Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Thirty

Today wasn't overly productive. After karate, I let Jeremy take a nap, so I missed out on my prime productive time. I did stop at the produce store to get some fruit and veggies. While I was there, on a whim, I bought six vegetable plants to plant in a container in my backyard. Then I found a container to use, took it to my father-in-law's so he could help me drill some drainage holes in the bottom, lined it with coffee filters, took it to the township dirt pile and filled it with soil, then planted my six little plants. Who knows if anything will come of my plants (two tomato plants, two jalapeño pepper plants, one eggplant plant, and one green pepper plant, I think - they weren't very well labeled, and I didn't ask, because I liked the idea of surprise vegetables). It's worth a shot, anyhow, and I think Valerie will enjoy watching them grow.

Then we went to Trevor's fourth birthday party at BounceU, which was a lot of fun, and not nearly as chaotic as I was expecting. Then home for some watermelon, Glee and, hopefully soon, bed.

I still have a lot to do on my HADA projects, and I'm a little bummed that I didn't get them done, but at least I don't feel like there is no end in sight anymore, so that's something. I had kinda hoped that my last day of HADA would be one of those awesomely productive days, but at least I crossed the finish line. Not with a bang, but a whimper.

Day 30 tally: 1 hour shopping and planting vegetables.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Twenty-Nine

Okay, this is going to be a quickie post, because I'm tired.

Sorted clothes in the walk-in closet. One full trash bag of donations, one full trash bag of trash, one box and one pile of "give to specific people" stuff.

Watched some clips of the Royal Wedding on youtube. Loved her veil, which was pretty much exactly the look I wanted for my own wedding veil (and made myself because I couldn't find one I liked in my price range).

Went to the park for a few hours, had dinner at the in-laws'.

Dress shopping with the hubby. Managed to find a dress that fits up top without hanging like a flour sack on the bottom, and for less than I was planning on spending. (Hooray for Burlington Coat Factory!)

And now, I am ready for bed. I can't believe tomorrow is my last HADA day!

Day 29 tally: 1 hour 20 minutes sorting clothes + 1 hour 20 minutes dress shopping = 2 hours 40 minutes.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Twenty-Eight

You know when you're packing up for a move, and you pack really carefully for a few days, labeling every box meticulously. Then the day of the move, you realize how much more crap there is, and you don't have enough time to sort through it all anymore, so you throw everything in boxes and label them "misc" or "junk"? Then, the next time you move, you find those boxes, which you never opened, and throw them in the moving truck, along with half a dozen more boxes that you just labeled "random" and "crap"? Then you do the same thing all over again? And again?

When we moved to this apartment three years ago, it was the seventh place we had lived in seven years of marriage. Seven times, we have gone through the "Crap, we're out of time, just throw it all in a box" routine. And those boxes all went into the walk-in closet.


I spent a little over 2.5 hours emptying boxes today. I must have been in the right mood for it, because I threw a lot of things out. One full kitchen trash bag of garbage, plus the things that went into the various "donate" or "give to specific people" piles. A few things got filed or relocated, and a few things (like yarn and knitting/crochet supplies) were reboxed and labeled properly. I finished most of the left side of the closet. I expect I have another 2.5 hours of work to do on the right side of the closet, but we're gradually getting there.

2011-04-28 12.08.46

I had a packrat breakthrough today. I hold onto things for many reasons. Some things have genuine nostalgia or record-keeping value, like old yearbooks, medical records, tax documents, photographs, creative writing, or journals. I try to find a coherent way to keep these things organized and safe, while taking up the minimum amount of space. (One file cabinet is sufficient right now.) I'm pretty good at whittling down the nostalgia stuff if I ever have the time to sort. What I'm terrible at is the "But it's still good! Someone might be able to use it someday!" stuff. I'm pretty sure I learned this from my dad. He took pride in being able to find the correct random bit needed to solve any given problem from his treasure trove of miscellaneous stuff (a.k.a. our basement). Broke a shoelace? I have spare shoelaces! Is fluorescent orange okay? Lost a screw? Let me grab my seven jars of random screws, we'll find one that fits! Sprained your ankle? I have ace bandages in four different sizes!

There is also a pride in repurposing broken things. Sure, there's a hole in this backpack, but the drawstring clamps are still good, I could use them on another backpack! Yes, the elastic waistband on this skirt has crumbled with age, but I could use the fabric to make a wrap-shirt! I know this card has writing inside it, but if I cut the cover off, and glue it onto card stock, I could reuse it! And those are only the arguments that have succeeded. My brain has been thwarted in attempts to save: a deck of cards with only 42 cards, because there is probably some game you can play with it, shoes with holes in the soles, because I might be able to cover the holes with glue or something, and an answering machine, because, even though we don't have a home phone, we might be able to use it as a tape recorder for the girls to play with.

Anyhow, back to my breakthrough. 28 days into my HADA challenge, and I still have so much STUFF to sort through. And it hit me today that all this stuff has a hidden cost: My time. It's not just harmless junk sitting in a box waiting to be used; it's a burden. It takes time to dig through and find the item I need, it takes time to sort everything into neatly organized categories, it takes time to move everything around when I change my mind about the layout of the house. It eats so much time. And honestly? Time is the one thing I have the least of right now. We don't have a lot of money, but you know what? We can afford a pair of shoelaces. And if I have to hang onto this much stuff that I might need just to have that one thing one day that I do need, it's not worth it. It's not worth the time, it's not worth the storage space, it's not worth the stress.

I came across a baby blanket today that I started making when my sister was pregnant with my nephew, over four years ago. I had managed to crochet about 12 inches of it when I decided that it was taking too long, and I wasn't very good, and I didn't want to spend however many hours it would take to finish a crappy baby blanket. But I kept it, for some reason. Maybe I thought I would finish it someday, I don't know. So today, when I found it, I told myself it either needed a purpose, or it was going in the trash. Use it or lose it. I decided that it wasn't worth making into a full blanket, but maybe one of Valerie's dolls could use a blanket. So I sat down, redid a few stitches that had come undone, called it finished, and wove in the loose ends. It took only a couple of minutes, and now Valerie's dolls have a remarkably amateur baby blanket.

I want to have less stuff. And I really am trying, but it takes time to change the way you think about stuff. I'm trying to be realistic about anything I save for future use. I think I might actually make that skirt into a wrap-shirt. I'm pretty sure I'll never make those greeting cards into new cards. I will reuse some of those gift bags, but I probably don't need to keep all of them. I do hate throwing things out, but that's what the donate pile is for. I probably overestimate the value of my junk, but at least I can think it's going to get used, even if Goodwill just throws everything out.

Oh yeah, I went grocery shopping tonight, too, after the girls were in bed. I'm tired, and this post is taking forever to write, so I'm just going to click publish and go to bed without all the obsessive editing I usually engage in.

Day 28 tally: 2.5 hours in walk-in closet + 1 hour shopping = 3.5 hours.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Days Twenty-Six and Twenty-Seven

Yesterday was such a long day, I really couldn't tackle a blog post at the end of it all.

It started at 5:15 am again, with a poop explosion. Fun stuff. I had someone coming over at 10 am to drop off some donor milk for me to bring (along with some of my own) up to a baby who lives about an hour away. My plan was to stick her milk in the freezer with mine, then drop it all off next Tuesday on my way to Vermont/Ottawa. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

She was coming at 10, so rather than plopping down at my computer and wishing I was asleep, I got to work cleaning up my living room and dining room. I got Dorothy back to sleep at around 7, and by 8 I was ready to vacuum. This was a dilemma, because I was afraid the vacuum would wake the girls. But, since 8 is a reasonable time to wake up, I went ahead and vacuumed. Both girls did wake up, but I still managed to finish cleaning up the living room and dining room with them underfoot. We were planning on going to a park at 11, so I was feeling pretty good to have been so productive so early in the morning.

My friend came with the milk at 10, and she had a lot more milk than I was picturing. There was no way on earth it was going to fit in my freezer, even if I made a giant ground beef and broccoli sundae for lunch. So I quickly amended my day's plans, grabbed a cooler from the basement, and packed up for a mini-road trip.

