Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: The Year in Books

  1. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  2. Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
  3. Specials by Scott Westerfeld
  4. When She Was Gone by Gwendolen Gross
  5. The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian
  6. A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay
  7. The Violets of March by Sarah Jio
  8. Someone by Alice McDermott
  9. Traveling With Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd
  10. A Girl's Guide to Moving On by Debbie Macomber
  11. Still Life with Breadcrumbs by Anna Quindlen
  12. The Remedy by Suzanne Young
  13. Breathe by Sarah Crossan
  14. The Epidemic by Suzanne Young
  15. Pure by Julianna Baggott
  16. Fuse by Julianna Baggott
  17. A House Like a Lotus by Madeleine L'Engle 
  18. Burn by Julianna Baggott

You can check out my lists from previous years here:
2015
2014
2013
2009
2008
2007
2006

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Lunchtime Reads

I have felt disinclined to blog of late. Not because anything's wrong or because I've been busy doing fabulously exciting things. Rather all my time has been spent online Christmas shopping and addressing Christmas cards and frittering away my (work) days on the interwebs.

But I did start a new book the other day. I was immediately captivated and drawn into the story. That said, it is not the type of book I could read for hours on end. Which is fine since that is not an option in my current life anyway, haha. I likely will not finish it this year since today was my last readable lunch and I spent much of it walking to the post office for stamps (darn Christmas cards).

A rather bizarre and unimportant detail, but the texture of the cover makes my skin crawl. I'm getting used to it, and by that I mean more tolerant of it. The first day it made me almost sick to my stomach to even hold the thing. Book people, no! Just use regular smooth paper. Don't go crazy with velvety textures. Just no.

Aside from that icky feature, I feel confident in recommending the book already even though I'm only maybe a fifth of the way through it. It may be of particular interest to some of my family members (botany, yo).

Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday Fun - Gifts




I work with (for) some very lovely generous people, one of whom brought me these adorable handmade chocolates today. I will not admit to how many I've already consumed, but I did discover that if I pull their ears off first they are even tastier. (The ears are peanuts - yuck.) It does make me feel a tiny bit mean though.

Over the last few weeks the same individual has also gifted me a Jacquie Lawson advent calendar and a blooming paperwhite. She clearly has very well-honed gift giving skills.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Random Bullets

  • I may have a stomach bug. I'll spare you the details, but I'm pretty displeased about the whole situation. As you can imagine.
  • I just reconstructed my reading list for 2016 because for the first time in at least eight years I failed to keep my spreadsheet updated. Thankfully I did add all (most?) of the books to Goodreads. For the sake of the list that I will post on December 31, we will assume it's complete. I shall warn you now, it's disappointingly short.
  • I fried an egg using the one frying pan I kept in the kitchen after the great non-stick purge, and it did not go well. I was close to deciding on the spot that I don't care about the evil non-stick coating. Is there some trick to not having your food stick with uncoated pans? HELP!
  • I forgot (again) to record one of my Christmas movies on Saturday night, It's a Wonderful Life. At this point, I've pretty much thrown in the towel. Obviously, I can't remember to set the DVR.
OK, that's all I got. Because I feel like I'm gonna BARF.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Lunchtime Reads

This week I've been reading book 3 in the YA series on loan from my sister. Last week I took a mini-break from it, so by Monday I was super excited to jump back in.

I haven't been making the effort to leave my desk to read during lunch. It's too cold and windy outside to venture forth and frankly, I'm just too lazy. But I usually manage to read with only minor interruptions. And if I do have to stop to help someone, I will tack on another 5 minutes of reading to make up for it. Ha! We are approaching winter break when the office will be fairly quiet, which means my reading time should be even more secure.

I missed one reading session this week on Wednesday when I was home with my sick boy (double ear infection again/still). These books have been taking me about two weeks to read I think, so I still have plenty of time to plot my next read.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Pots & Pans

I took a few minutes to sort the pots and pans this weekend. I pulled all of the nonstick ones out of the cupboard to determine my next move.


The really scary awful one at the top went directly into the trash. (Oh my god, did my husband cook food I ate in that? Best not to think about it.) The others got stacked neatly in the basement. Since I didn't purchase them I don't feel right disposing of them. But I also don't feel like offering them to my husband to take. When he first left (and many times since) I suggested he take his stuff. I figured anything he came into our marriage with he had every right to take with him when he left. He insisted all he wanted were his clothes and laptop (and tools and wine-making paraphernalia). I can only assume he went out and spent thousands of dollars equipping his new house with everything needed to provide for himself and his new family. As such, I don't want him getting grumpy about how he could have saved money on pots and pans. I also don't want to listen to his snarky comments on my alarmist behavior since he doesn't share my concerns for our personal health or the health of our environment.

I am left with a plenitude of Revereware sauce pans and one large Calphalon frying pan. While these may not be the best options available, they are certainly better than what I was using (see above). Bonus: two of the shelves are much more sparsely occupied which appeals to my minimalist side.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Weekends

Weekends are for unwinding and spending time with my son.

We had a pretty busy weekend. Saturday morning we got our Christmas tree, a balsam fir which smells divine. I picked one of the smaller trees on the lot, but of course it seems quite large in my living room. I'm decorating in stages to see how my toddler reacts. I put the lights and garlands on Saturday night and hung a few ornaments while he napped on Sunday.

