Sunday, September 30, 2012

Rip 60: End of "Week Two"? And Juggling Weekend Priorities

It's actually been about five weeks since I've started Rip 60. I was feeling more confident with "week 2" so yesterday I decided to try "week 3" (I put them in quotes since I am spending more than a week on each "week" DVD.)

Oh. My. God.

It was so hard I wanted to cry.

For week 2, there's times you go into a "plank" position (with straight arms), only instead of your feet on the floor, your feet are suspended in nylon webbing straps, held at about knee height. You might think this would make plank easier, since you don't have to hold up your feet... but you would be wrong. It's pretty hard.

So for week 3, you do this same straight arm, feet suspended plank... only now you are supposed to also move back and forth, bringing your knees in towards your abdomen so that your butt gets stuck way up in the air.

At the moment, this is nearly impossible for me.

I also stayed up too late last night, not related to the workout, but the combined result of it being so hard I wanted to cry PLUS being sleep deprived conspired to keep me from working out today.

I felt bad about it because apart from this, I've been doing really well with working out five days a week.

But I think it's important to listen to my body, first and foremost, so no workout today.

As far as my weight goes, the workouts definitely impact my appetite positively. I'm wanting smaller portions nowadays. However, I think to really lose weight consistently, I need to do better about a) avoiding wheat and processed carbohydrate (but not avoiding all carbohydrate -- this just makes me insatiably hungry), and b) eating more fat, surprising as that sounds, because it enables me to gauge the appropriate amount of carbohydrate that I need.

My energy has also been a little hit or miss because, I think, I'm over scheduling my weekends. I keep trying to do less, but then there's always things I can't bear to say no to, usually things involving meeting up with friends.

We typically go out early every Saturday and Sunday morning to meet friends at the playground before morning naps. I adore this time, watching Calliope climb and slide (girlfriend totally mastered the slide today... she can now back up to it and slide down on her belly unassisted.... yee haw!) and generally work her body tired while I yammer with friends. However, it brings a certain amount of stress to the day, only just begun, to try to get out and back before nap. And her nap lately is late enough as a result of these trips (and my ability to keep track of time) that she hasn't been taking a second nap most weekend days.

Which is a whole other thing. Can we just give up the two nap a day schedule already? It would make life a lot simpler. But I'm paranoid about depriving her developing brain from essential rest, a la Nurture Shock. Plus the nanny doesn't think she and Eleanor are ready yet. But lately with me on weekend days, Calliope has only taken one nap and she seemed just fine to me. Not cranky in the late afternoon.

She's been sleeping close to 13 hours many nights, and that's fine for me as well. Only I don't like it when I have to wake her up in the mornings to nurse her before I go to work. But the nanny doesn't want her to sleep later than 7 because it throws off her nap schedule and that's hard, trying to coordinate the two babies.

Anyway, yesterday we went to the playground, then came home for her nap and my workout, then went to see a SMC friend and her new baby, then came home for a second nap, then my cousin came over to hang out. Today, we had playground/farmer's market/bagel shop, then nap while I got ready for and hosted a brunch for summer camp friends (Calliope finally woke up near the end of the brunch), then cleaned up while Calliope ate, then went to the playground with a friend and her daughter in the building, then came home and Calliope played in her crib (when she was supposed to nap) and I actually did nap for a bit. Then we took a bath together and she had dinner while I did a little cooking and dodged food as it was thrown.

I need a little more time to just chill, never mind time to get things done around the house. My camera charger is missing and I have had no time to do a thorough search. I've yet to finish cleaning off the hall table since we moved in. Big framed photos got hung on Wednesday, a school holiday, with help from a friend, but I still need to organize my closets and order a medicine cabinet for the back of my bathroom door. And a multitude of other small household projects. I don't want to relax too much about these or they will never get done.

Any advice on how to juggle it all? What do you say no to?

(And an exciting thing... today I pulled all of Calliope's six month onesies out of the drawer. It's exciting because I am so damn sick of looking at them! They are officially snug now and so at last I am banishing them. I ordered her some new things from Carters because I can't seem to locate any of her hand me downs that aren't enormous. The order includes a bunch of socks because girlfriend is still wearing 0-6 month socks and they are about to slide right off her feet.)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

New Bras and Old Boyfriends

I gathered up my courage/motivation and took Calliope on the bus to Park Slope today.

I had hoped we could ride there on our first-even Brooklyn bike ride, now that I have my bike back from MA and it now has a baby seat... but I realized I had no clue where the bike lock was. Finding that in my new apartment (where several others helped me unpack) is the type of chore that can derail me for sure.

So we took the stroller and the bus.

For the first time ever, Calliope was a disaster on the bus. The ripe smell of eau du diaper did nothing to enhance our prestige as she screamed. Finally she gave up her protests (I wouldn't let her crawl around on the floor of a moving NYC public bus, cruel mother that I am). Then we got to the nursing bra store... only to find out that the store owner wasn't there! And I had called first to confirm she would be there! Her employee kindly offered to call first after, speechless, I spluttered, "But I called first! And I just came all the way from Kensington! On the bus! With a dirty diaper!"

We hung out on the floor of the store and Calliope ate some dinner while we waited. Good thing I brought her food. Then I got measured for my bras, once the woman arrived, breathless, on her bike.

Holy moly, I'm back to my pre-pregnancy size! Even though I'm still nursing! I'm a "mere" D cup now, as opposed to a "G" for ginormous! (Sorry if anyone is normally a G and I offend... it was just THREE cup sizes more than I was used to, and it happened overnight!)

I'm curious if that means I will be even smaller once she weans? Time will tell. It's certainly not keeping me up at night. Not like anyone will be seeing them anytime soon. Apart from Calliope, who eyes my breasts with lascivious delight. It's like, once revealed, she's riveted and can't take her eyes off them.

It's funny, if she asks for food, I say okay, and we go into the kitchen, I put her in the highchair, strap on the bib, go to the refrigerator, etc. She waits patiently through multiple steps, in other words, without complaint.

