December 8, 2014

Keeping My Eyes on My Own Work, errr, Life

Sometimes I am looking around at other people and thinking about how I need to shape up so I can measure up. I look at all their good things and I stop seeing all my good things. Sometimes I look at all their bad things and I stop seeing all my bad things. Stahp. Tonight I was talking to a friend who is going through a seismic shift in his marriage. His wife is a spendthrift who has managed to spend every dime (and then ten) for years, and he is tired of being broke. He took over the finances, gave her two prepaid debit cards, one for gas, one for groceries and miscellaneous, and then went and spent two months paying back thousands of dollars in utilities. She is pissed. He’s tired of getting the cold shoulder, but it’s still worth the peace of mind he is buying for the future. First thing I do when I get off the phone? Log onto Mint.com. This is one of those cases where looking at other people’s work is inspiring me to deal with my shortcomings and appreciate my blessings. (Note to husband: Fierce, you are a cheap Scotsman and you […]
December 7, 2014

Meal Planning Made Idiot-Proof

The household task that seems the most never-ending to me is cooking. I like to cook and generally whip up nice meals. I’m not sure what our ideal diet would look like (and it seems like science isn’t 100% sure either), but I think whole foods and no chemicals is a pretty good goal. That is a lot more work than buying convenience foods. Planning everything but breakfast on the weekend includes 19 meals and about 10 snacks for five people, three of whom can be irrational. Planning also involves knowing what we need, and not accidentally skipping a few key ingredients because I’m too lazy to carefully read each recipe. Until recently, my best weeks were pretty mediocre. However, I stumbled across PlanToEat.com (I think via KitchenStewardship), and life is getting better. I love how this software: I can import recipes from anywhere on the web, or type ones in by hand I can share recipes with any friends on the system, which for me is quite a few The software makes me plan out healthier meals (sort of embarrassing to type in PBJ/pasta too often, you know?) It automatically populates a grocery list for me, eliminating my fear […]
December 6, 2014

5 Faves: Making Cooking Easier

Last year, I volunteered on a preschool’s board (where we no longer had a child in attendance), and my husband was told by one of my fellow board members, “I do NOT know how your wife does it all.” He replied, “She does everything fairly poorly.” Aghast! (Them.) Laughing! (Me.) It’s true: I like to give off the impression of being a full time SAHM + home school mama + writer + Nana-noonoo-my-house-is-clean-and-I-am-superior-therefore. So annoying, I know. Especially because I do a halfway job on everything. One of the things that I do when I’m working toward earning my Superiority Badges is invest in long-term efficiencies. This drives my husband nuts, because I will spend an inordinate amount of time alphabetizing the spice cabinet or typing up recipes, while he can bust through and clean the kitchen in half the time that I take. However, thanks to repeatedly investing the time and mental energy needed to make things run more smoothly/taste better/last longer/etc., I look way more Martha Stewart than someone with no food processor should look.  Herein are my 5 fave moves for making cooking like a boss easier. 1. PlanToEat.com. I found this meal planning site through KitchenStewardship […]
November 16, 2014

5 Faves

So many things to post about, but so little time to determine how self-righteous and smug I should be about them. So, I will try jumping into 5 Faves for the first time, because it’s fun to talk about stuff I like. 1. Rodan & Fields Redefine Daily Cleansing Mask. Super-expensive, but a gift from a relative who sells this stuff. My skin looks incredible after using this–both right away, and over time. It seems to have made my skin tone more even and cleaned out my gunky pores. 2. Ello glass water bottle. $10 with Amazon Prime. This is my first glass water bottle, so I can’t compare it to any others. But the water tastes like nothing but water, which is a good thing. It’s pretty, and I wasn’t expecting this, but the clear sides with the little grid like silicone cover over it seems to trigger me to notice how much I’m drinking (or not). And then I drink way more than I would with my old metal bottle. Like everything else where I have a choice, I chose red. 3. Netflix Original– Virguna: Conservation is War. This documentary shows the difficult work being done by the […]
October 25, 2014

Learning Notes: Volume 1

Thanks Melanie  at The Wine-Dark Sea for initiating this sort of post. I’ll link up if you host a link-up this week. Wolfie is loving first grade, and I am loving the changes we are seeing in him. Zoe wants to do what her big brother is doing, so she spends a lot of time “home schooling” at the table too. This involves coloring, cutting, and working with some math manipulatives. We also point out alphabet names and sounds to her. We are reading the first grade Faith & Life series to her, as it is really simple language. Religion: Aside from just reading Crusades: Catholic Children’s Bible to Wolfie, he is now illustrating the stories we’ve been reading (for the 3rd or 4th time). It’s been a great way to make sure that he is paying attention to who is doing what with whom and where. It’s definitely my favorite topic, as we so easily touch on reading, history, listening comprehension, and art at the same time we hear my favorite stories. Math: Singapore math workbooks, plus manipulatives of my own design. Wolfie has been given pieces of paper with a number on the top (i.e. 8), and circles underneath. […]
October 21, 2014

