Wednesday, June 20, 2018

SAHM: 2 Year Recap

This month marks the 2 year anniversary of my giving notice. 
Thus making it also the 2 year anniversary of stay-at-home-motherhood (SAHM). 


How do I feel about SAHM Life two years later? 

It feels comfortable. 
It feels like me
My days are in my control 
and I can do all the things I want to do

Things like...
...shower/make-up/hair done in the morning. 
...keeping the house clean. 
...packing fun lunches to go. 
...making dinner every night. 
... reading 
... running 
... yoga. 

All of it. 
Our days have settled into a comfortable routine of predictability, 
but still flexible enough to make it fun. 

Visiting the Swan Pond at Morris Arboretum


Does it have its downsides? 

Abso-fucking-lutely. 
Particularly with Adam's new job, 
we feel the money pinch of one income far more than we did before. 

This winter was also tough. 
so the dark days of winter took it's toll. 
Some days I flat out lost my sanity
I yelled at my boys for things that were not worthy of yelling. 
I snapped at them over stupid stuff. 
I would let them watch hours of TV while I scrolled through social media on my phone. 

I'm telling you,
 there were some dark days
But spring sprung and we grabbed it by the leafy balls. 

Backyard "waterpark"


What about those SAHM Friends? 

I tried SAHM Dating
And uh... 
NOPE. 
So I accepted my failure and 
... I gave up 
(cue up my blogpost on grit!) 

You know those stories of women searching for a soul mate? 
They try and try and keep failing. 
But once they give up (or get distracted), 
they find the perfect guy? 
It feels a little like this. 

Once I stopped trying to make mom friends, 
I started actually making mom friends. 

I started seeing the same moms at soccer 
and then again Aaron's LEGO class. 
And then we agreed to have our kids do baseball together, 
and now there's a tiny group of 3 of us moms that feels pretty solid. 
Our 3 oldest kids are the same age 
and our 3 youngest kids are the same age. 

We aren't drunk texting each other 
or planning any Mom Date Nights, 
but I genuinely look forward to hanging with those two moms
at sports, playdates, and kids birthdays. 
So I call it a definite win

And with kindergarten approaching, 
I've chatted with more neighborhood moms 
and preschool parents, 
enough that I could go to the School Carnival 
and not have that deer-in-the-headlights look. 

It feels like I am finally getting settled in this community. 
There's a long way to go, 
but I definitely feel I belong more than I did a year ago. 

Oliver "twinning" with one of our friends


Is there anything I would change? 

I still could use some more time to myself. 
I get 2 hours every day at naptime 
(Aaron plays in his room) 
but I could use a little more. 

Fortunately, that's coming this fall. 
Aaron will start kindergarten the second week of September 
(the first week is testing / orientation) 
and Oliver will start preschool the third week of September. 

I'll have approximately 3-hours 3 days a week kid-free. 
I'm already dreaming of those 9 free hours. 
What will I do?!?!

Early on I'll spend it training for the Army Ten Miler, 
a 10-mile race in DC which I'm doing for the second time
But after that... who knows!
Maybe I'll spend it peeing alone. 


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

FYI Comments

Just an FYI :

It used to be that any blog comment was automatically emailed to me, 
but as of May 31st, this has stopped. 
Blogger is aware of the issue and working on it, 
but it is taking a ridiculously long time!!! 

I've always used the emails as a way of keeping track of my blog, 
so being email-less is quite distracting. 

That said, if you comment on my blog
 and I don't reply, 
my apologies. 

It's not you, 
it's me. 


Thursday, June 14, 2018

23andme!

I got my 23andme DNA report back! 
And of course I want to share it here. 


But first, if it isn't obvious, this post is not sponsored. 
It feels silly to have to disclaim that because, really, 
who WOULD want to sponsor this blog? 
But just in case you had any doubts, 
NO this is not sponsored. 
I paid a whopping $148 for this report. 

Back to my report. 
There are two sections to this, 
the ancestry and health. 


Ancestry Report



This is in no way surprising. 
My paternal grandmother is 100% British 
and my paternal grandfather has many relatives in Great Britain, 
so the 54.6% British makes total sense. 

The rest is a bit of a conglamorate from my Mommy Cheryl's side
The most surprising, of course, being the 0.2% West African, 
mixed in with so much Northwestern European! 

