August 31, 2023

Goodbye August... that was fast

Today was Isaac's last day of nursery.  It seems like "starting school" was a thing that was mile away for so long and then BAM, it is next week.  I feel the seasons of life shifting quickly - I will now know when school holidays are, when inset days are, and when teachers go on strike.  I've never had to worry about that before.  When I plan trips I'll need to plan them around school term times... it will suddenly matter when I start taking leave for Christmas.  For a planner type person this is going to be a big change.  I've long lamented the extortionate price of nursery, but maybe that was the extortionate price of general scheduling freedom.

So that's August done!  I have one last Tuesday off next week before Isaac starts school on Wednesday (the first week is a Wednesday start).  I've blocked off 3-5pm on my calendar for his first day, then Andy is doing pick up and drop off on day 2.  We have some logistics to sort for the next few weeks but I think by mid September we will be in a routine... which will be good for when babies upset the whole routine by mid-October.  

I am not really enjoying my freeform notebook planner.  I'm not sure what I want in a planner... but something else.  We use a weekly planner for our family so it feels silly to get a weekly planner for me, but I found the daily planner too much for this stage of life.  I have been trying to keep and track weekly to-dos and sorting them into daily, as well as checking that I remember my iron supplement... but it's not an inspiring planning system.

Anyways, August goals and results:

Me I had some good me goals and did them all - I wanted to blog 2x a week (which I've done, barely).  I got a massage and a pedicure! I wanted to read 4 books and instead I read 7 (although this is somewhat helped by pregnancy insomnia, which is not great).  I bought a new duffle bag which I am very excited about (although I have to wait for my mom to bring it out from the states on her next visit):
Family I kept the kids albums updated and the family album updated for July.  We also booked and planned Isaac's birthday party and started acquiring birthday things we need for the party.  We still need a few more things - plates and tablecloths - but we are definitely getting things ready in advance.   We also took the kids swimming, which Lilah loved and doesn't get to do enough.  And I went out to dinner with Andy in August which was a nice treat!

Professional I went to my job interview and although it didn't turn out how I would have liked I am glad I went through the process.  I also sent a thank you to a senior colleague who has twins and gave me advice.  And I've started training my maternity cover.  All goals done

House This category was LONG and I did all of it.  This month I got a new laundry basket (2!) and I am loving having a basket without a broken handle.  We also got new mixing bowls, so our set of 1 is now a set of 4.  I got a new kitchen bin and Lilah got a twin fitted sheet for her bed after using a somewhat gross cheap IKEA sheet for a year.  As a kid I loved bedding, and as an adult I still love bedding and having kids is an excuse to have more cute bedding.  I mounted hooks in the kids costume area, which is now done.  And I won an auction for some cutlery on ebay that matches the cutlery we have - my dad is bringing it out from the states but I am excited to get new knives.  It felt like a very boring project to try and figure out what our freecycle cutlery was, but I managed to find it and I'm hoping that the lot I bought is the right one to match what we have.

Adventure I had two items on my list - our glamping adventure (which was awesome!) and going to our local bread shop on a Saturday.  We didn't make the bread shop but we did go glamping so I consider this a success.

That was August.  It rained at least half the days, which does feel like a bummer for summer BUT I do appreciate because I am pregnancy warm and I would be melting if it were 32c/90f like it was last year.  It looks like we are going to get some sun in September with temperatures in the low 70s (and 60s at night).  Sounds perfect.

How was your August?  What was your biggest win this month?

August 27, 2023

Sunday Things

Another very busy week.  I've sat down to write a post so many times and then... not.  Oh well!

It was an exceptionally short week of work - after taking Monday and Tuesday off I forgot we had POETS on Friday.   My work has POETS day on the last Friday of each month.  I did not know what POETS was when I started and assumed it was time off to do something enlightening or artistic... Poetry?  

No.  POETS stands for Piss Off Early Tomorrow's Saturday.

Stay classy Britain!

In other news, our dishwasher was very very broken.  The repair man brought out a new board on Friday, installed it, and then it immediately broke when an internal water pipe leaked on it.  They gave us a code for a replacement, which I had to call and order through AO (where we bought the washer).  Annoyingly they were out of the model we had (which I liked, except for the breaking), so instead we had to pay £40 more for a "better" model.  They were going to knock £30 as a goodwill gesture... but then they were going to charge £30 for installation.  I said that wasn't particularly fair as I didn't want to be getting a new dishwasher installed.  So instead they gave me free installation but did not reduce the price.  I had been on the phone for a long time by this point and gave up, but I will be writing an angry letter as I don't think it's fair to sell a machine that breaks after 3 weeks, then spend 2 weeks without a washer, and then offer free installation on a more expensive replacement as a "gesture of goodwill".  I am going to hope we were just unlucky and this new machine lives a long and wash-ful life.

