Monday, 30 March 2015

Around Here

Hi all!

Jeezy creezy. April is in like two days.

I have never looked forward to spring as much as I am this year. I don't usually leave my house much in winter anyway, but given Amelia's needs and this year's crazy amounts of snow we've become even more isolated. Leaving the house even for a quick trip becomes a huge production and as a result we usually just find excuses to hide inside.

But I can't wait for the sun to come out, for the ground to dry up and to let Amelia crawl around outside and swim and explore. She was a bit of a lump last summer and we didn't get to enjoy it with her, so I think this year is going to be a lot of fun.

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While we wait for spring...nothing is really happening. People keep asking how we're doing and what we're doing and honestly, our days are about 97% baby. This basically means picking her up, putting her down, keeping her from dive-bombing onto the floor, laughing with her, holding her when she cries, dancing her to sleep for naps, nursing her, and shoving yogurt puffs into her hands to perfect her pincer grasp. Rob's been back at work for about a week so this all falls to me from 6am-6pm, Monday-Thursday. To be honest, it can be really tedious. I am incredibly grateful that I am able to stay home with her during these formative months, but the days drag sometimes.

All that said, the time we spend with her is so much more fun now than it was during months 1-3. She's turned into this bubbly, smiley, mischievous little demon and it's a blast watching her grow and change. The funny thing is that as sunny as she is with us, she is very withdrawn and cautious with new people. It makes me laugh because she's a lot like Rob in this way. If you aren't mom or dad, she makes you work for her smiles and comfort with you. I wonder if that'll endure as she gets older.

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Amelia has started falling asleep easily at night which has left us with free time at night, a welcome change since the days when she would only cosleep.

She now hates cosleeping, for the record. Babies, man.

Anyway I decided that I needed something to do when Amelia went to bed. I was spending the few hours before we went to bed siting on the internet, but for some reason it just made me feel frayed and antsy. I wanted to find something that would take my attention but that wouldn't stress me out.

I looked around online and decided to buy some grown-up coloring books and colored pencils. So far it's worked out really well. I get to feel artistic without trying and failing to draw and hating myself. I'm working on this coloring book now and it is so much goddamn fun. Yes, I am seven.

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Personally, outside of all things baby, I'm having kind of a tough time lately. I've been spending a significant amount of time fixating on the things I hate about myself, namely my tendencies toward jealousy, defensiveness and passive-aggressiveness.  I'm trying to work through it and to forgive myself for sucking sometimes, but it's hard. I find myself wanting to retreat more and more and to avoid people, even those closest to me. I think it's just a temporary state so I'm just kind of dealing with it at this point. Depression, a nasty mistress indeed.

Oh! Here's something exciting. I wrote a post that was accepted and posted by Scary Mommy about unexpected benefits of having a colicky baby. You can find it here. If you found my blog from Scary Mommy, hi!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Some Freewriting

1. I am writing this from my new computer! Amazon sent me the wrong one after mine died an unceremonious death, and since I needed a computer sooner than they could get me my replacement, we had to take a field trip to Albany to pick this one up. Despite the fact that it doesn't have a disk drive (seriously, Apple?) I am loving it. I am not loving the expense but hey, new electronics are fun.

2. I'm using Carbonite to get all my photos back, but I realized that I didn't want to load a brand-new computer with close to 200 gb of photos before I've even had it a week. So Rob and I devised a plan to back the photos up on his computer (which has over a terabyte of space) and to have them put onto DVDs. Not to mention I have them on my dad's Apple Time Capsule and an external drive he's letting me use. Then I can remove them from my computer (*anxious noise*) and start fresh. I'm seriously going to need like 40 DVDs.

3. Things with the baby are going really well lately. She's starting to seem less like a despotic invader in our home and more like a member of our pack. I am also starting to feel more comfortable in my role as a parent, or at least more comfortable with totally winging it every day. I've tried to stop being so hard on myself for that.

4. Rob goes back to work next week and I am not okay with it. Honestly even when he's here I do most of the baby stuff, but it's really, really nice to have an adult to talk to during the day. He's going to be gone for about 10 hours during the week so hopefully I won't go totally insane by myself.

5. Sort of related, we are working on getting Amelia put into daycare two days or so a week. I thought of doing it when she was younger but I was really nervous about it and it never panned out. Now that she's older I think we'd both benefit from some time away/time with other people. I have this fear that she hasn't been exposed to enough germs yet.

6. I don't brush Amelia's teeth as often as I think I might need to.

7. I'm pretty sure I have eaten my weight in prosciutto and pepper jack cheese over the last few months.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Thoughts on Digital Hoarding

Our home experienced a loss this week, and a significant loss it was.

