Saturday, December 30, 2017

He's Here!

Lucky, our donor embryo sibling, was born just after midnight on December 25th. Since his family celebrates Christmas (ours does not), he's a Christmas baby for them.

He was 7 lb 14 oz and 21 inches long.

Calliope and I were lucky enough to get to meet him when he was just 36 hours old.

He's gorgeous... unlike my newborns! 

I was very nervous to meet him -- but also glad I was going to be able to get it "over with" early.

But it ended up being very easy. I was thrilled to meet him like I would be thrilled to meet the brand new baby of any close friend. What's funny is, of course, that Leslie and I were not close friends at all before this all started. And now we are in this strangely intimate relationship where we have this amazing connection on one level and so many gaps in knowing each other on another level.

But being together was wonderful. While I didn't feel a particular connection to him, it was wonderful to cuddle a snuggle newborn... until Calliope politely made it clear that my lap was her real estate, not Lucky's. I was so happy to get to see her parents being so in love with their first grandchild, and to meet her proud brother and his wife for the first time. 

I read an article on FB today that was posted by an adoptive friend of mine. The article talked about the sense of loss that adoptive children often experience. And how using the language of adoptive parents "choosing" their children makes children aware, then, of how someone else didn't choose them. So nowadays it's apparently recommended that adoptive parents instead just say that the birth parents were unable to care for their biological children, hence the adoptive parents stepping in.

Reading this made me wonder if Lucky will feel a sense of loss as adoptive children do? I certainly hope not -- and certainly, this is different from adoption -- but I can't know for sure that he, or my girls for that matter, won't feel a sense of loss about his upbringing.
We are smitten.

Showing Lucky his Birth Day cupcake from Calliope

Monday, December 18, 2017

Is Something Missing?

I've been struggling to do the Geneen Roth style intuitive eating.

Partly it's that I just don't always want to think about every morsel going into my mouth. I don't think I drastically overeat but being hyperconscious of every bite is exhausting.

Perhaps because of this, I don't feel like I've lost any weight and in fact I feel like I've gained a little.

It feels impossible for me to lose weight but gaining is frustrating. I'm wondering if I need to cut out sugar again. And maybe wheat as well? Even though I HATE the feeling of having food rules.

But then I start thinking that something is missing from my life. And I think that thing is... FUN.

I'm not getting enough pleasure in life. Deferred pleasure from making my children is lovely but it's not enough by itself. I had been trying to go out twice a month for a Mama's night out but things fell by the wayside with all the real estate transactions and preparing for renovations. I think I've been out once in the last month.

(I got to go ice skating with Calliope yesterday and she wanted to skate together, holding hands, and it was very sweet. The sun, the cold air, the music, watching her gleefully glide across the ice.... all brought a smile to my face. Everything apart from bringing her home with her friend Eleanor and listening to them squabble the whole time.)

This sounds silly but I think reading -- you know, actually BOOKS, not the Forum or Facebook -- would help me recharge. Reading feels like practically sinful self care. But it's hard to find a book that excites me. And then my library card just stopped working for some reason. Usually I use it to download ebooks (so I never have to actually go to the library). So now I can't use my library card until I can make time to go to the library. Not easy when I commute with a six year old who is slow moving, especially when the commute involves extra walking. But I have one afternoon commute this week where I am traveling solo. I just have to plan ahead.

I hope that might help.

Anyone else suffer from a lack of mom oriented fun in her life? What have you done to help yourself recharge? (Hint: bubble baths aren't my thing and sweets clearly aren't working well for me.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Peace... and A Reminder to Myself Of What to Think About When I Lose My Way

Relaxing over hot chocolate after skating lessons 

Well, apparently dumping all that yesterday on you guys helped. I've been feeling more peaceful now.

Telling myself over and over that everything is all right for now. I have my job. I have my girls. I have this soon-to-be beautiful apartment that I got to design to my specifications. Lucky lucky me.

IF I'm told that I will lose my job... I will not panic. Not begin posting my resume far and wide within ten minutes of getting the news. I will breathe. And wait.

