Monthly Archives: May 2012

Bye bye, road trips; hello, life with baby!

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We are back from our trip. Thankfully back! This was our first “let’s go and have fun! It’s a vacation!” road trip since baby was born. It will be our last for a while.

The good: we did get away. We saw friends. We saw beautiful mountains, lakes and rivers.

The not so good: traveling with a baby is not anything like traveling as a non-parent. To start, the road trip part. I used to love the part when we were on the road. The views, music, talking, snacks, reading, and the feeling of being in a time capsule, away from the rest of the world. The road trip part with a baby: me in the back seat, reading, drawing (endless puppies!), singing, playing, entertaining. Poor baby got carsick, too, scary and un-fun for all. Then the struggle to get her into the carseat in the first place. And when we take a break, it is not likely to be short. Plus, the travel needs to be scheduled around/in consideration of nap times.

And then the prep and packing. It took us 2.5 days of hard work to be ready to go on the trip. That’s ridiculous. And at each stop, soooo much unpacking and setting up! Nice husband did most of it, which is nice but unbalanced.

Trying to do normal things is also harder on the road with a baby. Finding food for baby, making food for baby, getting milk, cleaning bottles (yes, still breastfeeding, just have to supplement still when she goes down for naps), even warming bottles at night: much more work than at home.

We enjoyed lots about the trip. But we also got worn out, and at some point, were ready to come home. We booted it home as quickly as we could, and were hugely relieved to arrive by 10 a.m. on Friday. Bliss!!

After all that complaining, I should redeem the trip by mentioning the great part about travel with baby: travel with baby. It was wonderful to take her to new places, new experiences and have her meet new people. She really really enjoyed herself. She loved all the places we stayed. She enjoyed the scenery and going on walks. She loved the different animals we got to meet (including horses, donkeys, a dog that LICKED HER FACE!, and cows). Basically, there are big upsides to traveling with baby. It’s just nothing like traveling without baby, and wasn’t the restful, rejuvenating holiday we had planned.

Such is life. We’ve learned, we feel better prepared for whatever the next trip will be (because, of course, there will be other trips), and we had a 3-day weekend to recuperate.

Hoping you are all well, as I try and get back into this blogging saddle.

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Vacation Madness

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We plan to head on vacation on Sunday. We are, therefore, in the midst of pre-vacation madness.

Husband and I have never left on time for a trip. Our first trip together, I think we left a day and a half after our ETD. Somehow, all the different components (car preparation and repairs; packing for every eventuality, including meditation, exercise, personal growth, reading, camping and eating) and food (snacks, groceries, on and on) take FOREVER. We want to be fully prepared. And we never are. We always forget something essential, and bring way too much, so we’re bogged down with stuff.

It’s crazy and funny and frustrating. And we’re in the middle of it.
We were just congratulating ourselves for being on top of it because husband got to work on the car stuff tonight. But: we have some computer work that needs doing together. I have to prep for the next week or two of the course I’m teaching. We have GARDENING and planting and home prep that needs doing. Plus, right: packing.

All that to say, I may not post over the next week. Tomorrow and Sunday will be mad; the trip will be a get-away; and I want to leave myself free to be.

I will post when I return, and even try to include some pictures. Stay tuned. And wishing all of you a wonderful Victoria Day weekend and week.

Careening Towards 40

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It’s been a bit of a wild week, as you may have guessed. Tuesday and Wednesday nights I crashed in bed with baby around 8:30. In spite of the early bedtime, Tuesday night wasn’t a good sleep: baby was up every couple of hours. Last night, on the other hand, was magical. We all crashed out at 8 something. Baby woke up maybe twice. And we woke up a bit before 8. Dreamy!! It was nice to be well rested today.

It’s kind of crazy to contemplate that my birthday is on Sunday. 40 years old: wow. I’ve been stressing about this birthday for months and months, yet that stress never seemed to help me plan anything. And now here we are, mere days away, nothing planned.

Fortunately, as the date has got closer, its importance has dropped. I kind of barely care anymore. 40 no longer needs to be a hugely symbolic age – I’m officially a year older, life’s pretty good, and I plan to keep moving forward.

Though this is my stated position, I must admit I am feeling stress that is hard to shake. I just started a week’s vacation tonight, and I’m not really up for relaxing yet. I’m anxious about the long list of things I want to do before we leave. I’m stressed by the course I’m teaching (yes, mom, I will NEVER say yes to teaching again!). The house is, once again, a mess. And just ongoing life – are we caught up on our finances? What meals can we plan for weekdays? Will I ever be able to brush my daughter’s teeth? etc.

My hunched shoulders and crossed arms tonight are the reason we’re heading out of town for a few days. I’m sorely tempted to stay home during my week off to “get things done” and “catch up.” I know what that will be in practice: dashing around madly for a week, coming up with yet more things to do, and never really getting a break or change of scenery that will rejuvenate me. So, I’m going to embrace the birthday girls prerogative to demand that certain things get done :), and to ignore those that aren’t going to get done. Life will go on, and maybe post-40 I can embrace just living a little more fully.

Watching Baby Grow

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Every day, a new development. Today after work husband and I were talking as we helped baby play on her slide in the yard. Suddenly she started crying. We asked what’s wrong and she cried harder. We guessed, “Did you want dada to play with you?” “Yeah!!” she sobbed. We both picked her up and hugged her and talked about what she was feeling: “You must be feeling sad and angry!” “Yeah!!!” “You want mama and dada to play with you, don’t you?” “Yeah!!!”

