5 Things I’m Grateful For (February 2021)

So much to be grateful for.

-Getting the COVID-19 vaccine. So grateful to have been able to receive it, as a school social worker, and continuingly grateful as others are able to be vaccinated.

-SO MANY GOOD BOOKS. I don’t even think I can pick any favorites so far this year, because I’ve lucked out with pretty much every book I’ve picked up. (Well, there have been several that I’ve picked up, read a few chapters or a few hundred pages, and abandoned because of my strict “do not finish unless you’re loving it” policy – but we won’t include those.)

-SNOW. Last winter, we had zero snow in Maryland and it sucked. If it’s going to be cold, I want snow. The snow has been beautiful and fun; it’s provided novelty and change at a time that can be pretty monotonous.

-My family’s health – knock on wood, it’s been a happy and healthy 2021 so far.

-This past year of working from home. I’m excited to be in the school building with co-workers and students again, but I’ve been so grateful to have so much time with my boys, especially at these ages. I have struggled a lot with being a working parent, and one of the gifts of this otherwise difficult year has been the time I’ve gotten to spend with them.

Happy February!

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Optimism + New Calendar

Often one of the hopeful and optimistic things I’ve done in the Januarys of my life has been purchasing a new calendar.

I was sure I must have written a joyful post about this in the past, so I searched my past posts. But all I found was a draft of a post from December 2018 called Calendar. Because, if I remember correctly, I bought myself a calendar, and I was so excited to use it to organize my life.

It didn’t work.

THAT SAID – maybe this year, it will? Tamara and I often have things happening in the evenings lately – usually, some kind of Zoom meeting – and I’d love to have an always visual means for keeping track of that. Additionally, explaining the concept of time passing to my kids boggles my mind, so I need all the visual aids I can get!

The spot where the calendar hangs is a little organizational hub on my kitchen wall. I have a small pad with notes about activities to do with the boys, and their Melissa and Doug calendar hangs right beside our grown-up one. As of mid February, this system is working pretty well. Fingers crossed it continues to help us stay organized and remember what day of the week it is during these crazy COVID times!

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all the things

Currently: February 2021

Currently reading:

So far in 2021, I’ve finished ten books that, no joke, were all awesome. The biggest surprise for me was The Brave Learner, a book I purchased on a whim after hearing it recommended by Erica Ladd on The Girl Next Door podcast. It’s actually a book about homeschooling and education – not something I’ve ever been particularly interested in – but it was perfect for this moment in my life. I devoured it at every opportunity. Currently, I’m reading Tuesday Mooney Talks To Ghosts by Kate Racculia and The Call of the Wild + Free by Ainsley Arment.

Currently listening to:

The audiobook version of Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria?, which is a great read; hoping to finish it this month! I’m also listening to Amber Ruffin’s book You’ll Never Believe What Happened To Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism, which is a great listen; I’m sure it would be great in print as well, but I love Amber and her sister Lacey’s delivery a lot.

Currently watching:

We watched the new movie Soul with the boys and I loved it so much! We also watched Onward, which I didn’t know anything about, and Edgar is pretty obsessed. (Mostly because one of the main features of the movie is a van named Guinevere.) It’s often cold and gray, and by the end of the day, I am wiped. So a family movie night has been a delightful end of the day activity.

Currently the boys are:

Alternating between loving life, bickering, and screaming at the top of their lungs. Right now, while they’re playing, they like to tell me that they’re making a show or a movie, which is pretty adorable.

Currently grateful for:

A bit of renewed energy and creativity related to kid activities. My sister’s COVID rooftop wedding on January 22!

Currently looking forward to:

It’s really starting to feel possible to start making plans for post-COVID life. I received my first vaccine shot last week, as a licensed social worker and a school employee, and I’m really optimistic about things moving forward. Feeling really hopeful for spring, in general, and working hard to stay positive through these cold winter months indoors!

Happy February!

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Goal-Setting During COVID Times

Recently, I started listening to a podcast about goal-setting, and it broke my brain.

How does one begin to set goals again in COVID times?

I’ll admit – in March 2020, I was one of the people who set big, huge goals for myself. I thought that working remotely would allow me the time and flexibility to finish a draft of my novel, and it just didn’t happen. It was partly due to the chaos of working from home with the kids here 24/7, and it was partly due to other valuable commitments I took on in 2020. I have a bit of a wistful feeling when I think back to March and April and my writing goals – but I did the best I could, and it is what it is.

Since the spring, I’ve set a few small goals, but nothing major. Life has felt too unpredictable to make big plans, and I’m not just talking COVID. Our boys have had some sleep struggles, so a good night’s sleep is not guaranteed – that really messes with my plans for early morning writing. Tamara’s work schedule has changed a few times. We’re moving forward with plans to adopt a new baby (!!!), and the adoption process is sometimes hard to plan around – there are times when there are a bunch of tasks that need to be completed IMMEDIATELY followed by long periods of continued waiting.

