Day in the Life of a WFH Mom

When I wrote this last post, my kids were still attending online school, and I had to help the younger one a lot. Now, they are back at school full-time! Full time school is Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 2:00pm. Back in 2019, when I was commuting most days of the month, there was after-school programs that lasted until 5:00pm. But now, there is still no after-school available. I am fine with that for now. I’m just so glad they are having the opportunity to learn with their peers in person. And both kids (even the younger one who used to hate school) are really happy about learning in person!

Anyway, here’s the schedule:

6:30am: I wake up and quickly get dressed and feed my dog Ziggy. I’ve bought an automatic feeder for my cat and it’s changed my life. For awhile the cat would wake at 5am and yowl for food, waking the dog, who would then lick my face until I got up. It’s sad that I now think of 6:30am as sleeping in.

6:45am: I take Ziggy out for potty. Now that it’s spring (almost summer), I am trying to get my almost potty trained dog to the point where she doesn’t go in the yard anymore. This is extremely taxing since I’m the only walker of the dog.

7:00am: I wake up the kids, get them dressed and ready, and feed them breakfast. I also pack their lunches.

8:00am: We are out the door, walking the half mile to school with the dog.

Happy to be back to school in late April!

8:40am: I am back at home with the dog. I eat breakfast and drink coffee while reading a book.

9:00am: I have finished coffee and switch to tea, which I bring into my office, as it’s time to start working.

12:00pm: I take the dog around the block for a potty break, and grab lunch from the kitchen and bring it to my office to eat while working.

1:40pm: School is out soon, so I take the dog with me to pick up the kids. They play in the schoolyard for about 20 minutes before we start walking home. This is my official lunch break.

2:35pm: At home, I fix a snack for the kids (usually cheese or hummus and crackers, fruit and carrots, or pizza rolls).

2:40pm: Back to work. The kids have “free time,” which means usually TV or video games. On Mondays, the older has piano. On Tuesdays, their uncle takes them to the park. On Wednesdays, a babysitter takes them to the park or plays board games. On Thursdays and Fridays, sometimes one of us parents will be free to do something.

5:00pm: Off work! I usually go around checking in on the kids and then take the dog for a walk. Sometimes we’ll all go to the park briefly if the kids didn’t go earlier.

6:00pm: I feed the dog and cat and make dinner. Then we immediately clean up: do the dishes, clear off the table, clean the counters, go through the kids’ backpacks and clean out their lunchboxes and water bottles. We try to have the kids do most of this. I also check homework and help do it if necessary, but both kids seem to do their homework in school.

7:00pm: My new favorite time of day. The kids are allowed to play video games and the dog has already had three long walks, so I sit in my west-facing window and read a book. Usually, tea is also involved.

8:30pm: The kids are done with their game time. We watch one show together.

9:00pm: We head upstairs. I’ve started putting them to bed a little earlier than when they were in online school since now they actually have to be up and dressed before 8am. The kids take showers. I read to the youngest for awhile, and then the oldest gets an audiobook. I usually shower while this is happening.

How does a 23-pound dog take up most of my bed?

10:30pm: One last potty time for the dog, and then we head to bed.

For now, I am loving this schedule, which allows us to have plenty of time together, as well as plenty of independent time. I’ve also never had better work-life balance. Soon, however, summer vacation will be upon us and all will change again!

What I Eat in a Day, Part 2

I still like watching these types of video, so I thought I’d do another one of these blog posts!

For breakfast lately, maybe because of the warmer weather, I’ve been eating cold cereal. So interesting, right? This cereal is what I think of as being granola, but the package said muesli. Is there a difference? I don’t know. Into the cereal, I added some mixed berries, chia seeds, and peanut butter. (I would add peanut butter to everything if I could.) Also, oat milk.

For lunch, I have been experimenting with adding non-meat proteins to salads. Above is an example of one of these salads. It is kale, quinoa, chickpeas, lentils, and some carrots (just what I had to use but I would have added more if I had them). Dressing is just olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast.

I haven’t been snacking in the mornings, but in the afternoon I will snack if I’m hungry. Usually hummus and carrots or gluten-free crackers, fruit, or a smoothie.

In the photo above is a dinner that I recently made that is probably one off my favorite new things! It is mashed polenta (every time I have polenta, I question why I don’t eat more polenta–it’s so good!) with fried onions and chorizo. Excuse my hand in the photo, but I wanted to show the packaging. This product is made with pea protein! Link to their website here. The green blob on top is just a bit of avocado.

I have been not eating after dinner but what I do have a lot of that’s not pictured here is tea–probably about four cups a day. I don’t put anything in the tea, so it doesn’t have calories or count as food and of course a mug of discolored water isn’t pretty. I typically drink black tea and green tea during the day and after dinner usually just herbal tea.

