The Light

I see it, both literally and figuratively. The light at the end of the seemingly never-ending tunnel of winter is visible and getting closer each day. The changing of the clocks (annoying as it might be) ushered in with it a changing of the weather. The sun has been shining on and off for the past three days. THIS is the part of winter when hope returns. The day has arrived when the end is in sight and you realize that we’ll get there eventually.

Yesterday I left the house with no hat, no gloves, and no boots! I wore sunglasses. I took the kids on their scooters around the neighborhood after school. The hideous black mountains have ben reduced to hills surrounded by puddles filled with cigarette butts that are rapidly being rinsed away by the store owner’s hoses each morning.

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I’m sure there will still be some bumps and potholes on the way out. This is probably not the end of hats and gloves quite yet. I’ve yet to see the first green tendrils pushing up through snow. But I’m hopeful that it’s coming soon.

Buried Under Winter

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As the snow tumbles down for what feels like the millionth time in the last three months, I find myself resigned to it’s inevitability. It’s the part of the winter where the cold, gray, and ice have completely taken over everything and it feels like the sun will never show itself again. The dreary days seem to stretch on as far back as I can remember and as far forward as I can see. It is the part of winter where I realize I’ve been buried up to my eyeballs and didn’t even see it happening.

Here in New York, the fluffy white flakes settle down and cover everything in a sheen of pretty for about 10 hours before they begin to morph into something sinister. First the piles at the sides of the streets and sidewalks fill with cigarette butts and dog shit. Then they begin to gray and then to blacken. A week after the storm, what remains are iced-over mountains of detritus and soot; hulking black humps punctuated by discarded rubber gloves, soda cans, flyers for discount suits and threading salons, and lost mittens of all shapes and sizes. How does the filth pile up so quickly?

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The drudgery of pulling on boots and zipping up jackets, of slogging through slush and shivering against the wind, have become second nature. We don’t even notice it anymore. No one stops to chat at school dropoff. There are no shared walks to here or there. The parks are filled with ice and puddles and not fit for squealing, running groups of children who’ve been sitting at school all day. Every trip is a hurry in from the cold. It is lonely and long and dark.

So as the snow falls and falls and falls and I prepare to lace up my boots yet again to go out into the winter, I keep telling myself one thing…Spring is going to feel SOOOOO good!

Fighting the Television

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If you live, well, just about anywhere in the U.S. this winter (warm weather folks, kindly keep it shut) it has been downright BRUTAL. I am loathe to write about the weather, but holy moly this has been a long, cold, snowy winter. Options for child entertainment are slim. Declan and I take a class on Tuesday morning and other than that we rely on friends, Barnes and Noble, and the occasional drop-in to a playspace to keep us occupied. That means for the most part we are inside…together…a whole lot.

We’ve played picnic and camping and cars and spaceship and school like 50 billion times. We’ve read every book in our house over and over. We go on pretend missions in the hallway and have multiple dance parties daily. But you know what? It gets old. And exhausting. This mama has a cold and a lot of freelance work to finish up and I hear that tv calling to me. Usually it sounds like one of my children saying “can we pleeeeeease watch something?”

It is a constant struggle not to turn that thing on and enjoy the wonderful freedom. And I give in. Oh I do give in. I’m not an anti-television person by any means. My kids watch some everyday. But I always feel guilty. Should I be engaging them more? Are their brains turning to mush? How many times can they sing the “waffles” song from Teen Titans Go in a row before their little heads explode?

It starts early in the day, when D and I have exhausted our playing. I turn it on and then I can rest for a minute and then I feel guilty for resting. I play a few rounds of Quiz Up on my phone and start to feel like a terrible mother. I write a blog post or read the posts lining up in my Reader. I feel defeated. That damn rectangle on the living room wall has won again. I try to tell myself it isn’t that bad. They don’t watch all day and I’m an involved mom. Or am I? But I just can’t help how wonderful it feels to plop down on the couch with my two boys after school, cuddle them up to me, and turn on a little tv. It’s family time right? Right?

Declan is sleeping now and then we’ll pick up Brady from chess. But it’ll start again the minute we walk in the door. Should I turn it on and get dinner ready or resist and listen to the whining? Should I let them zonk out to the tube for a bit, or try to get them playing together until we eat? I don’t know who will win today…oh who am I kidding? That television is winning today. Mommy’s throat hurts.

IMG_4507See? We don’t always watch tv on the couch.

 

Keeping It With You

The holidays are over. The weather is cold. The days are still too short and the sky too gray. The long stretch from January 2nd to the first nice day in March is often a dreary one. Living in the city I often feel trapped in the winter. I used to think it should be the other way around since there is so much within walking distance, but somehow it hasn’t worked out that way for me. The sidewalk and buildings and sky seem to blend together into a bleary smudge and I can’t help but become a part of it. 

