On the bus, 4:43pm, a sunny and windy afternoon. I’m still a bit weak and dehydrated from a round of stomach flu yesterday… There is nothing to make you grateful to feel good than a day of nausea. So lucky that my sister was able to pick E up from school.

After our recent visit to Chicago, I’m doing a lot of comparing/contrasting with SF and, honestly, SF is not winning. I never want to trash talk my beloved and incomparably gorgeous city of almost twenty years, but we are no longer a very good match. I’m tired of hearing myself complain about the high cost of child care. About how if we ever lost our apartment there would be no affordable place to go (not to mention zero hope of ever owning property). About competitive preschools and street parking and this sense that the skyrocketing prices are just A-OK with the techies coming in with gigantic salaries.

I don’t want to go on about that or the complex school lottery system or the families getting evicted or the impossibility of this hamster wheel because honestly I have that conversation with everyone I know who is still living in the Bay Area, all the time. So let’s look at the Chicago suburb where my sister lives.

Child care approximately half the cost. Housing same. Amazing schools. Awesome community for families. Economic and racial diversity. Next to an incredible city. Some great old friends! Four seasons. My parents across Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan! I could go on.

But the biggest click for me was seeing the cousins adoring each other. And talking to my sister about how we could back each other up. This is family!!

There are huge downsides. Namely, winter. And giving up the year-round outdoor opportunities of the incomparable Bay Area–the trees, the smell of eucalyptus, the trails, the ocean air, the vast wilderness. And of course -sob -my sister B! My friends! My mama community!

But something’s gotta give. I yearn to put down roots, to build community in a place that doesn’t feel so tenuous. Where life is a little/a lot easier. To be able to envision E’s trajectory into the future, full of opportunities and tons of love.

I know that contemplating moving home or close to family or to the suburbs when your kid is 2 is not exactly a new idea that I just invented. There are great reasons why people scale down. For me, being in the most expensive city in America PLUS being a solo parent feels like unsustainable squared. Or at least would require a level of struggle I am less and less willing to take on.

So, I’m simmering on this. And I already have been forever since before getting pregnant. Meanwhile, I had E, the cost of living in the Bay Area shot up, and I thought… I’ll see how long I can last.

And now he’s two, and mama wants a plan.

[Fast forward five days:]

After I wrote that on the bus, I went home feeling sick again. Like the bug I had earlier in the week circled back on me, and then E got sick that night, and we took a sick day. It was like a week-long bug!

Now we’re feeling fine. E is napping after a fun 2nd birthday party of one of my mom’s groups with 20 or so kids. Sunny, hot, on Potrero Hill with stunning views of the city, great friends and connections, so much what I love about being here, so many conversations about grappling with all of the above… (Not just me!)

Also grateful for the freedom to contemplate big changes and try on the possibilities. We’ll keep living to the fullest in the meantime- simmering, thinking, weighing pros and cons, crunching numbers.

And contemplating lists like this one: Onion Ten Best Places to Raise a Family

One more point of gratitude: for my online community. I get to take you with me everywhere!

Xo

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Dangerous to start a blog post halfway through the afternoon nap but I’m feeling lucky!

What a week. My parents left on Sunday after a wonderful two-month stay. It’s so interesting to go back and forth between co-parenting and solo parenting because I see many pros and cons of both sides. Of course when they’re here, they’re so helpful with dinners and laundry and keeping stuff organized and house projects and child care and more. I love bouncing parenting decisions off of them. There’s also more housework to be done with more adults. And I get that hazy feeling about who’s doing what because now I’m no longer doing 100% with a comprehensive birds-eye view.

After such an extended visit, I dreaded their departure and wondered how long it would take me to get back on track. I felt rusty and worried about taking on our new school dropoff without backup and also we of course miss them when they’re not around. I was sad about E asking where they were and feeling sad to wake up to an empty house.

Monday morning, it was go time. I prepped to the nines of Sunday night, would not be defeated by the naysayers (in my head). We got up Monday and the house was quiet. E asked about Mimi and Chacha and I reminded him they went on the airplane. We got dressed and had breakfast and I even took a video of him reading a book out loud on his own while I drank my coffee. A blessed, perfect morning.

