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.

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…)

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.

 

 

 

 

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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!

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!

All the Things

Things I Know For Sure:

  • When they say that wrap-style dresses flatter every figure, they are lying.
  • Tea and toast can cure any number of problems.
  • These are a terrible idea.

cham

Things I Am Good At:

  • Reading aloud to my kids.
  • Keeping my calendar up to date.
  • Buying good/cool presents.
  • Being silly.

bfg

Things I’m Not Good At:

  • Owning plants.
  • Caring about/for my eyebrows.
  • Writing lunch box notes.
  • Decorating for holidays.
  • Meal planning.
  • Knowing military rank hierarchy.

Things That Make Me Cry:

wonderful

Things I Should Admit:

  • I try not to judge, but I might feel a little bit sad for you if you don’t vote, eat steak well done, or don’t read actual books.
  • I like the smell of skunk (from a distance of 15 feet or more).
  • I have never watched Titanic, or Casablanca.
  • I currently have 6,404 photos on my phone.  And 558 videos.
  • I have a love/hate relationship with all of those beautiful photos of kitchen renovations that don’t include upper cabinets.
  • I’m really tempted to dress my youngest in knee socks like Prince George.
Image from the adorable website "What Kate's Kids Wore" - click on the photo to go there.

Image from the adorable website “What Kate’s Kids Wore” – click on the photo to go there.

Things I Love Thursdays – Baby Shower Edition

Baby Showers!  I’m nearing 40 so, alas, my baby shower attendance has dropped off a bit in the last few years. Sadness.  Hopefully I have a few left to attend.  Here is a list of a few of my favorite baby shower gifts to give (and get!).

L.L. Bean Boat and Tote

This is one of my very favorite gifts to give.  They are made in the good ol’ U.S. of A and last forever.  Know baby’s name?  Add a monogram!  Or perhaps add just the last initial.  I have a large collection of these bags and use them for everything.  They have served as diaper bags, luggage, and grocery bags.  I use them daily.  My favorite is the large tote with long handles (to go over shoulders when arms are full of baby and baby things).  I do have a zippered version, which works well for travel.

112636_2253_41

 

Nightlights

I always get an inexpensive pack of nightlights for new moms and dads.  These are really helpful when you are groggily nursing at 4am, and they are usually an afterthought.  Middle of the night diaper changes are jarring enough, low light makes it a little easier.

Nightlights

 

Books

Now that my littlest is in size 3T (sniff!) I am certainly drawn towards those adorable tiny clothes.  But new parents get lots of clothes at showers, so I usually try to give them something else – books.  Also, I am a nerd.  I pretty much think books are the coolest.  I usually try to give a small collection of the titles that were kid tested and kid approved at my house.  So many are available inexpensively on Amazon.  And many come in a variety of formats – board books for younger children, hard cover for keepsakes, and soft cover for when they are a little older.

Engine

 

Zoo

 

words

 

jack

 

bear

 

Clothes

Yes, I know I said I tend to avoid giving clothes, but I love these Hanna Andersson sleepers so much I sometimes just have to gift them.  They are a bit pricey, but the quality is always excellent, and the cotton really is the softest.  We own a lot of Hanna Andersson at my house and not one piece has ever worn out – even items that have been handed down three times.  So pick up one of these adorable sleepers in a gender neutral pattern, and know that it will last through kid after kid after kid and wash after wash after wash.  I like the footed ones for babies, and the footless ones for toddlers.

Sleeper 1

 

village

 

After the shower…

Anything personalized makes a great new baby gift.  Sweet gifts include personalized blankets, birthday blocks, and framed birth info (check Etsy for tons of choices).  And of course, gift certificates to local restaurants are great, too.  With a new baby, sometimes take out is a life saver!

Chamois Stroller Blankets from Pottery Barn are lovely, useful and not too expensive.

Chamois Stroller Blankets from Pottery Barn are lovely, useful and not too expensive.

 

Keepsake Birth Blocks by Smiling Tree Toys

Keepsake Birth Blocks by Smiling Tree Toys

 

As always, no affiliate links.  I have linked these items for your convenience. 

 

Things I Love Thursdays

A few of my recent favorites…

1. This post from Like Real Life, one of my favorite mommy blogs (though dangitall, there has to be a less condescending term for a blog that is mostly about parenting and written by a mother).

“It is not all a pleasure, although there are many moments of pleasure. It is not all fun even though there are plenty of fun moments. It’s that all those moments, whether a pleasure or a pain add up to something. It’s an exhausted, messy kind of happiness, like finally crawling up the stairs to bed at night and seeing them sleeping, breathing slowly, their soft little fingers twitching in a dream.”

