Friday, September 29, 2017

Self Improvement September-- 3 things I decided to try

I gained back all of the weight I lost during my Whole30.  I mean, I could tell this was the case because none of my effing clothes fit, but then I went to the doctor last week and had to be weighed and yes.  I gained it all back.

So then I spent a week watching what I was eating pretty much and using My Fitness Pal. I stepped on the scale Wednesday morning to discover that I GAINED a pound and a half.  Son of a bitch.  That also means that I weight 13 pounds more than I did when I bought most of my clothes (and I thought I was fat back then- ha!).

I decided that what I really needed was a disordered way of eating that could distract me from both end times and my huge ass.  It is hard for me to stay motivated when the end of the world draws near and when I am aware of how fat I am because I figure WHO GIVES A SHIT.

So, I have decided to embark on intermittent fasting.  

I am going to do the 16/8 method where I fast for 16 hours a day and eat for 8.  For me this works out to be between 12 and 8, roughly. But there are other methods you can try and lots of science that sound fake. I was SO HUNGRY yesterday.  SO HUNGRY.  And then at12:30 when I could finally eat (I ate until 8:30 the previous night), a student came to my office hours.  I almost cried.

I ate my egg white omelet with turkey, spinach, and mozzarella cheese and my bagel with cream cheese (the only carbs I have had all day unless you count an apple and 2 TB of spicy hummus) at 7:52, and I think I can make it until 12 tomorrow.  When I feel hungry, I will just remind myself that my body is eating my ass.

I don't want the kids to know I am doing this because I try not be too nuts about food in front of them.  They just think I really like ice water and black coffee for breakfast these days.

I think it's going to be a successful thing for me though because I like rules.  I didn't even WANT to cheat on the Whole30.  Food tracking by itself is easy for me to cheat on-- not totally sure why.  So, anyway, I am going to give this a week and see what happens.  The only tricky thing is that if I ever want to go out and enjoy adult beverages, I can't eat until like 4:00pm, assuming I will be done drinking by midnight.  And then I have to wait 16 hours to eat again.  So that might take some planning.

To help keep my hands busy and not shove all of the food I can grab in my face hole, I am back to the subversive cross stitching.

Oh!  One more thing!  I have been so anxious and distracted lately that I really wanted to make some space in my head for quiet. So!

I have started meditating.

I know right?!  Only 4 days in to the guided meditation beginning sequence on the Headspace app, but I LOVE it, and I have some books about it on the way.  OF COURSE I DO.

So there you go.  3 new happiness boosters.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

No substance here

I had hoped to write a more substantive post on some things I am experimenting with re: self improvement.  But! I am down to the last few bits of work time today and have so much left to do before I go.  So.  No substance here.

Gymnastics picnic.  Serious biz, obvs.
 Harry takes so much food to school with him-- no way is he eating it all, right?
 And also he ate cookies for pre-breakfast
And!  Bought $40 worth of additional cafeteria food so far this school year, which is not even a month old.

I am soooooooo drained, you guys.

Bah humbug.  How is September over ALREADY?!

O-- I have to run and make a bad caffeine choice before a meeting.  You know how it goes.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Writer's Block

I so wish this was going to be Cooper's Halloween costume.  But, alas.

Ok.  So.  I largely took the summer off from writing, and now it is the end of September (WHAT? HOW?), and I am having a really hard time getting back into my book project.  It's been so long since I have written regularly that I started reading backwards to figure out what was going on and then I fell down an editing rabbit hole even though I am not ready fro that part of the project yet.  I have just not been able to make it a part of my daily routine.  Like, I am giving myself credit for opening the document, and I know that's good for helping the dread go away.  but really, I should not get props for OPENING A FILE and messing with it for a few minutes.

Anybody have any advice on how to find my way back in?

My schedule is really hectic for a few weeks because I have to pop in on my TAs to observe the teaching their classes, and that takes up all of my extra time.  I have been putting my writing on my list everyday but then conveniently not getting to it.