But nursing! I sit in the chair that we nurse in, and she could be playing happily on the floor, but then she turns and sees me in the chair and she's instantly crying impatiently, "neh neh neh neh." Even though I'm already there and already ready! It's funny how she can go from not thinking about it to "oh my god, woman, how long must you make me wait???"

{Absolutely no transition to a new topic}

Earlier today, we had brunch with my ex-boyfriend, Tom. He was the one that suggested getting together. The last time I saw him was about a month before Calliope was born, so a little more than a year ago. A few weeks ago, he suddenly replied to my emailed birth announcement. Which seemed funny and strange. A year ago I had a baby, and you are only NOW responding?

Anyway, we had brunch today. It was nice. I was a lot less guarded than the last time I saw him.

See, we had been dating, everything going along swimmingly for about six months. And then, out of the blue, he broke up with me. Prior to about two weeks before the break up, things had been great. The last two weeks, he just seemed strange and distant. So I had a little warning, but not much.

In his breakup speech, he told me, "I just feel like I'm not being honest with you, that the relationship can't keep going in this direction. There's nothing wrong, it's just that something is missing. But I think you're awesome! I've never wanted to stay friends with an ex before, but I'd really like it if we stayed friends."

My stony response was, "yeah, I'll have to think about that."

Internally, I thought, why would I want to be friends with you? I have plenty of friends.

A few months later, in therapy as a way to prepare for becoming an SMC, a sort of mental cleaning house, I contacted Tom via email to ask him if he could better explain what went wrong.

He could not.

At some point, I stopped caring. I was happily pregnant. We exchanged casual, friendly emails every few months, mostly initiated by him. As time passed, I could see that it had been hard for him that I was better educated than him, much better employed, more stable in my life, more affluent. And frankly, significantly smarter. And that, yes, I had been happy with him, but maybe it was because it was a shallow relationship, that I had been content if it wasn't perfect and deep on every level? Maybe I had been willing to make [too many] compromises because of my then-ticking biological clock?

Who knows.

We had lunch one sweltering day last summer and it felt awkward. I was very guarded. I figured I wouldn't see him again.

Until he proposed we get together again, fourteen months later.

And it was great. We have a good time together. We make each other laugh. It was relaxed and easy. Well, apart from me having to chase Calliope down a few times. Mostly I let her play in a tree pit (we were sitting in the backyard of a restaurant) and took the attitude of, they say it takes a village so please, watch your step and don't step on my kid, 'kay?

I don't feel any impulse to jump into bed with him or anything like that. But I do feel like we still connect. So it's a little confusing. Part of me wonders if, now that I'm already a mom and not looking for a co-parent, he's wondering about more. I don't think so, though.

It worries me a little that I think it would be easy for me to slide into wanting more, just because we have fun together. And I never really saw us having issues to begin with.

Of course, I may not hear from him again for another year. I doubt that, though. Probably a few months?

It's all very strange to me that I'm even having these thoughts because I'm not looking to date. I don't miss sex (this is deeply shocking me). I don't wish I had to juggle someone else's needs. I like being my independent self. I like devoting most of my free time to my child, who will only be small for such a short time. I love not having any drama in my life. (Apart from apartment drama, anyway.) My plan was to stay single until Baby Number Two is on the scene and well established.

And I do think that he's not looking for more. He doesn't strike me as the type of person to reconsider this type of decision. So I'm pretty confused about why I'm even thinking about this. Being happy as a single mother plus a guy who clearly isn't interested... why would I dwell on this for a moment?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Feeling a Bit Better

Thank you for all the lovely support. It was hugely gratifying and comforting to receive. It made me feel loved and supported.

I'm feeling a bit better today. Like I've moved past the worst of the crisis.

My nanny share partner also feels like I don't need to feel quite so guilty and responsible. That both me and the nanny made mistakes in judgement, it appears. We both agree that I have more life experience, so perhaps it's more my fault, but not 100%.

And she also pointed out that one way or another, Nastya will be okay. She will have a place to live.

Nastya said today that she and her new husband may move in with his parents in Staten Island.

Amy raised the interesting point... what were they planning to do before my apartment popped up?

Surely nothing about me and this situation is forcing them to move in with his parents.

So that made me feel better.

She also doesn't think that Nastya will quit because of this. She thinks that it's not so easy for nannies to get jobs these days.

I don't know if that's true or not but it's a relief that she thinks so. Especially because I was also feeling guilty for putting Amy in the middle of this... that she, too, would lose her nanny if worst came to worst.

But Amy seems unconcerned, so I am drawing comfort in that.

In unrelated but cheering news, Calliope is suddenly standing several seconds on her own, unsupported. Occasionally without her realizing it. Exciting!

She also suddenly feels heavy. A lot more so.

I got out her twelve month clothes today. Her pants are still too big but not so big that they won't stay on. Yay! Any day now her six month onesies will be retired. Thank god. I'm so sick of looking at them.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Feeling Like an A**hole

So this is a little bit complicated, but please stay with me. I could use a little... something. Support, I guess.

Before I moved, I rented an apartment in Brooklyn. My lease started in February, but obviously I couldn't try to close on my new apartment on any given day or even month... it was hard enough to close as it was. So I just didn't worry about the apartment.

Once I finally had my closing, I started to think about the apartment. I wanted to avoid breaking the lease if at all possible because that could conceivably cost me thousands.

The last time I left an apartment before the lease was up, I went to talk to the super to let him know my plans. His response was, "Are you crazy? Why would you tell the management company that you are leaving? Just find someone to sublet! They will never know. I will certainly never tell them."

I slipped him a tip before I left and all was well. Management was none the wiser.

The move before that, I lived in a brownstone and was friendly with the owner. I was moving because I lost my job when our funding was cut. I thought he would be sympathetic, and I guess he sort of was... he only charged me my one month deposit, instead of one month's rent and the deposit for breaking my lease. Lucky me.

