A Day in the Life

One of my favorite parts about reading blogs is reading about the minutiae. It’s the same reason I like that “Stars: Just Like Us!” section in trashy magazines: there is comfort in the fact that we all share the ordinary.

So, it should be no surprise that I love a good “day in the life” post. Here’s mine.

4:57 AM: I hear Arden stirring on the monitor. She went to bed later than usual last night, so I’m glad she’s made it almost to 5:00. Lately it’s been more like 3:30 or 4:00. Ugh. I go in to nurse her and even though I try to keep myself awake by reading (The Book Thief) on my iPad, I fall asleep. I eventually wake up and head back to our room around 5:45.

6:13: I wake up when I hear Ella padding into our room. She comes right up to my face and tells me she wants to go downstairs because the sun is up (damn you, Frozen). I didn’t go to sleep till after midnight the night before, and I am not ready to get up. I give her the iPad and tell her she can watch something (our ultimate bribery package). I blearily find Netflix and she chooses a show. I go back to sleep.

7:18: I hear Preston arguing with Ella about hair brushing. I count to five, swing my feet over the side of the bed, and go into Ella’s room. She picks out clothes and reluctantly lets me brush her hair. Preston goes to walk the dogs before work. I pull on yoga pants and a long-sleeved t-shirt over my nursing tank.

7:33: I start getting us ready to go while Preston eats cereal. He packed Ella’s lunch last night (yes!!), so all I need to do is put it and her water bottle in her backpack. I also grab a pair of Crocs for her “indoor shoes” at school. Preston gets Arden up and changes her diaper while I set up the stroller, grab blankets in case the walk to school is chilly (it’s not), and refill my water bottle. It’s 7:52 as we leave our apartment, and students are headed to chapel, which means we’ll miss the crowds in the dining hall. Score. I get a hardboiled egg, coffee, and a nectarine, and Ella gets vanilla soy milk, grapes, a few potatoes, and sausage which she spits back onto the plate in front of the kitchen staff. She also refuses to say “thank you” to them when I ask her after we’re done. Charming. We have words about consequences on our way back out to the stroller.

8:20: Walk to Ella’s school, drop her off, and walk back home.

9:00: Nurse Arden and read more of The Book Thief.

9:40: Arden’s finally fallen asleep, so I turn her sound machine on and put her down for a nap in her crib (where I really want her to start napping regularly). I’m starting to get a headache, so I make some coffee before I start a quick yoga practice. I’ve gotten through two sun salutations before Arden starts crying. Sigh. I get her up, put her in the bouncer, start this list, add to the grocery list, and text Preston about when he wants to meet for lunch.

10:02: Arden watches me practice for half an hour before she gets to squawky. I pick her up and reheat my coffee. I put “The Good Wife” on while I fold laundry and unload the dishwasher.

11:15: Nurse Arden and read.

11:25: Arden’s not nursing well, so I decide to go take a shower. I plop her down on the rug by our sink while I take a quick shower.

11:48: Preston, who’s done teaching for the day, comes home so that we can go have lunch together at the dining hall. I nurse Arden quickly before putting her in the carrier to walk to lunch. She falls asleep immediately and I keep her in there throughout lunch. There are really good grilled vegetables, tomato risotto, roasted cauliflower, and a delicious polenta cake. I love that Preston and I can meet for lunch. It’s so nice to have a meal together without having to wrestle a toddler.

12:55 PM: We have walked home and Arden is still asleep in the carrier. I’m also still hungry. I have a cookie and then, still not satisfied, an apple with peanut butter.

1:00: Arden wakes up. I nurse her and finish the episode of “The Good Wife.”

1:35: Preston walks the dogs and takes Arden with him, which means I am untethered and have the whole house to myself. BLISS. I make some decaf coffee (which then, as always happens when I make decaf coffee, I forget to drink), drill holes in a trashcan that we’re putting outside so it won’t collect rainwater, pick up around the house, and put away some rogue laundry. Once Preston’s back we look through the choir schedule together (I’ve decided to join) and I find a form I need him to scan for me.

2:05: Preston goes back to work. I play with Arden on the couch before hanging pictures in the living room. I contemplate measuring and then decide to eyeball them. Good decision, as this is much easier and more time efficient.

2:40: I nurse Arden and Preston comes home with the mail. The rest of our cloth diapering materials have arrived. I’ll have to wash those.

3:00: I make some popcorn, but then forget to eat most of it because we leave to go get Ella shortly thereafter. We decide to drive because it looks like it might storm (it doesn’t).

3:24: We’re a little early to pick up Ella, so I nurse Arden in the entryway of her school. No one bats an eye.

