Life By Kristen

Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it. – Little Women

Archive for the category “All About Me”

A Year At Home

Last night, Q and I sort of took stock of the last year at home– most of it was spent minding our little guy and watching him grow into the amazing little person he is becoming. The schedule of a baby was much needed during the early days of the pandemic, when we (laughably now) thought this would only be for a few weeks. Now, a year later, it feels like we’re slogging through a lot of our days, but we’ve also gotten into a rhythm that has been comforting too.

I know so many other folks, parents or not, feel like they are coming up against the ‘pandemic wall.’ It’s weird because the light at the end of the tunnel is there with vaccinations happening, but also it still feels like it’s SO LONG to go because there is so much uncertainty around when we’ll be able to get one. I’ve stopped even trying to guesstimate at this point.

They say routines are soothing and helpful to babies and toddlers, but it turns out they are for adults in unknown, stressful circumstances too. As I’ve said before, our circumstances are far better than a lot of people and we have a lot to be thankful for, but knowing that doesn’t lessen the stress and burdens either.

I still feel like I have no free brain space for so much- writing (obviously), looking for a new job and contemplating our move all are just things in the corners of our brain that we talk about fairly frequently, but are too afraid/unsure/worried to pull the trigger on. At the moment, I feel like my brain is focused on making sure we efficiently and effectively grocery shop when we go out and making sure we have supplies we need, as opposed to the life changes we daydream and talk about together.

We’re treading water and have been for awhile even before the pandemic. We banked on me getting a new job in a new place and came so close so many times, and it never panned out for us. That’s not lamenting on what might have been because we cannot change the outcome, and also had we moved, we may never have decided to try to have a baby and I cannot imagine our world without our little monkey.

At the moment, I think we’re very gun shy to do anything different from the routine we’ve established this past year that has kept us (knock on wood) healthy and safe. And yet…we are aching for that change. Such a weird paradox. Neither Q nor I are spontaneous or carefree enough to just DO IT. I wish we were, but we’re not those people- we’re both too pragmatic for our own good. I don’t know what it’s going to take for us to push a domino to make the other things fall into place….maybe a vaccine will help us both feel better, but I don’t know. I do know our house is slowly closing in on us and our toddler is literally staring out the window at the world wanting to explore it and see it all, as well as is doing actual laps around the house to get energy out. Thankfully the spring weather is upon us and more outside time will help the latter.

People talk about what the pandemic has taught them, about what really matters, and it’s very true. For us, it’s about our family and our friends who are family– staying away from them longer than we wanted because we want to keep them safe and be able to hug them again, and keeping our tiny family safe too. It’s brought a lot of things into focus in other ways, now we just have to find a way to capitalize on it.

Is This Thing On?

This space has been quiet because honestly, I haven’t had anything to say that isn’t being said by more prolific folks, and because I’m in such a routine of life to SURVIVE, that I couldn’t quite seem to find the mental space and energy to write.

My word for 2020 was THRIVE. Which rhymes with what everyone’s word for 2020 ended up being- SURVIVE.

2020 will be a year that will take a bit more time away from to process what actually happened. It’s hard for me to say how it effected me– I was able to stay home, safe and healthy with my little family, and am grateful that all of my people can do the same. We never had to wonder where our next meal was coming from, we had toilet paper, and each other– and isn’t that enough? The unrest of politics and our cultural upheaval in the wake of the George Floyd murder and various protests left me feeling anxious and unsure of life- even with November’s victory for Biden, I’m still waiting for the sigh of relief that I hope January 20th brings.

So did I THRIVE in 2020? I guess in the definition of the word, no, but we did THRIVE as a family, growing and prospering over the hardships of the year.

Did I accomplish any of my goals? Sort of– I achieved 3 out of 7: I read 50 books (53 exactly). We did some stuff around the house to ready it for sale, though not as much as we hoped since we didn’t exactly want various contractors coming into our space.

Q and I had exactly 2 dates in 2020: one was dinner out for my birthday, a week or two before the world shut down, and a random Saturday in November where we did some basement cleaning, took a trip to the town dump, and took a daytime nap while my mother watched the little guy. We didn’t pay off the car loan, but will be doing that next month. I didn’t donate blood, we obviously didn’t travel anywhere, and my lack of writing here is about the same amount of writing I was doing in other places.

