Getting back into the swing of life

The night before the first work day in the new year is typically full of anxiety and angst. I stayed up well past my bedtime as did the kids. Quinten’s naptime was pushed backed 30-60 minutes daily. Lunches pushed back an hour. Consequently, our wake ups were L-A-ZY. I only got up before 8 am twice in 17 days. Whoa. I was on vacation for 17 days. That includes weekends {I don’t work weekends}, but that’s a lot of days. Whoa. No wonder the days just kind of blended together. 

We didn’t have a lot of commitments outside of the holidays. It was a glorious way to spend a break. It was just enough productivity and lazy for me. Plus, I drank a lot of lattes. 🙂 {I know the rest of the adult world has been drinking coffee forever, hang with me on this new obsession.} I kind of wish I had worked out more and had less migraines, but no regrets. 

If I had to pinpoint what made this year easier to go back I’d say it was how our Sunday looked. I spent the morning organizing all.the.toys in the house. I did this before Christmas and purged a bunch, but the organization was in need of more help. I’m always fighting a battle of keeping some toys out of the living room. After I did some closet magic, I was able to better utilize spaces in each of their rooms. 

  
We’ve had a constant back-and-forth about using closets for clothes. Each boy has just enough dresser space to have everything in a dresser but that is basically only if I’m the only one to ever use the drawers. {STOP UNFOLDING ALL THE CLOTHES!} That’s not realistic so it was time to rearrange. Long-sleeves and sweatshirts now reside in closets. And board games are off of Maximus’ bookshelf. Meaning, Quinten can’t pull them out and lose all the pieces or break the boards. 

  Quinten’s closet isn’t as useful. Boxes of clothes that are too small and a box of next-in-line clothes are always in there. Baby swing and bouncer that was recently returned to us is taking up valuable space because our basement is in a remodel state. I still made some changes that helped though and it’s better than it was. 

A hot and sweaty hour on the volleyball court reenergized me and I was ready to tackle the night. Bryan took the boys out in the snow while I made dinner. {After a week of snow, it was time they finally made it out there! Whoops.} One-pot chicken showed up on our Facebook timelines after we ate and I’ll tell you it’s pretty delicious! And super easy. 

  
After supper we rocked out to some Polar Express music while we surprised the boys with hot chocolates. I grocery shopped alone {AMEN!} this weekend so no one knew we had any. And of course Bryan blew their minds by playing music from the movie. It was AWESOME! But most of all, it was great to have some happy family moments. After two weeks of constant togetherness, we all needed some fun. 

Meal prepping for the week helped me feel even better about my healthy choices and general feeling of life. It feels good to start the new work week and month on the right foot. My house won’t always be picked up and organized and my fridge won’t always be full of prepared heathy foods, but I’m going to try to hold on to this feeling as a motivator. 

Advertisements

22 steps to a successful grocery store trip with a three-year-old

It’s really simple to spend an hour and half at the grocery store and only leave with 28 items. It can be accomplished in 22 easy steps.

Step 1: Document the experience for Snappers around the world with a caption, “Lord help me at the grocery store with this guy.”

  
Step 2: Opt for the obnoxious cart to buy yourself a little more time. Convincing the toddler that the red fire truck is WAY better than pushing his own cart. {Lifesaving tip right here, folks.}

Step 3: Get yourself a soy latte, you’ll need something to comfort you. This is a bit of a risk because you’ll spend the precious calm minutes ordering and waiting on your drink. But the crazy is inevitable and I always feel better when I can grab a drink, think, and then respond to the madness.

  
Step 4: Let the toddler help fill the produce bags and count when you put them in. This is a risky move because of the potential for said toddler to ruin your food. In this outing, he may have “softly” banged the apples on the bottom of the cart. I think I got him stopped before he did any damage. We’ll know later when we want to eat them…

Step 5: Stand around and watch the water spray the produce. Three or four times. This was a major time suck, but I was nervous about pulling him away too soon for fear of loud screaming. This is where Step 3 comes in handy. Text your husband, take pictures, and enjoy your latte.

