Remember that time when we drove down to SoCal almost every weekend this past fall? We got so damn good at making that trip in one weekend. And there was even a trip where it felt like a vacation? I … Continue reading
I just finished watching an episode of Gilmore Girls. Don’t act like you’re so surprised. Netflix has given us all the gift of Gilmore Girls and, therefore, it is our Netflix-given duty to watch each episode. Don’t kid yourself; you probably just finished watching a GG episode, too.
Also, if you believe that I’ve only watched ONE episode of Gilmore Girls I probably have a bridge to sell you.
But here’s the thing…this episode? It was the one where Rory got a ‘D’ on her test and she questions all the things about going to Chilton and if she can take it. And then she stays up all night studying for her test and then she oversleeps and misses her test and she completely loses it on her class. And then Lorelei tries to help and ends up losing it a little bit on the teacher and the dean. She tries to get them to let Rory take the test anyway because Harvard dreams, you guys!
Then Lorelei talks to Rory and says she doesn’t have to keep going to Chilton and she can go back to her old school. Lorelei begins to question the Harvard dreams asking Rory if this is what she really always wanted or was it Lorelei that started this dream because she never had the big college experience.
I don’t have anything to add to this right now. Mostly I just wanted you to know about that particular Gilmore Girls gut punch. Also that those worries sometimes apply to Stanford and Berkeley and IB programs and softball. We should also have a conversation about the fact that me watching Gilmore Girls at this phase in my life will lead to other gut punches and blog posts. I fully expect to not have any friends by this time next year.
By the way, Rory assures her mom that the Harvard dreams are really what she wants. It was all she ever wanted.
I choose to believe her.
I can’t figure out how to fix my mobile site after I broke all the things last month. I am just that good at breaking things. Sadly, breaking things isn’t something most of us can put on our resumes. Unless you break shit for a living and, maybe, I should look into a job like that.
So…yeah. I’m trying to fix the things that are broken on this website.
Until then, hopefully you’ll still stop by every now and then on your regular old computer. Which is probably the internet equivalent of me sending you a typed letter via owl. But whatever. We can’t ALL be super good at all the things, you guys.
Besides breaking things. Of course.
Seventh grade and senior years are going really well so far. These kids of mine seem to have a shitton of homework at all times and I almost feel bad for them. Mostly, I feel bad for me because homework all the time means I need to be a responsible parent and not let them watch tv or hang out with friends all the time. It also means that every so often, The Dude and I get roped into projects and other things that make our brains hurt a lot. Especially when you add that to all the other crap that senior year brings. College nights and applications and a bunch of little things that make us feel like we’re doing most things way too late or totally wrong and, sometimes, a little bit right.
I know this is ridiculous, but I’m legit proud of how well I’ve been holding up the first month or so of senior year. I’m not saying I should win any awards for stalwart mothering, but I haven’t completely lost it. Not even once. Not even when these arrived in the mail.
The Dude has had a couple of moments that nearly broke my pretend stoic behavior. Like when I texted him pictures during her yearbook/senior portrait session and his response nearly knocked the wind out of me. He’s not usually the one who is blasted by this kind of thing. I took a turn acting like I was completely fine with all of it.
I try not to do it very often, but there are times when I can’t help but wonder what this time next year will look like. It’s weird to think about only one of our kids living at home. I know we’ll be fine, but do you get used to that? Is it weird to let the dog have her room once she leaves?
Don’t answer that.
I’m not going to let the dog have her room. Probably.
Deadlines for early applications are right around the corner. There is so (SO!) much to do and get ready for, I feel like I’m going to blink and it will be Christmas and we’ll know (for better or for worse) if she got accepted or if we pick up and start applying to her plan B and C and D schools. More than anything, it’s just really weird that this is our life right now. Awesome, but weird.
* * *
I wrote all of that earlier thinking that I would get it all finished and set to post this evening. About an hour ago, I got a text message from that senior in high school from her friend’s house as they build their last homecoming float. She mentioned how much fun she was having but how it was a little sad that this was their last homecoming together. And yeah…I cried all the way home from the grocery store, so all those things that I wrote about me being okay is sort of a lie. Well, it’s less true than it was before an hour ago anyway.
But I’m going to be fine. Really. I’ll keep saying that until we all believe it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about anxiety lately. Mostly mine. I mean, I can think about yours if you want me to but I’m more familiar with my own. I’ve just had more practice with mine. I’m so selfish like that.
I don’t talk about anxiety very often. I’m not very good at it and sometimes it’s just easier to keep quiet. There’s always the possibility that people will start acting weird about it once they know. Maybe they’ll be uncomfortable with the topic. (I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. That’s not right.)
