Life Lately

Hey there, friends. I kinda dropped off the map there for a bit. In addition to feeling a LOT of ambivalence towards blogging (that’s a post for another day), life has been absolutely bananas. Here are a few updates on what’s been going on in the life of Rae.

To start off with, Vera is apparently one of those babies that just isn’t a good sleeper. Usually, between three and four months of age, babies develop discernible sleep patterns and schedules, and begin to sleep for longer periods of time (think 6-8 hours). We thought we were approaching that point when we started getting regular four hour chunks, and even a few five hour chunks, but as soon as we hit the three month mark, it all went to hell. Either she hit a growth spurt or started the dreaded four month sleep regression a month early, but she hasn’t slept longer than four hours since, and generally wakes at LEAST every 3.5 hours every night, usually even more frequently. Oh and naps? What naps? She might take two or three half hour naps a day. It sucks. A lot.

To help with the sleep issue, our pediatrician recommended me trying a dairy-free diet. V was having pretty regular bouts of crying due to gas pains during the day and waking up at night, so the doctor suggested both probiotic drops and going dairy-free for a while. Since starting both, Vera has had pretty much no episodes of gas-induced fussing. Whether that’s the dairy or the drops is kind of a guessing game at this point. We have Vera’s four month checkup next week, so we’ll be asking the doctor about next steps. Boy I hope I can start eating cheese again soon. It’s been extremely hard maintaining a dairy-free diet. Of course it’s worth it for the kiddo, but it’s no fun. Halloween was a huge bummer, let me tell you. Most commercial chocolate has milk in it. Boooooo.

5k training. Right. I’m training for my first post-baby race. It’s going… Not well. You may have seen my post on Instagram, but with three weeks to go until race day, I’ve missed more scheduled runs that I have completed. I haven’t been to yoga in over a month, and haven’t done any strength training in weeks. I know that I will be able to cover the distance, but I had really hoped to race this one, to see what I can do. The way things are going, this will end up being more of a fun run than a race.

We also turned our lives completely upside down to install hardwood flooring in more than half our house. While we are absolutely delighted with the results, it was a really difficult two weeks. I don’t recommend doing major home renovations with a new baby in the house. Our furniture was every which way, there were tools everywhere, sawdust all over everything… And it was very noisy. Not at all conducive to baby naps.

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Vera’s room in progress

On the health front, things have also been less than stellar. I got a cold, which Vera and Ben then both got as well. And Vera can’t seem to shake the congestion. It’s been over a week now, and she’s still struggling to breathe through her nose, particularly at night. This makes everything from eating to playing to sleeping much more challenging for her. To help with sleep, we are putting her in the Rock n Play, which is a ridiculous crutch that we don’t want to rely on for the future, but is totally necessary for any of us to get a halfway reasonable amount of sleep right now.

I also still have a milk blister on my left nipple. Did I tell you about this? I honestly can’t even remember. But yeah, I have a blocked milk pore that is extremely painful. It’s been there for over a month. I’ve been to the doctor twice, and had it lanced twice, once by a midwife and once here at home (with a sterile needle given to me by my midwife). I’ve done everything recommended for at home treatment and it’s just not getting any better and I’ve kind of given up and decided that this is my life now. Breastfeeding is no joke, people. I honestly don’t know what women did before modern medicine.

Additionally, we went for our first family road trip. We went to Pittsfield, MA to meet up with my bestie Mandy, her husband, and their new baby at her parents’ house. It’s basically the halfway point between them in Jersey and us here in VT, so it was nice that we could see each other without either side having to drive the whole distance. It was wonderful to see my friends and meet their baby. Liam was born a little over a month before Vera, so Mandy and I basically went through our whole pregnancies together. The weekend was great, but hectic. Mandy has a huge extended family that is always drifting in and out of her parents’ house, so we were socializing all weekend. Vera had a hard time with the change in schedule and slept even worse than usual, although she thankfully was a champ and slept the entire car rides down and back.

Reading back over this, it all seems very doom and gloom, but that’s not what I intend. It’s simply an honest look at what’s been going on. Thankfully, Ben has been on paternity leave from work since October 8, and has been enormously kind and helpful as far as trying to get me some extra sleep. He generally gets up with Vera every morning to allow me an extra hour or two in bed. And he’s been knocking lots of little niggling home improvement projects off the list left and right. We’ve now got a shelf in the laundry room for our detergent instead of balancing it on a windowsill. We’ve got new light fixtures in both bedrooms to replace the ugly fan/old lady light combos. The cat scratcher is now mounted on the wall instead of kicking around the kitchen floor. AND…

We bought a “new” car. It’s a 1998 Honda CR-V and we LURVE it. We’ve been casually keeping an eye our for a small SUV for a while because Ben’s truck can’t take a car seat. We knew that eventually we’d want more than one car that can transport the kiddo, and we also knew that if we were going to have more kids and/or get a dog like we want, we’d need a slightly larger vehicle. We found this on Craigslist and got a hell of a deal, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it stays road-worthy for us for a few years. I’m just happy because it has studded snow tires and all-wheel drive, so I’ll probably use it as my winter car while Ben drives the Civic. Fun fact, we now have cars from each decade of the 80’s, 90’s, and aughts–an ’87 Toyota pickup, a ’98 CR-V, and a ’08 Civic.

