Thursday, December 31, 2020

Last! Post! of! the! YEAR!

 NEW YEAR'S EVE! And finally, it is CHIC to have no plans!

I just checked in with last year;'s word of the year and resolutions, and I feel terrible, MY WORD WAS TOGETHER. THIS IS ALL MY FAULT.

My resolutions were sort of screwed by COVID, but who even knew? I wil say the one I like the most is "find a new series to read to Dorothy and Cooper." Ben is reading them Harry Potter, and this is such  a multitasking win, I cannot even.

My word this coming year is QUIET because holy hell things are loud over here. I want to find my own quiet, kind of like how Glennon Doyle talks about her "Knowing." I also want to create space for creativity, much writing, and the appreciation of a tiny person's tiny milestones.

Speaking of: STANDING LIKE A BIG GIRL and clearly quite proud of it:

Blogger uploaded these photos backwards, but the long and short of it is that we made successful hot chocolate bombs! We used the Real Simple recipe and it was indeed REAL SIMPLE. I got these molds on the devil's website.

You guys. It would clearly be SO EMBARRASSING if Harry's friends saw him in a coat.
Ben got me the big LancĂ´me makeup box he always buys me, and I have been in a FULL FACE every day, and I am hooked.
I am addicted to taking a picture of her as I slip out the door when she goes down for a nap.
From her Grandma Karen for Christmas:

NEVER buy this chair for your babies! Not only did I BRUISE Minnie's delectable little thigh lifting her out of it yesterday morning, but Ben SMASHED HER TINY FINGERS in the tray putting her in yesterday afternoon. We called the doctor, were worried that they were broken, etc. Then we went straight to the Target app and ordered the giant stand up toy and tossed the chair. (In Ben's fauxffice. It would be totally safe sans toys, but I needed a minute).
Ready to walk-- can't you tell?
What can I say about 2020 except that it was a shit year and also the most wonderful year because we had our rainbow baby Minnie?

We have all been home together since March, and we have no plans to change that even though our school district is making the morally reprehensible choice to open its doors at the height of the pandemic and cold and flue season, when UW students are coming back to town, when the vaccine is on the horizon, etc. I am so sick about that and what it means for community spread and the lives of teachers that I cannot even handle it. But. I am online in the Spring (and was planning to teach online all along pre-pandemic because of the impending baby). Ben will be remote through June at least. And we are keeping the kids home as well, trying to resist the middle class urge to feel like our kids are somehow behind. SPOILER: THEY ARE ALWAYS ALREADY AHEAD because we have jobs and food and a home.

In some ways, the pandemic made my life easier-- no social pressures (people give me anxiety), no need to buy new clothes for my growing body. I have truly loved not taking the kids to any activities ever and eating dinner together every night. I take a shower at 7:30 and spend my whole night in my jammies snuggled up on the couch, baby often in arms, and this is the perfect way to live. I feel unending gratitude sitting next to Ben with a snack I probably don't need to eat, something terrible on TV, and my impossibly sweet sighing baby who sleeps all night long as long as she can be curled next to me.

 In terms of grief, this year might have made the loss of my dad and my grandma's death easier, which sounds weird, but I have been so worried about getting sick and keeping the kids safe that other emotions feel further away. I miss her, but I have missed her all year, unable to visit. I miss her, but I have missed her since she had her stroke, since her house vanished, since our family holidays scattered. It was easier to spend holidays without my dad this year because we spent holidays without ANYONE. Same with Minnie. It was like I could pretend that he just hadn't met her yet because NO ONE could meet her right away. Still. That familiar sadness is back now because of his birthday and all the NYEs we spent together. I remember a college boyfriend breaking up with me because I made him drive from St, Louis to Peoria to spend NYE with me and then ditched him to go out with my parents instead. And I am so glad I did. A dim steak house, a giant cut of meat that's a little too red in the middle to be completely safe from food-born illness, a steady supply of vodka tonics with sweaty limes that fall on the table-- my favorite way to party to this day.

So. Here I sit on my enormous privilege pillow reflecting on a year that has been so terrible fo so many and finding it--- just fine. Lovely, even. An incredible bonus year. Another year where my high schooler is a baby, and I have a baby in my arms to kiss and smell. A gift.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

2021 Resolutions

It's New Year's Resolution time!!! My killjoy self's most favorite time of the YEAR! Like my morning person tendencies, my optimism for a fresh new year full of things I can accomplish is practically unassailable. 

