Microblog Mondays: A double-edged smartphone

Microblog_MondaysP. was four months old before I acquired a smartphone.

It was my stepfather’s, and after he died the company forced my mother to buy the phone out (don’t get me started). Rather than seeing the phone go to waste, I took it over.

There have been some definite benefits to having one:

  • We are no longer surprised by traffic jams (this was the major reason Q. and I knew we would eventually need to get a smartphone)
  • I read (note: not answer) my emails more frequently
  • I keep up with my blog reader (although I am not great at going the extra step to comment)
  • I chat with my sisters on WhatsApp pretty much every day
  • I can send photos of E. and P. to the Australian rellies via our WhatsApp group chat and get photos of their Australian cousins in return (I can’t text picture messages internationally so this has been very useful)
  • I take more photos, especially when we’re out of the house
  • I take more videos of the kids

But I’m very aware that there are also some not insignificant negatives to introducing this new element of technology into my life:

  • The phone is always RIGHT THERE waiting for me to look at it. I’ve adjusted the settings so it doesn’t make any noise unless someone is actually calling me, and I’ve limited which apps are allowed to send me notifications, and I’ve refused to install any games or Fakebook, and I STILL have to watch myself because it is so easy to pick it up and suddenly you’ve wasted ten minutes. I have to be especially conscious of this when P. is awake or when E. is home from school. It’s like those experiments with rats where if the rat pushes a button it gets food- if the rat only gets food some of the time it will actually push the button more often than if it gets food all of the time- so you compulsively check your phone (or your Fakebook news feed or Feedly) because there MIGHT be something new.
  • I get lazy and take photos inside with it rather than doing the work with my big camera. The camera in the phone is not bad but my good camera is much much better if I put the time in.
  • I think I was a better navigator when I used real maps. Possibly this will improve as I get better with understanding the apps, but I know I have really annoyed Q. with multiple last minute “oops- that’s our turn!” statements over the past few months.
  • It’s been really really bad for my anxiety to have Chrome at my fingertips. I bought my laptop when I was pregnant with E., in December 2010. It has no battery life whatsoever and has to be plugged in at all times to work. It is slow and loud (because the fan has to run all the time) and it heats up my legs (because the running fan doesn’t seem to be effective). To do anything on the laptop takes effort. I almost never turn it on during the day with the kids because it a) takes ages to get anything done and b) is this really obvious screen that is eating my attention. But Chrome on the phone is so easy! So if you want to, say, Google, “Does my baby have cerebral palsy” or “Signs of autism in a five-year-old”, it takes ten seconds! And then you go deep down the rabbit hole of crazy. And that’s without even reading anything political.

I’ve made a conscious decision to STOP GOOGLING when on the phone, which has significantly helped. Overall, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives, but it’s clear to me that I need to exercise caution with how I use it. I don’t want it to start using me.

Do you also have a love-hate relationship with your smartphone? How do you balance the benefits of having technology at your fingertips with the phone’s addictive potential?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Anxiety Overload, Butter scraped over too much bread (a.k.a. modern motherhood), Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: The (Not-So) New Normal

Microblog_MondaysOn Saturday, it was a year since my father’s accident. As I said to my sisters that morning over our WhatsApp group chat, he has survived, and we have too.

My Dad sent round an email that broke our hearts. He has fought so hard and accomplished so much. He has defied the doctors’ expectations time and time again. He has, despite our initial fears, decided that he can still have a meaningful life, even though it is not the life that he wanted, not the life that he had planned.

And yet his email made it clear just how much he still struggles to reconcile himself to this life.

I am still struggling too.

When I finished my PhD in December 2014, I got a card from my Dad and my stepmother. In it my Dad had written quite a lengthy message poking fun at himself by commenting that whenever he has told anyone about his daughters’ accomplishments the response has always been stunned silence followed by “Well they didn’t get that from you!”

I don’t have the cards my Dad gave me for any of my birthdays or for Christmas. I don’t tend to keep cards unless they were given to me by Q. (or made for me by E.).

I kept this one.

I didn’t know, of course, what was coming.

But keeping it has meant that I can turn to the card and still see my father’s familiar signature, his instantly recognizable script.

He’ll never write like that again.

Layer upon layer of loss.

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

 

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Filed under Family, Grief, Loss, Microblog Mondays

Speechless but not silent

Microblog_MondaysI have these Microblog Mondays posts I want to write about books, but they keep getting derailed by the unfolding political crisis south of the border. It’s unseemly to post on mundane matters.

A friend on Fakebook apologized this morning for posting yet another link to a political story. I commented that no apology was necessary. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing” and all that.

Yesterday Q. and I took both kids to get their passport photos taken. E. has one working passport and one expired passport. P. still needs both.

The driving force behind this expedition wasn’t the chaos in the U.S. but something more practical: we bought tickets a couple of weeks ago for our trip Down Under this northern summer and we realized we really needed to start getting their documents in order.

Still, there’s a steady refrain underlying my thoughts these days.

