Summer by the Numbers

For the last few weeks my Facebook feed has been filled with first day of school picture. I LOVE these, by the way. Please note that if you are ever wondering if you should share the picture of your little person with their fresh new backpack and head filled with hopes for a new school year, the answer is YES.

It did take me a little by surprise when the first of those pictures started popping into my feed at the end of July and early August. I always associate the start of school with the end of summer. Here in my part of Minnesota, school doesn’t start until tomorrow, so I end up feeling like we’ve snuck in some extra summer compared to the rest of the country. But the high temperature tomorrow is only supposed to be 63 and my son cleaned his crap magnet of a desk off so he can be ready for homework, so it seems like a good time to put summer in the books.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with summer. Summer contains both my slowest (June) and busiest (August) months of the year at work. Summer weather in Minnesota is fairly glorious, but also comes with a sense of obligation to be OUT and DOING ALL THE THINGS while the weather is good and sometimes I just want to sit inside and read and not feel vaguely guilty about it. Also, there are mosquitoes outside and I hate them. Summer is the time of year when I tend to have to most jealousy about my husband being the at-home parent during the days. I try not to verbalize this too much as I suspect summer is likely the time for him that the days seem the longest and the kids most loudly present all the damn time. I recognize one person’s “get to” can also be the other person’s “have to” when it comes to filling the long hours of a summer day.

Because I am nothing if not achievement and list oriented, I made a some goals for the summer along with a whole tracking system. Because Lord knows you can’t be having an easy breezy summer unless a chart is involved.

So, how did I do?

  • Go to the outdoor pool at least 10 times
    • Yes! The outdoor pool near us is open from the first week of June until Labor day. The math on buying a summer family membership means that we have to go at least 10 times to make it cheaper to have the membership than just paying per visit. My daughter loves to swim and her love seems to grow each year, so this year we hit our tenth visit by early July. All of those visits afterward were so satisfying because clearly I had made a good and wise investment in the pool pass. If a single visit would normally cost $20 for our family (high way robbery), I think I got our cost per visit down to closer to well under $10 per visit. Also, swimming is fun and I got to wear some of my many, many swim suits.
  • Read 1000 pages
    • Yes! I love to read but sometimes I get out of the habit, so I wanted to jump start myself. 1000 pages seemed like a decent sized number but then I realized this was really only 3-4 books, so this was probably too easy of a goal. The final page count ended up being 3715 pages which included 13 books (four non-fiction and nine fiction), including two that had the name Alice in the title and had main characters with memory issues: Still Alice and What Alice Forgot. Still Alice is a great one to read if you want to give yourself a panic attack every time you forget a name or where your car keys are. What Alice Forgot is much less stressful as the odds that I will give myself temporary amnesia seem much lower.
  • Save an extra $1000:
    • Yes! We have a certain amount of money that goes to savings every month but I was hoping that we could capitalize on the fact that we are done paying for preschool to throw some extra money in the account. I wasn’t sure how much travel we’d end up doing this summer, so I went for a more easily attainable goal and we met this goal in July, even after taking our big trip for the summer (family camp!) in June. Can I just state the obvious here — having a savings account is one of the most comforting things in life to me. After growing up poor and having some massive debt in my 20’s, having a safety cushion is one of the most measurable ways I take care of my mental health.
  • Get 1000 minutes of exercise
    • Yes! After a really sedentary spring (um, and fall) I decided to sign up for a triathlon, which involves having to actually train for the thing. I don’t think the tri is going to happen, thanks to some shin and feet issues I’m having, but just signing up for it got me motivated to move more, so I count that as a win. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, I got in 1650 minutes of exercise. Go me!
  • Ride 100 miles on my bike
    • Yes! Now, I confess that this goal is a little embarrassing to report. I live in a place where a lot of people LOVE to ride bikes and for a number of them, I’m sure 100 miles is closer to a monthly or even weekly goal. But I am not them, I am me. And I have a nice inside bike and outside bike, both of which I had not been using nearly enough to not feel guilty about and now I feel good about having both, having clocked in about 140 miles this summer.
  • Write 1000 words a week or 13,000 total
    • Nope. I have a fiction project I’m working on but it makes me nervous and so I avoid it or I put it last on my priority list. Or I write blog posts when I should be working on it instead (ahem). 9600 words for the summer.
  • Go 100 days without shopping online
    • No. I fought the good fight but a combination of work stress and some cute stuff on Zulily broke my streak after about 65 days.
  • Not get Lyme disease
    • Yes! I was very, very tick nervous this summer, especially since we were planning on a week long trip to the north woods for family camp. I don’t know if the ticks were actually worse this year than in other years or if I just read more about it than usual but I went to camp armed with lots of Deet infused sprays (no, I don’t want to use essential oils, don’t email me. I want CHEMICALS and POISON when it comes to ticks) and was pretty relentless about forcing the kids to stand still for tick checks. We ended up finding one tick on Ev (crawling on her pajamas after a late night trip to the outhouse) and one on me, but both were discovered before they’d settled in for a meal.
  • Go hiking at least three times with the kids
    • No. We got the kids nice hiking boots for camp. These boots were much higher than my usual comfort level for an amount of money to spend on shoes for kids, so I want to make sure we actually use them a few more times before they are outgrown so I can feel better about the cost per use factor. But my feet issues have limited my willingness to hike, so now I am feeing like some fall hiking may have to happen
  • See at least one movie in the theatre
    • Yes! Seeing a movie in an ice cold theatre with a big Diet Coke and a bag of popcorn is such an iconic summer thing to do but I average seeing maybe one movie per year in the theatre. This summer I saw Wonder Woman, Girl’s Trip, and Captain Underpants. Wonder Woman made me surprise cry, Girl’s Trip was seen with 10 friends (several of whom snuck wine into the theatre and were in a highly festive mood) which added greatly to the appeal and amusement, and Captain Underpants was exactly the movie you’d think it is.

