A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life

(which was a regular work/school day during tax season – so apologies in advance for this being both the longest AND the least interesting post yet…)

5:55am – Wake up (no alarm – we don’t use alarms).  Bathroom trip. But then I crawl back into my warm bed. Usually, I’d just get up and start my day, but today the siren call of my duvet was too strong.

6:25am – Plum (age 5) visits. Good morning!  She actually climbs up onto our bed (a rarity!) for a cuddle.  We chat and wake up Dad.

Head downstairs.  I allow a TV show pre-breakfast and pre-getting dressed (never a good idea).  Pack three lunches because Pickle (age 6) has opted out of school lunch, because it is “Cook’s Choice”.  Lunches include some combo of yogurts, cucumbers, apples, Cheez-It, baby carrots, string cheese, and sandwiches.  The littles get a special treat – ½ of a leftover birthday cupcake each!

While I make lunches with Tyler (he was helping with lunches, making coffee, packing bags for the day and doing dishes) Pickle arrives downstairs.  A 6:30am wake up is late for him!  He wants to take a shower because his hair is unruly.  I agree, on both counts. I de-fat, de-bone, shred and sauce the pulled pork I had cooked in the crockpot overnight.  That will be dinner tonight.

7:08am – Upstairs to shower.  And brrrrrr, it is a cold one.  All thanks to the hair-obsessed 6-year-old who used 94% of the hot water.  Thanks a lot. Step out of the shower to hear Pistachio (age 3) bellowing for me.  Wet and half-dressed I go see him. “Is it wake up time?” he asks.  Indeed it is.  As I had suspected the night before, this guy was tired and/or growing because this is a very late wake-up time for him, too. He wanders downstairs, and I finish getting dressed.  I run a brush through my hair and yell down to Ty to let our neighbor in (we are giving her a ride to school today).

7:30am – Time to get Pickle and the neighbor to school.  I go downstairs to find Plum screaming and naked on the love seat (reminder to self to talk to her – and my husband? – about being naked in front of non-family members), Pistachio is eating an English muffin in his PJs and chirps happily, “Bye Mama, have a good day!”  I leave him and naked Plum in the competent and patient hands of their father.  He will get them dressed and off to school.  I have my usual argument with Pickle about the need for warm outerwear, which delays our exit, but eventually I get him out the door.

The thin fleece he believes is appropriate for 15 degree temps.

7:45am – Drop Pickle and his classmate/our neighbor at school.  Stop at the local corner store for an iced coffee and bagel – a treat, and only $3.50! Sit in my car for a second to update my Moment app and sign up for “Moment Boot Camp”.  Moment is an app that analyzes how much time you spend on your phone each day.  I’ve been using it for a few weeks and have determined that my numbers are too high (yikes) so I sign up for their Boot Camp, which sets daily goals for using your phone less.

Drive to work listening to CD 15 of 16 of Bruce Springsteen’s Autobiography “Born to Run”.  Bruce reads it, and I’m a fan, so I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having him read to me during my commute.  It is a fun history, and some of the writing is just fantastic. I’ll be sad when the last CD is done.

Park in the garage (I should park in the lot, but today I just don’t feel like it) and clock-in at my desk.

8:28am – Work. The regular stuff.  During breaks in the day I pack up and send a toy I sold on eBay, and fill out a kindergarten registration form.  We have our yearly benefits meeting at work (open enrollment – yippee) and I lament the brokenness of our health care system and its costs while simultaneously being thankful for pretty good insurance coverage.

Lunch – I had texted my husband that I was craving shrimp and he told me to go get some at lunch.  So I do.  And what a nice treat!  I go to the (fancy-ish) steak house next door, sit at the bar, have a lovely lunch including some shrimp, and read a little bit of my newest book – The Atomic Weight of Love.  It is a great break in the day, a delicious meal I didn’t have to cook, and some time alone with my own thoughts.  Awesome.

4:30pm – Work done.  Head out.  Call my mom on the way.  I call her most days during my commute home.

5pm – Pick up grumpy oldest.  He often complains about pick-up time, being too late or too early.  Sigh.  Mostly he complains because he is hungry.  Thankfully he tucks in to his uneaten packed lunch because he had, indeed, opted for the “Cook’s Choice” which happened to be calzones. Blood sugar and mood improve.

