The habit of failure

Do you ever think to yourself, ‘gee, I’d sure like to exercise/read/write more, eat less, get up earlier, have a clean house (and not just when company is coming), watch less tv, be on facebook less, [insert your goal here]’?

*crickets chirping*

I will take your uncomfortable silence as aggreement. 

After a very difficult year, I have been wanting to make some changes. I am no longer waiting for the next big thing, I’m done having children, we are settled.  I should probably start acting like an adult.  (Do you think that will make me feel like one? That’s another post altogether.)

The two areas of my life that bother me the most are my weight and my house.  Both feel cluttered.  I think I had this idea that somehow I would just start moving more one day and the extra weight would just melt off.  Or I would just not worry about my weight (because, after all, we are all beautiful, right?) and it wouldn’t have any real effect on my life.  But while I was trying to love my body no matter what, I felt like crap.  My stomach hurt, all the time. I had no energy and was not wanting to do anything with the kids.  I couldn’t afford to buy new clothes and because I was constantly eating whether I was hungry or not (although I really did feel like I was constantly hungry) I was slowly but surely growing out of everything.  As much as I tried to convince myself that salads and fruit were the way to go, I was not making any healthy choices.  And for as much as I wanted to see myself as beautiful, I didn’t even recognize the person in the mirror.  Something had to give.  So I bit the bullet and went to my GP and got a referral to Weight Watchers.  I have been going for 13 weeks now and have lost 19 lbs.  Doesn’t sound like failure, does it?  I’m actually quite shocked, myself.  I fully expected to crash out or for it just not to work.  And I struggle with keeping positive as I feel like it was failure on my part to a) get to this place in the first place and b) need help from a program when I should be capable of dealing with this myself.  I still worry that as soon as I’m ‘allowed’ I’m going to go back to scarfing down the krispy kremes at every given opportunity, but we shall see.  What habits will I have at the end of this program?  Will they stick? Will I see food differently?  Will my appetite really change enough to keep me from putting it all back on again?  I don’t know.  I have to say, at this point, I don’t really have a lot of faith in myself.  I’ve disappointed myself too many times. (I know, I’m being a real Debbie Downer today, but I can’t just blog when I have something cute to say.)

That brings me to my house. I went back to the FlyLady website a couple of months back.  I’ve been there before, and tried a few things but never really stuck to it.  I just couldn’t get past the kitchen sink.  Well, all that changed when we finally got a dishwasher.  I love my dishwasher.  So this time, I got past the kitchen sink, I had a whole couple of weeks were I got dressed every day, made my bed, did a load of laundry, did weekly cleaning bits, scheduled my week, kept a proper diary.  I was working my way through the baby steps, building myself a control journal, feeling a little less cluttered, more in control.  Then, in the space of a week I got my period (which is somewhat debilitating at this time) and had to take some terrible medicine in preparation for a colonoscopy.  (Are you still with me, gentle reader?) Fun times. Needless to say I didn’t do much that week and by the time it was all said and done, I was back at square one; all my counters were cluttered, my sink was dirty, my laundry was backed up, and everything was dusty.  It was like all the good I’d done had never happened.  I still haven’t recovered. 

Everyone selling self-help/organizational books like to tell you that it takes at least 3 weeks to develop a good habit.  Apparently it only takes a couple of days to completely throw it out the window. And then where are you? Back at the beginning? Starting all over again?  How many times do I have to go through those three weeks before it becomes a habit that’s not quite so easily broken?

I am so tired of being deflated. Tired of feeling like it’s only a matter of time before something derails me and it all goes back to square one.  Tired of feeling like my life is cluttered with a bunch of crap that I don’t need or want but can’t seem to get rid of. 

I wish I had an inspirational ending to this post.  I would love to say, ‘this is how I conquered this problem’, but I got nothin’.  I’m open to suggestions. 

 

And where is our intrepid hero now?

Stress.  So much stress.

Not like a season of 24 stress (which I have been watching for the first time lately) but a constant, low-level, thrumming drone of stress.

This has been quite the year (and a half). At the same time that The Rocket Scientist was starting to interview for a complete career change, we were welcoming our little Cuddlebug into the world.  That welcoming had its own stress, besides being a c-section which I was not looking forward to, I was not going to be convinced that she would really be okay until she was in my arms.  As it turned out, even that didn’t do much to alleviate my fears.  It’s very frustrating to be constantly afraid while your brain chews you out for such irrational fears.  And with all my energy going into a new baby and any excess energy being taken up with unwarranted fears and with more energy that I didn’t have being taken up with worrying about an impending career change and what it would mean for our family (and what it would mean for us if it did not happen), I did not have a lot left over to be supportive of The Rocket Scientist while he went through much the same thing (only without quite the same fears over our Cuddlebug). Let’s just say, we were not getting on well.