Other New (sort of) Stuff

This September, I made two decisions, one of them being a major, life-changing decision. My older son has been alive for over ten years, and he has been asking me for a dog for almost that long. I had always resisted. Even though I grew up with many dogs (hard to remember, but maybe six), I only had a good relationship with one of them. Of the others, four barely tolerated me, and two actively hated me. Years went by, and I started to develop allergies to various animals. I’d sneeze all the time, but if a dog licked me, I would break out in a painful rash in that spot. Hence my hesitation. Also, I didn’t want to get a dog to just spend only about four hours a day with it (already did that with my kids).

Four months old and teething!

Then I started working from home and was home all the time with my kids (you know why–I don’t have to say it, right?). And I thought if I were to get a hypoallergenic dog, I could manage. And then I mentioned it to the kids and could no longer back out. So in September, we added Ms Ziggy Stardust the Wheaten Terrier to our family. She was only three months and I realized I’ve never had a puppy before, and it was almost as overwhelming as having a newborn human for the first month or so.

After a recent haircut. She looks like she’s sad about the bow, but she really just wants a treat!

Now, she is seven months old and almost a doggie teenager (I think?). My kids hug her fifty seven times a day, and she gets so excited when I put on my shoes, and loves laying on top of me to take a nap. I cannot imagine my life without her. I can’t wait to take her to the beach and camping!

More colorful than ever!

Also, the day before I met Ziggy, I dyed my hair blue! I’ve always wanted to dye my hair an unnatural color, and it was very freeing and self-actualizing to do it. It was also fun to go, in 24 hours, from a redhead without a dog to a blue-haired person with a dog. I occasionally like to shock my brain in such a way. Don’t be complacent, brain! Most recently, I dyed the front part purple for some more color, and I really like it!

New Hobbies in 2020

Like many others, I decided to try my hand at some new hobbies in 2020. I was always under the impression that I had no time for hobbies, but this year seems to have altered my perception of time and now I have a ton more hobbies.

My drawing of a bird!

In the spring, I started gardening and bird watching. In the winter, I am obviously not doing much gardening, but I have plans for next spring. I also started drawing, after wanting to do it all my life but convincing myself I would be no good at it so why even try. Now, I draw very often, and it become very therapeutic for me. (And if you like my drawings, feel free to follow me on Instagram @donna_photo_phylactery) However, I haven’t drawn much in the last month, as I was inspired to finish the first draft of a book I started a long time ago! This is very exciting but I still have a good month of editing, so I won’t talk about it that much.

Actually a portrait of the protagonist of my upcoming book!

These new hobbies got me to thinking about other stuff I have always wanted to try but put off until “later.” One of those things was learning to play the piano. I have no good reason not to play the piano, as we actually own a piano, and my older son has been taking lessons for about three years. I didn’t want to spend any money on hobbies, since I will never become a concert pianist, so I just use a piano app and the old piano books my son has long since graduated from.

My kids walking on a trail.

Since all this was not enough, I decided to learn a language in a game-like setting. I have, in the distant past, taken four years of Spanish. I decided Spanish would be a good language to learn now, since I may remember a little, I live in NYC and a lot of people speak it, I very occasionally come across it at work, and maybe someday I’ll even get to travel to a Spanish-speaking country again. Uno puede soñar!

Another Yard Update: Dirt and Groundcover!

Just in case it hadn’t been obvious, my yard and yard-related chores has been a real comfort to me these last few weeks! Anyway, I had wanted to dirt put down last fall, but frost hit and we ran out of time. So the yard stayed bare and barren all winter. Yes, it was a little depressing to look at, but honestly it was better than the cement. I’ve discovered that a cement yard really upsets me. The contractor who had originally busted up the concrete had a landscaping friend, and together they were going to get a large truck full of dirt delivered. But he began being unresponsive to me, for some still unknown reason. I called around to companies large and small, but could not seem to get anything. At this point I was anticipating having to to all the shoveling myself, but still wanted it done, as the level of the dirt was way below where it should be, volume-wise.

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My kids are “helping.”

Finally, with the threat of stores closing and the increasingly valid desire to not be around anyone, I ordered two pallets of dirt from a store a few blocks from my house. I didn’t bother thinking about how difficult it would be to do the work myself, because there was no choice. It took only two and a half adults (my two kids each account for a quarter of an adult) to spread all of the dirt in my yard in two days.

But of course spreading the dirt is not the end of the job. The contractor had recommended me to get turf, but I didn’t want turf. I know I’m in the minority, but I don’t like the look of an overly even lawn. I wanted something that looked organic and a bit chaotic. I also wanted to see the grass grow from seeds. So I bought grass and clover seeds and single-handedly spread them over the yard and then spread another layer of dirt on top. The night I planted the seeds, there was a lot of rain, which continued for days. After that, I watered it a few times. I didn’t want to buy a sprinkler, as I had been advised. I think it’s a waste of water. Grass grows in fields that are never watered, so why couldn’t it grow in the yard without a sprinkler?