Ever since  wrote  dissertation with babies around, I have decided that writer's bock is not a thing that exists-- it's a luxury I didn't have time for.  But now I have time.  And so.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Go slow to go fast-- something I wish I had remembered yesterday

I just want to say congratu-freaking-lations to us for not screwing up FAMILY MOVIE FRIDAY yet.  We started the new tradition on September 15 because we were out of town the first 2 weekends in September.  We saw Power Rangers with frozen pizza the first time and we went to the move theater to see Lego Ninjago and eat movie theater pizza delivered to our reclining seats THIS IS WHY AMERICA IS FAT.  So, that's 2 in a row.  PERFECT RECORD.

My Monday was shitty, you guys.

I thought I was being all awesome making the kids pumpkin pancakes not from a box, but when I reached into the nether regions of my baking cabinet to find cloves, I found them STUCK TIGHT TO THE SHELF and then realized that on the very top shelf, a bottle of corn syrup that I keep on hand for a very specific Christmas cookie recipe had spilled everywhere.  That is not a mess you can un-see. I needed a putty knife to clean it up.

Then, I made a crock pot meal before I went to work and realized like 3 seconds before I needed to leave that there was no chicken in the house.  As you might imagine, chicken was a key component of this CHICKEN tikka masala recipe.

Also, I hit my funny bone really hard on the dryer and spilled fruit out of the fridge. And my outfit looked really stupid and not what it looked like in my head, but I didn't have time to change.  Oh!  And I cheaped out and bought an off-brand razor because I was tired of buying expensive blades, and I am stubbly.

None of these makes for a shitty day, huh?  Who new that blogging was a gratitude exercise?  THE WHOLE INTERNET, DUMBASS.


You know who's not stressed?  Her.

 Also her.
 I LOVE THE LITTLE GYM so freaking much.  I am so glad we're back on the big! red! mat!
 So is Dorothy

 This is the face of a child who just found out that his sister got to pick out a treat at the dollar store while he was at school.  IT'S ALL SO SAD.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Happy birthday, Cooper!

Yesterday was Cooper's birthday party.  AND OH MY GOD ARE WE EXHAUSTED.

He didn't have a theme, which was awesome and a theme in and of itself.

Behold, the tiny Star Wars Hy-Vee cake. 
 And the super hero cupcakes Ben bought from another grocery store when he realized the Hy-Vee cake was too small.
 And also the Power Ranger piñata.
 And, OF COURSE, the pumpkin table clothes and plates and napkins and rando dollar store birthday hats and blowers
 We got suuuuuuuuuuuuper creative with the seating to find spots for 22 kids.
 And we blew up the bounce house even though the birthday boy couldn't go in it.  Because, you know, broken arm.
 All prepped for a donut eating game.
We had big bowls of bubbles and sidewalk chalk and lots of loud music to greet guests when they arrived. But first, I tortured the kids with driveway pictures and couldn't get one of just Cooper because of Hammy McCamerahog.

Once the 22 kindergarteners showed up, I basically stopped taking pictures because they were hard to corral.

How did we keep them all busy for 2 hours?

We did bubbles and chalk for a hot minute.  Then we went in the back yard to bounce until the kids almost killed each other (approx 8.5 minutes). Then we let the kids try to eat the donut garlnad without using their hands.  Then I passed out treat bags and let everyone raid the school carnival's worth of prizes I bought.  Then Ben transformed the back yard into game stations, and I took everyone out front to play more games.  First we did that one game where you put a cookie on your forehead and try to get it in your mouth without using your hands. Then we did a balloon relay race.  Then we played hot potato only they COULD NOT PLAY HOT POTATO, and it was really hot in front.  So, we went in the back with Ben and did game stations: pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, drop a clothespin in a jar, beer pong with no beer, unwrap a Hershey's kiss with mittens on, and rescue a Lego guy from an ice cube.  We gave lots of carnival prizes for each game.  It was finally time to go inside for sandwiches, pizza, goldfish, fruit, cake/cupcakes, and ice cream.  And juice boxes. Duh.  Then back outside for the piñata.  Inside to open presents.  And then home with bulging treat bags and balloons. PHEW!

