Tips and tricks

June 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

After being in school for twelve years, we’re programmed to believe that summer is a time for play and relaxing and vacation. And then we enter the workforce, and I’m all, ‘So…when’s my last exam so I can get the hell out of here?’ ALAS. It does not come. But that doesn’t stop me from “planning” my summer. More pool visits! Baseball games! And then it’s like, oh yeah, nothing’s changed. I’m still working, and like, the weekends didn’t get longer or anything, just hotter, so does anyone else want to take Lena to the pool? It’s too hot out.

I do have some summer projects that I want to work on. (Again, with what mythical free time again?) I scored some cheap canvases at Michael’s, and I’m working on some arty things, for my room and for Lena’s room. Since we’ve pretty much decided we’re going to be hunkering down with my parents for the foreseeable future, it’s time to take some of the stuff off the walls of my old room which Lena now resides in, and make it a little more nursery/kid room friendly. (CHARLISS: I still have that picture of those skateboarders we met on campus that day, remember????? When we were taking that photography class??? So every night I snuggle in bed with Lena and look up at my walls and think, ‘there’s a picture of two shirtless boys with skateboards that Charliss and I met when we were like 14. that’s an awesome thing to be hanging in Lena’s room.’)

I’ve been hanging out a lot on pintrest.com. Check out my boards. It’s a super cool way to curate your online interests. I surf a lot of blogs throughout the day, and pin some of my favorite things, whether it be style-y stuff or art projects I want to do or food I want to make.

Where was I going with this? Oh yes, so this summer is about simplifying my life. Just working on bits and things to make life a little smoother. I wrote about this earlier, and I’ve been more present with Lena, and I’m super satisfied with that, and I’m going to work on me too, a little more. I’ve already started on cleaning out my closet, getting rid of clothes I haven’t worn in years. I’ve donated over three trash bags full of clothes, and I’m about to donate some more.

The one thing that has really helped in ways I could not have imagined is Mint.com It’s an online free way to manage your money. You can link up all your accounts from different banks, credit cards, loans, and it’s in one easy place. It sets up a budget for you, and has an easy way to set goals for yourself. Whether it be saving for college (Lena, btw, is going to a in-state public school, because HOLY SHIT college is going to be expensive in 15 years.), or saving for a down payment on a house. I recommend any recent grad 20-something with little to no money manage experience to check it out. Seriously, it’s amazing. The other thing that it does, is just by signing up for it I’ve started saving more money monthly. I know this won’t go for everyone, but there’s this crazy psychological thing, that when you write things down, and document them, you’re more aware of what you’re doing, and you’ll do them better, or if it’s a vice, you’ll do them less. It’s why a lot of diet and exercise programs have you keep logs. If you write down everything you eat for a week, by the end of that week you’re less likely to gorge on a whole bag of Dorito’s. On the flip side, if you’re running every day, and you’re logging those times and mileages, you’re more likely not to skip a run just because you’re feeling lazy, because you’re tricking your mind into thinking that your little log is the end all be all. This guy I work with is trying to quit smoking, and he just writes down every time he smokes a cigarette, and with very little other behavioral change, he’s been smoking less, just because the act of writing it down is enough to make him think twice about when he smokes. This is sort of what’s happening with me and Mint.com. I’m thinking twice before I whip out my debit card to splurge on coffee in the morning. I’ve made my lunch for the past two weeks, so I’m not spending on that. When I want to make something new for dinner, I’ve been trying to use stuff out of our pantry, instead of gratuitous trips to the grocery store where I end up buying new nice smelling soap or nail polish along with groceries. Because I need them! It’s cool. It feels really good. Mint.com. Go check it out.

Last night after the bath, I painted Lena’s fingers and toes. She was beyond ecstatic. It was the ultimate big girl moment. One foot is green, the other is pink, and her fingernails are orange. I painted her fingernails in bed, and all throughout the two chapters of Charlotte’s Web I read to her, she lay back on her pillow with her hands outstretched in front of her, admiring her new fingernails. She kept her arms extended and her hands out for much longer than necessary, but I didn’t have the heart to tell her. My grown up girl.

Compliments to the chef

March 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

Lena’s going to be an awesome dinner guest some day.

Last night, I made leftovers. I threw a bunch of leftover pasta in a pan, dumped in half a bag of frozen peas, stirred for about ten minutes, and dinner was served.

Subsequent conversation:
“This is a GREAT. DINNER. Mommy!”
“Thanks, Lena”
“I LOVE PEAS, Mommy.”
“I know you do, sweet pea.”
“Peas are, VEGETABLES, Mommy.”
“Yes they are, Lena.”
“It’s good to have VEGETABLES with DINNER, Mommy.”
“Okay Lena, yes it is, now stop talking and eat your food.”
“You made a REALLY GOOD DINNER, Mommy.”
“Thank you Lena.”
“It’s DELICIOUS.”
“Okay, Lena.”
“I LOVE PEAS, Mommy.”
“I know you do, Lena.”

I’ll leave it to you to decide whether my first statement was sarcastic or not.

What a weekend

March 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

I think this weekend was one of the best weekends on record.

For one, I finally understand how loving the Tar Heels, loving college basketball, and hating duke becomes so entrenched when you’re little and growing up in Chapel Hill. For the past two weekends the Bloom-Yeh family has been having dinner around the TV, donning Carolina blue, and cheering our Heels on. Lena now jumps from couch to couch saying, “Go Tar Heels” and “I’m a Tar Heel”. (I’m working on positivity with her, so it’ll be a couple more years until she’s saying, “duke sucks”.)

