2017 So Far: Constant Family Illnesses and Political Shitstorms

Oh, hi. Hello there. I am out of practice with blogging, but let’s see what happens here:

I was laboring under the illusion that I would suddenly have all kinds of freedom and autonomy when the twins started daycare in January and I don’t know whether to laugh or weep at how wrong I was. Parents, I know y’all know what I am taking about.

So far, the babies have experienced: norovirus (twice), RSV, Hand Foot and Mouth, and various respiratory viruses resulting in several hard-to-treat ear infections. (They now have ear tubes, so fingers crossed that pattern is over.) From the twins, I myself have caught the noro, RSV, and various colds, resulting in sinus infections, bronchitis, ear infections, and pneumonia. My husband has been similarly affected. It has not been pretty.

So basically, this is how daycare works: we pay daycare as much money as we pay to our mortgage every month, but much of the time the kids are too sick from GERMS THEY PICKED UP AT DAYCARE for them to actually GO TO DAYCARE.

ANYWAY.

We’ve had at least one child home sick every day this week. Fine. Not like we have jobs to go to or anything.

GOD.

So in addition to being sick and caring for sick people and barely — just barely — managing to perform my full-time job at a proficient and productive level, I have had time for … approximately nothing. It’s fine. Whatever.

I don’t even want to get into it, but also politics lately are sapping any emotional energy I may otherwise have had leftover. I’m sad and disappointed and anxious and suspcious and bubbling over with pure, white-hot, brain-melting RAGE.

I’M FINE.

In other news that has happened since the last time I posted:

I have been officially promoted at work to the highest rank possible for my position (to take effect when fall semester starts) and received a college-level teaching award. Not to brag, but I guess I’m pretty all right at my job.

I joined Biggest Blogging Loser, a friendly weight loss/good choices competition among my online lady friends and it helped me stay motivated to lose about 15 pounds from January-March. We just started a new round this week and I’m hoping to lose about 15 more, which will put me back at my pre-pregnancy weight. (The only problem being, of course, the constant family illnesses and political shitstorm are both driving me to comsume too much comfort food and wine.)

I’m back to hitting pretty decent paces on the run, which has me feeling good about my fitness and is a nice reminder that fitness and weight are not necessarily the same.

I have about 150 final exams to grade and then I will be done with spring semester. Deep breaths.

We are planning some summer travel, hopefully to include a visit to my friend on the gulf coast, a visit to in-laws in Iowa, and maybe a stop in St. Louis to see another friend on the way back.

Had to run an errand on campus, so these little bunnies got to run around on the grass for a while. ūüźįūüźį Lew + Ella. ūüíôūüíó

My children are gorgeous, amazing little maniacs who keep it dialed up to eleven at all times and I love them so much.

 

I’m With Her

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to any of you reading this that I’ll be casting my vote for Hillary Clinton in today’s election. I’ve voted Democratic in every presidential election so far — Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama, Obama, and now another Clinton. The Democratic Party is my party. I tend to think I’m a little bit to their left, in the big picture, but I’ve always been proud to stand up and have my vote be counted in the blue column.

clinton-convention

This election has been a real shitshow, though, hasn’t it? While I’m deeply, deeply horrified by Donald Trump’s very candidacy (let alone by the possibility of him winning, holy crap), there’s a small part of me still in denial, still thinking this must be some kind of terrible joke. How could this be real?

First, we have the festering boil that is Donald J. Trump, who is not merely ignorant about both national and global issues, but is also a liar, misogynist, racist, homophobe, islamophobe, admitted perpetrator of sexual assault, and alleged child rapist. Then, to really deepen my disgust, we have the laying bare of our culture’s institutionalized hatred of women, as evidenced by the public’s responses to Hillary’s campaign. Seriously, just ask your Trump-loving racist uncle, or the Bernie Bro you went to college with. Republicans and Democrats are equally capable of barely-disguised sexism.  The election is stressful enough as it is, but between Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault and Hillary Clinton having to maintain her composure during the debates while being interrupted, shouted at, and actually loomed over by her opponent, this mess can be downright triggering. I know we’ll all be glad when it’s over.