This morning my mom took the kids out to breakfast while Andy and I worked on house projects.  We managed to sort some boxes of kid clothes, and I am slowly getting rid of things that I can't imagine using again.  Many of our friends are doing the same, which means we are both inheriting and discarding things at the same time.  I've got another bag for the charity shop and my donation box is almost full again, which feels good.

I'm continuing a month of great reading with Solo by Jenny Tough.  I won this at a Mountain Biking Festival and it was an awesome and inspiring read.  

I'm now reading Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson, which is really enjoyable so far.  I've got The Salt Path on audiobook, which I listen to in 10 minute segments when I can't sleep at night (which is a lot, because I am pregnant and very uncomfortable).

Tomorrow is a bank holiday, so kids are off nursery.  We don't have many plans and will see what kiddos want to do.  I know that many schools in the US have started already, but here we don't start until after late August bank holiday (the last Monday in August).  However, school doesn't finish until midway into July... so I definitely feel like summer flies by here more than it might in the states.

August 21, 2023

Random Day Off

Today is a random day off and I am already loving it.

I do not have super high expectations of myself.  I want to rest and relax and tick a few niggles off my to-do list.

I started the day with an iced coffee and some planner fun:
August is zooming past.  This week is the last week in my 2022-2023 calendar!  Goodbye orange planner, hello blue planner.

I haven't been super good about keeping my work planner updated with all my maternity appointments, so today I realized I scheduled overlapping appointments and have managed to change one to not overlap.  I'm very lucky I get paid time off for all my maternity appointments as I have A LOT right now.  I'm hoping it settles down soon... but I'm not *really* sure where that hope comes from since it will probably only ramp up from 30 weeks onwards.

One of the bad news/good news things about being pregnant is that I don't sleep well (bad) but that means I'm getting lots of reading done (good!). I just read How to keep House while Drowning by KC Davis.  It was interesting and short but as a person who is pretty good at keeping tidy I don't think too much was applicable to me, although it's definitely a good reminder that I can let things go when twins are here.  Also, I love having a cleaner and will certainly hire more help if I need to.  I should probably get the kids to work on their tidying better.  

This weekend I was with friends who started talking about how they would rather have fun than have a clean house.  I totally understand this... but I also find having a clean (or at least organized) house allows me to have more fun.  I hate spending time looking for things and I don't like having things on counters or piles that don't have a home.  I know that my house is on the more organized side of the young children years... but I also think it stays organized because my kinds are not always home.  I don't know how anyone with stay at home kids can keep a house clean. It seems impossible to me.

My fun thing plan for today is to do a yoga video, sort out the many things not in their place in the house, and make dinner.  Unfortunately in recent tragic house news our new dishwasher broke - I think it's faulty and the warranty repair person is coming to look tomorrow.  Fingers crossed they are able to repair it quickly... I am too pregnant to do dishes.  Plus now that I've got the sweet taste of dishwasher life I don't want to go back to the old ways.

I will do a full weekend glamping holiday report soon, but the short version is, we loved it! Kids loved it.  Andy loved not packing tents and sleeping bags.  I loved having an outdoor shelter/kitchen area to cook in.  All of us sleeping in the same room wasn't too bad.  We probably won't be doing another holiday for a while, so this was a great farewell to holiday life (for now).

August 18, 2023

5 things on a Friday

 1 - We are off Glamping this weekend!  Very excited.  We are staying in a Yurt on a small farm, booked through AirBnB.  We don't have to bring towels or bedding or camping stoves.  Yay.  I hope the kids enjoy it and get to free range a bit... our last camping adventure was fairly cramped with other campers so we couldn't let the kids explore as much as I wanted.  This place has 3 Yurts and composting toilets.  We are finally at the age where I can bring kid crafts and toys and maybe even get some time to read.  Also, this looks like good Glamping weather:

2 - Our dishwasher broke!  Literally one month after purchase.  The repair/replace people are coming on Tuesday, so I'm extra glad we are away this weekend (although we will have to do dishes while camping).  Thankfully it's under warrenty, and double thankfully Andy took care of all of it (he's in charge of appliances).  But OMG I don't like hand washing dishes and especially when my giant baby-stomach precludes me from standing too close

3 - I've been thinking more about the Job/No Job and I think it's an interesting case of "Here's a vague job description - you tell us what we specifically want".  The company I work for is the largest company I've ever been at, and I think this situation is reminding me that I really love some aspects of working for 100-200 people companies more than 3,000+ people.  I need to start crafting a "dream job" list at some point, the job I currently have is very close but I do think it can be better.  The great thing about moving jobs and getting new jobs is it helps me realize what I like and want.   I really love how Birchwood Pie looks at jobs and want to emulate their strategies.

