Burning the Candle at Both Ends

Wednesday, May 22

Greetings from a negligent blogger. This spring has been a hectic whirlwind of research, children, teaching and life. For the first time ever, I truly understand the significance of a candle burned from both ends.

As I write this today, my toenails and hair are both on fire (and have been slowly burning for months) and I've yet to find a good place to stop, drop and roll. Luckily, between my ever supportive childminding husband, my hilarious 3 year old and my cuddly yet strong-as-an-ox 1 year old, life has been managable happy.

It seems that academic life, though wonderful in its freedom and creativity, is a demanding beast of a career. It takes time to really influence change and to be worthy of the young minds I'm meant to shape. On any given night, I walk in the door at 6pm (or later), kiss the family, put the girls to bed and work until midnight. Maybe later.

Recently, I've been reading various essays by working mothers in academics. It's hard, they write, sometimes impossible. But it's also rewarding, more rewarding than so many other career paths. The academic's job is to think and create, build and explore. Where else do you get to do that with so much freedom?

And the freedom is so amazing, but it's also expensive. For every older woman who tells a younger women to "enjoy it, they grow so fast", there is a younger woman desperately trying to save up enough memories for the future. But memories take time. And you can't buy more time. Especially not when babies are young.

And so, as I finish this post, I'm going to pack my bag and head home early. Forget the thousand unread emails demanding my attention. I've got memories to make and fires to put out.

Traveling Light

Thursday, December 20

Back in the fall we did a whirlwind tour of Italy with two kiddos (4 months and 3 years) from mid-September to mid-October. We did it with 3 carry-on bags and 2 car seats. Here's what we did and how you can lighten your travel loads too!
Nothing but carry-on.
Packing tips for travel days:
  1. With only carry-on suitcases we always fit into small rental cars (think Opal Corsa).
  2. Each adult got 3 tops and 3 bottoms. Kids (who pee themselves) got 3 tops and 6 bottoms.
  3. We bought beach towels in Italy at the grocery store for 5 euros.
  4. We brought sandals and walking shoes and wore the walking shoes on the plane.
  5. We packed rain coats in the suitcases to save us room for souvenirs.
  6. We packed 3 days of diapers in the suitcases to also save room for souvenirs.
  7. We brought enough toiletries to get through the first week (cause, you know, Italians like to bathe too which makes it easy to find things like soap and toothpaste).
  8. Every place we stayed had a hair dryer so there was no point bringing one.
  9. If we bought clothes we left something behind (like a stained shirt).
  10. We packed one muslin blanket for the baby which also helped block the sun in the car when we hung it from the window.
The pre-flight lounge was worth the fees as was the carseat toy.

Entertaining travelling kiddos:
  1. Orin got to bring one SMALL stuffed animal. No books. She carried her own backpack.
  2. We bought baby Brynn a carseat toy because it wrapped around luggage handles. 
  3. We used the pre-flight lounge. Well worth the $55/family.
  4. We brought a sling for Brynn and an Ergo for Orin (Ergos are good to 40lbs). Italians LOVE kids so this kept the girls close to us and made it easier to introduce them to strangers.
  5. We had a new movie on the iPhone (Up). 'Up' is very quiet and didn't disturb others.
  6. We bought 6 "surprise" activities at the dollar store (total <$10). I rarely needed it.
  7. Orin got treats (candy, pastry, gelato, pizza, pasta) whenever she wanted. Good food is good fun.
  8. Learning Italian was a game and she STILL likes to point out people speaking it at home.
  9. Bedtime was later. It just was.
  10. The more we relaxed and enjoyed ourselves, the more the kids did.
Good food is good fun.
What we learned:
  1. Always have extra kleenexes. Kids pick their noses until they bleed at the worst times.
  2. Don't pack white shirts for anyone. See number 1.
  3. Wet wipes are a gift from the heavens.
  4. If you bring a little soap you can hand wash anything in the sink.
  5. Try to learn some of the language, especially as it relates to kids. People love to talk kids. You'll meet so many people.

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