Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Encyclopedia of Me - I (Stacy)

(Photo credits: internetbillboards.net; thedish.restaurant.com; interaksyon.com; amazon.com; lifeguide-blog.com; kinomanai.lt)


Italy - This is a place I dream of visiting one day (I predict that Mark will choose Ireland). I studied Humanities in college and learned about Rome, Florence, Venice . . . I'd love to see paintings, sculptures, and architecture in person that until now I've only seen in books. I've been in every state that starts with "I" (Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa). It's time to visit countries that start with the same letter. I really wish Mark and I had traveled to Europe when we first got married.

Indian Food - I love Indian food. It's not my top favorite (that would be Japanese). And it's not my second favorite (that would be Mexican). But it's probably next on the list. Mark and I took a cooking class together this past year and we learned about Indian cooking. The lady teaching was so laid back about measuring or following exact recipes that it boosted my confidence in toying with ingredients and spices and making stuff up when it comes to Indian cooking. I've been doing it since with great success! One of our favorites is a spicy chickpea and spinach dish. Yum!

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - After a 5-year hiatus from Facebook, I got back on this past summer. My first post said, "Just finished Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." I hadn't ever read any of her books before, but decided to read it after she passed away and I heard a rebroadcasted interview with her on NPR. Gorgeous book. One to be savored, much like "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." What a gift and treasure she has left us." It's true. The book is absolutely gorgeous. It is now part of my top 5 most beautifully written  books list along with To Kill A Mockingbird, Rebecca, Jane Eyre, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Harry Potter ranks as a top 5 all-time personal favorite, but when we're talking about "beautifully written," well, that's where they switch places.

Internet - This almost didn't make the list! As a family, when we do these Encyclopedia of Me posts, we roll the Scattegories die and write up whatever letter we get. We don't share our choices until we post. Well, Max has been all excited because he thought of a good one that he suspected we hadn't thought of and he told us, so Kate and I groaned and knew we wanted to include it and we said we'd give him credit, so here you go, Max! GOOD ONE! I *love* the Internet. I think it's amazing to have so much knowledge at our fingertips. I could easily spend all day on the Internet, opening tab upon tab, reading article after article, looking up answers to questions . . . oh wait, I guess I kind of already kind of do this! Like just today, the kids and I looked up why Greenland is an island while Australia is a continent. When I was a kid, I would sit with a set of encyclopedias and read about anything and everything. And now, here I sit at a computer, typing so fast, looking stuff up, and posting my very own Encyclopedia of Me post that I can instantly share with people. AMAZING!

Intelligence - I've mentioned this before in our "N" post (N for Nerd). I mentioned that I think being smart is sexy and fun and interesting. Kate and I were reading an article on NPR today and discussing the word sapiosexual. I'd call myself a sapiosexual - one is attracted to intelligence or the human mind. It is one of the many things that attracted me to Mark. Even before we started dating, we hung out as friends and one of our favorite things to do was to play Trivial Pursuit. We kept a tally sheet of our scores and it was always really close. I kept it on my wall in my dorm and I have it in a box full of stuff from college. I love having intelligent friends and, if I can be an intellectual snob for a moment, dull people bore me. I know that sounds terrible. I don't mean it in an elitist way. I like people regardless, but I don't enjoy boring conversation. I like wit and banter and intelligence and humor and information. I don't know everything (who does?), but I like talking to people who are well read and I like learning and being challenged. That kind of thing.

Indie Films - Indie films, indie theaters . . . I love them! I like the whole smart coffeeshop vibe of small, local venues. I love our local theater in town. It's old fashioned in appearance, but state of the art in technology. We know the owner and he knows us. They have one screen and, in general, show the most interesting films! In addition to great current features, they also sometimes show old films, westerns, and silent films (complete with live musical accompaniment). It's awesome. There's nothing like it. Many of my clients tell me that they won't even see a movie unless it's showing there. We feel similarly - when there's a movie we want to see, there's no choosing a chain theater over our local theater if they're showing it. I think I owe a lot of my love of good, quirky, and well done films to my experience in college with the International Cinema. I majored in Humanities, so every class I took gave me a pass to go to the IC, as we called it, for free (even if it hadn't been free, it was only $1). I saw so many great foreign films and learned about how much better quality many non-Hollywood films are! From then on, I was hooked. I like smart movies, make-you-think movies, documentaries, foreign films, quirky films, indie films. Love, love, love. I've even done a post (with running comments) about these kinds of films.

So here are a bunch more "I" things that I thought of. I had a hard time coming up with "I" things at first, but then I thought of a bunch and had to pare it down. So, in typical I-stink-at-cutting-things-out Stacy fashion, here are a few more "I" thoughts . . . . I was going to write about the name Isabel, but I suspect Kate is doing that (it's a great story). I also like the Indigo Girls and we got to see them in concert as a family this past summer. I thought of iPods - I like that we can listen to so much great music so easily on them, but I don't understand how to work them. :P Some songs that are very nostalgic for me all start with "I" (there are way more than this, but here are some): "I Am By Your Side" by Corey Hart is on a mix of love songs I made for Mark our freshman year. Hearing it brings me right back to that feeling of the summer after our freshman year, being on the plane for visits home and listening to the tape on my Walkman and missing him, listening to the tape the summer after freshman year, long talks via long distance phone calls (oh, the phone bills that summer!) to each other . . . aaaahhh. "I Could Write a Book" by Harry Connick, Jr. is one of the songs on our wedding video - pictures of us set to music, so that song always makes me think of that and of us. "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel was my senior prom theme, but I was dating my first boyfriend (pre-Mark) then, so I won't go on too much about that one. ;) "It Had To Be You," also by Harry Connick, Jr., reminds me of our dating years - I got into Harry through Mark and my freshman roommate. The entire soundtrack for "When Harry Met Sally" all reminds me of that beautiful time. "It’s a Beautiful Day" by Michael Bublé is a great song that helps put me in a great mood. Love Michael Bublé! I was going to put "I Love Lucy" on here, but discovered I already put it in my "L" post. I would also add that I'm fond of the "It Gets Better" campaign; I enjoy and miss In-N-Out Burger; and I love the phrase "I love you." I say it often. I mean it when I do. I've got a bunch of notes from the kids from when they were younger - Kate would leave notes lying around with a picture of an eye and "I see you!" on them, and Max would leave me notes that say, "I L Y!" (for "I Love You"). Phew! I'm tricky. :)
It gets better In-n-Out Burger, I love you

Encyclopedia of Me - I (Mark)

(Photo credits: bestfreepictures.org; amazon.com; hrc.org; wikimedia.org; americantowns.com; fansided.com)

Ireland: Yeah, my last name is Irish. No, I'm not that Irish, but my mother did send me to school wearing a shamrock that said "Kiss me. I'm Irish." pinned to my shirt in elementary school. And even though my last name is the most Irish thing about me, I do have a fondness for a lot of Irish things. I make a mean Irish pork medallion and soda bread on St. Patrick's Day. And my special Irish boilermaker chili is fantastic (one can of Guinness and a shot of Jameson's--perfection). I like Irish folk and rock music (Flogging Molly is a particular favorite of mine). I think the accent from The Emerald Isle is great. One of these days we'll get over there and kiss the Blarney Stone. Or maybe just stand down below and let others lean out and do that. Éirinn go Brách!

