Homeschool: Week 1

In graduate school at Wichita State University, I taught — all by myself — students from 16 to 60 the most hated subject of all time.

Public speaking.

My Comm 111 university teaching days did not prepare me for homeschooling my speech-delayed toddler.

You know… because he doesn’t speak. At least, not in English.

While I do not have to relearn 8th grade math (what did we even learn in 8th grade?), I do have to teach my son something — anything — during our quarantine together.

Here’s how Week 1 went:

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Monday

I bought a boatload of foam puzzle tiles about a year ago to use as a barrier between tiny fingers, knees and toes and our deck… which, if you remember, was a bit of a hot mess.

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never used them. I put them in storage, forgot they existed and never. friggin. used them.

Until last Monday.

I pulled those suckers out of storage and wrote the alphabet on them, so the toddler and I had an ABC sidewalk in the living room…

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…for about five minutes of singing that stupid song before…

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…the totally should-have-been-expected destruction.

Guess what his favorite thing to do is?

Destroy.

We also tried to learn the letters in our name, but alas, he wasn’t interested at all.

Our scheduled dance party? Basically just me walking around the house to the music while he ignored me and tried to play with the dog.

Tuesday

My son loves counting. He doesn’t do it in the correct order, but he loves to count — 1, 2, 9, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13! (He always screams 13…, and that’s where he stops. I think I need to blame Sesame Street for that.)

Honestly, for his delays in other areas, he’s doing fine with remembering this sequence of numbers. Unfortunately, it’s incorrect, and he’s not identifying numbers as quantities of things. He doesn’t understand “one more time,” or that he’s 3, or how many crackers he’s allowed to have before dinner.

We tried to work on that on Tuesday.

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I found an app called Speech Blubs, but I’m not yet endorsing it with my #WAHM stamp of approval. While my toddler seems to enjoy it, they double-charged me for a year, and I’m annoyed.

So we’ll see…

The concept of the app is for your child to see and hear other children saying words, making animal noises and counting in order to encourage them to try the same.

After two days of using the app, my son figured out how to skip information and animations meant for learning to get to the game at the end.

Basically, he can’t count in the appropriate order, but he’s discovered how many times he has to skip screens in order to pop balloons.

My son, ladies and gentlemen.

“Jumping” went really well, because he loves jumping, climbing, running and any activity that generally disregards his safety or wellbeing. However, he slept through “puddles” and the rain dried up quickly on our block, so he didn’t get to splash.

(Total shame. It’s super fun and adorable to watch him splash.)

Wednesday

When my son turned 2, I signed up for Kiwi&Co. Crates, which are arts, crafts, educational, pretend play and physical activities delivered monthly.

His first box? Well, he really enjoyed the tissue paper…

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That last four months or so, I’ve been saving up boxes in preparation for summer when he wouldn’t have speech therapy.

Well, they’ve all be yanked out of storage, too, to provide SOME kind of structure to my attempt to homeschool him.

One box, Color Mixing, had a lot of promise because a) it offered the use of cups filled with water and a stirring stick — and my kid loves a good stirring stick — and b) we could paint!

My son loved the water and the stirring stick, didn’t give a s*** about the colors and refused to help me paint.

So, ladies and gentlemen, here’s MY artwork completed while coaxing my toddler to help.

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I’m going to frame it and give it to him as a gift when he’s old enough to understand how annoying he was as a toddler. #notbitter

The third activity in the crate was a color-matching game with cards and felt circles. While he didn’t say a single color by name, he matched them perfectly without any instruction from me. Something’s gotta be clicking, right?

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He did say “puh-kin,” which was super adorable, but that’s all I got out of him on Wednesday.

Thursday

Hot failure. A straight up mess of failure.

School activities, outside play and paying any amount of attention to me were thrown out the window and replaced with epic, epic fuss.

You guys just so much fuss omg.

I crashed on the couch at 7:30 p.m., and then I woke up nearly 11 hours later. It wore me out, that fuss. My husband had put the toddler to bed, turned off the TV and left me to sleep.

#WAHMlife for the zzz’s.

