Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Books Read (June)

 Total books read in June: 5

Bad Blood 
By John Carreyrou

I read this book in one day, 
finishing it around 2am. 
I knew very little about the scandal 
so I had to finish it to know how it all went down. 

I then immediately watched the documentary on HBOMax 
and it was so neat to see some of the "characters" 
from the book on the real screen. 

I will say the book is a bit confusing with all its moving parts 
and different people popping in and out in a less orderly fashion. 
But the story is just a WOW story 
and you can't stop it once you start. 

Voice Lessons for Parents: 
What to Say, How to Say it, and When to Listen 

I learned a lot from this book. 
It's a pretty high level overview 
of parent interaction with kids, 
from early days through teenage years. 

4 chapters were specific to a child's gender 
(1 for little boys, 1 for teenage boys, 
and same for girls), 
and I had a few LIGHTBULB moments while reading. 

For example, I now understand why Aaron thrives under LOUD teachers, 
which was something I sensed but couldn't quite put my finger on. 

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna 
By Juliet Grames

I really loved this beautiful book 
... until the end when I hated it. 

It's a beautiful story, with beautiful writing, 
and I really loved the slow progression of Stella's life. 
I like how the story is told, sometimes slowly, 
and sometimes with great leaps and bounds. 

But the end got me for two reasons: 
1) a brutal child sexual abuse 
(always my trigger) 
and 2) the ending was just sad
Not a satisfying sad, but a begrudging sad. 

So first 7/8th: 5-star 
Last 1/8th: 1-star 
(The math on this ends up to 4.5 stars.)

The White Tiger 
By Aravind Adiga 

I didn't hate it but I didn't love it either. 
It reminded me a lot of Slumdog Millionaire (the movie) 
except that the main character was far less likeable. 

Anxious People 
By Fredrik Backman 

I expected to love this book and I did. 
I generally love Fredrik Backman; 
he has a unique way of making me 
fall in love with every character, 
even the horribly unlikable ones. 

I will say the book is written a little... weird. 
I can't remember if his other books were like this or not 
and it takes a bit to get into the writing. 
I was warned it was slow to start, 
and I don't think it's the storyline that's slow 
(that hooked me immediately) 
but rather the writing that's slow, 
if that makes any sense. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Getting up at 5am every day

I get up at 5am every weekday. 
Before any of my children (or husband) are even stirring. 
I don't exercise then 
(I do later at 7am). 
I just get shit done. 
And I love it so much. 

I have always been good at waking up with my babies. 
My 6am milking monsters have been my alarm clocks 
for the last eight years. 
I like that they forced me into a consistent sleep routine. 

But I'd rarely gotten up before my babies, 
and only ever for a yoga class that I prepaid the night before.

Where I Got This Crazy Idea:

A few weeks ago, I read the book "Hell Week" 
which was overall a "meh" book (review here
but one part caught my eye: 
the challenge to get up at 5am every day for one week. 
"Hmm, maybe I could do that. Just for one week." 

Then, I started listening to the "Lazy Genius" podcast. 
I am not a podcast person but Erika recommended Lazy Genius:
"Practical tips on how to make one thing in my life better in 20 minutes."  
I won't commit to a 30 minute or hour-long podcast, 
but I can knock out a 15-20 minute one 
while picking up the house every night. 

Episode #202 was about the morning routine 
and again I heard the reference to the 5am wake-up. 

Why Would I Want to Do This

I derive a lot of my self worth from productivity. 

In Carson's current stage of life, 
productivity is hard to come by. 
I wrote a whole blogpost about that here
Since that post, my productivity has improved greatly; 
Carson now naps for two hours in the afternoon 
and I have the opportunity to get a lot done. 
Unfortunately, by that time, I'm tired from the morning's adventures 
and I'm less productive than I'd like to be. 

I realized 5am would be a great way to knock out my to do list. 
And maybe even accomplish some house projects 
that have been hanging over my head. 

Additionally, Kendra Adachi (The Lazy Genius) talks
starting your day with something that brings you joy and energy. 
All my life, I thought people were supposed to start their day relaxing, 
like with coffee or some other calm, peaceful thing. 
Then, I realized, that's not me
The best way to start my day is getting shit done
I'm happier and energized when I've accomplished things. 


I picked the first week of summer
 [i.e. the first week of no school]. 
As Gretchen Rubin says, 
habits are best formed at the beginning of a new life change. 

I made my to do list the night before, 
so I knew exactly what I was getting up to do. 

I plugged my phone in across the room from my bed. 
I am prone to snoozing alarms 
and prone to lying in bed zoning out to social media. 
Instead, I forced myself out of bed to turn off the alarm. 

Another rule I gave myself was to NOT LOOK AT MY PHONE. 
My phone is a black hole time suck 
and once I open a social media app, it's all over. 

Once I was up, I would put on a sweatshirt and leggings 
(our house is 65 degrees for summer nights) 
and immediately leave the bedroom to go to the office, 
turn on the light (nothing cures half-awakeness like bright light) 
and get to work. 

How did it go


Monday was the easiest day to get up 
and then it got progressively harder until Friday 
when I really considered sleeping in, 
but I knew I could sleep in Saturday 
("sleep in" = 6:30) 
and I powered through. 

