Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January Gratitude

Since I am ending the month with a list of stuff that didn't go so well, I thought it might be nice (healthy? balanced?) to include a few things I loved, too.

1. I had a lot of time to read many excellent books this month.
2.  I got to enjoy a couple of weeks at home without the kids.
3.  I started a new semester and remembered how much I love my job.
4.  Harry and I began our Tuesday adventures.
5.  Dorothy became a big kid overnight who can attend to all aspects of her daily toilet-- even hair brushing.
6.  Little Gym show week and dance class song-and-costume reveal.
7.  Valentine Mad Libs
8.  Creative day dates outside the ouse for me and Ben.
9.  Naps.
10.  We planned three vacations and booked two of them-- I love having trips on the calendar!!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Things I'm Leaving in January

I want to use Gretchen Rubin's strategy of the clean slate to maintain my healthy habits this year.  As a result, I am treating each month as a clean slate, a fresh start, a do-over-- and I am going to wrap up the month by making a list of things I did that I didn't like doing.

So, here are some behaviors that won't be joining me in February:

1.  Being a hermit:  I am not a person who needs a lot of social interaction.  When I was getting my MA and living by myself, there were many weeks that went by where I didn't go anywhere but class, a greasy restaurant to get takeout, and my apartment.  AND I WAS HAPPY.  But also, probably, kind of weird and I forgot how to communicate with people.  Thank God there was no Facebook. I have sort of fallen int that trap agin.  I go to work.  I teach class.  I have meetings.  I see parents at school and dance and gymnastics and hockey and cub scouts.  But really I am not hanging out with them.  It's more like when toddlers engage in parallel play.  So!  I am filling up my dance card with dates in February.

2.  Unloading my shitty mood on Ben the minute he walks in the door: It's not Ben's fault that the kids were fighting or I was a procrastinator and didn't get all of my work done.  In fact, his arrival signals the fact that my life is about to get a whole lot easier, so I need to act like I appreciate him.  Because I do!  And I hope that I can sort of lead by example on this front and come home to a SAHD who is in a better mood on the days I work at the office.

3.  Rushing through mornings and bedtimes with the kids:  You guys! They are growing up so fast. (It's a cliche because it's TRUE and we need to SAY IT). To them, every day is fresh and ripe, exploding with possibilities, and they aren't treating their routines like items on a checklist they can complete and then declare finished so they can curl up on the couch with a book and a blanket or a stack of papers or a screen full of frantic emails.  And neither should I.  I am consumed by the telos of the day without recognizing its potential to become something transformative.  That's the magic of little kids:  EVERY DAY can be a transformative experience.

I think I could make this a longer list, but I also think I need to pick the most important behaviors to jettison and work slowly through them, so I am going to leave it here.  With a picture to remind me that this is a fun life and I enjoy it.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Dumb Life Hacks I Should Have Known By Now

I imagine that this will be a series of posts because you guys for real. My life is not interesting enough to merit once-a-day posting.  And also I am pretty dumb for a grown up.  In the common sense department, I mean.  Next weekend, Ben is taking Harry to a hockey tournament, and the other 2 kids have hockey games around here while he's gone. I said I didn't know if I would be able to drive Cooper to his game, and Ben was like WTAF? But then he asked me where the new dentist office-- that I have been to TWICE-- is, and I was like oh it's over here by the bank and Whole Foods, and you know what?  IT ISN'T and I have BEEN THERE and drive by it on my way to work.  My brain just doesn't work when it comes to directions.  And other things that people are supposed to know, really.  Long story short (actually, it is still pretty long), Ben was like you know what?  Maybe you shouldn't plan on making it to Cooper's game.

Anyway, I have no hack associated with that.  People would say USE GOOGLE MAPS, obvi, but that also freaks me out because if Google maps leads me astray, I have no way of figuring out WHERE TO GO,  You know?

But all of that is an early morning tangent.

What I really want to talk about is LIFE HACKS I discover through my own stupidity/cheapness/by total accident

  1. I have been ham-fisting my eye makeup for about 25 years, and just the other day, when I smudged the hell out of my liner and looked even more run down because of the black circles under my eyes, I stumbled upon an excellent way to correct mascara and liner mistakes!  Put some of your precious eye-area wrinkle cream on a Q-tip and gently wipe off the mess.  Bonus: SKIN TREATMENT!  (I have done this before with makeup remover or cold cream, but then your face is a greasy mess and totally naked in part.  The wrinkle cream takes off the mascara/liner smudge but leaves the rest).
  2. There is an APP for MY LIBRARY.  Are you kidding me? Now I can put books on hold the very second they appear in my life.  THIS IS AMAZING. I think to celebrate this discovery, I am going to stroll Barnes and Noble, requesting the heck out of every book that catches my fancy.
  3. This is a Cub Scout hack-- and it makes me think that there are probably a million other Cub Scout hacks that I don;t know about because I have  barely dipped my toe in those waters, but you guys!  You can buy a Pinewood derby car kit that is totally easy and age appropriate!  It's amazing.  And only $9 with a Michael's coupon.  GAME.  CHANGER.

