Friday, September 29, 2023

5 on a Friday: The things I am doing besides blogging edition

1. You guys. Mostly, I am driving. OVER 300 MILES A WEEK, it turns out. To middle school. From middle school to diving practice. To campus. To the dance studio. To nursery school. HOME FROM ALL OF THOSE PLACES. Except for this first picture, I have been wearing real clothes and doing my hair and makeup before I leave the house. SO BANANAS.

2. Cleaning up after my whirling dervish preschooler. Also? I love having her easel in the kitchen because when I pick her up from school, she can paint while I make dinner at 1pm because it is the only freaking time all freaking day that I have half a freaking second to make freaking dinner.

4. Getting my COVID cavities all caught up. I HAVE BEEN NUMB FOR HOURS while I write this post, and this is the best smile I got. OMG.

5. Watching my lovely, brilliant TAs teach their classes-- this is a really fun part of my job, to be sure, but it is pretty much all the work I am getting done right now. Tis the season! I HAVE TO VISIT 64 CLASSES, and I have decided to knock it all out by 10/12. Phew!!

What are you doing that's keeping you away from the blogosphere?

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Random updates and pictures, assorted complaining, etc.

So far, this is a fall of extremes. Like, I cans either drop Dorothy off LATE FOR DANCE CLASS, or I can get her there 30 minutes early. THERE IS NO MIDDLE GROUND.

Also, we are calling it before October officially arrives. WE ARE READY FOR HALLOWEEN.

Dorothy is dancing on six dance teams this year: 3 hip hop teams, a tap team, a jazz team, and a musical theater team. It really seems like a bit of an overcommittent, but she is so happy when she’s at the studio with her friends, so we are all the way in. Also, nationals are local this year, so I can be the dance mom of my dream and still observe my fear of flying **eye roll**

Harry has gotten in—with merit aid!— to 5/8 of the schools he applied to. He will likely hear from 2 more soon and one on March 31. In delightfully dorky news, his school district is recognizing kids who passed their AP tests last spring with PERSONALIZED YARD SIGNS and a half time embarrassment with their parents at a football game. I CANNOT EVEN WAIT especially since Dorothy and friends are going to be dancing with the poms team at that game (unless she is taking a class with some touring professional dancers in town for Aladdin).
These are the two pictures Minnie insists upon every week— one with her library statue friends and one at Goldfish. INSISTS.

I just could not even with all of the drop offs, etc, the other day (Tuesdays are rough because Ben is gone from early morning until after hockey and everyone else has stuff to do, too), so we went to Noodles, which was SO underwhelming. Blergh. Back to cooking.
We FINALLY made caramel apples, an item on our fall bucket list that is way more fun for the kids than for me

I used to sit at dance class killing time in the lobby with Cooper while Dorothy danced, and now here I am killing time in the lobby with Min. Sometimes during COVID I thought I would never see the inside of this place again, and now here I am basically giving it a mortgage payment every month. NEAT.
We had a ridiculously terrible Wednesday morning this week (I broke the handle off my basic b Stanley tumbler (bought a new one immediately but will also be making a warranty claim). I ran out of time and couldn’t clean up the house at all and came home after work/preschool to a gd disaster that wasted my whole day because I had to use my most productive hours cleaning it up and then was exhausted and why did I think changing our sheets on a WORK DAY was a smart plan. Harry never woke up because he unplugged his alarm accidentally, but we didn’t notice he was missing from family life until the time he and Jack usually leave, so Ben drove Jack but then got stuck in traffic and on and on and on. I ended up working until after 10 Wednesday night to triage the most important things after all the running was done and the little kids were in bed. And I know I could choose work over house, but in the moment, the mess made me too anxious to focus on work and GAH. Nothing makes you realize how little margin exists in your life than screwing up JUST ONE THING, you know?

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Minnie’s a scholar

 Minnie's teacher sent an email to note that the class is studying farmers' markets, which CRACKED ME ALL THE WAY UP. 

Studying! LOLz. 

 I decided that we needed to support our tiniest family's member's serious inquiry into the subject, and Minnie, Dorothy, and I hit up Madison's most awesome  capitol square market while Harry, Ben, and Coop drove to the Chicago burbs for a baseball tourney for Coop's travel team, and Jack languished in his sick bed with a gross cold that's going around his school.

Taking things Very Seriously as Very Serious Scholars do

To organize our trip, I told the girls we needed to buy dinner supplies at the farmers' market. We decided we would make THIS viral pasta but use fresh tomatoes instead of canned and add some seasonal veggies. Plus we wanted hot and spicy cheese bread, cinnamon rolls, and flowers. A perfect and easy-to-accomplish shopping list!

Minnie also requested a zoo trip, and since I wanted to fill as many of the daylight hours as possible because weekend solo parenting is a DRAG, I agreed happily.

I remembered pretty quickly WHY we don't usually go to the market: SO MANY PEOPLE. It is difficult to pull a wagon through the throng, and if you want to go against traffic or dart back to a booth you passed by but actually want to patronize? HA! THAT'S A TRICK! IT CANNOT BE DONE!

Dorothy played a fun game called guess what people are protesting, and, I must say, some of the groups did not make their message clear AT ALL. Like, ideally, we should be able to name that social movement based on signage alone, you know? (We saw pro-solar energy, anti-abortion, pro-TA union raises, and pro- trans rights groups, but it took awhile to parse out these messages-- except the solar people who were holding a huge paper mâché sun).

Minnie was mostly interested in running through the leaves on the capitol lawn, so we did that, too, but it was hard to maneuver her, the wagon, all of our produce, and the little chains that rope off the lawn from the sidewalk. Still, we made it all the way around the square, fulfilled our list, engaged in some satisfying people watching, etc.

All Minnie really wanted to do at the zoo was see a lion (check) visit the porcupines (check), ride the merry go round and the train (check and check) and get ice cream (check), so that list, too, was easy to fulfill.

We finished our day by baking a (delicious!) apple pie for dessert, and when the boys got home and Jack emerged from his cave (feeling a little better but still yucky. He had a sore throat, but his strep test was neg-- both the rapid test and the full 48-hour culture), we had a delicious pasta dinner and a bubbly apple pie waiting for everyone.

(we ended up using roma tomatoes in the pasta and adding chopped purple Brussels sprouts, broccolini, and fresh basil-- and I get why that recipe went viral It was super easy and really customizable-- will make a variation again).

Coop had three sports over the weekend (although diving and hockey are still in practice mode), and he has more of the same next weekend. Fall baseball is lovely, though— none of the freezing weather we almost always get in the early spring, but more bees. SO MANY BEES.

Friday, September 22, 2023

5 on a Friday: Gratitude Edition

 1. SO GRATEFUL that Minnie feels better. I had SUCH a productive day yesterday, and it took me awhile to realize it was because I was not spending every other second tending to a grumpy lump. BUT she was extremely active and charmed Harry into buying her a (ceramic LOL) tea seat and played an elaborate water pouring game, SOAKING her bedroom. Then she cleaned it up herself with WET RAGS.  She also spent more than an hour running back and forth from her room to my bathroom to take nail polishes one bottle at a time and set them up in her play kitchen while playing a genie/potion game inspired by Shimmer and Shine. All of this AFTER taking a walk to gather fall leaves, gluing them on paper, and taping them to her door. I noticed she was better yesterday morning when she climbed over the back of the couch and ran away mid-amoxicillin dose.

2. Grateful for this perfect upper midwest fall weather. Chilly mornings and cool evenings with long sunny days and trees just starting to turn red. **chef's kiss**

3. Grateful for an intellectual exercise in course prep for spring. I am teaching a reproductive justice class and having s delightful time pawing through old research to design the syllabus.

4. Grateful for ICE CREAM FRIDAY with the 3 littlest kids after school today. It's our third Friday of the school year, and we have been loyal to this new tradition each week. I am excited to see if they can keep it up in the desperate cold.

5. Finally, I feel buckets of gratitude for this season (like, the weather AND this time in our lives) we're in and the ages our kids are and the routine we're developing and the activities they have chosen and on and on and on.

Yay dance season!

Yay puddles and morning walks!


Sick baby from early in the week but SO SWEET


Maybe Starbucks Wednesday-Friday, too

Thursday, September 21, 2023



I complained about Minnie's fractured sleep for literal YEARS. Then she started sleeping like a person, and I just sort of instantly took my full nights for granted like I had learned nothing from the struggle-. THEN SHE GOT SICK, and now I am a zombie.


She feels ok except her mouth still hurts she says. What if she has hand foot mouth (something we have escaped thus far) on top of strep? I might take her back to the ped today, if only because Harry's pericarditis started after a bout of strep when he was 6. (Although, ultimately, docs decided there wasn't a link and took his off his prophylactic penicillin? The whole thing remains unsettling). She ate NONE of her lunch at school yesterday, but when she got home, she drank 20 ounces of milk, so that's something.

(Actually, I felt like a jerk sending her to school but she really wanted to go, was fever free for more than 24 hours, had 72 hours of antibiotics under her belt, etc.)

Remembering the Harry link made me feel way better, I must say, about my own anxiety this week. NO WONDER I GET WORRIED.

She accessorized with her first day of school name tag that she has been keeping taped to her desk at home because 3 year-olds are SO WEIRD.

It is much much harder to be a parent of a preschooler in my mid-40s than it was in my late 20s or early 30s. OR EVEN LATE 30s. With Dorothy, I was 37 when she was Minnie's age, and at the time THAT felt so much harder than turning 29 with toddler Harry. But this? OMG.

So many things are easier, though, so it's a win ultimately.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Apples and painting and sore throats oh my!

 APPLES! WE PICKED APPLES! Minnie loved it— I don’t think she’s ever gone before.

And! Maybe Minnie NOT TOUCHING her donut should have been a clue that she was getting sick? Poor baby.

Ben and I made apple cider margaritas with 4 ounces tequila, 2 ounces triple sec, 2 ounces lime juice, and 6 once’s cider (for 2). We used cinnamon sticks garnish and cinnamon sugar and salt on the rims of our glasses— delish!

Now we have a truly daunting supply of apples and plans to make caramel apples and… not sure what else. I have already done a batch of apple zucchini muffins and made an apple crisp. Pie maybe? These cookies?

Before she got sick and just turned into a sad grumpy little lump, Minnie was really into painting. So into it, in fact, that her easel became a permanent kitchen fixture

Ugh, I feel so bad for Minnie. If she doesn’t feel better by lunchtime I am going to call the pediatrician to see about bringing her back in— she’s miserable. Ugh.