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So yeah. Life has been chaos. And I think with a baby, that’s just kind of how life is going to be now. We’re just trying to roll with it.

What kind of car do you drive?

Have you tackled any home improvement projects lately?

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Quick Post-NYC Check In

Hi friends! I’m back from NYC and holy moly, I’m tired! We crammed SO MUCH into four short days and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. But first, I’ve got to get caught up on work and sleep. Oh yeah, and MOVE INTO OUR NEW HOUSE! AAAHHHHHH!

This week is going to be totally nuts, so don’t be surprised if I’m not around much. Priority number one is getting moved into the house. I will likely have several trip recap posts, and maybe a house progress post too, but like I said, we’ve gotta get INTO the house first. Wheeee!

I hope you all have a fabulous week, and I’ll be back when I can!

Up in the Air

First things first, thank you all for your concern about my mom. She’s home now, and doing better, but we still don’t have a concrete plan for her mental health moving forward. We are all optimistic, but as with many things, this is not going to be straightforward. For my mom’s privacy, I probably won’t get into any more detail than that.

The events of this weekend have just been the cherry on top of the hellacious sundae of stress and anxiety that has been my life lately. The current political climate is certainly a contributing factor, but the biggest issue right now is that I feel like all of my short- and long-term goals are dependent on something that’s completely and utterly out of my control.

As many of you know, Ben is a teacher, and he’s currently on a temporary, part-time contract covering a leave of absence for another teacher. His school was able to cobble together enough hours as an Instructional Aide (IA) that combined with his half time teaching position, he is a “full-time” employee with benefits. While it was wonderful and generous of them to do this (his benefits are saweeet), his position is both tenuous and undesirable.

Because he splits his time between teaching and IA duties, he has less preparation time during school hours to do things like grading and lesson planning than other teachers do. This in turn means he has to spend more of his own time at home doing those things and less time pursuing his own interests. His salary is also a fraction of what he should be making. And there is simply no guarantee that he will have even this half-time position next year, let alone a real, honest-to-goodness full time teacher position. The school may decide to interview for the position and he might not get it. There may not be enough enrollment to keep the position at all. Ideally, this would become a full-time, permanent position, but we just have no way of knowing, and won’t know for months.

This uncertainty makes EVERYTHING we want to achieve this year harder. We can’t get approved for a mortgage if we don’t know what Ben’s salary will be, or if he will even be gainfully employed come June. And we certainly can’t have a kid if he doesn’t have a job with benefits, because the plan is for me to stay home with the kid(s) until they reach school age. Conversely, if we’re not going to be house hunting or procreating this summer, I’d love to cram in more theatre before having a kid makes that a hell of a lot harder. Stowe has got a great lineup of shows for the summer, and auditions are happening over the next few weeks. I don’t want to miss out on auditions assuming that things are going to go well with Ben’s job situation, and then be bored and disappointed in a few months. But I also don’t want to commit to doing a show and then find out that house hunting and baby making are on like Donkey Kong. The FOMO is real.

On top of all of this, I feel guilty for putting all of this pressure on Ben. It’s not really fair that all of this is hanging on his professional prospects, but it is. He’s just as stressed as I am, and honestly, just as helpless. He’s doing the best he possibly can in a really shitty situation, and just hoping that things work out. He’s checking school spring every week to see if new job opportunities come up, but the teaching market in Vermont, particularly in the desirable districts, is WAY over-saturated, and so far, no other opportunities have come up.

I just feel like everything is up in the air. I know all of this is incredibly first world problem-y because hey, I have a place to live, and a job that pays really well, and health and dental insurance and a family who loves me and blah, but still. I just feel so dang helpless.

Any other teachers or teacher spouses out there? Have you struggled to land a full-time position?

Hello? Anybody Still Here?

Hi friends! Long time no see!