  
Step 6: Bribe him with a free cookie to get moving.

Step 7: Stop to see “The Robs” on the way to the free cookie. Also known as the lobster display. Here’s another opportunity to text your husband and enjoy your latte. Almost making it an enjoyable experience.

Step 8: Bribe him with a free cookie to get moving and stop to look at all the birthday cakes along the way. Then ask him five times if he’s sure he doesn’t want a cookie. I’m still in disbelief that he passed up a cookie, but I was well prepared to have to go back across the entire store when he wanted one later. {It didn’t happen.}

Step 9: Let him move from sitting behind the wheel to sitting in the top tray of the cart. Whatever. After making sure that the weight could hold him, I gave him strict instructions to sit down and not stand up. And then I had to stop the cart every aisle while he pulled groceries from the bottom cart to play with. At this point I should tell you that I had been strategically putting all the groceries in the bottom cart, as far away from him as possible. That could have enticed him to move out of the seat in the first place.

Step 10: Threaten to put him in time-out when we get home if he doesn’t stop ruining the groceries. Tell him he cannot stand up and if he does either of those again he will sit where he’s supposed to. {Also where I’ve been putting the meat and boxes because he’s sitting in my second storage location.}

Step 11: Tell him we need to hurry and finish shopping so we can see daddy and Maximus. {Also how I got him out of the house. “Let’s go so we can be home when they get home!”}

Step 12: Threaten to tell daddy he wasn’t being nice when we were shopping. Of course do the threatening after picking up his coat off the floor, grabbing the aluminum foil from a different aisle, and pulling the ziplock bags out from under his smashing body.

Step 13: Try to distract him with a flying bird in the store. Not the best move because he missed it.

Step 14: Help him get back into the sitting part of the cart. HALLELUAH!

  
Step 15: Try to distract him with a beeping sound. Worked for a while as he tried to guess what it was.

Step 16: Agree to go into the cold room {wine & spirits} to see if that’s where the beeping sound is coming from. But only after we get all of our stuff. Use this as a threat in case he doesn’t behave while we grab the last of our 28 items.

Step 17: Go into the wine & spirits section and drive around the aisles. Then text your husband to tell him you aren’t buying beer because there’s no safe place to put it in the cart.

Step 18: Pick the checkout aisle he wants to go in to prevent a meltdown. Hand him some non-breakable items so he can help put them on the belt. Pull items off the belt when he starts to scream so he can “help.”

  
Step 19: Ask him once if he wants a coat on and let him keep it off while telling him he’s going to be super cold and say brrr when we get outside. Walk outside the door and stop so he can experience the cold. Then ask him again if he’d like a coat. Take a couple of pictures to document his craziness.

  
Step 20: Put him in the back of the car so he can put the bags in the car.

Step 21: Tell him he needs to get into his seat before I count to three otherwise he can’t watch his Polar Express movie.

Step 22: Sit in your seat, turn up the movie, and drink the rest of your latte.

  
There you have it, 22 easy steps to buying 28 items in an hour and half with a three-year-old helper at the grocery store! One other word of advice, always park the cart in the middle of the aisle when you stop. This prevents your toddler from grabbing things off the shelf. It may be annoying to others, but it’s for the good of the store and patrons. Trust me. No one wants to listen to a three-year-old scream when you take things out of his hand and no one wants to see flying food.

Bedtimes gone wrong

Survival posts seem to be a theme around here lately. But, if you had been part of the bedtime in my house that just happened…well, you’d understand. It’s been quite a while since I told someone that I didn’t like my kids much at that moment. I definitely said that twice on Sunday. To which my husband replied along the lines of he hadn’t really liked them much at all lately. I get it.