When I take better care of myself, I handle life much better. I wish I could remember that all the time, but I don’t. I seem to forget every time that life gets complicated and I stop working out or eating right or drinking enough water. You know, that damn oxygen mask we keep talking about. I keep forgetting the part about putting mine on first.
What can I say? I’m a terrible flyer.
I wasn’t always an anxious person. I’ve always been a champion worrier pretty much all of my life. But my actual, “hey there’s an elephant sitting on my chest”, introduction to anxiety happened several years ago after a few ridiculously stressful months. As I’m wont to do, I put off going to the doctor until I really couldn’t ignore it anymore. My doctor immediately caught on. Me? Not so much. I’M NOT WORRIED ABOUT ANYTHING! I kept saying. THERE IS NO REASON FOR ME TO BE ANXIOUS, I maintained. He (politely) humored me and referred me to a specialist while saying, “Hey…I’m going to prescribe these (super low-dose) pills for anxiety because you really should think about all the ways you are obviously in denial about having anxiety.
I never did fill that prescription.
Because I’m an obnoxious know-it-all. Clearly.
See also: stubborn as shit.
Pills aren’t always the answer for me. Of all the rotten side effects that might happen – there is inevitably something that does happen to me. I’m just lucky like that. After those doctor appointments I felt that my entire self, the whole me, needed a tune-up and I took a more holistic approach to feeling better. Say what you will about acupuncture, but damn if I didn’t feel a lot better after several visits and really paying attention to a little more self-care. The oxygen mask was on, bitches.
Until it wasn’t. Until I, once again, put everyone else first and made sure I came dead last.
After some rough months (stressful deadlines and, you know, worrying about every last thing and school and college plans and, and…) I ignored all the signs that kept telling me I was headed back to not being well. My body hurt all the time. I was anxious A LOT. I felt like every task was a huge struggle. I could focus only on what was demanding my attention which meant I operating on a pretty stressful diet of hurry up and OMG YOU ARE ABOUT TO MISS THIS DEADLINE. (Or I would completely forget to do things. Important things. And then miss the deadlines.) It wasn’t a great place to be.
It’s still not fabulous. But it’s a lot better than it was. And a lot of improvements happened this week when I cut some yucky things out of my diet and started to get my run/walk on a little more. (Ok, a lot more than I was at ALL.) Gawd, I hate it when those nuts are right about things, but yeah. I feel a little better. I’m not going to pretend that I’m now living in this magical place of always feeling great and good, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. The fact that I can write about this and maybe even entertaining the idea that I’ll actually hit publish is a big deal. There is so much room for change and improvement, but I wish I could remember that taking care of myself is important. I hope I can keep this (not exactly) bullshit oxygen mask on my face. I really like the me that wears it.
I broke my website recently. I’m not going to get into the idiotic (I am an idiot) details, but I accidentally executed a broken blog perfectly. It was the internet equivalent of a PERFECT triple back flip into a cactus … Continue reading
I spent years trying to hide how young I was. Whenever I would attempt to make friends with other moms at the preschool, I would try like mad to avoid the conversations about high school and college days and the year everyone got married. I’m not dumb (and neither were they) they knew I was younger. I just didn’t want to get into how much younger.
There is so much shame in teenage pregnancy. I’m not saying that it’s something to aspire to, but it’s been close to 18 years and the shame I felt all those years ago burns almost as hot even today. I am not ashamed of the beautiful family that I am blessed with, but when I read this article that Kelly shared last week it brought up some very real anger and some pretty intense shame that I didn’t know still hung around. It’s been four days, and I’m still stewing about it.
I was 18 years old when I got pregnant. As teenage pregnancy statistics go, I guess I was on the older side of things. I have always been grateful that I was, at least, out of high school but I hate admitting that I am a college dropout.
A lot of you know my story. I even stood on a stage last year and read a letter that I wrote to 19 year old me. I thought I exorcised some of those demons. Yet an article about teenage pregnancy shame has sent me into some pretty deep feels.
I’m still really fucking angry and I really hate that I am.
I have spent so much of my life worrying that I’m going to hurt someone’s feelings if I told the truth and said how I really feel. I have stopped myself from telling so many stories, because it might make someone feel bad. But at the end of the day, who made sure that my feelings weren’t hurt? Who made sure that I didn’t feel bad?
