Making it through the first day back

We all made it through the first working / school day / daycare day of 2015. Or at least I think we did. And that’s despite what we tried to make an early bedtime last night. It never works on the 4-year-old. He threw a fit about turning off cartoons, then about me not doing something else, then because I plugged his night lights in, and then because he didn’t want to go to bed. It was exhausting and Bryan high-fived me when I came out. “Nailed it!” We need humor to survive.

Maximus was super excited to go back to school. No specific reason, just excited. For maybe the first time ever, he greeted one of his teachers without me prompting him. This is a great social improvement for him! He was yawning on the way to daycare this afternoon and stretched before he got out of the car. Always a good sign of a great school day!

I really have no idea how Quinten did. It’s 50-50 with that one. I talk to everyone about their day but I’m never sure if he’s telling me stories or the truth. Today he told me, “Time out. G tell me no.” Both of those things are very likely. They are things we do many times a day. I asked what he did, “Umm. Ummm.” He eventually told me he hit. And Maximus told me he was talking during nap time. Both are real possibilities.

I’m happy to report that I made my 5 am workout {in my living room}. I was pretty skeptical of myself given my history of back-to-work insomnia. All morning long I was on an exercise high and so glad I got up!

I brought in an egg bake for my team in what I called, “welcome back, I hope today isn’t as awful as you anticipated.” 😃 I also brought my healthy snacks and lunch so I wouldn’t have to be outside longer than possible during preschool pickup. Despite having a pretty bad sinus migraine all day, I got a lot accomplished on my first day back. {Like booking a flight to Florida for Saturday. Hello, procrastinator.}

After the boys went to bed, I pushed myself through the headache fog and made my lunch for tomorrow. {While answering at least four questions from the 4-year-old that comes up with at least one exercise per night to come back out. Two times tonight.} I’m pretty glad I planned out my lunches this week. It was a lot easier to read my sheet instead of using that painful head to think. I think I’ll incorporate that into my weekly meaning planning. I know, rock science over here.

Hope you had a good first day back to work or, if you’ve been back already, first Monday after the holidays.

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Computer woes

Today was a crappy day. I spent over six hours trying to restore two years worth of archived emails. And I didn’t find the solution. I probably shouldn’t have been so confident when IT told me to delete Outlook and reinstall it. I shouldn’t have assumed that 1. my archived folders would be there when I came back or 2. that my Time Machine backup would work. Having issues with number one brought me to number two. The backup should have worked but I kept getting a black screen. I finally went to Google and found out it’s a bug that some people encounter. (Ok, a lot of people.) Of course I found another bug when I went in through the other way. Basically, I’m in over my head and Google is confusing me by offering so many different “fixes.” I don’t know what the best fix is and half the time I don’t know what their telling me to do. And it’s obvious that so far the fixes haven’t worked, right?

I’m not an IT professional. By any means. I proved that to myself yesterday. I can only hope that I’ll have some miracle tomorrow and I’ll get it figured out. Otherwise, I suppose, I’ll have to call in the professionals. I think I have Apple Care to cover the issue, but wouldn’t you know that information is saved in a folder that’s currently inaccessible.

Not the way I wanted to come back to work after a week of vacation. In fact, it started when I was traveling the week before that week of vacation. I am proud of myself for not letting the anxiety take over my vacation, but I am getting itchy about the 400 emails in my inbox that I can’t file. I suppose the silver lining is that I had gotten down to 24 emails on November 11, right before it all went south.

Anyone have experience restoring from a backup on a Time Machine and Macbook Pro?! Come save the day!

Another week, another trip

I’m sitting in the Des Moines Minneapolis airport. It feels like I’ve been in this place airports a lot over the past few months. When I picked Maximus up from preschool today, I told him I was going to Texas for a few days. He stuck his bottom lip out and quietly said, “Nooo. I’ll miss you.” The last trip I went on was a 7-day trip. {I was supposed to go on a three-day trip the following week. But. E.Coli.} The last trip Bryan went on was a 9-day trip. It makes sense that my kids are a little nervous that they’ll be with one parent for a long time. Heck, I feel a little nervous myself. We’ve all been gone a lot. Even when we’re both home, we’re gone.

When I told him that I’d miss him while I was gone, he cheered up. “I won’t miss you mommy. I’ll talk to you on the phone and then I won’t miss you! And I’ll tell daddy that I want to use the computer so I can see you better.” And just like that, he was over it. To ease his mind a little more, I told him the next time he went to school I’d be home. In his head it’s a long time between school days. But we all know the days pass pretty quick lately. After I get home, it’ll only be another two days until his Halloween party at school. That plus trick-or-treating will be a guaranteed good weekend!

And that’s how we lost the month of October in the blink of an eye.

