10 sundry thoughts & happenings

February 8, 2018

1) iPhone = replaced.  I always buy AppleCare, but this was perhaps the first time it really paid off – my phone had some hardware audio problem, and after 2 minutes of diagnostics the tech just handed me a replacement.  Yay.

2) While in the store I started ogling the watches.  Gulp.  I have to admit the prospect of being able to answer calls and texts with only my watch (not my phone!) is very tempting.  Anyone have an Apple Watch 3?  Love it or hate it?

3) Our beloved nanny is away for a 14-day stretch (in Jamaica!), which she definitely deserves.  So I have been getting a tiny taste of SAHM-ing.  My conclusions:  it’s hard and time-consuming, especially with a baby at home!  I also don’t feel like I get tons of extra quality time with A&C, which is interesting.  A little bit, yes, but not a ton.  Interesting.

4) Annabel’s kindergarten class has now requested that we have her spend 20 minutes daily on a computer learning program.  In addition 8:20 – 1:50 pm in school PLUS homework that takes about 30 minutes.  She actually doesn’t mind this at all, but man – it’s a lot, for kindergarten.

5) We just planned a short Disney weekend in April — I had vowed not to go back until all kids were over 3, but Josh has a conference and he really wanted us to come, and Disney is RIGHT THERE and G is still so portable so she doesn’t really count . . . so . . . yeah.  I have to admit I am excited, especially since we are going to surprise A&C!

6) Speaking of planning, Laura discussed Planning Fatigue in her post yesterday.  It’s definitely a thing, but I think I’m fairly immune to it.  I’m not sure why.  Now that we have Disney nailed down I want to work on planning our main vacation for the year (Seattle / Portland in August!).  This is the really the only big family trip we’re planning on this year, so I want to make it count.

7) I’m currently reading When by Daniel Pink.  So far I think I’ve already heard most of his points on Freakonomics (such a good podcast, though not by the author!) but it’s interesting.

8) I am in my penultimate week of the DIA workouts and ready to move on.  A very fit reader (hi Tyra!) mentioned Mommastrong and I am intrigued.  Have others tried it?  I also have to admit . . . I miss running (I had planned to focus on other fitness endeavors this year).  I’m still heading out 2x/week (3ish miles) but that’s not quite cutting it for me in terms of the endorphins / feeling of fitness . . .

9) Re: planning, I am in full-on birthday party planning mode.  The kids are born in December (G) / February (C) / April (A), so there is definitely a “season” of bday parties in our home.  As I’ve mentioned, I actually really enjoy other people’s parties, so I feel a bit of a duty to reciprocate.  C is going to have a basketball party, and I’m looking into an art party (probably a “paint your own canvas” type place, minus the wine) for A.  Laura and I are thinking about a birthday party episode, so please share your birthday party pearls & tricks if you have them!

I think we’ll make A’s “drop-off optional” (some families might want to stay esp if they are our friends and we are fine with that!).  The first drop-off party of any kind!  Quite a milestone . . .

10) Music:  The Decemberists (one of my favorite bands) have a new song (Severed) and an album coming out in March.  I cannot get their new song out of my head.  And speaking of earworms . . . if you haven’t heard this song yet . . . you will.

Superorganism, Everybody Wants to Be Famous
(NOTE: apparently video can cause seizures . . . you’ve been warned)


  • Reply Irene March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I am so excited to read about the trip to Disney- you mean Orlando right? My husband has a conference there in November and we are thinking of tagging along. My daughter will be almost 4 and the baby will be 8.5 months which I think could be ok since it would be a short flight. My daughter is currently very in to royalty etc though she has never seen more than a few minutes of any Disney movie be they are kid of scary imo!

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

      Ooh check out LagLiv’s posts! She went recently. We’ve gone twice – I think an 8.5 month old would be fine. Easier than 14 months, which C was the first time we went – he was a total pain in the but!! But it was great when they were 3 + 5.

  • Reply Simona March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    We are also heading to Seattle / Portland this summer. If you end up finding some great places to visit with kids in your research, let me know. I am just starting to look at options. Thanks.