Until we got into the car. I was putting E in his car seat when he pointed up and said, “light!” I looked up to see an interior light we had inadvertently left on; weak now two days later. My heart sunk. I knew the battery was dead and the car wouldn’t start.

And it didn’t! Best laid plans. I didn’t flag anyone down, which maybe I should have, but it was 8:30am and I didn’t want to make people late for work, would have to study up on jumper cables (which I do have), and the too-much part would be trying to do all that with a toddler in tow. So I called AAA who took about an hour to show up, and we just went up and down the street on a beautiful morning, checking out the choo choo train in the glasses shop window and singing songs. I got in to work at 10:30am but didn’t miss much.

The next day, I started the day not feeling well, digestion-wise. It wasn’t too bad until I got on the train and then I thought I’d made a mistake. Nothing like fearing that you’re going to have to puke in public. I made it to the office without incident and just couldn’t imagine that commuting home and then back to pick up E later in the day would be that much better than just toughing through the work day, which I did. I laid down in the conference room for a while. Picked E up and went home to a dinner of saltines.

The next day I decided to work from home, which was lovely. I was starting to feel better and eating again and could run the laundry and the dishwasher. My sister B and her girlfriend came over for a burrito dinner and it was one of those errant hot summer days in the city- I was on the upswing again.

Every single night this week, E has fallen asleep on the way home from school. It’s about a 15-20 minute ride home through Golden Gate Park. He stayed awake each time to enjoy the two major highlights of the trip: the buffalo in a big meadow and the tunnel (which is actually just where the road goes under 19th Street). BUFFALO! TUNNEL! and next thing I know, I look in the rearview mirror to his mirror (he’s still rear-facing) and his peepers are closed. Each day, I woke him up to bring him in and he was understandably irritable, nursed him when we got inside, and he went back to sleep. I would say that with the exception of the night that B and J came over for dinner, he went back to sleep and stayed asleep through the entire night. So- he slept roughly 6:30pm-7am four out of five days this week. I was starting to miss him! This schedule only requires an hour and a half of parenting per day!

His teachers say that he’s running around all day, barely napping, eating a ton (good because he’s missing dinner each night and barely nibbling at breakfast). He’s growing and processing language and making friends and learning songs. It must be so tiring!

Every night this week I’ve been staying up late working on a freelance marketing project I took on- I know! As if I have time. But I’m REALLY excited and passionate about this project and learning a lot. Regular work is going well too. Seems like the only place to find more time is giving up sleep.

Today was LOVELY. The cherry on top of a challenging week. We had a pretty lazy morning and then drove over to North Beach to meet dear friends C and her 2yo daughter L, and my sister B. We had coffee and treats at a cafe while the kids colored and played. Then we went to the playground for a bit and there were zero kids there because it was sprinkling. E wanted to try the really long slide and it was totally wet. Why did I think that would slow him down? He raced down the thing at I don’t know how many mph- he went so fast that he was immediately on his back and shot off the end, continuing to slide on the soft astroturf for about 15 feet! I was so taken by surprise but it was over so fast and he was OK (a little stunned!)–my sister and I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. Note to self: sopping wet slide = MUCH FASTER THAN USUAL.

Then our regular swim class with L and C, half an hour of floating around and jumping off the side and kicking- way more laid back than LPB and E likes it better (so I do too).

Then home- my amazing sister agreed to stay with E while I went for a much-needed wet trail run. I came back, got him down, showered, and here I am with time to blog. See. Still sleeping- the good luck continues.

So, that’s the week. Next week promises to be amazing because I took time off to go to Chicago to visit E’s cousins! (and their parents!) (and my parents for one night!) Yay. When E woke up today, he said, “Chacha,” and smiled. Then, “Mimi,” and smiled. I said, “Yeah. Chacha and Mimi.” and he said, “Airplane.” And I said, “Yep, they went on the airplane. But next week, we’ll get on an airplane and we’ll see them in Chicago!” and he said, “Jacket.” (as in- let’s go!)

More from Chi.

