Monday, November 18, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I got crafty this Halloween. Crafty in the "making stuff" sense, not the "tricking people" sense. (Although I suppose it was a bit of the latter since I managed to convince my three-year-old that it would be cool to dress up as a monster from a TV show she has never seen.)

The Littlest Doctor Who:

From Halloween 2013
Wig: I crocheted a skull cap, then wove yarn through it to basically make a larger version of Waldorf doll hair.
Suit jacket: Thrifted and dyed.
Bow tie: Made with ribbon, using this tutorial (although I used a hot glue gun instead of sewing).
Sonic screwdriver: I was going to crochet a plush sonic screwdriver for him, but decided it would be even cooler if it actually lit up, so I made a cover for a flashlight. I just kinda winged it on the pattern, starting with a circle big enough to wrap around the flashlight, and working in rounds, increasing/decreasing as needed to make the correct shape. For the "wings", I joined at the top, and worked 6 sc into the side, in a line towards the bottom. ch 1, turn. sl st, 2 sc, hdc, 2 dc, ch 2, join to original joint with sc. Repeat x4. (I think that's right - I wrote it down as I was going, and lost it.) It has a flashlight in the middle, with a clear blue lego brick and bead hot glued on the front to make the point blue.

Close-up of sonic screwdriver:

From Halloween 2013
The Cutest Weeping Angel Ever:

From Halloween 2013
From Halloween 2013
Dress: Upcycled Peasant skirt of mine with shot elastic
Wings: Poster board with strips of t-shirt to fasten on
Sleeves: White stockings with toes cut off, and a head hole cut in the crotch
Headband/halo: Crochet (just a chain with one row of single crochet up and down each side of it)
Hair: Curling iron and white hairspray (I only managed to do the front; You try styling a three-year-old's hair!)

Three Musketeers Barbie:

From Halloween 2013
Valerie was very indecisive about what she wanted to be this year, mostly asking for "boring" (to me) things like a princess or a ballerina. So, when she asked to be Three Musketeers Barbie, I jumped on it. What a unique costume choice!
Tunic: Pink t-shirt with sleeves cut off, cross pattern cut out of felt and attached with iron-on backing
Hat: Family Dollar - somewhat successfully reshaped, and replaced hat band with pink scarf
Sword: Dowel from a flag wrapped in duct tape

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My "Excuse"

So, last week, an image of a super-fit mom with three kids started making the rounds of the Internet, with the caption, "What's your excuse?" In case you didn't see it, here it is:

My initial reaction to the photo was negative. Maybe it hit close to home because I have three young kids, too, and I certainly don't look like that. Even before kids, I never looked like that. My fitness regime consists of getting on my Wii Fit once in a while and being berated by an animated balance board for how long it's been since I last logged in and how far away my weight goal still is. If Maria Kang can make time for fitness, why can't I? Maybe I extrapolated a bit too much, and looked at all the other things in my life that I have no excuse for. I pictured a mom with three kids and a sparkling clean kitchen, "What's your excuse?" Hot dinner on the table at 5:30 every night, "What's your excuse?" Brilliant homeschooled kids who have never seen a TV show in their lives, "What's your excuse?"

It gradually dawned on me that it wasn't the picture that bothered me. It was the caption. I'm pretty good at beating myself up already. I don't need a picture on the Internet to accuse me of making excuses. I already do that to myself pretty much constantly. Maybe there are people out there who would be motivated to do better by the, "What's your excuse?" mentality, but I'm not one of them. It just cripples me. If I feel lousy about myself, I shut down, and am less likely to push myself to do better. You know what motivates me? Confidence. Don't tell me I'm bad, and that I could be better if I just tried harder. Tell me I'm already good, and I can be better if I just keep going.

I wonder sometimes how much of the whole "Mommy Wars" thing is really just us, beating ourselves up, with no outside help at all. Yeah, there are jerks and bullies out there (especially on the Internet), but I think most of us aren't trying to make anyone else feel bad. I think Maria Kang is one of those people who motivates herself with the, "No excuses," mentality, and she genuinely thinks that it will work for everyone else, too. But it won't. Judging by the backlash against her photo, I'm not the only one who saw her photo and had a visceral, "I already feel bad enough about myself, and this just makes me feel worse," response. (Aside: There are some great responses to Maria's picture out there. This is one of my favorites. I'm not going to tackle the broader issues with the whole "fitspiration" genre; my goal with this post is just to talk about my personal reaction.)