On Saturday afternoon we went to the thrift store to buy a dining room chair. Yes, just one. And yes, I already have dining room chairs. However, they are very lightweight and flimsy and I did not feel at all comfortable with my son sitting in them. I knew that one slight push off the table and he would topple over backwards. I had recalled seeing some sturdy looking chairs on a recent (unsuccessful) trip to the thrift store to look for clothes for him, so we went back and fortunately they still had the chairs. I picked the sturdiest of the bunch. I might've bought two for a matching set but decided it was $10 I could spend elsewhere, so he gets a special captain's chair and I'll stick with the old flimsy one.

On Sunday we did our usual grocery shopping and outside playtime (walking around the block). We met my father for dinner at Chipotle, where they were out of sour cream, mild salsa, and medium salsa. How does that even happen? Won't be going back there for a while...

I forgot to record The Holiday (one the movies on my list) on Saturday night, so I'm bummed. It's not listed again and I didn't see it last season either. I'm going to have to do some further research to see if I can find it.

Joining Karen at Pumpkin Sunrise.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Things that I would like to address

I have a tendency to get fixated on topics. Right now I'm obsessing on two separate but somewhat similar areas, neither of which can be addressed while at work. Nor can I really do anything about them in the 4 minutes of free time I have after I put my son to bed and finish my chores.

1. Reducing my clothes. I own an alarming amount of clothes. Truly ALARMING. Many of which I don't wear. Ever. A lot of them have sentimental value, or is it associated guilt (as in so-and-so bought that for me). Many of them are 'what if' articles. When I think of getting rid of them a what if scenario comes to mind and I end up keeping them just in case. Almost daily I wear something I hate, something that is unflattering or uncomfortable. The rule of thumb is to only keep clothes that you LOVE. If I followed this rule I would own maybe two things. Even the clothes I like irritate me on any given day. But I have to figure something out because it's stupid to keep wearing clothes that annoy me all day, every day.

2. The safety of my cookware. I don't do very much cooking. But when I do cook (or, you know, boil water for pasta) I'm using some pretty crappy stuff. Most everything in the kitchen is cheap non-stick stuff that my husband bought. I recently switched back to using a non non-stick pot to boil the pasta, but I think it's probably aluminum, which isn't good for you either. At one point I owned a small glass sauce pan, but I have no idea if it still exists (and if it does it's likely hidden somewhere in the basement). Otherwise my pots and pans all fall in the not healthy category and it kinda freaks me out.

(For more info: listen to this 4 minute long interview.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

That's a Wrap!

I did it! I posted EVERY day in November as part of NaBloPoMo. Each post was written on the day, no posts were scheduled in advance or backdated. They weren't all great or even interesting, but my goal was to simply post something (anything) each day. So I win! OK, there are no actual prizes, but I do have a sense of accomplishment. That's enough, right?

Oh, and, remind me to NEVER do this again. Hahahaha. (But seriously, no.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

My DVR is Gonna be Busy

I love, LOVE, love Christmas movies and shows. In years past I would watch not just the classics but the horrible, cheesy made-for-TV movies that run 24 hours a day. I would go out of my way to ensure I was planted in front of the TV for the biggies like It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. But now with so little me time, most of which does not happen to fall during prime time, I've made a list of my favorites to record.



Oddly enough, another favorite, Miracle on 34th Street (the original) was not on the list I used. That must be an oversight, for surely it will be aired at some point. The Santa Clause is another movie I enjoy, but it doesn't quite make the DVR list.

I've already been watching a holiday Elmo video on Youtube with my son and expect we will continue that right through Christmas.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Lunchtime Reads

I decided to take a break from the YA series I've been reading. It's very good and I'm quite enjoying it, but a slight change of scenery seemed in order. Plus, this way the series will last me even longer!

I've turned (or returned) to one of my all-time favorite authors to re-read one of her books that I've read several times already. Her writing is timeless and feels like home.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Good to Know

One of the side effects of the end of a marriage is the loss of family and friends (or people you thought were your friends). And holidays tend to emphasize that loss even more than the every day.

For me it was like day and night. One day I had a huge extended family of in-laws who hugged and kissed me and told me they loved me every time I saw them. Then my husband left me and that was it. Not a single one of his family members EVER asked me how I was doing. They never checked to see if I needed anything for myself OR the baby. Overnight I lost a whole network of people I had shared my life with for years.

Same thing with "our" friends. Only two of them reached out via text to check on me. One time each. And as for the woman I thought of as a close friend, nothing. Yes, she's my husband's best friend's wife, but he (the best friend) texted me NOT her.

All of these people basically just cut me out as if I'd never existed. Don't get me wrong, I would never in a million years expect them to side with me against him, but I don't see how them texting to ask how I am or express sympathy for the loss of our marriage would be too much to have hoped for.

To be clear he LEFT me. Ending our marriage was not a mutual decision.

But at least now I know who really cares about me. And who doesn't.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Throwback Thanksgivings

It's nearly impossible to not think about Thanksgivings past. All the dinners at my aunt's house growing up. The first Thanksgiving in Florida when I was invited to dine with a co-worker and had cornbread stuffing for the first time during a meal served on an outdoor patio. Another Florida Thanksgiving of Chinese food with my then boyfriend. Then years of dining with my former fiance's family. Cold turkey sandwiches purchased in saran wrap from a grocery store in Northern California. Then more dinners with my husband's family.

Thanksgiving has never been a favorite of mine. The forced family meals feel more like a burden than anything else. I don't like small talk. I'd really prefer not to participate at all. If it had been up to me I would have bought a pre-plated Thanksgiving dinner at the grocery store and spent the whole day at home with my son. But alas, I feel obligated (bullied?) into going to see people.

Cheers.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Dishes

I'm fairly traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving dishes. I focus on filling my plate with mashed potatoes, stuffing, squash, sweet potatoes, and green bean casserole. If there are brussels sprouts on the table, they most definitely need to be on my plate.