 

This was a good summer. We had a great family trip, the kids are at good ages where they still want and enjoy family time, and nobody got any tick borne illness. I’ll call that a win.

How was your summer? Any highlights?

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Conversations About Stock Photography

Photographer: “So glad it’s snowing tonight. I have such a specific vision!”

Model: “Great, sure. So, my agent mentioned that were asking for someone who knows how to ski?”

Photographer: “Obviously. This is a maternity photo shoot, after all”

Model: “Um, okay, but I’m not sure I should be like down hill skiing while pregnant…”

Photographer: “Sure, sure. No worries there, we’ll go for more of a cross country feel.”

Model: “Do they even make maternity ski pants?”

Photographer: “Ski pants? Why would you need ski pants?”

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Photographer: “We need a picture that represents teen pregnancy.”

Assistant: “Yes, yes. Something relatable. Something that would work for lots of different stories and such about teen pregnancy, because we are stock photographers.”

Photographer: “What do teens do? I mean, beside get pregnant?”

Assistant: “Homework?”

Photographer: “Yes, perfect! But what should she be wearing?”

Assistant: “Well, glasses, obviously because: school. And a pant suit.”

Photographer: “Do…do the teens wear a lot of pant suits?”

Assistant: “Of course. But only the coat and pants. No shirt. Everyone knows pregnant women love the feel of a tight suit coat against their skin. Don’t forget the push-up bra. Can’t be at homework without it.”

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Client: “I want a photo that says “pregnant” but also “creepy as fuck”

Photographer: “Hold my coffee. I know just what to do.”

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Photographer: “Just look relaxed and eat your salad.”

Model sits down, holding salad bowl

Photographer: “No, no. Relaxed. Lounge. On your side maybe?”

Model grunts as she shifts to the side.

Photographer: “Yes, yes this is a totally normal way that people eat salads. Perfect.”

 

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Photographer: “Okay, now you’re fun! You’re whimsical! You’re wearing baby shoes and socks tied to your bra, because that doesn’t seem insane AT ALL.”

Model: “And what if I was playing with the baby?”

Photographer: “Tell me more.”

Model: “The baby is still inside, right? But I’m playing with infant toys on my stomach. And I’ll smile so people will know that this is fun for me, a grown adult person. So. Much. FUN.”

Photographer: “Truly, you are my muse.”

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Photographer: “Now, imagine you’re at the world’s fanciest Cracker Barrel.”

Model: “Okay, okay, with you so far.”

Photographer: “So, what’s wrong with your outfit?”

Model: “I need to ditch the pants?”

Photographer: “Yes, but keep the teddy bear.”

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Male model: “But wouldn’t I have to be wearing a shirt to buy the flowers?”

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Model: “Wow, your ad on Craigslist was SO accurate.”

Photographer: “Like I said, this is gonna be real classy. Real, real classy.”

