Monday, July 20, 2015

Seventeen Weeks... A Long Post on Life in Woodstock

We’ve been in Woodstock, NY for almost a week now. My SMC/summer camp/downstairs neighbor friend grew up here, and her parents have a little guest cottage. So Emily and her seven year old AB are staying with her parents in the main house and my girls and I are camped out in the guest cottage. 

It’s mostly been lovely. The cottage is tiny and covered with dusty bric a brac — and I have pet peeves about dust, bric a brac and a lack of clear spaces — and I’m sore every night from the pressure on my hips from sleeping on a worn futon. And I’m scared to cook on the tiny gas stove (never mind the tinier coal stove!). But the grounds are gorgeous. We’ve cooked a couple of times on a stone fireplace of sorts set under a gorgeous tree outside, with views of the mountains. 

The woman who built this house, Henriette (I’m not sure of the spelling but it’s pronounced “Ahn-ree-ette”) was 4’9”. She lived here part time into her 90s. She had it built to her specifications, so the doorways are low and the showerhead is low and the bathtub is short… but it’s all quite charming. There’s a window over the bathtub that I just love.

My friend’s parents own several acres so there’s space to roam, and lots of benches and tree swings scattered around. 

And something about having me and my girls, just us, in this tiny space… it makes me feel like a family. A complete, whole family. 

Calliope has been going to day camp here along with my friend’s seven year old at a local private school. Calliope was disappointed to realize they wouldn’t be in the same group. Today, Friday, there was an all camp gathering so the kids could perform for each other and for the parents. When we arrived for the performance, I was pleasantly surprised to see Calliope snuggled into the lap of an adult, along with another three year old. The adult wasn’t her head teacher, err. counselor, who Calliope adores. I was pleased because it’s rare for her to warm up to more than one adult.

But I was slightly dismayed that she refused to perform with the rest of her group. She didn’t go to bed early last night (6:30) but instead “stayed up” until 7:30 and I guess she had a rough day as a result. At home, she was often going to bed after 8… but she was sleeping until 8 am plus taking a two hour nap each day. I’m so worried about chronic sleep deprivation for her starting next fall. She will have to get up even earlier than she is now (she’s waking up at 6:30 am right now but I will have to wake her at 6:15 this fall to have her out the door at 7:15, unless I can figure out how to get her to move more quickly and efficiently). And if she can’t fall asleep during rest time at camp, why would she be more likely to sleep at rest time during PreK? I’ve tried so hard to prioritize her sleep throughout her life (part of my reason for keeping her with a nanny this long), and I’m such a huge believer in the importance of children getting adequate sleep (and blame sleep deprivation for so many medical and behavioral problems in today’s young children)… but I just don’t know I can manage this next fall. Still, apart from today she’s seemed okay, so maybe she will be able to adjust to less sleep? I pray I’m not doing any serious harm to her by choosing this school (next fall) with an early start time and a long commute.

I also worry that Calliope might be worse off, socially, by having been with one child for so long. Or rather, I see both sides. She learned to play cooperatively from a very early age because Eleanor and she were together so much (40 hours a week together, most of it just the two of them). She has learned to negotiate conflict and sharing. On the other hand, it made it easy for her to neglect the skill of making new friends. And I wonder if her reluctance to make new friends is partly because she knows she has Eleanor? She did make friends with the other children in her play school, especially the ones she also had playdates with via the nannies. She just tends to be aloof with children she doesn’t know very well. Even when they approach her with friendly overtures. The same goes for unknown adults. And that behavior could really hurt her if it continues. 

On the plus side, this is the best she’s ever done in a new situation. I’ve not once had to peel her off of me when leaving; she barely cried when I left the first couple days, and not at all since then (though she cried for me at nap time yesterday). This is a huge improvement!

Unfortunately, day one of camp ended with a bull’s eye rash on her left arm so, after texting a photo of the rash to her pediatrician, she was started on a three week course of antibiotics for Lyme Disease. The timing is such that she must have been bitten our very first day in Woodstock (the rash takes 48–72 hours to develop and Monday afternoon was 48 hours after our arrival). Now I wonder, based on several tiny scabs at the center of the rash, if it wasn’t really a tick bite but something larger. Still, I’m so scared by the potential sequelae of Lyme Disease that I wouldn’t take a chance and not give the antibiotics. Indeed, I’m kind of scared by the fact that only 75-80% of cases have the rash. What if she hadn’t had the rash??? I’m hoping the antibiotics will protect her from the effects of tick bites the entire time she’s on them, though I have no idea if that is possible.

