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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

An experiment with punctuality: the first week.

After my VIRAL* post about wanting to stop being late all. the. durn. time, I thought it would only be right to report how my first week went.

A few notes. 
1) It's not my fault that my first week was a 4 day work week. And I'm not sad about it, either.
2) Possible exaggerations follow.

Monday, January 2. 
Night Zero. 
Lunch made, with one minor Greek yogurt flying across the floor mishap.
My work bag packed.
Girls' bags packed.
Outfit picked out.
Alarm set for 5:45a and into bed just after 10p. So excited about how I'm going to get up and moving and actually be on time that I cannot fall asleep for nearly an hour. Excellent start.

Tuesday, January 3. 
Day 1.
The day starts a tad earlier than I would have liked.

3a Toddler lets herself out of her room and tries to crawl in our bed. Take her back to bed.
4a Toddler has bad dream. Cries and wakes us up, then settles herself back down. 
5a Toddler has another bad dream. Cries lots. I get up to go check on her. "Mommy, I have a runny nose," says the crying child. Wipe nose. Tuck in child. Go back to bed.
5:45a Alarm. Snooze button. Fall back asleep.
5:50a Alarm. Husband turns it off. Fall back asleep.
6a Wake with a start and remember I WILL NOT BE LATE TODAY. Remind myself that the worst part of getting out of bed is the first 60-120 seconds. Drag butt out of bed.

Proceed to start coffee, empty dryer, shift load of wet towels to dryer. Fold dry clothes while coffee is making. Once coffee is poured and administered, I get to work getting dressed and ready. The tiny humans are reasonably cooperative and, although I leave the house 5 minutes later than planned, it's still far superior to the usual 15-20 minutes later than planned. I manage to get green lights and somehow, miraculously, with joy in my heart, I made it to work 1 minute early.
This is amazing.
I am amazing.
I win at life and rejoice in having cured a lifetime problem in one night. I look forward to my life of punctuality.

Night 1.
Not only do I get my lunch packed, outfit picked out, and girls' bags ready. I, having learned that fried eggs can be saved and reheated surprisingly well, go ahead and MAKE MY BREAKFAST for tomorrow. This confirms that I have fully and completely tackled the problem and turned my life around.
Bed at 10:30p.

Wednesday, January 4. 
Day 2.
Crushed it. Made it to work 10 minutes early. Use the extra time to start planning my soon-to-be sold-out seminar, How to Lead a Life Like Mine: Making it to Work on Time. Also take a minute to consider who will play me in the movie when the success of this seminar catches Hollywood's attention. 

Night 2.
Cleaned kitchen, packed lunch AND breakfast (overnight oats for the win!), girls' bags ready, showered and hair blow dried, and in bed by 9:45. I like this.

Thursday, January 5. 
Day 3.
The toddler is less cooperative this morning and I take too long flat ironing my hair. (But it sure looks good!) Nevertheless, we leave less than 5 minutes later than planned. However, due to uncooperative toddler at home, I have to stop and take them time to put her hair in a ponytail at school and then pry the clinging child from my neck. Those few minutes had me coming in to work 2 minutes late. This has sent me down a shame spiral. I rip apart my seminar notes and practice self-flagellation, taking my cues from monks I've seen in movies. If I can repair this monstrous damage to my day, it will be a miracle.

Night 3.
Husband did part of kitchen clean up, and I finished, packed lunch and breakfast, got some laundry done, and had our bags packed and ready to go. Bed at 9:45 again. Was aiming for 9:00, but got distracted by fingerprints on the glass coffee table, and then needed to clean the dinner table, which lead to cleaning the other wooden furniture in the living room, which lead me back to the kitchen wiping down the front of all the appliances. Which lead to a quick cleaning of the toilet, sink, and mirror in my bathroom. It was a vicious cleaning spiral. 

Friday, January 6. 
Day 4.
My self-flagellation wounds having healed and my spirit renewed, I knew I would not fail as I did the previous day. And indeed I did not. It wasn't the roaring 10 minute early success of Wednesday, but I made it to work 3 minutes early. I found my seminar notes and meticulously taped them back together. Am planning to kick start my speaking tour in the Summer of 2018. (Advanced tickets can be purchased for the low, low price of $179. Make checks payable to me, mail them to my home address. They will be cashed immediately and no refunds will be issued for any reason whatsoever.)

