family · goals

When My Baby Starts Sleeping…

Slowly, surely, Jonas’s sleep is getting better. Last night, he only woke up once for a night feeding; it was wonderful.

There are many things that have been on the back burner for the last nine months. Things would come to my mind, and I’d consciously tell myself, You can’t deal with that until Jonas starts sleeping through the night. True or not, this has been my policy. And now that “sleeping through the night” seems within our reach, I want to set some intentions for what I want to focus on once we reach that milestone.

  1. A big improvement with my bedtime hygiene. Ugh. My bedtime hygiene is awful! Right now, I eat a candy bar, and then fall asleep with my clothes on and the light on while listening to a TV show on the iPad. My goal is:
    • Pajamas.
    • No bedtime candy!
    • Lights out.
    • No podcast or TV show playing.
  2. Create a regular schedule for exercise and writing, including early morning time and evening time. These pockets of my day – early morning and evening – have mostly been lost to sleep, since the middle of the night has not been reliable for sleep.  🙂 And exercise and writing (as well as meditation) have taken a huge hit since my time became limited. I’ve done a good job of squeezing them in when I can (IMHO) but I’m going to amp up in all three areas once Jonas is sleeping through the night.
  3. Focus on maintaining a healthy diet. I am really trying to make this a priority NOW – cutting back on candy and caffeine and eating well. However, I make terrible choices about food and drink when I’m tired, and while I am working on this at the moment, I am also trying not to beat myself up about not maintaining a perfect diet at this incredibly hectic and sleep-deprived season of my life.
  4. Make a plan for flow/life alignment. Right now, I am too exhausted to make sure that my whole life is aligned with my values. But I want to make this a priority for once my sleep is more reliable. I am inching closer and closer to where I want to be, I think – but sometimes I don’t even know where I want to be! Do I want to buy yogurt pouches to keep as snacks, because they’re easy and encourage Edgar to be independent? Or do I want to prioritize the environment and limit waste? I really don’t know. And, importantly – I am too tired to figure it out at the moment.

This may be another post that is updated if I think of more goals.

I am also noticing that most of my recent posts have been related to goal setting. I like that a lot; it shows that, in contrast to my nature, I am learning to think ahead, at least a little.

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balance · goals

Seasonal Bucket List (Summer)

A few months ago, I decided I wanted to start keeping a seasonal bucket list.

I am not a big planner, and I’m not great at planning ahead. That’s why I think a bucket list might be helpful to me. It will be a list of things I’d like to do each season; like picking blueberries at a local fruit farm in the summer or a camping trip in the fall. I don’t feel any obligation to the list; it’s not about checking off every single item on the list. For me, it’s about not forgetting the things I want to do. I don’t want to let the entire season go by and realize I haven’t done something I and my family would have enjoyed just because I forgot it was a thing!

I actually have been hoping to do this for the past two seasons, but this is the first time I’ve gotten it together enough to make a Seasonal Bucket List. (My aggressive summer planning helped!) The list is a mix of things that are easy and hard, close to home and a little further away.

In this post, I’m also including info about summer routines and rituals I’d like to cultivate as well as littler activities that I’d like to do many times over the summer, like sidewalk chalk and painting.

Summer Bucket List

  1. Attend a Mommy & Me yoga class with one (or both) of the boys. This has been a goal since Edgar first came home! And let me be clear: when I say “both” of the boys, I mean separately. A yoga class for me and Edgar, and then a different yoga class for me and Jonas. I am not crazy enough to think I could manage a two-year-old and a nine-month-old while in tree pose.
  2. Attend the Baltimore Book Festival in September.
  3. Visit the trains at Leakin Park.
  4. Visit Annie’s Playground. (It’s early June as I’m writing this, and I actually already accomplished this one!  Such a cute playground. And way to go me for being on top of my bucket list before summer even starts!)
  5. Go to a splash pad.
  6. Create a summer playlist. I do NOT listen to enough music! Every once in a while, I have a dance party with the boys, and they love it as much as I do.
  7. Hike at Codorus State Park.
  8. Do [something fun] in York. We live about 30 minutes south of York, PA – pretty much the same distance we are from Baltimore – and we’ve never really explored it. I’m hoping this could be a good activity for the whole family on a day Tamara is off.
  9. Attend a pre-school yoga event at the library. This would be a class just for Edgar, which is why it’s different from #1.
  10. Visit Watkins Regional Park.
  11. Take the tent outside to play in/camp out.
  12. Go to Gunpowder Beach.
  13. Go to Sandy Point State Park.
  14. Make alphabet letters with Edgar.
  15. Visit Storyville at the Woodlawn library.
  16. Visit the Pop-Up Playspace at Kenilworth.
  17. Go to Port Discovery Construction Zone.
  18. Visit the zoo in Baltimore. I can’t believe we’ve never been!
  19. Work through your 2019 Playground Bucket List! I don’t know if this will actually happen, but I had an idea for making a big list of all the cool playgrounds in the area and working through the list whenever we had a random free day. I’m keeping it here just in case!

