Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Good news:  I figured out what needs to happen in my book.  Like, it has an actual plot instead of just characters saying clever things to each other.  This is clearly a good thing. I mean, that's why I wrote it AFTER THE WORD GOOD.

Bad news:  I have still not gotten back into a consistent writing routine.

First I blamed Harry's school schedule because he's up at 6:30 to get ready for school, cutting a solid thirty minutes off my time.  But really, you guys, that's not it.  He leaves for the bis at 6:45.  If I really wanted to write my book, I would figure out a place to steal back those 15 minutes without screaming snowflake about my process.  (And, we set the clock back 15 minutes in Dorothy and Coper's room, so if I jump on the elliptical the second Harry leaves, I can do my entire workout before the two of them start freaking out for breakfast.  Sometimes, I have to jump on for another 10 minutes or so later in the morning scramble, but it's so doable).

Then, I blamed my online adjuncting because I often use my time before all of the other kids wake up to catch up on grading and messaging.  But then I went 8 weeks without a contract and STILL didn't write more.  And really, I only put the "more" on the end of that sentence to make myself feel better.

Now, mainly because I am teaching an online class about writing and the first unit delves into the writing process, I am starting to recognize that neither of these is valid AT ALL.  If I wanted to write, I would.  And since I am not, something is holding me back.

It started when I used the summer as an excuse to slack off because with ben working and me and the kids at home there was barely enough time to teach my online classes, let alone write.  Then I eased back into the process in the fall by reading my draft, ostensibly to catch myself up.  But really all that did was make me freeze up with failure and judgment for my story.  Ultimately, I cut like over 100 pages and got the plot on track, but now I am avoiding the whole thing like it's my dissertation.

Cross your fingers that in two weeks when I am back in the office, I will find loads of time to work.  I mean, I am sure I will, but probably on EVERYTHING EVER that crosses my desk as soon as it shows up on my radar and NEVER on my book.  Because, my friends, I am starting to realize that THAT is my process.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Just Jack

Oh, man.  9 is a great age.  9 is happy and thoughtful and sweet and funny and takes itself very seriously.  I am really glad to have two more 9's waiting in the wings, but I have to say, Jack wears it particularly well.

Because we are terrible parents, we tried to talk him out of being in Cub Scouts, especially with the addition of rec hockey to his life.  But, alas, he would not budge.  And, really, I guess he shouldn't have budged because look how happy and careful he is making his Pinewood Derby car:

 Here he is ready to watch the Alabama/Georgia game
 And all dressed for school showing off his pattern-matching skills.
The other day he had homework and sat down at the kitchen table and taught me 2 new strategies for triple-digit addition based on the notes he took at school.  So capable and grown up!  My favorite thing right now is that he takes time every morning to "do his spritzes," a phrase he coined that means put on all of the colognes and body sprays.  I gag a little sending him off to school, but he feels great in his cloud of scent-- you can just tell.

Jack is a terrific kid, and I wish I had more time to spend with just him.  When Harry has a late hockey practice and the other kids have gone to bed, Jack and I have so much fun watching Netflix-- we have the same interest in TV from The Good Place to Bob's Burgers to Zumbo's Just Desserts.  He also loves to cook and is getting really good at it.  Part of that is Jack being wonderful and part of it is 9's eagerness to please.

Moms in the little-kid trenches, get excited because 9 is coming to you, and it's lovely.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Great Toy Shuffle of 2018

When I take pics of these teeny little home improvement things, I should remember to take BEFORE pics.

Let me just tell you that all of Dorothy and Cooper's new toys were pretty much piled on their floor and Cooper had 2 toy boxes in his room even though there was only really room for one and they were both so full of toys that he couldn't play with anything in them.  That sets the scene.

Also, I took some "in the middle" shots.

Stuff we moved downstairs:

 Stuff we're moving
 Same stuff, different angle
 TA DA!  Those IKEA shelves have been superstars since we moved into this house.  We now have 6-- one in each of the kid rooms and 3 in the family room.

