balance · parenting

Happy + Tired

This is my current status, today and for two months before today and probably for several months after today: happy and tired.

That’s what New Mom Life is like.

I’ve been holding off on a lot of things recently, making lots of resolutions that start with As soon as J.J. starts sleeping through the night, I’ll – and I am realizing that I can’t wait until that far-off day arrives. I need exercise and writing and meditation, and I need them now.  

This morning is a good start. I woke up at 4, cuddled with J.J. for a little bit, got him back to sleep, and then came downstairs to do – stuff.  I wish it was just writing on my agenda when I wake up! But, I fed and walked the dog, got dressed, ignored the dishes in the sink, made coffee, picked out an outfit for Edgar – and intermittently, I sat on the couch and I wrote. It’s not much – but it’s what I can do at the moment.

This week, I’m allowing myself to begin to daydream about a longer piece of writing – a short story or a novel. I always have a million ideas in my head, but in this moment, it feels like I need something BIG to work on – something that I can revisit every day. I have several projects in the works, so I might pick one of those, or decide to focus on something brand-new – we’ll see.

Sometimes I still can’t believe that J.J. is here – that Our Baby is home with us, and that we’re a family of four. We are busy and stressed and joyful and delighted. We are oh-so-happy and oh-so tired.

 

 

 

 

balance · snapshots

All The Things (November 2018)

I have made a solemn vow to myself that I will return to my biweekly posting schedule as soon as J.J. starts sleeping through the night.

I’ve considered trying to make a lesser commitment in the meantime. I could commit to posting once a week or twice monthly. But nothing sounds quite right. So I will continue to plug on, writing when I can and trying my best to get back on track with biweekly posting.

Here are all the things for this month:

Things I’m Reading: Just finished a fantastic book: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green. Loved it! I then started A Ladder To The Sky, by John Boyne, and I’m loving it so far. I am definitely reading slower than I usually do. #momlife

Things I’m Watching: I’ve been keeping pretty up-to-date with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and The Good Place. I am continually amazed with these two shows. They keep shifting and changing and still (IMHO) making me laugh and keeping my interest.

Things That I’m Struggling With: Finding time to write and exercise, and maintaining a healthy diet. I do feel somewhat refreshed after my four-day holiday weekend, so I am hoping that I can keep myself on track this week. I don’t have high expectations for exercise; my goal is to do a little yoga every morning, move as much as I can throughout the day, and run on the weekends.

I feel recharged and ready for the month of festivities ahead. Bring it, December!

balance

Slow Down

It feels like a good time of year for a restart. It’s fall – a time when many are transitioning from the hectic and sunny days of summer to the cold and cozy days of winter.

This time of year is always a fresh start for our family. The weekend before Thanksgiving was the last weekend of farmers markets for Tamara; that means her farm work will slow down and she’ll be less busy and more available for family time. It also means Edgar will be home with Tamara and J.J. more often, which I think is going to help him to have a happier and more restful winter.

Life has felt really chaotic these past few weeks. I’ve been back at work for three weeks, and that’s still been a big adjustment, navigating the new job and meeting new people and being oh-so-tired at the end of the day. It’s been challenging, trying to find time to exercise, and my diet has been awful – lots of candy and junk food and caffeine.

I actually found it helpful to look back at this post from a few months after Edgar came home. It was November 2016, and I was riding the struggle bus, trying to figure out how to be a parent while also practicing self-care. That’s where I am now, too, except that it’s twice as difficult. When Edgar came home, it was fairly easy to just leave him cuddling with Tamara and go for a two-mile run. Now, there are TWO little boys who need to get situated before I can engage in any meaningful self-care.

This week, as I contemplated what kind of a fresh start I wanted to make, I had one basic goal: slow down. 

Life has been zooming by recently, and I’ve started to feel overwhelmed and a little depressed. One of the signs I’ve noticed for me is constantly watching Netflix, having it on in the background wherever I am and whatever I’m doing. (Even playing with the boys!)

I have tried to consciously slow down my life this week. Whenever there is a pause in the activity around me, I have done my best to bring myself fully into the present moment.

Whenever I slow down, I start to consider mindfulness and meditation and the role I want them to play in my life. They are inextricably connected, my tendency to move quickly and my habit of living in the past or the future rather than the now.  I’ve made so many attempts at living in the moment, and I constantly have to re-commit to being present. I have to remind myself of the way I’ve been taught to meditate: you sit, and you are present and centered. And then thoughts pop into your head – they always do – and you gently bring your mind back to the present moment.

That’s my whole life – I find my center, and then a million thoughts and needs and wants crash into me. And then, I have to gently bring myself back to the present moment. My whole life is a mindfulness meditation practice.

So – can I try this, yet again? Can I try to totally live in the moment? Can I try to slow things down so that I am genuinely enjoying the life that I’m living, instead of always being caught up with the past and the future?

Slow down, and live in the moment.  That’s my mantra as we move into this busy, wonderful holiday season.

Slow-Down-Wallpaper-Blue

balance · snapshots

Oops

Oh, boy. Having a newborn baby is not helpful when you’re trying to post consistently on your blog!