4 - I just booked a reflexology session! I haven't had one in about a year and I absolutely love my reflexologist but she is a bit pricey.  However I'm hoping she can help with some of the baby-induced circulation issues I'm having (varicose veins, yuck).  I remember last time I saw her was the day I put in notice at my last job and I knew I wouldn't go for a while because I was a bit nervous about money in the new job (it was definitely a lateral move).  I'm less worried about money right now (at least until I start Maternity Leave).  It's nice to realize how much more settled I am now than a year ago. 

5 - Isaac has exactly 5 days of nursery left.  We just got his first bill for school wraparound and it was £220 for a month.  (4 days a week of 9-5 cover, Andy has Fridays off work).  So much better than the £500 we were paying for 3 days a week of nursery!  Or the £900 we pay for 3 days a week for Lilah.  These are the expensive years but I don't regret it... I am much happier being a working mom than a stay at home mom and I am very hopeful that at the end of this expensive time I will be at a far better salary bracket than if I had taken 5 years off to raise kids.  Also, I hopefully won't be insane, which I would be if I took 5 years off to raise kids.

Have you ever had reflexology? Do you want to come holiday in Wales now that you know it's 70 degrees in August?

August 10, 2023

Responsiveness & smart tech

One of the changes in smartphone behaviour I've learned from my two year stint away is to ignore the pull of responsiveness.

I used to treat messages like open loops that needed solving.  I wanted to reply right away.  I wanted to have conversations on WhatsApp.  If someone messaged I didn't want to be rude by not replying.

With a phone that makes no noise it was easy to not reply, because sometimes it was hours before I saw incoming messages at all.

Now, when I get a text, I feel the instant pull to reply but I have to fight it and realize now is not the time.  It's so much easier to send a quick text on an i-phone... that's one of the reasons I went back to it.  T9 texting took longer.  Messages were shorter.  However, I am very aware that the benefits of faster texting will be instantly undone if I start texting 4 or 5 times as much.

I feel this in work too - even though I use my own task board I sometimes get stuck into clearing my inbox or replying to teams messages.  It was actually noted during a performance review that I didn't engage much on a teams channel and that I should engage with a specific team more.  I didn't want to say it at the time, but that's because I think teams chat is mostly a waste of time.

If someone has a question for me I am more than happy to answer.  

If someone has a question for a group which includes me I'm more than happy to leave someone else to answer (or, usually, someone else answers before I even see it).

In an effort to "engage more" I got in a conversation on the teams forum the next day, providing advice and support. 30 minutes of asynchronous conversation later I had solved the issue (publicly).  It felt like a waste of 30 minutes.  I decided to disengage from teams again.

Phones are so addictive, intentionally.  It's hard to fight the urge to reply.  But one of the things I worked on with my T9 texting was being highly intentional on the time I spent messaging people.  I doubt anyone appreciated that intentionality - that it too me 5 times as long to write then as they took to write me - but I considered it a symbol of my appreciation of them.  I don't want to lose that because I can text 5 times faster.  

For me, texting has a time and a place, and that time & place is not dictated by what's incoming when.

(I realize this would probably extend to email if you have email on your phone too... I don't plan on having email on mine)

August 7, 2023

Some July Things So Far

Things that are good so far this month:

Books: I finished Daisy Jones and the Six.  That made for a very good audiobook.  Next I have Colin Joust's A Very Punchable Face.  I'm not sure where this recommendation came from. I really liked Daisy Jones so I don't really want to start this one but also... it's good to not want every book to be a TJR book.

TV/Film: Andy and I watched a movie!  It was on my yearly goals to watch a movie.  We saw Weird (The Al Yankovic) story and really enjoyed it.  Then over the last two nights we watched The Glass Onion and I liked that one too.  I think watching movies over 2 or 3 nights is actually nicer than watching a TV show - we don't have any shows on the "To Watch" list right now.  We finished Shrinking (cute!) and now... I don't know what to watch next.  I want to see Everything Everywhere All At Once but I can't find it free on any streaming service we have and apparently that precludes me watching a film.