Summer Routines & Rituals

One thing I have noticed about myself, as a person and as a mom, is that I like routines a lot. I feel really good about things that happen every week – like making pizza on Fridays and going to soccer on Saturdays. It’s predictable and already planned out; once you get the routine going, it all happens relatively automatically, and I love that.

Over the summer, I am hoping to have a good rhythm to my weeks, with certain kinds of activities happening on certain days. This will be SUPER flexible – I love routines, but I’m also all about breaking them whenever I want!

  • Writing (for me) and school (for the boys) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
  • Shop for groceries on Wednesday or Thursday afternoons.
  • Help with harvest on Fridays.
  • The library on Friday mornings – yay story time!
  • Pizza on Friday evenings.
  • Breakfast for dinner on Sunday evenings.
  • Rainy days = bake bread and make cookies!

The other activities I’ve been thinking about engaging in regularly are: baking bread, making cookies (with cookie cutters!), visiting a coffee shop, going for a hike, or enjoying a fun surprise. But I don’t think I want the summer to be too planned out, and I want to leave lots of time for play dates with friends and just general spontaneity.  🙂

Everyday Activities (Play On Repeat)

And finally – there are the things I want to do over and over all summer long.

  • The library!
  • Hiking.
  • Walks on the NCR trail.
  • Paint.
  • Draw with sidewalk chalk.
  • Play with bubbles!
  • Biking! (With kids in the trailer or with kids on their own bikes!)
  • The creek and the rest of our property.
  • Kiddie pool, water table, and sprinkler!
  • Build forts. (Inside and outside!)
  • Lots of play dates. (Good for the boys to play with other kids and good for ME to have contact with another adult!)
  • Do floor puzzles. (We need more of these!)
  • Bake bread.
  • Make cookies with cookie cutters! (I don’t love stuck inside days, and we usually go outside for a while even if it’s raining; but I am a little excited for rainy day cookie parties!)

I fully expect to update this post periodically as I think of more things to do! There are six days of school left. Then – SUMMERTIME!

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balance · goals · Uncategorized

Aggressive Summer Planning

There are 11 days left in the school year. Said differently, it is two weeks until summertime!

I am so, so excited to have the summer free for writing, self-care, and spending time with my boys. It’s one of the biggest reasons I wanted to work at a public school.

I have noticed recently that one of my weaknesses as a human is my inability to plan ahead. It became clear as Mother’s Day approached. I started to daydream about creating a Shutterfly book with photos of the boys to give my mother. This daydream began on Saturday – the day before Mother’s Day. Sigh.

One of my big life goals is to get better at planning ahead. It was easier to just go with the flow when I was younger, but being an adult requires planning, whether it’s scheduling play dates or thinking through a travel itinerary.

When I started thinking about this, I realized that I want to be extremely intentional about planning out my summer. There will be vacations and play dates and beach days. There will be days when the boys go to day care and I have the day free for farming and writing, and there will be days when I am home solo with the boys all day while Tamara works.

I actually wrote a private post, just for me, that is extremely detailed with how I want to spend each type of day. But that seemed a little boring and “in the weeds” for a blog post! So instead of a play by play of how I’ll be spending every single summer day, here’s a list of some of the themes I am hoping to cultivate this summer:

  • Lots and lots of writing time! On my days with no kids, the goal is to write as much as possible. I am excited to try this out and really motivated to finish a draft of my novel this summer. (Which is an ambitious, but totally doable, goal.)
  • Adventures. I’m creating a huge summer bucket list, filled with activities to do with the boys. It includes places in and around the city to visit and things to do at home.
  • Exercise. Yoga, running, or biking. Preferably running – a long, long run every morning.
  • A slower pace. Time for the boys to gently wake up, and time for me to wake up and do some grounding exercises. Life will be less rushed in summertime. I think I need the rest, and I think the boys do, too, especially Edgar. He can get pretty wiped with four days a week of pre-school and early morning wake-ups.
  • Everyday self-care. This might be my biggest goal for the summertime. It’ll take a big change in my habits! I really want to incorporate self-care into my everyday life and routines so that I stop crashing and burning twice a month all year long. 
  • Morning and evening check-ins. This goes together with the goal of a “slower pace.” I want to cultivate a habit of checking in with myself (and my planner) every morning and every evening.

