Archives for September 2013

There Aren’t Enough Lazy Sunday Mornings

I've missed lazy Sunday mornings

Thirty minutes ago, I insisted that an exhausted and overwhelmed Princess stay up and finish her homework, not go to bed earlier as she wanted. As I listened to myself, I thought, “How has this become real life?” How long ago was it that I would tell me children at day end that it was time for bed, RIGHT THIS INSTANT, no more goofing off. And now? I know you want to go to bed but you have work to do, so you need to stay up fifteen more minutes to see what progress you can make.

I felt awful.

But? She buckled down, calmed down and got the work done.

There is so much of this operating in stress mode lately – and not just when it comes to homework. I’ve been doing it too.

I thought to myself numerous times today, There is only so long I can keep functioning this way. I’m barely functioning as it is. I’m tired, I’m frustrated, I’m scared. I’m working part time when I want to be working full time. Expenses at this time of year are growing (oh, competitive gymnastic season – both a joy and an expensive pain in my ass). Dealing with stuff and people I don’t want to deal with and keeping a smile pasted on is starting to make me feel as though giant hands are squeezing the air out of my body.

I don’t want to be angry. I just want to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep reaching mini milestones that tell me everything will be okay. Sometimes I need to turn my brain off. Sometimes I need to surrender to the fact that I’m loved and that I’m cared about and that the other details – however big they feel, however big they are – will somehow find a way of working out. If they don’t, I’m not alone.

I don’t do well with that, with the surrender, with letting go.

I’ve been operating in stress mode for so long that it’s hard sometimes to abandon it, even temporarily.

This weekend I did.

And Sunday morning, there was toast. Lots of glorious toast made from delicious bread. So much toast. Cups of coffee. Sitting on the couch with he who makes me so very happy with bellies full of toast.

I don’t have nearly enough moments like that – moments where I can give in to the knowledge that I’m really working hard to do what I can to make this life good for my daughters and myself. There are a lot of moments of thought, of work, of making positive change in my life. A lot of that. Not nearly enough moments with a plate of toast and company on a comfy sofa on a Sunday morning.

Thursday Ten: I Wonder if Breaking Bad Has Sparked an Increase of Sales of Tighty Whities edition

1. I couldn’t imagine so but people are weird and if I lived in a warmer climate and I was a guy and I had no shame, I think I’d be Underpants Walter for Halloween. If you are a guy, and you live in a warm climate, and you have no shame YOU MAY STEAL MY IDEA.

2. And because while I’m on the subject – AMC kicked off its Breaking Bad marathon last night. From season one, episode one. It’s been awhile since I’ve watched them so it’s amazing how it all began.

3. ArtPrize mode! There are fewer and fewer pieces each year that take my breath away, that resonate with me on an emotional reason (whatever that reason may be). I walk by a lot of art feeling nothing at all. It’s so subjective, that it’s part of the reason this contest (and it IS a contest after all) blows my mind. You’ve got the public, most of us who don’t know a damn thing about art, deciding what’s good. Sometimes…the results are less than favorable.
Wield | Jesse Meyer

4. We had a team building exercise at work last week (it’s a post that is kind of percolating in my head right now) and one of the things we talked about was how we tend to view change as a bad thing. There are a lot of good changes in life – I can name quite a few things off hand – but why is it that when we think change, the reaction is, “Bleeeergh!” – as if change was never a good thing? Poor change and its bad rep.

5. I have never tried to twerk and I don’t plan on changing that.

6. It’s amazing how weird a part time job schedule can make one’s life schedule. You’d think I’d have all this free time but you’d be wrong. Life has a way of intervening. Last week I spent Thursday afternoon with a kiddo who didn’t feel well, a headache following the Noggin v Beam Incident. Free time has a way of filling itself. Except Sunday. Sunday just drags on and on endlessly.

7. Less than three weeks until I turn 37 and I’m not sure how I feel about it yet.

8. I’ve been doing really well at eating more healthfully – until Tuesday. And yesterday. SIGH. Back on track today. REALLY. It makes such a huge difference, not just mindlessly eating (that we had an office birthday yesterday afternoon at the point where I wanted a snack and I ate some rich chocolate thing instead of my yogurt… whoops).

9. It costs $60 to overnight a Canon battery charger from Michigan to Florida. So I didn’t do it. I was going to. Had it been half the cost, I would have. Here’s hoping my kid learns to always pack her charger when she packs her camera. Sigh. Rough lesson to learn. Hope she found a way to charge.

