Sunday, August 19, 2018

What We're Eating This Week 34/52

I am so happy to be home and cooking in my own, clean kitchen again!

Tearoom chicken salad with cinnamon rolls, strawberries, and cucumbers (from our own garden!!) with dill dip
Chicken tacos with Mexican street corn, rice, and beans (tomatoes, onions, and peppers from the garden!)
Leftovers! (We have leftovers again!!)
Brats, baked beans, snap peas, brownies
I have a conveniently scheduled dinner time cut and color, so those suckers are ON THEIR OWN
Cheeseburgers, chips and veggies and dip, watermelon
My first day of in-person adjuncting!!! I don't care what they eat!
Grilled chicken salads, green beans, ice cream
Pizza at the pool, I hope

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Video of the Week

Friday, August 17, 2018

Halcyon Days

Could this summer have been better?

A summer of mermaids.

 And you know what those mermaids meant?  They meant that Dorothy was playing with a revolving pack of 4-6 year-old girls at the pool and I was sitting in the shade with my book.  Amazing.

A summer of slime.
 And! Every time we went to the craft store to make slime, we could get excited for fall because retail merchandising doesn't go with the season anymore ever!
 A summer of ice cream.  So much ice cream.

 This was the first summer I can remember when everyone s a grown up and can pee anywhere by themselves and buckle themselves in the car and find their own shoes every time.  Leaving the house has been a real treat and there are days when we are gone from morning until dinner and it's FUN.

A summer of exploring our town.
 Thanks, in large part, to Bucky on Parade-- talk about a fun diversion!
We are entering the final couple of weeks when Ben and I have to work, but the kids are still at home, and all of us are gearing up for a change in routine.  You know me, over here all giddy with the potential of academias new year.  Fall is my jam, but it's hard to trade wet towels for cozy sweaters this time around. 

Summer, we love you more than craft bear and pizza by the lake.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Parenting Pro-Tip: Don't Do Fun Things.

And then!  When you actually do the fun things, your kids will be BLOWN AWAY.

For instance.  We have not been to a single Family Float Day all summer (mainly because of sportsball) so we went to one, and it was basically the greatest moment ever.  Seriously, when we told then we were going, the children REJOICED.

 And!  Some of out super old floaties wouldn't stay hydrated, so we got to THROW THEM AWAY.  Score one for decluttering!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Hey! You! Don't forget about POTY!

Click the link over on the right.  Still being dumb with our mics on.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Wisconsin! Don't Forget to VOTE!

We like this guy!

But whoever you vote for, WI Democrat friends, keep your eye on the prize in November.

Monday, August 13, 2018

40 for 40 Update

I have been 40 for 3 months, so that means I should be /.4 through my 40 for 40 list, right? 

Yeah, about that.