23andme had a lot more interesting detail on this, 
which I won't bother sharing because it's too complicated, 
but very cool. 

***

Health Report

Honestly, this is what I was most excited for. 
I knew from other bloggers that there were several areas to score on, 
and below are a few of the most interesting. 

In order: 

BRACA1/2:
 Do not have this gene 

This is good because I've already been tested not once, 
but twice
for this gene because of my Mommy Cheryl's breast cancer death at age 29
So good, 23andme, we agree!


Caffeine:
 Less likely to drink caffeine

This was hilarious to me because I am so renowned as a non-caffeine drinker. 
As I always say, me on caffeine is normal people on speed. 
But I never knew there was a genetic component to this, 
so that was interesting!


Deep Sleep:
 Likely to be an especially deep sleeper 

Again, obvious. 
I am a crazy deep sleeper. 
My parents said I slept through fire alarms, earth quakes, anything
I couldn't nighttime potty train until almost 8 because I simply didn't wake up
And poor Aaron is the exact same as me. 

According to 23andme,
 only 10% of European share this very deep sleep gene. 
It makes sense why most people don't understand 
that Aaron still needs a pull-up at night. 
Deep sleep is very genetic and my poor kid got it hard!


Genetic Weight:
 Predisposed to weigh 11% less than average 

WHAT?!?!?! 
For all of my weight struggles
you are telling me I'm predisposed to weigh LESS?!?!
I thought for sure it'd say I'm predisposed to weigh 10% MORE! 

Did you know?
The average European-ancestry woman, 
age 33 and 5'3", 
averages 140 lbs. 
I find that stat fascinating because I tend to get stuck at 140. 
With both postpartum weight losses, 
I would consistently stall out between 139 and 142. 
(Note: Right now I'm 130)


Lactose Intolerant: 
Likely tolerant 

Good. 
I like cheese. 


Muscle Composition: 
My genetic muscle composition is common in elite power athletes. 

Hmm... are you sure? 
Because I run and do yoga and all that, 
and I still don't have ANY muscle. 
Anywhere. 


Sleep Movement: 
Likely to move more often in my sleep 

The average person moves 13 times per hour, 
while I move 16 times per hour. 
I'm sure Adam and several ex-boyfriends can agree with this. 
I move A LOT. 

***

While those health report items were the "big ones," 
there was a smattering of smaller genetic predictors that I found fun. 
Here's a few:

Asparagus Odor Detection: Likely to smell 

We had a whole conversation about this during our Friends Beach Vacation, 
even declaring we would do an "asparagus pee test" 
(which, thankfully, never actually happened) 
75% of people can smell asparagus odor in pee, 
while 25% cannot. 


Eye Color: Likely brown or hazel 

Yup, that's me.  Hazel eyes. 


Hair Texture: Likely straight or wavy (no curls) 

Yup. 


Newborn Hair: Likely lots of baby hair 

Yes, I was a full head of black hair at birth


Sweet Vs Salty: Likely prefer salty 

Truth.  I love salt. 
While I do love sweet and chocolate, 
the real deal is salty with some sweet on it, 
like chocolate covered pretzels. 
But give me the choice of chocolate cake or a bag of chips with dips, 
I will totally take the bag of chips with dip. 

***

And that is a brief glimpse at my 23andme DNA report. 
I highly recommend it to anyone! 
There's a lot of fascinating information in there. 
And they run a lot of specials, 
so normally Ancestry + Health is $200 
but there's a ton of places to get discount codes. 



Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Grit

Grit 

Dictonary.com: 
"courage and resolve;
 strength of character


I have subconsciously elevated grit
 above many other child-rearing priorities
 (e.g.: privacy: my kids don't know that word)

I can't pinpoint what spawned my laser focus on grit. 
Probably has to do with my loathing for millennials (my generation!). 
Stereotypically, millennials have been coddled, protected, 
and now are unable to function in the world. 
And the next generation is even worse. 

Originally, I didn't call it "grit." 
I called it: 
"toughen up
or 
"you have to get ready for the world
But none of these were a true description. 


Then I watched this 6-minute Ted Talk by Angela Duckworth
and was completely intrigued. 
Later, Allena mentioned Angela's book in her book review
and I immediately checked it out of the library. 

At Allena's recommendation, 
I skipped the first 2 parts of the book 
and dove straight into the parenting chapters. 
Essentially: how to develop grit. 





Author Angela Duckworth kicks off the parenting chapter by sharing
 two real-life success stories of parenting, 
both with very different parenting methods. 
But while the parents may appear to be vastly different, 
they both had two things in common: 

1. Both parents were demanding (albeit in different ways). 
2. Both parents were supportive (albeit in different ways). 

Grit seems to be fostered in an environment of 
both supportive and demanding parenthood. 
Or, as she calls it, Wise Parenting. 

(Excuse my poor cell photo)

Wise Parenting = the most likely to produce gritty children 


Angela further clarifies that supportive has two sub-components: 
Warm and Respectful

And perhaps my favorite part was this easy assessment of wise parenting. 
How many of these statements would the child affirm? 
Noting that italics indicate the opposite. 


At age 5 it's hard for Aaron to answer these, 
so evaluating for myself, 
I would say I'm really good with the Warm and Demanding

I struggle on "Respectful" because of my own upbringing. 
I was raised in an Evangelical Christian household 
where there was ONE right answer
 and the other answers were WRONG. 
So that line: 
"My parents tell me that their ideas are correct and I shouldn't question them
... yup, that was my parents. 

While I make a conscious effort to NOT be so rigid in my views, 
I can certainly see myself lapsing back into an authoritarian parenting. 
Mental note to keep working on that! 

***

Another fascinating aspect of this book 
was Angela's focus on extracurricular activities. 
While most people think of sports, 
there are tons of areas to be involved. 
Volunteer, academic activities, hobbies, etc. 


Extracurriculars are a measurement test for grit. 
In highschool, grittier kids would stay with an extracurricular for two or more years, 
and often showed some sort of advancement in some way or another. 
(author's examples: 
becoming editor of newspaper, 
winning MVP for volleyball team, 
winning a prize for artwork)

Angela notes that follow-through on extracurricular 
is the single best predictor of success 
more so than grades and standardized test scores. 

An additional comment she made was that teachers, coaches, and instructors 
are much more likely to be demanding. 
While parents may praise every little thing, teachers/coaches/instructors will not. 
This struck with me as I thought about Aaron's baseball team. 
His coach is SERIOUS and DEMANDING. 
In my opinion, a little too demanding, 
but he clearly has improved his team of 5 year olds. 

She wraps it up by her family's "Hard Thing Rule," 
with these 3 parts: 
1. Everyone has to pick a hard thing that requires deliberate practice. 
2. You can quit, but you can't quit until a "natural" stopping point 
(e.g.: season is over, tuition payment is up, etc) 
3. You get to pick your hard thing. 


She gives examples that her hard thing is yoga, 
her husband's hard thing is running (also mine!), 
and her oldest daughter's hard thing is piano. 
Her youngest daughter, she explained, has cycled through several hard things, 
until she finally settled on violin. 

Upon highschool, Angela's daughters must abide by a 4th rule: 
4. Commit to a hard thing (whether new or old) for 2 years


I love this!

Growing up, I didn't do any extracurriculars
My sisters were a little more involved in sports and dance, 
but me? Nope. 
I always wish I had. 

Thus, I've tried to pursue this more with my kids. 
Already at age 5, Aaron has tried soccer and baseball. 

Little League baseball. 
Aaron is second from the right, and totally not into it. 

Aaron immediately took to soccer 
and we did a whole year of back-to-back soccer. 
This spring, I signed him up for Little League Baseball (his request). 
One week in and Aaron was NOT a fan. 
I told him: "You need to stick it out through the season, 
then you don't have to do it again.
His last game was last week
 and he declared: "NO MORE BASEBALL." 
You got it, buddy! 
(Won't lie: I hate baseball, so I am relieved!)

This summer he has a week-long flag football camp
 (again, his request), 
and then in the fall he will return to soccer. 

Oliver had his first intro to sports with a "Mommy-and-Me" soccer class this spring. 
It was cute and he LOVED kicking the ball into the net. 
So maybe we'll have two soccer lovers? 
I'll be thrilled. 


But no matter what, I've said over and over that I don't care what my boys do, 
as long as they are involved in something
Maybe they will both give up sports 
and pursue other things,
 like theater. 
I could see Aaron LOVING a robotics team. 
He had one LEGO class this winter and LOVED LOVED LOVED it. 
Unfortunately, those classes are few and far between at this age, 
so we will see what comes our way over time. 

*** 

So in summary, 
I really loved Angela Duckworth's take on parenting + grit. 
If anything, I beg you to watch her 6-minute TED talk because it's outstanding. 
I can't speak to much of the book (Allena can speak more to it), 
but the last 1/3 that I read was really great!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Independent Play is HERE

I have been waiting for this day with baited breath. 
The day that Oliver can actually
 play independently for an extended period of time
And at 2 years and 2 months old, 
I feel we are finally HERE. 



Aaron has been in this stage for years
I can't think of the last time I've "entertained" him. 
Usually the most assistance I give is exchanging toys from our Toy Rotation
Or getting down the play-doh from it's hidden shelf. 


But Oliver has been a different story. 
Any toy from our Toy Rotation would buy me 10-15 minutes at best. 
One day I got a solid 30 minutes out of him (that here
but again, rare. 
I admit I've resorted to Daniel Tiger many more times than I wish to admit, 
simply because I need him to stay put 
(preferably without screeching) 
while I clean up
 or unpack groceries
 or assemble lunch
 or whatever. 


Just these past few weeks, 
I've noticed him turning a corner in play. 
If the trains are out, 
he'll sit and play trains for quite a while, 
building tracks that don't go anywhere 
and stacking all the trains until they fall over. 
You know, normal play. 


Obviously, it's quite messy, 
but he is SO CRAZY GOOD at picking up that it negates the mess. 
Seriously, I've never seen a child who (unprompted) picks up like he does. 

 I'll hear all the toys slam back into the box, 
then he'll appear at my side announcing: 
"All done!  All done!" 
(Translation: New toy please!) 
and we'll go get a new toy. 


It's pretty awesome. 


And I wanted to document this in my blog 
because I always wonder when independent play kicks in, 
and now I can know to look it up. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Still alive

Contrary to what it appears on my blog, 
I am still alive. 

I'm still in a bit of the slump I wrote about here 
(although I revived from the slump long enough to make two posts, 
before diving back into the slump) 

but also we are just BUSY. 

I know, I know, 
(eye roll)
EVERYONE is busy. 

We are no different. 
We'll be busy with summer activities and traveling, 
then busy with school starting in the fall, 
then busy with holidays, 
...so I guess I'll see you again in January 2019? 

Jk. 


Good news is that I've pulled myself out of my reading slump,
 so my May-June book recap won't be totally blank. 
I need short-ish, funny books. 
If I see the words "a novel" on the cover, 
it goes in the #nope category for me. 

So far I've read this book and am almost done this book
and you can expect recaps at the end of June. 


And in an effort to avoid this a totally picture-less post, 
here's a few photos from Memorial Day weekend. 
Don't worry, it's not a recap, just a smattering of unrelated photos. 

First up: 


How how HOW does a family of 4 need this much crap to go away for 3.5 days? 
It's truly embarrassing. 


A much more picturesque photo: 


My favorite-ever 6 mile run. 
Running in the Finger Lakes region of NY is breath-taking
I've run all over Philadelphia area and nothing compares to this. 
Dirt roads, white country chapels, and lakes in the distance. 
You'd think I'd have some country music on, 
but no, 
I listened to "The Greatest Showman" soundtrack the whole run. 
The song "'This Is Me" chokes me up every damn time. 


Also...

This is NOT a staged photo:


This is father and son "quiet time" at the lake. 
Adam has his kindle, 
Aaron his ipad, 
both with a lollipop in their mouth (not cigarettes!) 

Further proof of its non-stage-ness is the piles and pile of sleepgear all around. 
That's life at the lake. 
Piles. 
The OCD in me dies a little every time. 


And lastly... 


Not from the lake, 
but a photo I snapped at the park. 

I shared this story on my IG, 
but loved it so much I'm sharing it again here. 

Aaron and Oliver were scooting around the park. 
They collided and wiped out pretty badly. 
Aaron's knee i particular was beat up, 
bleeding all the way down his leg. 

Two older kids, roughly age 8 or 9, 
jumped on their bikes and rode to their house a block away to get us bandaids. 
For Aaron, bandaids fix everything so soon enough he was up and going again. 
It was really the sweetest, kindest gesture, 
from kids who didn't even know us. 

I hear so much about this generation of kids being spoiled 
and selfish 
and too obsessed with technology to look around. 
But not these kids! 
Their little act of kindness totally saved our day, 
and I hope they carry this kindness with them wherever they go.