Friday miscellany

I have been watching (mostly via Twitter) Hurricane Irma’s progress toward Florida. We don’t get too many hurricane experiences here in PA, but we’ve had a few. Here was my write-up of our aftermath of Sandy (3 small kids, no power as the weather turned cold, solo parenting for multiple days). We also attempted to drive to Maine in the summer of 2011 shortly after a hurricane caused massive flooding in upstate New York and Vermont. In our defense, when we took off, we thought the hurricane had passed, and we had no idea the extent of the inland damage. But we spent that first night in a half-flooded hotel in the Catskills where the plumbing no longer worked and the river was rising out back (and I was incredibly grateful that the proprietor chose to stay open and give me a room). The next day we backtracked multiple times through small Vermont towns where the lone bridge over a river would be washed out. We finally made it north when a policeman chose to open one heavily-damaged road to a few cars, briefly. The devastation was incredible.

Anyway, the logistics of trying to evacuate (bringing enough diapers, formula, etc.), coupled with the uncertainty of not knowing what will happen to your home, make me anxious just thinking about it. Here’s hoping that the damage will be contained.

In lighter news…We’ve had a pretty good week with starting school. The kids seem to like their teachers, and are having fun seeing their friends again. My daughter started kindergarten yesterday. There was some drama; apparently a little girl told her she wasn’t her friend (!) and she was upset about that, but we talked about how maybe some of her classmates were nervous about starting school and people react in different ways to that. The day was salvaged with a playdate and then going to the back-to-school picnic last night. The kids started gymnastics (daughter) and swim (boys) this week too, and both have gone well. Homework and instrument practicing have been happening. All the forms have been signed. We have not missed the bus. Most nights people have gotten into bed on time. I would count these all as victories.

There were a few organizational fails. I went to Target one night while my 10-year-old was at karate because he told me he desperately needed an item for class that I heard as a 3-ring binder. It turned out he meant a 3-subject notebook. I’m not sure exactly where the miscommunication occurred, but I was not happy when I had managed to get to the store and back inside the time of the lesson, triumphantly handed him the binder, and then learned this was not the desired object. However, we did have some 3-subject notebooks at home, miraculously enough, and later that night he found the original 3-subject notebook he had purchased the previous week at Target and had somehow misplaced.

Another one: I use DayMinder’s weekly calendars to record all time-specific events in my life (nope, not an electronic calendar! Paper!) Specifically, I used the G250-00 item, which is a 3 9/16 x 6 inch calendar, with a spiral spine so it opens flat. While I have been sitting on an office chair with a hole on it for the past year, I am very specific about my paper products, and it is now the time of year when I start needing the next year’s calendar. I went on Amazon and ordered what I thought was the 2018 version of my DayMinder. It came and it was not at all what I wanted. There were fewer lines on each day, and there was no spiral, so it flops shut. So I went directly to the At A Glance website and ordered my G250-00, which will hopefully arrive soon. I guess I’ll give the other DayMinder to my 10-year-old.

The 10-year-old, incidentally, just started reading 168 Hours. He now wants to help me achieve several “List of 100 Dreams” items mentioned in that book. I suspect he will be a very demanding accountability partner.

I got my next round of edits on Off the Clock: The Fine Art of Feeling Less Busy While Getting More Done (May 29, 2018!). My editor would like me to diversify the book a bit by including more men and people who aren’t in the little kid stage of life, so I welcome suggestions of highly productive and successful yet relaxed people; as always you can email me at lvanderkam at yahoo dot com . A few topics I cover: consciously planning in adventures, and finding ways to savor the memories afterwards; making time for people through conscious planning — think my “mommy days” but maybe not a mommy context.

Anyway…I’m reading (per a reader suggestion!) Frederick Law Olmsted’s The Cotton Kingdom on his journeys through the antebellum south. I had written of wanting to learn what people were thinking in the Confederacy in the years leading up to the Civil War, and this reader reminded me that in the Olmsted biography A Clearing in the Distance (which I’d recommended), we learn that Olmsted spent years filing anonymous newspaper reports on life in the south and the economics of slavery as an institution. These dispatches were later edited and compiled into a book. Turns out it’s available on Kindle for 99 cents! I love the internet. The book itself is fascinating (sometimes in a very terrible way — but still fascinating).

