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


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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:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013



Penelope's starting to string 3+ words together pretty frequently. A sampling from the past few days:

Pointing up to the owl ornament hanging from the small Christmas tree on our mantel: "Oh-lul tee up der!" (Owl tree up there!)

Indicating her huge creepy plastic inherited baby doll that we keep on top of her bookcase: "Baby seepin up der!" (Baby sleeping up there!)

This afternoon as I finished up working at our computer with the door closed, from the hallway I heard: "Mommy workin now!"

Other favorite exclamations lately:

"Oopsy daisy oopsy daisy!" when anything is slightly different than she thinks it should be

"AbaDABa!" which she uses to refer to her wand, and also says while waving her wand, along with "poke pocus!"

"Happy BOOTday!" which she says repeatedly while holding an electric candle, and also says to refer to the candle.

"No touchin!" and "One fin-doo" (finger), which she often says when she knows not to grab something...often while she's grabbing it anyway.

"Yight on!" when she wants to play with a light switch

"House" is anything she bunches together, such as puzzle pieces; the same puzzle pieces (or, last night during dinner, green beans) in a line become "train!"

It's also so fun to get her to repeat stuff, like when we spun her around in the office chair Paul got her to say "inertia" and "angular momentum"!

This whole toddler thing is pretty entertaining.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Just back from a jog

I took up jogging this past January after LITERALLY over a decade of thinking, occasionally, "Maybe I could take up jogging. [Non-athletic Person I Know] took up jogging, so maybe I could too." And then I wouldn't. But then my 41-year-old work bff Denise took up jogging and ran a 5k, and I think that was the Non-athletic Person I Know who finally nudged me the last inch (I mean, centimeter, since we apparently use the metric system for jogging) over my mental line to deciding I could attempt to take up jogging.

Well, that plus the fact that I finally owned a smartphone and therefore had access to C25K apps. I used RunDouble to get myself from Couch Potato to Someone Who Can Sustain a Jog for 30 Minutes. Now I use RunKeeper just to track things, but man, I give a lot of credit to that C25K app. It gave me permission to take it slow to start, and take things in manageable, bite-sized chunks, with plenty of walking in the first few weeks.
I ran a 5k one week before my 30th birthday. I'm not really a person who tries for significant timing like that, but it worked out that way, and I was surprised at how affected I was: I cried as I ran across the finish line.

And then I peed myself. No, really. Whoops. (And that is why I will probably never attempt long-distance jogging.)

After I ran the 5k, I tapered off my jogging quite a bit, down to only once a week or even less, and until this past week I'd gone 2 weeks without jogging, and when I did go, I was doing less than 2 miles (for the uninitiated: a 5k = 3.1 miles). I didn't have time, it was too hot, I didn't feel like it, I wasn't feeling well, I'd go tomorrow, etc etc etc. Even my past two jogs since last Saturday have been under 2 miles.

But tonight, I decided to jog, and once I was out there, I decided to just keep going. And I jogged for 3.6 miles. Not that far, but still my longest jog yet, shortly after a 2 week break. So for the first time since May, I got to that point in the jog where the endorphins kick in and you feel, not less tired, but like you could keep doing this pretty much indefinitely, and furthermore everything is right with the world and you are totally satisfied and happy with your life and you are at one with the world and, hey, it's finally time to tackle that project you've had in the back of your mind for a few years, because you could definitely make time for it if you just tried.

Why can't I ever remember how great that feels on the days when I know I should jog but decide not to? Ah, the mysteries of the universe. Or life. Or the human brain. Or whatever.

Over the past couple of months of much less jogging, I was worried that I was letting it slip away, just like I'd let all past attempts to get in shape lapse after a while: joining the Y, swimming laps, "running" on the elliptical...nothing lasted more than a few months. And it all cost a lot of money. I will need new sneakers before too long, but thus far jogging has only cost me a couple bucks for that C25K app, and $15 for running shorts with pockets. Oh, and I guess $22 for cold-weather running tights. Did I mention I took up jogging in January? Who DOES that? (Uh, lots of people who make New Year's Resolutions, I hear you saying? Yeah shut up.)
Upshot of all this: now I know I can slack off for a few weeks and still come back to jogging without feeling like a beginner all over again. (Sounds like a bad thing, but is actually totally encouraging for me, because slacker-y patches are inevitable, but now I know I can easily get back on the wagon.) I suspected this was true after I hiked to Upper Temple at Camp Nawakwa with 23 lb. Penelope in a hiking backpack and felt less tired than I had making the same hike weekly when I was 21. Also, I reminded myself, I took up jogging just under a year after her birth, and I am now 10 lbs below my pre-baby weight, and have sustained that weight for over 3 months. I haven't weighed this little since, I think, 2005. So, proof of both cardiovascular and body mass index benefits. And it makes me feel happy and proud of myself and less stressed. And less guilty about eating that half a pint of ice cream for dessert last night.

So that's how I'm feeling tonight. And I am one of the least athletic people you know. But I finally found a physical activity that works for me, and I'm pretty happy about it, and maybe tomorrow I'll start that one project I've had in the back of my mind for the past few years.
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