Tuesday, August 30, 2022

This Is What Democracy Looks Like

 Last weekend, Harry and I canvassed for WisDems for 2 hours on a Saturday morning, and we had so much fun! As a voter, I know that I am more convinced by door-knockers than I am by phone bank phone calls, so I decided that would be the best way to volunteer. Harry is in the Young Progressives club at school, so he already knew how to register people to vote, but he thought canvassing would be a good skill to learn and bring back to his club. 

We were trained by a lovely volunteer who used to be a high school gym teacher and tennis coach, and she gave Harry her card. He tucked it into his wallet next to the governor’s chief-of-staff’s card and promised to arrange a visit to his Young Progressives group so she could get everyone ready to door-knock before the November election. We have an important US senate race as well a a gubernatorial election in Wisconsin this November, so we need all the voters we can to turn out.

We were both surprised that so many people we talked to were hard pressed to name an issue that was most important to them in the upcoming election, even when we had a list to choose from. Our issue was human rights, and we both answered almost immediately when asked. I wonder if people really aren’t thinking about politics very much? Or maybe they are living in a sort of privilege bubble that prevents them from feeling affected?

It was really fascinating to hear people talk about how they planned to vote and who they planned to voice for. We signed up for another Saturday next month and plan to go in October as well. If you haven’t canvassed before, consider doing it through a neighborhood organization—it’s a charming way to spend a day in the service of democracy.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Back to work

 I need to remember to NOT have training for my class the same week that kids move into the dorms. Road rage does not even begin to describe it. GAH.

We decided to get family pictures in Hilton Head kind of on a whim. The photographer had a spot and we didn’t have dinner plans for that night, and it just seemed like destiny. BUT we also decided not to buy any new clothes for these photos (LOLOLOLOLOL), so I mean, I have sort of lowered my expectations. We told the boys not to wear black (because Dorothy picked pink for her and Minnie and me) and not to wear anything with an obvious logo, but otherwise, it’s up to them. There was a moment when I thought Dorothy was going to wear this white dress she adores that she got in the communion dress section of Macy’s (LOLOLOLOLOL), but she’s wearing it for the first day of school, so she passed. She also passed on a blue glittery show choir number (from JC Penney) in favor of a long floral sundress (totally appropriate!) that happens to be the exact shade of pink as this dress that Minnie has that makes her look like a grubby doll. I also have a dress that color (from Target) that may or may not be flattering in photos. STAY TUNED.
Honestly, I am having a lovely time packing my lunch and going to meetings all day. It’s so fun to be around grown ups for the whole day. I kind of don’t even know what to do with myself. I am very ready for classes to begin. My office is clean thanks to long lunch hours. It’s wonderful, really.
I have an exciting new partnership on Instagram to tell you about that will make sure I have to be swimsuit ready all winter long, so that’ll be great for my bikini line and maaaaaaybe for my healthy habits reset. I feel very gross and chubby lately, but I can’t seem to stop eating in mass quantities. So there’s that. I cut out milk in my coffee, and we are drinking a half gallon LESS chocolate milk a week as a family. Also, I was going through a LOAF of wheat bread a week, and last week, I barely ate a quarter. I think my attention to portion size is helping. Also, to replace the coffee milk, I have started eating yogurt again, and man is yogurt a great snack. 

This week, I am upping my exercise minutes. Today, I did an extra 5 this AM, and I am about to fit in a lunchtime walk as well. I think going forward, I will be more likely to add an extra chunk of exercise time as opposed to working out for longer in the morning— my mornings are really tight. So maybe yoga in the evenings or during nap time? Maybe a andromeda 20 minute work out video here and there. Maybe an extra walk when I can take it— you get the idea.

Look at sweet little squishy tired Minnie at the pool. She’s the very best— we are all just delighted by her presence every single day. Can you imagine that until 2 years ago, we were Minnie-less? It just doesn’t seem possible.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

5 on a Friday: Saturday Edition

 Because I already had a post scheduled to publish on Friday. So. There you have it.

1. Ben was an awesome cook this week. When I worked, he made excellent grilled chicken that we used in salads and I took to work in a wrap the next day. He also grilled a ton of steak for tacos, and taco Friday is a novelty because we are taco Tuesday people.

2. Ben also took Minnie to library story time and the grocery store, proving that he is the better SAH parent once and for all.