Donut game:
 Pin-the-tail: (Harry and Jack and Harry's friend helped man the station and were adorbs)
 Clothespin drop:
 Mitten game (big hit):
 Lego ice game-- another huge hit
 Dorothy-- never out of the frame
 In fact, here she is begin 86'ed from blowing out his candle
 Hockey stick piñata

 What's better than candy?  DIRT CANDY.
 Present mosh pit

 And the aftermath.  It took me more than 2 hours to clean up.
But Cooper loved it, and that's what matters, right?

Friday, September 22, 2017

I would say TGI Friday, but there's a lot of Friday to get through.

Today was the first of several supremely tricky mornings where there isn't just a home parent and a work parent. Instead, we both need to go to work.  Bah.  Ben still needed to work from home, though, this morning, so it wasn't like I had help really getting the kids off to school.  As the normal at-home Friday parent, I don't mind the kid rush usually because I can clean up the house and exercise after they go to school.  That meant that today, I was up before 5:30 and on the elliptical by 5:45.  I was dressed by 7 when the kids came up for breakfast, and I even got Harry off to the bus by 6:45.  It was exhausting!

And now I am at work with no plans to be home before Dorothy is done with school and a TON of errands to cram into my post work pre-gymnastics time.  Because did I mention we have 20 kindergarteners coming over on Sunday for Cooper's bday party?  GAH.

Another pic of Dorothy before I ruined her life by telling her that we were a month early for dance class.
 Me, doing what I do most.
 Dorothy and Beatrix having an ice cream cone through the world's dirtiest door.
 Cheers for the Big Brother finale
 And cheers to a truly spectacular summer!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Over the hump. Just barely.

Still sniffling my way through What Happened.

Ben noticed my snail's pace and asked me what was wrong, and I tried to explain how dry and yet also gut-wrenching the book was.  But really, guys.  IT ALL MAKES ME CRY, even the chapter where she talks about her favorite foods on the campaign trail.

In other news besides what not to read at the end of your menstrual cycle/beginning of a new one.

Our Tuesday was even more of a cluster than I was expecting it to be because the babysitter didn't show and Ben and Jack were already at baseball, so the rest of us had to make the tough call to miss Cub Scouts, which was especially hard on Cooper because that's like the one activity he could still participate in.

Still, we had to prioritize back-to-school night for Harry because I have never even seen his school and the only reason I even knew where it was is because I used to ride the bus past it 13 years ago in grad school.  #MOTY

It was great, BTW. Charming.  Nursery-school adorable.  Full of wonderful people.  And also there was ice cream.
 I thought that Dorothy had dance yesterday, so I got her all hyped up for it.
 And then we got to the studio and no one was there and I checked my email and discovered that preschool classes start NEXT MONTH and everyone else started this week.  She took it about as well as you would expect a 4 year-old who is really into dance and single-minded when she thinks something is happening a certain way would take it.

Which is to say we went to Orange Leaf.  IMMEDIATELY.
 She requested that we "take a picture togedder with our faces next to each other."  So, I mean, duh.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Thought on What Happened, through my tears

I am reading What Happened against a backdrop of books I have been tearing through for my class next spring.

Specifically, right now, I am reading Cheryl Glenn's brilliant Rhetoric Retold which is a journey through rhetoric's history teasing out the influence of women from classical Greece through the Renaissance.

In grad school, I learned about Republican Motherhood, an idea put forth by feminist historian Linda Kerber, who argued that at the formation of our country, women could only be citizens through their mothering of future citizens.  So, women didn't get to have rights, but they needed to know about rights and they needed to possess the moral and intellectual qualities of people with rights so that they could teach their sons who would someday inherit the earth.  This idea helped women (upperclass white women) get educations because to raise future leaders, they had to know what they were talking about.  And it was this idea that women were only useful as mothers of men that Elizabeth Cady Stanton was rallying against in her brilliant speech "Solitude of Self," which put forth the radical idea that women were valuable people with souls and desires worthy of rights because they were PEOPLE in isolation, not just in relationship to men.