"I Could Write a Book": The song is an old standard, but the Harry Connick, Jr. version from "When Harry Met Sally" has a special place in my heart. Whenever I hear the song I think of Stacy, not only because we both like Harry, but also for what the song's lyrics say. It ended up in our wedding video, so that should tell you something.

Inequality: This is something that I've given a lot of thought to over the years, and the older I get the more impatient I get with inequality in the world. There is no excuse to treat another human being with anything less than respect and fairness. It doesn't matter what that person's situation is; everyone deserves the best. White, black, male, female, gay, straight, whatever. Equality is the only way. Period.

"The Incredibles": I know this movie is polarizing among Pixar loyalists, but being a big James Bond fan I really enjoyed this movie. It was a bit more adult than the other Pixar films to that point, but I thought it was brilliant. The kids were watching it yesterday and from the other room I heard the music and you could tell they channeled Bond all the way. Plus, an eccentric billionaire with a private island, and a hideout beneath the waterfall. "The Man with the Golden Gun" anyone? (Sidenote, I love Nick Nack in that one. I'm just saying.)

Inglewood, CA: My father grew up in his grandmother's house in Inglewood, not far from The Forum (now Staples Center). I have a lot of fond memories of going to her house, digging holes in the back yard, climbing the lemon trees, looking up obscure words in her Scrabble dictionary, drinking fresh lemonade, playing with her cats named Boy (every cat she ever had was named Boy), and even spending some holidays there with my father's extended family. Nana's house was a great place to hang out, even if the neighborhood had changed just a bit since the 50s and 60s. It was also very close to Disneyland, which meant a day trip every time we went there. I still have two quilts my great-grandmother made for me, and I can often hear her say her favorite phrase: "Mercy, mercy, mercy." (Inglewood is also the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, which I loved watching from the days of Magic Johnson until now, though not as much these days.)

Ishikawa, Travis: This obscure first baseman/outfielder for the Giants hit one of the biggest home runs in San Francisco history this past season. His home run won the game that sent the Giants to the World Series, which they would eventually win, for the third time in 5 years. I've got to say, after watching him be traded from team to team during a very below average major league career, it was pretty cool to watch him have a moment like that. That's the thing about baseball: you just never know who's going to be the hero on any given night. (I just watched it again here. It never gets old.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Year in Review - 2014

  1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before? Turned 40. Celebrated my husband turning 40. Rode in a stretched limo as a family for fun (part of the 40th celebration). Attended the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC. Bought a beautiful, modern home. Expanded our business. Saw my daughter get her first job and her first book signing as well. Saw my son start a regular volunteering shift at the library. 
  2.  
  3. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Two separate questions. To the first one: Nope. I did horribly. Again. Same three things I wanted to do the year before that - write, meditate, exercise. I have this awful habit of wanting everything to be done/caught up/perfect before allowing myself to do something I want, which generally translates into not getting to things I want to do very much. I know better. I counsel people and tell them not to do that. I also tend to run around doing for everyone but myself. This needs to change. I think I do better when I live by a phrase like I have in the past, so I'm doing that again this year. So, to the second question: I am. Mark's clever play on words: The Year of Não ("No" in Portuguese)/Now. See, "Não" is pronounced "now." So it has two meanings - saying no more (in order to say yes to myself more - as in, don't overextend and also, make myself a priority) and also doing things NOW - not putting them off.  
  4.  
  5. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yep. Two of my SILs. They both gave birth to adorable baby boys - Duncan and Finnegan.   

  6. Did anyone close to you die? No. Thankfully, no.

  7. What countries did you visit? With the house and business moves, we didn't travel much this past year. We did have multiple guests. We did spend a day at the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC. And we did enjoy a week at the beach in Delaware, an annual tradition for us.  

  8. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014? Again, I'd like to take better care of myself. I think a lot of my anxiety/depression comes from not doing enough of that. 

  9. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? April 28th (Harper Lee's birthday) - the day we bought this house. Our birthdays - the big 4-0 for both me and Mark.

  10. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Moving our home and business. Throwing Mark an awesome 40th birthday that I know he truly enjoyed. And, difficult as it is, making some breakthroughs on insights to emotional issues.

  11. What was your biggest failure? Like I say every year, I don't like to think in terms of failure. It is what it is. But I do tend to put my whole heart and soul into others without affording myself the same. It really needs to stop. It's simply not healthy.  

  12. Did you suffer illness or injury? I had a horrible neck spasm in January of this past year - it was extremely painful and scary. It limited my range of motion and was so bad that I almost couldn't lie down to go to sleep the first night, prompting many tears. It was during that really bad cold weather - stupid polar vortex. Stress built up for me this past fall and I dealt with a pretty bad bout of depression. It'd been 10 years since it'd been that bad (and even then, it wasn't as bad as it was in 2003). I had spent the past several years (and especially the past year) repeatedly saying, "I'm breaking." It just got worse and worse until in November, I feel like it snapped and went from "I'm breaking" to "I'm broken." I have felt burned out, overwhelmed, tired, stretched thin, unsupported, low . . . basically, I have run around doing for everyone else but not taking care of myself. I'm not good at it. I don't always feel deserving of it. I know these things intellectually. Putting them into practice is another story. I'm trying. I'm working on it. I'm learning where it stems from and learning how to address that and heal and move forward. It's a process and takes time and work. I've learned a lot from the experience (I have learned every time I've dealt with depression) and I am especially grateful for supportive friends who were simply incredibly dedicated to helping me. I've felt very supported by many, which is very different than 2003 when we had just moved here and knew no one (again, this bout wasn't nearly as bad as in 2003 - having older kids and a support system helps! -, but difficult nonetheless).    

  13. What was the best thing you bought? Hands down, our new house! It is modern and lovely and floods with light every day. Our views from every window are so beautiful that you can't help but stop what you're doing and take it in. As a family, we're often looking at the gorgeous sunsets, snow-covered trees, misty creek, farmland, hills . . . it's all so pretty! At our old farmhouse, we could see billboards and "Big Mike's Beer Warehouse" (or something like that) and McDonald's and while it was a wonderful place to be for over 7 years as we started our business, this change has been so good for us. Our business is now in its own location with TWO patient rooms (which is, as Mark keeps saying, awesome). And our home is modern and open and light-filled. We have closets, a garage, central air, gas heating, an open-floor plan, a fireplace (two actually - one in our room, too), LOTS of windows . . . we love it. We have now lived in a small apartment, a trailer, a townhouse, a farmhouse, and a modern house. It's kind of fun to have different adventures! 

