Monthly Archives: December 2011

New Year, New Goals

I don’t think that the only time you are allowed to create resolutions – or goals, if you would prefer – is at the beginning of a new year. There are other meaningful times: the start of a new job, the birth of a new child, the beginning of a marriage, a birthday, etc; however, the start of a new calendar is often the time we pick. I like it that way. The pages are still blank, waiting to be filled with parties and appointments, outings and playdates, birthdays and anniversaries. And now it is time to look at my life and come up with a list of things that could make it better.*

This year, because I like make lists and then dividing into subcategories (nerd alert!), I have five areas that I want to work on. (Do I sound like a boring business presentation or what?)

1. Health
The last few years have not been so great for me health-wise, mentally or physically. Because I’m a stay-at-home mom, because I don’t have family close by, because I don’t have another choice, when I get sick I still have to work. A small cold that what be gone in a few days for most people, lingers with me for weeks because I can’t rest and (because of the whole pregnancy thing) I can’t medicate. My natural state these days seems to be “I don’t feel well,” and that’s not normal and not something that can go on. So this year, I want to focus on the following things:

  • See a therapist: For anyone that knows me or has been hanging around my little corner of the internet for long enough, this is really obvious. I have depression. I have anxiety. There are days when they really inhibit my ability to function and to be the kind of wife and mother (and person) I want to be. I have tried therapy before and was not impressed. Unfortunately, I can’t continue to pretend like I can not be on medication and not see a therapist. It isn’t working. Right now, I have the phone number of a counselor that my OB recommends languishing in the depths of my purse and it’s high time I pulled it out, sucked it up and made the call.
  • Eat “real” food: I flirted with a gluten-free/grain-free diet a couple years ago and I honestly felt better when I was eating that way. I would like to go back to that, but I know that with a toddler and a newborn, I’m not going to be able to devote the kind of time to cooking that I would like. I would, however, like to eat less processed junk and focus on whole foods and whole grains (real whole grains, not the “made with whole grains” crap). If I have to do the majority of my cooking and baking on the weekends when Brian is home and then put it in the freezer, then that is what I’m going to have to do.
  • Exercise: This is kind of on the back burner until after baby girl number two arrives – although I did get prenatal yoga classes as one of my Christmas gifts which I’m pretty excited about – but I need to do something that gets me moving at least three days a week. We have a small fitness center at our apartment complex and I’m hoping (again this will be after I’ve had time to recover post-partum) that I can sneak away after the kids are in bed for a few minutes on the elliptical or lifting weights.
2. Home
We have definitely almost maybe decided to stay in this apartment another year (or at least until the end of 2012). This means that in order for me to keep my sanity, I need to focus on getting the place organized and decorated in a way that I like. We’ve been pretty half-assed about it up until now. Fortunately, for the part of me that likes to cross things off a to-do list, this area has more concrete goals
  • Greener and Cleaner: I recently made my own laundry detergent. Why I never did this before, I honestly don’t know. Because it has worked so well – even Brian is impressed with how clean our clothes get – it has made me realize that there is no reason not to replace all those expensive cleaning supplies full of who knows what with things like baking soda and vinegar and (gasp!) water that won’t destroy the environment and are better for our health. See, all my goals tie together. A few things I want to make/try/do: liquid hand soap, wool dryer balls, replacing paper towels and swiffer sheets with rags and old t-shirts.
  • Organize, organize, organize: On a good day, the apartment can look pretty clean. As long as you don’t open any closet doors or look inside the desk, that is. Because we will soon be a family of four living in a less than 1000 square foot space, it is time to de-clutter and streamline. It’s going to take too long to list all the things I want to accomplish this year, but number one priority is turning the linen closet/dumping ground for random crap into a cleaning supplies and overstock (think things that you buy in large quantities like toilet paper) closet. Priority number two: getting rid of the enormous desk and building something simple with some nice shelves on the wall above it. Stay tuned.
  • Decorate: Put some damn pictures on the wall already. Put some curtains up in the living room since the kid keeps breaking slats in the blinds. Get rid of some of the too big furniture in the living room and get another chair so that when people come over they don’t have to sit on the floor.
3. Family
Without going into details, it has been a rough few months for us. We’re fine, but I think it’s time to focus on us more – both Brian and I as a couple and all of us as a family.
  • Date Nights: What are those? The last time we went out alone was our anniversary. In October. Once a month. Again, this is one of those things that might have to be put on hold immediately post-baby, but we need to make an effort. Even if someone just comes over for a couple hours and we go sit in a coffee shop or wander around Target, we need to be out alone together.
  • Weekend Family Time: So often, we play catch up on the weekends. With housework, with errands, with work-work (ahem, Brian). That’s all fine, but I want to go out as a family and do something every weekend. We could go to the zoo or the botanical gardens or to the playground. Or we can stay home and do something as long as it was together as a family. I’m thinking crafts. And yes, I am turning into a crazy craft lady.
  • Mommy and Daughter(s) Time: We have fallen into a bit of a rut around here, Lorelei and I. We do have the occasional playdate or storytime to attend, but you will most often find us holed up at home with me slowly losing my mind. I want to make sure that I sign up for (and actually attend) one playdate a week. On the days when there is nothing planned, have a few at-home activities that we can do together that don’t involve plopping down in front of a movie. Sign Lorelei up for a class at a time when Brian will be home to watch the other daughter so we can have time alone together and she won’t feel ignored.
4. Finances
I don’t want to go into details here, but I do have goals.
5. Personal/”Professional”
A random assortment of things that don’t really fall into the above categories but that I want to accomplish anyway.
  • Write More: This falls into two sub-sub-categories. Write more in this space. You may have noticed that I’ve posted three times this week. It was on purpose. I’ve neglected this little blog of mine because I felt lost in the sea of blogs and felt like no one was out there reading what I wrote. I’ve decided (again, for the thousandth time) that I don’t really care. However, I do want to post regularly. Ideally, everyday but because I know that is just not going to be possible, I’m aiming for three posts during the weekdays and one little post on weekends. The other half is I want to write more for myself. As in, I want to dust off those ambitions of writing fiction and poetry and actually put some work into them.
  • Take a Photography Class: Okay, I probably won’t be able to afford an actual class, but I do want to spend some more time this year learning how to really use my camera because there are lots of things I want to work on. Like taking a decent interior shot, for example.
  • Get Dressed. Put on real clothes everyday. Exceptions made for: immediately post-partum (duh) and days when I’m planning on doing a lot of cleaning/chores and will not be seen by the general public. Get my hair cut more than once every nine months. Pluck my eyebrows. Put on lip gloss more than once in a blue moon. Get a pedicure at least once this year (because my feet, they are gross). When I think I look better, I feel better. I know it seems horribly superficial but that’s the way it is for me.
  • Get my craft on: I’ve been neglecting my knitting. That needs to stop. There are a few other things I want to try my hand at this year, as well.
  • Read: I was pretty successful with my goal of reading two books a month this last year, I’m aiming for the same in 2012. Reading a new book is another thing I miss when I don’t do it.
Phew. I think that’s everything. It’s a lot, but it’s manageable. Do you make resolutions? What are your goals for the coming year? Anyone else have a list as crazy long as mine?