What I didn't know and what Glenn makes clear is that this same kind of idea governed the great Greek and Roman thinkers, too, who understood that educated women were better mothers, able to produce better classes of future men.  Women could be educated in the service of the children they'd raise, if , of course, they were raising the right kind of children.

Historians are quick to note that Republican Motherhood is a specific idea linked to a specific historical moment, but as a rhetorician, I have always understood that it left its stain on discourse.  If you think about it, it's an idea that still lingers in pop culture.

Republican Motherhood does a lot of important ideological work.  It romanticizes the backbreaking labor of mothering, putting it in the service of a greater good. It holds up some women's mothering as more useful than other women's by focusing on the product of love's labor, calling forth notions of who gets to be a citizen, who get resources, whose bodies matte, etc.  It makes motherhood central to women's worth; no matter what else a woman is, being a mother is still her most important job in a way that father is never a man's defining label.  It professionalizes motherhood in really interesting ways.  Motherhood becomes a vocation that requires skills.  Experts get to lead the discourse about mothering.  At the same time, shadow mothers are marginalized, not paid a living wage, etc because women who don't devote themselves to mothering are still traitors to their gender (and their race and class if these women are white and wealthy).  We can trace all of the ideologies that followed Republican Motherhood back to it-- scientific motherhood, intensive motherhood, etc-- in a Thomas Kuhn style paradigm revolution.

While you could argue MAYBE that the social imperative to reproduce has lessened a little, I think that women are still valued in relationship to/ in service to others more than we are valued as women qua women.

So, I am thinking about this as I read What Happened.  I am also thinking about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's We Should All Be Feminists, a pamphlet adapted from her TED talk about how we remake the world in a feminist way.  Hint: it involves the way raise our daughters and our sons.  And, of course, I am thinking about bell hook's Feminism Is for Everybody, which I will probably always be thinking about for the rest of my life because the way she explains patriarchy and feminist movement is so dispassionately passionate.

All of this is to explain why the part of the book that has made me cry the very hardest-- and, honestly, I cry every time I pick the darn thing up-- is Clinton's discussion of why she started wearing pants.  She said she had some issues being seated onstage as first lady and having up-the-skirt photography angles, which made her think of Nancy Drew who did her mot serious sleuthing in slacks in case she needed to climb into any dangerous places.

So here's Hillary Clinton, a woman who grew up in the same patriarchy we all did, who gathered these quotidian feminist breadcrumbs and turned them into the most spectacular life.  And then here's our entire misogynist culture telling her to go fuck herself when we should all-- men AND women-- be united shoulder to shoulder telling patriarchy to go fuck itself instead.

I think I am also crying for me because I am reaching the age when my last best hope for anything approaching a great life (great in a big sense, not great in a happy or satisfied sense because I am both of those things) is to have children who are brilliant, successful people.  And of course this is what I want-- it's what we all want, right?-- but I think that I live in the shadow of Republican Motherhood more than I thought I did.  We all do.  Even Hillary Clinton.

No matter how much we love our children and love being mothers, we have to give away some of ourselves to do it, have to make choices that men don't have to and probably never will have to because even the most feminist-minded man benefits from patriarchal structure in ways he probably doesn't like to think about.

Not only did I think about reading Nancy Drew when I was a little girl (and not picking up on the pants detail as significant but wondering how in the hell she survived being hit over the head with a gun every other book) and how cool it was that Hillary Clinton read those same stories, but I also thought about Audre Lorde.  Dismantling patriarchy with an understanding of the world born of Republican Motherhood and steeped in the kind of misogyny that's fluoride-like-- it's just in the water, man--is most assuredly a master's tool/master's house situation.

Here's to a world where our leaders don't have to waste years in the makeup chair and where our daughters don't have to mark their path to greatness with crumbs of resistance guiding the way.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

It feels like December in the ivory tower but July outside

I took zero pictures yesterday, I think because for the first time since school started, I found my groove around the house.

