October 31, 2022

Happy Halloween

I love halloween.
This guy also loves halloween.

I had a parenting fail when we got to nursery and he was inconsolably sobbing because he wanted a scary cat costume.  I did not realize he wanted a scary cat costume so he was wearing his halloween shirt.  We also don't have a scary cat costume.  He had mentioned it a few times but I had not realized it was that important to him.

It was the first time I had to drop a sobbing clinging child off at nursery. I know I am very lucky to have avoided it for over three years.  At pick up he seemed to have had a great day (as always) so no harm was done (hopefully, maybe?)

We stopped at Morrisons on the way home for pizza.  Kid pizza (the teeny tiny pizzas) are now £0.79! So we opted for small pizzas for Isaac and Lilah to share, which were twice the size but still £0.99.  Andy and I got a spicy veggie pizza which was £4.50 and risotto rice for tomorrow which was £2.20.  The cost of food is ridiculous at the moment and we probably should start being more strategic with our meal plans.  Our house is full of food, why am I buying risotto rice?

Isaac had a great time handing out candy to trick-or-treaters and looking at our pumpkins.  Ghost was out in full force! And all our halloween lights.  Unfortunately the little one had a temp in nursery and came home early, which meant canceling our evening halloween dinner with our friends, but the kids still had fun eating pizza and handing out candy.
Tomorrow is November! I have signed up for NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month - so I'm aiming for an actual post a day for a month! Wish me luck?

October 30, 2022

Week ahead, week behind

I have been a bit off this week and weekend.  I am very tired and I don't know why.  Time change? Darkness? General meh?  It's a bummer because I have had a lot of fun stuff planned, and I have enjoyed the stuff I've done, but I haven't been much fun to be around for family.  

Luckily I get another week to try and be better / nicer / calmer.

Today we carved lots of pumpkins with our NCT buddies:
We made this pinterest worthy snack spread:
This week Andy is in Bristol overnight on Wednesday so I get a double-double kid nursery day (assuming no illnesses... it's all going around right now!).  I have put in the calendar that I am going to take a bath on Wednesday night.  I am looking forward to this bath.

My run club is on a bit of a hiatus right now, and I don't really have any spare evenings for running this weekend anyways.  I managed a barre3 on Friday morning before work and have scheduled another one in for this Friday. 

Next Saturday is a ladies MTB day with my new MTB buddies so I am hoping the weather stays OK!

Also, clocks went back this week and here is a summary of my experience:

October 28, 2022

Fast Friday

1) While fall is my favourite seasons I also find a crash into winter in a not so positive way sometimes.  As in, I am grumpy.  I'm not sure if it's the darkness, or the fact that working from home means I live a lot of my life in my own house, but I just felt a bit *meh* this week.  Perhaps lack of excercise and winter bug only added to this, but I was not on my best form this week

2) Sometimes having a really good system means I get grumpy when things aren't easy.  Good systems aren't in place to make life easy, they're in place to make a good life possible and an easy life easy.  Sometimes it's not easy.

3) BBC literally puts sadness into my brain so why do I read it all the time?  

It's the start of a new month, time to do monthly goals.  I usually divide my goals into Personal/Professional/Family/Adventure but there is a lot of crossover in the last two.  I'm wondering if a goals structure rethink is needed?  

Also, pondering my journaling for next year.  Bullet Journal style is working okay but also I've let it lapse a bit.  Is that autumn ennui or do I need to look for something else?  

Is it time for me to look at Erin Condren?

Tonight we have friends coming for dinner.  I like seeing friends but I am very tired on a Friday.

October 27, 2022

Fall is my favorite season but darkness is not my favorite view

I love fall.  Leaves changing colors.  Pumpkins.  Thanksgiving! Halloween. Candles. Scarves.

The one piece I dislike is the darkness.  I realized this is the worst week for darkness - the clocks will change next week and I can get one more glimmer of morning light before resigning myself to a dark winter.

I used to notice it when I rode to work every day, leaving at the same time but the sun being lower and lower in the sky each day.

This is the first time since fall of 2019 I've experienced this season while employed.  I started maternity leave in September 2020 and was entirely WFH (and only 3 days a week) in October 2021.

The once weekly commute means the darkness feels like it set in very fast. 

Andy is unfortunately ill with ??? winter disease.  The joy of a 5 year journal is I can tell we were all ill last year, and I am definitely less ill this year.  Andy was ill this week last year and is ill this week this year.  It will be interesting to see if this is just illness week?


