Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tips and Tricks

I've been in a funk. A stressed-out, crabby, no-fun funk. I know a lot of it is due to exhaustion. But I still struggle to get into bed before 11pm. And somehow even 7 hours of sleep is just not enough right now. I've always been "sloth-like" and it's really detrimental in this phase of my life.

But some tips and tricks I've been discovering/remembering lately are starting to help me pull out of the Funk of Despair. I won't say it's full-on depression...but it might well be heading there. Something to keep an eye on.

In the meantime, things that have been helping, and have helped in the past, but somehow, I forget, which is why I'm writing them down here:

1. Exercise. Just do it. It helps me loads.

2. Adjusting my attitude. This one is so hard. But it's so helpful when I manage it. For instance, I've been feeling stressed and woe-is-me that not only am I working 2 jobs and trying to finish a dissertation, but I'm also the primary child-carer (after daycare). Woe is me that so much is asked of me, blah blah blah. Today, I turned that thinking around. I'm lucky that I get to spend each morning with my son. My husband misses out on those special moments. I'm lucky that I get to have the fun horsing around in the car every day. I feel woeful that I don't get to see him more in the day, so why am I adding woe by being resentful that I'm doing primary child-caring at home? It makes no sense! Feeling lucky instead has done wonders for my mood today. I need to keep reminding myself.

3. Getting sleep. It just has to happen.

4. Cleaning. I took half of the day off today and cleaned our apartment. Totally worth it. The cleaning itself helps me feel better and the cleaner apartment just...it's like a weight off my shoulders. Totally necessary.

5. Finding things that are joyful in each day. And remembering at the end of the day 5 things that were wonderful that happened or I saw.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Keeps Notes

A good scientist keeps careful notes. I do try but often come up short. With my memory as scattered as it has been lately, good notes are invaluable!

So. With that in mind, I would like to record the following things.

This afternoon Mr. Random and I were discussing Wiggles' more recent behavior. Typical toddler stuff - not wanting to share, some hitting, easily frustrated - and how we wanted to address it, and if it even needed to be addressed. We concluded that while his behavior is quite normal, we want to be vigilant and mindful. We want him to be able to explore and have his free spirit, but we're also aware that now is as good a time as any (and possibly better) to start promoting the positive behaviors we'd like to see him adopt. It feels like we need to walk a fine line before allowing healthy exploration of new situations, feelings, and ideas while at the same time encouraging politeness, self-awareness, and self-control.

This all sounds well and good, but how on Earth do you translate that into something meaningful when dealing with a headstrong 22-month-old who thinks hitting you is hilarious and any reaction you give is only fuel for the fire? Or who looks you dead in the eye and does exactly what you just asked him (calmly, politely, firmly) not to do?

Well, I don't know about you, but my answer to everything is to consult Dr. Google. I found a link that listed about 8 ideas for handling toddler behavior without quashing their terribly terrific spirits. Okay, I just looked again at the link - it's 14, not 8. Tells you how good my memory is. In any case, what stood out for me (and how knows, maybe this wasn't even in the list! I'm too lazy to read it again right now) were a few main points.

1. To avoid situations where you use your physical size or strength over them.

I hadn't thought about it this way before. I mean sure, no spanking. There are laws and recent studies and the like that tell you that much. But what about when I physically force him to sit, not stand, on his chair? What about when we physically remove him from a room to deter a behavior he's been warned repeatedly to stop? Those are situations where we're using our physical size over him. And I hadn't thought of it that way before. I'm not really used to being the one who can use size to my advantage. I'm usually smaller than everyone I meet!

So I'm taking that one to heart - it really makes sense to me. I hate being reminded of my own physical limitations.

2. Redirct, redirect, redirect. I knew this one before, but reading the article gave me ideas of how. So when he hits someone, remind him that we don't hit people, but praise him for being strong and encourage him to hit a pillow and show you how well he can hit it.

Hmmm. I worry this could backfire, as he wants to demonstrate his strength on people next time. But I liked the idea when applied to say...climbing on the stove. Tell him he can't climb on the stove, but you're impressed with his climbing and would love to see him climb the couch, for instance.

That one makes more sense to me.

3. Offer choices, but manageable ones. Just give 2 options.

I pretty much knew this, but had been letting things slide and overwhelming him with more options a lot of the time. So, back to limiting options. My own personal note - make sure the options are both something you're okay with! :)

So with those main points in mind, I went to pick up my little fellow from school and we actually had a really good afternoon and evening together (Daddy was working). Something about having those points in mind helped me stay really positive with him all night. And I know it helped. I'm not sure if it helped him or me. :) At this point I think it entirely possible the only difference was my perception of our interactions. If that's true, I'll still take it because I felt genuinely happier being with him.

