This site cracks me up. It is very sarcastic, but there's probably a lesson in there somewhere. If not, at least you'll laugh a little. Here are a few of the tips included in the beginner's guide to slowing down:
1. Have a cup of tea, put your feet up and stare out of the window. Warning: don’t try this while driving.
2. Spend some quality time in the bathtub.3. Write down these words and place them where you can see them, “Multi-tasking is a Moral Weakness.”
4. Try to do only one thing at a time.
5. Do not be pushed into answering a question right away. Take your time.
6. Yawn often. Medical studies have shown lots of things and possibly that yawning may be good for you.
7. Take a nap and spend at least an hour extra in bed. You deserve it. If you need help getting out of bed, then read this. If you think you have a hard time getting to sleep then read this .
Note: If you just can't shake of an attack of seriousness, then amble slowly over to the slow blog http://www.blog.slowdownnow.org/
1. Waking up on a Monday morning, not having to go to work.
2. We walked to the farm, and the little boy had fun looking at all the animals. He not only says "moo", "baa", and "neigh" - he's now added the sounds of chickens, roosters, and goats to his repertoire. Afterwards, we went to the playground, and he wanted to try the slide. We let him go by himself, and after he went down, he ran to me, lip quivering, as if to say "too scary Mommy". I asked him if he wanted me to go with him, and he nodded. We went down three times together, and he squealed in delight. He then went again by himself, this time laughing the whole way. Then he was done, having accomplished that goal.
3. The boy went down for a nap, and K and I decided to join in the fun. A 30-minute cat nap on a warm day under cool sheets. There's not much better than that.
1. The three of us ate K's blueberry pancakes for breakfast.
2. K's mom and sister came to visit, and we sat at our new picnic table, enjoying white sangria in the sunshine.
3. I enjoyed a conversation with my sister. She lives far away (Barcelona), so every phone call is precious.
1. We went downtown for a free concert on Boston's esplanade. Full of people celebrating "Earthfest". Tons of vendors and sponsors giving away free stuff - everything from shopping bags to yogurt to flower seeds. I wondered why I bothered to pack a picnic lunch. We ended up going home with more than we went with. The little boy chased after every dog ("goggie") he saw. We danced in front of the family stage. And then the boy collapsed in the car on the way home. A fun morning.
2. Knowing the long weekend was going to be warm and full of sun, K and I planned what to put on the grill each evening. Tonight is barbecue chicken.
3. The lilacs have reached their peak, but they passed the baton to the lilies of the valley, which now perfume the yard.
So....all that said... This project took closer to 30 minutes, but the results were huge! Here's what I did:
1. Took all the clothes off the shelves, folded them, and put them back, minus a few items that got put into our donations bag or winter items that were added to our winter storage boxes. (Hooray for Summer!)
2. Removed all the old dry-cleaning hangers and empty dry-cleaning bags. (So that's where those pants are?!? I found several pieces of my clothing on K's side, not yet separated from the dry-cleaners.)
3. Organized the hanging clothes by category - pants, shirts, skirts, suits and dresses. (I've seen people do it all sorts of ways - by color, etc. But this works for me.)
4. Arranged the shoes. I put the ones I wear the most in the hanging rack, since that's the most easily accessible, and then I organized the rest on a set of shelves on the floor. I added two pairs of shoes to the donations bag. Perfectly good shoes, but I never wear them, so they had to go. (One very smart tip I read about reducing clutter in your home: "Be Ruthless".) I also got rid of several empty shoe boxes and cleaned the floor before putting the shoes back.
*Again, this isn't a picture of my closet - not sure a picture would be able to adequately capture the improvement in my own. You'll just have to trust me.
I love listening to live music, and I love this song. Enjoy!
Lyrics to the chorus:
I'm in the moment
The one where nothing matters
And everything's alright
I'm seeing things so clearly now
And you're the reason why
I'm in the moment
And I'm alive
I've been sick this week, and I still feel extremely run-down. But I think I've found what I need. I know I'll get my daily dose of giggles, and the upcoming long weekend should hopefully provide an opportunity for a nice long sleep.
*Note: BR, Old Navy, Gap, and Piper Lime have consolidated their web sites into one. They're offering a flat shipping fee for anything you buy across the four sites - and it's still free shipping for Piper Lime or credit cardholders. This can only be a good thing for a loyal online shopper such as myself.
1. Stay organized. If you plan your menus and take regular stock of what is in your refrigerator, you won't find yourself with a half-used tub of moldy cottage cheese. (I am ashamed to say that's what I found in my fridge last night.)
2. Pack your lunch. If you have leftovers, pack them for lunch the next day, or use them in the next night's dinner.
3. Compost. We haven't started this yet, but I'm interested in trying to find a way to do this. In the meantime, having a garbage disposal installed is an easy way to reduce the amount of food ending up in the trash.