Friday

Both my husband and I worked from home on Friday, so the toddler was pretty jazzed about life with the adults “playing” on their computers and their phones. So, again, we accomplished zero homeschooling.

Ah, well.

We’ve been without public school since March 12, social-distancing since March 18 and at 12:01 a.m. Monday, March 30, we’ll be under a statewide stay-at-home order.

My toddler is NOT going back to school this semester (and potentially the foreseeable future).

Here’s to Homeschool: Week 2. Pray for me.

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(Uh, yeah, I always have a workout scheduled… and have not done one yet!)

An Indefinite Amount of Time

Last Tuesday, my office sent us home with our computers, laptops, supplies and anything else we might need to work from home — which is what we’re doing.

For an indefinite amount of time.

On Friday night, I finally set up my home office, pulling my desk out of storage. I had been meaning to do that anyway.

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I also ventured to grocery stores Friday night, spending three hours hunting for eggs, milk and produce. Luckily, I had found six rolls of toilet paper behind a bag full of bags in my upstairs bathroom cupboard.

I felt like the richest woman on earth.

Mostly because it meant I didn’t have to go out again on Saturday.

Friday night at my neighborhood Dillon’s looked a lot like Sunday afternoon the week before…

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No bread on Friday. Thankfully, I still had half a loaf with a “Best By” date less than a week prior.
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Few soap options. I bought three, one for each bathroom and an extra to take with me. Excessive use of public soap has officially caused my eczema to flare and my knuckles to crack and bleed. The itching means I also bought an super-sized bottle of eczema cream.
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No paper products. Toilet paper, paper towels and napkins were sold out. To the world, please don’t flush products other than toilet paper. (Women already understand this.) The last thing we need is a clogged water system during this quarantine.
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The worst? No diapers (or wipes!). I found a pack of 18 in my son’s size on Sunday, and then again on Friday. One pack each day. Soon, we’re going to be potty enforcing, instead of potty training. Luckily, I’ve had people reach out to help me.

On Saturday, my husband and I cleaned the ever-loving s*** out of our house. We used the last of our Lysol wipes to scrub appliances, countertops and sinks. We dug deep into the kitchen sink with baking soda and cream of tarter. We swept, Swiffered and mopped the bathrooms and kitchen. We dusted, Windexed and vacuumed the house top-to-bottom.

I sprayed disinfectant purchased during my husband’s latest cold (more than a month ago) on every cabinet pull, door knob, light switch and surface my son might decide to press his face on.

So all the surfaces.

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Ignore the grammar errors. I was near an anxiety attack. A well deserved one, I might add. And autocorrect is a nightmare.

On Sunday, I outlined my week of billable work hours and homeschool for my son.

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My agenda book has never included “School Activities” and “Outside Play.”

With the school district closed for the rest of the semester and my household #socialdistancing (and now under a shelter-at-home order), my 3-year-old no longer has access to the education, social/speech therapy and daily work he needs to improve on his cognitive and speech delays.

Now, that therapy falls on me.

Why me? Why not my husband, too?

Let me be clear: We are not a gender-“normal” household. We share the load across the board. We take care of bills, housework, paperwork, pets and the toddler equally and equitably.

But, right now, he’s taking care of even more because he works at a major hospital in our community. He has staff on the front lines of fighting coronavirus, flattening the curve and supporting the hospital.

All while they’re all trying to take care of themselves and their families.

So, that’s why me.

However, he still has to make dinner some nights because I’m generally a terrible cook (unless he wants frozen “chicken chunks” and oven-roasted corn on the cob for the indefinite amount of time I’m home).

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Honestly, even with no butter, the corn was pretty legit.

In return, I’ll do the laundry and try to potty-train the toddler.

No promises on that second one, though.

Homeschool — and the attempt to teach my son how to string English words (instead of “his language” words) into a sentence — are my new normal for a while. I don’t know when he’ll be able to go back to daycare or school where he can learn from professionals.

Remember, this is indefinite.

What hasn’t been suspended for an indefinite amount of time is my job.

Because I still have a job.

