Thursday, February 22, 2018

Morningitis: a Severe Debilitating Morning Condition

I suffer from a severe case of morning irritation. I feel grumpy, underappreciated, put-upon, irritable, and short-tempered. I snap at the kids. I grumble at the husband. I hiss at the cat.

I've tried:

  • Exercise in the morning
  • Read for fun in the morning
  • Go to bed earlier the night before

None of those work on a consistent basis. Plus, I have 1001 excuses not to do the above (like, not waking up early enough).
And I haven't figured out if there is anything - anything at all - that can make me a happier and kinder person in the mornings. Maybe its a lost cause and I just have do endure being in a bad mood most mornings?

A number of years ago, my husband was responsible for getting our kids (there were only 2 at the time) up, fed, dressed and off to daycare. I got up extra-early to get my grumpy self to the lab. I was the only one at work at 7:30 in the morning, so no one suffered from my lack of good mood. By the time people rolled in (10-ish), I was back to my normal self.

Now, my husband and I do mornings together, eat breakfast more or less around the same time as our kids, and split the drop-off routine on most days. In some ways, it's working great - we both get to work at a reasonable time, and in theory, we spend some quality time together as a family first thing in the morning. Reality: I am not a good sport on most mornings... All I want to do is whine and pick fights with my family.

Potential solution:
I do feel that if I got up an hour earlier (6 am instead of closer to 7 am), I might feel better by the time kids get up around 7-7:15.

Hurdle to overcome:
I am really, really, really not a morning person. I love night-time: I function great at night and am in a fabulous mood. My most productive hours, when in college and grad school, were between 1 and 3 am. Now, even if I force myself into bed by 10:30, I have a hard time falling asleep (unless I've been sleep deprived for a few days, and then I collapse by 9:30). So, I am fighting my innate circadian preference, in addition to a multitude of other hurdles (stress, fatigue, emotional exhaustion). I am fighting years and years of ingrained grumpy-morning paradigm (since early childhood, I just don't feel happy the moment I wake up).

So how do I find my "happy" on most morning???  Any advice???

What do you do to feel happy first thing in the morning? Do you just wake up happy or is there a routine that you do to put yourself into a good mood?

Monday, February 19, 2018

Weekend Reports

I find it very interesting to read bloggers who like to come up with detailed schedules for their weekends and are super-organized (or at least come across that way in their writing). Reading their weekend updates, with multiple events that happen each day - on one hand, I'm a bit jealous (because I never get that much done) and on the other hand I feel exhausted just reading about it (because I never want to do that much).

I am not big into scheduling and I am really terrible at to-do lists.
However, as has been pointed out by these amazing super-organized bloggers, if you don't plan at all - everyone may end up doing nothing and moping around miserable all weekend. While occasional unplanned weekend is nice, I have to agree that not much gets done :)

It looks like the middle ground of some planning and lots of free time is working out well for the moment.

This weekend, planned:
* Friends birthday party on Saturday
* Food shopping on the way home from the birthday party
* Playdate on Sunday
* Piano and violin daily practice for big kids
* Watching Olympics for a few hours on Saturday and Sunday
* Crepes on Sunday morning
* Laundry
* Cooking (califlower soup, meat loaf for the week, acorn squash)

This weekend, unplanned:
*Walk with the youngest child on Saturday morning
*Making snowman outside on Sunday
*Banana bread muffins on Sunday
*Kids building forts
*Me reading my own book while semi-watching Olympics

Did not do as much as I hoped (or not at all):
* Reading to kids (because watching Olympics)
* Playing board games with kids

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Memorable Books 2017

These are 5 authors that I discovered last year.
Their books provided escape from reality.* 

Michael David Lukas: The Oracle of Stamboul 

Jonathan Lethem: Motherless Brooklyn 

Tana French: Everything she has written so far 

Catrione McPherson: The Child Garden 

John Twelve Hawks: Spark 

*My reality is wonderful, but sometimes its nice to get away...

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


I miss having deep friendships.

Most people I used to spend time with before having kids have fell off my radar (or I fell of their radar... it goes both ways). My college friendships all fell away except for 1 friend that I talk to a couple of times a year. I didn't become terribly close with anyone during grad school (well, except for my future husband) - and even though I am still in touch with a few people through Facebook, we don't talk and I rarely see them because people are all over the world. Every once in a while, I get to see one of my old friends - and it's really a treat, but then it's over and we drift apart again.

