Thursday, September 18, 2014

Handling It

If there was one thing I could change about myself, it would be my over commitment compulsion. I am constantly saying "YES!" when I should be saying "another time" or "no thank you!"

This has led to happiness, and defeat. For me, it currently leads to stress headaches.

I'm not going to say that's okay, but it is my life right now, and I accept the responsibilities. God gives you what you can handle... And you ladle on the extra gravy. It's human nature, y'all. Never satisfied; just one more bite!

Will tells me to focus on one thing: I'm perpetually scatter minded, or maybe I am just trying to multi-task poorly. So before I go back to dancing with GHB (she's self-feeding more breakfast to the tunes of Taylor Swift) or another load of laundry or prepping for class and whatever else I have to do this morning, I'm going to write about how I "handle it" because, frankly, sometimes I don't.

Life is never going to be easy. Let's just accept this fact right now. It's not going to be easy to make friends, meet people, be successful, feel financially set, be caught up on your work load, get enough sleep, find time for X, Y, or Z. Exercise? It's not easy. It's hard. And it's important for a healthy life. You make time for the things that matter, and you handle the rest.

Do you feel like you're on a hamster wheel? Do you feel bored or lonely? Take an honest look at your life. What concrete changes could you make (and control) to make life more fulfilling?

My biggest stumbling block right now is my nausea and overwhelming tiredness, but I also procrastinate on everything. Not feeling well only enables that. So, while picking up printer ink and paper at Staples this week, I found a ready-made To-Do list notepad. Unnecessary and super awesome purchase for $1.49. On one side, I write down the immediate must-dos. These include taking a shower, drinking coffee, prepping for class. On the other side, I write the day's goals: vacuum, clear off the downstairs radiators, empty and load the dishwasher, make the beds.

I have bigger goals too, like put Grace's 0-9 month clothes in the new plastic bin, and put away my own warm weather, non-maternity clothes away in the second new plastic bin. My office needs serious hours put in so that it is functional more than a very large storage room, and the laundry room needs help too. And even bigger goals! Like finishing all my readings for my classes! Finishing multiple articles I have started! But those are not for today.

Today started when Grace woke up around 2:48 a.m. I went in to nurse her, and normally, she goes right back to bed, but since my supply has tanked, she cried ferociously instead until Will was the Hero and took her for the rest of the night/ morning, because I was so tired, I could hardly open my eyes, let alone take her downstairs to feed her two more jars of baby food.

Will is going to be gone all day - grand rounds, then a shift in the ER till 9 p.m. Today is a day I have to handle it. I have to get Grace to therapy, I have to teach two classes, I have to make sure I eat, and taking care of GHB. I am not thinking about the right side of my to-do list because it can overwhelm me, so I focus on one thing at a time. Right now, I am focusing on actually finishing a blog post, which I have failed the do the past few days.

Married folks, in-between people, and single ladies and lads, I am a full believer in living up and appreciating your current vocation. Don't accept that hardships are your lot. Don't depend on other people to make you happy or engage your mind - but don't push people away either.

Cultivate a community. They may not be your best friends (not everyone can be!), but find people you can depend on, and people you can ask for help. Be there for others in their time of need. Listen to others more. Volunteer your time, if you do have it -- there are so many more people who are desperate for the kind of help many of us take for granted.

I am going to keep today's responsorial Psalm close to my heart this day:

R. (1) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
“The right hand of the LORD is exalted;
the right hand of the LORD has struck with power.”
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the LORD.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
You are my God, and I give thanks to you;
O my God, I extol you.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

Whatever your troubles are - be they too much time or not enough time - may you find solace in your human purpose and propensity for good, and may you spread love and laughter to those around you. Keep your blessings close and your problems in perspective. Whatever you need to do, you can do it. You can handle this life - and enjoy it too.

Friday, September 12, 2014

I Need A Duplicator

Finishing up my first week of teaching was exhilarating... and exhausting. I am teaching two sections of U.S. History (6-8 graders) and two sections of AP U.S. History (9-12 graders) for Memoria Press. I have felt like I am going to fall over after every class, but today, one of my younger students typed in the combos, "you're a great teacher!" and suddenly, the skies were the brightest blue, like Grace's eyes.

It's amusing to be called Mrs. Baldwin, and to wear the hat of "teacher" when I am also "student" at Holy Apostles, "editor-in-chief" at Ignitum Today, and "writer" here and elsewhere, and "chief of operations" at Chez Baldwin.

Frankly, I'm exhausted. I need a duplicator.

Calvin, you understand me.