3:30: Ella runs out and gives us all hugs. We drive to the hardware store, drop off Preston’s jackets at the cleaners, and pick up diet soda (I’ve been craving it lately even though I know it’s made of evil) at the local grocery store. I stay in the car and respond to work emails while Preston goes in to the cleaners with Ella. We then drive through the town so that I can scout out some running routes. Ella has a major meltdown when Preston takes her lollipop (from the cleaners) away when she refuses to hold my hand in the grocery store parking lot. Arden starts crying. In stereo crying really is no fun.

4:27: We’re back home. Preston hangs out with Arden (whom I try to feed, but she’s clearly just fussy–not hungry) while I play with Ella and Ness in the back. We’re training Ness on an electric fence, and it’s going very well so far. Callie is too scared of the system even to come outside. Sigh.

5:00: I put Arden in the carrier and we walk over to dinner at the dining hall. More grilled veggies and whitefish with a citrus sauce. I eat something with peanut butter frosting for dessert that is delicious while I’m eating it, but makes me feel sick afterward. Ella runs off her dessert sugar high with our neighbor, Elly, around campus. I walk back to our apartment and gather up the boxes of fall/winter clothes I assembled for Elly (who’s a year younger than Ella) the night before. I walk them over to our neighbors’ house. Ella and Elly decide to ride bikes.

6:15: I go inside to nurse Arden (who must be hungry because she’s drooling and eating her fist), but she falls asleep as soon as I take her out of the carrier (this has happened never before). I take the opportunity to sit back and catch up on Instagram, Facebook, and Feedly.

6:24: Ella comes inside for her bath. I take Arden upstairs, change her into pajamas, and start to nurse her. I read more of The Book Thief.

6:58: Preston drops Ella off with me in Arden’s room. He has to go to a concert for work, so I let Ella watch a PBS show on the iPad while I finish nursing Arden. This means I have to give up my book. Sigh. Technically my dorm duty starts at 7:15 on Thursdays, but since all students are supposed to be at a concert tonight, I have some leeway.

7:30: After I swaddle Arden and put her to bed, I let Ella finish the episode so I can pick up and put laundry away. After she finishes the episode she opens the messenger app on my iPad and when she sees my mother-in-law’s picture, she says, “I want to send Grandma lots of messages.” She types a bunch of jibberish, and we take a few photos and a video to send to Grandma. She then picks two books which we read. As soon as I turn off her light and sit in the chair by her door, she announces that she’s not sleepy. Within ten minutes, she’s out.

8:03: Preston texts me that he’s on his way home. I escape from Ella’s room, grab my water bottle and laptop, and head out to the dorm common room so that I can monitor study hall until 9:45. I talk to some students, update my calendar, map a few runs, and respond to emails. Preston comes out after walking the dogs (again! I was not a good dog walker today), and eventually goes back into our study, which opens to the dorm, to do some work.

9:45: Check-in. The whole dorm convenes in the common room and we talk until 10:05. I remind them about study hall rules, ask for some forms, and ask them what their theme is for Saturday’s dance. A day student mother has brought pineapple and grapes for a “feed” (late night snack). At 10:05 we end check-in. Preston and I shake hands with every student on the hall (a Groton tradition).

10:17: I’m back in our apartment. I put on pajamas, brush my teeth, forget to wash my face, and come sit in bed to write this post.

11:38: I’ve finished the post. Goodnight.

11:52: NOW I’m going to bed. I blame the internet.

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Arden’s Birth Story: Preface

Oh hey there, blog. So the last time I wrote, I was starting my third year as a Latin teacher at a job I love, was beginning our third year in our house, E was 27 months old, and I had just miscarried. And here is a picture I took this morning:

2 weeks old

Arden at 2 weeks old

Oh, what a difference a year makes. After E was born, I wrote about how bizarre (yet totally predictable) it was that I made All Of The Changes within the span of a few months (new degree, new job, new house, new baby). This time around, though, I’m pretty sure I outdid past Mary Frances.

Let’s rewind: I miscarried at the end of August, and by the end of September, was pregnant again. I was teaching an overload, had taken on an additional leadership position at work, and was still finishing my ten-month yoga teacher training. So really, what better time to get pregnant? None, of course. In spite of all the crazy, Preston and I were, of course, both thrilled. The pregnancy continued relatively stress-free, and I planned on taking a twelve week leave from work the next fall. I was completely exhausted from work, the pregnancy, and life with a toddler, but I told myself that it would all be ok, because I’d have the summer and the fall just to be with the baby and slow down.