This is my first post about Aggressive Summer Planning. However – my aggressive summer planning can not possibly be contained in one post. I have at least two more drafted, with my Summer Bucket List and a proposal of weekly/daily routines that I want to establish over the summer. Stay tuned!

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goals

June 2019: Monthly Goals

SUMMERTIME IS APPROACHING.

That is what June is all about. At least, that’s what it’s going to be about for me.

My last day of school is in mid-June. My schedule will shift over the summer; I’ll have Tuesdays and Wednesdays at home with no kids, and I’ll have Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays with the boys.

My goals for June are:

  1. Make a big, awesome plan for my summer schedule, including a daily schedule for each day of the week (loose, but daily), and an overall calendar for the entire summer.
  2. Maintain my blogging schedule.
  3. Have a little grounding time every morning.
  4. Exercise every day. Dance with the boys if running doesn’t fit into your schedule!
  5. Watch less TV.
  6. Start having an “evening adulting hour” after the kids go to bed, even if it only lasts ten minutes in the beginning!

THIS IS AMBITIOUS. Ambitious but necessary. I don’t know how to keep these goals front and center, but for now it is helping to just write them down!

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goals · parenting

Please Don’t Assume My Toddler Is Straight

I was chatting with two other mothers, a few months after my first son was born, and the conversation shifted to a topic I’ve always found strange.

“Thomas is already engaged to Elizabeth,” one of the mothers joked. Her son, Thomas, was three, and the other woman’s daughter, Elizabeth, was just a few months younger.  “They’ve been betrothed since birth.” They laughed together and I smiled awkwardly, the way I do when I’m feeling uncomfortable but don’t want to cause unnecessary conflict.

I have always found this habit – joking about babies or young children dating or flirting or marrying – weird and awkward. I’ve gotten a lot more uncomfortable with it since becoming a parent myself. It might have to do with not wanting to adultify children when they’re little, which I (unfortunately) see happening all over the place. Like when a mom at the library saw her toddler son smiling at me and asked him teasingly, “Are you flirting, Jacob?”

What is the follow up to this comment?  I smiled awkwardly (yet again), and then I started thinking about my other concern, other than adultifying little kids. My other concern is about the assumptions we make about the sexual preferences of our kids from a very young age. I wondered if the Library Mom would have teased her son about flirting if I was a man. I don’t know this woman at all, so it’s impossible to guess. But my experience has been that people make these kinds of flirting jokes only in a male/female interaction, and to me that’s a sign that our society (or at least my neighborhood) is still a pretty heteronormative place. I don’t hear a lot of jokes about boy babies being betrothed to other boy babies, or about girl toddlers flirting with other girl toddlers.

There are so many assumptions that we make about the people our kids will grow up to be. We make assumptions about the things they’ll like and the things they’ll do. And when I say the assumptions WE make – I am including all the woke progressive people in the world as well.

Let’s take Thomas, for example, who is (jokingly) betrothed to Elizabeth. Let’s fast forward fifteen years to Thomas dating.

Why have we already decided that Thomas will be dating a female?

It’s 2019, and the world is more accepting of the LGBT community. The two mothers I mentioned in my opening story are both straight, and they have been welcoming and supportive of my same sex marriage and our adoption of two children. They are open-minded, welcoming, progressive, and loving.

But they are assuming that their children will be straight. And there’s a thirteen-year-old gay girl, ashamed and scared, inside of me that wants to cry when she realizes this.

One of the things that made being gay and coming out painful for me was that the world assumed I was straight. There was a default sexual preference, and it was straight; to be anything other than straight required me to “come out” of a closet, even if I hadn’t realized I was in a closet at all. Having to come out implies that there is a “norm” sexual preference and that you have to identify yourself as other if you don’t share that preference.

When I think about my two sons and their potential romantic lives, what I want is for them to never have to worry about “coming out.” They could be presumed straight, and then come out of the closet in adolescence or young adulthood, like I and many others did. But – should they have to? Why, in 2019, would we still be making assumptions about our children’s sexual preferences?

I don’t want to make any assumptions about my sons, but it’s a natural thing that we do. It’s human. We have to be extremely conscious and intentional if we want to not make assumptions about others. I catch myself caught up in it all the time when I meet an adult my age who is great with kids who doesn’t have any children of their own. I start wondering if they want kids, or if they’re hoping to grow their family.  It takes intention and effort for me to remind myself that wanting to be a parent (a feeling that is intensely strong for me) is not something that every adult in the world feels.