Get the documents.

Keep all of our options open.

Have an exit strategy for Q. and the kids if it comes to that.

I keep seeing posts calling for Gen X women to rise up. I straddle the border between generations- some articles put me at the very end of Gen X and others consider me to be among the first of the Millennials. Either way, it’s clear that we’ve been spoiled and pampered (we being white Gen X/Millennial women of privilege- the situation is not at all the same for POC). Maybe we thought that the big battles were won.

It might take us a while to get organized and find our voices.

But then I hope we roar.

And I hope it’s not too late.

How are you balancing mundane matters with the state of the world today?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

4 Comments

Filed under Microblog Mondays, Soapbox

Grey

I am struggling a little bit right now.

It’s a combination of a whole bunch of things:

  • As I said in my last post, introducing P to food hasn’t gone all that smoothly. It’s been a stressful couple of weeks.
  • Adding in pumping sessions when P naps has been great for my supply and helpful in terms of always having milk for her oatmeal, but it’s eaten into my ability to do anything else. There are a few things I can do while pumping but many more things that I can’t.
  • P is back to consistently getting up twice a night- usually around 11:30 and then again around 3:30 or 4:00. This is fine, especially when it means she goes back to sleep until 6:30 or so rather than waking up for the day before 6:00, but I’m realizing that the shorter stretches of sleep are starting to wear me down. I’m getting enough total sleep but not a long enough stretch to feel refreshed.
  • I had been worried about P because she has a very dominant hand. I first noticed this ages ago but it became really obvious when she started army crawling. She does all of her reaching/pulling with her right hand and the left arm is just dragged. She also doesn’t splash with the left arm in the bath, prefers to reach with her right, only bangs objects held in the right hand, etc. She can use the left but the disparity is very obvious. We had a head ultrasound, which came back clear, and the neurologist squeezed us in yesterday to get a look at P. He can see the asymmetry but didn’t feel it needed further investigation at this point. In his words, “She looks too good to have had a stroke.” Huge relief, but until yesterday it had been taking up a lot of mental energy.
  • E is still struggling with going to school. He would be a perfect candidate for homeschooling were it not for the fact that I would go crazy. He has made a friend, which is wonderful, but we still have a LONG way to go. His inflexibility at school and at home can be both problematic and exhausting. Q. had to drop him at school the other day because I had to take P to the hospital for her scans and it was a huge issue. Being on mat leave has not been good for him because he’s now accustomed to me being around to do everything.
  • My mother is doing something that I think is hasty, ill-advised, and foolish. I don’t have the mental space or energy to worry about her but it is impossible not to.
  • The weather sucks. Grey, grey, grey, day after day. It is not cold, which is good for getting out with P on the school run, but the parks are a sea of mud and there is no snow at all for E. I badly miss the sunlight.

I am not sure where January went (other than nursing, pumping, feeding). There are so many things I should be doing and they all just seem to be too hard right now. I don’t even know what I’ve been doing in the evenings between when I get E. in bed and when I go to bed myself.

Q. had a birthday this week, a major milestone one, and I really dropped the ball on being ready for it.

I have to submit paperwork to the university to keep my place in line for teaching contracts for the next academic year. I’ve been meaning to sort this out for three weeks and still haven’t done it.

I have a bunch of friends and family I should email and/or Skype and I haven’t found the energy to do that either.

I want to write P’s seven month letter but haven’t started it.

I’ve been focused on my baby, but there are other people who need me too.

I’m tired and I’m worried and I feel like I’ve been both those things for months and months and months and I just don’t know when that’s going to change.

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Filed under Butter scraped over too much bread (a.k.a. modern motherhood), My addled brain

You wouldn’t think eating would be this complicated

I feel like January has entirely revolved around food. It’s gone like this:

  1. P. started to get interested in actually consuming food rather than just holding it in her hand and licking it. Upon starting to eat she almost immediately cut back on how much she was nursing.
  2. As a result of P’s fussy nursing, my supply dropped. This meant P. got frustrated and started having to wait for a letdown, which led to lots of pulling at the breast and a super-cranky baby.
  3. I finally realized what was happening, cut solids out entirely for a few days, and started pumping whenever I could.
  4. My supply came back but I now had a mental block about nursing because I was so worried that P. was going to do what E. did and try to self-wean. We’d have the same problem with switching to formula- her MSPI would limit our options. I didn’t think I could face pumping for five months. Also I really really really was not ready to stop breastfeeding.
  5. My mental block got so bad it started to hinder my letdown, which meant that P. would get fussy and impatient, which would make me more nervous and worried, which would hinder the letdown even further, and so on. I started to feel like I was having an anxiety attack every time I could feel a letdown beginning and the adrenaline would trap the milk in my breasts. P’s only good feeds for a few days were before her naps and in the middle of the night- any other time I offered she’d get frustrated waiting and waiting for the letdown.
  6. I solved the mental block by playing on my phone when P was nursing- writing out a message with one hand occupied my brain enough to let my body do what it needed to do. A letdown is a conditioned reflex and I was eventually able to recondition the reflex so that it became easy again.
  7. In the meantime, we reintroduced solids and discovered that BLW was NOT going to work for P. After one too many rounds of “choke until you vomit and then cry and want nothing more to do with food”, we decided to stick with spoon feeding for now (or finger foods that dissolve easily like those Mum Mum things which we never bothered buying with E).
  8. P was back to nursing at least 8 times in 24 hours. I was able to put my phone away and just go back to cuddling. She was really enjoying solids and was starting to eat quite a lot. Other than not being able to figure out when I was supposed to get anything done outside the house (as our days were a sea of drop off, nurse, nap, nurse, eat food, nurse, nap, pick up), I felt like things were going smoothly.
  9. Two days after thinking that, P got super constipated (again, something we never encountered with E.).