 You all know how much I love Happier with Gretchen Rubin, right? And you know that because of that podcast, I have been making numbered New Year resolution lists for a few years now? Well, I wanted a framework for my NYRs that matches the year but I could not get  my head around a laundry list of 21 things. 

Maybe it's all the second and third grade math I have been doing this year with Dorothy and Cooper learning remotely, but I think the magic of fact families is what I need to get the most out of 2021: 7 large resolutions, each with 3 concrete steps underneath them!

Category 1: Food

1. Cultivate healthier eating habits and expand the family palate. 

  • Eat 7 servings of fruits and veggies a day (up from my current 5) 

  • Stop snacking before bedtime (maybe cram in a couple extra servings of veggies) 

  • Make 21 new dinner recipes

Category 2: Reading

2. Read for enjoyment

  • Read 121 books in 2021(last year, I read 105; the year before that over 200-- I have been reading at   least 100 books/year since 2013, but I need to aim slightly higher than I did in 2020

  • Read Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series

  • Read 21 minutes a day in 2021 (this is from Happier, and I LOVE IT. I walked everyday for at least 20 minutes because of that podcast, and this reading challenge is perfect for me because Minnie        disrupted my reading habits, and I am only just now getting back to a regular routine.)

  • Category 3: DRANKS

3. Drink mindfully

  •  Develop a special but sustainable morning coffee and nighttime tea ritual

  • Drink at least 64 ounces of water every single day

  • Aim for a mostly dry 2021 (because of pregnancy and nursing, this has been the case for 2020, and I really really love not drinking. That said, some long afternoons with the kids need a special snowflake craft beer at the end, and prosecco/champagne is a nice addition to a celebratory moment, so I won't be completely sober for the year).

Category 4: Celebrations

4. Celebrate effusively

  • Make kid birthdays extra special this year, especially if they can't have parties.

  • Emphasize small milestones

  • Focus on making family nights special

Category 5: Creativity

5.  Prioritize time to be creative

  • Work diligently on Mean Girls manuscript (it's a book about adult women who are terrible to each other-- that won't be the title, obvi, but it's what I call it on my computer) and flesh out the next novel idea I have been kicking around and outline it 

  • Blog 21 days/month at least 7 months of the year (I want to have real, substantive blog posts like I used to...) 

  • Start up POTY again and try to link episodes more closely to current events with interviews and also  op-eds.

Category 6: Skin

6. Take care of my skin

  • Replace products that run out

  • Develop a face mask ritual/routine 

  • Solve my lipstick dilemma (I never wear it because masks and always being home; I have Napoleon Dynamite chapped lips on the regular and look kind of sickly-- I need to figure this out)

Category 7: Spend (Not the best image but who wants to see another dishwasher pic?)

7.   Save and spend with care 


  • Develop a large appliance savings account (we lost a microwave, a dishwasher, a dryer, and a garage door in the pandemic, but our house turns T E N this year, and I think we can expect more appliance issues. I want to be not even a little bit stressed about this-- and plus also, we need at least one new Chromebook and Ben has an ancient Mac, as does Dorothy. I mean large as in plenty of cash but also for large appliances, BTW) 

  • Buy no more than 21 items of clothing/shoes/large accessories for myself (I anticipate my bathing suit and rash guard wardrobe needing a refresh, and I hope to buy new jeans throughout the year, but I need to stop buying tons of cheap clothes and focus on fewer, better things.)







Sunday, December 27, 2020

Merry Merry!

Minnie loved her first Christmas. I mean, she had no idea what was going on, but she loves us, and we were all together all the time, so she had so much fun! Except we woke up too early. She is a 8:45-9:00 am baby, and we were assembled in the living room by 7.

Here she is modeling a hat from my college friend Jamie, who was my secret Santa and knitted head-ware for me, Dorothy, and Minnie. Check out her amazing knits here.
Cooper made chocolate covered strawberries for Christmas Eve dessert, which was adorable.
Speaking of adorable! Minnie in Dorothy's old dress:
Dorothy's face OMG
Sibling gift exchange SUCCESS!
Baby in the candy-- that Harry made
Real talk: we did not love staying home by ourselves on Christmas Eve. We really missed seeing Ben's extended family at his grandma's, and it was kind of a bummer. Doing sibling gifts, opening gifts fro  my brother, making a big fancy dinner-- all helped.