And then, in the middle of an icy January, Preston got an email from his old Latin teacher that a job had opened up at his high school alma mater, the place he has always dreamt of returning to work. This place, naturally, was many hours away nestled in a small town in Massachusetts (which I am finally spelling correctly on the first try now, #embarrassing). After a whirlwind six weeks of applying, interviewing, and waiting with bated breath, Preston found out that he had gotten the job the last weekend in February. He was over the moon, and seeing him that happy was enough to send me there as well.

And then on Monday, when the initial frissons were beginning to fade, we realized that, shit: in the course of the next five months, we would need to close up our jobs here, get our house ready to go on the market, put it on the market, sell it, move to Massachusetts, and, oh right, BIRTH A HUMAN.

The next six weeks were a whirlwind of getting the house ready to sell and actually selling it. We spent all of Spring Break cleaning, packing, storing, and driving to visit the campus/secure a daycare spot in our new home for Ella. The next week, the house went on the market. It sold within five days and was under contract within a couple more (this timeline makes it sound like it was way easier than it was. Head’s up: selling your house is NO FUN.). The last contingency went through the third week in May.

Both of us had told our schools that we would be leaving, and we were both involved in hiring our replacements. I accepted a (very) part-time position at Preston’s new school for the next year–I had planned on taking the first twelve weeks off entirely, after all–and we both signed our contracts and filled out lots of fun payroll paperwork.

At that point, it was late April, I was in my third trimester, and I realized that, huh. This baby was going to have to exit my body sooner rather than later. After the terrible birth experience I had had with Ella (part one + part two), I knew that I wanted to do it differently this time around. Primarily, I did not want a C-section. BOLD FACE CAPS LOCK. 

In spite of the fact that I had a real problem with the way my OB practice handled my experience with Ella, I had stayed with them because–and this is when I am just embarrassed for myself–they were close to my work. I KNOW. Lame. But I reasoned that having to go to monthly appointments would be at least a little bit easier if I didn’t have a commute on top of the eighty thousand other things on my to-do list for the year. Because obviously commute time > finding a practitioner whom I trust. Obviously {sarcasm font}.

So, yes. I stayed with my OB. It was a practice of about six doctors, two of whom I liked and trusted, two of whom I disliked and didn’t trust, one whom I had only met once over the course of two pregnancies, and one more who was just meh. Any of them could deliver me–it just depended who was on call when I went in to labor–but until April I wasn’t really thinking about that because it turns out that when you have the year that I did, you tend to forget that you will ever actually have to, you know, birth the child growing inside of you.

Once our house sold, however, and life began to return to normal, I started thinking seriously about what I wanted my labor and delivery to be like this time around, and very quickly decided that I wanted to hire a doula.

And that, my friends, changed everything. More soon.

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Letter to E: 27 Months

Dear E,

Sometimes when I look at you, I can’t believe how much I love you. I could spend hours just watching you (total creeper style). From the way your wispy blonde hair curls around your chin to the precision with which you pick up objects to the way you grit your teeth when you are trying to lift something that’s really too heavy (or, as you say, “iss too hea-beh”) for you–you have me mesmerized.

Watermelon

That said, from about eighteen months to twenty-five months you really did your best to bring new meaning to that much-dreaded phrase, “the terrible twos.” First, you began having tantrums–that is, throwing yourself on the floor, crying, screaming, kicking…the works. Most of the time we either let you cry it out or put you in time out. I’ve worked really hard to help you understand that time out is not necessarily punitive, and really, can be restorative. I try to frame it as a time that we all need to take sometimes just to remove ourselves from a stressful situation, calm down and recenter (in fact, I even put myself in time out from time to time when I lose my temper or feel like I’m about to do so). Your tantrums have become, for the most part, more manageable, but they still do happen, thanks to your willful (read: endlessly determined and (sometimes stupidly) stubborn) personality.

Here, Mama

Secondly, and most annoyingly, you stopped sleeping through the night. To put it indelicately, that has simply sucked; your Dad and I have basically lived in a constant state of exhaustion since January (I can remember one night over the last eight months during which I have enjoyed uninterrupted sleep), and you are now programmed to wake up either between 12 and 1 or 3 and 4 (or, on really special nights, at both times!). It is still pretty bad: you struggle to go to sleep without one of us in the room, and you always wake up at least once crying for us to come in and rescue you from the misery of sleep (so wasted on the young!). That said, over the last month or so, I’ve begun to have hope about the situation because I can see that you are gradually beginning to understand what we are saying to you.