*Despite what I say to the contrary, my life is pretty good; however, there is always room for improvement.

**Also, WordPress did something wonky to my formatting. I don’t know how and I just wrote 1700 words and I don’t feel like trying to find the problem. Ugh.

30 Weeks

…and two days, but who’s keeping track. Not me.

Please ignore the weird shadow and facial expression going on in this picture.

So. Not much has changed. I’m still waiting. My ultrasound is in two weeks and then I will finally feel like I can start planning for things. Right now, I’m just munching on ice cubes like it’s going out of style and trying to get a decent night’s sleep.

So That Was Christmas

The half-decorated tree with a string of burnt out lights is a good indication of what this Christmas has been like for us: well-intentioned, but ultimately depressing. It has been a hard month for me. I say that a lot, but my usual anxiety and depression is kicked into overdrive when there are BIG! IMPORTANT! holidays involved. Throw in financial stress and pregnancy and you have a recipe for disaster. Disaster in the form of late nights staying awake and fretting or late nights staying awake and sobbing.

I feel like I have failed Lorelei. This time of year should be magical for little kids. Twinkling lights, late nights watching movies, making and eating too many cookies, hot chocolate snuggled on the sofa, meeting Santa. She’s not quite old enough to really understand what’s going on but I feel like now is the time to really start making new traditions as a family of three almost four. And I did almost nothing. Not for lack of trying or planning but through a complete lack of follow through. Like the tree:

It was supposed to be a nice little activity for Lorelei and I to do one afternoon post-nap. Brian and I had put up the tree and hung the lights the night before. I put on White Christmas and got out a few of ornaments – mostly the non-bauble variety – and I gave her a few. I tried to explain that she was supposed to show me where she wanted them and I would help her hang them on the branches. Well, our language skills – despite the recent explosion of words – were not up to the task and she had a meltdown when I tried to help her. Melt. Down. Followed by throwing of the ornaments because, yes I did get out a few balls and that was a terrible, terrible mistake. I was reluctant to finish decorating the tree after that and so it sits in the corner with a dozen or so ornaments placed on it at random. It really is a sad little tree.