What do you have? Any life hacks you've stumbled upon this month?

Sunday, January 28, 2018

What We're Eating 5/52


Baked ham, cooked carrots, roasted potatoes, and french bread ($18).  Also, FINALLY, the apple crisp.


Ham sandwiches on rye, chips, fruit, etc. ($10)


Pioneer Woman sloppy joes, veggies and guac, chips, and onion dip, iced brownies because WHY NOT. ($23)


Ideally, leftovers.  We can always do soup and sandwiches or quesadillas and chips and guac and salsa if there are no leftovers.


Pork chops, stuffing, peas, choc chip cookie bars ($25)


Takeout pizza, popcorn, candy ($40?)


Baked chicken breasts, salad, rice, and mixed veggies, triple chocolate cookies. ($5 for salad greens I will pick up before the weekend.  We had everything else).

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Baking and No Snowmen

One thing I didn't mention in my juggle post is all of the baking.  Desserts right now are keeping me anchored to reality--one foot in the warmth and bustle of home, maybe-- in a way they don't usually.  There is always time to make a cake, you guys.

Even if it crumbles because you impatiently took it out of the pan too early and then you have the brilliant idea of just making an extra batch of icing to fill in the holes, only the icing is a little too runny and also THERE'S TOO MUCH OF IT.  Not a metaphor.  Obvs.

I used this cake recipe, but I didn't have cream for the suggested ganache (and I have been baking so much that I have gotten in the habit of keeping whole milk or half and half in the fridge, but I forgot), so I made our favorite brownie icing instead.  Both were totally delicious.

Thus is how Dorothy sits when she eats, and I love her teeny toes.

 She chose her own lunch here.  CLEARLY.
 Finally!  A book Harry loves!
 When Ben shoveled snow before bed the other night, he came in all excited because we finally had snowman snow!  So at breakfast, I hyped the kids all up and assembled a bag of snowman facial features and raisin buttons, and they ran out to play and found... icy powder.  Oops.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Kicking off my weekly adventures with Harry

 I am stealing a happiness booster from Gretchen Rubin and taking Harry on weekly adventures after school.  Only he doesn't know it yet.  Nobody does. Except me.  And you.  He just thought I was randomly picking him up on a Tuesday to go get an after school treat.  And I was.  And I will again.  *Evil Laugh*

Our first adventure was amazing: a ridiculous chcolate cafe where we ate cake and dranks cu.  The next one is up to him.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Dorothy and Cooper and I were taking silly pictures and then Dorothy screamed "NOW LET'S SHOW OUR BUTTS," and she did.  Erm.
 Two dudes watching a movie at the Barbie mall.  Naked.
 She's so cool.
 I am in love with Harry and Jack's sweet little desks.

 These two idiots jumped off the couch for almost 30 solid minutes.
 My strategy of eating 5 servings of fruits and veggies for lunch is a really good one.
 PERFECT library haul.
 Best friends, before one of them had to leave for dance class.

Another hockey weekend.

 Last weekend, Ben and Cooper and Harry left us behind to go to Harry's hockey tournament.

Usually, the whole family goes to at least one tournament a season, but this one was 4 hours away, and everyone was staying at a Days Inn.  So.
 I stayed home with these two.
 And we literally stayed home.  Jack wore this most of Saturday.
 We took a brief break to play outside.
 Notice the little-sister-sized mudprint on Jack's back
 Before putting on jammies and having pancakes AND cinnamon rolls
 While we watched Despicable Me 3
 Then Jack put Dorothy to bed (!) and he and I watched both 50 First Dates AND Paul Blart, Mall Cop.
 He even made breakfast the next day
 Before his hockey game
 Where Dorothy waited in a cubby.
Then we came home and Jack played with a friend; Dorothy played dolls, and I made two dinners and two desserts to get our week going.  Before we even knew it, the rest of the family was home.  A couple of years ago, the thought of spending a weekend alone with some of the kids would have been daunting, but these two are so old and easy now.  Same wit hBen-- Cooper was a NBD addition to his weekend.  As sad as I am about not having any babies in the house, these big kids are a blast and a breeze.  But don't worry-- puberty is about to screw all of this all up.

But in the meantime, Cooper's puking baby:

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The normal stuff

I have been snapping pictures of the most random, mundane moments lately.