And that’s where we’re at. I’m pumping during her first nap every morning to get some milk for her cereal (oatmeal, not rice, so it shouldn’t be contributing to the constipation). And today we’ll be going out to buy pureed pears and prunes to try to sort out her poor tummy as she’s obviously uncomfortable.

This too shall pass.

But it’s been a real pain while it’s been happening.

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Filed under Anxiety Overload, Food, MSPI, Nursing, P.- the first year

Microblog Mondays: “Alternative Facts”

Microblog_Mondays

I didn’t march on Saturday.

I feel a whole host of different emotions about this. Shame, guilt, embarrassment, envy, frustration, etc.

I wish I had marched.

I wish I had put P. in the carrier and pinned a “Future Nasty Woman” to the front of the panel and taken her downtown to join the thousands of others who cared enough to turn up and protest even though he really is #notourpresident because we don’t have a president.

My Mum was visiting and I wish I’d taken her downtown too, three generations of Nasty Women, ready to roar. I would have left E. at home with Q., not because there was no room for men at the march but because E. wouldn’t have been able to handle the crowd and the noise.

I wish I’d turned up, just like I did at the giant “No” rally before the 1995 Quebec referendum. That protest felt like it really mattered. It felt like it was important that I was there.

I think Saturday would have been the same.

Here’s the truth: I didn’t actually know there was a march in my city.

I’ve been dealing with a couple of issues with P. in the last week or so and it’s led me to stay offline as much as possible, far away from Dr. Google and the scary scary answers you can always find with any search inquiry. I’ve been off social media. I haven’t been reading the newspaper.

I have been, as I belatedly realized late Saturday afternoon, almost scarily ill-informed.

I had my reasons.

But in a world where White House representatives refer to “alternative facts” when confronted with the deliberate falsehoods they’ve put forward, my reasons aren’t good enough.

From now on, I am paying attention.

And when the next time comes, I will march.

What about you? Did you march, even if you don’t live in the U.S.A.?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Microblog Mondays, Soapbox

Procrastinate no more!

Microblog_MondaysI am a creature of habit.

I am also a creature of to-do lists.

Nothing helps quiet my mind better than lots of lovely organized planning. With lists full of items I can cross off.

I like crossing things off. I have been known to add things on to a list that I have already done just so I can cross them off.

For years now I’ve been using the same annual diary/agenda/planner: the Moleskine 12 month weekly planner, large, black, soft cover. It is absolutely perfect for me because one side has the days of the week and the other side has a ruled page for “notes and ideas” (according to Moleskine). I use it for my to-do lists:

This was my week starting the 29th of February 2016 (right in the middle of semester):

2017-01-10-11-28-01

This was my week starting the 6th of June 2016 (so the week before the week P was born):

2017-01-10-11-27-35

Q and I use Google Calendar (we have a joint calendar plus separate work calendars), and there is a paper calendar hanging in our kitchen (usually train-themed, as chosen by E), but these little black books are my brain. I would be completely lost without them. I keep them all because I like the idea that I can look back at these snippets of my day-to-day existence.

And yet, EVERY YEAR, I have the same argument with myself.

They’re not cheap- $25.00 on Amazon or in the stores. And I know that they get discounted once the next year starts. So every year I debate in December whether I should buy one at full price or wait to get a discounted one.

The thing is, the discounted ones are never easily found online. I have to physically go search the stores. Some years I luck out. Other years I have to buy one that isn’t quite right- it’s the pocket version, or it has a hard cover, or it’s the 18 month planner.

This year was no different. I quibbled and delayed until they were all sold out and the best match I could find online was a green one (GREEN! THE HORROR!) that was hard cover AND pocket-sized AND still full-price.

I don’t have time to scour the shops to save 50%. So I ordered the green one and it was finally the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I love my planner and I want it to be exactly the same every.single.year.

It gets more use than probably 90% of what is in our house.

So I swear that this year will be the last year where I have to buy the wrong product because I’m too miserly to buy what I really want.

Do you have a yearly planner you can’t live without? Do you also try to play the waiting game to get it on sale?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Butter scraped over too much bread (a.k.a. modern motherhood), Microblog Mondays, My addled brain