Any minute now, I am expecting Chris home from his first day of working as the executive chef of a restaurant that is officially open to the public. We haven’t seen much of him the last few days outside of a few minutes we can sneak in here and there…here and there typically being the kitchen
or the dining room.
But any time with dad is better than no time, so we aren’t going to complain about getting it at the restaurant.
And since today was opening day, that means we are way more than halfway through the hard part. Chris’ staff has long been hired, menus planned, and policies set. Now he’s just oiling the gears and soon life should fall back into a rhythm that involves two parents instead of one — but that’s not the only reason we were excited for this day to come. We (Nora especially) have found friends in “Miss Jordan”and her family, and we are genuinely excited for them and happy to be party of such a fabulous venture.
Saturday, the Fischers threw a huge celebratory party which was an amazing preview of all that is to come.Horses and all.
Nora spent the evening playing at a friend’s house, but little Zara Bea tagged along for the early part of the evening where she got to rub elbows with all sorts of important people from the Governor and high level military officers, to Pete Coors, Holly Williams and Annie Clements of Sugarland. Oh, yes, and she might have drooled all over Liz Cheney, who just couldn’t resist Zara’s chubby little cheeks and head full of hair. I couldn’t help but think all evening was that the best thing about breastfed babies is just how portable they are; we were in and out in two hours at the beginning, and Zara did great.
My dad and grandmother came up for the weekend to spend a little time with the girls and me, and get a chance to see the restaurant in action. It was fun to have them here for the opening, and a nice break to have other entertainers around for Nora. Thursday, we took a trip back into the mountains, which I’ve wanted to do but didn’t think I could manage on my own.
My goodness, do I think this scenery is spectacular. If only we lived closer…I could stare at that view all day.
We found the perfect spot for a picnic, climbing and hiking, and of course lots of pictures.
And not just pictures with me behind the lens!
The beauty of visitors is that I get a chance to step in front of the camera for a rare picture not taken by me.
(I can’t get over Zara’s little old man face in ^that^ picture. It’s quite possibly the cutest serious look ever.)
I love, love this photo spot. I think I may have found the perfect spot for our family pictures this summer (when things slow down for Chris at work.) I can’t wait to get a giant canvas of all four of us with a mountain backdrop. I better be careful, though, the more I visit places like this and spend time at Chris’ new restaurant, the more I start to like Wyoming. I might become a cowgirl yet.
Finds of the Week:
- Assortment — A new blog I discovered about a family of five living in 665 square feet
- 27 Awesome Vintage Photos of Moms, Mental Floss — Love the pictures of moms and kids from long, long ago. And, I really want that 1926 stroller/bicycle.
- Dirty Diaper Laundry’s 3rd Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge May 20-26 — Can you go six days cloth diapering with only flat or prefold diapers and handwashing? I might be crazy, but I think I am going to do it.
- A Military Parent’s Homecoming Should Not Be a Surprise, XXfactor
- My Medical Choice, NY Times — I’m sure everyone has read this already, but just incase…
- No Big Deal, but This Researcher’s Theory Explains Everything About How Americans Parent, Slate — Wondering what is with our obsession with intelligence and learning? This article looks at different parenting styles across the globe, all of which our American parenting style is completely different from.
- When The Doctor Says This Won’t Hurt A Bit — And Incredibly, It’s True, WBUR — A look at one Boston doctor who uses alternative methods of calming children in the ER. All doctors should practice medicine this way.
This Week’s Pins:
It’s two am and I really should be sleeping, but I’m having one of those nights when I can’t stop myself from trying to catch up, at least a little, on my emails, website work, blogging, and a million other things. One of the big downsides to Chris’ super long work days is that it is a lot harder for me to get everything I need to get done, done. Combine Chris’ work days with the fact that Nora no longer goes to preschool and some things are just down-right impossible. This is definitely a prime example of not knowing how good something is until it’s gone: I don’t think I realized just how productive I was during those preschool mornings until the I didn’t have them anymore. I’ve actually found myself thinking the past few weeks that I might want to become one of those stay-at-home moms — the ones who actually have a babysitter. I used to silently judge those moms — and now all I can say is, ladies, I’m sorry. I get it. Now I find myself trying to work on client websites in the wee hours of the morning, sitting in the corner of a living room minefield of books and toys, with bathrooms begging to be cleaned, dinner dishes still on the table, laundry that has needed to be moved from the washer to the dryer since noon, and company coming on tomorrow. Suddenly, a designated distractor just one morning per week is sounding better and better, and a lot more sensible than lazy.
