Sunday, August 28, 2016

The End of Summer, and the Resulting Stress

I'm feeling lots of anticipatory stress about going back to work. Last year was just so hard. I felt stressed to the max, and exhausted, so much of the time. There wasn't much enjoyment of life, or of my children. It felt like I was sprinting from 5:30 AM to 6:30 PM every day. And after the final big push to get them to bed on time, I just collapsed. Didn't so much enjoy my evenings and use them to try to recover. So I've been thinking a lot about how to make this coming school year better. I don't want to just survive my days. I want to actually 

I've finished, mostly, a giant decluttering of the house after we finally spent some time at home after all our travels. My motto was "get the low hanging fruit" so it's not that every drawer is organized -- maybe someday -- but there's just a lot less STUFF in my house. I made a new rule that nothing is to be kept on the floor. The standing and push toys were purged. Scooter and stroller are in the closet. 

I feel like I can breathe again. but the week or more process nearly made me insane with stress. it's like cortisol just starts pumping through my veins at the sight of clutter. Lnowing that, i shouldn't have done anything else until it was done but naturally, being away so much of the summer, i was also working on my long to do list. i'm mostly caught up with that, too, and i feel like i can breathe again. It's funny how having things be neat helps me have the energy to keep up with it, and accomplish other tasks to boot.

I'm also rereading a book about dealing with anxiety and am trying to get into a habit of meditation. The book recommends a meditation practice of 30 minutes a day and just thinking about a 30 minute commitment makes my blood pressure rise -- i still do my 30 minute workout nearly every day, and I think I can only have one habit like that, time wise, per day -- but i can work on doing 1-5 minutes of focusing on my breath each day, maybe even multiple times a day. 

I've hired also babysitters to bring Calliope home from school 3 days a week and the same sitters will pick up Eleanor 5 days a week, so it would be easy enough to increase to 5 days a week for Calliope as well, if necessary.

Last year i worked out shortly after we got home from school, which was nice in that I didn't have to get up super early to work out before work, as I had done in years past. It's so hard for me to climb out of bed and immediately do something hard, physically. as a result, i always got up and puttered for a while beforehand... but of course that takes even more time. What do you guys think? is it better to get it done, even if it kind of sucks? My body definitely feels better if i do it later. it was nice this last year to do it in the afternoon. Maybe i should find a way to do it in my office at work? Not ideal for logistical reasons -- not that big a space, and having to bring changes of clothes -- when it's cold out, I'd need post-workout clothes to travel home in. But maybe. If i was going to do that, i might have C get picked up by a sitter every day. Since Eleanor is getting picked up anyway, it wouldn't be so expensive.

I'd love to not get up any earlier than i have to, because, of course, getting more sleep means being less stressed. And it's hard for me to go to bed super early... but on the other hand, i wonder if i might be a lot less stressed if i didn't have to worry about squeezing the workout in? With Calliope getting picked up, I could stay longer at work. which sounds nuts, TRYING to stay at work longer, but not having to rush out of work sounds strangely relaxing. it's that constant rushing that makes me so stressed. last year felt like i was sprinting every day from 5:30 AM to 6:30 pm every day.

I also just joined a subscription food service called Su.n Basket. It sounds not entirely UNstressful, because they send me a bunch of pre-measured ingredients that I have to cook, and each meal takes roughly a half hour to prepare. I generally cook simple meals that take a lot less time than that. However, I really, really miss going out for nice restaurant meals. It's one of my favorite things about living in NYC. I'm definitely a foodie. I find food and flavors so interesting. So this is a nice compromise for me -- I get to try interesting foods without having to schedule babysitters to go out to eat, not to mention spending a lot more money. Not the same as eating out, for sure, but a step up from having the same boring meals every week. And this particular company offers gluten free meals, among other options (also Paleo, which is gluten free and dairy free, and vegetarian). The first week I had chicken shakatori meals with a ginger dipping sauce, Vietanemse stir fried beef with roasted sweet potato slices with ginger topping, and Mediterranean cod in a fresh tomato broth. All delicious and organic and for the fish, and meat, sustainably grown or harvested. Not cheap, but feeding my soul as well as my body and I certainly couldn't buy all those ingredients that cheaply. So I'm feeling really good about that.

If any readers are interested in trying it, let me know and I can send you a promo code for three free meals! I got to try it because my brother and SIL had some meals they couldn't use and gifted to me. So good.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Sixteen Months and Home Again, Home Again

Phew. Sixteen months is TOUGH. She is opinionated and cheerfully defiant. She moves fast, with confidence, and absolutely zero common sense. She hits and scratches both me and Calliope. At least it doesn't hurt. Yet. But it does hurt when she pulls Calliope's hair.

