Learning to be a Linchpin

Although I’ve had little chance or energy to post lately, I’ve been able to do enjoy some personal time, even if it’s not as much as I would like.

During the work day, I need to express breast milk 3 or 4 times a day.  I’m not comfortable doing so hands-free, so I can’t type, nor can I easily write, but I can read, so that’s what I do during those pumping breaks.  This whole week, I’ve been reading Seth Godin‘s Linchpin, which I started on Sunday during the hour-plus-long trip to celebrate Mother’s Day with my in-law, and which I hope to have time to finish this weekend.

Actually, I consider reading the book to be one activity in personal development.  One of my work goals is to focus more on personal development, anyway, so reading the book is both a personal and work-related activity, and it’s definitely fun, not at all a chore.  The book is very insightful, and Mr. Godin is as much a linchpin himself as anyone that I could name.

I plan to write more about my takeaways from the book, but now the baby just woke up, so I need to attend to her before I can share more about the book.  I was hoping to work more on a sewing project after publishing this post, but I guess that project must wait, and I should be satisfied enough that I managed to complete a post for the first time in weeks.  Can I ever be a linchpin when, in my current phase of life, I rarely get the chance to ship my art?


Gardening Time!

Although I’m by no means an expert gardener, and neither is my husband, we have had a garden every year for a number of years now, and we both used to help with the gardens that our mothers had every year when we were growing up, so we’re not complete gardening novices.  Even so, each year my husband and I learn something about gardening as we expand our growing area and the variety of vegetables and herbs that we grow, and we know that there is a lot more to know.

For example, last year we learned a way NOT to grow broccoli–crowding it against the side of our garage–and this year we may have already learned another way.  We haven’t planted any broccoli yet, and now that the weather is warming up–yay to that in general; I much prefer warm weather to cool or cold–it might be too late to plant it and expect a yield before summer, considering that the broccoli plants of our neighbors behind us already have heads(!), but that’s OK; if we don’t get any broccoli again this year, we won’t lament the mistake, because we aren’t relying on it.  It’s a “nice to have” instead of a “must have” for us.

Our must-have garden plants are tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions, garlic, beans, spinach, and lettuce.  We also grow parsley, dill, carrots, and radishes.  Last year we tried potatoes, but didn’t get any because we weren’t able to keep up with hilling them to cover all but the top set of leaves on each plant.  This year we’ll try again, in a box.

This year I really want to be able to harvest sweet corn and sunflowers from our garden, so I’d better plant them this weekend.  Because I want to attend at least some of a native plant and wildlife festival at a local park tomorrow, as well as visit a few friends and introduce the baby to them, and I have plans for Sunday as well, I think I’ll go plant some seeds now and enjoy the last hour of sunshine of this beautiful end-of-April day!

A Quick Update

Although I have many thoughts to share here, other activities and tasks with higher priority–caring for fhe kids, doing housework, and attending to personal care (mostly sleep!)–have take most of my time since I last posted.  Then there was the completion of tax returns, battling a cold that my husband and I and half of the kids got during the past two weeks, and the Easter holiday, plus the end of my maternity leave.

I’ve been back to work only six business days so far, and I feel as if I’ve been back an entire month.  I feel as if I never left, as if during my maternity leave I was in Narnia, and I came back to the “real world” (back through the wardrobe after what seemed to be a long time) the minute I entered the office again.  Indeed, some of my projects are at the same stage of completion as I left them in January because “they are too complicated” / “no one else wanted to touch them” so my colleagues to whom I’d given the projects didn’t do any work on them, just waited for me to return, because the larger projects (of which my projects are small but critical parts) were delayed, so there was no risk in not doing my parts of those projects while I was on leave.  One Product Manager said that “it shows how important” I am.  Hm…

Anyway, I just wanted to post something short to say that I’m still around, and I hope to post more soon, because I do have multiple post ideas, just not always the time to create them.

Time for Writing or for Personal Development

Since I last posted, I have been so busy caring for the kids (especially the baby, who has been fussy for hours in the evenings (usually from 20h30 until about 01h00; ug!)) and trying to keep up with some housework that I truly have not had the time to write, without giving up more sleep, which is not a desirable option as I’m getting about six hours at most each night when my body does better with nine.  Instead of writing, I’ve been using my tiny bit of “me” time to focus on another area important to me:  personal development.