I will give myself time to figure out what << I >> really want. Without inserting the needs and desires of potential future employers. Most likely,  I will decide to take the girls to Mexico for the rest of the school year. I will try to find a renter for that time without committing to a full year, as my real estate broker insists I need to. I can at least TRY to find someone before sacrificing what feels safest for me, which is just the school year. And not get rid of or sell all my belongings, either.

I should be able to rent out the new place for a good sum so that would cover our living expenses, hooray!

And IF we go to Mexico, I can not work at first and just BE. Be with my girls, figure out schooling for them without urgency. Maybe volunteer part time at first -- but not right away -- at the amazing non profit down there. Take some Spanish classes. Breathe. And only once I feel centered, make decisions.

The only thing I need to do right now is figure out when and how long I want to visit Mexico this summer. This seems like a good idea, to spend more time there and find out more about what it might be like to live there. Spend some time at the non profit that would give me a job should I need one. Lucky me, I know!

"Visiting Christmas" at a friend's since we don't celebrate -- trimming the tree and
dressing up as angels.

Help walking ont the wall with beloved SMC friend Annabelle -- she lives downstairs
and she and her mom are family to us. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Renovations Starting Soon, and Job Stress

Isn't that an enticing title? Ugh.

Things are about to start happening quickly with the new apartment. The contractor came by last night to pick up keys and a check. Tomorrow, Wednesday, he and the demolition guy will start removing the kitchen cabinets and floor. The closet and bathroom doors will go as well. And Friday the kitchen cabinets, new refrigerator, and all the tiles (for both bathrooms and kitchen) will be delivered. As soon as the base cabinets are assembled (we are doing Ikea cabinets so everything has to be put together), the floor will be installed and the base cabinets so the counter template can be made next week. It takes at least two weeks for the counter to be cut to order, possibly longer since it will be done over the holidays, so that has to happen right away.

Things are moving more slowly upstairs with my current apartment. I live in a big co-op building and unfortunately our slow moving management company still hasn't finished the building's financial statements for 2016... as we near the end of 2017. Unbelievable. Understandably, the buyer's attorney wants to see those statements before his clients sign a contract. But it's now been close to three weeks since I verbally accepted their offer (on Thanksgiving Day) and I'm starting to get a little anxious. Luckily they agreed yesterday to put their deposit into escrow even before seeing the financials. And our building manager thinks the financial documents will be ready in a week or less. As soon as they review those documents, they will sign the contract and send it over to me. Once I sign it, they still have to get their financing in place and also do an application for the co-op board. Reviewing that application by the board can easily take a month and I assume they won't start until the financing is in place, though I'm not sure about that part. So the three month clock for all this hasn't even started yet. It's amazing that we can stay in my current apartment while the new one is being renovated but I'd rather not own two apartments for too long. Still, I'm mostly reassured that things are very likely to work out just fine.

Work is less promising. Supposedly "people" are pursuing funding to make up for our massive budget cuts from the state. That has to be figured out by the end of the year. I am still getting my paycheck -- I guess I should be grateful for that! -- but they haven't paid into our union pension fund in many years. Our funding right now is only for the year -- typically we get funding from the state in five year cycles. For some reason this cycle the state decided to take two thirds of our funding and give it to upstate New York to start new clinics there. While I applaud the expansion of school based clinics everywhere, stealing from Peter to pay Paul seems asinine. And so we limp along. Without any supplies so far, though supposedly they are coming... soon.

What is especially frustrating to me that some of our clinics -- mine and my colleague Anna's -- are very productive. We see a lot of patients. We diligently collect insurance information -- my assistant is constantly sending requests home for updated insurance informaton. We work HARD. And then our other two sites... One sees about 25% as many patients as I do. The other sees more patients... but only as first aid visits, none as billable visits. I think her feeling is that her patient families won't agree to share insurance information. I think this is bullshit. I think some of her families don't want to and so she shrugs and gives up without explaining that this is not a free program -- we rely on reimbursement from insurance companies in order to fund a program that provides health care, free of charge (to patients) for all children, regardless of insurance and immigration status.

Needless to say, this is infuriating. And we aren't, it seems, allowed to talk about it. And my colleagues are just accepted as is. They won't lay them off because they feel, it seems, it's not their faults. Again, bullshit. I work hard because I choose to. They could make the same choice. They could petition the school and the PTA to help educate parents about why they need insurance cards from families. But it's work. And it's easier not to do work.