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Big Little Girl

E. starts kindergarten in a few weeks. She wants to wear a Batman t-shirt for the first day and is pretty excited about her new lunch box and backpack. Depending on when you ask her, she’ll either grin happily about getting to be in the walking group with her big brother or run away from the conversation, yelling that she’s scared. The other day she told a friend of ours that she was afraid of school because she thinks the principal will yell at her for not being very smart and not knowing how to read. I can’t tell if she really believes this or if she just likes the dismayed reaction she gets when she says it. That my clever girl would think for a minute she’s not smart or that she worries about grown ups yelling at her makes me want to wrap her in bubble wrap and keep her in my pocket for the rest of her life.

This morning she woke up for the day and climbed into my lap, tucking her head under my chin, her face pressed against my breast. She was still warm from her covers and her first words of the day were “Hi, Mama, I love you.” She called me Mama Duck and said she was the tiny baby duck and quacked softly to me as we snuggled under the covers for a minute.

She is so big little right now. She’s learning to ride her bike without training wheels but a tricky button on her shorts can reduce her to tears (and result in pee on the bathroom floor). She still needs a blankie to fall asleep at night along with a few vigorous squirts of anti-bad dream spray (water and with a few drops of perfume) but when she wakes up in the morning she helps herself to a cereal bar for breakfast and some videos on YouTube on the iPad. I catch flashes of the baby she was but then I also watch her run down the block ahead of me, braids bouncing, and I know she’s ready.

I think.

Probably.

In a few weeks, we’ll take her to school and pretend that it isn’t completely crazy to be sending tiny infant people into a building filled with 5th graders who are wearing bras and deodorant.

Good luck, little duck.

August

It always feels to me that the end of summer goes too quickly and not nearly quick enough. In May, I’m energized by the promise of glorious weather and long weekends. This summer I had Fridays off from work and I was drunk with the possibilities of all the adventures me and the kids would have. This was going to be the summer of hiking and exploring new places. The kids and I gathered around a big white piece of paper and made our “Summer Fun List”, filled with activities we wanted to do this summer: go to the beach, to the drive-in, camping, taking ninja warrior class, visiting the Children’s Museum. In May, the summer stretches before you, all blank calendar pages and possibilities.

But then June slips by in a breath, July is gone in the blink of an eye. But August drags on. Perhaps it is because it is the busiest month of the year for me at work, or just because everyone in my family seems to function better with the steady routine of the school year, but August feels like the last mile of a marathon: inevitable, painful, slow, and with filled some possibility that someone will poop their pants.

(That last bit may only apply to people who got the same stomach bug I did last week)

Our summer bucket list is about 60% accomplished. As is my usual M.O. in life, I wildly overestimated what I can accomplish in a given time period and undervalued how we actually spend time in the summer. We didn’t go camping or to check out this nearby state park that’s supposed to be beautiful. Instead we went to the pool 25 times. We checked out library books and sat on the porch reading them, all our hands dipping into the big bowl of popcorn. We scratched our mosquito bites and had Popsicles for lunch.

I’m not sure how to measure if we had a good summer or not. My husband would tell me that there’s no point in trying to measure these things. We had the summer we had. But I worry. Was it good? Will the kids remember that we had fun? Can I be a good mom if I forgot to have them shower for like two weeks there during swim lesson season? Did we have enough adventure to make up for the fact that I’m back in the grind of long work weeks and weekends filled with running errands and going to soccer practice?

Sometimes it freaks me out when I think that there are only eight summers left before Miles starts college and 13 summers for Ev. I don’t know how many summers we have where they’ll be happy to spend long days at the pool with me or get excited about a fresh stack of books.

So maybe it’s okay if this August moves slowly.

Indignities

Back in the spring, I bent over to pick up a Cheerio and when I stood back up my back was Not Good. The fact that I hurt myself picking up a fuzzy piece of cereal carelessly dropped by one of my darling children was one of the least interesting ways to injure myself that I could imagine.

I ended up having to make several trips to the chiropractor at my doctor’s office. She did some body work, introduced me to the miracle that is Biofreeze, and cheerfully reminded me that “motion is lotion!” , so I started taking long walks around the neighborhood. After months of basically no exercise, I was somewhat surprised at how much I was enjoying my walks. I listened to podcasts, looked for sidewalk poetry (this is a thing near our house and I love it), and found myself less stressed about work stuff.

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All good stuff, right?

Well, no.

