Day 13 – Two week check-in

Okay, so I set some goals for myself at the beginning of this year. Nothing too crazy (at least I didn’t think so at the time), but nothing ever goes according to plan now does it? After these whirlwind first two weeks of the year, I figured I better do a little check-in with myself and see how things are going.

Goal #1 – Write every day. Surprisingly, so far so good here. Now, I’m not writing the great American novel, or even a whole lot worth reading, but at least there has been time set aside and words being put to paper every single day. Gotta say, I’m proud of myself on this one.

Goal #2 – Write one letter every week. Two weeks down. Two letters written. Boom! Onto the next.

Goal #3 – Read one book a week. First up, Radical Candor by Kim Scott. To be fair, I started reading this just before Christmas, but it was slow going and got set aside with the holiday craziness. I didn’t want to try and start another book until I finished this one, so I decided to count it. (Hey! My blog. My rules.) Great read. Stepping into a new leadership role in my career and hearing about this book from some of the leaders I look up to made me want to read it. A lot of the advice and suggestions should be obvious–things like caring deeply about other people, giving the time and space needed to look at things from multiple perspectives before making big decisions, and the importance of being honest and direct without letting emotion take over. Leadership has become something of a buzzword, and I think a lot of people spend a lot of time talking about leadership without really being able to clearly define what good leadership actually looks like. The book is well-written, and it definitely prompted me to reflect on the people in my life who showed me what a leader should be.

My second book of the new year is Five Plots by Erica Trabold. I found out about this book when I was catching up on some of my writing magazines over the holiday break. Erica Trabold is originally from Nebraska, and the book is a collection of her lyrical essays that explore how her life story was shaped by the Nebraska landscape, just as the Nebraska landscape was shaped by the people who lived and settled there. The writing stunning. Trabold was the winner of the inaugural Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Book Prize, and if you take the time to read her debut collection, you’ll see why. Anyone who was born, raised, or feels a connection to Nebraska should pick up a copy immediately. I already ordered one extra copy to send to some family who have moved away and still miss “home,” and I’m sure there will be more orders coming soon. The book is way good good not to share.

Goal #4 – Exercise 30 minutes every day. Well, if I’ve fallen off the wagon anywhere, it’s here. Now, I will say, I was good right up until this weekend when Henry got sick. Some mornings I was waking up at 5:00 to do 30 minutes of rowing and 30 minutes of writing (how’s that for two birds with one stone?). Other days, I was making sure I took a break during the day to get my steps in around campus during lunch, or simply counting the amount of walking I was doing in between meetings and from my car to my office and back toward my daily amount. As busy as last week turned out to be, I’m giving myself a little grace here and saying that I earned two full days of being lazy with my sick kiddo snuggled in on the couch.

Tomorrow’s a new day. Back at it. Let’s go.

Day 12 – Little man down

Current status…

This dude had a great swim lesson this morning, but seemed a little overly tired and crabby afterward, so he went down for an early nap.

An hour later, I heard him stir and start crying. Then the dreaded words:

“Mommy! Mommy, help! I sick!”

The smell hit me when I walked in the room–a mix of overripe banana and sour strawberry donuts. There was already a thick puddle on the comforter, more streaming from his nose.

I got him cleaned up, laundry started, clothes changed. Then we settled in to rest and wait it out. Late afternoon, another explosion, but Stevie and I managed to keep it mostly contained.

Since then, he’s been attached to me, lounging on the couch, sipping water, occasionally restless. He slept a bit, waking off and on and moaning, but his sour stomach seems to have settled. He finally woke and asked to go to bed, so we took him up and tucked him into clean, soft sheets and kissed him good night.

Here’s hoping tomorrow is a better day. Sleep tight H-man.

Day 11 – End of a long week

There’s nothing quite like coming home at the end of a crazy week and spending a full three hours trying to convince your stubborn 3-year-old that, no matter how vehemently he protests, he does in fact have to poop. Preferably in the toilet.

This kid has elevated stubbornness to an art form. He’s so lucky he’s cute.

On a brighter, and much more exciting note…it was Report Card day and Miss C is rocking all A’s! Whoop!

