Wednesday, June 17, 2015

36 Questions

Years ago, I became passionate about John Gottman's The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.  Specifically, I loved the part where you got to answer questions about what you knew about your partner.  Like - who are your partner's best friends right now.  I feel like every time that Scott and I did some of these questions together, we grew closer to one another.  But, with our busy lives and raising our daughter, it's been a long time since we looked at those question.  

A few months ago, the New York Times published a quiz - the goal of the quiz is to increase intimacy between 2 people.

A few days ago, my husband and I answered these questions together.

This New York Times quiz felt similar to John Gottman's set of questions, but you aren't answering questions about your partner, you are answering questions about yourself and listening to your partner answer about themselves.

As intended, doing these questions brought us closer.  It feels so good to be able to talk about important things in a structured format and to be listened to.  And, I got to be a good listener and learn things about Scott that were new to me!

There's one specific thing that stood out for me.  Question 14 asks, "Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?"  

I've had a specific goal for the past 15 years ago which I've never shared with anyone.  (It's not sexual even though my secrecy around it sounds like it might be.  It's more mundane and a self-improvement kind of thing.)   For some reason, this question prompted me to talk about it with Scott and he was totally supportive!  And, let's just say, I got the ball rolling to finally realize this dream.  I'll update when there's something more substantive to say about it.  

If you're wanting to increase intimacy between you and someone in your life, I'd recommend these 36 questions.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

How much do we spend on a year of preschool in Berkeley, California

We have loved Star's preschool.  She has been treated with respect, learned how to treat others respectfully and has learned useful skills (listening, writing and monkey bars among them.)  Star attended preschool from 8:30am - 5:30pm (I actually usually pick her up around 4:45pm, but we pay until 5:30pm) 5 days a week.  I don't resent the money that we spent, but I wish I had a bit of a more realistic sense ahead of time.

Without further ado, below is what we spent for a year of preschool.  Some of these numbers are estimates, and it's possible that I missed something major, but I think this is pretty accurate.  Also note that these are the numbers for her last year of preschool.  The prior 2 years were more expensive because at the preschool Star went to, tuition is higher for the younger kids.

Tuition - $1595 per month x 11 months = $17,545
Winter Camps - $450 x 2 weeks = $900. The $450 number is an estimate. I usually seem to spend around $450 for a week of camp. Sometimes it's a bit more and sometimes it's a bit less. (When she starts 2nd grade, she might go to sleepaway camp which will triple the $450 per week estimate, but we can wait a few years until we get to that.)

Summer Camps - $450 per week x 4 weeks = $1,800. See note above.

Random field trips, various days off, auction, gifts for teachers... - $500
Morning Helpers - $2,000. We have a Cal student come to our house most mornings at 7:30am to finish getting Star ready and to push her in the stroller to school. Scott and I leave for work at 7:30am, and this is the system we've found that works for us.

Total Annual Cost = $22,745

Star is about to start public Kindergarten, and when she does, I plan to start posting about how much public Kindergarten in Berkeley actually costs.  I know that it's not really free, but it's some mystery as to what we will actually be asked to pay for.  

