Posted in about me, ebb & flow, mindset

Camping and quitting

Half a year ago, we made plans to go camping in Joshua Tree National Park over spring break. Plans rounded out with two other families in three sites side-by-side.

The Climbing Daddy, The Kid, and I have camped at Jumbo Rocks campground before, and the site we happened to be in had some great scrambling immediately behind us. So we reserved that one and one to either side (56, 57, 58, if you’re wanting to check it out).

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We learned last week that rain was in the forecast, but we had the sites already reserved and figured if rain actually happened—we are desert-dwellers—we’d make the best of it.

We set up shop on Sunday, explored a little, ate dinner, enjoyed being with fun people in a beautiful place.

Monday morning we had a slow breakfast and clouds slowly rolled in. Not ominous, but not inspiring hope.

We took a hike, climbed on some rocks, found a nice spot to site and have lunch, explored some more. Kids had a great time.

Back at camp, the rangers came by and let us know it was expected to start raining around 11 that night.

A couple of the guys went into town for forgotten items and said that in their travels, they felt the air change, saw the clouds become ominous, agreed that we weren’t getting out of this dry.

We had dinner and decided we were going to pack into the cars everything that we didn’t specifically need to sleep.

On a short tangent, meals with three families, when we didn’t coordinate ahead of time, were so much fun. We all shared everything and ended up with a hodgepodge of tastiness that we wouldn’t have had on our own. Yum!

Back to the story.

We also realized that at least two of us had never had our tents in the rain and didn’t know if our rain flies were useful.

Finally, I thought … this is dumb. Why are we packing up everything except tents and sleeping bags in hopes that we’re not up at 2 a.m. wet from the rain? And without anywhere to cook (if it were still to be raining the next day)? Let’s just go into town and stay at a hotel.

Part of me felt stupid for suggesting this plan. Was I just being “soft” because I’m not a die-hard camper? Or because the first night had been unexpectedly cold?

The other part of me knew that my plan was grounded in reasonable real-life. We weren’t trapped in the wilderness—we were on a spring break trip to a national park with three kids under 10 and one barely older.

After many small conversations, adults in attendance agreed this was a good plan. We left the tents (to see if they could take the rain) and went into town.

One of the littles fell asleep on the way. Two others played chess until they fell asleep. The older played on his iPad for a while.

Adults drank beer and played Cards Against Humanity.

We were all warm and dry.

And it rained. Not at 11, but the next morning, the ground was soaked and puddles were abundant. In our tent? Puddles.

Whether the decision was solid going into it, it was retroactively justified.

I was reminded of something I’ve known for a long time and still forget from time to time — it’s not always bad to quit.

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, meandering, mindset

Do it again, a little bit better … ad infinitum

My brain likes to edit.

I’m not one to jump in to lead a project without knowing a lot about it. I like to get the lay of the land, see what I can see, try to understand how it works and how the people within it work.

Once I know stuff and have asked some questions and am comfortable, look out.

I don’t teach things the same way twice. Always minor editing. Sometimes complete overhaul. “How can I do this better?” “These two kids still don’t get it—where is their ah-ha moment hiding?”

Of course, that also means that I’m also always seeing ways that the house could be better. Or the yard. Or a blog post. Or this system. Or that procedure. And on and on.

Efficiency!

I want procedures to be efficient. I want to maximize space (not jamming as much as possible into a space—just using it well). I want to maximize time. I want to get the most bang for the buck, which often doesn’t mean the cheapest answer short-term.

This also gets me stuck sometimes, overthinking options.

Sometimes it leads to discontent. Sometimes that discontent leads to growth.

Talking through ideas, though, it always sounds like discontent, when really, it’s just how my brain works.

“Y’know, if this wall was two feet that way…”

I don’t really want to move the wall two feet that way. It’s completely impractical. Gut the whole interior and start over? Hmmmm…

(Fortunately, I am also lazy in some ways, so if I see a re-do but it’s going to be a lot of work, I’m not always inclined to jump up and get it done.)

I do wonder occasionally … if I were to design a house from the bottom up and could do it any way I wanted—no restrictions—how long would it take before I wanted to edit it? Probably at a shift in life circumstances, when the space would obviously be used differently. But before that?