I accomplished so much at 5am. 
placing orders, 

The only thing I couldn't do was laundry, phone calls, and errands 
but that's a small fraction of my daily to-do list. 

By 6:30am, my to do list was done! 
And since I'd been awake for 1.5 hours already, 
I had the energy and motivation to go work out. 

The Rest of the Morning

At 6:34am, I climb back into bed. 
At 6:35, Oliver's clock turns green 
and he bounds across the hall to come snuggle. 
I've said it before and I'll say it again, 
Oliver is the best snuggler in the entire world 
and I never want to give up those morning snuggles. 

Shortly after, Carson wakes up 
and Adam retrieves him so he can nurse in bed. 

After that, I will exercise (run, yoga, or bike) 
or hop in the shower 
or go downstairs for breakfast 
and start packing pool lunches. 

The Rest of the Day

The biggest impact of the 5am comes at naptime. 
With my to-do list done, naptime means 

We've just spent hours at the pool with our friends.  
I am exhausted from sun, water, and chasing Carson. 
Carson and Oliver go to nap, 
Aaron reads, 
and I have two hours of quiet. 

I used to read at night which I still do, occasionally, 
and I am surprised by how much I enjoy the midday naptime read. 
It helps me rest, relax, and reset to conquer the rest of the day. 
(It resets me back to Morning Mom
halting the evolution to Evening Mom

The Hardest Part of 5am

Going to bed at 9pm. 

Especially since pushing the kids' summer bedtimes to 8pm, 
this leaves me a short window to regroup before falling asleep. 

My body naturally wants 8 hours 
(and every sleep expert recommends it) 
so by 9am I am just beat

The good news is that I fall asleep very quickly, 
within about 15 minutes. 
While that's not as fast as Adam's 30 seconds 
head-to-pillow-to-snoring routine, 
it's much faster than my common 30-45 minute lying-awake-in-bed routine. 

Ending photo:

I will not bore you with photos of me doing stuff at 5am. 

So instead, here's a picture of Oliver and I 
after we both got a hole-in-one on the same mini golf hole. 


Wednesday, June 16, 2021


 I am quick to anger. 

Some people get depressed or sad. 
They curl inward 
and retreat to themselves. 
Not me. 
I flare up with anger 
and will either lash out or 
seethe for hours 
like a red-faced cartoon character. 
Curls of steam coming from my overheated head. 

This is not one of my prouder personality traits. 

I have tried tackling this issue with my therapist. 
Turning over and over, again and again,
why I get so angry about things, 
even when I know they aren't that big of a deal. 
I don't want to be quick to anger,
but once there, I don't know how to dig myself out. 

Enter: Glennon Doyle. 

I don't find her to be a particularly relatable person to myself. 
She has severe anxiety and struggles to cope with life. 
I am a fiercely resilient and adaptable person. 
We are polar opposite. 
Yet, I find her writing to be so beautiful. 
She and I both love metaphors 
so I find her both helpful and educational. 

While reading her latest book "Untamed," 
I came across a chapter on Anger 
and was so struck by this chapter, 
that I actually scanned it into my computer, 
to be preserved forever. 

(I have, previously, taken pictures of books on my phone, 
but with 10,000+ photos on my phone, 
book pictures are quickly lost and never to be found again.) 

It all starts with the important line... 
"Anger delivers important information about 
where one of our boundaries has been crossed." 
"A boundary is the edge of one of our root beliefs 
about ourselves and the world."

Some root beliefs are good. 

I get steamed-up angry about how 
immigrant children are treated by our government. 
This started when Trump signed the executive order 
to remove children from their parents. 
(I still can't think about this EO without boiling.) 
But even still, under the current Biden administration, 
families suffer in poor conditions and little support. 

This pisses me the fuck off. 
My root belief is that children should be nurtured by their parents 
in a safe, trauma-free environment. 
The American government treatment of immigrant children 
violates my root belief. 
My root belief is a good one, 
one I want to keep and nurture,
and I accept my anger over this injustice. 

But what about a root belief I don't want to hold? 

I get really mad about different parenting tactics. 
Helicopter parents drive me nuts. 
Lack of discipline drives me nuts. 
Unregulated screentime drives me nuts. 
Allowing kids to become picky eaters drives me nuts. 

I get irrationally angry for parenting decisions 
my friends and neighbors may make regarding their kids. 


My root belief here is "there is one correct way to parent." 

Identifying this root belief gave me pause. 

This root belief comes form several places. 

First, from my dad who always sees things in black-and-white. 
As an adult, this really irritates me 
because so many issues have immense gray issues. 
Growing up, abortion was a black-and-white issue: 
any abortion = murder. 
Now I believe abortion is about 99.9% gray. 

Secondly, I'm a Type 1 Enneagram, 
who naturally believes in "the right way" to do things. 
I go crazy when people don't do "it" the right way. 
(Loading the dishwasher is a source of contention in my house.) 

Do I want to believe there is only one way to parent? 

For a number of reasons, I know this to not be true. 
Children are vastly different from one another. 
Children are also very resilient to different types of parenting. 
Different cultures parent their children differently. 
There is no one right way. 

This is a root belief I'm trying to change. 
And slowly, I've noticed myself less angry. 
(Veryyyy slowly.) 

And to end this post, here's a picture of Carson. 
Still a chunky monkey baby toddler.