Sunday, January 25, 2015

Filled anew

There is something so special about the time of great romance in your life. The time when you are falling in love. You are consumed with a new energy - an excitement, a purpose that you didn't have before. I didn't think anything would compare with it since. In fact, I think married couples often see love stories unfolding in movies and both think of what has been and is no longer and what will never be again.

But I'm here, eight years into my marriage, nine years since our great romance, and I'm telling you I am filled with that kind of energy again. And no, I'm not seeing someone else. I am telling you that type of passion lies not just in your bond with another person, but really in doing anything it is that really excites you.

For me, it is in writing. I have always dreamed of writing a book (many books, really). I have thought about it and dreamed about it. That's it. But now I'm actually acting on it. I have let way too many years slide by without doing anything beyond dreaming. Those years, by the way, would have been perfect to commit to writing. Now I have two children and don't have alone time without feeling guilty about being alone.

But thanks to my mother-in-law offering to watch my boys one afternoon a week, I am writing this novel. I am nowhere near finished, of course, but I have words on pages. And I'm putting more and more words on more and more pages. On Friday, after I finished writing, I made myself a salad in the kitchen and I literally found myself bouncing up and down to a song, that is how excited I was to be doing what I love, to be filled with inspiration and purpose and excitement. Then I went for a run, and I thought of my characters and what they would do and how I would write it. I smiled a lot while I sucked up the fresh outdoor air, filled anew.

Everyone wants to be something. Some of us actually have the discipline to become it. 
~ Jon Taffer on Bar Rescue

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Book Nook

I have completed my first Pinterest worthy project. Brandon's room has a small nook between where his closet ends and the outside wall begins. One day, when he is in school, I will put his desk there. But until then, I have decided to fill it with his books.

I love framed book covers. I didn't buy any of the book covers as artwork - I used book jackets or destroyed books we already had. These are some of Brandon's favorite books. 8x8 frames fit Berenstain Bears, Little Critter, and Biscuit books (plus many more square paperback books). Many large books are 8x10 and smaller ones are often 5x7 so I didn't have to buy any specialty frames.
I only paid for two of these prints:
1. The "You've Got Mail" quote in the upper left corner ($10 for four printable 8x10 quotes) - you can buy it on Etsy here.
2. The "Book Nook" 8x10 print in the center ($10) - you can buy it on Etsy here. I matted the center picture ($4 @ Michael's) and put it in an 11x14 frame so it was larger than everything else.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/159357391/book-print-library-print?ref=shop_home_active_8
All of Brandon's books are organized by shelf (Disney on one shelf, hardbacks on their own shelves, paperbacks on their own). For book collections (ie: Little Critter, Arthur, Thomas) that he likes, I bought magazine files and store them all in there. Now when he wants a book, I can retrieve it in ten seconds or less. Until, of course, he gets in there and destroys my organization.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Trying to find a career

Our twenties are for experimenting, exploring different jobs, and discovering what fulfills us. My professor warned against graduate school, asserting, "you're not fully formed yet. You don't know if it's what you really want to do with your life because you haven't tried enough things...And if you rush into something you're unsure about, you might awake midlife with a crisis on your hands."
~Straight Up and Dirty by Stephanie Klein

This year marks a decade since I graduated college. Some college kids have their whole lives mapped out and already know what they want to do and have secured internships that will get them well on their way. Not me. I had just had a baby, then decided to move halfway across the country. I had to find a place to live, then a job, stat. I started with just a job, not a career. I didn't launch into a career right away. The truth is, I didn't know what it is I wanted to do yet. I had a degree in English, which is notorious for not helping you land a career. I had passions, but none of them fell into the "paying gig" category.

So I took the first job I could get, back in a restaurant, which is what I had been doing during college. I just did restaurants for the first four months in Nebraska. Then, my friend said he could get me an interview at the place he worked. I decided it was time to get a real resume put together, so I interviewed and took the job. It wasn't glamorous - it was selling oversize truck permits over the phone. While working there, that friend of mine proposed to me and we got married. We decided to move so he could work at a job more in line with what he wanted to do.

So I was just applying for anything in the area. I applied and interviewed everywhere from a construction office for a clerical job to a country club. In the end, I took a job in customer service for dental insurance. No, it certainly wasn't a passion of mine. But in the year we were there, I did decide it was time I found a career. It wasn't that cute anymore to be aimless. I was a married woman and should have some ground underneath my feet. At the call center, I thought about if there was any kind of job there I would like. There were only two: training and human resources.

