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Showing posts from May, 2020

Out with the Old

A few weeks ago, in an anxiety induced grocery spree, I found myself standing in front of our deep freezer with multiple items I needed to cram inside.  Our freezer was already pretty full, but I hadn't consulted said freezer before ordering more items, so I was having a hard time playing frozen potato Tetris and needed to get rid of whatever superfluous items we had shoved in the back.  I pulled out a half full bag of ice, some scraps of ham from multiple New Year's past that never made it into stock or whatever I was saving it for, and a gallon size freezer bag full of frozen breast milk. I have two children, and I breastfed them both for a time, but it was for me the hardest part of motherhood.  The actual nursing of my children was fine, easier with the second for sure, but the act of pumping breast milk out of my body induced such anxiety, frustration, and depression that it clouds both postpartum periods with my kids.   My first kid lost over ten percent of her body weigh

My House is a Daycare

I am the anti-Santa. I don't mean I hate Christmas.  This has nothing to do with the holidays, and in fact I love yule time as much as the next person, but I have been sneaking into our living room at night and removing bags full of toys.  And you know what, no one has noticed. I'm not throwing these toys away or donating them, but I am making them disappear for a certain amount of time, usually until my kids seem bored with what's on offer in our play area, then "new" toys magically re-appear where the old ones once were.  I know toy rotation is nothing new for parents, but until I started doing it I didn't realize how smart it was. As I sit and write this, there are currently seven soft bins jam packed with toys, a giant play yard full of toys, a pack and play full of toys, and a massive cardboard pirate ship all in our living room.  We are currently living in a daycare.  This is something we're fully embracing, though, because our kids are now home inde

How Much TV is Too Much?

My three year old comes padding down the hallway, bleary eyed and curly hair wild.  Her first stop of the day is into our office, where she will ask my husband, "Can I watch TV?" Unfortunately for her, the answer to that really depends on the day.  If it's the weekend, we're more inclined to start off with cartoons.  If it's the weekday and mommy and daddy have early meetings, then it's likely that PBS is coming on.  If her parents (aka us) are feeling particularly anxious about amount of television she's been consuming lately, then the battle begins. "No, we're not going to watch TV right now," I'll say to her, and her face will drop. "But why?" "Well, Mommy has lots of meetings this afternoon, and you'll get to watch plenty of TV then." "Can I play video games?" "No! No screens!" I will exclaim in frustration. "But I looooove screens," she will fire back. What have I done??  I'll

Book Review: The Ghost Map

During the first few weeks of the pandemic, I lost my ability to focus on books .  Slowly, as this life has become routine and the fearful news scrolling has been contained to a few minutes a day, I have gone back to books.  So, when trying to decide what to read, I was inspired by a recommendation from the Reading Glasses Podcast .  In times of crisis, we look to things in the past that may be similar to what we are experiencing, hoping to learn something or find solace in the struggle of the generations before us.  The Ghost Map  is the story of how cholera ripped through a large swath of London in the 1800's, but it is also how politics and pseudo-science threatened to destroy the lives of thousands of people.  It follows the gripping tale of a doctor searching for the source of cholera transmission, even as he was ridiculed and dissuaded by his contemporaries.  It's also a tale of urban planning and how systemic poverty and classism manifested in architecture that created a

Love in the Time of Corona

After being home for months on end, and being way too scared of this virus to consider going out and celebrating at a real restaurant, my husband and I marked the occasion of our fifth wedding anniversary from the comfort and safety of our couch this weekend.  We joked that we'll probably still be there for our fifteen year anniversary in December, but secretly I'm sure we both want this to be over so we can leave the house. I'm coming out of the weekend really refreshed and happy, which is pretty typical.  In the pre-pandemic times, before the Ups and Downs, I enjoyed weekends, but they drained me.  One day was usually spend running around all over town picking up items we needed for the week, going to parks and the library, and taking our three year old to swim class.  We'd catch up on massive loads of laundry and try our best to tidy the house, but by Monday we were usually ill prepared to start the work week and always playing catch up. Things are slower now.  Laund

