Birthday Countdown

The boys are at Wegmans. I’m rather buzzed (post sledding hot toddy and cider with dinner. Yes, I’m a cheap date) and blissfully home alone. Z let me sleep in until I woke up both mornings this weekend.

He is being fucking amazing because rather than spend the upcoming week with us he has to work. We really need the money, it is super good he is working. But it was a hard trade off. It was supposed to be family time. I mean, it sucks ass for him as well.

He is also being fucking amazing because my birthday is on Wednesday. I love birthdays. Not just mine, the day of birth of anyone who I care about is an event to me. Celebrating is fun, cakes are delicious, presents are the best. What is not to love?

Z doesn’t give a shit about birthdays. His, mine, the boys’, anyone’s.

Which means he is terrified of my birthday. I get it. I’m scary. And I have unarticulated and extravagant expectations.

We looked at our “finances” (I use air quotes because you can’t call that little money finances with a straight face) the other day. He told me that he had been planning to get me something very expensive that I wanted really badly for my birthday/Christmas, but it would be irresponsible and he couldn’t do it. He’s 100% right. We are broke. I don’t get whatever I want just because I want it. I’m a grown up.

Still, I’m not going to lie. I was a bit bummed.

This Wegman’s trip the fellows are on is about my birthday. And evidently T has orchestrated it. That kid. I have no idea what his plans are. For once he’s been able to keep his ginormous trap shut. I hope he makes it to Wednesday without spilling the beans.

Maybe I’m growing up a little bit, but I’ll tell you what. I’m fucking excited about the Wegman’s present. So I don’t get the fancy thing I wanted. My kid is old enough to plot with his Dad to get something for me. That is pretty magnificent.

this face

Man, do I love this boy.

jack frost

Jack Frost visited this weekend. It is so cold in our house. So very cold. 80+ year old windows are not the way to go.


Who knows? It might get bright enough to need sunglasses at any moment!



As I was descending into the pain of the stomach bug Sunday I had a moment of panic. Then I realized it was a rest day. I wasn’t going to miss my jog because I was sick. At that moment I decided I’d be well enough to run Monday.

Monday morning I was far from 100%. The diarrhea continued. My belly gurgled and flip flopped. I ignored it and put my running tights on. When I woke up it was 15 degrees warmer than it was on Saturday when I ran. How could I miss a day of balmy 36 degree weather?


I did it. It was pretty ugly, but I did it.

The jog was slow as hell. I changed plans and skipped the hills, shortened it to exactly two miles. But I did it.

Last night Z was sick. And T had nightmares. And I’m not sure what the fuck C’s problem was, but he was up 5 times. No one in our house got a lot of sleep. This morning I dropped the boys off and did my stretches. I jogged those hills that I skipped yesterday. Lack of sleep affects my performance more than anything, just two minutes out of the house and I knew I was in trouble. But I told my tired legs to figure it out. Even on the mile with the hills I somehow forced myself to keep it under an 11 minute pace.

Last week was freezing and snowy. It was the first real taste of winter jogging. The boys were out of school for Thanksgiving break, but Z was working most days. He promised we’d figure out how to make my jogs happen. And we did. I returned from Monday’s run frustrated at my slower pace, but I was working out how to safely run on the roads and avoid the ice. I thanked Z for making the time for me to go as he headed out to work. I told him I realized something as I was outside in the freezing cold. Wanting to do this isn’t the issue. I don’t think I’ve ever really wanted to jog. I still don’t know what has kept me at it for the last 5 months. No, I don’t want to do this. I need to do it.

Life feels out of control in so many ways. The new graduate program I am planning on enrolling in will not be happening until the fall of ’15 rather than next fall. Another year is a big deal as I am hurtling towards 40. Another year before I start the job search. I’ll still take a course a semester and I’ll put a big dent in the coursework before I officially matriculate. On top of that money is tight. We are trying to be frugal, Z is being fantastic about picking up extra work wherever he can find it, but supporting a family of four on an assistant professor’s salary is challenging. We’ve made our bed. We both wanted me to be home with the boys, so this has been our choice. And we are luckier than most. We haven’t done anything to earn our safety net, we were just born to parents who can provide one. Dumb, dumb luck. We do not have anything to complain about. We have a beautiful home and can make our mortgage. We certainly don’t have to worry about putting food on the table. I just look forward to a time when we don’t have to have texted negotiations about how we are going to afford to put gas in the car.

