Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Clarity For a Moment








































I just got off the phone with my brother (who can be great sometimes... which makes our occasional conflicts all the more hurtful, but that's for another day) and he helped me clarify things. I know how quickly the anxiety creeps back into my restless mind so I'm going to write it all down and see if I can save it for the next anxious day.

He asked me what idea brings me joy. Mexico. Without a doubt. Mexico and getting to watch my girls grow up. Slowing down. Watching the proverbial ants in the sidewalk. Seeing my girls speak fluently in Spanish.

I think about how (some) older people say that the happiest time in their lives was when their children were small... but they didn't realize it back then. I don't mean to romanticize small children. Certainly there is plenty of drudgery and potty accidents and spilled milk and temper tantrums. But also. My heart has never been so full. My miracles!

My brother was asking me about the jobs I'm currently interviewing for. He asked me if I was excited about them. I laughed ruefully. Not so much. It's more of the same work I'm doing now, but starting over in a new community. One that almost certainly won't match the one I'm in now... where I'm already bored of the work. I stay because Calliope is in the building, and I love getting to know her teachers and her classmates and being a part of something amazing. This school is truly exceptional.

But moving to a new school, with a more limited population (high school only or middle and high school) and having to build all new relationships and figuring out how to get Calliope to one school and me to another... not exciting. It sounds tiring. Like trying to mentally and physically hang on for the next school vacation.

The interview yesterday went well. But I didn't love the medical director. She might or might not be my collaborating physician at my theoretical new job with them. But I've adored my thee consecutive medical directors I've had the pleasure of working with at my current job. And what a difference it makes. My previous job, which was the same place I interviewed at, I did not love my collaborating physician and it was hard. Of course I was a new provider back then so needed more support back then than I do now. Still, I'm a person that likes to collaborate with my colleagues. If I have an intimidating or unpleasant collaborating physician, I'm unlikely to do that.

My plan had been to try and get as far along in the interviewing process and then introduce the idea of taking time off when I get an offer, or close to it.

But my brother pointed out that maybe that plan is creating a lot of undue stress. Why interview now for jobs I don't want? Why not plan on Mexico and see how I feel? He and I can both imagine a big possibility that time in Mexico might lead to as yet unimagined possibilities. Either here or there. Maybe I need space to dream.

Why not do the thing that brings me joy? I haven't had trouble getting interviews so far and I've barely spent any time looking. (I recognize that this is an enormous blessing, as it hasn't always been that way, and I'm enormously grateful for that.) Why not plan for an entire year in Mexico? I can always come back if I hate it. Of course I'll have to figure out how to sublet my apartment and a million other details. But one rarely regrets the opportunities she's taken. Usually regrets are for the things left undone.

Like becoming an SMC -- the best thing I've ever done -- maybe it's time to take the leap.

Our best friends and nanny-shares for almost five years now.  Our Brooklyn family. Will be very hard to leave them.

Wonderful kind school friends

Who wouldn't want more time with this?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Living With Uncertainty

We received news at work a few weeks ago that the state had cut our budget by two thirds.

We are hoping the city council might approve $3 million to support NYC school based health centers. No idea when that is being voted on. I've adapted a letter which should be sent to all the families in our school building (which houses two different school), asking them to call their city council members to ask for their support of the measure. The school and the PTA offered to help me send out the letters but so far haven't responded to my draft... Stressful.

Then there's the possibility that our hospital (which also provides some of the funding for our clinics) will close some but not all of the clinics. If they decide by performance, I won't have any worries. But if our union intercedes, I could have issues because I have fewer years of seniority than two of my colleagues. It's a strange situation because we were unionized at our previous hospital but we were acquired by a non unionized hospital. So we're this tiny pocket of unionized staff in an otherwise non-union hospital. The hospital wants us to leave the union but of course then we face pay cuts and working during the summer...

I've been contacted by a couple of recruiters and interviewed with one school based health program in lower Manhattan. It looks amazing, like a professional health clinic with gorgeous facilities including dental care and health educators (who do time consuming tasks like reviewing birth control options to teens so I can do more clinical work) and time for administrative work. But I didn't get a warm feeling from the two folks who interviewed me, and they didn't respond to my thank you note. That might just be because I told them I wasn't available to accept a position yet and would have to wait until I hear about my current job. But of course it worries me.

So last week I followed up with the other recruiter and just this morning sent times I'm available to interview for positions in Brooklyn. I actually worked for this school based health program when I first graduated but I left my job there (split between two different sites, and a second NP at each) for my dream job at this school, working with preK-12th grades, two blocks from my (then) home and with summers off. I've been here ever since, more than ten years.

