Hello, 2014!

2013 Happy New Year, Everyone! Sometimes it takes me awhile, but better late than not at all, I say.

Mark made the lovely image above. Here are the captions, starting in the top left corner and going clockwise:

1. Nana and Olie – day at the park

2. Olie’s first snow – in Yosemite Valley at Curry Village last February. It was crunchy, but he didn’t care.

3. Olie licking the spatula. He now also insists on the beaters and the bowl, and sometimes snitches nibbles from the cookies or muffins on the pan.

4. Olie and our friend and neighbor George – looking out the window during a jet test ride on the runway.

5. Digging – a favorite activity.

6. Swimming. I got Olie a great life jacket this summer. He loves it and, after three or four times swimming over the course of a month, he was maneuvering himself around the pool.

7. I gave him his first haircut, just after he turned three.

8. Hug. =)

9. Mark and Olie camping this summer at Sam Taylor State Park – our favorite family camping park.

10. Nana got Olie a typewriter for his birthday. He loves it!

11. Beach Day on Tomales Bay. It was warm enough to get in the water, though most of the time was spent building sand castles.

12. Ah… Nap time… How I miss thee… Naptimes went out with the old year.

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A Day in the Life

April 1 was my 2 year anniversary of being a stay-at-home mom. Olie is now 2.5 years old!  I’ve been asked occasionally what I do all day. Heck, sometimes I wonder what I do all day!   I also occasionally feel my contributions to the family are undervalued or at least not well understood. So, this is my attempt to record a typical day – as much as there ever is one.

7am – Wake up.  Read in my daily reader. Check and send emails. Check to-do list. Check calendar.  Do a few sun salutations? Get Olie when he wakes up and give him some milk. Feed the cats. Start a load of laundry.

8am – Get dressed. Potty time. Get Olie dressed. Brush Olie’s hair. Brush my hair. Make breakfast. Hope Olie eats breakfast. Check monthly menu. Prep dinner with Olie’s help. Check house cleaning list. Clean kitchen. Playdough time. Sweep floor.  Let cats in and out, out and in. Take vitamins if I remember.  Maybe have a cup of green tea if I didn’t sleep well.  Call Grandpa, and do facetime with him so Olie can see his clocks.

930am – Finish getting Olie dressed. Change his shirt if necessary. Find his shoes and sunglasses. Go for a walk to get a few groceries. Let Olie pick out some berries. Stop every 100 feet or so on the way home to give Olie more berries. Stop at fire hydrants so that he can smack them.

1030am – Be quiet until Mark wakes up. Make Mark coffee?  Play. Put laundry in dryer or hang out to dry.  Add what we spent to list on fridge. Potty time.

11am – Think about what’s for lunch. Make lunch. Hope Olie eats lunch.  Play. Do something on my list.

1pm – Read books with Olie.

2pm – Give Olie milk. Hope he naps.

230pm – Olie naps. Have a cup of cocoa and a snack. Check and send emails, calendar and to-do list. Check facebook – waste 30 minutes “liking” things that don’t really matter. Make a phone call. Do something on my list.

4pm – Give Olie milk. Read a book on my phone. Read books to Olie. Potty time.

5pm – Make the rest of dinner. Clean kitchen. Put away dishes. Load dishwasher.  Clean off table. Tidy up house. Get mail. Go through mail. Put away toys. Set table.

6pm – Eat dinner. Hope Olie eats.  Sweep floor. Maybe let him have the ipad for 30 minutes (no more).  Fold laundry and put away? Feed cats. Feed fish. Dump out grey water.

7pm – Be in a good mood when Mark gets home. Tell him what’s for dinner. Read books with Olie.

8pm – Potty time. Brush teeth. Put on pajamas. Watch Olie on jump on bed. Take vitamins if I remember.

830pm – Lights out. Sleep.

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Camping with Kids

We’ve been camping twice with Olie. It is SOOO much fun. Definitely one of the best ways to have a get-a-way.

For posterity (so I will remember), here’s my camping list:

air mattress & pump/sleeping pads
bedding – sleeping bags or sheets/comforter
ear plugs
a few favorite books and toys

logs (buy at campground)
Camp chairs
Fire wand
Fire starter logs
Camp stove (i bought a one burner stove)
Pot/tea kettle
bleach bottle
spray oil
hand sanitizer
kitchen towels
Dish bucket
Metal skewers

Heavy sleep wear/extra layers
mittens & hats
Warm weather/Day clothes/Water play wear
flip flops

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Happy Earth Day!