If things continue at this pace, something has got to give, and it’s likely to be my work. I haven’t taken on many new major projects since we moved. Originally that was only going to be a temporary pause until we were settled in, and then I was going to start back up again. I wasn’t planning to fill my calendar at the breakneck pace of last fall, but I was hoping to keep adding websites to help Chris and me continue toward our goal of living debt free and buying a house. Lately, I barely have time for the odds and ends that come from maintaining past clients websites; I can’t imagine starting anything new, so work may have to go. How exactly do other people do it? How do other families balance kids and two full time jobs?
I haven’t found a mom’s helper (or whatever you would call it) yet, but we have implemented a system to (hopefully) get Nora to participate more in keeping the house clean and caring for herself.
We ordered a responsibility chart from Melissa and Doug, which I love because it comes with a lot of different responsibility magnets besides just chores. Every day, Nora is expected to make her bed, get dressed, brush her teeth, not whine, say please and thank you (something that she has a lot of trouble with outside of our family), put her toys away, and not have any potty accidents. She still gets help with most of these things and she isn’t expected to be “perfect” — her bed can be wrinkly, she might still get a magnet if she whines once or twice during the day, etc. At the end of the week she doesn’t have to have earned every single magnet to get a reward. Mainly my goal is to get her started thinking about taking initiative and, as much as I don’t like saying it, to act more like a big girl. We aren’t expecting her to do things that are beyond her capabilities, but we are asking her to be more consistent about doing the things she is capable of doing but sometimes doesn’t simply because she doesn’t want to.
We aren’t doing allowance, but I have started incentivizing her responsibilities on both a daily and weekly basis. Her daily reward on days that she does well is 30 minutes of computer time, during which she is allowed to play educational games in PBS Play. As much as I dislike excessive screen time, I ended up buying a subscription and deciding to use it as her reward for two reasons: it does seem to be legitimately educational and it also helps to fill the time of night that can often be the most challenging when i am parenting alone. I also like it because I was able to set a timer in the game so it just stops working after 30 minutes — which means we don’t ever have battles over turning it off.
Nora’s weekly reward in an experience of her choosing. When we first explained the system to her, we had her brainstorm a list of activities that she would like to do if she has a good week.
In case you can’t read that, she said: bowling, movie night (at home), playing together, swimming, picnic, or going to a museum. So far it seems to be working relatively well. If you follow me on Facebook, you know that we still have our moments, but I have definitely noticed a change in her attitude and willingness to help the last two weeks. I’m hopeful that this system will continue to work and Nora will continue to develop into the sweet little helper that she is. Between this and Zara’s new found love for the sling, hopefully things might start to shape up around here…and maybe some day I’ll be able to go to bed “early” at 11:30 or midnight.
Finds of the Week:
- Elizabeth Smart Says Pro-Abstinence Sex Ed Harms Victims of Rape, Slate’s XXfactor — Exactly what the headline says; she argues that abstinence only education which teaches girls they have more value as virgins can cause them to feel worthless and without value after they are raped
- Go naked: diapers affect infant walking, NYU Research Paper (full text) — I just found this interesting. Apparently, the reason our babies learn to walk the way they do is because they have diapers on, which adversly impact their ability to walk normally from the go. (Here is the one downside to cloth — bulky cloth diapers make it harder for them to learn to walk than lighter disposables.)
- Study Finds Adverse Effects of Pitocin in Newborns, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – Press release on the negative effects that pitocin might have on full-term babies. All the more reason to wait for baby to decide to come on his/her own
- Surprise, Surprise: Google Made the Sweetest Mother’s Day Ad Ever, Jezebel – It really is sweet…click to watch the video.
- When Big Pharma “Strong” Arms Mothers, We All Lose, The Broad Side — A response to Similac’s new “Strong Moms” marketing campaign
- Why I am Learning to Live Simply, Documenting Delight — One of my favorite bloggers on her commitment to go a year without buying anything new + she has embeded The Story of Stuff video. Go watch it if you have not yet already!
- Why parents should leave their kids alone, The Guardian – How modern parenting makes kids miserable.
This Week’s Pins
This time of the year on Nantucket was always the worst. Window boxes were exploding with flowers, cars were draped with daffodils, and fresh spring air was beckoning visitors to meander cobblestone streets and sandy beaches. The Gray Lady’s winter weather was quickly beginning to buzz with sunny expectations of summer tourist season and, after months of fog and only two places to eat, we loved it. But after months of shorter work days and plenty of Dada time, we hated it too. In many ways the spring shoulder season, just as tourism was starting to pick back up but summer workers had not yet arrived, was the hardest part of the year for our family. From mid-March to mid-May, Chris generally worked seven days per week, ten to twelve hours per day.
