Even though our days often feel the same when I sit down to write these posts I realize how much happens each month. Here's what September looked like for me.
The Curated Closet. I heard about this book from the A Beautiful Mess podcast and I requested it from the library. The book walks you through exercises to discover your personal style and gives ways to put together a wardrobe that you love. I'm really enjoying the book. It feels like The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up for your closet. I love the author's perspective that you should focus on style (wear what you love in a way that makes you feel great) and not fashion (what the fashion industry wants you to wear).
Chris and I made time for a few post-bedtime movie nights this month. We watched the cozy fall movies Dan in Real Life and You've Got Mail. We also watched the new Enola Holmes movies on Netflix and it was great. I hope they make a sequel.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. (Side note that along with The Fixed Stars and All Adults Here, this was the third book in a row that I read in which the female protagonist realizes that they are gay or bisexual during the course of the book. It was an interesting thematic coincidence). I started rereading State of Wonder while waiting for library holds and was reminded what a great book it is and of its beautiful writing. But then I put that on hold to start The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, recommended by Erica as a great fall mystery. And it is! I love the precocious 11-year-old heroine/detective.
Life has felt hard lately. Managing distance learning is hard. Taking care of a baby on top of managing distance learning is hard. Especially when Maeve's naps were just 30 minutes it meant I essentially had no breaks during the day. Her naps are getting better (a bit more about that below) although I still don't feel like I get predictable, significant breaks during the weekdays. I'm an introvert and need consistent quiet alone time to recharge. I haven't had that for over six months now.
I told Chris that I realized I'm experiencing three paradoxes that are hard:
1) I'm around people all day but I feel lonely. With all of us home of course I'm surrounded by people all day. But mostly during the day I'm around the kids so my conversations are about school and snacks and Lego robots. My activities require things of me and aren't often very recharging. When Chris isn't working it's hard to have an uninterrupted conversation of substance with him. Even though we have been working for years to not have the boys interrupt us they still do it frequently. I keep up with a few people on Marco Polo and I think that helps feel social connection but it is not the same as seeing friends on a weekly basis. I think I also miss the feeling of being around other people while being out and about in the world. I'm not feeling very connected to community.
2) I'm busy all day but I feel bored. My days consist of doing things in 15 minute chunks mostly: helping with school, nursing Maeve, playing with Maeve, making meals/snacks, doing something with the boys, doing a household task. I'm rarely able to focus fully on something and get into a flow state. So although my days are full they aren't particularly mentally stimulating.
3) Everyday is the same but nothing feels predictable. Every day we're home. Monday through Friday there's distance learning. Maeve takes three to four naps a day. I'll nurse several times a day. Change diapers. Watch the boys rollerblade. Our days have a lot of sameness. And yet they feel unpredictable too. Will the boys play well together or bicker? Will Maeve take longer naps or short ones? Will she go down easily for naps or cry? Will Chris have lots of meetings or be available to help? Will the house get cleaner or less tidy?
After realizing these things Chris and I have been talking about strategies to get me some more breaks and time to myself. I think this will help. With the weather cooling off being outside is possible again and I need to take advantage of it. I know at this time of year I'm just sick of being inside so much. I also want to start seeing more friends for park coffee dates or chatting on someone's driveway after bedtime. I am definitely missing my friends and laughing with them.
Hmmm...honestly nothing new or of note that I can think of.
I dreamed of Chris’s grandmother, his mother’s mother, who passed away several years ago. I saw her so clearly, her short hair and her glasses, and she was holding Maeve. She was beaming at Maeve and Maeve was smiling.
air-dried hair pre-curly girl method / best natural wavy hair day so far although having a hard time replicating
The curly girl method. Okay this has been a fun, floofy kind of rabbit hole to go down which I think is a great thing for me right now. Here’s how this started: I had heard the gals on Friendlier mention the curly girl method a long while ago but thought nothing of it because I do not have curly hair. Then recently I have been feeling like my hair might be kind of dry so I was researching hair products. I came across a blog post talking about the curly girl method and there were pictures of the different types of wavy/curly hair. Way to the left, just this side of straight hair, is texture 2a which has just a bit of wave. And I thought, “Hey, that’s like my hair!” So that kicked off my deep dive into learning more about the curly girl method and how it might apply to my fine, slightly wavy hair. Right now when I have so little time for myself I’m finding it soothing to learn and research something so inconsequential but that I find interesting. My cousin is also on a curly girl method journey so it's been fun to compare notes. If I have decent results I’ll report back!
