Goals - May 2016

Goals - May 2016 | RISING*SHINING

Oh man, just two posts in April?! But that speaks to a "typical April" for Team Wharton when the end of academic year craziness bleeds into the rest of our life. There are always evening events. There is always a deadline. Somehow Chris always ends up traveling.

I'm not sure if I could really say I handled it any better this year; I get stressed and start to globalize (why is the house NEVER clean?! who do I have no time to write EVER?!) even though I know it's just a phase. Chris is traveling this week, which I was having some anxiety about, but I reached out to my mom colleague and got some great tips and I asked for help (which can be hard to do!) and I'm feeling OK about it. I had a great day with the boys on Sunday - I can do this!

Awesome things in April include Dash learning to ride his pedal bike on his own. The other evening, when we got home from work and daycare, we packed up a picnic dinner, loaded Cedric into the bike trailer and rode bikes - three of us! - to the park. I love seeing Dash's pride and independence and thinking of all the family bike adventures that we will go on. And, on a less significant level of awesome, I also made good on my April goal of ordering a summer shirt: I am loving this soft and long tank from LL Bean.

In May the busyness should settle down and we'll coast into our summer and sabbatical schedule (Chris is on sabbatical this fall!). We are so excited. I'm also hoping this month to get back into a groove with my writing, blogging and e-course development. So, welcome, May!

Big things happening in May:

+ Chris travels to Vancouver.

+ Our house gets painted! Although my yellow front door was disapproved by the HOA. Guys! I'm all kinds of emotional about it. Planning to follow up this week and while I do enjoy following the rules I may have to go rogue on this.

+ Girl Next Door Podcast mini retreat. So often Erica and I get together to podcast but we're fitting it into our full lives and we don't have time to make bigger plans for the podcast. We're taking a Saturday this month to do just that; what fun work!

+ Two day creative retreat. I have two reports due on May 9 and the following week I'm taking off two days to work on my own creative projects. It will be such a sweet rewards after ending those projects.

May goals:

+ Find consistent time for blogging. My weekend creative work time has gone by the wayside with recent full weekends but I'm hoping to get back to this. If the fourth goal on this list goes well perhaps I'll get back into a habit of a 4 AM morning here and there.

+ Organize my closet. This is a hold over from last month that I hope to complete this month, including putting away any winterish clothing.

+ Go on a breakfast date with Chris to celebrate the end of the academic year!

+ Hire and work with a sleep coach. Are you tired of hearing about my sleep woes? I'm tired of hearing myself talk about my sleep woes. Also, I'm just tired. Dash is now fairly consistently waking in the middle of the night - sometimes several times - and waking for the day in the early 4 AM hour. It doesn't feel sustainable for Chris and me and it can't be what's best for Dash. I think having an objective, outside opinion, an integrated plan and support to implement that plan will help a lot. Cross your fingers for us and I'll report back on how it goes!

Recurring monthly goals:

+ Exercise three times per week. This has been going well and I've been feeling really fit and healthy.

+ Get up early on Tuesdays for the 4 AM project. Putting this aside for now until we figure out how to get more sleep. I had the idea for working at 4 AM when both our boys started sleeping through the night and until at least 5:30 AM. Since that is no longer the case this hasn't been working well.

+ Publish to RISING*SHINING on Mondays and Wednesdays. Working on getting back to this.

+ Record and produce new episodes of The Girl Next Door Podcast and Matrimoney on schedule. 

Happy May!

The state of dinner affairs

State of dinner affairs | RISING*SHINING

Have I told you about my dinner dream? Not the slumbering kind of dream but the wistful daydream sort of dream. Here it is:

Around 4:30 or 5 pm I make my way into the kitchen. The boys play independently or might even want to help and we make a work station for them at the learning tower. I pull down my recipe binder and flip to a recipe, perhaps an familiar one or something new. I gather ingredients from the pantry and fridge and pour myself a small glass of white wine (nothing too sweet) or open a beer. 

If one of the boys is being my sous chef I turn on music or if I'm cooking alone I turn on a podcast. I spend the next half hour or so chopping, mixing and cooking. The boys set the table with cloth napkins and silverware. I might even have time to whip up a quick dessert as a treat for the family. While dinner simmers or cooks I have time to tidy the kitchen or perhaps to even sit for a minute and read or be with the boys. When dinner is ready I call in the boys and Chris from outside or from their corners of the house. We fill four plates with the same dish and settle into our seats. As we eat we talk about our days or what we're reading lately or interested in and what adventures are coming up. 

