Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy 2012

We had a good Christmas.  Not our best, but pretty good.  The boys were sick, so we were all very tired and a little grumpy, but I am thankful we were able to celebrate together.  I know holidays can be stressful and that we sometimes aren't able to celebrate the way we would want, but I hope everyone had some good times and made some good memories and got at least one gift that was pretty great (or that you got gift receipts or gift cards and can end up with something pretty great).

2011 was kind of a strange year. I'm not going to do a recap of it, nor am I going to outline all my hopes and dreams for 2012.  I think I'll just try to leave it as it was and take the next it as it comes.  It would be great if there were less war, less hate, less discord, less hunger, and less sadness and if there were more peace, more respect, more love, more generosity, more opportunity, and more compassion.  For the most part, these seem to be pipe dreams, but I hope we will all do what we can to discourage the former things and contribute to the latter.

That said, I'll wish everyone a wonderful New Year's Eve with people you care about and a very happy and prosperous New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tinsel

Although Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, I have always loved Christmas.  Not just the presents, but the decorations and the music and the lights and the traditions.  All of it.  I loved getting to stay up late when I was little to watch Christmas movies.  I loved candlelight service at church, when I got to hold a real, lit candle.  I loved playing with my sisters and moving around the figurines of the old nativity set my parents had.  I loved lying on the floor under the Christmas tree and looking up at the lights and the ornaments.  And, of course, I loved the anticipation of Christmas morning.

Wednesday we had a family movie night and watched Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer.  When the song "Silver and Gold" came on, Ryan asked me if we ever put tinsel on our tree growing up.  My parents never had tinsel, but it reminded me of a memory I hadn't thought about in a long time: trimming the tree with my sisters at our grandparents' house.

We spent a lot of time at their house growing up, as my mother often helped my grandpa (or "Pap" as all the grand-kids called him) care for my grandma. Even when Mom wasn't there helping, my sisters and I slept over regularly, sharing the pull-out bed of the hideous orange and yellow floral sofa.  We would wear Pap's t-shirts as nightgowns and he would sing to us old hymns like "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder" and "Old Rugged Cross" as he tucked us in.

It was always fun to stay over, but we especially looked forward to December when we got to help decorate their tree.  We would follow him down the narrow steps to the basement, and help gather the pieces of the world's first artificial tree to drag back up the stairs.  Okay, so it wasn't the actual first artificial tree, but probably close to it.  It smelled a little musty from its home in the basement and you could see the twisted, metal wire of the pieces showing between the matted "needles."  Once assembled, it had a strange, alien quality, with the unwieldy branches curling up at strange angles.

None of that mattered to us.  We loved digging through the ornament boxes and hanging up the strange shaped glass Santa faces or birds with colorful feathers.  Best of all, we were allowed to put colored lights on it.  But not just colored lights.  The ones that blinked!  It was only white lights and sentimental ornaments at our house, so this was quite a treat.  And they let us use tinsel.  I think more of it probably ended up on the floor and in our hair and static-clinging to our clothes than where it actually belonged, but we loved playing with it and adding it to the tree.  How pretty it looked reflecting the colored lights!

Regardless of how tacky this all seems to me as I'm writing it, in my mind's eye I can still see how beautiful and magical it was to us at the time.  I loved driving up to their house and seeing that tree blinking in the front window.  I'm sure we loved rearranging the ornaments every time we went over.  But my favorite part was snuggling up on the couch bed with my sisters and falling asleep in that tree's beautiful glow.

Merry Christmas everyone.  I hope your celebrations are full of love and laughter and cherished memories.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

At Least

I am not one of those über-positive people.  I am a realist.  I'm not always trying to look on the bright side, nor do I think it is necessary to try in vain to find a silver lining in a situation that, quite frankly, sucks.  Sometimes things are crappy.  That is part of life.  I think that acknowledging this fact can help us appreciate the truly great things in life.  There are wonderful experiences out there.  I don't think we need to cheapen them by pretending that bad things are actually good.  Just let things be what they are and try to deal with them in the best way you can.

I also don't think it is very helpful to try to make oneself feel better by comparing situations with those even less fortunate or going through an even worse situation.  I know I've blogged about that before, but today I think it's worth repeating.  The people I know who are in really bad situations or who are going through a really tough time?  I feel terrible for them and would give almost anything to make things better for them.  I'm not going to try to use their pain to make myself feel better.  That is just sad.

Why all this rambling?  Well, today we officially became a one car family.  The eleven-year-old car we've used as our commuter car has finally broken down to the point that we cannot justify sinking any more money into it.  We've put about $1000 into it in the past six months, $600 of that this week.  The shop put in the new fuel pump and all the stuff attached to the new fuel pump, started it up, and the head gasket blew.  SUCK.

We cannot afford to buy a new car this month or even next month.  Sadly we are not one of those families who has $30k stashed away to just go out and get another car.  So, the boys and I are going to be pretty much stranded at home for the next however many weekends, until we can come up with what we need to get another car.  Ryan needs our other vehicle for taking Owen to-and-from school Monday through Wednesday, I need to get to the office on Wednesday and Thursday, and Ryan has to drive to work Friday through Sunday.  Clearly we have some logistic issues to work out.

So, there you have it.  Frustrating week.  Bad news right before Christmas.  No, this is nothing like the worst thing that could happen.  I can think of at least four families I know personally who right at this moment are dealing with much worse.  But I'm not going to pretend this isn't a major frustration.  I'm not going to pretend we haven't been stressed about it or aren't hating that we are going to have to go to the shop and fork over $600 for a car that doesn't even run.  But you know what?  This is life. 

At least this didn't happen in the summer.  At least the weather over the next few months is going to be crap and I'm not going to want to take the boys anywhere on the weekend anyway.  At least I have family close enough who would be able to help me out if I really get into a major jam.  It's not a silver lining, but I'm a realist and you'll have to settle for an "at least."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ms. Poli Sci

About a year and a half into my college career, I came home for Thanksgiving break and announced to my family that I was changing my major from English to Political Science. My parents seemed baffled by this, as I had never really shown an interest in politics outside of registering to vote. Now that I look back on it, I understand their bewilderment. But I was nineteen and not exactly loving college and wanted a change. Besides, my English classes were much less likable than the required American Government class I was taking at the time. Professor Paula Maras-Roberts made government and the study of how people interact with it seem like the most exciting thing in the world. I had a serious crush on Political Science and I'd be damned if I wasn't going to act on it. That's what you're supposed to do in college, right? Take risks and make moderately rash decisions?

I actually think it was a good choice for me. I did really end up liking my classes. The department was small, but had a wonderful staff. I was able to take several courses as one-on-one independent studies with the head of the department. We would meet once a week in his tiny corner office that was crammed with books and hash out all sorts of topics. However, the more I studied political science, the more I knew I didn't want anything to do with politics. After I graduated I got a job working on projects at an IT company and left my political science years behind me.

Yet lately I've been drawn more and more back to that realm. Not that I have a desire to leave my current job and take up politics, but just seeing what is happening in our country, how divided it is and how toxic the rhetoric has become, it makes me wish I could do something. I've started reading more political articles and trying to engage in conversations with people to encourage them to take a step back and see those they disagree with first as fellow human beings and Americans before they see them as the enemy. Let me tell you that my thoughts are often not met with open arms or minds.

I realize that having another person disagree with you can sometimes feel like a personal attack. It can seem that they are trying to invalidate your perspective or question your character. But why does it have to be that way? Why is it so difficult to engage in a conversation with another without resorting to personal attacks or name-calling? I recently had someone tell me that because I don't mind that the First Lady is trying to curb childhood obesity by encouraging more access to healthful food options, I'm setting the stage for liberals to take away our Bibles. What? And by no means are these extreme reactions exclusive to one side.

I really don't know what to do. The easiest thing would be to keep my opinions to myself, vote, and write an occasional letter to a senator. However, I have to believe there are more people out there who want us to respect each other and try to work together. I have to believe there are those who are willing to extend a proverbial olive branch, table the most divisive issues, and work to find any tiny speck of common ground on which to build something positive. I want to believe that if more people started insisting on respect over disgust, we could make some progress in that direction. Obviously what we're doing now isn't working.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Annoyed

I know this isn't something that should annoy me.  Or, at least, I shouldn't really let it get to me one way or another.  But I've seen several examples of this lately and I'm just going to vent about it for a few minutes. 

Why do so many people feel the need to push their choices on other people?  Last night, one of my Facebook friends posted a status about Pinterest.  I love Pinterest so I "liked" her status.  Then I saw the comments.  The first one was from someone who mentioned something about also loving Pinterest.  But the next few were basically telling my friend that they had chosen not to use Pinterest because either they had tried it and found it to be "addictive" or they had "heard that it was addictive" so they had chosen to not even try it.  Then, the first person, the one who had initially posted they love it, chimed in with how she hardly ever goes to the site out of fear of getting addicted.  What?  It's a website full of creative words and ideas.  It's not meth. 

So I chimed in that I love it because I find it to save time, since I can use it as a one-stop resource for creative ideas and recipes rather than having to look at multiple sites and blogs for ideas.  Several other people posted that they agreed with me.  Then I jokingly told one girl (and who also happens to be my sister) who had commented she doesn't use Pinterest that I was going to peer pressure her into using it.  I even wrote "PEER PRESSURE!!" in a silly comment and followed it with a fun, winking smiley face like this one ;D.

And... wouldn't you know, that someone had to comment directly to my sister that she really should avoid it.  And this person also took the time to mention that she had deleted her Facebook app from her phone because it "consumed" too much of her and her thoughts.  Who are these people??  I have personally found things like Facebook, email, texting, blogging, and yes, Pinterest to be very convenient for me.  I've connected with some great people I wouldn't have met otherwise, and yet it allows me to form these connections on my time.  I can utilize these resources on my lunch break or when I just want a moment of me time or after the boys are in bed.  I have never been unable to turn away from them or ever felt "addicted" or "consumed."  Sure, I might jokingly say that I'm addicted to Pinterest, but to me that is just another way to say I really enjoy it.  The same with saying I'm addicted to coffee.  I do really love coffee, but the truth is I rarely have more than two cups a day.  It's an expression, people.

Really, I'm fine with other people not using Pinterest or Facebook or phones or laptops or any other kind of technology if it isn't good or convenient for them.  That isn't my issue here.  They can be Amish if they want.  Whatever they feel is best for them and their family, as long as it isn't harming others, that is their right and I will support it.  For them.  What I don't get is this constant need to push these decisions on other people and treat people who choose differently as though they are participating in some kind of illicit activity.  Would it be bad if we spent all our time on our phones or laptops and neglected our loved ones?  Sure.  But can most people control themselves and only spend time on these things when time allows and it is appropriate?  Certainly.  So what is the big freaking deal?

The same goes with so many other things.  Music, television shows, movies, tattoos, not having kids vs. being a working mom vs. being a full-time mom, etc., etc.  I'm fine with people making their own decisions about these things, but when they start sharing their choices in a way that makes it sound like what they've chosen is the only good or acceptable way, that just gets under my skin.  Don't we all have enough to focus on in our own lives without constantly criticizing other people and trying to get them to conform to our choices?  Are you listening to me you people who don't like me or how I live my life?  You do what you need to do and let me do what I do and we can all just get along. 

Okay.  So maybe we won't all be BFFs, but at least you won't be annoying me and that is what I really care about.  :D

Monday, October 24, 2011

Little Women, Little Men

One night when I was bored and on Facebook and I was actually paying attention to that annoying real-time feed on the right side, I saw that a friend of mine had commented on her teenage step-daughter's photo.  It was a photo of her tagged with her brother on vacation or something like that and I hadn't seen a picture of the kids in several years, so I opened it.  Then, because I was bored (and, okay, I am nosy), I clicked to the next photo and was shocked to see that it was a picture of the girl side-by-side with a photo of another girl with a bunch of people tagged and the caption, "Who's Hotter??" across the bottom.  The next several photos were the same thing, only with different girls.  And they all had multiple comments voting for one or the other, often making derogatory comments about the one they didn't think was "hotter."  There was only one girl who had consistently commented on each of the photo pairs, stating that it was sick that people were even doing this.  And her peers pretty much told her to eff off.

I closed out my browser window, but I kept thinking about it.  Sure, I've heard and read about these kinds of things, but to actually see it on a real person's Facebook page made it so much more than something mean rich kids do on smut television.  I so wished that I could have commented.... said something to make all those kids think about what they were doing and feel bad for treating their peers like some kind of rate-a-girl pastime.

Then, a few days ago, my friend Jenny posted this link right here that you should go and watch right now (unless you are very easily offended, as it does contain some mildly explicit material).  I know some of it was a little over-the-top, (for example, perhaps some smart women purposely choose to stay out of politics because they realize there are better ways to affect social change).  However, they really do make quite a point.  Why do we just accept the way women are so often portrayed in media?  And why does it have to be so difficult for young girls to go against this cultural phenomenon?  I do think that as women we need to support other women and help young girls to see their potential goes so much farther than some guy's fantasy or some model's photo shoot.

Only I don't have daughters.  I have sons.  Certainly girls need to be empowered to buck stereotypes and to embrace the talents and gifts they have that have nothing to do with their looks.  But I think that another big part of this is what boys are being taught.  How do I raise boys who would realize that it is not okay to participate in a "Who's Hotter??" poll on Facebook?

Gender stereotypes are so ingrained in our culture that just being different from the norm is not enough.  My husband and I both work full time, but one of us is always home with the boys.  I work Monday through Friday and Ryan works Friday through Sunday.  I work from home on Friday and my sister comes over to help me out.  Working opposite schedules like that, we both have to share responsibilities for the boys, for cooking, for housework, and whatever else needs to be done.  I still cannot believe how many times my boys have told me that I can't do something because "girls can't [fill in the blank]."  What the heck??  Where is that even coming from?  They are only in first grade and preschool and we strictly monitor their media consumption.

Clearly, teaching boys to respect girls has to be intentional.  I can't just sit back and think that because my husband his very respectful of me or that he and I share responsibility so evenly, that my boys will automatically pick up on it and act accordingly.  Sure, kids learn by example, but there are some lessons that need additional reinforcement.  And this is one of them.  Now all I need is a strategy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One of Those Days

I feel I can share this because, well, lets face it.  I was probably out of the running for "Mother of the Year" back in January. 

I overslept this morning.  I use my iPod as my alarm clock, but somehow the volume was turned all the way down and I didn't wake up until four minutes before we were supposed to be outside waiting for the bus to take Luke to school.  Of course, had it been the weekend, at least one of the boys would have already woken me up hours ago.  Panic.  For about half  a second, I considered grabbing Luke out of bed, throwing clothes on him, and dragging him outside, but I quickly realized what a complete disaster that would be.  He does not wake up well, nor does he do well with being that rushed.  We probably both would have been in tears by the time we got outside and we STILL might have missed the bus.

Fine.  Plan B.  Mondays are my turn to get both boys to school.  I usually get up, work out, shower, wake up the boys, get them ready, get Luke on the bus, sign on to my laptop, work from 8-8:30, leave to take Owen to preschool, come home, and work the rest of the day.  Now I had to rush around, get the boys ready, load them both in the car, and set off for Luke's school, which is the complete opposite direction of Owen's school.  Good times.

Of course, since the morning was now complete chaos, all bets were off.  Luke was crying because because I told him if he wasn't going to eat his breakfast right away he needed to get dressed first.  But that isn't his routine.  Owen was crying because he didn't want to leave early.  I refrained from crying, but I really kind of wanted to.  I mean, I didn't even have time to make coffee.

It was pouring down rain and we got stuck behind the same really super-slow driver in a Suburban going and coming.  Thankfully Luke didn't freak out about having to jump out of the car and go in to school by himself, so at least we didn't hold up the drop-off lane.  When we finally made it to Owen's school, I realized I couldn't remember the security code to get in the door.  Argh!  It's not like I am trying to pretend that I have it all together, but I hate being that mom who seems to never have it together.  Thank God some other mother walked in right ahead of me.  Some other mother who knew the code.  Whatever.

With both boys safely at school, I finally got back home to continue working.  Then I saw on my calendar I soon had a conference call with one of the most unpleasant people I've ever had to work with.  You know, the kind of person who thinks he can do everyone else's job better than they can and tells you that repeatedly when you're just trying to get some information from him.  Of course I would have a meeting with him.  It was just that kind of day.


It's actually been that kind of week.  Clearly I began writing this on Monday, but just now got around to finishing and posting it.  Can it be Friday?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Big Bad Wolf

When I was really little, the thing I was most scared of in the world was the Big Bad Wolf.  I don't remember when I first started being scared of it, but to me the Big Bad Wolf was horrifying.  He was the terror hiding under my bed, he was what was waiting in the shadows ready to pounce, and he was the in the nightmares that would leave me awake and shaking in the middle of the night.  I could not stand the stories of Little Red Riding Hood or The Three Little Pigs. 

If the lights were off in my room and I needed to get out of bed, I would sit on the edge (feet up, of course) for a long time, trying to decide if it was worth the risk.  I just knew that as soon as my foot hit the floor, the Big Bad Wolf would reach his hunormous* paw out to grab me and pull me under the bed, never to be seen or heard from again.  If I really absolutely had to get out of bed, I would jump out as far away from the side of the bed as I could, and race out of the room. 

One of the main problems was, that if I was getting up in the middle of the night, it was probably to go to the bathroom.  The 1950's house I grew up in still had the original tile half-way up the bathroom wall.  Along the way, someone had decided to paint that tile several times.  Most of the tile was painted white, but along the floor was a spot where someone had dropped something heavy (a paint bucket, perhaps?) and put a large chip in the white paint.  Of course, the chip revealed a layer underneath that had been painted black.  And it was in the shape of a wolf.

Thinking back on it, it all seems so silly.  To be terrified there was a wolf under my bed and to let my imagination run wild that he could hide in a chipped tile on the wall and would somehow come to life and get me if I didn't watch the chip the entire time I was in the bathroom alone.  Thankfully I've outgrown all that and realize now that The Big Bad Wolf is a fictional character.

Although, to claim that I've completely gotten over absurd fears would be a lie.  There are still some things that scare the bejesus out of me.  Of course, I try to act like a normal, rational adult, but sometimes and in some situations I just want to freak out.  I guess in a way I am still scared of the Big Bad Wolf, only now he has taken on a the form of bad things I fear could happen or risks I'm scared to take.  Maybe I will never really be grown up. 

Oh well.  At least I can get up in the middle of the night without racing away from the bed.



*Hunormous is a word my 4-year-old uses all the time to describe something that is huge and enormous.  I love it so much I cannot bear to tell him it is not a real word.  Maybe someday it will be.  Didn't they just add "ginormous" to the dictionary?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten Years Tomorrow

Can you believe it's been ten years?  I guess now I understand what people mean when they say, "It seems like it was yesterday."  I know time has passed, but the memories really are that clear.

I remember that it was a busy day at work and I had arrived early.  I was the lead on a project that did computer installs for U.S. Senators' State offices.  I remember hearing my co-worker hang up his phone and laugh incredulously, saying "That was my mother-in-law.  Some whack-job just crashed a plane into one of the Twin Towers in New York. What an idiot."  I tried to get on the New York Times website, but it wouldn't load.  A few minutes later I got an email notice form nytimes.com, saying that a plane had crashed into one of the towers and their website was overloaded.  They would send email updates to their subscribers until they resolved the website issues.

Then came the second email.  Another plane, this clearly wasn't an accident.  Ryan and I had been married three months at that point and he was working nights so he was still asleep.  I called and called and called the house, wishing he would hear the phone downstairs.  I just wanted to hear his voice.

I started calling all my sites, all my technicians.  None of us really knew what was going on, so we just started cancelling everything for the day.  I remember I started saying "Take care" at the end of each phone conversation, something I'd never done before.  I managed to get through to my tech support guy in D.C.  They were evacuating.  I told him to email me when he got home safely.

Ryan finally called me back.  I'm pretty sure I just said "Oh my God.  Turn on the TV."

Once all my sites were cancelled, there really wasn't anything to do other than talk to co-workers and answer the phones when they rang.  We heard that someone in the lobby had a TV and my friend Denna and I went to check it out.  One of the maintenance guys had one of those small radio/TV combos and had rigged it up on some boxes.  About twenty of us stood around the tiny screen and saw the replays of the towers collapsing, hands clapped over our mouths, some of us choking back tears.  I mean, what the hell?

Denna and I went to a late lunch in a usually bustling cafe.  There were only a few people there.  They had the music off and the televisions sets tuned to NBC and turned up. We sat watching and shaking our heads.

I remember thinking what a gorgeous day it was.  Sunny and warm and not a cloud in the sky.  It seemed wrong that something so horrifying could happen at all, let alone on such a beautiful day.  I don't have any deep insight to share.  We can all watch the news and the television specials and hear the stories of tragedy and heroism from that day.  I think I just wanted to write it down, rehash where I was and what I was doing.

Not that I'll ever forget.


Friday, September 9, 2011

The Guilt is All Mine, Folks

I realized after re-reading my last post that I left something out.  Or maybe I didn't leave it out, I just simplified it to the point that it may have misrepresented something.  See, while my parents were crazy-strict when I was growing up, I've come to realize that they were actually strict about most of the right things. 

I wasn't allowed to go to parties.  I wasn't allowed to go out with a guy unless he called my dad first and asked for permission to take me out.  I had a curfew, strictly enforced.  I was still required to attend family functions and things for my sisters.  I had to dress modestly and I wasn't allowed to have my own car.  I had to go to church and to youth group and, up until I was seventeen and started taking classes at the local community college, I still had to go to homeschooling events.  I also had to help out around the house and make dinner a couple times a week.

But there were a lot of things they weren't that strict about.  My parents let me work and they bought an old beater car I was allowed to use as long as they knew where I was going and who I was with.  I was still allowed to go on dates, as long as it was with a guy who asked my dad and as long as I was home on time.   And not having my own car allowed me to have my own money to do stuff with my friends, as well as save for a trip I took to Spain after I graduated.  I never look back and wish I'd been a partier or dressed like a slut or skipped out on time with my family or been saddled with a car payment at sixteen.

My parents were strict, but not in a bad or over-the-top way, despite how I might have felt about it growing up.  And, while they did raise us in a very conservative environment, I've realized over the past few years that they were just doing what they thought was best at the time.  I never remember either of my parents telling me that I had to believe a certain way to gain their approval or to be a real Christian.  Most of the attitudes and beliefs I talked about walking away from in my previous post were more from the environment and the groups and the church than they were directly from my parents.  I think I used to think of my parents as much more conservative than they actually are, just based on the groups we associated with during those years. 

I wrote a post about my mother's example a long time ago (that you can read here), which I was thinking about after spending time with my parents over the holiday weekend.  Both of my parents have always set a good example of how to treat others and be responsible and work hard and they are the most generous people I know.  So, while I have to acknowledge and discard some of the baggage I have from my formative years, I have to thank my parents for being the kind of people who would never make me feel guilty for doing so.  The guilt is all mine, folks.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Guilt. And Green Day. And Guilt.

I remember when I was growing up and the only music my sisters and I were allowed to listen to was Christian music. I was reminded of this when a friend sent me a link to this article. It is a great article and worth the read, but this post isn't exactly about Christian music. It's more about growing up in a conservative, right-wing (which I hilariously just typo'd as "fright-wing"), Focus-on-the-Family environment. And Green Day. Yes, the band.

Throughout my adolescence, I thought my parents were ridiculously strict. They home schooled us and had a lot of rules. All of our activities centered around our church or our homeschooling group. All the people I hung out with were kids from one or both of those groups. And I knew, not even so much from my parents saying it specifically to me, that being a good Christian meant that you were a pro-life Republican who wanted the Ten Commandments, teacher-led prayer, and the Creation story back in public schools. Despite that most of us didn't attend those schools. Good Christians went to youth group or Bible study in-between Sundays and avoided anything "secular," from magazines to music to cartoons.

Somehow, though, around the year I turned sixteen, my parents lightened up.... just a little bit. I wasn't banned from "secular" magazines and music completely. Part of that was probably my parents' good sense in realizing that telling me I couldn't do or see or have any of those things was probably just going to make me want them even more. And, I think at least a little of it was their own naiveté at not realizing just what I was being exposed to. I mean, have you ever perused a copy of SEVENTEEN magazine?

Anyway, that year also happened to be the year that Green Day released their hit single "When I Come Around." I remember sitting my by radio, blank tape in the tape recorder, waiting for it to play as the number one song on the Top 8 at 8 so I could record it and listen to it over and over. Now, I don't think that if my mom had realized that Billie Joe was saying anything about being a "user," she would not have let me listen to it. But she either didn't realize or decided to overlook it.

My favorite part of the song goes:

So go do what you like
Make sure you do it wise
You may find out that your self-doubt means nothing
was ever there

You can't go forcing something if it's just
not right

Now, I realize the song isn't really talking about theology, but humor me. Looking back on it, I have to wonder, was this song the start to the proverbial slippery slope that led me from the way I was raised, to the centrist (okay, borderline Liberal) I am today? Someone who thinks that there are some situations in which I know I couldn't look a woman in the eye and tell her an abortion is not an option for her? Someone who believes that those in the LGBT community are people created by the same God who created me and who should have the same rights as everyone else? Someone who finds the right-wing more than a little scary and who believes we should respect the beliefs of others? I mean, as long as they aren't hurting anyone, shouldn't everyone be given the same freedom of belief that I enjoy and shouldn't they be able to live without having my beliefs jammed constantly down their throats?

I'm not saying that I have it all figured out in everything I think or believe. I'm still learning. I'm still questioning and searching. But I am saying that what I think and believe now is a lot different than it was when I was fifteen. And I also, sometimes, feel guilty about that. Being raised in a culture where a lot of the things I believe now were seen a "wrong" and "un-Christian" is sometimes very conflicting for me. Even when I've looked in the Bible and prayed about something and determined that what I believe about it now is much closer to the things Jesus taught than were the things I was raised thinking, I still have this lingering feeling of guilt for turning my back on what I was taught was "right" for what I was taught was "wrong."

But, in the words of the oh-so-wise Billie Joe, "You can't go forcing something if it's just not right."

I know this post is already really long and I don't know if anyone is still reading it, but all of this has been on my mind so much lately because I don't want my kids to grow up with this kind of baggage around their faith. Certainly, I want them to know what the Bible says and how Jesus said we should treat others. And I do believe there is real wisdom in the Bible that can help them as they grow up and have to make more and more decisions for themselves. But I also don't want them to get to a point where they feel that all I've done is tell them what to think. Nor do I want for them to have to deal with so much guilt when they try to work out for themselves what they believe. Truth is truth, whether it comes from the Bible or a Green Day song. There is no need to feel guilty about recognizing that.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Playing Favorites

It's been a little while since I've done a favorite things post, so I thought I'd add some new favorites to the ever-growing list of stuff I like.

Having my own work space at home. I work from home three days a week. I've typically worked at the dining room table or in our guest room. This past Christmas, my husband made me a desk. For the top, he used part of a tree from our property. It is a beautiful desk. Sure, for now I have to share my work space with the boys' playroom, but it is SO nice to have a designated area with my own desk. And even better that the desk is a beautiful, hand-made gift.


SUMMER! I know I've listed this one before, but I just love it so much. This summer has been awesome. I know July was really hot, but it's mid-August right now and the weather is mid-eighties and pleasant. Here is the summer view from my lovely new work space. If I have to be working and can't be playing outside, sitting here with the windows open makes it easier to take.
essie nail polish. Now, I'm not really a nail polish girl. I do paint my toe nails, but only because I think I have weird feet that look weird without polished nails. And you don't have to repaint toe nails as often as you have to repaint your finger nails. Now, I can't really justify spending a lot on nail polish, but I bought it on sale and from what I've seen so far, it wears pretty well. Chinchilly is my current favorite. The website describes it as "a sleek granite gray," and I think that is a color that suits me pretty well.

Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations. Now, I know he is very snarky and can be quite crass, but I love this show. I love how he interacts with the people he meets and makes comments like, "Yeah, if people were only drunker, there'd be no
war." Seriously... it is educational AND entertaining. And makes me wish I could afford to just drop everything and fly to some far away place and try the food. A girl can dream.

Pinterest. I admit it. There are nights when Ryan is at work and the boys are in bed and I mindlessly surf the internet. Only most people are out on those nights, so not much is going on here on blogger or on Facebook. This is when I love Pinterest most. I can look for recipe ideas or interesting quotes or tattoo ideas or just.... other random stuff. And I can pin stuff to my pin boards really quickly so that I don't have to try to remember where I saw it and never be able to find it again. Sure, it's a waste of time, but at least I'm enjoying wasting it.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Staying the Night at India



Two posts in a row about my kids. This is really unusual for me, but today was a pretty good day with my boys and I felt like writing a little about it.

I do not miss the baby stage. Yes, it is wonderful to have a sleeping baby all snuggled up to you, but those moments are few and far between. Nor do I miss the toddler stage, the struggling to communicate and getting into everything. I know, however, that I will miss this stage. The one my boys are in right now where they can do anything or go anywhere (even to India as they did today) all without leaving the backyard.

Right now, they are each other's best friend. They love golf and t-ball and baseball. They love the Kratt brothers and having creature adventures in the backyard. Outside or inside, they can find an infinite number of things to pretend. They come up with the most hilarious things and have crazy escapades. They have the best imaginations. The worst thing that can happen is that they don't both want to pretend the same thing at the same time.

We certainly have our moments, but for the most part they still want me around and will tell me about what they are imagining. They still willingly give me hugs and kisses. They tell me about what they did while I was at work. I've never been one of those mothers who tells my kids to stop growing or wishes they could stay little. I am excited for them to experience life and can't wait to see who they become.

But after days like today, I do get a little melancholy knowing the sounds of pretend safari treks and animal rescues will soon give way to video game sound effects and asking to borrow the car. If only there were a way I could somehow capture this stage and this kind of day, so I can look back on it in the trying teenage years ahead. Oh, I guess I just did.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Confession Friday

Being a parent terrifies me. There. I said it. I knew before I had kids that being a parent was a big responsibility, but I had no idea I would be such a weirdo about it.

My oldest son, Luke, started first grade Wednesday. He l-o-v-e-s school. Loves it. We had to fill out a questionnaire to turn in to the teacher and one of the questions read: "What are your child's likes and dislikes about school?" When I asked him, his response was, "I like everything about school and there is nothing I don't like." So, on the first day of school there was no drama about him not wanting to go. At least not from him.

I, however, was a bundle of crazy. Not so much from the "my little one is growing up" perspective, but more "How in the world do I have a first grader??"

It's not even really an age thing. I think it's just that even after six plus years of being a mother, I still don't feel like I'm qualified to be a parent. I'm terrified that there is something big I'm missing or forgetting or haven't taught him and that he will be messed up from having a crazy person for a mother.

I mean, in first grade they have homework and you have to pack their lunch and keep up with the days they have off or get out early. How can I make sure I get everything done, when all this time I feel like I've just been pretending to be a responsible adult?

I know that I should know that it will be okay. It's not like I'm an incredibly irresponsible person. I got my first job working seasonally for a local business when I was fourteen. I worked two jobs pretty much from the time I was sixteen until I had Luke. I have a college degree. I've been employed at a global company for ten years and have advanced to new opportunities and accumulated several professional certifications. Not that these things make me a "success" or anything, but it's not as though I'm a completely incompetent deadbeat either. And I'm kind of trying to give myself a pep-talk here.

So I don't know. Thankfully my husband is pretty on top of things in the schedule and homework department so it's not like I'm doing this all on my own. I guess it’s like everything else in life. There are things that have to be done and I have to just keep moving forward. Sometimes I just wish I was a little more confident and a little less scared.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Choices

We recently went on a short family trip to Mammoth Cave National Park in the middle-of-nowhere Kentucky. We stopped to have dinner at the one local eatery in a nearby town. When the waitress came to take our order, she asked, "Just these two?"

Um. No idea. I said, "I'm sorry?"

"Just these two kids? Is that all you got?"

What an odd question. I'm so bad. I wanted to say we'd left the rest in the car, but that would have been super rude so I replied, "Yep. Just two."

"At least you don't have seven."

How do I even respond to that? I obviously know nothing about this girl, but she was probably late twenties. Maybe her husband or life partner (she wasn't wearing a wedding band) was home with the kids and she just waited tables at the local dive for a break and some extra money. I'm guessing not, but maybe.

For whatever reason, this got me to thinking about the families we come from and how we end up where we do. My maternal grandparents came from very humble roots. My grandpa grew up in a mining town in Kentucky and my grandma grew up in Covington, Kentucky. Times were very hard for both of them.

My grandpa joined the army during WWII and ended up being able to go to college to be a teacher. My grandma also became a teacher. Then they got the hell out of Kentucky. This is nothing against Kentucky. There are plenty of lovely people and places there. But from what I can piece together from eavesdropping on the adults' conversations growing up, it wasn't so lovely for my grandma and she wanted out.

They built a life in a small town and had a family. It was by no means all rosy-perfect, but it was much better than the life my grandmother had growing up. There was a lot of hurt and anger from things that had happened in her life, but I like to believe my grandma did the best she could. She chose to make a change and give her own family a better hand than she'd been dealt.

My own mother had to deal with some of the fallout of my grandma's pain, but she was determined that she was going to do even better for her own children and make sure they always knew they were loved and never felt rejected. While there were some very tight times in my childhood, my parents did their best to make sure I did well in school and stayed out of trouble and had the chance to go to college.

Yet, when I saw that waitress and heard her talking about her seven kids, I thought, "That could easily be me. Just a few choices different and I could be waiting tables in middle-of-nowhere Kentucky to try to make ends meet with eight or nine mouths to feed." Now please understand I am in no way saying that having fewer kids or more opportunity makes me a "better" person than anyone else. I certainly do not think that I'm better or my life is better. But I probably have it easier. Maybe she has the life she's always wanted, and if so, that is absolutely fine.

I'm not trying to be critical of someone else's life as though it is a bad thing. I don't know if I'm explaining myself very well and I'm really sorry if this rude in any way, because that is absolutely not what I intend. I'm only saying that in my mind it would be a hard life to have a lot of kids when you don't have a lot of resources or opportunities.

Now, I know that we are each responsible for our own choices and ultimately have to make our own way. But it is much more difficult when you start out in a tough spot and don't have easy access to things that could improve your situation. And sure, if my grandparents hadn't moved to Ohio, my parents likely wouldn't have met, and I likely wouldn't exist.... but humor me.

Just thinking about how my grandparents' choices gave better opportunities to my mom and then to me and now to my kids, is kind of sobering. I have to say I'm thankful for the new paths they took, because my life could have easily started in a completely different situation. I hope the choices I make in my life are as good for my kids and their kids as the ones that were made years ago by my family that eventually benefitted me.


My grandma, aunt, mom, and grandpa

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rewind

I am in love with this song. I first heard Diane Birch when she opened for a concert I attended a couple years ago. I went out the next day and bought her CD. Yes, this was before I had an iPod. I'm a late bloomer, technologically speaking.

I hadn't listened to it in a while, but the other day the lines, "How I wanted you here by my side. I know what I said, but I lied...." started going through my head over and over again. So, of course, I dug out my copy of the song and I've listened to it about twenty times since then.




Sadly, I don't have some tragic romance story I can tell you this song brings to mind. I just love her voice and the lyrics and the piano and the mood. She is so lovely and talented. If you like this song, check out her album, Bible Belt. I know musical taste is a very personal thing, but I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Confession Friday

I really had intended to write another post between last week and today, but it just didn't happen. Maybe next week. Haha. Right.

Anyway, my confession for this week is that I am absolutely terrified of heights. I am not sure when this happened. When I was in high school I went on all kinds of roller coasters and up in high overlook things and none of it bothered me. My friend and I went on this Xtreme Skyflyer thing several times at a local amusement park. I mean, they hoist you 200 feet in the air and drop you! What the heck?

Well, a few years ago when we visited the Grand Canyon, I noticed that I was more nervous around heights. Getting too close to the edge made me nervous, but I was okay.

Last month on our Yosemite trip, we found out the hard way that I am now completely terrified of heights. We did a hike to the top Sentinel Dome. It is this awesome rock from where you get this amazing 360 degree view of Yosemite - many of the falls, Half Dome, the valley - and it's breathtaking. But to get to the top, you have to hike up the steep side of it. In snow. And it's pretty curved so you kind of feel that if you slipped too far to either side, it wouldn't be too difficult to keep sliding and fall over the edge.

It probably didn't help that as we arrived at the base, there were three people slipping and sliding their way back down. Ryan talked me into going up (I mean, we have life insurance, so it's okay, right?). I just put one foot in front of the other and charged up the thing. When I got to the top, I was shaking. And almost hyperventilating. And almost crying. And I'm not a crier. I couldn't help it. I had to sit on a rock in the middle of the dome and compose myself. Ugh. I felt like such an idiot, but I couldn't make myself not freak out.

We did several other hikes to the top of very high places, but I always had to stand way far back from the railing along the edge, just to get used to being that high up. I wasn't going to let my fear keep me from seeing Yosemite, but I realized that there are some fears you can't make go away just because you don't want to be scared. Fear of heights is real, people. And I have it.



See those happy people at the Upper Yosemite Falls Overlook there by the railing? The ones enjoying the view of the Yosemite Valley?

Then see the legs of that person against the rock wall? Yeah. I don't know those happy people, but the legs are mine.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Friend Quota

"Since there is nothing so well worth having as friends,
never lose a chance to make them."
- Francesco Guicciardini



Am I the only one who feels like a lot of people have some sort of pre-determined "friend quota?" I don't know. Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm just not that funny or not that nice. Maybe I'm too weird or too silly. Maybe. Or maybe it really is what I think it is, that some people have reached their quota of friends and no matter how great the two of you seem to hit it off, they just don't have any more room in their lives for additional friends.

I don't mean this in any sort of desperate "I need more friends" kind of way. I actually have plenty of friends. It's just that sometimes I meet people and we seem to talk easily and we have kids the same age and feel the same about a lot of things. These are the kind of people who say things like, "We really have to get together again soon!" when we part, without me even bringing it up. And then? Nothing. I may even try to invite them over once or twice and they say they are busy but would love to get together soon. And they will let me know when. And I never hear from them.

Now, I'm pretty busy. I work full-time and have a husband and two crazy boys. My parents and my sis live nearby, so I spend a lot of time with them. There are friends who I consider very dear to me, with whom I always have a blast when we hang out, but who I can only get together with every few months or so. I guess I just don't feel like I have to be talking to someone or seeing them all the time for us to be friends, even GOOD friends. I really don't like to talk on the phone, but I usually keep up with people enough via Facebook, instant messaging, and text that I feel I have a decent idea of what is going on in their life, yet I'm not so involved in every second of their days that we have nothing to talk about when we see each other in person.

Is that it? Is it maybe because I can go a while without talking to someone and still consider them important in my life? Or maybe it's that I don't actually believe in the whole "BFF" thing. I don't have a BFF. I have my "person," my younger sister Tiffiny who I have a special connection with in a lot of ways, but I just don't like feeling as though I have to limit my interactions with friends by assigning labels. I think we need multiple people in our lives, who communicate in different ways and have different interests. I don't want my friends to all be the same as me. I just want us to have enough in common that we can really enjoy each other and be understanding enough that we can appreciate each other's differences.

I have no idea where I'm going with this. Now I'm just rambling. But seriously, has anyone else noticed this with some people or is it just me?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Confession Friday

I was doing pretty well with my Confession Friday posts there for a while.

Side note: I don't know if Confession Friday is actually a thing. I just kind of made it up and put it on my blog, but there are so many thousands of bloggers that someone has probably already thought of it and done it so... sorry if it seems like I stole someone's idea, but I really didn't. Not intentionally, anyway.

So, yeah. I was posting kind of regularly. But then life happened with all it's birthdays and other craziness that happened in the month of June and I got way off track. Again. I'll try to get back into it with this, another Confession Friday post. I have two confessions for this week. Here goes.
1. I went on vacation without my kids and only missed them a little. I know. How can I even say that out loud? To celebrate our 10-year anniversary, we decided to go on a trip to California, just the two of us. My very wonderful sister and brother-in-law stayed with our boys so we could pretend we were jet-setters for a week. Leading up to the trip, I was anxious about how much I would miss the boys. However, once we were away, it was just SO nice to have that time to spend with Ryan and to have "us" time, that I was able to completely enjoy our adventures. Sure, I thought of the boys and there were a few times I had those pangs of homesickness for them, but it wasn't until we were actually on our way home that I felt overwhelmed with wanting to be back with them.

2. My husband is a much better photographer than I am. My sister is an amazingly talented professional photographer. I guess she got all the photography talent from our family gene pool, leaving me with only the ability to snap random photos and sometimes luck into a decent one. Here are a few photos from our trip. If you like them, my husband probably took them.




And this is why I hate trying to add photos to my posts.

I can never get blogger to let me caption!

Here is what the photos are, in case anyone is still reading:

1. A lighthouse in San Francisco

2. Us in Napa

3. General Sherman, the worlds largest living tree

4. Me trying to get a picture of the Kings Canyon sign

5. Rivers converging in Kings Canyon

6. We finally made it to Yosemite

7. And it was awesome

Friday, June 10, 2011

Confession Friday

When I was little, I wanted to be a ballerina. I loved the shoes and the costumes and watching the graceful, beautiful dancers. My mom, God love her, was kind enough to never say that I was not graceful enough or tall enough or athletic enough and she let me take lessons. She was kind enough to never point out to me the obvious: that I am a huge klutz and have the gracefulness of a duck. I eventuality got bored and quit, and it wasn't till later that I realized that I would never have been not-a-klutz enough to be a ballerina.

Lucky girls outgrow their awkward klutziness and grow into their adult bodies and lives. Girls like me can grow up and dress up like an adult and get a degree and start a career and have a family, but just can't shake the klutz. Let me give an example.

There is a nice shopping area right near my office building. Recently, I went in to White House|Black Market on lunch and found some cute clothes on their clearance racks. I tried on several outfits, then put my my own dress and heels back on before realizing I hadn't tried on a black skirt I'd picked up. No sense to undress again, right? I'll just slip it on real quick. That is what I thought right before trying to step into the skirt and SLICING the side of my knee open with the heel of my shoe.

So... there I was, standing in the dressing room, leg bleeding, wondering what in the heck I should do now. I mean, I was wearing a dress, so it's not like there are pants to cover it. I scrounged around in my purse and found the little first aid kit I keep in there for the boys. Of course, it's out of band-aids (and if it had them they would probably be brightly-colored cartoon ones anyway). I see there is still an antiseptic wipe, so I try to use that. Only, of course, it is the worlds smallest wipe. Not kidding. It comes in a pack like those regular moist towelettes, but only unfolds once. I had to blot the blood with this tiny, two-inch by one-inch wipe. Oy.

There you have it. These are the kinds of things that happen to me. I know that might not sound so bad, and it wouldn't be if these were only occasional occurrences. But no. I have (epically and like something from a movie) fallen in public more than once. I drop things, bump in to things, bruise, scrape, and maim myself. My name is Trischa, and I'm a klutz.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Over 10 years have gone by...






Well I was crazy about you then
And now the craziest thing of all
Over 10 years have gone by
And you're still mine


- Jack Johnson (From the song Do You Remember)

So, I have never been the kind of person who gushes about my relationship. And, frankly, I find the people who do to be unbelievably annoying. I'm not talking about sharing from time-to-time a very sweet or thoughtful gesture like, "My husband knew I was tired and got up with the kids this morning so I could sleep in."

No. The ones I'm talking about are the people who are constantly saying out loud or posting things on Facebook like, "I can't believe how perfect and romantic and good-looking and amazing my significant other is and how I'm the luckiest and most blessed and most perfect person for getting to be with them!!!!!!!!!!" Or something similar. You get the point. I mean, I just have to wonder if these people really feel that way or if they just think they are supposed to feel that way and are trying to convince everyone, including themselves, that they do. I think the whole Hollywood-romantic-fantasy-and-grand-gesture thing has gotten to the brains of some people.

Anyway, rant over. I really got off-topic. I really just meant to say all that to make the point that you will rarely hear me gush about my husband or see me posting things about our relationship. I think that a relationship is between two people and while it is fine to share with friends something frustrating or something great, it really isn't something that should be talked about or posted about all the time and for everyone to hear/see.

That said, I would just like to take a moment to say that yesterday was our ten year wedding anniversary. I know that all anniversaries are special, but something about making it to the decade mark just seems like such a big deal to me. I was ridiculously excited about it and probably gushed a little too much (yet hopefully not to the point of annoyance), but... TEN YEARS! And I have to say that I love my husband more now than I did way back when we were 23 and 22 and fresh out of college and getting married. We aren't perfect and we certainly don't have it all figured out, but somehow we work and he has put up with me all this time and I am really very thankful for that.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Confession Friday

If I can't figure out how to write some good posts, I may as well use my blog as a form of therapy. I guess confession is supposed to make a person feel better. I don't actually feel bad, but everyone can always stand to feel better, right?

My confession of the week is that I kick things under the couch. Before I had kids and even when my kids were still pretty small, I maintained that my kids would clean up each thing or group of things as they went. They would know that before getting out the toy tractors, all the Trio blocks must be picked up and put away. And then before they got out the trains, the tractors had to be cleaned up. Books and magazines say this is the best method. And it really sounds great, doesn't it?

Only I live in real life. I work full time. Three days a week I work from home. I also have meals to cook and laundry to do and sanity to maintain on the weekends when my husband is at work. It is absolutely remarkable the number of things two boys can find to drag out while I'm putting in a load of laundry. Or answering emails. Or on a conference call. Or blinking.

So I've adopted a more real-life approach. All the toys will be picked up before bedtime. Of course, ideally this would be the two people who made the mess cleaning it up by themselves and without being prompted. It would also mean all the toys all over the entire house would be picked up and put where they belong. Reality is more like... the two boys being helped by whichever parent is home to clean up all the toys visible in the main area of the house. If we get to tidying the playroom, great. If not, we just close the door. Of course, all the pick-up is usually done in a hurry as we race the clock to bedtime.

So... can you really blame me when the house is finally quiet and the kitchen tidied, that I really don't feel like picking up any more toys? Sure, the kids should have picked up that ball or cardboard-tube-turned-spyglass or flip flop. And yes, squatting down to pick it up and then walking to put it away would almost count as exercise. But, if I take a good look at it and sweep it under the couch with my foot, then the living room will look clean when I flop down on the couch to catch up on reading, facebooking, or the DVR. And I will know exactly where said item is when someone is whining for it three days from now. And that will make me a hero.

I'll take being a bad-housekeeper-yet-hero-mom over those burning those five extra calories any day.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pizza and Potato Chips

It's so crazy how something I've probably seen hundreds of times will randomly spark a memory I haven't thought of in years. My boys and I were at the Reds game on Sunday, walking near the stadium, when I looked up and saw a sign for "Mike-sells". Mike-sells is a local potato chip/snack food company that distributes mostly in the Midwest. Their wavy potato chips, including the ones that have the greenish edges from being cute too close to the peel (?), have a special place in my heart. On Sunday afternoon when I saw that sign, I was transported for a second to pizza night at my parents' house WAY back when I was little.

Pizza night when I was growing up did not involve a delivery guy or carry-out. Sure, from time-to-time we did buy pizza. But that wasn't "pizza night." Pizza night when I was growing up always started with some yeast, water, flour, and a pinch of sugar. Pizza was the thing my dad made. And as soon as we were old enough to spread tomato sauce or sprinkle oregano, my sisters and I had our hands all over it. I don't remember a time in my life when I didn't help make pizza or know how to make pizza.

The dough that results from my dad's recipe is very... yeast-forward (no, I don't know if that's a real thing, but "yeast-y" just sounds weird). It's not like anything I've every had in a restaurant, and yet it is still my favorite pizza to eat. I now make it with my boys at least a few times a month. Back in the day, pizza night was a huge deal and usually involved company. Even if that company was just the neighbors.

I know we ate a lot of pizza in the winter, including every Christmas Eve, but my main memories of pizza night were in the summertime. We didn't have air conditioning and despite having every window open and multiple fans working overtime, the house would get increasingly warm from the oven being on and opened/closed to cook multiple pizzas. We (my sisters and I, the neighbor kids, and all the adults) would eat in shifts around the ancient, creaky table in the dining room. When the pizza with the toppings you liked was ready, you'd get a paper plate with a slice, a perspiring cup of 'Pepsi-free' (pizza night was one of the few times we were allowed to have soda), and a handful of wavy, Mike's-sells potato chips.

And there you have it. The crazy way my mind works. Walking on a chilly, rainy day in the city with my kids, and all it takes is seeing an advertisement to take me back to a sweet memory of a sweltering, summertime joy from my childhood. I don't think I've eaten chips with pizza in years, but for the past few days all I could think about was getting some Mike-sells chips and savoring a memory. Luckily, I went to the supermarket today. If you'll excuse me, my writing is keeping me from a salty, crispy snack and some serious reminiscing.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fail. Ish.

Well, it would be good if I had some kind of "lessons learned" or recap planned, but I don't. Here it is the last day of April, and I've only been moderately successful this month. On one hand, I'm disappointed, because I feel like I haven't actually written anything worth reading. On the other hand, I feel kind of okay about it, because I can feel my desire to write rekindling. If I can just hold on to that, then maybe, possibly, I'll be able to get back to writing things I don't hate.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

This I Believe (kinda)

I just finished reading the first volume of This I Believe. What I would really like to do is write my own "This I Believe" essay, but for two reasons, I cannot. First, I cannot decide what my focus would be. Would I write about my personal beliefs about God (in whom I do believe) vs. religion (of which I'm scared)? Would I write about how I feel about family? Marriage? Politics? Being a working mom? I just don't know where to start.

The second reason is that even though I have been making myself post on this blog with more frequency, I am still plagued with writer's block. I don't think that I've really written anything worth reading this whole month. And that makes me sad. Not that I used to be a great writer or anything, but I didn't used to suck. In hopes of finding some inspiration, I read over some of my old posts. Posts from back when I used to write.

Only instead of inspiring me, they kinda depressed me. I actually enjoyed reading some of my old work. Is that inappropriate to say? Not that I think I'm all awesome or anything, but some of it was pretty decent. It just makes me sad that I seem to have lost my muse. And it makes me even more sad that I don't know how to get it back.

One thing that I know I do believe is that people need a creative outlet. I need a creative outlet. I have no talents other than writing so it's very not good that I seem to be unable to do it lately. I'm wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin' that I can somehow figure out a way that I can write some things that I will feel good about writing. Maybe this weekend?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Oh... Weather

I have quite a few posts about weather. Many of them are complaining about the weather, but I do live in Ohio so I feel the rants are justified. We are in the middle of what has seemed like weeks of rain and chill and wind. More storms expected tonight and tomorrow. It's just difficult to feel motivated to do anything when I know we should be having Springtime, but we are really just having rain. I would be fine with sleeping away the days until sunshine and warmth return.

I was thinking today while waiting for Luke to get off the bus that it even seems like the trees are waiting for this deluge to stop before they finally unfurl their leaves and blossoms. I wrote this post about only seeing green out the window and how wonderful that is. Right now, the grass is really green, but the trees still just look like giant, leafless sticks. I need green and flowers and heat! Is that too much to ask? Is it?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Boys Will Be Boys

Easter Sunday always brings back a flood of memories for me. When I was little, my parents would get my sisters and I up at the crack of dawn to put on our matching Easter dresses and go up the road to Sunrise Service at church. After that service, we would make the five minute trek to my grandparents' church for Easter breakfast and regular Easter service. At some point we were allowed to have our Easter baskets, but it seemed to vary from year-to-year when and where we found them.

Easter is quite a bit different for me now. I let the boys find their Easter baskets first-thing, and yes, they pretty much end up eating candy for breakfast. My life is miserable if my kids are robbed of sleep for even one day, so we don't get up early for sunrise service. We also live too far away now to make it feasible for us to go to Easter breakfast.

Last year I did buy the boys coordinating polo shirts and plaid shorts for Easter, but it ended up being too cold for shorts and Luke refused to wear a short-sleeved shirt so I had to let him wear a plaid button-down and jeans. Then Owen didn't want to wear his shirt since Luke wasn't wearing his, so he ended up in a different polo than his Easter one. And we were almost late for church. It was so frustrating that I didn't even bother to buy them anything this year.

And now I'm so glad I didn't. I just let them wear clothes they already had, and it was pouring rain this morning, so we all wore rain boots. Thank goodness. Here is a little glimpse of what happened after Easter lunch and before Easter dessert.





And no, we were not at home, so I had to make use of my sister's laundry facilities and the boys had to run around in their underwear until their clothes were clean and dry. Oh well. They had fun. And got rid of some of the sugar buzz. Somehow I don't think matching outfits would have been nearly this memorable.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Confession Time

I was just going to add a little blurb to my post tonight, confessing that I'm failing miserably at my "alternate day" writing, but then I figured I may as well do an entire confession post. Why not?

As I've already said, I failed at writing every day. There is just too much going on. Too many days when I feel beaten down by things at work or overwhelmed by things at home or I'm just too busy. I'm trying to be okay with it since I'm still posting on here with realitive consistancy, but I am a bit dissapointed in myself.

I cherish alone time. Don't get me wrong, I love my husband and my kids and the rest of my family and my friends. I appreciate the time I get to spend with the people I care about. But I also have to admit that I am kinda a loner. I like my commute when I can listen to NPR without interruption and the the nights when Ryan is at work and the boys are in bed and I am alone with my thoughts and can kinda do what I want (you know, like write run-on sentences or eat too much Boursin cheese). It may be weird, but it's me.

I am not nearly as conservative as many people assume I am. I grew up in a conservative family and I was homeschooled(!) and went to a midwestern Christian college where dancing and drinking were not allowed. I can understand (mostly) why people are staunchly conservative, and I think that if we lived in an ideal world where everyone had equal opportunity and upbringing and access, then MAYBE the conservative views would be accpetable in a lot of circumstances. But, in case you haven't looked around or watched the news or visited anywhere outside your upper-middle class subdivision... we don't live in an ideal world. So I think that issues and problems in this country and in this world need to be looked at individually and evaluated for the best way to make things work to the benefit of the people who really need it. And if that means giving someone free access to birth control or helping them buy groceries to feed their family, I'm okay with it.

I am addicted to Food Network. I think I may have mentioned something like this before, but I really think it might be an issue. If I have control of the TV and it is on, it is probably on Food Network. This is an issue for me since I am really not that good of a cook and watching it makes me hungry and then I eat food that isn't good for me. But whatever. It does sometimes inspire me to make things I'd never thought of trying before. I've actually made popovers. And my kids ate them. For the most part.

I am not a baby person. I know I have mentioned this before too, but it is true. I'm happy for other people if they have babies, but I'm totally fine with not having any more babies. This is why it doesn't make me sad that my kids are way past the baby stage. I can deal with kids, but babies are a real challenge for me. My kids can tell me what's up and help me with stuff. Babies cry and scream and screech and rob you of sleep. Do you see where I'm coming from?

I hate being cold. Not sure if it qualifies as a confession since I've never kept it a secret, but to me being cold equals physical pain. I reall hate it and I wish it could be warm all year. Why can't it?

This isn't a very good confession post, but it's Friday, at the end of a long week, and I'm tired. Yay.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Baby Face

When your kids are babies, you spend a lot of time looking at their faces. You hold them a lot and check on them a lot and even though you know they are changing as they grow, you still see their baby faces in real life and in your mind's eye. As they get older and reach the baby (and then toddler) milestones, their faces thin up and grow up, but they still look like babies to you.

But now my boys are four and almost-six. For years, even if during the day they had seemed quite grown-up for their age, I could still sneak into their rooms at night and see them as babies. Something about their little sleeping faces still looked so innocent and baby-esque.

Over the past month or so, however, I've noticed a change. There are times when Luke, my oldest, will make a face or look at me in a certain way and instead of seeing "baby" I see "teenager." It's like for just a second something in the real progression of time shifts and I see what he will look like when he is sixteen and thinks he doesn't need me at all. It's so surreal, yet strangely comforting.

I've also noticed that when I sneak into their room after they are sleeping and check to make sure they are covered up and sleeping well, it is getting more and more difficult to see the "baby" in their faces. They no longer look the same as they looked at six months, only bigger. They look like almost grown-ups, resting from a day of their own thoughts and feelings that have little to do with me. They look so big.

I've read the books and magazines and I know this should make me sad, but it doesn't. I love seeing them grow up and become more independent. Sure, maybe in ten years when they actually want nothing to do with me, I may be sad then. But for now, I am so enjoying experiencing their flourishing personalitities and all the things they are learning and watching them become best friends with each other to the point that they don't need my attention all the time. At some point I may miss their baby faces, but for now I'm just enjoying the moment.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Some Things I Like

It's been a while since I posted a favorite things list. And on a night like tonight when I realize I haven't been able to beat my writer's block and I have ten loads of laundry to fold before I can go to sleep, it seems like a good idea to post another one. Maybe "good idea" is generous. More like, I seems like what I am going to do, good, bad, or indifferent.

Boursin Cheese - I could maybe eat an entire pack of Boursin Cheese all by myself in one sitting. Not maybe. I know I could. It is delicious. I used to eat it on crackers, but I was trying low-carb for a while and started eating it on salami. To. Die. For. No joke, if my last meal included Boursin Cheese, I would die happy.

The Television Show Parenthood -Such a good show. I end up laughing out loud a lot, but also crying at least once per episode. The writing is great and the cast is amazing. Plus, I think I might have a girl-crush on Lauren Graham. She is perfect in such a relatable, imperfect way.

Shoemall.com - All the shoes I've bought in the past four months that I love and want to wear all the time have been purchased from Shoemall.com. I know there are other sites out there, but The selection on Shoemall is great and I like the ease of sorting/finding on the site, as well as the discounts they offer.

Small-Venue Concerts - I haven't been to an excessive number of concerts, but I've been to a few. I by far prefer the ones that have been in small theaters to the ones in massive stadiums. Last night I saw Sara Bareilles at a small, local theatre. Amazing.

Summertime - I know I've posted this one before, but this spring is dragging on and on in a cold, wet, depressing grossness. I am just ready for the weather to be hot and sunny. I love summer and I miss it so much.

The end. For now.

Friday, April 15, 2011

It Was Just a Bad Day

Note: I posted this on Friday, but woke up Saturday morning wondering if it really came across the way I meant it. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to look over it till today. I'm just going to go ahead and re-post it. I don't intend for it to sound whiny or all woe-is-me, but if it does, I'm sorry.


Today was the bad end of a bad week. And I mentioned that on Facebook. And, of course, that seemed to some to be an invitation to some to tell me that my life is actually so great and I have no right to say things are bad. Am I the only one who doesn't get that? This compulsion to tell others that they shouldn't feel the way they feel? It doesn't only bother me when someone does it to me, but also when I see it done to others.

I am keenly aware that my life circumstance is better than that of a good percentage of the people currently living on the earth. I read a lot. I know about how bad things are for a lot of people. I hate that so many people have such a terrible time of it. I really do. And if I spend too much time thinking about that, I start to get very melancholy and depressed. If I knew what I could do to make life better for people in horrible situations, I would do it.

So, sure. I realize that when I say I've had a bad day that there are many others out there who are having worse lives than my one bad day. I never said otherwise. But I don't really understand why other people being in bad circumstances means that I can't just say that I'm looking forward to tomorrow since today was crap.

Why is it so difficult to just wish someone well? To hope for them that things improve? To just let them have a down moment, while hoping for better? What happened to empathy?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

In ITIL Hell

I'm skipping coming up with a post topic tonight. I'm in the middle of an ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library, for those of you lucky enough to not know what ITIL stands for) training class at work. I have to study tonight for the exam tomorrow. I mean, it's nice that my company is paying for me to get yet another certification to add to my resume, but I kind of feel like I'm being held hostage in my office building.

At least they provide lunch.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Here We Go Again

WAY back when Luke started preschool, I posted several posts about how I am a misfit among mothers. This one is the one I remember the most, but I know there are others. I know I am not the only mother who works full-time aside from my mommy duties, but somehow I often end up feeling that I am.

Now Luke is in Kindergarten and has started playing t-ball. The first time I took him to practice, I ended up setting on a bench with another mom and another dad (no relationship to each other). I tried making conversation with the mom, asking her about her son, etc., but all she did was answer my questions. No actual conversation or asking questions about my kid. Um, okay.

The dad, on the other hand, was fine talking to me about our kids and about t-ball and about the teams his older kids had played on their first years. At least I didn't have to sit only with stoic-mom the entire time.

This past week, I again had better luck talking with the dads at first. After a while I realized I was the only mom standing on one side of the field, while all the other moms had somehow migrated to the benches on the other side of the field. Nothing makes you feel more like you're back in jr. high, than seeing a group of females who all seem to be hitting it off swimmingly, while you are the outcast girl who doesn't pinch-roll (peg? pinch-cuff? Whatever that stupid fad was called) her jeans.

I know I'm writing about it so it seems like it gets to me, but what I really worry about is how it will affect Luke and Owen in the future. I don't want them to be those kids who other kids don't like because none of the other moms like their mom. Is that a thing? Would that happen?

Thankfully I did manage to find a mom who I got along with as our kids were playing on the playground after practice. She is a vetrinarian and didn't really seem to fit right in with the other moms either, but did seem like a lovely and genuine person. Maybe there is hope. I don't need to be BFFs with all the other moms. But having one or two allies as I navigate this new mom-to-a-school-kid phase would be a very good thing.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My Name is Trischa....

...And I have a shoe addiction. I believe this stems from not knowing how to create outfits or accessorize. I try to make up for it by having great shoes. That's okay, right? I do try to be frugal about my shoes. I'm not going to go out and buy really cheap ones that are going to fall apart in three days, but I also can't justify paying full price. I try to watch for sales and use coupon codes and can typically get great shoes for less than $40.

I recently ordered a pair of nude pumps. This pair, if you're curious. I have lots of black shoes and several black boots, but I have been working to add variety. Before these, I bought a great pair of army green heels. These nude heels arrived on a day when I was working from home and I tried them on right away. They are so cute.

But then my husband came home and I showed them to him. He acutally (usually) has great taste in clothes. He isn't one of those guys who obsesses about his looks, but he also looks good when he leaves the house. He took one look at these shoes and said, "They look like high-heel wooden shoes from Holland."

Talk about a blow to my enthusiasm. Of course, I wanted to say they look nothing like that, but... I couldn't. All I could do was laugh. They don't really look like that, but I could kind of see what he meant! And now every time I wear them, all I can think of is "wooden shoes."

So, if I can just get into my closet this weekend to sort, organize, discard, and evaluate.... I'm hoping that I can find some items that go perfectly with wooden high heels.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's Not THAT Weird

I have an unusually-spelled name. I get that. But, c'mon. It's not THAT weird. However, the other day, I had a very strange experience at the doctor that made me wonder if maybe I am wrong in thinking my name, while uncommonly spelled, isn't that difficult.

I had an appointment with a new doctor. When I made the appointment over the phone, the girl put me on hold for about five minutes, then I got disconnected. That should have been a sign right there, but I called back, the girl apologized and took my information. I gave her my name and my social security number, so she could verify my insurance. The thought crossed my mind that I didn't spell my name for her, but she was going to check my insurance so I figured she could get the correct spelling from that.

Apparently not. When I arrived for my appointment, I was given a clipboard of paperwork to fill out, on which my name and insurance information were already filled in. As the receptionist handed me the clipboard, I noticed the following in the 'Last Name' line: (Tricia) Goodwin. The first name line read: Trischa. Then she said, "Your insurance is listed under this name," pointing to where it read Trischa, "But we can put both names on your file."

Not quite sure what was going on, I pointed to the correct spelling and said, "That does say 'Trischa' (pronounced Trisha). That is how my name is spelled."

To which she replied, "That's fine if your name is spelled that way. We can put that name," again pointing to the actual spelling of my name, "But we can put Tricia (saying it out loud) as well. We can put both names on your file."

I know it's bad, but by now I was completely annoyed. What part of "Trischa" is my name didn't make sense to her. So I just said, "Why would you put both names on my file?? My name is Trischa (pointing to that spelling) and it is pronounced "Trish-a" so you don't need to put the other spelling (pointing to Tricia)."

A little indignant, she said, "Well, the appointment book had it spelled this way (pointing to Tricia), but we have to go by what your insurance is under."

Goodness. I mean, is it really that confusing? Why is it so hard to understand that a lot of names have multiple spellings? Finally I just told her, "Well, the girl who took my appointment didn't ask for the correct spelling and I thought she could get it from my insurance. Please only put this spelling (indicating Trischa) on my file and leave the other spelling off."

I'm sure this story isn't nearly as amusing to read as it is to hear me tell it out loud, but it is all I have for today. I spent the day at the ballpark in Cincinnati with my boys, watching the Reds lose. Now my nose is sunburned and I am tired. I'm hoping to have a much better post this weekend.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jealous

I'm always so jealous when I see girls who seem to have mastered their own personal style, especially when that style looks like what I wish was my personal style. I'm not really sure of how to describe what I would like to be my style, but maybe funky-classic? Casual-classic? I dunno. I'm not a trendy person, but I do try to make sure that I'm not wearing things that are horribly out-of-fashion. If I ever take "fashion quizes" in magazines, I usually just barely fall under "classic," but I know I'm not classic in the glamorous, Audrey Hepburn or Jackie Kennedy way.

No, I'm not glamorous at all. I don't know how to accessorize. I don't wear lipstick. I'm not sure how so many other people seem to be able to look so cute and put together. My default work clothes are dresses, since there is very little involved in making sure the outfit "works." Just coordinate the shoes and go. My default at-home wear is whatever is super comfortable and warm. Yet I still wish I had whatever gene it is that makes people know exactly what looks good together and exactly what looks good on their bodies, all while looking as though they put very little effort into the whole thing. Like it just came naturally for them to know how to mix all the elements of their wardrobe into an amazing collage of perfect outfits.

I recently stumbled onto this blog. I can't remember how I found it and I hope this girl doesn't hate me for linking to her since I am not a fashion blogger, but I just think she is completely adorable. I know that not all of her outfits would work for me (she looks super-cute in skinny jeans and flats, while I look weird and frumpy in them), but she does such a great job of mixing together outfits that are workable for a mom, and yet fun and flattering. I would love to be more like that.

There is also the whole make-up thing. I wear powder foundation and mascara. And chapstick (what? that's not make-up?) I recently started wearing eye shadow, but I have somewhat hooded eyes and I am just not good at putting it on. My friend Sara, on the other hand, her make-up always looks fabulous. As though her make-up is professionally done each time she leaves the house. Is it bad to be jealous of how good your friends look?

Anyway, I'm not really sure of what to do. I think I will start with cleaning out my closet. I tried to start this weekend, but there was a birthday party and a baby shower and t-ball practice and two little boys running around like crazy people that kept me from getting to it. But this weekend, I really am going to try. I'm going to try to go through my closet and get rid of everything that doesn't fit well or that I haven't worn in over a year. And then I'm going to try pairing things together that I've never worn together. And I'm going to try to make a list of some accessories I think might help me expand/enhance some of those outfits

We'll see how it goes. But taking baby steps in the direction of working on my personal style is certainly better than sitting around being jealous of how great other people look.