But there’s something I don’t want to get lost in the midst of all our rush to get through this day: this is a huge deal. I want to really savor the moment when I fill in that ballot for Hillary Clinton — I’ll be casting my vote for the first woman president of the United States. And I’ll be able to tell my daughter and my son in a few years that they were there with us when their father and I filled in those bubbles. I want to do it in honor of all the women who fought for our right to vote and who aren’t here anymore to see this day. I want to do it in honor of all our daughters, a gesture of hope for their world. I want to do it in honor of (myself and) every other woman who has had to maintain her composure while being interrupted, shouted at, or actually loomed over while she is just trying to do her goddamned job (or groped or flirted with or mansplained to or ignored or …or …or…).

For all of us.

Because electing a Black man as president isn’t enough. Electing a woman as president isn’t enough. But those things are something. We have to keep pushing the needle, and this is a nudge in the right direction. I am proud to be part of that.

I also hate that, in the midst of so many people grumbling about having to choose between “the lesser of two evils,” or about how they “wish it were another woman,” we can too easily lose sight of what a great candidate Hillary Clinton is, and how great she could be as president. She’s qualified and experienced and knows how to work together with the opposition. She’ll champion rights for women, LGBTQ Americans, people of color, immigrants, and laborers. She knows that Black Lives Matter and says so, out loud and without qualification. She supports gun control and criminal justice reform. She supports a woman’s right to choose. She cares about combatting climate change. She uses big words; she does her homework; she believes in science.

I am not (just) voting against Donald Trump; I am voting, unreservedly, for Hillary Clinton. I am super fucking excited to do so.

Pantsuit up!

Pumpkin Patch and Halloween

We have been enjoying the fall lately. Here in Alabama, the weather is¬†still regularly in the mid-to-upper eighties, but I think we’ve had two or three cooler days so far. See evidence below: I actually wore a jacket to the pumpkin patch!

Four of Us

This was my first time visiting an actual pumpkin patch on an actual farm (as opposed to buying my pumpkin from a giant bin in front of the grocery store). It was a really pleasant day to stroll around and enjoy the fresh air and take pictures. I’m sure we’ll do it again — the babies were still too little this year to enjoy some of the kid stuff they had available (pens of baby goats & pigs, a big slide, hay bales to climb on, etc.), but they’ll have a blast next time.

Mom & Eleanor & Linus
Dad & Eleanor & Linus

We came home with a couple of pumpkins for the front porch (which we didn’t carve — I’m just not that into carving, plus they last longer if you don’t) and the strong desire for some pumpkin muffins, which I made. Successful outing.

Halloween was really fun, too. I mean, can you EVEN?!

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I can’t. Can’t even.

I’d been feeling all this pressure to come up with some really cute thematic twin costume and I kept coming up empty. Some year we’re going to do Luke & Leia for them and Darth Vader & Padm√©¬†for us, but we figured that’s a better idea for when they’re older. This year, we just didn’t come up with any ideas we really liked. Ideas that were suggested and then vetoed: lobster and chef, shark and surfer, bee and flower, etc.

At one point, we had nearly decided on ordering a matching pair of pumpkin costumes from Amazon, but we decided to sleep on it. The next day, the pumpkin costumes we liked had sold out and every other pumpkin costume was either not available via Prime (and wouldn’t ship until November) or was not in their size. THWARTED! Everything else we thought was cute on Amazon was crazily overpriced (like, $40 or more PER COSTUME, which is insane).

In desperation, I checked the Halloween aisle at Target and happened upon the elephant and the giraffe. Guess what Wubbanubs they happen to have and love? An elephant and a giraffe.

THEY COULD DRESS AS THEIR BINKIES, YOU GUYS. And so they did.

Trying the costumes on them for the first time was one of my¬†best parenting moments so far. Each of them was¬†absolutely DELIGHTED by the sight of the other twin in costume. They just looked at each other in amazement, grinning and giggling and eventually trying to grab each other’s faces. It was hilarious and adorable and so, so sweet. They’re the best babies.