  14. Whose behavior merited celebration? Sherri and Ron's. They helped us move. They offered. They insisted. They showed up. They lent a lot of time, muscle, and truck use as well as loads of friendship and emotional support. We're very grateful to them. And when I started getting down, Sherri jumped into action immediately. She rallied support and was present and reached out to others who she knew would be present, too. She's (and they're) awesome. Sherri, Lisa, and Laura all deserve shout outs on this one.

  15. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? I think I'd rather not say on this one. This past year has been difficult and emotional and stressful in many ways and I honestly thought certain people would have been here, been present, been helping more and, well, they weren't. They didn't have to, of course. And it's my own fault for having expectations (I know better), but I thought maybe and, well, I was wrong. Some people did more dumping on me and not so much with the helping or even asking how I am.

  16. Where did most of your money go? Mortgages!

  17. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Celebrating turning 40 - a party for me, a great day for Mark, and a joint party for both of us. Our new business location. And our new house! We love it. Also, the spread of marriage equality. And Thing 1's first job and Thing 2's first volunteer shifts.

  18. What song will always remind you of 2014? 80s music. We played a great playlist of 80s music at our joint 40th birthday party and it was a big hit and lots of fun to reminisce about with friends! Sherlock theme music - Mark and I watched the first 3 seasons with Kate this past year.  

  19. Compared to this time last year, are you:
    a) happier or sadder? Similar, but hopeful?
    b) thinner or fatter? I think I've gained a couple of pounds - I've got some middle-aged tummy going on, methinks.
    c) richer or poorer? Poorer? The same? A lot of what we'd saved went toward the house/settlement, but technically, that's ours - just not readily available like liquid cash. 

  20. What do you wish you’d done more of? I wish I'd been listened to more. I wish I'd done lots of things - more purging, more projects, more writing. I'm so depleted that I don't even feel as creative as I usually feel. :/

  21. What do you wish you’d done less of? Less feeling frustrated, less crying, less raging. Less being other people's dumping grounds with no thought for how it might be affecting me. That being said, I'm learning from it, so it's not for naught, I hope. 

  22. How did you spend Christmas? Here with my beautiful family. My mom and Jim joined us this year and it was low-key and very nice. I especially enjoyed rediscovering some favorite Portuguese treats, like shrimp rissóes.

  23. Did you fall in love in 2014? I'm already there.

  24. What was your favorite TV program? Parenthood, Sherlock, Gilmore Girls, Amazing Race, Modern Family, The Goldbergs, Big Bang Theory . . . I don't want to choose only one. I even got on an Everybody Loves Raymond rewatch kick this past fall. I wasn't into any new shows that I could binge watch, so I saw some of those and really enjoy them. I'm also watching Frasier with Kate, and Malcolm in the Middle with Max. Pop cultural competence and all. ;)

  25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I honestly don't hate anyone. Though I often feel like people suck. A friend recently told me, "You want to believe that everyone is like you (trustworthy, genuine, etc.) and because of that, you give yourself over to them. Then you get burned because it turns out they aren't all that . . . . There are great benefits to giving yourself over, but also great risks. I wouldn't put this on yourself. I've learned that most people are NOT like us." It was a really good statement to hear and I'm grateful to her for sharing it with me, for several reasons.

  26. What was the best book you read? Flora & Ulysses, The Fourteenth Goldfish, Because of Mr. Terupt - all three are books I've read with our kids. I love reading with them. Oh, and I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings for the first time ever. It catapulted to my top 5 favorites. Beautiful book. The writing was superb. 

  27. What was your greatest musical discovery? Sam Smith. What a dreamy voice. 

  28. What did you want and get? A new house and a business location with 2 patient rooms!

  29. What did you want and not get? Ha! Here's what I wrote a year ago - glad we did well with this one: "Moving forward with some big life/house/business decisions. So complicated!" I'd say more time/support working on taking care of myself.   

  30. What was your favorite film of this year? 3 come to mind - "What If," "100-Foot Journey," and "The Theory of Everything."

  31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 40 - the day itself was spent with my family and, of course, included gifts and good food. My husband also set up a surprise party for me and my mom and Jim even came down for it! It was the first time in over 20 years I'd had my mom with me for my birthday. We also had many friends there and it was a good night. Mark turned 40, too, this past year. I planned a really special day for him (he has said that he might blog about it). And, together, we threw ourselves a 40th birthday bash in our new backyard this past summer. We got it catered by Chipotle, had great music, a fire pit and torches, s'mores, good friends. It was really fun.  

  32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Feeling listened to and taking better care of myself emotionally.

  33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014? The same as usual. I hate clothes shopping, so I don't tend to get myself new stuff. 

  34. What kept you sane? My family, good friends, TV, books, and Scout.   

  35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Emma Watson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Daniel Radcliffe, and A.S. King.

  36. What political issue stirred you the most? The spread of marriage equality as well as greater focus on feminist issues and gender equality.

  37. Who did you miss? My dad.

  38. Who was the best new person you met? Well, we technically met them before this past year, but our local bookstore's owners have been very good to Kate - selling her books and inviting her to be a part of the local author night signings, and Max - finding Advanced Reader Copies for him (and for Kate) and helping him to become good friends with their son (the kids share a lot of similar interests). It's been nice getting to know them better and enjoying things we have in common.

  39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014. I have some stuff to work through that has been affecting me for years. Now that I've learned more about it, I've found some resources to help. I'm working through it now.

  40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
    I don't know, but I kept thinking about the theme song from "The Jeffersons" as we moved into our new, fancy house. 
     
    "Well we're movin on up,
    To the east side.
    To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
    Movin on up,
    To the east side.
    We finally got a piece of the pie.
    Fish don't fry in the kitchen;
    Beans don't burn on the grill.
    Took a whole lotta tryin',
    Just to get up that hill.
    Now we're up in the big leagues,
    Gettin' our turn at bat.
    As long as we live, it's you and me baby,
    There ain't nothin wrong with that."

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Encyclopedia of Me - N (Mark)

(Photos courtesy of: Wikipedia.org, Amazon.com, and Forbes.com)

Nantucket: Stacy and I went to the island for our honeymoon. Since we got married in December, we thought waiting until the following summer would be a great way to go on the trip. We had a fantastic time and would really like to get back there. It's a quaint little island and a lot of fun.

Needles: It's what I do. I'm an acupuncturist. I needle people all day long. Being able to get the certification and do this for a living has been a very good thing for our family. Plus, I feel like I'm providing a service that can and does help a lot of people live better quality lives.

Nat King Cole/Natalie Cole: You knew you couldn't get away without at least one jazz reference! I love the old standards, and Natalie's remake of her father's "Unforgettable" plays a HUGE part in Stacy and me getting together. So, of course, it's our song.

New York City: We've been fortunate to visit the city on a number of occasions and always have a lot of fun. Stacy and I went together to see Les Misérables on Broadway. That trip even included a chance to be in the audience to see David Letterman. We've been back as a family a few times, and have even gotten to share it with friends and family. NYC has a feel and a pulse to it, and you have got to experience it at least once in your lifetime.