I am still angry that the religious institution that I put so much faith in abandoned me and made me feel like such a fuck-up. I am angry that I lost so many friends because I all of a sudden became the example of what not to do. I am angry that people tried to get me to put my baby up for adoption. I am angry that all the anger and judgment and shame gets placed on the teenage mom. I am angry that I have no happy memories of my wedding day because almost every single person in attendance was against us getting married. I am angry that I still feel the need to joke that “we did things backwards” even today as I meet new people because there is still so much shame in being a teenage mom – even though I’m not a teenager anymore. I’m mad that I can’t read an article on teenage pregnancy without feeling like I want to throw up.
I’ve buried my anger deep inside of me for many, many years. I have this beautiful family. I know how lucky I am. But I’ve spent so many years believing that I’m not allowed to be angry because my life has been so blessed.
Instead of dealing with my anger, I’ve let it fester into a horrible wound that has never healed. As cathartic as it was to tell my story, I censored all the anger because I had built too many walls and it would’ve been too much work to break them down. And, of course, I put everyone else’s feelings before my own.
But you know what? I can be angry and grateful at the same time. I can sit here and let some of those demons fly knowing full well that I would do it all over again because my family is worth it. They are amazing and wonderful but it’s okay if I tell you how hard I’ve worked or how much I have sacrificed to make that happen. There has not been one bit of this that has been easy.
But I’ve given way too much power to the shame of it all. I wasn’t promiscuous. I’m not tarnished goods. And if you would like to talk about the “problem child” I’ve brought into this world be prepared for me to tell you about her straight A’s and Stanford dreams and her kickass little sister that rocks our world. I’m not sorry for any of that.
I shouldn’t be.
We recently found ourselves with a few free weekends in a row. This isn’t something we are used to, so we were a bit out of practice as we tried to decide how we would fill this (now) empty space on our calendars. There were family events that we actually said yes to. The girls made plans with their friends. We spent a Sunday afternoon in the pool. These are things that actually happened but I feel like a complete liar saying that they did because I’m just not used to it being this way. I kept waiting for someone to yell at me for not being where I was supposed to be.
As our family sat down to discuss our recent scheduling changes, it became painfully obvious that our family needed some down time. We weren’t staring at an open week-long vacation, but being able to see some free time in weekend form made us all a little excited. Then the kids got this look on their face and said “we can actually go camping!” and then I felt pretty bad that it had been so long. In fact, we did the math this weekend and realized that it had been four years since our family had been camping. Four. Years.
That one stung, you guys.
Thanks to my dad being a super duper camper-man, we were able to make an overnight camping trip happen this past weekend. He knows where to go. He has all the gear. He’s just really…GOOD at it and made things really easy for those of us who haven’t been camping in some time. Like, really easy. I should be embarrassed. (I’m not, though.)
After we got up there on Friday evening and everything was set up, I sat down on a chair around the empty fire pit (too dry for campfires) while my dad and The Dude talked near me. I was part of the conversation at times, but mostly I just sat and listened. Sometimes I tuned them out and just looked at the sky as it got darker and the stars began to appear. The moon was so bright, there were actual moon shadows around us and no need for flashlights or lanterns. It was beautiful and wonderful. It was also weird and sometimes hard to sit there and do nothing. I am out of practice.
I used to be really good at camping. I would go hiking with the family or youth group. Camping family reunions. As I sat there around the non-existent campfire, I replayed many of these camping and hiking trips in my mind. Almost all of them involved my dad. Most of my camping memories, my dad is right there making things happen. Just as he did this weekend. His granddaughters (and daughter) wanted to go camping so he made it happen. Some things never change.
I didn’t realize how much I missed camping. This weekend reminded me that it’s still very much a part of who I am and what I love. I almost gave myself a guilt trip for not doing this more often, but I quickly put a stop to that so I could enjoy my cute family without interruption. I loved being out in nature, even with wicked mosquitos and questionable bathroom options. I loved sitting around an empty fire pit with some of the people I love the most. But I especially love remembering, and getting back to, a side of me I haven’t seen in quite some time.
I’ve started three different blog posts this week. Three. I’ve finished none of them. Each time I get going, I start to feel annoyed by my own words. I mean, if I’m annoying MYSELF only a paragraph into a blog post, clearly I should just scrap it and move on with my life. For the sake of all of us.
The truth of the matter is that I wasn’t able to completely avoid the summertime blues this week. It happens every summer. The combination of a busy work life and not being home when my kids are off school is a tough pill to swallow. I knew it was coming! I know what my deadlines look like! I know that I hate not being home when my kids are home! It’s the same every year!
(See? I almost just clicked that “x” on the top right to close this without saving. ANNOYING. I’m annoying myself already.)
