What’s not working, what is

photo-379I started this blog post while sitting in my office on Sunday morning with the baby on the floor. I was waiting for an acceptable time to hand the baby over to my husband so I could go for a run. As it is, everyone wound up waking up and so the next hour was a flurry of breakfasts and such, and then finally I went out for a short jog.

Life features a lot of these bits and spurts right now. Here are some things that aren’t working well, and some things that are.

What’s not working

The air conditioning. Oh my. The upstairs unit began dying just as we hit the few weeks of the year where it is desperately needed (90+ degrees). We’re getting the whole system replaced, which involved bids and measurements and negotiations. Now it will be installed on Monday and Tuesday. The past few nights haven’t been so bad. We figured out a system of closing off certain rooms so the weak AC can focus on the few we’re sleeping in. The kids camped in the basement for the worst nights, but that wasn’t perfect either (they kept each other up and the fighting was worse than normal).

My attempts to book princess character dining at Disney. We’re going in a few months for a short trip, and I managed to get two character dining experiences, but Akershus at Epcot appears to be booked solid. I like to plan ahead, but it appears some people really plan ahead!

My attempts to work smarter, not harder. I kind of need a few more focused hours right now, and they’re hard to come by. I’m squeezing in a lot of cool things (I taped a segment for Nightline this week, and had some wonderful conversations and interviews, including one with Brigid Schulte, author of Overwhelmed) but I’m feeling behind a lot.

Long runs. The heat is intense. I’m going slow, and not very far.

One-on-one time with the big kids. I almost always wind up with the baby when we split childcare duties, and so my husband has been doing stuff with the big kids like practicing swimming with the 8-year-old, who will be trying out for swim team (I’m a little nervous about this; we’re positioning it as finding the swim team that’s the best fit, which may not be the most competitive one). He took the 3-year-old to see the Impressionist exhibit at the art museum yesterday. I need to figure out how I can do some things like this too.

What is working

In-home date night. We’ve been doing this fairly regularly on Saturday nights. My husband buys ingredients for something fancy at the grocery store (his menu selection, usually) and cooks while I’m either getting the kids down, or acting as sous chef. Last night we had steak, crab legs, garlic-leek mashed potatoes, and asparagus. It was great. And economical! We don’t have to pay a sitter, and however much we spend at the grocery store (and wine store) it’s cheaper than a restaurant. And we’re more relaxed. We can have that second glass of wine, linger, etc.

(Funny story on the wine store: My husband brought me the receipt from his most recent trip, so I’d be careful not to open the “good” bottles that might be gifts when we go over to someone’s house. The punch line: he hadn’t bought anything over $30. I guess he doesn’t want me getting too fancy…)

Covering Fridays. I was surprised how many people thought the Friday I wrote about last week was “exhausting.” I thought some of the kid stuff was frustrating, but it wasn’t really exhausting in my mind. I’ll write about this topic later, but in any case, this last Friday had fewer frustrating moments. It went well. My husband brought the kids to camp and I worked while the baby napped. Then the baby and I went to the grocery store, where we picked up all kinds of fun baby food combos (“turkey cranberry dinner”???) We walked to my daughter’s camp for her sing-along, and played with other families on the playground for a while. We went home for lunch, had quiet time, and then it was time to go to the boys’ camp extravaganza. They sang and did their skits, and then we had another family over for a playdate. We went in the pool, and since we got out after 5 p.m. it was time for wine. Playdates are always better with wine (even the cheap variety!). By the time they left, it was 6 p.m., and time for making and eating dinner and getting ready for bed and such. Since days with kids often seem long, this one went remarkably quickly.

In other news: Are you signed up for my newsletter? It’s out this week! If you’re not a regular blog reader, the newsletter will give you the highlights, plus new essays and book reviews. Please see the sign-up form here on the site.

Sources for stories: Have you figured out a way to make doing what you love more lucrative? I’d love examples (for a Fast Company post). Feel free to email me: lvanderkam at yahoo dot com.

Photo: Prepping for Disney (and totally comfortable with his masculinity)

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