 Dorothy generally hates change, but she is semi-ok with this arrangement.
 So many mid-sized doll houses!
 There is really no good place for Barbie's camper
 And one giant doll house!  This has lived downstairs for 2 years, and it almost never gets played with (by Dorothy-- Jack actually uses it for his Star Wars guys, but there's a giant bat cave down there he can use instead). We'll see if it gets more action up here.
 So many doll beds, you guys.  I cannot even.
 Cooper's room got cleaned up, and I took out a toy box.
 Still crowded, but much more reasonable.  Aldo, I left the vacuum cord AND the Pledge in these pics.
 No place for this thing:
 Still full, but at least he can actually reach in and grab stuff.
 See!  The castle is getting some play already!
 Oh!  And I moved some stuff into her closet, like this nightstand that holds American Girl clothes and accessories.
 A pink bin full of Barbies and Barbie-sized princesses, and a giant bin of dress up clothes that used to be a giant bin of American Girls (The Girls are now stacked like corpses on her shelf).
Basically, what happened was this: 6 years ago we bought a perfectly reasonably sized house AND THEN WE STUFFED IT TO THE GILLS WITH PLASTIC and now we need a bigger house.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

What We're Eating This Week 3/52

I felt like I was doing complicated math looking at our menu ideas and our hockey schedule.  I think I figured it out, but when you have hockey every night and a tournament over the weekend, dinners get hairy.

Sunday:  It's just me and Dorothy for this one because she and I have a birthday party in the afternoon, and Ben is taking the boys to Harry's hockey game.  They'll eat on the road on the way back, and we'll have my current obsession spinach and cheese quesadillas with tons of salsa and chipotle ranch dressing from Aldi.  Also a million cuties. (Ben will spend around $30 at Culvers, and we have all of our ingredients already.  So that's $5/person)

Monday:  Hockey from 5-6 and then again from 7-8.  So, I think I will make chicken noodle soup in the slow-cooker with French bread, apples, and brownies.  This is cheap and easy and can be eaten whenever ($29 because I am low on chicken stock and brownie ingredients again, about $5/person)

Tuesday: Ben works until 5-ish and the kids have hockey at 7:20, so we have an actual dinner window! Oven BBQ chicken, green beans, rice pilaf, apple crisp with vanilla ice cream ($24, or about $4/person)

Wednesday: Chili and hot dogs, veggies and dip, all eaten at 6:30 AFTER hockey, which guarantees and afternoon of sullen children.  CAN'T WAIT. (about $30 or $5/person)

Thursday: We have hockey from 6-7 and then again from 8-9.  I think grilled cheese and tomato soup will be easy, with peas and peaches from a can. ($15, or  $2.5/person-- can't beat that!)

Friday:  FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT-- we'll deplete our frozen pizza stash, but I will probably buy one for Ben and me (for $8, also candy, about $5-- $13 or just a little over $2/person)

Saturday:  Breakfast for dinner ($20 for blueberries, buttermilk, bacon, OJ, tube cinnamon rolls, and syrup, but we'll have everything else-- around $5/person because there's only 4 of us).

Speaking of food!

These PW stuffed bell peppers look good, but nobody liked them but the dog.  Probably will NOT make them again.
 I don;t know what happened, but I had the bread machine fail making a loaf of whit bread.   threw the stuff in there super fast on my way to dance, so maybe that was it but when I tried to cut it, this happened.
 I didn't buy and chocolate chips this week, so I was forced to make alternate cookies.  Peanut butter were a huge hit with m kids, and brown sugar brown butter cookies were a huge hit with the neighbor kids. Everybody loves iced brownies because duh.
 I added so much pureed spinach and zucchini (bright green) to my spaghetti sauce that the whole thing turned brown.  SO GROSS.  But it tasted great!  If you closed your eyes!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

How can I sum up 2017 in 5 minutes or less?

I am so glad you asked.  The answer is, obviously, 1 Second Everyday.

This is my first time using it, so next year, I know I will do things a little differently.  But still! It makes me smile every time.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Family Movie Friday!!

At our New Year's Eve lunch, we talked about our favorites from the year.  It was very fun and wholesome.  We took turns suggesting categories, and then we went around the table and supplied answers.  Things like favorite trip of 2017 or favorite thing that we did in Washington DC.  Family movie Friday came up a couple times as a favorite-- a favorite activity, a favorite part of the weekend, a favorite thing we all did together.  I thought that was especially awesome because we only started doing it in September.