Yet despite the bummer of the year that 2020 was, it also was sort of a bit of a gift at the same time. For 3 months I spent every day with my family and I know that’s something we’ll never replicate again ( not sure we’d want to anyway haha). It made us realize what really matters in life and got us focused on our little family. I miss friends and family like crazy and want to go back to normal badly, but I know we are incredibly grateful for the life we have and the few disruptions we experienced over the last 10 months or so.

Going into 2021 I’m cautiously optimistic about what we might be able to do– hugging our friends and family and getting our son to meet his great aunt and great grandma is pretty high on the to-do list ( as is eating in a restaurant again). We’re mostly going to take things as they come with whatever circumstances come our way. I’m not going to set a word this year, but have in mind the changes and hopes we have for our family, rooted in the love and appreciation we learned in 2020.

We’re Actually Not All in This Together

Throughout this whole pandemic, the phrase “we’re all in this together” peeves me every time. Yes, the pandemic is a real thing around the globe that every one is dealing with, but for so many people, they either don’t believe it’s real because of our current leader in the US, don’t think it effects them because they don’t know anyone who has been effected by it, or frankly, don’t care and continue to live their lives like nothing is happening. On the other side too are people who very much know this pandemic is real because they’ve lost jobs or had to leave a job to care for children, are homeschooling kids or overseeing zoom school, or are struggling from cut wages, unemployment wages running out and so on.

This experience over the past 9 months hasn’t been catastrophic for me or my family– we are grateful and know we have privilege to be able to say that. We never once doubted about where food would come from or how we would pay bills. For a few months, we actually were doing better than before the pandemic because we weren’t spending money on much other than food and supplies, and the extra bump to Q’s unemployment check helped greatly ( as it did for so many other Americans). We both kept our jobs, even though Q was laid off and (knock on wood), are healthy, as is our family, near and far.

All that being said, this is hard. And I know I have it better than millions of other folks out there- not just for the aforementioned reasons, but also because my child is too small to know what’s going on. I think he recognized that his parents were home all the time, and then one day, I wasn’t there all day, but to the tiny human, this whole thing will be something we tell him about when he’s older. It’s been tough for the lack of opportunity to see our family, do things, and go places to expose our child to the world. I don’t think he’ll “meet” another kid until he’s well past 2 at this point, or get to go on a playground with other kids of various ages. It makes me sad the celebrations we missed this year because of covid and the trip we still haven’t been able to make so my aunt and grandmother can meet my son.

I follow the rules. I value my health and the health of all my family and friends so I’m not going to put those things at risk because of my selfish desires. It makes me incredibly angry and frustrated to think this thing could have been more controlled and buttoned up if we only had a leader who thought of others before himself. I don’t express my political or religious beliefs often, but I hope today, November 3rd, Election Day, is the start of something new. I’ve never been so anxious and worried about an election before and I know it’s a sentiment so many people share with me.

October, Pandemic version

Thank you to the many of you who sent well wishes for my little guy’s surgery last week. It went perfectly and he was such a champ. I only cried once- I wasn’t prepared to have to hand over my child to the doctor. He has a small, benign lesion on his arm that was removed, and as with most things with kids, he’s pretty unphased by the whole thing, though he’s pretty peeved every time we have to give him a sponge bath since real baths are off-limits for another week.

So here we are, October. I’m feeling incredibly riled up these days in different ways– anxious/nervous/fed up with the impending election; bored with various bits of work; inspired/determined to clean up the house/declutter/get organized; exhausted/thrilled over life with a toddler; happy with my partner for going to the grocery store every week/mad at my partner for going to Target and not asking what I needed, and about a million other things. I’m looking forward to so much, and so apprehensive about others. I’m feeling like I can go out in public, masked and armed with hand sanitizer, but also scared to go to other places or see more people than I currently have in my tiny bubble. 2020 is exhausting.