We did see one 3 rating (out of a 4 scale) in “Works collaboratively with others” and when questioned why that was lower than all of the other rankings, Cadence explained that sometimes during the math group work, her group members would start getting off topic and jacking around when they were supposed to be working, so Cadence would just break off and work by herself to get it done.

We told her, if that’s the case, we’re happy with a 3 out of 4.

So we celebrated by playing a game of Life.

Yep. Just another exciting Friday night at the Romano house.

Day 10 – Like coming home

I spend a lot of time reflecting on my college days, partly because I spend my days working with college students and partly because I tend to start feeling a little sentimental every time Stevie and I have been away from New York too long and I start itching to spend time with the people I miss every moment of every single day since we left the east coast ten-and-a-half years ago.

It’s hard to explain the connection I feel to this place without sounding overly nostalgic, but I always feel the need to try. I guess that’s just the writer in me–unable to deny that urge to try and put the giant surge of emotions down on paper and arrange the words in a way that might explain the way this place calls to me and why I remain so firmly tethered to the people we met and the connections I made there.

Going to college was my first step (a giant 1,500-mile step) away from my family and out on my own, and with that heady rush of newfound freedom and adventure came an almost paralyzing sense of self-doubt and isolation. Yet the first time I ever stepped foot on Concordia’s campus, I got the distinct feeling that I was coming home.

The families we come from are our default. They teach us how to love, how to fight, how to forgive. They give us our first sense of the world–its beauty and its chaos. The families we leave when we set out on our own will always be with us. They will always be part of us. But it’s the families we create for ourselves that truly reflect who we are and give shape to who we will become. The people we connect with, the people we return to and invest our time in are the people who reflect the very best of who we are, the very best of who we hope to be.

People matter. Connections matter. Kindness matters. Honesty matters. Love matters.

Everything else is just noise.

Day 9 – Bedhead be damned

I don’t know what this kid does when he sleeps, but he could win some sort of world record for his bedhead.

And that’s just what was rockin’ in front. He wouldn’t let me get a picture of the back. He also refused to let me try to smooth anything down so, you guessed it, I sent him off to school that way. And somehow that hair was even wilder when he got home.

Listen, as a parent, you learn quickly to pick your battles, especially if you have kids as stubborn as mine. A little weird half-mohawk half-flat-pixie-bangs going on? Not gonna waste my time or energy chasing H-man around the house with a comb and a handful of mousse to try and tame it. I’ll save my efforts for the important things like getting this stubborn kid to poop on the toilet or eat a freakin’ vegetable without it turning into a hostage situation at the dinner table.

Plus, if this keeps up, I’ll eventually be able to make a nice little photo montage to display on the wall or maybe save for a special occasion like high school graduation, or those cute little videos people like to show at wedding receptions. Or, you know, just post it on a blog. 🙂

Day 8 – Sleepy thoughts

When I can’t sleep, it’s usually because there’s something my brain just doesn’t want to let go of.

Isn’t that always the reason?

It might be some issues lodged in my mind from work, a running list of random to-do items that I’m afraid I’ll forget, or some random line of worry that revolves around the health and emotional development of my kids–like whether the coughing fit that just erupted in Cadence’s room is the natural byproduct of the dry winter air or the beginnings of a bout of bronchitis.

Most nights it’s a damn miracle my brain shuts down long enough to get any real sleep at all.

There was a time when I used to keep a dream journal. Nothing fancy, just a notebook and pen placed close enough to my bed that I could reach out and grab it easily in those moments I hung in that fuzzy space between my dreams and waking, those moments when I could still remember some of the details. It’s honestly an exercise I wish I’d kept up.

I learned a lot about myself by analyzing the patterns and paying attention to the things my dreaming mind bubbled to the surface. I learned that I dream of storms and tornadoes during times of high stress and upheaval in my life. In the dreams, I’m never afraid of the storms. Instead, there’s a heightened and palpable feeling of responsibility and focus. I find myself taking charge, ushering others to safety, and then always turning around at the last moment to stand up and face the storm (or maybe to stand up in spite of it) and get one last good look before it blows over.

Funny what your dreams can teach you about yourself if you just learn to pay attention.