So this time around, dealing with a nameless management company once again, I figured I would just make a handshake deal with the super, just like my last move.

I mentioned that I was planning to sublet to my nanny, when to my surprise, my nanny mentioned that she and her brand new husband were interested in the apartment. He came to see it the next day and was enthusiastic.

It took a few days to track down the super but eventually Nastya located him and gave him my "thanks for all your help" note with $100 tucked inside. He came upstairs and she explained to him, in Russian, that she wanted to stay there with her husband until the lease expired. Then they would get a new lease.

Please keep in mind that I gave him the $100 as a gift before we discussed any of this. I also gave him a $250 tip last Christmas. The tip was not contingent on him agreeing.

Well, he had a huge grin on his face and said, "yes, yes, of course. No problem. Keep the apartment past February, if you want! That will keep the rent down. Just between us! No problem!"

Since I've never seen anyone from the management company, I wasn't worried.

I bet you know where this is headed.

A few days after they moved in, the super came to see them at 9:30 at night and told them they needed to call the management company at 9:30 the next morning or "the marshall" would come and evict them.


I called management the next morning at the appointed time and the person I needed to speak to wasn't even there!

He called me back several hours later and was brusque and unfriendly.

I explained that I had needed more space and had moved one block away, but that my nanny was staying there with her husband, and that my nanny was babysitting my daughter there during the day (this part was not true).

He countered that the super said he had "never seen this woman before." And that I needed to vacate the apartment. And that they were welcome to apply for a new lease. And that I needed to email him the date that the apartment would be empty.


First I emailed and said it would be empty that day, thinking that the sooner I was out, the sooner Nastya and her husband could move back in.

But on reflection, I realized that that might leave them needing to move their stuff that day. I was hoping they could go and apply for the apartment and, once accepted, "move in" without actually ever moving their stuff out. Despite the fact that the super lied about not knowing her, I figured he was the one doing the apartment inspection and at least he could let them leave their belongings there.

So I emailed back and said, "on second thought, I will vacate the apartment on September 30th. My nanny would like to fill out an application for a lease."

He wrote back and said that was fine.

And then the super approached Nastya on his own and "generously" told her she could stay in the apartment through the end of this month (September).

Two days ago, Nastya's mother in law returned from a trip to Russia. She explained to Nastya, and subsequently to me, that we didn't have to go through with this. She used to be in the real estate business and she said that if I tell them I've living there, they can't prove me wrong. I could say that I only go there at 2 am, and they have no way to prove I'm lying. And that I'm entitled to have my friends be there when they want to. (My lease says that management must be informed in writing if anyone outside of immediate family is living there.) She said that as long as they deposit my checks, they will never take me to court because it's not in their best [financial] interest... and that it could take years to evict me even if I didn't pay my rent. And I'm not contemplating not paying the rent! As long as I'm paying, they can't do anything about other people being in the apartment. And that it's not against the law to have more than one apartment.

We talked a long time, and finally I agreed that it didn't seem they would have a legal leg to stand on. They might know I wasn't truly living there, but they couldn't prove it. And as long as they were getting regular rent checks, why would they bother with the expense of trying to prove wrongdoing, presumably in court?

So that night, I wrote management an email saying that I was planning to stay in the apartment after all.

Within a few minutes, I received a response, "I will start legal action against you because you have another apt and there are other people living in the apt. if I have to start action you will be responsible for all legal costs and it will affect you [sic] credit .

I guess I should mention that I received an email from Experian on the very day this drama all started, saying that there was something on my credit report, so I don't know why he's threatening me with this now, given that he's already done it. (I hope to contact the credit bureau and contest it, but won't bother until this is all sorted out.)

Anyway, the sheer ugliness of this hit me like a blow.

I don't want to throw away, potentially, thousands of dollars on breaking a lease. But neither do I want to live with the threat of legal action hanging over me.

But now I've brought my beloved nanny into this sordid mess.

She and her brand new husband (married one month) have wavered on their plans. At first, they were so angry at the super for lying that they planned to move out. But seemed unhappy when I tried to coordinate other folks seeing the apartment. Then they decided they loved the apartment, and would stay anyway, but would apply for the lease. Only it turns out they have no credit history, so they would have to use one of his parents as a guarantor, so were nervous about that.

Today, Nastya tells me they have been looking online all along for apartments but haven't found anything.


What? I thought they wanted to stay, but meanwhile, they've secretly been looking for other places.

And now, when I tell Nastya that I think they should just apply officially, she says that her mother in law says they won't be accepted because they were illegally subletting.

I suggest they not tell management that they were the ones in the apartment. After all, management has no clue who is actually there... they never set foot on property.

She agrees. But says they will look for other places this weekend. And if they don't find anything, they will apply for my place on Monday.

I suggest that they apply for my place on Saturday and look for other places at the same time... no point in delaying. And it only increases their options. And offer to send any leads I see for other apartments in the meantime.

She agrees.

What the f*ck have I done?

More than the thought of losing thousands of dollars (which I can afford in the sense that we won't go hungry, but may mean I don't put anything into the retirement fund this year), the terrifying thought that we could lose our beloved nanny is on my mind.

Yet I can't game the legal system, even for her.

Oh, how I regret what I've done.

I called her up and she didn't answer, so I imagined the worst, of course. That she's angry at me and considering leaving.

But she called me back a little while later and I offered up a completely jumbled apology, "I'm so sorry... never meant to put you in this position... never imagined... I mean, the last super told me I would be crazy to NOT sublet... but now I've put you in the middle... and you're so important to our lives... but I can't spend every day afraid to answer the phone... and I can't lie in court... It's just me and Calliope... I can't be stressed all the time I'm with her... afraid to answer the phone for months on end. "

Thankfully, she took pity on me, and said, "Abby, don't worry."


The thought that we could lose her is terrifying.

