Sunday, August 21, 2011

Kid Schedules

Well, that time has come again -- the time to rework the daily kid schedule to keep both of these energetic, smart, hell-hacking children occupied and engaged with the world.

Several things have shifted -- Chris has exited the terrible twos, which is a good thing, because he'll be four years old in two months. And as if on cue, Norah is stepping up to fill the tantrum void. She is already doing things like throwing herself on the floor, wailing when you (for example) don't allow her to repeatedly smack on the glass on the front of the goldfish tank at Walmart. She has a lot of energy that needs to be channeled into more than just playing in the house all morning.

It's starting to get more fall-ish, but still too hot for any kind of extended outdoor play, but it won't be long before we can start spending an hour or so on the playground every morning. I think that the kids need early morning activity, then some chill time, then lunch, then more activity, then chill time, then evening. I think I should make it a goal not to have the TV on very often during the daytime.

So, when Chris starts school on Monday, what sorts of activities can Norah and I do, to help her burn energy? I think she might be interested just in holding my hands and walking around stores, or playing on certain parts of playgrounds.

Here is a dilemma -- I love to do messy play with the kids -- flour and water, bubbles, play-dough, all that sort of thing -- but I can't even keep up with cleaning the house when we don't do those things -- how can I do those kinds of activities, which the kids need, without completely trashing my house? And I can't do them outside -- not yet.

I think the answer to many of these dilemmas is the same answer that has been there for a long time, which I have halfheartedly tried to work on, but have not succeeded because I am not putting enough effort into it: Get up earlier. I need to get up at about 5:30 so that I can pray, work, and prepare the day's activities before the beasts begin to awaken at 7:15 or so. Right now I sleep until the very last moment, and then I wake up to a headache, two hungry kids, diapers, clothes, getting Ben off to work (which doesn't require much from me, but occasionally has me searching for a coffee cup of a lost shoe)... the dust doesn't settle until after 9am, and I have to wait until naptime for a minute to myself, so that when naptime doesn't happen, I feel totally off balance for days at a time.

So, self, start getting up early... okay? Did you hear me? Ugh.

This is the mundane daily stuff that takes up some of my brainpower. Parenthood requires constant shifting to keep the balance right. There is sort of a science to it, but when it comes down to it I end up relying on instinct.

Here's to the new school year and new adventures! :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Vacation Lessons

Vacation was fun! We went back up to Helen, GA, and we rented a private cabin this time which was great. The kids had fun and they did a really good job traveling. In fact I think that Ben and I had more tantrums between us, while on the road, than the kids did. Blame I-75, and GA 85, 485, and 985. Those wretched roadways. Urgh. I was trying to decide if they were better or worse than the 101 and 405 out in LA, and I think they are worse, because it is as if you took the 405, shrunk it down a little, and then let loose a bunch of small-town drivers on it. At least in LA everybody drives like they are crazy. But around Atlanta it is very inconsistent. Some shiny BMWs driving 95 mph and zipping around, and some minivans with ten people and pillows hanging out the windows, crates with chickens strapped to the roof, that sort of thing.

Anyway, I enjoyed myself (due in no small part to the hot tub on the back porch of the cabin. Ben and I decided that a hot tub should be a standard feature of the American home/apartment. You could put one in the middle of my living room. I would totally take it.) and I learned some lessons as well:

1. Traveling with a 1 yr old and a 3 yr old is waaaaaaay easier than traveling with a 2 yr old and a 2 month old. Just in case you were wondering. Part of this is because Norah is old enough now to be a copycat, so when Chris is doing something, she wants to do it too. This might seem annoying on the surface (one person gets a cookie --> the other person HAS to have a cookie too...) but really it is more convenient. One of the hardest things about taking care of an infant isn't the fact of the infant care schedule itself, but the fact that the infant care schedule does not coincide with any other schedule of anything on earth, so there are always conflicting needs. With two kids copying one another, though, you have the joy of experiences like


From Instant Upload


From Instant Upload

followed closely by NAP TIME

From Instant Upload

2. I really, really, fundamentally stink at relaxing. We were in GA from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning, and I didn't chill out until Saturday night. And I was really working on it. (And yes, I realize how ridiculous and contradictory that sounds.) I think that having so many juggling balls in the air all the time at home puts me on constant alert -- there is always something I should be doing -- so it feels really strange and awkward to just, say, sit around and read a book. My mind keeps running to one thing or another. It was good for me to practice relaxing, and it makes me realize I need to work on it more.

I will post later with more Helen photos but for now I with leave you with a classic Nash (Griswold) family moment, filmed about an hour and a half from home, just south of Tifton. This video makes me love Ben more every time I watch it. I can't wait until we go to the Grand Canyon... ;D

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Out of the Office

Today I have been thinking about my work/home life (and they are so intertwined that they are difficult to pull apart and examine) and I am full of gratitude again for the fact that I no longer work in a conventional office.

I met many wonderful people in my office work, and I learned a lot of important things as well. But.

There is an element to office work that I can summarize as the "pieces of flair" element. If you have seen Office Space, you know what I am talking about.

And if you haven't seen it, go see it. Now.

I think that online work suits my personality because the one element of office work that I could never get a handle on was the unspoken not-allowed-to-discuss-it-but-must-perfectly-embody-it "office culture" thing. It is the same thing that has caused me problems in my friendships as well -- when there is an unspoken expectation, and it is too vulgar to actually talk about it, but it doesn't make any sense, and if you ask the wrong coworker about it, they blab to the boss... etc. As an example, one time I was taken aside and berated -- in front of a coworker -- for "doing bad phone." No one could tell me what I was actually doing wrong, but they could tell me that it wasn't right. The people calling expected something more -- some conversation -- but what could I discuss? I didn't know them. I didn't know who they were. And the higher-ups who were high enough got offended by personal conversation, but I was supposed to somehow engage them in non-personal personal conversation, all while transferring their calls as quickly as possible... no one could tell me what to say or not to say, but they knew I was not doing it right.

If this happened to me now, I would request a quick meeting with the boss and ask for some concrete suggestions. But that sort of imprecise-yet-exact requirement is very common in an environment where so much of the instruction is verbal. With online work, everything you are told to do is in writing. So you know what is expected of you, and there isn't any secret extra requirement, because there is no whispering in the break room and no "office culture" outside of what is communicated.

I am not sure if this is a strength or a weakness on my part. I think that not dealing with office politics certainly saves a lot of time, and I am not handicapped by my apparently terrible first-impression (people in professional situations tell me I come off as a snob who thinks she's better than everybody, just because I don't talk a lot when I first meet someone). I make a better impression in writing, maybe? Or maybe online we all just do our work and quit worrying about gossip.

In any case, I have not missed office work, and I like not wasting time on politics. It gives me more time to waste on Facebook. Hahaha. :D

Monday, August 1, 2011

Occam's Diet

There is a theory attributed to a 14th century friar that is now called "Occam's Razor." While there is more to it, the basic idea is that when there is a simple explanation for something, contrasted with a complicated explanation that relies on unexplained phenomena, you should put your money on the simpler option.

It's kind of liberating.

Complicated theories tossed aside, I see the evil Weight Loss Debacle (frozen... plateau... constant dieting... no results... occasional Oreos...) in simple terms -- not enough exercise, or too much food, or a combination of the two.

I get headaches when I exercise, but the weight's not going to budge unless I exercise.

So, get used to cardio and headaches.

Cuts like a knife :p