And he did eat a TON at dinner (when he's been picking at his food for several days now). And said thank you many, many times. There were still some hissy fits - but none were truly royal. And he came willingly to his room for bedtime, and even willingly put his car down on the table when I gave him the choice of putting it there or in his bucket. He wanted to take it to bed, but I told him that wasn't an option, but that he COULD put it in one of those two other places. Where did he want to put it?

So, it worked tonight. And these are my notes to refer back to. We'll see if this continues to help us in our direction of firm, loving guidance.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Student Loan Debt

I seem to always compose posts for this blog in my mind when it's least convenient to actually write my thoughts down. It must be a psychological thing, as it's pretty persistent. Maybe I don't actually want to record my thoughts? Or share them with the world? I have no idea, but whatever it is, it's darn inconvenient.

The worst part of it is that I can sit down, like write now, and remember very clearly that I was driving home on the freeway - even where we were on the freeway - when I composed this rumored post...but now I can't remember one word. Not even the subject. What on earth was I thinking about? It seemed...important. Like something I'd like to write down, think about, mull over, and perhaps consider later. Instead it's on the tip of my brain, and I'll have to content myself writing something else.

Or do I?

*Gets up, makes some toast, and when my hands are entirely full - ah hah! I seriously remembered.*

Student Loan Debt. (I just changed the post title to match)

It seems like yahoo.com (wonderful, wonderful "news" site that is) puts up these articles on a quarterly basis about the poor young people whose lives have been ruined by student loan debt, and then the oddball that did something astounding like paying off $100k in student loan debt in 1 year. (yes, really 1 year - as I recall he had a 6 figure salary, lived in his parent's basement, didn't have a family to support, and brought his own hip flask to bars with friends...which I think is illegal, but the point is, in the right circumstances, amazing things can happen)

And well, I read these stories aptly, because soon I will be the young(ish) person swimming in debt. The debt is piling up currently, but as I'm still in school I'm not swimming yet. More just eying the growing pool of debt warily and with growing concern.

I find it interesting to read that many young people are putting off marriage, home-buying, and babies due to their immense educational debts. While I can certainly see putting off home-buying (as that's just more debt, and not entirely necessary...there are many nice living options in the rental category), I find putting off marriage and babies more troubling. And, oddly counter to my situation. Because, you see, my student loan debt is due almost entirely to my marriage and baby. If I didn't have the husband (or hadn't had the house), and if I didn't have the child, my expense would be considerably less. So much less, that I think I would be able to manage on my meager income as an adjunct faculty and teaching assistant. Sure I'd probably eat more ramen and I'd likely have a roommate, but I don't think I'd have the student loan debt either.

And it's such a conundrum. Because it's not like baby-making can wait indefinitely. And are you really supposed to put Life on hold because you've decided to pursue upper level education? Which takes time...sometimes the prime time of your fertile years?  And if you put it off too long, but are still determined enough, you can pay just as much money (and then some!) trying to make that baby in your later years. So then what is the point?

Basically, I don't know what the answer is, but I know I do not like this situation. For anyone. Least of all myself (because it's always about "me," isn't it?). And I don't understand it. I have worked, usually multiple jobs, my entire student career. Well, okay, during my freshman year I didn't have a job - but the summer between Freshman and Sophomore year I had a full time job. And from then on I at least worked part-time...all the way up until now, when I'm juggling 2-3 jobs each summer, and 1-2 jobs during the regular school year. And yet...I still have a mountain of debt piling up. Wanna know the kicker? I have been going to school (college-school) for...gawd this is going to be a scary number...10 years. Phew! Of those 10, I have paid for exactly 1 year of tuition. The first 4 years of my undergraduate (I did the 5-year plan) I had a scholarship for my tuition. All of my graduate years (whew, going on 6!) - tuition paid for. Which means...basically, all but about $8k of my debt is living expense. And books and fees.


About this Blog

I have a journal. You know, the real kind...paper, bound in a book form...nice leather cover. And I do write in it...every few months. I like it, but somehow I find it hard to keep up regularly. I'm at a computer nearly all the time, so I find it easier to keep up on this blog. So, that's what this blog is for. To help me journal when I'm away from my journal. A place to collect my thoughts before I lose them to the chaos of my mind.

Or see my first post here. That's why I started this blog.