So we hugged her and talked with her and comforted her, then we set about playing properly with our daughter: no extraneous conversation; looking her in the eyes; talking with her; responding to her conversation.

It was really amazing to see this happen. It was a stark reminder to us about how important parents are to their children, and how they know what we are doing. They know if we’re paying attention to them or not. They know they need to reconnect with us after a long day. If we are open, they will tell us. I’m grateful our girl is able to tell us so clearly what she wants, and that she is confident enough to demand it from us. How sad if she didn’t trust us to meet her needs, so never asked!

Being there for our girl when she needs us is truly one of the biggest privileges for us as parents.

On time and motherhood

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I’ve been noticing the last few days that I have a hard time slowing down and breathing. So often I find myself rushing to get places; holding my breath; making frantic lists in my head; all with the hopes of either getting back to be with my girl as quickly as possible, or maximizing the time I’m away from her or when she’s sleeping to get as many things done as possible.

I don’t think this is healthy. I imagine it’s releasing all kinds of unhealthy hormones. I don’t want to have a shortened lifespan because I’m not breathing enough.

I’ve also been noticing how some moments are just quite wonderful. Today (appropriately, on mother’s day) there were so many moments when I looked at my daughter in wonder and absolute love, so enthralled with this amazing little person who’s part of my life and family. She astounds me!

Of course, there are also moments when I want to swear with frustration, or when I really would just like a little bitty break to do something else.

There were other deeper things I wanted to say. But, speaking of time … it’s close to 10, baby’s sleeping, and I have applesauce and a movie waiting for me. Oh yay!

Happy mother’s day all.

Update on Shopping

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So, I’ve been shopping. And I’m okay with it. I find shopping a kind of fascinating topic, so here are my current thoughts on it.
1. Shopping is addictive. Definitely. Now that I’ve been going to VV most Thursdays, I get an itch on Thursday afternoons to head out there. Good to be aware of – the more I do it, the more I want to.
2. Second hand shopping is the way to go. I’ve been wanting a few pairs of shoes: a casual sneaker pair, something else for work and some slippers. I bought all 3 pairs (including a gorgeous amazingly comfy pair of brown leather loafers) for just under $20. They are all in amazing condition – barely used, if at all. Though I am not swearing off new goods, I am now fully committed to used in almost all cases, particularly given our current financial priorities.
3. Second hand shopping is dangerous. Especially in a big, well-stocked and diverse store. First, it can take TIME if you scour each section. Then it is so easy to start wanting, more and more and more. I did well today, though, buying almost exclusively from the (admittedly mental) list I had of what we want/need right now.
4. Renewing one’s things through shopping can feel invigorating. Not everything, not necessarily frequently, but often enough that you can add interest to the physical environment in which you live and function.

Fortunately, on this trip I did buy virtually everything we current want/need for myself, home and baby. Though I likely will be tempted to shop more, I may be able to stop myself because we have no gaps in our needs. And bringing these things home, I’m more interested than ever in getting rid of stuff, particularly stuff I don’t use or really like. I’ve been getting clothes I actually want to wear, and it puts in sharp contrast the clothes I don’t. Solution? Chuck the don’t wears. And stop shopping, because really, I’m at “enough” right now.

Frankly, though, I imagine I’ll be tempted to shop again tomorrow. That’s right. Because I’m still looking for something for my sister’s birthday, and I have not had time or success to date. Sigh!! There always is something else to get.

Massive File Contraction

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A few years ago, I had enough files to fill 3 drawers of a filing cabinet. I had stacks of journal articles from doing a master’s, doctorate and numerous research projects. I had copies of talks, deepenings, activities and workshops I’d organized. I had piles of interesting or fun or informative articles to read on a wide variety of topics. I had most of my visa bills, along with the receipts I used to balance them every month.

I slowly weeded over time, but not much. Before baby was born, I got serious. It must have been nesting hormones: I junked piles and piles of paper (many feet!) while watching Gilmore Girls. That got rid of many of the articles, but there was still a lot of stuff. After baby, I gave it another go, and I’ve been weeding ever since.

The last few months I’ve been going through files here and there and junking most of them. Some I scan and save, but most, I’ve realized, are simply not needed. The files in the drawer have been getting slimmer and slimmer.

Today I sorted through a bunch of files I’d brought downstairs. I got rid of a bunch, some to recycle, some to shred. I don’t need another copy of my frequent flyer numbers. I’ve read those inspiring Oprah articles enough times (and besides, I found my husband – I don’t need to read about someone else’s search).

From there, I put them into two contained lidded boxes. But the lids were tight and pushed down the tabs. So I got out one hanging file box (kind of like the boxes people put LPs into) and moved my files over. And I realized that I had done it: I had compressed my files down to one box. Victory!

Also not entire true. We have about a foot of files upstairs that aren’t included. Most of these are house files that we can dump once we are out of this house. Also old tax papers – need to keep, but don’t need to access.

I also have a few stacks of papers. Most of these are for writing projects I still hope to get to (singles research; my master’s; stories about Russia; cognitive strategies in math). In fact, I have a full box for the Russia stories, including photos and memorabilia. I also have a stack at least a foot high of materials for the Kyrgyzstan paper I submitted a few months ago. However, I’m okay with this. These are projects I will be trying to get to in the next year or so. Once the project is done, the papers are gone. I will be back working on the singles paper, I hope, within a month or so. And I may, at some point, simply dump the ones I’m not going to tackle.

That, therefore, is that. The main victory is the one-box filing. The others are more contained, enabling me to move forward with those projects when I can.

Thank you for listening, and happy purging to you too!