So money is tight. Z is crazy busy at work. The boys are growing up at a bewildering and breakneck pace. I’m writing a research proposal and putting together the first powerpoint of my life for class and I feel like an academic fraud as well as an old lady in a young person’s game. The anxiety has been brutal this fall.

Yeah, life doesn’t feel out of control, I feel out of control.

The jogging. Forcing myself to go everyday. Measuring my progress. Proving I am stronger than I’ve believed my whole life. Jogging three days in a row of freezing cold and snow and not seeing one other person out there. It all makes me feel powerful and proud and just a little bit in control. I’m showing up to something. Even when it is hard or uncomfortable or life is overwhelming me. I need it. In just five months I’ve become addicted.

It doesn’t feel completely healthy, but when one suffers from anxiety with ocd tendencies I’m not sure any new obsession, um I mean hobby, ever can be 100% healthy. I fear if i don’t make my five days a week something terrible will happen. Getting sick scares the shit out of me because it will mess with my weekly routine. I didn’t really want to go yesterday. I was weak and still recovering from the stomach bug. But I needed to go. It wasn’t a choice. And it made me feel better.

cold jog

Why all the redundant selfies? Believe it or not, I’m not trying to humble-brag. I’m actually pretty damn proud of myself, nothing humble about it. But in keeping with the honestly thing the jogging pictures are never filtered or altered. There has been no radical physical transformation in my appearance. My BMI is still firmly in the overweight category. The biggest change has been in my bad cholesterol and you can’t see that in a photograph. I post the selfies because I am not a size two beauty. Who cares? I’m still fucking thrilled with myself.

PRed 5k

But the biggest reason I post the obnoxious selfies (besides the fact that my dad likes to keep tabs on how I’m doing) is if I can do it you can, too. I’m no one special. I’ve shunned exercise all my life. But I’m out there doing it. I include my times occasionally, which is also the antithesis of a humble-brag because they are damn slow. Don’t get me wrong, I’m making progress. But my fastest mile, and the only time I’ve broken 10 minutes, was 9:47 I believe. In the picture above I’d just PRed 5K. Kept it under 11 minute miles the whole time for 33:49. Yes, it is much like I jog through molasses. I guess I feel like the slowpokes should get to celebrate as much as the speed demons. I’m never going to be the best at this. I’m never going to be near the best. But I’m doing something for me. I’m plugging along. I’m proving that my middle aged body can do something I didn’t believe it could for my whole life. That smile on my face is sincere. I may not be fast or skinny or cut, but god dammit I have earned the right to be proud.

You should give it a try. And you should be proud, too. You should post selfies and your times and if they aren’t as fantastic as those of your friends you shouldn’t give a fuck. Because you are amazing. I am amazing. We are kicking ass and we are taking names.


T and I were still in the bathroom when I heard Z ask C to pick out three books at bedtime last night. That has always been my job. Bedtime with C has been a special routine for C and me ending with me nursing him every night. I was putting lotion on T as I listened to Z and C. I broke down crying. T stretched his arms out wide and collapse into me. “It’s ok! I’m sorry you’re sad!”

Of course I cried harder.

Z and I let ourselves be sad in front of the boys. We want them to think sadness is ok, that it is normal. We hope they are sad much less than they are happy, but we don’t want them to hide their sadness or be ashamed of it.

A couple of minutes later in T’s room I was getting ready to read his story. He hopped down from the bed and grabbed his blue baby and a small scrap of cloth laying on the nightstand. “I almost forgot to wash you!” he said to the baby. He gently swabbed baby’s face with the cloth. “There! Now you are clean. I love you!” And he kissed the baby’s mouth once, twice, three times and set him down.

My heart melted. I was sitting in a puddle of love and sentimentality. My big boy can be loving and gentle and kind.

He reached for the stuffed batman doll that was lounging next to blue baby. T grabbed batman’s arm and pointed it at me, “Pew pew pew pew!”

He was shooting at me.