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This is actually from a week ago, and it’s so much greener now!

Then came the days of waiting. But after about two weeks, I started to see little shoots emerging from the ground. I was so happy, I started crying. It’s starting to fill in a bit now, but looks chaotic, which I like but may upset others. Also, I’m planning to plant a few more actual plants, like some flowering vines on the back fence (the green fence in the photo above), so I would not consider it “finished.” But I am way happier now than I was with the concrete!

Continuing to Work on my Yard (all about soil)!

Last week I wrote about my trials and tribulations of getting the cement in my backyard taken away. That actually took place last fall. After the contractor finished moving away most of the broken cement, he said we would wait to do the next part until the spring.

While this was ongoing, I decided to test my existing soil. A few people warned me that it may contain heavy metals or other dangerous things, and I had to do that before I planted anything in it we would possibly eat. I didn’t have a solid plan as to what to plant yet, but I wanted to include the possibility that I would be gardening edible plants.

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These tiny tomatoes came from a plant I had in a pot last summer. I opened my shed in December and found these growing! And yes, they were yummy!

 

After several annoying and possibly hilarious attempts to test using kits I bought online, I discovered the NYC Urban Soils Institute. You mail them a soil sample, and for a reasonable fee, they test it for you and email you the results. The soil from my yard came back as lacking in biologic material but otherwise fine. I was so happy to hear it!

Through the Soils Institute helpful website, I found that the best way to amend my soil was by adding organic matter. I would add to need topsoil, because the level was so far below the cement, but the winter is not the time to do that. Since it was a mild winter, I started just adding organic material by burying my organic garbage. It sounds odd, but I was already bringing scraps once a week to be composted. This was even easier! Just dig a hole and bury them!

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In early February, I went for a walk and found this very early flower! I hope to have some in my garden this year.

A few people asked about animals digging it up, but we are vegetarians, so it was only fruit and vegetable scraps. I live in Queens, so the only animals about are stray cats, who wouldn’t want my scraps, and raccoons, who can easily find tastier stuff in garbage cans. I have never had a problem! And never will, since it is now spring and I stopped doing this because things are growing in the yard. More on this next week.

MinsGame Spring 2020: Day 25

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My favorite coffee cup, left at work three weeks ago when I was packing in haste. I’m sure I’ll never see it again.

The Minimizing Game Day 25 is let because life is so chaotic now. I forgot to post this last night, but I had to go through a stack of work papers I brought home, and I got rid of at least 25. In retrospect, however, I probably didn’t need any of them, and what I should have brought home instead was my beloved mug, and probably my AMA style manual.

The Continued Saga of Trying to Sleep Unlike a Baby

For many, many years, I have been unable to sleep without certain sleep props. For the unaware, sleep props are things that, without which, one cannot sleep. One of the most common sleep props in babies is the pacifier. Adults usually don’t have sleep props. I had a lot, which you can read about here. Over the almost five years since I wrote that post, I’ve tried to address them slowly, one-by-one.

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My cat Oz generally has no trouble sleeping, unless I rattle the treat jar or put a camera in his face.

The first thing I dealt with was the ear plugs. I woke up one morning and one of them had fallen out onto the floor and the cat was chewing on it. Which could cause him to die! I threw all them out, and, since I have a white-noise machine, didn’t really notice any issues.

The second thing I got rid of was the benadryl. For a few days, I imagined that I woke with my nose stuffy and couldn’t breathe. I got a nose spray and used that for about a week, until I forgot to use it. Now I am completely unmedicated when I sleep.

Next, I tackled the real issue and one that was the most difficult. For more than 10 years, I had not been able to sleep without a sugar-free cough drop in my mouth. When it dissolved (usually took a few hours), I would wake up coughing and feeling like I was unable to breathe. The first few nights without cough drop, I was very dramatic inside my head, thinking I would not be able to sleep. But I did. The next night, it was almost as difficult, but I still did it. And somewhere around the fifth night, I stopped feeling like I was choking to death every time I laid down.

Now the only thing I have left as a sleep prop is the white-noise machine. As I said in my post of about five years ago, this one doesn’t really bother me, as my bedroom window is on a street, and without it, I would probably wake 20 times a night, as I am a very light sleeper. However, on the rare occasion that I take a nap, I have stopped turning it on. And sometimes I will wake at 6am to go to the bathroom and turn it off then, as I only have less then an hour to wake anyway.

Overall, I’m really pleased with my progress to be higher functioning than a newborn human!