Oh, and my vaccine refrigerator keeps malfunctioning. Despite being brand new. And each time I lose thousands of dollars in vaccines. That our program will be billed for. (My colleague who only does first aid visits hasn't given a single vaccine in YEARS. I give hundreds each year. But zero at the moment... despite a list of children who don't receive mandatory vaccines immediately.)

So I'm walking around with low level anxiety all the time. It never leaves me lately. I thought explaining all that might make me feel better. Unloading it.

And then there's our current political climate which just feels unbearable.

It's enough to make a person wonder if she has an anxiety disorder.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Real Estate Update

Things continue to go amazingly, surprisingly well.

I had my first open house the Sunday before Thanksgiving and the sign in sheet was completely full. I was (am) very lucky because since my broker was also the seller of an apartment in our building, she sent all interested folks from her apartment (there were quite a few disappointed buyers when she accepted my offer) over to see mine.

I was also very lucky that my seller, Alex, also my broker for selling my place let me store things in her, soon to be my, apartment two floors down. That helped enormously with staging. I moved as many things as I could and my apartment now looks very spartan and neat. I also had my super paint the entrance hallways and the kitchen and dining area and the fresh coat of white paint made everything feel shiny and clean.

I actually had several offers within the first few days, despite it being the week of Thanksgiving. Again, amazing luck, and again, almost certainly due to the fact that they had been circling around Alex's apartment for several weeks (she didn't get her first offers nearly as quickly). I accepted an offer on Thanksgiving Day and we are all working on the contract now. Hopefully that will be finished in the next few days and then we will close 2-3 months after that.

Meanwhile the closing for my new apartment is scheduled for next Wednesday. Very exciting, very quick. Luckily I already live in the building so I don't have to go in front of the co-op board; the preparations for that can be quite time consuming.

I've been busily interviewing contractors and researching kitchen designs online and have made lots and lots of decisions. I have hired an amazing architect/builder team (well, the architect is amazing... I haven't met the builder yet) and they start a week after I close on my new place.

After multiple rave reviews about the Ikea kitchens from contractors and architects, I decided to commit to Ikea. I used their kitchen planning service and got refunded the cost of the service when I bought the kitchen. It was so exciting to design and plan my own kitchen! A fantasy I never let myself entertain before. Since the cabinets were inexpensive, I splurged a bit on a gorgeous quartz countertop that looks a lot like marble but will hopefully be more durable.

Counter top (white quartz composite with few faint threads of grey)
backsplash (a sort of mother of pearl blue) 

Last night I went back to this amazing tile store a contractor recommended and finalized my selections for the kitchen and master bath floors (faux wood porcelain tile with cork underneath to warm and soften it) and the kids bath (a pretty blue square tile) and the master bath shower floor -- a gorgeous multicolor pebble floor. The master bath will have a faux marble quartz tile on the walls and the kids have white brick tiles with a fun blue grey "pennies" accent.

Faux wood tiles for kitchen and master bath. 

white tile walls with accent "pennies" border. There will be white grout around them
so it will look much brighter when it's installed.

The blue square is the kids' bathroom floor next to the accent pennies.
(The faux wood behind them was the other option for the kids' floor but I decided the blue
was a bit more "playful" for kids.)

Master bath shower floor. How fun is this?

I had so much fun picking it out, though the freedom was a bit terrifying at times. These are choices that I and possibly future tenants will live with for years to come! What if I make a mistake?

Meeting with all these contractors and running all these errands and cost me quite a bit in babysitting funds but things are mostly done and should quiet down for a while... although of course paying the contractors will be a big event. But I'm trying to remember that this is a smart financial investment as well as an investment in our happiness.

Hopefully we will move downstairs in two months or less!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Exhiliarating, Exciting, Anxious, Demoralizing Weeks

First, the great and exciting news: it looks like I am purchasing a three bedroom apartment, two floors down from me. As much as I don't like the way the building is run, it's home. And I love my apartment. And my neighbors, especially the fact that one of my best friends lives one floor down from me (one floor up once we move). We are not just good friends but also important sources of logistical support to each other since she is an SMC too. Our girls are like cousins and adore each other.