After Steve's one-year contract was up, we decided to move back to Omaha. So I found myself searching for a job again. This time, I focused my job search just on what was listed under Human Resources. Surprisingly, I had already completed a phone interview and had an in-person interview scheduled before we even made it back to Omaha. It was for a staffing agency, which is entry-level HR. I had no experience, sure, and the owner made it very clear to me in the interview that she felt sure she was wasting her time even meeting with me. But I fought. I told her why I would be a good hire and that despite my lack of experience, I would excel. I told her when I try at something, I go all in. She did hire me. I got my start there at the staffing agency where I put in my "pound of flesh" and learned a lot in a little period of time. And I learned I liked it enough to stay in the field. If I hadn't, I would have tried something else.

I think there is a lot of pressure on 22-year-old college graduates to have their whole lives planned out already. I also think it is ridiculous to expect that of any 22-year-old. Don't you remember being 22? The worrying was about beer and rent money and dating - not about 401K and health insurance yet. If you're 22 and you're reading this, I say think about a job you might like. Get into an entry-level version of that. It's not as easy as it sounds, I know. You have to fight for it. There is plenty of competition out there. Set yourself apart. Ask people you know about jobs like that they might know. Get someone with a good resume to look over and tweak your resume. Post it on  resume sharing sites (ie: The Ladders). Go to interviews. Take the interviews seriously and don't act like any job is beneath you. The fact is, if a job you take in your twenties ends you up one day in the career you've always dreamed of, the unglamorous job duties will all be worth it. If you find you don't like what you've gotten yourself into, start over. Think of another job you might like. Try that one. Repeat if necessary. It's OK to try things while you're discovering what it is you do and don't like. But don't let that turn into a lifestyle, because being aimless isn't cute anymore in your thirties.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

To work or not to work

I loved staying at home. At first. I was sleeping in until 9 each morning, Holden was on a regular eat-sleep-poop schedule, and Brandon was still taking a nap each day and hadn’t started saying, “leave me alone!” yet. I loved not having anywhere to go or a reason to put on makeup. Not wearing pants with zippers was quite a perk. I didn’t have any of the work stresses that used to consume me. I was never going to go back to work until I absolutely had to.

But then, the funk came. I guess the funk has been here for the last two months or so. That is when Holden became unpredictable and turned from a somewhat vocal baby to a shrieking menace. He screams. A lot. And very loudly. It’s not just noise. He is a danger to himself and others. He pulls hair, grabs noses, scratches faces. He shoves anything and everything in his mouth. He pulls himself up on furniture, Brandon, the stairs. He had been sleeping through the night around two months, but hasn’t since the funk began. He wakes up in the middle of the night screaming and I feed him just so he will go back to bed, even though I know it’s creating a bad habit.

The boys wake up early now (between six and seven every morning. Without fail). Brandon doesn’t nap anymore. I never have a moment of silence. My home used to feel like a haven, but now it is more like a cage. I used to take these boys out nearly every day, but now the stars have to align in order to take Holden anywhere. If he hasn’t eaten full bottles, baby food, pooped and had his nap yet, it ain’t happening. It’s too risky. I don’t talk to anyone except Brandon (and sometimes he gets an earful, believe me). Home is an endless loop of preparing meals, cleaning up after them, scraping poop off of clothes, sweeping up cheerios, changing diapers, giving baths.

When Steve gets home, as much as I’d like to hand the kids to him and book it out of here for a couple minutes of silence, I don’t (usually). Because anyone who has been a stay-at-home mom knows that part of the deal is that you are thankful that your husband works so you can stay home with your kids in the first place. But it all built up a couple mornings ago when I was up before the sun yet again, and Steve was sleeping peacefully. “That’s it! I’m going back to work! I can’t do this anymore!” I believe were my exact words in a fit of rage. I remember when we both worked and Brandon was a baby that our home time we split the responsibilities pretty damn near equally. But as a stay-at-home mom, you don’t have hours. You are on-call all hours. There is no five o’clock quitting time. You work around the clock. Your husband has a “real job” so he sleeps while you unravel as you become more and more sleep deprived and starved for a break from the monotony.

Before my fit of rage, I had thought about returning to work. I told myself I would journal about it and really understand what I thought about it before bringing it up with Steve. But journaling never happened because I’m in a funk. My funks mean less reading and writing, more bitching and feeling sorry for myself. I decided I would talk to him about it more rationally. I thought about all my reasons. I am a selfish person, and that’s a pretty hard attribute to shake. So naturally, I thought of how going back to work would benefit me. I thought about joking around with co-workers again. I thought fondly of having a reason to put on makeup. I thought of all those work pants in my closet that I haven’t fit into in years that should fit me again now. I thought of having money to play with again and what I would buy with it (Fitbit, Joe’s skinny jeans, a new purse). I thought about being thanked and recognized for the work that I do. I thought about having more challenging problems to solve than just stains and lost pacifiers. But what I didn’t think about, of course, was how it would affect the rest of my family.