I usually have a couple small pieces of turkey but mainly to appease the masses. I could really do without it. I skip the gravy altogether. I have no interest in anything with marshmallows or jello mixed with fruit (why is this even a thing?).

My family is famous for cranberry sauce. Growing up my favorite part of Thanksgiving was shoving fruit into the meat grinder as my sister cranked the arm. It's mesmerizing to watch the fruit, especially the apples, get pulled into the auger. I never actually enjoyed the finished product though. I much prefer cranberry sauce from a can. It's best when you push it out of the can, keeping the tube shape intact, and then cut fat slices. Yum!

What are your favorite/least favorite dishes at Thanksgiving dinner?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Fighting Over Dumb Stuff

I'm feeling uninspired today. In fact, I'm half asleep and feeling rather blah, so I'm going to use a prompt from a few days ago. I don't usually even look at the prompts, but here goes...

What's the dumbest thing you and a partner have ever fought about?

The first thing that came to mind was a fight my former fiance and I had over light switches. Yes, light switches. The kind where two switches control the same light, say one at the top of the stairs and one at the bottom. For the life of me I can't remember why we were arguing about such a thing or what the difference of opinion was exactly, but man, there was definitely a disagreement. It involved the direction of the switches (up/down, up/up, down/down) and our inability to understand what the other person was saying.

While that was a real fight, we had other equally mind-boggling disagreements that managed to not devolve into screaming matches. Like the time I found a carton of melted ice cream on top of the fridge and he swore he didn't put it there. I replied, "So someone broke into our house and didn't take anything. They just left a carton of ice cream on top of the fridge?" To which he replied, "I guess so because I didn't put it there." OK then.

Pretty dumb stuff.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Snowy Day Details

We woke to our first snowstorm of the season this morning. The roads were treacherous, but we made our way carefully and slowly to daycare and work. Very few people were at the office between the snow and the holiday week. In the time I was there only one person came in (to use the office kitchen, not for my assistance). The phone didn't ring and I got only a handful of emails.

Then daycare decided to close 3 hours early, so I headed back out into the snow. Thankfully the roads were in much better shape than they had been in the morning.

Little man was just waking up from his nap, the last one  to wake in his room. The other kids were all sitting at the table waiting for snack presumably. We took the snack (goldfish) to go and headed home. After snack we bundled up (good grief, what a hassle that is) and headed out to play in the snow.

One of our neighbors was snowblowing his driveway, which was super fascinating to my son. He planted his feet and would not budge. The nice man waved and smiled on each lap. I eventually had to pick him up and carry him away or we might still be standing out there in the same spot.

Back inside we went about our normal routine of running in circles and watching Elmo.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Saturday Vibes



Pediatrician's office. Ear infection. Grocery store pharmacy on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Ugh.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday Five

1. Little Man decided 4:30 AM was the appropriate time to get up this morning. So yeah, I'm a little tired.

2. We had his first parent-teacher conference today. Yup, you read that right. Parent-teacher conferences for a 1.5 year old. Apparently, daycare does them every six months, which seems like a lot to me. No concerns or issues.

3. Today I parked in my garage for the first time EVER. I drive a pretty small car, and still I felt like I was trying to park a semi. Why are garages so small?

4. Ever since pregnancy, my pits stink. As in, body odor. B.O. Pre-pregnancy I never really had to worry about such things, and I've been hoping that once my body and hormones regulated themselves again it would return to the way it used to be. But alas, I'm starting to fear this is my new norm. So I think I need to start looking for a more effective deodorant and maybe dosing myself with patchouli.

5. I shower six days a week. I've been shampooing and conditioning my hair every time I shower, but we got into a big discussion at work about shampooing your hair and how you're not supposed to do it so often. Of course, this is not new information, but it got me thinking about it again. Two of the woman explained that they still wet their hair when they shower and apply conditioner, which frankly would never have occurred to me. So I tried that last night and I may try to work it in more regularly if I can stand it. I like feeling clean.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Use Your Words

Mommy
Daddy
Elmo

Yes
No

Hi
Hello
Bye-bye

A-boo

Baby
Ball
Bus
Box
Bag
Boot(s)
Belly
Bite
Bubble

Apple
Banana
Berry
Pasta
Yogurt
Milk
Puff

Thank you
Please
More

Red
Blue
Purple
Yellow

Moo
Neigh
Baa
Woof
Whoo-whoo
Owl

Poo-poo
Pee-pee
Potty

Knee
Mouth
Jeopardy

I'm sure I've forgotten some, but this is at least a good portion of my 19.5 month old son's vocabulary.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Drama

I abhor drama.

Maybe that's part of the reason why I have so few friends. Right now I'm caught in the middle of some extremely serious "he said, she said" bullshit and I want out. Actually, I never wanted in. So many lies swirling around. It makes me want to deactivate my social media accounts and throw my phone into the river.

But that's not realistic, so the stress just keeps piling on. And I keep eating all the chocolate.

I saw somewhere that you shouldn't say you don't like drama because people will interpret that to mean that you DO. Why must everything be so complicated? Why can't things be simple? No games, no lies, no drama. And I mean it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Routines

Routines are helpful for everyone, not just toddlers.

Every night before I go upstairs to get ready for bed I run through the same steps. I check that the garage door is closed. I turn on the night light in the kitchen. I checked the deadbolt on the front door. And I press the lock button on my key fob and watch for the lights to flash once. If I forget any of those steps, except the night light, I will have to get out of bed to make sure it's taken care of so I can get a good night's sleep.