1.  Get a pedicure with Dorothy-- Not yet.  Something to look forward to.
2.  Go to all of the museums in town-- One down!  All the rest to go. Erm.
3.  Make 40 POTY podcasts-- HA HA HA.
4.  Write 40 poems-- I should be 10 poems in, but, alas.
5.  Keep my nails manicured-- A solid SORT OF here.
6.  Read 100 books by women-- I am soooooo working on this.
7.  Finish my novel-- Slowly.  Kind of surely.  Like a broken turtle
8.  Practice yoga everyday-- Most days!
9.  Take the kids fishing-- Why did I want to do this?
10. Visit a national park--  YES!!
11. Visit 3 state parks-- 2 down.
12.  Take the kids to a ball game at Miller Park-- YES!!
13.  Go skiing-- Nopers.
14.  Grow lavender and mint-- Damnit.  I even saw a pot of lavender at Whole Foods, but I couldn't remember why  wanted it.
15.  Get massages-- Do home massages count?  I will be more mindful about scheduling these.  RIGHT NOW.
16.  Plan a Gamma Nu reunion:  Not yet.
17. Buy 40 lottery tickets:  Working on it.
18.  Try 40 new dinner recipes:  This has been SO FUN.  We are definitely 7 in.
19.  Make a book of my 40 favorite pics: Not yet.
20.  Make a playlist of my 40 favorite songs:  Not yet.
21.  Write down my 40 favorite memories: Not yet.
22.  Do 40 random acts of kindness:  Again, about a dozen in.  This has been a blast.  Little things like holding doors for moms with babies, letting people go in front of me at the grocery store, surrendering the right of way, etc.  I also paid for a mom's treats at the zoo, took all of the garbage out for Ben on a really busy morning.  I have been trying t be kind as a default-- this is a good bucket list item.
24.  Drive to the east side of Madison by my damn self: Not yet, guys.
25. Take Beatrix to a dog park:  Why did I want to do this?
26. Fly a kite: Seems so easy.  And yet.
27.  Make a sandcastle  LIKE A BOSS.
28.  40 date nights-- with any/all family members:  A marked increase in date nights for sure.  This one is so fun!
29.  40-ish after school adventures with Harry:  Working on it-- another terrific item.
30.  Bake 40-ish things with Jack:  We are having a blast trying new recipes. We have 6 so far.
31.  Wear jeans and heels all fall:  Can we rethink "all" fall?
32.  40-ish writing dates with Cooper:  We had one-- it was adorbs.
33.  Write more in coffee shops:  Working on it.
34.  Listen to new music everyday:  Doing it!
35.  Run a 5K:  This sounds terrible.
36.  Watch all 2019 Oscar movies BEFORE the Oscars:  Such a good goal.
37.  See 40 movies at the theater:  I am like 6 movies in.
38.  40 couch dates:  FOR SURE we have accomplished this one over the summer, but we'll keep going.
39.  Read 40 new books with Dorothy:  We are about 25 books in!
40.  Daily gratitude practice:  I love this one!

Ok.  Goals for the next quarter:
Keep making daily progress on the list and check off more low-hanging fruit.  I'd like to be done with 1, 7, 9, 11, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, 26,  35, and 39

Sunday, August 12, 2018

What We're Eating This Week 33/52

Okay.  This is a lie.

I am not doing a menu post this week (STAY TUNED FOR NEXT WEEK.  IT WILL BE THRILLING), but I am going to talk about slow cooking in the summer.

Maybe I just like to taunt Beatrix, who goes a little bit crazy on the days she lounges by the cock pot all day long smelling its increasingly intoxicating fumes, but for me, slow cookers are year-round appliances.  This is also probably because I keep my house about 68-degrees 365 days a year, so everyone is always ready to curl up with a home-cooked hot dinner.

Mostly, though, I rely on the slow cooker so often because we are nearly always running around like crazy doing kid stuff, and I get tired of spending $60+ on restaurant dinners that aren't even very fun anyway.  I have written a lot lately about the big kid milestones we are enjoying, but good behavior at restaurants is not one of them.   am sure it;s right around the corner, right?  Right?  RIGHT?

Anywho, I have a few standard crock pot dinners I find myself relying on in the summer that I don't make as often in the fall and winter.  Here are my 3 faves:

1.  Salsa chicken (or beef).  Throw a jar of salsa and some chicken broth in the crock pot.  Add cumin, garlic, paprika, and chili powder.  Add chicken or beef, depending on your preference.  Cook all day and shred before eating.  Sometimes, I add a block of cream cheese midway through, especially if I think the meat is going to be too spicy or if  have also added a can of Aldi tomatoes and chilis.  You can use this meat for tacos (my fave), enchiladas, burrito bowls, salads, nachos, etc.  So easy!  Complemented so well by garden veggies!

2.  Pulled pork for sandwiches.  I like to use, um, pork (any kind, really-- a shoulder, a loin, some chops, whatever you find in your freezer/on sale), an onion, some chicken broth, a cup of my favorite BBQ sauce, a splash of Worcestershire sauce, some brown sugar, and some minced garlic.  I just, again, throw it all in the pot, cook all day, and shred when I get home.  In the summer, this is best served with homemade coleslaw, and corn on the cob.  I prefer slider buns so I can eat more than one sandwich and not feel like a pig, but you do you. I also love to put the leftover meat (ha!  leftover meat is becoming a myth in our house as Harry and Jack now eat like humans and not like picky children) on nachos.