10. I love the fall weather. Sunny and warm-ish during the day. Cool enough for sleeping at night. You know how much I whine about the weather. Embrace my autumn weather love. This is BLISS.

If You Give Your Child A Camera…

…she’ll probably want some new lenses to go with it.

Okay. I’m not actually going to carry that whole thing out. Mainly because I can’t. And mainly because I’m stuck at the thought of (gah) having to buy lenses that are (gah) not for me.

Ah, but I’ve gotten side tracked before I’ve even started.

As I wrapped up year five of my 365 Project and began year six, The Princess expressed interest in giving it a try as well. I hemmed and hawed for logistics reasons and then? I handed over my entry level DSLR, the one that had been gathering dust for over a year, and let her have at it.

I set her up with a computer and gave her a crash course in Lightroom. We set up a Flickr account and set that up with some pretty persnickety privacy settings. I taught her how to upload her pictures, how to do some basic edits, and then watched the Flickr stream to see when she posted.

And though the computer has since died already (on day three, because OF COURSE IT HAS), she has, without fail, spent a great deal of time each day with the camera and the result has been really cool to see.

I’ve always felt that one of the best ways to get to know me is to look at the photographs I take. In them, you can see the world through my eyes. See things how I see things. See the things that catch my eye, make me hold my breath. The things that inspire wonder, the things that make me laugh. Angles, colors, places, moments.

And that’s what the experience has been like for me to go through The Princess’s photographs. Often times I’m surprised to find that she’s drawn to the same things I am. Sometimes, I giggle at what catches her eye. Occasionally, she writes a caption that makes me giggle at her wit. That picture up there? That’s one of hers. I love it.

So many people have warned that I’m getting closer to those years when she may grow silent, push me away, where we might butt heads, argue. “Just you wait,” people have said, warning that girls and moms tend to get off-kilter during these years.

I hope that doesn’t turn out to be the case, but it’s another reason why I treasure that photography is something we share, that her images are something she is showing me. I am still a part of her world and I can see what she is seeing and it means a great deal to me to have that insight into the way she is seeing her world, to see the things that matter to her.

And I think it’d be the case regardless of which avenue she used to express her creativity – her words if she were a writer, brushstrokes if she were a painter…

I am grateful for the avenues she has to be creative, to be expressive, and to allow me a glimpse of the way she sees the world.

Thursday Ten: Art Shmart Edition

1. ArtPrize is back and kicked off yesterday in Grand Rapids, though pieces have been appearing little by little over the past week or so. While I’m not sure I understand the fascination with driftwood or dragons (I have yet to see a dragon made out of driftwood), I am definitely eager to do some more wandering around the city to see what is out there this year.
Who Is Responsible Here?

2. In the continuing saga of my basement…I’m waiting to hear from the insurance company to find out what to do next. The carpet…doesn’t look good in spots. So, I’m not looking forward to having a project that involves schlepping carpet up the stairs and outta my house and HEY THIS IS NOT THE KIND OF HOME RENOVATION I WANTED TO DO. It is what it is, though, and the only way out is through. Gotta roll with it. Even if IT is moldy carpet.

3. I was given a gift card to Amazon and I decided to treat myself (finally) to the Civil Wars latest album which has actually been out for a bit, but… better late than never. One of the songs is a cover of “Disarm,” originally performed by the Smashing Pumpkins. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate the Smashing Pumpkins? (Lingering effect from a college boyfriend who worshipped Billy Corgan and crew and played their mediocre music incessantly so I just got to the point where I pretty much hated all of it except “Soma” and “Empty.” I DIGRESS.). Anyway, The Civil Wars cover “Disarm.” It’s lovely and not even revolting.

4. The Princess tried out for the school musical – she won’t find out if she got a lead part until Friday but I am just so darn proud of her anyway. Getting up and singing in front of people is nerve wracking and she did it!

5. Life is too short to read bad books. I’ve felt that way for awhile – it means that I will stop reading a book if it’s not moving quickly enough, if I’m bored, if the topic isn’t what I thought, if it turns out to be historical fiction (NOT my fave), or if it – like the book I recently picked up – neglects to use quotation marks when the characters are speaking. Fine, I get it. It’s a thing some people do. It’s not a thing I like. No more for me.