We went to the park, met up with some friends, had a picnic lunch, and played for 2 hours.

Then we drove an hour north, dropped off the milk, and visited a bit with the baby who gets our milk (and her family).

Then, since we were already an hour north, we drove another 40 minutes north to visit my cousin. Valerie and her second cousin Nick really hit it off, and ran off playing together the whole time so Kristin and I could chat. The afternoon quickly slipped away, so my cousin threw some extra noodles in the pot so we could stay for dinner. Then we drove home (the ridiculously long way, since I was too tired to argue with the GPS), gave Valerie a snack, and sent her to bed.

Day 26 tally: 2 hours cleaning, 7 hours spontaneous road trip (not counting the park, which was the one thing originally on today's itinerary).

And today? Today I am very grateful that i didn't take Monday off after all, because I am taking today off.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Twenty-Five

I decided to break my "Mondays are my day off" rule today because Nana had the day off of school, so I had a daytime sitter for the girls. Dorothy woke up too early, but then we went back to sleep until 9, which was nice. Then Valerie slept until 10. Poor kid is just plum worn out from a busy busy weekend.

Once we finally got moving, I took the girls over to Nana's, nursed Dorothy, then left, figuring I had about 3 hours before she would need to nurse again. I stopped by my pastor's house to pick up something I had forgotten at church, then visited for a bit, because it was so nice out, and I was dreading going indoors to clean. Then I checked my email. Then I made some lunch. And, all in all, I did a pretty good job of wasting the first hour and a half of my kid-free cleaning time.

But I finally found the motivation to get off my butt, put on my Justin Timberlake Pandora station, and started cleaning.

One flaw I have noticed in my HADA challenge is that it doesn't encourage me to do the everyday stuff that also needs to get done. If I have ten minutes to spare, why should I spend it doing dishes, which doesn't count? So I've been working on my projects and neglecting too many of the daily tasks. So today, I added a new rule to HADA, because it's my challenge that I made up and I get to make up new rules on Day 25 if I want to.

  • Daily upkeep tasks count for HADA, but they can't make up more than 30 minutes of the base hour. So, I can spend 30 minutes on upkeep and 30 minutes on projects, or 2 hours on upkeep and 30 minutes on projects, or an hour on projects and no time on upkeep, but I can't just spend an hour on upkeep. Unless it's the first day that this new rule goes into effect, in which case, I can spend all of my HADA time on upkeep, for that day, and that day only.

So, long story short, I spent the next two hours working on things that I wouldn't have counted for HADA before today, but that seriously needed to be done. Dishes, laundry, putting away clothes, emptying trash. It's not glamorous, and I'm still not caught up, but it needed to be done, and, frankly, I probably could have counted it for HADA even without the rule amendment, because I've been having a hard time finding the time and energy for the surface stuff lately.

DAy 25 tally: 2 hours doing stuff that wouldn't have counted yesterday, but really needed to be done.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Twenty-Four

Today was really busy. 8:00 am "sunrise" service, church breakfast, followed by our regular Sunday routine of 9:45 music and 10:00 service. I was on the worship team this morning, so there was no rolling over to get an extra hour of sleep. Poor Valerie took the loss of sleep especially hard, and I had to hold her during the songs I sang (and she escaped to provide an impromptu dance performance while I was drumming).

In between the breakfast and the music service, I dressed the girls in their white Easter dresses and we got some family pictures. (Score one for the smart mama who saved the white dresses until AFTER the Easter breakfast.)


After church, we went back to Nana and PopPop's house for Easter dinner. Dorothy and I took a 20-minute catnap and missed the Easter egg hunt, but rain was was in the weather forecast, and they didn't want to wait too long. I woke up just in time to snap some pictures of an almost-asleep-on-her-feet Valerie and find the last egg for her because she had run out of steam.


After dinner, I took a three-hour nap. I was going to watch Doctor Who (because my in-laws have BBC America, and we don't), but the new episode is not up On Demand yet, and the nap was much-needed. I was going to call today a day off, and take a three-day HADA weekend, but three-hour naps are rare enough to fit the criteria of HADA.

Day 24 tally: 3 hours napping.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Twenty-Three

This morning started with an all-family snuggle in the big bed. A pretty good start to any day. Then I went to karate class. After karate, I hung out with the girls for a while so Jeremy could work on stage two of his clothing project - putting everything on hangers in the closet. Then I took a BATH with a BOOK. And I SHAVED. It was lovely. (Until it was interrupted by a screaming baby with a nasty diaper that a certain parent who shall remain nameless didn't think to change.) Then Valerie and Dorothy and I finished up my bath together.

I decided that today's HADA project was gift cards. I'm terrible about spending gift cards. I know it's not considered classy to give cash, but gift cards are almost a burden to me. I had a Babies 'r Us gift card from my La Leche League friends, and a $10 off Kohl's coupon, and I also wanted to get a hair cut (okay, there was no gift card involved in that one, just over a year of hair neglect). So, I left the girls with Jer and his brother, and I went shopping. Dorothy was just going down for a nap when I left.

I went to Kohl's, and managed to find a $10 outfit for Dorothy, which I then paid $0 for. Then, since I was in the neighborhood, I stopped by my favorite consignment store (where I bought nothing) and my favorite thrift store, where kids' clothes were 30% off today. I bought 12 things for the girls and 2 things for me, and a bunch of CF lightbulbs, all for $34.

Then I went to Babies 'r Us, and got two sleepers and five onesies for Dorothy, which were all on sale, and I only had to spend $9 more than the gift card. I'm not sure why I'm including all of the amounts I spent in this update, because it's not really relevant to HADA, but apparently, it's an important part of the narrative.

Then I got my hair cut, and just as I was driving home, Jeremy called to see when I would be home, because Dorothy had just woken up. So, I was gone for just shy of 3 hours, and Dorothy slept almost the entire time I was gone, I got almost everything on my "to get sometime" list, and spent all my gift cards. Errand win.

We played a few hands of cards, then we had dinner, then went to a family birthday party for dessert. After some yummy sundaes, we came home, and Valerie fell asleep in the car. Which is good, because we have to wake up an hour and a half earlier than usual tomorrow.

Day 23 tally: Solo bath with time for shaving and reading, 40 minutes + solo errands, 2 hours 50 minutes = 3.5 hours

Baby-Led Weaning: Day Two

We gave Dorothy some broccoli at dinner tonight. She did so incredibly well with it! Here's a video of her cuteness feeding herself. I love that you can see her figuring the whole process out. At one point, she gets the stem, doesn't like it, sets it down, and grabs it from the other end to eat the flower. So cool!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Dorothy's First Solid Food

A few days ago, we decided that Dorothy met all of the criteria to start solids using the baby-led weaning approach (the same approach we used with Valerie), but we wanted to wait until her cough improved first, to minimize the risk of choking. I think we must have said this out loud in front of her, because her cough went away pretty much as soon as the words left my mouth. "What, I can have solid food if I just stop coughing? Sure thing!"

So, at dinner tonight, PopPop was baking a sweet potato for Granddad, and he threw an extra one in for Dorothy, just in case. Normally, I bake sweet potatoes in fry shapes for BLW, but I wasn't making dinner tonight, and I didn't want to make extra work for anyone else, so it just got baked normally along with the other potatoes. I did my best to cut the sweet potato into fry shapes after it was baked, but I mostly ended up with squishy blobs. (Note to anyone considering doing BLW: Take the extra time to cut the potato up before baking. It's worth the effort.)

Dorothy wasn't sure what to make of it at first.

"Um, Mom, Dad put food in front of me. Aren't you going to take it away and get mad at him?"

Valerie was especially concerned. She reminded us that Dorothy is a baby, and she can only have nursies. We told her that Dorothy is getting bigger and she can now have sweet potatoes AND nursies. No, she can't have your chocolate milk, she can ONLY have sweet potatoes and nursies right now.

Dorothy finally figured out that she was allowed to put this stuff in her mouth. She poked at it a bit, then got a big gob on her thumb.