It’s been almost exactly two months since I decided to take a break from blogging, and it’s gone by really fast! All of a sudden today, I started to feel really nostalgic about this here little blog, and miss checking in with you, so I decided to pop in to say hello. I’m still not quite sure what the future holds for the blog, but I’m not really ready to say goodbye forever. So for now, I’m just gonna take it one day at a time, post when I feel like it, and try to let go of all of the weird feelings of obligation that lead me to my break.

So, what have I been up to? A lot!

We moved back in with the in-laws.
We’re back out in the boonies, which has many pros and cons. But it’s definitely going about as well as it possibly could. We’re all getting along great, the cats (all five of them!) are getting along great, and we’re watching the pile of money in our house fund grow. We’re getting ready to actually start talking to a mortgage broker and maybe even look at some houses. It’s a very exciting time.

Dance Classes
I’m taking a Jazz Fusion class on Tuesdays, and Tap on Wednesdays. The jazz class is AWESOME. I mean, it’s also a little awkward, because I’m one of only a small handful of adults in with a bunch of middle and high school girls who dance circles around me, but it’s great exercise, and exercise that I enjoy doing the entire time. Tap has been more challenging. I actually started out in Tap 2 because I’d already taken Tap 1, but after a couple of weeks, it was clear that I needed to go back to the beginner class and get more comfortable before moving up. Still, though, it’s good exercise as well, and will help me in my future theatrical endeavors.

Not a whole lot of running.
I think taking a break from the blog gave me “permission,” if you will, to take a break from running as well. Marathon training took more of a toll on me than I first realized, and even though I took a short break post-marathon, I still had lots of races and stuff coming up so I didn’t really give myself the time I needed, and kept pushing myself to run. I haven’t run since September 26, so it’s been almost a month, and I’m in a pretty good place about it. I think backing off on running has allowed my metabolism to normalize a bit; I’m not nearly so hungry on a regular basis, meaning I’m not eating as much, and I’ve actually managed to lose a couple of pounds, hallelujah! I’m definitely not going to completely give up on running, but the wheels are turning, and I think I feel a larger post coming on.

Work has been BUSY.
I have one team mate out on maternity leave, and another who was out for two weeks of vacation in September, and is now out for another five days for minor surgery, so my workload is significantly higher than usual. This has been a somewhat difficult adjustment for me, but I’ll make it. I’m also still working one shift a week at Athleta, which is great, but starting to feel like a bit too much on my plate. I was only planning to work there through December, but I may need to step back sooner rather than later for my mental well-being.

Wine and Dine is coming!
I fly out in less than two weeks and I couldn’t be more excited. I desperately need a break from work, and I’m excited to spend some time with my team Can-Am ladies, including finally meeting Lisa in person!

Whew! There, you’re all caught up. As I said above, I’m not quite sure how often I’ll be popping back in, but I no longer consider myself to be “on a break.”

What’s the most exciting/positive thing that’s happened to you in the last couple of months?

 

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

Last night, reality came crashing down on me like a ton of bricks.

I got home from rehearsal at 10:15 and was in a stupor. I just suddenly realized all the shit that I’ve got going on for the next few months and was almost paralyzed. Mary Poppins opens in 22 days. I’m running a marathon in 80 days. Between now and April 1, I will be at rehearsal every single Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6:45 – 10 pm, and from 12:45 – 5 on Sundays. And after the show opens, I have performances Thursday – Sunday with two shows on Saturdays. AND during this time I will be running 4 times a week, anywhere between 3 – 16 miles at a time. How am I going to survive this? How?

I knew I should just try to relax and go to bed, but I couldn’t. Instead, I did what I always do when I’m on the verge of a freakout: anything and everything I can to feel like I’m in control. I washed dishes. I cooked and packed my lunch for today. I did some strength exercises because I had skipped spin class that morning. And then when I finally did get into bed, I couldn’t sleep because of all the worries and fears rolling around in my head.

How am I going to sleep? Eat? See Ben? See my friends? Get through work? Have the energy to complete my scheduled runs? And still remain sane? I’m not quite sure. I mean, yeah, theoretically I know I’ll get through it, but right now I’m feeling totally overwhelmed and more than a little bit scared. Up until now, I had just sort of assumed that everything would magically be OK, but the reality of how busy and stressful this next month is going to be has finally hit.

Logically, I’m sure everything will work out just fine. I’ve got Coach Suz to help me manage training, and I’ve got Ben to help me manage life, but it’s just frustrating that once again, I’ve over-committed myself without thinking about the consequences. It sucks when the things that are supposed to bring me joy just end up stressing me out. More than ever, I’m looking forward to NOT HAVING TO DO ANYTHING this summer.

