May 23 2012

Ten Thousand & Counting

Yes, I’ve read everything Malcolm Gladwell has written. And yes, some of it resonates and some of it doesn’t. I like the statistical legerdemain he can do and BOOM! Canadian hockey phenoms make sense. Or, at least as much sense as I need them to.

In Outliers, he lays out (hmm) the idea of 10,000 hours to mastery. The Beatles in Hamburg before they launched their Invasion: 10,000 hours. Bill Gates nerding it up in high school when no one else was using computers: 10,000 hours.

As a new mother, I grasped at any straw that hinted that at some point I would stop feeling like I might do irrevocable harm to the tiny beast since I had probably already screwed up by eating Nerds while pregnant. Often.

And thus, I grasped the 10,000 hour straw. I nerded it up in my own way by figuring out what day Brett&I would hit our 10,000th hour of parenting. It’s a little under 417 days. Or 52 days after your kid turns one. Or, for us, a Leap Year meant 51 days.

We crossed from novice parents on Monday, May 21. We had a sitter arranged and we took our expert selves out to dinner. I ate insanely expensive mac&cheese (I leapt the expert threshold in mac&cheese ages ago, probably in my own toddlerhood).

The best part? I kind of did feel like I knew what I was doing Monday. While doing our morning crawl/inspection of her bedroom (must checks: cow humidifier, green monkey, fan, door stop) I saw a big ole splinter in Loie’s foot, probably from an evening spent on the deck.

A true expert would know just what to do. I knew to Google judiciously. A link too far and I’d be reading about amputations and how splinters are indications of failed parenting. Instead, I wanted to check that what I knew to do years ago for campers who no longer counted their ages in months would be appropriate for the wee one. And it was. I started my expert day, then, with Brett holding down the kid and me removing a splinter.

Not quite the fireworks or accolades of being a Beatle or the richest person around. Satisfying enough, though, for sure. And that’s parenting. Satisfying enough. You’re never as rested or as prepared or as with it as you might have been 10,000 hours ago. But the new enough is enough.

Apr 27 2012

On Fridays.

There are things that feel like mini-revolutions to me that I realize are not that impressive. That, when you try to describe them to other people, you get a “That’s nice” and you (meaning I) want to yell that it is not only not just nice, it might just be epic. A recent lunchtime discussion led us to a new plan for Fridays. And it feels a bit revolutionary. It certainly feels closer to our end goal, a work/life teeter totter that teeters more life than work, which is still the goal but MAN it takes work.

We’ve decided that if we want to use time flexibly because we have that privilege, we should. In fact, we must.

On Fridays we will work in the mornings. Not super original.

And then? And then the afternoon becomes ours. Childcare is taken care of as Lo wiles away the day with her buddies. Rather than pay for that and a babysitter for a night out, we’ll make our days more datey.

Perhaps a long lunch. Perhaps a movie.

We’re not at a place to write the day off and will likely work Friday evenings when needed. But that feels like a smart compromise right now. Someday perhaps the whole day will be a day of rest and restoration. Having four hours set aside to attend to leisure, to partnership, to go to the movies(!) already feels like a giant running leap towards where we plan to go.

I suggested once a month we do a loud project in the house we don’t want to do and often use La Loie as an excuse. It felt grown up to say that some of that freedom could be used responsibly. Perhaps we’ll do that. I recently started organizing my writing place, The Nook. So we could do the basement. The basement makes B squirrelly.

So today we start. We’ve got passes to the Merchandise Mart’s Antiques Fair as B built their site in partnership with Kim & Kyle at Knoed. And as the inaugural Friday, we’re taking the whole damn day off. We also plan on hitting up a Creative Mornings talk with Mike McQuade, a local design star (and not in the HGTV sense). Brunch might be had. Hand-holding city walking might happen. Doesn’t feel like much of a compromise at all. And…sometimes the kid gets a fever.

Apr 20 2012

Getting Our Gîte On

A major component of the Burwell grand life experiment is the ability to live%work abroad. We needed job flexibility (check!). We needed a desire to stamp the crap out of passports (check!). We needed the Magic Jack (check!). We pulled it off, I’d say with some panache, in Reykjavik nary a few weeks after moving into our house in the summer of 2010. I was aggressively confident we’d do it again in 2011. Then I got a little pregnant so last summer was not one for traveling beyond Babies ‘R Us. Have others successfully done it? Sure. I was not a natural at newborning.

Which means, friends, I’m triply jazzed about this summer. Because this summer not only will lil’ Lo get a passport stamp and we’re living abroad but we’ll be doing it with my sister and her family for the month.

This summer we’ll be here:

It’s a gîte! In Normandy! With two separate living areas so we can pretend we are French condo neighbors! For the non-gîters out there, gîtes are self-catering homes available for rent and are often converted barns (like ours) or old something-or-others that have been rehabbed.

It’s nearish a smallish village called Rânes, majorly west and a dash south of Paris. I don’t think it’s particularly close to anything, really, but that might just be the point. The family that is renting it recommended a car and then informed us they’re installing a trampoline. So we’re going to be just fine.

Now, before you plan to rob me (schmuck) you should know that I am a step ahead. We’ve rented our home to a lovely neighborhood family who will be busy renovating their place. We’ve thought about swapping and may get there someday. This felt like a fabulous, mortgage-paying first step.

In preparation, I asked for Rosetta Stone French for my birthday. My plan? A lesson every day or two and voilà, re-fluency. I spoke lovely French in high school and wrote essays in French on novels in French. Now, a few glasses of wine and I might try to start singing this song in the translation a friend and I developed at 16. “Allez, vient, je parle à toi…”

So far? Well, so far, in four months I’ve finished one lesson. I can re-comfortably address issues related to an individual or group drinking, eating, swimming or cooking. Since those are the four activities I imagine we will do the most this summer, I’m all set.

Mar 31 2012

Announcing the News, One Year Later

Like many new moms, I planned to blog my rump off about motherhood. And babies. And how I was just breezing through it all.

And, well, I didn’t. I neither blogged nor breezed. I bumped and hiccuped my way through Lo’s infancy. But. She survived. I survived. On some days, we might have even thrived a bit.

It’s with a dash of trepidation and a pursed-lip exhale that I reboot, reload, and try again.Here we go.

Today is our daughter’s first birthday. Here’s how we announced her impending arrival to friends and families so many lifetimes ago.