  • Hope kids are better and can go to nursery
  • Put away the piles of laundry around the house and dream of a dryer
  • Make a vegetable laden dinner including mushrooms and aubergine
  • Try and maintain focus in work and avoid unproductive task switching (I have set up my calendar as a time block today, so hopefully that helps me get through the list better)
  • Arrange C&A sleeepover / social - our weekends are full but fun.

October 26, 2022

Storing Kids Artwork

When Isaac started nursery I saved all his art.  He came home with wonderful things, like painted ladybirds and finger print flowers

I quickly realized this pile was unsustainable, so switched to hanging pieces I really liked on a board in his room.  I also take photos of every piece of nursery art and put those photos in their photo albums, usually lumped together by month 
(Lilah - September 2022 page)

I throw a lot of art out after I take the photos, but I can't always get rid of everything, and I don't really think one "should".  Recently I made each kid their own art album, with is a cheap wilco binder with 25 poly pockets.  I put all their art in this, and have decided they can go through and keep whatever pieces they like the most.  

The albums were a pretty immediate hit.  Lilah almost immediately broke one of her pieces of art, so that went in the bin, but my hope is that this keeps the kids interested in their art and maybe even gets them to decide what is worth keeping and what is not.

I know I'm only 4 years into the art thing, but I am also aware that's somewhere between 25% and 50% of the amount of time kids will bring home art!  Isaac also has a large framed art display of his first year of nursery.  Lilah... doesn't.  Perhaps the kids art work project will teach them that life isn't fair.

October 25, 2022

A Failure to Plan is a Plan to Fail but a Planned Plan Might Also Fail.

On Sunday night the social/hobby schedule for the week was ideal:

Monday PM: Run Club
Tuesday AM: Breakfast with G
Tuesday PM: Writing Club with N
Wednesday PM: Date Night
Friday PM: Drinks with colleagues

On Monday my run club buddy texted to say she wasn't well, followed by G postponing breakfast until next week for very legitimate work reasons.

I went for a short solo run Monday evening anyways, and realized that a fortnightly run club isn't an ideal way to maintain fitness.  I'm glad I got out, even if my running buddy couldn't join me.  And we've tentatively rescheduled for Thursday.

Thankfully N was able to come for writing today.  It's great having a once a week hobby of me time, especially as it overlaps with Andy's MTB night so I have to be home anyways.

I remember even as a child getting upset when my perfect schedules were uprooted.  I sometimes struggle to tell the difference between "going with the flow" and "being directionless".

Andy swapped his office day now, so we're redoing our own weekly schedules.  Running will be on Thursday and breakfast/writing on a Tuesday, with a backup morning open on Friday.  This all comes back to Laura Vanderkam's  Rule #5: Create a backup slot.  On that topic - my library ordered a copy of Tranquility by Tuesday and it's on it's way to me.  Very excited.

Tomorrow my schedule is disrupted once again, as the kids will probably not be in nursery due to generic toddler illness so Andy and I are taking half days for childcare.  We managed almost two months without being off nursery for illness - the longest stretch of uninterrupted childcare since.... having children?

October 24, 2022

Reading Update - The End of Absence and I Miss You When I Blink

I just finished my 48th book for 2022.  This is rather astounding as I basically didn't read at all between 2010 and 2020.  

I Miss You When I Blink was just as good as I hoped it would be.

I read The End of Absence this month.  It was interesting to read a book about the internet written in 2014.  It was interesting to remember that fairly recently the internet used to be so much different.  It was also interesting to realize that 1985 really is the cutoff point of pre and post internet life... and internet free childhood.  

I wonder what those born 10 years earlier that me think about this - do they relish the fact that they didn't have ubiquitous internet until after college?  I don't think internet was a great addition to my college experience.  

People 5 years either side of me probably didn't use GeoCities.  Or StumbleUpon.  Or forge friendships through the chimes of AIM (Aol Instant Messenger)

Remember when we thought the internet was an unexplored world of limitless possibility?  

StumbleUpon was the start of the internet entertainment lever.  "Show me a thing" you told the button and the button showed you a thing.