I have many acquaintances - neighbors, other moms and dads from school and daycare, people at work. We meet, we chat, we talk about our kids... and that's about it.

I need more. I want to find people who are into the same things as I am, people who are passionate and curious, people who make me think and re-evaluate, people who are fun to discover new things with. These people are around me - I just need to invest the time in getting to know them.

Friendships can not be forced. I know some wonderful women that I would love to spend more time with but we don't  have that magic "click" - and probably never will. They prefer to spend time with other people because they have more in common and they share some core attitude (interest? philosophy? sense of humor? sense of style?) that I lack. When that realization hits me - "they'd rather be friends with someone else" - there is a twinge of pain, but I've been through this so many times that I can shake it off and tell myself "ah well, they are still a nice person to know and chat with occasionally, but that's where it ends, for the time being".

 Friendships need time and emotional energy. My friends in college - we spent hours talking. I really felt for them - whatever they were going through, I was willing to feel their joy and their pain. Sometimes I wonder if I am truly up to doing it now. After all, there is so much I want to do with my kids and my husband that I am not doing because, you know, "not enough time" and all that. Do I really want to take away that time from my family and sink it into friendships that may or may not work out? And then, of course, when one gets emotionally invested, one can get really burned. And I don't mean pseudo-friends purposefully hurting us. I mean - s**t happens. It's one thing when it happens to people we barely know. It's a whole different beast when something horrible happens to people we deeply care about. It hurts. It really, really hurts.

I can't have a deep friendship without being emotionally close to the other person... and the potential fallout frightens me. Because I have enough of my own locked-away demons. Because if I take in someone else's demons, that just may push me over the edge and into despair - and my family, my kids will suffer. I know I am not explaining this well enough - I am sorry. This is something that I will need to think about more, on a sunny day, with a pile of dark chocolate next to me.

I know that the older we get, the harder it is to make close friends. Perhaps it's a losing battle I am fighting. Then again - I've always been a loner and making friends never came easy. But, at every stage of my life, I managed to find a "kindred spirit" - and having that one friend made all the difference in the world. Those friendships were sometimes completely unexpected, always took time, and warm my heart to this day, even if the person is gone.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Happy Hanukkah

Weekend report.

We were supposed to go to our synagogue on Friday night for a big Hanukkah-and-latkes celebration. Unfortunately, the weather made things impossible. The event was rescheduled for the following night but we already had other plans, so we completely missed it. I was looking forward to all the lit Hanukkiahs (most people bring at least one) - I've heard that in previous years, the sight was amazing. Ah well. Instead, we had a quiet dinner at home, the kids danced (I love watching them dance; they all  have their own distinct styles) and we read some Hanukkah books.

Saturday was spent cleaning up, cooking, and food-shopping. My husband took our daughter to her dance class and then they had treats at a coffee shop. Both came home happy :) In the afternoon, we had some guests over for latkes and sufganiyot. Both turned out delicious! I was so happy. My mom made the sufganiyot and my husband deep-fried them. I was responsible for the latkes and, because I figured people would want more food (and they did) I also made some Syrian Red Lentil soup. The kids played with their friends, the grown-ups talked, and as far as I could tell, everyone had a good time. We lit the candles, we had the fireplace going, we played charades. Life was good.

Sunday: Hebrew school for the big kids, followed by the violin recital for my son, followed by a Hanukkah celebration at someone else's house. A few people from the synagogue volunteer to host a Hanukkah dinner at their house and invite the whole congregation. Everyone brings food.

For the violin recital - my son did OK. He made a mistake and stopped, but then was able to get back on track and finished his piece just fine. He said he was nervous this time because the music is getting more and more difficult. I accompanied him and I am so happy I can be part of this experience for him. I really should tell my son how much I appreciate this - playing music together.

There were also a few not-so-pleasant moments during the weekend. There always are. Kids fought. I lost my temper and yelled at one of my daughters because she kept nagging me about helping her while I was in the middle of something (ask your father, child!). Our younger daughter developed a fever our of the blue on Saturday night. Girls whined. Boy snuck chocolate into the bathroom (presumably, do sneak it into his bedroom and gobble it up after bed time). I felt tired most of the weekend. Husband felt tired most of the weekend.

Kids asked if we can make latkes again tomorrow or Tuesday. I wish...

What's your favorite fried food?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

40 and 1 day

I turned 40 yesterday.

And you know what? I love being 40. And not just because the alternative to turning 40 (=becoming dead) kind of sucks. No, I truly absolutely feel exhilarated that I am 40 years old. I feel young! I have so much to look forward to! Heck, my boss took up triathlons in his mid-40's. I don't think I'm going to start any intense sports hobbies, but hey, I could definitely start a new hobby (or revisit an old one) if I feel passionate about something.

My birthday was pleasantly low-key. My husband made a delicious breakfast of eggs and vegetables and fruit. The girls whined about the eggs (they have been on some sort of egg-strike for the last few months) - but, I figured, it's MY birthday, and they'll just have to deal with it. Number 3 and #1 ate most of their eggs, #2 made herself a peanut butter sandwich. At least everyone loves fruit (subject to change at any time). Best part of the morning was that my older daughter, who has rather long hair that gets horribly tangled, did not make a sound while I was brushing her! Made me so happy!

Our group had lunch with one of our clients in Philly, at what was supposed to be a fancy steak house. Eh. I didn't have steak - perhaps it was amazing. I had soup and salad - both were decent, but nothing out of this world. The lunch itself was fun - I like my colleagues and I like our client. We had some interesting conversations. I learned that 2 people were knitters, 1 person plays and records music (and is a drummer), 1 person plays the piano, and our client was into exercise, travel, and skiing.

My parents dropped by first thing in the morning and brought a home-made Napoleon cake that they know I love. They refused to stay for breakfast and didn't join us for dinner or desserts, but that's OK. My husband got some delicious Israeli food for dinner, we lit the Hanukkah candles, the kids sang "Happy Birthday", and then we all had a relatively drama-free relaxing evening, where kids played card games, danced to Hanukkah music, we read a few kid books, and I got some pleasant reading done by the fire (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy).

Speaking of spies...  My husband and I watched "A most wanted man" a couple of days ago. Loved it! Excellent acting, good story, minimum of violence - and a painfully satisfying ending. The movie (it's based on a novel by Le Carre) made me look up other spy movies and novels.

Do you have a favourite spy novel?

I remember liking "The Day of the Jackal" years ago...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A 40-year Old Fool

I am turning 40 tomorrow.

At the moment, I feel furious with myself. I forgot to enroll in FSA for next year - now the opportunity is missed and I can't change the selection until next year. I mean, really - how can I be so freaking irresponsible? I'm turning 40 tomorrow and still... and still... I am disorganized, irresponsible, I forget to do things that are financially important and have implications on our earnings and savings. I feel incapable, idiotic, and so, so angry with myself. And jus tthis morning, I had the auddacity gto get mad at one of my kids for forgetting to study for a test and not knowing where his study guide was (in my purse, because I put it there to give to him later and then forgot about). What the hell is wrong with me? Will I ever grow up or am I going to die an idiot? I find myself unable to stay on top of things.

That said - I am generally happy to be turning 40. I am glad to be alive. There are so many things I am grateful for - and I know all that can disappear in a blink of an eye. Family, job, health. House, car, piano.

I love this time of year - the early darkness, the snow (we had a first mini-snow storm this weekend) on the trees and grass, the fireplace, Chanukah, my birthday!!!

Not sure what we'll be doing tomorrow - our team has a fancy lunch meeting with a client. Our elementary school has their band/orchestra concert tomorrow evening - my kids aren't participating, but it may be fun to go watch. I am not baking anything - but if someone else gets (or bakes) me cake - there will be cake. I also want to have a super-special morning that involves a back-rub, some time to relax and daydream, no feelings of anger or frustration (that's seems to be today's theme...), and a breakfast of eggs and potatoes ... and maybe some other vegetables, too. And fruit - including pomegranate. And presents - I don't care what they are, I just want them.

I am super excited about the Chanukah presents I got for the kids this year, including tickets to the Arden Theater to see Peter Pan. I am also going to include a special "pass" this year - travelling to a nearby city with each of the big kids and taking Claire out to the zoo for some mommy-and-Claire time.

Alrighty, I feel somewhat better and less angry at myself.

Happy First Night of Chanukah tonight to all!