Saturday, April 30, 2022

Skirtathon, Again

 Minnie wanted to go for a walk today, so she said “Outside. Mama and Dada and Dorothy.” So, I mean, HOW COULD WE RESIST?

This is a bad pic of me, but MINNIE’S SMILE **heart eyes**

We made these brownies today, and you should also make them because OH MY GOD.

April! Was Skirtathon, and I had so much fun wearing a dress (and documenting it) every weekday of the month with the amazing women in the super secret Skirtathon FB group. SO much support, commiseration, and life-affirming fashion.

Everyone Reading This Blog: 


21 days and 21 different skirts!!

I learned a few things:
1. I can and should get dressed every morning first thing.
2. I am dying my hair and covering all my grays ASAP. (This requires Ben and me to compare calendars and find a time where I can be gone for like 3 hours, so it’s easier said than done).

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

OMG! The end of the semester! GAAAAAH!

 We are completely addicted to Severance on AppleTV, and at 5 episodes in, we are still not sure exactly what the heck is happening, which I like. We’ve been watching it with the boys because then it’s early enough that I won’t fall asleep, and I love having a show we can all watch together. Have you watched it? Did you like it? Did you, like, get it?

Minnie’s pencil (marker) grip is improving, and she brings me markers beseeching Mama? all day so we can color. 

I really like to put her in a blazer because she is a baby with serious business.

And look! She eats lunch like a regular person
It has been 6 weeks since Dorothy got her ears pierced, so she could finally take out her studs and replace them with these super subtle dangly ones:

Jack participated in his last middle school play yesterday, and it was a great show. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen middle-schoolers put on Guys and Dolls.

Minnie had her first mall visit (LOL LOL LOL— who even goes to the mall?)

Jack and I capped off a fun semester of Monday meetings with our last one and a way-too-cold dinner outside at Panera. I assumed by late April we would be eating on the Terrace. HA! Joke is on meeeeeeeeeee. It might snow tomorrow.
Aaaand that’s as coherent as I can be at this busy end of the semester.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

I Know How She Does It: A Deep Dive


I adored this book, and I didn't think I would. I think I mentioned this after I read Four Thousand Weeks (another great one), but time management books are not usually my thing. I am an upholder and extremely set in my ways. I feel like I have developed a system that works for me, and I don't think my way translates to other people. I also get A LOT done, so I generally feel pretty OK in terms of time management.

Still, I do love to think about work and family. In fact, if my giant family didn't impact my own career trajectory, I think this is something I would have fun thinking about in a systematic, academic kind of way.

(Also, the author has a similar podcast that she hosts with one of my favorite bloggers, and I need to listen to it)

But, anyway, a couple of really important takeaways from I Know How She Does It. First, let me give you a really short synopsis: Laura Vanderkam looked at time logs from high earning (at least 6-figure) women with kids. She asked women to record 168 hours (1 week) of their lives, and then she studied 1,000 weeks to note patterns, etc. Here is the call for participants Vanderkam used. After viewing all of these weeks, Vanderkam had so many insights about how working moms use our time. Here are a few things that really resonated with me:

1. Arlie Hochschild's famous idea of the second shift has worked to make women feel like we can't have it all, and it has worked to make us feel like we're doing it wrong if we work at night after working all day. Hochschild was talking about house work, of course, and the idea that women can go to work but we also have to be the scullery made. AND THIS IS TRUE, but Vanderkam was quick to point out that it is not as true as it used to be. She also encouraged readers to reframe working after the kids go to bed as working a split shift, and she argued that the spilt shift lets parents spend time with their kids and help relieve work stress. This was such a lightbulb for me because I do work a second shift most days, and I always feel kind of put upon about it. BUT I SHOULD NOT. Working at night makes me feel like I am somehow doing life wrong, but in reality, I like spending my early nights being a mom, and I like starting my day knowing a bunch of emails have already been scheduled to send, etc.

2. You don't actually have to choose between quality time and quantity time because even if your kids are school-age and out of the house all day, you still spend a TON of awake time with them. Culturally, though, we only think of the daytime hours as counting, and that's just silly. Mornings count. Breakfasts can be the new family dinner (this really resonated for me because our after school activity schedule often obliterates the family dinner, but we are all home for breakfast). Evenings count. Vanderkam talked about ways to reframe these busy times of the day as family hours, and she gave excellent ideas for ways we can make mornings and evenings less busy and more interactive. It's just not true, she said, that working moms never see our kids. Instead, we need to do a better job of giving ourselves credit for the time we already spend doing hands-on parenting.

3. Americans like to overestimate our work hours, and this makes us tell ourselves the wrong stories about how we spend our time. Vanderkam promoted the idea of time diaries for all of her readers, and she argued that tracking our time would make us see how in control of it we actually are. I loved this suggestion because I think I embrace a martyr/victim role when I talk about work/life balance, and I forget that I am lucky enough to be a person who really gets to choose how I spend my time. I did not want to be a tenure track professor or pursue academic research. I wanted to stay home with my little kids, so that's what I did. But sometimes, I see my academic friends living the life I very consciously didn't choose, and I get jealous. It's easy to rail against the patriarchy and think about the life of the mind I could be leading, only that's not the life I wanted. Full stop. Kind of a scary, sobering realization but also such a liberatory one! I felt almost instantly happier and lighter. I am truly living the life I have always wanted.

