Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The shortest month

And made even shorter by a one week vacation. I am seriously thinking we should travel (somewhere warm) every February, it really breaks up the winter blahs.

I am struggling to even partially stay on top of things. We were hit, one after another, by a nasty cold. L still has it, but B and I are mostly recovered. That set me behind more than I already was after a week away and just generally having too much on my plate.

We had B's pediatrician appointment and IEP meeting in a 12 hour period, and I have a LOT to follow up on and work on. The house is a disaster and we need to do our taxes. I have to finalize summer plans and submit my vacation requests by next week which involves talking to grandparents, etc... I won't even get into work, way way way way too much to do and so so so so far behind.

On that note, I'm going to take a little break from blogging and reading/commenting. I will miss your words but I need to simplify for a bit. I will be back after I've submitted 2 papers and a pilot grant, and gotten a draft of a major grant written. Discipline. I need to cultivate it.

Friday, February 23, 2018


Just did a workshop on negotiation and we did a role-play about selling a car. I got the most for my car of anyone in the group! Weirdly proud of this, because I wouldn't call myself a natural negotiator, though I sort of get into it once I get going. I've never bought or sold a car. I've only owned one car in my life, that my parents bought for me, used, when I was in college. It was stolen 11 years later. I predict we will end up buying a car by 2020 because we are occasionally starting to feel the constraints of not having one.

We are signing L up for basketball (he's been asking for months and his friend is doing it at the Y)and B for private swim lessons. We've had him in group lessons at the Y for years and just need something different. He gets distracted when the other kids are having their turn and never comes back down to earth. L is also doing Tball again, and G is coaching. This may be our last "free" weekend for a while.

Weekend plans: Friday night I'm meeting friends for Happy Hour for a couple of hours while G holds down the fort. Saturday: workout, then we are all going to the burbs to buy bikes for the kids & have lunch. Sitter coming in the evening for date night. Sunday: rainy day. I want to declutter (and give away their current outgrown bikes & trikes), make soup for lunches next week, probably a movie at some point either all of us or just the kids.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Magic Happened

We survived our first (only?) family trip to Disney World. We joined my parents, sister/BIL and their twins. We did 5 full days at the the parks plus one day at Universal for Harry Potter World. It was exhausting, and hot, and crowded, and I gained about 5 lbs from cheetos, trying every candy variety at Honeydukes, frozen margaritas and soft pretzels with "cheese-flavored dip" and I'm really glad to be home and back into my healthy routine.

It was also incredibly fun. There was nothing to do but jump right in and be present and enjoy the overstimulation and the family togetherness and indulgence. I feel like we packed SO MUCH into one week, more than an entire seasons worth of fun that we typically dole out to ourselves in small dribs and drabs and this time just opened up the water hose and went for it.

  • Rollercoasters! All of them! Especially how much the kids were into them---they weren't scared of anything and all the kids' favorite rides were the long coasters. thankfully there were only 3 rides the entire trip that had a 48" minimum that L couldn't ride.
  • Riding the Hogwarts Express. Aaagh. Dream come true! Also: Butterbeer and Honeydukes (not Ollivanders because they were hawking $50 wands and there were tantrums)
  • Seeing B (the same B who HATES smiling for pictures and barely tolerates hugs) LIGHT UP when hugged & took a pic with Mickey, Goofy, Keilo Ren.
  • Seeing the kids get super interested in all the countries at Epcot and ask about when we would visit Japan and France and Canada and Britain and how we need to learn the languages first so we can ask questions and order food. I mean Disney is fine, but YES we would love to travel more
  • Getting to take some fabulous pictures with all of us (we did pay for the Memory Maker, so you could have a photographer take it so you can all be in the shot)
  • Watching all 4 kids make up games and share treats, and have inside jokes and just love on each other
I'm not going to post details and tips, because there are plenty of bloggers who do that, but in case you are wondering: we stayed off site in a time share condo (frugal!) and mostly ate breakfast & dinner at home, with lunch in the park for the adults & packed sandwiches for the kids (plus loads of purchased snacks and treats). This did mean we had to drive about 30 minutes, park and ride to the entrance which added time onto either end of the day. Only one day did we stay until closing (9pm) to watch fireworks. That day we had dinner in Mexico. Because we were off site, we didn't get the prime fast passes so we had to wait quite a while for a few rides (space mountain) but we got lucky a few times and were able to get on certain rides with no wait by strategic planning/obsessive wait time checking. We did not do any character breakfasts or reserved dining so I have no idea about any of that. No one needed a stroller. WE did have park hopper but only used it once, on the last day, since we finished Hollywood Studios by 3pm and drove over to Epcot for a bit. All 4 kids said their favorite park was Animal Kingdom, but I think its just because that ended up being the coolest and smoothest overall day. G hated hated HATED Magic Kingdom. He was such a trooper the whole trip. He is not a fan of Harry Potter or Disney but really went along with everything and tolerated my family without a peep of complaint.

