I wrote the post below on August 15 and then forgot to publish it. So here’s a glimpse into my brain a few weeks ago.

Under A Blood Red SkyYesterday was my 36th birthday, and it was pretty terrible all the way up until lunchtime, despite the best attempts by almost everyone around me to make it a good day. Lately, I’ve been feeling tremendous pressure of all kinds–the pressure to make good decisions about my son’s life, since he’s eligible to start pre-K at our local elementary school and to play soccer on a team, for example. The pressure to get all the things done, and on time–grocery shopping so we have dinners, bill paying, the usual errands and chores, and all during the 3 hours I have between getting done work and getting Jax to bed each night. The pressure to be a decent wife, even though I often don’t feel like catering to anyone else’s needs once Jackson’s have been met. The pressure to do my job–and do it well well–during some intense time constraints and while adhering to deadlines. And so much more.

It feels like it never ends.

And then birthdays, well they add a certain pressure, too, don’t you think? There’s external pressure, with all the “What are you doing to celebrate?” and balloons and gifts and attention. Then there is the internal pressure. For me, this manifests as an intense need to spend my “last day” at age [whatever] in a unique or fun way. I typically try to pamper myself on the day before my birthday because I feel compelled to end that year on a high note and usher in the new year in a certain way–typically with a day of reflection, with a little self-care (eg, good food, a bubble bath, some reading) thrown in. Kind of like that old belief about how you ring in the New Year is how you’ll be spending your year.

This year, all attempts to profoundly and peacefully end my 36th year and kick off my 37th year seemed to backfire.

My primary goal for this week was to spend the day before my birthday coming up with a list of goals for the new year. Given my insomnia and other yuckiness from the day, I barely held it together and did not accomplish this task I thought would be fun. Correction: I didn’t hold it together at all. I cried all morning. Even in front of my boss and other co-workers. I was a sad, sorry mess–on my birthday. Which felt like failure. It also felt like the opposite of what everyone wanted me to be. I told myself I was failing to make 36 look graceful and beautiful. The judgments in my own head were loud and hard to stifle.

No list was made. But I’ve got it started in my head. And that’s what matters more than the date on which it gets written down.

I hope this year is more peaceful than some of the previous years. I wish for a break from (my perception of?) so much pressure on me. Whether it exists or not, the feeling is there.

September will usher in so many changes and goals. I’m feeling a little nervous about it all, which is to be expected I’m told. September also brings with it the beginning of autumn, which in my mind is simply the precursor to the dreaded winter. Once Christmas is over, I find myself fighting the funk–missing the warm, sun-filled days so much that I feel like I’m suffocating sometimes. It’s important for me to write down that list of goals for the upcoming year now, to put into writing my intentions for the cold season ahead.

What do you hope to see and do before 2013 is over?

 

photo by: Ian Sane

I turn 36 years old tomorrow. That means I’m solidly on my way to 40. Wow, 40. I’m trying to make peace with the adages, “You’re only as old as you feel” and “Age is just a number.” I sure don’t feel like how I imagined 36 would feel. I often wonder whether I look 36, despite having been told recently that I look 32 and many times in the past that I look younger than my “real” age.

I find myself getting sucked into the number. That needs to stop.

Instead of overthinking the number itself, I’m choosing to spend part of my birthday tomorrow writing a list of goals for 36. Check back for an update. I can say confidently that one goal will be to blog more frequently (I miss it). Another goal will be to take more walks, maybe jog a bit more. (That one sort of is age related. I’m paranoid about heart disease and obesity and other illnesses that often come with aging.)

I’ll save the rest of the goals for later. You know, for that whole suspense thing I rarely try my hand at.

Really just wanted to write something–anything–on my last day of 35. I tried to (and I think I did) fill this day up with all the things I love best: reading, writing, bubble-bathing, shopping, walking/jogging, enjoying wine, talking with friends, and watching tv. Oh, and NOT working. But that was because I slept maybe 3-4 hours total last night.

Insomnia shoves off after age 35, right? RIGHT??

That would be the best birthday gift I could ever ask for. Sigh.

Good night!

I envy people who chill out on the weekends, because that’s not how things play out for me. Sure, I’m a bit Type A, and yes, I do create lengthy to-do lists for myself, but only because I don’t want to miss out on anything! The price to be paid for that attitude, however, is a shortage of downtime.

The past two weekends have been gray hair producers. Thank goodness I color my hair! Just to give you a taste of what a typical–yes, TYPICAL–weekend is like for me, I’ll list it out for you (see? toldja I’m a lister).