Nori: Yes, dried seaweed. The importance being that it holds sushi together. Oh, sushi. What a wonderful food. I was excited to try it in Japan for the first time, and I've loved it ever since. Also, the first date I took Stacy on after 3 1/2 years apart was a sushi dinner. It is still one of our favorite dates.

Netflix: This is so not a necessity, but it has been a really fun resource to have. We've had access to a lot of great movies, power-watched a number of TV shows, and now we have access to Gilmore Girls in more than one format. Say good-bye to productivity! ;)

Encyclopedia of Me - N (Stacy)

(Pictures courtesy of: wikipedia.org, pinterest.com/alfredzambrano/npr-nerd/, harrypotter.wikia.com, ingridsnotes.wordpress.com, fanpop.com, and visitcorvallis.com)
Nancy Drew - So this one is here for the nostalgia factor. I loved this series as a little girl and it helped foster my love of reading. I've read a couple of them recently with our kids and it was almost cringe-worthy how simplistic the writing is (Middle Grade and Young Adult literature has come a LONG way - kids nowadays are so lucky), but even so, the stories and characters are good and accessible and fun. I have good memories of reading through this series.

Niles Crane - I just started watching Frasier with Kate (I love watching entire TV series with my kids). We love Niles. Who doesn't? He is endearing, loveable, and hilarious. His long-time love-at-a-distance and admiration for Daphne is one of the best parts of the show. His slapstick mannerisms as well as his delivery are both fantastic. One of my favorite episodes ("Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz") is the one where he plays Jesus for a Christmas play Daphne is in charge of - hysterical! His being on this list is part of a trend with many of these posts, I believe. I'm a big, big fan of great side characters, often preferring them to the main ones in just about any story, book, or movie.

Novels/NaNoWriMo - Okay, so this one is probably obvious and no grand surprise. We are a family of readers and writers, and NaNoWriMo is one of our favorite times of year. Every November, we write like crazy. We frequent coffeeshops and bookstores, and we write with our friends and fellow WriMos. It's great fun. This is our 6th year.

Neville - Neville is, quite easily, my favorite Harry Potter character. He is genuine. He is good. He is flawed. Sure, Harry has the impulsive, impetuous courage, Hermione has the brains and good sense, and Ron has the humor and support to balance them both out, but Neville is, through and through, the most courageous, true, loyal, good, kind, and brave soul of them all. One of my favorite scenes in the first book is when Dumbledore says, "There are all kinds of courage. . . . It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom." And of course, there's this from the Battle of Hogwarts:
Lord Voldemort: "You show spirit and bravery, and you come of noble stock. You will make a very valuable Death Eater. We need your kind, Neville Longbottom."
Neville Longbottom: "I'll join you when hell freezes over! Dumbledore's Army!"
Neville is the best.

New Year's Eve - I love this holiday. There's something so joyous and relaxing about it. It is a night that I do NOT like to go out. It is a night that I love to be IN with family and friends. We always have music, games, and a ton of food. We especially like to celebrate it Japanese-style with lots of sushi, potstickers, and edamame. We've even been known to make tempura for New Year's. I like to eat, dance, play games, laugh, watch the ball drop, toast to a new year, and kiss at midnight.

Over 6 years ago, my father died on December 31st, so obviously that wasn't the easiest or happiest day. Even on that day, I remember trying to keep things normal and upbeat for our kids. We were all mourning and grieving - we were sad that my dad has died. We spent the day as a family - there were tears; it was surreal; there was funeral planning. It was strange and hard. But we did steal away for a bit to find a sushi place in Massachusetts and get some take-out to share together. I know my Dad would want us to enjoy ourselves and continue on. He died around 2 in the morning on December 31, 2007, so the way we commemorate that is to have a little memorial service every year during the day where we take turns lighting floating candles and talk about our memories with him and then we "send messages" to him, sharing what we'd like to tell him if we could. We cry. We hug. It's reverent, you know? And then, as the day wears on, we prepare for our evening and put on music and eat and dance and enjoy ourselves, as we kick off the year with celebration and hope.

Nerd/NPR/New Historicist Literary Theory - Okay, so I lumped these three together, because I have difficulty paring things down and because that's how I roll. I am addicted to learning. I love learning things, reading things, researching things. The Internet is like crack for me. I always have a million tabs open and my mind whirls at 1,000 miles an hour. It's overwhelming sometimes and I can't keep up with own thoughts much of the time, but I do love the thrill of looking things up and thinking and considering things. I love debate. I love movies that make me think. I really, really hate stupid movies and I go crazy being around dull people or having boring (to me) conversations with people. I like to talk to people who read and think and care. So yeah, I'm a nerd. I like nerds. I think being smart is sexy and fun and interesting. I like to analyze things, which is why "New Historicist Literary Theory" is on here - it is one of my favorite things I learned in college. I really enjoy analyzing books and films and other mediums. NPR is on here, because I like how it feeds my brain. I like the way they present news stories as an entire picture instead of a fragment or a headline. I love the interviews they do with authors and politicians and other interesting people. I love discovering new books or movies because of something I've heard. I read a lot of news, so "Wait, Wait. Don't Tell Me" is fun (not to mention funny). Our entire family enjoys that show. We listen to a lot of music in this house, but we also enjoy a good NPR story. I loved all listening together to a beautiful interview with Maya Angelou that they rebroadcast on the day she died. I like having friends who listen to NPR - there is never a lack of things to discuss! My good friend Sherri often starts conversations with, "So I was listening to NPR the other day . . . " and we usually laugh at that and before you know it, we're knee-deep in discussion in no time.

P.S. I could also add that I'm a Night Owl. And that I love noodles. I'm pretty excited about recently discovering "Noodles and Company." I love this restaurant in State College where you pick your noodles, veggies, sauces, and other fillings, fill a bowl, and tell them if you want it stir fried or as a soup. They cook it up and you eat it. Delicious! And I thought about having Newport, RI on here, but I already mentioned how much I love it on my 'R' post where I talked about Rhode Island. I had a hard time initially coming up with ideas for this 'N' post, but then I had to narrow it down!

Friday, October 24, 2014

6 months later . . .

I've said this before, but it bears repeating. Sometimes I feel like we should have WAY more done by now (truthfully, this is how I feel most of the time), and other times I am amazed at how much we've accomplished in the past 6 months.

Moving a house AND a business, all while carrying on with regular work and day-to-day activities? That's a lot. Every other move we've ever done has been between jobs, so that moving was the focus and full-time activity. This time has been different. Not only have we been working the whole time, but Mark picks up any extra moonlighting shifts he can. I've worked some extra summer stints at our new location and have been doing a ton with the business marketing stuff. During that time, we also got our new tenant settled into our townhouse rental and that is going well. He will live there for 3 years. There was a bit of work involved in getting that going, too - some repairs, some advertising, negotiations, showings, paperwork, etc. Add to that the kids' summer camps (writing for her, science/invention for him). And, of course, there's the regular dentist/mechanic/doctor/school/lessons/activities/errands stuff the entire time. It's busy, to say the least. Plus, you always have something hanging over your head to do, so relaxing is a challenge. Not complaining, though. Life is full and good.