Another routine I follow to the letter takes place after I park at work. I get out of the car and walk around the back, checking the windows are closed as I go (obviously not a huge concern in November). I make sure I've pulled through the spot far enough, I check the car seat, grab my bags from the front seat, and walk away, locking the car with my key fob as I go. I even have a little chant as I circle the car: closed, closed, clear, no baby, closed, and lock. I do this every day, even if it means I miss the shuttle bus. Even if people sitting in their cars are watching me. Because then I can get on the shuttle bus with peace of mind. I don't need anything else to worry about.

My son's bedtime routine is pretty standard. After watching a few minutes of Jeopardy, we head upstairs to brush his teeth (while watching an Elmo video), then we change his diaper, put on jammies, and read books (usually five). Then he nurses and goes to bed.

Mini routines help us get out the door in the morning before work, too. Our mornings follow the same structure day after day, which helps me get to work on time and helps him to know what comes next.

I'm sure most people incorporate routines into their lives, even if they're not as entrenched as mine.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Weekends

Weekends are for unwinding and spending time with my son.

And that's exactly what I did this weekend. Nothing exciting. No big outings or activities. Walks in the neighborhood, playing in the leaves, our usual grocery store run, and a semi-regular trip to Target. We sang, we played, we watched Elmo videos. We hugged, we kissed, and we even snuggled for a few minutes (thank you, Elmo).

I watched some of my shows, did not enough laundry, swept the kitchen floor, vacuumed a fraction of what needed vacuuming, and said the heck with the rest. A tidy house is never going to be a priority for me.

My priorities should be pretty clear: my son and getting us both outside. Check. Check.

Burning bush, Euonymus alatus, in the yard of one of the many vacant houses in my neighborhood.


Around the block we go.

Joining Karen at Pumpkin Sunrise.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

NaBloPoMo

I knew it was crazy when I signed up. The very idea that I could find time to post every day. Crazy. That I would have stuff to write about every day. Also crazy. Most days I reach a point when I'm lucky if I can think of my own name, let alone be creative.

So why did I sign up? I thought it would be a good distraction. Something positive to focus on. Plus, anything that keeps me away from Facebook even for a little while has to be a good thing.

But today while my son napped I wracked my brain, stared at an empty screen, and anxiously watched the clock all the while coming up with absolutely nothing to post. Wait, the last thing I need is MORE stress. I need to be able to enjoy the few minutes of downtime I have doing what I want to do (watching TV) or need to do (cleaning the house). I have no room in my life for feeling guilty and anxious about blogging or not blogging.

I was 100% ready to tap out today. Call it quits. But here I am writing one more post. Tomorrow is another day. But I will bail in a heartbeat before I let NaBloPoMo affect another nap break.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Verdi

In June I decided my son and I needed a new friend. I've owned birds for much of my life (cockatiels, parakeets, and finches), but my husband was adamantly opposed to them. Too noisy, too messy, etc., etc. But since my choice in pets is no longer his business, I brought Verdi into our family.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Writing Letters

I am old enough to remember when writing letters was a routine form of communication. In the days before email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. we put pen to paper and wrote our friends and families. Then we stuck the letters in our mailboxes to be picked up and delivered across town, across state, or across country. Then we waited for them to be read and replied to. All that waiting was normal and unavoidable. Now it's practically unimaginable.

And yet, some of us still chose this form of communication. Because it is also beautiful to see cursive scroll across the page, knowing that someone sat down, taking time in their busy life to dedicate their full attention to you, to tell you about their day and to ask about yours. What a delight it still is to open the mailbox and see your friend's handwriting on the front of an envelope, tucked between bills and junk mail. Sometimes weeks stretch into more than a month, but finally a new letter arrives. It is a moment to relish.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Lunchtime Reads

During my lunch break today I walked my preferred short loop around the Small Green School campus. I sat briefly on a bench in the sun, but quickly decided the wind was a tad too brisk for outdoor reading enjoyment. I headed back to the community room in the chapel, but as soon as I opened the door I could smell food and hear voices echoing down the hall. Without even bothering to descend the stairs to the community room, I opted to head up to the chapel again.

I did not have the place to myself this time. A woman was practicing on the piano (organ?) and another woman came in after me and bowed her head in prayer. Her sobs carried easily over the music and I felt like I was somehow intruding. I tried to keep my focus on myself and my book, even though part of me wanted to check on her and make sure she was alright.

I started the second in the series on loan from my sister. I ended up quite liking the first. It continued to be darker than I generally prefer, but I got used to it after awhile.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Hope and Fear



That tweet (which was shared on Facebook many, many times) pretty much sums up how I'm feeling.

I love voting. I believe in the importance of voting. Voting makes me a little bit giddy.

Having said that, I'm scared. There is so much at risk with this election.

I can't help but recall the 2000 election when I went to bed late on that Tuesday night confident our next president would be Al Gore and woke the next morning to find that was no longer the case. I lived in Florida at the time. I voted on a butterfly ballot and checked for hanging chads before casting my vote. And then I (and everyone else) lived through the madness to follow. I thought George W. Bush winning the election was the worst scenario imaginable. Little did I know that some years later we would be faced with a presidential nominee that makes W look like a welcome option.

So my anxiety is understandably high. My stomach is feeling unsettled. This is going to be a long day.

For the second time in his short life I took my son to our polling place, leaving the house extra early this morning. I filled in little circles while he fussed in the umbrella stroller which he hates (it was either that or he'd have been running around knocking over tables and stealing pens). When I finished I stared at the first circle I darkened, the most important circle, to take in the moment.