Here’s what we did last weekend:

Friday Nov 9

Worked until 2. Ran a few errands on the way home from work, including a stop for a bottle of wine for dinner. Picked up Jax from daycare at 3 to spend a little extra time with him before dropping him off at his Nana’s for a few hours so I could attend my brother’s birthday dinner. Husband got stuck at work really really late, so after I made dinner for Jax (which I helped him eat, of course), I had to drive Jax 20 minutes myself to my mom’s at 6. Left the house without the wine. Oops. After dropping off Jax, I had to hit the liquor store yet again (where I accidentally bought a bottle of white that wasn’t chilled, meaning warm white wine with dinner, ick). Got lost driving to dinner in a town many towns away. Was a half hour late to dinner–embarrassing! By this point, I was starving, as it was after 7:30 pm and I’d been driving 90 minutes all around southern New Jersey. Had a nice dinner, then got lost heading back to my mom’s, so I asked her to drop off Jax to my house because I’d coincidentally ended up on the highway right by my house. Thank goodness she agreed. Shaved off a good 45 minutes of drive time. Bed, exhausted, around 10.

Saturday Nov 10

Husband spent the entire day in Brooklyn with friends at an art show. So in his absence, I called a plumber to fix my slow-draining bath tub, which was grossing me out. This fascinated Jax–he kept referring to the plumber’s bag as his “doctor tools!” I scrubbed my stovetop for at least an hour (it was also grossing me out). Then proceeded to clean the entire downstairs and do many loads of laundry. Around 3:00, totally wiped out, drove Jax to my mom’s because I had tickets with his best friend’s mom to Gay Bingo in Philly. Jax was all set up for a fun sleepover with his Nana. I had to get over my guilt over dropping him off there 2 nights in a row, which was the first time I’d ever had back to back plans that didn’t include him since he was born! Came back from my mom’s, ate a cheese hoagie as fast as I could get it down, had a beer, then left for Gay Bingo at 5:30. Gay Bingo until 10. FUN FUN FUN. If you’ve never been and your closest big city offers it, you gotta check it out. Got home around 10 and was sick to my stomach–too many snacks? stress?–until about 2:00 am, when I finally fell asleep in Jackson’s bed!

Sunday Nov 11

Drove to my mom’s in the morning to get my kiddo. Came home and got him cleaned up and then went right back out for a playdate with his two besties at one of those toddler gym places. Got home just in time for dinner. Husband worked most of the day and walked in about 15 minutes after dinner was ready. Our friend had come over a few hours before dinner and we made a fantastic meal–complete with blaring fire alarms because I dropped a chunk of roasting red potato on the bottom of the oven. Many fire alarms in several different areas of the house. Good times. No, really, it actually was kind of fun and funny!

Jax at the bottom of the slide

This weekend:

Friday Nov 16

Worked frantically until just after lunch, then rushed to a hair appointment 20 minutes away. Ahhh, me time! Then broke a few speed limits rushing to Jax at daycare because he had a 3:30 doctor’s appointment for the cold that just won’t quit (& I have anxiety). Got home around 4:30 or so, got dinner on the table by 6–roasted salmon and veggies. Relatively easy night, if I remember it correctly. I may have even taken a hot bath!

Saturday Nov 17

Had a 10:00 am birthday party a few towns away, so we spent the morning wrapping the gift and getting ourselves ready. Partied til about 2–that was utterly exhausting but totally fun for the kids. Drove home, rested for a half hour, then headed back out the door for another party! Stopped on the way for a gift. Fortunately, this party was at my mom’s house, so I could sit back and relax with a glass of wine! The boys even took Jax outside to shoot some hoops for 20 minutes, which was effing fabulous because the girls got to have girl talk with our wine. On the way home from there, the 3 of us (me, Jax, and my husband) grabbed dinner at Moe’s because it had been such a frantic/busy week that I never even grocery shopped! Whoops! Then my husband and his friends went out to a bar (some UFC thing), and Jax and I snuggled up on the couch until bedtime.

Sunday Nov 18

I had therapy at 9:00 am, so I had to be out the door by 8:30. But first, I ran through the Dunkin Donuts drive-through with Jax (in his jammies) for breakfast I didn’t have to cook. Ate and fed the boys and managed to leave by 8:40. Therapy until 10, then I had a coffee date with my friend at 10:15, so I maybe broke another speed limit getting there…. We grabbed some coffee and then headed to the mall to try on makeup at Sephora! Very girly of us, but also pretty fun. I got this. When I got home, I felt the urge to clean my house, which I did, in addition to 3 loads of laundry. Then I grocery shopped. After this, it was close to dinnertime, so I whipped up a lasagna and got that in the oven by 5. While it baked, Jax and I made peppermint bark that was shaped like snowflakes and Christmas trees. He thinks he’s giving it out to his friends at daycare. Ha! Momma’s totally eating it up herself. It’s been another whirlwind weekend, and chocolate helps.