And before I go off to do 20,000 loads of laundry, I wanted to point y'all to Haley Stewart's blog post today: "Instagram Envy, Being Authentic on the Internet, and When It’s Time to Break Up with a Blog" because it is worth the read.

These days, I feel like I am barely holding it together. Will is at the hospital more than he is at home (sleep time included), and I am at home, taking care of Grace with the help of our part-time babysitter (while I teach online); and with all my responsibilities plus all my pregnancy nausea, I just feel like I need a break. But I often do not write about that, because writing about how damn tired I am, and how I threw up again this morning even though I hadn't even eaten breakfast yet doesn't appeal to me.

My question, dear Readers, is that dishonest? Am I cultivating a picture of bliss and happiness? A picture of the Easy Life? I think so many people are attracted to Grace Patton's blog precisely because she is so real. She talks about the bad parts and the good parts, and she posts so many cute pictures it is unreal.

I especially appreciate her honesty about residency, and it is with a slow nod that I truly understand her words. I was talking to Will about that last night. Since he had been working ridiculous hours all week, he said he would come home early last night (aka right after his shift ended) and would chart in the morning. Then, 20 minutes till the end of his shift, he texted to say his last patient was going to take him another two hours. Commence my super sad/bad mood, lifted only by my sweetest sister-in-law, who called me and talked to me for an hour.

I won the lottery!
Will asked me, Is residency really that bad? For us, it is only three years. So, in many respects, no. And once intern year is over, I hear magical unicorns prance around his schedule. But yes, it really is that bad -- for me. And I was already warned about this. When Will is at work, he doesn't think about me or Grace or eating: he is focused on his patients, and getting it right, and charting, etc. But sue me for being the wife at home, really missing her husband, wanting to eat one meal a day with him, and watch him play with our baby, or go on a walk. Sue me. He has one day off a week, and he usually spends half of it at the hospital or studying.

When you love your spouse, that should be hard. You should be happy they are happy in their respective line of work, and thriving, but a tiny part of you can't help but hate the sacrifices when they're in your face. Overall, we're doing fine. I'm glad I can work from home and I'm thrilled we found such a nice babysitter for Grace. I'm happy Will loves his job and his program. But it's still hard - and that's okay too. Life can be rosy and ridiculously difficult at the same time.

So, how do you seek to be genuine in your online shares and conversations? Or are you purposely crafting your image? Or has this never crossed your mind? Let me know - I'll be sitting in a cardboard box, pretending there's more of me to finish putting the laundry away.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

My View (vol. 22)

What I am reading: Still on Wilder; also picked up Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth (part of book club this month!) Also: a lot of history, a lot of philosophy, and some basic copyright/ intellectual property readings.

What I am eating: If I could fix waffles every day, I would. I should. Strawberries! (GHB loves them too!)

Meal planning: My MIL has been here this past week, fixing lots of food for us... so I might take a pass this week, even though she is leaving tomorrow, because we are in Leftover Heaven. I did, however, want to share the super simple burrito recipe I fixed this week:
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • ~2 cups cooked rice (ours was leftover from another meal)
  • 1 can black beans
I cooked the ground pork through, chopping it up as it went, and once it was done, I added the rice and black beans (did not drain first - all in!), and cooked at a lower heat for 10-15 minutes. Warmed up the tortillas, and serve with fixings! Diced cucumber, tomato, salsa, avocado, sharp cheddar cheese... we have leftovers, so I am going to prepare the rest and freeze them, and then warm them up for a quick meal this week! Very satisfying. Depending on personal preference, I cooked the pork with Greek seasoning as well, and it added further satisfaction to the taste.

I bet quinoa would be a fun add too!

This week in history: Grace started waving! It is beyond adorable. She loves playing "high five!"

Crawling all the time too...!!

I survived five night shifts in a row (Will did too) because my MIL came in town to help. Never ever was I so grateful to have her around! I spent the week getting caught up before and during classes - I start teaching on Monday! It was an overwhelming week: I can't believe today is Sunday.

On the plus side, the porch is nearly completely cleaned off and we are working on creating a fun place to spend time while the weather is decent!

Prayers: For peace in the Middle East and in Russia. For those suffering from sexual, emotional and physical abuse. For all marriages, especially for my friends A&C who will be married in less than one week! For the single ladies (and gents!).

Next week, I am going to: TEACH US HISTORY. Read and highlight. Go to a wedding in New York! Snuggle and play with GHB. Work on our porch more. Spend time with my SIL, who is coming in town for a medical school interview! (Well, in Philly - close enough!) Spend more time with my favorites. 

Off to finish slides! (Eep!) Have a very happy week, y'all!

