It’s 1999 all over again

Yeah, so 1999 is when I graduated from being an AOL user to a general internet user. That’s when I realized there was a world beyond that which AOL showed me. I was a sheeple no more. I could come and go as I pleased, search where I pleased, and shop, chat, and email from wherever I wanted. (You know, within reason and in ’99 style).

And I’ve done it again. Branched out in the blogging world to WordPress from Blogger. Quite a difference, I must say. Lots of changes, and some I haven’t quite figured out yet. Bear with me. I’ll get there. Just not this weekend. Momma is tired.

So, here it is. My first WordPress blog post. It’s almost 3 am so please, trust me, future blog posts WILL be better than this little snippet

Cheese & sprinkles! Ta!

(Forgive me – I’ve watched Rio 900 times since last weekend. Unless, of course, cheese & sprinkles actually does become a common catchphrase – in that case then I’m totally serious).

I have a couple things I need to get off my chest

You would think that would be a clever euphemism for reduction of my boobages but, no, I’m not talking about those things. Those are still somewhat valuable (though not nearly as useful as they used to be – but that’s another post for another day).
Last week I found myself upset. It’s to do with this whole blogging thing. So I stepped away from it for a few days to get perspective. It helped, and I’ll tell you why shortly. Bear with me – I need to tell this in order or ya’ll want to strangle me by the end. 
(By the way, the “ya’ll” is Joni’s fault entirely. Or my Okie ancestry. One of the two.)
Okay, so if you’ve been here before you know that I started blogging just a few months ago and I’m kinda haphazard about when I do it and what I post. That’s just me and the way I am. It has to fit into my life; I’m not going to make my life fit around it. 
Early last week I had some time to really start poking around other blogs and see what other mom bloggers were doing. I started following some of them on Twitter and going to their blogs and all that. What you may or may not know is there are amateur mom bloggers (ahem, me) and then there are professional mom bloggers (like the gold standard, The Pioneer Woman). Let me tell you, some of those ladies are hardcore. They get paid for what they do and they compete and, to the crux of the story, they can be extremely catty. I’m not referring to the Pioneer Woman here; I think she has a “rise above it” attitude even though there is a hate site out there about her too.
Apparently there was some issue last week and Twitter was, forgive me, all “atwitter” about it. I kept seeing these cryptic posts about being mean and making fun of someone and how it was hurting the mom blogging community. Then I read this tweet by one of those professional types:

It’s just easy to forget that twitter is like a high school cafeteria. Even if you’re not at the table you hear what people say about you.

And then I was like, oh, yeah, yuck. 
Caveat: I am in no way, no how, ever going to be on par with those professional bloggers. That’s not my intention. Seriously though, who would want that? Who would ever want to feel like they are in high school again? To get criticized and mocked and made to feel worthless. UGH. Also, I KNOW adult woman cattiness. I’ve experienced it. It’s not pretty and it’s hurtful. 
So, quite honestly, I was like yeah, I’m just going to cool it for awhile. Not that I was comparing myself to them because I SO wasn’t; I just didn’t want anything to do with it. It left a bad taste in my mouth if you know what I mean. 
So I hung out with family and friends over the weekend. I went on a date with my husband. I had wine at a friend’s house. I cleaned out a room in my house. I baked cookies. I kissed my kids A LOT. (Oh, I also got iPhone 4 so, you know, I was busy. Plants vs. Zombies, Instagram, etc). It was a nice weekend.
Back to work today and I was asked twice why I hadn’t updated my blog. It’s been like 6 days and apparently I have at least TWO readers who were jonesin’ for an update. And that felt good. And that made me think that yeah, that crap happens over THERE, with those other bloggers who are so successful that people make hate sites about them and have whole password-protected forums just to diss on them – but that’s like another world from over HERE where I am. (Run-on sentence be damned. I never said I was perfect). 
If I ever get to the point where I have haters then I’ll know I’m successful. ‘Til then I’m happy. If one person wants to read what I have to say then I.Am.Happy.
So that brings me to the other item I need to get off my chest:
Both of the people who asked me about my blog today are lurkers. One of them literally IM’d me and said, “Can you post something new on your blog so I can stalk it?” 
Well, thanks for coming out of the closet on that but – DUDE – leave a comment, wouldja? 
OY. I THRIVE on comments. And I answer them. So, just do it. You can even tell me anonymously how awesome I am. I won’t mind. Honest.
In closing, I just want to say that I love all two of you. Just don’t ever make a hate site about me or I’ll kick your ass. 