Enjoying the first cake of the day

So when I whine on social media about how tired I am, now you get it. And this post doesn’t even cover what I did all week! Thank goodness Jax can keep up with me. As for my husband, that’s another story!

What does your typical weekend look like?

 

Don’t worry, Woody (& friends) survived!

In preparation to dogsit for my parents and due to the post-birthday bombardment with new toys and lack of space in my smallish house, I embarked on a project last night to weed through all of Jax’s toys and donate the good ones and toss the broken ones. The project commenced with a hasty trip to Target for big Rubbermaid totes in which to store the toys for transport to my son’s daycare–which, in a win-win situation, is happy to take the toys Jax is too old to play with but still in great condition.

Sidenote: I’m happy to report that in addition to the two totes, I bought only two other items–this is progress, given that we all know how impossible it is to escape Target without buying triple the number of items on your list! I got off easy last night, buying only double! What can I say, I was in a hurry!

While I was at Target, a wave of sadness washed over me as I thought about which toys I should remove from my home. Some toys were bought during my pregnancy and have sentimental value. Some toys I just can’t bear the thought of Jax no longer having the option to play with, even though he hasn’t played with them in months or a year! Like his first babydoll he so lovingly cared for (when he was in the mood). Or stuffed animals older than Jax, given to him at my baby shower.

Feeling sentimental is dangerous when you need to declutter your house, and fast.

To make myself feel better–and because I was projecting on Jax that he would be sad, like me, to lose some of his older toys–I stopped in Toys R Us on the drive home from Target and whipped out some gift cards Jax received for his birthday. I told him how proud I am of him for moving into his new classroom this week (have I written about that yet?!) and would let him choose any one toy.

I also told him we needed to give some of his old toys to his school so that other kids could play with them, too. He seemed receptive to this idea, thank goodness.

He chose this toy, and I freaking love it. It provided belly laughs last night as we chased the dogs around the house with it. Sorry, dogs, but you kind of deserve it after all your shenanigans.

I asked my husband to take Jax outside to play last night while I spent 30 minutes sorting through all of the toys in 3 different toyboxes in my house. Once I pushed out the sentimental thoughts, I got into a groove where it was almost too easy to ditch many of the toys. My husband had already done some of the work and created a huge pile (he obviously is not sentimental) of toys he thought we should toss. I admit I did keep two items from his pile–the first toy I bought for Jax when I found out I was pregnant and a Wiggles guitar Jax still plays with. It is just too adorable when he rocks out on that thing, even though it sounds terrible.

I was able to get rid of one lawn bag full of broken or old toys missing pieces, and I prepared a huge tote for the daycare. What remains at our house are toys Jax still loves and regularly uses, and they’re all organized now! Success!

In summary, I learned a few things about getting rid of toys:

  • It is hard when you’re feeling sentimental. But it’s OK to feel sad about letting go of baby things. For some, it’s clothes. Apparently for me, it’s toys. It was a walk down memory lane as I recalled when he received some of the toys (holidays, birthdays) and from whom.
  • Work fast. This is key. Too much time to think is paralyzing. And don’t put on music or anything that could also flood you with emotion!
  • Probably not a good idea (and perhaps counterintuitive) to hit a toystore on the way home to get rid of toys. My husband definitely made some jokes about it, and rightly so.
  • Make sure you do this kind of project when your kid isn’t around to convince you to keep many of the toys. Unless said child is old enough to reason with.
  • Don’t use trashbags. Totes are best. They don’t rip, for starters.
  • Ask your local daycare if they’d like the clean toys in excellent conditions. If not, donate them. Be sure you don’t pass along anything that is broken or missing pieces. I wouldn’t recommend giving daycares any toys with magnets or small parts, either.

Am I missing anything? What are your tips or advice about getting rid of your kids’ toys?

 

Last Friday night was…let’s just say NUTS. My husband took me out for belated birthday drinks with about 12 or 13 of our best friends. There were shots involved, despite my insistence upon it being a tame night because of early Saturday morning plans with Jax and his bestie (and, let’s be honest, because I don’t enjoy drinking like I’m 22 anymore). My friends’ insistence to the contrary was stronger, though, and they were in rare form! Call me weak, but somehow I ended up having a total of 3 shots, 3 beers, and 4 hours of sleep. Ouch. But you only turn 35 once, right?

Needless to say, Saturday got off to a rough start–when I woke up at 6 am. More »