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An Outstanding Balance

Work and Life Done Well…Mostly.

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The boys

Day in the Life

My life on a normal Wednesday. Here we go!

6:15am: Wake up on my own. Alarm not needed. I wish it was–I can never sleep much past 6:30am. If the dog isn’t up yet, I look at Instagram/fb for a bit until she starts whining. Clay lets her out today so I can lay around a bit longer, which is very sweet. I get dressed and brush my teeth groggily.


6:30am: Take Maggie for a walk. Very excited to see that Clay has already pushed out the trash can for trash day.


While on the walk I listen to a podcast. Today, I listen to the rest of a This American Life and start a new Moth. Other podcasts I love are WDW Prep School, Radiolab, Limetown (waiting for the second season!!) and Simplify Everything.


7:10am: Clay is ready and itching to go to work when I get back. He filled Maggie’s bowl and she starts eating. The boys are in bed watching Disney Junior on my iPad. I do a 4  minute crazy workout that makes me feel like I want to die.


7:20am: I head up to the kitchen to unload the dishwasher and put George’s snack/water from the fridge into his already packed camp bag. Clay has already made his coffee, so I put his lunch out (leftovers I packed last night). He informs me that he has a work lunch today and I put it away with a fake huff. 🙂 I kiss him goodbye and he is out the door.


7:30am: Time to tidy. I walk through every room in the house and make sure that everything is put away. This gets done before bed as well, so its generally quick little things. I turn on lights, put ice cubes in my orchids (since its Wednesday) and make the boys beds. Today is not a laundry day, but if it was, I would put in a load.


7:40am: The boys are still watching TV, so I head into my office to get prepped for the day. I get myself some water, take a vitamin, and floss while I look at my email, check YNAB, read the Skimm, and add anything needed to my planner and to-do list that I wrote yesterday before ending my work day. I use this time to shower every other day, but today is an off day.

While doing all that, I also save a caterpillar George finds in the bathroom and chase Maggie down since she has pulled toilet paper all over the bedroom. Puppies, right?

8am: The nanny arrives and whisks the boys upstairs to get ready for their day. I make our bed and get to work.

8:35am: The crew is leaving to take George to camp so I go up and say goodbye, and make my protein shake for breakfast after they leave. I love my vitamix! Maggie settles down for a nap in my office.


10am: After lots of emails and crossing a few things off my to-do list, I break to take Maggie outside. I have meetings from 10:30am-1pm, so need to make sure I’m ready to sit for awhile. I go to the bathroom, refill my water, and stretch a bit.

I check my Wunderlist app for other household to-dos. I order a birthday present for a party this weekend and new sun hats for the boys from Amazon.

1pm: My morning meetings are FINALLY over and I am starving. I heat up some leftovers and have a tiiiiny piece of homemade tres leches cake. Maggie needs her lunch, too. She is a growing girl and eating a ton lately! She also gets a potty break.


I have another block of meetings coming up, so I walk around and tidy up a bit, load the dishwasher, and check the mail. No dice. When I sit back down I call Firehouse Subs to confirm that they are doing kids eat free on Wednesdays, like the internet says.  Victory! We will go there for dinner tonight. George has been asking to go there since he saw it from the road and found out the name.

3pm: Afternoon meetings over. I check the mail again. Its arrived, but its boring. Sigh. There are two boxes, but they are just 2 out of my 8 June subscribe and save items. I love how much money I save using subscribe and save, but its still hard to get excited about miralax and swim diapers. Ha.


4pm: Work day is done. The last thing I do is write my to-do list for tomorrow and update my planner. The boys are having a snack and watching a show upstairs. So begins the hardest/most fun part of my day!


4:30pm: I tidy again, take Maggie outside and get the swimming bag and my kid bag ready to go (since we are going out to dinner after swimming). I take a deep breath and get ready to wrangle the kids into shoes and out the door.


4:40pm: Henry will not get his shorts. He cannot FIND his shorts. Finally, I go up to his room to help him. Shorts on on the floor in front of him. “OH, THERE THEY ARE!” he says.