Amelie is thriving. Her hair is thickening on the sides a bit. Babies really are improved by the presence of hair! She’s added growling to her verbal repertoire, and yesterday added a consonant for the first time to her vowel coos — a “P” sort of sound as she struggles to make raspberries with her mouth. 

She’s a highly social creature. She will lean forward towards a stranger and stare and chortle with delight until they turn their attention towards her. Unless she’s tired, she loves to be cuddled by strangers and friends alike. And she regales everyone with long strings of liquid vowels. She certainly has a lot to say. 

Her sleep has worsened a bit with the travel, though I suppose I have no right to complain about a three month old baby who wants to eat once during the night. And when I’m paying attention to her cues, she still likes to be awake for only an hour at a time, though she can now tolerate being awake for longer. It’s hard to accommodate her preferred schedule and still leave the house! She doesn’t sleep for long on the go, except if I’m walking with her in the baby carrier. She’s rolled a few more times from her stomach to her back but it still seems more like some luck with gravity than active rolling. She’s just started supporting some weight on her legs when I put her in a standing position, which is fun. Her thighs continue to get rounder but she’s swimming in her six month pajama sleeper. 

As for me, you know, separate from my girls? I feel like I have so little to say about that. Some days I feel like I’m rushing so much, here, just to get Calliope to camp on time and to get Amelie to a nap or to a feeding before she falls apart, and then to try to get Emily to a place to swim plus prepare meals, clean up, exercise, and shower that it doesn’t feel like much of a vacation. I have no phone or internet in the cabin, which means that’s one more thing I have to address during the precious few hours that Calliope is at camp. Today we didn’t go anywhere (partly because we had to be at camp an hour earlier than usual for the Friday performance) and it was such a relief to not be rushing all day. And to let Amelie nap as long as she wanted. Poor baby so often gets woken up or dragged along somewhere. Another thing to feel guilty about. Yesterday we took her to a gorgeous stream and she slept in her car seat to the sound of rushing water while we played on the boulders and in the small waterfalls and pools. 

But, a thing I’m trying to do for me. Well, apart from my T25 workouts. Which I’m really loving. They are very intense but can be done anywhere, without equipment, and they only last 25 minutes and then I’m done. I feel so much stronger after just a few short weeks. Elliptical didn’t do anything by comparison! Anyway, in addition to that, I’ve decided to cut sugar out of my diet. Mostly focusing on refined sugar, and avoiding all sweet treats. This is really, really hard for me. I made a little loophole for myself for small doses of very dark chocolate, because I love it and also, I never feel wonky after eating it. But I’m surely missing desserts. I still eat fruits, but carefully. Berries with plain yogurt and heavy cream for breakfast, and berries or a peach with heavy cream for dessert at night. But I mostly avoid it during the day because my energy level will tank after eating it.

About a year before Amelie was born, I went to an endocrinologist and discovered that my Hemoglobin A1C, a measure of my blood sugar averaged over three months, was very close to pre diabetic range. This surprised and scared me. While I’m twenty pounds from my skinny ideal of ten years ago, I’m barely overweight. I exercise regularly (and vigorously). Diabetes doesn’t run in my family. Unfortunately, PCOS does. And PCOS puts even normal weight women at high risk for diabetes. And something about having two children in the world has made me very, very aware of my mortality. Thus, I need to avoid diabetes. 

I’m thinking about asking my doctor for a prescription for a glucometer so I can measure my blood sugar to see how I react to certain foods, but I’m not quite mental prepared for that yet. So for now I’m just trying to pay extra careful attention to how I feel after eating certain foods. I’ve known for many years that I get super sleepy after eating an apple, even doused in peanut butter, and so I avoid them except in the evening (or with yogurt for breakfast; that also works). Yesterday I had a free sample bite of “sugar free” (no doubt sweetened with something, just not refined sugar) homemade banana bread at Calliope’s camp and I felt awful afterwards, dry mouthed and sleepy, for ages, even though it was just one bite and I had eaten a healthy meal of salad and tofu not long before. 

My friend Barbara has been my inspiration. She was diagnosed with diabetes last spring and followed the diet given to her by her doctor, with great precision, including cutting out all sugar and alcohol. She hasn’t cheated once. She’s lost more than sixty pounds and her blood sugar/hemoglobin A1C is completely normal now. Total abstinence works for her. I’m not an abstinence sort of person but I get scared every time I think of those blood test results. So I’m trying. I ate a couple bites of Calliope’s scone tonight, and a few bites of her muffin a few days ago. 