"Aha, thumb! I know how to put you in my mouth! I will coat you in tasty orange stuff, then suck on you!"

"You are especially tasty, today, thumb."

Then she grabbed a fistful, and ate everything that she could squeeze out between her fingers.

Then she did it again.


And again,

and again,

and again.

Judging by the amount I cleaned up after she was done, I think she ate almost half of a small sweet potato. Tomorrow's diapers should be fun!

Next, I think we'll try broccoli. It has nice, little, built-in handles. And the next time we do sweet potato, I will make it into proper BLW fry-shapes.

I thought I would be more sad or excited about this milestone, but honestly, it just feels normal. She was ready, we gave her food, and she ate it. It was the most natural thing in the world. I almost forgot to take pictures. (Obviously, I remedied that near-oversight.)

Hour-a-Day April: Day Twenty-Two

I woke up a little bit cranky this morning. But it was Jeremy's day off, so we talked through the things I was irrationally annoyed about, then Jeremy got started on some of the projects I needed him to get out of my way. He made some pretty good headway, then I got Dorothy back to sleep. I didn't want to interrupt the flow of work by putting a sleeping baby in our room, so I put her down on the living room floor so she could sleep while we cleaned in the bedroom. Valerie slept in, and we got a lot done. Even after both girls were awake, they played happily together on the bed while we got more done. Then Valerie ate breakfast while we got some more done.

Morning tally:
Jeremy: Purged the bookshelves, sorted his too-many shirts
Jule Ann: Emptied the "desk clutter" box, emptied and organized the desk drawers, finished the too-small-for-Dorothy clothes sorting project. (Valerie's closet now has: 9 sorted and labeled boxes of too-small-for-D clothes, 4 sorted and labeled boxes of too-small-for-V clothes, and 4 unsorted boxes of too-big-for-V clothes. Yes, that's a lot of clothes. I'm just too cheap to say no to hand-me-downs, and we have a lot of generous family members.) I also got some laundry done (where on earth does all this laundry come from?) and cleaned a toilet, but those things don't count for HADA.

Did I mention that we did all this before noon? At noon we went over to Nana and PopPop's house. Valerie played outside with Trevor for a while, and Trevor and I made "resurrection rolls" (crescent rolls baked around a marshmallow, which disappears while baking, leaving a hollow "tomb" of a roll). Then all the cousins came over and we died eggs. We came home after dinner, and had tubby time. Dorothy got to join Valerie for part of tubby time today, because she had her first taste of solid food at dinner, so she was a bit messy. While Valerie was playing by herself in the tub, I spot-treated some muddy clothes, and, since she had decided to put ALL of the bath toys in the tub, I cleaned the floor underneath where the bath toys live. Then I rinsed off all the bath toys and lined them up to dry. Then I put in another load of wash, and I am folding the clean laundry from this morning.

Today is exactly what I needed. I feel pretty darned accomplished right now. And after I finish folding this load of laundry, I might even start uploading some of the hundreds of pictures we took today.

Day 22 tally: 2.5 hours doing morning projects + 20 minutes doing tubby time projects = 2 hours 50 minutes.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Twenty-One

Well, I think today was technically another fail. I managed to get in about half an hour (sorting the too-little clothes and doing some laundry), but that's it. But I was at home for less than half the day, so that's still pretty good, right?

I made a deliberate choice to spend my morning "productive" time writing Dorothy's birthday letter today, because I didn't want to leave it until after Easter. I knew this would probably prevent me from getting my HADA time in, but that's how I decided to prioritize today. I took Valerie over to Nana's house at about 12:45, then took Dorothy to her six-month check-up at 1:30, then went back to Nana's and visited with the great-grandparents, who had just arrived from out of town. Then, after dinner, we went to the Maundy Thursday Tenebrae service at our church, then got home just in time to put the girls to bed. Phew. Suddenly, I'm quite impressed that I managed to get in any time at all. Hey, I showered, too, and I totally get bonus points for showering.

Jeremy has tomorrow off, so hopefully I can get a good solid stretch of cleaning in at some point. As per the rules of the game, "Don't give up. Missed a day? Just brush it off and get back on the proverbial horse the next day."

Day 21 tally: 30 minutes on sorting and laundry + lots and lots of minutes on stuff that I don't get to count

Six Months Old!


Dear Dorothy,

You are six months old, now!

I swear you read my last birthday letter, where I talked about how you need your routines, and took it as constructive criticism, because this month, you changed all your routines. One day you fell asleep in my arms watching TV, without having your diaper changed, without being swaddled, and without nursing. So I just stuck you in bed, and you stayed asleep. I didn't trust it at first, and kept trying to swaddle you for a while, then one day it hit me: You don't need this anymore. You still nurse to sleep about half the time, but your swaddle blankets have officially been demoted to spit-up cloths.


And we have needed those giant spit-up cloths, because you are fighting another cold again, and there have been quite a few times where you will nurse vigorously, then gag, and throw up the entire feeding. You haven't done this in a couple of days, though, so I hope that means you are on the mend.

I feel really bad that you have been sick so much in your short life. This has just been the winter of doom in the Wakeman household, and we've all just had one bug after another. I hope we have a better spring. And maybe you will have an immune system of steel when you get older because of all the exercise it got when you were a baby.


Speaking of exercise, that is your new favorite thing to do. You still like to snuggle, especially if you're sleepy, but when you start to squirm and arch your back, I know you want to get down on the ground and play. You are trying so hard to crawl, and you can squirm your way across the room to get to the toy (or power cord) you want to chew on. And you do these impressive push-ups over and over again that makes me think you will be fully mobile before I can say "look at all those choking hazards Valerie left on the floor".


I'm finding it hard to believe that you are already six months old. They say it seems to go faster the second time around, and that has definitely been true for me. I keep realizing that things I thought happened a few days ago really happened last month. As I sit here nursing you, it hits me, once again, that your body was built, grown, and sustained entirely by mine for the past 15 months. That is such an amazing thing. I'm excited to start giving you solid foods soon, but at the same time, I'm a little sad to give up that exclusive claim. I do hope that nursing will remain an important part of your physical and emotional development for a good while longer, though.


You were dedicated this past Sunday, and I wrote more about that here. You are very blessed to have been born into a church that is busily having babies. Come July, there will be eight kids aged 3 and under. That might not seem like much, but in a church of about 50, it's a pretty awesome percentage. The nursery is a pretty happening place, and I can see how eager you are to get up and join the fun. I think that might be part of your intense desire to get mobile. That, or maybe you just don't want to get stepped on.


You continue to be an extremely happy baby, and you let us pass you around church or family gatherings, sharing your giggles and smiles generously. Everyone always tells me that you are such a happy baby, and I never feel the need to correct them, because you really are. You're only unhappy when you are tired, hungry, or in pain, and that is thankfully a very small portion of the time. Thank you for bringing so much joy into our lives.



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Twenty

I think I did an hour today, but it was in tiny increments throughout the day because the girls would. not. let me work. I got started on the too-small-for-Dorothy clothes sorting project, I weeded out an entire box of books for donation, I cleared off the rest of the top of my dresser, I put away some clean clothes that have been waiting to be put away for a while, I squeezed in a bit more blogging than usual, and when the sun came out, I took the girls outside for some vitamin D. Also, in the "things I accomplished that don't count for HADA" column, I did Dorothy's birthday photo shoot, ran a load of dishes, and cleaned the living room floor. Not bad, but not great. I really need another one of those days where I get to the end and go, "Holy cow, I accomplished a lot." "Yeah, I think I got in my hour," just doesn't have the same ring, and it doesn't have the same power over my mental state.

It's 10:30 and Dorothy is wide awake, giggling and talking and doing yoga on the living room floor. I hope she gets tired soon, because I would very much like to go to bed. I guess we will watch another episode of Glee after all.

Day 20 tally: 1 hour or so, I'm pretty sure.

Needs More Cow, Bell

So, Valerie has a bunch of peek-a-blocks, which are these little plastic blocks with clear sides so you can see the various items that are inside. They are sealed, however, so you can't actually open them up and play with the toys inside (which is probably annoying for a kid, but a relief for a mommy, because then there would just be that many more small parts to lose/swallow/step on). One of the blocks has a bell inside, and there are tiny slits in one end so that you can hear it ring.

