Friday, October 21, 2016

(55 Months) - 4 years + 7 months

Life with a four-and-a-half year old is pretty darn awesome. Sure, she doesn't listen the first, second or third time I ask her to do things. And she can't stand it when we have grown-up conversations at the dinner table. But she sure is a lot of fun at this age, with a personality all her own developing each and every day. She talks to EVERYone, seriously, Unless, of course, she's on FaceTime or is supposed to know the person or feels put on the spot in some way. She is the best cuddler, seriously, so sweet and loving. Lately, she's a lover of puzzles, soccer, and playdates. We have been using the library a lot for new books. We are back going to church on Sundays, and she now joins the big kids (versus the preschool/nursery). For Halloween she has stayed true to her desire to be an astronaut. This last month we had a weekend adventure to Kah-Nee-Tah, weekday adventures to the zoo, playdates with neighbor Mara or BFF Mila, and carved pumpkins with Laura and Garret. She officially learned to swing by herself. We still indulge sometimes in Mama-Francie time watching the Mindy Project; it's cool, my therapist knows about it. She continues her obsession with her long blue "Elsa dress" and wears it more than half the days each week. She has been a superstar with the presidential debates, and plays in the living room, interjecting occasionally about how "mean" Trump is, and what a "bad interrupter" he is, telling us she wants Hillary to win - "actually, I want them both to win." (Shudder). We accidentally put her to bed without a pull-up one night, and she woke up dry! She was so proud of herself, tried another night in just undies, but had an accident and was so upset about it that she's back in pull-ups; we're just following her lead on this one. She loves going to 'soccer class' and her 'soccer teacher,' Ibrahim (who we just discovered is one of Alex's former Southridge students). Hilariously, she's mostly still terrible at soccer, and I have the cutest video of her tripping over the soccer ball two times in a row - but giggling at herself and picking right back up and headed for the goal! Suffice it to say the Bean continues to fill our hearts with love and laughter.

"Mama why can animals with four legs not have their nails painted? But we're animals and we get our nails painted?"

As Beebee said, "she sure went from a shy 3-year-old to a really outgoing 4-year-old." She talks to EVERYone, and asks almost-inappropriate questions (wonder where she got that?!?)
- At the Adidas employee store to a woman and her 11 year old daughter: "How old are you? Did you have to drive on the freeway? What kind of car do you have? Where do you live?"
- To a mom and her daughter loading bikes in their car as we walked home from the park: "Where do you guys live? Why did you drive? What about your bikes? Why are you here?"
- At dinner in Kahneetah she literally SAT DOWN AT ANOTHER TABLE at carried on conversation for several minutes. Yeah, sure, maybe we should have stopped it. But Alex and I have seriously mixed feelings about this outgoing phase - we adore it and want to foster her curiosity and comfort in the world, and we certainly don't want to squelch her little spirit; but on the other hand maybe some people think it's annoying? We've ultimately decided that is their problem, and their responsibility to tell her "we're eating dinner right now, you should go see your parents" or something like that.

Driving in the car, DJ Khaled 'F*#!@ For Free' comes on the radio.
Me: "Ooh, here's that song I like," and I turn up the volume. 
F: "I love this song. This is my favorite." Long pause. "You shouldn't sing this song at school because it's inappropriate."

"Mama why do you think Spanish people talk faster than we do?"

At the zoo about the sun bear: "He must not pick his nails because look how sharp they are."

Francie, looking at the cereal box. "So K - I - X."
Me: "You got it. Kix."
Francie: "Wouldn't it be funny if they were called Kix Ass?" Giggles. 

Sitting on my lap in the morning. "I just feel so good right here."

Whispering, "Mama, who in our family will die first?"

"I need something round to kick."

"And how do you say 'can you itch my back' in sign language?"

"I already went to the bathroom with daddy. I had a short pee and a looooong fart."

Watching the second round of prez debates: "What if Donald trump came out naked?" ...
"I farted in Donald Trumps' face."

Some morning when I had a few extra minutes and needed to do some computer work, I let her watch a show, probably 'Stella and Sam' from Hulu: "Even though TV isn't good for your brain, I think you take really good care of me."

Me, about I don't know what: "Oh that's so sweet, did you make that up yourself?"
Her: "I just thought of it inside my own head."