4:45pm: Maggie in her crate. Boys in the car and off to the pool.


5pm: Get George into his suit and lined up for his swim team picture. It takes FOREVER and is adorable and hilarious to watch the swim coaches handled all those kids. Henry is chillin’ in the pool while all this goes on.


5:30pm: George goes to practice and Henry is still swimming. He makes a little girl friend and shows off for her. He gets out of the pool repeatedly and says: “Mommy, A GIRL!!” and then jumps back in the water.


5:50pm: Adult swim is called and I get Henry out of the water and change him into his clothes. I realize that the kid bag is in the car, so I have no real diapers. I debate what to do with myself for about 5 min before just putting on his shorts. I tell him not to pee.

6:01pm: Henry pees walking to the car. We.were.so.close.


6:05pm: I make the executive decision to drive right by the house and not get Henry another pair of shorts. I’m too hungry and he is two–meaning no pants required.


6:30pm: We eat subs and the boys watch TV. Clay and I chat about our day and alternate reminding the boys to eat.


7:00pm: On the way out the door, Henry realizes he is not wearing pants.


7:15pm: The boys run outside to play when we get home and Clay and I zone out on our phones for a bit. When we come to at 7:45pm we realize that NO it is in fact NOT bath night like we thought it was. Never was. Nope. TOMORROW is bath night. What a team!

8pm: Stories, songs, and tucked into bed. Clay and I settle in and watch some of The Bachelorette on Hulu.


9pm: I set up for my work meeting with Guam. Realize the meeting is actually tomorrow at 9pm. That international dateline is a B. Clay takes Maggie for a walk. I do one last tidy and run the dishwasher.

9:15pm: Bath (with a lavender bomb), then into bed to play some games on my iPad.


9:58pm: I put on hand lotion, chap stick, and drink some water before lights out.


Good night!

WHEW. If you hung in this long, I’m impressed. Hope you had a good day, too! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Bravery and Fear

I glance over to the other side of the pool and see George standing in the corner of his lane. He is bouncing up and down and when he catches my eye he smiles and give me a thumbs up. Before I can respond, I feel the ton of bricks that is Henry land on me. He knocks my glasses off and water goes up my nose. He swims up into my arms and shouts “AGAIN” through sputters. I set him on the side of the pool and do an irritated search for my glasses.I am not irritated at Henry. I’m positively fuming at George. Yes, the one that just smiled sweetly at me from across the pool. I turn my attention to Henry and throw my arms out and he jumps into them swimming and kicking his little heart out. Looking over at George, he is still standing there. Not swimming. The source of a surprising amount of annoyance that I’m not sure how to handle.

As a parent, I like to think of myself as pretty chill and “hands off.” This involves a lot of waiting. My method of potty training involves waiting until they tell me they are ready. If they fall down, I wait to see what they do before jumping in with my reaction. When the boys fight, I stay out of it for the most part. I don’t feel the need for them to be “the best” at anything. I hope they find things they love to do.

But to my surprise, this swimming thing is driving me batty. Letting him go at his own pace is incredibly tough. Cause here is the rub. George CAN swim. I’ve seen it at his private swim lessons (that we paid a boatload of money for, by the way). The boy can dive down and get a ring, and even swim unassisted for about half a length.

The fact that he can and won’t was causing serious annoyance, and to be frank, downright anger. At a parenting low point, he asked me for his puddle jumper and I said no. He begged me. I said no again, and in fact, I was going to get rid of it. He cried—real tears. It was a wake-up call.

Why in the world is this bothering me so much?

The water is my natural ally. I swam independently at 2 years old. No one “taught” me really, I was exposed to swimming and had an innate skill. My mom tells a story about me learning to swim when I fell in the pool and she rushed to the side (but note: she did NOT panic or try to pull me out immediately—she waited, giving me space to try) and I swam up to her. Eyes open. And that was that.

So that’s one piece. I don’t get his hesitation. But, he is cautious by nature. He takes his time. And I want him to TRY. Right away. Try and fail. I want to see him struggle. I don’t need him to be GOOD at something, I just want him try it. I value persistence over all other skills. When I stopped to really think about it, I have actually felt this annoyance with him before, but was able to brush it off. Because playing soccer, or going down a slide, or writing his name doesn’t really matter. He will get there. He will learn, get braver, and accomplish all sorts of wonderful things. I make him try, get annoyed when he pushes back, decide to pick my battles and move on. To the point that it’s unconscious.

So back to: Why this? Why can I deal with his timid, deliberate nature (so opposite from mine) in most of areas, but not with swimming?

After spending a lot of time thinking about this, I can tell you in one word: FEAR.

Water is dangerous. Swimming saves lives. Swimming saved MY life. I fell into a river at his age. Only the fact that I could swim saved me from dark water. I feel the urge to push him so hard because I am deathly afraid of him drowning. It’s the leading cause of death in kids his age.

I need him to be brave because I am terrified.

So, as usual, it’s my problem. Not his. Writing this out has helped me see that I need to utilize one of the hardest things for me: patience. I’m going to take some deep breaths and work with him. Let him have his floaty. Let him love the water. Keep teaching him to swim, keep him exposed to water. And keep my eyes on him like a hawk.

Be brave enough to give George space to be George.

Weekend Away Prep

The past weekend we left the boys overnight for the first time together. We had left them individually, but they have always had one parent overnight.

That also means Clay and I hadn’t spent a weekend just the two of us in 4.5 years. It was time!!


My mom and step dad (Nana and Pop Pop) came to Charlotte to stay with the boys for the weekend and I wanted to make it as easy and comfortable as possible for them. The boys ADORE them, so I knew they would be fine emotionally, but the more smoothly things run the happier everyone is!


I did three main things to prepare: meal planning, communicating, and writing it all down.

Meal Planning

Food is clearly the most important part of a weekend. 🙂 I wanted to make sure that my parents had food that was yummy for them, but also appealing to the kids to make meal time smooth. I also wanted to have some variety/options and snacks so that weren’t locked into a certain meal if they/the boys weren’t into it.


I wrote down each day and meals for the weekend and filled it in. I came up with:

Breakfasts:

Cinnamon rolls, eggs, pancakes, cereal

Lunches:

Sandwich fixings, grilled cheese and tomato soup, leftovers

Dinners:

Make your own pizza (lots of adult and kid topping options), taco dinner


They boys also get vitamins, miralax and special milk at meals so made sure I had all of that available and easy to find.

Communicating

I prepped us, my mom (and Chris by extension), and the boys for our time away. Clay and I got on the same page about our plans and I conveyed them my mom early so that she knew what we were thinking, and weighed in with her schedule. She and I walked through the plans a few time on the phone before the weekend even started (this is easy because my mom and I talk almost every day!).

We also talked on many occasions to the boys well in advance so that they would know what was happening, who would be with them, and when we would be back. There were no surprises for anyone in the weekend.

Writing it All Down

This is the most important thing in my mind. I know my mom well, and much like me (surprise, surprise), she likes schedules and plans.I tried to give as much information as possible while keeping it flexible–I was not trying to control what happened while we were away. I wanted them to have options, not feel boxed in. I totally trust them to take care of the boys.

I wrote everything down for them, including: Schedule, Meals options, Contact/Emergency numbers, and local activities they could do with addresses and directions. I gave numbers for Clay’s mom, our cell, and the Greenbrier. I included phone number and address for the pediatrician, our urgent care and ER. Luckily, they didn’t need it!

I also told them where the first aid kit was–and of course with two little boys, they did need that! Haha.

I put all the papers in a plastic folder with my car and house keys, discovery place membership cards, and health insurance card. We left my car with the car seat installed for ease.
While things went extremely well, we still had some bumps. They car battery died, so they couldn’t go anywhere with the boys–but there is plenty to do around here–so they were okay. Other than that, everyone was happy!

The boys didn’t even care when we left, so we take that as a very good sign that everyone was prepared and happy! I walked my mom through everything when they got to our house, but said that she really liked having everything written down and referred to it frequently. 🙂

And we all had a GREAT time.

And look how well rested we are…


What a fun weekend!

(and thank to mom for all the pictures!!)

Monthly

I love getting mail–who doesn’t?

So its no surprise that I adore the monthly subscription box trend. I signed up for a few over the years and have stuck with some and not others.

Send me ideas if you get one you love and this I should try! I’m thinking of trying nature box or another snack ones, jewelry/accessory ones I’ve seen on Instagram and kid activity/crafts kits–any suggestions?

Current subscriptions:

*none of these are affiliate links, just stuff I like

The Curated Tee

A lovely kids t-shirt subscription by a friend from Hyattsville. We look forward to these shirts every month. They are so hip–which is especially important now that the boys have such super hip haircuts.  
 I mean, RIGHT?

We Cook Kits

A wonderful kit that comes every month with recipes and tools to encourage cooking with your kids. They even have a sibling addition, which is perfect for our little family (sharing is tough). I love cooking with the boys and have read Jacqui’s blog for years. The kits are also a way that she remembers her son, Ryan Cruz, who passed away in 2014.


 So much fun!

Dollar Shave Club 

I got this for Clay for Christmas–he has really liked having a fresh razor. And the prices are great!

I have done these boxes in the past: Bluum (baby and kid stuff), Citrus Lane (baby and kid–no longer in business), Ipsy (make up) and Birchbox (make up).

Of course, I also do Stitch Fix, but have a whole separate post on that!

Its super fun to get mail–especially for fun things I can do with the boys. Its nice to have activities at the ready for our time together.

Kids and Money

This year Santa decided it was time for George to learn a bit about how money works. Isn’t that Santa guy great? He’s just so darn smart. *wink, wink*  George got several items under the  tree to help him learn about the value of money, how to earn, save, grow and share it, as well as how to identify coins and bills.

First up-earning it.  This is his chore chart. We sat down together and picked his chores (it comes with lots of options). He gets a button for each chore he performs during the week. I really like that its magnetic and the chores grown with him–we will use this for years. At the end of the week, he gets nickel for each button he collects. He can max out at $2.45 a week, but has never actually earned the whole amount! 🙂 

Next, he gets to decide where he wants to put his money that he earns and that he gets as gifts. I got this awesome bank called the Moon Jar that has three separate compartments: spend, save and share. It also came with a helpful book to explain in a kid friendly way what all of that means. He has done an amazing job with dividing up the money with most going to the ‘save’ jar so that he can get a BIG toy.   The other day we were going to target and he asked if he could get a toy. I said that he had to bring his own money that he had earned/received as gifts. I asked him if he wanted to take his ‘spend’ money for a small toy (about $5) or his ‘save’ money and get a BIG toy (about $15). He said that he wanted to save more, so just took his spend money. At Target, he really thought about a lot of things but didn’t end up buying anything because he didn’t love it. He said he wanted to put his spend money in his save jar.  I watched all this go down, and maybe gave myself a pat on that back. I mean, Santa. I gave Santa a pat on the back.  Doing chores. 

I also got him a book called Once Upon A Dime: A Math Adventure that explains value of each coin/bill and also has a subtle message about growing money over time. Its pretty good, but doesn’t get picked for the book rotation very often. I’m about to get The Berenstain Bears Dollars and Sense  because he is obsessed with those books right now. I found this great list when I was searching.    Would love to hear other ideas about teaching little kids about money!

Get Out

My biggest challenge with two little ones is getting out the door in:

  1. A reasonable amount of time
  2. Without pleading or yelling
  3. Without forgetting anything

I do have a routine/some tricks for getting out the door easily…that I didn’t implement AT ALL on our Monday library trip.

It took 30 minutes to get out of the house. No one would get their shoes or jackets on…WHY is winter so hard? So much outerwear! This resulted in both begging and raising my voice at the kids. The library bag was left behind, in the driveway, no less. The low point was slipping on the ice as I chased them around the driveway (JUST GET IN THE CAR!!). The times you hope that the neighbors aren’t watching.  I was just not prepared and we all suffered.  As I took some deep breaths on the short drive to the library I reminded myself that the reason it was so tough was I didn’t follow my own plan.

Lonna, please PLEASE do the following when you want to take the kids somewhere:

  1. Tell them all day what the plans are, so its not a surprise.
  2. BEFORE waking them up/getting their attention:
    1. Lay out shoes/outwear in piles on the floor
    2. Pack the go bag with water bottles, snack and diaper tote
    3. Put all your stuff by the door
  3. Give them a 5 minute warning.
  4. Get yourself completely ready. Yes, you will be hot. Deal.
  5. Go outside and open the car doors so they can climb in–no chance to run away while you mess around! Placing an enticing toy in the car seat doesn’t hurt.
  6. Put your stuff in the car.
  7. Grab the boys and help them get ready.
  8. Usher them out to the car with a calm firmness that they can only respect. ha.
  9. Let them climb in and attempt to strap themselves in so they don’t get cranky. Hand them snack.
  10. WIN.

Doing all the pre-work and not really even involving the boys until the end is the key for me. Especially if they are napping, this is SO much more efficient than trying to entertain them while packing up (i.e. George laying on the floor with shoes half on the wrong feet saying that he is out of batteries while I’m in the pantry with Henry holding my leg screaming for a snack–you know, just a hypothetical).

Even with the rocky start, we did still have fun at the library. 🙂 

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Kiddo Time

Working from home provides more time with my kids because with no commute, I’m able to turn off my computer and go straight to kid time. While I don’t have mama guilt about working–it makes me a better mother–its important to me to have quality time with them each day. I start early in the morning so I can end early and carve out some time just me and the boys, usually from 430-6pm. 

The hard part is defining quality time and not feeling pressure to DO an activity. That cuddling up on the couch and enjoying their favorite shows (while I may or may not be on Instagram) can be quality time, too. And having them help me make dinner and clean up the house is important skill building time. Sometimes we snuggle or make a yummy treat. We have done science experiments or just laid around. Mondays we usually go to the library and get some new books. Sometimes I just shove them outside and shut the sliding glass door. 

Because lets be honest, some days I’m cranky. Some days THEY are cranky. But I try to remind myself that I don’t have to be perfect all the time (and neither do they). That I am their real human mother, not some idealistic version of MOM. We are NOT a Pinterest account. 

There are days I have to work during this time so I take help from the TV or our fenced in back yard. Or I just get them out of the house so I don’t have to pick up their toys for the 1000th time. But then there are days where we make a volcano explode or play monster for an hour, or read a chapter book on the couch.

Overall, I make sure to use the time to kiss and love them, no matter what we are doing. This special time helps me feel balance and fulfilled–even if it makes me tired and a little crazy. But isn’t that what a 2 and 4 year old are for?

Mornings

Let’s be clear. I’m a morning person. I love a fresh new day, a new page in a notebook, empty squares on my planner waiting to be filled.

I also believe they are the most important time of my day and sets the tone for my productiveness.

Now that my kids have gotten a little older mornings have gotten a lot easier. They come down in the morning on their own (after being called on the monitor) and we snuggle in bed and chat while we get ready.

I LOVE this time with the boys. We kiss and hug, I tell them how much I love them, ask them about their dreams. We talk about the plans for the day. Its a great time to connect. And when the nanny arrives we can all get going on our days having spent some quiet time together.

This is how my IDEAL morning goes:

First up is exercise for 15-20 minutes, then I get some water and some breakfast and sit down at my desk. The most important part of my day is next: To do list and planning.

I make my first pass list before turning to my computer. I think through things I want to accomplish and write them down (more on my planner and how I use it later!). Then, I check my personal and work emails to flesh out my list. I also check my daily chore doc and make sure those tasks are incorporated. Tasks are divided into personal and work, and if I’m super busy I number them by priority.

I eat breakfast and check facebook/instagram/my blogs. This gives me time to take a breath and check out a bit before my workday begins.

My morning routine is written out and stuck on my monitor–it keeps me on track. Which I need! Because while this is the ideal, real life can get in the way of pretty quickly!

What do your mornings look like? Any tips for making mornings more efficient?

I just realized I might have to add blogging to my morning routine! 🙂

 

 

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