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

      stay tuned,b/c i may crowd source the amazing readers of this blog 🙂

  • Reply anereson March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    +1 for MommaStrong. It is amazing. And EFFICIENT.

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

      I’m sold. And for $2/month . . . . worth a shot anyway!!

  • Reply Tara March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Sarah, I’m a single mom of 2 (2yo, 3yo), PhD student (teacher education), and educator. I would love to talk to you more about how a single parent (I have my kids 100% of the time with no other decision makers) makes things work! I’ve been following your blog for a while, and even read Laura’s I Know How She Does It, to get some awesome tips!

  • Reply Guest March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Hi SHU. I have been enjoying your blog and podcast but have to admit I find them difficult to relate to. I have zero time to myself between working full-time and caring for my two children with special needs. My parents help a lot but the onus is on me to do pretty much everything. My workaholic husband is never home and the rare times that he is, has no interest in parenting or helping.

    I am against hiring a stranger to care for my children. I have slowed down my career so I can better meet my childen”s needs but my husband will not even entertain changing jobs or spending more time at home. He is the breadwinner but I am the second breadwinner which is still important.

    I don”t know if anything can help me but it would be nice to hear from some real-life women who have real struggles and less support than they”d like. Hats off to you and Laura who seem to have it all figured out without any real issues to mention.

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

      That’s okay – understand that they may not be for you. I in no way advertise our podcast as "the answer" for everyone – it’s just a lot of ideas, and also I think serves as permission for some to get off the martyr train and feel better about taking both sides of our lives (work + family) seriously. For your sake, I hope there is a way you might be able to get your husband more involved in your kids/home life, as to me this sticks out as a real problem for you (and honestly, makes me sad to read this).

      While childcare isn’t for everyone (and 100% understand that with special needs kids, things are very very different and much tougher), I also have to say that our nanny may have been "a stranger" when she started, but 4 years in certainly isn’t. She isn’t ME, but she’s a good person, loves them truly, and I firmly believe she has her own positive influences on our children, too. (Also, I still feel I get a good amount of time with them — the right amount for ME, and enough for them, so there’s that, too).

      We will be featuring more guests as time goes on – we recently had a two-teacher family, and will likely have our first single-parent guest soon as well. I understand if it isn’t for you, though. Best of luck in what sounds like a challenging situation.

  • Reply Emily Garnett March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I am a SAHM for my 2 year old boy (and recovering attorney) and was diagnosed with stave IV breast cancer a few months ago. one of my big projects this year has been setting up/cobbling together a child-care system that both allows me to have time with my son but also get rest and have him cared for/stimulated in ways that he needs and i cant really provide at this time. I have to say 100% that he and I have MORE quality time together because i am more focused on him, even though i have less time with him. he’s learning more from others so he’s more engaged, we have more to talk about, and I honestly think that there’s this huge myth that a SAHM has more "quality" time, but its not quality, it’s a lot of juggling!

    • Reply organisingqueen March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

      I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis, Emily. Sending prayers to you!

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 9:00 pm

      Emily, I am so sorry to hear you are going through that. My thoughts are with you, too.

  • Reply beth March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Regarding #4: I consider those daily timed homework assignments to be guidelines. I don’t follow them to the letter. If it doesn’t work on a particular day I don’t sweat it. It makes everyone’s life better. My kids had a longer kindergarten day than yours (7:30- 2:30) and they do after school as well for childcare because I work. By the time we get home the day has been long and everyone’s patience is short. And I prioritize sleep for my kids before all other evening things.

  • Reply Laura Vanderkam March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Regarding #3 – this is definitely true, which is why I always find it funny to read scolding essays/books saying women need to "prioritize" motherhood for the first three years – better hope another baby isn’t born during that time! If so, kid #1 will get a lot less attention. Probably a proportionally lower bit of time than the alleged hit that comes from work. (The truth is it doesn’t matter either way – the kids will be fine regardless.)
    One of the upsides of the amount of childcare we have, coupled with my flexible work schedule, is that I get to do cool things with my big kids even though I have a lot of children. I chaperone field trips, and go to class parties that I most definitely could not take my 3-year-old to. There’s a certain narrative that using childcare means you’re letting someone else raise your children. In my case, I’ve found it’s the exact opposite — childcare means I get to spend individual time with all my children, which would be harder if the littlest were always consuming my attention.