It's a strange thing, buying a new apartment. I'm beyond thrilled to have an additional bedroom. But I love my current apartment and the new one isn't as nice... yet. My current place was redone in the few years before I moved in, and it looks nice. The kitchen is shiny and bright (though the veneer is starting to peel off the cabinets in a couple of hidden areas) and the bathrooms are relatively current. I'm also on the top floor of my building and have a relatively large terrace (which I never use because I'm too paranoid about the kids falling, even though piratically speaking, it seems extremely safe).

The new apartment overall looks a lot like my current one in terms of overall look, but it's two floors down so a little bit darker. And it's crowded with an excess of furniture (even with the seller attempting to pare way back for staging). And the kitchen looks ancient and so do the bathrooms.

But. I am going to be able to make over the kitchen and bathrooms to my specifications. Something I never dared fantasize about, but now that I have the unexpected opportunity... wow. My sister and brother have both built new kitchens and bathrooms in the last couple of years and I would have drooled with envy over both of them if I had let my head "go there." But I didn't dare, and made the best of life in my comfortable if slightly cluttered and crowded space.

But the thought that I could have the kitchen of my dreams, at least, if my dream kitchen was a galley kitchen... wow. I'm very very excited.

But also overwhelmed and intimidated. My friend Talia is an architect and very generously came over and measured some things and also shared a recommendation for a contractor she likes, Larry. I talked to him once and he was lovely but now he won't return my calls. He did deign to return one text, when I asked what his window of availability will be to work with me. Which was nice? Should I be grateful? I know that contractors are notoriously hard to work with but if we haven't even started to work together and he's already not returning my calls... that feels ominous. Not sure what to do about that. I did reach out to the neigborhood listserves and get some recommendations... but of course they aren't from professionals like my friend. And I have a friend who is a handywoman that is coming over to look at things... not sure if it's too big of a job for her. Or if she can handle it, staying with her mom in NJ most of the time.

The one time I did get to talk to Larry, he was great. Which is part of why this is so confusing. But he told me that he wants all the materials ready before he starts, so he doesn't have to waste any time. Any supplies he has to purchase adds 10% to the cost. Fair enough. But cabinets can take a while to get made, depending on where I get them made. Both he and Talia recommended Ikea so I am going there tonight... luxuriously alone. I'll get dinner and hopefully spend time with a kitchen planner. I've already done a bunch of research so I have pamphlets of info and tons of ideas and even my laptop, in case they get show me how to use their kitchen planning tool on my own computer.

So I am very much hoping I might be able to get everything lined up for placing an order... but then possibly wait until Black Friday to pull the trigger on purchasing it. Talia recommended their appliances (apparently made by Whirlpool, who knew?) too so it could be a big purchase.

Then I have to figure out flooring... there's crappy plastic fake wood squares in the kitchen, and real wood planks in the rest of the house. And I want an extra deep bathtub for the girls' bathroom, and a frameless glass shower for my bathroom... and what do I know about ordering these things???

Talia gave me some good recommendations for some of these things but I wish I had a little hand holding from someone knowledgeable and patient.

In the past two weeks I also put 10% of the purchase price on the new place into escrow, signed the contract, and signed paperwork to list my current home. Then I also massively decluttered my apartment and moved all the excess into the downstairs apartment. The super painted the hallway, kitchen, and dining area. I need to pluck some picture hooks out of the hallway, clean off my desk and hall table, and make sure every last toy is put away and then I am ready for professional photos of my (current) apartment to be taken, hopefully early next week. Open house will be the following Sunday. Right before Thanksgiving. Not ideal timing for negotiating the best prices, holiday season, but my broker (did I mention she's also the seller of the place I am buying???) says she has a lot of folks interested because they wanted her three bedroom but didn't get it, thanks to me. So hopefully that goes well and quickly. But not so quickly that I can't get most if not all the work done on the new place!

Is anyone still reading? This sounds insane, right? Advice???

So I've been going a million miles a minute and worked all weekend on preparing my apartment for photos and open houses with adrenaline just flooding my system. Every morning I woke up in a shit panic and leapt out of bed with a new fear but with unlimited energy to attack it. And now I'm coming down off of that mania. I'm still anxious, though a bit less, but feeling incredibly spent.