P.s. We have some news...

... that we are thrilled to share!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Today: A Love Song

Today Grace did not nap... when she was supposed to. Rise and shine at 5:15 am (my MIL is visiting so basically I am in sleep-in Heaven), with a brief 20-30 minute nap on her stroller ride this afternoon, before forcefully being put into her crib at 4 pm. She emitted a few extra sobs, but none of those lung blasters she sang earlier. Nap, check.

Her dad woke up around 5 p.m., which was awesome, because he finished his fourth night shift this morning (and has his fifth and final one tonight!), and has been sleeping poorly. As one of his resident buddies responded when I told him Will was sleeping and definitely not going to make journal club: "Night shifts are the worst. Let the man sleep!"


I did not nap today, even though I very much wanted to, as I have soooo much reading to do for class. I am getting really nervous-excited about starting my stint as history lecturer/ teacher/ instructor/ mind molder next week, and am reading ALL THE BOOKS to feel ready. Tomorrow, I'll work on lecture notes.

My MIL has been keeping the house moving and shaking, and I'm at a loss what I'll do once she's gone... cry? Not finish the laundry? Let the dishes pile up? All of the above? We shall see. The house is in better order with her here, so perhaps not!

And I didn't even snap one thousand pictures of Grace today, but we had a nice family dinner, then Will, Grace and I went on a long walk. It was so nice to spend one-on-one time with Will -- it's been too long (a couple of days seem really long, okay? Okay.). We came home, gave Grace a bath, read to her and prayed with her, and like a miracle child, she went down easy peasy, like she normally does, and all was forgotten of the day-long battles for GHB to shut those little eyes and sleep.

But here's a picture from yesterday, after I tried to do yoga for 20-25 minutes, and ended up laughing too much because Grace kept rolling or crawling on the mat to be closer to me. We decided to do some fun PT standing and sitting exercises.

And now, sleep for me too. I hope today was a love song for you too, Reader.

Friday, August 29, 2014

My View (vol. 21)

What I am reading: The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Favorite eats: General Tso's chicken.

Meal planning: Last week, I totally failed. I {maybe} fixed two dishes I planned. Let's keep this week more simple - just say what I'll cook: spaghetti & meat sauce + vegetable; quinoa, tomato, cucumber & feta cheese; tilapia & rice ... you can tell my creativity is really feeling this exercise.

I think quinoa will be a good food to eat this week - I need more protein, but I can only eat so much greek yogurt for lunch. I usually eat vegetable soup. I like eating meat, but I can only eat so much of it during the day before it starts to weigh on me. I'm thinking about fixing some sort of crock pot bean soup. Have any favorites, readers? I need something light, healthy, nutritious, and relatively easy for this novice chef. I think my SIL gave me a lentil soup during my engagement... off to hunt for that!

This week in history: I'm really starting to resent residency. I shouldn't, and I feel bad even typing it, but I am. Will was gone for most of this week, and of course I got sick with a virus towards the end of it. But Will is home now, and is taking care of me before he starts four night shifts in a row. Blink. Blink.

Grace had an awesome PT session and got evaluated for OT. The therapist was very impressed by how agile she is, and witnessed firsthand how much Grace detests when you *try* to have her use her right hand. Baby steps! We had a tough day in the middle of the week, but overall, she is in very good spirits. She turned 11 months too -- woo!

My blog also got over 1k views on Grace's diagnosis post, and from the bottom of my heart: thank you so much Readers and Friends, for your overwhelming love and support of our darling daughter. Thank you for joining up with us to change the narrative that special needs children are a burden, when they are truly such a gift. Let us continue to pray and encourage each other!

It was also National Dog Day - so throwback to our family dog-member, Heidi the wee puppy in December 2006!

Prayers: Peace in the Middle East, and wisdom and prudence in our world's leaders. Those struggling in their vocation. For wisdom, peace and understanding in our own life. For Grace Harriet's continued progress, and for Will and I as we handle heavy work loads with daily needs and family time. My family also lost one of our cats this week, Cecily, possibly to feline leukemia. 

For all private intentions!

Next week, I am going to: DO ALL THE THINGS!!!! Well, a lot of them, including answering more IT e-mails, prepping to teach history the following week, getting myself used to the online happenings for teaching school and learning school, and keeping up with all my grad school reading (I am taking my first philosophy class!). And how, you may ask? Because we have hired a babysitter for a couple hours a week. Praise be! But in all seriousness, I will be cleaning and organizing my to-be office. If anyone wants to come to PA, I will compensate with fancy baked goods I will buy from the store.