Friday, July 31, 2020

Books I Read

Books I Read: July 

I have not yet regained my book-reading stamina, 
and that's okay. 
I finished one book 
and am in the middle of two others. 
"Biased" (excellent book, but slow-going) 
and "Open Book" (easy read, should finish soon). 




The Right Swipe 
By Alisha Rai 

Overall a good chick lit romance.
I liked the premise
(even if I've never once used a dating app) 
and I really loved the supporting characters. 

There was a little bit of that annoying 
"hint at past trauma but not talk about it" 
which is pretty standard in these kind of books. 

The female protagonist was good 
but I did not like the male protagonist. 
He reminded me of someone in my real life 
who I'm not very fond of, 
and that put a damper on the plot. 
But that's a very personal critique, 
and I would not let that stop you from reading the book. 


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Pool Life

Last summer I documented our pool day routine (here)
and this summer I want to do the same. 
Obviously it looks a little different with an infant, 
but generally the structure is the same. 

There have not been many changes due to COVID, either. 
Our pool club's property is over 8 acres, 
so we don't have to make reservations for swim time. 
The snack bar (more like a full-service cafeteria) 
implemented a text-order/VENMO system, 
which has been an outstandingly efficient success 
and the manager promised he will keep it beyond COVID. 


5:30am: Carson sings his wake-up song over the monitor. 
Adam or I bring him into bed 
and he nurses while I slowlyyyy wake up. 
Once I'm awake enough, 
I do "all the phone things" 
like check weather, email, to do list, timehop, instagram, etc 

6:30-7:00: Adam does his workout in our basement. 
Oliver (and maybe Aaron) are up and in our bed 



7:00-7:45: Breakfast 
I get breakfast for Oliver 
(Aaron makes his own breakfast), 
eat something small myself (like a banana), 
empty the strainer from the night before, 
and wait for Adam to be done his workout. 



7:45-8:30: Run 




8:30-8:45: 
I drink my post-run smoothie 
and attempt to cool down. 


8:45am: Carson down for his morning nap 
This is usually about 1.5 hours. 
Sometimes it's 45 minutes which I consider a "very bad nap." 


8:45-10:30: 
Shower, makeup, clean house, 
and pack pool lunches. 
(Our lunch IG account here



10:30am-11:00am: Bathroom, 
Swim Suits (except Carson)
Sunscreen, Pack up Car, 
and pickup library books on way to the pool 
(loving curbside pickup!)

After years of trying different sunscreens, 
I finally found two zinc-only, fragrance-free brands I love. 
I use this Babo spray for me & Aaron's body. 
and this ThinkBaby for Aaron & Oliver's face. 
(Oliver still wears a long-sleeve rashguard)


11:00am: Pool Opens! 

We look ridiculous walking in from our car. 
We have Carson's stroller, 
the rolling cooler of lunches, 
our mat, our swim bag, 
Carson's swim ring, 
and whatever else we need that day. 

I mean, every other family looks just as ridiculous. 
But it always makes me laugh. 

Everyone (except Carson) wears masks to check in and 
walk the 15 feet through the front office 
then it is masks off and pool time!

11:05: Eat lunch. 
Kids request to eat immediately upon arrival. 
It was the same last year.


By 11:15am, all of our friends have arrived. 
We congregate in a tiny corner of the club near the baby pool. 
There are 5 of us families who sit together. 
Rarely are all 5 of us there the same day, 
but usually some combination of 3-4 families. 
Every family has 3 kids ranging from infant to age 8 
so it's a bit chaotic. 

I try to avoid photographing other kids in my blog, 
so I waited until everyone was in the pool 
to jump up and snag this picture of our area. 


If it looks like a total mess, it is. 
Whenever we pack up, 
there's always a shoe or a lunch bag 
that's missing and ended up in someone else's bag. 


11:30-1:00: Baby Pool 

This is the only pool which allows swim diapers, 
floats, and toys. 
We all hang out here. 

Again, it was hard to find a photo of just Oliver in the pool. 
You can see the "big pool" beyond 
and then the medium pool is down the hill beyond that. 


This is my first summer at the pool with an infant, 
so it took a while to find the right attire. 
Thanks to Lucie's List
I discovered this fantastic SwimZip suit
It zips from ankle to neck, 
allowing easy-on-and-easy-off. 
Since it's full body and UPF50+, 
I don't have to lather him up with sunscreen. 
I know sunscreen is allowed after 6 months
but I don't want to mess with his perfect baby skin. 
I top it with this great hat from Primary. 



1:00-1:30: Medium Pool 

Aaron has his red band 
so he can go to this pool any time, 
but Oliver still needs to be accompanied by an adult. 
He LOVES jumping in from the side. 


Since Carson can't go in this pool with his swim diaper, 
I sit on the side and chat with friends. 


1:30: Go home & unload & nap prep


2:00-4:00: NAP/QUIET TIME 

Oliver gets a book and goes to nap for 2 hours. 
He naps every few days 
but mostly just hangs out playing in his room. 

Carson goes down for his second nap of the day. 

Aaron reads for an hour, 
then gets an hour of screentime of his choice. 
His current obsession is Minecraft


I use this glorious time to do whatever. 
Sometimes it's working on PTO treasurer stuff 
or responding to emails or blogging, etc 

My laptop view since Adam confiscated the office upstairs! 



Sometimes if I'm feeling particularly well rested, 
I'll read a partial chapter of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. 
After blowing through books 2-4 in a just a few months, 
this book may take us a year to get through! 


4:00-5:00: Survive 

This is the literal witching hour. 
Carson is unhappy no matter what. 



5:00-5:30: Cook Dinner 
(Carson is often crying through this process.) 


5:30-6:00: Dinner 


6:00-7:00: Family Game Night 

A tradition started during lockdown. 
We rotate who picks every night. 
Tonight is my night to pick! 

(And yes, this is a very old picture.  Carson was small back then!)

Our favorite games are: 
Monopoly Jr, Scrabble Jr, 
Uno, Memory, and Rat-a-Tat-Cat. 
We are somewhat limited by what Oliver can comprehend. 
E.g.: Five Crowns Jr (one of my favorites) is out. 

We used to take a walk after game night
but we are a family of #heatwimps
When the temperature dips back to the 70s at night, 
we will resume family walks.  


7:00-7:30: Bedtime for all 3 boys! 


7:30-9:00: Read in Bed 

We haven't watched a TV show in ages. 
We finished The Last Kingdom over lockdown 
and haven't started anything since. 

Adam is on the last Harry Potter book 
and I think once he finishes, 
he'll want to resume tv shows again. 

Every now and then, 
we sneak into Aaron & Oliver's room, 
and get Aaron out of bed 
for a special Harry Potter movie viewing. 
We watch only an hour or so then send him back to bed. 

Friday, July 24, 2020

School Reopening Plan under COVID

This week our School Board was presented 
with the school reopening plan under COVID. 
The meeting was broadcast live on our school's YouTube channel. 
The actual plan was about 2 hours of presentation 
followed by 2 hours of questions 
by the School Board and community members. 

It started at 7pm 
and we let Aaron stay up for the first 2 hours 
so he could understand what's ahead 
and ask questions. 

Our first day of school is August 31st. 


Hybrid Plan: A/B Schedule 

Our school district is offering a hybrid A/B schedule. 
Half of a class (A students) will attend in-person Mon/Wed 
and half of the class (B students) will attend Tues/Thurs. 
Everyone will be virtual on Friday. 

Special needs (autistic support, etc) 
and new-English-learners will be in school Mon-Thurs, 
and home with everyone else on Friday. 

Kids and teachers will wear masks the entire time. 
Special needs and English-teaching teachers 
will be provided clear face shields instead of masks. 

Each child will have at their desk a plastic tri-fold. 
Generally this will stay on the floor, 
but will occasionally be set up on the desk 
to give the kids "mask breaks." 
Aaron told us: 
"We already had those, we used them for tests!" 
So this is not new for the students. 


Virtual Option

Parents can choose to do virtual instead. 
In an preliminary survey a month ago, 
9% of parents said they would prefer an all-virtual. 

If parents choose all-virtual, 
they must commit to it for the first half of the year. 
They cannot change their mind 
after the submission deadline in August. 


Bussing

1 child per seat (except for siblings). 
Assigned seats. 
Masks the whole time. 

Previously, one bus held up to 72 kids. 
Now each bus will hold 24 kids, 
with the exception of siblings 
who can share a seat. 

Parents who opt out of bussing 
will not be allowed to change their mind. 

Bussing is particularly dicey 
because while they want to limit number of kids on the bus 
we are a very high-traffic suburb 
and all of our schools have struggled to accommodate 
the traffic of parent-dropoff, 
and that was before covid! 


Symptom Screening

Parents will be required to complete a pre-screen questionnaire 
each day and every day that the child attends school. 
It will include information on symptoms, 
exposure to COVID positive individuals, 
and any travel outside of Pennsylvania. 


Visitors

None. 
No attending homeroom parties 
and no eating lunch with your kid at school. 
I completely understand this 
but it still made me a little sad. 
I loved seeing Aaron throughout the school day. 


My Thoughts?

First acknowledging that I speak from extreme privilege, 
I am 100% fine with all of this. 
As a stay-at-home-mom, 
this is easy for me to work with. 

Our plan is to send Aaron to school on the A/B hybrid schedule. 
He did wonderful during the spring online learning, 
but he is ready to go back and see friends. 

I also think this could likely change. 
We are over a month away from school starting. 
A LOT can and will happen in a month. 

I am mentally preparing now 
for an all-virtual start to school. 
If it happens, so be it. 

We have had an absolutely wonderful carefree summer, 
living life at the pool with near-total normalcy. 
I am going to relish every last second of it. 


A Picture for Picture's Sake

Aaron's first day of 1st grade last year. 
Back when we had no idea our little world would change!


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Misfits Market

I have LOVED LOVED LOVED my Misfit Market subscriptions. 
I am eating way more vegetables than every before 
and I'm trying dozens of new recipes. 



I also love crowd-sourcing recipes on IG. 
For example, when I got a bunch of raw jalapenos, 
Natasha gave me this 
and my family went nuts over it. 

I really like that I cannot pick what's in my box. 
It forces me to figure out new recipes for foods I'd normally never eat. 
It's a challenge 
and you all know I love challenges. 




For example: BEETS. 
I don't like the flavor of beets 
and would never pick one at the grocery store. 
But this week I got two beets in my box
I used this salad recipe by Giada 
and LOVE it. 
I cut the beets supppeeerrr small 
and once mixed all in, I don't notice them! 

Another example: JICAMA. 
We learned we don't like raw or baked jicama, 
but we love this stir fry with peppers! 
(Also, fun fact, I have been pronouncing 
the "j" in jicama like "jello" 
instead of the "hello" it's supposed to be)

And see that huge bunch of kale? 
Every night before dinner, I rip up a big stalk, 
massage it with canola oil, soy sauce, and miso, 
and bake it in the oven as kale chips. 
The kids (and I) eat it as a appetizer 
while I finish up dinner. 

Sometimes I have an odd assortment of random veggies left 
and I make a tray of them for dinner like this: 



Clockwise: 
Zucchini (pan-seared), brussel sprouts (pan-seared), 
fingerling potatoes (roasted), and acorn squash (roasted with herbs), 
all smothered in fresh grated parmesan. 

My end goal is to have half of every meal 
be comprised of vegetables and fruit. 
We certainly aren't there yet, 
but we are getting closer!


As a reminder, nothing I ever write about is sponsored. 
No self-respecting company is going to pay me 
to butcher-write about their products!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

My Apple Watch

I have sold my soul to my Apple Watch. 
And it has rewarded me beyond my wildest dreams. 

I am an externally-motivated individual
meaning I need something outside my own willpower 
to push me to exercise. 
Usually this is a friend 
or an upcoming race. 
Apparently, virtual badges designed by 
psychologically-manipulating engineers work too. 



Every month the Apple Watch comes out with a "monthly challenge." 
And if you meet it, you are rewarded with a virtual badge.
Whop-de-do. 
Yet those stupid virtual monthly challenges 
have shaped my fitness routine for the better. 

January-April were relatively easy 
(good because I was easing back into shape 
after pregnancy & c-section). 

May was my first challenging challenge. 
I had to move 169.5 miles. 
I started squeezing extra walks into my day any chance I had. 
I went on longer runs, 
not worried if I couldn't run the whole course, 
because the walk home would earn me the same goal. 



In June, I had to earn 1,500 exercise minutes. 
Running and yoga are my top exercise-minute earners. 
I added yoga twice a week 
and starting taking longer and longer runs. 
At 4.5 months postpartum, I hit 6 miles.  
In comparison with Oliver, I didn't hit 6 miles 
until 10 months postpartum. 
I am so proud of my body right now. 



This month of July, I have to close my move ring 20 times. 
We will be camping the last week of July, 
so I'm front-loading this goal as much as possible. 
Now, instead of a few long runs a week, 
I'm doing a lot of little runs. 
Example: a normal week I would run: 
3 miles, 3 miles, 5 miles = 11 miles. 
Now I'm doing: 
2 miles, 2.5 miles, 1.5 miles, 2.5 miles, 1.5 miles, 4 miles = 14 miles. 


Last Friday, a tropical storm hit our region. 
Normally I'd say: "oh it's a rainy day, I'll skip
but instead I laced up my shoes 
and rushed out the door for a speedy 2.4 mile run, 
just so I could close that damn move ring! 
(Rain started in the last quarter mile)


With all this exercise, 
you'd think I'd be dropping weight like crazy! 
(Quick recap of my weight at end of this post)

However, my weight loss is still slow going 
and because of breastfeeding, 
I do not except to change that. 
I average 2 lbs every 3-4 weeks. 
I'm happy with that. 
It's slow, but consistent. 

On the other hand, my fitness level is soaring. 
I have more energy, 
I'm sleeping great
 (even with a baby who wakes 1-2x/night to nurse), 
and I'm so much happier


I'm also not the only one in our house 
who has fallen victim to the Apple Watch. 
Adam has made changes to meet his goals too. 
Now when he goes golfing, 
he walks (and carries his own bag) 
instead of using the golf cart. 
I don't know a thing about golfing, 
but I understand he can rack up triple his calorie goal, 
in just one golf trip. 


If you want to chuckle at other people 
who are selling their souls, 
this article here made me laugh. 


A reminder, nothing I write is ever sponsored. 
I am a mere number in a vast database to Apple. 
But if they would like to send me free products 
to butcher-write about, 
I would accept in a hot minute!!!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Instagram

July is my worst blogging month. 

It's something about the summer. 
I spend the day at the pool
 (or another outside venue near water)
and then I'm so exhausted from heat and sun 
that I never sit at my computer to type. 

But I've had all these blog ideas to write about 
and I've been burst-blogging try to get them down 
before they fade away into the summer oblivion. 


First up, I want to talk about my Instagram account 
and the changes I've made in my feed

While I always managed my facebook 
with all the care of a drunken frat party, 
I am fiercely protective of my Instagram feed. 

I only follow people who lift me up in some way: 
whether by making me laugh, 
or their beautiful writing, 
or book recommendations, 
or educational content. 


When the Black Lives Movement gained traction again,
I knew my Instagram was going to be my learning tool. 

My anti-racism journey began a few years ago, 
thanks to a handful of really insightful books, 

White Fragility (here), 
the New Jim Crow (here),
 and I'm Still Here (here)

Those books laid the foundation for me to grow.  
By the time this spring rolled around, 
the sting of accepting my white privilege had worn off. 
And instead of fighting tooth and nail against it, 
I can say with conviction: 
"Yes, I do hold racist views.
I accept that. 
Now I am learning how to dismantle them." 

The best way for me to do that?
Filling my feed with new POC faces 
and educational accounts. 

I've followed dozens of new accounts, 
but these are just a few I've interacted with lately: 

@theconsciouskid (educational)
@thegreatunlearn (educational)
@shes_mightymighty (educational) 
@ayy.bee (POC artist)
@sophia_roe (edu / POC) 
@trinitysierra (POC)
@taymocha (POC) 
@moonandcheese (POC artist) 


Another way instagram has helped: 
Body Positivity

Rather than an army of learners, 
it's been one main influencer pushing me forward:
@thebirdspapaya 

Just like Past Tense Emily who thought she held no racist views, 
I also thought I didn't have any issues with body positivity. 

It wasn't until I started following Sarah 
that I realized how much body negativity I have absorbed from our society. 
Not just outright fat shaming 
but critiques of the little things of mine and other's bodies. 
Cellulite, for example. 

It still stings a little to post a photo like this. 
I'm not exactly loving those hips/thighs, 
but ... baby steps. 




Both body positivity and anti-racism are areas 
I'll be working on for years and years to come. 

What are areas you are learning about via social media?