Monday, December 28, 2015

Instagram December 28, 2015 at 10:08PM


Both kids in bed by 8:00 means I tidied up the living room and finally sat down at my new digital piano with my Christmas headphones to get reacquainted with Chopin. I feel happier already! via Instagram http://ift.tt/1JFR4Vd

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Instagram December 26, 2015 at 10:50PM


I'm having a great gaming weekend! Just won 6 player Catan Seafarers after being in the middle of the pack for most of the game. I'm so happy we had FriendsChristmas AND Friendsgiving this year. All ELEVEN of us! via Instagram http://ift.tt/1OmrdCJ

Instagram December 26, 2015 at 04:44PM


PJ & Charlie built a fort with PJ's great kit from Aunt @hannahhardatwork, but now they're playing upstairs so Max is napping in the fort! via Instagram http://ift.tt/1RLC9AC

Instagram December 26, 2015 at 01:02PM


Max napping in the Tula on daddy's back! Love love love! via Instagram http://ift.tt/1QO7ZNl

Instagram December 26, 2015 at 12:56PM


PJ is matching up socks & folding napkins for me, and the amount of happiness this is bringing both of us is disproportionately huge compared to the actual helpfulness of it, but oh man, is it making my least favorite chore so much better. via Instagram http://ift.tt/1QSFgGC

Instagram December 26, 2015 at 12:20AM


Christmas game night with @hannahhardatwork has become a lovely tradition! This year we played Dominion. I won the first two rounds, and Han won the third. Sorry for your luck, Paul! via Instagram http://ift.tt/1OlnPbj

Friday, December 25, 2015

Instagram December 25, 2015 at 02:33PM


My views for the past half hour. Another perfect Christmas moment! Also check out that great little belly.. via Instagram http://ift.tt/1QMEzz1

Instagram December 25, 2015 at 11:37AM


Max's fav thing is whatever PJ is currently playing with, and also the bell on the end of her stocking. Now he's napping, and PJ is reading books with daddy! Our Christmas morning is going very well. via Instagram http://ift.tt/1OOXvXJ

Instagram December 25, 2015 at 11:30AM


PJ and her new friend Bo Elephant, who arrived with Santa, are playing Tangrams from mommy & daddy. This is, to me, a perfect Christmas moment. via Instagram http://ift.tt/1m9vDXC

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Instagram December 24, 2015 at 02:01PM


All the pretty spices before mixing into the gingerbread dough. Except I must have used too much flour or something, because my dough would not form, and unless a miracle occurs while it's in the fridge, I'm thinking this batch is a bust. Oh well. via Instagram http://ift.tt/1QON7F6

Instagram December 24, 2015 at 01:20AM


Woo! I made pants! via Instagram http://ift.tt/1J5UlCc

Monday, December 21, 2015

Instagram December 21, 2015 at 06:29PM


For the darkest night of the year, PJ & I lit seven luminaries in memory of Ninny! Thank you for suggesting this, Katy! via Instagram http://ift.tt/1QD0KYk

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Instagram December 19, 2015 at 10:06PM


First time Catan-ing in a loooong time. I'm not having a lot of luck tonight. Except Max is asleep in an unfamiliar pack n play for possibly the first time ever, so that's where I used my luck I suppose! Also I'm drinking wine so. Doing pretty well, on the balance. via Instagram http://ift.tt/1S0T9C5

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Instagram December 15, 2015 at 08:22AM


Kids playing together in their kitchen! This standing up thing is not so bad. PJ says he's helping her make pie "a little bit, but he's kind of making a big mess in here." #PJsays #MightyMax via Instagram http://ift.tt/1O2yIi2

Monday, December 07, 2015

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Instagram December 03, 2015 at 12:04AM


What did you do tonight? I hung out with one of my oldest friends, and also bought an electric piano! Craigslist keyword alert finally panned out! Now I just need a stand for it... via Instagram http://ift.tt/21wVNn2

Monday, November 30, 2015

Instagram November 30, 2015 at 10:02PM


Christmas Tree is up! The rest of the living room is a disaster, but hopefully that will improve a bit tomorrow evening... via Instagram http://ift.tt/1OrVbtE

Instagram November 30, 2015 at 08:35AM


Happy 2nd anniversary, #devinandjake! Now there are THREE of you! Hope the third lets you have at least a few moments to celebrate today. via Instagram http://ift.tt/1jtw5h1

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Instagram November 25, 2015 at 10:28AM


Runny scrambled eggs on toast, with a splash of Cholula Chipotle, made with eggs laid in NC yesterday morning by Paul's friend Nate's chickens. SO GOOD. via Instagram http://ift.tt/1IgAaf1

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Dinner tonight: success

We had leftover steamed broccoli from dinner Saturday, and the very bottom of a bottle of sriracha, so I combined that with a little milk, eggs, and cheddar cheese; buttered the bottom of our ceramic pie plate; and baked it at 350 for about 45 minutes: crustless leftovers quiche. It's awesome.

Single Parenting Log, Day 4: late morning

Last night was not great. PJ went to bed fine, but Max stayed up till almost 10:00, and then still woke up by 1:00am to nurse, and nursed again at about 2:45 and 4:30; PJ woke up during the 2:45 session and spent the rest of the night in my bed, including waking me up at about 6:00 to insist she needed another bandaid on her thumb because it really hurt. So I'm feeling pretty seriously tired this morning, and as a result, our morning was quite contentious too.

But then I stopped for a peppermint mocha with an extra shot of espresso, and then there were actual snow flurries outside of Starbucks, and Paul is on his way home, so things are looking up! Tonight we'll make a grocery list for our Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving responsibilities, and that will be fun, and tonight I may even have time to fold some more laundry while listening to podcasts. I finally found my nice headphones hiding in my pumping bag, but my fitbit wasn't with them, so that's still missing. Oh well.

Here ends the first edition of the single parenting log. I feel good at least knowing I can do it! I hope to keep done of the "just get it done" mentality going over the holiday weekend so maybe I can come out the other side with a meaningfully tidier house. My main targets are the donation pile in the dining room and my craft mountain of mess in the corner of the living room!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Single Parenting Log, Day 3: nighttime

PAUL GETS HOME TOMORROW EVENING! We are in the home stretch! My mom is coming over here before breakfast tomorrow, so I'm pretty much home-free once we make it thru tonight.

This morning actually went quite well: PJ let me sleep till my alarm, and then we all got breakfast and ready and out the door with a few minutes to spare and minimal conflict. But Max nursed at 1:00am, 3:30(?)am, and 6:00am, an extra time, and PJ showed up in my room after 1:00am with her fuzzy blanket in tow and spent the rest of the night in my bed. But she actually went right back to sleep, slept thru both other nursings, and also slept thru me moving her legs out of my way, and me rolling over and poking her in the face on what felt to me like her closed eye. So I slept fine even with her there.

Bed time was a bit dicey tonight, with PJ getting upset about everything and nothing, and Max not going to sleep at all until quarter to ten. PJ did a lot of stalling, the culmination of which was insisting she needed a bandaid on her finger ("it REALLY hurts"), and then after minutely pointing out the spot that "really hurt" on her left pointer finger, as I began to apply the bandaid, she said, "oh, I mean *this* finger hurts," and indicated her right thumb instead. That's the thumb she sucks, tho, so I was able to talk her into putting the bandaid on the original finger.

Since Max was so very not sleepy, he played on the floor in the living room while I signed into my work computer to finish up a document, and was crying for me by the time I was done, so then went to sleep pretty easily. I needed to get that work done anyway, and having him there kept me focused and more efficient.

Now that both kiddos are sleeping, I'm getting myself to sleep ASAP too. Maybe Max will sleep past 1:00am since he just nursed before his late bedtime tonight. Maybe I can get 3 or, dare I even wish it, 4 hours of sleep in a row tonight! We shall see...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Instagram November 22, 2015 at 04:21PM


After waking from a great nap, PJ said she wanted to paint on the sidewalk. I almost said no, but they're washable crayola paints, so I figured, what the heck. I must be in a good mood after getting so many dishes washed! via Instagram http://ift.tt/21c1JBK

Single Parenting Log, Day 2: mid-afternoon

Max did not miraculously sleep through the night, and neither did PJ, but after a very full day and bedtime help from Mimi, both kids got to sleep and I then got myself to sleep a bit early (10:30) so the 1:00am nursing and then 5am wake-up call wasn't the worst thing ever. Both kids were briefly in bed with me, but that didn't last long, and by 6:00am, PJ was watching Octonauts and Max was playing happily in the living room with her, so I went back to bed for about 40 minutes and then took a shower, and even got us all to church *almost* in time for the start of Sunday School. Disclaimer: PJ strongly insisted she did NOT want to go to big kid Sunday School, so both kids played in the nursery instead while I went to the budget forum.

Now I have achieved a double nap, which feels pretty amazing, and I'm posting this as I finish my lunch. Then I'll be spending any remaining nap time trying to climb the mountain of dishes in my kitchen! I'm proud of that mountain: I made dinner for six before leaving for the Wild Kratts Creature Christmas pajama party, after a morning play date.

Here is where I might say, "this single parenting thing isn't so tough!" But no, it really is; I do not think I could keep it up for more than a few days without becoming a crazed, grumpy, yelling mess.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Instagram November 21, 2015 at 06:19PM


PJ is loving the Wild Kratts Pajama Party with bff Charlie! #MightyMax is hanging out in the tula. Mimi is managing PJ. via Instagram http://ift.tt/21aQoC4

Single Parenting Log, Day 1: early morning

Paul left early this morning to visit his childhood best friend at his new farm in North Carolina. He'll be back late Tuesday. This is the longest we've been apart in many years, and my first time alone with both kids overnight and for multiple days.

Right now, PJ is still asleep in her bed, and Max is asleep in my bed beside me. I have a very full day planned for us, starting with breakfast at our favorite nearby diner, then a play date with church friends, then home for nap time while I make dinner. Then other friends and Mimi are coming over for an early dinner before we all go to the WITF Wild Kratts Pajama Party!

I hope the long, exciting day will make for an easy bed time at least for PJ. Overnight worries me the most, because PJ has been coming to our room to get Paul almost every night again lately, and that plus Max still nursing twice overnight, and Max's sleep potentially further disrupted by teething...I'm nervous. But with my bed empty, I figure I'll just have PJ join me if she wakes up, and I'll deal with Max as it comes, and we'll survive.

I don't expect to get any more life editing, or even any more laundry, done in the next few days, but that's ok. It'll be empowering to do it all for 4 days...right? Not that I'm really doing it alone...grandparents will be helping a ton, as usual!

Just please give me the patience to avoid too many battles of will with PJ while there's no one here to tag off with.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Mind My Own Business & Do Something Real Instead

It shouldn't bother me so much to read mistrust, vitriol, and hate speech masquerading as patriotism on facebook. I know these opinions not only still exist but are still widespread, but when it's someone I know, it just brings it home in a way that boils in the pit of my stomach for hours.

I think I want to look into what it would take to sponsor a refugee family, and then head that up as a project at church. We sponsored one of the Lost Boys of Sudan years ago; I think it's again time to do something real and concrete to make foreign conflict real to us here in insulated Central PA.

The solution to my bad feelings is to mind my own business where local haters are concerned, and instead DO something REAL to offset the hate with love.

Monday, November 16, 2015

November 16, 2015 at 08:59PM


Because I just wrote two letters in as many weeks, which is two more than I've written in the previous two years; and because I want to test out my new IFTTT recipe (if it works, this will auto-post to my blog!). via Instagram http://ift.tt/1l0ZIHH

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Laundry is not my favorite

Tonight, I caught up folding laundry for the first time in months, while listening to as podcast all about my favorite kind of math. Podcasts make folding laundry bearable, but only just.

I will attempt now to do one load each day AND FOLD IT until I'm actually caught up on laundry too (meaning no overflowing hampers; it's simply not possible to ever be truly caught up on all laundry).

This is my resolution for the week, a la Gretchen Rubin's book The Happiness Project, which I'm currently reading. AND my second resolution is to go to sleep earlier, which I've failed to do every night forever and so I will now stop blogging and turn out my light! Good night!

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Get the week started right

Both kids are about as tired as possible after a busy weekend of borked naps. On track for early bed time: Max is already asleep, and PJ is mid-story time, so both should be asleep by 8:00. Then comes early parent bed time to really get the week started right!

I'd been getting better on the personal bed time front, but it's really fallen apart the past few weeks, and I. am. feeling it. Time to get back on track, so I can take advantage of the gorgeous weather by having the energy to get up and run this Tuesday and Thursday!

LET'S DO THIS

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Avocado!

Last night at MacConnells for dinner, we fed Max one piece of avocado! He made a very concerned and slightly angry face, but he didn't spit it out, so he's officially had his first food!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Backpack

I got PJ her first LLBean backpack and oh, the years stretching out in front of us that it brings to mind, it makes my chest fill up with emotion.
Biking home from preschool via "the squeeze-thru" Friday, August 28, 2015
Biking home from preschool via "the squeeze-thru" Friday, August 28, 2015

Monday, August 31, 2015

Dinner on the Moon

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!

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

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

Improvements

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?
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