Monday, September 10, 2012

Life in Kansas

Well, today marks one month since we packed up our tiny apartment and headed west to Kansas.  As you can imagine, between buying a house, packing up a house to move two states over, ending a job, parenting full-time, and all the daily BS that just needs to be dealt with, my time for blogging has been, uh, limited.  Well, and also I was also pretty much collapsing in bed every night from emotional and physical exhaustion.  

But now that we are here and mostly settled (minus a lack of furniture, which we are still working on), I have to say that I feel pretty well adjusted.  I mean there has been some lifestyle differences - I went from living in a place where I was afraid to walk from my car to my door at night, to a place where people just leave their garage doors open all day long and kids  say "good afternoon ma'am!" when they ride past you on their bikes. Oh, and people are SERIOUS about their sports here - I mean, I thought Chicago was nuts, but Kansasians (is that even a word?) take it to another level.  Team loyalties are personal identities here, and one I haven't quite caught onto yet without feeling like an uber-poser.  Nonetheless, I seem to have taken to living the small town nicely.  It suits me, if you will.

I mean, I can see a change in myself - I am generally less tense, less stressed (though truth? unemployment sort of helps that), and more willing to do things out of my comfort zone.  I have gone from being a homebody whose social anxiety made it uber stressful to maintain actual relationships (hello, bloggers? can I get an "amen" in unison?) to actually saying "yes" to going out, having people over, and hanging out with people other than my husband, child, computer and smart phone.  

As mentioned, at this point, I am still unemployed (not really been super active on that front, not really ready to put the little dude in day care after being full time with him for the last nine months), so me and my little man have developed a nice daily routine here.  Everyday, after his morning nap, I pack him into the stroller and go for our run.  We are hitting our runs about 6 times a weeks, sometimes 5 if I need an extra day off.  It's the most consistent I've been running since before pregnancy, and it feels insanely great.  It's hella windy out here, so some runs end up being mostly run/some walk, but no matter.  We still get out.  

And - gasp! - I am actually starting to think about racing again.  I actually have a 5k in a few weeks, but am eyeing a half-marathon in November.  The Ironman light has been burning overtime lately, but the logistics might not work out because we still have to make another baby.  Or at least try.  Still getting that figured out...more later....

So getting back to the daily routine - After his afternoon naps, we head out again - this time to walk, explore, check out the neighborhood.  Some days we exchange our walks for trips to the store if needed, but we still get out.  Since it's only rained here two days in the last months, and otherwise has been cloudless skies (oh, and hot as devil balls), we are outside a shit ton.

As a result, my baby weight seems to FINALLY be disappearing (though not entirely, but certainly more than pre-move), and I'm rocking a sick-ass tan.  Well, tan down to my ankles, and excluding my sports bra lines, but still, yo - it's coming along nicely).  

And low and behold - I finally got a decent hair cut.  For realz. I can't remember the last time I had a cut that I actually wanted to wear out of a rubber band, but it happened.  Turns out, I still have uber curly hair that looks crazy good with some shaggy-ass layers.  In fact, between my tan and my new hair, and what appears to be a five-pound weight loss (rough estimate but my jeans still don't fit so I can't get all happy yet), I actually feel like a lady some days.  A real, legitimate female human being and not the doughy, blotchy, depressed housewife who only brushes her hair every two weeks and wears a rotating collection of 3-4 black shirts/yoga pants, all with holes in them.

Okay, that's a lie - that's still pretty much my wardrobe, but at least my cute hair detracts from the holes.  

And I would totally put up a picture, but I deleted the only one I had (sad face).

What I have not deleted, though, is my millions of pictures of my little dude.  I apologize in advance for the upcoming photo blast of my kid (yeah, I'm THAT parent now), but what can I say. Maybe if I ever get back to regular posting, you might get a glimpse of something other than my little man's sweet sweet face.     

 Getting in his morning crawls...
 Hanging with grandma...
 Who gave him a snickerdoodle...

Why is it that my kid either looks like a grumpy old man...

 Or Megamind minus the blue face paint?

One day, I took Matthew to the outdoor mall, where there was a huge fountain. He was obsessed with it.  Or as obsessed as an eight month old can be with shooting water.

"Hey mom! Mom! Did you see that one? That water was JUMPING!"

"I mean, it's crazy right? Jumping water? Go figure!"

"My mom rocks, yo!"

 "Moooooommmm....why does it smell like cake in here?"

"Really? You really made cake?"

"Cake! Cake! I love cake! Three cheers for cake!!"

 "What do you mean it's for a bbq?  Does that mean I don't even get a taste of it? Phewy."

"Imma give you a kiss, dada! Hold still!"