Some bedtimes go very well and everyone listens. No one loses their mind when you say it’s time for bed. Other nights, one falls and the other quickly falls in support of brotherhood. Tears. Legs that can’t hold up small bodies. Arms that have a life of their own. So much flailing. All the chapters from the Small Child Handbook. You know it’ll be a fun night when you’re doing a solo bedtime and your littlest human does everything he can to run away from you and not get his pjs on. Physically putting clothes on a small human who is twisting and turning is a delightful experience that leaves a person left feeling like you’ve had an excellent workout.

Tonight was one of those semi-ok nights. That means that at most times, at least one kid was listening. {We have a low bar in our house…} Going to bed even looked like it was going to go well because Maximus listened as soon as I said it was time for bed. Two minutes and that kid was in bed and I was on to the next one. Who was in my bedroom taking candles and glass out of a vase. Eventually I got Quinten into his bedroom. He wasn’t the happiest because I refused to sing him a song because he hadn’t been listening. Here’s the thing about Quinten, he doesn’t like it when you don’t do what he wants. So he threw an epic fit. And I said goodnight and left his room. Kicking, screaming into the air, screaming into the bed, and swinging his arms. I was planning on ignoring it, but Maximus shares a wall with him. {And it’s hard to tell a kid to try to sleep over that.} So I had to deal with it. And really, this kid is so stubborn that he’ll scream until you can finally convince him to stop. Tough love happened next. Hugging him as tight as I could until he stopped crying. It’s physically hard to give that kid love! It took a hug from his brother, putting a sock back on {don’t be so surprised that you kicked it off Q!}, remaking his bed, and lots of soft voices. I thought I was starting all over again when he requested a song, but somehow I was able to get out of that room without him {or I} screaming. After starting bedtime 30 minutes before.

::Now I watch mindless tv::

Making it

It’s pretty easy to crop out the mess or edit the words to spin the story into a fairytale, especially on social media. When you don’t have time for people to come over, the chances are low that anyone will know what it’s really like inside your house, or even your life. My life is so busy right now that I’d guess very few people actually know what’s going on. Almost every day I’m battling a new “fire” at work and I usually haven’t fully fixed the last one yet. It’s emotionally and physically draining. One day a few weeks ago, I sat outside in the quiet and just watched the sky. The fighting and crying inside was shut out and I wasn’t responsible for anything for those blissful 10 minutes. After putting in 30 something hours in three days, I was done and the week was only half over. The days are long and the years are short. I get that. When you feel like you’re in an awful version of Groundhog’s Day, it’s not very reassuring. It’s super hard without an end in sight.

It’s hard to say the same things to your children day-after-day when you don’t feel like they get it. Constantly teaching them not to fight, to share things, to not yell, and to use words when they get mad. It’s exhausting. I’m sure it’s exhausting to be inside a 2-year-old body also, but it doesn’t look like he’s exhausted. It looks like he has endless energy. It looks like he’s a runner when we’re in public places, has endless lung capacity, only has one volume {LOUD!}, and does everything we don’t want him to do. I look at my newly turned 5-year-old and see that it does go fast, but then I wonder how the years will go the second time around. Because this time we’re dealing with all kinds of things that we didn’t have to “handle” the first time. And for the sake of sleep, please stop waking up so early! Not only does he need more sleep, but so do the rest of us.

If you ask me how it’s going and my response is anything but “good,” know that I’m surviving by taking it one day at a time. They may not be glorious days, but I’m making it through the best way I can. Some days that means trying to yell over them so they will listen and other days that means running away to the deck for some quiet. Oh yeah, and some days it means coffee.

Creating a Will and Power of Attorney

For some unknown reason {life being crazy}, I wrote this post in the beginning of 2014 and never posted it. I suppose it’s fitting since we talking about doing it for two years and it took me a year to post it…

After two years of talking about it, we finally signed our Will and Power of Attorney. We went to our lawyer to do our Will and Power of Attorney documents. We decided to go to him even though there are plenty of forms online. It’s an uncomfortable conversation and thing to do, so we decided to work with a professional to ensure we did everything the right way and we thought everything through.

Steps in getting your Will done:
First, we had a face-to-face meeting to have our lawyer go over the standard Will and Power of Attorney. We answered his questions and made decisions so he could draft up the documents.