That's about where my daydream fades. I love living in this daydream. Cooking from recipes! Eating the same thing! Sitting civilly at the table!

To anyone without small children these might seem like such mundane things that are everyday occurrences. But in our current situation, with two full time working parents and a one-year old and three-year old, they would be monumental achievements. 

The current state of dinner affairs for Team Wharton is this:

We get home by about 5:40 pm from work and daycare. There is usually a request to play outside, which we try to accommodate. One parent is on outside duty and the other is on dinner and lunch processing duty. Because we aim to have the boys in bed by 7 we have to be finished with dinner by about 6:30. So, working backwards, that leaves about 15 or 20 minutes for dinner prep on week nights. So we have to hit the kitchen running and there isn't time for cooking from recipes. Our go-tos are quesadilla varieties, homemade mac and cheese with tuna and peas, grilled cheese and frozen veggies or quick roasted veggies, homemade pizza and quiche.

We usually eat dinner gathered around the kitchen island with Chris and me standing and multi-tasking, Dashiell in his learning tower and Cedric in his high chair. It often feels like a circus with Cedric trying to communicate that he does or does not like something and is impatient for us to figure it out. Cedric is rejecting a lot of food recently and hasn't taken to many vegetables and I feel that I always have a simmering worry about the boys' vegetable consumption.

Dash will get in and out of his tower and might decide he wants something different and we try to navigate his request. We usually offer dinner with cereal as an alternative but sometimes we don't want to have the battle and he does get to have the yogurt he wanted. Real talk.

At the same time we might be trying to finish processing lunch dishes from our packed lunches and preparing lunches for the next day. Some component of dinner always ends up on the floor flung by Cedric. Sometimes Chris and I split a beer but rarely even finish our half beer amidst attending to diner duties. It all feels very far away from my relaxing dinner day dream.

But I'm trying to remember that this, like everything, is a phase. With our youngest under 18 months there is sure to be a lot of rejected and thrown food. And we do fit in as many vegetables as possible - frozen chopped spinach especially is easy to put in quesadillas and smoothies. When I look at Dash's table manners and the range of his palette I'm reminded that we will get there and that it probably isn't that far away - and how I will enjoy that glass of wine when we do!

Goals - April 2016

Goals - April 2016 | RISING*SHINING

I'm writing this with freshly trimmed hair (ahhhhhh) tucked away in the office on Sunday afternoon. I resisted an attempted break-in from two small bandits who banged on the door yelling, "Mama!", and not fooled for a minute of what is behind the locked door. So I'd better be brief.

 I think that I've kept writing every month that summer, like the toddler bandits, is knocking at the door. And yet we are holding it off. Just today the boys and I watched chilly rain from the safety of our garage after a bike ride and dared each other to dart out into the rain and run back. (This is life in the desert; every rain a mysterious and exciting event.)

I still make my side of the bed with a twin-size down quilt every night but by the middle of the night I'm kicking it off. The air conditioner has been running at night for a few weeks. I'm enjoying the long spring evenings and having enough light after we get home on weekdays to be outside with the boys.

Chris and I take turns either watching the boys or being on dinner duty which, honestly, is usually the coveted duty after a work day when you crave a few minutes to yourself before the hubbub of dinner and bedtime. But whenever I end up outside with the boys I'm always glad to be there, and that someone else is making dinner.

Big things happening this month:

+ My family visited! It was great to have my parents and aunt and uncle here and we saw my cousin perform in a touring production of Of Mice and Men in one of the lead rolls (Lennie) and he was so fantastic. 

+ We celebrated Dashiell turning THREE! We visited our neighborhood fire station and then blew bubbles and flew model airplanes in our backyard and ate chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles.

+ Evening commitments for Chris. Including a dinner with Michael Pollan this week!

+ Day date with Chris to celebrate six years of being married! 

April goals:

+ Organize my closet. 

+ Order one or more summer shirts. My spring and summer wardrobe is looking sparse and drab in the shirt department. I'd like to find a couple of shirts that will work in the summer heat and for running around the the boys and that will hold up. I often find that thinner shirts develop small holes where they rub against the buttons on my pants and I'd like something that will hold up for a few years.

+ Schedule a painter to paint our house! We've settled on a painter who will paint our house and the Ladd's next door and we have our colors. Hopefully this will be done within the month!

Recurring monthly goals:

+ Exercise three times per week. I'm happy to be getting back to this goal, hopefully this week. The run of being under the weather continued lately and resulted in some missed workouts.