Valerie also has a farm magnet set with a bunch of little magnetic farm animals, and little magnetic labels proclaiming the names of the various animals. Apparently, these little labels are just small enough to slip inside the slits of the bell peek-a-block.


Now I'm just trying to figure out if a kid did this, and it's just a ridiculous coincidence, or if an adult did it and it's deliberately ridiculous. Either way, I'm laughing. Well played.

Talking with a 2.5 year old

V: Get me down!
JA: Can you ask nicely?
V: Get down me!
JA: What word do you say when you want to ask nicely?
V: Down!
JA: (hinting) P...
V: ...
JA: Pl...
V: ...
JA: Plea...
V: Pleap!!
JA: (collapses into hysterical laughter)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Nineteen

I don't know if I'm running out of steam, or if I'm just still reeling from a busy weekend and two cranky kids, but man, HADA is getting harder and harder. It's really disheartening to make so much progress in one area only to see it completely disappear when you turn your back to work on another area. It's like when you get down to a dungeon with monsters that breed explosively, and even though you keep killing them, and you're way stronger than they are, you just can't kill them faster than they can reproduce, and the only way to win is to give up and back away towards the stairs and hope they don't kill you before you get there. What? Was that reference too geeky? Okay, it's like trying to shovel a driveway covered in slush. Sure, you can clear a path, but it just slops back in around the sides of the shovel before you've gone two feet.

Speaking of shovels, I shoveled my living room floor today. I wanted to vacuum a stretch of carpet so I could safely put Dorothy down, so I grabbed a snow shovel and shoved all the toys over to the toy box corner of the room. I vacuumed the floor, then went over to the pile and put all the toys away. In fact, I got the living room floor completely clean today. It felt really good. For about 10 seconds, before Valerie dragged all of the dolls back out and spread them evenly across the floor. Just like the plague rats. Or the slush. Pick your preferred analogy.

Today I tackled an especially difficult area of my bedroom: the top of my dresser. That's the place where I put things that I don't want to lose, but don't have a place for. My lifeguarding whistle, the string from the waistband of my honeymoon pajamas, the rope from the rearview mirror of our first car, some half-dollar coins, stamps, a library card (which I don't need to carry, because I have a key tag), my bedroom diagrams and scale furniture models for rearranging, extra shoelaces. I found places for about half of the things, but a lot of it just moved one step over to the top of Jeremy's dresser, to join the ever-growing "want to keep but don't know where to put" pile. It was a tiny bit of progress, but it was disappointing progress, because it felt like so little.

I didn't get much else done today. The girls were needy, and I was worn out. I got some laundry done, including the first load of winter wear, which all needs to be washed so it can be packed away until next year. I'm trying not to get too disillusioned, but the month is more than half over, and I still have so far to go on the projects I want to get done. And, I hate to complain about this in a public forum, but all the little things that I need my husband to do (sort a stack of papers with his name on them, weed out his "too many for the drawer" shirt pile, go through the electronics boxes and tell me what I can't throw away, etc.) are still sitting waiting to be done. I can only make so much progress when I have to keep navigating around piles and boxes of things that I can't deal with myself, in case I accidentally get rid of something I didn't realize was important. And every hour I spend on bedroom sorting projects generates another 5-10 minutes of something I need his input on, so I'm avoiding certain projects because I don't want to generate more work for him before he gets through the stuff that is already waiting for his attention.

Sigh. Sorry for the whiny post. Normally I just don't blog when I'm feeling down and overwhelmed, or I blog about unrelated things to try and focus on the positive. So I guess this is a side of me that most of you don't see very often. Unfortunately, it's a side I see all too often myself. I want to look at myself and see this great mom that other people seem to see in me, but all I see are my shortcomings. The messy kitchen, the umpteenth episode of Diego that I'm letting Valerie watch today, the unfinished projects. Frankly, I fully expected to crash and burn with HADA, but I thought maybe, if I blogged about it, I just might make it through the month. Maybe I would get things clean enough to trade bedrooms with Valerie before the mess took back over again. But I don't dare dream of making a life habit of it. I don't believe I will ever be like those awesome moms, who cook three meals a day and wash all the dishes after every meal, who watch one movie a week on Friday night and no TV otherwise, who do crafts and projects with their kids every day, who still find time to read books and exercise. I want to be better, but I spend so many of my days just in survival mode, it's hard to find energy for anything else.

Day 19 tally: 30 minutes sorting stuff on top of dresser, 15 minutes winter laundry, plus I'm stealing those 15 minutes of extra time from yesterday. Total = 1 hour.

Dorothy's Dedication

I know I don't blog about my faith very often, but it's still a very important part of my life. I don't blog about breathing, either, but it's something that I do constantly, and can't imagine living without. I'm always happy to answer questions, but I'm mostly past that stage of my life where I liked to get into big religious arguments for fun. But a friend of mine asked me what the difference was between baptism and dedication, and I felt like the question deserved a well-thought-out answer. I'm sure this brief blog post won't even come close to such a thing, but here goes.

My faith is important to me. I was raised in the church, and my Christian upbringing is important to me, too. I know it's popular in this pluralistic day and age to say, "I'll teach my children about all religions and let them choose for themselves." I admire that sentiment, and I respect people who raise their children in this way, but it wouldn't be honest of me. I'm too biased. I will teach my children about other religions, I will teach them to be open-minded and compassionate, I will teach them to be good listeners, and I will teach them that you can disagree with others and still be friends. But I will also teach them what I believe to be True. Because I need to be honest with my kids, and pretending that the Truth I have chosen is just one of many equally valid choices is beyond my acting abilities.

And that, essentially, is what infant dedication is all about. It's our pledge, before our church family, to raise our children in the way we know to be True. It's also our church's pledge to us, to help us, pray for us, support us, and keep us accountable as we do our flawed, human best to raise our kids right.

My church doesn't practice infant baptism, but essentially, it's the same as infant dedication in principle. But it goes further theologically. Baptism is a sacrament, a physical act with deep spiritual significance. I believe that baptism is more meaningful when it is undertaken by an adult who understands the significance and chooses it for herself. But reasonable people can definitely disagree on this issue. Entire churches have split over this issue, so I don't pretend to have the final word. Honestly (and I'm probably going to step on toes on both sides of the argument here), I don't think it really matters when it's done. There are two sides to the coin: A promise by the parents to raise the child in the church, and a decision by an older child (or teen or adult) to accept that faith as their own. In some churches, baptism happens on the promise side of the coin, in other churches, baptism happens on the acceptance side of the coin. And there is solid Biblical backing for either option, so we could argue until we are blue in the face, and hopefully, still come out the other side loving each other.

So, Dorothy was dedicated this weekend. It was a lovely service, and two other babies were dedicated along with her, so the church was packed with loving friends and family, times three. Dorothy was the oldest of the three babies, and she was also the only one who didn't cry when the pastor took her to pray for her. (She also did NOT explode poop all over the handmade dress that I and my siblings all wore for our dedications, unlike a certain older sister whose name rhymes with Balerie.) We were really grateful for all of the friends and family who came to the service, and for the awesome spread at the reception afterwards. We are very blessed, and so are our girls, to have such an amazing, supportive community of faith.






Monday, April 18, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Eighteen

I tried to get in an hour today, in spite of it being Monday, but Dorothy threw up her morning feeding, we canceled our trip to the Please Touch Museum, we canceled our plans to see friends, and we hunkered down for a too-much-TV day. It was a pretty lousy day. Neither of the girls are feeling well, Dorothy wasn't napping well, and Valerie's whining was really getting to me. When Jer got home from work, I took a long nap. Valerie fell asleep while we were serving her dinner, and she napped for a bit before waking up crying and saying her ear hurt. She seems fine now, but if she's no better tomorrow, we may be calling the doctor.