    • Who will have custody of the children? Who has financial responsibility (if it’s not the same person)? What happens to the money – does it go into a trust? At what age do children get their share of money? How do you split up shares of money between children?
  1. Before he drafted the documents, we each had conversations with individuals who we wanted to be on the Will or Power of Attorney. (We each have our own Power of Attorney that falls back onto our respective parents if the spouse is not able to act as Power of Attorney.)
  2. Review the documents for questions or changes.
  3. Go into the office and sign them in front of a witness.
  4. Purchase a safety deposit box.
  5. Put the Will in the safety deposit box.
  6. Put the Power of Attorney documents in our Legacy notebook. (Step 6b. Create a Legacy notebook.)*

We’re still working on items five and six. We may need to set a goal for ourselves given our history between steps three and four. 🙂

*What’s a Legacy notebook? It’s a central location for all the important stuff. For example, we have legacy folders for each of our children. This includes doctor phone numbers, medical records, etc. What we haven’t done yet is create a legacy folder for our family. Essentially, this is all the information that someone will need if something were to happen to the spouse who handles all of the finances and mortgage, etc., or if something happens to both of us. These folders should help others run our house and family. Something we didn’t know before, the Power of Attorney document goes in our home, where someone can access it quickly and easily. In a critical situation, you don’t want someone to wait for bank hours to get into a safety deposit box.

What’s next?

After we put all of our documents in their designated safe places, we need to update our electronic records. We need to update our human resource files to reflect the secondary beneficiary. We will update it to be the trust name. So, the primary is our spouse and secondary is our trust. Because we have the trust set up, it will ensure that money is handled in the manner we decided. We also need to update our life insurance policy for a secondary beneficiary and also our IRA profiles. Essentially, we need to update everything to reflect the trust as a secondary beneficiary so everything points to the Will as the dictating piece. Instead of each system reflecting something different. I assume this information can be found online, but this has proven to be one of the biggest reasons why choosing a professional was the right thing for us. We’re in unknown waters now and don’t know how everything works for (or against) each other.

It was hard reading that first draft of our Will and Power of Attorney. No one wants to think about the unexpected turns life can take, but I feel a huge sense of relief knowing that there’s a plan. If the unexpected does happen, I can live every day until then knowing what will happen with my children and family. It’s not a fun thing to consider, but it is so very important.

My final note: I am in no way an expert (and obviously not a professional!) on this matter. This is my experience as I understand it based on our situation. If anything, hopefully it brings up some questions about how or what you need to consider. And gives you enough information to seek out a professional. I know it’s easy to do things with the Internet, but it’s not always the best way to handle legal matters. Pay a professional to know their job and to take care of you!

Our little boys of summer

The little boys of Leger Lane, like children everywhere, love the outdoors. When Maximus was 18-months old he used to sit at the sliding glass door and cry because it was winter and he couldn’t go outside. Quinten, at 2 1/2, is almost always out on the deck when it’s raining. Their love has no bounds.

Chasing a caterpillar into hiding

Chasing a caterpillar into hiding

EVERYONE in the house was excited once the weather got warmer this spring. Everyone. There are only so many toys you can play with in the house and chances are high that you will fight over a toy with your brother. Or maybe that’s just our house? 😉

Our favorite summer activities:

  • Play in the backyard – dig in the dirt and move dirt from one spot to the next
  • Play in the sprinkler
  • Go to the pool
  • Go to the park
  • Go for walks – ok, not Maximus’ favorite, but the rest of us like it!
  • Play baseball – not a surprise if you know my family! 🙂

Bryan and I have a shared favorite activity this summer – riding our bikes! It’s a little difficult to find time to ride together, but I’m excited that he shares my love of riding! I’d also put softball on my favorites list. It’s always been one of my favorites, but this year I’m having a lot more fun and enjoying it more than usual.