"If I can't wear my long Elsa dress I can't wear anything!"

This is the first year she's developed a fear of shots/needles, but she was SO brave about her flu shot. She cried these big sad tears when I told her after school that we'd be going to get our flu shots.
We spoke a lot, as we often do, about bravery: "It's being afraid but doing something anyway." I felt SO PROUD of her. And then expressed my pride by giving her candy and buying her 'anything she wanted' at Michael's. Big surprise, she chose a new doll, "Madeline."

"Daddy says I'm being selfish. But I am but I don't want him to call me that!"

I was singing her "Let It Be" at bedtime and she asked me where I learned the song. It's not that my mom ever sang me the Beatles song when I was young, it's just one of her favorites. I tell Francie so much and she says, longingly, "I miss grandma Nancy."

Francie, referencing the pumpkins we did with Laura and Garret the day before. "Daddy, is this one yours with the eyebrows?"

She dresses herself in overalls one morning:
Me: "You know you're supposed to wear a shirt under there."
Francie: "Why?"
Me: "Your just are."
Francie: "But do farmers do that?"

Discussing the sad news that Alex's uncle is now on hospice.
Me: "We should do something nice for Cis and Richard, what do you think?"
Francie: "How about send them money?"
Me: "That's sweet, what else though?"
Francie: "How about a toy? A grownup toy."
Me: "What kind of grownup toy?"
Francie: "Hmm, a computer?"

"Why does Wonder Woman just wear underwear? Maybe it's because she gets sweaty during fly practice?"

This is her soccer uniform.

Watching "the Mindy show" with Mama.

Soccer time!

Nate Jackson's new book at Powell's.

Carousel time at the zoo on a Mama Day.

BFF's and "sisters" Francie and Mila. Many Wednesday playdates this month.

Soccer and sunnies.

Learning to swing 100% independently at the Unitarian church playground.

Francie and Mila dance fairy style at Sellwood "play cafe."

Serious besties.

Teepee buns.

Reading before bed.

We were assigned the wolf teepee, as it ought to be.

Kah-Nee-Tah in the fall.

From rainy Portland to sunny Warm Springs.

An entire day at the pool, in October no less! Kah-Nee-Tah for the win.

The Bean is literally sitting at someone else's table having a full on conversation.

Her preK class "color" book.

The view one weekend morning.

Pumpkins with Laura and Garret. The tradition has been to go to Sauvie Island, but the weather was too gross so Fred Meyer it was.

New umbrella + crown brain = Fall family walk.

That look of love.

Not wearing a shirt with her overalls.

Helping Mama paint the office!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Goodbye, Target

Dearest Target,

You and I both know it has been a long time coming; it is officially time we go our separate ways. I know, I know, I'm sad, too. It's just that, and I don't know any other way to say this, you're no good for me.   

They say you should surround yourself with those that bring out your best. Those that make you want to be a better person. Those that actually help you become a better version of yourself. Sure, I often think the new work shirts will round out my wardrobe making me look more professional. The new jeans will finally be the ones that I'm comfortable in, no longer worried about the size or appearance of my ass and thighs. The kids clothes will make my adorable daughter even more so. The cute newborn onesie or toddler dress or boys hoodie for my niece or friends' kids will somehow make me a better friend. The seasonal kids books will make my Bean happy to get "presents," and thus make me a better mom. New towels will look better in the downstairs bathroom, are nicer for guests, and somehow then make me a better hostess. The plastic tubs and wall hooks and picture frames and shelves and baskets and desk organizers are all essential for my household, somehow being the final necessary touch, maybe allowing me that sense of control over my home, and probably my life, that I'm yearning for.

 But it's just a facade. A consumer trick. Your store's slight of hand.

What you purport to sell, at face value, is clothing and housewares and groceries and baby products. But what you are using to sell these goods is a subconscious promise that somehow each and every product is the one we all need to make ourselves better. To get where we're going. A sense of improving our homes, our appearances, our families, our selves, our whole lives. 

But those feelings of "better" - of control - only last as long as I'm in your world, enraptured with latest deals on staple tank tops, current book releases, seasonal home decor.