And then what we were expecting to take 3 to 6 months turned into 7.  Then 8.  Then 9.  At which point we no longer had a place to live.  The weekend before my birthday (on my Dove’s first birthday), we moved all of our belongings into a storage locker.  We couldn’t sign a contract for another house because if we didn’t have a job in another 2 months we would have had to go back to Canada, and even if we did find a job we had no idea where it would be. Sheffield? London? Oxford? New York?  So we lived out of suitcases on the kindness of friends and acquaintances.

Then it was 10. Then 11. 3 Weeks from his job ending at the University we were faced with a choice of two jobs.  Neither one was ideal except that they were a job.  One of our big concerns with the new job is that it had to pay enough for us to be able to afford Indefinite Leave to Remain in 3 months (an astronomical cost for all of us) and the pay being offered wasn’t going to cut it.  Until one of them offered to cover the cost.  Completely.  For the whole family.

What a relief.

It was over.

Within a month, The Rocket Scientist finished off his job in Oxford and started his new one in London, we got to spend a couple of weeks at a corporate apartment in London (where our Cuddlebug caught her little toe in a door and partially amputated it so instead of wandering around our favourite city we spent most of the two weeks in one hospital or another), we found our new home in Leighton Buzzard, and finally got all our stuff out of the storage locker. It was like Christmas.

Then came the settling in to a new city, not having any friends around to relax with, not having a church to fellowship with, adjusting to The Rocket Scientist having significantly longer hours than he did as an academic.  And our first Christmas without Grammie (she had come in September to help out for a few weeks and couldn’t afford to visit again so soon).

Well, we’ve been in Leighton Buzzard for 7 months now, all three of the kids have had a birthday in this house and we have found a church to call home.  Friends are coming a bit slower but I remind myself not to feel rushed.  The Rocket Scientist and I are, for the first time since we met, not waiting to move on, not thinking about having to leave our friends and make new ones.

We are settled.

Whew!

Did I mention that we are also homeschooling (and have been for the last year)? I certainly wouldn’t have it any other way and I don’t really find it stressful, but not having much in the way of time to myself is hard.  More on those adventures later.

So what, then, is the source of that undercurrent of stress?  I am waiting.  Holding my breath.  For once I am not pregnant although we are anticipating a new arrival to our household.  As soon as someone up there in the Great White North buys my mum’s house, she’s buying a one-way ticket and coming to live with us.  I’m sure it will be an adjustment for everyone involved but the pros far outweigh the cons.  It is killing me that there is no date on the calendar, nothing to count down to, just the waiting.

for someday

soon

hopefully

pleeeeeease!!

 

Have you seen this woman?

How does one come back to a blog that has been neglected for, well, a long, long, long, long time?  Is there some protocol? Netiquette that one must follow? I suppose mostly, it’s just sucking up your pride and getting on with it, after all, it’s not terribly likely that anyone except family and facebook friends will read this and they know all the stuff already. But that’s okay, this is mostly for me.  And my mother who always asks me two things: “Do you have more pictures” and “Why aren’t you writing”. 

Honestly, I waffle.  I like writing.  I love going back and reading a year or two later and remembering all the little nuances of life that I had forgotten.  On the other hand, I hate feeling lazy and unreliable and nothing makes me feel that more than setting myself goals/routines/schedules and having none of them last more than a few weeks days hours.

Also, I’ve noticed a pattern.  When life gets intense, I stop writing.  I always thought I was good at getting my thoughts/emotions/stuff out, I always thought I was a very open book, what you see is what you get, but I have had a bit of a personal revelation in the last few years.  I am really good at sharing what I am comfortable with and making it sound like I am baring my soul.  When it comes to the real dig-deep kind of soul baring, however, I do. not. share.  And more than that, if something really big is going on that I can’t share, because it’s the only thing on my mind, I just stop talking, stop communicating, stop going out of the house on the off chance that I might see someone and be forced to say ‘hi’. 

So, the question becomes, why bother having a blog at all? That happens to be my question about a lot of things and honestly it’s a crappy question.  I hate it.  I hate that it feels proven right more times than not.  But I have to believe that change is possible.  I have to believe that what I have is a bad habit, a really, deeply-ingrained, hard-core bad habit, and not a massive character flaw. 

Okay, then let’s change the question a bit: Why do I want a blog? I do like writing.  When it’s going well, I love writing.  Even when it’s not going that well, I love writing.  I love having these snippets of life to relive when I’m feeling stagnant.  I hope my kids will enjoy reading this someday.  I like to believe that family and friends (of whom so many are scattered across the globe) enjoy keeping up with the mini adventures of our little family (and if they had blogs, I would be an avid reader. just sayin’. hint, hint).  I like sharing reflections on life, the universe, and everything and having people come back with their own. 