The new tradition that turned out to be a complete success – even though it lead to a no-nap day (kill me now) – was taking her to St Charles for their little “Victorian” Christmas. I don’t know if I can accurately describe this event because it is kind of hilarious and so…St Charles-y but it was a huge hit with the little one.

Don’t let the surly expression fool you. If we had met Santa at the mall, there probably would have been tears. And screaming and Mommy really, really wishing she could have a bottle of wine or five afterwards. Meeting Santas from around the world or whatever (some of which, I swear, sounded like they just made up – Frontier Santa, really?) as we wandered down brick sidewalks on a mild December day was a much, much better idea. (Pictures above: Lorelei, Brian and Père Noël) Bonus: the various characters gave out trading cards for the kids to collect. Lorelei loves her some cards.

New tradition achieved!

What really got me down this year was the presents. (I know Christmas isn’t really about the presents or even Santa but try to explain that to a kid and then get back to me. Hell, explain that to most people my age and let me know how that works out for you.) Unfortunately, Christmas has turned into something obnoxiously materialistic. I felt like I couldn’t turn around without having to hear about what people were getting for their kids or what people wanted from their spouse/significant other/parent/whatever and it is just infuriating. It’s like Christmas has turned into a way for people to show how much money they have and to get into a competition with people they know about who can get the most expensive thing. It’s disgusting.

However…

However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a small big (I’ll admit it) part of me that is insanely jealous. We don’t have a lot of extra money to spend. Things are tight but we managed to save enough to at least put a few gifts under the tree. Right now, Lorelei doesn’t really get it. In a few years, however, when her school friends are bragging about the new bike or iPod or video game system or whatever is the next big thing that they got for Christmas, I don’t want her to feel left out. It’s a strange thing to worry about, the future Lorelei. But I do. It was actually giving me anxiety attacks. Here’s the thing, though, Lorelei still got lots of presents (thanks family!) and she still got things that she really loves. Why do I care so much? She is very happy and I should be to.

This has turned into a completely incoherent ramble. But what I think I’ve decided, realized, whatever…I’m not going to change things. She (and her sister) will get a few new toys from us, a few books and maybe something to wear (her kitty/rabbit/mouse/ whatever hat was one of the biggest hits) and that’s it. Nothing fancy. And if (hopefully when) money is less of an issue, we can pass the extra along to those who aren’t so lucky. I think that is a much more important thing for her them learn.

I need to stop now. Want to see a cute picture of Lorelei on Christmas morning?

From My Family…

We wish you all a happy holiday, no matter what you celebrate.

With Love,

Kirsten, Brian, Lorelei & Baby #2

Little Girl On Campus

29 Weeks

Things have been better. Sort of.

Last week, at my monthly appointment, I broke down in tears in front of my doctor. That doesn’t sound like it would be improvement, but considering my state of mind of the last few weeks, it wasn’t surprising. It was actually a relief to be able to tell someone about how completely overwhelmed I’ve been feeling. I’ve been feeling the pressure of trying to care for an active (and increasingly stubborn) toddler while, at the same time, getting things ready for a newborn. Not just getting things ready, but the idea of caring for two small children has really started to terrify me. I am, however, hopeful that once the new year comes and we have a little more room to breath (financially-speaking) and can start preparing for things for real that some of the stress will lessen.

Well, that’s my current mental state. Physically, I’m doing pretty well. Other than being pretty tired and a wicked case of heartburn, I’m feeling better. I am, however, supposed to keep an eye on all these damn contractions I’ve been having. My doctor wasn’t super concerned, but she said that since I was having them so often, if they started to become more regular – even 10 minutes apart for an hour – that I needed to go down to my old friend Pregnancy Assessment just to be on the safe side. So, there’s that…

Thing I Have Been Craving This Week: Ice cubes. Yeah. I don’t know either.

Really Belated Photo Post: New Orleans

I know it was almost two months ago, but here is a recap of our trip to the Big Easy. Bonus: if you are currently freezing your buns off like I am, you can remember that it was not all that long ago that we were all wearing short sleeves and basking in the sun.

Thursday October 13

This was our driving day. We had originally planned on doing this overnight but I’m really glad we scrapped that plan. We were hoping to avoid toddler meltdown by driving while she would normally be sleeping, but Lorelei was really well behaved and I’m glad we opted not to have the two of us be horribly sleep deprived. After dropping off the last of our diaper service diapers and a quick breakfast at McD’s – the pancakes, they call to me – we were out of St Louis by 8 am. Lorelei slept a little in the morning and spent the rest of the trip either staring out the window or playing with one of her toys. We didn’t even have to break out the DVD player.