Like me trying to eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies at once when I broke my fast at lunch so I could make bad choices later.
 Dorothy dressed for dance class
 A mid-week donut run
 After school snack time
 A zeroed out laundry basket (not normal, but definitely awesome)
 Lunch packing.  QUITE THE PROCESS.
 A dog hwo almost ate that bag of Aldi-brand pirate booty
 A kindergartener prepping for the celebratory hundred day store by counting out 100 pennies.
 Litte Gym spectating and TERRIBLE BANGS (me, not him).
 Bad choices later.
 POTY-- give it a listen.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Welcome to the Juggle

Ben and I combined our calendars and walked through our schedules for the semester, and then I had to drink a mason jar of champagne because HOLY DAMN.
It's bad, you guys.

Eve the relative peace and quiet I had getting ready for class last semester is a thing of the past because I have to do 60% of the preschool drop off/ pick up.  And let us not speak of Wednesday evenings.


Here are some things I am going to do to keep all of the balls in the air:

1.  Use my elliptical like a standing desk and do all of the work for my adjunct online classes on it.  From 5-6 am.  Then I will have time to shower before I have to make Harry's breakfast at 6:30, and I will have 26 minutes to do my hair and makeup after he leaves for school and before the other 3 need their breakfast.  Then I can tie an apron over my work clothes and spend an hour feeding, dressing, and cleaning up after them, at which time I will take Dorothy to school, and the other kids will walk across the street.

2.  Meet with Ben every night before 9pm to consult our calendars for the next day.  The hockey schedule gets a little confusing, you guys.

3.  The morning before lecture, I need to put my PPT slides on my LMS and check my exam-- am I covering something that's on the test?  Should I take a second and fill out the exam answer key so I'm not overwhelmed when the exam rolls around?  All of my stuff is prepped, but for me, checking in with the material right before I teach it is better than, say, throwing all the stuff online now.  I prepare so far in advance that I forget what I have done, so I need to take a thoughtful moment and engage with the material before I enter the classroom.

4.  Pack lunches-- including mine and Ben's if he wants one-- the night before.

5.  Set a bedtime alarm.

6.  Use Google Calendar on my phone and put things in it AS SOON AS THEY APPEAR in my life-- appointments, etc.

7.  SAY NO to volunteer opportunities.  I have already screwed this one up by vounteering to run back-to-back Valentine parties for Jack and Cooper, but what can I say? I LOVE V-DAY.

8.  Make a to-do list every night before I go to bed, so I can see the next day clearly from the start.

9.  Get in the habit of going to the library weekly.  This was really easy to do when Dorothy was only in preschool 3 days a week because we always went to story time.  Now she has school every morning, and my library fines are creeping up there.  I need a library routine or the rest of my life feels like chaos.

Any ideas?  What do you do to stay on top of your impossible schedules?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A sick day for Cooper McGee

Last week, I was looking forward to my very last day of break.  I had big plans to do some writing and reading while snuggled under my huge couch blanket.

And then sweet little Cooper (ha!) woke up not feeling well.  Cooper is a kid who takes being a kindergartner very seriously, so I knew if he wasn't feeling well enough to go to school, he must really feel yucky.

I even took him to the doctor, you guys, which is not something I like to do, really, ever.  Cooper has the kind of asthma that's triggered by viruses, so when he gets a cough, it sounds pretty much like he is going to die.  So, I always think he is sicker than he is.  Which, last week, was not sick at all.

Still, I think he had a lovely day.

And you know what?  I missed working from the couch cuddled under my blanket, but I really loved spending time with just Coop.

Monday, January 22, 2018

10-Step Skincare for the Lazy Mom: A Check-In

I had an email request to say more about my 10-step skincare process that I talked about in my New Year's resolutions post, and I was like OMG THANK YOU for giving me an idea for a post.

I LOVE this routine because the steps are specific, but the products are not-- you can use anything you want.  My problem usually is that I will buy an expensive product, not want to refill it, and then just stop using it.  I didn't use eye cream for like a decade and now look at me.

Step 1: Oil cleanser.  I use Ponds, a classic, only $6, and it gets a 4 on the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database.  4 is my toxicity limit, but I have decided that anything 4 or under I will not even worry about for a second, which is why I am not searching for an affordable 3 or something like that.

Step 2: Foam cleaner:  I use Aveeno Ultra-Calming which is the only thing I have found to fix my red skin.  LOVE it.  And it's cheap.  And a 3!

Step 3:  Exfoliator:  Gotta go with the classic St. Ives apricot scrub that I have been using since I was a teenager.  Even though it might kill me.  I love the smell and how smooth it makes my face and my heels.  Wait-- maybe that's not awesome.

Step 4: Toner.  Neutrogena for me.  Only $6.  (But it's toxic).

Step 5:  Essence.  Right now, I am using Lancome because it came in my huge Christmas make up set.  When it runs out, I will go much cheaper.