The End of Absence had some fascinating points.  Firstly, Michael Harris thought of Analogue August before I did.  On day 24 of his internet abstinence project he writes:

"Behavior that seemed utterly normal on the 30th of July now looks compulsive and animalistic. Now when I see teenager girls burrowed into their phones on the sidewalk I think of monkeys picking lice out of each other's hair"

That's what resonates with me, in my own internet experiment.  What if instead of a phone everyone was holding a banana? And every few minutes each person checked their banana?  Families at a table in a restaurant showing each other their favorite bananas?  Sitting down on the sofa after a day of work and staring mindlessly at a banana?

Harris was also on point with the following: 

"Nothing is as enthralling as the lovely, comforting, absence destroying internet"

October 23, 2022

Weekend Recap

It was a busy and excellent weekend.

Saturday was a kid birthday party in the morning and then our amazing friends came from Bristol for a sleep over with their nearly four year old.  Everyone did major playing on Saturday afternoon and my efforts to declutter were rewarded as our kid friendly house became kid friendly chaos

Sunday was pumpkin picking.  I love pumpkin patches.  I love October.  I love fall.  

Back from pumpkins for lunch and then a walk/ride in the woods. 

Bristol friends headed home.  Early dinner and both of ours were asleep by 7pm.

Exciting things this week:

  • Office on Friday & drinks with colleagues
  • New cleaner (yay!) 
  • Friend breakfast date, running date, and writing date all in the calendar
  • Andy at-home date night planned for Wednesday
Things to improve on this week
  • Doing exercise/walking and especially Barre3!
  • Eating more fruit
  • Getting to bed on time - 9:30 bedtime makes the world a better place

October 22, 2022

Gemini Parking Solutions are unfairly targeting mothers and the elderly with parking fines

Today I received a fine from Gemini Parking Solutions – apparently, I did not correctly input my vehicle registration when attending the leisure centre for swimming lessons for my three year old.

I am annoyed, of course, but I am also angry, because to me this is another attack on carers, and on the elderly

I wonder how many tickets are issued because other moms, on little sleep, are rushing their small children into swim lessons or infant classes?

How many OAP forget to enter their registrations on the way to the gym?

How many middle class men are using the leisure centre?  From my view, the men with the most to spend on extortionate parking are already spending it on extortionate gyms.

I’m angry, but unsure where to go on it.  Perhaps Gemini Parking can show they distribute tickets equally based on gender and age… but I doubt it.  This is another way in which companies profit off carers – a community centre aimed at doing good for the community is now financially penalizing those that need the most help.

Gemini Parking Solutions are intentionally targeting parents and the elderly – individuals who are at the most risk of mistake, and with the least spare income available. 

I can and will fight the ticket, but many people won’t have the headspace to do so, and we should all be angry on their behalf.

October 21, 2022

Friday free day

It's my day off!  I swapped days this week with Andy since I was in London on my kid day.  He watched the kids, and I got a day of holiday at home with kids in nursery.  I think i've come out ahead this time.

I started the day with my 6:30am breakfast date with G.  I love a social breakfast date.

Then back home to start my time block to-do

  • 8:30 Laundry, dinner prep, address cards
  • 9:00 Declutter lounge
  • 9:30 to Brunch with J!
  • 10:00 Brunch date with J <3
  • 12:00 Organize and declutter sideboard and dining room shelves
  • 12:30 Organize and declutter kids art
  • 1:00 rotate toys around house / declutter
  • 1:30 Laundry projects
  • 2:00 Hallways hook project with Andy
  • 2:30 Organize/declutter/tidy kids art supplies
  • 2:30 Online Wilco order for halloween
  • 3:00 Blog post & Budget
And now it's 3:30 and it's time for planning.  I didn't get to the following:
  • Wrap Present for Saturday
  • Reply to emails // inbox 0
  • Dye Hair
  • Buy new socks
  • Bake a cake
It's been a great day of clearing and decluttering, I have two bags for the charity shop and a full bag of trash and recycling.  Hopefully it's noticeable in the house too.  I still need to sort out a good way to display knick-knacks.  I did throw a knick-knack away today though, so at least my collection is smaller?

It's time to start thinking about November goals.  I love October, it's been so busy and so fun.

After writing my post yesterday I was thinking about how much fun a two and four year old are, and wondered why I didn't remember Isaac being as much fun when he was 2. Then I realized it's because I had a 6 week old when he was two and a six week old and two year old is ridiculously hard work and way less fun than a two year old and a four year old.

I do find myself continually aware of how much fun my life is right now, and how lucky I am.