Not that her assurance guarantees that we won't. Reading the SMC Forum yesterday, an SMC shared that her also-beloved nanny disappeared practically without warning. And like countless mothers before her, she never thought that would happen with her nanny. I would never think my nanny could do that... if not for knowing that it has happened to so many others.

But I feel like her saying not to worry means that she's not so upset that she's imagining going anywhere at the moment.

So I offered to pay the difference in the rent, from what I had to paying to what they would be paying with a new lease, which management said would be $100 more per month, until February, when I would've started a new lease.

I don't know if that's enough. I thought it was generous.

I just don't know what the right thing to do is anymore.

And to top it all off, I yelled at my baby tonight. For the first time, really, except once in her first month of life, when she wouldn't sleep (before I discovered the whole sleep-begets-sleep, don't-keep-her-awake-for-more-than-an-hour thing). When she couldn't understand.

Now granted she had just thrown her spoon for the umpteenth time. She had been worse than usual with throwing tonight.

However, she's also snotty and exhausted. She skipped her morning nap today for no discernible reason. This is the first time she's skipped it. And she has a constantly running nose. And looked peaked and wan and tired.

But about the sixth time, thinking about the situation with Nastya, I actually shouted at her.

She burst into tears.

Of course I relented, then, and gathered her broccoli-covered face between my hands and kissed it repeatedly. When that didn't help, I took her out of her highchair and cuddled her in my lap. Then she stopped crying.

So one more reason I feel like a huge a**hole tonight.

I'm really hating myself right now. Or rather, I'm really angry at myself right now. And I don't know how to fix this.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thirteen Months

Conquering the bridge
Having a hoe-down with Eleanor, complete with pajamas and beloved doggies

Eleanor and Calliope did NOT call each other to coordinate outfits.
Great minds just think alike, you know? 

I wished I remembered to include her age in blog post titles more often! It would make it easier when I go back and look for details, for example, to put in her still-unfinished baby book.

Anyway, here's what's new with Calliope lately.

She independently spoon fed herself for the first time tonight! Very exciting as she has had a great deal of trepidation in feeding herself -- she didn't like to touch food. But she is suddenly embracing the messiness of learning to feed herself.

I got a rather hilarious video of her joyfully squishing hummus between her fingers before licking it off yesterday. This was the first time she had done this, either. But using a spoon is even more useful.

Although we haven't been back the doctor yet for a weight check, she has continued to enjoy food since exactly her first birthday, and I've no doubt that she has gained some weight -- she looks and feels much more substantial.

She is quite the adventurer. Yesterday we went to Rosh Hashanah services -- my first time since high school, I believe. It was a children's service, but still, I was worried about her being a disturbance as she crawled, with straight legs and tushy up (only in a short dress and diaper cover, so lots of squishy baby thigh exposed), down the aisle, up the three steps and onto the bimah, aka the stage. There she contented herself with grabbing the water bottle of the woman leading the service and shaking it joyfully.

She loves to climb. She had a wonderful time playing at the playground with our SMC friend's little boy Jack, one month older but ever so much more physically advanced. No matter. She crawled happily after him, back and forth across a little wooden bridge and up and down three steps.

She signed "change me" yesterday when she had a dirty diaper! She has heard, many times, a song about this, and I've shown her a video of the song as well, but I didn't know she understood the concept. But when she made the unmistakable "change me" sign yesterday, I asked quizically, "you need a new diaper?" and she patted her belly confidently (her version of the "diaper" sign). Off we went and sure enough, she was right! She did need a new diaper. She now signs "food" when she's hungry, occasionally even without being asked, and is maybe signing water as well.

She uses the potty well for the nanny, perhaps because Eleanor goes at the same time. With me, however, it is hit or miss. Twice in the last three days she has crawled off the potty and immediately gone on the bathroom floor. Oh well, at least it was easy clean up.

She started blowing kisses with confidence last week... only instead of putting her hand to her mouth to kiss it, she pats her cheek. But it's unmistakable nonetheless.

She also loves to give kisses... she opens her mouth into an "o" and growls when she wants to give a kiss. What is more enticing than an open mouthed baby, leaning towards you and growling, I ask you?

She isn't showing any signs of walking, though the nanny said that when Calliope was wearing patent leather shoes (for a few minutes yesterday, for the religious service), she stood for a few seconds independently. I keep her barefoot or in soft mocasins, and haven't seen her stand for more than a moment. But she sure does love to crawl, speedily, everywhere. Today she escaped out the apartment door and into the hallway of the building while I gathered up cardboard.

We showered together tonight, and while she's done it before, tonight was the first time she definitely enjoyed it. She kept pushing her hands into the spray and laughing.

Instead of emptying the box of Kleenex, she now takes one and if I say, "wipe your nose," she attempts to do so. Only she often wipes dutifully at her cheek, and then her mouth, before she finds her nose.

She's also getting very good at wearing me out. She has figured out how to remove files from my rolling file rack. I may have to find a new place to put this. She found the stepladder out while I was doing house projects and started to climb up it. If I leave her with her piece of used Kleenex, she will still happily shred it.

Our friend Ian came over this weekend and did more house projects. Hooray for my village! He assembled a bookcase for Calliope's room so that now she can unshelve all the books in her room instead of in the living room. A great feature of our new apartment is that there is a narrow hallways outside our bedrooms which is perfect for a baby gate just outside her door. So that her door still opens and shuts with the baby gate in place. So she can unshelve to her heart's content while I dash around getting things done.

Ian also bolted her dresser to the wall as well as the securing the bookcase so that's one less thing to worry about.

As far as me... well, I'm tired sometimes. But I've gone up to Level 2, aka Week 2, on Rip 60. Today I did it mid-day instead of early in the morning, and I tell you, it's amazing what nine hours of sleep (because I stayed in bed until Calliope woke up instead of working out early) plus being fully awake can do for your workout!