They now offer summers off and a slightly higher salary than I get now, with a productivity bonus to boot. So that sounds great... except for the fact that I won't be in the same building with Calliope anymore. And I'll have to figure out how to get her to and from school. All of which are first world problems, I admit, but are still challenges. I'm rather heartbroken at the idea of not being a part of her school community anymore. It's not like I see her all that much but I love that I know her teachers as colleagues and am here if she ever needs me.

Then there's my other, zanier, ideas. See right now my childcare budget is out of control. I am burning through savings and will continue to do so for the next two years, until Amelie starts public PreK. And I'm so busy. And frequently stressed. For the amount of savings I spend each year, I believe I could live without working in Mexico. Not forever, but for a year or two. And I would get to spend time with my girls! They would learn Spanish! (Well, Amelie is with a Spanish speaking nanny but Calliope only speaks a little Spanish and it would be different for both of them, and me too, to be really immersed in a Spanish speaking culture.)

It all sounds quite dreamy. But then the details get me down. Figuring out health insurance. Figuring out the details of subletting my apartment. Just how much stuff would I have to empty out? Is there enough of an expat community there to keep our social selves happy? Would I homeschool Calliope or send her to private schools there? Would private school costs eat up my ability to live affordably there?

If not for summers off (here), I think I would want to try other kinds of work. It's hard to imagine starting over in a new school community after investing ten years here. But. Summers off.

So then I start thinking about part time work. Something that keeps my childcare costs low. Another SMC told me she's making a killing off her part time lice removal business.

And someone else told me I should pursue medical concierge service. Like, being an on call medical provider that makes house calls. People actually pay for membership into such a service, even apart for the cost of the visit. My friend used this when she lived in Toronto and loved it and said people will pay a huge premium for the convenience. But. How do I figure out all the logistics? Medicals supplies. Scheduling. Back up.

I've contacted a pediatrician I used to know to ask if I could shadow her in August, just in case I go this route and need to see babies and toddlers again. I'm out of practice with them. I've got Spanish immersion camp for two weeks for the girls so I could shadow her then, assuming the dates work for her then. And then I think about all the money I'm spending, between going to Mexico for an exploration of it as an option plus Spanish immersion camp -- I only meant to do one or the other, not both.

I get so overwhelmed that I start praying I won't lose my job because there's too many choices. Which seems ridiculous. In my heart of hearts, I know my priority is more time with my girls while they are still young. Staying at this job serves that purpose, because I'll get more time with them in the long run, by being in the building where they go to school. But if I lose this job... going straight into another, similar job when I am already rather burned out and wishing for more time with them and instead having to invest extra time in commuting and building a reputation in a new place... that seems crazy. Versus taking a year or two with my girls, either in Mexico, or here, trying to build a part time gig.

Of course I haven't even addressed the potential heartbreak of letting my nanny go, and the enormous guilt I would feel over that.

Goodness. My head is spinning.

Trying very very hard to stay in the present and remember I'm not going to make any decisions until I know about my job. But I don't know when I'll know and it's hard.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Heartbeat!







































Last week, after several weeks of anxious waiting... Leslie saw the heartbeat of her tiny embryo on the ultrasound screen! I'm going to be a Super Auntie! (we are calling the future siblings Super Cousins, since genetically they are siblings but obviously not being raised that way). I couldn't be more thrilled... and relieved!

I sent these to Leslie for her first Mother's Day. Wishing her a lot less sleep for her second one.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Living In the Moment: A Blissful Morning

Not today, alas. But Sunday morning I remember being very present in the moment. We invited friends to go to breakfast with us but no one was available. And it ended up being just perfect, just the three of us. A complete family unit.




A reason to live in the moment.
I went to Bethany's memorial last week. Incredibly moving.
I miss you, my friend. 


Amelie loves this game. Of frowning and looking through her eyebrows, practically, then
tipping her head back as far as it will go. Over and over again.
No idea why she does this but I know one day soon she will stop and soon I'll forget she
ever did it.

That says "happy birthday Annabelle heart Calliope"
In case you can't read kindergarten-ese. I'm a little bit obsessed with it.

"Butterflies and Flowers"


Embryo Donation Update: They've Shipped! Transfer Date is in Two Days

The title pretty much says it all. We finished our paperwork and the embryos shipped to the west coast last week.

Leslie also started her medications for preparing her lining last week and started progesterone shots three nights ago.

If all goes according to plan, one of my frozen embryos will be transferred to her uterus in just two days!

The closer we get to transfer date, the more certain I am that this is the right plan for me. And us. The more confident I am that my embryo(s) belong with her. That my childbearing days are over.