My lovely MacBook Pro decided to, as the Mainers say, "shit the bed." Luckily I had some warning--the screen kindly started to crap out--so I was able to frantically back up my many documents and photos.

The last time I got a new computer was back in 2011, when my year-old PC met the same fate that my Mac ultimately did. At that time I brought that block of misery to Best Buy so they could recover my files. When I picked up the hard drive the Geek Squad guy said, "You have A LOT of photos."

Until then, I assumed it was normal for everyone to have folders upon folders and gigabytes and gigabytes of photos, and in some cases multiple copies of said photos.

I had also assumed that it was normal for other people to be fanatically obsessed with backing up pictures. Currently I have my entire collection, all 146 gigabytes, backed up on Dropbox and Carbonite (yes, I pay for both, though one is also for work documents) as well as on an external hard drive and my dad's Apple Time Machine back in Maine.

I am serious about maintaining my photos.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

A few years ago I read a book called Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things. I'd seen shows about hoarders before but this book lent a bit more insight into the nature of hoarding and hoarders outside of the shock and revulsion that is clearly the goal of the TV shows. What surprised me the most about this was that I could kind of identify with lot of the hoarders' motivations and anxieties--namely the attachment to things as a representation of a fleeting moment in time that would never happen again.

To clarify, I am not a hoarder. My house is not buckling under the weight of a million newspapers or stuff I find at Goodwill or cat feces. In fact I get a huge rush out of purging items and clutter causes me seriously anxiety. Plus the only one in this house that likes cat feces is Cypress, and she doesn't bring those inside (we hope). But hoarding is a manifestation of OCD, tendencies of which I see in myself.

When I was in 8th grade, I remember once marveling at an empty bag of Skittles. This bag of Skittles represented this exact day and this exact time, a day and time that would never happen again. I actually wrote the date on it and saved it for a few years until I realized that sometimes a Skittles wrapper is just a Skittles wrapper.

But I can see how someone, especially someone who is in desperate need of help that never comes, could continue with this line of thinking until it's absolutely beyond any semblance of control.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

On one episode of "Hoarders" there was a couple whose infant had died unexpectedly 20 or so years before. They didn't collect things per se, but instead just started throwing trash on the floor because they couldn't bring themselves to give a shit. Once Amelia came, that actually made sense to me in a weird way, too.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

My point in all this: I realized that my tendency toward "hoarding" pictures comes from a fear of loss and an attempt at control. Indeed, when my computer died, I felt incredibly anxious worrying that my photos were gone or that Carbonite would fail and I'd lose them all--even though I have printed close to 400 photos of Amelia and our time in Santa Fe, and most of them are all easily viewed on Facebook.

I would never say that overloading my hard drive is anywhere close to the emotional and physical damage wrought by actual hoarding, obviously; but it's something that I think more of us can understand than we might think. 

The experience of unexpectedly losing my computer, even though I didn't lose any photos, has made me rethink this habit. Indeed, my collection of photos is so vast at this point that going through them for printing or any other purpose is a positively herculean task. As a result I almost never go through them, or stick to Facebook when I want to reminisce since I've chosen the best to post there. 

It's hard for me to remember sometimes that memories and people aren't found in things. They are part of us, and in that way we never lose them no matter what may happen.

So maybe it's time to pare down a little bit.  Quality over quantity. Even if the collection isn't affecting me in any physical or emotional way it may be a worthy goal. Do you guys "hoard" anything?

Monday, 9 March 2015

Baby Advice from Dr. Google

Hi there, mom! It’s your trusted friend, Dr. Google, here to answer some of your most terrified questions about taking care of that screaming little bundle of joy you just brought home.

I’ve scoured the darkest recesses of the internet for you tonight (you’re welcome!) and am ready to address your myriad baby-related concerns.

1. Sleep Issues: Many babies have sleep issues, especially defective ones with terrible failures for parents who don’t put their child on a sleep schedule from day one. According to this source I found for you from http://www.allnaturalglutenfreeadviceworld.com many parents are able to get their babies to sleep by taping Baltic amber to the outside of their eyelids. Make sure it’s genuine Baltic amber, though, otherwise what are you even doing? Make sure not to let your child cry alone for even a second—seconds of crying add up to a lifetime of anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, halitosis, leg pain, and inability to make decisions. Whatever you are doing right now it is the absolute wrongest thing you could be doing.

2. Colic: Colic is not a diagnosis, but it does have an established set of criteria used to identify it. It begins at the exact age your baby is right now and it’ll end at around 3 months, which will seem like 7 years. The Five Ss, rocking, car rides, swing, milk protein allergy, yadda yadda yadda. You’ve read all this before. Good luck.

