Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday-Night Blues

I don't have a case of the Mondays.  I have a case of the Sunday Nights.  Sunday nights are always a let-down of sorts.  I spent the weekend relaxing, enjoying early morning breakfast with the kiddo, lounging around in my pajamas drinking coffee, going to the park to play on the swings.

Then blammo.  It's Sunday evening and I'm back in work mode.  I've caught up on my email, reviewed my calendar and made a preliminary to-do list to tackle starting tomorrow.  Strangely enough, Monday will be just fine.  It's the busiest day of the week for me, but it will be fine.

On Sunday night though, I worry about what all I need to get done during the week.  I worry about day care drop-off and pick-up coordination.  I worry about having all the laundry done.  I worry about having enough milk to make it through the week.  This Sunday night anxiety lasts just a few hours.  Just until I feel like I'm ready to handle whatever the week throws my way.  I don't dread going to work.  In fact, I really like my work and the people I work with.  It's the anxiety of transitioning from personal life to work life that ramps me up before I wind down.

I did a little Googling about "Sunday-night blues" and found that it's quite common, and has been ever since society moved to a 5-day workweek.  The solutions?  Get organized, plan something fun, find a new job.  Really?  Find a new job?  Doesn't that seem a little extreme?  Won't the next job have some sort of weekend days off and a Monday?  I think I will just stick with recognizing Sunday night for what it is...a transition from the relaxing personal life to the ramped-up working life.  The nice thing is, there's always the happiness of Thursday night.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Where to Go?

I love to travel, but take very few vacations.  This is something I would like to change.  Did you know that American workers leave an average of 2 days of unused vacation totaling around $34.3 billion on the table each year?  The economy is shouldering the blame as most people are opting to stay home and save money in these uncertain times.

I'm not unlike most Americans.  I have reached the max limit of how much vacation I can accrue at work. We haven't taken a vacation since 2009 when we went to Vegas for a few days.  The last big vacation was a trip to Ireland in 2008.

I'm itching to take real vacation this year.  I loved Ireland and would love to go back.  I also want to visit Italy, Germany, Prague, Moscow, New Zealand...the list goes on.  While I am planning this trip, I've searched for pictures of the places I'd like to visit.  National Geographic always has beautiful images that inspire my travel longings.  Here are just a few of my favorites.

The Irish countryside was so peaceful.
I'll admit it...Under the Tuscan Sun sparked my interest to make a trip to Tuscany.  Isn't it beautiful?
Oktoberfest in Munich?  Why not?!
History, culture and color in Moscow.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On

The past few months have been a bit challenging in the 'things that go smoothly' department. We started in October with a sinus infection that would not go away for sweet baby Scarlett, followed by lots of traveling during the holidays, followed by an evil stomach bug that decimated everyone in this house and today, my poor husband wound up in the ED with horrible abdominal pain.

Things are not going smoothly.

So how does one 'keep calm and carry on,' or least 'maintain and stay sane?'

1). Stay focused. I find it best not to let your mind wander off of the task at hand. For example, while cleaning up the projectile puke from your sick baby, don't daydream about getting a pedicure or a massage. You may wind up dropping everything and running away. Eventually you will come back, and the puke will still be there to clean up so it's best just to stick with it.

2). Get cable. Nothing will make you realize that it's really not that bad after watching any episode of "The Real Housewives of....," or "Teen Mom," or really any so-called reality TV show. Turns out my reality at its worst is far better than theirs.

3). Outsource any domestic chore possible. This can be a bit tricky because you don't want to drain the bank account, but honestly, having someone come in and literally do your dirty work at least once is worth it. Think of what you can do with that extra time! No don't think of all that other work that needs to be done. Think of something napping.

4). Perfect a slightly crazy facial expression. It really takes all the pressure off of trying maintain that 'I've got things all together' look, and it will most likely keep people who annoy you away. You get extra points for disheveled hair and dirty clothes.

5). Make sure you have an emergency stash of wine and chocolate handy. This is just a good guideline to follow for anything.

6). And finally...have a sense of humor. I'm not suggesting that laughter is the best medicine or makes everything better. Let's face it, there's nothing really funny about a screaming one year old who's sick or a trip to the ED with your husband who's in excruciating pain. But it does lend a different perspective to everything and makes them more bearable.

As I was thinking about this final and quite frankly most important point, I went to my old friend Google to search for some poetic quote about having a sense of humor. I found one by Bill Cosby who said, "You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humour in anything, even poverty, you can survive it.”. I found the quote in the article below written a few years ago. I like what it had to say about the importance of humor.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I Will Be A Runner v2012

So back to my previous post about my Bucket List....