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Nightly drum practice

A Blank Page : A Fresh Start

To me, writing is a chance to start fresh. To fill up the lines (or spaces) of a blank sheet of paper. It’s refreshing and therapeutic. Where do I even start after such a long break? So many ideas and thoughts are floating around in my head, almost constantly. From to-do lists to things I want to tell people to chores I want to do at home. It’s a bit of a mess in my brain lately. So much that I haven’t had the energy to turn on my personal computer, yet I spend 5-10 hours a week working at night. Somehow I muster the energy to veg out and try to make a dent in my emails. I’m averaging an inbox of 200 emails and it’s driving me crazy. I think I’m going on month two or three of this and I can’t break free of it. The burden it puts on my shoulders is weird. It’s a constant looming cloud. When I don’t have the energy to work at night, it brings me guilt. Guilt is a weird thing. It can cripple you. It can put a lump in your stomach that you can’t quite identify. It’s refreshing to turn on my personal computer and do something for me. Not me the employee, or me the boss, or me the mom, or me the wife, or me the homeowner, or me the volunteer. It’s all about ME. It’s my own thoughts and my own goals. It’s my own guidelines and my own time. It’s therapeutic.

A lot has happened over the past month. I survived seven (or was it nine?) days of solo parenting while Bryan was in China. I suppose he’d also say he survived seven (or was it nine?) days of remote areas in China. Our experiences may have been similar, except my food was edible. Going into that week, I decided that I was going to be just fine. I was going to figure out a good work-life balance and it was going to be fine. And it was, until day seven (it was a nine day trip!). On day seven, the boys could not handle another minute. All the tears and all the tantrums happened. Life was essentially over for them both. It was a little rough, but reinforcements came in and distractions from my parent’s helped us get through the next few days. That was also the day I realized that I had put in 50 hours of work while solo parenting. (No one ever said I made it easy for myself.) Day seven was also the day that Quinten started called me “daddy” full-time.

A day after Bryan came home, my grandma passed away. Timing is everything. Bryan came home early Sunday morning. That meant he was here when I needed him. And I did. That poor guy had his nights and days mixed up and was driving me all over the place.  To add to the chaos, I left for the Philippines the morning after my grandma’s funeral. I was only gone for five days and then I came home and had a charity event to get ready for. I told myself I would spend my flights wrapping up my charity event actions. Of course I didn’t. So I had to do them after I got home and it was a bit of a rush to get them done. (Again, no one ever said I made it easy for myself.)

So, it’s safe to say that I’ve had a hard month or so. It feels like every aspect of my life is difficult right now. I’m trying to find joy in the little things. A visit with my boys to see my grandma the week before she fell and broke her hip. A really good work trip where I learned a lot and got a lot of great ideas. Family, friends, and co-workers who have sent me messages or cards or hugs. And a warm day. Most days it feels overwhelming to be in my head, but I know it’ll all even out and get easier.

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Hey. It’s been a while, but I’m still here.

I’m still here…

Blogging is hard when you feel like your life is too busy. I suppose if writing was my priority, then I’d find the time for it. I feel like I spend my days and evenings physically and mentally giving everything I have. By the time I see 8:00 I can’t muster the energy to put out any more. I can whine about it or I can accept it. Right now, I chose to accept it. Much like I’ve done the past 10 1/2 months, I’m taking it a day at a time. I’m guessing that when I get to sleep through the night my perspective and outlook will change a little. In the meantime I’m making small changes to get my life back. Women’s volleyball started back up this month and I’ve been able to go out after! You know, when my responsibilities are sleeping. A couple of times Quinten has blessed me with sleep when I get home. Other times he has gotten up 30 minutes after I’ve gone to bed. You can’t win them all. Being out with my friends is amazing! I didn’t realize how much I needed it. It’s like I’m taking back my life! Conversations with friends! Beers! Staying up late! I love those little boys, but it’s awesome to get out of the house.

September is always busy for me. I organize a pretty big exhibit for my company. I spend months working on the project, but September turns into crunch time. This year I overextended myself in the weeks leading up to the event. That made it seem like I had that much more to do. I had responsibilities and places to be before ever leaving home. Usually I get home from the event and things go back to normal. Not this year. At this point I can barley remember how many weeks ago that trip was. Regardless, I’m traveling again. That’s also pretty standard. A quarterly business meeting usually takes me to Milwaukee in October. During any other year, I don’t typically have commitments in the weeks between. This year, I may have spent more time away from my husband than with him during October. If not, it sure seems like it! Basically, life feels a little crazy right now. I look ahead to my calendar and I’m afraid it’s going to be the middle of November before I even realize it. And that means it’s going to be really cold. Not like the 40 degrees that is out there right now. Or the snow flurries that I saw fall from the sky this afternoon. It will legitimately be cold and summer will feel like an eternity.

At home we’re busy trying to make sure Quinten doesn’t harm himself. His favorite things to do: put things in his mouth, crawl to the stairs (going down), play with the dog’s water dish, climb up and down on the ledge of the island, and play with the patio door curtain. All dangerous things if he isn’t stable. The stairs are dangerous for obvious reasons. The other items are on the tile floor. And, well, he’d chew on the dog if he could.

I’m still here, I’m just taking my time a little. I’m turning off the lights, sitting in front of the tv, and eating Oreos.

What have you been up to?