I'm not doing that well with intuitive eating the last few days. I don't think my body agrees with the introduction of white flour and in particular, toasted sesame bagels with butter. But they are so good! But I'm really not enjoying my pants feeling tighter, either. Fairly discouraging. I know i am not eating consciously all of the time, though, because I've been so stressed and then I want to unplug with food. So I can't say the method isn't working, because I know I'm eating less when I eat consciously. But I can't say I was losing even when I was eating consciously at every meal. So I don't know what to do about that.

Fall Photo Shoot 2017, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Those chubby little hands slay me.

That fierce look of adoration on Amelie's face! 

the light on her hair, the joyful laugh.

she's so elegant in her tattered tutu and hand me down tutu. not sure how she possibly came from me.

mischievous twinkle in her eye.

Amazing how her camera can capture those droplets of water.

Amelie is so much more affectionate (and willing to receive affection) than a few months ago. I'm very grateful.

I'm in awe of their bond. May it last forever.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Intuitve Eating Update

In my six remaining minutes of my lunch break -- I set a timer -- I wanted to report that I am feeling really good with intuitive eating. I've been reading and listening to works by Geneen Roth and feel inspired. And peaceful.

Because of her books and also an SMC online friend who agreed to be buddies and GR groupies together, I am really forcing myself to not multitask while eating.

I set my timer for my lunch break so that I don't force myself to start working again as soon as I am full. Otherwise that's a real punishment for stopping eating! As a result, I ate my lunch slowly and peacefully... except for my mind that was going a million miles a minute. Lots of little arguments in my head with imaginary enemies. Not sure what that's about. Seems like a little anxiety is brewing.

I love the GR approach because it's more about inner work than eating. I think that maybe, just maybe, I have reached the acceptance phase of the journey, where I accept my body with all my failings. Even if I wish it was different, a little, I accept that this what it is and I wholeheartedly declare that I won't battle my body anymore. Not even to address the prediabetes (which has resolved, at least for now). My sanity is more important.

So now I am very intentionally sitting down to dessert every single night. Last night I had a Kashi oatmeal cookie and milk. I try to eat as slowly and consciously as I can to really savor the taste but it's so hard not to let my mind wander. GR talks about a reader who says "for all that I obsess about food all day long, when I am actually eating I barely taste the food." No wonder we aren't satisfied when we eat like this!

But I feel like eating consciously and slowly also feeds my soul. Which is hungry. For something. Not entirely sure for what but this conscious self care feels good.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Struggling to Get Back to Conscious, Intuitive Eating

I’ve finally restarted having my every other Friday night babysitter (who picks up C from school so I don’t have to go home first – two separate separations from the kids would never work for them).

What a difference it makes to have some time away from children! I feel positively jubilant, just walking around the city alone as darkness falls. Very much awake and alive in a way I didn’t realize I was missing. Both times, I’ve gone to see an early movie in our local independent movie house, then met a friend for dinner afterwards.

I’d like to do more things to get that alive feeling back. I’ve just started taking Vitamin D again because I feel SO tired after work. It’s like I go go go all day long and the adrenaline keeps me strong but then I get home and collapse.

I’ve been reading and listening to book by Geneen Roth. I find that I eat when I’m tired. I love the feeling of lying on the couch and reading and snacking. But then I feel bad about myself the next morning. Just a couple of days of NOT doing this and I feel a noticeable different in my body. But now I’m back to it for the last two nights and I feel a very noticeable difference in the other direction.
Geneen Roth says that compulsive eating is a result of trauma in our childhood. When we didn’t have enough love, we learned to turn to food for love. But now that we are adults, we have other tools in our toolkits. I don’t binge to the extent of getting sick, but still, I think I’m eating when what I really need is emotional nurturing and rest. I’m trying to find ways to get that rest and refilling.

My best idea so far is to just get into bed as soon as I finish cleaning the kitchen once the kids are in bed. I think I feel more tired than I feel I am “supposed” to and so it feels crazy to get into bed before 8 pm. But reading makes me feel refilled, emotionally, and if I was in bed reading then the kitchen would be that much further away and I could just go to sleep if I felt sleepy. Right now, being sleepy makes me feel hungry.