Then his fussing kicked up a notch and I stood up from my seat, pushed us to the short line at the casting machine, and seconds later inserted my ballot into the machine. When it dropped successfully I thrust both arms into the air, and then rushed us out the door and back to our regular schedule of work and daycare.

Now we wait. And hope.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Weekends

Weekends are for unwinding and spending time with my son.

The highlight of our Saturday was a trip to Second Home Nature Center. I used my reliable method of putting him in the stroller to get him away from the car and on to the boardwalk. Once there, it's smooth sailing for hiking and exploring. It's totally worth pushing the empty stroller the rest of the time. Plus, it makes it easier for diaper changing supplies, which were needed on this trip. At some point I'll have to develop a new system that doesn't rely on the stroller, but for now it makes my life easier.

He just loves the bog trail (as do I). This time around he discovered the joy of throwing leaves and pine needles into the water. He sure is a fun little guy.










Dropping cattail pieces between the boards into the water below.

The highlight of our Sunday was dinner at my sister's house. My nephew is celebrating his 6th birthday today, but because of our hectic schedule we won't be able to join the festivities. So we went over last night to see him and enjoyed a super yummy meal. Six years old! Good grief! So big!

How was your weekend?

Joining Karen at Pumpkin Sunrise.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Hair Cut

One of the things I did after leaving work early on Friday was get my hair cut. For just about 19 months I've been cutting my own hair. This is not something I know anything about. I merely divided my hair in two chunks at the back, pulled the sections forward and hacked off some length. It was not even remotely even, but I guess when you have long hair you can get away with a little less uniformity. Heck, I even interviewed for and got hired into a new job with my homemade hair cut and no makeup.

For 19 months I cut my own hair because I was unwilling to be away from my son for even the length of time it takes to have it professionally cut. I also didn't want to spend the money, even at one of the super cheap chains. But on Friday I finally did both: spent the money and the time away from my son. And yes, both he and I survived. And yes, my hair may be more even (or not, those places are not exactly offering high quality hair dos).

I expect it'll be a good long time before I do it again though. Maybe I can find a salon to go to on my lunch next time so I don't have to miss any time with my son.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Friday Afternoon Walk

Yesterday I left work early for an appointment. Normally when I leave early I wait until the last possible moment to use as little personal time as possible. I'd been planning on leaving at quarter past the hour, but when the hour rolled around it occurred to me that if I left right then I could walk to my car instead of riding the shuttle bus. It was a beautiful day and what is 15 minutes in the grand scheme of things?

I didn't walk anywhere extra, just pretty much the same route my bus would've driven, but it was lovely and I can always use a little exercise.








Friday, November 04, 2016

Surprising Spot to Read

In my search for non-work area reading space for my lunch break, I quickly determined there are NO available and comfortable spaces in my building or the adjoining one. So I headed next door to the non-denominational chapel, which has a cash-only coffee shop in the basement, as well as a community room with upholstered chairs and loveseats. My first lunchtime visit I was able to snag a comfy chair. But yesterday when I turned the corner from the cafe to the community room, gah! People! A buffet line! A gentleman eagerly asking if I was there for the food! Yikes! I must have looked terrified, as I backed away and whispered, "I'm just looking for a quiet place to read my book." (I even held up the book as evidence.) The kindly gentleman directed me up the stairs and I happily took my leave, expecting to come upon another quiet room not in use.

But when I walked through the door I found myself somewhere I've been many times before. I've attended graduation and wedding ceremonies, as well as a memorial service, but I've never had the whole place to myself for any purpose. I took a seat in the last pew, closest to the door and cracked open my book. I felt out-of-place, like someone would arrive to shoo me out and scold me for being in there. Of course, that didn't happen and I read happily in peace.

Still the community room is more my speed.



Thursday, November 03, 2016

Remember to pay your bills!

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting at my desk at work when I suddenly had a dreadful thought. Had I paid my mortgage? I didn't remember paying it, but my memory is unreliable at best. I grabbed my phone and started thumbing through the texts from my bank (I have it set to text me for every withdrawal or deposit over $100). Scroll, scroll. And there it was. The last mortgage withdrawal came out in September. Oops. I quickly signed onto my mortgage company's website and arranged payment. Crises averted.

But holy crap. What if I'd never thought about it? Why am I still struggling to remember to pay my bills at 40 years old? Why haven't I figured out some sort of system yet? Because clearly, my system is NOT working.

Driving to work this morning in the rain I had another thought (where do these random thoughts come from?). I used to make a note in my planner of when bills were due, but these days I only look at it once a month. I need something more visible, something I can't miss. I got to work and googled printable calendar (or something along those lines). This one was a near the top of the results, so I added not due dates but dates to pay the specific bills and printed it. This baby is going on the fridge right next to my son's glittery blue finger painting masterpiece.

I sure hope this helps me remember to pay my bills in a timely fashion!

Do you have any tips or tricks to suggest? What works for you?

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

My Neighborhood

I've had mixed feeling about my neighborhood over the years. It's a subdivision of small houses built in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The house styles are mostly raised ranches, split levels, and colonials. The houses tend to have three bedrooms and one or two baths. Both one and two car garages are standard.

The neighborhood also includes several streets of townhomes and an apartment complex.

There is a small, uninspired park down the hill from my house with a basketball court, a backstop, a small plastic playground, and swings. There are no sidewalks.

When I purchased the house from my parents I painted all the walls and had the family room level finished, including a full bath. I had most of the carpet replaced. When my husband moved in he renovated the kitchen with new appliances, new counter tops and back splash, some new cabinetry, and new linoleum flooring.