Saturday, January 7.
Day 5. 
What? It's Saturday. I'm not going anywhere. 

Night 5.
Ah, church tomorrow. It will be the biggest challenge of the week.

Sunday, January
Day 6.
I began the morning with optimism and hope. Yet the attempt at timeliness was, frankly, a complete and utter failure. We left the house at 8:56. Church begins at 9:00. By the time we arrived, parked, walked in, and dropped the girls in the nursery, we were 20 minutes late and only just in time for the sermon. Yet I did not beat myself up. I was in church, and a big thing there is forgiveness. So I forgave myself (and silently blamed my husband--surely it was his fault anyway) and will try to improve next week.

Week 1 Recap.
Clearly, OBVIOUSLY, I am going to kick the butt of tardiness. In my first week I had a 75% success rate at work and a 100% failure rate at church. I will never relapse, and will never slide back in to a lifetime habit of living close to the edge when it comes to getting somewhere. Except church.

I'm just sitting here, waiting to moderate all of the congratulatory comments that will be rolling in. I look forward to your applause, wonder, and praise.

Only hitting snooze 3 times instead of 7 or 8, to you and yours,

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Fun with austerity and restriction!

January can be a heck of a month, right?

Not only are we coming off of Christmas after January 6, which in an of itself can give people the blues, but we're also suddenly shunning bad habits. 

I've already told you about how I've decided to be Miss Punctuality (the lamest award in the beauty pageant). But that's not the only thing I'm putting myself through. 

For one, I'm doing a Dry January. Except it started on January 2, because we had two bottles of bubbly--one for New Year's Eve and one for New Year's Day. And except for the end of the month when my old man and I celebrate our wedding anniversary. EXCEPT FOR THAT, I'm doing a Dry January.

If you don't know, Dry January is not one is which I commit to dehydration or not watering my plants. Dry January is a month where you "dry out"--aka, no booze...except for when you decide it's worth the exception. It's done for any number of reasons. Mine are to cut back on calories, to "reset" for the New Year, and to save some dolla dolla bills, y'all.

Speaking of dolla dolla bills, that's the second thing I'm doing. Patrick and I spent a romantic New Year's Night sitting in front of our budget, discussing goals, priorities, and whether I should continue buying the Kerrygold butter or opt for a slightly less expensive organic--but not grassfed, the horror!--butter. Because this past holiday season we might have taken our budget, ripped it to tiny pieces, stuffed it into a civil war replica cannon, then blown it apart until it was nothing but confetti. Maybe.

So, after the aforementioned two bottles of bubbly (one was a gift!), and lobster and filet for dinner (it was on sale and we shared a filet!), we closed the door on that highfalutin food and drink (and all of our rationalizing!) and have committed to getting back on track with our budget. That means a month, possibly two, of really, really cutting back on spending of all kinds, and reevaluating what we do spend on. There's a strict grocery budget in place and there'll be no junk food, no alcohol, no impulse cookies from Trader Joe's or impulse candles from Target. There's no eating out. No fun jaunts off to hither and yon.

Again, except for our anniversary. Because the rules were made to be broken and we're some kind of rebels over here. And we budgeted for it. #romance

Saving calories, as I mentioned above, is yet another self-inflicted restriction I've put on myself. I already said I wasn't resolving to do that, because I have been eating my leafy greens and exercising. But I have also been eating ALL THE OTHER THINGS. The desserts. The dips. The Peppermint Joe Joe's from Trader Joe's. And the wine. I'm saying bye-bye to it for now.

All three of these things, Dry January, no junk, and being EXTRA tight with the pennies, are really all about getting back on track after a few months of excess. It's a hard reset back to factory settings. (The lamest of all the settings.)

Now, the really important question, the thing you're dying to know.

Why in the world am I telling you this?

For starters, it's my blog. I can write whatever I want. THAT'S HOW THIS WORKS. Also, because in my wine-free, treat-free, penny-pinching deluded state, I think maybe you'll join me in this endeavor. Or share with me what you're doing this month to reset from the holiday craziness. But most importantly--and this really is very important--it's so you know not to:

Invite me for a drink.
Invite me out to dinner.
Ask me to go anywhere.
Ask me to buy something.
Ask me if I want a brownie because I'll say yes, then no, then look at it longingly and say, "No, I'd better not." Then you'll ask if I'm sure, and I'll look sad, resigned to my fate, and say, "Yeah, I guess so," and then we will all feel awkward.