Our generous volunteers

This year for Earth Day, I organized the Allendale neighborhood cleanup. We had a great turn out, and got the bus stop picked up and weeded, and litter picked up on High Street for two blocks in either direction, and all in record time. We were done by 10:30!   There were eight bags of litter and four bags of green waste.

Thanks to all who helped! And kudos to Oakland Earth Day folks for fabulous organization and support. Very well done!

Before - Corner of Culver and High

Graffiti Painting

After - Corner of Culver and High

Isn't it lovely?

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Parenting Resources, So Far…

I love nap time.

Olie is 1.5 years old. I’ve learned a lot over the past couple of years. Most of the time, I’m happy. I’m learning to play, and be in the present. Olie is an excellent teacher. I thought I’d share some of the resources that have helped me so far.

First, to review…
What I found helpful during pregnancy
What I wish I’d had ready when Olie was born
Things useful in the 4th Trimester

Hindsight is 20/20
It took a while to get the hang of some things – like managing the home, having realistic expectations, resting, taking breaks, taking time for myself, asking for help, enjoying my husband, allowing Olie to be on his own schedule, going with the flow… I’m still working on some of these, but I’m vastly improved from a year ago, when I quit my job because I couldn’t be a superwoman – and excel at being an employee, mother, partner, home maker, cook and self. I had completely unrealistic expectations, and had to recover from a spin from exhaustion down in to postpartum depression. So, here is a list of some of the things that I’ve found helpful in the last year.

  • This Isn’t what I expected – Overcoming postpartum depression – This book has a good clinical description of the stages and degrees of PPD. It also has some good suggestions for getting help.
  • Mother’s Guide to Self Renewal – Most books on being a good mom focus on how to take care of the family. This is one of the few (only?) books I found that talks about how to be a good mom by practicing self-care. It’s a workbook, and is great when done with a group of other mom’s. I’ve started this with one in January, and I LOVE it.
  • And Baby Makes Three – This is good book on helping the marriage weather the transition to parenthood. I wish I’d read this a year ago.
  • Hand in Hand parenting – This organization has a lot of helpful articles, and a great blog, that helps describe what attachment parenting looks like with older children. The tools are accessible, easy to grasp. They have support groups that I so want to join. The basic ideas are similar to unconditional parenting, but you don’t have to read a book to get it.
  • Daily Groove parenting – Scott Noelle dishes out bite sized parenting wisdom in a daily email. They’ve definitely helped me enjoy parenting more.
  • Fly Lady - I have a little bit of a perfectionist streak, and so when I first accepted my title as Home Executive, I decided to learn how to perfectly clean a house. The problem with that is that it seems so hard, I never get started! Enter Fly Lady. She has a system for home management that makes it manageable, minimal and even sometimes fun. It works.
  • Clear your Clutter with Feng Shui – Part of making a home easy to maintain and enjoy is getting rid of the clutter. This book helped me shed car loads of stuff and unfinished (never started!) projects. With out that stuff in my way, it’s so much easier to tidy up and focus on what I really enjoy doing, instead of feeling guilty for all the things I haven’t done yet!
  • What’s a Smart Woman like you Doing at Home? – This book helped me get into and understand my conflicts about being a stay at home mom. The organization that wrote it has some other good articles and books too.
  • My Child Won’t Eat - another La Leche League book. This book greatly relieved my concerns about Olie’s eating or not eating. Bottom line -never force a child to eat, and as long as you’re giving them healthy options, don’t worry about what they do or don’t eat. Trust them to get the nutrition they need.

Biggest Lesson
Down shift – When I first quit my job and was home, I had so many things I wanted to do. And I did many of them with Olie in tow. Eventually, I figured out that they just wore me out and left me no energy for enjoying myself, Olie or Mark. I went from doing 2-3 outings/errands a day to doing one every other day, which is about right for now. However, when Olie or I have a cold, the number of outings/errand/activities/chores goes down to zero a day, and we spend the whole day resting, and I even order in food (from Home on the Range). This allows us to heal quickly and not completely melt down on the way.

Biggest Help
I’ve been lucky to find a group of other like-minded women with children around Olie’s age. This has been a HUGE help. We have a weekly play date, a babysitting co-op and a dinner co-op. Besides having four other moms I trust Olie with and a delicious vegan meal every week, there are people I can talk to about the joys and challenges of being a mother. I appreciate their insights and experience.  It also means I don’t have to read ALL the parenting books. I can just get the report from them. It’s also wonderful to see Olie hug and kiss the other moms and kids. Soooo sweet.  I can’t understate how big a difference this has made in my life. If you can, find other moms you would be friends with anyway. It’s priceless.

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