Hope your weekend is ridiculously fabulous xoxoxo

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This morning, I wondered three different times if I’m getting it right with my parenting decisions and assumed there’s a book I haven’t read that says I’m absolutely doing it wrong and setting myself up for future trouble. The wondering was:

-I wonder if there’s a proven and acceptable way to introduce your child to his toddler bed that doesn’t involve jumping (and I wonder if allowing the jumping actually sets you back because now it’s a trampoline instead of where you go night night)

-I wonder if it’s actually unsafe and sets a bad precedent for your kid to walk/run around at breakfast, eating cereal out of other people’s bowls

-I wonder if, by continuing to night nurse, I’m holding my kid back from a happy and independent sleeping career

I think that if anyone has easy answers to these it’s probably BS but notice the impulse to question myself and believe there’s some other authority more important than me.

We are in the midst of transitions that have no beginning or end because I’m an easygoing, natural mama who resists structure and other people’s arbitrary rules when it comes to parenting through these phases of development. But the toddler bed is set up and seems like kind of a fun new thing. It’s in my room. Maybe he’ll be intrigued and interested? I’m realizing that night weaning could be great for both of us. He can learn to sleep through (and me too) and perhaps I can occasionally get up early or stay up late which I would greatly look forward to. Aiming to do this after my parents leave. Maybe it won’t be so bad? Maybe he’s ready hahahaha

My parents have been here for 6 weeks and we have 2 left. I have grown dependent on them, especially the dinners, the laundry, and the cleaning. Not to mention the occasional school pickups and evening child care! And adult conversation, someone to talk through decisions, and co-witnesses to E’s daily development. Also they are my parents.:) I always get back in the groove after they leave but am not on my A game in the initial days.

The other night, they went out for dinner. I had gone out of town for the day for work and got a late start coming back- it took 3 hours instead of 2 in crazy Bay Area traffic. I was half an hour late picking up E, then we stopped at the store for food and Walgreens for ointment to put on his irritated bug bite (he for some reason resisted putting it on and we got it all over everything). We had dinner of leftovers and he poured water everywhere (as he does nightly). My period was super heavy and I was barely containing things when I realized that E had a blowout the likes of which I haven’t seen since he was an infant- the kind where the only option is the bathtub. I was rinsing him off in the tub and he was screaming. My parents walked in the door and I felt like the babysitter!

Mostly I laughed because there are just those days when you can’t seem to keep things from flying out of control.

You’ve just gotta laugh and believe: I’m as on top of this as possible.

xo

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This essay is about my name so I’m pretty much sacrificing anonymity by posting this here- so be it! I wrote an essay that ran today on ozy.com! I hope you enjoy reading it.

http://www.ozy.com/true-story/doppelgngers-unite/67104

Shivering on the bus as I am in my running clothes and it’s cold and also lightly drizzling. Sometimes being motivated to get the workout in results being in the wrong clothes at the wrong time… But now I’m on the bus and a bit warmer, tapping out this post with fingers recently manicured in Lucky Lucky Lavender.

Last week, I took the train one evening so I could get off about three miles from the school and run from there. I was running late. I jumped off the train at ten after five and promptly ran into dear friend J and her kiddo M. Ten minutes later, I was hopping back on the train and still ten minutes late. (Not late, actually, because I can pick E up anytime 5:30-6 but I try to be there at 5:30). Today I’m trying again, this time leaving a bit earlier, and I’ll get off a lot closer, and I’ll even pick up burritos along the way, and we’ll see how it goes. I’m hungry, despite eating a granola bar an hour ago. But I need to move my bod!

I had a coaching call last week in which I intended to discuss my life goals and ended up complaining about my clothes and hair. She said those sounded charged, so let’s stick with those. I went on and on about how I have short broken-off or maybe newly-grown-in hair around my hairline that will not be corralled and my hair is limp and doesn’t respond to my usual products and I look in stunned awe at photos of when I was prego and the lush, gorgeous head of hair I had. I ended up with a to do list of a mani/pedi and a new braid. (Ps braid tutorials on YouTube are fascinating)

My self needs some care. We had professional photos last weekend and as I stood in front of my closet, a voice in my head was saying, “I don’t know how to make myself look good anymore.” I’m so out of practice! I used to take work trips to NYC, go out to bars, go on dates. My old hot self is a bit lost. Or completely lost.