All that whining to say, Monday is my day off, and I should never have pretended otherwise. I did manage to start in on some sorting (tops of dressers), but only logged about 15 minutes before the day went to crap. Some other day this week, I can count 45 minutes as my hour. I'm just praying that we'll all wake up a little bit happier and a little bit healthier tomorrow. It's supposed to rain, so maybe the girls will even sleep in.

Day 18 tally: Day off. (15 minutes of flex time to use later in the week.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Seventeen

Today was Dorothy's dedication at the church, and I wasn't sure I would get any HADA stuff done today or not. I decided that I needed the morning to get ready for church calmly, rather than in our normal frenzied morning rush. I got the diaper bag packed, outfits set out (with back-up dedication outfits for Dorothy), and my breakfast eaten before Valerie woke up. That's my normal HADA time, but it was well-spent in this way. I even got to put on my french worship CD for a little while!

I actually had to wake Valerie up in order to get her ready in time. I always feel bad doing that, because I believe kids should be allowed to sleep until their bodies say they are done, but I also didn't want to bring an unbreakfasted, pajama-clad big sister to Dorothy's dedication. I was actually early for worship team practice today! Score!

It was a nice service (which will get its own picture post), and we stayed for a long time afterward chatting with people. Then we went over to Nana and PopPop's house for a few hours.

When we got home at about 4:30, Dorothy wasn't feeling very good, so I lay down with her to see if I could get her to sleep. We napped together for about an hour, and she was restless the whole time, then she threw up and fell fast asleep.

At this point, I wasn't sure I was going to manage to do my HADA, but I figured, if I got in half an hour yesterday, maybe I could get in a half hour today, and split the day off. So I went upstairs and started sorting the too-small-for-Valerie-but-too-big-for-Dorothy clothes. You know how I mentioned that one of the benefits of timing my activities was finding out how little time it takes to do some things? Well, the crappy downside is finding out how much time it takes to do other things. Like sorting outgrown clothes. It took me two days to sort five bags of hand-me-downs, and it took me over an hour today to sort three sizes worth of clothes. And I still have to sort through the too-small-for-Dorothy and too-big-for-Valerie stuff. I'm hoping to get to that stuff tomorrow, but it's bugging me how many days this "sorting of clothes" project is eating up, and I'm eager to get back to some of the projects with more immediately visible results.

Day 17 tally: 1 hour 20 minutes sorting clothes

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Sixteen

Well, I think today is my first failure at HADA. But, then again, I did manage to sell my car on my day off on Monday, so maybe I will just call today the day off this week.

I woke up early and went to karate class at 8:30. That doesn't count, though, because I actually have been doing pretty well at going to karate twice a week ever since I went back after maternity leave. I came home and took a nice, long shower. That totally should count. It's amazing how quickly motherhood moved showers from the "necessity" column to the "luxury" column. I also managed to strip the beds and put the sheets in the wash. Then we went to Nana and PopPop's house. Then we went to a birthday party for a three-year-old friend from church. Then we went to another birthday party for my one-year-old niece. Then we came home at about 8 pm. Both girls fell asleep in the car on the way home. (Aside: When we went to carry the sleeping girls into the house, they were holding hands in their sleep. Aww.)

Jeremy carried Valerie upstairs to put her to bed. Then he carried her back downstairs and set her on the couch. Remember that bit where I said I put the sheets in the wash? And then we were out of the house for the rest of the day? Oops.

I found a spare set of sheets for Valerie's bed, and she got to watch some Pingu while I made her bed. The sheets to our bed are in the dryer right now. Hopefully they will be done soon.

I also took a few minutes to put the boy clothes in boxes/bags to bring to the parents of boys at church tomorrow. I might read a bit of my La Leche League book if I don't fall asleep waiting for the dryer.

Day 16 tally: Shower: Stripping and remaking beds, washing sheets: 20 minutes. Packing up hand-me-downs: 10 minutes. Total: 30 minutes. Unless I manage to read for half an hour, I think I will have to call this a day off.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Fifteen

Today was one of those crazy days. Long night, early morning, long walk to the park and back with friends and their toddlers, lunch, then babysitting a neighbor girl in the afternoon. The only net gains on the productivity front were one load of regular laundry, diaper laundry, and one load of dishes run through the dishwasher. None of those really count, though, because that's all stuff I have to do anyhow, HADA or no HADA.

When Jeremy got home from work, all I wanted to do was sleep, but instead, we did something we've been trying to schedule since we got gift cards for Christmas: dinner and a movie without the kids. It was really nice to enjoy a meal without worrying about keeping two little ones entertained, to talk about our days without being interrupted, and to finish my meal while it was still warm. I had 2 or 3 cokes, too, a luxury I don't often allow myself, but since I had just nursed and pumped before leaving it was optimal timing for the least amount of caffeine to enter my milk.

Caffeinated enough to stay awake for 90 minutes or so, we went to see Source Code. It was not quite what I expected, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then we spent the whole drive home debating time paradoxes and alternate universe theories. That may have been even more fun than the movie.

We picked up Dorothy, but we left Valerie at her grandparents' house for the night. It's a nice treat to only have to bend your sleep to one child's needs for a night. Speaking of which, Dorothy just finished nursing, and it's time for us to go to bed.

Day 15 tally: Dinner and a movie without the kids: 4 hours.

Hour-a-Day April: Day Fourteen

I woke up at a decent time and finished sorting the hand-me-downs, scrubbed/soaked some stains, and did some laundry. Then I found out that I was going to have house guests that night, so I spent the rest of the day cleaning the living/dining rooms like a mad woman.

Day Fourteen tally: Lots of hours. Way more than one.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Thirteen

Dorothy let me sleep in until eight this morning. Eight! I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get much cleaning in this morning, but Valerie slept in, too. That the one awesome thing about dreary, rainy days: My girls sleep in.

I finished clearing the floor of my bedroom, which was such an awesome feeling. I still need to put away some boxes, but otherwise, the floor is empty. I even vacuumed it.

The before picture, again, which I am increasingly glad that I took, because it's already hard to believe:

Day Thirteen:

I took a progress picture, because sadly, the floor's cleanness is a temporary state; for the rest of April, this clear floor will be used as a staging ground for other sorting projects. Like socks and underwear.


At some point in the past few years, I got lazy with socks. I had an "odd sock" box, where I could put mismatched socks that I wanted to hang onto in case their mates turned up. Then, one day, I got to the bottom of a basket of clean laundry, and rather than pair up the socks, I just dumped them all in the odd sock box, to sort later. Later never came, and I just kept adding to the odd sock box, until there were no pairs, just a big box of odd socks (with bras and underwear mixed in). My drawers were pretty much empty at that point, so I started dumping unmatched socks into the drawer, too. The only socks that were paired were the ones I didn't like, and when I went to put on socks, it would take me five minutes of digging through the mess to find two matching socks.

I emptied that box today, and organized my sock/underwear drawers. I threw out all the holey socks, and the terminally mismatched socks; I put the nice too-small bras in the donate box, and the worn-out ones in the trash. I only kept 11 "odd" socks, about half of which I think their mate is somewhere in my house, and the other half of which are the odd-numbered sock of some type of sock of which I have more than one pair.

Dorothy helped:

I have a lot of socks.

From here, I need to start looking up, onto surfaces: the desks, the dressers, the sewing table. I'm not sure I'll get to the walk-in closet before HADA is over, but at least it's not looking like a lost cause anymore. My donate/giveaway pile in the hallway is starting to get too big, so I think I might have to do a preliminary thrift store run. I've given a few things to specific people that I know can use them, but it's still growing more quickly than it's shrinking.

I got a few more things done today. I tidied up the living room and vacuumed it so that I can safely let Dorothy slither around without worrying about what she might find to put into her mouth (or worrying about how covered in hair she will be when I pick her up again - I swear, I shed worse than a cat). I took down the craigslist ad for the car so that I will stop getting emails about it. And I started in on my next bedroom floor sorting project - five bags of hand-me-downs of mixed gender in sizes newborn through 3T. I'm 1 1/2 bags into that project so far.

