last week // this week no. 3

nom

book boy

banda

davis 1

zonked

I don’t have a ton of pictures from this weekend, because I HAVE NO PHONE.  Early Thursday morning, while we were rushing around before speech therapy, Milo decided that dunking my phone (repeatedly, like a cookie) in my coffee would be cute.  I was in the shower and Ben was in the bedroom- we were both just steps away, but he had enough time to destroy it.  We tried shaking it off and wiping it off and plunging it in rice…but RIP, cell phone.  My constant connection to the adult world.  I miss you dearly.  The replacement should arrive today, but it shocks me how naked I feel without it.  I used a digital camera at Farmland this weekend.  Seriously.

-We got our season pass to Davis Farmland on Tuesday, and have already gone twice.  I managed it easily with both boys by myself, and then we took Ben, my parents, and Laurel on Sunday.  This works out really well because both boys are free, so we just got a season pass for one adult; however, I think Ben will want to go often on hot Sundays and Mondays, and if I can offer free admission to friends I’m dragging along this summer, I’d be pleased.  So we might add an additional “guest” adult to the pass.  Between farm animals, dramatic play in huge sheds, tons of playgrounds, and the spray park, I’d say we’ll be there twice a week.

-It’s now almost too embarrassing to weigh in at Weight Watchers.  Since I weighed in after the stomach bug ( a solid month ago), my weight has gone up every week.  The fact that I stopped breast feeding Elliott goes into that, but I also pretty much do what I please Friday-Monday, and then start trying to get back on track around Tuesday…my math isn’t adding up.  I keep rededicating myself because I simply want to weigh less, fit into the clothes I already own and like, and want more energy.  I’m not going crazy or beating myself up.  Just saying, “do better.”

-Ben kicked ass and helped me completely clean the back porch (again) last night.  We vacuumed 7 million spiders and 10 pounds of cat hair, moved furniture around to make more running room for Milo, and Ben bought a play kitchen at Salvation Army that we scrubbed to glory.  We haven’t even bought the fake food yet, and Milo already loves putting things in the microwave, closing the door, and hitting the buttons.  After we said “beep beep beep!” a couple times, he makes beep noises now, which is a big speech milestone!  He also loves to chuck plastic Easter eggs and run so they scatter at his feet.  I’ve been reading about the “types” of kids (childhood personality types) and I definitely think Milo is “The Determined Child.”  He needs physical activity, autonomy, and parental support; having the space in the back made for such a happy kiddo.  This morning before daycare he asked to play on the porch instead of watching cartoons.  Maybe that’s a humblebrag but maybe I like it that way.  Now my eyes are peeled for a water table, a grocery cart, and some good fake food- I’ll buy almost everything else used, but Milo will definitely eat the fake food all the livelong day, so I better get something fresh.

-Yesterday, by allowing myself to revel in my filth and stay in my pajamas all day, I managed to get a huge amount of work done on my top secret awesome sauce project that I love.  It’s homemade and scrappy, I’m remembering the tiny bit of HTML that I learned to spice up my livejournals in 2002, and its going to be yet another outlet for me to listen to the sound of my own voice.  What could be better?

-We’re eating a shit ton of popsicles over here.  I found these ones called “mighty minis” that are literally Milo sized and he can eat them before they melt and it looks like someone shrunk a real pop so cute.  Ben brought home the GOOD thick freeze pops and he loves those, too.  Also, despite my love for good craft locally brewed beer, I’m remembering that there is little more refreshing that Bud Light Lime in the summer time, particularly following ANY type of physical labor.  It’s lawn-mowing beer.  I don’t care, I love it.

Coming up this week I’ve got some work on my June bucket list,  getting back into Couch25K with the return of my phone, park time now that the heat has broken, and cheering Laurel on at a race this weekend.  Have a good week!