My goal is to post on playful + peaceful every Tuesday and every Saturday. I’ve missed two deadlines in a row at this point, and finding the time to write has been really challenging. My hope is that once Baby J.J. starts sleeping through the night – and we are definitely not there yet – then I’ll be able to recalibrate and get my writing schedule back on track.

I’m trying not to feel guilty for slacking on my writing goals. Right now, every single minute of my day is taken up by work, child care, or sleep. THAT’S IT – those three things, and nothing else. It’s an intense and busy and wonderfully adorable and amazing time of life, and it means my regular routine is on hiatus for a while. And that is okay.

My fingers are crossed that I’ll make my next few deadlines and get somewhat back on track. But if not – c’est la vie.

balance · goals

The Best Laid Plans

This summer, I enjoyed a blissful six weeks of time away from professional work. I mommied – I wrote – I took care of my body and my mind. I started my new job on August 22nd feeling healthy and refreshed.

And then, on September 4th, we got a call from the adoption agency. Two days later, we were camped out at an Air BNB in Alexandria, Virginia, with our new baby boy.

It’s all been a whirlwind since then, and it makes me laugh to think about the plans I made over the summer. I spent a lot of time thinking about how I wanted to spend my work days and my overall weeks. I used my time off and the opportunity for a fresh start to evaluate how I spend my time and to make plans for how I could utilize my time and energy better.

And now, my life looks completely different. And those plans have to change.

However, I don’t at all regret the time I spent planning over the summer. It was valuable leg work that will help me now, as I contemplate returning to work after my adoption leave and evaluate what I want my days and my weeks to look like now that life is a little more complicated. (And a lot, lot cuter!) I didn’t get everything on my to-do list accomplished over the summer, but I did cross a lot of tasks off and I formed good habits that I’m hoping to maintain as our family adjusts to this new phase of life.

Looking ahead to my work days, I’m hoping to get up every day at (eek!) 4:30 a.m. so that I can have time to write, do yoga, and prepare for the day before the munchkins are awake. One of the small but meaningful changes I want to make in my routine is having a few moments for a daily prayer and inventory at the beginning and the end of the day. I think this is really important for my 12-step recovery, and it’s a practice that I want to prioritize.

I’ll wake Edgar at 5:55, and he’ll use the potty, get dressed, and put on his socks and shoes before coming downstairs for breakfast. My goal is that we will leave for Edgar’s school by 6:40 so that I can then arrive at work by 7:15. I don’t even know if that’s the time I need to arrive! I only worked for one school day before my adoption leave started, so this is all going to be a work in progress. If I have to be at school earlier, everything will have to shift a little earlier. TBD.

Meanwhile, J.J. is on a pretty good schedule at the moment, eating just about every three hours. I am hoping to get him on a regular schedule of starting his day with his first feeding at 7 a.m. That way, he’ll be snoozing and content while Tamara, Edgar, and I are busily preparing for the day ahead.

My work day ends at around 2:30 p.m., at which point I’ll leave, trying my best not to sprint out the door, and I’ll be able to pick Edgar up by around 3 p.m. Then we can have family play time, outdoors whenever possible, until dinner time. Jonas will eat during that time, at around 4 p.m., so I’m hoping he’ll be flexible about snuggling with me outside in an Adirondack chair so that Edgar can run and play while he eats!

Tamara and I had a mini family meeting and decided to try to eat dinner every night at around 5:30 p.m. We eat dinner all together every evening, and my hope is that eating at 5:30 will give Edgar time for a bath, the potty, brushing teeth, and maybe a few minutes of reading and free play time after dinner.

Edgar will go up for bed at around 6:30 p.m.; we’re going to be pushing his bedtime a little earlier (he usually goes down at 7 p.m.) because he’s going to need to be up and out so early, and he hasn’t been napping for as long as he used to when he was younger. That will be an adjustment for me, since I like to have lots of Edgar time after work; I’m hoping that getting out of work so early in the afternoon will offset it so I feel like Edgar and I get enough quality play time.

After Edgar goes to bed, I want to use the (very short) evening time to tidy up, read or write, do my check-in and inventory (a la recovery), and plan for the day ahead. (Outfits for me and Edgar, lunch for me, etc.)  J.J. eats at 7 p.m. – and then every three hours through the night.  Which is ROUGH! But we’re hoping he’ll drop one of those feedings sometime very soon.

There’s so much more to consider looking at the week as a whole, but this post is getting a little rambly so I’m going into list mode:

-I want to run on the weekends.

-I want to eat really healthy, especially during the week days. (I have a tendency to cram unhealthy snacks into my body during busy days at work!)

-I want to attend at LEAST two recovery meetings weekly.

-I want to use my Sunday evenings to have a weekly date with my planner.  That way, I can keep my to-do list on track, and be intentional about how I am spending my time.

-I also want to touch base with Tamara on Sunday evenings after the boys are in bed for a family meeting to talk about tasks, fun plans, all the things you need to talk about to be a smoothly-running family operation.

-I want to make sure we have quality time with friends and family regularly.