October 20, 2022

The Next Thing // Looking Forward

I'm a bit obsessed with the next thing.  I was so looking forward to starting my 90% time role, and taking alternate tuesdays off, and being in work more.  I do enjoy it, but now I'm already thinking about the next thing, 80% time, being in work less.

I fantasize a bit about what my days will look like when Isaac is in school.  I have nursery now at 4 days a week, but what will 5 days of school be like? Could he do 5 days of school now? Is there another school or nursery that would be better?

I look foward to transitions, but that means I'm always looking for the next transition.

I am really enjoying the 90% time, but I miss having more time with the kids.  I don't regret working as much as I did when the kids were super little.  They're still so little but now they're fun little.  Four is great.  Two is great.  Two plus Four is awesome.

The biggest benefit to the 90% time is that Andy and I both have the same amount of time off with the kids each week.  The balance is more important to me than the actual amount.

Regardless of 90% time or 80% time or 100% time, I'm still looking forward to a future where 25% of our take home pay isn't being spent on nursery fees.

October 19, 2022

To London and Back Again

This week was a work trip to London.  I departed at 6:15am on Tuesday and found myself at an awful pub at 12:30am on Wednesday.

It's been a long time since I've had a night out.  How long?  I honestly don't know.

Perhaps it was the night of accidental many beers at Dave's, circa fall 2017?

I had a drink or two on my birthday in January 2018.  And then Isaac was born in October 2018, and I don't think I've done a "night out" since then.

I don't think I've missed it much either.  Nothing good happens after midnight.  

I did enjoy sleeping in a hotel.  I enjoyed walking 2 miles from Tottenham court road to Paddington station in the morning.  I enjoyed my salmon sandwich on the train and my Coffee Lab coffee on the walk back to my house.

I enjoy my quiet life.  London is big and busy and exciting.  But like a typical mom I spent the evening thinking of how much fun Isaac will have visiting London someday.

I booked train tickets for Isaac and I to travel up north and visit Abi.  It's a 6 hour train ride.  I can't wait to go on my first big adventure with him.

I kept thinking how much Isaac would love the hotel as well.

Now I have one more day at work and then I have a day off on Friday!

October 17, 2022

The puzzle of schedules

I haven't done a puzzle in years, but I don't think I like them.  I made a goal to do one this year, and besides buying a puzzle at a charity shop I haven't progressed very far.

However, I love schedules.  A schedule is not really a puzzle, because there are so many solutions, many of them good, some of them better, and potentially none best.

I've found it hard recently to plan the days correctly when it comes to nursery drop off and pick up and dinners.  The dinner plan is made, the drop offs are scheduled, and then I realized today that I planned a slow cooker meal today (which I couldn't do) and eggs on Wednesday (which is silly, as Wednesday we are eating as a family, and today it's just me and the kids).  So I swapped meals, which is fine, but then I need to swap pick ups, and I'm not sure why I didn't plan this better yesterday.

Perhaps the answer is a standing dinner for Andy's work day (ie always eggs).  That way I'm not trying to cook and pick up kids at the same time?

For reference, the updated meal plan is now:

Monday: Eggs (R)
Tuesday: Bangers & Mash (A)
Wednesday: Carbonara (A) 
Thursday: S/C Aubergine & Lentil pasta sauce (R)
Friday: Fish & Rice (R)

There's no run club tonight, but I need to pack for my overnight work trip tomorrow.  Taxi is booked for 6:15am.  It's going to be a long day.

Today To-do:

  • Social Texts / planning
  • Email re birthdays
  • Laundry
  • Book Taxi
  • Email British Airways
If 3 times a week is a habit then my habit currently is feeling stressed without that many stressors to feel stress over.

October 16, 2022

Gendered Impact of Technology - WhatsApp Groups

I've spent some time considering the differences between my WhatsApp departure and my husband's WhatsApp departure and I am starting to wonder whether the disparate reactions are indicative of a larger disparate gendered impact of smartphone technology for women.

Generally, any person's WhatsApp is full of groups.  Before I left WhatsApp, I had many of them and I liked each person in all of them.  In fact, I created them or joined them to be full of people I liked.

At the same time, they were all commitments.  In a sense, these groups are akin to tiny Tamagotchis, all needing intermittent care and attention.  I loved the little serotonin hit I got from a new message, a quick distracting update from friends. I felt bad for the sadness people would share, bad news needed consolation. Quick wit needed to be quick.  People remembered birthdays and anniversaries and I needed to show I remember them too.