Actually, the brownie response fits pretty well with all invitations or questions. It's just going to get awkward if you do not heed my warning and ask me to DO THINGS. You are hereby warned that on the spectrum of Boring to Fun, I'm skewing hard to Boring this month.

But hey, I've actually been writing some junk! So maybe I'll write an impassioned post about passing up a delightful party or not buying queso dip during this month of austerity and restriction. If you're lucky.

Not doing any of the things, buying any of the things, or eating any of the things, to you and yours,

Monday, January 9, 2017

Oysters Or Tilapia Dinners

Blogs are the worst, right? ...says the blogger. Well, "blogger." But hear me out.

I'm just sitting here minding my own business on the internet by skulking around anonymously. Lurking, I believe, is the historically favored term. (Hey lurkers! I know there's a few of you. Literally a few. Two.) 

Anyway, I'm lurking like a champ when, behold, something catches my eye! It's some young, attractive mommy blogger who spends more on clothes in 1 year than I have in the last 5 - 10 years. (WHERE DO THEY GET THE MONEY?) You know her, she's all over the place.

Her hair has the prefect beach wave. Her makeup is expertly applied. There are no under-eye sleep-deprivation circles. Her outfit is so casual yet cool. "I love wearing a low heel for a cute stroll with my kids! Just 3 inches of height is all I need today!" She looks good in hats. Her purse is devoid of the coffee splatters decorating mine--the ones that say, "Wow, you were running with coffee to catch the door to the elevator because you were late, weren't you?"

(Was I? WAS I LATE? Update coming soon. Hint: YOU GET NO HINTS.)

And her children. Aren't they adorable? They are, they really are. Most amazingly, they have no stains on their shirts, no banana goo on their faces, and no tear-streaked cheeks evidencing the latest meltdown over the fact that you didn't let them flush the toilet for you. FLUSHING. They even know how to pose, somehow, these kids. They just behave, because they know what a joy they are to their mom. I know they are, because she said so.

Not only is she, this mommy-blogger, perfectly coiffed with perfectly stain-free children and a coffee stain-free purse. She also is in stupidly great shape. "Just trying to love my body; amazed at what it has done!" says the prepregnancy-skinny-jean-wearing-at 3-weeks-postpartum lady. I guess her ol' bod didn't bounce back at her ripe old age of 27 like it would have when she was young.

Her home is, quite simply, the most perfect light and airy dream cocoon you could imagine, an excellent backdrop for her multitude of pictures. 

And the pictures. She's an Insta-princess. And Insta-star! She doesn't look directly at the camera. Oh no. She holds her hair (they are always holding their hair. ALWAYS) and looks off to the side, or down at the ground, or off to the horizon, or at her charming off-camera companion. Anywhere but the camera. Except for mirror selfies. Then, obvs, you can't pretend you didn't know the camera was there.

And she's laughing! She's so happy! Her children and home and herself are all so beautiful that she just laughs while looking perfectly made up and in such fabulous shape!
So I'm just scrolling around, getting sucked into her perfect world with her perfect kids and suddenly feeling like I need to somehow make my life, my world, my surroundings, match hers in some way. Clearly she's got it figured out. She's working from home, happy, relaxed, enjoying her children. I'm working from work, tired, and enjoy my children when the baby isn't screaming because her internal clock KNOWS IT'S TIME TO EAT THIS MINUTE and the toddler isn't having an explosive physical outburst because it's time to leave a birthday party. 

Maybe I need to buy an It-Bag. Or some investment shades. Or a better primer. I need to grow my hair out so I can get that perfect beachy wave. And maybe a statement mirror would not only enhance my living space but it would provide a perfect place to practice my mirror selfies to share with you. Do I need an OOTD? I'm pretty sure that's Outfit Of The Day, but it could be Oysters Or Tilapia Dinner. I rarely see seafood in the pictures, unless it was something she enjoyed over a lovely, boozy alfresco lunch with her girls. So it's probably the outfit thing.
Picture does not do justice.

Perhaps if I did those things, my best selfie wouldn't be the one I took that time to show my husband the awesome heat rash on my chest from my lunchtime workout in my little office.

Perhaps I wouldn't be the woman who accidentally caught her muffin top in her side-zipper pants when zipping them up.  (Yes. That happened. It hurt. #babyweight)

Perhaps my children would never cause me to lose my cool. Nothing would!

My house would never be messy, my husband and I would have weekly date nights, wine would be calorie-free and my children would only ever smile and wear clean clothes and not have messy hair! And I would never be tired!!!

Okay, oysters are delicious, so that would work for me. And a statement mirror would enhance my living space. But the rest, though at first being inspirational, perhaps aspirational, too quickly turns into feelings of discontentment with my own life. Myself. My abilities as a mother, wife, and human being citizen of Planet Earth.

Why don't I photograph that well? My house looks like crap compared to that. My clothes are so boring and old. Am I not happy enough? I should be happy more. Why am I not happy more? What magic makeup hides those eye bags? My kids n.e.v.e.r. pose for pictures like I ask them to. How do they afford those clothes for their kids? Should we make more money? Why don't we have more money?

My kids are cuter though.

I mean, come on. Some things are just no contest.

Thankfully, too much of this toxic line of thinking, much like too much booze, has a similar effect. I literally get a headache and that's enough to break the trance I'm in. I step back and see how totally absurd I'm being. Then I close the tab to that blog (whichever blog this may happen to be) and reenter my life. 

MY life. It may not be glossy, but it's mine and I love it. We don't spend much on clothes or entertainment, but we're giving some away, paying bills, eating well, and saving for expenses as best we can. I don't have a perfect "light and airy" house with high ceilings, but the house we have will be ours in 28 short years! (Mortgage life, son.) We have two beautiful, happy (usually), healthy girls who we wanted and who we adore. And Lizzie the Cat might poop in a box, but she purrs and keeps my feet warm at night. 

As the old saying goes, we have everything we need, and much of what we want.

So maybe it's not blogs that are the worst. Maybe it's my own pathetic reaction to those bright and beautiful young women who are making it all look so much easier than it is for me. And I'm sure it's not that easy for them.

If you suffer from these kinds of ridiculous reactions to any type of "lifestyle blogger," and especially a mommy blogger, I urge you to imagine them not smiling, but clenching their jaw as they pick up their 30 pound model-good-looks child, who is kicking and screaming, and carrying them like a sack of angry cats to the car, then wrestling the beautiful demon into the car seat as the child does the advanced toddler maneuver known as the Flailing Back Arch with Round-House Kick to Mom's Face.

It helps.

Oysters Or Tilapia Dinners and completely misleading post titles, to you and yours,

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Snoozin' leads to losin'.

Four score and seven years ago, I ~cleverly~ made a New Year's resolution not to make any more New Year's resolutions. And for four score and seven years, I've kept that resolution. 


But there's been something in my life that gnaws at me and, with all apologies to the clever gal (me!) who made that clever resolution all those years ago, I think I'm going to use the New Year as a perfect time to tackle this problem.

What, pray tell, might my resolution be?

First, let's say what it won't be.

It won't be... KonMari my life. I've read the book, and I'm very interested in doing it, but it's not going to be a resolution. I don't want to be held accountable for not getting rid of my Birch Box samples just yet. cut out all sugar. Because, no. be "more present" with my children. Because I'm all up in their faces, baby. Kisses on kisses on kisses. I love you's all the time. Stories. Snuggles. I got that on lock.

..."to eat right and exercise." SUPER SMUG ALERT: <smug>I'm already doing pretty well at that, so there's no need officially resolve to keep doing it. I'll just keep on with my exceptional work.</smug> quit coffee. Because, why? I mean, really. WHY? learn a foreign language. I already speak a foreign language. It's the garbled words that come out of my mouth when I'm tired because my brain processes slower than my mouth moves. And I'm always tired. So I'm basically bilingual right now. I speak English and Tired. travel more! HAHAHAHAHA I have two children who are months shy of being 3 years old and 1 year old. And day care bills. And diapers. And limited income. Also, traveling with babies sounds like a nightmare. conquer a fear!
Heights? Bad. ✔
Snakes? Bad. 

Talking in front of a group? Torture. 

I feel confident that they're all reasonable, healthy fears and I have no need to dispel of them. say "no" more. I'm pretty good at not overburdening myself. I say no all the time, actually.
Example: Patrick normally cleans up the kitchen after dinner, but perhaps I should do it for him tonight? No, instead I'll fall asleep in my toddler's bed after reading her bedtime story.
See how good I am at that?

You probably have gotten the idea that I'm basically perfect. And you're nearly right!* I am super, super close to being as perfect as anyone but Jesus could be.* However, I do have that one flaw that, as I mentioned, has been bothering me more and more. And that flaw would be:

I cannot seem to get to church or work on time. Not for nothin'. Not for anything.

Weirdly, I am always a little early for appointments--doctor, dentist, hair cuts. But like Sisyphus and his boulder, I am constantly striving yet rarely actually achieving punctuality for work or church.

Obviously I don't need to resolve to learn Greek mythology. Or is Sisyphus Roman? After a Google search and intensive research that involved scanning the captions on the first page of search results, I'm here to say he's both Greek and Roman. Or something like that. MYTHOLOGY KNOWLEDGE ON FLEEK.

*Mic drop. Rebecca out.*

J/K, I'm still here. My intelligence is plainly shining forth, and I feel like yours is shining too, because you've figured out that my resolution is to START BEING PUNCTUAL.

Side note to my mother: If you're reading this, no comments from the peanut gallery. I know this is a herculean task I've assigned myself.


Okay, okay. Calm down people. I know we all got excited about 2 references to mythology in one post. Let's focus on the topic at hand: my impending timeliness. It's one thing to say I'm going to work on not being late. Doing it is, as they say, a whole other kettle of fish. (Do they say that?) How then might I go about the kettle of fish part? The actual doing of the thing? I have a few ideas:

1) It starts with actually committing to the change. Right? An obvious, but important step. I have to be as committed to that as I am to my morning coffee and to letting Patrick clean up after dinner. That's the level of commitment I'm after.

2) Pinpoint my stumbling blocks. 
- Not getting up early enough and/or going to bed too late 
Not always packing my lunch the night before 
Not planning my outfit the night before 
Not always packing the girls' bags the night before 
- Not keeping my purse, lunch bag, eyeglasses, and keys in the same spot daily 
Not wanting to get out of bed 
- Inherent laziness 
- Vicious abuse of the alarm clock's snooze button (data error: too many checks; cannot register)

Three things become clear. I have some obstacles that seem easily solvable, a few that require a bit more finesse, and I have recently rediscovered the check mark icon.

3) Come up with plan to overcome previously identified stumbling blocks.
- Vow to get to bed on time to get enough sleep (so easy!)
- Pack lunch, girls' bags, and pick out my clothes the night before (a breeze to implement!)
- Lessen snooze abuse (there will be no trouble changing this bad habit!)
- Use less check marks (well, if I must)
- Realize that perhaps sipping coffee on the couch in a foggy stupor while waiting for the local weather isn't the best use of time (no sweat!)

4) Identify how long it actually takes to get ready in the morning. Like, actually time it. I could be wrong, but perhaps realizing that my showers tend to take up 30 minutes of my morning and not the 15 I pretend they do might help me manage my time better. And yes, my showers last 30 minutes from the time I start gathering my items to getting my hair wrapped in a towel and my skin appropriately moisturized.

5) Actually leave on time. The assumption is steps 1-4 will aid greatly in making step 5 happen in real life and not just in my fantasies each and every day.

People who automatically know how to get their act together would probably think #5 is the only step needed. They don't know. They don't know, man. The struggle is so real with this. Wish me all of the luck, lots of coffee, and maybe send up a prayer for me. I'm going to need it.

Snoozin' leads to losin', to you and yours,

As always, this [*] indicates a bald face lie. Or a bold face lie. Your preference.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Year in Review -- 2016 Edition

The spirit moved me and lo! I wrote a year-end recap!

Hey y'all. I figured since I abandoned you this year, I could at least give you a little rundown on what I got up to while I was off gallivanting without you.

March: Baby #2 arrived on the scene.
December: Christmas!

That's about all I remember. And sadly, I have basically no blogging history to help back up my pathetic excuse for a memory. Instead, I'll just show you how the year started and ended. 

From this...

To this...

I can hardly stand it and barely believe it. And those second pictures pretty accurately describe our children. Zoe is happy (and happiest when trying to eat leaves) and Sutton is sassy and frankly, she is just not having any of it. And we love them both like crazy.

Now that this is done, we'll revert back to back-of-the-head pictures of my tiny nuggets, okay? Okay.

I hope your New Year's Eve is filled with just enough bubbly to make it fun, but not so much that you feel like crud the next day, and wish you a blessed 2017.

Happy New Year! to you and yours,