3. Health Concerns: You know that rash on your kid’s chest? Doesn’t it look like this photo of a child with measles? Maybe I should look up the symptoms of every type of cancer for you. Here they are: fussiness, eye movement, sleepiness at night, skin softness, leg bending, and nonsensical vocalizations. So we’re settled: it’s ebola.

4. Feeding Worries: If your child is breastfeeding, make sure they have a good latch. From the looks of this video I found, you’re going to need 3 spotters and your mom in the room to angle the kid’s head correctly for a good latch. Is he pooping a lot, as in several times a day? Breastfed babies poop a lot but so do babies with bacterial infections. Is his poop green? It’s normal that it’s green except when it means your letdown is too strong. Here are 780 images of baby poop so you can figure out which green your baby’s is. Having difficulty with breastfeeding? Here are some posts from other moms about how easy it is for every other mother.

If your child is formula fed, have you considered breastfeeding? It’s okay, as long as you feed your baby it’s fine, but breastfeeding really would be preferable. It looks like you can even buy breastmilk on Craigslist nowadays. If you are definitely formula feeding, make sure your baby is eating enough ounces per day. The correct amount of ounces varies widely from baby to baby and the number of ounces you painstakingly counted today falls just outside of this range. It says here the poop should be like peanut butter, so here are 670 images to make sure your kid has the right kind. You can always relactate, you know. Here are some websites about that.

5. Postpartum Depression: I noticed that you just searched for “postpartum depression,” so I’m pulling up a blog post for you written by a mother whose child slept through the night starting at 16 weeks gestation and who has never for a second questioned herself as a parent. Oh and…maybe see a real doctor? I guess?

6. Developmental Milestones: Fanatically tracking physical and social developmental milestones is crucial to ensuring that your child is developing as expected. Here are some videos of babies your kid’s age who are meeting their milestones much quicker than yours. Here are some forums assuring you that it’s fine, that babies all develop at different rates, that this woman’s baby didn’t hold his head up until he was 15 and he’s an engineer now! If your child has not met the milestones within the timeframe or at the appropriate “different rate” make sure to see 16 specialists immediately. Every minute you waste Googling is a minute you waste on your precious child. But don’t worry, babies develop at different rates.

Hopefully that clears up some of your concerns, mom. Remember that our office is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the convenience of your smart phone in your child’s dark room at night. Now sit back and have a drink!*

*But not if you’re breastfeeding, because I just found this website that says that breastfed babies whose moms drink or think about any alcohol will have a hard time making friends at daycare.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Currently

Dealing with: Sleep regression, sleep regression, sleep regression. I feel like it's all I say nowadays when people ask how things are going. Amelia will now only sleep if she's in our bed. In her sleep sometimes she reaches out frantically until she feels my body, then instantly relaxes and falls back asleep. I could push it but closeness seems to be what she needs now, and I figure I might as well ride it out for now. A funny situation for someone who swore up and down she'd never cosleep.

Reading: This book about death during the Civil War. It's a really interesting look at how the Civil War dead would come to shape our modern view of death. Since Amelia will only sleep if I'm next to her, I end up going to bed at around 7 or 8 and have more time to read than I have of late. I'm also sort of reading a book about the Irish potato famine and another about the Dyatlov Pass Incident.

Watching: The newest season of Bates Motel that's on Netflix, Edge of Tomorrow when we get an hour to ourselves (few and far between these days), Bob's Burgers reruns on repeat and ditto with The Office.

Working on: Several work projects at once all while wrangling a baby.

Looking forward to: a trip to Boston this weekend! Rob's Army buddy lives there and his wife and I became close during our pregnancies. Their daughter is almost exactly 3 months older than Amelia and I think it'll be a lot of fun to see Amelia interact with another baby. We are hoping that the weather cooperates.

Eating: Truffled mac and cheese! My sister Megan bought Rob some truffle oil for Christmas and we put it to use with this delicious recipe. If you like truffle oil definitely try it out.

Putting off: Cleaning, vacuuming, laundry, buying some frames for all the extra art we have hanging around.

Relishing: The little bit of alone time I get throughout the day. I didn't realize that I'd become more of an introvert when Amelia came but I definitely find myself needing more and more recharge time.

Monday, 2 February 2015

A Trip to Canada

Amelia went on her first international trip last week!

For those of you who don't know, my sister Megan moved to Canada a few years ago to live with her now-fiance, Chris, and his two kids. I'd been to their house there over a year ago with my dad and stepmother, when I was newly pregnant and coming up with excuses not to drink so my dad wouldn't suspect. Rob and Amelia hadn't been, though, so we decided to make the trip and stay for a few days.