IMG_8504

Lunchtime ride

Maximus put together a Summer Fun list, which I dictated. Later, he made me add go on a Vacation to China. “Have we been to China?” “No, we went to Minnesota.” “Oh yah, put that on the list, too.” Apparently Bryan’s work trips to China are nothing but fun and also the only place to buy Cars t-shirts. #priorities

IMG_8477

2015 Summer Fun

We’ve gotten a good start on our Summer Fun list and are about half done, minus the China vacation. We’ve spent more hours outside than inside. We’ve missed bath night more times than I can count. Or rather, we’ve gone more nights without a bath than the number of times they’ve been clean this summer. The boys have gotten into a routine of wearing their clothes to bed {and don’t always put fresh clothes on the next day}. They fight bedtime because it’s very much still light out when they go to bed. And they wake up far earlier than anyone should because the sun comes out nice and early. We’re loving summer hard and giving it our all. Dirt under our fingernails, sand in our hair, new freckles on our faces, farmer tans on little arms, and skinned knees are the proof. We’re unanimously voting for 12 months of summer!

Setting yourself up to succeed at work and home

Some days it’s really hard to leave work behind at the end of the day. I’ve put together some of my tricks to walking away without feeling guilty about it. Because let’s be honest, some days you leave work and feel guilty about not getting something specific done or just more done in general. You leave wondering what you even accomplished that day. And some days you’re blessed with the gift of productivity and it’s really easy to leave the office. So here are the things that I’m trying to do to make it easier to leave at the end of the day.

WHAT I DO DURING THE DAY

  • Plan your day. As often as my schedule allows, I start the morning by looking at the things I have to get done and map out my day to make it a reality.
  • Be realistic about what you can get done in a day. I’ve failed a lot. It’s usually when I map out my day minute-by-minute. At one time I thought the definition of productive was having every minute assigned. I added in break times to run to the bathroom or get a snack. However, I quickly learned that a phone call, email, or drop-in can get you off track real fast. And then I felt like I had failed in my tasks for the day. Allow those unknowns to “disrupt” your day.
  • Take a break. Sometimes you need to refocus your brain on something non-work related to get back on track. Go talk to a friend. Walk around your office. Step outside for a few minutes.
  • Leave the office for lunch. On my really stressful days, I leave for lunch. When it’s nice out, I eat my lunch outside and soak up some vitamin D.
  • Give yourself a cutoff time. If you’re like me, the end of the workday is a guide and can easily be ignored. Follow your cutoff rules and you’ll start your night feeling successful about doing one thing. You may feel guilty about not getting something done, but it’s better about not getting it done and not following your cutoff time.

WHAT I DO AT NIGHT

  • Be realistic about what you can or can’t do that evening. I learned that bringing work home when I don’t have time to do it, only makes me feel more guilty and ruins my start to the next day.
  • Set limits to working at night or on the weekend. Sometimes you can’t help it, but don’t get into the routine of working every night. It’s hard to break. It also changes your attitude during the workday. Instead of “get it done now” you think, “I can always do it tonight.”
  • Be present at home. Play with your family or get your home life things done. It makes you feel better and helps you take a breath of something outside of work. In the end, making it easier to get back into work the next day.
  • Be active. I’ve found that a walk with my family can make me forget about all my stress or worries from the day.
  • Eat a healthy meal. The act of cooking or eating something healthy helps me reset my mind. {Because sometimes my husband makes the meals.}
  • Know yourself. Some nights, after the kids go to bed, I need to just be on the couch cruising social media. It’s a waste of a “productive” night, but I don’t let my brain get worked up about it. Sometimes I need the simple act of nothing to recharge.
  • Get more sleep. After a particularly stressful day or week, I go to bed 30 minutes earlier.
  • Get your work done! If you have to work at night, be quick and efficient. I’ve had a number of night working that has kept me up until midnight and then make me unmotivated the next day. Get in and out, no procrastinating!

Relaxing mother-son time

It’s hard to get the right work-life balance. Set yourself up for success so you can leave work with a guilt-free conscious.