I'm happy to answer any questions about the trip, but really I'm ready to get back into the game of planning, productivity, parenting, etc...

Monday, February 5, 2018


While I still maintain that our country's obsession with professional sports is kinda stupid, watching the game last night was seriously good fun. Our friends came over with their 3 boys and even B, who repeated all day that he didn't like football and was not going to watch the game, got really really into it, and admitted that he was wrong. I was worried that he would be grumpy and hang out alone in his room, but he piled on the couch with the other boys and there was only one incident that earned him a brief time out (and he actually apologized, sincerely, after!) It helped that it was a really really, heart-pounding, nail-biting close game. We let the boys stay up and watch the whole thing (they changed into PJs and did teeth at halftime). And when it ended? We all ran upstairs for our shoes and coats and joined the entire city making their way to Broad street! G and I decided it was a once in a lifetime event and did not want to miss it, so we walked over, saw the fun, and then came home and put the kids to bed (they fell asleep within minutes) and I put myself to bed while G cleaned up (he had already planned to work from home to take L to an appointment mid-day while I had 8 AM clinic patients, so it only seemed fair).

The winning started well before the game, though. G and I spent a lot of the day in the kitchen, and it was raining outside, and we are still limiting screen time, so the kids got BORED. They complained and whined and fought and came to announce every few minutes that there was NOTHING TO DO. So I gave them chores. And they did them. They fake complained "ugh, ANOTHER job, this is job number 862 today" but they did clean their rooms, and gathered up library books, and emptied the trashcans and everything else I asked of them. And then they suddenly achieved this rarely seen nirvana of creative joint play, all on their own! They were really secretive and then surprised us with the grand opening of "B and L's restaurant, everything your heart desires" and took our orders and made us food out of construction paper and tape and crayons and were so so into it, it was absolutely adorable. All it took was hours of whining and some boredom.

I realize writing this that most people may consider this all routine and unimpressive behavior for their kids, but my kids are usually just so so unwilling to play together and B is so literal and unimaginative and they usually fight every. single. just felt really nice to have kids acting like normal kids. Its also nice to be reminded that I actually do love children, in general, and specifically my own, and that there was a reason we wanted so badly to be parents and its all not a complete slog. The reward, its rare, but sweet.

We are all  exhausted today and no one will be winning anything tonight because I anticipate tired, whiny kids but we have leftover party food, and I'm planning early bedtimes for all of us.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Superb Owl

Its been a pretty good week. B has been pretty independent with his homework, which is good because L is suddenly OVER his reading practice. It took us nearly 20 minutes, with lots of redirection, for him to read his 75 word book yesterday. I had a mid-week friend date which is always a nice break. I've been doing really well with my healthy habits.

Weekend plans are not that set yet. I am going to a post-work barre class this evening because I have clinic tomorrow AM (we take turns doing this, so I only do it a few times/year). The boys will probably make waffles and play legos. The afternoon---I have to figure out what we can do. Its going to be cold. Baking? Science museum? We are going to watch a family movie in the evening.