Then on Friday, we went back to Brandon’s old daycare to pick up a statement. I expected him to be excited to see everyone again. The ladies who used to watch him were overjoyed to see him. But Brandon stood there, unemotional and detatched. I asked him if he wanted to run around with his little buddies, but he just stood by me until a toy caught his eye which he retrieved alone. On the way home, I asked him if he wanted to go back to daycare or to stay home with mommy. “Stay home with mommy,” he answered without even a second’s pause. That’s when I realized what is best for Brandon. Despite all my shortcomings, I know the attention Brandon is getting from me is more than he will get anywhere else. I am homeschooling him without anyone knowing it. He and I can speak to each other like I would an adult.

So when Steve and I did discuss me returning to work, he told me something I needed to hear. He said that I may one day regret the time I spend away from my kids, but I will never regret the time I spend with them. He said that the boys will be in school one day not so far from this one. This is the only time I’ll have this opportunity to be their world. And money – we have our whole lives ahead of us to make and save and spend money.

So today, when I spoke to Brandon, I told him how there are two major currencies: time and money. I told him how many people focus only on earning money by working with all of their time, but a person who is happy will find a good balance and know how to spend both wisely. I already regret those weekend days when I went into that horrible place I used to work at when Brandon was just a baby. I went in there and worked my ass off all alone when I had a baby at home who was learning how to walk and talk. I’m not going to make that same mistake with Holden. It’s 12:30 now and Holden just woke up. I must go. I’m on-call tonight.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Wandering

Excuse my absence. I'm angry at my computer. It's taken me awhile to come back and sit here. In the time I was away, my husband cleared this desk off and it is actually quite nice to return. Ahh. The reason I'm mad at my computer is because it is slow and I am impatient. Sure, I'm the one who made it slow with the constant picture uploads and now with my Photoshop application. Steve said he will get us more memory and then I can start editing and posting my photos again. Until then, I will just use my words. Like it's 2004 all over again.

What was I like in 2004? I have a terrible memory, but (some of) 2004, I can remember. A lot happened. I became an adult. In a way I wouldn't recommend, mind you.

In 2004, I turned 21. I flew to Nebraska and had my first (legal) drink at Ameristar right after midnight. It was a Grasshopper, I believe. It was terrible. My friend Marie and I had a get-together at Old Chicago in the Old Market that night where she was working at the time. We had some drinks, slurred our words, got McDonald's, and slept in the next day. So typical.

I was a junior in college. I attended Northwest University in Kirkland, WA and took my language course (Deustch, natürlich) at Bellevue Community College. I started the year living in college apartments. There were four of us in a two bedrom, two bathroom.

After the school year ended, I got an apartment with some of my co-workers. There were three of us there. I thought I had made it because the apartment had crown molding. I bought a couch and oversized chair off a lady who was moving out the day we were moving in. My brother still has it, which makes me smile.

That summer I worked my two restaurant jobs, spent free time in the apartment pool. I rocked a bikini with confidence (never again! I wish I had a picture to relive my glory days). We had after work parties at our apartment. I remember "Wet Hot American Summer" being a very popular movie among my roommate's friends. I watched it but wasn't transformed by it or anything. I certainly wasn't going to dress up like characters from that movie for Halloween like they were.

That summer I bought my first car. It was a black '98 Saturn SC1. It was a rebuilt car from a very sketchy ring that worked in Federal Way. I didn't know that when I bought the car, of course. The first day, it ran like a dream. The second day, I noticed some problems. The third day, I coasted into the Saturn dealership in neutral where they gave me a three-page list of problems with the car. I told them to just change the battery for now because that's all I could afford and it ran great for me for our next seven years together.

That fall I quit my waitressing job at the Keg, which was the first job I ever loved. I'm not sure why, but I assume I thought I suffered a terrible injustice and I would stick it to them by quitting. I was always quitting jobs to right some wrong. And I was replaced quickly and then found myself filling out applications again. So I didn't really stick it to anyone but myself, of course. I had four jobs in 2004: The Keg, Newport Bay Seafood Cafe, the Original Pancake House (weekend mornings) and Black Angus (how I replaced my Keg job - a terrible downgrade).

