Archives for February 2016

We can’t all be winners

Pumpkin wears a dog hat almost every day from November through April. We bought it in Chinatown nearly five years ago, and when the weather chills, every year since, the hat takes near permanent residence on her head daily. Whether she’s inside, outside, sometimes even when she sleeps, that black and white spotted hat is nestled snugly on her noggin.

It’s a joke almost – that damn hat.

You see, part of me hates that hat. I hate that when she wears it, it’s hard to see her beautiful face – and oh, how I love that face. I hate that it tangles her hair and creates a near perpetual state of bedhead.

But part of me loves that I can pick my girl out in a crowd almost anywhere – just look for the hat. It’s her signature – she’s known for it. I also love the fact that she totally doesn’t care if other kids might think it’s weird that she’s always wearing the hat. She loves the hat, and could care less if anyone else likes it or not.

I kind of admire that about her, her individuality – how she marches to the beat of her own drummer. How she embraces weird, embraces herself. She’s so true to herself, that sometimes I think to myself that I want to be my ten year old when I grow up.

Yesterday she had a school competition. She was excited, nervous. I was apprehensive – I’ve never been to one of these before. I’ve been to tons of gymnastics competitions, so I know what to expect, but this was an academic thing, and I had no idea how it all would go.

We spent the morning racing around doing last minute shopping for the competition – a pit stop that ended up irritating me as I wasn’t expecting to have to do anything in the morning other than wake up and attend. The other moms had been talking about all of the things they had purchased for their kids to bring, and though my daughter’s plan was to bring things from her own collection to trade (because you can’t just have a competition, you also have to have a swap meet), when she mentioned that, the look that crossed the other moms’ faces indicated that wasn’t quite how things were done.

Fine. To the dollar store we went.

To the event we went.

Hurry hurry hurry. Wait wait wait.

The kids have been working really hard for months, so I was eager to see them shine. Eager to see Pumpkin shine. But we arrived at 10:30 and their first competition wasn’t until 1 and essentially we started out immediately with waiting – which is how we spent the bulk of the day. In total, despite needing to be there for hours, the actual performance for the kids was less than a half hour.

Wait. Wait. Wait.

(I am not a patient person)

We sat in a loud cafeteria filled which kids and their parents. Our team, with a later performance time, showed up late enough that the majority of tables were already filled and we tucked away in a dim corner. Dim. Loud. Waiting. Just kids and their moms sitting around the table. For hours.

I tried.

I’m not good at social but I tried. I had two books tucked in my purse – I’d honestly been hoping to read. I’d hoped that we’d be sitting in an auditorium, a gym, and that like gymnastics – when I wasn’t watching my daughter I could bury my face in a book.

That’s not the way this works.

Admittedly, it was frustrating – all the waiting. (Because if I’m being totally honest? I think it’s crappy to have kids – and their parents! – sit around all day. They could have better harnessed that downtime for the kids – maybe setting up some craft stations, reading corners, and the like – could have better occupied children filled with nervous energy far more than just sitting around a table ever could – and it could have relieved some of the parental pressure to be social).


Well, it was clear the other team moms were far closer and friendlier than me.. That’s fine, I guess – they’ve been doing this a few years. But I didn’t know what to expect. They’re lovely and friendly and social and fine… but I was overwhelmed with the noise and the dim and the kids everywhere. I just wanted to tune out.

It’s not because I don’t care.

It’s not because I’m a bad mom.

But it’s because well… that’s just not the kind of mom I am.

I suck at small talk. I suck at making friends with the other moms. Yeah, I’m nice enough, but I know that I come across as aloof and even stand offish. When I don’t hang around at practices, I know it may seem like I don’t care – I do – but I also have a limited amount of free time. If my presence isn’t required at a practice, I’m going to use that time for a sanity saving workout rather than just watching over the coach’s shoulder.

I’m not the mom who knows what to say to all the other kids – or even one who enjoys hanging out with hundreds of strangers’ children in a crowded cafeteria.

I don’t expect people are interested in me or what I have to say solely because our kids share a hobby. And that’s okay, for the most part.

And so.

The kids did their thing. They rocked it. Pumpkin wanted to leave to attend a dance with Princess and their dad rather than stay and wait for awards. Considering that when she found out her competition and the dance were on the same day, she was about ready to quit her team rather than miss her dance, I felt okay with the compromise. Would it have been nice for her to stay and see how the team did? Yes. Did I understand why she made the choice she did? Yes. I wasn’t about to tell her not to go to a father-daughter dance with her dad. That’s an important tradition for them.

But, I realize how it may have looked to the team.

And then I saw the pictures on Facebook. And I felt left out. I could see the parents socializing and I felt outside that circle. I recently heard a podcast that said that when we feel judgmental, it has more to do with our own self than the person we are judging – so while my inclination was: Well, they just have more free time than I do and I don’t want to spend all my time at school making friends with other moms, the reality is: I felt left out.