"What's that in your mouth?"

"Here, let me get it for you."


Because feet are the new fork.

"Get in my belly graham cracker!"

 At the farmstead on his cousin's (and namesake) swing.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

I Went To Kansas to Race, and Came Home with a House

Well, that's not exactly true.

I actually went to Joplin, MO to race.

But the house part is true.

Let's start from the beginning.  

So I've commented in past posts that big things were underfoot here in my corner of the world.  It's been no secret that my husband's been gone for massive chunks of time (and is currently gone again), and both of us really struggle when he is away.  It wasn't bad when we were sans kid, but ohmygosh I can barely take single parenting anymore, and he's pretty sick of coming home to a completely new kid who has to relearn who his father is every few weeks.  

But if he was going to "get off the road," he would have to take an office job.  In doing so, his pay would take a hit.  So in summary - he needed a new job, and we needed an affordable place to live (well, more affordable than Chicago,because holy hell is real estate here, even with a recession).

So we decided that we would move to Kansas.  

Yup, that's right.  This lifelong Chicago gal -who literally has never lived anywhere else and whose entire life, job and family is here - is packing up and hitting the yellow brick road.

Come on, you knew there was going to be a Wizard of Oz reference in here somewhere.  

A few weekends ago, we combined a trip to Joplin to visit his relatives (and to race), with a whirlwind househunting spree in Kansas.  

The race - eh - it was okay.  The race itself was great and I loved doing it with my in-laws, but my performance was kind of crappy, as I suspect the rest of my races this summer will be.  It is what it is.  

Then it was off to the cornfields to find ourselves a house.

We hit 12 houses on Day 1(Monday), and 8 more on Day 2 (Tuesday).  We had a fairly narrow list because my sister-in-law is our agent and she prepped us really weel, knowing we were shor ton time.  

But the one we eventually settled on was found on Day 1.  By Tuesday afternoon at 3pm we put in our offer, and by 11pm, we settled on a final price.  The contract was signed the following day, mortgage stuff was taken care of Thursday, and all we had to do was wait for the inspection and appraisal.  The inspection has since been completed, painter estimates obtained, and packing boxes bought.  It's hard to believe that it has all occurred literally within the last three weeks.  We close at the end of July (our request, as the sellers wanted to close earlier), and officially drive the truck and all our worldly belongings (read: couch, computer and bed) across three states to our new home.

Phew - that was a lot to write.  Looking at it now, I am just stunned that it is actually happening.  Emotionally, it's like a roller coaster.  Some days I am really excited at the prospect of going to sleep without the sound of my neighbors footsteps overhead and sitting on my back deck (we have one!) with a nice cup of coffee in the mornings, as opposed to pressing my face against the tiny square of screen from my second-story window, trying to assess the weather.  

But then there are the days like most this week - when I am driving down Lake Shore Drive, looking at the brilliantly blue Lake Michigan and watching the runners on the same running running path I spent the last 10 years stomping in training for one race or another.  Many early morning, and perhaps thousands of miles on that path.  The car, it seems, is when things feels the worst for me right now - because every street seems to have a memory, every shortcut home makes me acutely aware of how second nature everything here is for me.  My husband jokes that you could blindfold me and put my on any street corner in the entire city, and I would know where I was.  

It's true.  I would.  

I grew up here, went to elementary school, high school, college, and graduate school here (the last three all within two miles of each other), worked my first job at the Lincoln Park Zoo, did my psychology training at local hospitals, and have traveled into almost every neighborhood to do my current job in child welfare.

Last week I went to a child trauma conference down at the Northwestern Law School, and was stunned at the realization of how big my professional network was.  Until I saw them all together, I never quite realized how many people I met, knew, trained with and/or graduated with in this field.  I've been in this "game" for more than ten years at this point - and that's a lot of people to meet.

And then there's my family.  I'm not even sure what to say about this.  My sister Devin and her daughter live four blocks away from me.  My sister Ellen and her two sons live just north of me - I could run there.  Needless to say, we see each other often.  Sometimes daily.  My niece and nephews have grown up in front of me - I'm as much a part of their childhood as they are a part of my identity.  A nine hour car ride is far different that than a five-minute stroller walk.  Yeah, there's Skype - people keep telling me. But it's not the same.  It's not.  Sorry.

As for meeting new people?  Well, let's see what my raging social anxiety has to say about that.

So that said (and I am sure I will have more later, in my moments of sadness), I am excited.  Please don't think that I am not.  It will be so nice to be able to watch my son run around an actual backyard, or ride his bike in our cul-de-sac (yes!)  It will be awesome to have my husband home for more than four days every three weeks.  It will be great to have an actual basement where I can leave my bike out without having to move it to the hallway every time we want to sit in the living room and watch television.  Oh, and don't get me started on having an actual washer and dryer.  I am not sure how to work them without inserting quarters first, but I'm a quick learner.  