But I'm very excited for us to stay close, for me to be an auntie and for my children to be "super cousins" to this hoped-for new baby. I hope Leslie and I will develop a more comfortable and multi-dimensional friendship over time. Right now I think we are both a little awkward in figuring out boundaries and commonalities. I'm thrilled to hear her progress reports but at the same time am wary of texting with questions of how she's doing for fear of overstepping. I imagine she struggles with some of the same issues.

Now I'm just praying for good news as quickly as possible. She's been through so much. I would so love for this to work the first time!!!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Happy Second Birthday Amelie!

Her one year old birthday outfit still fits!

Some of those two years of Amelie are showing up on Mommy's face!


Amelie's favorite people: Leo, Eleanor, Calliope, and Annabelle

Birthday morning in pompom dress and with birthday doggie

Birthday family with the ice cream cake I made -- chocolate and vanilla with an Oreo crust
(both of my girls take after me as a child -- I refused to eat cake)

Sweet birthday girl

"Helping" Mommy fold the laundry -- modeling my socks as thigh-highs and wearing my
underwear sideways as a skirt. She's obsessed with dressing herself.



Monday, March 20, 2017

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Snow Day Spent Entirely Indoors

Total concentration as she works with ooblek. 

Hanukkah house decorating! Better late than never!

Cuddles over morning milk

I'm so lucky that these two are so affectionate!

Teaching An Old Dog (and Her Young Pups) Some New Tricks

First off, Amelie has learned to count to ten. I'm especially impressed because I don't think she's heard counting (beyond three) all that often. I instituted a new rule recently wherein, after one reminder to not splash in the tub, a repeat splasher is bodily removed from the tub and forced to stand naked and wet on the bathmat for a count of ten before being returned back to the warm bath.

We've only done in a few times but apparently it made a big impression. She whispers the last two numbers in the video because my friend Jen, in an effort to help her, whispered "eight" to her so Amelie thought that was a clue that she was supposed to whisper.

video


Calliope, not to be outdone, has started writing words and sentences! Her school is very progressive (or old school, depending on your outlook) and doesn't believe in pushing children to read. So they only started studying the sounds of letters in January. And now, apparently, they are teaching the children to sound out words. Calliope seems enchanted with the idea.

Sorry it's sideways.
Written right to left, it says "thank you? (because she loves question marks, not because it's a 
question). I love (the) book." And there's a drawing of the sketchpad and colored pencils she
was given. 


I'm thrilled to watch the transformation into a reader (not there yet) and seeing the excitement and pride on her face when she figures things out. I am also, I note, a little bit relieved to see her start this work, even though, in theory, I support her school and their laid back approach entirely. I see them produce hundreds of students over the years who are bright and inquisitive and best of all, love going to school, so I know they are doing something right but it's still a little nerve wracking when it's your own kid.

As for me... Jamaica was transformative. I came back feeling like I had pressed a giant "reset" button. After missing my first two afternoon workouts because of hectic days at the clinic, and inspired by fellow SMC Sacha on the trip, who told me she gets up at 4:45 AM to work out before work... I started setting my alarm for 5 AM. And mostly getting up the very first time it goes off. And getting myself set to work out with very little wasting of time.

This requires going to bed earlier, and inspired again by Sacha, I'm making good progress here too. I set a bedtime alarm on my phone that reminds me and although I'm not where I want to be, I'm a lot better.

I also started a new workout program. I signed up for Dai.ly Burn and I input my preferences and voila... it sends me a new workout to do each day! It's fun having some variety to my workouts after doing T25 for so long.

Also, and this perhaps the biggest change... after writing a post to the SMC Forum about how to stop using nighttime snacking as an emotional crutch... I've committed to myself to eating dinner without distractions every night. For at least two weeks. Tonight was night two.

I did this exercise a few years ago, pre-kids, and it was really hard at first. I got very depressed initially. So I was worried about that happening this time around but actually, I am finding it much easier this time. It's kind of nice to sit down alone (I tried doing it with the kids two nights ago and my god, it's no fun AT ALL to eat with them -- all that whining and jumping up and down! no thank you!) at a nice clean table with a nice plate of food and just my thoughts for company.

I ended up getting really hungry after getting into bed and so I had a granola bar but hey, I didn't read or do anything else while I ate it. Progress!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Twenty Two and Twenty Three Months... Tons of Photos Because Who Can Remember What We've Been Up To?

As always, life is busy.

