Tuesday, July 23, 2013

More Money Thoughts

Thanks for reading about my money woes... and to other SMCs, for modeling that it was okay to do so.

It actually helps to "talk" about it with others. Makes me feel calmer.

I just made some rough calculations, based on my bank account statements, and looking at average bills. After subtracting housing costs, childcare costs, electricity, cleaning lady, a pittance towards my retirement, cell phone, Metrocard... and realized that leaves me with $225 to live on each week.


That doesn't include groceries, diapers, doctor and medication co-pays, toiletries or clothing. Or any of the other random costs that invariably crop up -- malpractice insurance premiums, or gifts (and nanny bonuses, ouch!), and haircuts, and the occasional toy for my darling child.

Of course, I get a break in the summer, both in using a lot less childcare plus also, at least this summer (and hopefully next), making some extra money. And the truth is that I have some savings. It's just that I am burning through them at a frightening rate. I can't afford to continue that. Especially if I want to have a second child.

It's sobering.

Today I talked to my nanny-share partner, Amy, about using me for babysitting. I said that she should still use me for (free) childcare swapping, but in the times that she would ordinarily not use me, but would use a babysitter instead (for longer days, or late nights, or when she wants Eleanor to go to bed in her own bed instead of the Pack n Play over here), she should use me as a sitter. And to pay me at a lower rate than she would pay a normal babysitter, and just to apply it towards my nanny costs. And that I will bring Calliope to their apartment, along with the Pack n Play, and let her sleep at their place for the evening, and then transfer her back home once they return. I did it once before (and they've done it multiple times with Eleanor staying here) and it went surprisingly well. Luckily they live only an eight minute walk away.

I felt really awkward bringing this up, but I figure that's a win-win for both of us. And that I wouldn't feel weird if someone offered the same deal to me.

So I'm hoping that could bring me some much needed relief.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Is It Normal To Dread Opening the Mail?

As you know, I'm newly back from my four weeks at camp. Four weeks without having to pay for childcare (okay, except that my last week of work, I paid for the nanny's last week PLUS a bonus week), without having to pay for air conditioning, without having to pay for (most of my) food. And very few opportunities to pay for meals out, or other discretionary expenses. I lived nearly as lean as I possibly could

Plus I made some money for working this second job, while continuing to earn a paycheck for my primary job (my salary is pro-rated over the summer).

So I have enough money to pay my bills right now. That's not in question.

But I'm scared to open my mail and pay my bills and check my online balance because I feel like my ability to have a second child hangs on whether or not I saved enough to get me through this coming school year without burning through more savings.

And the truth is, I have more than another month before I start paying for full time childcare again. We are paying for a few hours this week with our new nanny, as this is the only time all summer that both children and the nanny are all in town, but the cost is still a far cry from full time childcare. And I'm going to MA to see family -- my mom offered to pay for the travel since my sister was going to come here but my mom is too weak from surgery recovery to be left alone for three days -- so my food expenses should be covered. So I can continue to save a bit this summer, admittedly at a slower rate.

But truly, I don't think my ability to have a second child is truly in danger. There's always a way to make things work. I can ask for help from family... but I hate to do that, because I feel like part of being an adult is being able to support myself and my family. But it's still an option. A better one that being forced to not have a second child, assuming I want a second (and I think I do). I can lower my living expenses, somehow. And actually, I'm already working on this, trying to buy food more cheaply (fewer organic foods, except for milk and meat, mostly). I can change jobs, and sacrifice my family-friendly schedule and summers off. None of these are perfect choices, but they are choices nonetheless.

So my bank account right now not the be all and end all.

So why am I so scared to open the GD towering stack of mail next to me?

Witnessed Something Terrible

Today as I was about a half a block away from the rental car lot in downtown Brooklyn (mid-morning), I saw what looked like a man trying to kill another man.

I was in the center lane of traffic, about to pass through a crowded intersection and then make a left turn, halfway down the next block. So in other words, there was heavy traffic and I was focused on my driving.

Out of my left window, I saw two men grappling with each other in a false doorway of a Rite Aid. As I looked closer, I saw that one man was throttling the other. The victim struggled in vain before collapsing, unconscious. As he fell, the perpetrator watched the other man's head bounce against the cement wall. A moment later, he picked up the man by the neck and seemed to press his thumb against the man's windpipe as his now barely conscious victim looked up at him blearily from the ground.

A few observers stood well back from the action, seeming frozen. I mean, could a man seriously be trying to kill another man in broad daylight on a busy street?