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June Bucket List // Countdown to REAL Summer

make it happen

For a lot of people, anything after Memorial Day is summer time.  Everyone starts talking about the beach and school finally being finished.  Those people don’t live in Massachusetts, where snow days pile up and the last day of school is somewhere in the June 27th range.  For all my teacher loves who aren’t on leave, I feel you.  I need to come and bestow spray bottles, freeze pops, and iced coffees upon your hardworking heads.  For my maternity-rocking self, this means I have one more month of childcare before I need to be ready with a solid summer routine.  This is a wishlist of things I want to do while I can still send Milo to his air conditioned funworld across the street.

1. Finish the boys’ nursery.

All the big pieces of furniture are in place, but there are a few more things I want to do to cozy up their little space.  I need to hang artwork and a shelf I painted, find some valences that are colorful, and I’d love to repaint the windowsills.

2. Set up a work space for myself.

I need a better place to organize my papers, hang a large calendar, and keep my laptop.  I have some projects that I’d really like to buckle down on, and I have no idea if a dedicated work area would be helpful, but I’d like to try.  This should be a one day project, tops.

3.  Buy a domain name, build up the aesthetics of my new project, and generate some material.

I’ve been thinking really hard about a project that I want to roll out for the beginning of July.  It’s something that I think I have the talent for, but I need to prove to myself that I have the drive and follow through.  Setting up a work space and possibly work hours might help me towards achieve this.  This is my greatest hope for the month of June.

4.  Take Milo and Elliott to cool places before the school k ids take over.

There are a few museums and play places I want to spend time in before the summer crowds ramp up.  In the early weeks of June, I hope to keep Milo home at least once a week and head out on a little adventure.

5. Summer Routine!

I’m really excited about this summer.  It’s the winding down of my long stretch as a stay-at-home mama, and my first experience being home with both boys completely full time.  With Milo’s speech therapy work and Elliott getting old enough have tiny windows of focus, I’ve toyed with the idea of writing out plans for our day, highlighting the skills we need to practice.  I’m always happier with a plan, but it seemed too insane to do just for my own little family, until I found this amazing article that gave me permission to run my home like a daycare this summer.  There is always a piece of me that says “we deserve a day to kick back, watch TV, eat snacks, be chill,” and those plan-less days are the days where we are all crying and desperate by 3pm.  So I’m going to have a planning template for days when Ben is at work, and we are going to rock this summer.

June also brings Father’s Day and our 6th wedding anniversary, and I’d like to organize myself to give some end-of-year gifts to the teachers who have supported our family this year.  It’s going to be busy and wonderful and hopefully, super productive.  Do you have any big plans for this summer?  Tips for carving out a work space for yourself?  Ideas that will occupy tiny babies during the hottest days?  Happy June, lovelies.

*The above image was found on Pinterest, but it’s from Tattly, distributors of kick ass temporary tattoos.  I will buy.  Summer arm candy, here I come!

bright spots: some things making me happy lately

candles happyThis image (credit here) is something I found on Pinterest and makes me happy.

*Little girls in the cart behind us at Target singing lullabies to Elliott while we waited to check out.

*Mailing Valentine’s packages to all our family members (a day late, but it’s the thought that counts).

*Fancy takeout eaten on the living room floor while watching Workaholics and The Kroll Show (it’s Ruxin from The League and I love it so much.  Here is the PubLIZity skit that’s my favorite, but I like most of his characters and have watched every episode more than once while feeding Elliott.)

*Writing Elliott’s one month letter and looking at the comparisons of Milo and Elliott.

*FaceTime with Mimi and Grandpa Ray, texting with my sisters, phone chats with my Papa.

*Trying out some Pinterest sensory activities and watching as Milo gets old enough to play with a rice bin or even do a little scribbling. Even a few weeks ago, most craft and sit-down activities were a bust.

*Walking away from my laptop to take care of one child or another and coming back (sometimes hours later) to find a string of characters pounded into whatever window was open.  Often this is accompanied by Milo beaming at me and running away quickly, torn between knowing he’s not supposed to and being so delighted that he did.

*Ben doing a sink full of dishes before he leaves for work.

*Reading about other people’s clean eating or sugar elimination plans.  Getting myself interested in trying something like that for the spring.