Before Harry got up for breakfast at 6:35 (hot apple pie à la mode), I had completed all of the work I needed to do for my adjunct online class.  I fed Harry and got him off to the bus, switched the laundry so I was on the second full load before the other kids got up, refereed a walk-the-dog fight, made and cleaned up everyone else's breakfast, etc.  By the time Cooper and Jack were ready to walk to school and Dorothy was ready for Ben to take her, all of the bedrooms and bathrooms were cleaned up and wiped down, and I had already cleaned up breakfast. Plus I was reasonably sure that everyone brushed their teeth, and I know that at least 2 kids brushed their hair.  I spent the first 45 minutes or so in a quiet house catching up on emails (I like to zero out all of my inboxes on Monday mornings and then try to keep them at almost zero for the rest of the week).  Then I had to work out, get dressed, fold and put away laundry, and pre-make a skillet dinner for Ben and the kids (didn't have to do this; just a GIVER).  I had just enough time to read  some of a book about the re-gendering of ancient rhetoric before it was time to get Dorothy and do the lunch time scramble, which included packing myself a dinner to eat at work.  I read my book and responded to student emails off and on until Ben got home.  By this point, the kids were only like 10 minutes away because all of the boys get out early on Mondays.  So, in a fit of domesticity, I hung around and read my book at the kitchen counter for a little longer so I could pack lunches for Tuesday before even going to work.  I also helped Harry with math homework-- meaning he explained how to do stuff and I reminded him to write neatly.  ALL BEFORE GOING TO WORK.

I got home late, but the big kids were still awake, so we all watched American Ninja Warrior (LOL, I know) before Ben and I fell asleep to The Vietnam War, which is GREAT and you should watch it.

It was actually nice to come home last night and not have to make myself dinner 2 hours late or pack lunches or any of that.  I did have to wash the skillet from the dinner I cooked, empty the dishwasher because the sink was full of dirty dishes, and put away all of the clean dishes that were drying in the sink when I left as well as all of the clean dishes that SOMEONE just added to that side of the sink without putting away the dirty ones-- ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME.

But.  I have so much work to do at work, too.  Now, I need to find my groove there.  I kind of hate lecturing so far-- it makes me feel dumb.  And!  I have an amazing offer for help on the big class I am creating for the (rapidly approaching) spring semester. But this person wants to help me NEXT MONTH.

So.  The time has come to demolish this reading list.
And I have to start observing my TAs every free second that I am not in the classroom, and have we talked about all of the meetings?  So many meetings, you guys.  

Tonight is so ridiculous that we have to have a babysitter come help because we have-- between 4:30 and 9-- the following:  baseball, cub scouts, another cub scouts (different times just for added fun), back-to-school-night, condo board meeting, and hockey pre-season practice.  Ben and I hope to rendezvous on the couch by 9:30.  I hope to make it home in time to feed the kids and clean up dinner and re-pack lunches before the babysitter gets here, but I may have to collect some of the children from the baseball field.  Yikes.

See you on the flip side.

Monday, September 18, 2017

APPLES! And another broken wrist. Yes, seriously.