Now, it’s January 2021, and it does feel possible to make plans again. I made a tentative plan to meet a friend’s new baby in August 2021, and that felt radical, to even plan that far ahead. I started a blog post about a spring/summer bucket list. I started a (coming soon) 39 x 39 list. And now – I’m contemplating setting a goal.

I made a resolution, already – to connect and disconnect. It’s a good one. It covers things like sending birthday cards (connect), falling asleep without headphones in my ears (disconnect), attending AA meetings (connect), allowing time for zero input (disconnect), and texting photos of the boys to family and friends (connect).

When I contemplate goals, I mainly consider my three top priorities: family, service, and writing. If I can add one more – and I totally can, they’re my goals – I’d add health.

For me – a Rebel, according to Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies quiz – it’s best if goals flow really naturally. For example: for service, my main focus right now is contributing to legislative work being done via SURJ Baltimore. There’s no need for me to make a schedule or set benchmarks for that goal – I can attend meetings that already on the calendar and part of my routine, and I can jot down tasks and to-do lists in my planner or on our wall calendar as they pop up.

For family, I have a good system in the works as well. My main goal is to keep our household peaceful, playful, and engaged through these tough winter months with limited outdoors time and infrequent socializing. And my main means for doing so is sprinkling little surprises and activities throughout our week. I hung up a small, simple days of the week to-do list pad on the wall, and whenever I think of something we can do – break out the tent and play campout, having an Easter egg hunt with a special snack inside the eggs, do a cool science experiment, make cloud dough – I jot it down on a day for that week. It’s fun for the kids, but more than that, it keeps me feeling creative and engaged as a parent. When I’m working from home, it’s hard to pivot quickly to something fun. But if I’ve done the planning ahead of time, it makes it much easier to execute my plan.

For health – I’ve been running every day, so that’s great. I’d like to add a seven-minute workout for after my runs (Google it), and I’d like to add a few minutes of yoga every day. I’ve actually been putting on Cosmic Kids Yoga videos for me and the kids, so that’s been really doable – it’s another activity for all of us on long winter days. So nothing needs to be scheduled – I just need to remember that this is a priority for me, which should work well. I tend to have better luck with exercise habits than I do in other categories.

And then – there’s writing.

I am slowly getting back on track with early morning writing, but I’ve set zero goals for working on any fiction – and I think I want to. But I also think I’m not quite ready yet. I’d like to get a solid few weeks of early morning writing under my belt, and then evaluate what kind of goal I can set. A strong first step might just be organizing the writing projects that are all whizzing around in my mind. Who knows? I drafted a blog post about writing goals for February 23, and we’ll see how I’m doing when that date arrives.

So, these are great COVID goals – natural, flexible, doable. And they’re really just about leaning into what I’m already doing. Cheers to surviving a cold winter by focusing on what really matters!

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5 Things I’m Grateful For (January 2021)

The winter cold has been really getting to me, and my creativity and my energy are pretty low lately.

And yet, I continue to be incredibly grateful for my blessings, humongous and tiny.

  1. Our evening gratitude practice. Every night at dinner, we go around the table and share something we’re thankful for. I often forget, but Edgar rarely does. It’s a sweet and lovely ritual, and the answers are amazing. Jonas often says either “baby lighthouses” (I do not know) or “berries.” One night, I was grateful for cheese, Jonas for chips, Tamara for ripe avocadoes, and Edgar for nachos. Many times, one or more of us has expressed gratitude for Edgar’s pre-school program at Irvine Nature Center. The teachers are wonderful, the outdoor classroom is incredible, and Edgar just loves it; it’s been so great for him to get some time to connect with others and learn after so many months at home. Jonas also loves it because there’s a big taxidermy bear wearing a mask right by the entrance to the bathroom. So, blessings for everyone. And I love that our gratitude practice helps us remember these things.
  2. My birthday gift from Tamara – a Nespresso machine! My sister has had one for years, and I’m so grateful for this present. It’s actually, ironically, helping me to drink less caffeine and to enjoy my morning coffee more.
  3. SO MANY GOOD BOOKS. This month, I read the YA mystery trilogy Truly Devious, the novel A Good Neighborhood, and The Midnight Library – all great reads.
  4. Telling Edgar “once upon a time” stories – basically, stories that we make up, either just Mommy or Edgar and Mommy together. Often we do this at bedtime and the story will include little details from our day. It is sweet and wonderful.
  5. Jonas’s super strong hugs. Jo Jo has been frustrating us a little at bedtime – taking a long time to wind down, coming out of his room over and over. Luckily, one part of his bedtime routine is asking to give me a hug and then pulling me down, practically on top of him, and hugging me super-tightly around my neck. It seems to help him relax and settle a little, and it is an A+ hug.

Happy January, everyone! Edgar chose the photo for this post. Enjoy!

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