It seems to be a known phenomenon that when your kid turns two, you come out of the fog. You mostly have your body back. You are kinda sleeping. And so I do recognize that aspects of me are “coming back online.” It helps to even run one mile or do 20 minutes of interrupted yoga with a toddler in my living room, which is all I seem to manage. I met with a free wellness coach through my work (I’ll get a $100 gift card if I meet with him three times) and I told him I would do 2 runs and 2 core exercise sessions at home per week. I also met with a free financial planner through my work and I’m keeping a list of all the money I spend for one month.

I seem to be in hyper New Years mode because my parents are here for three more weeks and I’ve gotta fit it all in!!!

We’re almost to my dropoff point. E is now coming home with art projects, talking about the “kids” and his teachers and counting quite admirably in Spanish (in English it’s one two three four seven nine TEN!). He puts his arms up and says, “carry you?” And he loves talking about eckaderders (excavators), heckaderders (helicopters), and alliderders (alligators). And when we go under a bridge: TUNNEL!!!

You guys: Betabrand is going to make the nursing tank!!! Thanks so much for voting! They emailed me to welcome me aboard the team! I will definitely let you know when it’s ready for sale. I’m so excited to buy one.

Now we are stuck in a traffic jam. Gearing up to run through the cold rain to burritos and E’s school.

Hasta luego xoxo

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Hi!!! Wow. It’s been too long. A lot has happened and now I have a slightly longer bus ride which means I can furiously tap on my little iPhone keyboard and get a little update out to you.

The biggest news is that I ended our nanny share and started E at a little Spanish immersion preschool. When I dropped him off this morning, it was the first time that it felt a little bit normal. It’s been weeks of transition!

The first thing that happened was that the other mom of our nanny share crossed the line. We had never gotten along easily but we loved the nanny and the boys got along great. She could be selfish and inconsiderate, not to mention unreasonable about germs (e.g. she thinks she can control them) but when I weighed the pros and cons there were more pros.

Then one day she decided that E had gotten her boys sick and took all of them to a doctor (with the nanny) so the doctor would back up this theory. Without my permission or knowledge! On what planet is that OK?! Then she sent an accusatory text saying (and I quote): “Your son gave my boys RSV” to which I responded with a phone call and then we were in a screaming match. Her worldview is that my child is “constantly sick” and gives her kids all his germs (never the other way around) and that there must be precautions I’m not taking. I disagree with all of the above. I also think it’s good for kids to be sick and that this is part of nature’s design as they develop their immune systems, so I’m not in the habit of quarantining him or chasing after him with hand sanitizer.

She claimed that the doctor didn’t actually evaluate him, just happened to hear his cough, and they all went because they were on their way to the park (?) but it was beyond sketchy to me. I realized that although I totally trusted the nanny, I no longer trusted the other mom.

So, as quickly as I could, I circled back on some options that I had investigated last fall, and thank goodness there was an opening at this school (in a city full of waiting lists!). I had an in-person cry with the nanny when I told her the news, and ended things with the other mom via text (she wouldn’t call me back), and we were free. I post all of this publicly, because there’s nothing here that I’m afraid for her or anyone to see, and I think people should be aware of the pitfalls of nanny shares. I wish her well although there are few people who have made me that angry. Mostly I hope that her boy does OK once he starts preschool and gets every germ under the sun, poor kiddo.

The relief of being out of the share was barely beginning before I realized the giant transition we were facing. Up until this point, the nanny had picked E up from our place and then I got ready for work. What luxury! Now I need to get us out the door together and into the car.

Plus, a giant adjustment for E. Thank goodness (again!) that my parents arrived precisely as all of this went down and we could adjust E gradually. I brought him two 1.5 hour days, three 3-hour days, then 4 full days. Many tears upon drop off (and briefly again at pickup) but today he was calm and only cried the moment I left. Progress.

The director is wonderful and debriefs me at the end of each day, often emailing with me in the evening as well. E has bonded with her and she already loves him. He’s starting to integrate with the other kids! She sent a video this afternoon that showed him sitting in a circle for story time and listening like a good little student!