Hasta pasta! Mwah!

Spring Project Cleaning

It’s supposed to be 70 this weekend and that means Spring. 
Birds chirping, tulips coming up, trees budding and grass growing. It also means we can send the kids outside. A LOT. Good stuff.
It also means allergies. Bad stuff.
Good & bad? Spring Cleaning.

I hate cleaning. Really. HATE. But it’s time. And I LOVE when it’s done.

I have two modes of cleaning:
1. Blitz cleaning. This is the cleaning you do really quickly to make it all look presentable when you are having company. My husband and I can do this for about an hour before company and everything looks spic & span – just don’t look at the tops of the bookshelves, or under the sofa. 
When our boys catch us cleaning they say, “who’s coming over?” I then point out to them that SOMETIMES we clean things for other purposes – like if something is so disgustingly filthy I can’t stand the sight of it anymore. (This excludes the normal, day-to-day (that I also hate) like doing dishes, laundry, wiping counters, etc).
2. Project cleaning. PITA Spring Cleaning. This is when you take on a big project that requires cleaning out certain areas of the house in order to complete the project. I do this because it FORCES me to deep clean and it provides a new, fresh look to the room. Often this involves moving furniture, taking down decor, cleaning it and putting it back up, cleaning windows, window coverings, etc. 
(Side note: I used to move the living room furniture every few months whenever I got a wild hair and needed a change. Then we got a gigantic freaking sectional and that was that. The hubby is quite pleased about it as he is change-avoidant).
I just bought the cutest butterfly thingies I want to put up on the walls in my home office. But first I need to clean a corner of that room so I can get to the wall I want to put the butterflies on – which is buried behind a sofa covered with blankets, jackets, and even some Christmas wrap. (Yep, Christmas wrap I got AFTER I put Christmas away so it needs to find a home until next year because I’m not going up to the attic again).
See? Butterflies. They will look nice on my green office wall.
Or, another example, I hate dusting my bedroom, especially the areas I don’t easily hit like the ceiling fans or the tops of the curtains or the blinds that have been mostly closed all winter. This bedroom re-do project I’m currently working on will now force me to clean every.stinkin’.corner. of that room. It will feel so fresh and new when it’s done. I cannot wait. Plus, hello, PAINT. What better way to deep clean?
Now that Spring Cleaning (capitalized because it is a formal thing, no?) is starting to happen I will be undertaking many small projects. Sunlight is coming into our rooms from different angles now and I can totally see where I need to take some shades down and give them a thorough cleaning and I can see the cobwebs gathering in the dark, vaulted corners of the room. 
Incidentally, I wish I had a good method for cleaning those tall corners other than me, a rickety ladder & a broom. One of these days I AM going to fall on my ass and it’s going to hurt. You all will have a good laugh when I tell you about it. 

So – as your weather warms up just turn the music on, open the windows, and get to work. Put the kids to work too. Bribe ’em if you have to.

Happy cleaning, peeps. It will be SO worth it.

I want to be alone

Sometimes. It’s nice. And now I know I have a good reason for it.
I follow The Frisky on Facebook (warning: some of their posts can be R-rated) and today they posted about the power of being ALONE. I read the post today and I was like, yeah, right on!! This just feeds everything I’ve been saying for months – a room of one’s own, time to think, time to focus and be introspective. This is all so important for our mental well-being – and now there’s a study backing up that theory. (Not that it was my theory – just the natural progression of my personal evolution). 
In an effort to reduce all this clicking, here’s the full text of that post:

When I was 13, I started locking myself in my lair and writing angsty poetry, which caused people (especially my parents) to assume that I was a lonely, depressed, misanthropic hermit. As it turns out, I was spending some very necessary and healthy time alone. A new study at Harvard University found that spending time alone is crucial for us to have fully-developed personalities. Sufficient quality time with numero uno has been linked to improved focus, memory, creativity, mood, and even better social skills when we finally emerge from our caves.