Pick up the littles, who are just down the road. Our elementary school and preschool are really close to our house – like a mile.  What a win!  The littles were not required to wear snowpants on this day, which makes my life easier because there is far less schlepping of KID STUFF.

Tub time.

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5:20pm – Home!  I pick up the mail, get all of the kids and all of their stuff in the house.  They are in good moods, and are happy to play for a bit.  I unpack lunch boxes, then convince Pistachio to take a quick bath. The big kids agree to straighten up the toy room with minimal whining.  After bath the kids continue to play while I empty the downstairs trash cans and take out the kitchen trash.  I open a package for me from a cool Instagram group called This Is My Fav.  Basically, there is a theme each month, and you are assigned a group member to send a $10+ gift to.  It is fun – and a little bit chain letter-ish.  This month’s theme is Spring Cleaning, and I’m thrilled to open a box of Scrub Daddies.  I laugh because I sent Scrub Daddies to my gift recipient this month, too. They are great.

6pm – Get dinner ready.  It comes together quickly since I prepped it this morning.  I mix up some coleslaw (for me and Ty).  And we have pulled pork sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls with sides of green grapes, carrots and cukes.  I typically insist on dinner at the table, but tonight, I allow dinner in front of our first pre-bed TV show.  The kids choose Johnny Test, which is really not my favorite.

After dinner and the show, the kids get into their “cozies” (our family word for pajamas).  This always takes longer than it should.  I put on their second and final show, and they get to pick their dessert/treat.  Usually they each have little bowls of ~20 chocolate chips.  Tonight, Plum and Pickle choose to have a leftover birthday cupcake each.  Pistachio sticks with the chocolate chips.  While the kids watch their show, I unload the dishwasher, reload with dinner dishes and straighten up the kitchen.  As show ends I realize that Pistachio has gotten a melted chocolate chip smeared on his cozies and the couch, so I do a quick clean up and rinse out the cozies so the chocolate won’t stain.

7:20pm – I declare it is time to head upstairs for our nightly routine and bed.  Major protests from all, but they know I mean business.  The big kids brush teeth (with help from me) and then state that they want to take showers (Pickle would shower 4 times a day if we let him).  It is pretty late to start showers now, but I relent.  While Pistachio uses the potty pre-bed, I wash Plum’s hair.  Pistachio walks off to his room to sit in the big brown chair and wait for me.  Plum finishes up, puts her cozies back on and climbs into my bed to look at a book.  Pickle takes his turn, and his time, in the shower.

Pistachio and I cuddle up in the big brown wing chair.  We brush teeth, which is still a bit of a battle, and then read some strange lift-the-flap book about two sisters, Madison and Ashley.  He loves lifting the flaps, but the story – mostly about girls playing dress up, gardening and cooking – is pretty awful.  I make a mental note to “lose” this book.  We chat a little bit about our days.  He declines a song.  He typically tells me “Mama, please put me in my bed,” when he feels he’s done enough chatting, but tonight he tells me he has to poop.  We truck off to the bathroom, and I find Plum and Pickle in my bed using the iPad, instead of reading books. Blargh.  I sit Pistachio on the potty, and take the iPad away (tears).  Pistachio decides he does not have to poop after all (poop is one of the most effective bedtime stalling techniques when you are newly potty-trained – he figured this out quickly, smart kid).  I plop him in his bed and go back to dealing with the big kids who are tired, and still complaining about iPad removal.

(Photo below is what they were supposed to be doing…)

He is a good brother. Sometimes they make each other crazy, but I love the way they love each other.

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8pm – I alert the big kids that it is now 8pm and since rules haven’t been followed, they have to get in bed without me reading books tonight.  Much sadness.  Many protests.  But they do get in their beds in their shared bedroom.  I leave them for a minute to attend to a hollering Pistachio who needs me to cover him up with his blanket. I do. And say a final goodnight to him.

I sing songs to the big kids, This Land is Your Land and some others I’ve made up.  And I agree to let Pickle read for 10 minutes.  He is reading Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit, a great book, with fun big words, and he’s feeling very proud of himself.  I spray Sweet Dream Spray (some sort of linen/room spray that I have repurposed) and give kisses.  I retreat to my bed for a few minutes while I make notes about my day for this post and text a bit with Tyler, who is still at work.

Randy is terrible at baseball, but really good at other stuff. The guy with the brains saves the day!

8:20pm – I’ve given them extra time, and still hear them chatting a bit, so I tell them it is truly bedtime, no more chats or books.  I give more kisses and sing their lullaby.  I close the door behind me and head downstairs.  I fire up my computer and organize photos on Shutterfly until 10pm.  I make albums for each month and for every big event or holiday, and put these on a Sharesite for friends and family.  It takes forever, and I’m behind.  I finish up November and December, and start on Christmas.  My husband’s phone and my phone update to Shutterfly automatically, and I upload the photos taken with my “real” camera there, too.  While I do my photo stuff, I “watch” This Is Us and blackish and drink seltzer with a splash of lemonade.

10pm – I close out of Shutterfly and check Facebook for a bit while I wait for Tyler to get home.  I always wait up for him.

10:20pm – Tyler gets home.  He’s tired. I am too.  I leave him on his own to make pulled pork sandwiches and wind down and I head up to bed.  I decide to read a few pages before bed and end up staying up too late reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  I’m considering reading the series to the kids, and wanted to read the whole series myself first (I had only read the first 4 books previously).  I’m finally on book 7.

11:28pm – Whoops.  It is definitely time to turn off the light and go to bed.

1:11am – Up. Too much seltzer.

2:40am – Up.  Way too much seltzer.

6:09am – Plum appears by my side of the bed, ready to start her day.

 

 

 

 

Things I Love Thursdays

1. This quote.  As much as this political climate and administration has drained me, I still live within this hope.  Love love love.

The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed. That’s about it. Right now I’m living in that hope, running down its hallway and touching the walls on both sides.

– Barbara Kingsolver

 

2. The cutest office supply ever. Of course, it reminds me of the movie, Up.  And of course, it would get lost under stacks of paper on my desk, but still… ADORABLE.

Balloon Pin House byClive Roddy

Balloon Pin House by Clive Roddy

 

3. People who are nice, even when they don’t need to be. I had a funny, silly exchange with the voice at the Starbucks drive thru last week.  As I drove away, I noticed he had written me a message on my iced latte.  I never met him, I never saw him, I only heard his voice, but his small gesture made my day.

Starbucks guy, you made my day. 😊 @starbucks #starbucks

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4. My mom!!! Happy birthday, Mom! I love you, and your grandies do, too!

Nonna and her oldest grandchild.

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Books of 2016!

I set a lofty goal for 2016 – to finish 25 books.

I didn’t make it.

But I DID read 20 books. Over 8,000 pages. Not too shabby!  (I track my reading using Goodreads which syncs to my Kindle).

Here are my 20 books of 2016:

books

 

My least favorites of the bunch?

  • The Paying Guests (too long, not particularly compelling, and I just didn’t care about the characters very much)
  • Shrill (I wanted to like it, but I felt like it was billed as something new, brash and fresh, and it just wasn’t)

My favorites of the bunch?

Goals for 2017?

  • Read 25 books (I just finished my first book of 2017 – The Muse)
  • Finish the Harry Potter series (I am planning to read these to my children, and wanted to read them all myself, first)
  • Finally read The Goldfinch (it has been on my nightstand for 2 years)
  • Read at least 3 non-fiction titles. I’m thinking Between the World and Me, When Breath Becomes Air and Born to Run will make the cut. Speaking of…
  • Listen to Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography Born To Run on audio book (an awesome Christmas present from my dad!) I was going to read it in hardcover, but Bruce reads the audio book version himself. I’m a big fan (I’ve been to 50 shows!) and the book is poetry, so I’m going to dedicate my commute to listening. And yes, I’m counting it in my 2017 total.

Do you have any reading goals for 2017? Suggestions for books you think I’d love? Books to avoid?  Please let me know!  And connect with me on Goodreads, too!

Happy reading!

Stuff It Real Good

Stockings!

I love the tiny treasures that stockings hold, but it is a challenge to fill them each year.  I try to find a balance of fun stuff (that isn’t complete junk) and useful stuff (like socks and floss).  Here are a few things my kids will find in their stockings this year.  All of the links are to Amazon, but I didn’t buy all of my goodies there.  You should be able to find most of this stuff in a store near you.

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  1. Slinky!  These are endlessly entertaining to my kids. And I’m glad they’re cheap, because they inevitably get bent and/or tangled in about 27 minutes.
  2. Little Brown Bat stuffed animal – My three kids each get little stuffed animals peeking out of their stockings most years.  This year I went for the non-traditional: a bat, a llama and a raccoon.
  3. Body Doodlers – Nontoxic bath crayons made for doodling on skin.  My kids love any type of bath-time art, so I expect these will be a hit.  Fingers crossed they wash off as easily as they are supposed to!
  4. See Thru Music Box – This one plays Plum’s favorite, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and it is less than $5! Win!
  5.  Hexbug Nano Cat Toy – Because our cat Elsie needs a present or two, too.  These little Hexbugs skitter around the house like cockroaches. (I’ve actually never seen a cockroach, but I’m assuming they skitter similarly.)
  6. Flossers for Kids – Every stocking needs floss and socks.  It is the law.
  7. Edible Bubbles – We like to try to eat regular bubbles, so I’m guessing that ones that don’t taste like soap will be a big hit.  I also found some touchable bubbles that harden after you blow them, and can then be gently touched or stacked.  I’m kind of excited to try those myself!
  8. Cow Popper – Pistachio, my youngest, loves cows. And I imagine he will also love using these to shoot the balls at his sister.  I’m predicting that all of the balls will be lost by 12/27.
  9. Hair Paste – My 6-year-old loves looking stylish, and his hair IS pretty amazing.  So styling products have begun to appear in his stocking each year.
  10. Butterfly Hair Clips – We’re in the process of letting Plum’s hair grow back into a cute bob from a pixie.  She has specifically requested some “pretties” for her hair. Added bonus these are GOLDEN.

As for me, I’m hoping to get some scratch tickets, a whisk, post-it notes, and of course, FLOSS! Happy shopping!

Books for Christmas

It is a Christmas tradition – the nieces and nephews each get a book from me for Christmas.  (Yes, they get a toy or two, as well.)  So what are we putting under the tree this year?  I tried to focus on stories that feature characters being brave, persevering, and learning gratitude.  And I tried to find some books that feature characters, locations and traditions that might be different from ours.  I have linked these images to Amazon so you can learn more about them, but – as always – I’d encourage you to support your local independent bookstore and buy there!  Here’s our list:

A mouse musters up the courage to ask a lion to teach him how to roar. By Rachel Bright, Illustrated by Jim Field Ages 3-5

A mouse musters up the courage to ask a lion to teach him how to roar.
By Rachel Bright, Illustrated by Jim Field
Ages 3-5

A tale about the power of stories and storytelling set in Morocco. By Evan Turk Ages 4-8

A tale about the power of stories and storytelling set in Morocco.
By Evan Turk
Ages 4-8

Winner of many awards, a book about thankfulness. By Matt de la Pena, Illustrated by Christian Robinson Ages 3-5

Winner of many awards, a book about thankfulness. Features people of all shapes, colors and abilities!
By Matt de la Pena, Illustrated by Christian Robinson
Ages 3-5

Bedtime poem by Inuit throat-singer and author describes the gifts given to a new baby by Arctic animals. By Celina Kalluk Illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis Ages 2-3

Bedtime poem by Inuit throat-singer and author describes the gifts given to a new baby by Arctic animals.
By Celina Kalluk, Illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis
Ages 2-3

A clever and lovely seek-and-find book By B.B. Cronin Ages 3-7

A clever and lovely (and detailed!) seek-and-find book
By B.B. Cronin
Ages 3-7

A book about imagination, frustration and problem solving. By Ashley Spires Ages 3-7

A book about imagination, frustration and problem solving.
By Ashley Spires
Ages 3-7

A silly, funny book in which a penguin tells the readers what his life is really like. By Jory John, Illustrated by Lane Smith Preschool - Grade 2

A silly, funny book in which a penguin tells readers what his life is really like.
By Jory John, Illustrated by Lane Smith
Ages 3-7

A beautiful, poetic story about a boy who sets off alone with only a few belongings to find a new homeland. By Rebecca Young Illustrated by Matt Ottley Ages 4-8

A beautiful, poetic story about a boy who sets off alone with only a few belongings to find a new homeland.
By Rebecca Young, Illustrated by Matt Ottley
Ages 4-8

A story about a bear who finds a piano in the woods and learns to play. By David Litchfield Preschool - Grade 2

A story about a bear who finds a piano in the woods and learns to play.
By David Litchfield
Ages 4-7

Happy shopping and reading!