(Let’s switch gears.)
I know the saying: If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you feel about it.
I know this. But sometimes it’s just really damn hard to change how you feel.
I was doing really great with my attitude. Saying yes to summer helped. Enjoying the backyard helped. Spending time with family and friends really helped. But getting a little stuck in my worry didn’t help. Getting angry at a team situation I had little to no control over didn’t help. Missing my kids while they’re off school didn’t help. Missing out on family events didn’t help. Being stressed about all the things didn’t help.
I’m about to make the longest to-do list ever even though it’s going to overwhelm the hell out of me. (I need to get organized.)
I’m going to remember to take one thing at a time.
I’m going to schedule some time off.
I’m going to make sure to schedule time with my kids and time on my own. (Somehow.)
I’m going to remember make time for things I enjoy and love. (Like reading and blogging.)
I think I’ll watch a funny movie. Just to kick things off right.
Well, I got through a blog post. Perhaps I won’t annoy myself quite as much the next time around. Lofty goals!
Thank you for the picture inspiration, Nora!!
I took the day off work to get things done around the house. When your weekends are spent elsewhere (softball tournaments, etc) and you work full time, tackling household projects is especially challenging. Even when we do have weekends off, we have to make a choice between doing something fun with the family or…chores. Our weekdays are usually so packed, a little downtime on the weekends is extremely necessary. So we tackle a little more than the bare minimum so we’re not living in squalor and filth.
I promise we’re not living in squalor and filth, but damn, I have a lot to do.
But this morning is quiet. The Dude had an early morning so I’ve been up for hours surfing Facebook and watching the Today Show. I’ve been drinking (too much) coffee. (See above: up early.) I’m sitting on the couch just giving myself a chance to enjoy not rushing off to the next thing and letting my kids sleep in upstairs. It’s really, really nice.
But even just sitting here, I can’t just sit here. I was reading. Or Facebooking. Or (now) blogging.
And actively avoiding housework. Whatever.
In a few minutes, I’ll turn into the mean mom and wake up the kids. I’ll enforce the chore lists. I’ll hear “but I don’t want to” or “I did it last time” arguments about why they shouldn’t have to do a particular job. I’ll have to convince myself to do a particular job, let’s be honest. I’m also supposed to find time to do something with all of these apricots. (We’ll see if that actually happens.) (It probably won’t happen.) It will be such a busy day, it won’t feel like a day off at all.
It never does.
I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining. I’m obviously terrible at just sitting still. I mean, I could’ve gone back to bed a couple of hours ago and I didn’t. I could’ve sat quietly on the couch doing nothing and I didn’t. Here I am not doing “nothing” again. I’m obviously part of the problem. Or the root of the entire problem. Something.
Either way, I don’t have time to debate it. I have bedding to wash, floors to scrub, closets to clean out, grocery shopping to do, ceiling fans to dust and Gilda to blame for it. I’m swamped!
Saying YES to summer hasn’t looked like I thought it would. More pool time, like I promised. We’ve been good at that. We haven’t done quite as many Campfire Wednesdays as we hoped but we’re working on it. We seem … Continue reading
I know we didn’t LOSE yesterday, but every time I see a replay of that stupid header goal in the last 30 seconds of the game, I break out in hives. I don’t know how we escaped yesterday without taking any pictures, but we had the BEST time hanging out with friends. And stuffing our faces. (I’m still full, guys.) Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a BLAST watching games with some of our very favorite people. Lunch breaks at KBAR. Breakfast at one of our favorite taquerias? My uncle has created this incredible watching experience and I love that he includes us all.
I have to say, one of the funniest parts of hanging out with the family, is when my (husband’s) uncle introduces me as his niece. I’m not saying they don’t believe him. I’m just saying their expressions are funny. Sure, he could introduce me as his nephew’s wife, but I love that he doesn’t.
I mean COME ON with this. We are freaking hilarious.
You know you want to hang out and watch soccer with us.
Every year around this time, I start shutting down a little. Late spring and summer are very busy for me at work, so it’s hard to welcome it with open arms. The guilt of a 40+ hour work week becomes … Continue reading
Sometimes I forget that this space here is mine. I mean, you all are welcome here in this space at any time. You don’t even have to take off your shoes and I won’t even be mad if you eat … Continue reading
Get up at 4:30 in the morning. You’re solo-parenting this week so you have to get completely ready for work before taking kids to school. You also need to go in early because there’s a track meet to attend this … Continue reading
When my kids were little, living room dance parties was just something we did and a huge part of who we were. I can vividly remember the girls being so little and getting down and getting funky as only toddlers and preschoolers can. The Now and Then soundtrack was on constant rotation back in those days. Sugar, Sugar was our jam. (There is also sugar IN jam. So that sentence seems oddly appropriate.)