I don't think men engage with Whatsapp in this way.  Andy's WhatsApp was not full of groups.  The groups he was in would banter back and forth to the point where he didn't have to read it.  He didn't worry about missing an important update.  About not saying "happy birthday" on time.  He used it as a tool to make plans.   

For me, the line between correspondence and obligation seemed to blur.  Was I cultivating friendships in these groups?  Or were these groups the friendships in themselves?

Whatsapp groups fundamentally appeal to social and interpersonal relationships.  Women are often more affected by social bonds than men are.  Creating a second life where women maintain their friendships online, on their smart phones, outside of their interpersonal interactions, only adds to the social-emotional mental load women bear.  

October 15, 2022

Slow Down Saturday

Our week of holiday is coming to an end.  It's been great sleeping in (until 7:00 some days!) and moving slowly in the morning.  Kids have loved playing in the house.  We've been to a lot of parks.  We've eaten a lot of biscuits.

We still have 1.5 more days of the weekend - our friends are flying home tomorrow.  Everyone will miss them a lot.  I am musing on visiting them next spring or the following.  11 hour flight would be impossible now, with a 2 and 4 year old, but I imagine it will be easy with a 3 and 5 year old....?

The rest of our October weekends are filled with fun adventures, pumpkin picking, halloween parties, and more and more birthday parties.  

We've made a simple meal plan to start the week:

Monday: Slow cooker veg on pasta (R) 
Tuesday: Bangers and Mash (A)
Wednesday: Eggs on toast (R)
Thursday: Carbonara (A)
Friday: Fish & Rice & Veg (R)

We have one more day of weekend to enjoy first.  So many parks! So many Kids! And Indian food tonight too.  

Holidays at home are the best.  Why can't I take maternity leave when my kids are 2 and 4??

(Andy and Isaac on arrival to the park)

October 13, 2022

Reading slow down

 I'm in a bit of a reading... slow down.

I'm at nearly 50 books for the year, which is pretty insane when I consider that I didn't read for 10 years between college and 2021.

I think I'm in an audiobook rut.  I have a bunch of autobiographies which I put on hold ages ago which are now coming through and I am just not that interested right now (Minnie Driver, Viola Davies... even Molly Shannon which is supposed to be hilarious!)

I started Atlas of the Heart but it was a bit too much and I decided not to listen any more.  Maybe it made better reading?

I'm plodding through I Miss You When I Blink which I am enjoying but also it's short stories so I do want to read it properly... I don't want to do any skimming.  And I really only want 1 or 2 short stories a night.

Maybe this is an October lull because it's a busy time socially/professionally?  Maybe I realize people are tired of me saying "I read this great book...."?  Maybe I also need to diversity my new holds a bit, after all these arrived the same week:

Also, I've been number 1 for a lot of these books for a while:

October 12, 2022

The Biggest Little Turns 4

Biggest little turned 4 today.

In the morning we went to St. Fagans to look at old things and sheep.

We spent a lot of time following these two around on their rambles:

We went to the bakery and limited ourselves to bread and bara brith and later some cheese scones.

K and I stayed at the play park with Isaac while the boys took the girls home for their naps.  

Isaac took a nap too when we got back.  Everyone was up by 4 for a tea party and cake!
Cake instructions as per Isaac - "Triangle Dinosaur 4 layer rainbow chocolate cake".  Umm... nailed it?
Early evening was toys and presents and playing in the house.  Isaac was still up reading at 8:30pm... probably because he doesn't usually nap.  Poor visiting 18 month old has caught her first cold and is quite sad and tired.  We are all crossing our fingers for good sleep.

This holiday is the best.  Holiday at home is the best. Holiday with friends at home is the best.  

Tomorrow is swimming (hopefully! Pending sleep and cold!) and then girls brunch and shopping.  I am very excited.  

Happy birthday this dude.  He is the best

October 11, 2022

Tuesday Travels - an average day in Wales

 Our friends and their little are doing phenomenally well for having had such a big transatlantic adventure.   We did decide to take it easy on Tuesday and I introduced K to my simple mom-life in Wales.


An hour of free play for the kids, and hour of free chat for the adults.  A biscuit and a cup of tea for the parents, a tea biscuit and a cup of water for the kids.