This weekend proved to be cold and rainy, but the Blooms took advantage of the only non-rainy morning, and Pops and Lena and I ran a 5K in Durham. Alex came! He got to see me finish a race! Aspen and I ran together for, oh, about two miles, which was amazing because Aspen is a running machine and the best running partner in the world because she just glides when she runs, which is simultaneously frustrating/jealousy-inducing/inspiring. But I did really well! I was hoping for a personal best, because I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve been in in forever, but the course was super hilly, so I did, eh, fine. I finished. I was happy. Pops Lena and Alex and I went to Gughluphf for breakfast, and it was nice, the four of us. I think it’s especially nice for Pops that Alex is there because he’s not the only guy. It was a full day, that happens when you wake up at 7 to go for a run, and by 1 or 2, Alex Lena and I were all snuggled into my bed. Which by the way, is not really big enough for the three of us PLUS my computer on which Lena and I watched Toy Story 3 while Alex napped, which by the way, two things: I clearly need a flat screen mounted on my wall/a king size bed, and Toy Story 3 was amazing, and I sobbed, literally sobbed, through the last 15 minutes of it. It was so good and I am clearly overly affected by the Toy Story franchise. But it was so good, and I was really impressed, and really happy that they had a girl at the end showing as much imagination and fun as any boy. I had a some beef with Pixar because they seemed to really only show boys being able to have fun and be cool, and it was heartening to see a girl in that situation. Or like, Pixar tends to kill all the girls off pretty quickly. Like, Nemo’s mom and the adventurous girl in Up.

The whole fam was excited about the UConn/Arizona game, and then Butler/Florida after that, so Al and I decided to just go pick up Pizza and Wings for dinner. We took Lena, around 5:45, and no lie, on the way home from picking up the pizza, Lena falls asleep. And stays asleep.

This rara avis has only occurred once before in Lena’s lifetime, and it is just short of a miracle. We all leisurely ate our pizza and wings in front of the TV, the parents trundled off to a concert, and Alex and I got to flip between basketball and playing Lego Harry Potter for three blissful uninterrupted hours. Until I, most attractively, fell asleep on the couch at like 10:30. Lena slept over 13 hours. I told Alex that it’s moments/nights like these when I really do believe in karma. Or that there’s some mysterious force in the universe that recognizes a breaking point and dials back, throws you a bone. Gives you a break. It was one of those moments where I just thought to myself, we deserve this. And we did. It was a hard day of playing and tickling and jumping up and down, (okay, I’ll be honest, it was Alex and Lena doing these things while I watched.) It was just one of those few parenting moments of positive reinforcement, when you get a chance to breathe and say to yourself, Oh yeah, I remember why I’m doing this, and I’ll keep doing it.

Sunday was easy too. We played in the morning, Lena and I drove Alex back home, and she watched Toy Story, again, and then chatted to me merrily about the horses we saw on the way home. We had chili, at halftime of course, watched the Heels for the last time this season. (Still never been prouder to be a Tar Heel. I love this team.) Lena fell asleep, for the second time in a row, easily, at 8 pm.

What a great great weekend. Sort of exactly what a weekend should be, I think. Easy-peasy.

It’s come to that

March 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Bedtime, and I do not say this lightly, is bad. Lena’s completely out of her crib and the result is she’s just awake until at least ten o’clock every night, last night it was eleven.

It’s frustrating because this means between the hours of 8:30 and 10, when usually I would be catching up on some reading, watching Netflix, and generally relaxing with the only time during the day I have to myself, and instead I am policing Lena’s door, telling her to go back to bed, counting to ten, telling her she has to at least stay in her room, saying No, I will NOT snuggle with you, allowing yes, just one more hug, and then immediately switching back and yelling this time for her to go back to her room, and counting to ten again in a subsequently louder and more angry tone.

Oh, one might say, You are simply not being forceful enough.

To which I reply, is it really too much to ask that everything is not a fight? I know that disciplining my child well now will, like, help her do her homework ten years from now, or whatever, but I’m sorry. I’m selfish. I don’t want to be the bad guy at bedtime. I want her to just go to sleep on her own at 8:30.

These things are mutually exclusive, apparently.

My mom says, maybe I have a kid that just doesn’t need that much sleep. She went to bed at 11 PM last night, and we woke her up at 7:30 and she was happy as a clam. That is so unfair. Why do I need more sleep than my three year old? Nothing good can come of this.

So I do as any mother would do when things have come to the last resort.

I hit the internet.

I don’t know if y’all are aware of the craziness that is parental advice on the internet, and I’ll spare you the gory details, but basically, everyone is doing everything wrong and if you eat processed foods or you don’t breastfeed long enough or you do breastfeed too long or you sleep with your kid or you don’t sleep with you’re kid or you yell at your kid or you don’t yell at your kid. Holy shit, if you spend enough time reading what other moms (because let’s face it, it’s mostly moms) say on the internet, you come away questioning every parenting decision you’ve ever made. Or at least I do. Maybe I just have low self esteem.

I digress. I did find a couple of helpful suggestions. (I refuse to lie down with Lena until she falls asleep, and locking her in her room seems a bit drastic, and futile, I think she could figure out how to get out anyway.) So we’re going with positive reinforcement. I’m going to run out later to the store and get some colorful paper and some stickers, and reward her for the times she stays in her room nicely and goes to sleep. I also am going to try to put a cute lamp in her room soon that she can turn on and off, a nice alternative for the overhead light, (and maybe more likely for her to fall asleep with.)

This feels a little more proactive than me crying and pulling my hair and wondering, why me? WHY ME? when my kid is still yabbering away at eleven at night.

Go go gadget mommy!

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