*Booking plane tickets for Elliott’s first trip to Florida in May- Laurel, Milo, Elliott and I are making the trip down to see my little sister Julianna graduate from college.  Elliott will get to meet his Grandpa Ray, my Papa, his aunties, and so many other important people.  Huge kudos to my sister Laurel for braving this travel with me…it’s going to be interesting.

*Taking 20 minutes to gather up all Milo’s favorite picture books and read on our bed before his morning nap.  I love watching him choose which ones he wants to read.  There was so much enthusiasm this morning that I got solidly clocked in the lip with a copy of My First Superman Book.  It’s a board book.  It hurt.  But there was book joy, so it’s okay.

*Making time to read for myself.  Even if it’s a page.  Even if it’s the 6th Harry Potter book, which I have read 1000 times.  It’s vitamins for my soul.

*This quote: “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good,” from Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project.  This has been my mantra when I’m overwhelmed with a messy house, babies who have been watching too much TV, and a diet that is more on-the-fly than planned for nutritional value.  When I repeat it to myself, I can usually relax long enough to do the dishes, put out a little project for Milo, and make us all a round of smoothies with spinach hiding within.

*Lots of Gourmet Donuts iced coffee.

*Putting half of Milo’s toys in the basement (for the second time in a little over a year).

*Remembering to take a shower before Ben leaves the house.

*Conquering diaper rash.

*Collecting a whole bunch  of things that make me happy.  This new life vacillates WILDLY between extremely organized and moving smoothly, somewhat livable and surviving, and complete chaos where every one of us is crying, including the cat.  When I’m emotionally burned out, it’s really nice to remember that there are one thousand reasons to smile, above and beyond the amazing truth that I get to live this life as a mama to two sweet boys in a house that I own in a town full of friends with a car I can count on to get me to the coffee drive thru every day.  I am shined upon.

What’s making you happy?

Planning for a New Month

 

It’s really refreshing to flip the page on the calendar.  By the end of the month, my desk calendar at school is speckled with ink blots and crumbs from my lunches,  careful handwriting giving way to crossed out dates and hasty scribble.  October was so weird in our house that our kitchen calendar was slashed to bits, rescheduling doctors appointments and family events almost weekly. And I’ve barely opened my book-style planner.  Things have just been moving too fast.  I’m relieved for a new month, for clean-ish calendars.  I’m ready to get organized.

Family Events in November:

  1. Mom’s birthday
  2. Thanksgiving at our house

Friendship Events in November:

  1. Jen’s Birthday
  2. Meeting Jen (and hopefully Adrienne?) over Thanksgiving break
  3. Meeting Cait and Vedder over Thanksgiving break
  4. Memorial for a dear high school friend

Work Events in November:

  1. Parent Teacher Conferences (almost want to list it twice- huge undertaking)
  2. Epson Projector training
  3. Data meetings with administration
  4. Celebrate Thanksgiving with the kiddos
  5. Start new Writer’s Workshop unit

Must Dos in Early November:

  1. Thank you notes for my birthday gifts
  2. Thank you notes for Milo’s birthday gifts
  3. Begin reading log for graduate class (due Dec. 12th)
  4. 2 papers for graduate class (due Nov. 14th and Nov. 28th)
  5. Order contacts for me
  6. Make an eyebrow appointment for me
  7. Buy a winter coat for Milo
  8. Make a Thanksgiving menu

Must Dos in Late November:

  1. Firm up Christmas present list and make a date for a wrapping party
  2. Order Christmas cards and have Ben help me address them
  3. Put up Christmas decorations
  4. Make Milo a felt Christmas Tree that he can decorate and play with

I know there are more things that I want on this list, but I’ve literally been letting these bullet points bounce around in my head for so long that writing everything out has been enormously calming.  It’s a busy time- the conferences themselves will take up at least a solid week of preparation and stretch late into the night before they’re over.  I love Thanksgiving break because so many people are around and I get to do a lot of friendship visiting, so that will be a pleasant breather after crazy conferences.  School work and thank you notes are my two main goals to knock out in the evenings, as opposed to passing out on the couch around 8.  I’ll be happier when I’m productive.

Halloween was postponed in our town, so we ended up jumping a few towns over to trick or treat on the holiday.  Tonight I’ll just take Milo by our neighbors to show him off, then come home to pass out candy.  I loved hectic, insane October, with it’s family visits, it’s highs and lows, it’s apple orchards and dress-up events.  I drank apple cider and took lots of pictures of Milo in cute hats.  Now I’m ready to slip into the transitional season of November.  I’m looking forward to turkey talk, food drives, winter clothes, turning on the heat, Christmas lights, shopping, wrapping, and getting cozy beyond belief.   I’m looking forward to mindful thankfulness.  It’s going to be great.

*While I’m a list-sharing mood, I’ve updated my 27 While I’m 27 list– 27 things I hope to do before I turn 28.  Check it and my past lists out, then tell me what’s on your yearly bucket list!

Observed (and coveted) Habits of Clean and Tidy People

I’m feeling nesty.  At least, I think I am.  I’m not sure that this deep-seated urge to get rid of all my stuff is related to having a baby as soon as the holidays are over, or if I always just want a cleaner, fresher house.  I’m always finding myself wishing for something simpler and more organized.  The irony is that I am an exceptionally unskilled housekeeper.  I will kindly let myself believe that I just haven’t blossomed in that arena yet…I only learned about the necessity of regularly cleaning bathrooms a few years ago.  Really.  And I have no excuses.  I grew up in a clean house with daily and weekly chores.  My priorities are just…different.  Like right now, for instance.  I have a perfect window of opportunity to scrub the bathtub and put in a load of laundry.  But please.

This nestyish desire for a clean home also comes from suddenly having a child who is able to get into any room of the house at any time, to whom piles of clutter look like the beginning of an amazing adventure, and who can destroy any evidence of a cleaning task (a basket of folded laundry, a Cheerio-free floor) in two seconds with a huge grin.  I know that my house will look like toddlers live here for the next five or so years.  But I would really like to get  a system going that lets me stay on top of hygiene, if nothing else.  It’s looking like we’re going to be in our little cottage with a minimum of two kids and a cat for several years…so we need to get livable up in here.

Here are some habits I’ve noticed in people who seem to have their shit together:

1. Touch it once. Tidy people usually put things where they go right away.  Something comes in mail that you need to save?  File it.  Right then.  It’s ten steps to the file cabinet, and then you eliminate the scary pile growing in the antique desk that shouldn’t even be in the living room where your kid plays in the first place.  Take off a shirt?  Hang it up or throw it in the laundry.  I’m shockingly bad at following this advice.

2. Wash it now.  If you have just a snack plate or a juice cup to throw in the sink, why not rinse it and put it straight in the dishwasher (or, if you live on the prairie, give it a scrub and put it in the drainer) instead of letting it become the beginning of the horrifying pile that can grow in your sink?  This won’t work for every situation, but you can probably cut the horror in half.  I hate doing dishes.

3. Keep cleaning supplies in several places.  Even in my tiny house, I do keep the stuff to clean the bathroom in the bathroom, instead of a cabinet that literally might only be steps away.  Some times those steps are all I need to discourage myself from following through.  If you hate the Earth and still use paper towels, like my family does, stash a roll in every room for quick wipe downs.

4. Have a plan.  I’m not sure if this is for everyone.  I’m really not sure if it’s for me.  But I’m totally enamored with the idea of having a loose cleaning schedule that you follow.  Pre-children, I would binge on cleaning/laundry/errands on Sunday afternoons, and it brought me enormous joy to do it all at once.  Now, however, Sundays are the only day that all three of us are together, and when it’s just Milo and I, there are no long stretches of time to use half-watching The Royal Tennebaums and half-playing housewife.  There are plans on Pinterest that look promising, and it should be easy enough to give yourself a chore a day.  It’s the follow through that makes me nervous.

5.  Have people over.  This one seems counterproductive, especially if you’re nervous about how you care for your house.  But I’ve read from people who are better at homemaking than I (mostly people who run websites called Apartment Therapy) that the best way to make your home more livable and welcoming is to live and welcome in it.  Have people over, invite friends in for coffee (this means you keep coffee on hand, or are totally cool with Dunks runs), make play dates for your kids, order takeout and throw a blanket on the floor for a picnic.  This is the hardest tip for me, because I am very Gollum-y with my time and my space.  I like to be out of the house with Milo often, and when I am home, I like to unbutton my pants, eat croutons out of the package, and roll Milo around on the floor, crunching Cheerios into the carpet like vacuums were never invented.  But I know that the best way to teach Milo how to be social is to be social with him.  And I want to have a takeout picnic this winter.

These tips are just things I’ve gleaned from reading obsessively about cleaning on the internet while I should be physically cleaning our space.  I have owned the Apartment Therapy Eight Step Home Cure for years without ever completely following the program. but the book is very inspiring and I suggest it to anyone trying to feel homier.  I also love the blog Adulting, and there have been several awesome entries about housecleaning and caring for your yard.

Basically, if you pay for your living arrangements at all, you’re shelling out a ton of money for a roof over your head.  It should be a place that you love to be, where you can be at peace, and where you can feel safe to let any children/pets/friends roam freely.  This might mean museum presentation or a once-a-week Cheerio banishing.  For me, it’s going to be a balance of both.

Cleaning tips?  Life with children tips?  Admonishments for a healthy young woman who has never, ever cleaned her windows in three years of home ownership?

mama’s wishlist

I’ve been feeling a little blah lately. Earlier I idly had my twitter account open, and this fell out of my fingers: lately i’d like to be somebody else. still me in name and responsibility, but do it with more style.  I didn’t realize that’s what I was feeling, but yeah, that hits it.  I’ve been pregnant or postpartum since February 2011, which is a long time to undulate between frumpy and gigantic and back to frumpy again.  Pregnancy can’t be blamed for it all, but…I just want to feel cute.  Maybe that’s why I’ve been eyeing sweet jewelry and accessories lately?  My birthday is in less than a month, so I searched around for some sunshine makers.

this funky whale necklace from boygirlparty on etsy would make my students so happy and is different enough to add a little spice to the three plain maternity shirts i rock.

same sweet funkiness in this bunting necklace from MatriarchVintage on etsy.  plus, milo’s birthday party theme is bunting.  cute.

i found this picture on pinterest, but some irresponsible person did not credit it.  i would love, love, love to know where it came from.  because it’s perfect.

scarves always fit

i will carry this case around and grin.

and sit under this bunting and realize how charmed my life is.

my book club for slackers is reading this right now.  i love her other happiness project, so i’m intrigued.

So my wishlist strayed a little from just wearables, but it’s all cheery and cheered me to round it up.  I’m sure a haircut and manicure will point me in the right direction, as well.  Anything cute catching your eye?

Adventure Round Up, Part 1

My summer of magical Mama and Milo adventure is coming to an end.  I really can’t express how much I enjoyed my first  summer devoted completely to myself and my family.  I feel like I’ve always worked, or at least been involved in an intense job search, since I was 14 years old.  This summer, my goals were completely different.  Make a routine that Milo and I can really get into.  Find lots of stimulating activities and day trips.  See as many friends and family as possible.  Check, check, check.  We’ve been going nonstop since school got out.  I wanted to take a second and try to keep track of everywhere we went and all the things we did.  This is the only summer that Milo and I will ever share as a duo.  It’s going to be precious to me my entire life.

1. Flying to Florida

This was my first super-proud moment of the summer.   I drove to an airport in New Hampshire, parked and lugged our things to a shuttle, and checked in the airport to fly to Florida, with Milo, solo.  I was very nervous about trying to do all the complicated things that come with flying and caring for a baby at the same time with no help.  Sometimes it was a tight squeeze, and there were blessings in the form of an EMPTY ROW in the back for my lap child.  We made it, had a terrific time, and got Laurel as an extra pair of hands for the flight home.

2. Saying goodbye to Grandpa Kauffman

This wasn’t Milo’s first time meeting his paternal great-grandfather, but he was much more able to say hello this time.  We spent a lot of time at Grandpa’s house during our Florida vacation, and I’m so glad that Milo could pat his grandpa’s face and capture some special moments at the end.  His last name is Swicker, but he is also a Kauffman boy.

3.  Swimming in the Gulf!

Milo’s second time at the beach happened during our Florida vacation.  He loved to splash in the waves and hang in the shade.  He tried to eat a lot of sea grass and I got to show him off in his cute suit.

4.  First Fourth of July Parade

This is one of my favorite pictures of all time, taken at Gloucester’s Horribles Parade.  Ben has a tradition of going every year, and this time we met Nona and Grampy and got an awesome spot up in the shopping area, away from crowds.  Besides a few starts when the marching bands flared up quickly, Milo was a SUPER STAR.  It was really special to watch Ben pass this tradition on to his son.

5.  Moving Aunt Lulu into her new neighborhood

This summer, my sister moved into a new apartment in a different part of her neighborhood.  Milo has been visiting her since he was a tiny thing, and he naturally hung out with us the weekend that we got her settled in her new place.  Over two days we tried new breakfast spots, hit Target and Trader Joe’s for essentials, and then stayed and unpacked boxes while Laurel and Ben did the heavy lifting of the actual move.  I was proud of how Laurel handled the details of the move- she barely needed Ben or I at all.  Milo, again, was patient, sweet, and ate his first pickle, to the entertainment of all.

6.  Fruitlands with Nona

Milo and I were treated to a fancy day at Fruitlands Museum.  Nona (Ben’s mom) took us to lunch in their lovely restaurant and then we walked around the grounds and visited the little buildings.  There is portraiture, Native American artifacts, a Shaker home, and the house that the Alcott family lived in while they operated a Transcendentalist commune on the grounds.  I LOVED the history and we had a beautiful day.

7.  Baby Story Time at the Library

I found out about this a little late in the summer, so we only made it twice, but I’m planning to take advantage again next year, as well as during my maternity leave this winter and spring.  Our local library does a weekly story time with lots of songs, puppets, instruments, and scarves.  Milo absolutely adored staring around at the other kids and crawling free.  It had the added plus of wearing him out and making for long afternoon naps on the days that we went.  This activity was super stimulating, free, social for both us, and just felt wholesome.

8. Boston Children’s Museum

This was one of the most exciting finds of the summer.  With my teacher’s association card, I can get into many Boston museums for free, and this is one of them.  Add in free admission for under-one Milo, and we had a low cost day that blew both our minds.  I was worried that the exhibits would be over his head, and many were, but there was plenty to keep us busy.  Milo loved the musical chairs and the giant checker board, the water and sand tables, and, of course, the under three room, complete with an area that was padded and full of toys specifically for crawlers.  I personally enjoyed the dollhouse exhibit and the Arthur world.  We went twice, with Laurel and again with Ben, and everyone had a blast.

9.  Playing outside

We spent a lot of time out in our little neighborhood this summer.  A few times I laid out a blanket and some toys for us to watch the traffic and pull at the grass.  Just a few days ago, Ben and I discovered a really great 2-5 year-old playground right around the corner from our house.  It sits next to a huge field that’s perfect for crawling, chasing, and flopping down to watch the bugs fly around.  I think was the first time Ben ever enjoyed our area openly.  Milo has already visited again with Nona and Irene, and we have plans for more walks that way.  Being outside with your son making little piles of bark mulch and grass just seems right.

10.  Pool, pool, pool

Milo is a water baby and we swam a ton this summer.  Awesome friends have invited us over to their houses for lazy lunches and afternoons soaking in the pool, and I said yes as much as possible.  This picture was taken on one of our visits to my aunt’s house in Delaware.  Whenever we could get in the water, we went for it.  Milo loves to swim and I love to splash in the water with him.  It also gives me an excuse to stock up on cute swim suits, wide brimmed hats, and fancy organic sunscreens that I buy and instantly lose.  I am seriously grateful to everyone who had us over, and wish my backyard had more to offer than weeds and pitbulls beyond the back fence.

This summer was seriously, seriously packed, and I’m only through about 1/2 of our adventures.  To be continued…