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?