Why? Because other people take up a lot of space in our minds. Not only that, but they cloud our judgement. Being alone helps us engage in the process of high-level reflection and introspection. It helps us figure out what we really think about stuff. Double the need for solitude if you are highly creative, a prophet like Jesus, or a genius like Beethoven (or fancy yourself a writer). Anyone? Anyone?

Anyhow, I’m sold. Always have been. So what’s the problem? We have cultural stigma about solitude. A study done a few years back at the University of Massachusetts found that people actually feel good, more often than not, when they’re alone. But somehow, somewhere, solitude and loneliness became synonymous. Especially for teens who researchers found tend to sequester themselves when they feel crappy but emerge from isolation feeling slightly less crappy. Yeah, adolescence is tough. I guess that explains why my mom was always knocking on my door telling me to come out. If only I could have said to her, “I am forming my personality through meta-cognition” instead of shouting, “Go away!” and turning up Simon and Garfunkel’s “I Am A Rock.”

The post was inspired by an article in the Boston Globe, here. Warning – it’s long. Check out this quote from the article: 

Solitude has long been linked with creativity, spirituality, and intellectual might. The leaders of the world’s great religions — Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Moses — all had crucial revelations during periods of solitude. The poet James Russell Lowell identified solitude as “needful to the imagination;” in the 1988 book “Solitude: A Return to the Self,” the British psychiatrist Anthony Storr invoked Beethoven, Kafka, and Newton as examples of solitary genius.

And there’s this little gem as well:

Teenagers, especially, whose personalities have not yet fully formed, have been shown to benefit from time spent apart from others, in part because it allows for a kind of introspection — and freedom from self-consciousness — that strengthens their sense of identity.

Hell yeah! I’m behind this 100%! I’m no expert, but I can only imagine that teenage minds are still forming the abilities to inductively and deductively reason. The more opportunity they get to exercise their minds naturally can only be a good thing, IMHO.

A half-baked idea is okay as long as it’s in the oven.

Do I shirk my duties and dive into the blog thoughts swirling around in my head? I could literally write volumes right now if given the proper time and space to sit and think it all through. 
Alas, that’s not even an option! Too much freakin’ work.
I got home from my trip very late on Friday night, or extremely early Saturday morning – depending on your point of view. I was delayed an extra 6 hours in the Denver airport after sprinting to my gate only to find out I missed my connection. Also, I DON’T SPRINT. I don’t even jog. Seriously. I think I almost died. But then I had to spend 6 more hours there and I truly knew what death was.
Oh.My.Goodness.Was.I.Bored.
Spotty internet connection and limited charging capabilities meant I couldn’t stay online or watch a movie to bide the time. I read some but I was completely distracted. Too many people hustling and bustling all over the place.
Saturday morning I woke up stiff and sore. I sort of decided then and there to take the rest of the weekend off. We celebrated the hubby’s 41 years young, I hung out with the boys and caught up on some of my Tivo’d stuff. 
Back to the grind today and, wow, do I have a lot to do. Plus, at home, there’s so much kid STUFF to deal with – Invention Convention, dentist appointments, IEP appointments, Katie Beckett Applications, laundry, lunch money, etc. I feel like I might never come up for air.
When I do, indeed, come up for air then I hope to put together some great blog posts around what I’ve been reading. I’m absolutely loving Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed. I seriously want to take a highlighter and go back through and mark all the poignant passages. In fact, I think I may do just that.
If you are married you should read this book. If you are thinking about getting married you should read this book. If you are divorced you should read this book. If you at any point in your life plan to live in a committed relationship you should read this book. No lie. 
The thing is – it’s all the stuff we learn after 10-15 years of marriage. It’s the distance and experience. The plain ‘ole knowledge we don’t have when we are all in L.O.V.E. and dying to get married RIGHT.THIS.MINUTE. 
It’s the things our mothers (some of them) or our grandmothers (a lot of them) went through and thought about and dealt with without actually giving it a name. They just lived it. Sucked it up and dealt with it. It’s the angst wives go through – the sacrifices, challenges, juggling we all do and learn to deal with some way, some how. It’s all about finding that happy medium for us “modern” wives.

