February 28, 2023

Goodbye February - that was fast! (February Goals Review)

This was a busy February! Highlights included a visit from my dad (postponed from July) and a visit from my Uncle. I went to London with work and celebrated Valentines day AND Pancake day. I didn't do much sport, but I also didn't get ill, and overall this has been one of the better Februarys of recent memory.

But how about those goals...?

  • January 2023 updates to Kids & Family photo albums (done)
  • Take the kids swimming (Done - Lilah loved it!)
  • Celebrate Pancake Day and Valentines Day with the kids (Done - I made breakfast pancakes for the kids and Valentines day included a totally OTT delivery of my favourite cakes from my favourite bakery)
  • Go to a Garden Center and buy some plants (Done! We bought a new tree, which we shoved into our small hatchback with 3 adults and 2 children)
  • Plan an overnight without kids (Decided I didn't feel like planning. So we are planning a "something" for this weekend, but making Andy help with the plans)
  • Do Yoga 3x (nope)
  • Do a Parkrun 5k (yes! 38 minutes. I used to be a steady 32 so I am trying to be nice to myself when I am basically doing a parkrun at walking speed)
  • Blog 3x a week (I wrote 11 blog posts this month, so technically 2.75 posts a week done)
  • 1 "Rachel thing" TBC (I had a great bath after going mountain biking, so that's probably 2 things)
  • 1 Dinner date with friends (Nope! I think the double visitor precluded dinners a bit)
  • 1 couple dinner date with friends (Yes! I left the house on a Friday. It was hard but great to see them)
  • Plan friend play date with former colleagues (I planned a dinner date with them - on Thursday. Yay)
  • Use next work trip for building professional network (Not really. It was half term, but I did meet with lots of people and get good feedback.)
  • Work side-project (Did not do. Maybe not worth doing?)
  • Ask work to issue new contract to reflect working agreement (legally formalize my current working pattern) (Done - Made the ask)

  • Find a new cleaner (yes! Someone else cleans our bathrooms and hoovers the house and it's the best £30 ever)
  • Buy new hand mixer (done!)
  • Buy larger crock pot (done!)
  • Put up wall decal in kids room (Not done aahhhh I've had this decal for 6 months)
  • Mount mirror in office (not done. This is mostly me hassling Andy to drill holes, which he hates doing.)
  • Frame and mount bathroom poster (Not done. I love this poster though).

Habit Goals
  • Continue food log (nope, not even sure when/why I stopped)
  • Continue time log (yes! Longest streak of time logging for me)
  • Do physio exercises daily (did not do. Will aim to do more next month)
  • Bedtime prep at 9:15, in bed at 9:30 (50%. Many late nights (ie 10 or 11) with guests. But still slept an average of 7.9 hours per day.)
My professional development book last month was Myth of the Nice Girl.  Review to come.  I had another great reading month, finishing 7 books in February.

How was your February? Did it go by really fast? Did you have any February goals?

February 26, 2023

Weekend Warrior - Sunday Edition (& Meal Plan)

 Currently writing from the sofa where sun is streaming through the window.  This morning I went mountain biking with my friend who had never mountain biked before and she was amazing and I had the best time.  I need more sun and more mountain biking friends.

Yesterday I did an abundantly slow parkrun at 38 minutes for a 5k.  I know that doing 1 parkrun a month is probably not enough to improve, and doing exercise once a week is not enough to improve either, but I wish I felt at least marginally better when running while not ill and not tired.

I was very tired post-parkrun, which also seems odd given how it was basically park-walk.

On Friday I listened to this episode of Deep Questions and I've decided I need to be much better about my remote work discipline.  So often I find myself in the almost meditative state of replying to emails, sending teams messages, fininshing one random thing from my inbox.  I know that this isn't efficient but I love the tiny series of accomplishments I get from the bits and bobs. BUT, no one is going to promote me because I responded quickly or wrote 60 emails in a day.  

I need to be a lot better about big picture. 

And, I need to be better about using remote work to my advantage. I'm already quite flexible with kid-chaos, but the fact that I can carve three hours out of a workday to watch kids means I should be able to carve 40 minutes to go for a run.

Next week I've got Yoga on Monday and dinner with some former colleagues on Wednesday, hopefully writing club on Thursday.

Yes, all of this is going to make my 9:15 bedtime tricky.  Maybe sleeping 10-6 is fine too.  Or 10:30-6:30.  

Our Meal plan is less than exciting this week:

Monday: Bean Stew (Andy)
Tuesday: Tacos
Wednesday: Lasagna (this is ambitious, it may just be pasta) 
Thursday: Out with friends, Andy is making Potatoes for the kids
Friday: Grandma cooks dinner (Salmon?)

What's on your meal plan this week?  How has your February been for sports?