A silly little thing that is bringing me a tiny bit of calm is a funny document I made for my household called “Kristen’s Sanity Schedule.” It’s part meal template, part cleaning schedule, part adulting list and includes things that I do every week without fail ( like changing the sheets) and things I need to be reminded to do, despite them being weekly tasks (why is there so much dusting to be done!?!). Making it felt like I was finally understanding the pace of life in these weird times, but also reminded me that I’m actually doing pretty well in terms of taking care of myself and the other humans in my life. It also reminded me of how thankful I am for a great life partner who actually takes on a good portion of chores, especially the ones I don’t love to do like vacuum and laundry.

Public service announcement- If you’re struggling to get your partner to take on tasks, I highly recommend you convince them to look at vacuums with you (or another equipment related to a chore)– Q is a¬† science guy and is fascinated by the Dyson line of vacuums. When our old stick vacuum died, he spent a lot of time doing research; he loves the Dyson we have so now it’s his chore and he loves it. We also have a Roomba (another idea of his) and minus the Swiffering I do to control all my hair all over the place, he is solely in charge of floor cleaning in our house.

I’m trying to enjoy the fall, even though so many of the fall activities we enjoy either aren’t going on or are different this year. Even nature seems to get that 2020 sucks because the leaves in our neck of the woods are just dropping off the trees instead of changing colors. We’re in an extreme drought so they’ve just given up. I think our town is still doing trick or treating on Halloween, but we haven’t decided if we will give out candy or not. The one year we didn’t, our house got egged- lovely neighborhood, huh? We won’t be dressing the little guy up since he doesn’t eat candy and doesn’t know about this stuff yet anyway! Maybe I’ll get a pumpkin for the front of the house, but last year the squirrels decided it was their own personal buffet and made a mess of the porch and steps. We did go apple picking though!

Here’s wishing you a safe, healthy October as we brace ourselves for what the November election brings….

Life These Days

I think quite frequently about writing, and then the time warp that is 2020 happens and almost 2 months goes by before I actually get to it. I’ve read a few articles about the weird passage of time this year- not that time is passing any differently than it has in previous years, but that the circumstances of this year have made the passage of it seem so different and either super fast or super slow, or strangely, both at the same time.

It’s also hard to be motivated to write when I’m feeling so much these days. Some days I’m so happy to be home with my little family in our little bubble, often forgetting the heavy things of life and the pandemic. Then there are days I’m filled with such dread and anxiety about what could happen after November 3rd that I doomscroll through social media or spend hours looking at random junk online or favoriting clothes I’ll never buy on ThredUp. And then others I’m motivated to get things done and purge through boxes and drawers in my house during my son’s afternoon nap, then collapse onto the couch and don’t do much for the next 6 hours. Last night I was exhausted and falling asleep on the couch at 8pm, but then couldn’t fall asleep when I’m actually in bed.

Some days I feel like I’m just going through the motions of the day, in a set routine that is much defined by the tiny person in my household, and just moving through the sludge to get to the next day, only to get up to do the same thing again. It’s just all so hard to wrap my head around. I need something to look forward to that involves going somewhere or seeing people, but both are also things that feel like ticking time bombs at the same time. Q and I are desperate for a vacation and to spend time for more than a few hours away from our house, but that doesn’t look feasible any time soon either. We both need new jobs- and have for a few years, but this is perhaps maybe the worst time in recent history to leave a stable job for something new. We need to move, but don’t want to move just for the sake of getting a bigger, new place in a different location. I know we just need to do something and then that decision will lead down other paths, but most days we feel like we’re in mud that isn’t taking us down, but isn’t letting us move either.

And then amid these moments of blah and merely existing are true gems of life. Our little guy took his first steps and is walking around! He is developing into this happy little human. When he shakes his little butt to music or claps his hands when he finishes a book, or cuddles into my arm in the mornings–my heart grows a million times bigger. I swear a baby’s laugh could solve half the world’s problems because it certainly makes me feel better.

So that’s what’s going on- nothing but also a lot?


Update from Isolation

I think Monday makes one month that I’ve been working from home full-time. If I’d known how long we’d be doing this, I think I would have taken more care to pay attention to what day it is and what we’ve been doing. Q has been home a week longer than me I believe, though in his first week he was “working from home” doing training videos and busy work.