Monday, May 4, 2015

10 Things I Would Tell My 22 Year-Old Self

  1. You will find love.  Don't worry about that.  For the next 10 years, approximately, figure yourself out.  Dance, travel, work, spend time in coffee houses, make art, make love, volunteer, play soccer, meditate, sky dive, knit, do yoga, host women's dinners, go to museums, cultivate friendships.  Date, definitely.  But, don't obsess over finding the right partner.  If you find the right partner before 10 years pass, that's totally fine.  But, don't make that the goal.  
  2. Once you figure out who you are, don't apologize for it.  You can't be someone else.  
  3. Deal with your health issues.  Get mentally and physically healthy.
  4. Learn healthy eating habits.  You might be able to gorge on pasta, bread and alcohol right now, but that will catch up to you.    
  5. Money is important.  If you want to make a difference in the world, that's fine, but, it is crucial that you also figure out how to earn a living.
  6. Don't settle on a career.  If you've effectively done item 1 above, then you are probably on your way to knowing who you are.  With that knowledge, and if you trust item 5, you should be well on your way to choosing a career which you will enjoy, and which will generate a sufficient livelihood.  
  7. Don't settle on a partner.  Evaluate any future life partner intently and compassionately.  Do they treat you well?  Are they kind?  Are they interesting?  Have they figured out how to make a living?  Do you share values?  Are they supportive of you?  Do they have longtime friends?  When you disagree with one another, as you inevitably will, do you do it in a constructive and kind way?  Choosing your life partner is likely the most important decision you will make.  
  8. Cultivate gratitude.  You are a lucky person.  Appreciate and acknowledge that.  
  9. Treat people with respect.  The world works in interesting ways.  The person you meet on Super Shuttle might have a cousin who is hiring in a field that you want to be in.  An ex-boyfriend of yours might end up being a doctor who treats a member of your family.  People might forget what you said, but they will not forget how they felt when they were with you.  
  10. Your family of origin might be bizarre.  Most are.  But, they are who you have.  Keep your connections strong with those in your family.  Call your mom and dad and tell them that you love them.  Spend time with them once a month or so. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

5 Things I Would Tell My 5 Year-Old Self

  1. Girls can like the color blue.  Girls can play monster games.  Girls can grow up to be Firefighters and Doctors.  
  2. Your parents love you very very much.  Your parents love you more than you love jumping on a trampoline.  Your parents love you more than you love running through a grass field barefoot.  Your parents love you more than you love ice cream with rainbow sprinkles.  
  3. Different is not bad.  You can have friends who are different from you in all sorts of ways.  
  4. You might sometimes hear your parents fight.  That's OK.  They are communicating with one another.  It doesn't mean they are getting a divorce or that you did anything wrong.  Sometimes, being a grown up is hard.  
  5. If you work hard enough and keep trying, you will get good at whatever you want to be good at.  If your maximum height ends up being 5'2", you probably won't be a professional basketball player, but there's no need to think about that at age 5.  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Blogging Frequency

My assumption is that no one reads my blog.  I write for myself; It's kind of like my journal.  Maybe my daughter will be interested in reading about what I blogged about at some point.

I enjoy blogging.  It's like my cheap version of therapy.  I should do it more often.  If it matters, here's what's been keeping me from blogging.

  • Family sicknesses.  I think it's all going to be OK, but there's definitely been some health struggles in parts of our family.  I haven't wanted to blog about it, so I've been trying to get through it in other ways.
  • There's been a lot of divorce connected to us in some way.  1 couple in my family, 1 couple in Scott's family, and 2 couples that we're friends with.  Here's what it's made me realize.  Divorce sucks.  Being in a shitty marriage also sucks.  So, while you're in the marriage, try to ensure that the marriage doesn't become shitty.  I think that a lot of it is about momentum.  And, the couple can make things good or can make things bad depending on their actions and words.  
  • Work is challenging these days.  Not my actual work, but our environment and some changes that we're going through.  Again, I think we'll get through it and I don't need to discuss it here, but it's taking a lot of energy.
And, here's an update of what's going on with me these days.
  • Star is an amazing little person.  She's in her last year of preschool.  She's smart, she's social, she's verbal, and she's figuring out how to read and write.  
  • Scott and I are focused on Kindergarten tours and information nights to try and make a good decision about where she should go next year. 
  • I'm proud of my health and weight loss.  I've made some dietary changes and exercise quite a bit and the results have been showing.  I'm happy to be getting more healthy and fit.  I still have a bit to go, but I'm proud.  
Hopefully, now back to some sort of regular blogging schedule.

Camp Mommy 2014

I'm very delinquent in posting about Star's summer vacation.  Here goes...

Over here, you can see a review of Star's 2013 weeks off from preschool.

For 2014, I mixed things up a bit.  I see myself as her camp coordinator.  Kind of like Julie on the Love Boat.  I don't run the Bingo games, but I encourage people to attend the Bingo games.