Do you habitually over-commit like me? Please tell me I’m not alone in this…

Cats Make Life Better

There are two kinds of people in this world: cat people, and non-cat people. I happen to be a cat person. Ben and I have two lovely adorable cats, Creemee and Rocket.

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They are best friends. They play together. They groom each other. They sleep together every night. It’s almost overwhelming how cute they are.

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Ben is also a cat person, and we are suitably obsessed with our fur babies. When I come home from work, I yell “Where are my kitties???” and they come running. It melts my heart.

Yeah, sure, cats can be jerks. Creemee likes to lick the mini blinds at 3 c’clock in the morning. Rocket likes to stand right on my boobs at all times. They chew on expensive bluetooth headphones and stick their heads in unattended cups of milk.

But these cats make my life infinitely better. When I wake up in the morning, Rocket literally follows me around the apartment, meowing and throwing himself to the floor at my feet, until I pick him up and snuggle him. He will sit in my arms and purr and lick my ears until I have to go make coffee or take a shower. And at night before bed, Creemee will jump up and slither beneath the covers, settle herself between my shins, and rest her little head on my feet, purring me to sleep.

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No matter how cranky or tired I am, these little lovebugs make me smile. And I know they do the same for Ben. When the world seems to be against us and life is really busy and shitty and hard, our cats still love us, and that’s pretty freaking great.

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Are you a cat person? 

Do your fur babies (whatever kind you have) make life better?

Life Update: STRESS!

It’s been a while since I talked about life. In a word, it’s stressful. I alluded to this in Monday’s post, but I feel like I sort of let my schedule get away from me this month, on top of a bunch of other stressful goings-on. Here’s what’s up:

First things first: I’m booked solid every single weekend in September. This weekend is the final weekend of Chess, next weekend is our pig roast (which I feel like how the hell did we get here I haven’t done anything holy crap), the following weekend is the Spartan Sprint (see further stress about that below), and the Color Run (for which I’m an ambassador and leading two teams) is the weekend after that. Hooooooly over-scheduled, Batman!

Next, the Spartan Sprint is in just a few weeks, and I feel completely and totally unprepared. I’m really disappointed because I signed up months ago with the intention of taking training very seriously and doing at least SOME strength training on a regular basis. As you all know, that hasn’t really happened because I’ve been so busy with rehearsals. At this point, I feel like I’ll probably survive, but I don’t think it’s going to be very much fun. I foresee myself doing a lot of burpee penalties because I won’t be able to complete many of the obstacles.

Chess the Musical, while incredibly rewarding, is causing me to be overtired as all hell. Performing the show also requires me to oscillate wildly between emotional highs and lows–I go from happy and in love, to bewildered, to happy and in love, to pissed, to devastated, and back to pissed, which is exhausting and confusing. And then of course, I’m faced with the final weekend of shows this weekend. Despite all the exhaustion and hard work, I’m not quite ready to let it go. This has been such a rewarding process and incredible opportunity… I’m just trying not to think about it too much.

Then of course, there’s work stress. I can’t go into too much detail because I’m still waiting for the dust to settle, but things at work are kind of up in the air right now (not due to me, but other issues). I have no idea how things are going to look when all is said and done. I may end up with a ton of extra work and responsibility that I absolutely DO NOT WANT, but don’t really have a graceful way to refuse. Or nothing at all could happen. But the waiting and the uncertainty is excruciating.

And then everyone’s favorite, financial stress. Between race registration, flights, hotel rooms and park passes, I’ve already spent 95% of the amount I budgeted for my Disney trip; that doesn’t even include food, so I’m having a bit of a heart attack about that. I’ve also wracked up a small amount of credit card debt this year, which I HATE. Ben and I are trying to very seriously figure out the timing of things like starting a family and buying a house, which is complicated by my stupid student loan debt and terrible money management skills. There are lots of spreadsheets and calculations going on, and it blows.

Lastly, my training is off due to the show. I missed an entire week of running, and then only ran twice the following week which, while totally necessary for my sanity and health, makes me nervous about my goal of completing two half marathons on back-to-back weekends. This is something that I really wanted to accomplish, but now I’m less confident that I’ll be able to manage it. And related to financial stress, I probably shouldn’t pay for another race registration right now…

Obviously, none of these situations is dire or life-threatening, and many of them are my own choice/fault. It’s just that a lot of things are all happening at the same time and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. Once the show is over, I think I’ll be able to handle each of the other issues in nice, bite-sized chunks as they come up. I have a plan for my financial stuff that I have already set the wheels in motion for, and I have plenty of help for the pig roast, so I have faith that the other stuff will com together. Sometimes ya just need to bitch about it, am I right?

What’s stressing you out right now?

How do you cope when you’re feeling overwhelmed?