I can tell that holiday sweets are impacting my energy as well as my physique but I refuse to get bogged down in the negative. It's two steps forward, one step back, like anything else worth having in life. I continue to slowly get stronger, which is exciting! Now that my core is stronger, I'm able to work my arms more in my workout and thus, actually get more sore. Strangely thrilling to have sore shoulder muscles!

Look who's not scared of her bike anymore!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Adjusting to All the Changes

I'm quickly, I guess, adjusting to all the changes in my life.

It's hard to remember that I only moved three weeks ago. And went back to work two weeks ago. And went camping in Vermont last weekend.

Oh, and started a new fitness regimen three weeks ago as well.

Which is probably why I feel tired.

Also, yesterday, I couldn't resist and ate a bagel with brunch.

Does anyone else feel absolutely awful when they eat a bagel? I love them, and hadn't indulged for a while, so I tried to just eat an eighth, but I was starving, and kept eating more (sharing with Calliope) until we had finished the whole thing. And then I felt wretched for the rest of the day. Exhausted and also insanely thirsty.

For the longest time, I thought maybe I was gluten intolerant. But actually, I think I am just simple-carbs intolerant?

My cousin, who is skinny as a rail, just told me the same thing happens to her, so I guess it's not PCOS (or whatever it is I have) related, just a screwy metabolism thing? She thinks it's age related.

So does that mean that Calliope won't feel really tired if I feed her a bunch of simple carbs?

And now I'm really mad at myself because due to meeting up with a friend who was much later than predicted, and then really pressured me to hang out outside for a while because she had spent her morning running errands... Calliope went down for her nap more than two hours late. And now, at 4:30 pm, is playing in her crib and not sleeping. On the other hand, she's not crying. So maybe I don't worry about it. But I try to be really protective of her sleep, as much as I can. And she always takes an afternoon nap (the morning nap was extra long today, more than two hours, but she was acting tired two hours ago, back when it was her regular nap time.)  Also, we had possible dinner plans. But I think we are probably both too tired for that.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Blog Name?

Two of you have suggested that I change the title of my blog... and I think this is a brilliant suggestion! And I've spent some time trying to figure out exactly HOW to do so... and I still haven't a clue!

So please, if anyone knows how, clue me in!

Edited to add:

thanks Isis for the advice! It worked! My blog is no longer "True Confessions of a Single Mama to Be."

I'm going to leave the post up, though, in case anyone else wants to change their blog name.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Work is Love Made Visible

This quote is carved and hung on a giant plaque on the wall of one of the main buildings at the group of summer camps, called Farm and Wilderness, where I have spent many of my summers, first as a camper, then as a counselor, and two summers ago, as a nurse. This past weekend, I went back for a 70th year reunion at the girls' camp, Indian Brook, where I spent all but two of my F&W summers.

I was very anxious about the logistics of getting and being there with a baby, and indeed, it was exhausting and stressful at times. Calliope wailed when I left her with anyone for even a moment, and it was often unsafe to put her down to crawl. Our suitcase was delayed in Boston while we, unknowingly, flew on to Vermont, and didn't arrive until three hours past when I needed to put her down to sleep (in the meantime, I kept her up because her PeaPod tent was in the suitcase, and my friend with the travel crib hadn't arrived, so I had nowhere safe to put her).

Still, it was magical to be there. One of the women who organized the event said, beautifully, "this isn't an anniversary of years (like when colleges have a 5th/10th/15th/20th reunion) but an anniversary of place."

"Circling up" before a meal to hear announcements, sing a beautiful round 
of "the hills and their glorious heights", and stand in a moment of silence
before eating. I have known the women on either side of me, plus my dear
friend Katie, two to my left, for nearly thirty years!

Blurry and disheveled but happy! Calliope
was thrilled to be exploring without restraint
and I was pleased she was in a spot where she
couldn't fall

I just love that. So even women who came from several decades ago and perhaps didn't know anyone still felt at home, because it was about being in that magical spot on the planet where we all feel the same sentiment... home.

This camp changed my life. I believe it changed the lives of every woman who journeyed back. It's a place about acceptance, and peace, and abundant hugs, and joy and power in being female. We are a totally "unplugged" community, with no recorded music or screens of any kind (electronic or the kind that go in windows -- our windows and doors are built to be open to the air). There is lots and lots of singing.

Being surrounded by this wonderful community filled me with joy. I loved catching up with old friends, and trudging up forever familiar trails through the woods with Calliope strapped to my front, and holding hands around the circle as we sang grace before meals. Evenings were wonderful; while Calliope slept, I sang and chatted and played. It reminded me that it's important to get back to being me, and not just Calliope's mother.

Since we returned to Brooklyn, I've looked into joining a "memoir's only book club," though I haven't decided yet if I will go, because paying for babysitting so I can journey into Manhattan for a book club with strangers is quite a commitment  not to mention a lot of time away from my girl during her waking hours, now that I am back at work. But I'm thinking about it. The idea of doing something for me, only me, that's not work and not productive is so enticing.

I've also organized the first meeting of what I hope will become monthly Indian Brook of Brooklyn brunches, hopefully also including a few minutes of Silent Meeting. Farm and Wilderness is a Quaker-style camp, with Silent Meeting every day but no religion beyond a respect for the Life of the Spirit -- there is no talk of God or Jesus. Sitting in silence with friends can be magical. I hope we can make this happen.

Farm and Wilderness is all about "work is love made visible." All the campers and counselors do the work of running the camp themselves. Campers rotate dishwashing and pot scrubbing duty. Campers work in the kitchens, and help to build cabins. Campers feed and water the animals as well as weed the garden and harvest the chickens. In doing this work, they learn so much about themselves.

And where is "work is love made visible" more obvious than in the work of parenting???

I always struggle with the phrase tossed casually around, "parenting is a lot of work," because thus far, I can't really describe it as work. I mean, it's work in that it's the opposite of lying on the couch and watching movies, true. But mostly, I feel it's a joy and a privilege to care for Calliope. To change her diapers, to cook for her, to read stories to her while she sits on her little potty, to snuggle her against me as we nurse before bed. (Okay, picking up her thrown food off the floor does seem like work when it's the fifth time in one evening.)