I burst into laughter. Keeping up with the mood swings of a four year old is impossible. Yes, he is compassionate and tender and loving and happy…and frustrated and disappointed and aggressive and he tests limits. Often all at the same time. He cracks me up. I think I’m going to quite enjoy being a part of his bedtime routine. I’ve missed it.

Both boys went down for bed just fine last night. I was a much bigger wreck than C was. The real challenge will be putting him down for nap time today. This is going to be gut wrenching for a few days. And then it won’t be. Just like the pacifier situation. He don’t look for pacifiers any more, he don’t ask for them. He is a resilient kid who rolls with the punches.

Not to change the subject, but I’ve got a bit of a problem. I currently own one non-nursing bra. One. Last spring Z and I went through our clothes and did a salvation army run. I tried on my bras and only one fit, so I got rid of the others, not that there were many of them to begin with. I don’t have any tanks with the built-in bra other than nursing tanks. Wearing the nursing stuff is just going to make me sad. Also the tanks are falling apart. We are really broke right now, but I need to address this situation. That said I am rocking the real bra today. The proper support feels pretty darn nice I must say. So I guess there is an upside to this weaning business…

c good morning

C was dressed and eating a cereal bar by 6:01am this morning. Between 6 and when he went to school at 9 we kept him busy enough so he only asked to nurse twice. We even gave him his first haircut.

T rough morning

At 6:05am this guy was much less excited about facing the day.

first and second batch

First and second batch of kombucha! My gifted scoby is growing a lovely new scoby. Yesterday I drank a serving. Holy shit. It is amazing, if I do say so myself! Fizzy and vinegary goodness!

When You Should Be Studying For A Midterm…

…your day becomes a comedy of errors.

You watch as your husband tell your three year old that it is cool to play with a pair of dice that is very important to him as long as the three year old is careful. You know this is going to end very badly. A few minutes after your husband leaves for work your three year old starts screaming hysterically that one of the dice fell down the hole. He meant the heat register. Now, this will be a legitimate accident, dude did not do it on purpose. But you (hello anxiety disorder) will be sure the die will somehow catch fire and the house will burn down. When you float this theory to your husband over the phone he will laugh so hard he will be unable to speak for a few moments. Whatever, husband. What. Ever.

Five minutes before your babysitter is scheduled to arrive the doc’s office will call telling you that the doc is stuck in surgery and your appointment will now be an hour and a half later. You will understand. Hell, if surgery gets complicated with your son you want the doc to move around appointements as well. But here’s the thing. You are scary broke. And now you are going to need to pay your babysitter an extra $20. Which really means something these days, so you are super pissed.

You get to the doc’s. You haven’t been there before and you find the parking lot for the building, although you don’t feel good about all the signs saying you need a parking pass. You check in and ask if it’s cool to be parked in the lot. It is not cool. You need to collect your squirmy 18 month old and wait for the elevator that smells like someone chain smoked a pack and a half within 15 minutes, walk through the slushy lot in the rain, find a spot on the street, and then hustle back to the office. This really isn’t anyones fault, but it has been a trying day and you are starting to freak out.

In the exam room the nurse tells you that your son can’t have the surgery if he has pneumonia recently and you try not to cry. Thankfully this turns out to be untrue, but holy shit you are now actively having an anxiety attack. She then wants to know what is up with the rash on C’s face. The rash that started on his eyelids this weekend and spread to encircle his mouth after a few days. The rash that you have been studiously ignoring after googling “eyelid rash” and finding out it means he has cancer. You tell her you do not know what is up with it. When the doc come in he also wants to know what is up with the rash. You realize you need to call the pediatrician.

Back at home it is now nearly 4 and you leave a message on the nurse hotline explaining the rash situation. A nurse calls back and asked how fast can you get there. Your heart sinks as you say 20 minutes. You start herding the cats that are your sons towards the back door. The eldest is particularly difficult. Once outside you warn him not to fool around in the snow as that is where he fell down last week. After strapping the little one in his car seat you turn to see the big one seated and stuck in what little remains of the snow bank. You yell at him to get up. He yells back that he can’t. You go grab him and he is crying because his pants are wet. He hates when any part of him is wet when he is cold. In a mother-of-the-year moment you tell him it really isn’t your problem. You told him to stay away from the snow, if his pants are wet at the doc’s he shall just have to deal. He cries a lot.