I used to feel restless, constantly looking at other houses for sale in the area, certain there was something better out there. And, of course, there are better houses in better neighborhoods. But this house is mine. Motherhood has, at least temporarily, cured me of much of my unsettled tendencies. I was always searching for something better, be it a job, career, house, etc. Now I just want more of what I already have. More time with my son.

My house is a good house for a small family. My neighborhood is a good neighborhood for kids. Neither the house nor the neighborhood are anything special, but they are comfortable and I am content with both.

How do you feel about your neighborhood?

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Mood Boosters

The sun is shining. The temperatures are in the mid-50s. With my jacket on and my book in hand I headed straight for the door as soon as my lunch break started. I walked around campus, settled on a bench in the sun, and read. Then I walked some more before returning to my office to reheat pizza from last night's dinner.

That's exactly the kind of lunch break I like. But it was especially enjoyable today after the rainy, gloomy, raw weather we've been having. It's the kind of day that lifts your spirits, if your spirits happen to need lifting.

Walking and reading are on my go-to list of activities for any mood, but when I'm feeling down walking is something that often makes me feel better. And if I can get my feet on a dirt trail surrounded by nature (forest! fields! lakes! mountains!) more the better.

When I need a little pick-me-up, I often turn toward some sort of treat: chocolate, ice cream, cookie butter or a Green Tea Latte from Starbucks.

If I'm in a rough spot mentally (or emotionally) I try to turn to my notebook. It helps immensely to get the crummy things out of my head and onto paper. It can help me stop obsessing. Get it out and move on.

But above all else, when I need to check out and turn off my brain, the TV wins hands down. It is, and always has been, my drug of choice. It is how I unwind, how I de-stress, how I reset myself each weekend. I prefer hour long dramas; some of my current favs are the Chicago shows (Fire, PD, and Med). I watch WAY less TV than I used to since I limit my watching time to when my son is asleep. But when he's napping and I have to choose between cleaning the house or watching my shows, it's really no choice at all.

Hugging and holding my son is the best medicine, of course, regardless of my mood.

What do you do to lift your spirits, improve your mood?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

My little guy is still too young to really get the whole Halloween thing, and since I'm not really a fan of the holiday I don't see any reason to go crazy with Halloween inspired activities, etc. They are doing a parade and party at his daycare, so we'll see how that goes. He may or may not wear his costume, a hand-me-down Elmo from an older cousin.

My family always made a big deal out of every holiday when we were kids, so I would like to make them special for him when he's old enough to notice/care. I bought him some little Halloween stuffed guys at the grocery store ($5 a piece spread out over 4 weeks felt like a reasonable expense for holiday fun). He completely ignored the first two (jack o' lantern and skeleton), but when we got home with Frankenstein he gave him some kisses. So even though he's not super interested in them yet, he might be next year!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Emergency Preparedness

I am pretty much the exact opposite of a prepper. I wait until the very last moment before I buy what I need, be it food, gas, or toiletries.

I wait until the gas light comes on before I fill up the tank.

I wait until there are no more boxes of tissues in the closet (current situation) and only a roll or two of toilet paper left to buy more.

I don't keep food stocked in the larder. No cans of vegetables or soup, no jars of sauce. I have one spare box of pasta, mainly because it's whole wheat, which sounded like a good idea at the store and a horrible idea at home. I do have a few things in the freezer, but in the case of a true emergency I might not be able to rely on electricity.

I have one small flashlight (the kind with the holster that goes on your belt) and one easily accessible candle (there are likely more in the house somewhere, but that might not be hugely helpful if the power goes out at night). There are a few batteries of various sizes, although some might be getting up there in age.

I do own a wild edibles book, a tent, a sleeping bag, and various other camping gear that hasn't been used in years. I don't believe the gear collection includes a cooking stove or water filtration system. There is definitely a head lamp though.

The only items I buy in advance of need are diapers and baby wipes because daycare notifies me when their supplies are GONE, not LOW. I have to keep a supply on hand because I don't have time to go to the store during the week. They clearly subscribe to the same level of preparedness as I do.

It's hard for me to worry about having these things on hand when everything is so readily available. I've never experienced a situation that prevented me from getting to the store. We've never lost power for more than a few days. Having said that, it might be a good idea to throw a few extra cans of food in the cart occasionally. Even I can probably handle that.

Post inspired by Swistle.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Lunchtime Reads

There was measurable snow on my car this morning, so my days of sitting outside to read on lunch may well be over for the season. I wish I had had time to snap a few pictures because it was lovely. The first snow on leaves and phragmites is always so visually appealing, but as usual we were running late and there was no time for even cell phone photography. My little man slept poorly and had some boogers this morning, which means we could both be in for some long, sleepless nights if he is coming down with something. Oh, the joys of daycare.

When I don't go outside for lunch I stay at my desk to eat and read, which means I don't get a break from the office or a change in scenery. I also get interrupted at least once, usually more, to do work-related things since I am so visible. I need to come up with an alternative location so I can escape and have a real lunch break at least occasionally (there is no break room).

I started a new book today, part of a trilogy on loan from my sister. My initial impressions are not exactly positive. While interesting, it is very dark and dreary, and even a little confusing. Honestly, if it were a library book I might be returning it after one reading session. But since it came on recommendation of my sister I will hold out hope for improvement.



Are you reading anything good these days?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Weekends

Weekends are for unwinding and spending time with my son.

The rain was relentless on Saturday. We went to Target for baby wipes and Kraft Parmesan cheese (my favorite grocery store doesn't keep it in stock in hopes that I will buy their store brand, which is never gonna happen). I tried putting my son in his full-body rain suit so we could play outside, but he was inexplicably terrified by it. By the time Sunday rolled around I was DESPERATE to get us outside.