This morning I thought about "work is love made visible" as I worked out. I used this as my mantra while trying to hold a plank pose for one minute (and succeeded!). I decided that just as it's true as I care for my child, it is also true when I put the work into myself. I am deserving of that same love that I pour into Calliope. So it felt good to remind myself when I was struggling through that workout... pushing myself is showing love and respect to myself.

I decided that I will move up to Week 2 of Rip 60 tomorrow (thanks Claire for encouraging me to share my progress!). Tomorrow's workout will also be the first time that I do Rip 60 two consecutive days. My cousin, who is a workout fanatic, told me that it's okay if my burpees still need work. In his words, "burpees are about suffering." So as long as I'm suffering while I'm doing them, I'm fine, even if I'm not doing full burpees just yet. I'm definitely still suffering while I do them! Today I did 11 of them. Half assed, but still.

My body is definitely changing for the better. I've also been trying for a while to eat a high fat, low carb, moderate protein diet which has helped as well (though in today's world, it's hard to do... try explaining to your health conscious friends and family why you only eat whole fat yogurt, and pour heavy cream into your iced coffee!). But my appetite seems to be dying down a bit, for which I am grateful. I wonder if this also has something to do with Calliope eating more food. While she still nurses twice a day during the week, plus I pump once, I wonder if my body knows that she is no longer solely dependent on me for sustenance, and thus, my body is willing to abandon the ravenous appetite of the first months of her life. Whatever the reason, I am grateful!

Oooh! And my period started today... and it's only been a month since the last one! I can't remember the last time that happened without medical manipulation. So this also makes me wonder if hormonally, things are getting back in order. Hard to say if it's food or exercise or Metformin (though I've been taking it for six months now) or the hormonal changes of nursing a one year old versus a little baby... but it's exciting, nonetheless. Maybe sometime soon I won't have to pluck errant hairs off my chin! Here's hoping.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A New Beginning?

I think I've written recently about how much I disliked my first months back at work after having Calliope.

Nothing was really wrong, I just felt tired and unmotivated all the time.

And I didn't like that about myself.

So I came back with good intentions of how things would be different this year.

Well, I think I already blogged about my plan to get off the computer and work on organizing my new home in the evenings. And how I have sort of succeeded in getting off the computer... only to find that I'm too tired to do any organizing.

But it has since occurred to me that just going to bed isn't actually a failure on my part! Presumably at some point, all that extra time sleeping will give me more energy! And that resting is actually a productive thing to do. And that maybe it will enable me to do more organizing in the near future. Maybe I just need a few more nine hour nights is all.

Funny how something so obvious was a huge revelation to me.

I'm still on Week 1 of the Rip 60 program, despite having done the workouts approximately every other day for more than two weeks now. I got up early this morning and completed another workout, despite a tiring weekend of traveling to Vermont for a wonderful camp reunion.

So I feel good about working out, if also a little worried that I still don't feel ready to move up to Week 2 of the program. The main thing holding me back is these things called Burpees (hate the name).

Basically, you start out standing up, arms at your sides. Then you drop into a crouch. Then you "pop" your legs out behind you into a push up position. Then you jump your feet back into the crouch. Then you jump up and hit your hands over your head, like a jumping jack.

These are really hard.

Later in the program, "we" will apparently be doing actual pushups in the middle of each Burpee, but I don't see any point in thinking about that right now.

Anyway, my Burpees suck. Still. I did eleven on them this morning, but... they are Crappy Burpees. My feet are only half as far from my hands as they are supposed to be. But the coach says it's better to do small movements than big movements and then have to stop. So I try to keep moving as much as I can, though I still do just have to stop at least once or twice.

Doing the workout at 5:30 in the morning does not help, I am sure, nor does the fact that I don't have time to eat first.

I'm hoping that these workouts, in any case, will give me ever more energy. It was certainly easier (though not easy) to get up to workout this morning than it was a week ago, my first day back at work.

Though it's just a tad bit discouraging to realize that these workouts will never be easy, mindless things that I can coast through, like my elliptical workouts. I'm trying to remind myself that that's the point -- if I want to change things up, I have to work harder.

Anyway, I'm trying to just force myself to be more energetic and motivated at work. I'm trying to just get things done right away, and not allow myself to waste so much time fooling around (obviously by blogging at work, I am making an exception... my hope is that writing this blog post will, in the long run, motivate me). So far it's going okay, even with having my medical assistant out on jury duty today. Fingers crossed she doesn't get picked.

So, yes, this doesn't really have a conclusion. I hope that just stating my intentions will help them to be realized.

More productive at work. And the ability to do better Burpees.

Coming up.

Time to Retire the Pump?

This is going to sound crazy, but I'm not ready to retire my breast pump.

I wasn't working all summer, and by August, I stopped pumping. Not on purpose, I just got busy with other things.

Up until then, I had mostly been pumping, I suppose, for our donor milk baby, though also for Calliope in some sort of "just in case" way.

And now I'm pumping at work as a way to keep my supply up for those morning and evening nursings, so that there is a good supply there.

I guess I should add that I don't really mind pumping. I have the awesome Freestyle pump which hooks onto my bra, so that's easy and totally hands free. I typically eat and check email while I pump, so it really doesn't interfere with my life much.

But apart from a few sips of milk she took from a cup once, she has refused to take either breast or cow's milk all summer, from either a bottle or cup. She hasn't been a fan of the bottle in a long time -- she would only take 1-3 ounces, usually, from bottle last spring, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

I only came back to work last week, and that was only for a three days week, but so far, she is still refusing to take milk while I'm away at work. The nanny generally gives her yogurt as an alternative.

Over the weekend, she saw her four year old idol drinking cow's milk from a glass, so she willingly tasted that... but only one sip.