This year I am going to conquer something that has always been my nemesis.  Running.  I am a wanna-be athlete.  I played sports in school, but I was no star.  I am card-carrying gym rat and love spinning classes and most recently, a group strength training class I signed up for.  But put me in a pair of running shoes and I am gasping for air doing a slow trot for 3 minutes.

This has always been especially frustrating.  A few years ago I was into road cycling and could ride up to 70 miles.  (I participated in a century ride, but had to quit half-way in due to a friend's emergency).  I have never been able to figure out why I could ride a bike for hours, but got winded during a slow jog around the block.  I think it's a mental block, since I have always hated running.

But this year, I'm busting through that block.  I have the shoes, Garmin gadget thingy, appropriate running gear and a training plan (C25K on my iPhone, although my trainer friend may have other ideas).  How can this not be a plan for success?

There will be more to follow on exactly how successful this plan is.  My goal is to participate in a 5K this year and run the whole thing.  Seems simple enough, right?

Meanwhile, this picture pretty much sums it up for me...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Bucket List

How much have you checked off your life's 'bucket list' lately?

It's the new year, time for resolutions, yadda, yadda, yadda.  This year, I thought I would revisit my bucket list.  And then I thought, " I even have a bucket list?"  Turns out, I can't remember ever sitting down and making a list of all the things I want to see and do before I kick the bucket.  

And just what exactly is a bucket list?  Is it simply a to-do list to check off?  Or is it a list of actions that somehow represent the person we want to be?

If I made a bucket list in my 20s, I might have been able to check a few things off.  Like getting married, having a child, career success, traveling to another country, and saving a life.  Now it's a bit different.  For what it's worth, here is my first draft of my Bucket List.

Travel:  NYC, Hawaii, Ireland (again), Italy, Germany, California wine country
Run a 5K
Write a book
Learn to speak Spanish
Take my daughter to the beach, Disney World, a Broadway show
Be financially independent
Volunteer more, watch TV less
Start a new hobby
Master folding a fitted sheet
Finish MPA degree
Fly first class

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Night Night, Sleep Tight

I will probably say this many more times, but I really have no idea what I'm doing parenting. I'm basically winging it, doing what feels right for Sweet Baby Scarlett and us. Recently we hit one of our first "now what do we do" problems....sleeping.

We've never really followed a strict schedule for anything really, just more of a guideline of when things should happen. But right before SBS turned one, sleeping (or lack of) became a problem. It started with a lengthy sinus infection. The only way she could breathe well and be comfortable was to be upright, so that meant sleeping on one of us while we sat in a recliner. Once the sinus infection cleared up, we had a series of family visits across the state we took that threw everything off. Then there was the stomach bug that hit all of us. Gradually, we had a baby who wouldn't sleep in her crib and fought going to bed tooth and nail.

I started looking up information on getting baby to sleep and found the usual suspects - Ferber, No Cry Sleep Solution, co-sleeping, etc. I hated the idea of 'Ferberizing' and we were not planning on co-sleeping. Then I found the Sleep Lady Shuffle.

All I can say is "wow". The Shuffle, while not a no-tears approach, really appealed to me. The approach is about how to coach your baby into being able to settle themselves and go to sleep. There may be some tears, but the parent can be right there with them, coaching them to sleep.

The first night was brutal. 30 minutes of standing up crying. But then she laid down on her own and went to sleep. The second night was only 15 minutes.

The third night, less than 5 minutes. The fourth night, no crying.

On the fifth night, we had a bath, and read stories. Then I picked her up, hugged her tight, kissed her on the forehead, laid her down in the crib and said, "Night night, sleep tight.". She looked up at me and smiled, said, "Nigh, nigh" and curled up with her blanket. I walked out of her room and didn't hear another peep until morning.

What's right for one family isn't necessarily right for every family, but if you are struggling with sleep issues, I recommend giving the the Sleep Lady Shuffle a try.  The author is Kim West, "The Sleep Lady" and the title of her book is "Good Night, Sleep Tight."  It starts with the basic foundations of sleep for everyone, then is broken down by age/milestones and has sections for special interests (multiples, twins, etc).  I was able to download it on my Kindle ap for iPad.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, January 20, 2012

Martha Stewart Would Disapprove

I lived a life-time before I had my first kid.  I'm 40 with a one-year old daughter.

Advantage:  I have literally been there, done that.
Disadvantage:  I've never been there, done that with a kid.

I'm the mom in the neighborhood/day care/play group that makes all the other moms feel better.  I work full-time and leave my little one at day care every day.  I don't make bows, I don't bake cupcakes, I have no idea what 'attachment parenting' is about and I couldn't tell you the difference between organic and not organic.    I am freaked out that my currently bald baby girl will eventually have hair and I am the one responsible for keeping it from becoming a bird's nest.  French braid?  Pig tails?  Barrettes?