Cooking + eating + drinking...
On the first day of September I took the boys to get fall drink treats at Starbucks and got myself my first pumpkin cream cold brew (no vanilla syrup, please) of the season. That weekend we stayed at an Airbnb in Scottsdale and brought vacation treats like Cinnamon Toast Crunch (a delicious blast from the past), pimento cheese (from Trader Joe’s but here’s my recipe), and cookies. We also ordered pizza from Spinato’s which is our favorite but they aren’t out in Gilbert. For Chris’s birthday we made sweet potato brownies from Half The Sugar All The Love (rave reviews from everyone!).
Also this month the fall items started rolling in at Trader Joe’s – hurrah! Chris brought home my favorite pumpkin cranberry crisps and Toscano cheese with cinnamon. The new butternut squash mac and cheese makes for a cozy and filling lunch. For our Fall Extravaganza gift exchange Erica made me homemade pumpkin spice latte syrup and that has made my morning cup of coffee even more delightful. I’ve also been doing a mix of decaf coffee + Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice coffee.
My creative partnership and friendship with Erica. Even though we have less bandwidth and podcasting looks different I’m really proud of our Fall Extravaganza episode this year. I think it was still entertaining despite recording from separate locations. I’m also proud that we used our platform to promote voting at the beginning of the show.
Dash decided to save his money and buy a kid's digital camera. To be honest Chris and I felt a little bit torn because we prefer non-electronic toys (the camera has video games which was our hesitation) but we do want to encourage the boys to save up their money to buy something they want. And overall a camera can at least be a creative way to use screens. For the past few weeks Dash has been super motivated to do extra chores to earn money and I did really like him getting the experience of having a goal and working towards it. So far Dash loves the camera and Dash even suggested that it might be good idea to have limits on how long he can play the video games each day. In the end I'm really glad he had the experience of saving up to buy it.
Both boys have been doing cool art as part of their school art lessons. I'm always so impressed with their creativity! For Chris's birthday I bought him the Hogwarts castle Lego set (isn't that what every 43-year-old wants? ;) ) and the boys loved helping him build it.
What Maeve is doing...
Sitting! Trying food! Growing! I love this phase of babyhood. Maeve is still getting the hang of sitting but is learning fast. I love being able to sit her up to play with a toy or look in her floor mirror. And it's been fun to let her try food. So far she has not been super excited about anything she's eaten (sucked on a cucumber and red pepper, tried soft baked sweet potatoes and apple, tried some baby cereal) but it's fun to have her join us in her high chair for meals.
Night sleep has been good lately and I'm so thankful. Maeve usually wakes up twice but sometimes just once. She always sleeps past 6 a.m. now (she used to be waking up around 4:30 or 5 a.m. and it was hard to get her to go back to sleep!). Naps have been tough in that she was taking 30ish minute naps. But we've been working on getting her to lengthen those and are seeing some progress.
Maeve is starting to outgrow her 3-6 month clothing. So far all my babies seem to outgrow clothing by the time they are actually the age on the tag. I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours last weekend putting together a little capsule wardrobe of next-size clothes to buy Maeve and making sure it was all coordinated so all onesies and pants could be worn together.
Consistent time to be productive and creative. Time to take care of cleaning and home administration. Childcare. Exercise (I strained my back and had to be sedentary for two+ weeks but am feeling much better).
Looking forward to...
Cooler weather. Getting my hair cut! With numbers consistently lower here (in the hundreds instead of thousands) I felt comfortable scheduling a haircut for early October. Getting Maeve's fall clothes orders in the mail. Maeve learning to solidly sit up. Letting Maeve try different foods.
I hope you found lots of good things during September!