Amelia has roadtripped a lot in her six months of life, most frequently to Maine which is about 8 hours. Megan lives only 5 1/2 hours away, and I say "only" because when you live in New England you're used to it taking multiple hours to get anywhere worth being. You also tend to calculate distances in time. 

Anyway, despite having roadtripped a few times, she's never stopped hating her carseat. In fact the case could be made that she hates it even more. I didn't know it was possible for a baby to hate riding in the car (as evidenced by the fact that everyone tells us "just take her for a ride in the car!") but my baby does. 

The trip there was somewhat uneventful until the end when Amelia FREAKED OUT but we made it in one piece.  For the first few days we hung around, worked and played endless games of air hockey with Megan's stepkids.  


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Megan and Chris are big foodies, so we had a succession of amazing dinners and cocktails.  First was Chinese fondue with crocodile, duck, bison, and elk meats, along with cheese fondue with bread and roasted potatoes. For the record, crocodile tastes a lot like chicken. Sorry, vegetarians. The next night we ate steak with bernaise sauce, roasted brussels sprouts, and french fries with parmesan and truffle oil.  It was a far cry from our usual dinners of rice pasta, sauce and chicken, let me tell you.

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On Saturday we took all the kids to the Rideau Canal, the canal that runs through downtown Ottawa. The city opens it up as a skating rink in the winter--the largest in the world actually--and despite the cold (a high of 7 Fahrenheit that day) we decided to brave it.  I was worried about Amelia but in terms of cold, she is 100% her father's daughter and she seemed to love it. We bundled her up in a hat and her snowsuit along with a thick blanket in a little baby sled and as long as she was moving, she was happy as a clam. Here's a really cute video:


We didn't last long on the canal but it was fun anyway, and I'm pretty proud that Amelia's first time on ice was both during her first winter and on the biggest rink in the world. Too bad she will have no memory of it.
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To cap off a very Canadian day, we stopped at Tim Horton's for some hot cocoa and coffee. After dinner, we played a few games with the kids before bedtime.  Amelia has only been sleeping with me next to her so I was in bed not too much later than they were.

On Sunday we saw Megan's stepson play hockey with his kids' league at the Canadian Tire Centre, where the Ottawa Senators play. Also very Canadian. After we got home we made the 5 1/2 hour trek back, which went better than many of our trips in that Amelia only freaked out for one solid hour instead of multiple hours.

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So there you go, guys. CANADA. You should go if you get a chance. And to my Canadian friends, please all meet me in Ottawa sometime and hang out.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Because You Think It Exists.

One of my favorite blogs to read currently is Dear Coquette, an advice blog whose eponymous author answers questions about love, sex, depression, racism, feminism, drug use, and everything in between with acerbic bluntness.  Probably my favorite thing about Coquette's style is that she is able to in one breath offer genuine advice and words of support to those who need it while in the other take someone to task for their shitty decisions. It's a really refreshing blog to read especially if you like advice columns and sardonic bitchery.

I'm always on the lookout for words of wisdom when it comes to anxiety since it's something that I deal with on a daily, hourly, minute-ly, second-ly basis. Sometimes I find a quote or an affirmation that speaks to me in one way or another and I just can't get it out of my head. When I first found Dear Coquette I came across a "fun size" bit of advice she gave to someone that has stuck with me ever since:

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The idea that the future doesn't exist hit me like a ton of bricks. Living my life with constant anxiety about what was to come was devoting a considerable amount of energy to something that did not exist.

I realized that in my mind, the future had already taken place and through my anxiety I was trying to "guess" what had been decided on my behalf. It's interesting that I subconsciously believe that, especially since I (obviously) do not believe in any sort of predestination. If I were to sit back and analyze myself psychologically I would guess that is has something to do with attempting to "control" that which is uncontrollable--in this case, the nonexistent future.

That got me thinking about how not only does the future not exist, it also is not promised. Every second and minute we're alive is in and of itself pretty miraculous if you think about it; we begin dying the day we are born, and though it will come at different times for all of us we can't know which second or minute will be our last. It's easy to fall into cliche here--"live each day like it's your last" and such--but in the context of anxiety I think this line of thinking can help to direct focus back to the time we are promised, the now.

Because what comes next does not (yet) exist.

It's freeing to think about shedding the weight of future worry, to acknowledge that while the future likely will exist for me for awhile, all I need to concern myself with emotionally is the me in this moment. Caitlin in the future will handle things as they come, just as present Caitlin is doing at the present moment. Of course anxiety is not a weight easily shed--one must drop the weight bit by bit and hope that one day it will be gone or at least more manageable.

And that's my waxing philosophical for the day. Now if someone could just tell me that all those embarrassing things I said or did in the past didn't exist, I'd be much obliged.