Circle time, song time, and then home time.

Andy went out mountain biking with our friends dad.  K and I need to figure out something fun to do for a mom trip with no kids.  We have many brownie points now and it's time to use them.

Andy spent the start of the afternoon on bike repair:

And then a walk in the park with all kids and all bikes:

And finally K got to live her lifelong dream of shopping in a British supermarket

After kid bedtime, K and I worked on a birthday cake for Isaac as he's turning 4 tomorrow!  The prompt we were given was "Chocolate Rainbow Dinosaur Triangle cake with 4 layers".  I know this won't win bake off, but I feel we followed the prompt OK (it's 4 layers - a brownie tin size cut in half):

October 9, 2022

Sunday Report

Sunday involved everything good about at home life:

Garden time, duplo in the lounge, a walk to the park with our friends, Lilah learning some fundamentals of bike repair:

The toddler did amazing at sleeping on her first night here.

We managed a Sunday Roast - it turns out my kids love gravy.  Isaac even eats chicken with gravy.  I am watching my children British-ify before my own eyes.

Evening was more beer and chats.  We've really missed real people.  It's weird catching up on three years in one go, and made even weirder when those 3 years have involved such... weirdness.

I didn't check email all day because life was too interesting.  Need to make that an aim/goal for more weekend days or weekdays. I still love the idea of internet free time 1 day a week and 1 week a year (or something like that... is is 1 hour a day, 1 day a week, 1 week a month, 1 month a year?  That seems unlikely)

October 8, 2022

Dispatches from Heathrow Airport terminal 5

Today went to Heathrow Airport to collect two of our favorite friends who flew all the way from Portland to visit us.  They are absolute legends who made the 11 hour flight with their 18 month old.  

While waiting at arrivals I realized I hadn't been to an airport since we flew to the states in 2019.   

I'm not sure if it's pandemic, or having kids, or both, but I could barely handle the excitement and emotion at arrivals.   I was at international arrivals, and I came near tears each time a child squealed and rand into their parents/grandparents arms as they came through the doors.

I think a lot about absence and the value of interpersonal interaction.  I couldn't think of any amount of WhatsApp or FaceTime that would provoke anything similar to those arrivals hugs.  

I wondered how long it had been for these people, and how many people expected it to be that long.  No one.

The world seemed so big, since 2020.  I spent so much time at airports before then.  I never used to notice what was happening around me.  I don't remember noticing the kids.  Or the mom who lept over the boundary to hug her teenage daughter, with the same overwhelming desire as the toddler running to his grandfather.

For now, I am so excited to see our friends again.  I have missed people a lot.

October 6, 2022

One Little Adventure - Fermented Food Date Night (Tranquility by Tuesday Inspired)

 I am very exited for this book:

Laura Vanderkam is an excellent writer on productivity and life organizing.  Although the book isn't out yet, there is a sneak preview of the 9 time management rules for tranquility.  I was actually already doing a few of them, but it's definitely made me a bit more thoughtful about my own priorities and scheduling.

Rule 6 is "One big adventure, one little adventure".  I realized we were good on weekend adventures, but Andy and I hadn't really been scheduling many little adventures.  Sure, we had some date nights, and intended to do adult dinner after kid dinner, but most of the time when we both found ourselves home in the evening we chatted, played on the internet, read and went to bed.  

I know the value in scheduling, I'm currently writing from my weekly writing friend date night.  She's writing a book, I'm writing a blog, and we meet every Thursday (or as many as possible) to write together.

I also have my one work/social night once a week, and an alternate week run & wine club with my neighbor.  Andy has a MTB evening and a work evening.  We do our planning meeting on Friday.  I still felt like there were some evenings of tired at home time that could be better repurposed for fun.

I trailed our little adventure on Wednesday - we were both home after kid bedtime and house tidying so we decided to make Kimchee and Sauerkraut.  Recently we took an amazing course with the Crafty Pickle and had a ferment rotation going, but eventually slowed down and hadn't made anything for a while.  I even had a fridge full of cabbage and carrots and ginger and almost going-off bits which needed fermenting.  
8:00pm: it was go time:
And by 9:30:
Yay! My kimchee on the outside, Andy's sauerkraut in the middle.  He went for red cabbage.