I want to have a rule that I only eat at the kitchen table and only without reading (or watching) but that feels so hard sometimes and I don’t want to feel like I am punishing myself. I think healing has to come from a kind and gentle, non-punitive place. But on the other hand, those couple of days when I didn’t snack, I felt so good about myself. But last night was a bad night for it. I snacked too much and felt bad about myself and then stayed up even later in a self destructive way as a result.

Anyone else struggle with this?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Struggling to Find Equilibrium

We're about a month into the school year and I am still struggling to find my balance.

On the one hand, I'm enjoying my job more than I had remembered. That's a welcome surprise. I think the summer off really helped in that regard.

But the pace is really intense. Mostly because of the excessive amount of documentation that is healthcare today. If I don't do all my documentation as I see each patient, it takes me twice as long later on because I have to work a lot harder later to remember what I did. But I feel guilty keeping my young patients waiting while I do all the documenting... so I race through the documentation as fast as I can. Which makes me much more efficient but is exhausting, day in and day out. racing as fast as I can. I feel like I have adrenaline pumping all day long, except for a very welcome half hour lunch break.

The problem is when I get home... I'm suddenly exhausted. I feel bad not having more energy for my own children. Just getting the dishes done when they are finally in bed (those last fifteen minutes with them are endless) is so daunting. The prospect of doing any more than that is impossible.

Luckily I am a bit more energetic in the mornings and am managing to limp through my workouts, half assed though they may be.

I no longer have the drive, suddenly, to severely limit my sweets and eliminate gluten/processed starches. It just feels like life is too short to think about food so much. Perhaps because of that, or perhaps because of the Mirena I got 9 months ago (only to lighten or eliminate periods, nothing more), I've put on a few pounds. Which does not feel all that good. But I just don't have the energy to battle food so much anymore.

Last night I had a sitter and went out after work. My first night off from the kids since mid-August, I think. It was amazing. Walking around Cobble Hill and Park Slope by myself made me feel suddenly alive again. I went to a movie all by myself -- heavenly -- and then met a friend for dinner. I was worried I'd be too boring to make it through the meal but we had a lovely time and it was so nice to eat a restaurant meal again.

This morning I woke up annoyed to have constant company in the form of my toddler. Who had gotten into nail polish last night while I was out and painted the couch, the living room, and the hardwood floor in my bedroom. I just ordered a new rug for the living room to the tune of several hundred dollars. And then she jumped on me and her tooth somehow sliced down behind my thumb nail. The blood that collected under my nail led to awful throbbing pain. I was experimenting with heating a paper clip over the stove to "melt" a hole in my nail to drain the blood but that was shockingly hot -- a definite no-go. Luckily I was able to trim the nail enough, to my surprise, to drain the blood and it feels enormously better now. Improving my mood slightly.

So that's my life right now in a nutshell. Struggling to find equilibrium. But glad to be in Brooklyn,

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Summer 2017: Vermont photos

The gang of four on the steps of our Vermont mountain house

Everybody dressed up for Topsy Turvy Tuesday at camp

Visiting the Vermont Farm Museum on yet another perfectly gorgeous summer day

Our morning visit to the pigs at camp. Just before Amelie starts screaming as I carry her, kicking, away from camp for the day.

Leo and Amy snuggle on the deck with the amazing view.

Camp Mommy for the toddlers often consisted of swimming at the boat landing across the lake from the girls' camp

No filter. Is there a more beautiful place than my beloved camp?
that's the old hand powered Ferris wheel in the background.

One of the two times we saw double rainbows in our two weeks in Vermont

Discovering the magic that is Maple Creemees aka (real) maple syrup flavored soft serve.
(No, I didn't invent the spelling)



Practicing for the overnight

Laughing hysterically as we sing along to Sugar at the top of our lungs

Hiking the AT with the babies

Packed and ready for the overnight

Backpacking Mommies

Play time at stream by White Cottage snack bar

Summer 2017 Round Up

All in all, we had a wonderful summer. The best part of it was finding out that I had gotten my job back. I didn't realize how much stress I was carrying until this burden was suddenly gone.