So there ya have it - in three years, I have been married, had a baby, and am moving into a house three states away.  Who the hell am I?  I'm a far cry from that girl who swore that marriage was suckers, babies were for those not lucky enough to have yet found triathlon, and being debt-free and able to buy a house was nothing short of a fantasy.  

So I am looking forward to this new chapter in my ever-evolving life. 

Just don't ask me to mow the lawn, though.  I sunbathe on the grass, I don't push motorized blades.  

Too cool for school. 

 Playing airplane on an airplane!  On the way to find our new home in Kansas.

 Are we there yet?

Wait, what?  We're actually moving here?  Do I get my own room?

Matthew got to see his mom race for the first time! 

 Practicing my desk-lounging at gramma and grandpa's house.  Gotta get ready!

 Taking a break from househunting at my aunt's house! I loves myself some play saucer!

 Heading home

Check out my new swim suit! I broke it out just for Memorial Day! 

 My family!

 You don't have to say it, I already know - I'm cute! And it's only 6AM!

 Uh, mom?  What's up with all the packing?  We still have a month left! 

 This moving stuff is bananas!

Hey, Squeaky Giraffe.  Listen up.  You're new to this game, and me and Stuffed Giraffe here already have our own thing going.  We've done MILES in this car seat, and this is your first ride.  So you better settle down, learn the rules, and play nice.  You do that, and we cool.    

Geesh, toys these days just don't know how to act.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Before we go back to our regularly scheduled blog programming (which for this blog would be a post in say, eh, two months from now?), I wanted to say thanks for all the supportive words.

In typical M form, I felt all embarrassed immediately after I put up that post - like, now everyone can see my big old public meltdown.  But whatever - it is what it is.  It happened (is happening) and that's life.  It can't always be puppy dogs and rainbows all the time.  Well, it can, but then I would want to know what medication you were on.

There were also a few things that I failed to say before my brain vomit took over.  The first is that I have reached out for help, though I would admit that it was probably not as much as I need to.  My family does live close to me, and they have jumped in here and there to help (like taking Baby D for a few hours so I can go a meeting or to the gym), but they all have their own families and lives, so it's hard to ask them to drop their families just to help take care if mine.  Both of my sisters have careers and barely see their own kids, so asking them to come over and spend time with mine seems...not okay.  My mom also has helped out, but she lives far, and most of her free days are spent taking care of her sister or babysitting my nieces and nephews.  And I am super uber grateful for any help that they have provided, but I just have a hard time asking for it.

But in the last few weeks, I've just put these thoughts aside and asked for help - I figure, if they can't help, they will just say no.  But it can't hurt to ask.  It's hard for me, but I've been trying to do it.

Also, the person that really has the shit end of the stick is my husband. It's kind of shitty of me to complain about having to hang with my kid every day when he goes months without seeing him.  I can't even imagine what it must feel like to have see your child grow up through pictures texted to him, or a Skype session every now and then.  It would suck, I tell you. And he's super isolated for weeks on end.  But I know that he is sacrificing for the best interest of the family, and in the near future (to be discussed next post), we will be in better place all around, and my husband will finally be able to be off the road.

So yeah.  That's that.  I'm getting back on my feet, slowly but surely.  Thanks again for the kind words.  At some point I'll get to my race report.  Probably around the time I run the next one in 10 days.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Climbing Out of the Well

And I’m not just talking about racing (but there is racing only it’s coming in the following post).

Listen, I’m just gonna be real for a few minutes.  There's no funny in this post, because there hasn’t been a lot of funny in the last few months.

See, I actually wrote this post twice – the first time was in March, and then the revised version was about three weeks ago.  But something kept me from hitting “publish.”

I am not sure why – I don’t usually hide “me” from this site (as evidenced by my gross-ass pregnancy posts), but there is something about what was going on for me in the last two months that I wasn’t comfortable just putting it out there.  Shame? Maybe.  But my career is mental health, so I am not sure why when it comes to my own, I hide it.

So here goes.

Basically, I’ve been wallowing in a black hole of depression for about two months.  Not of the post-partum variety, but more of the my-husband-is-gone-for-three-months-and-I’m-tired-and-stuck-and-overwhelmed-and-overworked-and-my-life-is-unrecognizable-and-I-feel-like-shit-about-myself.

Sort of along those lines. 