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Quinten: 10 months

Getting away from it all

Last week I was on a business trip to Dallas. If I’m being honest, I really wasn’t looking forward to the trip. It’s an annual conference and I knew it was going to be a lot of work. I also knew it was going to be a lot of work to be away from my boys for a week. I’ve done it enough times to know that I needed to be at home the day before I left. I needed to get my house in order and also get myself ready for a 7 am flight on a Saturday morning. I spent the whole day, 7 am to 11 pm, GOING. I was chasing boys around the house while doing laundry and cleaning. I wrote out Quinten’s typical schedule so Bryan wouldn’t have to second-guess anything. I wrote out a meal plan for the week that was quick and easy. I changed the sheets on the bed and vacuumed the whole house. I played with the boys outside because it was nice out. And I entertained Quinten when he didn’t take a nap. I think I did at least seven loads of laundry that day. Finally at 8 pm, I left the folded towels in our bedroom. They were 10 feet from the linen closet, but I couldn’t do another thing. I was physically exhausted and emotionally not ready to leave for a week. I marched on, because I had to. I got up at 4 am and put my things in the car and headed to the airport in the humid, dark morning.

My week went just as expected. I was physically exhausted. I went into the week knowing that would happen but I also knew that when I went to bed at night, however early it was, I wouldn’t be woken by a crying baby. I wouldn’t have to take care of anyone else. I wouldn’t have to ensure no one harmed themselves. (I forgot how exhausting an almost walking baby is!) I only had to worry about myself…and the tradeshow that I was responsible for. The trip would have been more enjoyable if I wasn’t still pumping, but I dealt with it and I’m thankful my baby is almost 10 months instead of younger. Physically and emotionally, it would have been very different.

Because of my extra baggage, I arrived at the airport extra early on my flight home. That meant I only got about three hours of sleep. Looking back, that was my first mistake on easing my way back into life at home. Coming home tired is not the way to jump back in. I expected happy babies to greet me. I expected Maximus to be super excited and clingy. I expected Quinten to squeal and crawl over to me. Maximus did greet me with lots of hugs, but also lots of whining. He didn’t want me to put him down. Ever. It was a day and half before I heard him talk without whining. As someone who had gone almost seven days without hearing any whining, it was awful. AWFUL on top of exhausting. Quinten really surprised me. He smiled at me when I came in the door but kept playing on the floor. He smiled at me when Bryan was holding him but never made the lunge for me. He refused to nurse and instead I gave him a couple of bottles. Bryan was gone that evening so I managed supper and bedtime without falling into a heap on the floor. I passed out on the couch shortly after they did and was woken up before 10 to Quinten crying. Oh, yah. This is what I missed last week. I managed to get him to nurse and I went to bed. He woke me up again at 2, Bryan came home at 3:30, Quinten woke up again at 5, and Maximus got up at 7. Basically, it was AWFUL. If I had known it was going to be that awful, I would have scheduled a later flight and come home Friday evening. 🙂 Although I know Bryan was ready to get out of the house after a week of two small children who were battling colds. And, Bryan got to experience my life. “Quinten was up at 12, 2, and 4. I slept through the alarm. I get it. Your life sucks.” It’s nice to have someone else share in my agony, but I felt awful that he had to do it. I don’t know what it is that makes me think it’s only my job to do and think he shouldn’t have to help. I suppose it’s since I’m nursing.

The rest of the weekend was spent un-packing my stuff and doing all the same loads of laundry again. Seriously? Didn’t I JUST do all this laundry?! And, of course, putting away those towels that I left in the bedroom. It’s great to be home. I really missed my babies and my husband, but it was pretty nice to get away. I’ve said it before on here, I’m exhausted. I need a break. I know I do. The lack of sleep and always caring for someone is taking its toll, but I know it’s just temporary. I drag myself through it and try to make the best of it. Even though last week was a lot of work it was still a relief to get away from my life. I felt like myself again. Not the mommy who is always feeding, changing, or helping someone pee. I got to have drinks with friends and stay up past 10 pm. I ended the week just as exhausted, but exhausted for different reasons and somehow that was more refreshing than the exhausted mommy feels.

Some days are hard

I have this thing I do. When it gets hard I shut down. I get through bedtime and I sit on the couch and watch tv. I observe but don’t participate. I let my brain shutdown.

I’ve done that a lot since coming back to work. My days are pretty crazy. I’m catching up on 800+ emails, getting up to speed on projects, doing that manager thing, setting up a new computer system (Mac!), pumping every two hours, eating all day, and trying not to get a headache from the dry workplace. That’s just what I do between 7-4!

The family thing is just as crazy. Nursing a baby, changing diapers, putting clothes on small children, feeding the family, putting babies to bed, snugging a baby, snuggling a toddler who is in a hardcore mommy phase, and trying to teach about feelings and words instead of tantrums and cries. It’s a lot of things shoved into a few hours.

Notice I left out the house? That’s because I just can’t handle it right now. I start laundry and finish it days later. Everything else can wait. Right now I’ve got to give myself a break. I know my limits and I’m dangerously close to that line. I sleep in chunks of 2-4 hours and spend 14 hours a day moving. The house can … wait.

Once I feel enough energy to add more things on to my day, I’ll want to turn on my computer. I’ll want to participate instead of just watching. It’ll come back. It always does. In the meantime, sleep is my primary focus outside of keeping babies alive and departments running.