As much fun as an adventure in Mexico would probably be, I'm a creature of habit and I love our life here. I would probably take the leap if not for the fact that I couldn't get this job (in my daughters' school) once I left it. Plus, after a summer off, I'm like my job again. Yay. It's fun and challenging and rewarding. And not crazy busy yet. My feelings may change back once I get swamped again. I'm searching for ways to control the pace a bit better. No real resolution yet, except for the bright idea of not trying to get as many things done for myself between patients. That might slow the pace a bit.

I'm exceedingly grateful to my job right now, in any case, for allowing me to have these magical summers off. This one was practically perfect. Here's an overview of our adventures:

  • two weeks in Vermont (I skipped the final week of school, only 1.5 days with students in the building, to give me one of these weeks off). Calliope and her friend Eleanor went to my former summer camp, an incredible Quaker community. It was wonderful to see some old friends there on staff and as parents of current campers. We stayed after camp almost every day to go swimming in the magical lake there. Slightly less magical on weekends when the horrid Canadian Geese overtook the place. Yuck.

    They loved it and the toddlers loved seeing the pigs and ducks every day (but Amelie decidedly did NOT like being forced to leave with the Mommies each day). Calliope successfully stayed the whole night for the overnight at the end! I was very proud (and surprised, especially when Eleanor opted to come home at bedtime, that C stayed).

    We shared a beautiful house on a mountaintop and appreciated the view and especially the sunset each day. The noise of having the living room on the top floor (not ideal for my napping toddler) and the general mayhem of four children in one house for two weeks was challenging for us at times -- I have a really hard time with noise (so does C sometimes) and my children are usually not loud so it was a big change for me -- but we survived. Next time I think we should have some planned separations but overall it was great.
  • two weeks back home again. I can't actually remember much of what we did. We saw some friends and went to playgrounds almost daily and visited the beach once. I love the beach and always wonder why I don't go more often but then I spend five hours cleaning sand out of everything we own and then I remember. It's always amazing to me that there are gorgeous beaches within 30 minutes of us in Brooklyn.

    I think I also spent a LOT of time cleaning up and organizing the apartment and running errands. It's really hard for me to do a lot beyond the day to day during the school year becuase I just get so tired and I'm so busy and there's so much to do just to keep up. So this was satisfying. And exhausting. I did a lot!
  • Ten days in Mexico! We flew to Mexico City, spent a night there, and then rode with a driver to San Miguel de Allende along with Jackie, fellow SMC, and her two kids, ages 6 and almost 4. We stayed in the same gated community on the outskirts of town but had our own tiny apartments which worked out well. And the community had a lovely heated pool (with shallow area for toddlers) and hot tub so the children were in heaven.

    SMA was beautiful and the people were lovely. What a warm and child loving culture! It was hard to see much in a day with so many children but we did our best and had a lovely time. I'm fantasizing about going back next summer and putting the children into day camp there for a truly immersive experience. There's a circus camp that looks amazing.
  • A week back home. It had been scheduled to be a week of cabin camping with our SMC friends Jen and Luna but I realized it was too much after the last minute Mexico trip. So we bailed on that and had a nice week at home to recover from our travels. Our friends were mostly away so we were on our own and that was nice (and rare for us) for us to bond as a family.
  • Two weeks of Spanish immersion camp in Brooklyn. Both kids went (along with their besties Eleanor and Leo) and I shadowed a pediatrician for the first week. It was a rough transition for Amelie but by the second week she was waving cheerfully goodbye and having a great time. The second week I had to myself -- the first time since I gave birth six years ago! I had a doctor's appointment and got some things done but also spent some delicious time reading on the couch. What a treat! And it was neat to see the kids speaking a bit more Spanish.
  • One final week off which was bookended with a weekend to the Hamptons to see the honorary grandparents on one end and my niece's bat mitzvah in Rhode Island at the other. The girls got spoiled and doted on and it was lovely. Amelie is completely in love with my brother and calls him Daddy. Well, she calls all men Daddy, mostly, but she wanted his constant love and attention. She also loved attention from all the relatives, and all the teenage girls, and the DJ at the bat mitzvah party... basically, she was the life of the party.
  • Now just ten more months until I can do it again! Time to start fantastizing. 

What's New With My Girls

(Written in August but not published until September)

As mentioned in the last post, both girls are going to Spanish immersion camp in Brooklyn. We just finished the first week. I was shadowing a pediatrician all week so they were doing before-care as well.

Calliope did great but poor Amelie had a rough time with her first drop-off experience ever. She's normally a very outgoing, fearless little girl so I assume it was the lack of transition that made it so hard for her. Poor baby. Each morning she started crying earlier in the journey.

At least on Friday she finally ate some lunch. The rest of the week she refused to eat and barely napped. Poor peanut.

I wanted to remember a few funny things that she says before she outgrows them and I immediately forget them:
  • sun screen is "ice cream"
  • hot tub is "hot dog"
  • when she wants to be picked up she says "hug?" (instead of the more typical "up")
  • today she said "Mommy, help on it?" when she wanted me to "turn it on"

And in major Calliope developments... I had to drag her out of the apartment yesterday to go practice bike riding after a month break -- she never wanted to go when I suggested it. There were a lot of tears and some yelling on my part but she finally, finally, rode her bike across the parking lot of a nearby junior high school. I told her one more time and that was it, she could go home. She did it one more time. I cheered for her and told her it was time to go. She mournfully said she wanted to do it again. And again. And then she was riding circles around the parking lot.

Today when I reminded her we were going to practice again she readily agreed... and for the first time ever, actually managed to pedal a little bit on the sidewalk on the way there. She rode around the parking lot joyfully and the whole way home.  I see family bike rides (with Amelie in a baby seat) in our very near future, at last.

So proud of my girl and relieved that my yelling didn't seem to do any permanent damage.

Our embryo recipient, came to visit this weekend. She is 22 weeks pregnant today. She spent some time with Calliope, building a volcano and then making it erupt. Perfect activity for C. Not too far from me but didn't require me, either. I think they really bonded.

Leslie looks radiant. She's 46 but looks much younger. I'm so happy she's growing "Super Baby Cousin" and indirectly growing our family!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Matter Is Settled

Well, it's been an overwhelming summer. Emotionally speaking. But all's well that ends well.

A couple of weeks ago I received my pink slip in the mail. At last.

And later that night that I received a phone call rescinding that decision.

We made enough political noise that someone got embarrassed, we'll never know who, and the decision got changed, just like that.

We only have funding for one year so it'll be an uphill battle but I'm cautiously optimistic that more time, we'll find a longer term solution.

Once I finally found out... I was so happy and relieved.

And then the next day I was disappointed.

Mostly now, though, on balance, I'm happy. I'm finally resting my brain and actually enjoying the summer, now that I don't have all that ambivalence. It was so hard to live my life, not knowing what would come next. I was trying to take an online class on building niche websites -- which ate up every moment of free time -- and keeping a scathing eye on my apartment, trying to see where I could declutter and prepare for staging my apartment (if I moved to Mexico I would rent out my apartment). And in between, I was trying to think about schools in Mexico, and medical insurance here and abroad, and car storage versus selling my car (aka my dead mother's car so a more emotionally weighty decision). And a million other tiny decisions.

I also, to my surprise, had a phone interview for a possible job in Mexico. She's not quite ready to hire yet (and obviously I wasn't ready to commit to moving to Mexico!) and it wouldn't be my dream job (or my dream salary) but it might be a good option for at least a while. So I'm keeping that in the back of my mind.

But for now, I keep dreaming ahead to the time when both my children attend the same school in Brooklyn and (fingers crossed) I work in the same building and my childcare bill drops to practically nothing. I imagine I'll feel terribly liberated. We shall see.

And if I end up losing my job at the end of this school year... I hope I'll take the plunge and move to Mexico then. But really, I think my ideal time to go would be the middle school years. When my children are done with this amazing school I think I'll feel much more unmoored.

Whether my children will want to move to another country with me by then is an open question. I'm not wildly optimistic.

In the meantime, I hope we will go back to Mexico next summer for a longer visit, and maybe even send the girls to summer camp there for a couple of weeks. They're doing Spanish immersion camp right here in Brooklyn and it seems great but with lots of little English speaking children around them, they're clearly not learning as fast as they would in a Spanish-only environment. Of course, they might have a lot less fun if they felt totally over their heads in that sort of environment.

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


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.