Christmas day was lovely, the way Christmas Day with little kids always is.

Screen time limits? What screen time limits?
It was a techy year.
So much of this.
Harry got many sportsball shirts.
They are so sweet to each other.
Jack makes the best present face
Oh good. A microphone.
I bought this because our kids don't know any nurseey rhymes. Oops. Good thing there's a baby.
A baby who did not know why she had to be up so early.
Bowling shoes!
Minnie loved this doll.
I love the way they watched each other.

This killed me--a teeny tiny version of the catalog that started my addiction.
The doll that got away:
Here I am wearing all of my presents at once
(she actually does not like this car-- the only miss of the season)
Have you ever seen someone gunk up an flute like this?? Kids are gross.
These lovely platinum diamond hoops were IN MY STOCKING, which is how I knew this would be a great day. (Also that baby whose little dimpled hand you see-- she makes every day wonderful, earrings or not).


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

A Baketastic holiday


I took this picture because someday when I am making a tray of perfect snowflakes for Ben and me to eat by ourselves, I will remember these gorgeous cookies and miss them so much. This year? I am just grateful to not be tempted.

This is Dorothy's decorating area, just to give you a better idea of her process:

The store subbed my usual Wilton poison food coloring for organic., so red was mauve. Which was perfect for all the butterflies and tulips Dorothy made.
YUM. (But seriously, this dough is always perfect, and my frosting came out extra sweet and buttery because I couldn't get the proportions right and just kept adding more of each. Which was good because Harry is not the kind of decorator who likes to feel deprived of frosting.
Beatrix was a huge help with drips.
She also made the letter D a bunch.
Jack was like a Keebler factory-- he decorated SO MANY COOKIES.
This was the first year that everyone was basically competent and didn't need hands-on help.
Also! Third rack! Perfect for cookie cutters.
Minnie was also super helpful by taking a decorating nap and then another that allowed me to finish wrapping. I really thought I only had a few left.  I HAD 15.
Mog hair. 
Jack is an amazing big brother, BTW.
All sugared up:
They were so sweet and careful rolling their cookies.
And even though he is a total cookie elf, Jack was always happy to hold the baby
The traditional Christmas dinosaur
The baby was also happy to be basically anywhere.
Right before their first roll
I took this pic on my walk the other day after Dorothy used leftover gingerbread house candy to make a scary snowman face.
Harry and Jack's house! With a boarded-up front door. I LOVE IT.
Cooper, doing his part to keep a well-decorated roof from collapsing.

Harry and Jack, mid-build:
Dorothy and I also had roof problems. We ended up using a couple of strategically placed butter pretzel sticks
Minnie was sort of there?
Team orange!
Such concentration!
Tiny little frosting malfunction
Before the madness:
Part of the construction probs were my fault. I should have doubled the dough, but instead, I just used every single last scrap to make 3 houses.
The finished products:

In addition to cookies and gingerbread houses, we also made a plain old ginger army. Toofy approved.

Again, Minnie came through with a clutch nap when we needed it most:
Ben's ugly sweater Hanukkah gift:
Seriously, these kids are becoming expert cookie makers. (Because I am constantly making cookies because I can't eat chocolate, and my sweet tooth is out of controoooool)

I have started waking up 45 minutes before the big kids to write or read or catch up on work again, and it is so wonderful. I need to remember how much I need this time even if I am exhausted. But! It's hard to remember that WHEN I AM EXHAUSTED.

Seriously, the no sleep thing! At age 42! Is not awesome. Minnie is in the throes of the 4-month sleep regression, but her day sleep is evening out and really improving, which, in terms of the day-to-day is so so so helpful. And she goes right to sleep at night-- she just wakes at the end of every sleep cycle and needs a little help falling back to sleep. So far, I am also able to go right back to sleep, so that's OK. The problem is, since I am a very old lady, I cannot sleep in at all. So, around 5 when she wakes up, I am pretty much ready to wake for the day. BUT THAT'S NOT ENOUGH SLEEP. So she embarks on her deepest sleep ever from like 5-7 am, and I sort of lay there fretting until about 6:15 when the coffee is ready. So that's my fault, not hers.

She's still the most wonderful thing about 2020-- and about all of the years since 2013, really, and I can't even believe how lucky we are.