To My Child

To My Child

I hope you learn that life isn’t fair.  But that that doesn’t mean it is all bad.

I hope you smile at people, even strangers, and look people in the eye.

I hope you chew with your mouth closed.

I hope you learn how to listen – really listen – to others when they need to be heard, and to the quiet beat of your own heart.

Headed down the path together.

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I hope you learn to win and lose with grace.

I hope you love and appreciate the beautiful, intricate, amazing body you’re in.

I hope you can be silly for the joy of it, and can laugh at yourself and with others kindly.

I hope you have good manners and know when to use them (almost always) and when to relax them.

I hope you trust. In others, and in yourself.

I hope you know how to make something with your own brain and hands – a song, food, a painting, a stone wall.

I hope you learn, without too many tough consequences, that attempts to escape problems, hurt, and heartbreak never really work for long.

Flying!

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I hope you pick up after yourself.

I hope you decide that it is wise and healthy to get enough sleep.

I hope you learn how to advocate for yourself without demanding, complaining or whining.

I hope you understand that stuff is just stuff.

I hope you learn you can expect goodness, but not perfection, from other people. Or from yourself.

I hope you learn how to own up to your own misdeeds, mistakes and slights without excuses, blame or deflection.

I hope you keep learning, about the world, about other people, and about yourself.

I hope you work in any small or large way to make your community, corner, city, world, a tiny bit more just and beautiful.

And I hope you know that when in doubt, you should just put stuff in the trash, and not the garbage disposal.

Christmas Gifts and Regrets…

When I was about 10, I looked through the huge Sears catalogue and spotted what I thought would be the world’s best Christmas gift – a rock tumbler.  It was an electrical contraption that looked something like your local hardware store’s automatic paint mixer.  You added rocks, grit and water, plugged it in, and in no time you had beautiful polished rocks! And you could make things with those rocks! Like earrings! And necklaces! Oh the creative possibilities! (If you’re wondering, the answer is yes, I was – am? – a bit dorky.)  I put it at the top of my Christmas list.

And OH HOLY NIGHT, Santa came through!  There it was on Christmas morning. I was thrilled!  I opened it up! I read the directions! I put the rocks, grit and water in the tumbler! I plugged it in!

And then I waited.

FOR THREE MONTHS.

During those three months two things happened:

  1. We moved the very noisy rock tumbler into the cellar.
  2. I completely lost interest in my slowly polishing rocks.

In the years since, The Rock Tumbler Incident has earned its place in Tartlet Family History and Lore and I regularly suffer good-natured and well-deserved ribbing about it.

Some Christmas gifts are just duds.  Here are a few I have regretted…

The Dyson Vacuum Toy

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Honestly, my kids loved this toy.  They played with it all the time.  But they also left it running every time they played with it, and I and my husband would regularly have to go hunt for the cause of that annoying buzz.  They also loved to run it into walls violently.  Unfortunately, this toy recently wandered away from our home. Oh well.

Tegu Blocks

tegu

In all fairness, these blocks ARE awesome.  They are wooden, fun to play with and really lovely.  Unfortunately for me (and my wallet – these aren’t cheap!) my kids never played with them.  Ever.  They loved other blocks and building toys (Duplo and Magnatiles especially), but Tegu?  No love.  Bristle blocks faced a similar rejection.

Magnetic Putty

putty

Again, in theory, this stuff sounds awesome.  It is basically magnetic silly putty that comes with a magnet.  You can make it move and grow and climb!  Sort of.  This stuff just isn’t that fun for a 5-year-old who wants it to move more quickly than molasses.  It also isn’t fun for moms googling “how to get magnetic putty out of my carpet” at 11pm on Christmas night.

So, tell me, what Christmas gifts that you were sure would be winners turned out to be duds?