But I'm hoping that as she will change her mind once she sees that I am gone all day, five days a week. And will relent about taking milk.

On the other hand, I wonder if I'm completely nuts. I mean, she's growing up, right? She's supposed to wean at some point. It's okay if my supply dips. She can eat other foods.


I have a feeling that this is really about me. But I'm not sure what to do about that. Maybe at some point I will be ready to stop. Or the pediatrician will tell me I'm crazy (so far she has counseled me to continue as long as I'm feeling like I want to).

Do you think I'm nuts???

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Fly in My Ointment

Isn't this the best phrase you've seen all day?

(I wanted to confirm that I was using it correctly and so just googled it... and it means the small flaw that ruins the whole, just in case you also weren't one hundred perecent positive, either.)

Anyway, so my plan to stay off the computer. The problem with this plan?

I am tired, Mama. (That's directed at a figurative Mama -- my own mother does not even know of this blog's existence, never mind read it, at least as far as I know. And I wouldn't call her Mama, anyway.)

Right, so if I don't go on the computer so that I can get things done... but I'm too tired to get things done... where does that leave me?

Well, last night it put me to bed by 9 pm and lights out before 9:30.

It's now 7:52 and I'm contemplating just going to bed and starting my new Gretchen Rubin book. The thought being, I suppose, that if I go to bed early, maybe I'll have energy to clean and declutter tomorrow?

I agreed to a decluttering challenge at Enjoying the Small Things, so that's one more reason to motivate.

The nearly nine hours of sleep that I got last night did me a world of good, even if I barely did any clearing of the hall table this morning. I can't remember the last time I got that much sleep... months ago. Almost never since Calliope's been out in the world. It definitely helped put some spring in my step.

Yesterday I did the Rip 60 workout, my first time doing it early in the morning. I survived, and felt fantastic afterwards, fully energized... but climbing stairs was tough. Climbing to the subway platform was a lot easier today.

It was good to be more energized today because today was the first official day of school (first day with students)! I treated two ear infections, gave three pregnancy tests with two subsequent Depo shots and one Plan B, and visited thirteen home rooms to talk about the services available in my clinic.

The tension in the air in those classrooms was palpable. I am so thankful that I am not a student, back to school for the first day, looking around and calculating who had changed and how, wondering who was looking at me and assessing me as well.

One more reason to be exhausted.

Tomorrow is a day off from work as we head to Vermont for a summer camp reunion. I'm pretty nervous about the logistics (cab to the airport, two connecting flights, and a rental car "off airport" before arriving at a very un-baby-friendly destination) but felt that missing this first and only schedule reunion (after 70 years) was to really miss out on an amazing experience.

Off to bed, now that it's 8 pm!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A New Resolution

I just finished my third Rip 60 workout at home (I did a couple in Rhode Island before I got officially started) which was also my first early morning workout before work.

In a word, ugh!

It was a lot harder, first thing in the morning.

During my first (home) workout, I was able to hold plank for a full minute. Today, I couldn't sustain it at all.

However, we (I) are remaining positive! I am only going to focus on progress.


I'm really proud of myself for getting through three workouts, and especially, at tackling one before my second day of work. This morning I had an iced "half caff" while I nursed the baby (who went back to sleep while I worked out). I thought I needed a little caffeine boost plus the calories from the cream... but it sat a little heavy. But last workout was at 10 am and I hadn't eaten and I completely bonked towards the end. I will need to keep experimenting.

However, I am definitely getting stronger. My legs look and more importantly, feel stronger. It's cool to feel myself actually bounce up off the floor from downward dog without even meaning to.

The resolution is not about the workout per se, it's more of a lifestyle choice.

I think I need to stay off the computer in the evenings.

Which completely sucks because I love unwinding there while I eat dinner and afterwards, catching up on your blogs, looking at Facebook, maybe catching up on Park Slope Parent email digests.

But I'm realizing it's kind of like TV... it sucks me in. And when I finally stand up, I haven't accomplished anything and I'm tired.

So, I'm going to try not going on the computer until I have finished my chosen task for the evening (trying to pick one small unpacking/organizing task each evening) as well as eating and cleaning up and preparing food for the next day.

I'm not excited about this, but I think it will enable me to get to bed a lot earlier and have a more organized home. And I need more rest if I am going to continue the fitness program [effectively] and be the more efficient and engaged employee, nay, health care provider.

Sunday night will continue to be my blogging night, and Friday night is my night off to relax. Other than that, computer time is a reward.

If I "say" it here, it makes it real! Wish me luck.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Day Back

Well, I survived my first day back at work.

I felt a little mournful all day, but luckily Nastya sent me some pictures to cheer me up.

And when I got home, Calliope slowly looked up from where she was playing, then roared as she slowly, deliberately, crawled into my lap. Then she clung tightly to me for several minutes.

It was a delicious homecoming. It also made up for the separation.

Though I noticed all evening how unbearably delectable she seemed, in a way that I didn't remember. Perhaps this is what I get in exchange for being separated from her all day? The silver lining to my cloud?

Tonight when Amy came to pick up Eleanor, she demonstrated that Eleanor knows the correct response when asked "what does a doggy say?" I was suitably impressed that this one year and three day old girl knew what to answer!

Then tonight, reading "Moo, Baa, La La La," when we got to the page that says "and little dogs say 'arf arf arf..." my own pet responded back from the circle of my lap, "arf arf arf!"

I will have to find out if Eleanor taught her, Nastya taught her, or she just figured it out on her own... right after Eleanor figured it out? Coincidence?

I'm so excited for her birthday present to arrive... a Gund stuffed dog, purchased with the gift card from Grammy. I promised to video tape her first impressions of it. Stay tuned.

