Tuesday, February 16, 2021

This girl #humblebrag

I just want to brag on this girl a little bit. She has been working SO HARD on her distance learning and time management, and within the last few months she's gone from still working on her school work when I'm making dinner at 6:00 to now she's regularly done by 12:00 or 1:00, right on par with her brother and sister. Her grades are great and the biggest concern these days is that her chromebook has glitchy A/V. On top of all of that, she took her reading assessment last week and jumped four levels up to a late 5th grade level. Her teacher said she probably would have kept going and she probably would have gone up to mid-6th grade but they ran out of materials.  I took her to our local bookstore to pick out new books and she was just so sweet and excited and grateful. She spent a long time deciding between four different animal books before landing on these two, but she asked me to take a picture of the others so she could ask for them for her birthday. 

It's hard to be the youngest and even harder when you've all been stuck together for a year, but she remains such a fun, funny, joy to be around and it's so fun to see her little, kind of odd, brain at work. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021


I received my second dose of the COVID vaccination on Monday. There are many downsides to working in prisons, but we were in the top tier for vaccinations and I am so, so grateful that I was able to get it. I'll feel better once my mom, C, and the kids have it, but we're getting closer. 

My first shot was ridiculously uneventful. I was one of the first in our vaccine clinic and the nurse administering it seemed a little nervous even. She was super chatty and kept reassuring me that it was "perfectly safe," which has the opposite effect if the patient has said that they're not nervous, BTW. Then she literally SHOOK as she aimed the needle at my arm (which I had to pull through my neckhole, at work, in prison, because they administer it so high on the arm).  Then she slapped a Wonder Woman band-aid on and sent me on my way. I had no side effects, leading me to wonder if she'd actually even given me the shot. I even checked my sweater to make sure she hadn't missed (she didn't).

I received the Moderna vaccine, so four weeks later I was scheduled for my second shot. As the day drew near I started to actually realize the implications of the vaccine. Even more dramatically, we had a scare last week when Eli turned down tortellini (his favorite food ever) and said that his legs and arms felt "heavy, but light. Just weird." I scheduled him for a COVID test even though I was sure that we were being overly cautious. The next morning, as suspected, he was totally fine but we still had him tested and quarantined until we got the results. I just kept thinking, "We're so close." Luckily his test came back negative and we all got a little reminder that we still have to be vigilant about masks and hand sanitizer. 

I got my second shot on Monday. It was completely and utterly unremarkable. I remembered to wear an appropriate shirt. My nurse didn't shake. This time though the shot hurt so I had no doubt that I got it. My arm immediately became sore and throughout the day I started to feel "off." I was texting with friends to check in and we all had similar responses. That continued into the evening. Near bedtime is when it really ramped up and the flu-like stuff began. I alternated between adding more and more layers because I was freezing to shucking them all and contemplating sleeping outside. I slept fitfully both because of the fever and because of the muscle aches. 

In the morning I took my temperature (we get temp checked on the way into work and turned away if it's high) and was surprised by the 102 reading. Knowing I couldn't go to work even if I wanted to, I went back to bed and slept on and off, (interspersed with episodes of Bridgerton, so now I'm obsessed), for the rest of the day. I started to feel better towards evening and this morning it was as if the whole thing never happened. 

So now I wait 10 days and I will officially be 95% invincible! It looks like my mom will be able to get her first shot in the next couple of weeks, with C right behind her as an educational worker. I'm still trying to get Eli into a clinical trial for adolescents so we can get the kids closer to getting their vaccines too. I am so, so ready and I am so, so grateful for our current administration that seems to understand the urgency and need for science and proactive action. F 45 and his imbecilic optimism. 

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Girls Trip

The girls and I took a day trip to the coast hoping to see the whales and the elephant seals. While it was too foggy to see any whales, we did see the seals! We also found a trail that runs along the San Andreas fault line and had signs for the kids explaining the 1906 San Francisco earthquake 

We’re at a lighthouse with the ocean behind us. Or so we were told by the ranger :)
Elephant seal! They’re enormous and don’t move at all. 
This fence was in all one piece before the earthquake! 

Not at all reassured by the “steep cliff” signage along this trail

The girls were completely enamored with this tree

And the pooping deer

We all got a little hangry out in the middle of nowhere. Luckily we found a little deli that was open and had this stump table on the beach. The girls loved it

I was a little nervous about spending hours in the car with the Bicker Twins, but it was great. On the way home, as Syd nestled in for a car nap, she quietly said “Today was a fun day.” And if that’s not the highest praise from an angsty ten-year-old, I don’t know what is.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

In Lieu of Resolutions


2020 was, without a doubt, a weird year. I can't help but feel partially responsible since we did usher it in with charcuterie, slime, and the absolute cheapest rot-gut alcohol we could find. I promise we won't make that mistake again. For many, many reasons. 