After several weeks of walking, my back was feeling much better. But my feet were starting to kill me as an old case of plantar fasciitis started to flare up, along with some bonus shin splints fun. So I stated to shorten up or skip the walks and now my back is feeling annoyingly stiff and and like I’m one bad sneeze from being back in the bad back space.

It is hard not to feel some fat girl discouragement here. One the one hand, I was finally being a good fattie and trying to move more and get some exercise. On the other hand, I was too out of shape to get into shape without hurting myself. I’d also recently experience a fit of extreme optimism and signed up for my first sprint triathlon in over five years. I signed up assuming that I likely walk the 5K “run” part of the tri, but I’m currently not sure if I’ll be able to do it all. Three miles isn’t that long but when you feel like your shins are on fire and/or like you’re getting stabbed in the heals as you walk, it’s just daunting. The tri is a month away and right now the best possible outcome is that I do it and come in last.

I start some physical therapy next week. Some “uncomfortable” acupuncture has been suggested as a “last resort” so I’m hoping we start with some stretching and stuff that doesn’t actually hurt. Honestly, I’m just hoping to not feel trapped in my own body and like I can take a damn walk without limping.

Still Wendy

The plot of a book I read two months ago.

The name of my husband’s infamous college roommate.

The outing I took the kids on this morning. THIS morning.

These are all things I’ve forgotten lately.

I looked at a list of books I’ve read this summer and as I stared at the first title, I couldn’t recall a single thing about the book. Not the cover, not a character, nothing. I tried to Google it, but all the listings that pulled up were for books I knew I hadn’t read.

It turns out I had written the title down incorrectly. Once I saw the correct title on Amazon, I could remember everything.

My husband was telling a story about his college days and I thought of a name of the roommate, but the name was one that we usually use as a joke name — so, that couldn’t have been the real name. So then I sat for a moment, desperate to bring the right name to mind. The first name I thought of turned out to be the right one, of course.

Bowling. We went bowling. I remembered it as soon as I asked the kids about it. I have every recollection of our time there, including the scores. I still didn’t break 100, even though we had the bumper lane. How could I forget we went there and then remember all the details?

Now, these might not seem like major lapses, except that I recently read the book Still Alice. The early onset Alzheimer story line +  my own low simmering anxiety about medical stuff and a family history of dementia made this an ill-advised book choice. The main character is an academic. I work at a college. She has kids, I have kids. She’s married, I’m married. Clearly, we are basically twins. This fictional person, slowly losing her mind, starts to feel like foreshadowing.

Forgetting things is maddening. I try to recall the thing and in it’s place is a smooth blankness, a wall too slippery to climb. It is *right there* and yet it I can’t get there. The forgetting makes me feel a sharp panic and then I find myself Googling early Alzheimer symptoms and wondering if I should start taping videos for the kids, so I can tell them how much I love them while I still remember that I do.

Excuse me, I need to go imagine my children growing up without me and then sob for a while.

I don’t actually think I have dementia. I mean, probably. Web MD isn’t conclusive. But it does make me think about the fact that I have a birthday coming up and I guess I’m starting to slide into middle age (when does middle age actually start these days?). I’m not convinced that I’m going to be graceful about this. I don’t care so much about wrinkles and gray hair (I have five now, for those keeping track at home), but the health stuff scares me sometimes, especially because I know that I’m not exactly a paragon of self-care and wellness most days.

Maybe I should go do some sit-ups or something. That should help.

(As I started to write this, I was debating watching the movie version of Still Alice, which would have been dumb. The mister and I are watching Grace and Frankie instead, which is a smarter choice, even though I still think of Martin Sheen as President Bartlet and Sam Waterson as D.A. Jack McCoy, so it makes seeing those actors cuddle seems like a very different post-POTUS life than I had imagined for him.)

(This led to me going down a rabbit hole about Martin Sheen. He seems like a person I’d like to know. He’s been married since 1961! He’s an activist! He is many things that make Charlie Sheen seem even more inexplicable to me than before.)

I’ve written myself into a corner here — so allow me to end by saying I wish either fictional President Bartlet or real life Martin Sheen was our President. If I do get Alzheimer’s, please just show me episodes of the West Wing and tell me they are real life, okay?

Surprise Tears

This weekend I went to a friend’s daughter’s bat mitzvah ceremony. I’ve never been to one before, so I went into it not really knowing what to expect, other than the fact that the daughter would be giving a speech during the ceremony that her mother was nervous about…not because the daughter was nervous, but because this particular 13 year old was determined to use her time to talk about how all organized religion was based on misogyny and oppression. My friend was both proud and concerned that this particular speech might kill her mother-in-law. She was going to insist on a re-write.