First, I read Maynard Webb’s book Rebooting Work: Transform How You Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship.  Then I flipped through it again and took notes.  His words inspired me, and I plan to write a separate post about my reaction to the book.

Second, I watched the replay–I missed the live event because of a schedule conflict–of the online “master class” from Jonathan Milligan called “The 4-Step Proven Roadmap to Quit Your Day Job and Earn a Full-Time Income Blogging,” which was hosted by Kary Oberbrunner, whose work I discovered last year.  I was intrigued by the idea and want to investigate it more.

Third, I enrolled in and started the class “An Entire MBA in 1 Course,” taught by Chris Haroun on Udemy.com. So far I’ve completed Section 1 (of 15); I hope to have time this weekend to complete Section 2.  Thankfully, there’s no deadline to complete the course!

Time to start my day!  More soon (hopefully)!

A Typical Stay-at-Home Type of Day

Yesterday was a typical day for me in stay-at-home mom mode.  Kids interrupted almost every task that I started, so I did not get much done besides getting food for myself and for kids at meals, refills of milk or juice for the kids and water for me throughout the day, and general child care for the baby, the preschooler, and the kindergartner.

This afternoon the preschooler got into his head that it would be fun to run around the house with only his diaper.  I’d get him back into clothes for only a few minutes before he took them off again.  Ug!  Not until I got him into pajamas after dinner did he actually keep clothes on.  I hope this phase is short-lived!

One thing I did accomplish today was cleaning up the area around the computer at the desk in my older daughter’s room so that I could actually sit at and use that computer with the word processing program that I need to use to type my stories that I hand wrote in several spiral notebooks.  I realized that I could sit there and type and still be close enough to hear the baby when she cries in the next room.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to any typing yesterday.  I managed to clean up the area and start the computer without interruption; however, as soon as I started the word processing program, one of the kids interrupted me, and I never got back to the computer at all the rest of the day.  The preschooler and toddler took advantage of that and spent half of the day playing with the LEGO Creator program.  I prefer that they play that instead of watching TV or videos, so I let them go.

This morning, I actually was able to type the text from one hand-written page before the baby woke up and needed a bath because she messed through her onesie and her romper.

In mid-morning I was waiting for a text, but I didn’t see it until half an hour after I received it, because I was changing the baby, then changing the preschooler, then getting him second breakfast, then cleaning up a mess in the kitchen, and then getting some more food for myself. It’s amazing how much time some of those ‘simple’ tasks can take when you’re doing those tasks for multiple people.

Speaking of tasks, I need to go take care of another one right now.

The Day After St. Patrick’s Day

Although St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, I was too distracted to get more “into”celebrating the holiday yesterday.  My husband left around 08h00 to drive over an hour away to pick up our new, larger dining room table, and was gone for over 5 hours (because he went grocery shopping after getting the table), and I spent that time dealing with the kids and trying to clean up the dining room.

After breakfast, I started to tackle the mess in the dining room (removing the clutter, wiping off the table) and moving chairs back against the wall to make room for the new table.  My work in the dining room took over 2 hours, because I needed to stop every so often to care for the baby or to help one of the other kids, plus I needed to pump every hour or 2.  I was so focused on these tasks that I didn’t even have lunch.

I had just finished moving things out of the way so that we could move the new table from the van and up the steps at our side door into the dining room when my husband returned.  My husband and the two oldest boys dismantled the old table and moved it out of the way, then got the new table inside.  I helped them put the legs on the new table.  After they had put the table in place, I covered it with a table cloth, and then I put my St. Patrick’s Day flag display–the flag of Ireland and 2 other Ireland-inspired flags–in the center of the table.  That was the extent of my decorating for the holiday, as well as my outward acknowledgment of the holiday.  I didn’t even wear green (on one of the few days of the year that I voluntarily wear that color, to celebrate my (part) Irish heritage) because my one green shirt that would have fit over my postpartum belly was not warm enough, and most of the day yesterday I was COLD.  My favorite color to wear is orange, but since that’s not the color to wear on March 17,  I ended up wearing a heavy (pink) sweatshirt over a lighter weight (also pink) sweatshirt, and at one point also wore my lightweight jacket, even though the indoor temperature was 68 degrees F, and the rest of the family was comfortable.  Maybe feeling cold was because of postpartum hormonal changes.