On Halloween evening, it was 88¬ļ and I was wondering if we would regret the warm, plush costumes, but the kiddos did great and didn’t seem to mind at all. We went out for pizza and then explored the downtown trick-or-treat, checking out people in their costumes and hanging out with a few friends who’d also brought their kids. There were tons of adorable costumed babies being pushed around in their strollers and the whole thing was fairly delightful.

Next year, I suppose we’ll do the neighborhood trick-or-treat. Our neighborhood is really perfect for it (sidewalks, lots of families, pretty safe), but it didn’t seem like a good fit this year. Honestly, I just didn’t feel comfortable knocking on doors to basically just ask people to admire my kids and not actually collect any candy. E&L are still too little for candy and it would have felt like collecting candy for ourselves. Well, it would have ACTUALLY BEEN collecting candy for ourselves. Which, yeah, I like candy. But¬†I have a job. I can buy my own candy.

 

 

 

Fitness & Food Highlights: Weeks 6-7

I didn’t get a chance to do my update last week, and now it’s almost Thursday of this week, so I’m very behind in my critical F&F posting. I’m sure you’re all on the edges of your seats. (Being very generous using the plural you, there.)

At any rate, I have had a good couple of weeks. I weighed in last week and am now down a total of 15 pounds since I started this mission. It feels good. My clothes are fitting better (some pants are quite loose now!) and I can see I’m making progress.

Here’s what went down the past couple of weeks:

Fitness Goals: I wanted to figure out a rough workout schedule for the semester, which I think I have done. So far, it’s gym cardio on Mondays, run on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and¬†Saturdays — at least once with the stroller– and more gym cardio on Sundays. The problem is that I am not going to be able to fit in a body pump class and I haven’t been pushing myself to do any other strength workouts, such as barre3. I need to get that back into the rotation. I’m going to try to figure that out this week.

Monday: Elliptical (30:00). A shorter workout because I had to get home in time to give my husband a ride to pick up his car from the shop. Still worth the effort to get moving!

Tuesday –¬†Friday:¬†Rest days due to back pain¬†and scheduling issues. Wednesdays and Fridays are rest days anyway, so I only mised two workouts this week.

Saturday: Ran 4 miles (48:09). It felt hot and grueling even though I went as early in the morning as I could manage. I took quite a few walking breaks in the last mile, but I got it done.

Sunday: Elliptical (45:00). My usual Sunday afternoon cardio at the gym while watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Monday: Elliptical (45:00). See above.

Tuesday:¬†Ran 2.8 miles (31:40). Evening run. I haven’t run in the evening in YEARS (I used to do this on the reg in college, but not since then). I really don’t mind it, except for the very full after-dinner feeling. It was a good way to fit in a workout on a busy day! Unfortunately, the days are getting shorter and I won’t have many more chances to run after the babies’ bedtime (due to it being dark too early).

Wednesday: Rest Day.

Thursday:¬†Ran 3 miles in the neighborhood with the stroller (36:54). Stroller runs in the summer heat and humidity and hills, y’all. They’re BRUTAL. But it got done.

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday:¬†Ran 4 miles (45:33). Best outdoor run I’ve had in quite some time. The weather was just a touch cooler and less humid on this day, and I could feel an immediate difference. I normally have to stop and walk in the last (hard, uphill) mile of this route, but not this time!

Sunday: Elliptical (45:00).

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Food Highlights: Food has involved quite a few things I normally would avoid while trying to lose weight. We had a friend over for pizza, for example, and he brought fancy gelato. Which I very much enjoyed. I had a couple of days of over-indulgent snacking for various reasons. But I also ate really well and mostly kept to my moderate plan. Highlights were the aforementioned pizza and gelato, my BBQ tofu salad, and this stuffed baked sweet potato with arugula and a poached egg. I am really enjoying arugula right now, dressed simply with olive oil, salt, and lemon juice. Recommended.

Goals for the Coming Week:¬†Work in a strength or barre3 session; do at least 3 cardio sessions; don’t exacerbate sore toe.

