Nothing better than catch-alls around the house.
To deal with the constant misplacement of remotes.
To make convenient obsessive need to apply lip balm and moisturize my extremities throughout the night by keeping within arms reach of my bedside.
To hold only my most precious of jewelry.
To hold my crappy discount store jewelry.
You can never have too many of these things – how do you use yours?
First grade starts on Monday (!) and O has seemingly forgotten all letters and numbers over his 9-week summer break. Literacy, like the contents of my wine fridge, is another casualty of summer. O has, however, deepened his drawing mastery, and consequently we have several boxes of How to Train Your Dragon and Sugar Rush sketches in various states of completion. In addition to the piles of supplies we are required to purchase, I dread the constant flow of PTO meetings and emails, fundraising events, and field trips, not to mention the nightly homework sword of Damocles.
We’re two working parents with the first grader and another kid in daycare – so we have 4 opposing schedules essentially battling it out for supremacy at all times. Oh, and we don’t have any domestic help. You’re (virtually) looking at it – we’re it.
We have two ways of doing maintaining our family calendars: analog and digital – I realize it’s overkill. I don’t care.
The kitchen is the “heart” of Casa Lopez (unlike the living room, which is the “ass” since we’re primarily seated there watching crap TV). On our fridge, there’s a large dry erase calendar with color-coded markers for each family member. This calendar serves a dual purpose as it also covers up how hideous the fridge is. This “nerve center” is where we put appointments, field trips, happy hours, etc. It’s notably low on orange-coded activities, I guess Henry isn’t so much in demand.
The calendar is probably the most used organizational tool in our arsenal. I want to go digital with our scheduling, all the cool kids are doing it. However, I’m having a hell of a time getting us onboard with an app that we will use with any manner of consistency. So, we’re going to try Hub on for size; the only potential downfall being a lack of participation by my spouse. Hub links up to our work and personal email calendars so we have visibility into each others’ schedules. We can add the kids’ activities and also administer “to do” lists. I’ve heard good things about it, so I’m hopeful. But again, success depends on buy in from all parties. I’ll keep you posted at any rate.
Learning how to read (or use the potty, in H’s case) is certainly not an excuse to avoid daily chores. Particularly because in addition to parenting and working, we are also the maid service up in this bitch. We use a great app, Choremonster, that combines the kids’ love of technology and friendly monster animations with my need to keep this damn house clear of child-related detritus.
I assign chores to each child via my iPhone and they can use their iPad to check off that they have completed their tasks. Each task has a certain point value (that I determine), and when a minimum number of points is reached, they can be “redeemed” for a toy or app or a break from the nightly beatings, etc. The fun part is that I get a notification every time a kid has “completed” his chore, and I can either confirm or deny that this chore has taken place. So, no bullshiting a bullshitter, kids. I can thumbs up or thumbs down their asses – it’s so satisfying. Of course, this too has gone by the wayside this summer along with any other hint of positive momentum – so back to school means back to chores too. Kids, you’re on notice.
And thanks in advance to the teachers out there, mad props and respect for all you do – and please don’t be discouraged about the fact that my kid would rather draw for 10 hours a day if given the opportunity. He’s…touched.
Since I’m not the churchgoing type, my Sunday rituals revolve around preparing to have the most productive (least painful) possible week ahead. I usually start getting the panic stomach around mid-afternoon, knowing that the reverie of choosing what I want to accomplish and doing it on my own time is coming to a screeching halt with the next day’s 6am iPhone alarm. My rituals help to alleviate the stress nausea and save me from time sucking decision-making and/or inconvenient forgetfulness at crucial moments.
Step into a pew for Sunday services:
Freaking out over what to wear in the morning can blow upwards of 15 minutes. I’d rather spend that extra time in bed, lazily snarking on another intellectually devoid episode of Morning Joe. So, every Sunday – after hitting my Pinterest board for inspiration – I pull a bunch of my favorite items and pull them together with accessories and shoes. This is best done to a good playlist with mimosas (my own personal musical montage). After consulting the calendar to determine when I have client meetings and when I have happy hours, outfits are then organized by day (I have handy dividers in the closet labeled w/ each day of the week).
So I’m not scrambling in a huff for naptime blankets, spare clothes or textbooks, I pack the kids on Sunday afternoon and hang their bags by the door. I also pull out their clothes for the day, and leave them out so the boys (one of them, anyway) can dress themselves. O wears a uniform, so I actually have to pay attention to what I select for him. H spends the day in mud and bodypaint, so it’s all good.
I prep Monday’s to-do list and top three, respond to any outstanding emails, and review the week’s calendar on Sunday evening. This way I can launch into work right away without having to determine which items are top priority. This saves me much Monday morning grief.
After all the chores are done and the kids are in bed, it’s time for a glass of wine, something sweet, and either really awesome (GOT) and/or delightfully shitty (True Blood) TV followed by John Oliver as the cherry on top my Sunday. All this prep may seem like overkill to some, but anything I can do to lessen my Monday anxiety is worth it.
Now go out there + have a great week.
After a two year break…
New job with new (positive) challenges, potty training and literacy training (not for the same child at the same time), possible entrepreneurial ventures in the making, booze to be consumed, new old house that finally makes Austin feel like home, etc.