I’ve been struggling with anxiety and feeling a bit lost. I’ve sat down to write so many times and been unable to form a thought to put into words. Yesterday, Brady had pinkeye (yuck) and his first sick day of the school year (not bad). Having both boys at home all day was fun for the first few hours, then it started to wear thin. Since Brady wasn’t really feeling sick, he was bored. Since Brady was home, Declan wouldn’t nap and wanted him to play. But Brady didn’t want to play with Declan, he wanted to play with me, but only if I played the games he wanted to play. And so it goes. By the time the husband arrived home from work I was “mommy, mommy, mommy-ed out” and bolted out the door to the yoga studio.

A nice class focusing on the basics with candles burning, culminating in a long, guided meditation and a savasana where somehow, someway my mind actually got quiet had me ready to face bedtime. I walked home in the cold feeling refreshed, renewed, and stronger. But I stepped through that door and the calm blew right off me. The kids were being wild, their room was a mess, they were begging for snacks when their teeth should have been brushed and all of my meditation and quiet mind were forgotten. Anxiety rushed in and I felt a mess all over again.

So how do I keep it with me? I try to get back to the breath. I sometimes do left-nostril breathing and it does have a calming effect. I tell myself to remember the quiet moments that I’ve had and to put myself back into that mindset. This is nothing new. In the years I have been practicing yoga I have found that it has an amazing ability to calm my anxiety and to hold the depression that follows it at bay. Clearly, I am keeping something of my time on the mat with me as I go through my day-to-day. But I want a way to preserve the wonderful feelings I leave class with, even if life outside of the studio is chaotic. I don’t want that falling apart feeling that I get when it all hits me again.

I remind myself of my intentions from my practice: calm, acceptance, love, understanding. I breathe deep and recite mantras in my head. I remind myself to be present and to look around and find the thing that can make me happy. It isn’t easy. It’s a process. 

How do you get back to the calm when life is anything but? Do you find it more difficult to cope in this long stretch of winter?

I am WAY Too Afraid of the Flu

A lovely norovirus depiction from planetscience.com

Well, not just the flu, I’m also terrified of norovirus. Actually, norovirus more so than the flu. I dream at night that my children wake with fevers or throwing up in their beds and then wake to find that everything is fine. There were five kids out in Brady’s class yesterday and I mentally tracked his contact with each of them over the past week. Brady told me that the “throw up virus” was going around the second grade and I started to feel nauseous myself.

Why am I so scared of sickness visiting my house? It’s not as if it hasn’t happened before. We’ve all been sick and we’ve all gotten through it and life went on. But each winter since Brady was born, my anxiety heightens. The winter of H1N1 was especially difficult and only the husband ended up with it. I am absolutely petrified of sickness because I am convinced that I will end up in the hospital or worse.

Now, I know that at least part of this fear is born out of my anxiety problems. I have problems with anxiety in general and it tends to center around health, so cold and flu season is my nemesis. I do worry about the kids and how it will affect them, of course. I especially worry about Declan this year because he is still under 2. But mostly, I worry that no one will take care of me. That I will make sure that the kids get fluids and that if their fevers go up or they seem dehydrated or they aren’t recovering that the doctor is called and the proper measures are taken. However, there would be no one to do the same for me. While I know in my head that the husband would look out for me, I still fear that I would fall by the wayside and be forgotten to succumb to my illness.

Now, a better question is why do I keep reading about viruses? Really, why? It is probably one of the stupider things I’ve done and yet I cannot stop myself. Last night I read an msnbc article telling me that, basically, I cannot possibly take enough measures to prevent my family from getting stomach flu. And just now, as I was eating my prepared salad, I read about how salads are the most common culprits of food-bourne norovirus. Somebody, please stop me!

So with each Facebook status and blog entry about fevers and vomiting and chills, my stress levels go up. I’m sure it’s right around the corner and that the worst fate awaits me. So I’m sticking to my relaxation techniques, trying to get enough sleep, and upping my vitamin C intake. Let’s hope we get through this flu season with no major incidents and my sanity in tact. 

Do you fear the flu like I do? How do you deal? 

Why I Could Never Live in a Cold Climate

I’m not one to complain about the weather. I like living in a place where it changes. I like the summer mostly hot and the winter mostly cold and I love the fall and spring in-between. But this bitter cold we’re having right now will not do. It will not do AT ALL.