6. If you have an iPhone or iPad you probably either downloaded or tried to download iOS 7 yesterday. What do you think? I was going to hold off on downloading but ended up taking the plunge last night and I haven’t yet tinkered with it too much but… visually, it’s not pleasing my eyes. Hmmph.

7. In the midst of all the iOS downloading hubbub yesterday, though, there was a lot of smack talk from Android users mocking both iPhone users and the iOS. And… I don’t get it? Why do people care what kind of phone other people use? This bizarre pissing match strikes me as odd, and I’m wondering if we’re just that bored that we have to invent things to get riled up about?

8. Having to pick up your child from the gym early because she smacked her head on the vault while vaulting? A little scary. She’s a-okay, but I was mentally reviewing the signs for concussions as I drove to the gym. She had a bit of a headache, but should be ready to get back at it by her next practice.

9. The thing about making a concerted effort to stop buying junk food means that there are days when you will REALLY want potato chips and you won’t have any. And that’s good and that’s also very VERY bad.

10. Let’s wrap this up with the big one: Breaking Bad last week. OH. MY. GOD. Grateful it’s on after the kids were tucked in but watching BB by myself sucks (Breaking Bad watching Google+ Hangout on Sunday, y’all?). I wanted someone to talk to about the episode while it was happening (and I don’t have DVR so I kick it old school and *gasp* watch live). These past few eps have been INTENSE. I really wonder how the series will end. Any guesses?


Thursday Ten: Waterlogged Edition

1. You know that feeling when you see a spot on your basement carpet and you think, “HUH. What’s that?” And then you realize it’s your footprint? And you realize it’s your footprint because your carpet is FULL OF WATER? There was a bit of panic-filled moments (minutes…hours…a day or so…) waiting to find out the cause (a broken valve) and waiting to find out if insurance will cover anything (they will!). Now I’m a bit more relaxed about it but seriously? ENOUGH WITH THE CHAOS.

2. I’m actually surprised insurance is covering anything but I figure I’ve lived here 11 years and I’ve never filed a claim. Maybe they figured they’d just give me this one. Like that time I spilled butter on my iPhone (long story) and the Apple store replaced it without any fuss.

3. And in news that doesn’t involve my house being broken or my wallet being empty… yesterday my sister and brother-in-law had their ultrasound and it’s a…BOY. Looking forward to the arrival of my nephew this winter and learning how to be as awesome an aunt to him as I am to his sister. {That might sound conceited but I’m a really great aunt, y’all.}
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4. I kind of enjoy having a kid who bakes but I don’t enjoy the part where I forget that her monkey bread cupcakes spilled melted butter all over the bottom of the oven and I remember when a rush of black smoke starts billowing out of the oven into the kitchen. No fire, just stink. Sigh. I’ll add it to my list of things to clean.

5. Second week of school almost and I do believe we’re falling into a groove here.

6. #I #Don’t #Understand #People #That #Use #Hashtags #For #NonHashTaggy #Things

7. Something I’ve been curious about lately is – as an adult, what do you wish you had learned when you were younger? Think about it – and if you feel like sharing with me, toss me a comment. I’ll marinate on this one as well… there’s a post in the works here.

8. I mean it. There’s a post in the works that’s NOT a Thursday post. You would think with alllll this free time. But… nope.

9. It’s all fun and games until shuffle plays “Endless Love” and you get it stuck in your head for two days.

10. What I’m reading now? Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man’s Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut by Rob Sheffield. He’s a good writer and I love the music-inspired memoir. And, no. I was never a Duran Duran fan. Not even a little.

Thursday Ten: School’s BACK edition

1. Yep, back into the swing of things this first week of school and already the house has taken on a rhythm that we just can’t find during the summer – a rhythm that includes SLEEPING CHILDREN. After an insomnia filled night before the first day, The Princess has taken to completely zonking out before I even tell her that it’s bedtime. Waking up before the sun will do that to ya, I guess (SERIOUSLY – her bus comes before 7 a.m. RIDIC). So far so good for both of them, which is good.

2. Realized the first day of school that…Pumpkin had absolutely no idea how to tie the shoes her dad bought her. I posed the question on Facebook already and got some great ideas for how to teach her, but – what say you: How did you teach your kid to tie his or her shoes?

3. The thing about being the photographer in the family is I’ve been asked several times for copies of photographs of my grandpa. I don’t mind sharing them; I’m glad I have them. But at what point will it stop breaking my heart to see his face as I scroll through the files on my computer because it makes me sad every time.