She's also ridiculously charming and adorable. Both her speaking and signing abilities continue to develop quickly. She's finally getting front teeth. She delights in puddles. Other New Yorkers seem taken aback by my willingness to let my baby squat in a puddle and poke at it with her finger. They haven't gone to battle with her.

Despite her strong opinions, she's a happy girl. Apart from our all to common disagreements, she almost never cries.

She's generally fearless. Loves people. The other day at a baseball game, she kept running up to one woman, a random stranger, and passionately throwing her arms around the woman's leg and hugging.
Likewise she walked up to an unknown dark skinned woman, peered up at her, and asked, "Mama?"

I think she may be keeping her options on the mother front. Just in case things between us don't work out.

Mostly we are good but today... It's possible that I roared at her, "Amelie, would you chill the f*ck out???!!!!"

I was trying to bring a stroller-full of old blinds (we had new black out blinds installed -- I'm in love!) plus some cardboard, plus both girls, of course, downstairs by elevator then across the building lobby to the trash and recycling area at the far end of the building. Amelie loves to walk, rather than ride in the stroller, so I was hoping she would cooperate. But instead, every time my amazingly helpful almost five year old tried to cheerfully coral her little sister, said younger sister would scream at the top of her lungs. Meanwhile I'm trying to move several loads at once, plus not leave any child stranded in either the elevator or a floor other than the one I'm on, and this particular elevator door closes rather violently, so I had to keep everyone's limbs out of harm's way... and the screaming just pushed me over the end.

Especially since we were on our way to a new playground (admittedly after dropping off a package at a UPS drop location) as soon as we got this ugly mess of cardboard and blinds out of my apartment.

So I figured that cursing my toddler out, at the top of my lungs, and probably in the hearing of other adults, was the only reasonable option.

It worked out really well, of course. She burst into tears of abject terror. I didn't stop working to comfort her.

Luckily once we got outside, all was forgiven. She happily toddled along, mostly letting me hold her hand to cross streets (I held her hand regardless, just to be clear, but it's nice when she lets me and doesn't fight.)

I remember that this was the hardest age for me with Calliope, and that things started to get easier at about 18 months. I think. I hope.

In other news, we are home from Woodstock. We had a fabulous time but we were ready to come home, too. I miss the laundry room and the playroom in Woodstock quite keenly, but I could never live so far from civilization. We went swimming all the time, and did a little hiking, but I could never live in a place where there isn't more to do. I'm a city girl with a love for the outdoors.

Calliope had a great final week at camp, admittedly a bit subdued without a friend there to give her courage. She started swimming underwater -- figured it out on her own. She also managed the monkey bars on her own, if a slightly abridged version. She wants to work next on jumping into deep water. She's practicing her (self taught) ballet skills all the time through invented wobbly poses, and is keen to get pointe shoes, despite the fact that I tell her it won't be before age 10. She's thinking about giving up her thumb sucking... but isn't quite ready to commit. And perhaps because of my reading in Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings or maybe just because of her own sweet self... she's become such an amazing little helper. She helps with Amelie constantly. She's my other pair of eyes and hands whenever we go out. She offered to do the dishes tonight. She shares her treats with her sister without stinting or complaint. I don't know what I did to be so lucky but I'm beyond grateful.

As for me... coming home was challenging. Unpacking and cleaning up is exhausting without help with the children. I actually had help for the first few hours -- hired our fall after school babysitter to come hang out with the kids. So I did as much as I possibly could while she was there, but of course I was already tired from packing up the Woodstock house (after a monthlong stay there's a lot to do) earlier in the day, plus driving into the city. So I couldn't finish everything. And since then, it's very much two steps forward and one step back. I get a little done while the kids are awake, but it feels like such a slog sometimes, because of course I'm still cooking meals and serving them and cleaning up from them, and changing diapers and sunscreening small bodies and... and then I feel compelled to get them out of the apartment once or twice a day... not much time for actually connecting with them. I can't quite figure out how to deal with that. Is it better to get them outside for fresh air and exercise and a change of scenery, or to stay home where it's eventually pretty boring but at least we can actually really focus on each other?

Rainy day exploration of the driveway in Woodstock

How much fun can a person have???

Calliope couldn't muster a smile because she was STARVING. It had been at least ten minutes since her last snack.

Building fairy houses together. Can you see the mushroom table inside with
berries and "salad" on top? 
Not all who wander are lost.
But this wanderer usually is.
Such a thrill to see my girls enjoying nature with relative freedom.
Our annual summer vacation with SMC Jenn and Luna. 

Summer daffodils, freshly scrubbed.
Happy Interdependence Day! (Calliope and Eleanor)