Resolutions for 2018

I have about a hundred resolutions for the New Year zinging about my brain right now. Some are true, life-changing, capital-r, Resolutions and some are more in the realm of Goals for the Year. To me it’s all the same.

Plus this is a list of stuff literally pinging around in my head. A list of possibilities and options.

1. Watch my diet

Isn’t this the first on everyone’s list? In the same category is “lose 10 pounds” and “become healthier.” A noble goal, which is why it #1 on everyone’s list. And hard to do, which is why it’s the first one off everyone’s list. But I kind of need to actually do this one. My cholesterol is just slightly high and it is dawning on me that I might need to figure out how to lower it. My husband is going to help me with this one. He bought broccoli sprouts and tomatoes at the store today. He did not buy cheese.

2. Write 500 words a day.

This one I might actually just try to stick with. I have several books burgeoning inside me and fighting their way out. If I do actually focus on this one I just might get one of them finished this year. Please note: I am not having “finish my book” be a goal because that is a sure-fired way to get me to self-destruct. Then I’m heaped in guilt that I didn’t get it done. Again.

3. Be a better housekeeper

Ha!Ha!Ha! No.

4. Finish a book quilt for E and H.

One thing I have always loved is one of those quilts that look like a bookcase full of books. I want to make one for each of them with the names of their favorite books embroidered on the spine and special objects appliqued on the shelves, too. This will probably take me all year. It also means I need to get my sewing machine cleaned and serviced. It is dirty and probably needs to be oiled so it doesn’t turn into a $1000 lump of seized metal. Which means 5 should be…

5. Get sewing machine cleaned and serviced.

See above. Okay, this is more like a “To-Do” than a “Resolution,” but I will feel like a Big Damn Hero when I get it done so here it is.

6. Get a berry garden put in the backyard.

This is a smaller goal that is one step to the larger goal of “get yard in shape.” The previous owners didn’t do so bad, but unfortunately for Mark I have Visions of Grandeur regarding the garden and yard. This includes an enclosed garden bed with strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. This is actually more Mark’s Vision of Grandeur than mine, but it does fit in nicely with my larger scheme of a larger kitchen garden (which will need deer and rabbit protection) and more of an English cottage garden in the front. I have Burpees.com bookmarked.

7. Travel

A broad topic because I have a long list of places I want to see and people I want to visit. At the top of my mind is Basel, San Francisco, and Denver. And given that I’ve just come from -17F Minnesota and back to +20F Washington, DC I’m also thinking that somewhere tropical would be good. And soon.

8. Get more massages

I had one for the first time in 3 years before I left for the holiday break. It was marvelous. I need to do this more often. For body maintenance and my health. I’m getting old. I need help keeping the muscles from seizing up. This I can also probably do as I have another regular gig I’ve just signed a contract for that will pay me enough to make this actually financially doable. And I’m sure this will help with my high cholesterol, too.

9. Bake more

I do bake a lot. And I LOVE it. I might try to figure out how to really frost a cake. Or maybe how to make some of the more complicated stuff they feature on the Great British Bake Off. Like an Entremet cake or a Charlotte Royale. I hope my co-workers don’t have Lose 10 Pounds on their resolution lists.

10. Take advantage of the gifts around me

I live in Washington, DC. There are a million things to do around here. Museums, concerts, theater, opera, ballet, hiking. I need to do more of those things. By myself. Not as a curator for my children all the time, but as a student immersing myself into an experience. I need to give myself time to breathe and remember what it is like to just be me.

So that’s 10 resolutions. (Or 9 resolutions and 1 big To-Do.) But that seems like enough to think about for now.

 

OY! My LIFE!

Things are crazy here. Spring break was a disaster. We were supposed to fly back to Iowa and Minnesota and got caught in that whole Delta Flight-Canceling Fiesta that was going on. We were there. Ready to go. Bag checked. Mickey-D’s food choked down. And then ….

Flight canceled.

We were alerted to this fact by a woman behind us yelling FFFUUUUCCCCKKKKKKK!!!!!! At the top of her lungs.

Eyes swiveled to her and then towards what she was looking at, eyes and mouth twisted up into full-on bitch-face mode.

CANCELED flashed next to our flight number and the fine print below informed us we would be rescheduled to the next available flight. Yeah, right. If the 100 foot-long line at the customer service desk – evidence of the previous day’s cancellations – in the check-in area of the airport was any indicator the next available flight would be in June.

A seismic groan echoed through the concourse and a gate attendant clicked on his microphone. His tone as he went through the typical apology was only quasi-apologetic and mostly pissed off. This had been going on for days and, as he peevishly told us, “I was here for 16 hours yesterday and I’ve been here for 8 already.” So buckle up.