We feel pretty settled in our new business location and that is going well overall. Some bumps and adjustments, but a good change for sure. Having two patient rooms is fantastic. It's much more efficient and the patient feedback has been extremely positive. And we're feeling pretty settled in our new home, too. There is a lot to do with the business. And there is much more to do at our new house, in terms of unpacking and purging (have I mentioned that I wish I had a sister?!?). And the farmhouse has been a ton of work, too. We've done a lot there - upkeep, landscaping, painting, fixing, repairs, cleaning out, researching, etc. And that doesn't even count all the packing and organizing and moving. It's been a very busy past 6 months for sure. We're grateful for the help our friends have given us with moving and with some meals, too. I can't imagine what we would've done without their help and, really, that's a pretty lonesome thought for us. 

We continued to see clients at our old house for a while after moving and during the business transition. Now that all the farmhouse repairs are done (as of this past week), Mark is over there right now cleaning out the few things that remain. He's also meeting with several house cleaners to get bids from them to give it a good top-to-bottom clean before our next step. We've gone back and forth on whether or not to rent it or sell it. We're doing all the work no matter what we do. We're also meeting with a listing agent to explore options.

At this point, we lean very heavily toward selling it. We haven't ever been on that side of the table - getting a check. Renting it could work (and it's 2 units, too!), but it's a bit more unnerving with an older home like that (as opposed to a newer townhouse). We'd like to sell it and refinance our new house, plus we have some big expenses coming up and money would be, you know, helpful. In the meantime, maintaining multiple properties while moving and transitioning a business is a lot of work, not to mention expensive.

We don't feel right about moving forward on some of those expenses until things are more settled for us financially, though I hate putting them off as they're things that are necessary/helpful to us - a fence for Scout, possible braces for Max, etc. along with the regular expensive costs of things like malpractice insurance and student loans. Student loans. We used to think we'd wait for those student loans to be all-the-way paid off before allowing ourselves to Have Nice Things, but you know, we entered our 40s and got sick of waiting. Our kids are growing up, life is passing us by, and there needs to be a balance of being smart financially and also enjoying ourselves. I tend to lean toward denying ourselves in the name of extreme prudence and have been doing that for years really. And while I do think that's wise overall, at what point do we allow ourselves things like central heat, closets, and a nice neighborhood for our kids? Now. That's when. They're growing up fast and college is around the corner (yes, that means student loans for us AND them at the same time - see?) - life is expensive!!

We're not the types to take big, fancy, expensive trips. We go to the beach every year for less than a week off-season and on the cheap. That's about it. And we love it. We've been to Disney once and that was much thanks to Jim. It was a wonderful trip. We're homebodies with simple pleasures - games, books, food. So it makes sense to us to allow ourselves a nice living situation since that is where we like to be the most. And I can't tell you how nice it is to have so much sunshine and light shining in on us. I think it's a natural anti-depressant.

And while we're also not the types to drive newer cars (we've been driving the same cars for 16 and over 10 years, respectively), Mark's car is getting really old and beat up (in fact, I drove it today and it didn't start for me!). We're starting our 17th year with that car. It's the car we got back in college. It's the car that moved us to medical school. It's the car in which we brought home our babies from the hospital. It's helped us through Utah winters, very hot Arizona summers, a cross-country move, tons of school and job commuting, and more than 11 years in Pennsylvania. That's on the list of upgrades when we sell our farmhouse, too. So: car, braces, fence. Those are the big ones. And extras that we'd like but aren't as pressing - a bigger deck (our table doesn't fit on it) and a fridge that fits our food and has a functioning ice-maker. But those are all big things and, really, they're first world problems. During all this, we're mostly busy buying the kids books, food, and clothes. They're outgrowing clothes and shoes left and right. And growth spurts? They make people hungry! Again, life is good. We're happy and healthy and grateful.

Anyway! As we finish up these odds-and-ends duties related to our moves, we should have our house listed by the end of the month. Go us! We even took pictures of it before we packed it up so that people can see how lovely it can be when it's all lived-in and stuff! But yeah. Busy, busy, and lots to think about and do. I don't know why my sleep has been disrupted. It's a mystery. :P

Monday, October 20, 2014

20 Things You May Not Know About Me

I'm really tired and not focusing very well. Sometimes writing helps, so I'm going to to this blog meme that The Magic Violinist recently did on her blog. Here goes.

1. How tall are you?

Short. 5 foot 2. And yes, I have a complex about it.

2. Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?
Moving has revealed that apparently I'm a hoarder. Who knew?

3. What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?

I hate not getting comments from people who I full well know read my blog. I don't mind putting my writing out there, but knowing that people are reading and not giving feedback makes me feel like a little used and spied on and unappreciated sometimes (hey, I have my needy moments!). The flip side of this is that I have a great appreciation for our regular commenters. I love hearing from you!

4. What’s your biggest non-blog-related peeve?

Flakiness. Also, users.


5. What’s your favorite song?
I'll follow TMV's lead on this. Of all time? "Your Song" by Elton John (and I especially love the Moulin Rouge version). Recently? "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran.
6. What’s your favorite Etsy store that isn’t yours?
I don't use Etsy.


7. What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?

Reading, blogging, writing . . . 

8. What’s your favorite junk food?

Donuts. Though I'd honestly prefer sushi. I'd rather get sushi than flowers.

9. Do you have a pet?
I'm just going to go ahead and copy TMV's answer: Yes! A little shi-chon named Scout. And she is, without a doubt, the best fit for our family. She's spunky, playful, snuggly, energetic, and just a little crazy. She definitely has a personality, and she won't hesitate to jump onto the top of the couch, walk over to you, and whack your head with her paw to get a treat. But say "mailman" or "UPS" and she goes berserk!
10. What is your top favorite nonfiction and fiction book?
 
Fiction: To Kill a Mockingbird
Non-fiction: The Dance of the Dissident Daughter.


11. What’s your favorite beauty product?
I rarely wear make-up, so I don't even know how to answer this one. Do earrings count?


12. When were you last embarrassed? What happened?
I recently offered to some new friends that we'd take their kid out to ice cream after an event. I got caught up in the excitement of the event and forgot all about it until we were walking out of the ice cream shop afterward (and hadn't taken the kid with us). I felt positively AWFUL about it. I really, really hate how forgetful I've gotten. Yeah, yeah, I know. Acceptance and all of that. But it BUGS me. A lot. Anyway, we did make up for it and took the kid out to ice cream at a later time, but yeah, I felt pretty awful for a while about that one.