Crail

You are able to articulate your feelings much more clearly than you were two months ago simply because you are more verbal. IT MAKES THINGS SO MUCH EASIER. When you have a tantrum, you are much more receptive to our suggestions (though man, you and I had quite the showdown in Scotland when you refused to say ‘thank you’ to one of our Scottish friends when she gave you a teddy bear–we are both too stubborn for our own good, it turns out), and I can see a glimmer of hope re: the sleeping. You are beginning to understand that you’re not really alone when you’re in the dark and I am hopeful that in the coming months we can get you to feel more comfortable in your bed and in your room without us there beside you (fingers crossed because HOLY GOODNESS I NEED SLEEP).

Socks

My Mom always told me when you were little and completely unable to communicate that it really did get easier with time, and that once you started talking, I would discover that you’ve been listening all along. And man, you have been doing just that. Last night when your Dad was sitting at the computer (or, as you say, “pewter”), you said, “Dad tek e-mail.” That is not a word we taught you, but it’s obviously one you hear all the time (thank you, 2013), and last night you just decided to use it. [Sidebar: you also know how to turn on an iPhone or an iPad, scroll through pictures, and play videos (“pess the ti-angle”). I anticipate that you will be texting your daycare friends shortly.]

Everything these days is “Ella do it self,” or “Ella self, or “I do it.” “Mama/Dada no help” is a constant phrase in our house. You are so determined to do as much as you can on your own (but eventually you have to ask for “help peas,” sometimes and it is adorable every time). You are completely fearless–unusual for a first child–and I hope that you never lose the confidence and grit that you have as a toddler. It really is inspiring. It’s also terrifying, but let’s go with inspiring for now.

Climbing

You say “dah doo” for “thank you,” call all the time for “Mama and Dada,” and love “Ness (the dellow dog) and Ca-ah (the black dog).” You love animals & their accompanying sounds, trucks, cars, Elmo and Mih-ey Mouse and always want to “do dis” or “do dat.” Much to my chagrin you have inherited your dada’s love for hot dogs and deuce (juice), and never fail to let me know when your cup is em-py (empty). You know the letter “E for Ella,” and always point it out to me when you see it. Right now, in fact, you’re sitting in my lap requesting to press the “baby E” (i.e. lowercase E).

Elie Playground

You are such a love, my E. You are always up for a snuggle or a hug, and give the best kisses. This morning, I found out that I lost a pregnancy, and as I cried in bed with your Dad I said, “E, Mama is very sad.” You crawled over to me, all big blue eyes and crazy blonde curls, and hugged me tightly around the neck before giving me a big kiss on the mouth. A few minutes ago, you lifted up my shirt to ask me about the baby in my belly, and it broke my heart to tell you that it was gone–that the baby brother or sister we had promised you wouldn’t arrive next spring. This pregnancy was one your Dad and I wanted so much, and while I am devastated that it isn’t going to happen, today I also just find myself astounded by you, by what a miracle you are, and by how much I love you.

Train Ride

I am grateful for you every day, E, but especially today. Thank you for being mine, and for being here.

I love you so much,

Mama

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Project 365: Days 68-90

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April 1, 2013 · 10:56 am

This

image

Is why I can’t wait to do it all over again (not pregnant – just getting to the point of being ready for another).

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Project 365: Days 55-67 (& Some Thoughts on the Winter)

Oh, friends (of the invisible internet variety). I am having such a hard winter. Usually once January passes, my mood improves just enough to power me through to my March spring break, but this year, February drop-kicked me to the curb like no other January I can remember. I have felt hollow and alone and just so, so sad. I have cried this winter more than I have in months.

What is, I think, the most frustrating for me, is that I am doing everything right: I exercise, I eat well, I take my anti-depressant, I sleep enough, I have a husband and a child who love me, two awesome (if at times annoying) dogs, a job that satisfies me, and a beautiful home. And yet, depression, that nasty beast, cares naught of any of this.

I have taken the normal steps to combat this particular low spell: I have opened up to Preston, my Mom, a few close friends, and my therapist. I have made time for myself, and have been gentle with myself when I have made mistakes and had setbacks. I have given back to others and thought about the bigger picture. I have done everything right, but for some reason, the chemicals in my brain just won’t align.

I am seeing a new psychologist this week, and I hope that that will help. In the meantime, I’m still taking lots of pictures, and this week, I saw the first green shoots of our lilies peeking out in our front flower bed. I was so grateful for that glimmer of hope — for that tangible proof that spring is, in spite of all odds (hello, random Friday snow), on its way.

And now, some photos.

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Project 365: Days 51-54

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February 24, 2013 · 9:30 am