I immediately called Delta’s help line and was just as instantaneously put on hold. Seeing no hope there I got up and stood in the line for Mr. Cheerful.  As I stood there watching our hopes for seeing our family fly away, Delta cheerfully told me all the ways that I spend more money with them. Not bloody likely, Delta.

I actually reached Mr. Cheerful before I was helped on the phone. I suspect everyone in the help room was cowering under their desks and waiting to wake up from this nightmare and no one was getting help anywhere.  He gave an attempt at a gracious smile as he asked what he could do for me. I told him I needed re-booking for 3 tickets.

He turned white and broke into a sweat. Then he literally rubbed his face with his hands and said, “Oh, God.” Then he clacked some keys and looked at me with a severely down-turned mouth. “I can’t get you out until Monday afternoon. Maybe. At the earliest.” This was a Friday and we only had a week of break to see 2 different families and there was driving to do in the middle.

So we had to cancel.

Everyone was devastated. But we did try to make the best of our now stay-cation. They had a fine time with museums and movies and sleeping in. But it wasn’t the same.

And then, instead of blog (I’m stuck on a Berkeley Chronicle), I got focused on a new project of summarizing some conference videos (more on that in another post), getting pre-schoolers enrolled in Rock Creek, and writing another 2 or 3 parenting articles. All for pay.

In reality I did that for about 40% of my time. The rest of the time I read, watched movies, and cruised around home decorating sites fantasizing about my new house. I have narrowed it down on that chandelier – we have a top 4: 3, 5, 7 & 9 in case you are keeping score at home.  We need to go to a lighting store to see them in real life just to make sure. That might happen this weekend. Maybe.

The moving is going to happen soon! We can start at the end of the month! I already have some things in boxes – things we didn’t bother to unpack when we came back to America. I kind of feel ahead. It’s a luxurious illusion that will pop like a soap bubble in about 2 weeks. Then I will be scrambling to purge out what we don’t need and pack away what we don’t need right now.

We have the truck scheduled. And my parents are coming to watch the kids while we haul boxes and then drive that obscenely huge metal box on wheels to our new house and unload things. Mark is insisting I get a back brace. He has even threatened to get it for me for Mother’s Day. I asked for a Roomba instead.

In the meantime, I am getting the boys reassigned to new schools. (Oh, yeah! I have a phone call to return!) And I’m trying to put off buying anything large that has to be delivered until our new house is officially open to us and the previous owner has moved out. — Like a new bed for Mark and I. I am totally not moving that thing more than I have to.

But all this will be soon!! Soon! Soon! Soon!

Soooooonnnn!!!!!!

And I promise that I will finish that Berkeley Chronicle and a couple other projects I’ve been working on for you. Uh … Soon.

6 Months Left

It’s official. We only have 6 months left in Basel.

Sad. That doesn’t quite cover it. Bereft is a better word.

I didn’t think I would love it so much here or that Switzerland would seem more like a “home” than a “2-year vacation/experiment.”

The roof lines are amazing here.
Basel, Switzerland

But I do love it here. I love the ease of the work-life balance that seems to incredibly hard to achieve in the US. I love the quest for Quality over Quantity and that things and houses are Built For A Lifetime.

I love that my children have the freedom to become independent. That we are raising children to be small adults when they are teenagers with a sense of purpose, a belief in their own competence, an expectation of forethought and moral behavior, and some conflict resolution skills that will carry them into a society that is becoming ever more conflict-filled.

I love that our meals here are simpler. A cheese platter with raw fruit and veggie sticks have become a favorite meal in the house. The children actually cheered when I put together a cheese platter after a week in Scotland. Our meals don’t get much more complex than a roasted chicken served with lettuce salad and dinner rolls. Even a beef stew isn’t that complex.

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The Matterhorn, Zermatt, Switzerland

And I love that in Switzerland spending time doing something with your family, or even doing something alone, is a top priority. To go outside and hike up a mountain or bike along one of the hundreds of bike paths in the country is seen as a worthy and even necessary part of life.

 

Switzerland is beautiful. Europe is lovely. Since we’ve been here we have traveled to 9 countries. We’ve seen things we’ve only read about in books.

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The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa, Italy

 

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian’s Wall, Northern England
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Plaza de Espana, Seville, Spain
Hans Christian Anderson, Copenhagen, Denmark
Hans Christian Anderson, Copenhagen, Denmark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the next 6 months I will be trying to live “in the moment.” To enjoy and wallow in where I am right now. That is a challenge for me, a natural-born planner.

So to satisfy that need to plan I will be thinking of specific things and behaviors that I want to bring back from Switzerland. Like prioritizing family time, hiking regularly, and eating simply.

