless) is so daunting. The prospect of doing any more than that is impossible.

Luckily I am a bit more energetic in the mornings and am managing to limp through my workouts, half assed though they may be.

I no longer have the drive, suddenly, to severely limit my sweets and eliminate gluten/processed starches. It just feels like life is too short to think about food so much. Perhaps because of that, or perhaps because of the Mirena I got 9 months ago (only to lighten or eliminate periods, nothing more), I've put on a few pounds. Which does not feel all that good. But I just don't have the energy to battle food so much anymore.

Last night I had a sitter and went out after work. My first night off from the kids since mid-August, I think. It was amazing. Walking around Cobble Hill and Park Slope by myself made me feel suddenly alive again. I went to a movie all by myself -- heavenly -- and then met a friend for dinner. I was worried I'd be too boring to make it through the meal but we had a lovely time and it was so nice to eat a restaurant meal again.

This morning I woke up annoyed to have constant company in the form of my toddler. Who had gotten into nail polish last night while I was out and painted the couch, the living room, and the hardwood floor in my bedroom. I just ordered a new rug for the living room to the tune of several hundred dollars. And then she jumped on me and her tooth somehow sliced down behind my thumb nail. The blood that collected under my nail led to awful throbbing pain. I was experimenting with heating a paper clip over the stove to "melt" a hole in my nail to drain the blood but that was shockingly hot -- a definite no-go. Luckily I was able to trim the nail enough, to my surprise, to drain the blood and it feels enormously better now. Improving my mood slightly.

So that's my life right now in a nutshell. Struggling to find equilibrium. But glad to be in Brooklyn,

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Summer 2017: Vermont photos

The gang of four on the steps of our Vermont mountain house

Everybody dressed up for Topsy Turvy Tuesday at camp

Visiting the Vermont Farm Museum on yet another perfectly gorgeous summer day

Our morning visit to the pigs at camp. Just before Amelie starts screaming as I carry her, kicking, away from camp for the day.

Leo and Amy snuggle on the deck with the amazing view.

Camp Mommy for the toddlers often consisted of swimming at the boat landing across the lake from the girls' camp

No filter. Is there a more beautiful place than my beloved camp?
that's the old hand powered Ferris wheel in the background.

One of the two times we saw double rainbows in our two weeks in Vermont

Discovering the magic that is Maple Creemees aka (real) maple syrup flavored soft serve.
(No, I didn't invent the spelling)



Practicing for the overnight

Laughing hysterically as we sing along to Sugar at the top of our lungs

Hiking the AT with the babies

Packed and ready for the overnight

Backpacking Mommies

Play time at stream by White Cottage snack bar

Summer 2017 Round Up

All in all, we had a wonderful summer. The best part of it was finding out that I had gotten my job back. I didn't realize how much stress I was carrying until this burden was suddenly gone.

As much fun as an adventure in Mexico would probably be, I'm a creature of habit and I love our life here. I would probably take the leap if not for the fact that I couldn't get this job (in my daughters' school) once I left it. Plus, after a summer off, I'm like my job again. Yay. It's fun and challenging and rewarding. And not crazy busy yet. My feelings may change back once I get swamped again. I'm searching for ways to control the pace a bit better. No real resolution yet, except for the bright idea of not trying to get as many things done for myself between patients. That might slow the pace a bit.

I'm exceedingly grateful to my job right now, in any case, for allowing me to have these magical summers off. This one was practically perfect. Here's an overview of our adventures:

  • two weeks in Vermont (I skipped the final week of school, only 1.5 days with students in the building, to give me one of these weeks off). Calliope and her friend Eleanor went to my former summer camp, an incredible Quaker community. It was wonderful to see some old friends there on staff and as parents of current campers. We stayed after camp almost every day to go swimming in the magical lake there. Slightly less magical on weekends when the horrid Canadian Geese overtook the place. Yuck.

    They loved it and the toddlers loved seeing the pigs and ducks every day (but Amelie decidedly did NOT like being forced to leave with the Mommies each day). Calliope successfully stayed the whole night for the overnight at the end! I was very proud (and surprised, especially when Eleanor opted to come home at bedtime, that C stayed).

    We shared a beautiful house on a mountaintop and appreciated the view and especially the sunset each day. The noise of having the living room on the top floor (not ideal for my napping toddler) and the general mayhem of four children in one house for two weeks was challenging for us at times -- I have a really hard time with noise (so does C sometimes) and my children are usually not loud so it was a big change for me -- but we survived. Next time I think we should have some planned separations but overall it was great.
  • two weeks back home again. I can't actually remember much of what we did. We saw some friends and went to playgrounds almost daily and visited the beach once. I love the beach and always wonder why I don't go more often but then I spend five hours cleaning sand out of everything we own and then I remember. It's always amazing to me that there are gorgeous beaches within 30 minutes of us in Brooklyn.

    I think I also spent a LOT of time cleaning up and organizing the apartment and running errands. It's really hard for me to do a lot beyond the day to day during the school year becuase I just get so tired and I'm so busy and there's so much to do just to keep up. So this was satisfying. And exhausting. I did a lot!
  • Ten days in Mexico! We flew to Mexico City, spent a night there, and then rode with a driver to San Miguel de Allende along with Jackie, fellow SMC, and her two kids, ages 6 and almost 4. We stayed in the same gated community on the outskirts of town but had our own tiny apartments which worked out well. And the community had a lovely heated pool (with shallow area for toddlers) and hot tub so the children were in heaven.

    SMA was beautiful and the people were lovely. What a warm and child loving culture! It was hard to see much in a day with so many children but we did our best and had a lovely time. I'm fantasizing about going back next summer and putting the children into day camp there for a truly immersive experience. There's a circus camp that looks amazing.
  • A week back home. It had been scheduled to be a week of cabin camping with our SMC friends Jen and Luna but I realized it was too much after the last minute Mexico trip. So we bailed on that and had a nice week at home to recover from our travels. Our friends were mostly away so we were on our own and that was nice (and rare for us) for us to bond as a family.
  • Two weeks of Spanish immersion camp in Brooklyn. Both kids went (along with their besties Eleanor and Leo) and I shadowed a pediatrician for the first week. It was a rough transition for Amelie but by the second week she was waving cheerfully goodbye and having a great time. The second week I had to myself -- the first time since I gave birth six years ago! I had a doctor's appointment and got some things done but also spent some delicious time reading on the couch. What a treat! And it was neat to see the kids speaking a bit more Spanish.
  • One final week off which was bookended with a weekend to the Hamptons to see the honorary grandparents on one end and my niece's bat mitzvah in Rhode Island at the other. The girls got spoiled and doted on and it was lovely. Amelie is completely in love with my brother and calls him Daddy. Well, she calls all men Daddy, mostly, but she wanted his constant love and attention. She also loved attention from all the relatives, and all the teenage girls, and the DJ at the bat mitzvah party... basically, she was the life of the party.
  • Now just ten more months until I can do it again! Time to start fantastizing.