Wednesday, January 31, 2024

I think I’m alone now

 My favorite thing to do in the whole world is be a mom in the very verbiest sense of that word. But being a mom who has just dropped all her kids off at school and has a fresh pot of coffee waiting for her and a SILENT HOUSE and also bagels and lox and, like, Plato's clementines is perfection beyond perfection.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Sick baby, whining, etc

 Welp.  Minnie is missing her second day of school this week as I speak. We had a good January run, my friends. She went to school from 1/3-1/25 with no illness. And then I took her to the library followed by the water park. I mean. I WAS ASKING FOR IT.

I feel like in November, when she started to get sick, I kept sending her back to school when she'd been fever-free for 24 hours and then she would get sick AGAIN. So. This time, she is staying home until she's one million percent better. She has been fever-free since Sunday but just not herself-- tired, pale, whiny, upset tummy etc.

Which is how I came to be working at a table in the hockey lobby at 9 pm last night.

Srsly. Yesterday. SUCH A MONDAY. Home with Minnie trying to work then running kids and going to my meeting and watching the end of dive club then doing the hockey drop and realizing if I just stayed there I could work in peace.

Minnie was a big helper, though.

We also made THESE muffins. Tell none of my big kids they have applesauce and avocado, okay??

Dive practice is no hardship, either. LOOK AT THIS!!
Minnie was FINE FINE FINE when I took 4 kids to Great Wolf Lodge ALL BY MYSELF. (But one of them is a lifeguard, and 2 of them are swim team members, so Minnie was the only scary one). (If you need to go solo to a water park, BRING YOUR OWN LIFEGUARD— even while they were all three in the teeming mass of a wave pool dodging little kids, clumps of hair, and stray bandaids, Jack was playing AND scanning the water for his sibs.) (Also, if you need to go solo to a water park, Great Wolf Lodge is an excellent choice: cleanish, tons of staff, attractions arranged in separate rooms so you can travel as a pack from room to room and then find something fun for every age group within the rooms).

Twinning with the wolf she built at the lobby Build-a-Bear (IT BUILD A WOLF she insists) because I am a sucker
Ready to swim!! (they trashed a suite in RECORD TIME, btw)
LOL, Dorothy
Sweater and swimsuit because WISCONSIN
Garbage lunch, natch
She got knocked over by a giant 150 gallon bucket of water that periodically soaks this climbing gym thing-- VERY WISCONSIN
Somebody give that kid a sandwich!
The crew

Worth the germs?

Also! JULIE! Thank you for the Lancome website tip-- I just bought a moisturizer (I went with the old favorite Renergie and will buy the day cream too) and got a 7-piece makeup bag gift, another lipstick and blush gift AND a full size moisturizer. WHAT.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Deferred **whomp whomp**

 Harry got a deferred decision from UW and has to report his midterm grades for consideration with the students who applied by 1/15. LOL because he has been living the carefree senior life this year and has 2 B+’s that would have been A’s had he known anyone would care.

Soooooo, he is going to choose from his 4 other faves and forget about UW (even though he will turn in the grades— he is not expecting a spot and is proceeding as if defer means no and feeling pretty ok since he knows a ton of kids who got denied yesterday).

I just want him to make a decision so I can buy ALL OF THE MERCH.

And! I actually want him to attend either one of 2 specific UW system schools that I have wanted him to attend all along because they are well ranked and have selective admissions plus also have faculty teaching courses and are small and undergraduate-student-centered. Like a public SLAC. But! He is really into the University of Minnesota, so we shall see.

IT IS NOT MY DECISION even though I have to spend lots of money on it, so I am (TRYING TO) lean out and follow his lead.

Come on, kid! Wisconsin is your oyster!

ALSO! I took Minnie to the library for 20 minutes to kill time between club diving drop off and high school diving pick up, and SHE IS SICK TODAY. It is the first time we have gone to the library since the whole strep/ear infection/RSV/pneumonia routine, and the first time she has been sick since then. Bah humbug.

Friday, January 26, 2024

5 on a Friday: The I can’t believe it’s almost a new month edition (4/52)

 1. Harry should find out today if he got into UW-Madison, since he applied early action, and the Reddit rumor mill says they release decisions the Friday before the 1/31 deadline. WHICH IS TODAY. He is an honors student with a super hard AP schedule, a National Honor Society member, a kid with tons of extra curriculars, including sportsball. But. He is definitely on the bubble for UW, and we all have our fingers crossed. (He got into 7 other schools, so he has terrific options).

2. One of my TAs introduced the staff to a get-to-know you game that the kids love playing at dinner (even though we know each other). You say your name and where you’re from (Minnie says she is from upstairs and also school) and then the answer to a question. Everyone else has to guess the question you answered. If someone guesses the wrong question, you have to answer that one, too. So, like you could say lasagna and someone could guess favorite food, but then you would say no it’s my favorite cartoon cat’s favorite food (Garfield) and then tell them your favorite food, too.

3. Errand Friday is making me mad, but I am going to give it a couple more weeks. Since the first week, I have had to run errands midweek out of necessity, although I am saving some returns for today. This week, for example, I had to do a Target pickup after drop off because we were out of Tide and I had to go to the pharmacy for someone’s meds. I missed my dad a lot on the first day of class because I always wear the pretty necklace that my parents got me for PhD graduation on the first day of class, so I channeled that feeling into chatting up the pharmacist at our doctor’s office. She told me I could short fill all our meds to match them up with the one I just filled and sketched out what this would look like for me and also made notes in the kids’ charts. The only draw back is that I will have to pay a full copay for a short fill, but that’s not a drawback at all if it means I only have to run this errand once a month instead of most weeks. Why didn’t I think of this sooner??

4.  I threw some Valentine-looking stuff into a plastic basket I found in the back of a bathroom cabinet and tossed it all on the table, and Minnie clambers up several times a day to make Valentines.

5. We had some crowd-pleaser dinners this week, specifically THESE pot pies (I made three and froze 1), THESE taco salads (I also offered tortillas and made rice for anyone who wanted to slice an avocado and make a bowl— Ben made a salad for the next day’s lunch while I was cleaning up the kitchen, and the kids repurposed leftovers for baked nachos), and THIS sheet pan meal (I doubled the shrimp because I Insta-carted a giant bag from Costco and served with couscous and a big salad). 


Thursday, January 25, 2024

Middle schoolers, you guys.


These guys used to be middle schoolers. Now they are delightful humans.

I have been thinking about Lisa lately and how she says toddlerhood is not her favorite stage but then has tons of posts where she is having a delightful time with her toddler and trying to summon that energy as I deal with a particular middle schooler because middle school? NOT MY FAVORITE.

I think the problem, really, is that middle schoolers seem so together and human-like sometimes. They are smart and funny and responsible and capable. And then all of the sudden they are very extravagantly not those things, and not only is whatever they are doing annoying/distressing/anxiety-producing, but also my expectations have been violated.


I am trying to do a better job of setting my expectations.

Middle school is, really, a metaphysical nightmare. Middle schoolers are people very much in the process of becoming, and I make the mistake of thinking they already are. But! It’s an easy mistake to make, because we see these tantalizing glimpses of the people they are on the way to being.

I don’t get annoyed at all  when Minnie loses her shit over a sandwich in the wrong shape or a pair of underpants printed with a character she suddenly will not rep or an invitation to exit the car on what has magically become the WRONG SIDE because I expect her to be irrational. I know she needs some quiet time before dinner and snacks every couple of hours and a break from her tablet and a pre-8pm bedtime and a song to clean up her toys.

I need to apply that same logic to middle schoolers who are also at a weird, discombobulating moment of development and have big feelings and bodies that are growing faster than their clothes can contain and can’t actually play Fortnite more hours than they sleep even though they totally ay they can. It’s so easy to praise a toddler for learning to spell her name or being able to pull up her own pants after she uses the bathroom or learning to struggle into her snow gear with minimal assistance, but middle school milestones go unappreciated. I need to be better at finding the human-in-the-world skills these kids are learning and letting them now that I notice the people they’re becoming. But not in a weird way. Like I can’t all of the sudden say at the dinner table SHOW DADDY HOW YOU SET A BOUNDARY WITH A FRIEND ALL BY YOURSELF. Or SHOW YOUR BROTHERS HOW YOU OVERCAME INCAPACITATING INSECURITY ABOUT THE WAY THAT ONE HAIR STICKS UP AND WENT TO SCHOOL ANYWAY. Or TELL GRANDMA ABOUT HOW TEST ANXIETY MADE YOU PUNCH YOUR SISTER BUT THEN YOU STUDIED AND STOPPED SCREAMING AT EVERY ONE AND IT WAS FINE.

Middle schoolers: people caught up in a being/becoming nightmare that is actually just their life one emo day at a time. Not demons trying to make me die of apoplexy. 

But also MIDDLE SCHOOL IS THE WORST and it is hard not to resent losing work time to other people’s dysregulation, you know???

Onward and upward— here is a baby ballerina saying French dance words. Luckily I will be firmly in my dotage by the time she’s a middle schooler and will have cute grandkids to gush over maybe if I a very lucky.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

PJ Day Redux

 So you know how Minnie is in a part-time preschool? Well. For 3 year-olds, they have a Monday/ Tuesday morning class and a Wednesday/Thursday/Friday morning class. She is in both classes, so she gets a repeat occasionally. This week, she got a bonus PJ day for the cozy home unit (they have all fleece things in the dress up closet, and the pictures I get of her and her friends in giant robes and sweatshirts being “grandmas” are THE BEST).

It is slushy with tons of snow melt (hello, climate change) and freezing rain (40-degrees next week **yikes**), so she decided it was the absolute perfect moment for a floor-length nightie.

Email I sent to her sainted teacher:

Proud PJ-day goer:
Then she came home and played in a box hashtag benign neglect.

She’s also learning to pour water at school because they serve themselves snack, which makes me think of Jack’s Reggio preschool where the two most important things he learned were how to eat soup (they had an on-site chef) and that he liked couscous, which was so helpful durning his beige food phase. God bless preschool.

Monday, January 22, 2024

I feel so relaxed— how long could this possibly last?

We had lovely, boring weekend with kid activities and lots of nothing to do, too. Oh, what’s that? You want to see pictures of this total slice of mundanity? You betcha.

 She was showing off her ridiculous unicorn crocs here, but I like the dress/tights combo. The tights have foxes on the knees, and I am here for them

That feeling when if you want to have leftover pot pie, you gotta make 3 hashtag big family.

Coop went to his first dive meet of the season and got 2nd in 3M springboard and won 1m and platform with PRs.

I HAD to get a pedicure (BEAK FEET). Minnie did not have school for teacher professional develpment. Sooooo, that happened.

One of my fave kitchen hacks 

Date night

Cleaning and killing time

And! A triumphant return to swim lessons after being sick for weeks and weeks!


She got out 3 times to pee, and it’s a 30-minute class. LOL LOL LOL.

Ok— that’s all I got.

My huge goal for this week is to figure out the rhythms of my asynch online students and also drink more water. You?

Friday, January 19, 2024

5 on a Friday: The Rhythms that WORK for Me Edition (3/52)

 1. Getting up early. Is there anything better than a nest on the couch with a big sweatshirt of Ben’s over my pajamas, a blanket from the storage ottoman, Wordle, and a steaming cup of coffee from the pot that wakes up 10 minutes before I do? I LOVE that little silent epoch before I exercise and start my day for real.

2. Using my elliptical as a standing desk when I WFH during preschool hours. I need to work on the lighting in the storage room where I stash my exercise equipment, but walking while I work is really fun and keeps me from doing housework while I am kid-free.

3. Using my portable waterproof speaker to listen to a book while I take a shower at night. I love listening to a book while I clean the kitchen after dinner, but this has become a luxury since Ben spends the time between dinner and bath doing the other half of the drop-off loop I do after school, plus hockey runs and carpools. Harry and Jack have stuff at night, too, so I need up cleaning up while loosely supervising Minnie, and I can’t wear headphones or get lost in a story. Listening in the shower is a great way to connect with whatever book I a in the middle of before I switch gears and hang out with the big kids before bed. This week, I adored The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store (which was a DNF for me in print), and I just started The Covenant of Water, which is 31 hours long, so even at double time, I need to listen OFTEN because it’s due in a week!!

4. Grocery shopping online in front of my Google calendar. Will I ever go back to trolling the grocery aisles for our big weekly shop? I really can’t imagine it. I load a giant car at Metro Market (our Kroger-branded store) while having some wine and contemplating the onslaught of the next week from the comfort of my couch on Friday evenings (WE LIVE A WILD LIFE) and crowd sourcing ideas for dinners and lunch snacks from whichever children trickle through the room. I also fill a simultaneous Target cart for random household needs and popular food item that the grocery store is running low on. We pick this stuff up on Sunday mornings, typically, maybe Saturday, depending on what the weekend looks like, and I supplement as needed throughout the week from the cute local place where we buy wine and cheese, or the co-op where I find my favorite coffee, or Trader Joe’s if Minnie and I need a way to fill an afternoon. If we are super low on snacks, I also shop Costco via Instacart— that way my in-person, one-off Costco shopping is pleasant, not onerous with a billion flats that I am loading into my trunk. 

5. Mixing colors and patters and dressing like the old academic I am.

Some videos from the week, just for fun:

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Wednesday: cute and terrible

 Between pajama day and dance class, Minnie’s day was cuter than usual yesterday. MINE WAS THE PITS.

We have left the house in plenty of time for me to be pulling away from Cooper’s school at 8:34 am for WEEKS you guys. Even when I have nowhere to be! At the beginning of the year, I was taking Coop first and then Minnie and Minnie was ALWAYS late—- which is of course no big deal because it’s nursery school. But then! We decided to try it the other way, which I had always been reluctant to do because Minnie is a very firm drop off time, and Coop has a 10-minute window that runs from Minnie’s precise time to 10 mins later. It made more sense to me to make sure Coop was on time and then take Min, but one day I flip-flopped them, and they were BOTH ON TIME!! The key is to drop Minnie off 2 minutes before her time, the second her lovely wonderful teacher opens the classroom door. Then I am literally 4 minutes from Coop’s school, and assuming I can turn left, everything is great. 

Our routine has been SEAMLESS this way the whole time I was on break.

BUT OF COURSE. Yesterday morning. THE FIRST TIME I HAVE TO GO TO CAMPUS, we ran 17 minutes late **head desk** (And it wasn’t even my fault!!!!!! My shit was LOCKED AND LOADED).

Then my classroom was locked, and we had to relocate to a sub-optimal meeting space on another floor of the building.

Then! It took my TAs nearly two hours to amicably sign up for sections. It’s always harder to sign up in the spring than it is in the fall because we teach fewer sections in the spring, and this means schedules can be hard to finagle, etc. BUT TWO HOURS?!?! We also have a younger staff than normal, so most of them are still in coursework, and it’s harder for grad students to schedule teaching around taking classes than around dissertations. But still!

I drew on my mom skillz and walked away to let them handle it themselves. Which they did!!

I rushed to school to collect Minnie after my meeting and rushed home and rushed to take her to dance and then rushed to get Dorothy.

Then I just ran around and fed people and cleaned stuff up and then cleaned it up again when people messed it up and did laundry and did not have time to change sheets and drove kids all over town, etc etc etc etc. HASHTAG LIVING THE DREAM.

I decided these Uggs are practically high heels.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024


 I don’t think that winter break does me any favors in the whole I-am-a-person-with-a-job department. It’s like by the end of the fall semester, the whole fam gets used to me dressing in people clothes and leaving the house and doing things with my mind and my hands that aren’t in the service of my home and my family and then bam! Winter break and I take the kids to school so I can spend 3 hours sitting in silence in an empty house or buying expensive things for myself because why not I am alone after all. And then I spend MONTHS slowly acclimating everyone to my person-with-responsibilities-outside-the-house identity in the spring and all the sudden SUMMER and every single day at the pool.

I am back on campus for a couple of days, and I forgot how hard it is to get everything prepped and ready to go and there are people who do this EVERY SINGLE DAY and you guys who work outside your house on the regular? Are awesome.

I have 3 new dresses and only 2 days of meetings, so I feel bad already for dress number 3 (still not sure which one is unlucky number 3 yet), but I promise I will wear it to a Monday meeting before the semester is over. I am teaching online (asynchronous), so my challenge is to dress like a person with a job even if no one sees me. And on the days I do see people, I am going to wear dresses!

We saw Migration on Monday. It was sort of cute. And I read the second Crescent City book on my Kindle most of the time. 

My sidekick and I are back on the drop off/pick up circuit.
Also back? SCOTCHAROOS!!
Dorothy is SUCH a tween all of the sudden.
How cute e is Minnie at the Post Office?
She kept telling me she made a B with popsicle sticks and I kept saying it’s a V, and, finally she screamed I KNOW IT IS A B. I CAN’T SAY B.”
While I cleaned up lunch today, Minnie played with cups because BENIGN NEGLECT is the best parenting hack in the world.
More unsupervised playtime
Speaking of benign neglect!! I haven’t touched my work bag in 6 weeks. Tonight, I moved everything from my mom bag (not to be confused with my diaper bag which I don’t even need to carry anymore!!!!) to my work bag.


OK- I am ready for the busiest day we’ve had in months. I’ll let you know how it goes, so just stay right there on the edge of your seats.