Running to catch up!

single parent self care

I’m still running! So many mornings I very nearly talk myself out of it. But I just tie on my running shoes, grab my kitchen timer and walk my wee one to preschool. Once I’ve gotten us there I’m much more pumped to get running. My recent injury (aka nearly my death by toy) sidelined me for just over a week but I’m back at it! Less jiggly everyday! And if that wasn’t satisfying enough, I’ve also lost close to 5 inches overall from my waist, hips, thighs and arms. Woo! Something is actually happening! It’s working – I’m getting healthier. Slowly but surely.

I’m still at four or five 30-minute runs per week. And I’m usually doing a yoga video after, though I just found this lil’ workout that is challenging but very quick. The whole thing from start to shower takes me 40 minutes. I’ve found that changing things up a bit every few days keeps things interesting – so tomorrow I’m going to do this one after running.

Anyone else have some Autumn fitness goals? Its so nice to be outside this time of year!

little read, little read.

I cannot tell a lie. This last week I used all my reading time to watch episodes of Felicity. It’s a pretty fun fall activity if you ask me! So instead of an adult book and a kid book, this week I thought I would share two “little” reads with you.

single parent booksWe have been enjoying Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. It’s an old one but a good one. And great for talking about how neighborhoods change over the years. We live in a rapidly gentrifying area so it’s on my mind a very lot. The book is about a lovely, little farmhouse and the lives lived in and around it as the city slowly encroaches. The illustrations are beautiful and give us lots to talk about. I love our conversations over books. My kid is so hilariously serious sometimes. And he comes up with the most surprising observations sometimes. Kid’s eyes, I swear, I must be blind compared to them!

single parent books

Another book that gets a lot of air time in our house is A House Is a House For Me. It was one of my favorites when I was a kid and I wracked my brain for almost two years trying to remember the name of it so I could get a copy to show my son. Finally I stumbled on it and we have read it 4,986,347,828 times since then. It’s one of the best children’s books ever. So many great words to introduce to your child’s vocabulary, and the illustrations…I think they are the best ever. How about you, do you remember this one?

Things my 2 year old says. Part 2.

I had a little “oh yeah” moment when I told a white friend this story the other day.

Me: ::told the story::

Her: Beck…!

Me: Wha..?

Her: Um! We want him to LIKE police officers! ::dirty look::

Me: …

Just like during that conversation with my son, I was dumbfounded. Then I remembered, oh yeah, not every white person has a diverse circle of friends. Oh yeah, having a diverse circle of friends doesn’t mean said white person has ever thought or talked about the racial implications of…oh so many things. Oh yeah, not every white parent is part of a multiracial or transracial family. Oh yeah, WHITE PEOPLE THINK THEY CAN ACTUALLY BE COLORBLIND/POSTRACIAL. Oh no. Oh yeah, not every white person has read the race chapter of Nurtureshock (hello, if you haven’t read this and you are white be prepared to have your mind blown by my favorite thing…science. Oh yeah).

So now, for anyone who may have shared my friend’s reaction when you read that little story… Why did I have that conversation with my toddler that way? Because I have a strong policy of never lying to him or in front of him. Because the complexity of this world we have made for ourselves is incredibly difficult to bear sometimes but I want to show him how we can best do that together. First by having a very open line of communication about anything and everything. Because I believe in always answering a child’s question. And in not cramming too much information down their throats but in giving the simplest, most age appropriate answer possible and then waiting for the next question…whenever it may come.

I’m hoping to gently continue the conversation with my friend, beginning with sending her this article. But seriously, that race chapter in Nurtureshock. You are going to love it! Go read it and come back and talk to me about it!

* UPDATE: My friend read the Time article and immediately started reeling off tons of questions. So into talking about it all. Wow, I love all my friends. Such cool people.

I thought my toddler was sleeping in…

…but then I heard him playing the gentlest harmonica tune from his room! So hilarious to live with this wee tiny person.

Easy fixes: links to look at.

life hacks for single parents

photo via

A great list of ways a kid can help around the house – from ages one to four.

Easiest salad ever.

Crock-pot chicken noodle soup!

Rosemary tea straight from the yard. Or community garden. Or neighborhood! Fun to collect with your kid, too…

A huge list of neck stretches. Who couldn’t use a little neck stretch in their life?!

And if you can afford it, this would be awesome! A friend recently listed one on her baby registry and I thought it was brilliant.

On digital packrattery.

single mom decluttering

I’m a fan of not having a lot of stuff. Perhaps it’s a trait I picked up from the nomadic ways of my childhood in foster care days. Even so, I find every now and then that quite a few “useful” things have creeped into my home. As evidenced by my undertaking of the “Minimalist Challenge” a while back. Lately I’ve seen so many people reading or carrying around this book. Have you read it? Did you like it? And have you gotten on board with the whole “capsule” wardrobe thing? Anyway, this whole decluttering/minimalist thing seems to be having its heyday right now.

Today I opened up Stickies on my Mac so I could use a sticky note as a clip board for some links I needed to update for a client. I hadn’t used Stickies in years so ohohoho behold the time capsule that is my notes from a certain era of my life. I seemed to use it mostly for trip itineraries: NYC, UK, Philadelphia, Atlanta…so fun to stroll down those memory lanes. Then there were some stickies for work projects from job I HATED. Felt so good to delete those ones. And omigosh a huge long note listing out every text message spanning a six month relationship I was in. Wowie. So weird that I transcribed them but also so hilarious and such a reminder of who I was then. Also? Some people are just hilarious texters.