That fall I moved out of that party apartment and moved in with some other Keg co-worker who quit or was going to quit or something. I started watching Sex and the City. I made myself Pasta Roni for lunch a lot. I remember liking a younger boy who moved to Lake Tahoe on a whim with everything he owned in his car, and then everything was stolen out of his car. I remember he thought one of the Olsen twins was hot and I was slightly jealous of that, as if I was competing with her or something.

In 2004 I lost my virginity. A month later, I was pregnant. I've always gravitated towards the quote, "Not all who wander are lost." But I know now that I really was lost then. I was wandering for exactly that reason. Thankfully, 2005 came next. 2005 came with some direction. I still wandered, of course, but towards something, rather than away from everything.

Lots of times you don't know what interests you most till you start talking about something that doesn't interest you most. 
~ J.D. Salinger (who else?)

Oh, and at the end of 2004, I started my first blog via LiveJournal

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Most Impactful books I read in 2014

I am avoiding saying "best" books I read because after I read this: 

It is an impressively arrogant move to conclude that just because you don't like something, it is empirically not good.
~ BossyPants by Tina Fey

I started paying more attention to the way I say things are good or not good. It's such a simple insight, but so overlooked. I remember as a server I would always be annoyed when people would ask me for suggestions on what they should order. "What's good here?" they'd ask. I hated that question because what I liked didn't mean they would like it. We are always saying we like "good" books, movies, or music to feel superior to people who care for something else. The fact is, if you enjoy it, it is good to you. If you don't enjoy it, that doesn't mean it's bad. It means it's not for you.

Last year was my best reading year yet, hitting 40 books. If you're keeping tally on my right sidebar, you'll see I read a lot of other books that are famous for being "good" and I totally agree they are, but they didn't make the list because I was re-reading them and I find you get the most impact out of a book the first time you read it. So out of all the books I read, these ones impacted me the most (in the order I read them):

1. Comeback: A Mother and Daughter's Journey Through Hell and Back 
by
This is a memoir written about the drug addiction Mia lived through and conquered. It's pretty powerful because you read both her account as someone fully immersed in it but then also her mother's side of the story. It's pretty amazing to read two perspectives on the same battle because we usually only focus on what we think, not what anyone else does. Claire's love for her daughter is strong and tough when it has to be. And I hope to hell my children never face any drug addiction.

2. Old School  
by Tobias Wolff
I picked this up because of the author. He also wrote, This Boy's Life which is also fantastic. Any way, this book is about high school boys who are all quite avid readers and literary critics. They write compositions to win the prize of different authors coming to meet them. This is right up my alley, of course, so maybe I liked it more than most people would (my two favorite books are also about school-age adolescents) and I totally geek out to all the literary references. There are a lot of poignant thoughts and observations you pick up from someone young who is discovering what adults are too hardened or uninterested to observe.

3. The Pearl 
by John Steinbeck
So I might be a little behind the game by just now reading it (I think it's a high school read usually). But better late than never. I fell in love with Steinbeck last year reading Of Mice and Men and the love continues. He is just one hell of a story teller and a writer (not just an author). This book is about a man who finds a giant pearl and the great fortune actually destroys what was a humble yet happy life.

4. Bringing up Bebe
by Pamela Druckerman
This book got me over a definite hump in parenthood. I was not the boss of my child, but he was the boss of me. We are still working on that in many ways, but at least he goes to bed without screaming now and sleeps in a bed rather than a crib. I learned from this book that just because every other parent seems to do it this way doesn't mean that I have to. I also learned about babies' sleeping patterns and sleeping through the night and worked some real magic on Holden. Now, of course, he has regressed and wakes up screaming in the night from teething pain every few nights, but it was blissful at first.


5. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar
by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl is wonderful. The short story the book is titled after is absolutely fantastic.  I even got my husband (who never reads [OK, he reads emails, Twitter, and the newspaper]) and his brother to read it. They both loved it, too. There are a couple other gems in this collection as well, but you'll remember the story of Henry Sugar the most, to be sure. I had only read Roald Dahl's children's books prior to this. He is a fantastic children's book author, of course, but he can write for adults, too.

6. Autobiography of Malcolm X
As Told to Alex Haley
People who don't read don't understand my fascination with reading. But basically everything I've learned I've learned by reading. I was homeschooled for ten years which meant reading rather than hearing lectures. Reading someone else's story shows you a new perspective you never considered before, which is exactly what I got from Malcolm X's story. Beware - this book is long with tiny print. I don't usually read books over 350 pages, but this one was on a respectable list of books to read so I bit the bullet. It was worth it. Malcolm X is fascinating. I especially respected his self-discipline and work ethic.