But I realized I'm doing well with my New Year's Resolution to be more present. Not much yelling nowadays. Today I got up and worked out at 5 am instead of doing it after work (for boring and complicated reasons) and it ended up being SO nice. Motivated me to go to bed earlier and it was lovely to feel less rushed at the end of the day. I used some of the time to cook my dinner with Amelie's "assistance" (among other things, she ate half the lime that was meant for my recipe!) and to read to Calliope.

We had a spectacular trip to Franklin D. Resort in Jamaica, where every room comes with a nanny (and an extra nanny, luckily for me, is only $25/day). We were with about 13 other SMC families. We had a blast! The girls loved the water and their nannies and I LOVED the opportunity to have my first real vacation in five and a half years! I took an exercise class every day and as a result, was exhausted at night and slept nine hours a night. Unheard of since becoming a mother! And it was fabulous to have other moms to gab with at the side of the pool, and to have child-free dinners with at night. And everyone understood that life is hectic and complicated and there were no grumbles if someone didn't show up for dinner. I made some lovely new friends and can't wait to go back next February!

Amelie is doing great. Remains utterly fearless. Slid down "Big Blue" -- the water slide at FDR -- without a trace of fear, laughing the whole way down. Plunges into the water without a care in the world. Happily dunks her face. Loves everyone but isn't a fan of separating from me. But if I set her on the path and let her toddler off with the nanny trailing her, she seemed perfectly content. 

I think her sentences aren't as long as some kids her age but I assume that's because of the fact that she's essentially bilingual -- her nanny mostly speaks Spanish to her. Which I'm pleased about. 

She does still have a tendency to swat or pull hair when one least expects it... but I'm learning to anticipate it just a little better. I try to "catch her" doing the right thing as much as possible, and to give lots of praise for that.

She regressed majorly with pottying while we were away but seems to have pretty much gotten back to where she was when we left. Still the occasional accident but not bad, I guess, for still less than two. 

Calliope is a delight. Very social, despite being one of the quieter kids, and unwilling to name a best friend or conceive of a party where she doesn't include everyone. I love that about her. She was a bit distant with the SMC kids at FDR, partly because the nannies were such darn good buddies that it was hard to bother with other kids. School is going great for her and life together is (mostly) just so darn pleasant. 







Ringing in the New Year with a shared love of donuts from Dough. 
Fellow SMC child Rian.

Babywearing baby

Being babies 

Calliope with two of her besties, Peyton and Maya.

Inspired by Leo's double headbands, everyone had to wear a headband.

Cookie decorating at a birthday party

Group effort creating Calliope's poster for the Women's March (with after school sitter Isabel).

The artist at work.
"Donald Trump: Stop Saying Mean Things About Girls And People With Dark Skin!
-- Calliope, Age 5"

Ice skating buddies. Alas, she didn't much like the lessons...
but did really well at free skate afterwards.
And really liked the hot chocolate with marshmallows, too.

Thumb/finger suckers Not-So-Anonymous



Sisters before Calliope's first big Broadway show

Amelie had a good time at home despite being left behind 
(and her howls of protest)

Times Square with Uncle Scott after the show. She was impressed. 

Snow Day Baking Buddies. Not everyone was wearing pants. 

Sleep Under Valentine's Day Party at Calliope's house -- our first time hosting a real party!
Everyone seemed to have a good time. This was after Valentine making and pinata smashing and cookie decorating...
everyone changed into jammies for a "movie" (Amazon Prime show) and popcorn. The "sleep under" part means that they
do everything EXCEPT sleep over.

Yet another bestie of Calliope's.

My delicious personal greeter after a long day of work

Our annual Valentine's Day card.

Celebrating Calliope's long awaited half birthday

First time on the big girl swings. Jamaica.

Proud to have her long awaited braids. 

Girls are in bed, babysitter is babysitting, and I'm off to an adults only dinner!
Franklin D Resort, Runaway Bay, Jamaica

Jamaican sunset

Fabulous nanny Karlene. This is the one that Bethany and Elsie loved. 
Elsie and Calliope would have shared her if they had been with us.

Fellow SMC blogger Tara!!!

Both our wonderful nannies! Because it turned out that one is not sufficient when you have an entirely fearless, water
loving toddler like my girl Amelie!

The beautiful spa at FDR.

The gorgeous beach at the resort next door (where we were welcome to swim). 
There's coral reef practically within spitting distance -- no need for a boat to get to it.

One of the treatment rooms at the Seagrape Spa at FDR.  Not only did the windows look directly out to the water but you could also hear waves crashing beneath you during your massage.

My big girl and me on our one (!) excursion off property. We went to see bioluminescent
algae. Pretty neat.

Our mutual photographer posted this gorgeous photo of Bethany on FB.
I thought of her a lot on this trip. She loved FDR so much and now I see why.
Forever grateful.