I will also be experimenting with recipes for Swiss dishes that I’ve come to love like rösti, schoggiweggli, and Bircher Museli.

We also have several more trips planned! Mark’s quest to visit every canton in Switzerland is almost complete. Just 4 more to go!  We are also contemplating trips to Paris, Athens, London, and Iceland.

It’s a lot to pack into only 6 months, but let’s see what happens, shall we?

Traveling with Children: Tips and Tricks from Someone Who’s Been There

As you can see from my blog we travel with the kids. A lot. They go everywhere we go, whether they like it or not.

Many friends and acquaintances are amazed. After telling one friend about a recent trip she said, “Oooo! You are so brave to do all that traveling with the boys!”  I hadn’t thought of it in terms of being brave. Sure, I was nervous about going by myself to Scotland with the boys, but that was because I was outnumbered.  But going to another country is just what a family vacation is here in Europe.

And since we seem to be going somewhere every other weekend, I’ve developed some tips and tricks to make traveling with the kids easy and as pain-free as possible.  You shouldn’t let having kids stop you from going out and seeing the world!

Here are 8 Things I’ve Learned About Traveling with Kids:

IMG_1144Always have something for them to do when they get bored.  Because they will get bored. It doesn’t matter if you are going to Disneyland or Grandma’s House, boredom is going to happen, esp on the airplane, in the car, or on the train.  You can bring a book, or one of those awesome travel games, or a toy or whatever, as long as they have something that will keep their attention and let them play quietly.  You will enjoy yourself more and so will the people around you.

 

Stay in an apartment.  This is an especially convenient and typically cheaper option if you are staying somewhere for a week or more.  We have a place that we usually rent via Vacation Rentals By Owner (www.VRBO.com) on Long Beach Island, New Jersey. On Holiday Lettings (www.holidaylettings.co.uk) we rented a great apartment for our week-long stay in Scotland. My friend Pat stayed all over Europe and America in some really, really posh places using AirBnB. Plus it gives you the chance to have a meal in when the kids are too exhausted to behave in a restaurant. And if you have picky breakfast eaters, you can go out and pick up exactly what they like and have a nice slow morning before charging out to conquer the city.

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Remember to snack. Kids get hungry. Often. If the chance to stop at a cafe or ice cream parlor presents itself then stop. However, I always go out with a little something in my bag because there isn’t always a cafe or shop close by where you can buy something. It can be easy like a cereal bar, or a container of goldfish crackers (a solid plastic container so they don’t end up being goldfish powder), or some sliced apples in my purse for the boys.  Sometimes I have all three!

Henrik at the Art Museum 2015

Prepare to go slow. Kids just can’t move as fast as we can. Especially when it’s urgent. Their legs are short. Their wills to move it to catch the last tour of the day for the interiors of Prague Castle are limited. Plan accordingly. If it’s really important to you do it right away in the day. The practice some Zen breathing.

 

That look on E's face is, "There is pizza everywhere!"
That look on E’s face is, “There is pizza everywhere!”

 

Don’t expect them to get how awesome it is.  We went to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower. I thought it was the most awesome thing ever. I got to see one of the iconic buildings of our time! I was totally geeking out! The boys, however, were unimpressed. I begged them to understand how cool this was, but they remained unmoved. What they were truly impressed by was the number of pizza restaurants on each street.

 

 

The Land of Legos.
The Land of Legos.

Let them pick some activities for the trip. This gives them some control over a trip that is usually all about what Mom and Dad want to do.  They get to plan it out themselves. It also gives them something to be excited about and it is a handy thing to encourage them to think about when they are bored.

 

Don’t push through meal times.  This kind of goes with Having Snacks, but it’s even more important.  I know that the kids and I can be having the best time in the world and then as lunch approaches and our blood sugar starts to drop we start sniping at each other for the stupidest of reasons. (How can your shoe be untied again??) Thanks to Tina Fey this is now known as being “Hangry” – experiencing irrational anger because you are hungry. And not only does stopping for a meal provide much needed energy, it is a nice sit down break for everyone. Just say no to being Hangry!

 

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Accept that things aren’t going to go as planned. It always happens on every vacation. We went to Hadrian’s Wall and it misted on us and rained a bit. But we just put on our rain jackets and headed out.  I also remember one time we had planned to go to the dinosaur museum and found it closed for renovation, so instead we happened upon a park with the most amazing carousel (the Europeans love their carousels).  There are always other things around to do and sometimes they are even better than what you had planned.

This is certainly not all there is to traveling with kids. But it basically boils down to: be prepared; eat often; be Zen.  So get out there and travel! Go see things!

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