After just a few seconds, I grabbed my cell phone and called 911 as fast as my shaking hands could manage. While still managing to drive.

I pulled into the Avis lot, and tried to run back immediately, explaining, "there's a life threatening situation outside, I need to go help" but the Avis folks insisted I wait (painting) for my receipt. Ugh!

Then I sprinted back to the scene of the action to find... nothing. I inspected the cement for a splash of blood -- his head had struck it so hard -- but there was nothing there. No sign of anything.

The wail of a nearby siren belonged to an ambulette for a senior center.

I wondered if I had imagined this.

I decided to wait there for a few minutes -- my friend was parking her car and then we were going to go to Trader Joe's together so I had to wait anyway -- and was getting ready to leave when I saw a police van.

I waved them over and they stopped. I described what had happened and they asked, "well, where's the victim?"

"I don't know. I had to return my car, and when I ran back, he was gone."

"well, do you want a description of him? what if he turns up in a hospital, or dead? won't you want to know what he looks like?"

"Without a victim, we can't do anything."

Then an older woman nearby, pushing a shopping cart and adorned with a cigarette dangling from her mouth, said, "I saw them too, and the guy, the one who fell? He was really high, or something. He was really out of it. Someone went over and he said, 'I'm okay, I'm okay.' And then they left together."

After that, there wasn't much I could do. Those I was thinking -- well, lady, if you had been throttled into unconsciousness more than once and also had your head smashed against concrete, you might seem pretty out of it, too.

The whole thing was awful and I wish I could've done more. I wondered if I should've stopped in traffic, and leaned on my horn, or started yelling. But I was scared. I didn't want to attract the attention of a man who was capable of that kind of violence.

But it was horrible.

I'm glad that I called 911. Making the call was hard -- I'm grateful that I've had the chance to "pratice" at work with mostly non life threatening emergencies. Doing it with adrenaline pumping feels really different.

I felt like I needed to share this. Thanks for reading it. I'd love any thoughts anyone has to share.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Another Tiny Milestone

I've been trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to rememeber to talk "with" Calliope at bedtime about the day (Happiest Toddler On the Block recommends this, though I can't for the life of me remember why). I put "with" in quotes because mostly, I say things, or ask her questions, and she echoes the last word in each phrase.

But tonight, I said, "We had a nice day today! We went to the playground and who did we see?"

Normally she would echo, "see."

But instead, she paused, and then said thoughtfully, "Gack."

Another pause, "Ellie."

For the first time, she was able to recount something from the past when asked about it! For we did, indeed, see "Gack" (aka Jack) and Ellie at the playground this morning!

This is a milestone that that is small but significant to me -- the ability to tell me about things that happened in the past. Exciting!

(After the playground, we went to the shoe store so Eleanor could try on some new sandals. The girls were both smitten by the small upholstered Elmo chair at the shoe store. They could both just barely squeeze into it, but then discovered it was must more fun to try and squirm and wrestle the other one out of the chair. It was delicious to watch them collapse on top of each other, repeatedly, dissolving in gales of laughter. I'd say they were happy to be reunited after our month away from home.)

Home Again, and Dental Hygiene Habits

We got home yesterday and I'm slightly euphoric at the wonderfulness of my life. I had forgotten how much I love our beautiful airy (by summer camp standards) apartment. And our life here. And having friends. And my mattress. Oh lord, my mattress. My first night of waking up without aching body parts... delicious.

I think Calliope is happy about her bed too, judging by the thirteen hours of sleep she had last night.

It was fun to watch her re-discovering her toys, too.

I like how Obernon (and others) blog a single little tidbit from their lives, so I'm going to try that.

Here's two.

One: Calliope has watched me brushing my own teeth, and now wants to spit after she brushes as well. Only children don't (typically) learn to spit until they are much older. So this is her version of spitting.

We carefully brush her teeth (does anyone else struggle with getting the front of the top teeth? Calliope can't seem to help covering her teeth with her lip, and she's otherwise cooperative) and now, her tongue (just like Mommy), and then we go to the bathroom to rinse her toothbrush. She noisily sucks the water from the toothbrush then leans over the sink and carefully says,


Rinse and repeat.

Two: Calliope hurt her finger, and was crying (barely) about it. I offered to kiss it to make it better, but I didn't know which finger, exactly to kiss.

So I knelt down and asked where the boo boo was. She held out her hand, and I took a wild guess, kissed a finger, and said

"There you go."

She considered this, looked rather pleased, then held out another finger, and another finger. Each time, asking,

"There you go?"