A flexible, gives-a-s***-about-me job that understands and makes accommodations for my new normal.

I know I’m one of the lucky ones.

Sometimes, in the thick of things, we can forget how lucky we are.

I know I have.

Since Tuesday, March 17 — without a lucky St. Patrick’s Day celebration — I have been reminded over and over how lucky I am through the actions and words of people who care about me. The people I work for and with every day.

I know not everyone is going to be as lucky as I am during and after this pandemic.

Coronavirus is reshaping households and families worldwide. For an indefinite amount of time. Remind yourself, if you’re one of the lucky ones, that you are in fact lucky.

Stay home because you can.

Buy less because you can.

Donate more because you can.

Remember, not everyone can.

We’re all in this together.

2020 Resolution Breakdown: Remodel the F Word House

Remodel the F Word House is my third New Year’s Resolution, and my house needs some serious TLC.

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Because woof.

Top 5 Priorities

1) Finish the dining room.

We started updating the dining room in November 2020 — and we’ve only gotten paint on the walls, curtains hung, a new table and two of four chairs.

Not a great start for five months of work…

Plus, the table I ordered looked reddish (to match the chairs I bought separately and the bookcase) online.

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This is NOT reddish.

The table is perfect in every. other. way. Height, size, shape, style… but it is markedly chocolate brown.

AND I CAN’T STRIP AND STAIN IT BECAUSE IT’S MANUFACTURED WOOD.

So, I’m going to paint it, which just means I now have to figure out what design I want, what color the legs of the table should be, what type of paint to use, how to finish it… Basically, by not sending this table back (because we needed a table), I’ve given myself another five months of work.

Joy.

We also need to:

  • Reframe and hang recently purchased art.
  • Remove the salvage stickers from the chairs without damaging their very perfectness. There are approximately 700 stickers per.
  • Get more art, two more chairs, maybe a bench — I like art and people gotta sit.

Sigh.

2) Remodel the hall bathroom.

My toddler is on-again, off-again potty training — we’re doing… not well — and the hall bathroom is set up poorly for potty training.

It’s set up poorly for anything, really.

The sink/vanity is too big for the room, which causes a perfectly normal-sized toilet to look like someone wedged it in last minute. The bathtub/shower was installed incorrectly, and there’s a wealth of unused space behind the door.

I’ve got a lot to work with… and a lot to do.

  • Remove F word massive sink/vanity, and replace with a narrow-depth sink/vanity to maximize space and door-opening abilities.
  • Demolish the sadly installed mini tiles on the floor, level out the floor (barf) and retile.
  • Paint it because we’re all very tired of Lion’s Mane Beige.
  • Hang all my buggo pictures. Yes, the bathroom will be filled with bugs. Art bugs.
  • Ignore the bathtub/shower for another year because, looking at the cost of that, woof.
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Creepy crawlies will be the main theme of this bathroom. Guests, please enjoy.

3) Paint the very-small-why-haven’t-I-done-it-yet hallway. (Hint: It’s because I’m lazy.)

4) Paint the downstairs bedrooms.

One is an office/catch-all room, and the other’s my son’s room. Prairie Sage isn’t going to look good with Creamy Mushroom (the color I’ve selected for MOST of the house).

We also have a bit more work than painting in the hall bathroom, hall and downstairs bed rooms…

Some lunatic used latex paint on the oak trim, doors, cabinets, etc. Latex paint that is now peeling in full force to show off layers and layers and layers of other latex paint beneath it.

Seriously, people. Why?

We’re going to strip every last inch and layer of it and repaint — we can’t save the wood — with NON-LATEX PAINT. For the love.

This is going to take the bulk of a decade to complete.

5) Do… something? …in the living room.

  • Repaint, of course. Creamy Mushroom all the way!
  • Repair the unpainted oak trim, mantle and door (which I also need to do in the dining room, crap).
  • New curtains, for sure. My TJ Maxx cheapies don’t even match.
  • Assemble the TV stand.
  • Assemble the coffee table.
  • New couch, chair and end tables eventually. Ours are dog- and toddler-worn from many decades of animals and humans.