7. The Middle Place
by Kelly Corrigan
I bought this book because it was on clearance and it was a NY Times Bestseller. I didn't really know what I would be reading. But it is about a mother of two who discovers a lump which turns out to be breast cancer. She is in her thirties and battles and subsequently beats cancer while her father is battling a different cancer across the country. "The Middle Place" refers to "that sliver of time where childhood and parenthood overlap." Perhaps that's why I related to this book so much. That, and the most likely fear of mine - getting cancer in my thirties.

8. Orange is the New Black
by Piper Kerman
Let me preface this by saying I don't watch the show. I tried to watch the show, but gave up about ten minutes into the first episode. So I picked up the book to see what all the fuss was about. The book was fascinating. A woman who doesn't fit the standard profile for a drug prisoner is locked in prison for a year. She chronicles her life inside - what she does to stay busy, the people she meets, the terrible food and the little joys the prisoners find despite the circumstances. Sometimes I wonder what I would do if I was jailed for a year, and I like to think I would spend my time much like Malcolm X and Piper Kerman do - reading a lot of books, to start. Piper also runs each day and does yoga, which is basically my life in a nutshell. Lastly, the author has a badass name.

9. Dark Places
by Gillian Flynn
Gillian Flynn is best known for this year's blockbuster "Gone Girl" which I also read this year, but I found this book to be better. The story revolves around Ruby, now in her thirties who survived a massacre at her house back when she was six in the eighties. Her brother is locked away for the crime, but many people don't believe the truth was ever exposed. This book follows her as she seeks to discover the truth. Her now dead mother and her brother serve as narrators as well: you hear their side of the story as Ruby is discovering new information. It's thrilling. This is also being made into a movie and will be released this year.

10. This is Where I Leave You
by Jonathan Tropper
This book is a quick light read. Something my mom would call "fluff." A family sits shiva together for the seven days after their father's funeral. The main character has just discovered his wife sleeping with his boss prior to shiva and is going through a transition period, as is everyone else in his family for different reasons. As the days tick by, you realize why they don't typically spend much time together. Each character is impulsive and selfish, which seeing them interact together makes for some great entertainment. This is also a movie, which I will watch eventually.

And now comes a new year with new books to discover! I have a laundry list of ones to read. I don't think a reader's life can ever be long enough to read everything she wants to.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Mama's boys

I used to think mamas' boys were wimpy and pathetic. I was annoyed by those kind of guys who would talk to their mom on the phone all the time. I thought that I should be the first woman in their life and that they were too old to be calling up mommy about mundane details of their lives. I thought those guys should grow up and I thought that being a mama's boy was a sign of being eternally stuck as a child.

But now, I hope my own boys grow up to be mama's boys. That is, I hope they grow up to be adjusted adults but still care enough about me to keep me as a Major Person in their lives. And I know what that will mean for them. It will mean one day my son will bring home a girl to meet me. A girl who is very important to him, and a girl who already is silently competing with me for his affection, as if a man can only love one person. She will see me as an enemy and I will come up in their couple fights and she will dog him for being a mama's boy as if still loving the woman who gave him life is some sort of handicap.

And you know what I'll tell her? I'll tell her that one day, if she is the Luckiest Kind of Woman, she will have a son of her own. She will rock him to sleep each night and sing him lullabies and incessantly check his temperature and wake up every hour worrying about him. He will wrap his tiny fingers around her finger and she will fall in love with him and love him with all her might. And as babies do, he will love her back. And he will grow from a baby to a toddler and she will read him stories and take him to the zoo and teach him how to pee in a toilet. And he will still love her.