I am the mom who will forget about the 50 cupcakes needed for the school party and will rush to the grocery store to buy 100 stale florescent frosted cupcakes from the bakery an hour before the party.  Why 100 instead of 50?  Because my guilty conscience says that an extra 50 stale cupcakes will make up for me not making gluten-free organic cacao cupcakes with fresh strawberries on top.  When my daughter is supposed to take a homemade gift to some party, I am the mom who will go to and buy something that someone else made.  We will most likely not have fresh squeezed lemonade after school, and I can't guarantee that I will pack her lunch everyday.

That does not mean that I am not head-over-heels in love with my daughter.  I could spend my time trying to improve my cupcake baking skills, or practice a perfect French braid, but I think my time would be better spent doing the things that we both like to playing hide & seek, pointing to our noses and catching up on the latest adventures of Olivia.

I know there are other moms who are either too busy or just not inclined to be the domestic goddess that other moms are blessed to be, and I wonder what shortcuts they take to enjoy their families just a little more.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Last weekend my husband moved his 84 year-old mother from the place where he grew up across the state to be closer to family. She's a strong woman who raised seven kids, but her health has been declining for the past several years. All of her kids have relocated across Texas and New Mexico, and it's time for her to be closer to people who can help her more. The move was not easy...not for her and not for my husband. They spent the weekend packing up things and memories, visiting friends and places, and saying goodbye. Then they just left a whole lifetime in the rear-view mirror.

We all have a place we call home, and sometimes it's not even where we live right now. My husband and I have been in Austin for 13 years, yet we still call a patch of dirt out west home. For people like us, 'home' is where we grew up. It's where we took our first steps, had our first day of school. It's where we skinned our knees when we fell off our bicycles when we took the training wheels off. It's the backroads where we learned to drive, the high school football team, and first kisses. It's where family and friends married and had children, and it's where loved ones are buried. There is a connection we have to the place that will always make it home.

My parents moved away from this patch of dirt about 10 years ago. My mother-in-law was the only family I had left there. My husband doesn't have any family there now either. Even so, it will always be considered home because it left such an imprint on who we are now.

My daughter will never know this place as home. And now we have no ties that draw us back to show her where mom and dad lived as kids, where we went to school, or the places we liked to hang out. She has her own home here in Austin and my hope is that she enjoys a childhood that creates memories and connections that will always feel like home.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Heart Tina

I have been a Tina Fey fan for a long time.  She has the kind of wit and humor that I wish I had all the time.  I read her book Bossypants a few months ago and it really just made me love her more.  There are just too many things that I was able to identify with as a working mom with a very young daughter.  "A Mother's Prayer for Her Daughter" still makes me laugh and I just have to share it.  If you're a working mom, I recommend Bossypants for an easy read that will relieve you to know that we're not alone in trying to manage it all.

A Mother’s Prayer for her Daughter
First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither the Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.
May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the the Beauty.
When the Crystal Meth is offered,
May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half
And stick with Beer.
Guide her, protect her
When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the nearby subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock N’ Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.
Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance.
Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes
And not have to wear high heels.
What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.
May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.
Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen.
Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long,
For Childhood is short — a Tiger Flower blooming
Magenta for one day –
And Adulthood is long and Dry-Humping in Cars will wait.
O Lord, break the Internet forever,
That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers
And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.
And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister,
Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends,
For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.
And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord,
That I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 a.m., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.
“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck.
“My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental note to call me. And she will forget.
But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

First-Time Blogger, Long-Time Reader

I may not be very good at this. I tend to over think, well…everything, and this was no exception. Google and I are old friends so naturally I went there to research blogging. Apparently I’m supposed to carefully consider what my blog is going to be about, create an effective blog description to ‘increase traffic’, come up with a catchy title, and basically be way more interesting than I really am.
Let me start off by saying what this blog is not about. It’s not about crafting, cooking, baking, photography, parenting, traveling, social media, parenting tips, cleaning tips, style, politics, making money or any particular social agenda. If you’re looking for those things, might I suggest a Google or Bing search or perhaps the latest episode of Today. The reason I don’t write about those things is because I am basically useless at all of those things. I read other people’s blogs to figure out how to do them. If you come here for that, you’re going to be really disappointed.
So what does that leave me? Well, I’m 40, have a one-year old daughter, work in public service, married to another public servant, working on a master’s degree, like to read a lot, below-average athlete/above-average couch potato, have great friends, talented co-workers and awesome family. There has to be something good in there to blog about, right?
Look, this thing doesn’t even have title yet and a sketchy blog description, so the only place I have to go from here is up.