As we talked about FMF, we decided to revamp it a little to make movie selection more fun.  We decided to give everyone 3 slips of paper to write movie choices on.  Then we put all of the paper in a bag.  each week, we will draw out a movie.  If your movie is picked, you get to write down a new one and throw it in, so you always have the same chance of getting your movie selected. We also decided to talk about the pizza for the week BEFORE I go to the grocery store, which seems like common sense, but you would be surprised.

Everyone was super into the whole project, and I don;t know about you, but I am waiting with bated breath to see what movie we'll pick next!

(Not really.  We will probably just have to watch Dorothy's movie because she'll cry).

I loved this happy movie-prep breakfast chaos so much that I took 2 pictures of it.

 You'd never know that people punched each other over sticker placement
 Dorothy left this here the other day, and I called it Fluffy Detritus, and then wished that was its name.
 New rule in our house:  IF YOU ARE HUNGRY, EAT A CITRUS FRUIT

Our first revamped move night was a smashing success.  The homemade pizzas were better than the ones from our favorite bar, and the movie was a YUGE HIT.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Hockey ate My Weekend, But We Still Had Fun

Dorothy was playing with her toys, and I was minding my own business eating hot snickerdoodles when she was all, are we having dinner after gymnastics?  And I was like OH MY GOD YOU HAVE GYMNASTICS because I am awesome like that. This was actually QUITE the scramble because we were balancing 3 hockey practices Friday night (who says our social life isn't en fuego?).  We figured it out with some juggling and some dinner in shifts (my favorite **eye roll**)

But!  Before we left, Dorothy spent the last few quiet minutes before the boys got home from school playing Hillary Clinton as the mayor of her room and wearing her cute little leotard.
 Beatrix kicked off her weekend with a major couch party, natch.
 Saturday morning, Ben and I cleaned the house like crazy while the boys snuggled up in our room (Jack was in my bed) and watched Krampus.
 Dorothy continued making large messes, as is her custom.
 The Krampus crew post-movie.
 Beatrix is a huge fan of sheet0changing day.
 And of Dorothy.
 Harry's team won their Saturday afternoon game, against the other team in their division from our club.  I reminded Harry before the game that these were our friends and neighbors and he could not hurt them.  He didn't!  And he scored a goal!  I took zero pictures.

But don't worry!  We were back on the damn ice at SEVEN IN THE MORNING on Sunday.  Ben drove Harry all the way to the ice arena and then realized Harry's gear was in the other car, the one in our garage.  So then he drove all the way back to the ice area and realized when he got there that he had ALL OF THE CAR KEYS WE OWN.  So, he came back a third time to pick the rest of us up and take us through the Dunkin Donuts drive through.  We made it mid- second period, in time to see Harry's team win again!
 I even used my new hockey mom blanket.
 Penalty. (A good one, though-- like, a necessary one, not just a beat-the-snot-out-of-someone penalty).
 Oh, no bog deal  I JUST MARRIED SCOTT FARKAS is all.
 Healthy breakfast.

 Jack is playing rec hockey after a year-long hiatus, and he had his first game right after Harry's.  Look how handsome in his gear!
 So cute!
 Harry broke his laces, so I bought him a new pair,  (Also, the $4 on laces and the $3.50 on Blow Pops so everyone would stop screaming at me and the $2.99 to rent Krampus on Amazon?  The only un-budgeted cash I spent ALL WEEK.  It would have been better if I was able to cram these things into my already accounted for random spending money that I spent on even more random stuff, like a Pinewood Derby kit, for example, but still.  Major progress)
 Then-- you are not even going to believe this-- we left the rink to drive 90 minutes to ANOTHER RINK for one more game for Harry.  He scored, but the team lost, and Dorothy played an adorable bleachers game:
 Which she continued at home:
 Zumbo's Just Desserts!  Watch it!  Jack likes it so much that he was searching for a Zumbo cookbook for his birthday or Easter basket WHLE watching the show.
 Beatrix, ending her weekend the same way she started it.