And then, he will start school and he will meet all sorts of friends and find that the world is full of other people besides his mama. But even still, every afternoon he will return home and feel at peace because his mama, the woman who first held him and has always kept him safe, is there and there is a comfort and an unconditional love between a mother and her child that isn't there with all the other people you meet. Everyone else has will keep conditions on their love for him, but his mama will always love him as he is.
Then one day he will move out of her house and she will bawl her eyes out because he has outgrown her. She will cry because his whole life he has needed her, and now, he will learn all the things that help him get by without her. And then one day, he will meet some person who makes him happy, some other woman--a girl really. And this girl will think she has life all figured out, but she won't, because she's just a kid and has only seen one perspective so far. This girl will call the son a mama's boy and pick fights with him about it and despise the mama for being loved by the boy, too.
And do you know what else I'll tell this girl my son has brought home who just listened to a long hypothetical story based on my own? I'll tell her, "good for you." And she will look at me quizzically, maybe even think I'm crazy so I will explain. I will tell her that if she raises a son to be a mama's boy, she has done a good job, because she has raised a boy who loves back those that love him. If she has raised a boy that as an adult still appreciates and loves his mama, that doesn't make him pathetic or a wimp, but it makes him a catch. He will know how to love a woman furiously because there is a woman who first loved him furiously.
I will tell her that I will always love my son and I hope like hell he always loves me back, and if she thinks that is some sort of impediment then she doesn't deserve the love my son has to give. I will tell her that she has only known my son for a year, maybe less, and I have known him from the first breath he took -- even before, really -- and she shouldn't expect everything before her to mean nothing because she is here now. I will tell her I want my son to be happy, and if you make him happy, I will love you too. But if you don't, I will be glad when you break up and I will never give you a second thought again.
And at this, this girl will be a little startled because I am so blunt and sound so callous, when the way my son talks about me she would think I am a god damn saint. She will probably think I'm crazy once again and I won't deny it or try to disprove it, but instead, I will smile sweetly at her and say that one day, she will understand and that having a son turns you into a different person than you were at twenty. The Luckiest Kind of Woman.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Cousin love

Here is Holden with Grandma on Christmas. She got him this adorable jacket and you can tell he likes it. He is a G.
This is my niece Mila. She and Brandon are ten weeks apart, so you'd think they'd be friends. Maybe some day they will be, but for now, they compete with each other on everything. This girl is only two, but you can already tell how beautiful she will be as an adult. Oh the hearts she will break.
This is my other niece: Saryn. She is seven. Hanging out with her last week made me realize that it gets better. This girl can dress herself, fix herself breakfast, buckle herself into the car seat. She is the most amazing helper and I miss having her around already. She is smarter than many adults I know and I wouldn't hesitate to let her do my grocery shopping, watch my kids, and even drive my car. This girl is future CEO material.

Brandon made a video for his cousins in which he told Saryn he missed her. When I asked him if he missed Mila too, he dodged the question. They sent him back a video where they both said they missed him. He has been watching it over and over again today and each time he watches it, I watch him because the smile that creeps onto his face when he hears that is the sweetest thing.
People who don't know better think Holden is an angel. But this picture is him in a nutshell. He's a mischievous, wild daredevil.
 And this picture encapsulates Brandon. He is a friendly, happy, precocious little man.
 Holden got new stacking blocks today. I wanted a picture with the pretty colors. This year, I will take more pictures with my good camera and less with my phone.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Words I needed to write words

People seem to feel strongly for or against making resolutions. I feel neither. I make resolutions usually, but not because I need to to motivate myself. I do like the symbolism of turning over a new leaf - a fresh start with a fresh calendar.

Last year I killed it in the working out department. I was motivated by my large clothes and lumpy body. Then, I got to a point where the weather got cold and I reached my goal range. I still work out, but I wasn't changing it up, I was just going through the motions. Then I read Britney Spears'  workout regimen in Women's Health and I thought, I can do that. I'm a pretty fit person. She does this interval treadmill running like I do. But Britney don't play. I couldn't do it. Well, I did 15 of the 60 minutes and then eased up to a slow jog on nearly no incline. So this year, I'm going to change it up on my workouts. I will get stronger and faster.

But my real goal this year is to focus on my passion. And my passion is and always has been writing. I claim that, but I don't just do it. This year, I'm just going to do it. I will make myself short-term goals like I did with working out. I'm sure I can make an Excel spreadsheet out of page count goals, and a reason for a spreadsheet should be reason alone for me to stick with my plan. I'm going to write the book I've always had inside me. I'm going to release the beast.

In the past month, multiple people have sent me encouragement to write. Friends, past co-workers and mere acquaintances have reached out to tell me this. It brings tears to my eyes, because these people have no ulterior motive, but even still they are encouraging me to reach out for my dreams. I needed each note and email and blog comment. I needed to believe someone would read it to be inspired to write it. An "If you build it, they will come" of sorts.

I know you will write good things - however long it takes, however different from what you intended - you will write good things - beautiful things. 

Just wanted you to know that once a month at least I read your blog and love it. Love seeing the pictures of your little cuties and you should really write a book. But isn't that what you are really doing? You are very good at it. 

I love reading your blog. I only stumble across it every six months or so, but you are such a delightful writer. I find myself laughing, agreeing, shedding a tear, and so much more. 