-I want to make sure we have (age-appropriate) family adventures regularly. (We won’t do family rock climbing for a while, but we can do a 30-minute hike someplace beautiful, for sure.) This is something we slack on when things get busy, so I want to make sure it’s a priority to explore our environment and our city as  family.

-I want to WRITE. My writing has taken a hard hit these past few weeks – this past Tuesday was the first time I missed a regularly-scheduled blog post since March. I know it will be okay – but I am going to be reminding myself, over and over again, that writing is a top priority.  Family, service, and writing – the big three.

Well, this blog post evolved into more of a thinking-out-loud Kerriann journal entry than a coherent message about planning and life. But it was really helpful for me. And tomorrow is my first day back at work.

Let’s do this.

balance

All The Things (August 2018)

This summer was wonderful. It’s still going, of course – I am not one of those people who forgets that summer keeps going through most of September – but I’ve started work again, so my Summer Sabbatical has officially ended.

I’m grateful that I’ve had this time, and I’ve been handling the return to work (and Edgar’s return to almost-full-time pre-school) pretty well. My days at the new job are flying by, and I’m so happy to have peaceful + playful afternoons with Edgar – I usually pick him up at around three o’clock, leaving ample time for adventures before the dinner-bath-bed routine starts.

This post is a little rushed – as I type this, it’s already the 2nd of September, and my All The Things posts are usually published on the last day of the month. Anyway – here is an abbreviated list of all the things that have been going on this month:

What I’ve Been Listening To: Lots of audiobooks! I finally finished listening to No Bad Kids by Janet Lansbury, and it really helped me to clarify some of my approaches to parenting. It’s all about keeping yourself unruffled in the face of unreasonable and emotionally unregulated toddler behavior. (I’m working on it.)

What I’ve Been Reading: Lots of suspenseful novels, which I often recount in detail to Tamara after I’ve finished. (The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian and Case Histories by Kate Atkinson, for example.)

What I’m Currently Reading: Buddhism Is Not What You Think, by Steve Hagen; Bestseller, by Celia Brayfield; Get The Life You Want, by Dr. Freddy Jackson Brown; and When You Are Engulfed In Flames, by David Sedaris.

What I’m Pondering: How to make routines and stick to them regularly. I’ve allowed myself a couple of weeks of “AHHHHH NEW JOB STRESS CRAZY DON’T HAVE TIME FOR WRITING OR EXERCISE” – and I feel okay about allowing that time. But now, I want to get into a balanced routine that includes exercise, meditation, writing, recovery, and family.

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balance · self-care

Three Cheers For Fresh Starts

I love fresh starts. This is a good thing – but it’s also something I have to be mindful about as I make decisions about my life.

I like fresh starts because I like being able to start with a blank slate. I like to use a fresh start as an opportunity to form new habits. I like fresh starts because I enjoy growth and novelty.  I like meeting new people, and I like the optimism and energy I feel when I’m getting ready to start something new.

HOWEVER.

Sometimes, I love fresh starts so much that I would rather start something brand-new than make adjustments to my current situation.  Sometimes, I love fresh starts so much that I want to throw away something that really only needs some repairs so that I can buy something new.  Sometimes, I want a fresh start because I want everything to be perfect, because I believe that perfection is attainable and I think that if I have a new opportunity to start fresh, then I will be able to make everything perfect.

See? There’s some benefit, but there’s also a lot I need to be aware of. Because I don’t want to pull the trigger and engage in a fresh start when it’s not the right thing to do.

I had to wrestle with this a lot over the course of the past year while I was looking for a new job. I was pretty desperate to find a job that was a better fit, and I also really wanted a chance for a blank slate somewhere new. I had to seek out opportunities but remain patient until the right opportunity presented itself. That was really difficult.

Now that I have my fresh start, I’m excited to have the blank slate I was hoping for – a chance to form new habits and to set some work-related intentions.

These are the intentions I’d like to set for my new job:

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  1. Work hard. When I feel engaged and committed, I am an extremely hard worker. I am hoping that my new position will line up well with my strengths so that I can work hard and well.
  2. Be Kerriann. It can be really hard to remember this at work. There are so many expectations placed on me – placed on all of us, I imagine! I am often expected to know the answers, to be an ‘expert.’ But my field is mental health – a field that is full of nuance and ambiguity. Every single situation is different. I’d like to start out at this new job being honest and real – I’d like to be me rather than trying to be the perfect and all-knowing mental health professional.
  3. Be honest. It’s not that I lie at work – but I do get caught up in people-pleasing and chit-chat in ways that don’t feel authentic and honest. I want to be honest about who I am, what I know, what I do, and how I live.
  4. Don’t carry what is not yours to carry. This is something I do. If someone else is upset, I get upset. If someone is stressed, I get stressed. I don’t do this with clients, but I definitely do it with co-workers and with the parents of clients. And I’d like to use this fresh start as a time to change this habit. The only things I need to carry on my shoulders are my own worries and Edgar’s worries;everything else is for others to carry themselves.

Cheers to new jobs and fresh starts!

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