We went to a church potluck tonight, and I cooked the laziest possible thing - a box of frozen chocolate eclairs. So we had yummy, home-cooked food without me having to lift a finger. And no dishes to do afterward, either! Woot! Both girls fell asleep in the car on the way home. I wasn't sure if we should go tonight, because I'm always worried about how evening activities will mess with bedtime, but when it works out like that, it makes me want to go somewhere every evening!

I have a lot on the agenda tomorrow, and if I don't get in my hour first thing in the morning, it probably won't happen. I hope the timing works out, but if not, I'm totally counting some of today's time towards it, because I really kicked butt today. Have I mentioned lately how awesome this HADA thing is?

Day Thirteen tally: 30 minutes cleaning bedroom floor, 30 minutes sorting socks, 20 minutes tidying living room, 20 minutes sorting hand-me-downs. Total = 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Almost Crawling!

Not yet six months old, and already, Dorothy doesn't stay where I put her when I put her down. She's not quite crawling, but she's rolling, squirming, slithering, scooching, and just generally, well, progressing. And for the past two days, she has been rocking up onto her hands and feet, and she looks like she's going to take off any day. 12-month sleepers, and almost crawling; my baby really is growing up too fast.





Hour-a-Day April: Day Twelve

I got about 1/2 hour of cleaning in the morning. I mostly finished the bedroom floor. Then I went to La Leche League, then to a friends' house for the rest of the day, so I didn't get any more cleaning done.

We came home, had dinner, and I went to karate. Put the girls to bed, then turned off the TV and spent some one-on-one time with the husband before heading to bed without even posting a blog update.

Day Twelve tally: 1/2 hour cleaning + 1/2 hour husband time = 1 hour

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Eleven

In case you missed last Monday's installment of HADA, let me bring you up to speed: I suck at Mondays. Today started on an especially bad note. Normally, Dorothy wakes up about an hour or so before Valerie, so I have that hour to hang out with Dorothy and get stuff done. This morning, Valerie woke up about half an hour before Dorothy's wake-up time. Starting Monday morning extra tired = extra awesome.

As I sat wallowing in my morning grumpiness, trying to figure out how on earth I would find the motivation to do my hour today, I suddenly remembered something: I have Mondays off. Sweet!

As soon as I made that decision, my day turned around. It was a gorgeous day (One degree shy of breaking a 120-year-old heat record! The hottest day since before Dorothy was born!), so we went to the park. We blew bubbles and ate sand. It was a great day.

And then, this evening, I managed to sell the Mazda. Hooray! Selling the car was super-stressful for me, as it was something I have never done and have no frame of reference for, and have been putting off dealing with. And I told a friend that, if I managed to sell the car today, I would revoke today's "day off" status. But I think I will leave it, for now at least, because I really need to get back on track. Tomorrow, I finish the bedroom floor!

Day Eleven tally: day off (unless selling the car counts)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Ten

Ever since we moved to Philadelphia, I've been meaning to go to the Cherry Blossom Festival. It might not be as big as the one in Washington DC, but it's right on my door step, so I really have no excuse to have missed it for five years in a row. I was just thinking last night that the cherry blossoms were pretty much in full bloom, so I went online to find out when the Cherry Blossom Festival was this year. It turns out it was today. I checked the weather, and it looked good, so we decided to go. Something that I've been meaning to do for five years seemed to fit the definition of HADA pretty well.

We asked around at church this morning to see if we could convince anyone to go with us. The Ashleys took us up on it. We had a fantastic time. I wore Valerie on my back for most of the time, so I got a pretty darned good workout in today, too. Traffic was brutal on the way there, but it's not so bad when you resign yourself to it ahead of time. It was worth it, because the blossoms were beautiful. We got to see Taiko drumming and we got free chopsticks and we took pictures and we pondered the transient nature of life. And Valerie slept in the car on the way home, which is the badge of a good day.

(Full photo set on Flickr)

Day Ten tally: Um, five hours or so, I guess.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Nine

Saturdays are proving to be extremely hard for me for HADA. When you get up on Saturday morning, it seems like you have the whole day ahead of you to get things done, so you don't rush, and the next thing you know, all that time has slipped through your fingers. Now, I have learned this week that I had better seize any spare moments I get in the first few hours of the day, because they get harder to seize as the day progresses. My husband wasn't here with me to learn that lesson during the week, so he didn't understand why I was acting with any degree of urgency on a leisurely Saturday morning. I wonder if he understood when he went up to bed a few minutes ago and the clothes that needed to be put away earlier today were still stacked on the bed.

It wasn't a fruitless day. I wasn't great about looking at the clock, but I'm pretty sure I got in my hour. (Note to self: Get an actual stopwatch next time you want to embark on a challenge that requires the timing of activities.) I did three more loads of laundry (Mount Laundry is now barely a molehill!) and I made a bit more progress on the bedroom, including weeding out a big pile of clothes to donate. I moved the Christmas tree to the storage locker in the basement, and the baby swing to the van, so it can go to church with us tomorrow. I took out the paper recyclables, and I found my little scale diagrams of the bedrooms and furniture so I could play around with potential new arrangements for if/when we trade bedrooms with the girls. (Aside: It looks like we will be able to fit our bed, the sidecarred crib, two dressers, and a desk in the smaller room, which is totally manageable.) I also finally posted the Mazda for sale on craigslist (which made me sadder than I thought it would - that was the first car I ever bought myself).

Anyhow, I think that adds up to about an hour. I also went to karate class this morning, watched several episodes of Glee on Netflix, and went to a family birthday party this evening, so it was a very full day. Come to think of it, I'm actually pretty tired, and I ought to be in bed. You know, after I move that pile of clean clothes that are folded and stacked on the bed.

Day Nine tally: 1 hour or so, I think.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Eight

Not much to say today. Dorothy let me sleep in a bit, and when we woke up, I started in on the bedroom again. I made it back to my desk today! Valerie even cooperated a bit with the room cleaning, and let me finish my hour after she woke up.

Dorothy didn't want to nap today, so I didn't log much bonus time today. Valerie joined the cranky ranks in the afternoon, too, so the rest of the day was pretty much a wash, and I'm extra glad I logged my hour first thing in the morning. I did get four loads of laundry done, though. (Aside: Timing laundry is nearly impossible. It takes all day, but it's not that much "active" time, just a lot of "waiting for the cycle to finish" time.) It was a pretty successful HADA day, though.

Day Eight tally: 1 hour, plus four laundry loads of indeterminate time.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Seven

Today was a busy day. One of my initial worries with HADA was, "How am I going to be productive on busy days?" Well, I'm still not sure about that one. Today was not a "productive" day, but it was a good one. Maybe you need days like that in your schedule.

Dorothy and I woke up at 7, and I figured I had about 20 minutes of her keeping herself happy during which I could work on HADA projects. I took a shower. And, doggone it, that shower counts towards my hour, because showering during the week is one of the things I find it hardest to make time for. After my shower, I wasn't able to get much else done, but I did get all three of us dressed and a lunch packed so we could go to the zoo.

We spent about four hours at the zoo. It was crowded with school groups, but we had a great time. And Valerie slept the whole way home, which was a nice bonus.

After the zoo, I was planning on cleaning up and making dinner for the book club I was supposed to be hosting tonight. As of this morning, I was down to one guest, and when I got home, there was a message waiting from her asking if she could come over and visit with me earlier, since she had a lot of school work to do tonight. I looked around at my messy house, shrugged, and said "Sure."

We had a really nice visit. I didn't get any cleaning done, and I didn't get dinner made, but I got to spend and hour and a half catching up with a friend I hadn't seen in a while. It was totally worth it. And, I think, making time for a friend I haven't seen in ages totally fits the definition of HADA.

Jer and I took the girls to a diner for dinner, which was a fun last-minute outing. Now, both girls are asleep, and I am planning on joining them in slumberland any minute now. Going to bed early is something I rarely find time for, either.

I don't know whether I would call today a success or not. I definitely did more than an hour of hard-to-find-time-for activities. But it was a little bit too much like my Sunday - it was enjoyable, but I do hope to have more of the actually productive days, as well.