I’m good with the 30’s (Fahrenheit that is) and some nice chilly 20’s are great. But this sustained temperatures in the teens is just too much for me to take. Declan is the exact WRONG age for cold weather. He doesn’t want to wear his hat, he rips off his mittens, and then he cries and his tears freeze on his poor little cheeks. It’s awful. 

I am so grateful to a friend who gave me her old Bugaboo muff this year since her son outgrew the stroller. Thanks to that I can forcibly bind Declan’s hands into the muff so that they are toasty and warm and not able to tear his hat from his head.

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Try getting out of this, kid!

I am just so over finding and putting on all of the cold weather accoutrements. Yesterday I couldn’t find my gloves and went to school pickup without. It was 12 degrees. Oh and I later found them, in my hat, which was ON my head! This morning I couldn’t find Brady’s hat and gloves which led to a mad rush to find something warm to put on him and a late school arrival. I can’t take the kids anywhere, because that would require walking, which means being cold, and listening to the baby cry as my hands burn with cold through my gloves.

Oh and we haven’t even had any snow! If it’s going to be frigid, shouldn’t it at least be pretty? I know there are those who love living in cold places and I’m sure there are positives. But NYC in the teens is just brutal and I would like an end please. 

 

The Winter Blahs

This morning I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I looked out my window…oh wait, I can’t, because it’s been sealed in plastic for the last 6 weeks due to the lovely, never-ending terrace work in the building. So…I looked at my phone and saw that it was gray and raining outside. Blah. Then we watched the newest Power Rangers Samurai, only to discover it was the LAST Power Rangers Samurai, which is somewhat of a crisis around here. (Be on the lookout for my post about the evil, child-entertainment, toy-manufacturing overlords.)

So, I calm Brady down over the exit of Jayden and co., and get everyone ready to leave for school, but I can’t find my phone (because Declan had stolen it and hidden it) and then we are late. I HATE being late. HATE IT. After that, I just couldn’t shake the blahs all day. It kept raining, and getting colder, and Declan kept trying to climb things, and then falling, and then crying. As I tried to look up recipes for something new for dinner, Declan took out some of my jewelry (which I never have occasion to wear) from a drawer I did not know he was tall enough to reach and he and the cat proceeded to spread it all around my bedroom. At least they were playing together. 

After school I was moping about my bedroom a bit, looking at Pinterest photos of fancy hairstyles and manicures and being sad that I am no longer 23 (my birthday is next week) when Brady came in and starting playing in my bed and Declan joined him. 

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I was halfway through yelling at them for messing up my bed and telling them to stop, to which they looked at me, laughed and went right back to it, when I figured “hey”, if you can’t beat em, join em.

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And a good 20 minutes of throwing laughing little boys around the bed helped my mood immensely.

 

Enough with winter!

I am NOT a very wintery person. I like the occasional snowstorm and I do like the changing of the seasons, but I would be perfectly happy with about 2 weeks of winter per year. Just enough for Christmas season and then we can be done with it.

While we haven’t been burdened with the enormous amounts of snow that some people (my  mom and sister included) have this winter, I am still SO over it. I’m tired of hats and coats and mittens and coming up with indoor activities and gray, gray, gray days. I want sunshine and green grass!

And we’ve also been hit by that home stretch, last-of-winter sickness. The husband was sick all last week and even had a fever and the boy has been battling a nasty cold. He is snotty and icky and coughing and miserable and it breaks my heart.

When he’s sick I enter this world of anticipation for his being well again. I’m on edge until the snot stops running and his voice is clear again and he runs around like a maniac. I know I’ve got years of little boy sickness ahead of me, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it.

It’s almost March so BRING ON SPRING – bright sun, warm temps, long walks, playground playing, and healthy people in my house!

Oh the weather outside is…

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Aren't I cute in my Paddinton Bear coat?

Actually, today it was pretty nice. But it’s been icky for the past few weeks. I hate winter…well, that’s not entirely true. I do hate endless gray and drizzly days, bundling up the munchkin who does not want to be bundled, putting my head down into the wind as I walk, having the Bundle-Me on the stroller, having to find two matching gloves (for me and him), and most of all being stuck inside. But I do love snow and the way that it makes the city beautiful and quiet even if it only lasts 15 minutes, I love Christmas decorations, and the way the munchkin looks when he’s all bundled up, and the smell of fireplaces burning.

So I guess there’s a give and take. But I am realizing that the boy and I are going to have to find some activities for the winter. We can’t hang out at Barnes and Noble in the kid’s section until March. I just wish that it didn’t all cost so much money!!!! I’ll be looking into no or low cost alternatives to the bookstore in the weeks to come. Wish me luck!

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I have two winter looks!