There’s nothing I can say that we aren’t all feeling. We all have the same questions of when this will be over, the same disappointment at cancelled plans, and the same unease about making plans. I keep trying to find silver linings to everything- happy to be home with the baby and Q, grateful we have the means to not have to worry about food or diapers, and so on. It’s a little anxiety provoking to think about the uncertainty of Q’s job, but that’s more a not knowing when things are going back to whatever new normal we have, and less a concern about whether he’ll have a job.

Am I the only one who randomly has moments where you almost “forget” that this thing is happening? It happens mostly at night, when the baby is asleep and Q and I are settling in to watch something on the couch. It feels normal and just like any other evening, and then I remember how un-normal all this is.

It’s been nice to get up when the baby wakes up, as opposed to getting up a couple of hours before him to get ready for work and prep things for the day. It’s been great to take walks as a family almost every day. I enjoy seeing Q and the baby get more time together because there really is nothing that makes your heart soar more than seeing your life partner and the child you created together. Baby laughter and smiles can truly fix anything.

I keep telling people– it’s not that I want to go anywhere, it’s more like I hate not having that option. There’s a ton of great memes working their way around the interwebs these days and one I particularly like is “yea I was a homebody before, but I liked going one or two places.” I miss the leisurely walks around the market or Target as opposed to feeling like it’s a survivalist mission where there is hot lava all around you. I am so over having to make sure we have food for meals and snacks. Even though Q helps with it all, I cannot wait for our favorite places to re-open, even if just for takeout. A few places around us are open for takeout, but we haven’t done that yet for a few reasons, but if this goes on longer than the first week of May, my sanity may require it!

People keep asking what’s the first thing you’re going to do when this is over? Reschedule our trip to see family in Utah. Go for a massage ( our couch may not survive this quarantine, plus my dining room table office setup is less than ideal). Poke around a few stores, just because. Go get an ice cream cone. Get a haircut. Take a walk at our favorite state park. I don’t know what’s on your list, but mine aren’t extravagant or unreasonable, but it’s crazy to believe doing any of these simple things right now seems so dangerous.

Whether you’re discovering a new hobby or kicking butt homeschooling your kids, I hope you and your family are safe and well.


Mom Musings 8 Months in

It’s hard to believe my little guy’s been around for 8 months. He’s such a little person of his own with a lovely, charming personality with a determined, and often, stubborn streak (somehow his two stubborn parents made an even more stubborn baby), a lovely smile, and a laugh that I think could warm even the coldest of hearts. He’s a happy baby and watching him discover things every day is a joy I didn’t even think about when considering becoming a parent.

There are remarkable things about being a mom- I’m more productive in an hour of nap time than any other hour of the day, and yet there are days when I’m home all day with Gray that I have no recollection of what actually happened that day because I’m so tired. The exhaustion isn’t the same sort of tired like a full day of work or activity, but a different sort of emotional/mental fatigue that makes me forget there is a load of laundry to fold on the bed, only to be reminded that I never got around to it when all I want to do is plop into the bed.

I didn’t anticipate how much my heart would explode¬† when he pops his head up from the crib every morning when we walk into the room and how excited he gets when I walk in the door from work or even running a quick errand. I also didn’t anticipate how much I would appreciate the quick 15 minute run to the store to grab a few things and the mental space away from the routine of baby ( and to get out of the house).

I definitely knew that routine was important to life with a baby, especially a newborn, but I didn’t realize how much that routine would give me the grounding I needed as a parent (and our family) too. I thought for years that self-care was defined by certain things and that I was doing those every day, but I realize now as a mom caring for other human, that my self-care is THOSE things ( showering every day, fresh clothes, reading every day) and that I’d actually been prioritizing them for years, and now just re-enforcing that.

A lot has changed since baby came, but also a lot hasn’t. We were homebodies before so it’s not like our lifestyle went from lots of dinners and nights out to suddenly having none. A lot of life is the same, just with the added person. Of course, the added person brought lots of stuff ( even though we’ve been pretty minimal!) and has tons of laundry and needs, but his little smile is just so perfect that it makes up for all the extra work!




