Tuesday, July 18, 2017


One of my take-aways from our recent houseguest is that I really want to start exercising regularly again. I mentioned this to Fritz, along with a Maybe-when-school-starts-it-will-be-possible-except-maybe-not-if-I-have-a-job-since-I-don't know-what-it-might-entail-timewise.

Fritz then informed me that he's been wearing his exercise monitor in the morning when he gets the kids ready for camps. He's been doing this between 6am and 8am every morning this summer, while I devote time to learning Revit. This is really the most time in 10 years that he has had so much responsibility for the kids without help from me on a regular basis. (Let's not get too excited: he's only picking up 10 hours a week.)

He claims he's getting LOTS of exercise while running up and down the stairs to help them get ready.
He said, "you'd be surprised how many stair steps you run."

Hmmm. I wasn't quite sure how to take this. Do Fritz and I have different standards of what enough exercise is? Is my activity level really different than I imagine? Is there yet another meaning beyond his words?

(I did carry this one for about a mile at altitude this weekend. But that's not really typical.)

I think I'll just take Fritz's comments at face value for now. But it was sort of interesting to think about quantifying the physical difference between my typical day and Fritz's based on the type of work we do. Maybe I'll finally take that Fitbit my parents gave me for Christmas out of the box and see if it works.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Houseguest Process

My mother-in-law was here visiting for about two weeks.

My opinion about houseguests has really changed over the years. When Noah was still a baby, and even when Mattias was a baby, I loved houseguests because they provided me some adult time and some extra help around the house. And I didn't need to hire a babysitter! As our family grew, the visits stopped being very helpful. The kids were really upset by the change in routine and dynamic. I was overwhelmed between the responsibilities of being a good host and the needs of the children. By the time Trixie came along, I really had my hands full with the kids' needs. The job of hosting, too, was one too many.

Now that we've made it through everyone's toddler and baby years, I have a little bit of space again. Hosting is easier than before. But I still don't enjoy it the way I did when Noah was a baby. It's still more work for me: the invisible kind of traditionally-woman-work, for which I am not paid/ compensated. I think I'm NOT supposed to complain about it because it's just expected, right? Also, we visit other people so I guess I should just see it as a trade-off, right? But still, taking care of the kids is MORE difficult with houseguests. And the houseguests are more people to take care of. I think it's okay if I acknowledge the many sides of the situation, yes?

My current strategy is to clear out my schedule and lower my expectations. I don't expect to complete projects. I don't expect to have a surplus of help. I try to keep everyone happy. I try not to feel resentful.

I think it mostly worked this time. Which means, we made it through without major breakdowns. The kids created artwork with Oma. We had a gallery opening on the last night of her visit.

It was very sweet. We will definitely be finding permanent places for some of these. The kids were so proud of their work. Oma did a lovely job presenting their work and talking about all the techniques that they tried in artist-speak. They just beamed with pride.

But getting there was sometimes fraught. Turns out, the kids are every bit as opinionated about their art as Oma is. Also, my kitchen island looked like this for almost the entire two weeks:

Let's get a closer look at that mess, shall we?

I was a good sport publicly. But I kept thinking to myself that I know many who would never allow such a mess to accumulate – and stay for two weeks! – on the kitchen island. I cringe to think of those sayings about how Your Space Reflects what You are Feeling on the Inside. If an organized house is an organized mind, is a super-organized house an uptight mentality? I guess we can just think of our island mess as full of variation, depth and complexity. Convenient! Those are my favorite types of people!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Summer Transition

There's always a bit of lag time between the end of school and the start of summer: time when we haven't quite figured out the new rhythms. Time when some of us feel more edgy/less comfortable/not relaxed. Yesterday, 10 days into summer, it started to feel like we were finally reaching the new summer equilibrium. I do think it takes that long.

I often heard people in Germany say that you should never go on vacation for less than two weeks, because it takes at least one week to stop thinking about work. We don't think that way AT ALL here in the US, but I do believe there's some truth to it. Three day vacations are pretty much the worst: you spend all the time anxious and prepping (prepping to leave, anxious to be in a new situation, and prepping to return) and no time relaxing. Ironically, we've actually codified this miserable experience with wisdom like: Fish and visitors stink after three days (credit Benjamin Franklin). No wonder we have an epidemic of ADHD here in the United States; we're culturally way too quick to change course when things feel slightly uncomfortable. We can't make it through the transition to the enjoyable part. We give up – while quoting our efficient founding father – even when it comes to vacation.