Even though I wasn’t wearing green, I did put the baby in a holiday outfit:  a cute, white romper with shamrocks throughout the fabric, and a big felt shamrock over the diaper area at the back of the outfit, and “Lucky Charm” at the left breast.  Unfortunately, she messed through the outfit before I could get a photo of her in it, so then I put her in the back-up outfit, a yellow romper with green, yellow, and brown four-leaf clovers dotting the fabric.  I put a “Baby’s 1st St. Patrick’s Day” bib on her then, too.

I also forgot about leprechauns playing tricks and leaving small treats for children…. Oops!  My older daughter was quite upset that the leprechauns had not come yesterday morning; she was expecting the toilets to have green water, and chocolate from leprechauns, and she didn’t buy my suggestion that the little men didn’t come because they couldn’t get through the snow that covers the ground in our area, and they’re not used to snow, which is rare in Ireland.  The leprechauns did pay a visit overnight last night, though, and left a few treats (courtesy of my younger sister, who, after dinner, brought cards and brownies for my husband and me and the older kids, and a couple of cute St. Patrick’s Day onesies for the baby).

None of the kids nor I care much for corned beef and cabbage, so we didn’t have it.  Instead, dinner was salmon, brown and wild rice, and hors d’oeuvres of cucumber slices topped with a cream cheese dip and shrimp.  Although the preschooler didn’t want the shrimp or the dip, he asked for some cucumber, and ended up eating almost an entire cucumber by himself.  My husband and I joked, as we have done before, about telling the kids to stop eating their veggies and start eating their meat.  (More about that in another post.)  We all liked using the bigger table.  We didn’t feel so cramped.  With the 2 leaves, we should have enough space at the table for the extra 10 family members who usually come for holiday meals (especially Thanksgiving and Christmas) and birthday dinners.

Speaking of birthdays, I can’t believe that a month from today, my oldest will become a teenager.  Last year I had thought that I would make a t-shirt quilt for him for his 13th birthday, using some of his baby clothes and special shirts from his school years so far, but since I didn’t even start it, and I’ve barely had time to do anything personal–for example, I’ve been working on this blog post on and off for most of the day; every time I start to type, someone interrupts me!–since the baby was born, I know that it’s not realistic to finish that in a month.  Plus, I don’t think that he’ll appreciate it as much now as he might if I make it for his high school graduation, so I’m going to postpone that project.  Instead, maybe I’ll try to work more on his scrapbook, which I haven’t touched in about 8 years.

Right now I need to feed the baby, so I’ll post this finally and try to write more soon.



Winter Storm Stella finally arrived.  Thankfully, my area did NOT get the 12″-18″ predicted.  I think we barely got 5″, which is fine with me, since I’m totally ready for Spring, even though this winter has been quite mild, thankfully.  As I type, sleet is still falling, but I think that all of the snow has moved to the east.  I’m very glad that I didn’t need to dig out and try to get to work (which apparently is operating as business as usual, because it’s not on the list of closed businesses).  Even the ob/gyn office where I’m a patient is closed (most likely because the doctors’ children’s schools are closed).  The kids, of course, are disappointed again, because they wanted way more snow to build a HUGE snow fort.

Last night at dinner–tacos for the preschooler’s birthday–my husband was joking that the boys should go outside in the snow today and do their best impression of the famous scene from A Streetcar Named Desire in which Marlon Brando screams, “Stelllaaa!”  My older daughter said, “I’ll do it!”  My husband then tried to explain to the kids the significance of the scene, but it went right over their heads.

We had another chocolate Oreo cake for the preschooler’s birthday.  My husband was not as happy with this one as with the one from last week.  The chocolate icing didn’t spread as nicely, so it wasn’t as “picture-perfect” as the previous cake, but it was still delicious!  The birthday boy ate most of his piece, happily shoveling in big pieces of chocolate.

The little kids are bugging to go outside, and the big boys are helping their dad clear the snow while I help my older daughter with schoolwork, and now the baby woke up, so I guess writing time is over for me for now.