3.  Corn on the cob.  One day, I didn't time to boil corn before dinner or tin foil to grill it.  So!  I broke the ears in half and threw them in my slow cooker, covering them with water, butter, salt, and pepper.  I cooked them for like 3 hours in low, and they were perfect!

So there you have it-- three uses for slow cooker in the summer.  What else do you use it to make in the hot weather months?  As you know from my more-pathetic-by-the-week-help-me-it's-barely-halfway-through-the-year menus, I could use a few tips/

Friday, August 10, 2018

Take Your Kid to Work Day 3/4

Jack was the only kid this summer who actually had to work when he came to my office with me.

Before we even got to my office, I made him attend a talk I gave to parents of incoming freshmen, and then we really went to work.

First I made him help me open all the textbook boxes and count them (one time, I waited until the day of my meetings and found boxes of music textbooks, and it was horrifying).   Then, I made him open all of the supplemental CD boxes and remove a disc.

Then we had lunch because I am not a monster.
After lunch, I thought we would be almost done.  We had a pleasant half hour or so on our own screens while I did some TA hiring and enrolled all of the kids in school.

My last task was to assemble the TA binders for training at the end of the month.  I have always had Harry help me in the past, but Jack was so sweet and happy to assist that I figured what the hell?

That was when I discovered that the 1000+ pages of copies for the binders weren't sorted in the machine, so I had to sort them manually or place then page by page in 35 binders.  I thought about asking the person who made the copies to please make them again and sort them.  I thought about chucking the separate colors, assembling one complete binder's worth of materials and running 35 quick copies on white paper. I thought about just handing out the binders empty and passing out the papers at the meeting.  I thought about putting together a binder PDF instead and telling the staff that we are going paperless.

In the end, most of these options led to too much paper waste for me to handle, so Jack and I spread the binders out all over the hallway outside my office and filled them up.  For 3.5 hours.  I could not deal with a 60+ page document of supplemental activities that had been honed by the staff each year and is really valuable.  I am going to PDF that one and also distribute the actual printed pages in the meeting.  35 people putting them in their own binders will go much faster.

Always time for a BUCKY!
 End of a long, fun day!

Thursday, August 09, 2018

How can summer be almost over?

It seemed interminable in June-- just one day after another with no childcare stretching out in front of me.

But then!  Our days developed a rhythm, and the summer sped by.

5:00-ish: I wake up to guzzle coffee, start laundry, and work on my classes but never really have enough time to write my book.
6:30: Yoga and cardio
7:15:  Kids up for breakfast, dog walk etc.
7:45: Kids get dressed, brush their teeth, fill up a water bottle, get dressed for swim lessons, and give me a change of clothes to pack in their swim bags. I clean up breakfast and pack snacks and maybe also art supplies depending what we have to do after the pool.
8:15-8:45: Light housework which always included bleaching all the bathrooms because geez. Harry would cut the grass during this time slot, and everyone would read and interact with books, too.
8:45-9:20:  I kept my resolution to get dressed everyday, and this is also when I would throw their dry clothes and towels into the pool bag and prep for our post-pool, pre-lunch plans
9:30-10:35: Swimming/diving lessons.  During dive season, Jack stayed at the pool until noon for practice, but the rest of us went to Harry's tennis lesson or ran errands between lessons and lunch
10:45-12: Michaels for craft camp or slime class, Harry's tennis lesson, general errands, etc.
12-1:30: lunch, lunch clean up, laundry folding and putting away-- mostly this is when the kids beat the crap out of each other, watched TV, or played at the park with friends.  Sometimes, this time was condensed and Cooper had tennis at 1.
1:30-5:  Afternoon activity.  Sometimes the moves.  Usually the pool.  Once a week the library and then the pool. (once dive season was over, we moved the library to the pre-lunch spot, and that was even better.)
8: kiddie bedtime
8-9:30: Couch date
9:30- adult bedtime because 5 is early.

