Fix What You Can Fix


Unikitty.  Kitticorn.

Here’s a Friday tip for you.

Fix what you can fix.

Remember that there are fixable problems.  We are smart people who can figure out solutions to things that aggravate us.

Except when we can’t.  Like when it involves other people who we, ultimately, cannot control.  Or a task that we just hate and can’t un-hate.  In that case- fix what you can fix.

Here’s my example: my house.  I love it!  Sometimes, though, I resent it because it needs to be cleaned.  I could throw money at it  and hire someone to do it for me, but that’s not really a great week in and week out solution, budget-wise.  So as I sat in my living room this morning it occurred to me to fix what I could fix.

My resentment about cleaning is heightened because the cleaning requires me to move a bunch of crap around to clean under it.  I cannot vacuum until the floor is picked up.  I can’t wipe down the counters until the stuff on them is put away.  See?

Fixing what I can fix meant I went around with two grocery bags and filled one with stuff for Goodwill and one with trash.  I cannot totally fix that I dislike cleaning, but I can fix that the flat surfaces are filled with stuff, and that makes cleaning a hassle.  I’ll never have to clean around that stuff again!  Fix what you can fix.  Cleaning was somewhat more bearable.


Buddy the Elf being creepy

Another example: the morning walk to school.  Our boys go to school a few blocks away and I walk them there three mornings a week.  I had started to dread the walk because my littlest one wanted to come along, which meant herding three kids along the sidewalk to school.  Number two wanted to push number four in the stroller, which meant I was half watching him to make sure he didn’t accidentally go too fast and turn the stroller on its side, or- you know- push her into traffic.  Also I was trying to get number three to hurry because he’s a slow poke walker.  Lastly, the cold temps were killing me.

Fix what you can fix: leave the stroller at home and- magic- number four doesn’t want to come along on the morning walk anymore.  No more stroller monitoring.  Buy a cheap coat that comes down almost to my knees and feel much warmer.

I’m still trying to get number three to walk faster, but I’ve eliminated two other consistent sources of joy-killing.  So it’s not so bad.  I don’t dread the morning walk anymore.

Fix what you can fix.






giving a side eye to the large buttcheek over her shoulder.  fair enough.

Now that the large butt picture got your attention…

You all know that is how this blog got started, right?

It’s 2019.  Time for some new ideas!  I am not on board with trying to do something every day this year.  But maybe more monthly goals?  Or quarterly?

Here we go.  A few ideas:

Organize pictures.  They are on an external hard drive and this laptop and my phone and my husband’s phone and his laptop and his external hard drive.  Blerg.  I love/hate pictures.  I don’t even know what I mean by “organize”.  Delete a million of them- sure.  Maybe put them in books?  That seems like a pipe dream.  Someone boss me around.  I hate this one.  Where do I start?  How?  HELP.

Pick a budget software.  We hopped back on the budget train a few years ago.  We keep an excel spreadsheet with our spending categories and at the beginning of every month I spend an hour or two looking at all of our spending from the previous month and seeing how over/under our budget we were.  I know there are systems like YNAB and Mint but I’ve resisted.  I’m ready to stop resisting.  Which system should we use?  How does it work with Amazon purchases that fall into all these different categories?

Save for projects and pay up front.  Remember the budget?  It’s great to have an excel spreadsheet that allocates your money into categories, but it only works if you actually curb your spending to the allocated amounts.  Crazy, right?

This year we had multiple things that we sprung for, without having the money set aside ahead of time.  For example, we bought a used van in January of last year.  We knew we’d want one eventually and we were saving toward it, but then suddenly I couldn’t tolerate the clown car any longer.  I didn’t want to wait until we saved the other few thousand dollars- I wanted a van and I wanted it now.  We found a Honda Odyssey on Craigslist, bought it, and paid it off a few months later– no big deal.  But we did that with a few projects and purchases like that.  So then we had a few things we were trying to pay off month to month.


r.i.p. clown car.

This year I’d like to delay the gratification and save up the money before making the purchase.  Like- we’d like to work on our driveway this year.  Right now it’s a mud pit, and I could call a guy we know and have him fix it in a day.  But that’s a project I’d like to actually save up for and pay for up front.

Eat more vegetables.  I sort of cycle through this one.  I’ll kill it for a while, then get tired of chopping a bazillion fresh veggies every week, so I’ll fall off the wagon.  Not sure if I should track this in some way or quantify it…  Sort of a vague goal otherwise, isn’t it?

Maintain limits on my iPhone.  Because no one says “I hope my kids can look back on their childhood and always remember me on my phone.”