Fitness & Food Highlights: Week 5

Last week went pretty well — better than I expected, actually! I met two of my three fitness goals, ate mostly healthy food while also indulging¬†in some treats, and had a successful weigh-in. I’m down 5 pounds in the last 2 weeks for a total of 12 lost so far. I’m now about 34lbs above my pre-pregnancy weight.

I don’t have a specific “goal weight” or a numerical weight loss goal at all. My big-picture¬†goals are¬†different:

  • I would like to be able to run 15+ miles per week without problems, putting me in a good position to be able to run an impromptu 5K or 10K or to train for a half marathon.
  • I would like for my run paces to move back closer to what they were before (10:00/mile “conversational” pace, ~27:00 5K race pace, within reach of training for a ~2:00 half marathon).
  • I would like to fit back into most if not all of my old work clothes. I’m fine if my skinniest pants don’t ever fit me again, but being within that approximate¬†range (and therefore able to wear the more generously cut items) would be great.

People are always quick to say that bodies change after pregnancy, that old weights and sizes¬†might never be seen again. That’s why I am focusing on fitness and feel-good goals instead. Hopefully these are fairly realistic!

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The elevation from Saturday’s hilly run

OK, here’s how the week went down:

Fitness Goals: Since it was my first week back to work and was going to be full of extra¬†obligations on top of that, I set some more achievable goals this week.¬†Complete at least 4 workouts (yes! I did five!), run at least 8 miles (yes!), and¬†complete at least 1 barre3 workout (no; I forgot that I’d wanted to do this. Womp womp.).¬†

Monday: Elliptical (45:00). Move along, please, nothing to see here! Steps: 13, 498

Tuesday:¬†Ran 3 miles with the twins in the jogging stroller, but my Garmin didn’t save this so I don’t have any data. Lame. All I remember is: it was hot and humid. Steps: 10,704

Wednesday: Rest Day. It was the first day of teaching, plus I had a department reception, though, so I still got 7,963 steps.

Thursday: Ran 3 miles in the neighborhood (no stroller; no stats). Steps: 13,485

Friday: Rest day. Steps: 8,258

Saturday: Ran 3 miles of hills (34:48). I ran the hillier route option from my house, so instead of adding distance beyond 3 miles, I kept it relatively short. I need to improve my stamina for hilly outdoor runs, so this was a step in that direction. Steps: 12,388

Sunday: Elliptical (45:00). Steps: 11,237

Food Highlights: I don’t have any food photos from this week, but I do have some good memories. I ate more than my fair share of mini quiches at my department reception, for example. I also ate some brie and fresh blackberries Saturday night when we had a little happy hour at our house. There was also cava. CW made a really tasty curried eggplant and chickpea thing with this fabulous mint chutney — I should have taken a picture. Trust me, it was all delicious.

Goals for the Coming Week: Figure out a rough workout schedule for the semester. This will need to take into account my schedule, my husband’s schedule, and the days we’ll have our nanny. At this point I’m not sure if I’ll be staying after classes to workout at the gym and if so on which days. I’ll feel better once I have a plan in place — I definitely prefer knowing ahead of time when/what my workouts will be.

Stuff I Typed During Nap

The babies are still asleep for their morning nap (knock wood), and I’ve gotten in a 30-minute barre3 workout, showered, washed and hung the diapers to dry, and refilled my coffee. So I may as well sit here and type some words to you, the internet, on this, my blog.

Here we are! What to talk about?

My promotion dossier is due on Monday and it’s almost finished and I SUPPOSE I am mostly satsfied with it. It is currently about 215 pages long and is the embodiment of all the stereotypes you no doubt have in your mind about academic bureaucracy. It includes, for example, a PDF of the original offer letter I received when I was hired. Without this document, after all, how would the university know whether they actually employ me? (I joke because I am nervous, obviously.)

On Wednesday, I go back into the classroom for the first time since I went on bed rest at the end of November. I do not have my syllabi, assignments, or class websites finished. Or started, in some cases. It’ll be fine. Right?