Anyway, it got me thinking about digital packrattery. Sure, my home isn’t filled to the gills with a bunch of crud. But my computer? Hooboy. How about you? Are you also a digital packrat?

Diane Keaton On Motherhood

Check out this quote from single mama Diane Keaton on motherhood and being your genuine self: Diane Keaton On Motherhood

BIG READ, little read.

single mom victory garden

Our current windowsill garden situation.

farmer memoirIf you know me in real life, I’ve probably talked your ear off about wanting to be a farmer at some point. The idea struck me when I was around seventeen years old and first became a homeowner and, immediately after that, an avid gardener. I packed a lot of garden into that small yard. Three large raised beds, five fruit trees, grapes growing over and arched gateway. That was 17 years ago. Feels like yesterday. Right now we garden on our windowsill and in a tiny community garden plot down the street. All that to say, not only do I love growing things but I also love this genre of books I call homesteader erotica. My latest read on the topic is The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball. I’m pretty much never disappointed by a book in this genre and I could list off about two dozen more titles right here right now if you wanted. This on was so descriptive it really sucked me in. Made me hungry and madefarmer jones me feel like I was doing the work right alongside her.

On a similar note, a farming book my kid LOVES is a little bit vintage. It’s Richard Scarry’s The Animals of Farmer Jones and I don’t know how we stumbled on our copy because it looks like purchasing it these days is quite a hefty sum! I’d say it was totally worth it. Yeah, I actually would buy it for the $17.50 Amazon is showing right now. What a conversation starter this book has been for us. About farming, responsibility, eating, hunger, animals, etcetcetc. Love this one so much.

One thing my married friends say to me…

single parent tips

One thing I have heard from pretty much every married parent friend at this point is something along the lines of “I don’t know how you do it alone.” It’s never a question, just a statement. I appreciate what they are trying to say, how they are trying to give me a little pat on the back. Though it would actually be much more flattering if it were a question. If they were actually asking for my tips and tricks because they think I’m such a badass single mom. So, here you go. No one asked the question but today I’m answering it.

Schedule, schedule, schedule. Meals, mornings, gardening time, bathing, and even my new running routine. Everything is built into our schedule at pretty exact times. Yeah, there is some flexibility, but I’ve found that not reinventing the wheel every week has saved my brain from constant computing the when/where/how stuff.

Side gigs. Making it work on one income is tough. Luckily I have honed some mad skills over the years that I’ve been able to support us with. Even with an education and lots of experience behind me though – it can still be hard to make ends meet on solely one income. I’ve found that having a regular side gig has been helpful. For me it has been overnight babysitting. Either a parent drops her kids off at my place or I travel to their home and I look after her kids overnight. Most nights it is incredibly easy money (though some nights are hard if someone isn’t sleeping well).

Venting. Oh yeah. I talk to my friends about the hard stuff that goes on. I don’t try to keep up that perfect parent facade. That doesn’t serve anyone. Not only is it a g-damn relief to let go of that but it has helped my friends also feel like they can be honest about how difficult life can be at times. How is that for community building?! A win-win-win situation if you ask me.

Simple outings. We have our favorite spots for the most part. Our community garden. A nearby beach. A nearby hiking spot. A slightly less nearby farm. We get out further every once in a while too (what’s up Canada, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington DC, Baltimore, Arkansas and Washington state!). And I’m trying to start a family tradition of going camping somewhere once per month year-round. But we love our go-to spots and I don’t feel like I constantly have to think up ultra-entertaining outings.

Early bedtime. At least I gather that it is early among other families I know… In the summer bedtime creeps to as late as 7pm. In the wintertime when it gets dark earlier it’s about 6pm to bed. Then he sleeps until about 7 or 8am. Early bedtime keeps us both sane because we both get plenty of sleep and after he goes to bed I even have time to do a few things around the house or finish up some work for a client. Or even better – some yoga, meditation, reading or even writing in this lil’ blog here. 🙂

A helping hand. It’s not what you think – this helping hand is toddler sized. From picking up his toys, putting laundry in the washing machine, emptying the dishwasher, scrubbing the bathtub, putting on his own clothes, washing his own hands, pouring a glass of water…he can do so much himself and it’s a load off of me for sure.

Simple recipes. We eat the same things often over here. Less meal planning and list making = good for mama. So dinner is pretty set by night of the week (Monday is fish, tamales and broccoli. Tuesday is stir fried beef and broccoli or kale with rice. Wednesday is chicken and sweet potatoes. Thursday is pasta with sardines. Friday is burritos. Saturday is usually pizza and Sunday is either leftovers from the week or a crock-pot meal.) Lunch is a healthy smorgasbord of some typical lunch items (think deconstructed sandwich). And breakfast is either hot cereal/oatmeal, eggs sausage and toast, or a bowl of cheerios with pinenuts and banana on a lazy morning. Add in some regular snack foods (nuts, dried fruit, raw fruit and veggies, cheese, crackers, hard-boiled eggs) and this means the same grocery list every week and no standing in front of the fridge thinking….whaaaaat am I going to make.

Self-care. You probably noticed that self-care is really built into the above. My regularly scheduled running, healthy easy foods, talking with friends, prioritizing sleep, spending time outdoors – it’s all part of the master plan.

And you know what married friends? It still sucks sometimes. I don’t have all the answers but I do appreciate being able to offer what has helped me. I did a whole series of 31 tips and trick this past May, so if you want more ideas – scroll back a few months. But the above is really what gets me through a typical week. I hope at least one little tip was helpful to you! Leave me your best tip in the comments below!