13. If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Water really is my favorite, so I'll say hot cocoa, I guess. I don't like this question. I like variety in my other beverages - I base those on my mood or on what I'm eating, so how can I limit it to one? I drink water ALL. THE. TIME. But sometimes root beer is good with pizza, or a slushy pina colada is refreshing on a hot day, or a hot cocoa warms you up on a cold day or margaritas are good with Mexican food, not to mention other beverage pairings with dinners. And I start every morning with lemon green tea. So yeah, I don't like this question.


14. What’s your favorite movie?

I've always loved "You've Got Mail." I'm also a big, big fan of 80s movies and indie films.

15. What were you in high school? Prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, band geek, valedictorian, loner, artist, prep, et cetera?

I graduated 5th in my class, so not high enough for valedictorian, but high enough to be firmly planted in the nerd category.

16. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
Lisbon. I love it there. Thing 1 is talking more and more about attending college in London, so I wouldn't be opposed to moving there for a while! 

17. PC or Mac?
PC.

18. Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?

Honestly, he does stuff all the time. I'm a lucky girl. I mean, he JUST handed me a homemade, all-natural pumpkin latte.

19. Favorite celebrity?

John Cusack. Duh.

20. What blogger do you secretly want to be best friends with?

Well, my favorite bloggers are related to me, so I'd say I'm good in this department. :)



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

If you give a woman with ADD a sink of dirty dishes . . . (Part 2)

. . . you better give her some Ritalin to go with it!

So, now that you've read (or perhaps skimmed - don't worry; I get it!) my previous post, here goes what I originally wanted to post. The mental process and exhaustion of trying to do ONE simple task. Get ready to be bored out of your mind.

Oh, whoa. The kitchen is a mess. When did that happen? Why do we have so many dirty dishes? Some of those are from, let me think, Sunday. Today is Wednesday. What the? Well, we're in the middle of two very crazy weeks, so sometimes it gets like this. Well, I'll clean it all. Mark's got a long day at work today and it needs to be done. I'll get it done before I have to pick up Kate from work.

"Hey, Max! Can you please come to the kitchen?"

("Sure!")

"The dishwasher needs to be unloaded. Could you help me out, please?"

("Yeah!")

"Thanks."

I help him unload the dishwasher and then start rinsing the dirty dishes so he can help me load them. Some will need to be hand washed. Great. My hands are wet and in the dirty dishes and of course that's when I notice that the drainer, too, is full of clean dishes. I do this all the time. I wash my hands and help him put away the high stuff from the drainer. Okay, back to the dirty dishes. Wow, the sheer number of them. I guess we've had a lot of meals where we've had to run out the door quickly - Kate worked on Sunday and we were in the middle of unpacking and cleaning out the garage; Mark and I didn't get much sleep on Sunday night dealing with some issues with other people; Monday was work all day and a play date that afternoon,as well as not one, but two trips down to a neighboring county (down and back once for me and the kids, and down and back again with all of us, including Scout, for an evening with friends); Tuesday was getting Kate to her volunteer shift then another afternoon playdate, a TON of calendaring, and then back down to a neighboring county for the entire evening (so home late again); and this morning it was getting Kate to work early and apparently getting to all these dishes before I leave to pick her up again. So yeah, the dishes have piled up. It's not like we're sitting around. We're behind on our TV shows, too. We've been busy!

Halfway through washing the dishes, I run out of soap in the dispenser. It's empty, so I ask Max to help me fill it. This requires some instruction and guidance, so I stop washing dishes to help him. Back to doing dishes . . . Something stinks. Hmmm, this dish rag is getting kind of smelly. I better throw it in the washing machine. It's red. Oh yeah! We need to wash colors. Okay, so this is fine. 

I walk into the laundry room with the stinky scrubbie. Oh crap, that's right. I already have a load of laundry in the washing machine. Ummm, I can throw this in the slop sink for now. I must remember to come back here and move the washed laundry into the dryer, but not now because my hands are wet and not washed and probably now a little smelly. Where was I? Oh yeah, dishes. Back to the sink! On my way back to the sink, I see Scout who seems like she needs something. "What's up, Scout? Do you need to go potty outside?" I go to the mudroom and get her harness and she runs away as I repeatedly ask her if she needs to go outside. As I chase her around the kitchen table, I notice some things. The table hasn't been cleared off, the water bottles haven't been filled, and both of her bowls are empty. Okay, she obviously doesn't want to go out. I don't blame her. I wouldn't want to pee outside in the rain either. Maybe she just wants kibble and water.

Back to the mudroom to hang up her harness and I spot the laundry room and remember the washer and dryer both need addressing. Oh crap, the laundry! I have to move the washer stuff into the dryer, because if I forget,it will stink and have to be rewashed and I HATE that smell. I know some people who must routinely leave their laundry wet in the washer, because they always smell like old, wet laundry and it's gross. I better move it. Wait, there's stuff in the dryer? Okay, well, that's going to have to get moved first. 

Ding! (A text) 

I better check that because Kate's at work and she might need something. She usually uses someone's phone to call, but just in case . . . nope, not from her. Oh shoot. My friend's having a hard time. I immediately text her back and we text back and forth for a couple of minutes. What can I do to help her? I could have her over to dinner! Oh, but Mark's exhausted and so is Kate (and so am I!). Max is fine. He's getting sleep! But what can I do? I do this. I jump into helping people, sometimes at our own expense. I can't do that. What else can I do? Maybe dinner another night. Oh shoot, weren't we supposed to invite friends over tomorrow night? Dinner. Well, in order to have dishes upon which to eat dinner, I better get back to those dishes. But dinner. What are we going to make for dinner? It's $5 burrito night, but it's rainy and everyone's tired, so we should just do something at home. What should I cook? What was I doing? Oh yeah, dishes!

Back to the sink and I glance at the clock. Why is it taking me so long to do these dishes? These three things need to be soaked, because they've been sitting there way too long and that's pretty stuck on. I'll just fill them with hot, soapy water and set them on the counter. Oh, look! I should wipe those down. But not the ones covered in dishes. The other counters. Okay, but not now. FOCUS! Dishes! Okay, the dishwasher is all loaded and the rest needs to be hand washed. It's all here at least. Right? I always think I'm done and then, inevitably, I turn around and there are pots and pans on the stove. Better check now. Yep. A griddle and a baking sheet. I grab those and put them with the other dirty dishes, but as I lift them I notice something. Huh. Those burners good use a scrub. So could the top of the stove. I need to do that next. Oh, these items are left out. I'll just put them away really quick. Eww, this microwave cover could use a wash. I'll add it to the dirty dishes as well.

I walk back to the sink and continue with the dishes and am almost ready to relieve Max of his assisting duties when . . . Baringggg! (text - Mark's text ring tone this time). I better check that in case he needs to tell me something or has heard from Kate or whatever. Okay, good. Work's going well at the clinic. Oooh, a Facebook alert. I'll just check that really quickly. "Oh good! Hey Max, Amy made her flight with only 5 minutes to spare!"

Back to the sink again. Max has now gotten distracted.

"Hey, we're not done."

"You stopped doing the dishes!"

"I know, but that's because I needed to check Daddy's text."

"Then you were checking Facebook."

I hesitate for about half a second and decide to own it. "Yeah, you're right. I did."

Okay, now that unloading and loading is done. I can relieve Max and then hand wash the rest.

"Can I Facetime with Jack and play a game with him?"

"Sure. What do you need to do?"

"I need to connect with him on Facetime."

Away from the sink yet again to grab my phone and get the number for him to call so he can get it all set up and connected and play. Once he got on the phone, I went back to the sink but then spotted the water bottles on my way. Oh yeah, those need to be filled. I'll just grab them and, oh crap, this rug is wet. The rain must be coming in through the screen door. I better shut it. I turn around and see the table cloth on the table that needs to be shaken out, the dog's empty bowls (again - I haven't filled them yet), and the water bottles. Oh yeah, the dog's bowls. I'll do those next. Water bottles! I fill them and put them away in the fridge, but notice some leftovers that need to be arranged better in the fridge. Back to the sink and I look over and see the tablecloth that needs to be shaken out. Oh yeah. I walk over to the table and grab it, yet again noticing the dog's empty bowls. Poor thing. Let me get that. I go to the cupboard, grab the kibble and fill her bowl, and put the kibble away. Water. Let me get her water. I'll fill the "boot beer" mug and pour it in. As I go back and forth filling bowls, I notice other things that need to be done, like sweeping the floor. Also, they could probably use a wash, too.

Ding! (a continuation via text of an earlier conversation with a friend) Back to the sink, mind racing.

Oh yeah, we need to fix that mix-up on the calendar. And weren't we going to do that thing tomorrow night? I need to do that next. And oh shoot, business promotions. We haven't done this month's business promotions! And that thing for school. Okay, now that's too many things to remember. I have to write them down or text myself so I don't forget. I wash my hands and dry them and go over to my phone and text: "School Planning and House cleaning and Garage clean out and Business Promos." I notice that another text has come in with a question for me, but I don't know how to answer it yet, so I decide to wait and go back to the dishes. Why is this taking so long?!? Omigod, the constant interruptions and distractions. I spot the tablecloth. Again. Oh yeah! The tablecloth! Dammit! I walk over to grab it, look again at how wet it is outside, and decide to shake it out over the sink. After that, I notice it's dirty and needs to be washed, so back to the laundry room where I notice, ARGH, there's the laundry in both the washer AND the dryer. For the umpteenth time.  

So there's stuff in the dryer AND the dryer door is open. One item. One tablecloth. Either all at once, or over time, the dryer got emptied of all but ONE item. I better fold this so I can move the washer stuff into the dryer. I fold the tablecloth and put it away in the hutch in the dining room where I notice items out of place, so I put them away. Hmmm, it's dusty, too. The house needs to be dusted and vacuumed. Add it to the list. Okay, back to the dishes. Wait! I'm in the middle of switching the laundry. Focus, Stacy, focus! 

Oh, look at that. The kitchen table is bare now that I've moved the tablecloth, but it looks like it's wet in spots, so that needs to be washed. I go over and wipe down the entire table, scrubbing hard at any wet or greasy spots. I walk past the wet rug and look outside and see that the rain has slowed, so I open the door again for some air.

Back to the dishes and I find some bits of trash that need to be thrown out, so I go to throw it out and, you guessed it, the trash is full and needs to be taken out. But not now. I have to get these dishes done! But first, someone didn't push the garage door shut all the way. Click. There. Okay, back to the sink to finish the dishes. After another 10 minutes or so, I've overrun the dish drainer, so I pull out extra dish towels so I can lay the extra big things on them. This reminds me that I need to wipe down the counters, so I do that, too. Eventually, I really do finish all the dishes.

I sit down, marveling at how long it took and how many times I got distracted and how many extra things I got done in the process. My mind is racing. I'm mentally exhausted and feel like I shouldn't be since it's, you know, DISHES.

I think back on my conversations with my friends. I recognize the narrative that's been going on in my head. I give myself a few minutes to look at emails, Facebook, whatever, and then notice that I left the light on. Are you kidding me?!? In my head, I hear myself lecturing others in the house, "Electricity costs money. Turn off the lights!" and recognize that this time, I'm the one who left them on. Guilt consumes me and I get up and turn them off, while noticing three more things that need to be done. I do them. Then I hurry and get showered and dressed (because though I've been awake since before 7, it's after 2 and I'm only now getting dressed) just in the nick of time to go get Kate, who has called me from work to let me know she got done early, so I race over there.    

ARE YOU BORED BY THIS STORY YET?? I AM! This is the kind of stuff I think about and do on pretty much a daily basis. If it's not dishes, it's schooling. If it's not schooling, it's errands. If it's not errands, it's helping the kids with stuff. No matter what I'm doing, at least a dozen other things pop up in the middle of it and they each spawn several more tasks. It's like a big, anxiety-provoking ADD pyramid scheme! If it's not helping the kids with stuff, it's laundry. LAUNDRY! Son of a . . .

Yep. After all that, I didn't ever move the wash to the dryer. Want to know how I remembered? I didn't. We were all making dinner together (after I found a recipe, made a list, and Mark got the ingredients at the store) and he remembered the laundry and asked me, "Hey, did you switch the laundry?"

No. No, I did not.

If you give a woman with ADD a sink of dirty dishes . . . (Part 1)

That post title is supposed to read like "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie." Was that not clear? Go back and read it again. . . . There you go!

So, as I tried to do ONE simple task today - clean the dishes - I was constantly pulled in a million different directions and, without trying, was soon in the middle of umpteen projects at once. My mind was racing with a never-ending list of things to do as well as the stream-of-consciousness philosophical analyzing and dialogue that always seems to be going on up there. I kept getting distracted by more and more things that needed to be done and then I would do another task half-way before realizing that I hadn't finished the previous task and, when returning to that one, found three more to do. Mentally. Exhausting.

I think I was keen to observing all of this in light of a conversation about motherhood that I had this past weekend while I was out to dinner with a few women. One of them brought up that more and more is expected of us, in terms of time and mental energy, than ever before.

We talked about all the little things that add up. Milk used to be delivered to homes. When we were growing up, if you needed gas, you pulled into a gas station and someone pumped it for you. There were laundry services. There were more "villages" and helpers.

Things are being advertised to us as being ultra convenient, and while some aspects may be, it does put more of the work burden on us, too.When we needed to do banking, we used to go to the bank during regular hours and the teller would take care of everything. Now, you, too, can do your banking online and at home! We do more and more things ourselves and we have more and more "conveniences," as they are called.

We can email and text and use social media to get a hold of people instantly! Now, I love the convenience of texting more than I can say. I would've FLIPPED to have had something like that as a kid/teen - can you imagine?!? But it does sort of make you more accessible than ever before. Years ago, if we wanted to tell our friends something, we either called them (if it merited that) or we waited until the next time we saw them. There were no convenient, immediate ways. Again, I LOVE texting. I get to be in touch with several friends at once all while never once actually getting ON the phone. So I can communicate and share information while I do other things - it's fantastic! But yes, it's more ways for people to "get" to us, to access our time and our mental energy. Same with email. It's immediate. If we were to snail mail all of our missives, I bet we wouldn't send nearly so many emails. More ways for people to access us. More things for us to do (return emails). As with anything, there are pros and cons.

Add to that the culture of today - where are the children and why aren't they playing outside?!? I would be FINE with our kids playing outside all hours of the day with neighbor kids, but guess what? They're all inside! Either because their parents are helicopter parents who fear the world, or because they're on their x-box, or because they're behind some kind of screen. I don't know about you, but you can send your kids out to play with other kids only if there actually ARE other kids to play with! Thankfully, we do have neighbors whose kids are outside fairly often, and Max really enjoys playing with them. But in general, getting together with other kids - especially when you homeschool - means arranging playdates. If that's not 21st century parenting right there, I don't know what is.

And arranging play dates means calendaring and scheduling, emails or several texts or a phone call to find concurrent times that work for everyone, followed by letting the kids know about the play date. Then, there's the drop off, the pick up . . . usually conversations are involved. All of it great. All of it cutting into our days.

Then there's Society. With a capital "S." Now, when I was little, I was not involved in many extra-curricular activities. My parents were immigrants who had to drop out of school to support their families. They didn't know about them and so neither did I. And by the time I learned about them from school mates, I had missed the chance to get involved. It didn't matter much to me, because I enjoyed the free time after school. That was in high school. In elementary school, I spent 10 years (4-year-old nursery through 8th grade) in after-school care or at my grandparents' house because both of my parents worked.

But I know that when I was little, Society was okay with kids getting themselves to their activities, or with kids walking everywhere by themselves, or with kids hanging out in public places (gasp!) unsupervised. I remember the days when I was able to go to my Mom's work after school for a few hours. I would walk across Main Street in the city and visit the public library, then cross the street again and go to the bakery or malt shop. All by myself. No one batted an eye. Nowadays, you can get arrested for letting your kid go to the park alone with a cell phone!

Society doesn't exactly easily allow space for kids to grow up and learn confidence and responsibility. And Society certainly doesn't encourage parents to let them. We're expected to drive them everywhere, be there while they're there, and drive them back. Gone are the days of drop offs with some extra curriculars. One of my friends the other night said that a requirement for her to be present at her child's supervised and paid for activity compounded by an experience where they actually made the moms participate, was the straw that made her quit. She wanted to sign him up, drop him off, and run to the grocery store, but nope. That wasn't okay. This is happening more and more. Kids are over scheduled and, often, parents are, too.

You get the idea. We're busy. And everyone wants a piece of us. And I haven't even addressed basic homeschooling. So, what's it like to try to, oh, I don't know, do a simple task like dishes in the 21st century? I'll write that up in the next post since this one has already gotten long and is just the backdrop!

Random Thoughts - Fall 2014 Edition


I keep forgetting what year it is.

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Buttered bread that is toasted on a griddle is so much tastier than in the toaster.
I often make my toast that way - buttered and in a pan. Mmmm.

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There are so many things I am loving about our new house.
I write a mental blog post in my head everyday about the many aspects for which I'm grateful.
Here are some:

 * Newer, pretty faucet handles

* Our fireplace (loving it so much, it is now a must-have for any future houses we may buy)
 
* SUNLIGHT (this one is my favorite, hence the all-caps exclamation)

* Our "wall of windows" for said sunlight
(I have already noticed a HUGE difference in my emotional state since moving here.
Even on the dreariest days, I feel happier and have more energy than I used to.
I absolutely believe this is due to the light in this house.
Looking back, I think you could classify this move as a mental health necessity!).

* Our view is so pretty - I'm loving the changing fall colors.

* Our open kitchen - I am happily doing more dishes than ever before,
because I don't feel tucked away in a very hot (or very cold, depending on the season) kitchen

* The layout of this house - open, open, open.
I can see the upstairs from the downstairs, the downstairs from the upstairs.
In almost any room of this house, you are always one room away from the rest of the house.

* Not having to worry about running out of oil.

* Being able to run the dishwasher or washing machine
 at the same time as someone taking a shower
 without worrying about being frozen or scalded
 by the water temperature change.

* I feel safer. I mean, this entire area is really quite safe,
but in our new home and neighborhood,
I feel safer than I did at our old home/neighborhood.
It's way less creepy at night, too!

* Central air - besides the utter convenience of it,
I like that we can turn it off and open windows
 because there are no A/C window units blocking them.

* Having a garage and not having to walk out to the barn to access the freezer.
Admittedly, we can't park in it yet because that's the staging area for purging as we move in.
Nothing enters the house unless it has a place.

* Our finished basement - already a hang-out place for the kids and their friends.
We've started hosting "Teen Nights" here on a regular basis.

* The writers' room that we've painted a pretty purple/lavender color.
Kate gets way more use out of it than I do, but I hope to get started soon.
Plus, NaNoWriMo is coming up. Year #6 for us!

* Having closets!
 We've spent 7 years all sharing one closet for all of our clothes, linens, and towels.
We used to all hang our clothing on ONE rod and it was beyond squished.
Now, everyone has their own closet and it's lovely.

* Really, my top two favorite things about our house is the light and openness, hands down.
And the fireplace has wormed its way into spot #3.

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It's that busy, fall time for us.
We spend a lot our time in the fall scheduling and calendaring for our school year.
It's incredibly time-consuming, but worth it.

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Max has quite the social calendar these days and that's a good thing.
He's super social and loves to play, play, play.
We have neighbors with whom he loves to play outside (another benefit of this move!)
and several friends who like to get together to play.
I'm very grateful for this.
He is such a fun-loving, creative, considerate, thoughtful, compassionate kid.
He is a very good friend. It's one of his greatest traits.
And he'll talk to anyone about anything. It's awesome.

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Kate was a shining star at her first author event.
She carried herself with confidence and grace, signed books with a smile,
and mingled with everyone like a champ.
At one point, I saw her make the rounds and visit all the other local authors.
I heard her ask them about their books and congratulate them.
I heard her politely excuse herself to back to her table.
I had not instructed her to do ANY of that.
She intuitively knows. She's smart and capable and wise.

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Gilmore Girls is on Netflix.
It's so convenient to flip it on and watch it.
I think that's a good thing.

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What makes you "like" a business page on Facebook?
What kinds of giveaways/incentives compel you
 to click on a page when using social media?

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In my head, I blog daily.
Obviously that doesn't translate to reality.
It's too bad, because I have fun things to share.
We really celebrated our 40th birthdays right!

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Text I sent Mark on 9/1: When we signed on for this dog thing, 
I had no idea the needy, perpetual toddler we'd be taking on.

Max on 10/12: "I'm so glad we have her. 
I think our life would be easier if we didn't have her, but it's better with her."

Both are true statements. I love our snuggly, sassy pup!