    And Disney! Maybe a Disney podcast episode some time….

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

      Interestingly as I wrote #3 I wasn’t thinking about benefits to the kids really – I was thinking about benefits to myself in terms of enjoying quality time with them. And YES, 100% agree that outsourcing can actually lead to more kid-quality-time opportunities, not fewer.

      • Reply Rinna March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

        Sarah – love this post and so many things to comment, but I have to focus on #3 as time is short. When I was on mat leave with my youngest, my nanny went on an extended vacation of 3 MONTHS because her sister overseas was very ill. While I still had some help, especially with housework, I did almost all the childcare and day to day housecare for those 3 months (remember – mat leaves in Canada are much longer). And, while I’m really only a statistical sample of one, I must say that it completely reinforced that – for me (not necessarily applicable to others) – being a working mom is not only the right decision for my children but also for me. If you can believe, it I actually had less quality time with my older kids than I did when I was working because I had to be with the baby basically always (massive and frequent breastfeeder) and had to make dinner, keep house tidy, do all sorts of errands etc.Sure, I was there more than when I work but not "there" in the sense of one on one time where I could actually focus on the kids. Once my nanny came back, and I still had a little mat leave left, I tried to make up for it. And, definitely mat leave with nanny vs working is skewed much more towards quality time for the kids and for myself. I guess I had always believed this to be true (i.e., that my QT wouldn’t be higher if I were a SAHM), but then I provided it to be true.

    • Reply Omdg March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

      Well, sometimes the kids are NOT fine, which may or may not have to do with your work/family setup. Of course it”s a bit disingenuous to just blame the mom (the default), but I think it”s a little intellectually dishonest to suggest that your choices as a parent don”t matter at all. Not trying to start a war here though!! Just thinking out loud…..

      Ps I completely 100% think it is fantastic that your childcare arrangement helps you spent QT with everyone in your family, and a great use of resources.

      • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

        I think Laura is getting at the research that does exist (though I have not perused it myself, admittedly, but I believe she has) that shows that eventual kids’ outcomes do not vary between SAHMs and working mothers. So, people can lay blame but there IS actually evidence against the argument that mom’s job leads to higher rates of mental illness/sadness/etc in offspring.

      • Reply Laura Vanderkam March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

        Not that choices don’t matter at all, but within the normal range, probably not as much as all the angst out there might lead one to believe. Also, choices give different benefits and drawbacks, which might muddle attempts to look at outcomes. Someone staying home with his/her kids might spend marginally more time with them (though this can fall off a lot with older kids, as Sarah is noting) but 2-income families generally have higher incomes than one-income families, and more resources might enable things that would help kids too.

        • Reply omdg March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

          Remember the Ann Marie Slaughter conundrum where she had to choose between staying in Princeton with her teenage son who was "having problems" and her big Washington DC job? That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. Not your (LV&SHU) work life balance. Not most people. People like her. That’s the kind of choice I’m talking about.

  • Reply Kt G March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Re: #2: I got an Apple Watch for precisely that reason of being able to answer calls/texts (I had a Fitbit before that I liked for the "accomplishment" of hitting my steps goal). Unexpectedly, I’ve found that the Apple Watch actually makes it easier to leave my phone on the counter at home b/c I know I won’t miss a phone call or text, but I am not as tempted to scroll while I want to spend time with my kids. My husband is a surgeon too, so evenings are usually when I’m getting updates about when he’s going to get home and it does affect how I schedule dinner/bath/bedtime if I know a specific time, so I don’t want to be out of communication.

    Loved LagLiv’s posts for our Disney trip we did in January! And Pink’s book "When" is on my to-read list as well. Do you/Laura use Goodreads or anything to track/review?

    Would love a birthday party podcast episode! And Disney!