Spend vs Save

This pandemic has me really confused. When I start to think about the economic implications of this global catastrophe, I want to save every last penny, plant a victory garden, and start feeding my family rice and beans for every meal.  Then, in the same minute, I start to worry that if I don't continue purchasing items and eating out (which I am really not doing), everything will grind to a halt and make it so much worse.  What are we supposed to do? If I had the security that our jobs would not be impacted, I would be happily supporting local businesses by doing home improvement projects, ordering things online, and sending gifts and cards to loved ones.  I don't have that security, though.  So far, we've been okay, but if businesses and developers decide to put their construction projects on hold, much like I'm doing with my typical purchases, then there will be a huge drop in demand for architects.   There's also the fear that with every new package we receive a

An Ornamental Back Yard

"You'll never break into my castle, Witch!" my three year old screamed from her perch in the tree house. "Well then," I cried back, "I'll just steal your baby!" I leapt over to the swing set and pulled the one year old out of her seat.  She squealed with delight as I ran into the far side of our yard. "Oh no!  Not my baby!" the three year old yelled as she slid down the bright yellow slide and ran at me full force. What proceeded was ten full minutes of me running around the back yard holding a giggling baby as her sister tried to catch me and tickle me to death.  I finally relented, setting the baby safely into her play yard and falling on the ground, where the three year old proceeded to jump on me and claim, "I won! I won!" I looked up to see my husband standing on the back porch, all the stress of the day melting away as he watched his ladies enjoy the fresh air.   "Daddy!  You're an evil dragon!" the three yea

A Daily Routine

Quarantine looks different for everyone, but here's a snapshot of a  day, not necessarily every  day. 6:45 am - Husband turns on the news when he gets out of the shower, thus ripping me from my insane dreams and into a reality where the whole world is battling a deadly virus.  I can already hear the one year old babbling and jumping in her crib from the monitor located across the bed.  I roll into the bathroom with eyes half opened, smearing on deodorant and attempting to brush my teeth before she starts screaming.  I change into something resembling clothes I would wear out in public, which usually involves pants that button because apparently I'm a monster, then I run into the office and grab my laptop, which I set up at our kitchen table.  The baby is screaming now.  Shit. 8:30 am - After frantically chasing the one year old all over the house and reminding her multiple times that, "No, we can't go outside.  Yes I know you want to go outside," I manage to get

The Beauty of Celebration

Sunday morning, I was taking a stroll through our neighborhood and came upon a man constructing a massive sign in his front lawn.  A high arch of pink balloons framed large silver letters spelling out M-O-M.  Before the Ups and Downs, I think I would have seen something like this and cynically sneered, seeing the whole thing as a waste of time and money.  Every classmate birthday invitation we've received in the last two months to, "Drive by and wish so-and-so a happy birthday!" have seemed to me to be unnecessary and possibly dangerous.  Walking by the giant "MOM" sign, though, I started thinking that maybe I'm wrong. We're self isolating right now during the time of year that historically has people coming out of their winter hibernation to enjoy spring, celebrate graduations, and attend weddings.  Now, people are doing those things remotely.  It's kind of amazing that in this time, people aren't just throwing in the towel and saying to hell wi

The Ups and Downs

At one point last week, I was trying to read a book to my girls on the futon in the baby's room. "Gerald was a tall giraffe," quiet sob, quiet sob, voice break, "whose neck was long and thin." I guess my husband heard me on the baby monitor, because he came into the room and just watched while I tried to choke down tears.  It was 11 a.m. on a Thursday.  He gave me the "are you ok?" eyes, which made me stand up, hand him the book, and quietly walk to our bedroom where I completely lost my shit. This week, I'm energetically running around the house on conference calls, baking cookies with the toddler, and helping the baby to take her first steps.  My husband is walking around the house with glassy eyes, snapping at the cats every time they cross his path.  We seem to each be riding the emotional waves that come with this situation, and we're always on opposite crests.  We are deep in the Ups and Downs. I feel like for every good day I have, it