The final version contained the phrase “smash the patriarchy” at least twice, but no grandmothers were scandalized, so that part seemed to go well. The rest of the service seemed to go along smoothly, or at least smoothly enough that if there were issues, they were obvious to a first timer like me.

As I watched the service, I found myself dealing with surprise tears at one point. In the moment, I don’t think I could have explained why I was crying. I just felt a chest tightening sense of… something. At first I thought maybe I was having some sort of weird emotional response to being in a house of worship after five plus years of being a church avoider following a life time of going to church three times a week. But the rhythm and content of the service was very different than what I was used to, so I don’t think that was it.

I’m not the most quick to tears person, though weddings usually get me, so maybe it was just being part of a milestone moment in someone’s life. But maybe it was because I couldn’t stop thinking about how, at 13, the very last thing I would have wanted to do was stand in front of a crowd of people to sing and read in another language. At 13, I mostly wanted to disappear and avoid doing anything that could possibly result in any tiny amount of embarrassment.

Of course, there is no such thing as tiny embarrassment when you were the particular breed of 13 year old I was. All embarrassment was life threatening. Maybe my tears were just from sheer gratitude for the simple fact that I’m not 13 anymore and never will be again.

I also kept thinking about how my friend must be feeling. To be watching your 13 year old, who was probably just a baby YESTERDAY, do this major life thing — I don’t know how she wasn’t dangerously dehydrated from crying all the tears. My daughter is only five and I’m already regularly shocked to remember that she’s not a toddler any more. The fact that she’ll be 13 someday seems like an inevitable impossibility. Will I do a good enough job as a parent to raise her to be bold enough to tell a room full of friends and family to smash the patriarchy, even if it offends grandma? Why does it feel like the stakes of raising a girl are higher than the stakes of raising a boy? Would I have cried at a bar mitzvah? I’m not sure.

I really don’t want to screw this up.

 

 

 

Family Camp

We recently got back from a truly great family vacation. We were in the north woods of Minnesota for a week, staying at family camp. Our family camp was with a YMCA camp that was described to me as being “magical” before we left. The camp is so popular that there you have to enter a lottery to get a chance to sign up for a week and I was a little concerned at first that it was overhyped. Like, could it really be *that* great?

Short answer: YESSSSSSSSS

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View from our bed. Clearly the worst.

 

For a week, we lived in a little cabin with no bathroom and hiked, kayaked, made art (there was an amazing art center at family camp, which was Ev’s favorite part), and swam in an icy cold lake (because: Minnesota). We had basically no cell service and my phone couldn’t connect to the internet.  I thought that would make me feel anxious but instead it was a relief. I went to bed early, I got in an average of 15,000 steps a day, I played with my kids and laughed with my husband. I ate chocolate peanut butter ice cream cones every day and still came home weighing less then when I left.

 

I don’t think the kids bickered with each other once during the whole week. I was reminded once of how hard it used to be to travel with them, not because they were especially difficult but just because babies and toddlers are just more work than bigger kids are. They are 5 and 9 now and are at peak family camp ages, I think. Every day at camp started with 2.5 hours of age groups, where the kids were in the custody of some aggressively cheerful and extroverted counselors. They got to go explore the woods. My husband and I got to do whatever we wanted for 2.5 hours. I read three books in seven days and it was glorious.

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Although there were a lot of other families there, nobody got on my nerves, except for one other family. However, they got on my nerves in a specific way that I could gossip with my husband about them later. Everyone who is married knows this (the shared experience of social interactions and the debriefing of them afterwards) is one of the perks of married life and can be highly satisfying, especially if you and your spouse are annoyed by the same people.

We ended up spending a lot of time with another family that we clicked with and that I’m hopeful we might be able to transition them into real life friends, not just camp friends. I need to get over my post-camp shyness and invite them over for dinner or something. And also convince them to move to our neighborhood. Maybe start with dinner first.

My husband fell in love with kayaking, which reaffirms my belief that we as a family were not meant to keep living in Arizona. #Lakes4Ever

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This water is not warm. At all. There is a reason that she is the only one in the lake.