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

      ooh, that’s exactly what I was thinking and why it makes it so tempting. Plus, there are annoying times when I do get a phone ring on my garmin watch, but i can’t answer it, and i’m searching all over the place for my phone and it would be so freeing and nice to just ANSWER from my watch (esp since when the hospital calls, it comes from a generic # so there’s no way to know how to call back!).

      i can currently receive texts on my garmin watch but can’t respnd. even being able to write back "ok!" would be fantastic. and i want to go for runs phone free . . .

      • Reply NJay March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

        I got the Apple Watch 2 on this premise but found it needed to be within a certain range of the phone to receive calls/texts etc. which ruled out hikes/runs without phone. Has that changed?

        • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

          yep, the Watch 3 now has its own LTE. It can make calls and texts on its own and ‘roams’ free from the phone. I hadn’t been interested in it before now for that reason!

  • Reply Kate March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    My kids both have February birthdays, and I just had their party. think I do birthday parties pretty well, so here are my tips. I’m a big fan of the podcast, so I would be super excited if one of my tips made it in there! 1. NO PRESENTS. This is the big one. We always put a line in our invitations that says something along the lines of "No gifts please; your presence is a present." That way no one feels obligated to buy gifts for two kids, and we don’t get flooded with a bunch of stuff. At 5, my eldest is getting a little salty about this, so we will have to talk more about why our family has no present parties. 2. Play to your strengths. I love baking, so I always bake my kids’ birthday cakes. But I outsource everything else. Some of my friends do awesome pinterest-worthy decorations, which is great for them, but so not me. 3. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a good party. We used to have parties at our house, but this year we decided to rent a room at our neighborhood rec center. We also hired my kids’ dance teacher for entertainment. All of this was cheaper than having a party at a bounce house/children’s museum/trampoline park/whatever, especially considering we had 20 kids.

    • Reply Omdg March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

      We”ve tried sayin “no presents” and still we get presents.

      • Reply Kate March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

        We usually end up with 1-2, which I can live with. And lots of homemade cards, which we all love!

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

      I’d love to do No Presents. But I feel pressured to let people buy gifts b/c my kids have already come to see it as a part of birthday parties. However, your comment makes me pause – maybe if we explain why we don’t want them and offer to get a big special gift instead maybe it woudl work.

      Too late for C’s bday though which is in 1.5 weeks and I’m pretty sure I need to do the same thing for both kids!!!

  • Reply CBS March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I’ve never been a big Disney person but my cousins are super into it so I’m looking forward to taking the baby with his California cousins when he’s a bit older. Proper Disney (as opposed to Eurodisney) has quite a cachet here in the UK and I’m hoping the experience might help him feel a bit more American?

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

      Haha it definitely is as American as it gets. Not sure if I’d consider that a benefit though!! I don’t love Disney but we live so close and the kids do, so . . .

      I’m pretty sure if we lived farther, we probably wouldn’t have gone at all yet!! But it’s only a 3 hr drive 🙂

  • Reply DLC March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    So many things to think about in your post and in that last podcast episode!

    We usually ask for donations to our local diaper bank in lieu of presents. People can bring diapers, wipes, formula, diaper cream. Baby shampoo…. pretty much anything baby related. The diaper bank also takes open packs of diapers, so guests will often bring in diapers that have been outgrown and are just sitting around the house- – and they will thank us for helping them clear stuff out of their house.