As you are driving to the doc’s both boys wail and you feel like Homer Simpson at the end of the New York City episode when the kids are asking when they can go back and the windshield is busted out and they are behind a garbage truck and trash is whipping into his face (Incidentally, tied with the Lisa-becomes-a-vegetarian episode for my all time favorite).

At the doc’s the nurse practitioner has no clue what the rash is. She decides to grab C’s doc. She also has no idea what the rash is. They both are sure it isn’t an allergic reaction to the antibiotics. So you go home to make dinner, confused about why you just spent another $25 you don’t have on nothing.

You finally can study at 8pm after the kids are down.

And scene.


Studying. Mid term at 2. Freaking out. Wish me luck.

study fooling around

Cool light in my bedroom.

face rash

Rash on face.

eyelid rash

Rash on eyelids.

t beautiful t

He drives me nuts, but he is hella adorable. #nofilter

Leaky Toilet

Have I told you how we became homeowners? Early in 2001 we moved from Williamsburg to Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn and became regulars at a new restaurant in Fort Green called Locanda Vini e Olii. The original owners had a son who we hung out with quite a bit. A couple of years later, in 2003, he called Z in the middle of a workday and told him to trust him. He said Z had to leave work immediately, find me and get me to leave work, and head out to the apartment building down in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens where our friend had just bought a studio apartment. Another unit was under foreclosure, the bank only wanted what was left on the loan which was $35,000. Z and I took him seriously, we grabbed the Q train down to the southeast corner of Prospect Park where we met our friend and the Super. We asked what we needed to do to prevent the apartment from being put on the market. A few frantic phone calls later and we were under contract to buy the place. Yes, we became homeowners of a 700 square foot one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn for less than the cost of a new SUV. People, miracles to happen in the NYC housing market. It was the luckiest break of our lives.

We sold it in 2009 after the bottom fell out of the market and we still made enough to buy our house in Syracuse. There is no way in hell we’d be homeowners now if it weren’t for that place. That cursed, shitty, roach infested apartment. The couple that lost it before us were going through a divorce-one moved out and the one that stayed just stopped paying the mortgage. Z and I almost split up while living there. The couple we rented to didn’t renew the lease-they broke up and one of them ended up in rehab. I loved being a homeowner in Brooklyn, but I loved Z more and I’m glad that apartment is out of our lives.

So that is my feel good story of the day. It’s nice to remember when I’m terrified about money like I am right now.

Over a month ago the toilet in our half bath started leaking. Z thought he’d be able to fix it, but the problem ended up having to do with the toilet being installed a bit too high above the floor. Listen, homeownership rocks. We love our sweet house, we feel so fortunate to live here. But every time something breaks my stomach drops and I’m seized with fear. I’ve said it before, but we really can’t afford to be living off of one salary. Our savings are kaput. At this point my going back to work doesn’t make much sense. I’d probably not make enough to cover daycare for the boys. So we are going to try to stumble through the next few years until the boys are in elementary school and I sort of figure out what I want to do when I grow up.

All that doesn’t solve the leaking toilet problem.

The floor needed to be redone in order to seat the toilet properly. We had tile left over from when our second floor bathroom was renovated a few years ago-we knew that had to happen when we moved in and set aside money for it back when we still had some. And the same guy who did the second floor bath gave us a good deal, he was going to squeeze us in when he got a chance. He called two days ago and offered to start Friday. He had some extra time because of Thanksgiving and drastically reduced his original quote on sheetrocking the walls as well, which also needed to be done. So we are going to carry a balance on our credit card for a few months. For the first time since 2006. We’ll get it paid off, but I’m panicking a bit.

And family? Looks like it is going to be a homemade Christmas presents year for us. Sorry in advance. We still love you, we are just super broke.

The gross little half bath before demo started. 

Goodbye horrible paneling! Hello shiny new Sheetrock! What color should we paint it?
Yesterday there was a digger outside T’s school. The kind men who were operating it offered to let him climb aboard. One of his teachers happened to be walking by with a camera. I’m completely in love with this picture.