The only downside of family camp was that we were in a “rustic” cabin with no bathroom facilities and one of the kids got a mild stomach bug that led to several frantic middle of the night trips to the outhouse and the more than one occasion where we didn’t quite make it in time. There were no laundry facilities, so I ended up boiling water and using dish soap to try to clean the poop stained underwear, just like the pioneers must have done, if pioneers listened to podcasts and drank icy Diet Cokes while doing their chores.

This week has been a difficult one, in terms of re-entry into real life. I’ve been struggling with not resenting my job for making me come back while also recognizing that my job gives me the money required to go to family camp. Sigh. This is one of those weeks were I really feel like I could adapt well to be independently wealthy, if only given the chance.

 

 

 

One Good Day

In a few minutes I’ll start the process of getting ready for bed. My process is pretty simple: brush teeth, wipe face with a diaper wipe (My baby has been potty trained for a year but you’ll pry the diaper wipes from my cold dead hands. #wipesforever), and then I take 10 minutes to update my bullet journal.

Now, I should note that there are beautiful examples out there of what bullet journals can look like, so if you are unfamiliar with the concept, look at these lovely examples and then immediately forget them because mine is not nearly so fancy. I use markers but that is about it. In my journal I have a monthly to-do list, a monthly calendar, and then a section with daily goals. The daily goal section is the most fun to update: I have a list of goals and then each day has a box that I can fill in if I’ve met that goal. This is where the markers come in. The goals section has enough space for about two weeks and then I start a new page, sometimes I carry goals forward and sometimes I start some new ones, depending on various life circumstances. As any list lover can imagine, filling in the boxes is very satisfying.

But here is the thing that is vexing me: I have yet to have a day where I fill in every box. And it is kind of starting to drive me nuts. I want a day with a full line of boxes stretching down the page. I want the invisible gold star.

My upcoming week is a less crazy than usual. I’m only working three days and I’ve got a little more breathing room than normal. If a perfect day is going to happen, this is the kind of week where it seems possible. So let’s talk about the daily goals and my current success rate in meeting them:

  1. Read: I realized that I’d gotten out of the habit of reading books in favor of endlessly scrolling on my phone. Not only was this bad for my hands (I get carpal tunnel flare ups from too much Twitter on the phone. Yes, I realize how deeply sexy that sounds) but I also just missed good stories. So I put this on the list and so far I’ve got about a 90% success rate in doing this on a daily basis. This goal isn’t a problem.
  2. Bed by 11pm: HAAAAA! Yeah, I’m currently writing this post at 12:47. I’ve gotten into a serious night owl habit which is not great since I have to be at work usually by about 8am or so. But I’m having a super hard time getting to bed earlier because late at night is the only reliable alone time I get and I like having some alone time. So far I’ve had 0% success on this one. This goal is probably the top of the list in terms of unlikely to happen.
  3. 8000 steps: I’m just trying to make sure I’m moving more since my work days are long and very sitting on my ass intensive. I’m about 60% at this one but getting better. The odds of getting this one done are good.
  4. Exercise 15 minutes: I’m about 50% on this one. 15 minutes is not that long, I realize, but I’ve had a very sedentary year and am trying to get back into something that looks like a regular exercise habit. This one is doable though.
  5. No candy: I loooove candy. Candy is a problem. I’m at about 20% success rate on this one. I may have to write “no candy” on my hand to remind myself because there is definitely a mindless candy habit at work (so many bowls of candy just sitting around…)
  6. Three servings of vegetables: I put this one on there when I realized how easy it was for me to not get that many veggies on an average day at work. I’d have some oatmeal in my office, then a cup of soup or a sandwich for lunch (the cafeteria at work is a vegetable desert), and then something quick for dinner like noodles or pizza and at the end of the day I’d barely have had a full serving. Since I added this to the list I’m at about 70% completion which is a huge improvement. Smoothies for breakfast that include spinach and carrots are super helpful and very tasty.
  7. Five minutes of cleaning and/or listing something on the buy/sell/trade page for my neighborhood: This helps me feel like I’m not letting our relatively small house become overrun with stuff and/or dust bunnies. I’m at about 50% here but have also made almost $300 this year from BST posts, which is very satisfying.
  8. No fast food: There is a McDonald’s on my way to work and McDonald’s Diet Coke is one my favorite things ever. But a daily McDonald’s habit is bad for my wallet and my health, so I’m working on it. About 80% on this goal so far, which is extra impressive when you realize that McDonald’s is doing the all sodas are $1 promotion right now which means my delicious bubbly treat is cheap.
  9. 100 words of fiction: I have a story I’m not working on. 0% completion so far this go round. Sigh.
  10. Family connection: One of my most personal goals is to make sure I’m having at least one interaction with someone in my family each day that isn’t transactional/informational or while I’m distracted by something else. Maybe other people don’t struggle with this but on a weekday it can feel like family time is spent telling kids what to do or arranging life’s logistical details with my husband. I want to make sure each day that I’m stepping out of that mode, even if it means going cross-eyed doing Perler beads with Ev or listening to Miles share facts about Michael Jackson that may or may not be true. So far I’m 100% on this one.
  11. No clothes buying: I started a new job about a year ago and did a fair bit of shopping this year to make sure I have good work clothes. I also did a more than fair bit of retail therapy (the need for which was caused by the new job) on Zulily and the ever tempting Target clearance racks. I was cleaning out my closet to make room for summer clothes and it became very clear that I have more than enough stuff for every season. I’m now trying to see how long I can go with out buying anything new. So far 100% on this goal (I’m at two weeks of no new clothes, which is a great start).
  12. Vitamins: Did I take my fish oil, probiotic, cinnamon, and b12? Boring but I’m trying to develop a habit here. So far about 50% here.
  13. Friend connect: Did I do something today to build or maintain a friendship? Sending a text or FB message counts, liking something on FB or Twitter doesn’t. I get sad when I don’t feel connected to my buddies, so I’m trying to be more intentional about that. So far about 70% on this goal
  14. Knit: I’ve been working on the same damn infinity scarf for months. It is gorgeous yarn but teeny tiny stitches and I worry I’m never going to finish it. I’ve promised myself three rows a night. 50% success rate so far.
  15. Weed yard: Our yard has weeds. I hate weeding but I also hate having a yard that makes me feel like I’m bringing down the neighborhood property values. The goal is to do a little every day so it doesn’t get so overwhelming. About 40% success rate on this but part of this is weather related. I can get this one done