It’s kind of hard to sum up in way that is not so whoa-is-me (maybe that’s why I didn’t publish the previous post – because I sound so whiney).  But basically my husband’s been gone, like, for the last thee of the five months.  So it’s been me.  Just me. And baby.  All day.  All night.  Just us. 

And I work from home too – which on the surface sounds ideal, but my job is a 16-hour a day ordeal – so balancing a newborn/infant and a grueling job for months on end – well, my life just sort of because me, work, baby.  No running, no gym – fuck, most days no showering, toothbrushing or fresh air. 

Some days would be so bad I would realize I hadn’t left the house I a few days, so I would just pack up the little dude and walk around Target.  Just ‘cause. 

I'm not articulating this well, and there’s way more to it – but I’ll leave it at that.  I was just super depressed, which was compounded by extreme fatigue.  I still am, and everyday is a battle, but I am trying hard to shake it off.  

So here I am with my mental and physical health both on a downward spiral.  To top it off, I had registered for a half-marathon, thinking that May would definately be enough time to get back on track.  And it would have been, if I actually had a second to myself. But by three weeks pre-race, my longest run was 6 miles, and I hadn’t run for the two weeks after Easter.  For the second time in my life (the first being my first IM attempt), I was sure I would have to DNS a race. 

And the icing on my misery cake? The stress of my job and single parenting (and gross lack of self-care) decreased – and then terminated – my breast milk production.  So on top of my failure at life, I was now a parenting failure.  I couldn’t even be trusted to feed my own kid with my boobs. 

And that was the worst of all.  When I came to terms with it (I was trying to pump out every last drop for a few weeks), it just sealed the depression. I hated my life, I hated my job, and I hated being a parent.  I didn’t hate my child, but I cried almost every day because it all just felt so endless, exhausting, and miserable.  I don't even know how to explain it - how bad I felt. 

But then my husband came home for a few days, and I had to make a decision - sit in my own shit, or take some sort of control.  So like a light switch, I flipped it around and got my mind right – I took advantage of his presence, took some time off work, and had some private time (even it was only to get a pedi, some coffee, and drive around without a diaper bag and kid screaming in the back seat).  

Oh, and I ran.  I just ran.  I went to the gym, I got an 8-miler in, and actually did a few speed workouts.  And even though my husband left again six days later, I felt like I could participate in my life again.  Just getting out for a few days for some "M time" made all the difference in the world. 

And at the end of it, I decided that – no matter what – I would race.  I would gut it out because I committed to it. I would show up because I needed to finish what I started.  I knew it wouldn’t be my best time, and I knew it would hurt.  But I would do it. 

And I did.

More on that later.  But before I put that race report in the next post, I am going to leave you with some pictures of my little man – growing so fast, it squeezes my heart.  I feel so horrible when I get to the dark place, because this little guy doesn’t deserve that.  No matter how bad I get, I work hard not to let it show to him (and some days, wow, that’s hard).  And I'm really proud that he's a super happy and strong kid.  So here is what I’ve been developing in my two-month blog absence:

"Did someone need directions to the muscle beach?"

 Easter weekend at my mom's
 Don't we all have our deepest thoughts in the tub?

 Sweet angel.  Fat, sweet angel.

 Cowboy Easter, yo.

 "Great ham, grandma.  What's for dessert?"

 Fun with stickers.  Eye brow raise courtesy of his momma's genetics.

 Looks like he's got some peaches stuck in his cheeks.

 The afternoon following a morning of screaming bloody murder - him, not me. Surprisingly.

 Who is this lady with make up and real clothes? Is that perfume I smell? Call 911! I've been kidnapped!  

Workday fun. 

 And some more

 First zoo trip!! Someone is unimpressed by the enormous swimming BEAR in the background.

 And then unimpressed with bath time.  Man, I can't win some days.

 Big enough for his cousin's saucer! Or as mom likes to call it, "Mom's morning coffee time babysitter."

16 years from now, some hussy is going to make him swoon.  My heart is already breaking... 

 "Aw don't worry mom! You'll always be my favorite!"

 Nap time's over.

 "So then I was like, 'Girl, no you didn't with those skinny jeans!' 
And then she's like, "Oh yes I did!'
And then I'm like, "Oh snap!"
 Dad's home!

 I remember this guy!

 Busy time with his saucer. 

 Dad love.

 "Mom you're so silly! Stop with the pictures! Or at least get my good side."

 Why am I on my belly, you ask? Well, because I rolled over onto it! I RULE!

The coffee time babysitter saucer is back.  "Hey mom, I made a surprise in my pants for you, so hurry up and finish your coffee!" 

First attempt at real food! 

Toe jam.  It's what's for breakfast. 

My love.