The relief is starting to be real, after weeks of stress and uncertainty (and business trips). I’m really happy and getting used to our new routine. Magically, the new school is on the outer edge of the city, so there is no limit on street parking- I can leave my car all day while taking this bus across the peninsula to my office. It works.

While it’s heartbreaking to leave a crying kid at a new school, I swear that I’ve already seen him expand in terms of confidence, intelligence, and charm. We had the band over for dinner last week and he greeted each one as they arrived, mastering their names, sitting on their laps to read books, showing off his “chicken” (kitchen). He was such an extrovert! After a day at school.

I am a proud mama!!!!!!

I love this guy so much.

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My nursing top is up!! If you haven’t already, and you have 30 free seconds, please please vote for the Gotcha Covered Nursing Tank!

CLICK HERE TO VOTE!

Designed in collaboration with my amazing clothing designer friend L! I can’t believe how great it turned out. I can’t wait until they make it and it sells a bazillion units and I can retire early. It’s a very quick and simple registration to vote. If we get enough votes, they will make a prototype for presale. Thanks a million for supporting my idea. (And therefore supporting nursing or future nursing moms everywhere)

Oh my goodness, I have so much to tell you. E is in a new school! More soon Xoxoxo

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Geez Louise, it’s another one of those mornings! When some areas of life start cracking open and moving forward with creative juices flowing and good mojo and flow, I start forgetting my wallet, losing my bus pass, and spacing on calling or texting people back. Such is the life of an artiste, non?

Right. No real harm done, just a bit scattered. It’s a weird and short week with Monday off, a quasi-sick day for E on Tues (he turned out to not be actually sick but I was terrified he was getting croup again), and we’re taking tomorrow off to go to Yosemite. Happily, work is going great and I’m blogging in my job now which is totally fun. I’m enjoying it.

Meanwhile, miracle mornings NOT going as planned, due to aforementioned problems getting up without rousing the babe. Today I’m going to see if my company wellness program offers any deals on fitbits, good idea for a soundless alarm! I did meet with my new life coach and, as planned, instantly loved her. She reminded me of my doula and she said that’s funny because she used to be a doula. I believe it. We dove into the deep end. I was proud of how succinctly I stated the big questions of my life right now. She led me in a guided meditation and provided resources. She gently reminded me that I will likely find the answers not with my head, but with my heart, which made me cry. Because I know a LOT more in my heart than my head, and my heart is never wrong. First order of biz: daily meditation. 20 minutes.

A couple of news items! We accepted a spot for E at a Spanish immersion preschool to start in July! I have felt stressed and horrified by the preschool application process and largely avoided the bulk of it because most schools accept kids 2.9-3 in September, and E will be like 2.4. So this was one of the few schools that accept 2 year olds (“school” in quotes, I think it’s more just day care for the twos, which they call Pequeñitos). They do not offer aid, but very few places do and I think only one that I know of for 2 year olds and it doesn’t have Spanish- we’re good for now. I like the place, the nurturing, Latin vibe, the songs, the food, the playground. It will be awesome. It costs approximately three times what my parents paid for me to attend college per year including room and board but that’s not a fair comparison because that was 24 years ago. Wait is my math right??? Anyway, c’est cher. Mais c’est super.

In other news, you will not believe on which creative project I’m making real headway: the nursing garment. I will not over promise but my dear clothing designer friend L came over for dinner the other night and sketched it. It’s awesome. She works for a company that accepts crowd sourced ideas for new garments- so, if we manage to get her sketch posted with my description, I will have you ALL vote to get it made! Hallelujah!

Tomorrow, we head to snow and I’m as excited as you to see E and 4 friends romping in some serious snow!

Love to all and keep on plugging!
xo

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OMG I just want to remember the details of last night and this morning because it’s so funny and crazy and I know these details slip away.

Last night we had sausage and quinoa and kale for dinner, facetimed with Mimi and Chacha, and E had a bath with his new tugboat from Lili which he loves. I realized that I could get everything cleaned and put away and ready for bed without keeping him up too much past 8. So I did and we got in bed for the night. This was my next attempt to get up early for the Miracle Morning. Go to bed super early, get up super early.