It turns out that was the best behaved part of the trip for our darlingest of daughters. Upon our arrival at the hotel, we discovered that they had not given us a crib as we had requested. Luckily, I had Brian cram the Pack-n-Play in the trunk “just in case.” Lorelei hates sleeping in it. HATES. While we would normally be able to just plop her down in the crib after we’ve gone through our bedtime ritual and she would go to sleep within thirty minutes, she screamed her head off when we tried to do the same thing with the Pack-n-Play. She entered full meltdown mode. She had to be shushed to sleep while Brian held her and I was lying next to them in bed. Twenty minutes later, we feasted on beef jerky and trail mix because we were too tired to venture out for a real dinner.

Friday October 14

It wasn’t until the next morning that we discovered the true tragedy of this trip: our hotel didn’t get the Disney channel. Judge if you must, but that girl loves her some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Lack of child appropriate television meant we were out of the room be shortly after nine. Since our hotel was in the warehouse district and close to the riverfront, we started out with a nice stroll past the convention center:

And then it was onwards to the riverfront. We were in luck and there was a cruise ship docked there during our stay. Lorelei might be a little obsessed with vehicles of all kinds:

We were also fortunate to be close to the Louisiana Children’s Museum. The rest of our morning was spent playing there.

As luck would have it, Lorelei was very anti-nap during the trip. I mean, bad luck. Very, very bad luck. That afternoon, instead of sleeping, we walked down to the French Quarter. It was a bit of a hike but there were some very pretty buildings and Lorelei got her first taste of Praline.

Saturday October 15

After another crappy night’s sleep, early morning wake-up and complete lack of things to do at the hotel, we headed back to the French Quarter. We made the rather poor decision of taking a streetcar. We had to wait forever and Lorelei was not happy about us keeping her from running out and playing on the tracks. Oh. Em. Gee.

After another failed nap attempt, I banished Lorelei and Brian so that I could sleep. Cranky pregnant lady over here. The wedding was that night and I needed to not be in a completely foul mood.

Somehow, despite the late hour, we survived. Lorelei had to be taken out for the first part of the ceremony since she wouldn’t sit still but after a little bit of time, she must have finally realized that she was tired and spent the second part of the wedding slumped against Brian’s shoulder, happily sucking her pacifier and clutching her Sesame Street figures. She fell asleep on the way to the reception and then slept for about ten or fifteen minutes after we got there. After she woke up, however, she was ready to party!

That’s my girl, in the middle of the dance floor. She also spent a lot of time trying – and succeeding – in climbing up next to the DJ and dancing on the stage. It was a good night.

That’s my friend in her super cute wedding dress which I wish I had gotten a better picture of. Alas…

Sunday October 16

Time to head home. It was then that we realized that Brian and I had both come down with the plague. Somehow we made it back to St Louis before midnight even though we didn’t leave town until after lunch.

Traveling with a toddler is hard.

27 Weeks

The last couple weeks have been…interesting. That’s a polite way of saying that the last couple weeks have been crap wrapped in suck with the occasional bit of Could this get any worse?

It all started with a panic attack and a near nervous breakdown. I don’t really want to go into details but let’s just say that when I feel like I can’t breathe and that there is an enormous weight on my chest, I know that I’m in trouble. I had quite a few panic attacks while I was pregnant with Lorelei – thanks anxiety, you’re a winner! – but they haven’t been too common this time around, despite my lack of medication. So, when they do happen they are bad.

So, that was last Tuesday. On Wednesday, I was spotting. (TMI ALERT!) I might have mentioned once or twice that I have placenta previa. It’s oodles of fun. It means that any time I see any blood *ahem* down there, I need to go get checked out. For what most pregnancies is completely normal and no big deal, I instead get PANIC! ALARM BELLS! WHOOP! WHOOP! WHOOP! By the way, it was nothing. Everything looked normal. It just took them four hours to tell me that. Chilling in pregnancy assessment with my butt hanging out of a hospital gown for the better part of a day was not what I had in mind.

Of course, because things didn’t suck enough, my old friends Braxton and Hicks have made an appearance. And on Friday, while I was doing something – I don’t know what, probably wrestling the two year old – I pulled a muscle…you know…down there and could barely walk or move.

I told you. Crap wrapped in suck. So that was my last few weeks, sorry I’m so whiny.