We placed an ad for a part-time babysitter (2 mornings a week) online and we have a ton of applicants to go through and decide who we want to meet. I’m kind of dreading the whole process. I don’t like meeting new people, or having strangers in my house, or leaving my babies with a stranger in my house. Pretty much none of that.

I suppose I can just eliminate all the people who, instead of responding to the specific job description, just sent us their boilerplate “about me” statement from their profile, right? That shit is lazy, y’all. Tell me you have experience with twins/multiples, or that you’ve cared for babies their age, or that you have the relevant days/times available, or just anything specific to the ad. How do I know you even read the description?

Moving on.

So, I guess those things are heavy on my mind going into the next week. Returning to work and all that it entails — and I’m happy to be going back! — has got to be a little stressful. I’d be a fool not to expect that. There were times duing maternity leave where it felt like I’d be trapped in my house forever and never leave. Now I’m wondering where the last eight months went. Typical.

The babies are going to wake up from their nap soon and I need an errand or something to do to get us out of the house for an hour or so before their second nap. I am finding this makes the day go by much faster. But today I’m drawing a blank! If it were not so oppressively hot and disgusting outside, I’d just take them for a walk or to a park or something. They’re probably too little to enjoy the library, I’m guessing. They do have baby storytimes, apparently, but not today. We could….walk around the mall? I wish I needed something at Target. Who am I kidding? I always need something at Target.

Baby Sleep and Other Types of Work

In the interest of getting the baby sleep situation to improve even in the slightest, I am in the process of weaning the off their usual nighttime bottle. They had started sleeping all the way through (8p-6a) without a feeding at 3 months, then at 3.5 months they decided they wanted TWO nighttime bottles, then they went back down to just one, which is where they’ve been for the last month. A few times in the last couple of weeks, the babies have slept through the time when they’d normally eat*, thereby skipping the bottle. On the nights they do wake to eat, they’ve been getting progressively smaller servings. Tonight, if they wake to eat, they’ll only get 1.5 oz. Hopefully soon they won’t even see the point in asking. 

*This is not to say they’ve slept THROUGH, no. Not at all. A certain sweet, blue-eyed baby likes to wake every few minutes for a couple of hours at a time. As in, baby goes to sleep, parent leaves the room, three minutes later baby wakes up crying. Rinse and repeat for two hours. They both have taken to waking at 5, too. Phew. 

I’m officially back to work this week. I’m teaching an online class, so I can “work from home” all summer, if I choose. My husband also can work from home this summer, too, with the exception of certain meetings and other obligations. We’ve been splitting the week, though, to give each of us two weekdays at the office and three at home (we’re home together on Fridays). This seems like a nice amount of time at work for me right now. I get my tasks done, I can take my time eating lunch without anyone screaming at me or barfing on me (or, in fact, even TOUCHING me), and I can stop by the gym on the way home. 

Speaking of the gym: 


This sign is posted above the big public scale outside the student locker rooms at the campus rec center. I thought it was pretty great, so I took the picture and Instagrammed it before my workout. After my workout, I stepped onto the less public scale inside the faculty locker room, saw that I’d gained 3lbs in the last two weeks, and had a mini meltdown in the shower, during which I considered drowning my feelings in donuts. Sigh. Had I already forgotten Ryan Gosling’s wise words? 

The fact is, I have the type of physiology that hangs on to every spare calorie and ounce while breastfeeding. I’m told the weight will go away once I stop breastfeeding, but who can say. It’s just so frustrating! I work out. I’ve stopped with the crazy sweets. I’m eating a perfectly reasonable diet for my metabolism and situation. And yet, the fat pants I bought after the twins were born are starting to get tight. I may not be losing weight, but do I really have to be gaining?! THE GODDAMNED INJUSTICE OF IT ALL, MAN. 

OK, finally. You all know my husband is a lovely person and a very generous man, but I have to say he is stepping in it lately. It’s probably postpartum hormones on top of new-parent stress and exhaustion, but still. He said something the other day that sort of implied he thought I should be doing more yard work. YARD WORK. CAN YOU EVEN. And break one of my perfectly manicured nails?! I mean.