2020 Goals

I’m learning to keep things simple as a new mom, so even my 2020 goals aren’t too lofty!

Writing: I’ve let my writing practice go away. I’m not even going to define what the writing is, just keep up with it outside of work so that includes my personal journal, this blog, and exploring spots for personal essays and starting to freelance write again.

Dates with Q: We haven’t gone out just the two of us since June, right before we brought Gray home from the NICU. Even if we only get to run some errands alone and a sandwich, we need to get some more couple time in that doesn’t involve just watching a movie in one sitting in our pajamas ( though I usually fall asleep!)

Pay off car loan: We’re pretty close to having this done with by the end of 2020, but I’d like to fast track it a bit so it’s done before June. After that, I only have my student loans and our mortgage.

Donate blood: I was EXTREMELY fortunate with my emergency c-section for Gray’s birth that I did not lose a lot of blood and did not need a transfusion, especially because I have the rarest blood type. I wanted to donate blood for the past few years and will make it a priority this year to get it done since the last time I donated was in high school.

Travel near and far: We’ll take Gray to meet his great-grandma and aunt in Utah in the spring, but I’d also like for us to do some local exploring like going out to the Cape before tourist season, bringing Gray to Vermont to see his aunt and uncle for a long weekend, and similar low-key things to get us all out of the house and making memories.

Ready the house to sell: We made a huge stride towards this last year with the new roof and some repair projects. This year it’s interior painting, clearing out the clutter ( I am not moving junk whenever we do leave!), and some electrical. We’d like to move by the end of the year, but it’s also dependent on a few things (mostly job), so I’m being realistic that it might not happen in 2020, but we have to move.

Read 50 books: I was surprised at how many books I was able to read while I was home on maternity leave but I will say that even though Gray is in bed earlier now and I have some more free time to myself, I’m also in bed shortly after him since I am wiped out after a day of work and life. I didn’t read as much from September to December 2019 as I thought I would, so I’m setting a modest goal of basically a book a week or so for this year. If I count the books I read to Gray, I know this number could be in the 100s because he is such a curious boy who loves to look at books (which makes my heart so happy), but for my goals I want to read 50.


2020: Thrive

I don’t remember exactly when I stopped making ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ and started choosing a word for the year and making goals, but it’s something I’ve found helpful to combat the ‘new year, new you’ push that seems to happen in the universe every turn of the calendar year. Having a leading word– even when I forget about it sometimes- gives me a good reminder to focus on myself and my goals.

I chose THRIVE for 2020 because its very definition inspires me- “to grow vigorously; to gain in wealth or possessions; to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances.”

I want to thrive as a mom, partner, friend, and all the other roles that define me, but also to push myself to actually make steps to the next thing in life.

I talk ALL THE TIME about wanting a new job, doing something different, but it’s a lot of talk. I spent time and money with career coaches and online courses to try to get some sort of answer, but the only person who has the answer is me. Giving birth and becoming a parent is the scariest thing I have ever done and I survived/am surviving it. I can do hard things and moving on from the security blanket of my job over the past 11 years is one of those things I know I must do. It enabled me to get through the past decade of life and brought amazing people, things, and opportunities in my life, but it’s time to move on.

So here’s to changes, forward movement, growing, learning, and THRIVING in 2020.




Savor: 2019 in Review

What a year!

Of course, the arrival of baby Gray made this a life changing year, but his early and dramatic arrival definitely made it a bit more memorable than we thought!

The year was also book-ended by deaths in Q’s family.

We didn’t travel anywhere because I was either pregnant or we had a baby! I did make a quick 24-hour trip to Vermont to present at a conference and have dinner with my brother and sister-in-law at their new home.

I surpassed my modest reading goal of 35 books by reading 53- many of them ebooks read while caring and feeding a baby! Favorite reads: Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes, The Unhoneymooners and Roomies, both by Christina Lauren, and Julie Andrews’ memoir Home Work.

Otherwise it was a year for getting things done at work, putting new roof on the house, and living a quiet life before and after baby!



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