February 24, 2023

I didn't realize men become men and women become mum.

 This morning I opened the news to see this article:

I started to wonder, why is she a mum with rare disease?  If she had a rare disease and wasn't a "mum" would she be "person"? Does one lose their "person-ness" when they have kids and then everything they do is "mum"?  

If these two people were mothers would the story read "mums start cheese company in local town?"

I clicked around for a while, seeing what mums and people were up to.  The first article I found about a dad was this awful one:
This is clearly a dad.  Why does a dad, in an article referencing an experience with his own child, get called a "man" while a woman who has a disease unrelated to children gets called a mum?

Tabitha Carivan had a great chapter about this is her book This is Not a Book about Benedict Cumberbach.  When you have kids, you are a mom.  You are not a person who runs, you are a mom who runs.  You are not a working person, you are a working mom.  

Apparently, even when it comes to news, the world separated into is men, mothers, and other.  

I didn't realize that after kids my husband got to keep being "man" while I became "mum".

February 21, 2023

It's "no phones" not "no doing nothing on your phone"

We've had increasing numbers of houseguests recently, which has been awesome because I love people visiting.  But it's also interesting to see other peoples routines and habits and how they fit into our house.

As previously mentioned, we mostly don't use phones/tablets/computers in our house, and especially not around the kids.  Of course I used a computer to write this blog, and I have an ipod (what I call my "Smart Camera") to take photos of the kids and listen to audiobooks, but we never scroll, we don't use social media, and we have a general "hands off the phone" lifestyle.  My husband is much better about this than me, but I am pretty low-internet as compared to mos.

We don't always tell our no phones in communal spaces rule to people before the visit, and I need to get better at explaining our house rules.

I don't ban scrolling or phone use when it's adults hanging out in the house, but I do find myself bored when I'm chatting with a guest and they get their phone out to look something up and then look something else up and then ??? I'm not sure what people do on their phones.

I've also realized that I think in normal groups, if one person starts playing on their phone then everyone starts playing, and it's not so glaringly uncomfortable.  When there are three people chatting and scrolling it's probably not weird.  When one person is scrolling and one person is waiting it just seems... odd.

I will definitely comment if someone gets a phone out during a meal.  I feel that "no phones at the dinner table" is a pretty understandable rule.

On occasions where I've had to ask someone to put their phone away - the dinner table or in front of the kids being two examples - whoever I ask usually gives the same answer.

"Oh I was just looking something up/checking the weather/checking my email/doing something"

The funny thing about this answer is that, of course they were.  Everyone is doing something on their phone.  No one is looking at it for no reason... or rather each person has their own reason to look.  and our rule isn't "no phones at the dinner table unless you need to look something up / check email / do something".  The rule is "no phones at the table".

I still need to get a sign that says "This is a no smoking no smart phone house.  Smoking can be done outside, and smartphones can be used upstairs".

On a completely different note:

This morning we had a grocery delivery this morning, and I painfully learned to check my online order, because there is a rather large difference between 0.5kg onions and 5kg of onions.

Now I own a lot of onions.

Recipe ideas anyone?

February 19, 2023

Sunday Thoughts, Plans, & Meal Plans

This was a busy week.  I had two days in London, which was excellent for meeting colleagues and getting to know people better, but was exhausting in its own way.  

Lilah was off nursery all week with Hand Foot and Mouth, a disease I had never heard of in the states but which seems to be the chicken-pox of the UK. Except, unlike chicken pox, there isn't a vaccine I can buy for it.  So she stayed home, spotty and dopey, and we split childcare between Andy, me, and my mom.  Luckily she took 3 hour naps every day which helped for getting work done.

I got back from London at 9pm on Thursday and had arranged a 6:30 am breakfast with a friend on Friday.  This was rather optimistic scheduling on my part.  When I got back home Isaac seemed tired and dopey so both kids and I stayed home, which of course meant all the work trip debrief/unpacking/house sorting was put off until later.

In other optimistic scheduling, we had planned dinner with friends on Friday since we have mom-childcare.  I had offered Friday or Saturday options but our friends picked Friday so off we went.

Quick question, readers... does anyone like doing things on Friday?  Why?  

It was nice to see friends, nice to have dinner, but it did mean we were exhausted on Saturday.  Saturday was a hard day.  I took a nap while Lilah napped.  I complained bitterly about staying up on Friday.  I let time drip through the day and willed it forward to bedtime.

We did get a FLOM in the evening, which was good because next week is another complicated one with Andy away for 2 days, my Uncle visiting from the states, and kids hopefully in nursery but that's always questionable.

I was in bed by 9pm on Saturday and asleep by 9:30, and I already feel soo much better for it.

Maybe I'm just not currently at a place where doing things in the evening is feasible?  Everything just seems so possible with sleep.