More to come.

A Room of One’s Own

Virginia Woolf said:

A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.

When we moved to our current house 5 years ago my boys were 2 & 3 years old. They shared a room, and still do, because I insisted that the other bedroom should be a guest room. I was convinced my family and friends from back home in California would come visit a lot. Well, my mom comes 2 or 3 times a year and occasionally our buddy Brittain stays so late he sleeps over. All in all not a lot of usage.

I have always had a workspace of my own, but my desk was tiny and it had been shuttled from room to room whenever I needed to make space for something else. First it was in the toy room/animal room/catch-all. Then a corner of the living room. Then our bedroom. I never had a space where I could really put my stuff out and let it just be. Then I got a docking station and laptop for work and sadly the contraption didn’t even fit on my tiny desk. Obviously something needed to change. 
Enter my husband. Sometimes he has the best ideas. As I was lamenting my lack of space he simply said, “why do we need a dedicated guest room? Let’s turn it into your office and just move the hide-a-bed couch in there in case we have guests.” And it was as simple as that! Brilliant!
Well, not quite so simple – but nearly. First we moved the queen size bed to the garage in pieces. Then I took stock and figured out what I would need to make this nearly bare room into an office and we headed out to the thrift stores. Yes, thrift stores. I ended up getting a new desk for $27 and a new lampshade for $1.50 to go with a hand-me-down lamp and shelf. I already had an old file cabinet and a shelving unit my uncle built with his bare hands a long, long time ago. The only thing I bought new were some storage boxes and a rolling cart of drawers. The storage boxes I got at Ross on clearance for a steal. I love a good deal. 
I moved everything in and got it setup over the space of a couple weekends.

Where the magic happens

It was nighttime when I took this pic, but I also have a wonderful view of my front yard. I have several times banged on the window when I caught my kids climbing on top of cars in our driveway or dodging cars in the street. They are boys. I don’t have a better explanation for it. They DO know better.  

See the storage boxes?
With the bed open

I’m so happy to say that I now have a room of my own. Shortly after moving into my new space I started this blog. Coincidence? I think not. Thank you for the inspiration, Ms. Woolf. Maybe when I have money I can write fiction, but for now you get me and my laptop composing the narrative of my days.

My blogging inspiration (AKA I’m so jealous I could spit)

A few months ago I was cruising around Facebook being nosy by clicking into friend’s pages, looking at their friends, and so on (c’mon, you all do it), and I ran across a girl I knew of in high school. She’s now married to a guy my best friend dated in high school. (See how that Facebook cruise went?) Anyway, she’s a year older than me and I may have talked to her a couple times at school but likely not a lot. But I knew who she was. She was very pretty, had a gorgeous smile, and always seemed to have happiness inside. When I found myself looking at her Facebook pictures a few months ago, and then her blog, the happiness she had inside 18(ish) years ago was now magnified by infinity (and beyond). 

I started reading her blog. It was funny, witty, and she wrote the things I wanted to say. She is crafty – like I wish I still was – but she does it properly; she learned how to knit and crochet and she freaking makes knit hats and purses from old sweaters and scarves. Anyway, I stalked her blog for a couple weeks. I thought, my goodness, this woman must be so completely happy. She has everything she wants. She is now married to the love of her life (the love just POURS out of their pictures), they had a baby, she has 3 other gorgeous children, she has a supportive family, she’s insanely talented and, as if that isn’t enough, in my blog reading I found out that when she’s not having babies she works as a hospice nurse. 

So, obviously, I had to stop reading her blog. I mean, I had to. The feelings of inadequacy just rolled over me and I nearly sobbed. (I may have actually shed a tear or two). (Side note: why do we women always hold ourselves up to other women to gauge our worth? It is so counter-productive. Why do we always think someone else’s  life is so much better than our little lives?)


Anyway, I went about 6 weeks without reading her blog but every once in a while I would think of it. I would say, hmmm, think I should go read it? And the insecure chick that lives in my brain would say, “Hell no! What are you thinking?” Do you see? The mere thought that her perfect life existed was enough; I didn’t even have to read her words to feel sorry for myself. 