I'm just now understanding that I can't actually buy solutions to my feelings. New clothes don't actually make me feel better in my body, for any sustainable period of time. Organizational tools for our common areas don't actually make me feel any more in control of my family's life. New calendars and day planners and notebooks and pens don't actually help me feel any closer to my professional goals. A new yoga mat doesn't actually make me practice yoga at home any more than before. New plastic bins don't make me any more motivated to organize and clean our mess of a basement. New mascara doesn't actually make my eyes any bigger or less tired-looking, doesn't make me feel any prettier. New picture frames don't make my walls any more appealing than before, they don't actually distract me from the more important and laborious housework on my to-do list. New headphones don't make me more eager to run in the cold and rain. New kids movies don't make me feel any better about my daughter's screen time. New Frozen puzzles don't make my daughter need less attention from me. New blenders don't make my smoothies taste any better, or increase my consumption of kale. You can't, actually, buy anything of true value.

If I want to feel good in my skin? I need to find and do exercise I love. I need to practice gratitude for my health and body on a daily basis. I need to take care of my skin (not pick) and floss daily. I need to eat regular meals at the kitchen table, always incorporating a fruit or veggie. I need to focus my energy on the beauty that already surrounds me, both in people and in nature. I need to ignore women's magazines or appearance-focused social media. I need to hug my husband and cuddle my daughter.

If I want to feel more in control? I need to first accept that I'm not, in fact, in control of much. And then use my brain and the tools I already have - paper, a good pen, and an iPhone are all anyone really needs - to best manage time, priorities, things. I need to focus on "less as more." I need to turn inward, not outward. Take time daily to reflect. Spend quality, mindful time with my loved ones, doing my hobbies, taking care of the things I already have. "Running errands" can't be my sense of purpose. My way to feel useful. I need to reflect on what actually makes me feel worthy.

If I want to feel good, numb out, distract myself, treat myself, have fun? Well, that's a work in progress. Research says I should meditate, or rest, or take a walk, or talk to a friend. Right now I'm turning to TV, because I have a show that brings me actual laughter and joy (thanks, Mindy). And there is always candy. I am also keeping reading in my arsenal. And exercise. And music. And coffee shops. And creativity, whether crafts with the Bean, or some kind of bigger project for myself.

So, Target, it's definitely time we part ways. It's time I face that you don't actually sell what I'm in the market for. But, no hard feelings. You keep doing you - wowing shoppers with the dollar section, getting new clothes faster than I can run my weekly "errands," displaying your select books in a way that makes me want to spend the rest of the evening cuddled and reading in front of the fire. I didn't cut up my REDcard, but tucked it safely into a folder in my file cabinet, out of harm's way. (I suppose that's a bit like keeping an ex on the back burner, which I hear could make me a narcissist), I'd like to imagine a time when we could be together again. It would have to be different between us, of course. My time with you would have to be short and limited, and with a well-defined purpose. Like for toothpaste or new big girl undies or school supplies. But in the meantime, I think Mr. Fred Meyer is better for me. He doesn't try anything too fancy, but still meets all my basic needs.

Breakups are hard. Even if we both know what's best for us. I know you have thousands of others, so you'll hardly notice my absence. And while a part of me will miss you, I'm also feeling pretty optimistic about how many better things there are out there. You're great and all, for a store, but you're hardly everything. And I will no longer treat you as such.

Goodbye, Target. You've used a lot of my hard-earned money, but you've also taught me a lot about myself.

Kindly, Jo

(Stuff Jo Made) - Pinterest Hack Success


I have tried a few different techniques to help develop the Bean's sense of time, and thus time management, particularly when it has come to Quiet Time and bedtime. For Quiet Time, we have very successfully used the Time Timer, set to the full hour. This is the one time each day that the Bean reliably plays alone. Quiet Time is essential at our household, once the naps were old news, mostly for ME!

When we transitioned from Spring into Summer, the Bean wasn't sleeping in like we wanted her to. So we used a digital clock and told her she couldn't come wake us up until the first number was a 7 or 8 (I also posted a notecard with the numbers written on them so she could simply match the numbers). I don't know whether this little trick worked, or we simply adjusted to both Alex and me not working and we were all rockstars at sleeping in.