Anyway. I tried some new activities this week with my kids at school. Trying to get them to learn some things that they haven’t been clicking with. Some of it worked, some of it we’re not done yet—to early to call it.

To that end, my editing brain is all good.

I know there are households that fight this fight with regards to how the dishwasher is loaded. Or maybe how the laundry is folded. Are those arguments “correct versus incorrect” or “more versus less efficient”? (I have some opinions about how dishes get loaded in the dishwasher, but it’s because they’re easiest to get in and out that way. And I rarely mention these opinions, but I do sometimes move dishes around after they were otherwise loaded…)

P.S. I need to add here, before The Climbing Daddy chimes in, that I’m not 100% practical 100% of the time. There are certainly pockets of life where “bang for the buck” is not my highest priority. And some areas where the most efficient isn’t the least taxing, and I go with the latter. However, all of the above is true more often than it’s not.

P.P.S. On a tangent from the dishwashers … I saw one the other day that has an extra little tray at the top for serving utensils. It blew my mind and created discontent with my current dishwasher. Not that I’m going to go replace it, but when the time comes…

Are you a reviser? Or do you find “good enough” and stick with it? Or something else? I’m always curious how other people’s brains work…

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, meandering

The joy of music in the house

Many converging roads …

1- Most of the music I listen to is on CD. I have a free subscription to Spotify, and we do listen to music there, but as a primary means of music consumption, I hate music subscriptions. (When the subscription runs out, I don’t have music. I paid to rent it, and I’d rather own it. But I do like being able to listen to something before I buy it. And I also like not buying some of the music that The Kid wants to listen to.)

2- I haven’t owned a CD player in several years. I did have an external CD drive on the computer that could, among other things, play CDs.

3- The external drive died the last time I moved. Two years ago. Not sure if it was done working anyway or if it didn’t like moving. Haven’t played CDs in this house.

For Christmas, The Climbing Daddy and I received a CD player. It’s a simple, all-in-one piece of equipment, with bluetooth capability, an FM radio, a CD drive, and two other means of plugging in.

It’s in the living room with all of our CDs.

There’s music in the house again!

I had forgotten how much I love having music on until I had it on again. Whether as music to listen to, music in the background, music to sing along with, music to dance to, I’m delighted to have music without commercials in the living room again.

(My job — teaching beginning band — is noisy. The Kid is noisy. I hadn’t been seeking more aural input.)

We also have several CDs from Maestro Classics that The Kid has been listening to. (not affiliate — I just like their products)

Also in progress is a project to hang the ukuleles. We each have one, and any of us is more likely to play when the thing is already out. There are issues with the wall and anchors not working and that kind of nonsense or they’d be up already.

But then there will be even more music! Hooray!

I’m debating bringing over the keyboard from The Tall Daddy’s house. Is it something we’ll use, or just something that will take up space?

Regardless, I’m happy to have music in the house again.

Posted in about me, connections, mental health, socializing

Socializing while busy

If you read Monday’s post on time organization, you know I feel busy too much of the time.

This is a sentiment shared by nearly everyone in my social circles.

(If you don’t, please go to Monday’s post, read it, and tell us your secrets in the comments.)

A while back, before Christmas, I had plans one weekend. I was getting together with one friend on Friday evening and another on Sunday afternoon.

It’s hard to schedule time to see people, and my socializing is often limited to people whose kids play well with mine. This isn’t all bad—I’ve met a lot of great people through school and play dates—and not all of the local people I’d like to see face-to-face fit this mold.

Anyway. I was excited to make plans with both of these people. (Sans children!) And then that weekend came and, as usual, I was tired and felt overwhelmed by All The Things and dragged my butt to my first date … and it was lovely. We had a great time, and I left feeling energized. My cup was fuller than it had been before we started.

Exact same story repeated on Sunday.

In either case, I would have felt some disappointment if they’d canceled but also relief. One less thing to do. Time to get done some of the other things.

Ultimately, it was good to squeeze in the time together. It gave us some face-to-face connection—something in ever-shorter supply.