Sunday we are having another family over to watch the game. G planned what seems to me to be a complicated menu. So he will cook it (he smartly shopped last night so we do have chicken wings and chili ingredients).  I'll go to the gym in the morning and then take the kids to the park for at least 30 minutes to blow off some steam. And take care of regular Sunday stuff which isn't fun but has to be done. And then the game! I don't care about football in the least, but its hard to not get swept up in the excitement. Plus, eating & drinking things and hanging with friends is something I DO care about.

Standard weekend reminder to myself: stay off your phone! 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

See ya January...and thoughts from data mining my gratitude journal

Something about a blank new month page in my planner fills me with glee. A whole blank month to plan and fill with hour in, of course, most days were filled in with already planned and scheduled events (clinic sessions, appointments) but I do have some blank days to work with so I texted the sitter for date nights, booked some barre classes, and sent various messages and emails to friends to schedule outings.

I've been fairly consistent with my "3 good things" journal lately. Every night I write down a minimum of 3 things that made me happy that day. Some days its a struggle. But I dig deep. Its actually one of those "line a day" 5 year journals, and I got it in 2013, so if I had done this consistently, I would have a really nice record of the past 5 years, but alas. I started and stopped many times over the past few years (I think I missed 2014-2015 altogether).

I was looking over my entries from January 2018 and 2016 (the last year I actually filled out January) and patterns started to emerge. Looking over what MADE me happy gave me insight into what will MAKE me happy! (duh). There were certain things that came up over and over which I assume are my "secret to a happy life"

Meaningful work: feeling like I really helped someone, or had an insight into a research question. Not necessarily being super-productive and getting things done, but those flashes you sometimes get that make you feel lucky to be doing this. This is a great reminder to "Find the Why" in what I do with most of my waking hours

Creating things: mostly food. But I had a short lived stint a couple years ago of learning to sew. Gardening. I need to do these things more often (but probably not with food, because...I want my clothes to fit).

Challenging exercise: Gives me  a high and ups my confidence. If I accomplish nothing else, the morning workout is still an achievement

Engrossing Stories: books, mostly, but also some really good shows we've watched. If I'm still thinking and feeling the story after I've closed the book or finished the episode, it often makes the list.

Noticing beauty: A beautiful sunrise, freshly fallen snow, L's dimples, really really good food

Connecting: with friends, my kids, husband

Calm: I'm always working on doing better with keeping my cool and my patience, and I specifically wrote down challenging episodes at home in which I managed my emotions and turned things around

As I fill up February, I'm making a point to block out time for all of this.

Monday, January 29, 2018


Things seem to going a bit better (crosses fingers, throws salt, knocks wood...). B really seems to be working hard at turning his mood around instead of getting stuck deeper and deeper into perpetual despair. L is still a wildcard, but he has his moments of being fun & curious & snuggly, and then there are the moments of demon-child that are so so ridiculously bad they are almost, sometimes, funny.

We actually had a good weekend. Another nice weather day on Saturday and I took B for errands and both kids to the park. Sunday rained but turned out...not terrible. We did watch a movie. I got my workouts in, cooked yummy stuff (African peanut stew from OhSheGlows, so so so good), had social time (playdate, talked to other mom), and overall felt like it was too short and not ready for Monday!

I finished one of my favorite books in a long time: Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng. I actually listened to this---my first audiobook---and it was still completely engrossing and I was sad for it to end. I will definitely consider autdiobooks more often.  I don't have another amazing book lined up. I gave up on "What Happened", and I'm sort of making my way through "One in a Million Boy" which I bought at some point for a dollar, but its not at all what I expected and I'm finding it hard to follow for some reason, and its impossible to go back and "remind yourself" on an ebook.

G is taking B to social skills, so I will get L and read with him and maybe play a bit before making our Plated meal (shrimp tacos..yum!). Its my turn to read stories and we are more than halfway through "A Wrinkle in Time". The kids are loving it, and we are all looking forward to the movie which seems badass (at least the casting). Weekday evenings are mostly a grind, I'm trying to convince myself this will all be fun! And not exhausting and involve me counting down every minute until I can go to sleep.