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Twenty-Two Month Recap

There's a dearth of photos this month because life has been hectic at camp... plus my cell phone doesn't work up here, so I rarely have it at the ready to snap a photo.

What's cooler than being able to jam your hands oh-so-casually 
into your pockets???

My little girl is growing up! Only one more month until her age is counted in years, not months.

Her language skills continue to blossom. Now, instead of repeating single words, she frequently repeats two word phrases, like "big step," "bless you," and "thank you."

When I sing "Old MacDonald" to her now, she is newly able to make animal suggestions. Very exciting. But instead of just saying, "pig" or "cow," she says "A cow" or "A sheep" -- emphasis on the article "A." I guess she's proud of her two word abilities, but the extraneous "a" sounds a little funny...

"Old MacDonald had a farm, EIEIO. And on his farm he had a..."
"A cow."

She likes to suggest each animal two times consecutively. She came up with sheep, pig, and ....dog/donkey/duck. It was a little hard to tell. She didn't come up with their respective sounds at the same time, but putting her to bed tonight, she suddenly said, "Cow... moo!"

She's also been saying, "Here you go" while motioning to her mouth. No idea what the hand signal is supposed to signify.

Just as I was cautiously hypothesizing that I thought two might not be so hard (but I feared for age three)... Calliope started being more contrarian. Not in her speech, so much, but physically. She runs away from me a lot, which is exhausting. Typically in a gleeful sort of way. I often have to wrestle her down onto the bed for a diaper change or to brush her teeth... but she usually doesn't cry when I win the battle.

When she fights teeth brushing , I kneel over her on the bed, with my legs on either side of her. She immediately begs for me to pin her arms and hands under me, pleading "hands! hands!" ...and then starts to cry as soon as I stick her hands inside my skirt, where they aren't actually restricted, just hidden. Such a bizarre little ritual. She doesn't seem to mind me kneeling over her, even though I fear that I must look like I'm hurting her, just because of how big I am compared to her.

Her eating at camp is pretty limited. For a while, it seemed like she was on a raisin and milk diet. I'm trying not to worry about it, and figured that we would both be a lot better in our eating once we get back home. One more day!

Her sleeping was wacky for a while but now that she's settled into the camp routine, is often 8 pm to 8:30 am. Plus a two hour nap on good days. Camp seems to wear her out, although I worry she's not getting as much exercise as at home. Living in the city, it's just so easy to walk everywhere. Here, I think the babysitters carry her a lot, and I suspect she enjoys the extra attention.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I've Got An Itch...

... For change.

When I think about my job, I feel tired.

I've been there six and a half years now, far, far longer than any previous job. In fact, before this, the longest I was at a job was seventeen months. Of course, this is only my second job in my profession as a nurse practitioner. It's hardly fair to compare these jobs to non-career jobs.

Still. I feel kind of bored with it.

But then, due to my social anxiety, I've been questioning my attitude towards patients.

I've checked out since I got pregnant, and subsequently gave birth to Calliope. I'm simply not that engaged with my patients any more. Probably partly because of my new role -- mother -- and partly because the thrill of the new career is gone. I feel like I'm not very nice sometimes. I think that probably I am nice -- except when I am enforcing the rules about not coming to the infirmary during scheduled activities -- but seem detached. Which is the reality. But maybe I would find work more engaging if I found a way to care more?

Like, for example, when I do physicals. These typically take close to an hour. Not because they should take that long, but because of all the ridiculously detailed forms I am forced to complete. And since I'm being paid hourly, and not by patient visit, and because I don't really have much of a choice, perhaps, I spend an hour. I try very hard to give a physical my full attention, to make the patient feel like she's my priority for that hour.

So then I feel like an ass when that patient comes back a month or three later and I don't even recognize her. I mean, how is that even possible? Was I just pretending to give her my attention? What is wrong with me?

And also... I saw a community board listing for two rooms available for rent with a family in a neighborhood Victorian home. And I know that I'm thrilled with my new apartment, but at the same time, the idea of communal living was oddly appealing... the idea of spending half as much each month on housing costs, and having a lot less space (just two bedrooms, plus communal living areas)... it sounded cool. I really love my alone time, so I'm not sure it's the right solution for me, but something about simplifying my life sounds great. And then, too, I responded to a recruiter email about a job in Seattle. I never heard back, and I'm pretty positive I don't have the right background for the job, but still, it surprised me to see how I am feeling ready for change.

On the other hand, as long as I have my current job, the odds are extremely high that Calliope can attend the only-by-lottery-excellent-public-school where I work. I would be nuts to give that up, right?