If we hadn’t gotten together, I would have spent the time doing mundane things off the to-do list, and while there’s value in getting those done, they wouldn’t have fed my soul the way a couple of hours with a good friend does.

I guess what I’m saying is, even if you’re busy, make some time. Have dinner or coffee or take a walk or make some art or something with a friend or two. Your lives will be richer for it.

Posted in about me, audience participation, ebb & flow

How do people do it? Or do they?

One thing I know about myself is that I am somewhat time-disorganized.

I have trouble getting things done without scrambling. I have never successfully implemented a routine. My morning schedule could be considered a routine, I guess, but it’s more “how little time can I use to get done what needs to be done in the morning?”

The result of being a night person with a morning person job. And a kid at an even earlier-start school than the one where I start my day.

What got me thinking about this (this time) is that I haven’t been writing here regularly … or anywhere else. Since I stopped blogging daily, I’ve stopped writing daily. Other things have taken over.

The typical solution is to make a schedule, and in theory, I could do that. But what I want to know, from the people who actually do this, is — how do you take into account things that come up?

For example: I have 4.5 hours today from the time my last class walks out until the time that The Climbing Daddy brings The Kid over for the evening. That’s a good chunk of time.

But in it, I’ll need to do a little bit of work for work (I rarely walk out the door with the kids), I’ll need to drive home, I’ll need to eat lunch.

Because the weekend was full with one-off things, I’ll need to plan dinners for the week and go grocery shopping. Then I’ll need to prep at least today’s dinner, because we have taekwondo at dinner prep time and will be eating close to 7 if it’s all prepped ahead of time.

(Yes, I could schedule a quick-to-make meal, but four out of five week nights have something during the dinner-prep time.)

That accounts for most if not all of that chunk of time.

Once The Kid gets home, there’s not enough time to do all the things I’d like to do with him, so there’s definitely no writing or anything-ing in that block.

Once he’s in bed, I’m working on making a habit of powering down devices, reading for a bit, chatting with The Climbing Daddy for a bit, and going to bed early enough that I don’t feel exhausted all the time. (Except this now reduces or eliminates text-chatting with friends, because “after the kids go to bed” is when we have time to connect.)

OK, so we could back up. Make sure you get the planning and shopping done over the weekend.

Great! But we had stuff going on over the weekend. We had people over Saturday night and needed to prep for that (and got some other chores done in the process that are not ever done on a consistent basis). Sunday, we moved the fish tank from our house to The Kid’s school then went straight to a brunch/play date with a few families from school. The Climbing Daddy and I left early (while The Kid and The Tall Daddy stayed to play more) to go to the Home Show to see if we could get any decent information about our yard from a landscaper. (The answer is no, we couldn’t.)

So which of those things do we skip so that we can get the meal planning and shopping done?

Other things that happen in the afternoons include other errands, appointments (there’s been physical therapy in there twice a week for a while), occasional coffee dates, getting work for work done (Friday, for example, I worked two hours past my last class). Some days exercise needs to happen in that window if it’s going to happen at all. I am still squeezing in photography stuff occasionally (though you might have noticed there were no photos this week—haven’t done anything since last weekend).

So, if you’re one of those people who has a routine and sticks to it easily: how? How do you accommodate the incidental stuff? I could make a schedule and stick to it on the days that I can stick to it, but looking at this week’s calendar, that would be … hang on, checking the calendar … no days. There are no days this week that there’s nothing in that window. (Today is the only day there’s nothing actually scheduled, and shopping and eating well is important, so that time goes to meal-ing first.) None of the things are always happening. And they’re not at the same time, or for the same duration.

I wonder if there are people who work and have kids and have hobbies or side hustles and have social lives and exercise regularly and prepare most of their food at home get it done in a relatively structured manner.

I’m definitely not one of them!

(When I was writing regularly, writing time was all over the place. And I didn’t actually write every day, but there were some days—usually Sundays—where I would write for a long time and then short days just edit. But since the WordPress app has stopped working in a useful way, I have to be at my computer to write/edit/publish, which makes writing here happen less.)

So… where are you on this continuum?