4. Order Small Plates or Take Leftovers. When you're out at a restaurant, order what you think you'll eat. I know that portions at a lot of restaurants are ridiculously large these days, so in those cases, order an appetizer portion, share with a friend, or bring a container to take your leftovers home.
5. Make Banana Bread. Most farmer's markets and often grocery stores have sale racks for produce, where they put bruised or over-ripe fruits and veggies. This is such a great way to get a deal! You're not going to want to make a salad with them, but most of them are perfectly fine when cooked. Take bruised apples and make applesauce; use brown bananas in a banana bread (it's best that way anyway!); onions, potatoes, peppers, carrots...all fine cooked up a number of ways.
6. Serve What Kids (and You) Will Eat. I absolutely don't mean deprive them of their veggies. I just mean only put a little bit on their plates to avoid it being thrown to the floor if they find it repulsive or if they are simply full. If they like it or they're still hungry, you can always give them more. (Same goes for adults, by the way. You can always go back for seconds.)
There are lots of things we can do to reduce the amount of food that we waste. I definitely have room for improvement on most of these items, so I'll keep trying.
I took a few minutes to straighten up the food and take stock of what we have in there. I put like items together - all the pastas together, soups and other canned goods on a separate shelf, etc. I turned everything so the labels were facing out so that it's easier to find things. And I took several items out that I know we'll never use (why in the world do I have a can of beets?), and added an item to my to-do list to drop off a bag at the local food bank.
By the time our dinner was ready, that cabinet looked so much better, and I now know that I don't need to buy diced tomatoes or bread crumbs for a while. Maybe tomorrow night I'll tackle the fridge...
Of course, the opposite list exists as well - those things I found unnecessary or wish I hadn't wasted money on or things I would've chosen differently if I could do it again. The amount of stuff we've bought in the last year and a half has been staggering. But as always, we'll focus on the positives.
- Sling (Hotslings) Definitely my #1 couldn't-live-without item. I was mad at myself for waiting three weeks after the boy was born to order one. It does take some time to get the hang of it, but it never failed me. If the boy wasn't settling down, I'd put him in the sling, and he'd instantly calm and eventually fall asleep. I then got skilled at taking him out without waking him up. Absolutely the best baby item I own. (I still use it occasionally for the quick trip into a store.)
- Boppy We had two - one for upstairs and one for downstairs. I don't know how any mom would do without one of these. Pillows just don't cut it. Also extremely helpful to use to promote tummy-time. My boy hated tummy-time, but he did better propped up a bit in a boppy.
- Bouncer (This is like the one we had, but obviously there are many many styles) The boy spent most of his early days in the bouncer, happy as can be. Sleeping, waking, watching Mom do dishes…
- Costco Membership We save enough on diapers alone to cover the cost of membership.
- Playmat (Tiny Love Gymini is what we had, but again, there are other styles.) The giraffe is the first thing that made the boy belly-laugh.
- Breastpump (Medela) Having a good double pump enabled me to continue breastfeeding after I went back to work. (Even if you're not working, having a pump is helpful to keep up supply and to keep a stockpile of breastmilk for when you need to be away.) It was an extra bonus that the Medela bottles also fit the simple Gerber bottles the boy liked.
- Ultimate crib sheets are so so handy!
- Soft activity book, such as this one. We got a similar one as a gift, and the boy still adores it.
- Fisher Price Booster Seat Still use this every day at home, and it's also easy to take with us anywhere. It went with us to Grandma's house this weekend in fact. Easy to clean, too. (Although admittedly, mine's not especially clean at the moment.)
- Puzzle Mat We got the numbers and letters and made a play area in our living room and used the rest in a play area by the kitchen. Great to have a little space to play, especially when they're learning to roll, and it's still great now.
- Food Mill (Manual or Electric Food Mill) I have both of these. As we moved from baby food to table foods, these food mills became indispensable. Chop up some strawberries and peaches, grind them up, and voila! Breakfast! Super easy, and the manual one is great to take to restaurants to turn your food into food they'll enjoy.
- These Outlet Covers They're expensive and a little higher-maintenance to put on than the ones you just stick in, but they're so great to have. We just bought a few to put in high-traffic outlets - the ones you tend to use for plugging in the vacuum cleaner, for example - and outlets that are in use.
- Learn 'n Groove Musical Table Perfect for when they start to pull themselves up to encourage standing. Surprisingly, the sounds and music are not annoying at all - they're actually pretty fun!
- Car Seat Cover - Especially nice for me, having a winter baby in New England. This kept the boy nice and cozy in his car seat, whether in the car or in the Snap 'N Go.
UPDATE: The best baby item I don't own: an exercise ball. Babies don't like (at least my baby didn't like) to be rocked so much as bounced, and it's exhausting walking around the house bouncing a baby. Gently bouncing on an exercise ball is so much easier, and the few times I did this, it put the boy right to sleep!
I definitely have favorites from the second year, too, so I'll share those too, when the time is right.