A Typical Day

Recently, in the midst of moving, trying to continue working, trying to navigate private insurance for the first time, and starting the home school year, I felt wrung out like a rag at the end of each day. While this was going on, I was feeling bad about the many, muchas things that I was not getting each done, despite my best efforts. There was so much guilt in the evenings about how lazy and ineffective I must be. Then, thank God, it finally hit me: I was doing the best I could. Srsly. There was a point in the past where I might have procrastinated all day, then spent all afternoon feeling sorry for myself that I was so busy with the kids, dinner, and everything else I wanted done before Fierce got home. Those days are long gone, albeit, no thanks to me. With three kids, it just isn’t possible for me to relax much–at least not when the youngest is at that “old enough to destroy books, toilet paper rolls, and any non-durables” but too young to know any better. It’s easier for me to be on my feet doing work in the kitchen, where I can easily […]
October 15, 2014

Why Husbands Shouldn’t Help Their Wives

There are oodles of articles telling men to help their wives, and telling women to let their men know that more help=more sex. That sounds like good advice in one way: at least we’re not telling women to do it all with a smile so they can keep their men around, or telling men that it’s enough just to keep the couch warm. A lot of people aren’t even sure if men should have to do any housework at all. In another way, it’s terrible advice. Let’s look at the word help, whose definition is, “to lend one’s services” and “to aid.” (Thanks Google Define.) It really doesn’t mean, “to do one’s own job”, even though some people phrase the work they do that way.  People may say, “I help with sales,” or “I help find event venues,” but what they mean is, “I schedule sales meetings,” or “I find event venues.” Some of that comes from wanting to speak in a humble way; nobody likes a credit hog. But really, when we own an obligation, we are doing, rather than helping. So when it comes to household and childcare work, a man who “helps” his wife is not doing his job, […]
October 10, 2014

7 Quick Takes: I need to talk about my dad

1. I want to bury the lead and talk about how we’re all so busy and that makes it easier to not notice all that life getting lived up. 2. But that’s kind of a pot shot–because who doesn’t know that? Where are these people who think they aren’t busy? 3. When my dad was first receiving chemo, he stayed on the top floor of a skyscraper in downtown Chicago, with a lounge that overlooked Lake Michigan. It was beautiful. While my father, mother, and one of my sisters were sitting there with me and my then-two children, a husband and wife duo came into the lounge. They played violin and viola and were part of a music program for medical patients. 4. They started playing Panis Angelicus. The window behind them showed a spectacular summer day, with the lake shimmering like a sapphire pool and the sun beaming upon the thousands of people headed to baseball games and outdoor concerts. My sister was wearing her prom dress–bought far in advance so my dad could see it. My dad was wearing a blue paper gown, booties, gloves, a face mask and the tubes running from his wheely medicine tower wrapped themselves […]
September 11, 2014

Gillian’s List: All Responsible Like

It’s been raining for about a week straight, which means I am in perpetual nap/homemaker mode. Living without a dishwasher means that even my best efforts at homemaker mode mean that the kitchen may be clean, but I’ll rarely get into anything deeper. Given that I need to call and get the kids health insurance, which involves my two least favorite things (making business calls and health insurance), I need a list. Must do: clean kitchen continuously so as to win the Battle of the Fruit Flies. I’m not sure if they are the laziest or the smartest pests. call and add kids to health insurance scan and email sheets to property manager for the house back north pack for 2-day trip, plus entertainment for the kids for 3-hour drive tonight home school Want to do: workout make sourdough rolls deep clean both bathrooms fold laundry change sheets on master bed, crib freelance writing work   Yeah….that’s gonna happen.
September 8, 2014

Mom Work OR Office Work

I usted to think that my kids were annoying me when they wouldn’t let me focus on some paperwork/project for my freelance writing gig, etc. For a long time, I’ve just given up on getting stuff like that done when I’m the big cheese with no back up. Today, however, seemed like an ideal day to try to get them insured. You know, because we’re responsible like that….the deadline for my husband’s (awful) insurance at his new job is Wednesday, and we’re trying to see if we can do better than a $500/month kid premium (I’d be $400, hubby is $2.40) with obscene co-pays…like $2,000 + 30% for a hospital visit. Gee, thanks for letting me pay you close to $10k a year, so that I can have the privilege of shelling out about half of a typical hospital visit! So, today I let the kids watch TV, which has gotten to be a rare treat. I fed the baby all sorts of yummy things while I tried to upload proof of all sorts of things, which involved cobbling bits of technology together, as our scanner can’t send images to our laptop, thanks to poor reception that far back in […]