…but I don’t know what I want the living room to look like. Does it need a theme? No. Is it going to have one? Most definitely.

The dining room is bronze, brown and gold like autumn — thanks, in part, to this great big landscape scene.

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And my baby arts.

The hall bathroom is going to be filled with pictures of bugs.

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Like this guy right here.

So, my living room? Spring flora, summer yellows, winter greens… haven’t decided yet.

Beyond these top priorities, we also have a laundry list of additional work that needs to be done:

  • Rip out the carpet throughout the house, and refinish the hardwood — that Susan covered with carpet. I’m calling her Susan.
  • Retile or repair the hearth (it’s UNDER the carpet), and spruce up the brick fireplace.
  • Potentially install a functioning fireplace. Potentially wait more years because chimneys… woof.
  • Update broken or burned light fixtures. (Recall that we did not have electricity in some areas of the house for a year, so some of the fixtures are just… sad.)
  • Fix the F word storm doors. Again.
  • Replace dying appliances. Largely the oven, which burns or doesn’t cook through at 375, and the dishwasher, which my son stepped on once and now it’s… sad.
  • Pick a friggin’ paint color for the upstairs bathroom!
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See me not picking a paint color…

The list goes on and on and on and… we really didn’t even talk about the kitchen.

…and we’re not going to talk about the kitchen.

Remodel the F Word House might be my New Year’s Resolution for the next 10 years.

I Left My Left Ventricle in San Diego

Six months ago, I planned my first-ever vacation alone for my birthday to San Diego — but I wasn’t going to be alone when I got there.

This trip was a reunion six years in the making to see my very best friend.

And it was F-word epic.

Thursday

Vacation began just after toddler drop off when I took a long, hot shower. Complete with a hair conditioner mask, face mask, moisturizer. The works.

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In the background, you’ll see my inability to choose a paint color for my bathroom.

I packed my bag in the Mari Kondo manner of folding. Sort of.

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Ignore the painter’s tape…
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Years of traveling for work has taught me to fly light.

My Uber dropped me off at the airport two hours before my flight, which turned out to be completely unnecessary. 

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No line. Super nice TSA agents. Great airport amenities. #iflywichita

I waltzed through TSA and skipped hanging out at my gate because the Wichita Eisenhower Airport houses River City Brewing Co.

Hey, I was on vacation.

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On my way to San Diego, and they were out of the Hoosker Don’t. Of course.

Southwest doesn’t have a direct flight to San Diego, so we had a layover at LAS. There was a group of women on the flight who were staying in Vegas.

For a bachelorette party.

And the bride was on the flight.

And this happened.

I love Southwest.

My layover was about two hours, and we made good time in the air, so I spent a while in the airport — which, turns out, is just like the city.

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Everything was so colorful. And lit up. And ringing. And omg.

So… I “gambled.”

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I have no idea what I’m doing.

After a net loss of $10, I continued to fully enjoy airports on my way to San Diego.

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Things to which I cannot say “no:” Chicken Tortilla Soup. (Also a hazy IPA.)

We landed at SAN at exactly 7:10 p.m. — fully enjoyed airports and on-time flights this trip — and I raced out of the terminal to find my ride.

Because, again, I hadn’t seen her in six years. When I found her, we hugged for 45 minutes.

OK… that’s hyperbole. But there was much hugging.

So now begins our epic adventure.

vin de syrah hidden bar san diego

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Like Alice’s cake, the stairway down to Vin de Syrah in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter shrunk us down to fun size.

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Ideal for over-sized booths and perfectly sized beers. Drink me!

We entered a secret door, hidden by a wall of shrubbery and spent the first hour of our San Diego adventure catching up, drinking beer and more hugging.

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My love.

At home, I finally got to meet her pibble.

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He snuggled me every night and even cuddled up with me under the covers.
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I mean LOOK at his sad old man face and tell me he’s not perfect.

Friday, February 7

We went to New Zealand.

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Just kidding. We went to brunch at Dunedin.

And, yes, we took pictures of everything.