Listen to our most recent podcast here or here.  We talk about DRINKING LESS and explore an excellent piece in Ravishly that takes down mommy wine culture and led to some really good Facebook convo.
Sometimes, we eat dinner topless.  And also we have donuts.  WE ARE FALLING APART AT THE SEAMS HERE PEOPLE.
Dorothy and I are having the best lazy afternoons before the boys get home.
And!  She has made a triumphant return to the BIG! RED! MAT! and The Little Gym, our favorite favorite kiddie activity, and we have more than a decade of kiddie activity experience.
She's pretty happy.
We kicked off a tradition that I hope we will be able to stick to: FAMILY MOVIE FRIDAY!  Every Friday night (or maybe some Saturdays because LIFE), we are going to watch a move and have some kind of pizza.
This first one was Power Rangers and frozen pizza nd Harry had a sleepover so we are already kind of screwing it up.
Saturday morning, Harry lost a tooth in a donut at his sleepover and the mom sent me a picture of him holding a donut and smiling so big I could see his molar-- or where it used to be-- so I thought I should get the other kids donuts, too.
Dorothy brought some munchkins home for her dollies.
When I was cleaning out the fridge before grocery shopping, Dorothy helped and then adopted a motley crew of condiments (plus a blueberry on top of a jar or cinnamon for the baby) to play house with.
My brother sent me this amazing sticker:
I sneaked away on Saturday night to see IT with friends-- it was not scary, but it was sad and creepy.  MY FAVORITE.
Then! Sunday!  We went apple picking at a totally perfect orchard I heard FB friends raving about-- and they were right to rave!  We had donuts and coffee/cider to start
and then headed out on a tractor to pick a bushel of apples-- INCLUDING HONEY CRISPS!!
The kids were just really into the basket.
Ah, boys.
Wow!  We look more alike than I thought.
Dorothy was totally freaked out.
Not Cooper (who lost his second tooth on movie night in a cookie and ate it.  The second tooth in a row that he has eaten).
She loved the low hanging fruit.  Not a metaphor.
Jack was obsessed with tracking down the best apples for pie.
Ben was just happy that there weren't any "NO CLIMBING" signs like at the orchard we usually go to
So! Many!  APPLES!
She was raising her hand because she, too, was excited about honey crisps.  But not as excited as I was.
Peak fall!
Surprisingly, this was NOT how Cooper broke his wrist.
Family photo AFTER the wrist incident.  Should have stopped here sooner.

Ben splinted it with a wad of rolled up baseball line ups and some hockey tape because the soonest we could get into urgent care was 4 pm.
So excited to celebrate his bday with Legos and a Toys R Us gift card and also a chocolate milkshake.
She was SO JELLY that Cooper got presents.  Birthdays are tough on her.
Look at those APPLES!!
I took Cooper to the doctor when we got home, and saw this fish with a person face.  I love him.
Here he is proudly brandishing his splint.  We see a pediatric orthopedist this week for a cast/brace.
Subway.  Why not?
This pie is SO UGLY.  I had a major crust fail, and I am still not sure why.  I had to piece the top one together an droll the bottom one out in the pan.  But oh does it taste amazing.
Arm story:

As if I wasn't going to tell it?

After we picked apples, Ben and his dad walked the baskets to our cars, and Ben's mom and I took the kids to the playground.

The playground was PACKED.

I stayed with Dorothy and Ben's mom stayed with Jack. Cooper started agitating to go in the fence maze, but I told him to wait for his dad.  He started to pre-tantrum, and I was like oh no because that was the last thing I wanted to deal with, so I sent him in with a reluctant Harry.

Dorothy and Jack climbed on a crowded play structure and then Jack and Ben's mom went in the maze, and Dorothy ran over to join a hoard of kids playing in these cute little play houses set up to look like old town buildings.

I happened to glance over at the maze to see Cooper balancing on top of a 5-foot fence and Harry standing sort of near him waving his hands at me.  If I could have sprinted over there, I would have been able to get Cooper down.  But I couldn't lose Dorothy in the playhouse throng, so I had to bring her with me, and she didn't want to go.

 By the time we got there, Cooper was filthy and screaming because he fell off the fence onto the hard dirt and hit his right side and arm and the side of his head.

Harry had apparently  freaked because he couldn't figure out the maze and hopped the fence.  When Cooper tried to follow him, he fell.  Ben's mom saw the whole thing happening, too, but she and Jack were stuck in the middle of the maze and couldn't get there in time, either.

We could tell from the crying that his right wrist-- and maybe forearm-- was really badly hurt, and since we have been down the broken wrist road with both Jack and Dorothy, we suspected the worst.


Such a bummer because his flag football season has come to an early end, and he really liked flag football.

Here he is getting a first down: