Monday, August 31, 2015

Dinner on the Moon

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PJ had been asking for a couple days that I help her color on her spaceship (a cardboard diaper box) to improve it, and Sunday evening we finally did. She instructed me to draw a steering wheel; allowed me to draw a throttle lever thing once I explained that pulling it would make her spaceship go faster; drew some gauges; and at her repeated and fervent insistence, plenty of buttons.

For future reference, the Crayola colors that show up best on brown cardboard are the sparkly jewel tones. Luckily these are exactly the colors you'd choose anyway to draw robots and spaceship consoles for your imaginative daughter.

In the back, she had me draw a robot "to sit behind me and be my helper" because, she explained sagely, "every spaceship has a robot helper." (Where does she get this stuff??) After proclaiming her satisfaction with my robot drawing, she packed her ship and we blasted off to the moon "where our robot friend lives, so we can eat dinner with him."

Once we landed on the moon, daddy told PJ her dinner was ready, so she stood to get out of her spaceship and--here is the part that completely blew my mind--she pantomimed taking off her space helmet, spacesuit, and space shoes. It was very obviously three distinct things, and I could tell what she was doing before she said a word about it: she lifted the helmet off her head, pulled down & climbed out of the suit, and then pulled off each shoe. I also had to take off these three elements of my spacesuit, PJ reminding me, "don't forget to take off your space shoes!"

She continued to talk about eating dinner on the moon throughout her real dinner. The completeness and level of detail in this whole spaceship saga was just amazing. I am in awe of this kid. Also beyond thrilled to have a cardboard box spaceship in my living room. Maybe next we can make a transmogrifier!

I was so blown away by PJ's pretend play Sunday evening that I was still gushing about it while Paul and I lay in bed late Sunday night.

Not to leave Max out, he is of course delighting us daily too. He had been back to 3 wake-ups to nurse per night since we left for the beach, but Saturday night suddenly only woke up once, and Sunday night I'll call it one and a half times because he woke up again shortly before 6:30, so I did lay down with him and doze a tiny bit more while he nursed before getting up. He can sit up unsupported for a minute or two at a time, something I really want to make him do daily now so that he'll get better at it, because what he wants to do while you're hanging out with him is stand. I keep telling him he needs to learn how to sit first, so maybe he'll get that memo in the next couple of weeks. He is very quick to grin and giggle, and loves when daddy puts him belly-down on top of daddy's head and rubs his belly. My favorite way to get giggles is by kissing him all around his mouth--he loves it and leans in, and I especially love it when he presses his slobbery open mouth against my face to give me kisses back!

PJ has been taking more and more interest in her little brother, and when she decides to play with him, Max loves watching her best of all. I love that she mimics us saying, "hey buddy" and "it's OK" to him. She also likes to ask him questions and then answer on his behalf, which is often hilarious.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Some success stories!

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Well! As expected, I haven't updated the blog much. But now I have an update, so we'll just say it's because I didn't before.

I had been slipping on the no phone from 10p to 8a thing, and I didn't do great with that yesterday either, BUT last week at the beach I really did use my phone MUCH less. I left it in my bag, or even at the house, and went whole days without taking pictures to post instantly, and instead I engaged with my kids and family and finished two books on my kindle. AND the week or so before that I was using my phone less too, which I mostly credit to a third book I was reading that was very, very long and got quite exciting for the last third.

SO! Bored and Brilliant challenge-cum-lifestyle-change is going ok, and I have more books both Kindle and physical to distract me, AND I have a new non-electronic distraction: Paul is bringing home copies of the New York Times from school for me, and today I completed my very first crossword puzzle. Plus both KenKens, but those I've been doing for ages. So yeah, my new strategy is NYT crossword puzzles.

The new semester started yesterday, and along with it a new, earlier schedule. We got to bed annually early on Sunday night, so Monday morning went pretty smoothly, but then last night we were back to midnight, and this morning was a bit miserable. SO tonight, back to 10p bed time! I hope. That is my current top goal: to get to sleep before 11p consistently so I can get into work early so I can be home early.

The whole bedtime thing will be easier when Max gets back to sleeping longer. He was down to one wake-up for a few days before we left on vacation, but went back to 3 wake-ups a night as soon as we were elsewhere, and has kept up that unfortunate habit so far for the 3 nights we've now spent at home. Tonight I will try to encourage cluster feeding.

And finally, a new goal: plan our meals for the week so that lunches are easier to pack, eating out is less tempting, and grocery shopping is less frequent. Paul does the overwhelming majority of cooking and grocery shopping, so another part of this is increasing my contribution a bit, maybe so I'm preparing one dinner a week? It's not that I'm a bad cook; Paul is just home, and also much, much more efficient in the kitchen.

Hey, in other news, we no longer have to buy pull-ups! Because PJ is fully daytime potty trained!! FINALLY. She made the switch at almost exactly 3.5 years old, and just like my mom told me, it was pretty much overnight. She didn't even have a single accident at the beach, and she's already doing most peeing totally on her own, by herself in the bathroom, even away from home with no stool. "I need my pwivacy," PJ says!

And so, as promised, tonight we will be taking a family trip to the pet store to get PJ a beta fish. I hope she's not disappointed when she realizes she can't actually play with it.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

BreakFree vs Moment

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I know a few of my friends have downloaded the BreakFree app I talked about, and at least two ran into issues that may be because the app works differently on iPhone. I heard about the app from the Bored & Brilliant program, and they have a different recommendation for iPhone users: it's called Moment. So if you want to try this along with me but you have an iPhone, probably go with that.

I have no idea how BreakFree works on iPhone, but on my Android phone, the way to schedule "do not disturb" time is under the "Tools" menu. I didn't do it right at first, and also accidentally turned on the do not disturb thing outside of the schedule, so for most of one day last week it was just on and blocking all my notifications. I turned that off, but I gotta say, it was rather wonderful to not be bothered by my phone for a while.

I also found a Do Not Disturb function built into my phone. For me it was under the Sound & Notifications menu under Settings; your mileage may vary. May be worth googling it if you don't want an app, or if the app is cumbersome.

I've been doing ok getting to bed less ridiculously late, which definitely feels like a direct result of not using my phone after 10:00 pm. I really have been sticking to that, and it's lovely.

Last night I did go to bed too late, BUT it was because I got a bug in my bonnet to CREATE, which happens to me from time to time, and I made not one but TWO bibs out of old Camp Nawakwa t-shirts! And today I'm making a basket on my sewing machine using heavy cotton clothesline and the zig-zag stitch, and it is working! I have had both these sewing projects in my brain for a while, so it feels great to actually DO them.

AND I cleaned off the fridge, and designated a box in which to save select pieces of PJ's art. It so far has 4 things in it, each labeled with its approximate creation date.

All the birth announcements and post cards and other pictures from the past 2+ years are going to go in this rope basket I'm making. I got that idea from my mom, who has a similar basket in her living room that PJ loves to look through. Seems like a great way to keep that stuff around without cluttering up the fridge. Plus we were really running out of room on the fridge!

What do you do with the kind of stuff that starts out living on your fridge when you run out of room? How about all those Christmas photo cards? I have a stack of those on my mantle that I still haven't pitched. Maybe I'll finally do that today too, and just keep a few in the same basket as the fridge stuff.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


As I was running (and walking...) yesterday for the first time in months, while listening to the second Freakonomics podcast on the economics of sleep (part 1 | part 2), I had an idea. This often happens while I'm running, and I pretty much never end up acting, because the motivational high of running doesn't last beyond the end of the run.
But then yesterday, another of my favorite podcasts, Note To Self, revisited their awesome Bored and Brilliant project with a new update: Bored and Brilliant Boot Camp. Just so happens, that fits right into my idea from yesterday's run. It felt like the universe was talking to me, and how often does that happen?
So I'm going to try to act on my idea, which is this: gradually but intentionally, put into practice some of the many, many ideas covered in so many of the podcasts I listen to every week.
These ideas are all at least indirectly related to self-improvement. The very first thing I'm going to implement is an earlier bed time coupled with a set period of no phone usage each day. This should theoretically get me some consistent time in bed each evening before going to sleep, and I am going to use that time on some days to journal here about how my life improvement attempts are going, and what effects I'm seeing, if any, from each new idea.
This sort of thing has been done before. Many, many, many, many times. And I have been extremely bad at keeping up with any sort of blogging or journaling in the past, even of the one-sentence-a-day variety. AND it's well known to be very difficult to truly change behavior in the long term without an acute event that forces change.

Nevertheless, I'm attempting to implement two attempts to change my behavior: whatever I decide to do first, plus regular posts on my long-neglected blog.
What I'm NOT doing is aiming for anything with any ambiguity. This will all be very clearly and explicitly stated. No "going to bed earlier" or "getting more sleep" or "losing weight"; no, this all needs to be very concrete.
To that end, the first thing I am implementing is no phone use from 10:00 pm to 8:00 am daily. This idea is directly from the Freakonomics sleep podcasts. I have already set this up, using a phone use tracking app called BreakFree (not sponsored; I found this thru the Bored and Brilliant project mentioned above). I'll still be able to make calls and send texts, but it will disable mobile data and wireless, and I will police myself to not do anything else between those hours unless absolutely necessary. I have also turned off most sound notifications all the time, so that I am less tempted to reach for my phone throughout the day.
My hope is that I'll naturally get to bed a bit earlier as a result of this first initiative. If not, I think the next thing I'll attempt is to be in bed by 11:00 pm every night, and move that up to 10:00 pm once I've managed to stick with 11:00 for a while.
I am keeping track of current and future implementation on the "Ideas" page, which you can also find in its own tab at the top of the blog.
I will not be setting a schedule to implement these ideas. I will do one until it feels comfortable enough that I think I can tackle something new and still maintain it, OR until I decide that it's not working for me and it's time to scrap it and try something new. If I start a new thing and a previous one starts to slip, I may put the new one on hold our at least delay adding any others until ALL behaviors I've decided to keep are I track.
I am never going to make "weight loss" or anything like that a goal, but better physical and mental health for myself and my family is, of course, the foremost broader goal of this project.
What I'm hoping to record here is how each idea is working, my struggles with implementing it, whether I'm seeing any changes as a result, if I was expecting these changes or not...and also just to get myself writing stuff down, because it's yet another thing that I think I may love doing if only I'd get in the habit of doing it.

What podcasts do you listen to and love? I like "idea" podcasts, like Note To Self, Freakonomics, Planet Money, and Radiolab; and "story" podcasts like This American Life, Serial (duh), Longest Shortest Time, The Moth, Invisibilia, and others. I've tried but never liked any of the more interview, talk-style podcasts where the host(s) just kind of talk to people about whatever. I prefer my podcasts curated and produced; I need a topic to keep my interest; I can't pat attention to people just talking to each other.

What ideas have you heard, no matter the source, and thought, "I should try that"? Why did that particular idea resonate with you?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

More PJ-isms from this morning

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PJ trying to open a tin of lip balm on my bedside table: "I'm too little uh do it"

After "Effant" (her stuffed elephant) helped her climb onto our bed (actually me lifting her as she held elephant): "Effant help me kime up!"

Once up on our bed, after thanking Elephant for helping her up, she gives Elephant a big hug and says, "I love you, Effant." I said, "Can I have a hug?" so she shoved Elephant up under my chin. Because obviously I was requesting a hug from Elephant. I requested a hug from her too, and so she crawled up and hugged me and Elephant, exclaiming, "Hug all of you!"

Once she's gone out into the living room, she starts her usual chorus of requesting to watch something on TV. This morning it was "Watch Let It Go! I need Let It Go. I need uh watch Frozen!"

As she's eating her breakfast, she holds up a half-eaten slice of toast and says, "You a chair? Hello, chair! Chair in my mouf!" Then she held up a whole slice of toast and said, "It's like a frigulator! It's a toast. Now it's a frigulator! Now it's a toast!"

Monday, May 26, 2014

PJ Bathtime Conversations

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Oh hi Elsa! Oh hi Frosty uh Snowman!
You're different. A good different! (Straight out of Frozen. All snowmen are Frosty the Snowman to PJ.)

Go to uh doctor? Sure.
Oh hi doctor! My boo boo hurts. I need some medicine.
Oh no, no medicine for you, I want to go home now.
Cover up my boo boo. Oh sank you, doctor!
Oh doctor, don't float away, doctor! Doctor, where are you? Oh there's my doctor! There's a bubble doctor!
(We don't know where the doctor conversation is coming from! A TV show perhaps?)

Oh excuse me, I'm talking here. (Paul & I have needed to say this to her frequently lately, so no mystery where she heard this!)

Penguin going to seep. Tuck him in, and here's a bear.
Let's go to seep penguin. One two free go seep.
Read a book for me penguin ok?
Go seep on my back? Sure.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

More PJ Jabber

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Almost a month after Christmas, PJ is still requesting "frosty snowman" and singing Jingle Bells to herself. This is how she says it:

Jin-ul bells, jin-ul bells,
Jin-ul aw da way way way!

But sometimes other phrases tip her into jingle bell territory. Tonight at dinner time, I heard "dinner time, dinner time, dinner all da way way way!"

And then in the bath, she pointed to my nail polish and said, "finner nails, finner nails, finner all da way way way!"

Then she requested another bubble beard:

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