Friday, May 25, 2018

Springtime Madness

We've been engaged in a rock-bottom survival mode for the last few weeks.

Both my husband and I had crazy intense work stuff going on that took over our lives (and sanity) for the last 2 months. We've been working weekends and nights. Which means that we were barely spending any quality time with kids (it basically was limited to feeding &bathing and occasionally checking homework) and nothing but the most urgent housework got done. When I actually think about it, we didn't really neglect the kids - I remember taking the youngest to the playground, playing an occasional game, and talking over dinner - but I couldn't quite focus on the time with kids and I was too concerned with how much work I still had to do to have fun.

We feel exhausted, stressed, frustrated, and we over-react angrily to all the little things. We are behind on everything (gardening, housework), I can't remember the last time I sat down and read to my kids (we are always running around, trying to either get somewhere important, get the kids to do something important, get the kids to go to bed at a reasonable time, prepare lunches, prepare dinners, prepare for work). I hate living like that. Kids internalize our stress and anxiety and act out.

So. My crazy work stuff is done (for now).
We still have:

  • Son's baseball (twice a week, plus practices... he is not so good at it and I don't know if he is enjoying it - may not do this again next year!)
  • Son's violin lessons (once a week + daily practice) - and he has a recital this Sunday!!! My mom is accompanying him on the piano - they are doing great (but that has meant extra practice time and arranging things so mom can practice with him at our house or her house)
  • Big daughter's dance lessons (once a week, plus a dress rehearsal coming up next week, plus the show a few days after that!)
  • Big daughter's piano lessons (once a week + daily practice) - and piano guild audition thing next week.
  • Daily homework for big kids
  • Little daughter - I feel guilty I didn't sign her up for anything this spring (I was considering swimming lessons) - but in retrospect, good thing we didn't. Too much going on.
  • Guests coming tomorrow and staying overnight
  • End of school year - parties, presents for teachers, etc, etc.
  • Race that I want the kids to participate in (for fun!) same day as big daughter's piano guild
  • Birthday party to go to same day as big daughter's dance show
  • Board meeting at the synagogue same day as birthday party and dance show

Breathe in.... breathe out

I am making an attempt to play with kids more, especially now that the weather is so nice and we have a beautiful yard. I want to play board games with them, too, but most evenings we just don't get to it.

Yesterday, we had a wonderful evening (son didn't have homework - that may have helped carve the time for outside fun). We threw the baseball around and I even tried to hit it with a bat for the first time ever (it was unexpectedly fun - but I only got one hit!), played Frisbee, played with a volleyball. Our youngest is pretty good at catching ball - she was so excited! We walked around the yard, kids picked strawberries (I believe the harvest was about 30 wild ones and 1 big red one), we inspected the trees, kids played on the play set. We ate dinner outside. Ah, just thinking about all of it makes me happy!

Tonight, we are going over to my parents' house. Today would have been my grandfather's 100th birthday - so we are having dinner and then will be looking at some old photos.

I know spring time is hectic for many families. How do you keep things from falling apart?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Weekend Report

Last weekend of February!

Here is the summary of  happenings.

Friday:

  • Bingo night at kids school. I took all 3 kids by myself because husband was away in another city for work (after being away in yet another city earlier that week). 
    • Youngest had a meltdown because she didn't win anything.
    • Middle child was grumpy because we left early. 
    • Oldest child was thrilled to stay behind with a friend of his and to be dropped off at home later that night by the friend's parents. 
    • I was reasonably grouchy because I had to "do it all" alone.
    • Still, it was a fun night, we all enjoyed playing bingo and seeing some friends/acquaintances.

Saturday:

  • I made oatmeal and did some yoga.
  • J took older daughter to dance class and then out on a father-daughter date 
    • In the meantime, the rest of us played frisbee outside, found flowers (snowdrops?) in the garden, and read some books. I also managed to call my parents, schedule a dinner date with them, and make lunch (tuna salad and lentil soup).
  • E had a soccer game. It was entertaining enough that I didn't get as far in my book as I thought I would. 
  • E and I had a date at the Veterans Museum. 
  • I took my parents out to dinner at an Israeli restaurant they like, followed by tea and ice cream at their house. It was really nice to catch up. It felt really nice to be the center of attention.
  • At home, we all watched Olympics for a bit and kids had their Movie Night.
Sunday:
  • J took kids to Hebrew School and then went to my parents house to work on their faucet.
  • I went to a Rosh Hodesh event. 
  • H had a piano party.
  • J fixed our shower (with much cursing, a trip to buy yet another tool, and a minor temper tantrum).
  • I read for fun.
  • I spent about 20 min going through the attic stuff (the goal is to clear up the attic room where I have my "study" and which currently doubles as the "junk room). Found a few things I've been missing, like the salad-serving spoons and egg holders (still packed from our move 4 years ago!
  • We all watched the closing ceremony for a bit.
  • J and I had a fight (because I've been feeling under-appreciated and he has more trips coming up and I'll have to scramble to juggle kid activities, dinner, work, etc., all alone - again! And he doesn't think about any of it or plan for contingencies at all).
    • I felt better afterwords.

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

Friendships

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?