Everyday.  All summer.

Now school start times loom, and we have to figure out new routines.  It seems a little daunting even though 75% of the kids will be across the street all day, but it's not any more daunting than 4 kids home all day while I try to work, right?

This is the summer where the kids have all been kids, not babies. Everyone can buckle themselves up and get themselves ready to go and use the bathroom alone.  Next summer, I'll have 3 kids and a teenager.  Who knows?  Maybe this summer will always seem as perfect as I think it was right now, on the precipice of our return to real life.

 Beatrix has also had a lovely summer.  Mostly right here.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Jack found a sport

I know that kids don't NEED sports.  I mean, I a prime example of this fact.  I played softball when I was little, but I HATED IT, and that was my only foray into sportsball of any kind beyond a really dumb volleyball try out and a painful poms audition. (I played softball for 3 year because I was committed to sucking).

But!  I also know that a kid's life might be a little easier and more fun with sports in it.  Friends!  Things to do! An answer to the first question everyone and their dog asks little boys!

Jack has played sports forever-- soccer, hockey, baseball, gymnastics.  With the possible exception of gymnastics, though, all of these sports felt like work.  He didn't actually always want to go to practice.  He looked bored as heck during the game.  He wasn't having fun, and he didn't really sound enthusiastic even talking about it.

Enter diving.

Jack went to practice for 3 hours a day all summer.  He dove into the water grinning and surfaced with a smile every time.  He overcame his fear of back flips and listened to his coaches when they corrected his form.  he always tried hard things even if he ended up flopping into the water, and after each flop he scrambled out and tried again.

Now that the season is over, he has started taking clinics at UW where he continues to be coachable and enthusiastic, taking risks and working on technique.

How cool is he?

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

18 for 2018: August Update

1. Blog everyday:  You freaking betcha-- even when I have absolutely NOTHING to say.  HA!
2. No FB 9-5 M-F: Ok.  You guys.  What the hell? How many articles about distracted parents do I have to read (ON FACEBOOK?) before I STOP DOING THIS.  I largely don't give any shits about people hanging out without me, which is a YUGE breakthrough, but omfg.  I wish I could have all of the time back that I wasted on FB in the last decade. I would be an accomplished novelist FOR SURE.
3.  Read 100 books: I mean.  I am in the 120s.
4.  Read Poetry:  I have slacked on this in a big way.  So!  I just put some collections from this list and this one on hold at the library.
5.  Table Setting:  Well, I did notice that we need ore salad bowls and plates?
6.  Book plot/writing: FUCK YOU stop NAGGING ME.
7.  Print Pics: Yep.  Good time waster.
8.  Track Spending: WHY ARE YOU JUDGING ME?
9.  Post on Insta and 1SE: I SE!  So behind!  
10:  Have a dinner party: LOLz.  We did have my parents over for dinner.  And we drank champagne. Sounds like a party to me.
11.  Let the kids entertain more at home: Sort of?
12.  Write poetry: Nope.
13.  Volunteer for candidates:  YEP.
14.  Clean the closet + maintain it: YES I DID!
15.  Family movie night: Well, we are watching Big Brother with the kids, but our regular movie night has turned into pool night, and I like it better maybe.
16.  Paint the downstairs and fix the bathroom:  HA.  HA.  HA.
17.  Harmonious mornings: Yes yes yes yes! After breakfast, everyone gets dressed for swim and dive, packs clothes to change into at the pool, fills a water bottle, gets a snack, grabs their tennis racket (if needed), etc.  It's amazing!  And now, of course, all of those activities are over for the last month of summer, and then school starts, so we will have to figure it all out again.  The really amazing thing about the school year is that I have NO early mornings, so we should be able to keep it together most of the time.
18:  More date nights: Yes!  This has been a terrific resolution!