Yes, I miss my blog.  Who knows what tomorrow brings? Not me, so today I blog.

New Beginnings

This week my second son would have turned a year old.

Instead, I have a beautiful baby girl who’s just 11 weeks.

A handful of pictures and the feel of his tiny body fitting in the palm of my hand.

The mind doesn’t want to fit itself around the idea that if he had lived, the girl sleeping beside me would never have existed.

But they both exist. God knows the hairs on their heads and the number of their days. There is no alternate reality where we are blowing up balloons and wrapping presents and rejoicing in first steps. Jonah’s days only ever numbered in the dozens. And knowing that, God blessed me with him anyway.

I truly do mean blessed. I am not bitter, I am not angry, and while at times I wonder why, I know that there is never a good answer. It just is. He was perfect, he was growing, he was moving, he was ours. And then he was gone.

When last I was here, I didn’t even know I was pregnant. But I was. I would find out a week later while Jeff was away. The rest of my pregnancy will be another post. When I’m ready. I’m a little surprised to find that I’m not yet.

That time is from before. Before I became a woman of sorrows, acquainted with grief. Before life became so blatantly precarious.

Or perhaps precious is the word.

Yes. Precious. Blatantly, Glaringly, Wildly precious.

So here I am. Beginning anew. Starting fresh. So many things are in the process of changing, I don’t want to miss it.

The Rocket Scientist is heading off in a whole new direction. (Don’t worry, we’re going with him.)

Doodle is starting to learn. (At least in a more organized way.)

ZuZu is starting to talk. (Yes, it is a little late.)

We are all one day closer to my little Dove.

The Munchkin is just starting out.

And I? I am facing life in a whole new light. I have spent the last 8 years either trying to get pregnant, being pregnant, or getting over being pregnant so that I could get pregnant again. And now I’m done.

Huh.

Well, then.

I’m kind of excited to see what’s next!

Here we go

He’s leaving again. Only three weeks this time and it will go quickly for him, he’ll be very busy. But tonight as I sit here not wanting to go to bed so tomorrow doesn’t come just quite yet I don’t care how fast or slow it goes, I am realizing I just don’t want him to go. We have to be grownups and sacrificial and understand that sometimes we have to fore-go what we want now for a better life but every now and then I catch glimpses of the not-so-grownup me inside that just wants to cry and wail and demand this not be so. I realized sometime this week that he will be gone more than he will be home this next year and suddenly the air goes out of the room. By the time he’s back for good, Doodle will be turning 4 and we’ll be planning ZuZu’s 2nd birthday party. It’s those moments that I fear we’ve made a terrible mistake. But I have embraced the British way: Keep Calm Carry On. And I am very good at it.

the month from crazy

Why, oh why, did he have to go away on such a crazy month? I would say it was a test, but of what and by whom? It’s not like this was a missions trip or some command of obedience from On High. So why do I feel like we’ve been through the fire?

First of all, the kids were sick.  Both of them.  Twice.  First we had a lovely stomach flu go through the ranks, and the last few days it’s been a bad cold.  Doodle hasn’t had a stomach bug since we’ve been to the UK and there’ve been enough going around.  We’ve had colds, but never with both kids down with high fevers at the same time.  Silver lining?  I miraculously haven’t gotten even the slightest wave of nausea or sneeze.

Then was my Phil & Ted’s buggy.  I kid you not when I say that in one moment I was telling a friend of the wonderful things I love about my buggy and even though another friend has had several flat tyres and I kept a pump and tire goop with me at all times but have never had to use it and in the next I was trying to figure out why we were listing to one side so suddenly.  It was like I’d been struck by lightning.  We were on our way to a playgroup so I just lugged it with ZuZu still strapped in and spent most of the playtime trying to fix the tyre.  It didn’t work.  So got to lug it all the way to the other side of Summertown to a bike shop to find out they couldn’t fix it until tomorrow.  Some minor wailing and gnashing of teeth later and they had pity on me and fixed it while we waited.  Silver lining?  A new friend who came with me and watched the kids while I dealt with the bike shop lads for close to an hour.