House Projects: I ordered a new laundry basket! And new stacking bowls! I've also picked out a new kitchen bin but haven't made the order yet.  This weekend andy mounted a new shelf in the kids room, I put up some art which belonged in Isaac's room and not the baby room, and I put up hooks in the kids costume area.

Work: I am not as focused in work as I should be.  I think the problem is summer.  People are on holiday.  I want to be on holiday.  I'm hoping to get caught up on things and then maybe 2 or 3 days off either this week or next.

Clothes/Decluttering: I have been selling things on Vinted - mostly maternity clothes I don't/wont wear.  I've been buying more on Vinted... mostly kids things.  Although relatively cheap, it's still bringing stuff into my house so I have to be careful not to get too many things.  I always have a declutter box out ready to go to the charity shop and am pretty good about filling it - I just need to take it soon as it's getting pretty full.

Clothes: How did I live without a tumble drier for so many years?  I am now able to do a whole load of laundry in one day!  I can see how people manage capsule wardrobes if they can get clothes clean this quickly.  I find maternity wear to basically be a capsule wardrobe but I have 2 work appropriate tops (good thing I only go to the office once a week, at most) and these can't be dried.  So I feel like i'm on a pretty strict wash/dry/repeat cycle.  I have 11 weeks left of pregnancy (at most) so I'm hesitant to buy any more maternity clothes, but I am also worried that 5 shirts may not cut it for 11 weeks.

August 5, 2023

The end of Analogue August

In August of 2021 I decided to embark on Analogue August - giving up my smartphone for a month.  Instead, I gave it up for two years.  It's been a weird and wonderful adventure, which I have already written about a fair amount.  I think my favourite posts on this are here:

Smartphones: The right tools for the wrong jobs?

On Not Using a Smartphone: The Why

5 Things I've Gained from Quitting my Smartphone

However, after two years I've decided to try having a smartphone again.  I stuck my sim back into the SIM-less iphone and after figuring out how to disable all the apple stuff (I don't understand iMessage) it seems to work like a phone.

So far I mostly keep data off when I'm out of the house, which I think was the biggest shift in my phone usage over the last two years.  It used to be that I would do anything at any time... I could order groceries in the queue at the bank!  I could sign up for a swim session while going to the toilet! 

I've gotten used to being in lines without using my phone.  Sitting on the train without distracting myself.  Doing internet things at home, and when it's best to do them.  I feel far more present when I'm out and about, knowing that internet things can be done at the right time... some other time.

I've also spent 2 years without apps... so much of my former phone use was definitely behavioral conditioning.  My phone currently shows texts when I get them (with no sound) and rings out loud.  Nothing else bleeps for my attention.  It's not really a source of interest or engagement.  Sure - I can check the internet, or blogs.  I can check email on the web app.  But I have gotten used to doing these things at home now.  It's not the first thing I think of, when my brain has some blank space.

Maybe I needed 2 years to come down from a phone addiction which built up for the previous 10.

There are definitely some cool things with smart phones... I like that I can text faster and easier.  I like that I can check when my next train is leaving and what platform it's on before I get to the station.

I'm also very aware that so many things I now do on the phone were not that much harder without it.  I like that I have my store discount cards in one place on the wallet... but I could easily have done this with my keychain discount fobs.  

I'm also aware that I wasn't really smartphone-less for two years - I did have an iphone, it just didn't have a SIM in the iphone.  So lots of things I can now do on my phone I could do before.  I could download offline maps.  I could buy train tickets at home and then activate them offline.  I could use apple wallet (fun fact - it works without internet!)

I'm hoping I'll continue to have a smartphone-lite life.  I struggle when people visit me and spend lots of time staring at their phones.  Phones, to me, are always worse than people.  They don't enhance my enjoyment of things. 

If I find in a few months or years I'm using the phone too much again I'll certainly be happy to switch back to the Nokia 105.  It was a great experiment for seeing what the real difference between constant connection (smartphone/out-of-the-home-internet) and analogue living was.  Turns out the things missed when opting out of constant connection were more than made up for in analogue life.

August 2, 2023

Kitchen Project - Finally Done

Kitchen project is finally done!  I am loving the dishwasher, having clean dishes, and how the tidying up post-meals takes 5-10 minutes rather than 20-30.  I also love the fact that I don't have to dry and put away dishes whenever I want to cook anything - I can leave dishes in the machine until I'm ready to put them away.  I can leave dirty dishes in the machine until I'm ready to run it.  I know this is probably like extolling the virtue of owning a car instead of a horse and buggy... but I'm very thankful for my dishwasher!