It’s been about 10 days now and I don’t know if I’ve lost any weight since I didn’t weight myself when I started but my belly has definitely gotten flatter (admittedly over the last several weeks, not just since cutting back sugar). I don’t really feel any different otherwise. For better or worse. 

7/19 Weekend in Woodstock
Saturday was great. Magical, even. We woke up early (like small children typically do) and it was cloudy so I decided to get us out early, before it started raining and we were stranded in our tiny cabin. So we rounded up Amelie and headed out, Calliope still in her pajamas (her preference). We went to the bakery in town for a lovely breakfast, just like we do in Brooklyn. We walked down the street to the health food store and loaded up the stroller, then walked back into the town center to ogle the windows of the local toy shop where, to our delight, she decided to open up 30 minutes early. 

I decided to treat the toy shop as a children’s museum, and let Calliope play as long as she wanted with the toys on display… and bought several birthday presents to show my appreciation. By then it was nearly lunch time so we headed back “home,” where Emily invited us up to the main house for lunch. After lunch and rest time (and a workout for me — definitely getting stronger, with deeper squats and lunges) we plus Emily headed to a new (to us) stream to explore. Amelie waited cheerfully in bug net bedecked car seat on the banks of the very tame stream, perfect for Calliope, while the three of us played in the water. We finally abandoned ship when the thunder rumbled ominously close by. We said goodbye to Emily when we got back and Calliope and I quickly lit a fire in the stone grill under the trees. It was already sprinkling but I’m so far too intimidated to cook inside our minuscule kitchen. It ended up being a really sweet ending to a great day — Amelie was asleep inside and we dashed back and forth through the rain until I finally called it quits and we dashed inside just before the skies opened up and dumped rain on our roof. We were dry inside and watched the storm through large open windows — I love that feeling of being so close to the weather yet dry and cozy. It was magical, watching that pouring rain with my girl as we ate our dinner. A moment I hope she remembers. 

Today was harder, for no apparent reason. Emily’s parents agreed to watch Amelie, starting at 10:30 AM, so we could go to a more adventurous swimming hole without needing to worry about my precious cargo. But it took an hour to actually leave — sometimes just the packing and the sunscreening and the changing and the making of lunches is so darn tiring! So we only had two hours to play. It was beautiful, though. The water was rushing much more loudly and dramatically after the previous evening’s storms. There were boulders to climb and waterfalls to explore. We came back for rest time (Calliope hasn’t napped once since we’ve been here, though Amelie and I did) and after my brief snooze, I did a gentle stretching workout. My hips have been so very sore, sleeping on the futon here, so I tried sleeping on my back last night. Ouch! My low back has been threatening to freeze up many times today. The stretching helped but something just made me feel so depressed and isolated. It’s hard not having internet and phone access for more than a few minutes a day! It’s really starting to get to me. I’ve been composing blog posts on my laptop but can’t post them. I miss following Facebook and checking in on the SMC Forum. And I try to stay away from Emily’s parents’ house, so as not to impose, but this tiny oh so cluttered space makes me claustrophobic rather quickly. Especially with a three year old on my heels, commenting on everything, singing, making “jokes,” and just generally giving me a total lack of personal space. Tomorrow she goes back to camp and I’m going to ask to camp out in Emily’s bedroom for a few hours to use her mother’s computer if the wireless is down again (sometimes I can access it from their porch but not today). 

I think I’m also discouraged because I had started to lose weight from cutting out sugar and so I thought I really might slim down. And now I’ve gained back those couple of pounds and I’m mad at myself for setting myself up that way. While I was stable for a number of years at twenty pounds less than now, the fact is that I’ve been stable at this “new” weight for a number of years as well. So I should just accept that this is my set point, and I’m lucky to be back at it only 3 months (four, tomorrow!) after giving birth. And focus, as I originally intended to do, on cutting out sugar to reduce my risk of diabetes, NOT to lose weight. Duh. And not set myself up for disappointment. 


  1. Sounds like a great time all-in-all. Try not to get too discouraged with the diet, you are doing great!!

  2. Wow! You sure are busy for it being the summer. I am extremely impressed with your sticking to the eating plan.

  3. Sounds like a busy yet fun summer!

    I too worry about Elena's socialization. I am so socially awkward, I worry how she'll fair since I'm not really the best to teach her.