I know I suck at the school mom game. I’m friends with several people who have kids in my daughters’ school – but I’m not the super involved mom and I probably never will be. I care tremendously what my children do. I want to support them and cheer them on. I’ll probably never coach their stuff and the front desk staff at their schools will probably always smugly ask for my ID when I arrive and then say (as they tend to), “Well, we don’t see YOU much around here.”

I’m… not that kind of mom.

I’m an introvert and to add to that – most of these social situations are challenging for me anyway with my stupid malfunctioning eyes and ears. Most people don’t know that – I certainly don’t wear a sign on my shirt letting people know that if I don’t respond when you ask me a question it may well be because I don’t hear you or see you out of the corner of my eye. Yesterday’s environment felt so challenging to me, that I was really tremendously overwhelmed internally that I didn’t have anything left to give externally – I was just trying not to cry.

So it was a perfect storm of emotion to later see pictures on Facebook of the team and knowing that myself and my daughter weren’t there. To know that no one had let us know how they’d done really made me feel outside the circle. I want to be angry at them but I can’t because it’s not really anything they did – it’s realizing that who I am doesn’t always fit in the circle… and probably never will.

And that’s okay. I have a life outside of the school. I have great friendships and relationships. I know that I am going through tough stuff and I have to be forgiving of myself. I know that I don’t have what it takes to go along just to get along and that, too, makes me seem abrasive and difficult to know and sometimes like.

At one point last night I thought to myself – maybe we can move. Maybe I can start over.

Then I realized: I’ll still be who I am. I will always be who I am. No matter if I fit, or if anyone else likes it. I can’t be anyone other than myself.

And that’s when I realized that I may be more like my daughter than I think.

All I’m missing is a dog hat.


Thursday Ten: Can I be honest? edition

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  1. Yesterday wasn’t a good day. I woke up just feeling completely grumpy, completely bogged down. And I went for a walk at lunch and felt a bit weepy for no good reason. And then the evening didn’t get significantly better. Alexander might describe a day like that as being “horrible, terrible, no good, very bad” and I’d be inclined to agree. I’m not sure what you do with a day like that though, because it’s far too easy to let the little moments add up to an unbearable fever pitch.
  2. It’s how I found myself eating cookies at 9:30 while watching Parenthood on Netflix, debating running a bath with Philosophy Pink Frosted Animal Cracker bubble bath.
  3. I find that I often have big judgmental ideas about things. I don’t know why. It probably doesn’t come from the happiest place, but I am difficult, I know, because my brain is always swirling and I can be hard and I can be awful. How are we the ways that we are, I sometimes wonder? The ways that make us difficult and closed off when we should be open?
  4. There’s a huge pimple on my forehead and I swear it’s eating my brain.
  5. Happy National Drink Wine Day! Cheers! I hope to pour a glass of white wine this evening – red gives me migraines. One of the most fun things about Michigan (remember, I don’t love Michigan!) is the number of terrific wineries in Traverse City – and most of them make white, not red, wine. TC is beautiful – and visiting the wineries is one of my favorite things to do here. (Beer City Whut?)
  6. I get really mad at the universe about my eyes sometimes. This week has been one of those weeks.
  7. My 39 before 40 list is going exceptionally slowly but… so far I have not caved in to my annual February whim to cut my hair. That’s HUGE.
  8. I started using Digit last week. In a week, it’s tucked away $11.50 for me. I’m a lazy saver, I know that I need to save… but don’t. It just tucks away a little bit at a time – and so it’s too soon to tell, but I’m hopeful that it’s a good way for me to meet my goal of starting to develop a REAL GROWN UP SAVING PLAN. I’m a bit obsessed with checking the dash to see if it’s saved anything more for me. In fact, I just messaged it yesterday to “save more.” [That link is an affiliate link – if you decide to sign up, when you start saving, I get some bucks for referral.]
  9. So, the very drawn on exaggerated eye brow trend. That’s…something.
  10. Sometimes I want to brag about my ability to make beautiful grilled cheese sandwiches, as if that’s a thing that anyone else but my kids cares about, but then I don’t because I have never actually eaten a grilled cheese sandwich and maybe it’s not something to brag about.

Thursday Ten: Fevered edition

  1. Tis the season for all the germs and viruses. I’ve been battling a low grade fever on and off for over a week and yesterday finally couldn’t stand it anymore. Between the temperature and the queasy stomach, I couldn’t stand to sit at my desk any longer. I actually left work early to come home and rest. I… never do that. I know that I should. It’s not good to hang out in your office, spreading your germs to every single person and putting them at risk to catch the crud – but, I’m also afraid of falling behind, losing time that I could be working on things, and well… you see where I’m going with this. I suck at self care when I don’t feel well. Baby steps.

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2. Tax refund time means pay all the bills time. UGH. In case you were wondering? That sucks. Know what else sucks? When your insurance refuses to cover a legit thing, so one of your bills is a $250 payment for something you didn’t want anyway. (Insurance companies hate people who have bad ears. They’re a bit nicer about eyes. But eff you and your ears. Apparently.)