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Delightful, if small, Bloody Mary — spicy.
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Potentially the most delicious breakfast burrito I’ve ever eaten. I mean, it had tots in it.

Then, it was time for best friend tattoos.

Yes, I said tattoo.

No, I can’t show it to you.

Why? It’s not internet appropriate.

I mean, just imagine it’s on my left ventricle.

Hers is, too.

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Black Anvil Tattoo Shop is in North Park. Ask for RJ.
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This is RJ.

We had time to kill before our dinner reservation, so we planned to go to Coronado. But there was no parking for the ferry, and no one wants to drive over that bridge, so instead we found more beer.

Again, vacation.

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Brew30 houses San Diego brews in the biggest Hyatt I’ve ever seen. Seriously, it was unnecessarily large.

While it wasn’t a hole-in-the-wall or something with a sunny patio we usually frequent, they did have a ton of beer on tap.

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And we really like beer ‾\_(ツ)_/‾
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Latitude33, Ballast Point Rotation, Belching Beaver and Modern Times.
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Beer beer beer beer beer ♪

Now, it was time for dinner…

AT STONE BREWING OMG YOU GUYS!!!

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I love this gargoyle.
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An IPA with my bae.
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Outdoor pre-dinner beer seating.
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I don’t know who these people are. They were just in the way of me taking pictures.
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If I lived in Escondido, I’d never leave this place. Seriously, the brewery is a garden!
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Obligatory bathroom selfie. Yes, it’s obligatory.
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Obligatory Stone gargoyle photo. Yes, it’s obligatory.

Saturday, February 8

When I woke up Saturday, there was still a sweet, snuggly pibble on the bed — who didn’t move even a little bit when I got up.

Saturday breakfast took us to A Delight of France, and there were so many delightful things — including the coffee, and the crepes, and the almond croissant, omg guys the almond croissant.

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It was the size of my face. And maybe two other people’s faces.
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I said, “Do something French,” and this is what I came up with. Je ne sais pas. Je suis une stupide américaine… qui parle francais… un peu.

The highlight of Saturday? Escondido’s For the Love of Chocolate Festival. If not beer, why not chocolate?

And beer.

Because there was both.

Glass blowing lessons were the goal of tickets — not for me, I don’t live there, but for my bestie — but we did not win the golden ticket.

Didn’t stop us from hanging out at the glass blowing place…

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Play with fire, indeed.

…and checking out all the art…

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Sculpture that would not survive Kansas.

…but eventually we left and wandered off the beaten path…

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“I just want to be an eagle!”

…and found our kind of brewery.

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The Jacked Up kind.

We’re now members of the Society of Jacked Up Individuals. I have the sticker to prove it.

Back on tour — with shopping bags, stickers and swag in tow — we made it to Little Miss Brewing.

…and I had a severe, slightly embarrassing, sympathy nerd moment for my husband.

Let’s be clear:

1) He was not there.

2) He was a political science major, and he enjoyed studying about Russia and WWII and one of his favorite books is Darkness at Noon.

Note: I just had to get up and go ask him, “What’s that book about Russia that I won’t read?” because I couldn’t remember what it was called.

3) He’s a nerd.

4) I’M a nerd.

5) The entire bar is decked out like a Russian spy novel from WWII.

6) I spazzed.

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At this point, I don’t even know what we were doing. But there was beer.

7) Pretty sure his response was “neat babe.”

Saturday, February 9

On my last full day in San Diego, it rained. I argue it did because it was sad I was leaving the next morning at WAY too early.

Ashley took me axe throwing for my birthday.

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I wasn’t “nervous.” It’s just… I have poor depth perception.
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The first several axe throws ended like this.
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But I got better.
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She is…
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…already…
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…a pro.
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I think we’re ready for the zombie apocalypse.

SoCal Axe Throwing is hooked up to Wild Barrel Brewing.

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So, yes, we had more beer.

We went to dinner at a nearby ramen shop and feasted. Last night of vacation? I’m eating my weight in ramen and sushi.

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And drinking Japanese beer. Because it’s still vacation.
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At Mirin Cafe where the motto is “No Ramen No Life.”