When Your Kids Sleep

Full Disclosure:  I wrote this smug poem in the bathtub during the pre-pandemic times, during a particularly long run of nights where the kids slept great.  I'm posting it today extremely tired because our teething one year old things 2 am is the perfect time to party.  So, enjoy my idiot self trying to enjoy a bath and laugh at me as I sleep walk through the morning. When your kids sleep You can conquer the night Lazy on the couch Amid a sea of toys You can binge watch dramas Laugh at late night You can once again be the person Who reads books Surrounded by bubbles In a steaming hot tub Damp Kindle between your fingers You can sigh in bliss It's 9:30 pm And you will be up first Before the sun Before the snoozing baby  And the toddler snuggled deep In a pile of stuffed animals When your kids sleep You can stay up late And enjoy the night But sometimes, most nights You can slip into your sheets At a quarter to ten And know

The Plight of Privilege

Since the beginning of this pandemic, I've been very vocal about how hard this is for working parents.  I got to a point last week where I thought I might break.  I just don't know how anyone is managing to continue to do this and stay sane.  The most frustrating part of this entire thing is just how fortunate my situation really is.  My husband and I are still fully employed with no income loss, which is starting to put us in the minority of Americans.  We have ample outside space which we utilize constantly, and our neighborhood is sparsely populated enough that we feel comfortable going on walks.  We even live close enough to a large distribution center for Amazon and haven't had to go to the grocery store once.  We haven't even had anyone in our family become sick with the virus.  We're so lucky.  This is still really hard. I was talking to my mother about this last week.  She is a constant source of support for me, and we seem to be riding the ups and do

Should I Not Buy Meat?

I'm having a bit of an ethical dilemma. For a lot of people, the choice to purchase meat is something that weighs on them.  It certainly was for me over ten years ago when I went vegan.  My ethical choice defined me for the better part of a decade.  I wrote online about it in a few places, but eventually I abandoned my veganism for vegetarianism when I got pregnant with my first kiddo, then transitioned back to eating meat when she was around the age of one.  I have never regretted that decision, and while I eat vegan meals about half of the time, I usually include meat in our family dinners.  For me, food is wrapped up in a lot of anxiety and restriction, so not adhering to a strict way of eating is better for my mental health. Now, though, I'm having second thoughts.  While the exploitation of animals is something that should be mitigated, it's the exploitation of human workers that has me rethinking my grocery order.  Many meat processors are seeing rising infecti

Pandemic 2010

If this pandemic had happened in 2010, my life would have looked very different.  Here's a list of things I probably would have been doing instead of frantically trying to raise children AND be an architect AND keep my marriage together AND pay our mortgage AND constantly worry about the state of the world. One - Whole lot of drinking In the Spring of 2010, I was a recent transplant from Fayetteville to Little Rock.  I'd just landed a job after losing my first one out of college the year before to the Great Recession.  Thankfully, Little Rock's economy was doing great, and I was working for a small firm doing municipal and education work.  My then boyfriend, how hubs, had joined me in our tiny (tiny) house near War Memorial Stadium in December of 2009, so we would have surely been in reunited bliss. Did I mention how tiny this house was?  For me and my pre-Marie Kondo lifestyle, it was barely enough room to house all my junk.  When my hubs brought in all his junk

Social Distancing Frustrations

I took my one year old on our second walk of the day Saturday (yes, I am using exercise as a coping mechanism), and a group of teenage boys on bikes flew past us.  I looked up and gave an exasperated grunt from behind my face covering at this flock of kids, none of them wearing masks, all of them within six feet of each other, and glared. I then rounded the corner and saw two neighbor couples standing in a yard, again not six feet apart, just chatting each other up, and I again felt the judgmental torrent of anger boil up inside me.  Why is no one taking this seriously? I fumed to myself.  Why isn't everyone covering their faces? It seems completely rational to me to be irritated at the people that are not taking social distancing seriously, but I keep trying to remind myself that there are levels to this.  Some people may take my long, languid walks as unnecessary and dangerous, just as I'm staring down these neighbors.  No one really knows how far the coronavirus parti