Day Seven tally: 20 minute shower, 1.5 hours visiting with a friend, 2 hours early to bed = 3 hours 50 minutes.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Six

Dorothy has a stuffy nose, so we were up at about 4 this morning, steaming, suctioning, and nursing. I finally got her back to sleep a little before 5, just in time to hear Jeremy's alarm clock start going off. Jeremy wasn't feeling well, so he continued to hit snooze for over an hour before finally giving up and calling in sick. Dorothy was able to sleep through the snooze-buttoning. I was not.

So, when Dorothy woke me up at about 7, I was not a happy camper. But, after yesterday's revelation regarding morning productivity, I knew I needed to get started right away. So, I started to work my way across the bedroom, picking up where I had left off yesterday. Jeremy was still asleep, but I figured he could sleep through my cleaning. It seemed more than fair after the snooze-buttoning. I managed to squeeze in about 20 minutes before Dorothy needed my attention, then Valerie woke up, so we all moved downstairs.

I started in on the kitchen again, which I keep making a good dent in, but never fully completing. Today, I decided to just fill the dishwasher with whatever was closest, rather than sorting and stacking and attempting to be efficient. I did two loads of dishes this way (the second still needs to be put away). I didn't set a timer for this, because I wasn't planning on counting it. It was probably about 20-30 minutes.

I sat down and cut my fingernails. I'm not sure why, but this job always seems to get put off for a long time. I timed it, out of curiosity more than anything else. Now that I know it takes only three minutes to cut all ten fingernails, maybe I will be more willing to do it on a regular basis.

I emptied the trash and the recycle bin, which is technically Jeremy's job, but it needed to be done, and it was trash day today. Luckily for me, the trucks were late, so I was able to take the bins to the curb as well. I also washed and dried Dorothy's diapers, and washed and dried a load of clothes.

I put Dorothy down for a nap, then proceeded to waste an hour or so on the computer. This is the only part of the day I feel a little bad about. It was a good opportunity for either productivity or one-on-one time with Valerie. But she was in a mood, and didn't want me in the kitchen. I'm not sure why me working in the kitchen bothers her so much. She doesn't care if I waste several hours on my computer, but as soon as I put on an apron or pick up a dishcloth, she starts crying and jumping up and down to be picked up. I just didn't feel like dealing with it anymore today.

At 1:00, Valerie and I went to the dentist (Dorothy and Daddy were both asleep). It was Valerie's first appointment, and she did really well. I went first, which may or may not have been a wise decision, since there is a lot more blood involved in the cleaning of Mama's teeth, but Valerie was more curious than anything else. And when it was her turn, I think she was just too shell-shocked by the new experience to resist. Jeremy insisted that I should count the dentist appointments towards HADA, since I really don't like going to the dentist, and I had rescheduled today's appointments twice already.

Valerie and Dorothy were both extra-clingy this evening, so I sat on the couch and snuggled them both while Jeremy picked up some chinese for dinner. And I snuggled them while he ate his dinner. After I ate, I tidied up the living room (Valerie helped a bit, with much coaxing), and I gave Valerie a slightly longer than usual bedtime routine.

Not a bad HADA day, but not the best. I failed a bit on the counting, but I know I got in more than my hour, at least. And I forgot, again, to take a progress picture of the bedroom while it was still light out, so I went ahead and took one with the flash, because it does feel good to see that gap spreading.


After Day Six:

Day Six tally: 20 minutes bedroom, 25 minutes kitchen, 3 minutes fingernails, 5 minutes trash, 15 minutes laundry, 1.5 hours dentist, 30 minutes extra snuggly time, 5 minutes tidying living room, 15 minutes extra bedtime. Total: 3 hours 28 minutes, ish.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Five

Today was awesome. Dorothy and I woke up at about 7, and she played happily near me on the bed while I knocked out my first 30 minutes. I wore my Batman shirt again, because it seemed to help last time. Whatever works, right? I had decided that I wanted to make visible progress today. Sorting paperwork is all well and good, but the results don't smack you in the face whenever you walk by. So this morning, I started to work my way across our bedroom floor. Putting away clothes, putting dirty clothes in the laundry, packing up winter stuff, picking up trash and miscellaneous bits and bobs. I threw in one load of laundry, although that barely made a dent in Mount Laundry, which always doubles in size when I pick up our room.

Then Dorothy wanted my attention, so I nursed her and played with her for a bit. Then we went back upstairs, and I tried to squeeze in a few more minutes of cleaning before Valerie woke up.

Valerie slept in until 9, so I managed to get my whole HADA hour in. Before 9 am! It's funny how becoming a parent changes you, or maybe it's just getting older. I have never ever been a morning person. I'm still not sure I am. I don't wake up early unless I have to. But my energy levels drain so quickly as the day progresses, the morning really is the most productive part of my day. I need to remember that. I used to be able to put things off as long as possible, and the pressure of the "last minute crunch" would give me the strength and stamina I needed to pull it off, whatever "it" might be (from writing a paper to packing up my dorm room). But now, I just seem to crumble under that pressure, and do nothing. Apparently, my 30-something, mom-of-two self works a little differently. I have to use that morning energy, before the day starts to drag me down.

Not that the "last minute crunch" isn't still a motivator. A friend of mine was coming over this morning, and my living room was a mess. I knew she wouldn't care (she has three kids of her own, ages 4, 2, and newborn), but I thought it would be nice to tidy up a bit before she got here. I set Valerie up with some play dough in the kitchen and started to pick up the living room. My friend was running late, so I just kept picking up a few more things, and a few more things. By 11, my living room was spotless. (Just in time for three 2 to 4 year olds to destroy it again!)

While my friend was here, I folded that one load of laundry and sorted the final box of paperwork from Day One. I still have a long way to go on the bedroom, but I can actually access my dresser now, which is pretty cool. (It's at the bottom left of the before picture. I forgot to take a progress picture today while it was still light out.) I know that not every day will be like today, but I'm starting to see this hour-a-day thing really make a difference. I'm actually excited that there are still so many more days to go!

Day Five tally: 1 hour cleaning room, 2ish hours cleaning living room, 45 minutes sorting papers and folding laundry. Total: 3 hours 45 minutes.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Four

Well, today was a Monday. And I suck at Mondays. When I was first talking to Jeremy about HADA and I mentioned the "one day off per week" clause, he said, "You're taking Mondays off." It wasn't a question or even a suggestion. It was a statement of fact, stemming from an acute knowledge of his wife and how she works.

And yet somehow, I convinced myself that I was going to do my hour today. I took the girls to a play date, but first I made a crock-pot of beef stew for dinner. After the play date, we went to the park. We stayed for several hours, and had a nice time. So far so good. Valerie tired herself out pretty good at the park, and I started to get delusions of her falling asleep on the way home and taking a nap. That was the beginning of the decline. No nap led to cranky toddler, which led to cranky mama. Dorothy had been up quite a bit last night, so it didn't take much to topple me over into exhausted mama territory. When Jer got home from work, my visions of productivity had been eclipsed by my all-encompassing desire for sleep.

I took a nap, encouraged by the fact that dinner was already in the crock-pot, so at least I didn't have to worry about that. I woke up groggy, and yet somehow still thought I might be able to squeeze in my hour. But evenings disappear quickly, between dinner and Valerie's bedtime routine.

At nine, I threw in the towel. It felt good to take the pressure off of myself. I was due a day off anyhow, and accepting that was such a relief. I wish I had decided a little earlier in the day, so I could have relaxed a bit about it, but, lesson learned. I feel a little guilty that my fellow HADA participants seem to be getting more done than me, but I guess that can just be good motivation for me to get back on track tomorrow. Per the rules of the game that I made up, there's no giving up.

Day Four tally: 0 hours (day off)

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Three

Today was Sunday. I had promised myself, under the rules of HADA, one day off per week. Sunday was the most logical day for this, since it's a day of rest, but I was hesitant to take a day off completely only three days into the challenge. I also really liked the idea of a floating day off, for when I start to lose steam later. So I settled on a compromise: a way to honor the spirit of the sabbath while also honoring the spirit of HADA. Today was all about doing things I normally have trouble making time for, but only those things that would be restful, uplifting, and fun.

I played in the backyard, picking up sticks and blowing bubbles with Valerie.

I sat holding Dorothy, making faces and talking to her, without trying to accomplish anything else.

I took a 2.5 hour nap.

I took a bath with Valerie.

I shaved my legs and took a bath by myself.

I finally finished the first chapter of a book I've been trying to read for several weeks.

I watched part of a documentary Jeremy wanted me to watch, and actually gave it my undivided attention.

Honestly, it feels a little too much like a day off. I'm not sure whether I should still get another day off this week. But if I need it, I'll take it.

The best part about today was how much it drove home to me the deliberateness of HADA. It's not just about being productive, it's about being deliberate about your use of time. How many hours of every day slip away, simply because I didn't choose to use them? How many hours are wasted every evening, when I know I should go to bed, but don't? How many hours are lost cycling through my regular online haunts over and over again, looking for new content? And how many otherwise beautiful moments are stripped of joy because I am thinking about what I should/could be doing instead?

Day Three tally: Well over an hour. I wasn't really counting.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Hour-a-Day April: Day Two

Today was Saturday. For some reason, I thought it would be easier to get my hour in on a Saturday. Jeremy doesn't work on Saturdays, and with a second adult to help with child care, surely I can be more productive, right? But with a second adult, there is a second decision-maker, a second opinion on what should happen when, and the schedule is not entirely in my control.

Normally, on a Saturday, I go to karate at 8:30, and I am home by 9:30 ready to face my day. But today Jeremy had a church breakfast thing, so I couldn't go to karate unless I walked the half mile to the karate studio, and took both girls with me. So, I skipped karate, and started my day a little bit grumpy because of it.

But the sun was shining, so when Jer got back from his breakfast, I suggested that we could go to the zoo, to make the most of a nice day. I could get my productive hour in later. The only hitch was that we had just bought a minivan last night, and Dorothy's car seat was still in Jeremy's parents' van from the last time they had driven us somewhere (our car has been out of commission for several weeks). So Jeremy drove to his parents' house to get the car seat, but the van wasn't there, because his brother had taken the van to someone else's house, and, long story short, it was well after noon before we had both car seats properly installed in our new van.

We decided that the zoo was probably too much to do at that point, but we still took the girls to the park to enjoy the sunny and not-too-cold weather. After the park, we went grocery shopping, a chore we have been neglecting for the past few, carless weeks.

While I unloaded the groceries and put them away, Valerie fell asleep watching TV with her dad. I put Dorothy down for a nap, and finally was able to start my HADA project for the day: cleaning out the old car so we can attempt to sell it. (Anyone want to buy a 1998 Mazda 626 with a busted transmission?) It took me 30 minutes to get all of our personal effects and trash out of the car, then Dorothy woke up, and it was time to start dinner, so my hour was put on hold.

Valerie was still asleep when dinner was ready, so Jer and I ate without her. Then, once she finally woke up, it took a little bit of coaxing to get her to eat her dinner. So, once I got Dorothy down for the night (I hope), it was already getting late, and I was facing the prospect of a well-rested 2.5-year-old under my feet for several more hours.

But I had done 30 minutes. Plus the 45 minutes extra from yesterday, plus the un-timed projects I had done, like taking my time properly installing the car seats in the new van, putting away groceries, making dinner, etc. That adds up to an hour, right? But I couldn't let myself start making rationalizations like that on Day Two, so I begrudgingly set a timer and started sorting the hamper of stuff that had come in from the car. When I finished, there was still a minute left, so I pulled a few things out of the box of paperwork I still need to finish sorting from yesterday, and recycled them. Bam.

Day Two tally: 1 hour. Just.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Five Months Old!

Dear Dorothy,

You are five months old, now. In fact, you have been for almost two weeks. I really am not sure why I've been dragging my feet on this month's letter, but I am determined to finish it today.

This month, you became even more a creature of habit than before. (I hardly thought that was possible, but you went and did it.) I used to be able to put you to sleep in a variety of ways, but this month, you would only sleep if I changed your diaper, swaddled you, took you upstairs, and nursed you to sleep. You won't even nurse most of the time unless I go through this routine first. Once, in an attempt to break you out of this pattern, I nursed you until you fell asleep, then changed your diaper and swaddled you. At which point, you nursed again (another entire feeding), and went to sleep. Oh well. I guess you really like your routines. You're still a pretty good sleeper, so I can't complain too much. You take three naps almost every day, and sleep for about 6 hours during the first stretch of the night. It's pretty awesome. I still get tired, but when I do, it's usually my own fault for staying up late playing on my computer or watching TV.


Ever since you were born, we've been trying out nicknames for you. I love your name, but it's nice to have something shorter to yell across a crowded park. We tried Dot, Dory, Doc (because your initials are DR), Dodo. Nothing really clicked. Then one day this month, I called you Dody, and Valerie jumped on it. She got so excited, and kept calling you Dody over and over again. I asked what your name was, and she answered without hesitation, "Dody AND Dorothy!" So, I guess you now have an official nickname.


We took the train to Florida this month - you, Valerie, Grandma, and me. The train trip went unbelievably well. I brought your car seat onto the train, so that when you got tired, I was able to do the whole "diaper-swaddle-nurse" routine, then put you down in a bed-like environment. I honestly got almost as much sleep on the train as I normally do at home, even with your frequent diaper blow-outs that made me really miss our cloth diapers.

We stayed with Grandmom and Granddad Wakeman in Florida, and you really loved both of them. We had such a nice visit, and the weather was fantastic. We went to the beach, and although I was very careful to keep you well-shaded at the beach, but you still managed to get a little bit of pink on your cheeks in the car on the way home. Sorry about that.


While we were in Florida, you hit a pretty big developmental milestone: You rolled over for the first time! (March 14) I knew something was up earlier this month when you started to prefer being put down on your back. This was weird, because you generally prefer to be on your front. But apparently you wanted to be put on your back so that you could roll over to your front. It was fun to watch you squirming in determination to overcome the shoulder enigma. Then, when you finally rolled over successfully (from your back to front first, contrary to what the baby books say), you looked proudly around for a few seconds, then rolled over onto your back to try again. And thus ended the "baby stays where you put her down" era.


Your personality has really blossomed this month. You love interacting with people, and it's extremely easy to get you to laugh. Your baby babble is starting to sound more and more like talking. You try to repeat the words you hear us saying, and a few times, I could have sworn that you said, "Mama," or, "I know." You're also starting to show a lot of interest in the food we are eating. Your sister used to lean in with her mouth, but you are more subtle, and try to bring food to you by grabbing our plates, silverware, or the tablecloth. Very sneaky. I'm starting to get a little bit excited about introducing you to solid foods next month. I think you'll really enjoy it.


Thanks for a great month. I'm looking forward to the next one!



Hour-a-Day April: Day One

The girls let me sleep in today, so I had no excuses. I put on my Batman shirt as motivation and resolved to get this project off to a good start.

The first thing on my list was several days worth of dirty dishes. I wasn't sure it should technically count towards HADA, because it's just daily maintenance stuff, but I set the timer anyhow, just in case I couldn't put in the full hour. I spent 20 minutes on the kitchen/dishes.

Once I put Dorothy down for her first nap, I brought down all the boxes of mail/papers from my desk that need to be sorted. One of my least favorite jobs; I figured I would tackle it first.


After 40 minutes, I still had a lot to do, and I was on a roll, so I finished the hour sorting papers. Then I spent about another 10 minutes getting to a good stopping place. I still have another box to go, but it's the oldest box, so it should go the fastest. (I much prefer to sort old mail - it's mostly bills that I already paid online, or first notices where I responded to the second notice, and the occasional expired coupon that I probably never would have used anyhow, but can now throw out guilt-free.)

Then I called State Farm and got the van we're buying added to our insurance, the Mazda taken off, and finally added renters insurance. 15 minutes.

Day One tally: 1 hour 45 minutes. And it's only 1:20 pm; I might still try to squeeze in a bit of fun productivity, like finally finishing Dorothy's birthday letter or making some play dough. No super-heroic acts, but we're off to a pretty good start!