Let's skip back in time a few weeks. I went to Goodwill on a shopping spree. (Yes, a trip to Goodwill is a shopping spree in my world. And I promise this tangent will be relevant eventually.) For some reason, my post-baby-number-three body is very different than my pre- or post-either-of-my-other-babies body. Not really bigger or smaller; just different. 90% of my the shirts in my closet didn't fit or hung funny on me or had holes in them. I felt frumpy and unattractive in my clothes, and I decided that I would feel a lot better about myself if I had some shirts that fit. That day turned out to be one of those magical thrift store days where someone with my exact size and taste in clothes must have just dropped off their entire wardrobe. I had 21 shirts in my "maybe" pile when Jeremy called and said the baby needed to nurse. So, rather than going back through all the "maybes" and putting back a whole bunch of shirts, I bought the whole pile. It felt ridiculously opulent to buy 21 shirts, but the more I thought about it, the less ridiculous it felt. 21 shirts is not unreasonable to replace an entire wardrobe, especially when it is not unusual for me to have three spit-up-related outfit changes in one day. And, at Goodwill prices, 21 shirts only cost me about what 3 shirts would have cost in a normal store. And, if the whole point of this exercise was to allow me to feel good in my own skin, silencing the inner voice that kept telling me I didn't "need" or "deserve" 21 shirts seemed like a step in the right direction.

So, I bought 21 shirts. And I posted a picture on Facebook of me wearing one of them. Then I posted a picture the next day of me wearing another one. And, before I knew it, posting a picture each morning of me wearing another one of the 21 shirts kinda became a "thing", so I kept going. I was about 17 shirts into this exercise when Maria's picture went viral. I don't post "selfies" very often. Other than my weekly pregnancy pictures, I can't remember the last time I posted pictures of myself regularly; and that was weekly, not daily. When I first started posting the shirt pictures, it was a bit of a confidence boost. It felt nice to have people tell me I looked nice. But, every day, I fought the urge to argue with them. "I don't really look this good. It's just the cut of the shirt. I'm sucking my gut in. It's just the angle." I kept posting the pictures in part because I knew I needed practice looking at myself in the mirror and liking what I saw. And having other people remind you that you do, in fact, look good, is a good push in that direction.

And posting those shirt pictures did something else for me. It made me take a few minutes to brush my hair and smile in the mirror each day, something I might not otherwise bother to do. It made me stand a bit taller and think about how my shirts hang on my body. And it made me just a bit more comfortable in my own skin.

Okay, back to Maria's picture. When I first had the idea of making my own parody picture, I was going to caption it, "My excuse is that I don't care." Maybe even stick my tongue out for good measure. But that wasn't right. I *do* care how I look. Maybe not much, maybe not enough to work out every day, but enough to worry what my body would look like in a picture wearing just a sports bra and bikini bottom. And really, "in your face" was what I was complaining about in the first place; responding in kind seemed hypocritical at best. My next thought was, "My excuse is that I'm happy with my body." But that seemed worse in a way. First, it's not entirely honest. I'm working hard to love my body, but it's a journey, and I can't say that I've arrived. And I am fully aware that I need to lose 15 pounds, although I'm not in a huge hurry to get there, because it's not my number one priority right now. Second, it felt a bit like an underhanded slam against Maria - implying that she isn't happy with her body, and that's why she has to work out so much. I don't know her, and I don't think it's fair to make assumptions like that about her. But I am okay with how I look, and happy with the progress I am making towards loving my body. And, as critical as I am of my body when I see it in the mirror, I love that picture of me with my kids. Every bit of it, even the parts I usually criticize in the mirror. Maybe because we were being goofy and having fun together as a family (my wonderful husband took the picture). Whatever it is, I am grateful for what that photo captures of me.

I wasn't expecting my picture to go anywhere beyond my own Facebook page. I posted it on my personal Facebook page, visible only to my friends. When one of them asked if she could share it, I deliberated for a while, and ultimately made it public, because it seemed to resonate with so many other people. Then one of my friends spotted it on the page of someone I don't know, and I started to wonder what I had done. But, people were sharing my photo because they get it. And I think that's awesome.

So far, the responses I have read have been overwhelmingly positive. The only thing that really bugs me so far is assumptions about my intent. I'm not trying to say that my body is normal and hers is not. I'm not trying to say that her priorities are out of whack. All I wanted to do was counteract her message of guilt with one of acceptance. To remind moms like me that our bodies are okay. We don't need to feel guilty for not making perfect abs a priority. Being a mom is hard, and you should spend the precious time that you manage to carve out for yourself on whatever makes you happy. Working out, practicing piano, crocheting, baking, or just zoning out and watching TV. Yes, there are enough hours in the day, and if I was really dedicated to looking fit, I would find the time. But I don't want to, and I don't need to make any excuses for that. I am answering Maria's question honestly. I don't need an excuse, because I'm not ashamed of how I look.