Has your "stay at home" time allowed you any time to write?  Are you closer to finishing your novel?  The material that you sent me hooked me and I hope you've continued with it.  You have a great talent and I think you are on to something there.  

Thanks to you guys and to the two of you who sent me the text messages I accidentally deleted. I don't know how you all knew that I needed those words, or how they all came at the same time, but I am grateful. And now, it's time to get to work. No more fucking around. Dreams don't come true without a bit of hard work, and I'm ready to put in my time.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

This year kicked off with me being let go from my job in my third trimester of pregnancy. Although that was humbling and humiliating, it ended up being good for us as we finally decided I would stay home after Holden was born. I spent the two weeks in between being let go and starting my temporary job finishing the toy room.

February was cold, and I was fat. I worked my temp job, Brandon spent his last full month in daycare, and in my free time, I finished Holden's room.
 
 With March came Holden's arrival. He came out with a bang and has been making a racket ever since!
In April, we had Brandon's second birthday party. I learned how much I hate throwing birthday parties. I was thankful for my mom's and my friend Anni's help. C-sections are no joke!
In May, I began working out. I started slow (very slow!) In all the time I wasn't working out, I was hanging out with the kids, taking them to the children's museum, shopping, or anything else to get out of the house and feel like regular people.
I don't remember much about June, but here's a picture of Holden at three months old. I think I mostly ran outside while Steve golfed on the weekends. Obviously it wasn't eventful.
 
In July we cleaned out our house, had a garage sale, then painted our house blue. 

 In August, I agreed to run Hood to Coast. I took Holden with me since he was a free lap child, and he met his Washington family.
 
Then football started! The Dolphins got our hopes up just to dash them once again. I made it to final two in our Fantasy Football league just to lose by four points to my brother. Football disappoints us all yet again. It's a love-hate relationship. A lot of it is hate.
 October meant the botanical gardens, the pumpkin patch, and trick-or-treating! Holden wore a hand-me-down costume that was much too small for him and Brandon cried when my sister and I tried to spray his hair black to make his Jake costume look more authentic.
November was about as eventful as June. There was Thanksgiving, and Cyber Monday shopping. Other than that, I'm not too sure what went on.
 This month we traveled to Washington for Holden's first Christmas. My children are perfect travelers. Not so perfect on land though, as Brandon needs to learn to share and Holden loves to shriek. We loved all our adventures in 2014 and plan on many more in 2015!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Oversharer

I used to hate that I am a sharer. I share information I receive, and can not keep a secret. I don't even like to try keeping a secret, actually. It makes me anxious. When people preface something with, "you can't tell anyone this," I am curious, but it is probably best not to tell me. I will tell someone. At least Steve, maybe more people. I thought of this as only a bad quality, until I read Lena Dunham's book, and realized that if the world was full of only secretive people, we would never make any advances. It's not a bad thing. Not always, at least.

I read Gone Girl and was disturbed by the meticulous secrets Amy kept. The story seemed so implausible to me because I can't imagine keeping a secret for more than a month, let alone years. I do remember trying to be a private person, long ago. But the problem with that is that I come from a family of sharers. OK, busybodies. I kept diaries that were discovered. If I told one person something in confidence, it was leaked nearly instantly and soon people I didn't want to know knew too much about me. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. So I gave it up and just joined in on the sharing.

Word spread because word will spread. Stories and secrets fight, stories win, shed new secrets, which new stories fight, and on.
 ~ China Miéville, Embassytown 

It works for me, really, since writing is my life passion and in order to write, there must be something to write about. I am officially embracing it now. I admire those of you who can keep secrets, but as for me, I will share

Monday, December 29, 2014

Two pictures

We just returned from our Christmas vacation in Washington, and I've got a yoga DVD and a hot bath calling my name, so I will just quickly post a picture of each of my boys this Christmas.

Steve got me Photoshop Elements for Christmas, so be sure there will be more pictures, once I edit some of my terrible ones into acceptable ones.
 
Hope your holidays were merry and bright!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

List to tell people

I think about making a list of all the things I need to tell people before it's too late. 
~ Jonathan Tropper, This is Where I Leave You

I read this and knew immediately that I must do it.  There are people very important to me that I appreciate and admire and never told them as much because it's so cheesy and awkward. Do you remember that scene from Sex and the City at the spa where they talk about a girl who isn't ashamed of being naked in front of people because she's "from a naked family"? Well, I'm from a family that doesn't speak our mushy feelings. But I can write it. So I have started it. Within minutes, tears were streaming down my face because of all that was inside of me that had been left unsaid. It was cathartic and needed - and that was just the beginning. I've only written three paragraphs so far. One day I will give these words I write to the people I'm writing them for.