As the final post on this heavily over-posted topic, I present the final "remodel" corner:

And the original corner:

Total cost:
Removal of cabinet, counter, tiles & patching wall: £260
Plastering: £130
Dishwasher instal: £135
Painting: £20 (beer money for Andy)
Dishwasher: £490
Total: £1,035

Here's a picture of the other side of the kitchen now:

And before:
Also, I know that the combo white/silver is not the standard choice - I was thinking that our fridge is silver when I bought the dishwasher.  And we had a silver fridge next to the washing machine already.  I do expect the washing machine may give up on life soon (the screw that we use as a door handle is starting to be less convincing) so we may end up with a new washing machine before too long... and I will pick silver.  I plan to have our current fridge/freezer for a long time.

Horray for "new" kitchen!

[Other kitchen posts can be found here]

August 1, 2023

Goodbye July... Hello August!

July was an odd month - I felt like I didn't do much until I reviewed my goals and realized I have done a fair amount.  We did loads of house projects (final final kitchen post coming soon!) as well as sorting the baby room, washing baby clothes, planning weekend family holiday, hosting guests for 8 days and going away for a weekend.  I also managed to eat through some of the food I've been meaning to clear from the cupboard (the packaged Pad Thai wasn't as good as I hoped).  And of course I did the family and kids albums, started planning Isaac's birthday party, and had a number of play dates, and interviewed for a new job.  

The disappointments of July is that I only read two books this month (I'm wondering if the dishwasher is already limiting my audiobook time?) and that I'm doing basically no exercise at all.  I'm generally tired and uncomfortable already... and I still have just under 3 months of pregnancy to go.  It was also very rainy this month, which has definitely affected my overall perception of the month... I'm glad I'm not too hot but I definitely appreciate a day of sunshine here or there (plus my stubborn refusal to buy a maternity rain coat means I'm continually ill prepared for rain and will be until I'm not pregnant)

But onwards to August!  The sun has come out today so I hope this is a good sign for the month.  Isaac and Lilah are both in Nursery 3 days a week in August, and I'm enjoying the last of my school-free time with Isaac.  Starting in September I'll have a child in school for the next... 18 years of my life?  

This month we have small adventures planned - I want to go to our local bread shop on a Saturday to see their Saturday specials.  We are also going glamping for a weekend which I am super excited about - I've never been glamping before and we're staying in a yurt.

I plan on reading more in August, I have a lot of books coming through libby that I keep putting back on hold.  Right now I'm listening to the Audio of Daisy Jones & the Six (LOVE IT!) and reading People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry.  Both exactly the kind of books to get me back into reading after a bit of a reading slump.

I plan on blogging more in August - I have topics I've been meaning to write about but I seem to be staying up late and waking up early and generally too busy.

I have some fun work projects coming up, including a final interview for the lateral/upward job.  No matter how that turns out I'm so glad I've made the effort.

My goal is to continue to fix all the annoying things that I keep putting off due to time.  For instance, my handbag fell apart about two months ago - I bought it 8 years ago and loved it and then I realized it wasn't looking particularly good anymore:

So I've been just putting things in my pockets to leave the house, but that's not really working in the summer when I don't wear jackets as much.  I finally ordered 6 purses online, had them all delivered, and chose this new one (which was on half price sale!):
Then I sent the rest back and now I have a purse again.   My new bag fits a water bottle, isn't falling apart, and actually didn't cost much.  It just took time to put together an order and return. 

This month, I want to fix some other "pebbles in my shoe" - my laundry basket has two broken handles but I haven't replaced it (I have taped it back together three times, but my tape bill is increasing dramatically).  I also broke 2 of my 3 kitchen bowls, so I currently have a set of 1.  I want to get a few more so I can have a set of... 3?.  I also need to get some more cutlery - we only own 8 forks and that was fine when we hand washed everything after every meal but is currently the limiting factor on our dishwasher cycle.

It would probably be good if I incorporated some exercise/movement into my day (besides housework and following kids and getting up to wee 20 times a day) but I don't really have a goal here and I am aware that "move more" really isn't achievable/trackable.

So fingers crossed for a not too hot August.  Mostly I hope I'm not too uncomfortable and can continue to put in energy now to make my life easier in the future.

How was your July?  Do you have any big summer goals left or already achieved?