This is the time of year that I'm usually planning my intentions for the upcoming year. Setting my resolutions (which are often based in self-degradation or FOMO) and making grand plans for how the new year will be DIFFERENT! BETTER! MORE RESPONSIBLE!

I decided I'm not doing that this year. I'm quietly, cautiously welcoming the new year and rather than make big declarative statements, I want to reflect on what I'm proud of from 2020. Chances are that if I set big goals for 2021, I'll miss the mark, but I did the same last year and yet here I am, having done some cool shit despite everything. I think I like that idea better. 

  • At the beginning of the year I bought a "Line a Day" journal. I only missed a single day (RIP May 8th) all year. I love the idea of journaling but often get intimidated by the actual writing part. Having a tiny area to fill has made this a really easy routine to adopt. Each date has space for five years, so I can't wait until next year when I can look back and reflect on "STILL HOME" and "Tiger King. WTF?" 
  • I KILLED it with the kids' Christmas presents this year. Each kid loved their gifts and no one (at least outwardly) expressed jealousy or disappointment. I stayed within a reasonable number of gifts and budget. No one got last minute filler gifts. I feel like I've peaked and that I should hang up my Santa hat now but also maybe I'm just getting really good at this? 
  • I have worked out regularly, and intensely, for the last three months. That in and of itself is a big accomplishment but even cooler is that even though I haven't lost any weight (like any. at all.) I still feel like it's been worth it. It's changed the way I think about my body shape and size and I'm so much happier. I can hold a handstand (against a wall, but still), knock out a bunch of burpees, and row without wanting to die. 
  • This goes along with working out but deserves it's own section. Eli and I have been working out together and it's been so cool to hang out with him in a different setting. I feel like he's really becoming who he's going to be and man, he's just such a cool person. If I wasn't related to him I'd still want to be his friend. If you want to bond with your teenager, I highly recommend taking up a hobby that neither of you knows anything about. Also he's really really good. 
  • I quit wearing make-up everyday and I like it. I put on foundation for the first time when we had our family pictures taken and as soon as we got home I washed it off. These days my work look is literally brushing my hair and putting on mascara. I have slowly whittled my morning routine down to about 15 minutes and it is GLORIOUS. 
  • I read 62 books, including a few that I read out loud to the girls.
  • My family pictures this year were awesome. I loved my outfit, everyone else loved theirs, our photographer was lovely, and they came out beautifully. 
  • At the beginning of March I got really into buying games and puzzles. We've continued to play games pretty regularly as a family and have actual favorites. The kids pull them out randomly and our dining room table is always kept clear in anticipation of a game. 
  • We've managed to save money this year in a way that we've never been successful before. Part of this is the lack of activities, but I also think that C and I have reached a point where we have a really effective shared language that's helped. 
For 2021, I hope that I can keep the things that I liked about 2020. More unstructured time with the family. Less hustle on the weekends. Reading in the middle of the day. Doing activities with my kids that highlight their unique personalities. Saving money and spending more intentionally. Focusing more on "feeling better" than "appearing better." 

It's been fun too to read other people's resolutions for the new year. What are you planning to focus your energies on next year? What are you really proud of when you look back at the last year, as weird as it was? 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

What I Read: 2020

 If I could identify a small handful of personal heroes to the 2020 Dumpster Fire, my local library would be near the top of the list. When there was talk of a two week quarantine (ha!) I rushed to our tiny little branch and stocked up on kid books and a few new releases. Then when they suspended all due dates and late fees and started allowing for curbside pick up, all hell broke loose. I outgrew my library book shelf. My holds that I'd been waiting forever for came flooding in. I literally couldn't keep up. Besotted with a guilty conscience, I returned several books that I just didn't get to, but what a lovely problem to have. Too many fun books to choose from. Interestingly, and probably related, I didn't have a lot of DNF's this year. If it didn't grab me from the start I had so many others to pick from. My goal this year was 60 books. As I'm writing this, with two days left in 2020, I'm sitting at 62 with another started. Not too shabby! I think the pandemic balanced out the work hours to let me keep my pace. 

So without further ado: 

Books I read out loud to the girls: For as much as I love reading, I suck at reading to my kids. I do okay when they’re little and we’re reading picture books, but I’ve never been great at reading chapter books together. I hate the slow pace and we inevitably lose steam. BUT, this year we did better! I found that it was a really nice wind-down for all three of us (and sometimes Eli) to settle in at the end of the day and read a chapter (or three) together. We started with Harry Potter and read books 1-3. Book 4 got a little dark for Averson, so Syd picked up there on her own. Others that we liked were The Family Under the Bridge (so dated but so sweet and a quick read) and we're working on The Lottery's Plus One. It's a great story but a little difficult as a read aloud because there are a TON of characters to keep track of. Next year I really want to read Anne of Green Gables. I'm also tempted to do Little House, but I recall reading these as an adult and being really disappointed that they didn't hold up. We'll see. 