The things left unsaid stay with us forever.
~ I wish I was Here movie

What I wasn't expecting when I began thinking what I would write was what I would learn from what I didn't write. We hold onto bitterness and resentment, but when you go to write down what it is you'd like to say to people, the mean and petty and vindictive just don't seem important at all. I've never regretted biting my tongue from saying something mean. But we all regret not saying how much we love and appreciate people. 

The important thing about life is love. Everything else is just a distraction. 
~ A blog comment I read (Original source unknown or was actually a blog comment)

Monday, December 15, 2014

"breast is best" only works if your breasts work great and your sanity is not in jeopardy

I'm a good mother. At least, not a bad one. OK, I'm a mother, and I am assigning myself adjectives that you may or may not agree with. The fact is, each day, my sons wake up to see the next one. They not only made it through the last day alive, but they spent a few minutes of it reading books, helping with chores, and not saying, "no mama!" in a fit of rage. So you agree now, right? "Good mother" suits me.

The thing with motherhood is that you're not the only one. You'll never be an expert in your field. When I had a job, I could talk above people's heads and say pointless corporate words in succession until their eyes glazed over and I could feel important. But with parenting, you don't lose people halfway through a story. They get it. Their kid eats and shits and complains too. Nothing you can say they haven't seen themselves. So as a mother, you never really feel like you've "made it" or are good enough.

By far the worst parenting judgment I've felt so far is with breast feeding. Full disclaimer here: I tried to breastfeed. I really did. And not just while I was in the hospital and the lactation consultant and nurses were forcing me to. I mean, once we got home, I even whipped my breasts out more than once and my babies sawed my nipples into whittled toothpicks with their razor gums. I had to have something to bite on the entire time, because the pain was worse than the C-section pain.

When I told someone who breastfeeds without problems how bad it hurt when my kids' turned me into some common dairy cow, she said, "you mean the pain was your uterus contracting, right?" like I didn't understand where the pain was coming from. The uterus pain was nothing compared to the nipple pain. I quit breastfeeding each of my boys after four days, so they each have an equal shot at being brilliant. I didn't want one to turn out to cure cancer and brag about how his mother breastfed him longer than his layman brother. No one gets advantages over the other! See, I told you I'm a good mother!

It got to the point with Brandon where he actually pulled a blood vessel through my nipple and a lump had formed in one breast. I know other women have this happen and they persevere through the pain, but to me, my sanity was important in my children's upbringing. With Holden, I was dreading each feeding, biting on a washcloth or an old work stress ball each time he clamped down, and screaming and writhing in pain. I switched to formula for each of them, but both switches were hard for me. I journaled about it, tears streaming down my face, feeling like a failure. Steve tried to console me and told me life would go on and we would all be fine. He was right. We are all fine. The kids are alright.

It was only last week when I finished reading Tina Fey's Bossypants that I finally saw breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding as a personal choice, rather than a parenting victory or failure. It's only today that I can finally blog about it without feeling ashamed and guilty. I will always do what is best for my children. And if having a snarling, angry mother writhing in pain was best for them, sure I could have breast fed longer.

Let's make a pact: you don't berate me for not breastfeeding my kids for more than four days and I won't berate you for letting them suck your tits when they have full sets of teeth in their mouths. Let's all do what is best for our families and stop telling everyone else our way is the best way.

We made the switch to an all-formula diet. If you've ever opened a can of infant formula mix, then you know it smells like someone soaked old vitamins in a bucket of wet leaves, then dried them in a hot car. Also, formula is like forty dollars a can. They keep it locked up behind the counter with the batteries and meth ingredients. That's how bad people want this stuff! 

However, the baby was thriving. I was no longer feeling trapped, spending thirty out of every ninety minutes attached to a Williams-Sonoma Tit Juicer. But I still had an overwhelming feeling of disappointment. I had failed at something that was supposed to be natural. 

I was defensive and grouchy whenever the topic came up. At a party with a friend who was successfully nursing her little boy, I watched her husband produce a bottle of pumped breast milk that was the size of a Big Gulp. It was more milk than I had produced in my whole seven weeks -- I blame Entourage. As my friend's husband fed the baby, he said offhandedly, "This stuff is liquid gold. You know it actually makes them smarter?"
"Let's set a date!" I screamed. "IQ test. Five years from today. My formula baby will crush your baby!" Thankfully, my mouth was so full of cake they could not understand me.
~ Tina Fey, Bossypants