In other exciting news... I talked to my friend Catherine's accountant last week, finally, and he was lovely. I dug up some information he needed, but was waiting to get a few more pieces of information. I finally heard back from the management company today, sent the new information to the accountant (who doesn't seem to be charging me for the help?) and heard back tonight... I can increase my withholdings by three, in his estimation. He also estimated the size of my refund. All very reassuring in my current anxiety about how I'm going to make the mortgage payment plus maintenance fee on my lovely new home.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Letter to Calliope at Age 1+

September 3, 2012

My darling Calliope Sage,

I wasn't ready to write you this letter on your birthday... life was a whirlwind, with us getting ready to move into our own apartment, as well as going on vacation with Grammy and Uncle Thaniel. I couldn't quite wrap my head around you being in the world for one whole year!

But now we are somewhat settled, and on the cusp of another school year starting... I go back to work tomorrow, and you go back to spending your days with your wonderful nanny, Nastya, and your partner in crime, Eleanor, who is just two weeks younger than you.

Just two days ago, when I said Nastya's name, you said "Nana!" and started waving happily and looking around. I know you will be thrilled to spend time with her and Eleanor again.

But I'm sad for me, because I've loved spending so much time with you this summer. We've been together nearly constantly, generally with a short break just once a week.

You are a remarkable person already, and I know I'm just beginning you know you.

You are such a happy little person. After a morning cuddle, you look up with your face full of smiles, ready to discover the world. You love to wave to people, and also to dogs, pigeons, traffic, parked cars, puzzle pieces, characters in books, and sometimes, to nothing that I can discern. You burst into laughter when you sense there's an entertaining story being told, even if you can't possible understand what's being said (though sometimes I wonder if you understand far, far more than is possible) -- you just love being in on a joke.

You also know how to make me lose my composure when I scold you for throwing food on the floor, once again -- you flash me a toothy, mischievous grin and I can't help but burst out laughing, try as I do to maintain a stern face. I'm pretty sure you will go off to college still throwing your food as a result of my poor parenting.

Even as a tiny baby, you were so easy going. You never cry to this day, unless you are tired or hungry or hurt. And even then, you put up with these with good grace. I am able to take you to restaurants and keep you out past your bedtime without complaint on your part. I try not to do this too often but I do appreciate the opportunity occasionally. Even more fun, you are always willing to taste whatever I ordered when we eat out.

You have, and have always had, an incredible focus and ability to entertain yourself. Even at just a few months old, you would lie on a play mat and entertain yourself for thirty or forty-five minutes, while your little friends needed to be moved every ten minutes from bouncy seat to arms to play mat and back to arms. You study and examine things thoughtfully and thoroughly. I wonder if you will grow up to be an engineer because of your fascination to detail.

Yet you are such a social creature. You love it when people come to visit. Nastya has to ask the cleaning lady, Jasia, to pretend to leave because you will never go to sleep otherwise -- you are so afraid of missing out on anything Jasia might do while you are asleep. You peer inquisitively into stranger's faces and wave on the subway until they are forced to look up from their Iphones. Last weekend, you delighted in feeding all of your crackers to Eleanor.

A month ago you were very clingy... but it passed and now you are affectionate with people you know. It's very gratifying, for example, when you open your mouth and lift your face to "kiss" Grammy (you don't know how to kiss, exactly, and just sort of press your open mouth towards her). I love the fact that you offer me hugs and kisses so often! You are such a cuddly girl, yet also so independent.

On your first birthday, our pediatrician, Rita, asked if you had any words, and I said no. But the very next day, you started saying "yeh" (for yes) and occasionally even "yeh-sss" and Mamama (for me, usually when you want to nurse or be comforted). In the two weeks since then, you've started saying "doggy" and "no" and "Nana" for Nastya and "da" for diaper.

After months of trying to teach you some sign language, you're suddenly signing, and are quickly learning new signs. Sometimes you seem to invent your own signs... which would be wonderful except that I don't know what they mean! I wouldn't have realized that "da" was diaper except for the fact that you sign "diaper" at the same time as you say "da" (except you are supposed to touch two fingers to your pelvis, and you joyfully slap your belly with both hands instead.) You use "more" and "all done" and "milk" regularly, and just a couple of days ago when I asked if you wanted water, you spontaneously made the sign for food instead, telling me you were hungry, not thirsty!

You are crawling everywhere, and pulling up, and you love to climb. Today at the playground you figured out how to go backwards down the stairs on the playground equipment, which was very exciting. You also went down the spiral slide today and didn't cry, another first!

Yesterday you crawled into the shower with all your clothes on before I could stop you. Grammy was supposed to be watching you but I guess she turned her back for a moment! You love the water, and had so much fun crawling around in the crab pond in Rhode Island a couple of weeks ago. I'm excited to start going to swimming lessons again later this fall...  you were fabulous at them last spring, and didn't cry when the instructor swooshed you underwater. I have always felt at home in the water and am so grateful that you feel the same way.

You are not so enamored with eating. For months, all you ate was yogurt (and milk). Now you've mostly lost interest in yogurt, and it's not so easy to figure out what to feed you. Grammy introduced you to peanut butter on toast, which was a huge hit. Today I substituted peanut butter on french toast instead, to get some extra protein in you. You seemed to like it okay. Rita was a little worried about the fact that you hadn't gained any weight in the last three months, but you seem to have gotten a little more interested in food since we saw her, and you suddenly seem bigger -- your face is a little rounder but mostly you just seem like a taller, bigger person without being a lot heavier.

We just moved to our new apartment a week ago! Hooray! You seem to like your new room, and will crawl there to play all by yourself. Since you got your own room, you have started sleeping through the night, not without a little crying at first, but now you don't let out a peep. Mommy is so grateful for those twelve hours to get things done and also sleep... and so happy to see you well rested and happy in the morning.

When I think back to a year ago, I'm amazed. From the day you were born, you have been peaceful, happy, and a joyful presence. You were absolutely yourself from the day you were born and I can't wait to continue to discover just who that is!

I am so grateful for this most magical year of my life. You are a miracle to me. I love you forever, my blessed daughter.



Why I'm Sad the Summer Is Ending