On my final night in San Diego, we hung out, hugged more and went to bed unfortunately early.

Sunday, February 10

Because my flight left at 8 a.m.

I left my left ventricle (which is a euphemism for an inside joke that I don’t have 20+ years to explain) in San Diego.

It won’t be another six years until I hop on a Southwest flight and see her again… however, it might take six years to burn off the beer calories.

2020 Resolution Breakdown: Take Some F Word Time

Take Some F Word Time is my second 2020 New Year’s Resolution.

Because I want to take back my house and Get an F Word Hobby, I want to add to the quality (and quantity) of time I spend with my husband and son.

How?

Step 1: Make breakfast. 

Right now, my picky eater enjoys two things for breakfast: yogur’ and ‘nacks — and honestly he’s so picky that I don’t fight him about the maybe 10 things he’ll eat.

I just feed him those things.

Well, no more! Improving the cycle means dragging my sleepy butt out of bed earlier and making breakfast.

Some days that might mean eggs, sausage and toast. Other days that might mean toaster waffles and yogur’.

I mean, no one’s perfect, but definitely no more ‘nacks.

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Eat the eggs.

Step 2: Focus on family.

I’m a working mom, and my husband is a working dad.

Our son spends more than a third of his day with other people. Absolutely amazing people — but they’re not his parents.

When we all get home from work and school, we’re exhausted. Especially the toddler who’s been behaving all day.

At the end of the day, we’re not focusing on family — we’re sprinting toward bedtime.

Again, I say no more! Improving the cycle means bringing quality (and quantity) to our limited time.

That means…

  • Dragging a chair into the kitchen, so our son can help us cook dinner.
  • Eating together as a family — as often as possible — unless the toddler already ate because he’s not about to wait for food he doesn’t want to eat anyway.
  • Playing, instead of relaxing after a long day — but that doesn’t have to be every day. Some days, momma needs to recline (and snuggle a toddler).
  • Taking walks after dinner when the days get longer and warmer, which can be every day for all I care. Walking FTW. Plus, we love watching our son explore.
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He’s already so good at helping me make coffee.
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Just FYI. He has his own chair.

We’re going to ease into it. One weeknight. Two. Maybe three? While I want to give our son more time, I also know that we need time to ourselves to recharge.

Introverts, yo.

Step 3: Do Fun Family S***

We’re about to renew some local memberships to our favorite places, including Botanica Wichita and the Sedgwick County Zoo.

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The playground garden at Botanica had so many things to climb over and under.
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He didn’t listen to us about this mean blue pigeon in the Jungle.

Our super active toddler loves climbing, exploring, jumping and running. Botanica and the zoo offer endless opportunities, but there’s even more in Wichita that he hasn’t experienced or explored yet.

  • A library filled to the brim with books made for rough toddler hands.
  • Baby goats at Elderslie Farms.
  • Cowtown actors reenacting gunfights and slinging sarsaparillas at the saloon.
  • Dozens of playgrounds with slides, swings and sand pits to dig in.
  • Farmer’s Markets full of food I want him to pick out for himself.
  • Gyms made especially for super active toddlers complete with ball pits, foam blocks and toddler-only trampolines.
  • Movie nights made for kids, so there’s no fear of screaming ruining anyone’s good time. (We’re in this Pixar nonsense together, moms.)
  • New exhibits at Exploration Place.
  • Riverfest!!!
  • Splash pads to beat the summer heat.

We also received a 2020 Bucket List from Ria Farmer, Realtor.

Not all are toddler friendly options — he can’t set a monster toddler foot in the Frank Lloyd Wright Allen House.

But I could see us breakfasting with ice cream at Little Lion, getting outside at the Great Plains Nature Center and taking ourselves out to the ballgame at Wichita’s new baseball stadium.

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Mom and dad will be spending an afternoon at Johnson’s Garden Center at the greatest beer festival in Wichita: the Iron ChildHead Competition.

So.

Many.

Fun.

Things!

In 2020, we’re taking the F word time to do them.