This was going to be a quick post to explain why I made that picture, but once I get going, sometimes I tend to ramble on. Oh well. I have to go play dress-up with a 3-year-old, now, so I'll leave you with what I came here to do. Here's my picture. I hope it makes you feel good about yourself, too.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

HADA 2013: Days 26-30

Oops... I guess I kinda forgot to come back here and finish my HADA posts. I did continue with my "at least one thing every day" approach. Even that wasn't easy, as we all got sick, and life got busy. But I did manage to accomplish at least one thing every day. Sorted the sock box, hung some pictures, planted the lettuce, organized and vacuumed the laundry room, etc. Little things, yes, but it did feel good to get something, however small, crossed off the list every day. And I have actually continued this mindset into May. Baby steps are still steps, right?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

HADA 2013: Days 22-25

I decided to scale back a bit on HADA this week, without going off completely. Rather than worrying about getting in my full hour, I decided to focus on accomplishing one thing every day, however small, that I normally wouldn't find time for, while still managing to feed my family regular meals and keep my girls occupied. At-Least-One-Thing-a-Day-April. You have to be realistic, and when you're juggling two small kids and several major life transitions, something's gotta give.

Day 22: Dinner in the crockpot in the morning (lasagna), doctor's appointments for both girls. HADA: Finally made a crust for the frozen pie filling that I made last fall and baked it.

Day 23: Dinner in the crockpot in the morning (lentil stew), spent most of the day at a friend's house (who used to live where we used to live, but has also moved, so she's only half an hour away, now, not an hour). HADA: Finally took apart the broken full length mirror that has been sitting on my front porch for 3 weeks, waiting for me to figure out how to safely disassemble and dispose of it.

Day 24: Dinner in the crockpot in the morning (chili), friend from home came to visit with her kids. My kids were a bit crazy, and I was a bit off, and I was very glad for the company of a "broken-in" friend, who could see me like that and still love me. HADA: Sorted through a box of mail, paid some bills, and finished filling out Valerie's kindergarten registration forms.

Day 25: Dinner in the crockpot in the morning (curried pork chops and rice), trip to the park for a few hours, kindergarten registration is tonight. HADA: Found Valerie's birth certificate (right filing cabinet, wrong file), put zip ties on the trash can to hold on the lid, cleaned and hung a photo/mirror/key rack frame thingy.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

HADA 2013: Days 14-21

So, I hit a wall. It was a combination of factors. Sick kid, busy weekend, bad weather, then getting a little bit behind on housework, which spiraled into a getting lot behind. I did do a few things. I finished getting the garden prepped, and Valerie and I planted one row of vegetables. I started organizing the laundry room, but didn't get to finish. Started sorting and putting away my maternity clothes, but didn't get to finish. Actually, there were an awful lot of things I didn't get to finish. Everyone was stir crazy this week, and it all kinda fell apart. I kinda fell apart.

I may have mentioned that we just moved to a new house in a new town. There are a lot of upsides to this: We have a bigger house, in a small town, walking distance to the park, surrounded by fresh air and farm land. But there are downsides, too, and the biggest one, for me (an undisputed extrovert) is that we left all of our friends and familiar haunts behind. Even grocery shopping is harder, now, because I don't know where the stores are, and when I find them, the aisles are set up differently, and everything just takes a bit more effort because it's not familiar. We've been making the hour-long trip back to our old neighborhood far too often, and the long trip is draining on everyone, but it gets lonely in a new town. And when it's too cold/rainy to go to the park, the loneliness dial cranks up even more.

I'm hoping that this week will go better than last. We're off to a decent start. We went grocery shopping today, and I planned out a menu for the week with lots of crockpot meals, so I can do the work in the morning, before the day falls apart. We have something on the agenda for almost every day (but no hour-long trips back, this week). And, for the first time in about a week, I actually tackled a HADA-worthy project today. I finally sorted and put away all of my maternity clothes, and assembled a new garment rack so I could unpack the two giant wardrobe boxes in the corner of our room, then moved everything from the boxes to the rack or the closet, and broke down the boxes. I never looked at the clock, but I'm sure it was at least an hour. And then I started filling out Valerie's kindergarten registration forms (oh my goodness, so many forms!) which probably took another hour, and I'm not even done, yet.

So, I was off the wagon for about a week, but I'm back on, now. Here's to taking life one day at a time, and getting back on the horse, and a bunch of other trivialities that really are true.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

HADA 2013: Day 13

Today was pretty good. I tackled the remaining bathroom boxes, and everything is FINALLY put away. I'm not 100% happy with where everything is, but at least it's not in boxes on the floor anymore. I purged a bit as I went along, which was good, too. I scrubbed out the baby bath that we use as toy storage, and put the bath toys in it.