On Nantucket, it’s not uncommon to hear talk of summer widows. Once, long ago, widows were made by the sea. They stood on rooftop decks, long skirts blowing in the wind, watching the horizon and waiting. Waiting for the ships to come home; praying for husband’s work to end safely and soon. Now, widows are made seasonally, not subject to whales and storms, but the rush of tourists and summer folk who bring just a few good months of work. With the high cost of living and only five months out of the year to make it, many Nantucket children spend summers frolicking in the waves while one parent or another works long hours to pay the bills and many Nantucket wives parent for hours on end alone.
When people hear my husband is a chef, invariably I hear how lucky I am to be married to a man who can cook. ”Who does all the cooking?” they ask, “You or him?” I do, I tell them, because a chef is never home at dinner or lunch, and when he is, it hardly seems fair to ask him to pick up a skillet after a long week spent feeding hundreds of people a day.
Chris loves what he does. He is amazing at what he does — perhaps because he loves it so much — but he picked a career that requires lots of days and nights of work, and not a lot of time off. It’s a career that demands 150% all the time and that rarely exists in part-time, which is a big part of why I no longer work outside of the home. Mostly, we have adapted to this lifestyle that offers little traditional family time and a lot of schedule adjustment. Mostly we have figured out how to carve the necessary conversations and desired play out of mornings, mid-week breaks, and late nights. But there are still times like spring on Nantucket when I feel the pinch of those long hours. Days like today when Chris left before we woke up and will be home long after we’ve gone to sleep.
Chris’ new restaurant is less than two weeks from opening. Menus are being finalized and costed, food has been ordered, and training has begun. Our “vacation” of sorts is over and I’m being reminded of what it means to be a restaurant wife — or should I say, what it means to be a restaurant widow. The last few weeks have felt a lot like spring on Nantucket; the last few days, when Chris has worked literally 17 hours at a time, have been even worse. There was a moment today when Nora flat out refused to cooperate despite all my best efforts and the only thing I wanted to do — but couldn’t — was talk parenting strategy to my other half.
Opening a restaurant is hard.
Working a ton of hours is hard.
Parenting alone is hard.
Our laundry has been piled on the couch for days, the bathrooms aren’t too clean, and I’ll admit to having a heavy reliance on grilled cheese as a fast, easy dinner solution. My patience has been tried and I’ve resorted to my “scary” voice more than once. Life is definitely less fun when I don’t get a break, but I keep reminding myself to keep looking into the horizon. Like spring on Nantucket, this too shall pass. Reinforcements will arrive; things will settle into a rhythm; soon we’ll have Chris back. And, unlike on seasonal Nantucket, we may never see this level of craziness again. There are benefits to living in a place no one wants to visit.
I know it’s not Saturday — not even close, actually, since there’s barely any Sunday left to speak of, but there are somethings I have been saving all week to share and I’m going to just pretend I got around to doing this yesterday and share them. So here we go with some finds of the week:
- Are you qualified?, Simple Homeschool — This is an excellent piece about what makes someone qualified to educate their children despite not having a degree in education.
- Dear Less-Than-Perfect Mom, Huffington Post — “And since no mother is perfect, chances are you are caught in a two billion way tie for Best Mom in the World.”
- How Babies Learn to Be Human, Slate — New Research into babies and how they begin to comprehend intention
- MANA Response to Recent AAP Home Birth Statement: High-quality out-of-hospital newborn and postpartum care is standard for midwives, Science & Sensibility
- Mother and Daughter, July 2008, Literary Mama — love this poem about an adult mother-daughter relationship
- Superbugs Invade American Supermarkets, Environmental Working Group – This EWG report focuses on the huge amounts of antibiotic resistant bacteria that is coming into existence thanks to the huge amounts of routine antibiotic use in animals. Scary stuff.
- Systematic Review of the Efficacy of Herbal Galactogogues, Journal of Human Lactation — all you could ever want to know about using milk to stimulate (or not) milk production. You may be surprised to know there’s little good evidence that any of the herbs mothers take actually do anything, which is why I never advise a mother to take a supplement to increase milk production. The best way to make milk is to nurse, nurse, nurse.
Pins of the week:
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