Friday, November 22, 2013

An everyone update

India: India already has very strong preferences in clothing. The bad part is that it makes getting her dressed more complicated.

The good? She does seem to have her mother's taste. I'd have worn this entire outfit that in a heartbeat. Different shoes, though. Boots, even.

(Which reminds me: is she too young for boots? I do love them so...)

In fact, she has strong preferences in everything. She knows how to say, "no" - oh boy, does she know no. But she doesn't know yes - she just nods her head up and down emphatically.

I used to be able to sing almost whatever I chose while putting her to bed, but now, with her head on my shoulder, when I start something she doesn't want, she'll say "No. No. No."

I know that it's not my terrible voice or inability to carry a tune, as there are songs she does want me to sing. They do not, sadly, include Copacabana or Rhinestone Cowboy.

I'm basically down to ABC in English and Spanish. Or, "Ahbede" and "Yega," respectively.


Jordan: Contrary to the Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now look on his face, he was deeeeelighted about the scarf, and he loves stripes. He just struggles to find an appropriate face for a staged photo. Our options, unless I catch him off guard, seem to be eyes squinched and looking pained, or constipated, or melancholy.

Lately when I pick Jordan up from school we stay and he and a variety of kids his age run around like lunatics and climb on the jungle gym and generally have a great time and burn off a lot of energy.

It's been terrific for me, as I've gotten to know some interesting parents, and I get to see my son interacting with other kids while completely forgetting that I'm around. He's just himself, and he's exuberant.

There are two girls that he often plays with  - they chase and crash into each other on the slide and such. I asked their names and he said, "Kemaly." (Could be Kimberly? It took me the longest time to figure out that "Anthy" was Nancy.)

"What's her sister's name?"


"They're both named Kemaly?" I raise an eyebrow.

"Yes." He says this without hesitation.

I'm dubious.


Nana: Betty has her little rounds she makes in the neighborhood, and as such stops in at a couple stores and the dry cleaner at least several times a week. We have a nice little community here, and I didn't even realize how much of one until yesterday.

The woman who works at our dry cleaner called Nick in a panic, as Betty had fainted while she was standing at the counter. Jordan and I sprinted there from the playground, and found the woman who works there almost in tears, and Betty sitting shakily on a chair.

So we spent yesterday evening at the ER. It turns out she wasn't getting enough blood to her brain, which they think is due to her severe anemia, which they have been treating with iron, but her blood levels are still very low.

She has a special scan already scheduled for next week, as she has a weird clump of blood vessels growing somewhere in her lower intestine. They're hoping to locate and remove them, as they think that they're the cause of the anemia.

On a side bar: that ER doctor that I went on a few Match dates all those years ago with was totally right; Sibley's ER is where you want to go. (Except, he said, for a gunshot wound. Then you're better off at GW).

But for the more prosaic emergencies, head to Sibley for sure. No 6-hour wait. So fast. So nice.


Nick: Nick has been working a ton, which is really not out of the ordinary.

But when he's home, he's begun spending more time with India, and she's realized that Daddy is Magic. Oh, and Mama is Chopped Liver When Daddy's Around. As her previously-favorite person, this makes me feel not so great.

There's no subtlety with kids, is there?

This has, however, coincided with her toilet fascination, and in that regard, I'm OK with Chopped Liver status. Because Nick's previously-private morning bathroom activities have all gone to hell, what with India insisting on sitting on Daddy's lap as he reads her a book while also attempting to have a bowel movement.

This is one instance in which Jordan, who is also up with them, definitely does not compete for lap time.


Me: I have to say that my trainer was right (thanks, Vic!) and that the no alcohol business will flatten your stomach like nobody's business.

Also, Nick and I are both sleeping better and generally feeling healthier all around.

It's weird: I really struggled in the beginning, but now it just feels like a habit I've broken. This is not to say that I won't enjoy drinks over the holidays, but I'm glad to have broken the nightly cycle we were in.

In fact, Nick had a celebratory glass of wine the other night as he settled a hard case, and while I totally supported him doing so, I was cool not participating. Whereas before, we'd have each had one, then another.

I've fallen off the working-out wagon, and so I'm trying to shove that habit back to the forefront. I've also gotten very little done on the writing, what with the inability to concentrate and such.

It's all an endless juggle, really.


And speaking of holidays, which are almost upon us: One, this year I am organized in terms of our holiday card and already have it in hand. It is one of those way too many pictures of your children kind that people might make fun of you for, but I do not care. I absolutely love it.

(Now to not waste my uncharacteristic organizedness and address and send them on time...)

And two, I love hosting a big Christmas party in December (you know how I have the excellent taste in people and all, which makes for a good party), but this year I do not have the wherewithal for a variety of reasons. While I've started feeling better, we've also begun fixing the flooded walls and ceilings. I cannot handle construction and entertaining together.

And! December starts Thanksgiving weekend. The hell?

So! I've decided we'll have a party in January or February when very few people are entertaining and we need something to sparkle us during the grimmy grim grim slog through winter.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Parental continuing education: Two-kid boot camp

People had warned me before I had a second child that it's not double the work, that it's exponentially more than that.

And I have to agree. It's not in the ways I thought, though. I thought it would be all physical labor - more dirty clothes, more dishes, more toys. What I really wasn't prepared for was the emotional and physical wallop of the relentlessness of two children's competing wants and needs.

I don't believe there's any way to actually prepare for it. But! I started thinking about it, and I think you could have a day of boot camp.

It might go something like this:
  1. Get two of your friends to spend a night and day with you. Assign one to be the kid and the other the toddler.
  2. Since you'll need to be ready to juggle the two kids alone at least sometimes, and this is boot camp, your partner should leave the house for one entire day. Also, you'll need to do something with the actual kid that you already have. Send them off with the other parent.
  3. Have one friend wake up shrieking between 1:00 and 3:00 am. (For current purposes, I'm working with a kid and a toddler. BUT! If your friend is willing, and you want to recreate the newborn experience all over again, then ask them to scream every two hours. Also ask Baby Friend to cry regularly and make you guess what he or she wants and not to talk or point or really do anything for him- or herself. You'll have to choose a really good friend, of course. Realize this will be a good/terrible test in many ways, because you'll both be exhausted and crabby.)
  4. Have Kid Friend wake up any time prior to 6:30 am, stand next to you two inches from your nose, and when you awake with a start, say, "Is today a stay-home day? What are we doing today? Can I watch a video? I want waffles."
  5. Get up with Kid Friend. Start making waffles. 
  6.  Leave while they're toasting, because Toddler Friend is up. 
  7. Make sure Kid Friend understands that if he/she does not already have your full attention, they should ask or shriek for your it when you begin to leave the room. They don't need to full-out cry until you've actually left to get Toddler Friend.
  8. Bring Toddler Friend into the room and set them up with some toys.
  9. Turn your attention back to breakfast.
  10. During this time, your friends will alternate with any or all of the following whenever they choose: pull on you one at a time; pull on you at the same time; compete to sit in your lap; demand that you read a book while you're cooking eggs; play happily until one of them hits the other, thus causing both to scream; lay on the floor and kick each other; hug your legs.
  11. Be sure to ask your friends to improvise. If one of them wants to climb on top of a chair and fall off, for example, that's terrific. If Toddler Friend feels inclined to bite Kid Friend, all the better.
  12. Get waffles and eggs onto two plates. Make sure one is not bigger/more appealing than the other. Ditto for beverages. Toddler Friend probably won't notice, but Kid Friend will.
  13. At least one of them should spill a beverage and/or food on the floor.
  14. Going to the park with two adults pretending to be your children would likely garner you a lot of looks and a weird reputation in your community so it might be best to stay home. But to practice getting both kids bundled to go out, have Kid Friend demand your attention while you're trying to get Toddler Friend's coat, shoes, hat, gloves on. Toddler Friend will bolt and remove at least one item of clothing whenever you turn your attention to Kid Friend.
  15. Since you're all adults, you might at this point want to have a drink. But you can't. Or anyway, they can't. And with my rules, you can't either.
  16. Spend the day keeping Kid Friend and Toddler Friend entertained. Try painting or coloring or playing with cars and trains. Kid Friend and Toddler Friend must remember to squabble regularly over who plays with which toy.
  17. Don't feel bad about yourself if you resort to videos. Cars or The Little Mermaid are big hits here.
  18. Make lunch. Repeat Steps 10-13 here.
  19. All take a nap at the same time, but make sure one if not both resist violently beforehand.
  20. Your nap ends whenever either of them get up.
  21. Keep one and then both entertained until dinnertime. 
  22. Repeat the mealtime steps.
  23. No, Kid Friend cannot have a treat unless they finish dinner. Repeat this 54 times.
  24. Poor everyone a big glass of wine, because at this point you will likely all hate each other and boy, do you deserve it. Also, it will help you get through boot camp bathtime, which is sure to be awkward, no matter how good friends you are.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

And all I can do is just pour some tea for two. And speak my point of view but it's not sane.

What I don't know about psychiatrists is whether most of them tend to be humorless and dry or if they are just very good at professional distance, and that manifests in sort of blankness of personality in the office.


So when I took a nosedive towards the pit of despair, my solution was to just up my Zoloft.

Which is exactly what I figured a doctor would do, and I had enough, and I have new insurance that my (now-previous) doctors don't take, so I needed to find new ones, which is always so daunting. Plus, I had this quick fix at hand, and so I upped it and went on my not-terribly-merry way.

I shared my great solution with Nick, who was all, "I'm not so comfortable with you self-medicating. Could you please talk to a doctor about this? "

Coming from a line of self-medicators, was all, "Huh. OK, well, seems like overkill, but if you insist."

He did. So I did.

Which led to my visit yesterday to see a psychiatrist, as my new primary care doctor was not inclined to just dole out psychiatric medication. Coincidentally, he pointed me to someone I had seen years prior.

And I must admit there is something to be said for asking for help from people who know what they're talking about.

So when I'd seen this shrink years ago, he'd helped me get back on track. He's a medication shrink, not a talk therapy one. Although honestly, I don't know how many of those there are, and they would never be my preference for talking about things.

I'd remembered that he was abrupt, and my memory served me well.

The way my back-then therapist described him - and I think this might've been around the time she suggested that I should set my dating bar rather low - was that he didn't have a great bedside manor, and that puts people off, but he's a good doctor.

Perfect description. And all I need from him is to help with the chemical part.

I've really only met one practicing psychiatrist who was easy to chat with and has a good sense of humor, and he was my dad's last one. I mean, we didn't really joke around, but he clearly appreciated the dark humor that we doled out.

So I saw Dr. Abrupt, and he is just that, to the point of almost rudeness, although I don't believe that's his intention.

I felt awkward, and on the defensive - like I was answering all the questions wrong. Which, unless you deliberately misrepresent or can't remember, is impossible to do when you're answering questions about how you feel and your life history.

What I think it was like, though, is when Nick and I are trying to communicate directions to each other. On Saturday in Target, I told him that the kids medicine was in the back left corner. And he said, "You mean the front left corner."


Anyway, Dr. Abrupt and I didn't have smooth communication, but ultimately I would understand what he was asking and he would understand my answers.

So at one point he asked about suicide.  Have I thought about it?

Well, sure I've thought about it.

When was the last time I'd thought about it?

Maybe last week. I think about it regularly.

This turns out to be kind of an alarm-bell kind of thing to say. But what I meant was, I think about my dad, I think about the why, I try to make sense of something that doesn't make sense.

I think about how you might get to the point where you cross over from not liking your life the way it is and hating how you feel but wishing and believing it can improve to not wanting to be alive anymore, to no longer feeling able to be of this world as we know it.

Sometimes I think it's just seeking relief. Not thinking of the forever of it. Just wanting relief, a respite

I didn't say exactly that. But I explained.

So then when he asked if I've ever thought of hurting myself, I said no. Which is true.

Next he asked if I've ever thought of hurting someone else, to which I also replied with a simple no.

Because he doesn't much seem the type to roll with a comment like, "Well, except for occasionally wanting to stab my husband..."

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Just say No Vember

I can't remember if I blogged about my dating hiatus way back when. Or maybe I didn't yet have a blog.

But in any case, back when I was single and in serial dating drama trauma, my friend Tejal said that I had to take a month off. No dates for a month. None. No catching up with an old boyfriend, no just a coffee, nothing.

A month! A month of my ovaries aging and my wrinkles getting wrinklier and what if the perfect person dropped by in that month and I didn't know it?

Nope. A month. It would make me healthier and stronger.

I can't remember if it did. But I know I did it.

So. The other night Nick proposed that we take the month of November off from drinking.

We both sleep better when we haven't had anything to drink. Like, not one glass of wine with dinner. It's remarkable how much that messes with my sleep.

And sleep is something both of us value highly at this point.

Plus, we both turn too easily to a big glass of wine or a beer or three at the end of the day when work has been stressful, the kids are screaming, Mercury is in retrograde, the darkness is dark, and so on. Cheers, sweetheart.

We keep deciding that we're going to do a week or two of detox, and then one of us is like, seriously, the deep breathing is not quite doing it and my head is going to explode and I want a glass of wine, stat, and the other is all, fuck yeah, and then there you have it.

It's kind of weird. I mean, a lot of it is the ritual. You pull out a wine glass and you open the bottle and pour and just stepping away from what you were doing and into that different space feels both calming and decadent. In fact, I think it's partly ritual that makes me so look forward to a cup of tea in the morning.

So Nick decided, and I agreed, sort of. You know how we have this funny balance in which he is more the adult and I am more the kooky one and these are our roles except that sometimes I'm more mature than him and boy is he kookier than the rest of you know.

But! In circumstances like this he is good at taking a hard line. Because I am always the one with the low tolerance, who, when we're out having cocktails and someone suggests another, is like, whee! So fun! Sure! And I say and do ridiculous shit and in the moment it is very fun for all involved.

And then the next day I'm all WHY did you let me do that and now I'm going to die and why why why didn't you stop me?

Sometimes I know my limit better than Nick does, but for the most part, I've asked him to be the Voice of Reason.

So. We have a long-long-long-planned date with an old friend of mine and his girlfriend mid-month. We'll have wine with dinner. So that is our exception. Not our meeting anniversary on the 13th. Not Thanksgiving.

I was sad about the Tabard, but Nick has work stuff, and in the scheme, it's not a big deal.

Thanksgiving, however. I had a panic about Thanksgiving, because I don't know that I can breathe deeply enough to handle it. Cookies don't take the edge off in quite the same way.

I had an old boss who would buy those mini wine bottles and sneak them in her purse when they visited her mother-in-law. And first thing, she would go to the bathroom and chug a little bottle of wine. She used them as needed during the visit.

She was very matter of fact about it. This was how she coped.

At the time I was single and shocked.

Now I think, man, we're all just trying to get along in this world. I hope you're well, lady.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013


I would posit that Halloween is one of the biggest reasons to have children.

Yes, of course, there's the biological urge, the passing on the family name, passing on your genes,  the desire to share love, the hopes of birthing a future cancer-curer, and what-have-you.

But I would argue that very few things beat stuffing your progeny into costumes and accompanying them into the wide world to get free candy.

Seriously. It's just incredibly delightful. When they're little, you get to pick what they wear, and you can choose the cutest/most ridiculous things you like.

And then when they get older, they get really excited about dressing up.
They do not care about being original. It's just the sheer joy of being Superman.

"You're Superman? Hey, me too! This is terrific!"

"C'mon Superman! Let's go get some candy!"
Thinking that we could practice saying "Trick or treat!" I asked Jordan what he was going say when he went to the houses. He replied, "I'm Superman! Give me candy!"

But in fact, he was very polite.

One 20-something hipster candy giver-outer, at whose house we accidentally trick-or-treated twice, said that I was her favorite mom. "You're the Thank You Very Much Mom!"

Made me proud.