But, at the same time – I started this blog because of her. I thought if I could just be 1/10th as talented as she is that would be a real accomplishment. She’s doing it – she’s doing her passion and I’m not. I had a really hard think. Soul-searching. All I ever wanted to do was be a writer. I don’t think I’ll ever be published but the least I can do is write this itty-bitty blog about my life. And it’s because of her. I’m jealous and grateful all at the same time.

Then an odd thing happened. I went to her blog tonight for the first time in weeks and weeks and in her recent posts she distinctly said her life was not perfect. She admitted fears, real-life concerns about money, feelings of inadequacy because she’s decided to temporarily quit nursing to be a SAHM, and she admitted to feeling a little lost. Part of me wants to reassure her – to tell her the powerful influence she had on me. The other part of me is rejoicing a little. I can’t lie. She’s not perfect. She’s human. I still want to be just like her – but she’s REAL. 


I wanted to send her a message to tell her what she did for me (to me) but I couldn’t figure out how so I’m doing this instead. Joni – I am in AWE of you. You have raised 3 gorgeous children, divorced and found the man you love, and then gave birth at home to a 10 lb baby. You had the balls to do what was so absolutely right for you (and your family) and quit your job. You pursue your life and you absolutely LIVE it. I am inspired by you. 


I’ll close, naturally, with a Jane Austen quote on sisterhood:

But we must stem the tide of malice, and pour into the wounded bosoms of each other, the balm of sisterly consolation.

Edited to add a link to Joni’s blog: http://joni-ishouldwriteabook.blogspot.com/

Musings

I haven’t posted in a while. I feel like my posts always need to have a specific purpose – like I need to have a reason to say what I want to say. But I don’t think that’s true, right? I can just say what’s going on in my mind. That would be the purpose of this blog. It’s not private but I also don’t think anybody is reading it so why not?

I ask a lot of questions. It’s just my way of talking. Some are rhetorical and some are not. Your choice. 

I’m still thinking about my mom & stepdad’s visit. It was so awesome to have them here! Sometimes my mom drives me crazy but this time I was much more tolerant. It was easier for me to just appreciate her for who she is this time. Maybe I’m growing old? Maybe I’m just lonely and needed her here. She takes care of me, loves me unconditionally, doesn’t get mad at me if I’m snippy and as I get older I am learning to appreciate her unconditional love more and more. 

I keep thinking about an opportunity that came my way and then, just as quickly, passed me by. It would have been so very good for us, in many ways, but there were some definite detriments. Could I have done it? Yeah, I think so. It’s daunting but I think I would have found the strength and ability when needed. But its gone so it’s better to just let it go. 

I’m falling behind on everything right now. I can feel myself escaping because I can’t handle the sheer volume of stuff I need to do. They aren’t all unpleasant tasks so I’m not sure what my problem is. Maybe a little bit of depression? I hear that’s common at the holidays – though usually I’m happiest at Christmas time. My favorite time of year! This year I can’t seem to get excited. I feel bad about myself because of so many different things and I’m having a hard time seeing past all my internal recriminations. 

Some of the people closest to me in my daily life are going through stressful times. They are ticking time bombs: unpredictable and capable of reacting in any way and at any time. I feel divided in two – I’m either the equalizer or I’m the time bomb myself.  It’s been proven, by a bunch of scientific psychologists, I’m sure, that in the dynamic between two people there is one person who dictates the relationship at any given time. The other person equalizes or provides the balance. If one person is emotionally unstable (at that moment) then the other person acts as the counter-weight. If the other person doesn’t equalize then we see incredible things happen – like those people who lose their minds and beat the crap out of each other, rob banks, or drive off cliffs. 

What’s my point? Just this – if someone equalizes all the time then when do they get to express their emotions? Do they just suppress it and then it comes out later in myriad little rebellions? Or at inopportune times? I don’t know the answer to that. Where’s Dr. Sweets when I need him?  Yes, that was Bones reference. I freaking love that show. 


People are so complex. I love Bones, and the West Wing, and the Stieg Larsson books, and Jane Austen, mostly because of one uniting factor – they talk about people and what makes them tick. If I ever write a book it will be about people, relationships and how they react emotionally. 