Most recently I stole an idea from Pinterest to aid our bedtime routine, with the hopes of reducing the nightly power struggles. As you can see from the pictures, I bought a cheap analogue clock from Target and colored the hours between 5 and 8 p.m. different colors. According to the colors, I also made a pictorial schedule to accompany the clock. In pink, the hour from 5 to 6 p.m. is our "get home from work, unpack, settle in and maybe play a little bit" time. We usually start our dinner cooking/eating around 6 p.m., as shown in green. And the purple section is for bath, PJ's, teeth, and books. The goal is for me to be all done by 8 p.m., as I'd love to "clock out" on the parenting deal for a bit each day (as if that's even a realistic idea). Most nights I am still in her room/bed when "the short hand is out of the purple," as I lay with her to fall asleep anywhere from 5 to 35 minutes. So this Pinterest hack is certainly not fool-proof, but if nothing else, it empowers Francie with some sense of understanding time; we can tell her to look for the short hand and to judge where in the purple color it is, giving her a sense of how much longer she has with her parents' devoted attention (and last bit of patience!). I should color that 8 to 9 p.m. hour orange, to show her that is when we turn into pumpkins!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Prez Debates

I'm infuriated. In the most emotional of ways that, of course, only women get. Trump is beyond deplorable, and not because our political parties differ. Because he's a hateful venomous greedy power-hungry and ego-driven individual. 

But I like the final audience question of the night, paying one another a compliment. This is what I would have said to/about Trump:

"I would like to commend Trump, too, on his inability to quit. He seriously just doesn't stop. Not business pursuits, even in the face of multiple bankruptcies. Not marriage, he's on his third wife. Not parenting, he has five kids from three different women. Not insulting every type of American - impoverished or obese or gay or black or Mexican or Muslim or immigrant or ... Certainly not women or their bodies, let alone openly commenting on his own personal style of sexual assault. Not interrupting, as he did some 30-something times in the first debate and at least a dozen this evening. Not lying, whether about the "birther" origins, his tax contributions, his position on the war in Iraq, or his very own tweet about some sex tape. And apparently not even his run for presidency, despite dozens from his very own party revoking endorsement. Ah, perseverance."


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Getting Our Sh$t Together?

Is it too early to pat myself on the back for my new financial habits? I mean, I haven't bought anything since the beginning of the month. That's FOUR WHOLE DAYS! In my consumer world, that's a win. 

Alex and I are having our first foray with a nearly-maxed out credit card, and we are inspired (required?) to get our shit together and at least attempt to behave like grownups. 

My contribution so far has been listening to an audiobook, "Living Well, Spending Less," and reflecting on my own thoughts and feelings about money, shopping, and needs versus wants. Also, I wrote "more is never enough" on a notecard in my car. That's something, isn't it?!?

But seriously, I also put together a "family planner" binder with spreadsheets of all kinds to help us track our spending, pay off the credit card, set a reasonable monthly budget, and begin actually saving money. I don't have any real faith in the social security system for our generation, after all. And only a hair more faith in my plans to contribute to my Roth IRA regularly. 

We live in a consumer world, and I'm a product (victim?) of the advanced advertising and marketing skills of Amazon, Target, Apple, Costco, GAP, television, magazines and even blogs and Instagram. 

But my bulimic-style shopping doesn't actually bring me any joy. It's yet another symptom of mindlessness, avoidance, or distraction. Buying "stuff" doesn't even align with my goals or values. But I'm subject to believe that the 7/8 length heathered yoga pants at Athleta will bring me the peace about my body I desire. The woven baskets, chalkboard organizers, and color-coded files will be the final feather in my organizational hat, and at last I'll feel in control. That magic mop will make my house cleaner. The new mermaid puzzle will bring hours of entertainment for my daughter. The new work pants for Alex will fix those mornings he complains that nothing fits. That somehow all these things will "fix" the apparent "problems," when that's not the case. It's never the case.

So instead, this month, we are on a spending diet (a full-on spending freeze is too extreme for me, making me feel like "I can never have what I want."). We will purchase only the essentials, and have only $100 each in wallet money for the entirety of November. Although I still find myself perusing for new shoes online and habitually wanting a Dutch Bros iced mocha every morning, for the first time in awhile I feel a bit of confidence in my ability to Just goes to show how motivating financial stress can be!

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