And to end the night, like any good date night, Andy had to plater his finger back together after garlic chopping incident (I wasn't involved, except to say "do you need stitches?" and "do you need to go to A&E" and "If you do go to A&E you should probably drive an hour to Abergavenny because I think their minor injuries unit will see you faster than our local flagship A&E")

I am very excited to add a weekly 90 minute date night to our schedule.  Kimchee was ambitious, but next week perhaps we'll do cake baking for Isaac's birthday.  And we might get into a TV show!  Or, when we have childcare, go to the pub.  Or maybe play a board game?  

Tranquility by Tuesday comes out next week so I have another week to think of more ideas...

October 5, 2022

Analogue August - A month (or 14) without WhatsApp

In July 2021 the Brewer Half (now my brewer husband, now not brewing anymore, so perhaps I should just call him Andy?) quit WhatsApp.  He was met with mostly accolades for taking a stand against evil Zuckerberg.

Everything went on as normal, without WhatsApp.  I filled him in on our groups and organized our social life and he moved his bike riding group to texting.  The adjustment was minor.

I wanted to give it a go.  I wondered if there was perhaps a world of people outside my phone.  I wondered whether leaving all my groups and my friends across the world behind would mean the end of our friendships, or whether it would be a transition to something else.   I could always send emails instead of whatsapps.  Or I could write letters.  Or I could call?  There were many ways to stay in touch without that icon guiding my life.  And, tangentially, I wondered how close or important a friendship really was if deleting a free app was the end of it all.

I texted some friends and some family and some groups and told them I was going to be off WhatsApp for August.  I was a bit worried but Andy said it was great.  I did enjoy the process of deleting.  But - unlike deleting Facebook so many years ago - I didn't feel instantly relieved.  I felt sort of lonely.  I was glad to be away from the WhatsApp commitments, but I was also disappeared from a whole world.  Work chats, friend chats, parents chats. I didn't have any long form communication on my phone anymore and I didn't have anything to "check" when I wanted that smartphone distraction.

"I never know how to reach you anymore" was a common refrain from my friends, even though I had the same number as before.

What I realized, slowly, was that WhatsApp had become a social beast to feed.  It was papering over my lack of interpersonal connection with a series of alert induced serotonin hits and feeling part of a "community".  Whatsapp people were my friends - but we were expressing our friendship in the oddest way.  "here's a photo I think you'll find funny!" is nice to receive - but suddenly I realized it was probably sent to 5 or 10 people.  A text that says "thinking of you" can be circulated to 30 people in under a minute.  When people had to think of me in classic SMS text, outside of WhatsApp, they suddenly appeared to think of me less.  

The experiment wasn't only about logging off of WhatsApp. It was about seeing what community still existed. It was about trying to appreciate my true interpersonal conversation and connections more.  When I meet with friends I have so much to catch up on now - because we haven't given each other a running log of our lives.  I have phone conversations - I started calling people.  Calling is awkward but fills the loneliness far better than waiting for a WhatsApp.

I also realized that if I was lonely without WhatsApp it meant I was lonely with WhatsApp.  I just hadn't realized it.

Analogue August continued.  I don't feel the urge to get back on the messenger.  I know I miss things - I don't know about restaurants or classes.  I don't see frequent photos of people I like a lot.  But I also value the time I spend with my friends and family more.  I plan more social engagements and miss people when I haven't seen them for too long.  

I also don't know how I had time for WhatsApp before - my phone used to show 30-60 minutes of WhatsApp use a day.  Now, with no WhatsApp, I never reach the end of my days wondering what to do with my 30-60 minutes.  How did I have time for that before?

So Analogue August 2021 has continued through to Analogue October 2022.  It's been an interesting experiment but I'm still enjoying it!

And, if you're wondering, this is my current beast of a phone.  I adore it:

I've posted more about my decision and transition here

And got a bit introspecting on whether smartphones are widening a gender attention gap here

October 4, 2022

Tuesday Things

Today is my fortnightly non-working day.  90% time is great, 4 day weeks are short and 5 day weeks are long and one of each is ideal.

Church play group this morning, then Isaac's last swim lesson.  He's 4 soon and can go in the big kid lessons.  Also, "big kid" lessons are parent free and I don't have to get in the pool which will be a big plus.

Last night I met a friend for dinner in town on my way home from Bath.  Great to see her, great to add an adult dinner in without missing kid bedtime (because it was already missed on my commute). And great to eat Wahaca because the UK is basically devoid of Mexican food (for understandable reasons):

I thought I was being a time ninja, combining a commute day with a social dinner, but then I got home at 10:30, chatted with Andy till 11:15, felt really awake and invigorated from my day/evening, and didn't get to sleep until 11:30pm.