4. There are no typical weeks. Because she had the advantage of looking at so many weeks in so many lives, Vanderkam was able to unpack the myth we often tell ourselves that we will get back to "normal" after [insert extenuating circumstance here]. Instead, she said, every one of our weeks will probably be full of a teacher in-service or a sick kid or a meeting that takes up free work time or a social obligation we can't shirk, etc. It is probably better for us to plan on irregularity and adjust our expectations accordingly.

5. Motherhood has seasons that make it more and less compatible with careers. Think about babies who don't sleep or kids who are too young to go to school. Vanderkam pointed out that these things don't last forever, so we have to manage them accordingly. She advocated paying for the most and best childcare we can afford, but this doesn't jibe with my own core values about having little kids. I have written before that I want to be the one who is with my kids before they go to school-aged school, and my life choices reflect that belief. While I disagreed with the author there, I think the seasonal frame is a really good and helpful one. She also did talk about a couple of women who stayed home with their kids and fit work around toddlers, etc, and this was helpful for me, too. I like seeing myself reflected in books-- DON'T WE ALL.

This was not an academic book, so I did not expect rigorous study design or anything, but I did want her to more fully account for privilege. I think she felt like because she said at the outset that she was talking about high earning women, she didn't have to, but there's a huge difference between a mom making 100K and someone making say 350K. When Vanderkam talked about layering childcare-- having a nanny after daycare or having a babysitter to come give the nanny breaks, etc, this felt very out of touch with middle class moms. Because 6 figures is very much middle class, especially in certain parts of the country. I also just felt very turned off by the idea of layered childcare. It's one thing to suggest (as she does elsewhere in the book) that parents can take turns going in late and coming home early so kids can have more daytime hours with their parents and quite another to talk about working 14-16 hours away from small kids and babies. Like, I understand that that's what dads have been able to do with moms at home to take care of the kids for decades, but is that really the work/life system we want for everyone now that both parents work? Like, let's REMAKE the system, not just join an already flawed one. Also she assumes that childcare work in just drudgery beneath high earning women and again, I disagree and would rather see either an argument for including dads in this care or standardizing childcare in some way, etc. 

If you've read the book, I'd love to hear your thoughts. I loved the focus on reframing, and I honestly feel more positive about my work/life balance than I did before I read the book, even though I have changed exactly nothing.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Weekend WHEW!

 THIS PAST WEEKEND. Oh my goodness. If every weekend were like this one, I would not be able to function. I would absolutely have to quit my job. Fortunately, we are usually less busy. I think.


1. Tennis: Harry played tennis ALL DAY Saturday, and I watched him from 7:45-12:00

2. Baseball: Cooper’s Little League team had TWO games, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. TWO GAMES, and Ben is the coach and could only attend one of them because our Saturday was mess. So Ben and Minnie and Dorothy went to the Saturday game, but Ben couldn’t coach because Minnie. Sunday, Ben took Coop, and the other kids and I did a drop in to watch a couple of innings. Notably, the team won both games, and Minnie loves baseball.

3. Dive: Jack and Cooper started Sunday morning really early on the UW campus for their first dive club practice. They loved every minute of the whole whole 2 hours, and Ben was able to get a little work done to get ahead of the week while he watched them.

4. Softball: Dorothy had a long and windy softball practice Sunday afternoon, and I went with her to watch and read my book and complain about the cold.


Dorothy’s last competition of the season! She and I were gone from 1pm-8:30pm on Saturday, and her team won their division. They got 4th at their first competition and 2nd at their second one, so they were thrilled to end the season with a win! No more competitions (I will write a review of the competitive dance world soon because OH MY GOODNESS), but she still has 5 classes a week and a June recital.


Jack’s spring musical Guys and Dolls runs yesterday through tomorrow night, so he spent all day Saturday rehearsing (and then came home briefly to change and went straight out to a party). Ben and Cooper went straight from baseball to see the Sunday matinee, and Harry, Dorothy, and I will see the final show Tuesday night.


7:45 am: Harry I and left for tennis

8:00 am: Ben dropped Jack off at rehearsal

11:00 am: Ben, Dorothy, Minnie, and Cooper headed to the baseball fields for uniform distribution, lunch, and game playing/watching

12:00pm: Ben met me in the high school parking lot with Dorothy when I took Harry from one tennis match to another and grabbed Dorothy to prep for dance

1:00 pm: Dorothy and I were wheels up for dance while Harry played tennis, Jack rehearsed, and Ben, Coop, and Minnie stayed at the ball park until the 1:45 end of the game.

2:00 pm: Ben brought Coop and Minnie home for nap

3:30: Ben picked up Jack

4:30 Ben picked up Harry

6:00: Ben took all kids but Dorothy to drop Jack at a party, get aloe for Harry’s ridiculous tennis sunburn, and pick up pizza

8:00: Dorothy and I left the dance competition, grabbed Culver’s drive thru and spend home to do Dorothy and Minnie’s bedtime routine an hour late

9:00: Ben left to get Jack from the party

9:45: Ben, Harry, Jack, and I collapsed on couch with everyone home and mostly pajama’ed 


8:30-10:30 Dive for Ben, Jack, and Cooper. Frantic housecleaning for me while Harry and Dorothy watched Minnie

11-1:45: Baseball for Ben and Coop while I took Jack to get ready for his play and fed the other 3 kids a baseball lunch, tried to watch the game, came home to nap Minnie and let Dorothy play with her neighborhood friends

2:00-4: Ben, Cooper, and Jack at Jack’s show

3:30-5: I watched Dorothy’s softball practice while Ben rushed home to relieve our Minnie sitter (Harry), put away laundry, and make dinner.

PHEW! What a whirlwind. Thank goodness we almost never have weekends like this.