She had 5 weeks (plus 2 bonus days, but who's counting?) off from preschool.  Here's what we did.

Week 1 - family trip to Portland.  We had a great time.  We stayed in the Pearl District at a fabulously modern hotel.  We took public transportation a lot.  One day, we rented a car and drove about an hour south to visit where I went to Law School.  We saw some of my old professors, and Star picked out my picture out from my class' composite picture.  Then we drove another hour out to the coast, and then up to Tillamoook and spent time at the cheese factory.  It was at that point that Scott remarked that it was now starting to feel like a real family vacation.

Week 2 and 3 - Camp Gan Izzy.  This is a truly amazing camp for those who are Jewish (or not Jewish averse).  They go on adventures.  They do stuff in nature.  They do craft projects.  They cook.  I honestly don't feel like I have as many hours in the day as they do in this camp.

Week 4 - A week of camp at her usual preschool.  This was actually quite badly run.  She was split up from her friends and overall, we were not happy with it.

Week 5 - Head Over Heels gymnastics camp.  Overall, we had a good experience at HOH.  The only problem is that the potties are too high for my vertically challenged daughter.  She'd run to the bathroom, get to the stall, realize that she couldn't get onto the potty, go back to the sink area, get a step stool and drag it back to the potty by which time she's had a complete potty accident.  One day, I packed 3 changes of clothes for her which turned out not to be enough.

She then had 2 bonus days where she did a mix of playdates and time at home.

Next summer, she'll be 5 years old and the summer camp options keep getting better as she get older!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Fake Cheesecake Yummy Yums

In the old days (2 years ago?) I would print out recipes and use cookbooks.  Then, I would make notes on my recipes so I'd know what I wanted to do differently next time.

Now, I do almost all of my cooking from Pinterest.  And, I haven't figured out a way to make notes on pinterest recipes.  So, my solution is to write a blog post and then pin this post.  If anyone has a better technological solution, I'd be happy to hear it!

The recipe below is borrowed almost entirely from here with a few of my modifications.  The original recipe called this a cheesecake, but I think that's a bit of a stretch.  They are good, but not like cheesecake.  
Vegan (or almost vegan), Gluten Free, No-Bake
Serves: 12
  • Crust:
  • 1 cup pitted dates (soaked in warm water for 10 minutes then drained)
  • 1 cup raw walnuts, almonds, hemp seeds in some combination
  • Filling:
  • 1.5 cups raw cashews, soaked in water 4-6 hours then drained
  • 1 large lemon, juiced (scant 1/4 cup)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted.  (I think the combination of the coconut milk and the coconut oil made the flavor too cocunut-like, so I think I would eliminate the coconut oil next time.)
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup honey or agave nectar (Scott feels like honey is healthier than agave nectar.)
  • Optional Flavor Add-Ins:
  • 2 Tbsp salted natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup wild blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Any other berry
  1. Start this recipe the night before you want to eat it.  The cashews need to soak for 4+ hours.  And, once it is all assembled, the yummy yums need to sit in the freezer for 6+ hours.  
  2. Put crust ingrediants in a food processor and blend until a dough forms - it should stick together when you squeeze a bit between your fingers. If it's too dry, add a few more dates. If too wet, add more almond or walnut meal. Add a pinch of salt.
  3. Scoop the crust into the muffin cups in heaping 1 Tbsp amounts and press in firmly with fingers. Set in freezer.
  4. Add all filling ingredients to a blender or food processor and mix until very smooth. I did half a recipe at a time.  In the first half, I did the peanut butter add-in and in the 2nd half, I did frozen blueberries.  
  5. Add your add-ins.
  6. Divide filling evenly among the muffin tins. Freeze until hard - about 6+ hours.  Do not skimp on time.  After 4 hours, my peanut putter version was not completely set, but my blueberry version was.  The following morning, they were both fabulously set.  
  7. Once set, get them out by loosening them with a butter knife. 
  8. Transfer the uneaten treats to a pyrex and keep that in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.