4. I worked three days last week, had five days off, worked two days this week, and now I have four days off. Yeeeeeeah. This isn’t going to work. “The only thing wrong with part time is the money,” someone said to me yesterday. Yeah, I know – but that’s a pretty big freaking thing to be wrong. Disposable income, oh, how I miss thee.

5. But! I read books. I’ve finished at least three books in the past week. Guess all that time off is good for something. I’m not reading high brow stuff, though. Most recently I finished One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper and then I just cracked open a book by the ladies who wrote “The Nanny Diaries”, The First Affair. I can tell you this: I wholeheartedly recommend ANYTHING and EVERYTHING by Jonathan Tropper. He has a contemporary lit style and he’s a screenwriter too (I just read the back flap of the book) so most of his novels you can easily picture on the big screen (or on the little screen if you will). I really dig his stuff. Whereas “The First Affair” will likely be straight up fluffy-chick lit and while I should be ashamed, I’m not really. Sometimes it just feels really good TO FINISH A FREAKING BOOK. {Note: those are affiliate links – because of course they are.}

6. My brakes need fixing. I could use a break. (I couldn’t help myself) Grateful that my mom’s husband is a car whiz and is helping me out but I swear, sometimes you have to just shake your fist at life and say, “REALLY? WHAT NEXT LIFE?” (Kidding. You never ask what’s next.)

7. I grew this!
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8. BREAKING BAD OMG AND YES THE ALL CAPS ARE WARRANTED. There are two reasons I have yet to cancel my cable: Breaking Bad and HGTV. And seriously cable companies, when will we be able to order channels a la carte? You can’t tell me there’s no way to make it profitable for you and still cost effective for the consumer who only watches two channels.

9. I think I need a haircut but I don’t actually want one.

10. It’s college football season now! GO BLUE!

Fun Children’s Books for Back To School

If I was a more organized blogger, I’d have probably written and posted this over a month ago – when some of y’all were getting your kids ready for school ALL THE WAY BACK IN AUGUST. Here in Michigan, law says public school can’t start until after Labor Day, which means that while kids all over the country are already back in the swing of things, my peeps are enjoying (I hope!) their first day of third and sixth grade today.

I received some fun school related books to review – and I forgot to tell you about them. I hope you’ll give me a free pass because this summer was ridiculously hard. Maybe next year, I’ll get my self together and be legit with an editorial calendar or something.

Stranger things have happened.

Amelia Bedelia’s First Library Card

I grew up with Amelia Bedelia stories – silly, literal Amelia Bedelia (who doesn’t love saying that name?) – and in this update, Amelia gets new life…as a kid! I don’t know that I love it, to be honest – this updated and young Amelia, but the book and illustrations are fun and the story is cute. Seeing as how I have a kiddo just itching to get her first library card, I thought this book was a fun read. Amelia’s class goes to the library, learns about how to find books, and gets their first library card. And when Amelia Bedelia checks out her book, something goes wrong… it wouldn’t be Amelia Bedelia otherwise!

My New Teacher and Me

My New Teacher and Me!

This delightful story from Al Yankovic (yeah, that’s the one) surprised me – a skeptic because, well… I don’t love his music. I don’t love the parodies, I don’t find him particularly amusing but I think that this is the right target demographic for Weird Al, because I really kinda dug this story about Billy on his first day of school. Admittedly, I’m a sucker for a rhyming story for kids and the bright illustrations enhanced the details of the wild stories Billy tells his doubting teacher, Mr. Booth, on the first day of school. A lovely tale about imagination and thinking beyond what’s already known. It was almost inspiring. I liked it.

Clark the Shark

Clark the Shark reminds me of any number of students I’ve seen over the past several years that my kids have been in school – only, y’know… he’s a shark. Easily excitable, not always on task, boisterous in a way that can be annoying to others… Clark the Shark struggles because his behavior makes his friends not want to play with him and causes the teacher to reprimand him often. A little lesson in self control teaches Clark that there’s a time and a place for that playful behavior. A good book for that oh-so-enthusiastic kiddo in your life – in a not preachy way, it provides a good lesson – that the enthusiasm is great, but sometimes we need to take it easy, or as Clark’s teacher says: “Stay Cool.”

Those are a few of the books that have found their way to our bookshelves and our hearts as we roll into a new school year. Opinions, as always, are my own, though the books were sent to me for review. These books are appropriate for ages four to eight, approximately – though your mileage may vary depending on your kiddo.

Happy School!