3. National Margarita Day is coming up on the 22nd. Yeah, it’s on a Tuesday. Yeah, I’ll still be celebrating.

4. One of the things I said I wanted to do before I turn 40? The Couch to 5K program – again! The last time I successfully completed it was about six or seven years ago. I was in GREAT shape then. I’m in week three, and my fingers are crossed that I can maybe get some of that fitness level back.

5. I’ve also got Jillian Michael’s “Ripped in 30” going on. Why? Because I am not ripped. I miss muscle tone.

6. This probably says a lot about body acceptance and lack of but I have never pretended that I was rational when it comes to that stuff. I realize I could probably benefit from a good big bunch of therapy about it, but I also figure like it could be worse – Sigh. Maybe I’ll be better when I’m 40. (I’m not holding my breath either. Sorry.)

7. I’ve finally been getting a lot more reading done and now reading “Guest Room” by Chris Bohjalian. I set a goal for myself to read 30 books in 2016 – yeah that’s a mighty low goal – but I’ve read six already. It feels good to get into the habit of curling up with a book again.

8. I have watched far too many episodes of “Private Practice” on Netflix in the past 24 hours. I’m not entirely sure how it managed to stay on the air so long.

9. I’m super grateful for the very mild winter we’ve had but it’s getting cold this week and while that’s better than a blizzard, I STILL WISH THAT IT WAS SPRING.

10. How are y’all doing? What’s everyone up to? Talk to me, goose.*



*Yeah, I couldn’t think of a tenth thing.

Thursday Ten: Thunderstorms in February Edition

1.So, El Nino is doing some funky things all over the place and in Michigan, we’ve got lots of rain which is just kind of weird at this time of year. Also? Thunderstorms? In February? What the what? I mean, I don’t even want to complain because any of it is better than snow but it’s still just a bunch of bizarre weather that’s making my sinuses cranky. Fog. Rain. Ice. It’s unlike most Michigan winters, and it’s weird. (I hate snow so much so I’m glad that this year has involved minimal shoveling, but… I’m ready for spring.)

2. Speaking of spring, I guess the groundhog says it’ll be here sooner. Which is good because otherwise there’d be groundhog road kill to contend with. Or something. I wouldn’t actually run over a ground hog. I mean, I drive a Prius, for god’s sake. A groundhog might do some damage.

3. It’s entirely possible that my brain needs to do a bit of work into being a brain that’s nicer to me, or so it feels. I sent myself in circles yesterday – so sure I had messed something up. I beat myself up and basically turned myself inside out stressing about this perceived screw up and finally got to the point later in the day where I stopped myself in my tracks and thought, “Wait, what? I didn’t mess this up. I had every reason to think that I was doing this correctly. This wasn’t me screwing up. This was me operating on incomplete information. This doesn’t make me an idiot. This is something I can learn from moving forward.” I am…proud of myself for getting to that way of thinking about it all. It’s not easy for me to not stress about something – especially when the outcome isn’t great. But… we can only do the best we can do, right? And we just have to learn from stuff, and keep on keeping on.

4. I don’t even know if y’all know just how huge it was for me to let go of the whole flogging myself cycle and letting myself feel peace at knowing that if indeed I made a mistake, it was an honest mistake. Making mistakes is something people do. Even smart, capable people. I KNOW, RIGHT?

5. It seems odd to me that the government hasn’t yet found a way to utilize dog flatulence as a weapon against our enemies.

6. Can you believe we have SEVERAL MORE MONTHS TO GO UNTIL THE ELECTION? Honestly, I’m curious to see how this all shakes out, who is left standing in this seemingly never-ending clown car of candidates, but I am just. So. Tired. Tired of the soundbites and talking heads and name calling and mud flinging. The internet has been a blessing and a big fat curse for politics.

7. Tomorrow is World Nutella Day. Plan accordingly.

8. Picked up a new podcast this week – been listening to the M.O.N.E.Y podcast featuring my fave mohawked finance blogger (okay, the only mohawked finance blogger I know), J Money… who y’all might remember from Love Drop days. J is joined by another finance whiz who I had never heard of before this podcast – and in the first ep I listened to, they were talkin’ ways to start saving – which AS YOU KNOW – is on my list of things to get real about before I turn 40. It’s pretty interesting to hear money smart people talk about money – and creating a real savings plan suddenly feels for real very doable.

9. The kids have dental appointments this morning and I’m at the point where before every dentist appointment I think to myself, “PLEASE don’t let this be the appointment where we start talking orthodontia because MY WALLET DOESN’T WANT TO HEAR IT.” Cross your fingers, y’all. Give us six more months of brace-free living.

10. You know what, you guys? It’s FEBRUARY. 2016 is 1/12 complete already. How does that even happen? We were just ringing in the new year. I’m not sure if i’m ready for the year to fly this way. Or maybe I am.