Then there was my filling.  I only have one.  I think I’m doing pretty good to be…my age and only have one cavity, but it’s a doozy.  It was almost a root canal but when he had cleaned it all out there was a thin layer of enamel left so he just filled.  That was back in Canada.  It chipped there once and I had it fixed, a second time and I didn’t bother, no problems in Chicago, but then has chipped and been fixed a couple of times here.  This last time, it didn’t chip so much as shift and send an incredible amount of pain shooting through my tooth and jaw, then seemed fine, then did it again a week later.  So I decided to get it looked at.  The dentist decided that it needed to come out and put in an inlay so this doesn’t keep happening.  Made an appointment for a week later but didn’t really ask the details of what was to occur.  Turns out the digging out of my filling was not much less painful than the digging out of my tooth.  One massive needle to the jaw and one numb face later I was home feeling the worse for wear with a temporary filling and an appointment in two weeks to go through it all again to get the inlay.  Silver lining? This happened before ZuZu was a year so I’m covered under the NHS and  dear friend had already made plans to take the kids to the park for a couple of hours that day so I took a much needed nap.

Nap.  Yes.  That brings me to the topping on the cake.  ZuZu came home a good sleeper.  We spoke of it in hushed tones so as not to jinx it.  Once teething started, things got a little more interesting, but on the whole we didn’t suffer nearly as much as we did with Doodle.  All that has gone out the window this month.  At first she was too hot and couldn’t sleep.  Then the temperature dropped but it took me a few days to clue in and put her back in her sleep sack and so she didn’t sleep then either.  I got three nights at the beginning where she slept well and then three nights just before this last cold.  That’s it.  The rest of the time I have not gotten more than two consecutive hours in any given night.  It’s been rough.  I have no silver lining for that one.

In there was dealing with ants, internet issues, the freezer door not closing, my hips giving me problems, and all the day to day stuff.  That I was expecting, maybe not the ants, but the other stuff, the garbage and tantrums and baths and bedtime.  I appreciate all the support and encouragements, but I really didn’t feel like I was doing some major feat.  Women do this all the time, single moms (by choice or not), army wives, oil rig wives, a host of others.  I didn’t feel like it was asking too much of me, and I wasn’t alone.  I have some really awesome and supportive friends here and I’ve even made a new one during this month.  From Canada no less, my neck of the woods even, with a physicist husband, from the Rocket Scientist’s neck of the woods.  No kidding.  It was actually kind of creepy but we’re adjusting.

So here we are, the last full day without the Rocket Scientist.  The kids are still sick so we’ll be spending another day in (insert silent scream here), but we made it.  We survived.  No one died, or was maimed, or has any scars to show for it.  Was it good times?  Certainly not ideal, we missed our Rocket Scientist a lot, and there were some tense moments, some moments where I screamed to the universe that I could not in fact do this, but we also had good times, with friends, on our own, and I hope we are stronger for it.  I’m certainly not looking forward to the idea of him going back in two weeks, in large part because I don’t want to see Doodle’s face when we tell him.  In many ways, I’m dreading the longer stints in September less, Doodle will be in nursery in the afternoons giving everyone a much needed break routine, and we’ll likely have trips to Chicago to look forward to.  And by looking forward to, I don’t necessarily mean the international flight with two children but it will certainly be an adventure.  And honestly? I do like to know that I can do these things by myself.  I don’t want to do them by myself, just know that I can.  I mean it’s certainly no feat to watch Doctor Who by myself, but I just don’t enjoy it as much without him.

Letters to RS – 3

Dearest Love,

Between emails and facebook and skype, by the time I get to this, I have no idea what I’ve said and haven’t said.  But I’ll just try to make note of the salient points of the day…for posterity’s sake? And I’ll try to do it at not 10:30 as my primary goal is hurry up and sleep at this point.

Mumsy left today.  That was hard, it made this all very real.  And looking at a calendar was bad.  We’ve still 4 weeks to go, less a day.  Right now, that day doesn’t make enough of a difference.

I hate neighborhood cats and I hate the ice cream truck.  Just sayin’.

I was trying to explain to Doodle that it’s okay to be sad when we got home from the airport, telling that I was sad, too because Grammie is my Mummy and I miss her when she’s not here and how when we’re sad it’s nice to get hugs and cuddles from people around us who love us so we can feel better.  He turned around and said, “Can I give you a cuddle, Mummy? Does that make you feel better?”.  And then he let me give him a cuddle, too.  I am happy he was able to take comfort this time.

ZuZu is fearless.  Did not matter how many times she slipped in the bath or took great mouthfuls of water, she still kept trying to crawl up the back of the tub and kept a big cheesy grin through it all.  Good grief! What are we going to do once she’s running?

I am really looking forward to Blenheim Palace tomorrow.  I wanted to do this last year but I was in a wheelchair and I think I wasn’t sure how your parents would do.  Once the kids are older, I’ll want to do something more Christ centered but this year won’t really have any meaning either way, it’ll just be a fun day out.  I even got some extra eggs and a decorating kit for Doodle since he seems to be enjoying art and projects these days.

But I must get some sleep tonight. More than mead.

Love, me