3. Cooper’s birthday party got all YES RSVPs and is going to be GINORMOUS. I immediately emailed the venue manager updated numbers and got to work ordering party supplies. His birthday is 9/9, but every year we debate if we should wait until school starts and have. Late party or have an early summer party with old friends— this year we chose the latter. Yay for eleven. Also, how is Cooper 11? Isn’t this Cooper?

4. I worked 2 whole days on campus AND met someone for coffee AND ALSO managed to take lunchtime walks and not OD on caffeine. I also really wanted PB M&Ms after lunch but could only find sharing size 3-serving bags, so I dumped 1/3 into my palm and tossed the rest and felt so virtuous.

5. I spent the best 5 hours at the pool with Dorothy, Cooper, and Jack on Wednesday— the last day of the pool season that featured a pre-4pm opening time, SO SAD. FALL IS COMING whether we are ready or not!

Friday, August 26, 2022

Big kids about town

 Dorothy and I had a movie night to watch Miss Congeniality, which was right up her alley, as I knew it would be. She asked me if we could have a movie night before summer was over, and it was pretty easy to just make it happen. She stayed up way too late, of course, and was a crabby crab face the entire next day, but still. Worth it.

The library was an unexpected smash hit with these 3 the other day. Color me surprised. Minnie could have stayed all day, and I am excited to bring her back once school starts and she can be the only kid setting our pace.

We also went to a children’s museum in a neighboring town and our favorite zip line swing park: both fun!

Minnie discovered a deep love of painting, and I ordered an inflatable easel to use outside— it comes today, and I will keep you posted.

She is such a delight at parks these days— another thing I am looking forward to doing without easily bored big kids.

Such big kids, you guys. Harry is a JUNIOR, and it’s Jack’s freshman year. As a 5th grader, Cooper is starting his final year of elementary school, and Dorothy is in 4th grade. Can you believe it?? Minnie will start preschool next year when Harry is a senior. At least I won’t have the simultaneous baby going to college/baby starting kindergarten year—- I don’t know if I could handle it.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Super Min

 I am at work today, and Harry took Minnie to The Little Gym in my stead. Harry, the baby this blog is named after, who started at The Little Gym in 2007. Can you even believe it?

Minnie has made some pretty big developmental leaps lately, and they are making her sleep even worse than usual. She also seems to be getting some giant carnivorous molars, so I am sure that’s not helping. Not only can she motor plan and problem solve like the great ape she is becoming

But she is also able to recall past events and work them into conversation. Like, one of us will say something about a bug, and she will loudly tell us that a bug landed on her hand at the park and she made it go away (GO WAY, she screams). She is tuning in to conversations that happen around her more and more, and she is working herself into them. She also is playing pretend. The other night, I heard growling on the monitor, and when I went into her room at 3 am she said, “NINNIE BEAR,” and then she just … stayed awake, which was not awesome, even though she was in a great mood and completely content to play with her crib toys. I think she is dreaming and remembering her dreams, which has to be mind blowing when it happens for the first time, you know?

I am hopeful that she will ease into her growing physical and mental abilities and start to, like, you know, SLEEP again. Cross your fingers for her very aged parents.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Can’t it be summer forever?

Minnie drank bath water out of a Calico Critter toilet in the tub last night. So, like, that’s where I am parenting-wise.

We’re so proud of this guy (LOL):

Minnie pumps her little legs on a big kid swing, and it is equal parts darling and dangerous.

The boys have a few more dive lessons left before the summer ends, and it’s fun to watch them— although I spent most of the time at a not very fun park with Minnie and Dorothy
Like, the rocks were the best part of the whole park. The play structure was too blah in the tiny parts and then too dangerous everywhere else.
Ugh, I just want summer forever.
Instead, I have meetings— MEETINGS—this week. Can you even believe it? Didn’t school just end a second ago? Do I have clothes that fit me for these meetings? I have so many questions. But I am definitely looking forward to a morning coffee BY MY FREAKING SELF, especially because Ben is working lots the other days this week.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Heathy Habit Reset

 I think my health needs and overall fitness level really started to suffer around Halloween last year. I went face down in a bag of candy and never really looked up. A year later, my clothes are tight, and I don’t feel as strong as I used to. Time for a reset, but also time for one that doesn’t feel overwhelming as we enter a new, busy season.

Last week, I stopped snacking after dinner. Like, just gave it up cold turkey even if I really wanted ice cream or Ben’s plate of cheese, crackers, and olives looked amazing.

This week, I am revisiting portion sizes. I was using a lot A LOT of peanut butter on my breakfast toast, you guys, And I think it is time to go back to black coffee because the amount of chocolate milk I use has been sloooooowly increasing.