This weekend we’ve got a friend’s kid’s Bar Mitzvah, a date night dinner, a kid book club and karate. Maybe we’ll go for a bike ride. Next week starts the time-tracking challenge. I’ll be posting my time logs here each day, and I will admit that I’ve been thinking through my plan for next week with an eye on public consumption! It’s good for accountability. If you’d like to track time along with me, you can sign up for motivational emails here.





10 thoughts on “Friday miscellany

  1. We have quite an influx of evacuees here in west Georgia (I’m on the Alabama border, so far enough inland that we may not even get much rain), and after watching my SIL cope with two small kids as a single parent in Houston recently, I really am worried for everyone, and hoping for their safety!

    I’m glad you have had an on-balance successful back to school! We had a major meltdown last night when my 7yo couldn’t find his spelling homework sheets (turned out he’d put them away with other stray papers earlier in the week), but it’s gone mostly smoothly. This is the first time both my kids have been at the same schools two years in a row! It definitely helps from both a routine and a social standpoint. They are at different schools from each other, though.

    I’ve been perusing kid planners online — I am a faithful bullet journaler, but need something more structured for my 7yo. His elementary school gives planners to 3rd graders and up, so I may check to see what they use (he’s in 2nd). Curious to see how your 10yo does with his!

    1. @Meghan – I don’t think I started using calendars until high school or so, though I must have had some system for remembering dates, as we had assignments due in the future in middle school. I have given my 10-year-old calendars in the past, but he kind of just draws in them and writes random things. It’s not been used for things he needs to remember. Though the honest truth is that there aren’t too many things for a 10-year-old to remember beyond the current week.

      1. Neither did I! Really, I just want to work with him on figuring out for himself how to break down big assignments. If he has to do 3 spelling tic tac toe assignments before Friday and has soccer from 6-8 on Monday/Weds, how can he make sure he doesn’t end up doin alllll the spelling on Thursday, when he also has to do reading journal? Also, I want to be as hands-off as possible 🙂
        (This schedule sounds insane, but the soccer is really his brother for the first hour and him for the second, and all the homework on any one night takes about 15 minutes, so it’s not that bad!)

  2. I love your list of victories. I am feeling the same after just a two day school week here in UK, with teens. Turns out that feeling of victory at surviving the first week never changes. The 14 yr old has the “wrong shoes” though. Still, he had shoes.

  3. After your post yesterday about the pillow fairy, I couldn’t help thinking you need a visit from the office chair fairy as well.

    I also love paper planners. Time to start shopping for 2018!

  4. I’m in the older kid category. Life got a lot easier for about 30 seconds and then we hit the wall with logistics again. We are in the process of figuring out our new normal which I suspect will last just enough time for us to get used to it and then change again. My oldest is in the 9th grade. Same school as I am and I remember thinking how great that would be. Not so much. I don’t have it figured out so I doubt I can offer much in the way of solutions, but we are getting there. I am a firm advocate of scheduled family time. No matter how busy we become certain family events are sacrosanct. Wednesday night family movie night and Sunday dinner with the family are priority. These two events allow us to reconnect with one another. Navigating upper middle school with a preteen girl has been dramatic, and a little traumatic (more for me than for her.) Here’s hoping I figure it out!

    1. 2 mandatory family events per week sound like a great idea. Is it family only or are friends and extended family allowed to attend?

      1. Family only. Wednesday night after church, we have family movie night and take out. Sunday afternoon around 6 we have a family dinner. Usually at least one grandmother comes (both grandfathers have passed.) Until recently, we ate dinner together every night, but that is changing due to varied times of everyone coming home. Weekends now include a few friends or one of my children involved in an activity without the rest of us. Normal growing up stuff; but harder than I realized.

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