As usual, the littlest was up at 5:50am, and now I am very very tired.

Tuesday Goals:

  • Get Through The Day
  • Be Nice
  • Get to bed by 9pm
  • Make Tacos

I'm not sure whether late night Monday is a good idea.  Maybe late night* Wednesday will be a better idea.  It was good going into the office on a Monday, it had the "first day back after the weekend" buzz.  Wednesday is "Anchor Day" but everyone is quite anchored to their desks/workload by Wednesday.  It was nice to meet some new people and have some short casual chats.

*Late night = in bed after 10pm

October 3, 2022

Analogue Travel

 In general, not using a smart phone is fine.  People are vaguely interested or just disinterested. 

It does take some additional planning for travel. I'm going to London with work in a few weeks and got my tickets today. There was a link to click and download.  Instead I printed them off.  I also printed a map, and wrote a list of instructions for how to get to the London office.

I am aware that this takes extra work, as compared to just using my phone to navigate.

At the same time, I often remember that I'm not smartphone-less because of the imminent logistical benefits, I'm doing it because I don't have the self control to have the world at my fingertips and not distract myself with it.  

I notice this on the train, everyone on a smart phone, everyone in their own world.

I want to be in this world. 

Even if it means I have to print out google maps sometimes.

Also, this book is one of the best books I read this year:

It was called "a love letter to the infinite scroll".  I'm not sure I saw it that way, but it's a book that comes back to me often. 

October 2, 2022

Weekend Review - Play Street Cardiff

 A busy but great weekend.

Saturday was a morning with L, she and I puttered around the house.

Saturday afternoon was a birthday party for a 4 year old, and we got takeaway from VFS for dinner.  A total blast from the past after reading my own blog post about how good it was.

Sunday morning I had 2 hours of Rachel Time which included catching up on emails and a session of Barre3 online.  Reminder: even 10 minutes of Barre3 is better than no minutes of Barre3!

Sunday lunchtime was another 4 year old birthday party.  Isaac is living his best life.  

Sunday from 2-4 was our first Street Play!  About a year ago Andy and I read about some silly scheme to close roads for kids to play in the street.  "Ridiculous!" we said.  The WalesOnline commenters were against it as well, because they are all trolls.  But then we realized it would be lovely to close our streets and meet our neighbours.  Andy did the logistics and I did the volunteer organizing and we had a great time with about 20 neighbours turning out to play on bikes in the road.

Reminder: sometimes organizing things is very fun. 

This week has a fair amount of moving parts, including going to the office on a Monday(!!) but I'm hoping the week is not too exhausting and we have a week off work after so it's all looking up.

Now it's off to bed so I can get my early morning train....

October 1, 2022

Shopping, Cost of Living, and Food Plans

Today was busy.  7am at the grocery store for a shop that cost £120.  That is an insane amount to spend on groceries.  I could save money if I went back to splitting my shopping - I used to get mad when Andy bought passata at Morrisons because it's so much cheaper at Lidl.  I do need to schedule a Lidl shop, because the passata is so much cheaper, but right now I can barely make to 1 shop.

Waitrose started charging up to £5 for delivery.  We were never Waitrose shoppers pre-pandemic, but because of the free delivery we started shopping there.  The dried goods cost the same as anywhere, but the fruit and veg is noticeably more expensive.

I do remind myself that I'm incredibly lucky that the insane cost of food is more of an administrative/emotional annoyance to me than anything else.  I am also aware that our groceries are more expensive because we buy so many ingredients rather than prepared food - a box of biscuits was still only £1 but my tomatoes were £1.70.

This Week's Food Plan:
Saturday: Indian Takeaway
Sunday: Roast Veg and Salmon (R)
Monday: Falafel Mezze (A)
Tuesday: Vegetarian Tacos (R)
Wednesday: Leek & Potato Soup (A)
Thursday: Roast Mediterranean Veg & Pasta (R)
Friday: Pizza 

I need to up my slow-cooker game.  Will start trolling the internet for slow cooker recipes.  We usually eat more beans, but last week's menu was very bean-heavy.

Here's a snapshot of our food plan from earlier in the month.  Remember when I used to make side dishes?  That was a long time ago: