Day 30: Well. I survived. You survived.

Oops. I did it again.

I blogged every day for thirty days and frankly, I can’t even remember what the hell I wrote about except that I knew when I started that November would be  a tough month and I wasn’t wrong so then to make up for having all of those stupid emotions I taught you how to make gougere.

We’re less than a month away from Christmas and we’re already eyeball deep in Elf on the Shelf posts on Facebook and my Christmas tree is up and there are presents underneath and you know, it’s finally hitting me that I’m in the home stretch of making it through 2013. I’m going to do it. I’ll get through.

I was trying to just get through November – to get through writing each day and trying not to get too many emotions on all of you and trying to not have a heart attack from stress and just get through it.

And now tomorrow is December.

Will I write daily in December?


(You’re welcome.)


What IS on tap for December?

Well, the holidays. DUH.

Also, I’ll be taking part in Lucrecer’s CELEBRATE photo challenge – I’ll post challenge pics here.

The annual cookie decorating party. Pumpkin’s holiday Christmas concert. The Princess’s second gymnastics meet of the season. Monkey bread. Lots of coffee. Treating myself to a bottle of Philosophy’s Gingerbread Man bubble bath and then rationing it out over the year. Attempting to get my work outs back on track and feel a little bit better about myself. Countless hours of HGTV background noise. Time spent with the people I love – both celebrating the holidays and just being absolutely. lazy.

It’s amazing to think another month is nearly over. Another year is nearly over.

I just keep looking forward to what’s ahead.

Thursday Ten: Stage Makeup and Panicked Mothers edition

1. The Princess arrived home from school yesterday, plastered with makeup from her school musical dress rehearsal. I’m not unfamiliar with the practice of slathering your face with makeup for stage stuff – just…wasn’t prepared for my kid to look SO OLD. And she did. I was relieved when she scrubbed the makeup off and looked her age again. She’s beautiful without all that stuff. I know it’s cliche but, she doesn’t need it.

2. Her musical is this evening, and her first gymnastics meet is this weekend and whoa it’s kind of ALL ABOUT HER the next few days. That’s okay, it’s all fun stuff. She’s been working hard – can’t wait to see her work in action.

3. Sometimes when I’m watching HGTV, I want to grab the realtors by the shoulders and shake them and say, “YOU’RE WORKING TOO HARD TO SELL IT. YOU’RE LOOKIN’ DESPERATE.” (And then I think less than eloquent things like “you can’t polish a turd” – a saying I hate, but it’s what comes to mind when the realtor is all “Oooh look at these arched doorways” and the potential buyers are like “Duuuuuude, the kitchen is LIME GREEN, though.”

4. The wheels of planning are turning for the annual Cookie Party. I wish I could remember what year I started it – but I do love it. It’s one of my favorite holiday traditions. Hundreds of cookies. Tons of sugary frosting goo. Sprinkles galore. And the kiddos and their friends.
100 | 365

5. I cannot believe Thanksgiving is next week already. I’m so ready to eat turkey and stuffing, though. It’s definitely one of my favorite meals on the planet. Also? I don’t have to cook. I just get to show up and eat great food. So full (of win).

6. It’s taken me over a week with this book I’ve been reading – and I’m still not done. I can’t tell if the book is that bad or if I haven’t been reading enough (both).

7. I’ve modified my work schedule to allow for four shorter days versus three normal ones — mostly out of necessity. I’m not sure how I feel about it – but we do the things we gotta do, right? And who knows, the shorter days might be good. I have been so busy in the office that it might be a nice change of pace to leave a bit earlier and spread the work out to a fourth day. We’ll see. There’s certainly less traffic when you leave work at an off peak time, which is nice.

8. Cooking Light had a ton of crock pot recipes in this month’s issue and all I’ve been thinking since is, “YUMMMMM Cuban pork and black beans and rice.” My shorter work day means I have time to cook dinner – but I love to use the crock pot. Especially in winter months. Coming home to the smell of a delicious food cooking is heavenly.

9. I lost my eyeliner so I look very tired.

10. We haven’t even had the first real snow fall and already I’m craving the end of winter or a trip to a warmer climate. Not sure how I’m gonna make it through this winter! Every time autumn comes to an end and the days start getting shorter and COLDER, I wish I lived somewhere I could wear jeans and tee shirts and hoodies all year – no snow boots, no jackets, no hats, no gloves. But nope. Here I am. Freezing my ass off. Again.

Day 20: Changing the Way I Think About Thinking

077 | 365

Yesterday, I lay awake in bed my brain churning for hours before my alarm was due to go off. I was worried about something and my brain turned it over and over again imagining every outcome – every possible outcome except what actually happened:


In all that stress and worry and hours of thinking, nothing happened, everything was fine, and I lost hours of sleep for nothing.

Prone to overanalysis anyway, I’ve always been the introspective sort to weigh my options, dissect things and events in my mind and take things down to the bare bones to evaluate – so while this isn’t a new thing, it’s something that’s actually really starting to annoy me.

It annoys me because I have real stuff to think about.

What’s real: job hunting, programming my thermostat so I don’t spend too much money heating the house when no one’s home, my stepfather’s recent surgery, securing childcare while my stepfather recovers from surgery, why my hip hurts every time I run.

What’s not real: the thought that somebody could yell at me about a thing that a rational person wouldn’t be mad enough to yell about. For example.

You see the ridiculousness.

And if I were to dissect that, I could see what that thought would upset me: I hate conflict. I’m a people pleaser. I try to not intentionally upset people. I work hard. Yelling is yucky. Do not like.

No wonder I wouldn’t want that.


What I need to do when the hamster wheel that is my brain starts turning is this:

What is the worst that could happen?

If that bad thing happened, what does that mean?

Will I care in a week, a month, a year?


Will it work? I don’t know but I do know that realistically, I can’t do anything about hypotheticals, really. I can only deal with reality. I am a creative person, and nearly every worst case scenario that my brain can create has been worse than reality (I’m that creative, y’all). I gotta start using my power for good instead of evil. Would be nice to start envisioning some happy plot lines, wouldn’t it?

If you’re an overthinker, how do you deal with it? Do you give in to the thoughts or are you able to channel your thinking in more positive ways? If you’re a recovered overthinker, how did you kick the habit?

Day 18: After the Rain

out came the sun...

I woke up shivering and in the dark in a home without power this morning. Apparently over a hundred thousand west Michigan residents did this morning, so we all had the same off-kilter sort of morning. Getting ready for work by candlelight and driving to a nearby coffee store for a big mug of caffeine and some kind of warm breakfast – before venturing into the office.

I arrived at work to a semi-dark parking garage, a mostly-dark lobby, and a building with some generator power and instructions to head home.

I did.

I arrived at my own house, after detours around closed roads (presumably because of downed trees) to functioning electricity, warmth, and a trampoline that thankfully didn’t fly out of my back yard with yesterday’s high winds (big big thanks to my brother-in-law who came over in the middle of the Lions game – not even at halftime! – to flip it upside down so the wind wouldn’t catch it and lift it away. Again.). I came home to a refrigerator keeping all my food cold and a freezer that’s keeping the frozen stuff frozen.

I’m kind of lucky.

Power was quickly restored at work but today I am working from home in comfortable pants, a thick sweatshirt and with fuzzy socks.

I have a strange guilt about not being in the office – which is silly, since y’know, I did show up in the first place and I am making progress on a project that needed to get done. (Work ethic – I have it. Also? I’m one of the few people who probably works harder when I’m working at home – feeling the need to prove myself to others, I guess. I worked at home for six years — and was insanely productive the whole time. It’s how I do).

I am grateful to have a warm house.

Hell, I am grateful to even have a house. I saw photos from areas hit hard by yesterday’s weather – the devastation makes you catch your breath. How a storm can whip through and change your whole life.

Make no mistake, I had it easy.

Though I look like I got dressed in the dark today (because I did! FINALLY! I have an excuse!), and even though I’m tired (do you know how exhausting it is to wake up to see if power has been restored?), I’m in my home. I’m sitting at my dining table doing work that I would be doing in my cubicle.

They’re estimating that some people will be without power until Thursday. Hopefully, for them, that’s a gross overestimation. By Thursday, most of those people will have to empty out the contents of their refrigerators and start anew. It’s getting too cold for those people to stay at home until Thursday so many will stay elsewhere. The nursing home where my grandmother lives is currently without power – she’s on portable oxygen. She can’t be the only one. Though, she has places she can stay until power is restored, it’s amazing when you start thinking about it, the impacts of a storm – a freakish autumn storm – on so many lives.

And here I sit at my dining table doing the work I’d have done in my office had there been power (there’s power there now; tomorrow will be back to normal). The sky is gray and it’s still very windy.

But I’m in my house and I’m feeling lucky.

Day 15: Getting Things Done

When I was working full time, I would come home exhausted, throw together a meal at the end of the day, half-heartedly shove the dishes in the dishwasher when the meal was done, and just barely do enough to keep the wheels turning because HELLO? EXHAUSTED.

I kind of have no excuse for that now.

And though I have a tendency to do the things I need to do, mostly because I can’t stand to be surrounded by chaos, I find myself making massive to-do lists for myself every Wednesday evening – things that I should do over the next four days.

Things like the furnace repair appointment and doing laundry and putting the clothes away and scrubbing the bathtub, helping the kids pack for their weekend at their dad’s, pay the house payment, write a blog post (…check!), return library books, etc etc etc.

Some weeks, my list is so long, I have to turn the paper over.

I find myself moving from task to task and never truly relaxing, and then feeling exhausted come Sunday.

Idle time makes me nervous. It serves me well to keep moving, to get things done.

This morning I vacuumed the crumbs out from between the planks on the dining table and then polished it. The sun streaming through the window shined off my table in a way that brought a smile to my face.


I like results.

So much of what I do in my life has no immediate results. My lists give me results. I write it down, I do it, I cross it off. BOOM.

I’ve been a list person all my life. I like lists. I like accomplishments. (And I LOVE how clean my living spaces are RIGHT THIS MINUTE).


Day 14: Thursday Ten: Sniffly Sneezy Stuff Head edition

1. I have a cold. I have a cold and I’m trying to guzzle water like crazy (which actually isn’t difficult because I’m so thirsty and ice water is tasting super delicious). Guessing my daily vitamin C hasn’t done the trick (I keep the bottle of vitamins in my car so I don’t forget to take them). It’s nothing world ending, just… well, I’m out of Kleenex and have a roll of toilet paper sitting on an etagere in my living room and there’s really nothing classier than having a roll of toilet paper in your living room. BRB, need another glass of water.

2. Sometimes my reflection isn’t my favorite. I said I would be nicer to myself this week. I’m kind of exhausted – and it shows.
close my eyes then i won't see

3. For the stress that work causes, I realized yesterday that most of my department is very strong. Our skill sets overlap a tiny bit – enough that we can swoop in and help each other out when need be. My work situation is less than ideal – because hi, 24 hours a week – but just yesterday, four of us wandered back and forth from one desk to another, each of us helping each other out in various ways, getting things done. I think that’s awesome.

4. Every time I have to look up something on Urban Dictionary, I die a little inside.

5. I finally took the plunge and bought…eye make up remover wipes. Why? My new mascara is pretty awesome but doesn’t wash off easily. You can only wake up so many mornings looking like you have a black eye before you take action.

6. I think sometimes of taking a vacation planned solely around getting tacos as all the best places.

7. A busy week coming up with The Princess’s school musical AND her first gymnastics meet of the season, plus my stepfather is having surgery. I could do without such a chaotic week, but we’ll be even more thankful (heh) the week after when all of this is behind us and it’s Thanksgiving! (Bonus: Thanksgiving food. I LOVE Thanksgiving food.)

8. I’m done with winter already. Can we fast forward to spring thaw?

9. I now have my grandma’s dresser in my closet because she doesn’t have room for it in the nursing home and Pumpkin isn’t ready to give up her dilapidated dresser (emotionally attached to a dresser – a girl who loves her furniture. I can relate). But I don’t want to actually put anything in it, because once I do, I know that will be when she decides she’s ready for it… and then I’ll have to empty it. So, yeah. Empty dresser, taking up space, and waiting for an eight year old to love it. Super.

10. Television commercials for perfume boggle my mind. You know that stuff could totally smell like skunk pee and you couldn’t tell from a commercial. Why bother? Have you ever seen a perfume commercial and thought to yourself, “Well, I really liked the way that woman walked! I bet it’s because she smells so good! I better go to the store!” No, you probably haven’t.

Day 12: A Children’s Book for Adults by Dallas Clayton. A review.

It's Never Too Late by Dallas ClaytonIn college during midterm and finals season, I would keep my copy of Dr. Seuss’s “Oh The Places You Will Go” on my desk. I’d read it before I ventured out onto campus into my next test-taking adventure, certain that if it was not luck provided to me by reading those words, it was a certain bit of centeredness, calm, that I got from the ritual.

There’s always been a place in my heart for children’s literature, for nonsense rhymes. There’s a bigger place in my heart for literature that is fun, but has meaning. I admit it, I’m a sap. A mushball. An emotional sponge soaking up what is around me and feeling ALL OF THE EMOTIONS. It’s just me. I’m just that way.

“What would you care
of bills and debt?
Or opinions of people
you’d never met?”

The day I received a copy of Dallas Clayton’s new book, I stood at my kitchen counter reading it out loud to my daughters as I read it for the first time. Several pages in, my voice broke and my eyes welled up with tears. By the time I turned the last page, I knew I’d found a keeper of a book.

It resonated with me. It hit me at the core. It was indeed, a children’s book for grownups.

“And the truth
is that nobody has all the answers.”

And maybe it’s because of where I am and how life is – and if things were smooth sailing, perhaps I’d not appreciate it as I do.

“And everyone’s mind
gets all full of mess,
and we all read the signs
and we all try our best.”

Without getting too cheesy, this book is uplifting and spoke to my heart with a quiet simplicity. I didn’t find it overbearing, heavy handed. It didn’t feel like it was forcing me to try to feel something.

By and large a lot of what we experience in life, to varying degrees, is universal. There are struggles and we’re all needing to find our way, make the most of what we can. But I find that when I am at my most stressed, books like this from Dallas Clayton, or Dr Seuss bring a bit of calm. Maybe it’s the pictures – just how often do we get picture books now that we’re old? Maybe it’s the calming rhythm of the rhyming text. Maybe it’s the acknowledgment that yeah, life can be really hard, but it’s hard for everyone, and if you can look past some of this crap (Note: Dallas Clayton doesn’t say “crap”), you’ll see there’s a lot of amazing and wonderful things to be experienced.

“…or you smiled like a mom
or you cried like forever.

These are the moments
you’re going to remember…”

I kind of really loved this book. This one will stay in my library for awhile. And like Seuss’s book that I reread before exams, I am certain that there will be times when I’ll revisit this one for its comfort, as well.

Day Ten: Oh This Day. Oh This Year.

071 | 365

A year ago today. He had his stroke a year ago today. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital from there it was the hospital, rehab, nursing home… he never really went home again.

I had a feeling things would hit me hard this month – because it happened last year when I was in the midst of writing daily – and the hopes I had had for being uplifting and entertaining went out the window and instead it was sadness and stress.

I was in his home on Thursday, picking up a dresser for my girls (they just don’t make dressers like they used to, you know? Those cardboard bottom drawers never last). On his wall was a card I had given him for Fathers Day. In 1989. He’d hung it on the wall, framed, for all of those years. And it ripped the wound open again.

I can’t think of anyone in my life who has been as unconditionally supportive as he was. He had a faith in me that I didn’t, and don’t, have and I miss hearing him tell me stories about my first job out of college, how he knew I could do it. I miss him mispronouncing Pumpkin’s name. I miss him bragging about The Princess. I miss him telling me how beautiful my family is.

He believed in the magic properties of duct tape and he believed in always having an answer to the question even if he had no idea what the hell the correct answer should be.

He was one of the good ones.

As if that wasn’t enough.

Today is also the day my former stepson turns 18. Right, wrong or indifferent, a lot of stepparents have that 18th birthday in their heads as a milestone, particularly those in high conflict situations. Eighteen marked the time when the drama would stop – if not then, soon after upon high school graduation. I spent a lot of years with my eye on this date.

And now it means nothing really.

It’s a strange thing. He was a difficult child. He had a lot of problems, one of them being his mother. I have no idea what he will become or what his life will be like and I hope that he’s able to find health and well being and peace. He’s still my daughters’ brother, you know.

It would have been a milestone day, and it’s not, and it strikes me as odd how it feels when you stop waiting for something and then it arrives.

I will spend part of this morning in my grandparents’ house. My cousin will be living in the house and she and her mom are getting rid of a lot of things. Coffee pots, throw rugs. His clothes. The basement shelves are lined with books; I don’t know where those all will go or how and I am sort of grateful that that task falls to someone else because I have no desire to haul the hundreds of books up the stairs.

We saw something in the basement the other day, a piece of furniture long forgotten. One no one had claimed. One that would have been discarded without a thought.

But it will look nice in Chris’s house. And I’m happy it will go there. Maybe he’ll be able to clean it up, spruce it up. It makes me smile that this table that would have been tossed away will instead be somewhere where I’ll see it.

I’m not looking forward to being in the house again. The more things they throw away, the less the house is what it was. And what it was might not have been befitting a spread in any issue of HGTV, but it was theirs – my grandparents’. It was who they were and the life they led. It was four children in a small house with fake paneled walls and a kitchen painted the color of the sun.

There’s a part of the living room wall that needs to be repaired – my grandpa’s swivel chair rubbed a gouge in that spot and now there’s a hole that is going to need something better than spackle.

They’ll patch up the wall. They’ll carry the books out. They’ll paint the walls. It will be like they were never there.

And I hate that. I know I’ll never go back again because I don’t think I can bear to see it stop being what it was anymore than it already has.

So, uh, Sunday. Emotional Sunday. That’s a thing, right?

Day 8: I’m Not Ready For the Cold

I guess summer is over

I have issues with weather.

I don’t like when it’s too hot. I don’t like when it’s too cold. There’s a very narrow margin of perhaps three to seven weeks each year when I am happy with weather in West Michigan. Perhaps I’m spoiled from years of living in California – the Bay Area not the desert like temps you’d imagine, but a pretty solid and steady year round temperature that I could live with. Temps that didn’t involve snow or a longing for central air conditioning.

There are weather variances here from year to year and it’s hard to tell what a season will bring until you’re in the midst of it. I was grateful for a not-too-hot summer, given that I was making a concerted effort to not over use my AC.

This summer, more than any other in my adult life, I embraced the laziness of grilling on a summer night, sitting around a patio table in the glow of candles, slapping away mosquitos and talking until exhaustion moved in. We ate sriracha burgers at this table (twice!), skirt steak tacos, ribs, and various other things I can’t remember because there was a lot of cooking this summer. Listening to Fourth of July fireworks, sharing a bottle of wine, listening to people argue about politics (argue about politics? Me? NEVER). Dredging up old school music memories. Shielding plates from lurking dogs (my dog? King of snatching food from plates).

Yesterday, we raked his yard. Leaves blanketed the ground – made me grateful that my own small tree doesn’t make much mess, and my unfenced yard allows those leaves to blow away. The table was covered. The lantern filled with sand from a Lake Michigan beach nearly full with rain water. As we raked, my hands grew numb and I was eager to warm my hands on a mug of coffee.

While fall has already brought amazing meals (We ate a beef burgundy on Halloween that was delightfully delicious and rich and comforting). I know that we’ll still find a way to make and enjoy amazing meals together and with friends, I’ll miss the relaxed vibe of lingering around a table while the sky grows dark above.

I hated summer less this year, in the shade of the trees.

The days are getting shorter, and I think I saw snow yesterday.

I’m not ready. I don’t know that there will ever be a year that I welcome snow, but this year, I really dread it.

Day 5: 50 Things That Make Me Happy on Things I Love Tuesday

In honor of TIL Tuesday which has been kinda MIA for awhile… in no particular order (and man, I hope I counted correctly), 50 things that make me happy.

blue nail polish
garlic bread
hot water and lemon when i don’t feel well
HGTV magazine
ballet flats

the color green
funky typography
a relaxing pedicure
cappuccino art

the smell of rosemary
thanksgiving dinner
grosgrain ribbon
candlelit baths
butcherblock counters

getting all the green lights
a good hair day
a good self esteem day
the sun on my face
hockey games

avon walk for breast cancer
starbucks red cups
white twinkly lights
taking a beautiful photograph
candles that don’t stink

chocolate covered pretzels
blanket forts
the salt on the rim of a margarita glass
pretty umbrellas
sleeping in

crayola window markers
lunch box notes
comfort food
dancing in my kitchen

random acts of kindness
crunchy cheetos
bubble wrap
notes from my kids

sunny and 70 degree days
texts dictated by siri
getting mail that isn’t a bill
wandering through a bookstore

cozy little coffee shops
ordering room service
vacuum lines
flowers in a mason jar