Now that things are somewhat settled (as much as possible with a first grader and another in the throes of the terrible twos), it’s time to dive back into the blog again. I’ve established so many more systems – just to deal with homework and activities alone – that I’m excited to write about.
Looking forward to new entries!
The brains of the Casa Lopez operation are housed in our utility room… The magnetic chalkboard contains:
-the wipe-off chore list clipboard
-a plastic envelope of current/relevant coupons
-a plastic envelope of items needed that week (a blank thank you note that has to go out, party invitations, etc.
-that week’s school activities for the boys
I love it. The board’s mere presence makes me feel content and in control. If only the wall was big enough to add our calendar so that area could truly serve as the aggregator of all pertinent family data…
Dream big, Lopez, dream big….
I truly hate this term with a passion, but I’m afraid it’s here to stay. I can’t remember the last time F and I went away for an entire week – with or without kids. Oh yeah, I can, we came to Texas from NYC….again… I think it’s good to try to vacation far from home every year – maybe every other year if money is an issue. Preferably not just to visit extended family.
This week’s Bite suggests the “staycation” as an alternative if you need a “break from the daily grind of living to bond with your family.” Unfortunately, staying home for a week isn’t exactly leaving your daily life behind – dishes still pile up in the sink, bills still come in the mail, and O still wants to sit and watch back to back Disney movies every day. It’s hard to get into a “vacation” mindset while staying at home.
52 Bites has the following list to combat this problem…
Tips for planning a staycation.
(1) make a plan – list of things to do and general schedule of when to do them
(2) make sure list has at least one thing that everyone would enjoy doing.
(3) Parents take turns sleeping in
(4) Have plenty of snacks and easy meals on hand
(5) Keep up with basic housework like dishes and laundry
(6) Stay flexible
(7) Schedule in some “recovery days”
(8) Be brave – do something new in your hometown, stay up past your bedtime
This year, F and I are taking a kid-free weekend in San Antonio, holed up at a luxury hotel for a fantastic wedding (the “adult prom.”). Also hoping to take a kid-free drive to Colorado for a few days followed by a kid-free group RV trip to New Orleans in the fall.
I’m noticing a trend in our “staycation” plans… They don’t involve staying and they don’t involve the kids. Maybe we’re doing this wrong.
I’ve been using Moleskines for my daily to-do lists for over a decade now. I’ve been through a few different types to get to my one and only – the large, soft cover day-a-page yearly planner. Sigh. I love it so much…
So, when Moleskine came out with their “Passions” line of subject-specific books a couple of years ago, I was sold. Yep, I’m a total brand loyalist – they can do no wrong with me… I have the Books journal and the Wine journal. I have to admit that the Books journal has kind of fallen by the wayside now that I’m into Goodreads.com, but the Wine journal is still kicking.
Maybe it’s because I drink a lot. Maybe it’s because I frequently don’t remember what I’ve been drinking, or anything that happens after I’ve been drinking… But jotting down notes on a new wine is supremely satisfying. It captures the moment – a dinner with great friends – and allows me to keep a reference of bottles I’ve really really enjoyed, and crap bottles like that Feu rooster piece of shit we picked up in Brooklyn two summers ago. Ugh. Like vinegar. Plus it helps me appreciate what I’m downing and really think about the different scents, flavors and varietals. I’m no expert by any means, but I know what I like…
Now Moleskine has expanded their Passions collection to include beer, chocolate, and baby journals. Although being passionate about babies is a little weird. I’m digging their style journal and would totally pick one up – if I hadn’t already started my own back in 1999 that I’m still contributing to (but that’s a post for another day).
Also on my organizational reading list, we have the plan from Karyn L. Beach’s “Get it Together Girl: A 28-Day Guide to Practical – NOT Perfect – Home Organization.” I mean, our place is fairly well-organized, but it could always stand improvement. If you’re keeping count, that’s three expert plans we’ve implemented in the L home… Suck it, “Happiness Project!”
“Get it Together Girl” allots a week per room/major living area in your house, breaking it down into individual tasks to be performed on each day that week. Week one – this week – is dedicated to the kitchen. Prescribed daily action items are as follows:
1. Purge, clean + organize fridge
2. Purge, clean + organize cabinets, countertop, drawers, pantry
3. Create + customize grocery list spreadsheet and post to fridge
4. Purge, clean + organize under sink, junk drawer, bar
5. Sort, toss and straighten out tupperware nightmare
6-7. Weekend: clean floors, stove + oven, surfaces
Beach also implores readers to “clean as you cook,” which I already do because I can’t relax and enjoy my meal if I know the kitchen looks like the damn Delta house.
I have to admit, I mixed things up a bit – because that’s how I roll…unpredictable – and I switched days 1 and 2. I had to hit the pantry first. The fact that we even have a pantry after a decade of NYC apartment dwelling, is an amazing thing…and it quickly turned to a chaos of chip bags, fruit pouches and cases of diet soda. I straightened it out – but we’ll see how long it lasts….
There are some caulking (tee hee) issues in the master bath – leading to dampness in the walls and floor/downstairs ceiling. Step one of repair process is to dry it out – so Servpro came by yesterday to place industrial sized fans and dehumidifiers in the bathroom and dining room.
I feel like I live inside a jet engine and it’s making me super twitchy. Only 3 more days of this to go…