Monday, August 22, 2016

Taking Some Time...

So I have decided not to try and find a job for at least the next few months. It feels a little crazy after working so hard for the past four years to get my degree and because I love the work I'm doing so much, but it's what my family needs right now.

Our life for the past year has been like spinning on a playground merry-go-round. We have just been holding on tight trying not to fly off the edge, and none of us can really hold on anymore unless someone gets off and at least slows it down. With two kids in different schools and different extra curricular schedules, we really need to have at least one person with the flexibility to pick up a sick kid or drive to soccer practice at any given time. And although we both have fairly flexible schedules, there have been times when we both have something we can't move around. Of course, we can arrange for a sitter or for a kid to catch a ride, but that only works when we know about those conflicts in advance, and conflicts aren't always that considerate. Plus, the added cognitive load of figuring out who goes where when with whom when it's a poorly put together patchwork of support is tremendous.

So I'm getting off the merry-go-round and going back to days of packing lunches, planning dinners, running loads of laundry, and playdates... for a little while at least.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thoughts on Aging...

I saw the picture of Jimmy Carter building houses the other day on Facebook with the caption "You may be a badass, but you'll never be 91-year-old Jimmy Carter battling cancer while building houses for the unfortunate badass." I thought "Right on! Way to go Jimmy Carter!" Because after all, Jimmy Carter is a badass.

Then this morning, C showed me the above picture of George H. W. Bush from a NYT article about the new George W. Bush biography. C made a comment about how he thought the newspaper was somewhat intentionally showing Bush Sr. in an unflattering, diminished way. I looked at the photo and was inclined to agree. Bush is clearly physically ailing, his face looks bloated, his teeth are bad, etc.

But after a minute, my social work training kicked in, and I realized how agist I was being. Look, I think it's great that Jimmy Carter is doing so well and that his brain cancer hasn't had to slow him down too much yet.* But it is not embarrassing or shameful if aging and the litany of health conditions that come with it, do slow you down more than a little. The NYT article was a legitimate news story about the biography and the elder Bush's criticisms of his son's cabinet. Giving the picture another look -  Bush is smiling; he looks engaged; his wife is there with him with her arm around him. Not too shabby, if you ask me. 

As a society, we need to learn to value people as they age, however they age. Yes, we should encourage people to be healthy, stay active, stay engaged, but if your health or your circumstances haven't allowed you to optimize those things, we shouldn't hide you in a corner and only acknowledge the time in your life when you were younger and more vital.

Can you tell I'm turning 40 in three months?

*One note - that picture is from five years ago when he was building houses in Haiti. So he was actually 87 in the picture, and did not presumably have brain cancer yet.

Monday, March 2, 2015


Last night, C made dinner, and while he was finishing up a couple of things in the kitchen, I got things ready to serve it up at the table. When I asked Buster if he would like some, he replied "Yes. Dad actually made dinner, but you do the honors." Apparently "doing the honors" is dishing it out.

Today, Buster came running into my arms on the couch crying out "Wiggle is going to make me pretty!"
I started to question what about Wiggle making him pretty was so alarming, when Wiggle came tearing down the hall screeching "I'll get you, my pretty!" I started laughing when I realized the verbal mix-up, at which point Wiggle told me "I'm saying a quote from The Wizard of Oz."

These boys.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Another Day in the Life

I'm sick with some kind of sinus, sore throat grossness. All I want to do is curl up under the covers and sleep. So what did I do today instead? Well, Wiggle is off from school today and tomorrow for parent teacher conferences. Buster doesn't normally go today anyway, but he will be off tomorrow. Luckily, the babysitter (whom I'll call Poppy because she is Mary-Poppins-awesome with the kids) was coming today for four hours this morning. But that also meant there was a half hour cleaning scramble before she arrived this morning. I swear I'm going to vacuum the living room rug one day, and there will just be bare floor when I'm done.

After she arrived, C and I went off to Wiggle's parent-teacher conference. Then I dropped C off at work, came home and went through a bunch of piled-up paperwork and kids schoolwork from this semester. I made vet appointments for the animals and gathered some paperwork for some outstanding FSA transactions. Then I took down the Halloween decorations and packed them away.
The boys came home from an outing to the park with Poppy with Buster sleeping and Wiggle bouncing around requesting lunch (and more importantly a piece of Halloween candy for afterward).

I did manage to sleep for 30-45 minutes when C came home from work to get the car to go to a meeting. Then I made pumpkin bread, gave Buster something to eat after his nap, put together various veggies and chicken to bake for dinner, cleaned up the kitchen, and put a load of laundry in.

Now I'm snuggled under a blanket on the couch perusing pinterest for cheap and easy decorations for the baby shower for four moms-to-be in my MSW program I am helping to host on Friday. C has the boys at tae kwon do.

Not a super busy day, and I should have been doing school work, but the fuzziness of my brain today precluded any major intellectual activity.

They say that youth is wasted on the young, but I think it's time that's wasted on them. I don't miss my youth as much as I miss lazy Sunday mornings and the stretch of time between the end of the work day and when you go to sleep containing full activities rather than just tiny activities drawn out to take long periods of time.

Here's hoping my Dayquil/Nyquil round the clock dosing leaves me feeling better tomorrow.

Monday, August 26, 2013

First Day of the New Semester

The boys aren't in school yet, so things are a little more hectic than they will be (hopefully).

After breakfast, I threw in a load of laundry, got both the boys dressed, and wrangled them into the car. But wait - first I threw the two newspapers in the driveway into the recycling that was at the curb.

Then we drove to the doctor's office to pick up school immunization forms for Buster. Back in the car to a Fairfax County Public Schools administrative building to pick up the ID I filled out paperwork and was fingerprinted for last week. Got lost. Found way again, wrangle boys out of car, wrangle stroller down a flight of stairs, ask for my ID. They can't find it. Wait at desk, trying not to look or feel impatient as Wiggle runs figure-eights around tables of people filling out employment forms. They find the ID, and Wiggle proudly wears it to the car.

Drive home and arrive just in time to hand the boys off to C, pack my backpack, and walk to campus. Look for the right room in the right building for five minutes, find the room, find a seat. Sit down and get ready for the four hour LGBTQ sensitivity training that's about to start. Damn! I forgot to bring any food.

Sit through and enjoy the training, although my stomach grumbles intermittently. Run MSW student association meeting after the training for another 20 minutes. Walk home. Bring in the recycling bins from the morning.

Change clothes, finally have a snack and some water. Clean up the living room for 15 minutes. Briefly search the internet for an example of a document I will need for my internship. Set the table. Whoops! First clean the table, then set the table for dinner.

The boys come home and we sit down to dinner. The boys cajole lollipops from us for dessert, which we concede only if they are eaten on the porch. C and I have a glass of wine and chat a little while the boys run around and play with balls. C and I join in and play ball with the boys. I get distracted and start cleaning up dog poop from the yard. I get even more distracted and start to mow the lawn. Just half of the backyard, then I move to the front yard. I get halfway done there and C relieves me so I can put Buster down. I put Buster down, and then spend 15 glorious minutes lounging on the bed and petting the animals.

Back to the grind. Compose and send a few emails. Jot down a couple of to-dos. Get back to the preschool lego scrubbing project I have been dawdling over for a few days. Soak and then scrub individual legos with a toothbrush.

Clean up in the kitchen. Try to pack my lunch for tomorrow, but realize all of our containers with lids are in the fridge with old stuff in them. Clean them out and put them in the dishwasher. Pack what I can.

Bedtime routine. Get in bed, write this post.

Sleep (I really, truly hope.)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Social Animals/ Solitary Creatures

So recently, I have been coming to the slow realization that I am an introvert by nature. I've certainly never thought of myself as an exceptionally gregarious person, but I had previously thought that on the social spectrum, I fell squarely on the extroverted side. But I really, really don't.
There are two things that confused me and had led me to my former erroneous conclusion. One is that I had thought that introverts were necessarily shy, which I would not characterize myself as. (Although, this could just be a negative connotation with shyness, as I will generally cross the street and look studiously at the ground in order to avoid encounters with acquaintances and all but the closest of friends.) The other misleading trait is that I care deeply about the social. If a teacher asks question in class, I feel an obligation to try to provide an answer. If the band tells me to clap, I clap. If the person at the front of the room asks for volunteers, I volunteer. I have picked a "helping" profession for my career path. This is not to say, I'm a lemming, as anyone I know will attest to, nor does it mean that I am a selfless person. I am just constantly amazed at how society works, and also constantly scared about how close it feels we are to our own utter destruction. Destruction that will come if we all decide to turn away from each other and stop lending a hand when someone asks for one.
So this recognition of the importance of the social naturally has led me to the realization that C and I need friends here. But then I realized that my want of friends really runs toward the completely practical. I need a deeper bench on the boys' emergency contact lists for school or rec classes. We need a few people who could watch one of the boys if a last minute conflict comes up. I need someone to ask for recommendations for handymen or roof repair or babysitters or a manicurist. On the personal side, I need someone to be able to bitch to when C or the boys are driving me crazy that isn't related to either of us. Someone to trade bits of the latest zeitgeist with. I need friends, and I'm willing to do my part to fulfill these social roles. But the truth of the matter is, I don't really want friends. I don't feel any natural impetus to introduce myself to someone I've seen a dozen times at the park or the pool. When someone approaches me to talk and makes overtures of friendship, my first reaction is generally "Why is he/she talking to me?" My confusion does not stem from low self-esteem, but instead from my complete lack of a reciprocal feeling.
I like to be around people, but more to observe than interact. Even when C and I are out together, I find it extremely hard to maintain a conversation with him because I am drawn into all of the social interactions going on around us. When the kids are playing at the park, I love to listen to the dynamics of the moms around me, or even better, of the kids. The conversations of groups of pre-teens and their strange mix of astounding maturity and utter childishness could keep me entertained for days. But as far as getting into the mix myself, I would generally rather not.
Of course, I have had my share of close friends whose company I seek out and take comfort in, and whose lives I genuinely care about and take an interest in, but even those have had a strong component of convenience to them. Once our lives diverged in any substantial way either through changes in location or schedule, the friendships tend to wane considerably and generally cause very few feelings of loss or distress over the change. Eventually in a particularly low social phase, I wonder to myself what happened to those bonds that once seemed so strong, but then I shrug my shoulders and move on for the most part. New situations emerge and the present and its current tangle of new connections and new people move to the front of the consciousness line. Out of sight, out of mind, after all.
So I've decided to forget about forging new personal, "meaningful" relationships, or at least not spend substantial time trying to cultivate these friendships. Instead, I will seek out opportunities to be "next to" other people. Involved with an activity, without the pressure of forming individual connections. If the connections form naturally over time and proximity, great. If they don't, and my emergency contact list stays lean for another year or two, so be it.
My newly realized introverted status has helped me to realize that I do need more time working on a relationship though - my relationship with myself. So instead of Girls' Night Out, I'm going to start having My Night Out. I'm looking forward to having coffee with myself, taking myself out to a movie, or just doing some good old-fashioned people watching. And maybe if I'm able to recharge my own battery enough by being alone, I will have a little more in the tank to put toward being social. But even if I don't, I will at least have spent some quality time with a person whose company I always appreciate - me.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

School's Out

C's and my semester ended a couple of weeks ago, and Wiggle's last day of school was last Thursday. So now we are footloose and fancy free for the summer. Actually, the months of unstructured time stretching out in front of us are giving me heart palpitations at the moment. Of course, there are tons of things I want to get done and tons of summer activities I want to make sure we do. Then there's summer traveling, C has a couple of conferences to go to, and I have to get mentally ready to go back to "work" next fall with my internship.

As far as the things I want to get done around the house and yard, I've made some progress - I set-up an office in the basement complete with curtains, desks, lamps, and a nice rug. The rest of the basement looks a little like a hoarder is squatting down there though. My tools are spread around the ground and tool bench, baby toys are piled up needing to be boxed up or donated, various papers, out-of-season clothes and the like are in bins, but should really be culled down. I have a perpetual pile for Goodwill by the front door that shrinks and grows, but never seems to disappear.

Upstairs, the painting projects, of which there are many, all need prep work that requires me to get dusty and covered in flaking paint in the precious hours after the boys go to bed, so needless to say they have not been started. I'm almost decompressed enough after the semester to start on them though. Almost.

Outside, I enjoy cutting things down and/or back, but the rate of growth seems to be outstripping my rate of cutting. And we have massive amounts of poison ivy that as far as I can tell have gotten bigger and angrier after I sprayed them with weed killer. I will make real progress in the fall when things die back again, but I want to keep the jungle slightly contained until then which is proving to be no easy job. We also need to power wash the siding and then, hopefully, paint.

Oh and I want to add insulation to the attic, have the fireplace converted to gas, get either can or track lights installed in the living room, kitchen, and family room. Have a ceiling fan installed in the family room, re-do much of the kitchen, etc, etc, etc.

Not all this summer though, but I still need a master list so I can do things in a somewhat logical order. The list both excites me and makes my head hurt.

Meanwhile, every room has at least one "junk" bin or basket that I am slowly going through, returning things to their rightful rooms (Buster is like a one-man moving company), putting like things together, and throwing the broken or dilapidated things out. It's slow-going, but it is going, finally.

We went to the pool this weekend and it was bracingly cold right now, but I look forward to sunny, hot afternoons there as the summer progresses.

I have also been scouring pinterest for fun summer activities, but the true goal is to find things that Wiggle wants to do without us. The thing is playing with a four-year-old kinda sucks. OK, no, it really sucks. Everything he does involves making up rules, changing the rules, making sure the rules only favor him, adjusting the rules so he's the only one who gets a turn, etc. So even when we are playing with him, we are generally in the position of arguing that the rules can't change or perpetually waiting for our turn. But he insists on having someone play WITH him all the time. Of course, we don't indulge his whims or play with him every time he asks, but then it means we have to deal with floppy-bodied, exasperated, whining. He doesn't "want," he only "needs," or rather "NEEEEEEEEEDSSSSSSSS!"

I do love getting to be home with both boys and spending time with them, but I'm finding these days that to have the ability to occasionally tag-out for a few minutes helps the day go much smoother. Luckily, since C is working primarily from the basement these days, I get to do that almost every afternoon. It also means that I have small blocks of time to actually get things done, during business hours, no less.

So come on summer, bring it on! I'm ready.