A major pull of my phone is when I want to escape and tune out.  When my kids are happy and low maintenance (like the past two weeks when they’ve been with cousins/grandparents/aunts and uncles) I have less I want to tune out.  So this week I feel great about phone use.  It’s the new year!  The world is my oyster!

But there are plenty of weeks I don’t feel great about it.  I read this article and implemented a lot of the suggestions.  I know that the novelty of most of them will wear off in a few weeks.  And then what?  Implement new suggestions?  Burn my phone?


everybunny loves the bunny

I’d love to hear 1) how you can rescue me from dying under a virtual mound of digital photos,  2) what budget program you use and 3) how you set and maintain healthy limits with your phone.



What Worked for Me in 2018


not relevant to this post.  just a picture.

Ah yes.  It is that time again.  We have done this before.  A chance to reflect on what worked for me in 2018.  Here are a few things, in no particular order.

Screen free weekdays for the kids.  We have a movie night on Friday night, maybe some shows or screen time on Saturday, then watch something as a family on Sunday (lately we like Planet Earth and Brain Child on Netflix).  Monday through Friday afternoons are screen-free.

Like all good ideas, this one originated with someone else.  In September I was with some college friends and we were talking about all of our kids heading back to school and the adjustments that follow.  Suddenly we need to be planning school lunches, upping our laundry game, whatever.  I mentioned how I struggle with screen time for my kids; some of them get so unbearably whiny when I turn it off, etc etc.  My friend Anna offhandedly remarked how they don’t allow screen time for their kids during the school week.  We started implementing that in September.

This has been so helpful for us.  Instead of negotiating the kids’ requests for screen time on a daily basis, it’s just off the table until the weekend.

Our old routine was to turn on a show after they had done x, y, and z chore.  We used it as an incentive.  But with four kids inevitably one person would get their chores done quickly and two people had not even started yet and it was a hot mess to manage.  Also four kids spanning 6 years makes it hard to decide on a show.  I’d need to manage that.  Then, by the time they were all quietly staring at a screen, I had no motivation to start the work involved in getting them to turn off the screen when their show was over.  Or deal if one or two of them complained or whined about not getting enough time.

Screens were not helping me, they were making my life harder.  So we eliminated them during the weekdays and life is much simpler.


can’t watch a show…might as well sit here and think.

Nights off.  (Another one that was totally not my idea.  A friend told me about how helpful it was for her, so we’ve been implementing this one for a few years now.)

It’s simple.  Russ and I both have one night off a week.  It’s the same night every week, and we are free to do whatever we want.  Mine is Tuesday.  So after I finish work on Tuesday afternoon or evening, I am free for the rest of the night.  Sometimes I go get myself dinner and wander around Barnes and Noble, sometimes I invite myself over to a friends’ house, sometimes I gather a group of people to get together.  Russ has the kids that night and does dinner and bedtime solo.  He has a different night of the week to do the same thing and I cover home base.

It’s nice to have that white space on the calendar every week.  Logistically, it makes getting together with friends so much easier.  I don’t need to check in with Russ about which night works best for me to meet up with so-and-so.  I just see if Tuesday works for my friend and that’s that.

Also, as an introvert and someone who has been home with kiddos for a decade- I can’t really communicate how lovely it is to be responsibility-free for one evening a week.

We have built expectations over time.  Whoever is home owns cleaning up the meal and all of that end of the day pickup stuff.  A night off is a night off, and does not mean you come home and clean up the kitchen.  Nope.  Night off.


2nd annual Anderson St talent show brought in some amazing talent

Marco Polo.  This is an app that I mentioned last year, but it makes it into bold letters this year, because I have appreciated it so much.  It’s a video app that lets you record a message to a friend or group of friends, for them to watch and respond to at their leisure.    I’ve had a group chat with college friends since we got together last year and I am so thankful for it.

It was awkward to begin with.  You’re just holding your phone and talking into it.  Where do I look?  Am I rambling?  I feel stupid making a video of myself…  (If the video thing is too much to handle, try voxer.  Same idea, just with voice instead of video.)

The point is that I have this medium that lets me keep up with my college friends on a regular basis.  We can’t get together as much as we’d all like to, but Marco Polo has been a great substitute.



things my kids collect in tupperware.

As I am writing this I am also thinking of what didn’t work in 2018… Namely: phone use (it was out of control!!!  I was on my phone way too much!!!!  I am a hypocrite about screens!!!).  Related: social media (I read 85 books this year and totes could have read 100+ if not for the black hole that is Facebook and/or instagram).

What worked (or didn’t) for you in 2018?