Sunday, May 29, 2011

One Week Down

One week into no breastfeeding and things are good. Henry is still not acting like he thinks I have betrayed him. He has woken up every night this week, but last night he slept until 5:30 am, and I was able to convince him to snooze until 6:30. As to the sleep deprivation, it was hard, but it got easier as the week went on and he got more and more used to going to sleep boobless. We even hit on a process for getting him to sleep. We go in the bedroom turn off all the lights and watch a documentary on ocean life. Within 20 minutes, he is socked out. It helps calm Lily down before bedtime, too.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


I ended up weaning Henry this weekend. It was something I had talked about doing for a long time, and only pulled the trigger yesterday. Henry is doing fine, maybe easier to upset, but still easy enough to distract and delight. The happy go lucky kid he has always been. So far the experience has not turned him into a sorry human being.
For me, it has involved a radical change in my approach to parenting. 90% of my responses to Henry involved me baring a breast. Now I have to figure out what it is that he needs and respond in kind. Which is fine. I'm a mom, I get that this is what I signed up for. It's just a complete 180 to my previous parenting. And let me say again, that very little real planning went into this process. I just decided yesterday that we were done breastfeeding. Henry is 15 months old and I need my life back.
Jeremy really stepped up to the plate on this one. He kept Henry all night repeatedly getting him (boob free) back to sleep. In terms of home economics, Jeremy is enjoying a boom cycle.
Breastfeeding was wonderful. I actually took time to have a final feeding and acknowledge that this was it. That helped a lot. Taking a moment to acknowledge the ritual.
My boobs are full of milk and sore. Tylenol helps. So does a slightly large sports bra. Apparently sage tea will help a lot with the drying of the milk, but it tastes really bad. If you are thinking of weaning, I would recommend taking the saner cut down one feeding every so often approach, rather than the I lost my mind one day and stopped breastfeeding. But it is get overable. For all of us.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Today I found out

What my novel is going to be about. So far it's working out really well, being a good mix of things I know something about and things I will need to learn a bit more about. It's all very preliminary as I've only been working on it a few hours. But I have An Idea. It is my first novel, if you don't count the one I started at five, singing songs into a tape recorder about cats, because you have to sing into a tape recorder, right? And what's more interesting than cats? It may quickly devolve into a short story or sketch, but it is something I have been thinking about for a very long time. My parents are writers. My husband is a writer. All my favorite writers are writers. I'm going with what I call the Lori Colwin model where I take a person who sounds suspiciously like me and make her do things I don't think I would do. Hopefully, it won't be awful.Well, back to work.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

No Fear

I have always been afraid. But I'm starting to rethink it. I'm naturally anxious and would rather mull over worst case scenarios than just about anything, but I've had some good days where I could see what life without all that would be like. For instance, I'm a picky eater. As a child, it helped me exert a level of control over events, and I suppose it serves much the same purpose now. But once, some people I dearly love took me out for a very fancy New Year's Eve dinner, and I decided that I was not going to be picky that night. It was a prix fixe event, and I was going to eat what was on the menu and enjoy it, because, well, that's how I was raised. Luckily, it was an evening filled with delicious and largely nonthreatening food, but I was able to glimpse what life might be like without all that anxiety for control. Nothing bad happened to me, and I had some new experiences. It was really pretty wonderful. Have I had many days like that since? A couple, when the meds are right and it all falls into place. Another thing that lifted the veil slightly was childbirth. Why are you afraid? Because you think it might hurt. Well, childbirth did hurt, but I got over it and my life changed for the better. I've been thinking about these two experiences a lot lately. Looking at my life and wondering if it has to look like it does. How much change is really possible at my time of life? Can I do it? What's the worst that could happen? I've been planning these changes, some for years, and I'm coming to think that it really is now or never. I'm going back to school, Henry is walking, and I can make the life I want to have. I can be a good student. I can be physically active and raise my kids to be physically active. I can find time in the day to do some writing and some reading. I'm not saying it will be easy, but I'm also not saying it will be drastic. These are activities I want to include in my life, to improve the quality of my life. And I have to believe that I am up to the challenge, or what am I here for? It's still early to just give it up completely. I have plans and dreams for the future. I want to visit Japan. I want to go to graduate school. I want to become a person who runs. I have a lot of life left to live, and I'm finally deciding what I want it to look like. Part of the being afraid was not making plans. But the future is happening all around us, and I want to get started on it myself.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What I like to read

Things I Read Daily

Andrew Sullivan - Definitely my main source for news. Keeps me up on politics and world events with special focus on beagles, gay issues, beards, and fiscal conservatism. I know we are going to have some disagreements eventually, but I enjoy his take on things immensely.

The Awl - My other news source. Their coverage of rap and basketball (two topics I would normally not read about) is both informative and entertaining. They cover the day's events with a focus on writing and books. They have recently conferred the title "Sheen Free Zone" upon themselves. Just to quote the most recent example, their exploration of misogyny vis a vis The Decemberists' oeuvre was something I would not have considered without their help. Scratches that intellectual elitist itch ironically. Very nice.

Savage Love Blog - Known sex columnist Dan Savage has recently received accolades for his "It Gets Better" campaign targeting young homosexuals. He answers a letter a day, in addition to his weekly column, and his take is refreshing. I have definitely expanded my definition of "normal" after reading him for awhile.

Splitsider - It's a comedy blog. They cover everything from "Check it out, Louis C.K. killed it on Conan last night!" to "The Lost Roles of Bill Murray" to "A Pretty Exhaustive Guide to Comedy Podcasts." A good look at they whys and hows of funny.

Ta Nehisi Coates - From oatmeal to Jane Austen and back again by way of Malcolm X and Civilization the Video Game, it's nice to read an unapologetic liberal.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

So it begins.

The first day of the experiment (also known as payday) went innocently enough. School was out for the state fair (??), so I took the Lily and her friend to the museum for the morning. We got a membership to the museum as a Christmas present, so it's free to go whenever, AND we can see the regular Imax movies for free. Score! So, first event of the day cleared, no cash spent. Then it was time for lunch, and I took the little girls to Steak N Shake. Alas, at this point I had to part with some cash. This being the first cash I had spent in a long time, I tried to strike the right balance with the tip. Somewhere between running (sans tip) from the restaurant cackling evilly, and giving the waitress all my money. I settled on a hopefully karmically positive four dollars for a fifteen dollar tab. My theory of tipping relies heavily on karma. I am fanatically cheap. Really. But I can't take all the negative energy in the universe tracking me down, so I try to strike a balance and respect service industry workers. After lunch, it was time to pick up Jeremy, and then drop off the Lily's friend.

A moment if I could, to describe the payday syndrome. By the time we get to our paycheck we are down to the last so many dollars in our checking account that we spend the last few days of payday week not spending any money, or, if a purchase is direly necessary, we put it on the credit card as we're just about to make a payment anyway. By the time payday arrives, we are so excited to have money again that we spend almost all of it before the first weekend after payday is out. Let me say that in this time bills have been paid and groceries have been bought, but any fun or leeway that was to be squeezed out of the budget has been so squoze. So, this is why we have undertaken this experiment. To see if we can find a better way. The way we are attempting is to take out so much cash at the beginning of the week for personal expenses and groceries, and then nothing goes on the debit card but gas for the car.

It being week one, I realized early on that I may have to budget for some growing pains. Expecting everyone to drop payday syndrome and toe the line immediately was probably a little premature. My plan is to review remaining cash and forecasted needs towards the end of this week and perhaps pull out a small supplementary cash bump if necessary. Of course, with the understanding that this is a one-time expense.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Almost the end of week one

And we have survived! And there is still money in the bank account! We still have one week in the PP to go, but it is a respectable sum we are sitting on, will buy us the week's groceries, and even if we should have to, say, buy two new tires for the car, not touch the money we managed to put into savings this go around.

The grocery money lasted exactly as long as it was supposed to. I was hoping to have a good amount of change left over at the end of the week, but not this time. I have a dollar and some change left. In the spirit of improving the system for the future, I would try to chisel out some real time where I look at what is really needed and make my shopping lists from there. I'm not sure the one shopping trip a week is highly practical for me at this time. I have one grocery store where I get my prescriptions filled, but there's another grocery store close to my house (that's actually often cheaper) where I tend to do a midweek soda run. I like to do my big grocery shopping run at Target, but do occasionally find myself at Wal-Mart trying to stretch that last dollar.

The spending money was kind of a fiasco. But again, it's not like we didn't learn some things. We managed to escape the Payday Weekend with enough petty cash to sustain us for week one of the PP, but week two is going to take some juggling. Which can be managed. We have some goals we're saving for, but at this point in the semester, I'm willing to make allowances.

Henry turned one this week! A year ago he was a tiny thing at the hospital, mewling, but holding his head up. Today, he is a towheaded dynamo, almost ready for his first steps. His birthday present will be a pair of robeez style baby shoes, so that he can practice walking away from home, too.

Henry's birthday has also forced me to do some accounting of how the last year has gone by and what has been accomplished. Lots of good things have happened. Henry got born, Lily started reading chapter books, we successfully moved to Florida, Jeremy got a good job, and we have continually avoided financial ruin! But still, Jeremy needs to finish his dissertation and I need to go back to school. Those are the priority for this year and they kind of have to happen in that order. To further those goals, I will be applying to USF for undergrad admission next week. This is a big step for me and I don't know where it will lead. Will I be able to start at USF or will I have to do time at a community college to show I can be a good student, now? Can I be a good student? I think I have learned how to focus and do what needs to be done, and, at the very least, I no longer have the time to mess around missing class and whatnot.

More detailed breakdown of the actual process of the first week coming soon.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Experiment

We're trying something new this time around. Instead of spending our paycheck until we run out, we're going to calculate our expenses and allot money for certain purposes. For instance, the spending money and grocery budget will be withdrawn in cash at the beginning of the pay period, instead of just whipping out the debit card at the sight of something shiny. You've probably read all the same books and articles I have and gleaned the same 95 theses of money saving. In no particular order, here are some favorites.
- Plan your meals for the week. Cook at home, don't eat out. Plan your meal menu around what your family will actually eat. It's not savings if it rots in the crisper drawer. Shop the store circulars and incorporate good deals into your meal plan. I try to buy and extra meal or so a week, so I'll have something on hand, leaving me extra options midweek and in the future. Use coupons for products that you already buy and use. It's not savings if you don't actually need it.
- Save 10% of your income each paycheck. If you have it direct deposited into a savings account, chances are you won't even miss it, and that's a tidy sum when the time comes.
- Use credit cards wisely. Don't close all your accounts at once, but don't cut up all your cards and never use them, either. The first will ding your credit score and the second will rack up inactivity fees.
All this information (and much much more) is out there if you are looking for it, but what does it really feel like, really mean to live on less than you earn? Can it be done in a one income, one car, two child household? We are staking a claim in this frontier of adulthood and asking you to come along for the ride. We don't have all the answers. We have a plan, that we suspect will be taking in some alterations. We have some goals that need fleshing out. We have an idea what a fiscally sound, reasonable life looks like, and it seems to be possible from where we are. But can we actually, in the trenches, day to day, actually get it done?