She was here last week, and the boy got to go to a nearby farm several times. He loves looking at the cows, sheep, chickens... He's now saying "moo" and "baa" and "neigh". And I got the cleanest set of kitchen appliances! When's the last time you cleaned out the inside of your microwave? This is the kind of stuff she does for me. Microwave, toaster oven, stove, refrigerator. She cleaned the shutters in my bedroom. She mends (I don't). She is also an avid gardener - another skill I very unfortunately didn't inherit - so she helps around the yard as well. I'll share those pictures soon.
So although I don't have family nearby, I realize that I am very fortunate. Thanks, Mom!
*The picture above shows the little boy staring at the chickens
1. The lilacs in our yard are in full bloom, and we have a huge vase full on the dining room table. So inside and outside, our home smells like lilac heaven.
2. The little boy woke up with a smile on his face and even let me get him changed and dressed before breakfast.
3. Today's forecast: Sunny and 70 degrees. Inspired me to wear a skirt to work.
While this sounds rather business-oriented, you can apply this to any situation. For example, I get really annoyed when people tailgate me, and I generally assume that most people do it just to be annoying. I am not an unusually slow driver, so what's the point of riding my bumper? But the other day, I had a woman doing this, and when we reached a stop light, she and her son popped out of the car to get to the school bus that was a few cars ahead. She was just trying to catch the bus to get her son to school! If I had assumed positive intent - that she wasn't trying to annoy me, she was just trying to catch the bus - I would've let her pass and definitely wouldn't have let myself get irritated.
So I am going to try to apply this piece of advice in all aspects of life. Everyone is doing the best they can. Assume positive intent.
Here's what I did: I took everything out of the drawer, gave away or threw away the stuff I didn't use, and then put everything back in an orderly fashion. Easy! And since this is a drawer I use every day - I start my day in this drawer - it feels particularly good to have it clean and organized. It also motivated me to do more - I cleaned out the rest of the vanity the next day.
Organizing can feel so overwhelming sometimes, and I think that's why we tend to ignore things for so long. But if you choose just one small thing - one corner of a room, one side of a closet, one drawer - it won't take long, it will feel good, and it will motivate you to do more. I promise.
*Note: This isn't a picture of my bathroom vanity, but mine is now just as clean!
"If a mother respects both herself and her child from his very first day onward, she will never need to teach him respect for others."-- Alice Miller
"A mother understands what a child does not say."-- Anonymous
The picture above is of me and my boy, just chillin in the back yard.
Last week, I was making dinner, and while things were cooking, I was also trying to make the boy's lunch for the next day. Oh, and I thought I'd just clean a couple dishes real quick as well. The oven timer went off, and I quickly turned off the oven, but I got distracted and neglected to take out my asparagus. Ten minutes later I realized it, discovering that I had ruined dinner. I was beyond frustrated. And then to highlight that I am a slow learner, I almost did it again a couple nights ago. (Thankfully, I didn't ruin dinner, but the quesadillas were a little crispier than intended.)
I need to remind myself to do things one at a time. Even as I type this post about my need to focus and avoid multi-tasking, I am multi-tasking. So I am going to slow down. Focus more on documenting my to-do list and then working through it one item at a time. My nighttime routine (that energy-sapping 5-8PM timeframe) definitely needs to be redefined as well. I haven't figured out how to change that yet - I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, I'm going to "Smile, Breathe, and Go Slowly".
My Healthy Habits:
*Eat lots of fruits/vegetables, whole grains, nuts, yogurt...good stuff
*Cook - I have been doing less since having a baby, but I am still managing to cook our meals almost every day (I'm also trying to pack my lunch as often as possible)
*Go meatless several days a week
*Floss my teeth
*Visit my dentist every six months and my OB/GYN every year
*Keep in close contact with my friends and family
*Check food labels to try to stick to "real" and natural foods (I am currently on a mission to eliminate high-fructose corn syrup from my diet - a daunting task!)
*Take a multi-vitamin
*Don't smoke. Duh.
*Avoid caffeine completely
*Take walks and dance with the little boy; park far away from stores to encourage walking; walk to see people at work instead of calling
*Have the occasional beer or glass of wine
Room for Improvement:
*Eat ice cream every day - this is something I will never ever give up. It may not be entirely healthy for my body, but it's good for the soul.
*Don't get regular rigorous exercise or strength training
*Get only 7 hours of sleep at night
*Don't visit a dermatologist, opthalmologist
*Don't always wash my face before bed or put lotion/cream on
*Wear my contacts longer than recommended (I do at least take them out every night, though!)
*Don't always buy organic fruits/veggies (I'm trying, but sometimes the price is just stupid, so I'm at least trying to wash them thoroughly)
Black Bean Quesadillas with Corn Salsa
Red Bell Pepper Frittata
Cooked cinnamon apples
And for dessert (we'll be lucky if this lasts two days!):
Strawberry-Almond Cream Tart
*Note: I always arrange blueberries on the tart with the strawberries. Super yum!