Speaking of escaping, here’s a little thing I wrote a while back:

Watch me, watch me!
See how I sigh?
And roll away my eye?
I just caught myself in a lie!
See me, do you see me?
I run and run and run
For me, that’s the key
To not come undone.

Eeek! Falling down on the job

For a beginning blogger I’m not doing a very good job, am I? I’ve been woefully neglectful! 

In my defense, it was Thanksgiving week and we had company for 7 days, I was off work for 5 days, and we made a very quick 16 hour roundtrip drive/relatives-visit in there as well. But my family just left 30 minutes ago and the turkey & pumpkin pie are almost all gone so I guess it’s time to tune back in to reality. 

Before reality sets in, can I just muse on how absolutely wonderful it was to have my family with us this week? It was my mom & stepdad. My mom is wonderful. She’s SUCH a mom, and grandma. It’s her true calling. That and talking – her nickname is Chatty Cathy because she can talk up anybody. Truly, it’s a gift. I am infinitely more reserved.

When my mom visits, or I visit her, she takes care of ME. Who else does that? My husband . . . sometimes, but he’s busy. You know how it is. But my mom – she worries about me, asks me what she can do to help, and generally just pitches in to make my life a little better during our time together. I’m so lucky to have her! And she’s such a good, supportive, loving grandma. She kisses, hugs, and spoils all of us. She & my stepdad are such gems and I’m one very lucky girl to have them. ❤


So I’m writing today with some sadness, after saying goodbye to them, and some worry since we’re having a snowstorm this morning and they had to leave in it. I hope they make it safely to their destination tonight; I’ll be on pins and needles until I know they are safe.

But I’m also feeling loved, safe and secure today too. They provide us with so much – love, money, and just plain old always-here-for-you support. My family is full of problem-solvers and I love them for it! Generally when I call my mom to discuss an issue before I have even explained the problem she’s saying, “well, could you do this? or what about this?” So we’ve spent the last week discussing, mulling, and agreeing on different things we can do to solve various problems and, really, that’s a gift in itself, right? Just someone to HELP. To talk to and say, “what do you think?” *sigh* I love them.

I have to put a halt to this missive for now; domestic goddess duties are calling. I have to take my boys to a wedding reception tonight and I’m making something gluten-free to bring with me. I’m off to find a gluten-free brownie recipe! Then maybe I’ll blog about that too. 😉 I know I’m going to add cherries and coffee to it for sure. Stay tuned.

Oh, and happy holidays!

Oh the pressure

So do you remember that scene in Pretty Woman where Vivian (Julia Roberts) and her roommate, Kit, are talking about how it’s possible to have the fairytale? Kit insists it’s possible and Viv says “Tell me one person it’s worked out for”, and Kit says, “What, you want me to name someone? You want like a name? Oh, god, the pressure . . . of a name. I got it! Cinderf&%#inrella!”

I have two points I want to make about that:

1. That’s how I feel trying to “birth” this blog – oh the pressure . . . of the words. What should I say? I feel compelled to start it though I have no clear purpose or any particular knowledge to impart. The plan for this blog is yet unplanned. I hope it will be my outlet. When I have something to say I can say it here. One day it will have pictures and the next it will have a poem, or a rant. I thought I might have a clear purpose, a theme, but the more I thought about it the more I realized I’m just a bit too random to adhere to a theme. Everyday will be different – a topic du jour, so to speak.

2. I think a lot of what I write about will be my life and all the trials and tribulations therein. My life as a mom, a wife, and just how, exactly, to be super woman. (I’ll let you know when I get that one figured out – should be happening any minute now). I think the most obvious theme if, in fact, there is a theme at all, is there is no one happy ending – there are LOTS of them – and we learn as we go. They aren’t all about being rescued (though some are, and for those I’m grateful) but some happy endings are just about an increased awareness, or perception, of a situation that allows us to ascend to the next chapter in our lives. Growing up? Yes, maybe. Growing in knowledge and experience? Definitely.

So – if you are up for it, come along with me and let’s figure out a few things, okay? 

Ciao!