Step 6:  Serum: (I think serum and essence are THE SAME FREAKING THING, especially since if I had to pick one thing to infuse my skin with it would be youth), so I use Aveeno for this one, to.  But I could mix up 5 and 6 with no change.

Step 7: Mask:  I bought a cheapie from Target that turns my face red but does clean out my pores.  Open for cheap recs on this category.  I would go as high as $30 because I NEVER use it and imagine I would not have to replace it very often.

Step 8:  Eye cream:  I am using Lancome Renergie right now, but when it runs out, I think  will go with L'Oreal.

Step 9: Moisturize.  For the day, I love Aveeno Ultra-Calming. At night, I use Aveeno Absolutely Radiant or Absolutely Ageless depending on Target sales.  I AM SO GLAMOROUS.

Step 10: Sunscreen:  In my moisturizer.  Boom!

Most mornings, I do steps 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10.  Sometimes I start with 1 if last night's eye makeup is still lying around.

Nights I do 1, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 9.

I try to exfoliate 3 times a week and I probably only mask a couple times a month.  It used to be weekly, but I sort of lost interest.

My routine has not changed much since I first wrote about this, but I love that I HAVE a skincare routine, that I almost always wash my face before I go to bed, and that none of my products break that bank.

I made a bunch of online announcements for my adjunct class, and the screen grabs are always the most awkward facial expressions ever, but check out my fairly not wrinkled skin!  All I need is some botox and some bangs, and I can totally pass for 38.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

What We're Eating 4/52

I spent $186 at Aldi last week and bought TOO MUCH FOOD!

We literally could not eat it all for dinner and ended up putting stuff in the freezer.  How crazy awesome is that?!

So, this week, we are circling back around to eat some of last week's ideas.

Sunday: Chili, hot dogs, veggies and dip ($4 for dip and $8 for veggies.  $2/person)
Monday:Turkey pasta casserole with tons of spinach, garlic bread ($14 or $2.30/person).  We have 2 hockeys so this will be eaten whenever. Yum.  I think I will buy extra garlic bread-- the kids really like the crappy frozen kind-- so I can make that fresh for whoever is eating.
Tuesday:  Leftovers because LOTS OF HOCKEY to dodge. (ZERO DOLLARS)
Wednesday: The BBQ chicken, carrots, couscous, and apple crisp from last week, eaten after hockey when we are all crabby as hell.  CAN'T WAIT. (ZERO DOLLARS)
Thursday: Chicken salads with baked potatoes ($6 for salad greens, $2 for croutons, $8 for potato toppings $12 extra chicken or $30-ish or $5/person)
Friday: Harry has a late hockey game, so we are still figuring this one out.  Maybe a family movie afternoon after school with take n bake pizza before we head out? $18 for a couple of Costco pizzas?  Sounds about right.
Saturday: We might-- wait for it-- GO OUT.  I know right?  Cray-cray

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Snowy Day! Sledding!

My FAVORITE kind of snow day is the kind where no one has anywhere to go anyway.

So, when I woke up to a healthy coating of white stuff on MLK day, I was thrilled.  THRILLED.  It was also Ben's last official day of break because he started meetings the 16-18 and then class the following Monday.  (Not me.  I am clinging to break with one short meeting Wednesday, another quick one one on Thursday, and then a packed day of meetings on Friday of MLK day week.  Then, my class starts the 23rd.  Sigh.  Also, I am really excited!)

We started our day by letting Ben have some time to work and driving 3 mph to the movie theater to see The Greatest Showman.  I largely agree with this review, but I freaking loved it anyway.  So pretty!  So sparkly!  So fun!
 Two things about this picture: 1 I really do like Naked and Afraid.  THERE.  I said it.  2.  I asked Beatrix to stay off all the coats and stuff, and she did.  A little resentfully.
 Ben's dad gave Ben all of his cold weather clothes when he moved to Florida.  So, now Ben is the proud owner of snowveralls.
 I don't even think any of these kids in this picture are mine.  But!  Sledding was lovely.  It looked like we were living in  snow globe.
 Harry and his friend had fun, but neither of them is as effervescent as they used to be.  Adolescence on the way?
 Dorothy LOVED it.  She goes down and comes back up by herself, but she is game to share her sled if a grownup wants a lift.  Basically, she is a kid now and not a baby.  But, I mean, I knew that.  I have just been living in denial.
 She just kept flinging herself down the hill face first, no fear, even though she broke her arm sledding just last year.
 Ben liked to stand near the middle and wave this pink sled at the kids like a bullfighter.  He's a risk taker.

 When Dorothy had another person on her sled, she demanded that Ben "Push us with all of your muscles, Daddy."
 Harry is basically as good as an adult, as far as Dorothy is concerned.

 (She did want to be pulled up the hill a few times.  BUT WHO WOULDN'T?).