It takes effort. It takes intention. It takes change.

We’re all learning and growing, as individuals, as families, as societies. During my experiences as an LGBT young adult, the world learned to accept, and to respect. The federal law for same sex marriage came into effect four months after our wedding day. The next step, in my opinion, is for us to move from accepting to not assuming.

Now, rewind back to my awkward smile after Thomas’s mother and Elizabeth’s mother were laughing about their children getting married someday. Remember how I often just smile awkwardly at these moments?

Well, that day, I sort of didn’t.

“What if your kids are gay?” I blurted out gracelessly.

I wish I could say that this conversation evolved into a courageous talk with me expressing my thoughts and feelings eloquently and the moms hearing it. But it didn’t. They kind of laughed and nodded, agreeing with me that this was possible. I didn’t say much else to follow up.

But I asked the question, and I asked it out loud. That’s big for an introvert and overthinker like me.

The main point of this post is that my sons, Edgar and Jonas, are not yet available for betrothal. They’re too young, and too unwilling to bathe, for any marriage arrangements to be made. They also haven’t decided yet if they want to get married, or who they’d like to be boyfriends or girlfriends with someday, if anyone. And my hope is that, rather than a big, significant coming out talk, what they experience is an ongoing, accepting, and loving conversation with their parents and their community about who and what they love, with nothing assumed and everything on the table.

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goals

May 2019: Monthly Writing (and PERSONAL!) Goals

I have an idea for switching things up this month, but I have no idea how effective it will be.

I’ve really liked my monthly writing goals posts, even though they haven’t always resulted in me accomplishing my goals. (Cue sad face emoji, please.) Even when the goals aren’t entirely accomplished, I feel like I get closer to my target when I set my intentions clearly at the beginning of the month.

There’s a blog I sometimes read written by Kelsey Wharton of The Girl Next Door podcast, and on it she writes a monthly post with a list of her goals. I want to try this out, to see if it helps me at all with any of my non-writing goals.

Here are my goals for May 2019:

  1. Maintain my blogging schedule, every Tuesday and every Saturday. (Eventually, this will stop being a goal and just be a habit, but I slipped a little during April so want to keep it on this list for now!)
  2. Exercise every day – yoga, running, or walking – no matter what. It can be five minutes long but it cannot be skipped!
  3. NO BEDTIME CANDY. I often will snack on something chocolate right before bed or while I’m feeding Jonas during the night. I really want to stop this habit; I’d like to feel healthy and fit as the summer approaches, and right now I feel unhealthy and unfit.

I can’t think of any other goals right now; really, exercise and healthy eating is my main goal at the moment. But I’d like to use this as a place for,more mundane goals as well, like applying for passports for the family or starting our hunt for a new house. I’m guessing my monthly goals posts will continue to evolve.

Notice I haven’t included any fiction writing goals for May – but in June, I will be BACK IN BUSINESS and ready to write. I’m so excited for summertime – my first completely free summer in years. Yes, I’ll have two young kids to chase around – but that’s my choice, and my summer, and it’s going to be delightful.

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goals · writing

April 2019: Monthly Writing Goals

It’s spring! The weather is beautiful. and it’s almost summertime. And the summer is when I’m going to get A LOT OF WRITING DONE NO MATTER WHAT.

My goals for this month are pretty basic. I’ve abandoned the hope of getting substantial novel writing done at this time. J.J. is sleeping way better, but until he’s sleeping through the night, early morning or late evening writing is nearly impossible because I’m exhausted. I do still have my afternoon nap writing time on the weekend days, but that’s not always a given (need to have both boys asleep at the same time!) and I often use those chunks of time for blogging. So for now, I’m just aiming to get myself in gear so that when summer arrives (or when the sleep situation improves), I am READY to get some good writing done.

Here are my goals for April 2019:

  1. Maintain my blogging, posting every Tuesday and Saturday.
  2. Continue reading Story Genius. (I’m giving up on finishing it! This is a “write as you go” kind of book.)
  3. Get all of your novel writing transferred into Novlr. (More on that at some point!)
  4. Continue a modified digital minimalist diet.
  5. THINK about the novel as much as you can! Use your commute, and use voice memos. Plan things out and try to write at least 2,000 words this month.

So far, my monthly writing goals have been a great new ritual. Here’s hoping April brings more of the same!

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