Next week, I am going to work on increasing exercise time, and the following week, I will increase intensity.

Ongoing things to focus on:

1. Skincare— I have lots of lovely products and have gotten really lazy about using most of them.

2. Oral hygiene— no excise for not flossing twice a day and using mouthwash.

3. Drinking water— I aim to drink my 24 oz Hydroflask 4 times a and also have water with meals. I have really really not been doing this, and i can tell.

4. Intuitive eating— I need to slow down again and really listen to my body. How a food tastes and the immediate gratification is only part of how it makes you feel, you know?

Lofty goals, perhaps, but I got stuck inside a new sports bra I ordered in my usual size, and when I put my hands in the back pockets of my only jean skirt, they ripped right off and my actual butt was suddenly hanging out. THINGS ARE DIRE. (And pretty hilarious).

Actual footage of the TOP OF MY HEAD, which I never see but the rest of the world does because I am only 5 feet 2 inches tall.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Planning for planning

 It has gotten to the point, friends, where I have to sit down and PLAN to PLAN. Like, that is how divorced from the process I have become.

 I would blame summer, but I think this is part of the pandemic, working from home since my baby was literal DAYS OLD and having NO CHILDCARE EVER. I have just sort of gotten used to having life wash over me, and my whole existence has been reactive. BUT NO MORE!!

I think I have been waiting for Minnie to stop waking up at night, thinking that when I am sleeping all night, then I can wake up early and get my ish together before the rest of the fam wakes up. That’s a huge thing about me— I really need some time before the day begins to begin my own day. Maybe that’s working out first thing (although out of necessity I have found that I will exercise every single day, even if I can’t do it first thing. I want to exercise early, though.) More than that, I need time  every single day where I know I will have no child responsibilities to do work that requires deep thought. Any kind of creative work (not blogging—-that I can obviously do with interruption, hence the eleventy billion typos) fits in here, but so do the tough planning and admin tasks for my job. I can’t even really do work like that during nap because I never know exactly how much time I have to be baby-free. I also HATE to do this work at night. The admin takes are unpleasant after a long day but doable. Ditto grading papers, etc. But writing? Nope. Never happening after bedtime.

Anyway, listen: Minnie still wakes up once or twice to nurse and maybe also have a bottle and then goes right back to sleep. It’s like 1 or 2 15-minute wake ups, and I go right back to sleep afterwards. So on a bad night, I wake up for 30 minutes? Ok, that’s not excuse, right? Right. I need to set an early alarm and drag myself out of bed in the morning to at least schedule and send the most important emails of the day and maybe write. (Actually, I need to write. I can handle the first batch of email in the evening in front of the TV— not ideal, but not too terrible).

(Min is really not a self-soother: that’s when she twists her hair and yanks it out. It’s better if we just go in to her room and help her go back to sleep. Sometimes Ben can do this, but she calls for the person she wants on the monitor, and if she says “MOM,” then that’s what she means. If she wakes up between 5-6 am— 6 is the magic wake up time—I will go feed her real quick and put her back to bed. She is invariably angry about this, so Ben spends the next hour or so on her floor on a yoga mat encouraging her to go back to sleep. Sometimes she does until 7:30 or later. Sometimes he dozes, and she plays with the dolls in her crib until 6. I like this routine, though, because when we read Goodnight Moon, she says that the old lady whispering hush is Dada and the baby bunny is Ninnie).

My tentative plan for fall is to wake up before 6 and triage my day and exercise. If I can work up to also writing for 25 minutes in the morning, I will absolutely do this. I need to wade through the September waters and see how morning chores shake down, how late I can push my work out and still get myself and or kids out the door on time, etc. Something I learned in July when I did yoga every day, though, is that I have plenty of extra time for exercise, and finding this time throughout the day is easier than I like to pretend. So maybe it’s just writing I should be doing and the rest is an excuse not to write. 

Okay, so revised tentative plan is to check email, schedule send whatever needs to be addressed, and triage the next day in the evening after the little kids are in bed. Then I can start every morning with writing and then exercise.

I also need a plan for my WFH days with Minnie. I don’t want to be reacting to toddler whims all day long. She needs a really predictable schedule for activities. Like, we need to go outside at the same time every day, etc. I have tuned back in to Busy Toddler on Instagram and a going to work on planning 3 new home activities every week. Up first is painting. We are going to to a box mural in the back yard, paint ice cubes, and paint inside on big paper. I have big lans for making seasonal sensory bins, too, so I’ll keep you posted. My friend Meghan does an excellent job with home school preschool, so her blog is really useful here, too.

I just caught up on all the back episodes I have missed of The Girl Next Door podcast, and I adored the whole episode on time management. Something really useful for me was the idea of planning how to use nap time. I think I end up so exhausted from parenting by the time nap rolls around that I am more likely to do housework than work work that needs my mind. This is not the best use of my time, so I need to figure out how to plan housework in my parenting day. Any ideas for this one?

 It’s also tough because nap time is not time I can count on so I can’t really use it for focused, creative work. Sometimes laundry with an audiobook really does feel like the best use of my time. I am planning to be more intentional with this time, but I also want to make it easy for myself to transition to the no-nap life whenever Minnie gives it up. Still thinking about this chunk of the day, but, to be honest, I have never thought strategically about it before.

One HUGE thing I need to avoid is scheduling kid appointments on my work on campus  days. This is dumb. I mean, it didn’t used to be dumb in the early days of COVID when we really couldn’t take a baby anywhere, and I needed Ben to be home to make other things work. Now, though, I need to just suck it up and drag Minnie to the dentist, the ortho, the doc, etc, like I used to do with the other kids in Before Times. Unfortunately, I have already screwed up September and early October scheduling things on campus days. No more, friends! You heard it here first. I DO still need to figure out how to cram my own upkeep into my work days, but this should be the last year I feel the squeeze. Minnie will go to part-day preschool when she is 3, and the world will once again be my oyster.

So there you have it! My plan for fall semester planning. I will still use our shared Google calendar for activities, my Outlook calendar for work, and my neglected paper planner, of course. I just need to be gentle with myself on the reintroduction of this mindful approach to my day. By October 1, I want to have firmed up all of my routines. In semesters past, it has taken me through almost Thanksgiving to find a good rhythm, and we just do not have that luxury this year.

My darling time thief:

Friday, August 19, 2022

Back to school?

 In just a couple of hours, I have to take Dorothy and Cooper to school to drop off their supplies and meet their teachers, and what? How? ALREADY? I thought we had more tiiiiiiiiime!

Ben did the terrible job of actually sorting through the bins of leftover school supplies in our laundry room and front closet and buying what we didn’t have— for all 4 school-aged kids. All I had to do was take the above group to Costco to buy shareable snacks for 4th and 5th grade. Easy peasy.

I also made dinner:

Also, for $1.99, Minnie ate about 1/4 cup of ice cream and was quiet and happy the whole shopping trip. She was working so hard to hold her giant cup between her baby thighs (“No mama ceddy i-meam”), and she got maaaaybe a thimble full of soft serve on the tip of her spoon every time she managed to scrape a bite together. All around, it was a terrific shopping aid.

(We got churros post-shop when our pizza was ready)

Minnie used some of her birthday money from my mom to buy a Moana nightie

And yes, I did imagine we’d play with this slide outside, but so far it’s so great in her room that we’re leaving it. She was really cranky yesterday morning, and nothing was fun until I suggested that she see if her dolls wanted to slide. She spent 20 minutes before lunch happily shoving them down. Then she put them all down for nap.

Speaking of large baby toys in weird places:

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Toddlers gonna toddle

This is a scary little picture, yes?
Minnie! Is all of the sudden so good at parks! She can climb and slide and she even pumps her fat little legs when she swings on big kid swings. SUCH a huge change from the beginning of the summer.
She’s so delightful
Even when she steals my pool accessories.
Another creepy little picture
We had such a fun morning—the park and then McDonalds— classic summer.
She just kills me.


Monday, August 15, 2022

Lunch Date

Sometimes it’s fun to just take some of your kids places. WE NEED TO REMEMBER THIS.

Although, I will say, my anxiety cut this lunch date short because Harry was at work, and Jack was isolating in Cooper’s room in the basement while Minnie napped. I realized as we were waiting for our tacos that if she woke up, no one would really be able to help her. Dorothy and Coop’s came out way before ours, so Ben got ours to go, and I took the kids for cupcakes. PERFECTION. Minnie slept for 20 more minutes after we got home.

School starts in 2 weeks, and I am fully in denial.

I have 4 days of TA orientation starting NEXT WEEK (WHAT?), and this is something I am also in complete denial about. HOW CAN SCHOOL BE STARTING?

We are going on vacation right after the kids start school and before I do— more about that later, but trust me when I tell you we are all relieved and also Cooper has already read all of his road trip books, which is both cute and annoying.

Onward and upward, friends— almost time to leave those lazy summer days behind.