Theoretically, I should be able to do all of these things in one day. So far the best I’ve done is 11 out of 15.

Is this my week? Stay tuned…

Walking

I’ve recently started trying to walk more when I get home from work. There are several reasons for this.

The first is that it turns out that sitting on your ass for 50 hours a week at work might not actually be that great for your health. My back has been finicky lately and worrying about how my back is incredibly boring to me and makes me feel aged in a way that seems unfair, given that I am also worrying about the large zit on my cheek at the moment.

The second is that I live in Minnesota, where we are required by law to do outside things when the weather is nice. We get snow in May, so we are obligated to be demonstratively appreciative when we are in the sweet spot between snow and mosquitos.

I’ve also discovered that I really, really enjoy the podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour and have made a deal with myself that I can only listen to it while I’m walking. I currently have 13 episodes in my queue, so that bodes well for my fitness this month.

But one of the biggest reasons is that I just really love my neighborhood these days.

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We’re coming up on three years in this house, which is the longest we’ve lived in one place in almost 12 years of marriage. I feel more home here than I’ve felt anywhere else.

My neighborhood also currently smells amazing. The flowers are going crazy and sometimes I just have to stop and take a deep breath. There is no perfume that smells quite as good as a lilac bush in full flower.

Sometimes I feel a little bit of yard shame. Some of our neighbors have really beautiful yards. We have children instead.

I did plant some purple flowers in my window box, so I made an effort. They’re still alive and everything. *pats self on finicky back*

Our neighborhood also has poetry.

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I enjoy coming across a poem in the sidewalk I haven’t seen before — this one was from tonight’s walk and I found it satisfying.

I’ve been walking basically the same route lately, an ever expanding rectangle that leads from my house, past our local park, down past streets filled with old houses and, increasingly, new construction filling small city lots with gigantic houses. There is much distress in the neighborhood Facebook page about these new houses being built where old, small houses used to be. I’m pro-old, small house but I try not to think uncharitable thoughts about the people who will live in the 4000 square foot houses sandwiched between two 1400 square footers. Sometimes I try to peek through the windows. The kitchens are awfully pretty.

Although our neighborhood isn’t economically diverse and isn’t as generally diverse as we might like it to be, I notice the rainbow pride flag hanging from one house and other signs that tell me that my neighborhood is probably a political bubble, but it is my bubble, so it feels comfortable.

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I’ve been restless most of my adult life. I’m home now*

*Unless we can figure out how to move to Canada. Because, reasons.

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