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”

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!

 

 

What a Decade!

It’s been quite the whirlwind of the last decade- I think more has happened in the last 10 years of life than any other decade before?

In 2009, I bought a house and got engaged. 2010 I was married. 2011 I was separated. 2012 I was divorced.

In 2013 I turned 30, met Q, went to Holland with my mom, and unexpectedly lost my father- most certainly one of the most defining years of my life and often the marker in time in which I often refer to when trying to figure out what year things happened in.

2014 was a tumultuous year of figuring out grief, meeting Q’s son, and getting promoted at work, while 2015 brought new joys with brother getting married, but also the low of my mother selling our childhood home. I also went to Hawaii for work and we lost Q’s grandfather ( I was in Hawaii when it happened).

In 2016, there was a lot of job turmoil for me and a lot of job interviews in places near and far, but nothing worked out for us. We traveled to California to see family. 2017 was much the same unrest at work for me with a few glimmers of almost moving on to something new that never panned out so lots of hopes and excitement dashed. It was also tough second half of 2017 as we lost Q’s brother-in-law to suicide.

We were determined to make 2018 our year- we traveled to Utah and work conditions improved for me which made a big difference. We started house projects with our eye on moving within the year or so when we found out in September 2018 that we were going to have a baby!

2019 has been a roller coaster year– Q lost his biological father in January, and while we were overjoyed at the birth of our son in May, he entered the world in dramatic fashion and it was scary for a bit. We also unexpectedly lost Q’s stepfather in the beginning of December.

 

October!

October is one of the best months of the year- warm days, cool nights, and still time to enjoy the outdoors without sweltering heat. We haven’t spent a lot of time outdoors in the evenings the past few months because of some pretty serious mosquito-related illnesses in our area, so hoping we get a frost in the next few nights that might kill off some of the little buggers.

It’s funny how now with a baby everyone thinks we’re going to engage in all these kid activities all of a sudden, but Gray’s too little to do anything but tag along at the moment! He’s just getting to the age where he’s starting to process things and be curious, but not at the age that Halloween or any of the fall activities like pumpkin or apple picking means anything. My allergies have been pretty fierce and I can’t take any of my normal decongestant/relief stuff because I’m still providing milk for Gray, so our fall outdoor activities might be a bit limited this year, but I’m sure we’ll at least go buy a pumpkin at the farm stand.

We have to figure out holiday plans this month, some travel to see family, and get going on some house projects because our tiny house has become smaller every day with the amount of stuff the baby has. It’s funny how we were very particular in what we asked for in terms of baby gear, but after we brought Gray home from the hospital, our random Amazon purchases and gifts from folks just started to multiply in the house. It’s like a baby showroom!

Here’s wishing you a lovely month filled with fall fun and relaxation!

May!

What a whirlwind in April! It was quite dreary in my neck of the woods, raining 21 out of the 30 days of the month. There were a few nice days in there, but this past month definitely lends true to the “April showers bring May flowers” rhyme.

With a lot going on in April, I was still productive- we got a roof contractor all set up, mortgage stuff mostly figured out, and got a few small DIY projects done.

Baby’s room is just about ready to go- this weekend, I’ll organize all the stuff we received from our baby shower and fingers crossed, the crib should be delivered on Monday.

I did not get around to selling my wedding ring so that’s definitely going to happen this month.

Q and I also didn’t go anywhere, but we’re still hoping to at least do a little day thing in the next few weeks. I’m fairly uncomfy sitting for more than an hour so we’ll probably just take a little car ride to somewhere fun for lunch on a Saturday or something just to get out of the house and mind off of all the things still to do.

So May is pretty much a continuation of April goals, with mostly more baby prep.

We’ve procrastinated for a long time and are finally reaching the ‘holy krap, there’s going to be a tiny human here in 6 weeks time!’ mode. Car seats to install, clothes to wash, freezer to fill up, and so much more.

The dreary weather of April has us way behind on yard work- every weekend it either rained or we had something going on so between Q and his 13 year old niece is who desperate for her own money, we hope to get a lot of the spring cleanup stuff done and get some flowers before baby comes.

The countdown is on!

 

 

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