After our usual grocery store run, we met my father, sister, and nephew at the pumpkin patch. The rain was gone, but in its place was a ferocious wind. I bundled my little guy up, but even so it wasn't the most enjoyable weather. We loaded 3 pumpkins in the car and headed back home for lunch and nap while the others went for a hay ride and played in the corn maze. I was sad to cut our outing short, but I am a firm believer in the importance of sticking to meal and nap schedules.

Hot cider to help me warm up.
The wind had died down by the time my son woke from his nap, but I didn't want to drive anywhere else. Plus, it'd been a full week since we had time to play in the yard and I wanted to be home and available for him to have a visit from his father. So snack bar in hand we went outside to romp in the leaves and stayed out until it was time to cook dinner (or you know, boil water for pasta). I had splurged on his favorite pasta sauce, so we both ended the weekend with nice full bellies.







Linking up with Karen at Pumpkin Sunrise.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Being Present

I'm struggling with how little time I have to spend with my son. And knowing that this precious little time will continue to decrease as he spends more time with his father and less time at home with me.

During the week the little time we have together is broken into two chunks: before work and after work. During both of those times I'm distracted and not solely focused on the time with my son. I am fully aware of the distraction and am constantly trying to bring my focus back to him, but it's so hard.

I'm the kind of person that calculates how much sleep I will get if I go to bed at that exact moment each night. I've always been this way. In college I would set aside whatever notes I was studying, knowing my brain needed sleep or it wouldn't matter how much I crammed for the test.

So every morning while I read to my son my brain is calculating how much longer I can get away with reading to him before I have to wrestle him into a clean diaper and clothes. Then we go downstairs so I can make tea and an English muffin, after which we play or read for another couple minutes while I watch the clock to make sure I get us upstairs so I can dress and brush, all the while trying to figure out what I'm going to wear (if I need to take out the trash, stop for gas on the way to work, remember diapers or wipes for daycare, etc.).

After work it's the same sort of thing: when do I have to throw something in the microwave, when do I have to wrangle him into his highchair, when do I have to drag him upstairs to brush his teeth, etc. There is no time to JUST BE.

I'm so afraid when I look back on these years it will all be a blur. That in not being present in the little moments I won't be able to remember what his soft baby-toddler body feels like when I manage to steal a hug or the smell of his hair as I'm reading him his bedtime books. It's all going by so fast. I need to figure out a way to slow down and focus on him. Shut out the distractions. Be present. Every moment matters, and I feel like it is all just slipping away from me.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

What I Ate Wednesday

Just for fun I thought I'd track and share what I ate yesterday. It was a normal Wednesday until I had a stressful and emotional exchange of words with my son's father, which left me with no appetite for dinner. Fortunately I had eaten quite a bit throughout the day and am no longer in any danger of wasting away. It was far from the healthiest food day, but I've had much worse!


Breakfast:
3/4 of English muffin with lots of butter (my son ate the rest)
mug of English breakfast tea with splash of milk and tiny bit of sugar

Morning snack:
mug of Chocolate mint oolong tea
overnight oats (oats, chia seeds, milk, maple syrup) in small Ball jar

Lunch:
orecchiette pasta with 3 slices of sharp cheddar
Twix minis (bite size) x3

Afternoon snacks:
fun sized M&M
Twix mini (bite size)

Dinner:
few bites of sweet potatoes
small bowl of cauliflower
one spoonful of canned peas

~1/4 jar of cookie butter (eaten with a spoon from the jar)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lunchtime Reads

I'm feeling pretty good about my to-be-read pile for the foreseeable future. This book is a sequel to one I read recently. I have a YA trilogy on loan from my sister and will request the sequel to the book I just finished from the library soon. So yay for borrowing all the YA!


The weather was spectacular for mid-October. I was wearing sandals and short-sleeves and sitting in the shade. Leaves were falling all around me as I read (note the one in my lap, not staged). It was a delightful way to spend my lunch hour.

Are you reading anything good these days?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Weekends

Weekends are for unwinding and spending time with family.

This weekend I did 87 loads of laundry (OK, yes, I'm exaggerating, but only slightly), enjoyed some much needed time with my son, and visited with my mom and her husband as they stopped in town on their way home from vacationing in Maine. We ate delicious food, got the latest updates on our Maine (and beyond) family, and enjoyed the lovely weather. My son and I walked at Second Home Nature Center, got more books from the library, and played at the neighborhood playground. 

Post-nap reading session.

At the restaurant Friday night.



Bog Trail

Bog Pond


Red Maple

New England aster

Linking up with Karen at Pumpkin Sunrise.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Lunchtime Reads

Today I used part of my lunch hour to get a flu shot because it was FREE. I hated missing the chance to spend every second outside while the weather is practically perfect, but at least I was able to read while standing in the long, snaking line. I got done with enough time to walk a lap around the Small Green College campus.

My current lunchtime read is the library book I picked up on Saturday. It is very readable and interesting, although I don't love that it switches between 3 main characters with such short chapters I have trouble adjusting. Regardless, I'm enjoying it quite a bit.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Weekends

Weekends are for unwinding and spending time with my son.

On Saturday morning we popped into Target for my usual Green Tea Latte from Starbucks and then headed to the library. I'd been hoping to find the next book in the YA series I'd just finished, but my branch doesn't have a copy. They did have a copy of another YA I've been reading occasionally on my cell phone. Since I stare at a computer all day at work, I'm not anxious to stare at my phone on my lunch break, so I grabbed the book-on-paper version. Then we went to check out the kids section. And dur, why didn't anyone tell me there were fun things at the library besides books? Blocks and trains and stuffed animals, and needless to say, we'll be going back when we have more time. I do wish they opened earlier on the weekends. When your kid wakes up at 5:30am, waiting until 10am for things to open is not always ideal. We picked out a board book about pumpkins for him and then headed to our next destination.

I'd been hoping to do some walking at the nature center, but the rain put a damper on those plans as I can't find the hand-me-down raincoat from my nephew. I wouldn't mind a little drizzle, but it was pouring while we were at the library. So we went for the pancake breakfast only. My guy sat in a booster seat and ate like a bog boy. It was impressive and tasty.


He loves signs. What is it with little boys & signs?





After his nap and the rain we played in the yard for a little bit and he got to stomp through some puddles in his dinosaur boots.

On Sunday morning we did our grocery shopping as usual and played outside for few minutes before lunch. After nap I put him in the stroller to check out the newly renovated neighborhood park. He refused to get in the baby swing but happily rode on my lap in the regular one. Then he hopped down and climbed the stairs, presenting me with a big parenting moment. He wanted to go down the slide and I did not (my wrist still hurts from the last time I took him down that slide), so my only choice was to let him go by himself without any help and without anyone at the bottom to catch him (single parenting, yo). He did great and he loved it. Phew. After climbing the stairs and going down the slide a second time, he was done and went back to the stroller. Short attention span, this one.







And that was pretty much it for our weekend. How was yours?

Linking up with Karen at Pumpkin Sunrise.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Friday Five

1. Two of my music class mom friends are pregnant with their second babies. And one is actively trying (IVF). We all took a babies music class together. All of us were first time moms. I was the oldest mom and had the oldest baby (by a few days). Now I'm the only single mom, although I haven't told them that my husband left me. Because it's hard to slip that kind of news into our group texts between all the big sister, big brother announcements.

2. I cut a few wispy strands of my son's hair this morning. I always sweep his hair to one side, but others do not and a few of the longer strands were getting in his eyes. I have no interest in giving him a real, official haircut. But at the same time, this was the first time I cut his hair and I wanted to save the tiny bits. But as it turns out, snipping a few hairs while holding a struggling toddler doesn't result in a nicely kept locket of hair. Oh well, maybe next time.

3. This morning I dropped him off in his infant classroom for the last time. Yesterday they moved his belongings to the toddler room, so his old shelf belongs to another boy now. In his new room he has a cubby with a shelf and a hook. So much more grown up. He's been a "toddler" for a while now, but the moving of classrooms still feels like a milestone of sorts. My baby isn't really a baby any more.

4. On my lunch break I like to walk over to Small Green College (where I got my BS) to read. The campus feels like home to me. Sometimes I catch a whiff of fallen leaves in the sun and cooking exhaust from the cafe and I'm transported back 20 years. And seriously, how can it be TWENTY years? How is that possible?

5. As much as I love being there, it makes me sad when I have to walk back to my office. I wish I had done something with my degree. I wish I was more than just an office lady. But right now, the thing that matters is that I have an income and a fairly low stress job. Because the thing that matters the most is my son. My job/career means nothing compared to him.

Happy Friday y'all!

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

ISO: Pen Pal

I keep thinking about dating. Obsessing over men from my past and random men I encounter in my daily life.

But then I come to my senses. How would a man fit into my life right now? I barely have enough time in the day to get my son and myself to and from daycare/work, feed us dinner, squeeze in a few minutes of playtime and book reading before I have to put him to bed. Then I run around picking up toys and getting ready for work the next day. I shower, crawl in bed, and start all over again the next morning.

It's unlikely anyone else would find me and my life interesting right now even if there was somehow time for them. But I miss feeling like I matter to someone. (Other than blood relatives because yes, I know I matter to you people. You can stop flapping your hands now.)

I am 40 years old with a toddler. I might as well be invisible. I just want someone to SEE me, care about me, make me feel special. It's been a long time since I had a partner who was happy to be with me. Feeling like a burden on someone does a number to your self-worth. 

Maybe what I need is a pen pal. Someone to email and text, without the bothersome real life implications. Because I'm sure there are a lot of single men out there dying for a pen pal. 

Monday, October 03, 2016

Weekends

Weekends are for unwinding and spending time with my son.

On Saturday morning we made one of our regular trips to Target for a Green Tea Latte and some odds & ends. I'd recently downloaded the Cartwheel app for my phone and was so distracted by trying to figure out how to use it (old person alert!) that I forgot about the actual paper coupon in my bag for $10 off which expired THAT day. I remembered just as I was about to pull into my neighborhood. For $10 I was absolutely turning the car around and dragging my toddler back into Target. For sure.

After his nap I wanted to get us both outside, but I didn't feel like driving far. I just wanted to be outside, somewhere other than our yard. It shouldn't be so difficult to find a spot of trees, etc. to romp around in. I finally settled on a nearby golf community with access to Nature Conservancy land.

I believe this is fake water but still picturesque from the right angle.

My guy is going through what I hope is a phase in which he only wants to go back, not forward. So I carried him as far as I felt like and then set him down. He took off back towards the car and we had a nice little walk (until he decided he wanted to explore off the side of the trail that was choked with poison ivy and I was forced to carry him away).

And off he goes!

Admire the poison ivy, but please do not touch!
The little guy slept poorly Saturday night, coughing on and off all night, so Sunday we did our grocery shopping and played in the yard and generally took it easy. Hopefully his boogers let up soon.

Linking up with Karen at Pumpkin Sunrise.