So can I just work on my attitude, to somehow get myself more psyched up for next year? To get invested in the students again? Not for their benefit, but for mine?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Little Social Anxiety

It's funny how I love it when others are brutally honest in their blogs, and yet it feels like a surprise to me when I think of doing the same in mine. Even when I've done it before.

So, camp brings out some social anxiety in me. And in the past, social anxiety has triggered depression.

Since having Calliope, or really, just getting pregnant with her, I've been very stable. No depression. Scarcely a bad day. Phew. Though I think I can safely say that I'm no longer on cloud nine like I was during pregnancy and nursing.

Anyway, camp is kind of lonely.

Most of it is my "fault," if you can term it that.

I think I've gotten more introverted since I had Calliope. Maybe because I spend so much time with her, I am less interested in socializing with others. I'm just tapped out, socially?

Regardless, I am finding it hard to connect with others. I try to ask thoughtful questions of people, but it doesn't seem like the conversation ever gets flowing. Other times, people ask me questions (a lot less often); I hope I do an okay job at responding.

But I just don't have a lot to say. I started playing the banjo as a way to become more interesting... but guess what? Playing an instrument actually is not a great way to stimulate conversation. At least, not if you're not at banjo camp. Shocking. Instead, it's one more thing I do by myself.

My fellow nurse, Francesca, is kind and sweet but very, very quiet. But other people want to be friends with her, more than me. Which makes obsess about what I am lacking. Maybe it's that she's twenty-seven versus my thirty-eight. She's a lot closer in age to the counselors. But then there's some older staff, two others with toddlers on staff. We were friendly at first, but don't socialize much at now. Is it something wrong with me, or just that they are both very busy with their jobs, and already know lots of people to be friendly with?

I try to focus on the fact that it doesn't matter. And I'm mostly okay with that. But I do wonder about it. And feel a little self conscious about not really having friends at camp.

Apart from loyal Calliope. She's thrilled to be my "friend." In fact, she can't bear to be away from me... unless, of course, there's no babysitter in sight, in which case, she's usually running away from me as fast as her little legs can carry her.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The News From Camp

All in all, we are having a great time!

Calliope was having a really hard time with separation at first. Her first few mornings of daycamp, the counselors ended up bringing her back after an hour or two because she wouldn't stop crying. I felt guilty for everyone -- bad for these teens, kids, really, who were trying so hard to help Calliope, and bad for Calliope who was so miserable. And a little bit guilty for my own job, because having her with me the rest of the day wasn't ideal. Luckily, she often requested "carrier? carrier?" so i could tie her to my back, keeping her little hands away from bags of pills, while keeping her happy and close to me.

But finally her naps started to get longer, from one hours back to her regular two hours, and she started to sleep later in the mornings, more like 8 am instead of 7 (at home she sleeps roughly 7-7 but at camp it is becoming 8-8 because dinner is so much later here than at home). And suddenly, the separations are much easier. She cries for a few seconds, but that is it. Phew.

It's so funny to leave my 11:15 am meeting and come to the dining hall to find her eating lunch with the rest of the faculty children. There's one little girl a few months younger than her but she is physically the smallest by quite a bit. She's more reserved than I'm used to, but clearly doing fine... until she sees me. Then her whole face lights up and she reaches her arms out joyously and my gleeful girl is back.

Progress at the pool has been slower than I expected. She loved swimming lessons as an infant, and she's not scared of having her hair washed, so I figured she'd be eager to get in the water.

Not so much. She's mostly been hanging out on the pool steps, and shying away from me when I hold out my arms to her. I'm not pressuring her, even though I feel a little impatient. Today that seemed to pay off -- suddenly she was much more willing to come into the pool with me. We did many rounds of increasingly daring Motorboat Motorboat Go So Slow and a couple of rounds of Humpty Dumpty Sat On a Wall, and even blew some bubbles on the water. She also tried to blow some bubbles on the concrete pool deck, as was undeterred by her lack of success.

Tonight I took my first evening off and we went out for dinner to a local place that has picnic benches outside (as well as an ice cream stand) and chickens and goats, plus a train shaped climbing area for kids. It was fantastic to get away for a little while and Calliope greatly enjoyed her first ice cream cone. (Score one for Mommy remembering to bring the bib!).

Checking out a chicken. 
Later she tried to pet it but the chicken wasn't interested in that plan.

First ice cream cone. 
She wouldn't eat the cone -- seemed bothered by the idea that one
might eat one's "dish." Otherwise, it was a huge hit.