Weird Mind-Fuck books: Obviously a favorite genre of mine. Wonderland. OMG. This was so weird and scary. I still think about it a lot. The author didn't hold back at all. Definitely read it. Mexican Gothic. Totally lived up to the hype. I want to reinterpret it as a dollhouse. Bunny. This one was a WTF all the way through and I felt a little dirty when I finished. 

Fun books that were easy to read: Nothing to See Here. I liked that this one had a weird element that was just accepted as a quirk. I kept waiting for a grand reveal or plot twist and it never really happened, but I liked it nonetheless. Mostly Dead Things. I LOVED the main character in this book about a lesbian taxidermist in a small town. Read this. It's totally worth it. Oona Out of Order. Okay. This one could have been a Mind-Fuck book too, but it was sweet and not as disturbing as the others. Kitchens of the Great Midwest. I loved this story and it was on my list of books that I gave out for Christmas. 

M'eh. These are books that I wanted to love, but just came up a little short. I'd still recommend them, but they weren't my favorites. Olive Kitteridge. People love this one but for me it was kind of boring and slow. But maybe that's the point? Normal People. One of the rare books that I think will make a better movie. 

Books about families: I definitely had a couple themes this year and read several books about families and family dynamics. These were ones that I really liked: The Jetsetters. I loved every single person in this book, and a scene at the end made me laugh out loud. The Most Fun We Ever Had. So sweet. All the way through this was sweet and lovely and you were rooting for everyone, even when they were terrible. 

Read these as soon as you can: American Dirt. This book kept me up at night. It is so heart-wrenchingly good. The Book of Longings. Biblical historical fiction has a special spot in my heart. I loved this story, told from a unique perspective. If It Bleeds. This was basically a compilation of all of my favorite recent Stephen King characters in a series of short stories. Dear Edward. Oh, this one broke my heart in the best way possible. Edward is the sole survivor of a plane crash and this is the story of his life. I loved it a lot. 

If you want to see my previous wrap-ups, you can find them here, here, and here. I'm thinking that I'll stick with the 60-65 goal as that seems to be the sweet spot. What were your favorites this year? I'd love to get recommendations. My hold list at the library is getting thin!

Saturday, December 26, 2020

A Cozy Christmas

Our Christmas was so quiet and cozy that I forgot to take almost any pictures. But I got the gist of it
Christmas is my favorite season on our street. The luminarias are a pain in the butt but they do make it all so magical.

I gathered the kids for the requisite Christmas Eve Matching jammies pic (after a quick alteration on Syd’s because she grew since Black Friday.) man, these are so much easier with big kids

Or maybe not...

Not to toot my own horn, but I KILLED it with the gifts this year. Each kid got at least one gift that blew their minds and a couple more that made them really happy. Syd got the iPad she was convinced was too extravagant to ask for. Eli got the TV for his room that we’ve been fundamentally opposed to for years (until we realized that between his phone and laptop, he already has access to a bunch of screens.) And Averson got a new bike with gears AND a kickstand and more legos than she knows what to do with. 

And it’s not a robe (and I actually got mine last year), but the whole family got the Sherpa hoodies. These might have been the all around favorites. 

All Girl Rock band! LOL!

It was declared to be “The Best Christmas Ever!” Movies were watched, the food was delicious (cinnamon rolls and tri tip chili), and everyone stayed in their jammies all day. We managed to talk to or FaceTime everyone we were missing throughout the day. It was perfect. No notes (except that I think C and I will start buying, wrapping, and hiding gifts for each other [or ourselves] in January. The SNL skit is funny because it’s true. I will say though that the gifts I got were really on the nose)

Tired, happy parents

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, however that looked. Five more days until 2021. We’ve got this! 


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Festive AF

We’re having an outbreak at work (150+ cases in a week. It’s scary) and I thought for sure that my time off this week was going to get cancelled. But after working the weekend and Monday, my boss sent me away. I’m taking this gift and running with it, determined to fully enjoy the next week and make as much merry as I possibly can. When I left the house today my mask smelled like frosting so I’m pretty sure I’m nailing it 
My first foray into royal icing. Half my cookies looked adorable and the other half looked like a demented, inbred cousin of adorable. 

Eli and I went Christmas shopping and he bought himself this suit. He is FEELING it and has worn it for two straight days. I love how he looks like his first job is in the mailroom at the North Pole

C brought home a poinsettia from the school that’s bigger than any plant I’ve ever successfully kept alive

And then he hung my giant wreath on the house. But now I think it needs to be bigger maybe?

These two ❤️


We’re watching at least one Christmas movie a day. Last night was The Night Before. HILARIOUS but maybe I could’ve skipped watching dirty bar sex and numerous duck pics with both my kids AND my mother

I just love these so much
This Snapchat filter brings me joy (and confirms that I was not actually secretly adopted.) Its all me, but the resemblance to my mom, my brother, and Averson are uncanny

My presents are bought (and wrapped!) My cards got sent out today. I bought the ingredients for our traditional Christmas Day chili. All I have left to do is make cinnamon rolls and eat all those cookies!