Meal Plan next week:

Sunday: Beef Wellington, Potatoes, Broccoli, Carrots

Monday: Ham and Pea soup

Tuesday: Slow cooker pumpkin chili 

Wednesday: Roast veg and haloumi wraps with hummus

Thursday: Vegetarian Curry (ordered)

Tuesday is Pancake Day in the UK!  While the UK has lots of rubbish things like Hand Foot and Mouth, they make up for it with entire days of pancake eating.  Since the kids are off nursery on a Tuesday I think we will do Pancake lunch - British people usually make Crepes but I may do chocolate chip pancakes.  

What is your favourite pancake?  Have you ever hear of Hand Foot and Mouth before?

February 17, 2023

Ambitious is my "moist"

I detest the word "Ambitious"

I don't think it's a positive word, and I don't really understand what it means in most contexts.  

My new line manager used the word Ambitious multiple times in a "get to know you" scenario - all in what I'm sure they thought were positive ways.  "I'm looking forward to working with an ambitious team" and "you are all so ambitious". 

But... what does that mean about my predominantly female team? That we are all defying the usual gender norms?  That we are all asking for things?  

Here's a thought experiment.  I've found you a partner to work with on a project.  One is nice, the other ambitious.  Who do you like?  One is compassionate, the other ambitious.  One is five foot five, the other is ambitious.  Who do you want to work with?  

Ambitious is not a positive trait.  It might be good for business, but it's certainly not likable.

What do people think they mean, when they use the word ambitious?

I think the subtlety of the word is that it describes women who are behaving like men.  Boris Johnson was a leader, Theresa May is ambitious.  

Was Bill Clinton Ambitious?  I'm not sure I heard that narrative at all.  But I certainly heard a lot about how Hillary Clinton was ambitious.  

I'm not sure what ambition means as a personal description, but I don't feel good about it.

February 13, 2023

Moving Jobs - I should have done it ages ago.

I was so torn about leaving my last job.

I had so many friends there, I was well liked, the job was flexible.

It was so flexible, in fact, that I flexibly was going nowhere in my career.

The pay was fine, and my colleagues and I all told each other that we should stick with what we have, that it was good enough.

I agonized over leaving.  I felt like I was letting people I liked down.  I would never find somewhere as good.  I would miss my colleagues.

Now, in retrospect, my only regret is not leaving sooner.

It turns out, I did work with great people.  They are still great people.  I am still friends with some of them.  But now I work with new great people! And I have made new friends! And, it's just a job.  

Sometimes, when employers call themselves family, it's to make you believe you have to forgive them the way you forgive family. 

It seems so obvious now. Clearly it was not a family.  Clearly, it was a job.  One of many millions that exist.  

Why do we default to staying in jobs?  As usual, I start to wonder, do women stick it out more than men?  

There is research showing that women who change jobs quickly move forward in their careers more quickly than men but are viewed more negatively than their male counterparts doing the same.

In this way, the opportunity cost of leaving is higher for women - if it doesn't work out they're more disadvantaged than men.

I think we forget sometimes that if we have something now, we will have it in the future.

If we make money now we can make it again

If we have friends now we can have friends again

If the work we do is interesting now we can find interesting work elsewhere.

There is nothing unique about any one job - or there is everything unique about any one job - but I wish I had defaulted to leaving long before I did.  It turns out, everything that stagnated me was in my own head, and everything that promoted me was in my next job.

February 11, 2023

Why does "sorry for my language" feel like "sorry you are female"

In my last job I was in a meeting with three male colleagues.  While discussing something akin to "put your money where your mouth is" one of them said "yeah, put your C*ck on the block!" 

Then he looked at me and said "sorry Rachel"

I was so instantly aware of being "the other" and "not like them".  Because of my gender I had ruined their otherwise effortless conversation.  And there was nothing I could say, just laughed, and got on with the meeting.

I was recently in a meeting with two male colleagues.  During a call one said sh*t.  Then immediately said "sorry Rachel"

I felt that same sense of "otherness" and "not belonging" that I felt years ago.  

But I am older, and I am more tired of incidental sexism, even under the guise of politeness.

"You should apologize to neither of us or both of us" I said, referencing my colleague in the meeting.

It was slightly awkward.  I wonder if he realized why what he did was wrong.  I wonder if he will think before doing it again.  

Or I wonder if he will avoid talking to me, and in making myself less "other" I have just made myself "differently other"

February 10, 2023

On Buses and Trains - Seating Conundrums

I am running a small experiment.  

When I take the train to work I there is usually an open seat next to me when on departure.  More people get on at stops 2-4.  Most people get off at stop 5.