This speaks to me as a parent, and just as a person.  All our moments add up to something.  They add up to a life.

*******

2. This Side Table. I have no idea why I love this, but I do.  It won’t go with anything in my house, but I don’t think I care.  (There is a good chance I just used my husband’s credit card to order it. It was on sale!  Merry Christmas to me!)

Sterling Lighting Hexagon Frame Side Table image from Houzz (click on photo to go there).

Sterling Lighting Hexagon Frame Side Table image from Houzz (click on photo to go there).

*******

3. These customized library totes for kids by SixpencePress.  Because I am a big dork.  I’m contemplating getting these for my 3 dumplings for Christmas.  We love books.  And we love our library.  They’ll be psyched about getting a personalized tote bag instead of a My Little Pony, or 2.5 foot tall Imaginext Ultra T-Rex, right? Who needs toys when you’ve got totes?!

Little Boy Explorer Library Tote by SixpencePress. Click on image for link.

Little Boy Explorer Library Tote by SixpencePress. (You can choose the hair color you want!)

 

Little Reader Bookworm Library Tote by SixpencePress.

Little Reader Bookworm Library Tote by SixpencePress.

*******

4. My final favorite is this quote by Charlie Chaplin:

You need power only when you want to do something harmful. Otherwise, love is enough to get everything done.

You tell ’em, Charlie.

Image from Charlie Chaplin Official Website

Image from Charlie Chaplin Official Website

 

(As always, links are for your convenience.  None of them are affiliate links.)

Things I Love Thursdays

Just a quick post to let you know about a few things I’m digging right now.

Jack and the Flumflum Tree by Julia Donaldson

This great kids’ book by the author of The Gruffalo is a new favorite in our house.  The rhyme scheme is lovely, the photos are colorful and goofy and the story is fun.  In order to cure his Grandmother’s case of the moozles, Jack and his friends go on an adventure to the Isle of Blowyernose to find the rare flumflum fruit. They run into obstacles during the voyage, but are saved by the items Granny has packed for them.  I love the line that repeats throughout,

“Don’t get your knickers in a twist,” said Jack. “Let’s have a look in the patchwork sack!”  

Of course, my children get a great kick out of the “knickers in a twist” part, too.

flum

(Aside: if you have a chance to check out The Gruffalo short film, do!  It is on Netflix and it is beautifully done.  The cast is stellar – Helena Bonham Carter and Tom Wilkinson to name a few – the animation is lovely, and of course, the story is great. Be warned: it is a bit scary.)

*****

Chatbooks

I am loving my Chatbooks app.  You download the app, link your account to your Instagram account (or use photos directly from your phone), and the app creates lovely 6×6 inch, color, soft-cover books from your photos.  Cost per book?  $6.  You can customize, take photos out, add more pages, etc., but I’m taking the easy route.  When 60 new photos are added to my Instagram account, it automatically creates my book, and ships it to me. Done.  Captions and dates included.  I don’t have to think about it, and I don’t have to DO anything.   My kids love looking through the books, which become like little journals.  And the price is right.

If you use my code to subscribe I get a $1 credit, and you get a free book.  No pressure!

 If you use my code to subscribe I get a $1 credit, and you get a free book. Everyone wins! Please note that Chatbooks 2.0 will be released in July.  At that point their services will increase, but so will their prices.  Books will be $8 each.  Sign up before the new version is released to be grandfathered in to the new pricing for 2 years! 

The negatives?  The cheap shipping takes forever and I’m not sure I’d think it was worth doing if I didn’t have an Instagram account.

*****

Rimmel London’s Scandaleyes Shadow Stick

I should wear make-up more often, as evidenced by the WORST SELFIE IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE that I took two weeks ago.  Yikes.  And no way am I sharing it. Heck no.  So when I saw these recommended in one of my feedly blogs, I figured I’d give them a try.  I’m not usually a fan of eye shadow pencils – I feel like I don’t have enough control over the amount of shadow applied, and sort of feel like I’m drawing on my eyelids.  But at $4.50 a shadow stick (or even less!) I figured I wouldn’t be too mad about wasting my money if I hated them.

But I love them.  They work almost like a creamy, colored, primer. The shadow doesn’t crease or creep.  They go on smoothly and easily, and can be blended by fingers.  The colors I’ve tried are lovely. My only complaint?  You will eventually need a special sharpener, since they are large pencils. (I bought one at Target for $5.)

Photo by Rimmel London.  Click on it to be taken there.

Photo by Rimmel London. Click on it to be taken there.

I have three colors so far: Trespassing Taupe (matte), Bulletproof Beige, and Bluffing. I think I’ll go back for a few more colors (though probably not the turquoise).

Happy summer!  And remember, don’t get your knickers in a twist!