Because E had eaten almost a whole carton of berries right before bed, he was apparently on a sugar high and was crawling around the bed and up and down for a while before settling down around 9.

At about 2:30am he starts saying, mournfully, “Applesauce, applesauce… mommy…” And I thought he might be dreaming. But then he sat up and said cheese, cereal, pan (as in Spanish for bread), and I realized he was hungry. So we got up and both had a snack.

Back to bed. I put my fully charged phone within reach on the bed (there’s no outlet near the bed which kind of screws up my plan to quickly turn off the alarm) and went to sleep.

I missed the alarm at 5:30 because it was too quiet and buried under the covers- never heard it. I woke at 6:20 and E was not latched on. I sat up and started meditating for three minutes before he started whimpering. Back to the boob and back to sleep.

We woke again at 7:50 with the sun streaming in, nearly 12 hours after going to bed. Now I was running late! Got him dressed, put a kettle on for coffee and hot cereal (the microwave is broken) and it barely was ready in time for him to take three bites before the nanny arrived. She ended up taking the bowl and spoon with them for breakfast on the go. I had left his lunchbox in the stroller way downstairs the night before so quickly put cut-up veggies and hummus in little containers, plus applesauce and a package of crackers. They left and I started in on a crockpot recipe when I realized the applesauce and crackers were still on the counter- ran outside in my bare feet but they were gone.

Got all the ingredients in the crockpot while making myself eggs and quinoa (oatmeal is annoying on the stove and I forgot to order any kind of milk for cereal), cleaned up, packed myself a lunch of cheese sandwich, clementines, banana, and crackers, got dressed, took down the recycling, moved my car because tomorrow is Thursday street cleaning, then realized I had left my bus and office passes in the apartment, stopped at home again, changed my pants and boots because they were uncomfortable, and walked to the bus.

And now I’m on the bus. Late! It’s 9:45. But always in awe of the process and enjoy the challenge. The nanny says esta bien, she can fill in some more lunch snacks. Another day begins…

Tonight I’ll try again to get the alarm figured out because I think 5:30 may be the sweet spot.

Hope your day goes smoothly, amigos.

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Greetings from SF! We are back. Every year, I get all reflective at the New Year, set some intentions, and then all hell breaks loose as I attend my sales meeting in the first week of the year. So, knowing that, I approach the second week of January as the Real Deal.

My Miracle Mornings are going just OK. Basically, my nursing and cosleeping toddler doesn’t want me to get out of bed and seems to be latched on every time the alarm goes off. Waking us both up an hour early certainly defeats the purpose, so I’ve most often just gone back to sleep. I may keep trying or I may transition to a Miracle Evening for a while.

The really wild and amazing and mind-blowing part is that as soon as I did let’s say 1.5 Miracle Mornings and shined a light into the dark caverns of my mind, I discovered a host of competing priorities all in a wrestling match. I had known they were back there but just had faith that I would figure it all out later. Well, guess what? It’s time.

I don’t really like the expression “figure it out.” It sounds like you’re starting from scratch, with no real clues. I have a lot of clues! Yet I’m going to start by opening up all the options. And hiring a coach. Because after my last post, my friend E recommended her coach and I loved her website and want to pay attention to what the universe puts in my path right now. Because I feel myself entering a transitional time and I am seeing meaning in everything.

For example, I’m crunching numbers constantly trying to get them to add up during the child care and preschool years- and the other mom of my nanny share just texted (since I started writing this post) to say she wants to share the full five days a week, bringing my costs down. Powerful stuff.

Yesterday I did a prioritization exercise where I compared every priority to every other priority and decided which was more important, which allows you to rank them. There are always surprises. And if you choose to give up A, it’s because you know you’re prioritizing B. I can send you the exercise if you want- this one has helped me at many critical decision points in my life.

I’m guessing this is how it will be from now on now that someone else’s future is in my hands.:)

Almost to work. I’m feeling expansive and more aware of the big picture and the control I have over my choices. So much unknown yet so any possibilities for me and my little fam.

Happy New Year and love to YOU!
xo

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