How do the newcomers pick who to sit next to?  When each row is full (the seats are 2x2) then someone inevitably gets a seat partner.  Is anyone more likely to partner with anyone else?

For the last few weeks I have sat across from someone, one open seat and an isle between us.  I often put my bag on my adjacent seat to avoid people sitting next to me... at least until 50% of the seats are already full.  

Does this make me a jerk?  Probably.

This week across from me was a professional looking man about my age.  At stop 2, as the train filled up, a 50ish year old man asked me to move my bag so he could sit down.  The man across from me had an empty seat still.  

Why did the newcomer ask me to move my bag rather than sitting in the seat opposite?

Two weeks ago I sat opposite a woman who was younger than me.  When the train started to fill up a man sat down next to her.  My seat was spared.

Often I scan the train, to see who has partnered.  It is so often woman-man in any two seats, and man left to sit alone in a two seat.  Some of these people know each other of course, but most don't.  This is a commute train.  People are tired and want space.

The space, apparently, is unknowingly saved for the men on the train.

February 7, 2023

Tuesday - Meals Plans and Toddler Time

How is it already February 7th?  This month feels like it's rushing by, which is probably good (because Feb, yuck!) but also... I'm enjoying this Feb.  We are having sunny cold weather, but it's warming up to 8c/47f.   Normal February is Wales is basically a rainbowless version of the great flood. 

My dad arrived on Saturday and this morning we all visited toddler Gymnastics.  Toddler Gymnastics is the best - a full gymnastics gym taken over by toddlers.  Isaac and Lilah both loved the foam pit.  Isaac also liked the balance beam.  

Since my dad is visiting we have a slightly better than average meal plan for the week.

Sunday: Roast chicken dinner with potatoes, carrots, parsnips and broccoli

Monday: Jacket Potatoes with chopped chicken salad (FYI Trader Joe's Pickle Seasoning is the secret ingredient to every salad.)

Tuesday: Chicken Tacos!

Wednesday: Vegetarian Lasagne from cook (premade food delivery)

Thursday: Chicken Shwarma with tahini yogurt sauce

Friday: Indian from cook

Saturday: family bring and share (or potluck, as we call it in The States [and Canada too?])

I should probably make something British like bubble and squeak or toad in the hole or faggots and gravy (fyi, I have never eaten this as it sounds awful).  

Actually, toad in the hole is delicious.  I should make toad in the hole.

In other news, I've had some quick wins on my February list with the purchase of a new crock pot (6.5 liters, because the family is too hungry) and hand mixer (which arrived today and now I want to make a cake).  I also found some crumpets shaped like hearts on super discount at M&S which will make a great Valentines day breakfast from the freezer. 

February 3, 2023

February Goals

I had a pretty good January, despite illnesses.  I've made ok-good progress on many of my 2023 goals and especially those I assigned to Q1.  It's easy to get some quick wins with "book doctor appointment" and "order Will pack online".  Despite lots of mental blocks I finally completed my citizenship application in January.  Weirdly, although it seems like the "biggest" application, it was the easiest by far.  The risks are so low - I probably won't get denied, the worst they can do is ask for more info.  Or maybe in theory I could get denied but then I get my money back and I get to keep living here.  I have had really awful experiences with visas in the past, and the UK tried to deport me in 2013 as part of their "reduce immigration for all non EU people" program (Google Amber Rudd Resignation for more info on that one)

So, with some quick wins under my belt, time to look forward to February!


  • January 2023 updates to Kids & Family photo albums
  • Take the kids swimming
  • Celebrate Pancake Day and Valentines Day with the kids
  • Go to a Garden Center and buy some plants
  • Plan an overnight without kids



  • 1 Dinner date with friends
  • 1 couple dinner date with friends
  • Plan friend play date with former colleagues


  • Use next work trip for building professional network
  • Work side-project
  • Ask work to issue new contract to reflect working agreement (legally formalize my current working pattern)


  • Find a new cleaner (done already! Clean Bathrooms! Horray!)
  • Buy new hand mixer
  • Buy larger crock pot
  • Put up wall decal in kids room
  • Mount mirror in office
  • Frame and mount bathroom poster 

Habit Goals

  • Continue food log
  • Continue time log
  • Do physio exercises daily
  • Bedtime prep at 9:15, in bed at 9:30
February Professional Development Book: The Myth of the Nice Girl by Fran Hauser

I'm really looking forward to February this year.  My dad is coming to visit and staying with us, which I am very excited about.  He was supposed to come in July but got Covid instead.  I think visiting us will be more fun than having Covid.  

I have far too many books on the go right now.  The library has started asking people to return books and so I've had to interrupt reading some books I own in favor of reading books I need to return.  I'll either read a lot of books this month, or read most of a lot of books this month.  

Do you have any February goals?  What are you looking forward to this month?