Then Jer went to the store to buy me a big shovel for the garden, and when he got back, I tackled the big shrubs (which were relatively easy to get up once I had the right tool!) Then, I had a bit of momentum, so I kept going for another hour. I'm almost ready to start planting things, now, and I'm getting pretty excited! Frankly, I'm not sure I should get to count gardening for HADA any more, because I am starting to really like it. It helped that I only had one kid out there with me today. Maybe I should make that a habit.

HADA 2013: Days 11 and 12

Day 11

So, after I said I wouldn't do anything else on Wednesday night, I remembered that it was garbage day on Thursday, and we still had no trash can. So, I begrudgingly went to the store and bought a trash can, so I could actually take some of the growing pile of trash on our porch to the curb. I also bought a couple of those cheap curtain rods to put the thermal curtains up on the third floor. So, that counts for Thursday.

I took the girls to the side garden with me in the morning so we could all dig together. This didn't end up being the fun activity that I had been hoping for, since all Valerie wanted to do was whine, and all Dorothy wanted to do was eat/throw dirt. I wasn't planning on counting this for HADA, since "do something with the girls" is a normal morning activity, but sticking it out for an hour and a half in spite of the whining and dirt-eating ought to count for something. Maybe half-HADA?

While Dorothy was napping, Valerie and I went upstairs to hang curtains. We got three of the four hung, then Valerie kneeled on a sharp nail (that I had asked her to put in the trash, but she decided to "save" for some reason), and we had to retreat for some first aid.

I think I did something else on Thursday, but Friday kindof eclipsed it, and I don't really remember the rest of the day.

Day 12

The plan for Friday was to go to the park in the morning, then go to the mall in Exton to have lunch and play at the play area for a bit, then go grocery shopping, then get Daddy from the earlier train (he can catch the train an hour earlier if he goes to Exton). But it was raining, so we had to cancel the park. And everyone was being crazy. And playing at the play area went mostly okay, but lunch at the mall was a disaster, and we never made it to the grocery store, and we just went straight to the train station and waited in the car for Daddy, watching DVDs. Pretty much, Friday sucked.

I did get one small HADA task accomplished before the day fell apart completely. I started organizing the laundry room, and I discovered a whole, huge closet full of empty shelves! I had known there was some kind of closet there, but I hadn't opened it, and I had assumed it was just a small broom closet of some kind. I put away all the cleaning supplies and started trying to hang my over-door ironing board, but couldn't find the hardware (which is no doubt in another box somewhere - we still have so many boxes to unpack!). I had plans to do more, but, then, well, the rest of the day happened.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

HADA 2013: Days 9 and 10

Day 9

We were out of the house from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm. Nothing HADA-related was accomplished. But we got to see some good friends from our old neighborhood, ran through a sprinkler, and ate at the grandparents' house for dinner, so it was a good day. I have no regrets.

Day 10

I decided to tackle one of my most dreaded tasks today: Life Administration. I figured out where Valerie's new bedding was (on its way back to the sender, because FedEx thought we had moved out - boo!), and managed to get a replacement set sent for free (yay!). Aside: has awesome customer service AND a chat interface to boot (much easier with two busy kids underfoot than making phone calls). I called the school and had them send a kindergarten registration packet for Valerie. And I sent a few necessary emails. Then I hooked up the Wii, because the girls have been asking to play it ever since I set it up but didn't plug it in. (I thought I was going to have to move the whole entertainment center to reach the plugs, but I got creative and just moved the TV to the side and crawled through the TV hole, instead.) Total: About 20 minutes.

Then we piled into the car to meet up with a friend who was loaning us some gardening equipment. We were a few minutes late getting out the door, then we missed the turn and ended up on the highway instead, and got stuck on the highway for five miles until we got to the next town to turn around. *sigh* But, our friend was kind enough to drive the tools into town and drop them off on our porch while we were unintentionally touring the countryside. So, when we got home, we tackled our next task: digging up the side garden to get it ready for planting. We raked up what we could, then discovered how dry and packed the earth was, so I decided to give it a good soaking before starting to pull weeds. I hooked up the hose, which seems to have lost an O-ring in the move, and leaks. I tried to kludge it with some plastic wrap, but without much success. Next time, I will see if it helps to attach the shorter hose to the spigot, to put the leaky joint between the hoses, rather than at the spigot. We'll see. Or maybe I can buy an O-ring. We made a dent, I got the ground wet, then went inside for lunch. Total: About 20 minutes.

After lunch, we went to the library for story time, then tried to play at the park, but didn't last too long, because it was too hot, and the girls were thirsty. This is amusing to me, because last week, we tried to play at the park after story time, but didn't last long, because it was too cold. After we got back, we played in the girls' room for a while, which is on the north side of the house, and has darkening shades, so it keeps pretty cool. Then I put Dody down for a nap, set Valerie up with my computer, and went back outside to dig in the garden a bit more. I still don't have a big shovel, but one of the things Karen had loaned me was a little trowel, and I decided to get down and dirty and see how much progress I could make with that. I thought sitting and digging small amounts of dirt was probably a better pace for a pregnant lady, anyhow. The first few feet went pretty easily, then I hit a couple of bigger plants with elaborate root systems that just kept going and going and going. I finally had to give up on them for today. I'm hoping for a good soaking rain tonight to I can pull them out a bit easier tomorrow. Total: About 50 minutes.

Garden raked, the part I dug up is at the far end.

The part I dug up, and one of the two plants whose roots stopped me in my tracks (the other one is mostly gone, but the roots are still going). Probably a boring picture - it's just dirt - but I wanted to track my progress. I suppose I could take a picture of my blister - would that be more or less boring?

I'm writing this at 5:30 pm, so there is theoretically still time for more HADA, but I'm pretty confident that I won't be doing much this evening other than nothing. If, for some bizarre reason, I get motivated and tackle any more tasks, I'll count them for tomorrow.

Monday, April 08, 2013

HADA 2013: Day 8

I had low expectations for today, since I got so little sleep last night. Basically, I just wanted to keep up with daily tasks, with no pressure to do anything else. But, surprisingly, I managed to squeeze in a few HADA tasks after all. I'm not sure if I managed a full hour, but I think I came close, at least!

Non-HADA things I did today:

  • Fed the family three meals.
  • Washed the dishes from three meals.
  • Swept the floor twice (plus a bonus sweeping from when my eldest decided to leave a salt trail from the back door, through the house, up the stairs, and into the bathroom).
  • Wiped down the table twice.
  • Opened all the windows, because the weather was lovely.
  • Got the toddler to take a nap, and took one myself.
  • Washed, dried, and folded a load of laundry.
  • Played in the backyard with the girls and some bubbles.
  • Family outing for milk and ice cream.
  • Closed all the windows.

HADA tasks I did today:

  • Swept the side yard path, and started picking up trash and yard waste. (I would have done more, but it was too hard to accomplish much without a rake or gloves or any other gardening tools.)
  • Switched the not-quite-long enough blanket from the laundry room doorway for a longer one.
  • Unpacked a bunch more bathroom stuff, and completely emptied two boxes.
  • Washed out the car potty.
  • Unpacked the Wii and games. (I actually did this yesterday, but forgot about it, so I'm taking credit today.)
  • Tried to adjust the temperature on the water heater, but discovered that it was a bigger job than I thought, which required tools, so I tabled it for another day.

HADA 2013: Days 5, 6, 7

Day 5

On Friday, I made it my goal to focus on our daily routine. Not exactly a HADA project, but my current life project, anyhow. We did alright. We got a slow start in the morning, but we did make it to the park, the dishes got done, and we made homemade pizza for dinner. I know, from experience, that my kids thrive on routine, but once the routine has been lost, getting back onto it is proving to be a battle. The kids have been really tough to handle lately, and it doesn't seem to matter if we stick to a schedule, do fun activities, go outside, or watch TV all day. It's really starting to wear me down. I know they have just gone through a major life upheaval - moving to a new house in a new town - and have another major life upheaval on the horizon when Baby Gussie gets here, but I can only handle so much fighting/hitting/throwing/meltdowns/attitude. I'd love to get more organizing and productive projects done, but my first priority right now needs to be my kids.

There are a few things that I did deliberately make time for on Friday that I would count for HADA. When I made pizza dough for dinner, rather than just making the pizzas myself while the kids did something else, I gave everyone aprons and a slab of dough, and we all made the pizzas together. The girls needed help rolling their dough, but they really enjoyed participating, and I think the pizza was tastier than usual because of it.

We ate dinner early, because the kids were hungry, and I had evening plans, so I wanted to be completely done with dinner before leaving Jer home alone with the girls. I still had a bit of time to spare after dinner, so I took Valerie upstairs early for an extended tubby time. I broke out the bathtub crayons, and I played drawing, guessing, and story games with her for at least 20 minutes. We both had a lot of fun.

Then I drove an hour back to our old neck of the woods for one last evening with my La Leche League movie night ladies. Since I can't remember the last time I got out of the house alone for a whole evening, I'm counting that for HADA, too.

Day 6

Saturday was another "lots of fun, but not a lot of productivity" day. The weather was gorgeous, so we headed to a Marsh Creek State Park for some outdoor play. We met up with some friends from our old town, and it was nice to hang out with people that I already know well, and can just relax around. We're enjoying meeting new people in the new town, but you're always "on" around new people. I'm an extrovert, so this isn't too bad, but sometimes, it's nice to just turn "off" and hang out. The girls had a blast, and even though it was barely 50 degrees (10 Celcius), the girls both kicked off their shoes and waded in the lake. It was a really awesome park, and I think it would become our new favorite summer destination if it weren't for the inexplicable "no swimming in lake" signs. It seems odd to me that you can kayak and wind surf (activities that land me in the water more often than not), but not swim. This seems to be the norm at all the lakes around here. Is it a liability thing? Are they just trying to make money off of their pool? I love swimming, and now that we are two hours from the ocean instead of one, I was hoping to find some nice swimming spots a little closer to home. If anyone knows of any lakes/rivers/quarries with good swimming near Parkesburg, PA, please let me know!

By the time we got home on Saturday, I was starting to feel really ooky. I'm not sleeping well lately, and, while it doesn't seem like I'm doing much, I hadn't factored in how much effort just doing normal, everyday tasks would require when everything is new and different. It's starting to wear on me. I tried to take a nap, but Dorothy's 20-minute power nap in the car seemed to tide her over for the day. Jeremy offered to make dinner, and I did manage to lie down for a bit. I still wasn't feeling very well, though, so I decided to take the rest of the weekend off of HADA. Watched some Doctor Who with Jeremy, and went to bed early.

Day 7

I did wash a few dishes first thing Sunday morning. I am finding that the secret to keeping up with dishes is to just do a few whenever I have a minute, like while I'm waiting for my coffee water to boil. Then we went to church, and, after church, there was a fellowship dinner, so we got to have a tasty meal that required no prep or clean-up on my part. Score! Still not feeling 100%, I took a long nap on Sunday afternoon, then we reheated leftovers for dinner. After dinner, Jeremy insisted that we get out of the house and take a walk. I was dubious, since it was so close to Valerie's bedtime, but I figured we could all stand to get some wiggles out, so I went along with his plan. We walked over to the train station, to see where Daddy gets his train for work, then stopped by the park on the way home. All told, I think it had been almost an hour by the time we got home, so I could probably count that as my HADA for the day, because after-dinner is usually just a slow descent into bedtime. Dorothy had skipped her nap again, so she went to bed early, and we were able to watch another episode of Doctor Who (now we are actually caught up!), and go to sleep early. I was glad for the early bedtime, because I ended up having a lousy night again. One child or the other woke me up at 1, 3, 3:45 and 4:15, then my husband's alarm woke me up at 4:40, then a child again at 5:30. It takes me forever to fall back to sleep right now (I think it's a pregnancy symptom - I remember going through this with my last pregnancy), so this all added up to not-enough sleep.

I think I will have to play today by ear, focusing on the daily tasks and the kids, and only tackling HADA projects if I happen to have motivation/energy/time leftover. I'm not ready to throw in the towel on HADA completely, because I look at the list of projects, and they are things that genuinely do need to get done. But no project is worth sacrificing my health, or risking an early delivery, or completely losing control of my kids.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

HADA 2013: Days 3 and 4

Day 3 was a bit of a bust. I recently got a new washer and dryer, and everything was finally hooked up and ready to go by Wednesday morning, so the first task on my agenda was laundry. I did two loads, and I am very happy so far with my new washer and dryer. I folded and put away all but a few items (which I took care of on Thursday). But laundry doesn't really count for HADA, because that is (or at least should be) part of my regular routine. I headed up to the bathroom to unpack the bathroom boxes, but Dorothy came up to help me, which thwarted that plan, since every time I turned around to put something on a shelf, I would turn back and see her holding chemicals or medicine or scissors or something else she really shouldn't have. Unfortunately, that was it for my productivity for the day. We had lunch, walked to the library for story time, played at the park for a little while until we got too cold, and then the girls had nap/quiet time while I tried (and failed) to muster enough energy to do something else. I did manage to scrape together dinner, although we ate a bit late, and I didn't get the dishes done. Then I was feeling really worn out, so I took a bath and went to bed before 9. I could probably count the bath and early bedtime towards HADA, since those are things I rarely make time for, but I think I'll call it my day off for the week, instead.

Day 4 was a bit better. I got some more of the bathroom boxes unpacked before Dorothy came to help again, and I had to quit. I have a lot less bathroom storage space now than I did before (maybe not entirely true, but instead of having lots of drawers and cabinets, I now have big, open shelves), so I rounded up some boxes/bins to keep things organized, which helped a lot. I may still get a small cart of some sort, though, because I think it will work better long-term than the boxes. I did most of yesterday's dishes, and cleaned up the kitchen for our dinner guests (who were bringing dinner with them - bonus!) Then I took a nap with Dorothy, because apparently, going to bed early last night wasn't enough. Gee, you'd think my body was working overtime building a human being from scratch or something. After my nap, I tackled the living room, which was still piled high with boxes. I didn't unpack so much as relocate and rearrange, but I really wanted to claim my living room and make it feel like Home. I moved several boxes to the hallway to go upstairs, and stacked a few in a more out-of-the-way corner. In a way, it felt a bit fruitless to just be moving things around, but the living room looks SO MUCH better, now, I know it was worth it. It even feels bigger. And I was able to vacuum, which always makes things feel nicer. I moved coats to a coat rack on the basement stairwell (which is probably a temporary solution, until I get a coat rack for the porch, instead), and set up the shoe rack by the back door. I hung a couple things on the walls (a clock and a photo collage), which felt good. I have several more things to hang, but I haven't 100% decided where things are going, yet, so I'm taking my time with that. I seem to have a whole lot more wall space to fill, now. I guess that comes with moving to a bigger house.

The biggest thing I accomplished today was moving my office chair up to the third floor. Even if I didn't get in an hour between all of the other tasks, I think carrying that awkward, heavy thing up two flights of stairs should count for an hour on its own. I'm glad it's done, though. Hopefully, I won't pay too dearly for it in soreness tomorrow morning.

I'm not completely caught up on dishes, but I did clear the table after dinner, and I've been picking away at them throughout the day. I knew I would miss my dishwasher when we moved, and it's definitely an adjustment. The last time I didn't have a dishwasher, I also didn't have kids, and I have three times as many dishes to wash, now. I know it's all a matter of finding my rhythm, and not letting myself get too far behind. I'll get there with time, and if I can figure out my rhythm during HADA, I think it will be easier to stick with it afterwards.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

HADA 2013: Days 1 and 2

I had every intention of packing and moving in a completely organized fashion; with every box neatly labeled, and color-coded with letters to designate which room each item was going to. But you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and crappy housewives. About half of my boxes ended up being clearly labeled, and the other half got thrown together at the last second, with little forethought. My biggest goal for the first week of HADA was to get every box into its correct room, so that I could tackle the unpacking of extraneous stuff over the rest of the month. But when I started trying to move things around on day 1, I realized how many boxes/tubs/items were a little bit bigger than I should be carrying around by myself. My SPD flared up pretty bad while I was packing, and I would really like to give it the chance to settle down, since I still have a long way to go in this pregnancy. So I'm taking the "moving stuff around" tasks in small doses. The downside of this is that I'm not going to see the awesome photo-worthy progress as quickly. The upside is, hopefully, less debilitating pain.

So, I've been tackling smaller tasks throughout the house, moving things only when absolutely necessary. I have yet to set an actual timer - just grabbing a few minutes here and there throughout the day whenever I can. I'm confident that I hit at least an hour both days, however.

Day 1

  • set up and wiped down the bookshelf and desk in my third floor office/craft room
  • moved a few boxes up to the third floor that were blocking the second floor hallway
  • wiped down the girls' walls where I intend to stick up the sticker mural
  • stuck up the glow-in-the-dark stars on the girls' ceiling
  • changed the batteries on the keyboard, discovered the new batteries didn't work at all, and changed them back
  • cleared a path to the laundry room for the new washer and dryer
  • started to anchor the over-toilet shelf to the wall (I needed a bit of help in the end, and recruited my father-in-law when he was done with the washer/dryer)
  • moved several items from the side yard to the basement to make more room for playing/gardening

Day 2

  • found a bin to put the recyclables out in
  • tidied up the purpose-to-be-determined shelf in the kitchen a bit
  • moved a bookshelf into the kitchen to go in the corner where the mini fridge was just taking up space, cleaned it, and put cookbooks on it
  • brought the old boombox down to the kitchen, scrubbed it down, and hooked it up (Bonus: I thought the CD player on it was broken, but on a whim, I stuck a CD in, and it worked!)
  • baked bread
  • finished anchoring the over-toilet shelf to the wall, and started putting things away on it
  • swept and mopped the kitchen floor
  • stripped the guest bed, and set it up with pillows/cushions for day use

I'm sure there are more little tasks that I am forgetting, but you get the gist. Lots of miscellaneous, not-very visible, but wholly necessary tasks.

I've also been striving, since moving to the new house, to get into better habits with normal, daily tasks. I've been cooking a proper meal for dinner every night, feeding the girls at regular intervals, washing dirty dishes within a day, wiping down the table at least twice a day, and sweeping under the table after almost every dinner. I've also been doing projects and/or park trips with the girls most days. I even packed Jer a lunch tonight! I often struggle with finding balance in my life, and I'm really trying to figure out how to apply the HADA philosophies (a little is better than nothing, don't throw in the towel when you miss one day) to the rest of my life, too.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hour-a-Day April 2013

Ah! It's April tomorrow!

Sorry for the total lack of warning, but I am doing Hour-a-Day April again this year. Life is crazy right now: We moved to a new house in a new town last weekend, this weekend was Easter with all the chaos that comes with holidays, my mom is visiting from Canada, and oh, I'm 22 weeks pregnant with baby number three. On the one hand, I would have a perfect excuse(s) to NOT do HADA this year, but on the other hand, I'm surrounded by still-packed boxes and have a long list of "new home" tasks, and I need HADA this year more than ever.

I'm tired from a busy day, and don't have a lot of energy to write a long post, tonight, but I wanted to check in and say, "Hey, this is totally happening again, please join me!". I think I will basically follow last year's rules again this year, which can be found here. I probably won't be updating Twitter this year, since I have basically abandoned my Twitter account, but there is a HADA group on Facebook if you'd like to keep up over there.

Here's to a productive month!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Thirty Five

When I was a kid, maybe eight years old, I told my mom (who was in her 30s) that she was middle aged. She was appalled, and insisted that you have to be at least 50 to qualify as middle aged. I stoically argued that, if the average person dies at 70, then 35 is technically middle aged - half of your life is over. That's just the kind of logical brain I have always had. It made for some adorable stories in my mother's memory books, but I'm sure it was a bit unsettling for her at times, too.

My dad died when he was 58, and 29 was a hard year for me. That thought lingered in the back of my head nearly every day of that year, "I'm already halfway to 58. I've already lived half of my dad's life." I won't talk much about 29: Let's just say I'm glad it's in the past. The only bright spot of 29 is how it ended: Newly pregnant with my first child. 30 was a pretty good year, in the balance of things. Extremely hard, but completely transformative.

Today is my thirty-fifth birthday. 35. Middle aged. Halfway to death. (Although projections now say that I probably have 5 or 6 more years before I actually reach that milestone.) I've been dreading 35 ever since 29. But now that it's here, I'm not too worried.

Yeah, I thought I would have accomplished more by 35. That my law career would have gone somewhere. That I would have done something notable. But I'm "just" a mom, and right now, I'm okay with that. It truly is the hardest job in the world, and some days I totally suck at it. I miss the concrete tasks of being a barista - of knowing what to do, how to do it, and when it's done. Of being able to step back and look at my work and to know it had been done properly (and to be able to dump it down the drain and start over when it wasn't). There's very little concrete about motherhood. But I don't regret choosing this path.

I didn't make any resolutions for 2013, because I didn't think I could add anything to my already-full plate. This is going to be a big year for us. We're planning on moving to a new house, in a new town, an hour away. Valerie starts kindergarten in the fall. And in August (God willing and the creek don't rise), I'll be having another baby. I have a feeling that 35 is going to be a lot like 30: Extremely hard, but completely transformative.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I used to love January. New year. Clean slate. Resolutions. The cold, clean, crispness of winter. And a birthday to boot.

Now I hate it. I don't know if this change happened when I moved from Ottawa's winter wonderland to Philadelphia's dreary grayness, or if it was having kids that did me in, but January sucks, now. Not even my birthday can redeem it.

The kids are still crazy from holiday overload and we've all got variety of colds and infections. The house is a mess. Our daily routine, long abandoned for holiday flexibility, has been spilled out and lost. And I am just. so. tired. Every day, I pick a battle. Do I tackle the dish backlog? Take the bored kids somewhere fun? Work on a neglected project? Clean up the living room again? But whatever battle I choose, the forces press in on every other front, and I feel myself losing ground daily. It doesn't seem to even matter if I just curl up in a ball and do nothing. It's not like the house can get much messier.

Add to all this the fact that we're supposed to be moving in a few months, and it's really hard to find any time/energy/motivation to pack for a move when there are so many more immediately pressing needs to be addressed.

I don't know where this post is going. I started writing it in the hopes that I would turn my negativity around, and find a positive twist for the conclusion. I didn't.

January sucks.