+ Get up early on Tuesdays for the 4 AM project. This has been especially hard lately with the super early mornings the rest of the week and often Cedric has been waking, randomly, at 4:30 on the days I get up early, which usually sabotages my chance for writing.

+ Publish to RISING*SHINING on Mondays and Wednesdays. This is always my goal but if I miss a day or a week here and there I don't sweat it.

+ Record and produce new episodes of The Girl Next Door Podcast and Matrimoney on schedule. 

Happy (belated) April!


What I want to remember vol. 3


Dashiell is two years and eleven months old, Cedric is fifteen months old and this is what I want to remember:

+ Cedric's soft, plump, warm cheeks when he first wakes up and the smell of his morning breath.

+ The earnest look of Dash big brown eyes.

+ Cedric's pokey belly and the way he will lift his shirt when you ask, "Where's your belly?"


+ Dash throwing his arms around me in a big hug before he left the house and waving "bye!" like such a big boy, and then turning to blow me a kiss before running down the hall.

+ The delight both boys get from wrestling with each other.

+ Cedric's friendliness. He says "hi" with a wave and gravely voice to anyone who passes through the park, to cars that pass by our house or that are parked on the street, to anyone we pass in the hallways at daycare and to the drivers of cars we are stopped next to at stoplights.


+ Dash's cooperative, helpful and nurturing nature. He runs to Cedric's room when Cedric wakes up and says, "I'm here," he (sometimes) shares with Cedric without our prompting and will ask to have extra snack to give to Cedric.

+ The way Cedric clasps his hand behind his back as he walks thoughtfully. The behavior has earned him the nickname Little Senator.

+ Dash sitting next to me to nurse his baby doll when I nurse Cedric. Dash always takes off his shirt completely to nurse, a practice that he did not learn from me!

1603_cedricbootsie 1603_cedricbath

+ Snuggling with Dash in our bed for his bedtime book. Recent favorites include Jumanji, In the Night Kitchen, Caps for Sale, Madeline and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

+ Both boys sitting at their table eating together.

+ The way Cedric often calls Chris "mama". When I pick him up from daycare he looks behind me and asks, "Mama?" Or he runs to Chris saying, "Mama!" and then back to me saying, "Mama!"

+ Cedric's love of I Spy books, Hello and Babybug.

+ Dash starting to learn to sing and narrate along to the CDs we listen to in the car.


+ The amazing, amazing feeling of both boys consistently going to be around 7 and sleeping through the night. Dash has been sleeping at least until 5 and often later, we are so happy and better rested. Edit: I started this post a few weeks ago and since then sleep has become not quite so good but reading this reminded me that it goes in phases and better sleep will return!

+ The big, loooong hug that Cedric gave my mom when she visited and came with me to pick the boys up from daycare.

+ Matching pajamas.

+ How quickly Cedric's vocabulary is growing. He attempts to repeat new words we tell him and everyday he understands and says more.

1603_cedriclibrary 1603_dashriparian

+ Cedric signing "milk" with both hands to ask to nurse and then becoming so overwhelmed with eagerness that he is on the edge of crying when I ask, "Do you want to nurse?" Currently he nurses inconsistently, sometimes it's twice a day sometimes not at all for a few days.

+ Dashiell getting a length of floss and pretending he is walking around his "doggie."

+ Cedric immediately laying down on his belly and tucking his legs in on any blanket we lay down and saying, "nigh nigh."

+ Sitting with Chris post-bedtime, showing each other recent pictures of the boys and swapping stories of the cute and awesome things we've seen them do recently.

Previous what I want to remember posts.

Things that are awesome no. 4

Hot coffee in the shower | RISING*SHINING

An occasional series of small things that bring some awesome to my life. 

Drinking hot coffee in the shower. If you are laughing at me, that's fine. I'm warm outside and inside in my hot shower with my hot coffee (hydroflask!) Or, if this is already a habit of yours you know exactly how genius this is. On a chilly morning, or especially after a winter morning workout, there is nothing so wonderful as hot coffee on the inside and hot water on the outside. Sipping hot coffee while in a hot shower is an indulgent ritual of mine every winter. 

It's a habit I developed in college when I would have early morning rowing practice in near freezing temperatures with a biting wind. I'd stop by Starbucks with some teammates after practice (the one on 5th and Lamar in Austin, I think of those coffee dates whenever I'm in town and pass it). I would order a skim milk vanilla latte extra hot. I would sip my coffee slowly on the way home, relieved that practice was over and mentally preparing for a day of class. At home I'd still be drinking my coffee when I stepped into a steamy shower and the inside-outside warmth was the best kind of relief.

P.S. Other things that are awesome.