    I think my number one birthday party tip is that you don’t have to have a party every year. My daughter is six and I think we have only had three or four parties. We always celebrate- she always gets a balloon, flowers and cake, and we tell her the story of her birthday. Beyond that, we try to have a wide definition of "celebrate"- some years, yes, it was a party with ten friends and a piñata, other years, it is one friend over for a play date or a special trip to see a show, or even simply cake after dinner on a weeknight. One year, we were returning from a trip on her birthday and we told her we were going to celebrate by riding a big plane and watching movies. I know I’m fighting a losing battle, since the concept of a birthday party with all your friends and mountain of presents is so pervasive, but I hoping we can show her that a birthday is about celebrating her, and that we don’t need presents to do that.
    My birthday question for others would be: what is your go to birthday gift? Or how do you decide what to buy?
    I love that you are asking for reader input/questions. Maybe when you know you are going to have special guests coming up, you can give your audience a chance to post questions? I was listening to the latest travel episode and I remember thinking, "I wish they would ask about ___." Of course now I don’t remember what it was.
    But speaking of which- have you guys thought about an episode about work travel? I woul love to hear how you guys tackle work travel. (I used to travel for 3-6 weeks two or three times a year, and I t was draining, yet I loved it. I stopped traveling when my second baby was born) anyhow, maybe talk about things like: packing, jet lag, how to stay connected to family and work when in a different time zone, how to establish comaderie with colleagues on the road but still have space, how to set up your home away from home/ office away from office.
    Also- Your discussion about examining your gender biases reminded me of an episode of the podcast Note to Self where they interviewed Andrew Moravcsik, Anne Marie Slaughter’s husband. He was the lead parent for their kids when they were growing up, and I found what he said about gender stereotypes in parenting really interesting- essentially he said that men are just as good at parenting as women, but you have to give them the chance. Our society is so unused to the idea of the man being the lead parent, of carrying that mental load, that we automatically assume that men are not naturally inclined to it. (On that note- would love an episode about single parenting or situations where dad is the lead parent- I’m sure they would have interesting and different insights into balancing work and family!)

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

      What a treasure trove of a comment! Thank you!! Putting in my podcast file – I love the idea of pre-asking for questions prior to a guest! Fantastic.

      Also great topic about business travel – Siobhan talked a little bit about that in her episode but we can dig deeper. I love your bday party philosophy.

      And I loved that Note to Self episode, too.
      Edit Delete

    • Reply Tyra March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

      I love the idea of donations! Another idea that I’ve seen (The Minimalist Mom) is the toonie party, and when I googled it just then I also saw a Fiver party – essentially setting a specific monetary limit to gifts. That way the kids will get something new to play with that could be moved on fairly quickly…

      Re birthday gifts I personally tend to buy consumables, like crayons/finger paint for younger kids or scented pens as they get older. For my nieces/nephews if I want to spend a bit more money I go with clothes

      We have just gone from my husband working full time and me working one day per fortnight, to my husband working 2 days per week and me working 2-3 days per week too. I’m pretty excited that we have a more equal share of work/child raising, but I definitely think it’s going to take a fair bit of adjustment!

  • Reply Megan March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I love birthday party season! But, agree, it can be a lot of work. Thus far (my kids are 3 and 5) we just do big themed "everyone is invited" parties at our house. We have tons of food, drinks (including beer and wine for the grownups) and spend the afternoon basically having a giant playdate/happy hour with our friends. We’ve tried all different themes: taco party, BBQ, make your own pizza, ice cream sundae bar, etc. And we’ll do mini-activities: tape giant papers up on the windows or walls for coloring, or lay down the tape that looks like roads or train tracks for toy cars, but we don’t do any entertainers or planned events. So far, it’s been a blast that our kids and myself seem to enjoy 🙂 I’m sure as they get older the formula may need to change (drop off parties are coming, but then I won’t get to make it about seeing my friends too?!?) but for now it’s been awesome.

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

      that type of party sounds awesome. I’ve been to many! They are definitely a bit more work than using a venue but can be some of the best parties.

      I wonder if once you are in drop off zone, you can do those PLUS still do the big gathering . . . although maybe that’s too much! For us last year we skipped C’s party altogether and went to Disney instead. So a trip could be a substitute for a traditional kid party. But then again I go to so many bday parties and enjoy them as free / fun kid entertainment, so I did feel like this year I had better reciprocate for him!

  • Reply SusannahEarlyBd March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Your thoughts about SAHM resonate- I have been at home for 8.5 years and this is something I struggle with…I think people assume that you must get a ton of time with your children when you”re at home, but the truth is that I”m running a household and doing all of the meals, clean up, etc (and I outsource deep cleaning). When I just had my oldest, it was a ton of quality time, but three kids later, and it takes quite a bit of thought and planning to make sure that I really have time with each child.

  • Reply Jenny March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    My husband has an Apple watch for the same reasons as you state, and he loves it. It really did allow him to pare back his constant phone use for awhile, although now he’s in a new and more demanding job with a high email volume, so it’s crept back up again. But it was really great for awhile!

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