Life happens in strange ways sometimes, though. We found ourselves selling our house and, not long after, we moved in with my in-laws. My husband started a business and went back to school. Nothing was the same and everything was up in the air. Our routines were 100% disrupted. Traditions that we used to have went by the wayside. Being a parent in my own home became difficult.
Just being myself became difficult.
During that time, very rarely was I a “relaxed” mom that could have fun with my kids. I have a lot of regrets about the kind of mother I was back then, but my biggest regret was not being able to let my guard down. If ever I want to drive myself to the brink of insanity, I can try to imagine the mom I *could’ve been* if I could’ve been the mom that I started out to be. In fact, just typing that sentence caused an elephant come sit on my chest. Regret is an ugly, ugly reality.
A tragic casualty of not being able to be myself was the lack of dance parties in our family. It just wasn’t the same. *I* wasn’t the same. Letting go and letting loose wasn’t something I could do under the circumstances. I realize that you can still be a decent and wonderful human being without dance parties, but it was more than that. It was almost like we lost the ability to truly feel joy. In my opinion, dancing exemplifies joy. And when you are lost in life, you don’t always know what joy looks like. Even if you know that it used to look like dance parties, etc.
I was devastated the first time I realized that I had allowed this part of my girls’ childhood to be locked up. I remember times that I tried to get them to dance at a wedding or a party and it was like I was asking them to pull off their own toes. I already have plenty of guilt of being such a young mom and how hard it was to raise tiny humans. Now I found myself feeling guilty for so much more.
Years passed before the four of us found ourselves with a little more freedom to be ourselves. It was a breath of fresh air, but it would take quite some time before we could feel comfortable with letting our guard down. In fact, it would take years. There’s even a part of me that believes that a shift began to happen when Paisley joined our family. I know, I know…that sounds a little nuts. But that fuzzy little muppet thawed something inside all of us. Being completely goofy over a pet can help tear down some pretty strong barriers.
But it’s when we bought and moved into our new home last summer when I saw the biggest shift of all. Even with all the weirdness and orange walls, we somehow knew we were home from the beginning. To this day, several months later, I can’t explain how much I love coming home every day. When I turn on our street, I breathe a sigh of relief. The gratitude is immeasurable. Because everything I ever wanted for my family (and was never sure I would get) is in this home. For 16+ years, I dreamed of having this feeling. For 16+ years, I wished and prayed for this soft place to land.
I try really hard to not have regret. I do. I really do. I try to be present and be grateful for all that we have now. But there is a piece of my heart that is broken for all the years that we didn’t have this feeling of contentment and peace. I feel sadness for the years that our family was so uprooted and a little bit lost.
The past few months, the shifts and the changes that I’ve seen in my family have been something to behold. I hesitate to use a word like magical, but it just the word I want to use right now. Life isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. It’s not supposed to be. But when you can visibly see walls that were built up start to crumble, you take notice. When you can see your children allow themselves to be a tiny bit more vulnerable and open, there’s this sense of relief that can’t be explained. And while the dance parties haven’t returned quite yet, singing at the top of our lungs has. It’s different than our loud music days in the car. It’s wearing your heart on your sleeve, pure joy in a song, belting out as loud as you can singing that only comes from being silly and the freedom if being ourselves. And being ourselves feels so damn good. I’ve really, really missed it.
My husband and I watched the closing ceremonies of the Olympics last night. I know that you are completely shocked by us watching anything Olympics, but sometimes we actually do watch TV together. (If this was an email or text, … Continue reading
There are times when I worry about how much I share about my children here. I know I don’t use their real names, but they know this website exists. I’m sure they’ll read it at some point. I don’t feel so much reservation about sharing the sweet stories. Those are special moments that I want them to know. But, as we all know, mothering isn’t always the sweet and sappy stuff. Sometimes being a mom is damn hard. Those stories are a little harder to tell. Well, they are a little harder to tell when you imagine one of your children reading it.
I have wonderful children. I do. They are beautiful and loving and smart and amazing and they kick all kinds of ass. But my children are human. (No, really.) Being human means having bad days, testing the waters, break rules, making poor choices. You know, like ALL OF US.
My job as a parent means that I establish rules and boundaries that apply to our family. When those boundaries are challenged and when rules are broke, there are consequences. It is important to understand rules and boundaries and what happens when they’re not followed because this is practice for REAL LIFE in the world as an adult. Even though we all know plenty of adults that never learned this lesson, I’d rather my children not be counted among them. I hope they become good citizens of earth and all that.
I understand my job as a parent. But sometimes it just really sucks.
Each of us have times when we are not are best. I feel like I am a terrible person for the entire month of September most years. (I hate back to school. I don’t even want to talk about it.) But just because I’m having a bad month, I still have to follow the normal life rules.
Which is what I need to remember as I’m parenting my children.
Ramona and I are not speaking the same language lately. We are just…well, we’re a little off kilter. I vaguely remember a similar situation when Beezus started middle school. It’s not an easy time for them. There were a lot of changes for both of them at this age. (New schools and areas where they didn’t really know anyone.) Middle school is hard. It’s a lot more work. Socially, there is a lot to navigate and learn. I get it. I do. But getting used to all of the change isn’t a free pass to whatever they want. I still have to be the parent that enforces our household rules and boundaries that have been set. Even if it means that I feel like I’m going insane. And right now I really feel like I’m going insane.
The hard part is admitting that I am part of the problem. I let her push so many of my buttons, I lose my patience early on in the game. There many evenings after work where I became so frustrated that the things I asked her to do weren’t getting done. Or there was so much attitude directed RIGHT at The Dude and I, we almost didn’t fit in the same room together. But since I lost my patience so quick, we never fully resolved the situation.
So she lost most ‘screen time’ of any kind. Even though it started as a punishment, it ended up freeing up her mind for other things. Things like focusing more on homework and reading and getting her chores done. We also created a different structure for her for after school. Believe it or not, so far it’s helping. It’s not perfect, but it’s helping.
You know those old CB or walkie talkie radios? You had to be on the same channel so you could hear your buddy on the other end? And sometimes one of you was one channel off. You could still hear them talking, but there was so much garbled noise and static, you couldn’t really understand what they were saying. So you work together and switch the channels up or down and then all of a sudden, they come in loud and clear and you’re all BREAKER BREAKER DUDE I HEAR WHAT YOU ARE SAYING, 1040. Or whatever was your favorite thing to say on walkie talkies.
That’s what it’s like parenting Ramona. I’ve been a parent to that amazing kid for 11 years, and she never ceases to amaze me. But she also challenges me in surprising and unexpected ways. Just when I think we’re on to something, we have to alter the course. She keeps me on my toes. My parenting style has to change. Our communication needs to be adjusted. There are times I feel like a complete parenting failure until I realize that we need to step back, regroup…and make some changes on our walkie talkie channel so that we can understand each other again. It’s not a bad thing. It just is. I need to remember it when I find myself at my wits end and feeling like I’m at the end of my rope. I don’t need a complicated equation…I just need to switch that channel and listen for her. Inevitably, she’s coming in loud and clear.
I made a batch of apple butter this weekend. No one is more surprised than I am that I pulled it off but I have honestly been stepping outside my kitchen comfort zone. Okay, I stepped outside of it TWICE in the past month, but still. APPLE BUTTER WAS MADE.
I know that, for some of you, this doesn’t sound like a huge deal. But for me? Well, at some point in the past 10 years, I’ve convinced myself that I’m a terrible cook. I’m not saying I’m chef material, but it was a pretty harsh statement when in reality, I’m just really effing busy. I think that when I added “mother of two” to the list of jobs that I possessed, cooking became a really big chore. I just simply didn’t have time for it. By the time I got home from work…well, cooking loses all it’s fun when you don’t even have time to go to the bathroom by yourself.
Life just got busier and busier. And my time and patience for cooking fell further away. I still had a few things that I could cook well, but that wasn’t very exciting. And then, by fault of me caring too much about what other people thought, I felt very self-conscious about my cooking. I had gone from She Who Doesn’t Have Time to She Who Cannot Boil Water.
(Note: my husband and children have always been very sweet about my cooking. As such, their opinions still matter. Some.)
At some point in the past year, I have found that I enjoy cooking. Not all the time. (I’m still effing busy.) But I have found that I love finding that creative side of me when cooking something up in the kitchen. I have tried to make things that I’ve had in restaurants even if I don’t have a recipe. (I maybe try this more often with adult beverages, but whatever IT’S PRACTICE.) I find a recipe I want to try, but I always tweak it to my taste. And when I started to panic (again) that my grandmother won’t live forever and I still hadn’t figured out how to make her apple butter, well…I finally did it. No, it’s not as good as hers (how could it be) and I didn’t make it like she does, but dammit. I made it. For whatever reason, that’s a taste of my childhood and it was super important to me to know how to make it when it comes time for my gram to…retire her apple butter making skills.
I know. It’s just apple butter. But it represents what can happen when I stop thinking the worst of myself and I get out of my own way. In doing so, I have this special (delicious) memory that I can continue and pass on. It’s a step in the right direction.
Or outside the kitchen comfort zone.
I’ve had writer’s block for almost two weeks. I can’t decide if it’s because I don’t know what to say, or I don’t know how to say what I want. I have things that I want to talk about…to write about…to hash out and try and make sense of things that don’t always make sense. I want to start conversations and get the ball rolling. I want to be creative and wake up that side of my brain that seems to be sleeping away the rest of 2013.
We had a wonderful Christmas. We enjoyed spending time with family. We surprised the hell out of my mother in-law on Christmas Eve with visiting family from Mexico. I still get verklepmt when I think about how excited she was (and still is.) My sister came to town a few days ago, so we’ve been spending time with her and her family, too. We’ve gone to a hockey game, we’ve gone to Apple Hill…we’ve tried new things around town that we’ve never tried before. I’ve spent time with friends. I’ve enjoyed my family.
So maybe it’s not that I have true writer’s block. Maybe my energy has just been spent on being present and enjoying my loved ones.
Maybe sometimes you just need to realize that you’re where you need to be.
I’ve taken some time to think back on 2013. To say it’s been a big and busy year is a tremendous understatement.
I started Life of Jill.
I chopped off all my hair. Because of course.
Sarah and I ran the Tinkerbell Half Marathon.
Ramona turned 11.
I was a cast member of Listen to Your Mother – Sacramento.
Beezus went to prom.
I went to a couple of amazing conferences.
Campfire Wednesday was the best thing to happen to summer.
We bought a house.
A Giants game where they lost, but we had a blast.
We met some amazing people and had some amazing experiences along the way.
Beezus turned 16.
Ramona started middle school.
My brother got married.
Paisley turned 1.
Cap City Moms became a (softly launched) reality.
Celebrated 16 years of marriage.
College Visits? Ooph.
I enjoyed the hell out of my family and friends.
That’s not even all of it. Not even a little bit!
Yeah, there were stressful and hard times and sad times mixed in. But when I think about 2013, there were some pretty badass things that I’ll be celebrating tonight.
And maybe that’s where I get stuck.
I focus so much on the past. I am celebrating a fantastic year coming to an end. I think about all the good that happened. I am thinking about all the fun that was had and all the love that was shared. But for some reason, I get stuck on how great things were, and I have difficulty looking ahead. I prepare myself for disappointment in 2014 because 2013 was so rad? That’s a pretty piss-poor way to do things if you ask me.
I basically have about 15 hours to celebrate and enjoy the end of a very awesome 2013 and snap myself into realizing that 2014 could be even more. More fun. More family time. More awesome. IT COULD HAPPEN.
Instead of sitting here worrying about what could go wrong. I should focus on all that is so totally right.
Life is what happens when you’re too busy making plans, right? Well, sometimes you can’t even make plans because you’re stuck looking back at the past and trying to walk into the new year backwards.
So yes…I have 15 hours to celebrate an awesome year. But I also have 15 hours to turn myself around and start walking face forward and get ready for what an amazing year 2014 will be.
Happy New Year, everyone.
The past few days have given me pause top post anything here until I get over my rage. Okay, I haven’t had constant rage for a week, but…well, a good part of it. Our life is insane with two parents … Continue reading
So, the our anniversary weekend didn’t go as planned. My in-laws were going to take the girls Saturday night but ended coming down with a bug. They still were expecting and willing to take the girls, but we just felt … Continue reading
It’s hard to raise children in the Miley Cyrus “do what we want to” society. I could take the time to find the real name to that song, but I just don’t want to. I usually change the station whenever it comes on the radio. Mostly because I’d get a mental image of twerking and oversized stuffed animals and there’s not enough bleach for my brain. But also because I’m trying to teach my kids about consequences. Because that’s a real part of life. The kind of real life that not everyone likes to talk about.
My dad used to make a big deal about reminding us kids about consequences. And even if we rolled our eyes every time you brought it up, Dad…we listened. I didn’t have a conference call just now with all my siblings, I’m totally basing this on the lives that we all lead. We actually paid attention to what you said and all five of us are upstanding citizens raising kids that are looking like they will carry on the Upstanding Citizens title.
Because of consequences. And the knowledge that every choice and every decision has a consequence.
Oftentimes, when we hear the word “consequence” we immediately think of a bad result of something we did.
I drove to fast. Thanks for the ticket, Mr. Policeman!
I lied to my mom. Now I’m in trouble.
I ate that giant cupcake. Now my giant ass is gianter.
But all consequences aren’t bad. Making good choices and good decisions lead to, sometimes, the most amazing consequences.
I worked hard on that project. I feel accomplished and people respect my work.
I washed my windshield. Holy crap, I can actually see out this window.
I hugged my child instead of yelling. We both feel better and are actually talking out the problem.
Don’t get me wrong…none of us are perfect and we’re all going to make mistakes.
That’s not what this is about. It’s the mentality that so many people have that what they do doesn’t matter. That they can “do what they want to” and no one else is affected.
“It’s our life and we can do what we want to.”
That’s true. It is yours and you can. And you can sing with your tongue hanging out and twerk your way through life doing all the things you want.
But there are consequences. Even if it’s only complete and total shame when looking back 20 years from now. (But, then again, maybe no one will care.)
Telling your kids they can be anything they want is absolutely true. But I don’t believe that gives them a free pass to do whatever they want. And I have reached this level of frustration that I can’t even explain. I just feel it. I feel it every time I see something in the news where “doing what you want” lands a group of college kids in jail and lives ruined. Or when I hear about a middle school aged child bringing a weapon to school. When someone drives under the influence. When a celebrity (and countless others) die of a drug overdose. Or when someone doesn’t pay attention to where they start their campfire.
There are consequences. Sometimes terrible and tragic and sad ones.
I know there are extenuating circumstances that can’t all be addressed here. There are exceptions to my rant and I do try to find compassion for those that can’t understand. Or who haven’t been given the tools to understand.
My frustration comes from the blatant disregard for life’s consequences. Those that seek to hurt others. To break rules without caring. Or those that just don’t care in general. We are not invincible. And our actions affect other people.
In our family, we talk a lot about choices. Making good choices. How happiness is a choice. And how our choices and decisions have consequences.
With all the songs and TV shows and news reports that give examples otherwise, I hope it’s enough. I hope my conversations matter to my kids. Even if they just humor me right now (yeah, sorry about that Dad) I hope that it leaves an impression on them like it did me. I hope they can remember just how important consequences are.
Nothing snaps you back to reality after a fun wedding weekend filled with family like a puking kid early (EARLY) Monday morning. We’ll all just sit here and be incredibly relieved that Pukeapalloosa 2013 didn’t ruin any wedding festivities. I … Continue reading
I’m not even sure I could explain it. Even if I wanted to. I mean…it’s a coffee mug. It started off as something fun to post on Instagram. And then turned into an reoccurring theme. Like Flat Stanley who takes trips … Continue reading
I had visited your family the day I found out and had said nothing. I’m pretty sure we watched Bed of Roses so it was easy to keep quiet. Your mom knew something was up. I wasn’t myself. But I … Continue reading
I’m trying to reorganize my life. That sounds a tad overdramatic, but it’s actually kind true. My life is busy and crazy, but it also changes quite a bit. Whatever system we try to use to keep us on track may not work after a few months because someone’s schedule changes or we have a new things added to the to-do list. And sometimes, we just need to press the reset button and figure our shit out.
Beezus, The Dude and I all use a shared (iCloud) calendar to try and organize some of the crazy. But there’s always something that can’t be tracked on that sort of device. I mean, I know it doesn’t make sense, but some tasks and reoccurring appointments that are easier to track on a visible calendar or white board where the entire family can see it.
After weeks like last week and this weekend, I faced today knowing that we needed to reassess our plan of attack. Our current system just isn’t working for our life right now. And while life may settle down in a few months (yeah right) we need a way to keep things more on track.
I also am still waiting for someone to figure out how to get more hours in a day. I still need sleep. But I need more time to accomplish all this.
After a trip to Target, I feel like I’ve made a good start. (Office supplies, FTW!) I’ve picked up a couple of supplies to (hopefully) help. I need to revisit daily tasks that need to be done as well as those tasks that need to be done weekly. (And a way to track/remind myself what needs to be done.) I need to figure out meal planning because we are only home in the evening one night a week right now. (I KNOW.) Life is super overwhelming right now because just keeping everything straight is next to impossible.
Last week I posted something on Facebook that I kinda felt bad about afterwards.
Not everyone makes the same choices as me. I get that. And sometimes I have a hard time when people say that I should do things this way or that. (Ok, I often have a hard time with that.) When your priorities and choices are different, your life will not make sense to anyone else. It just better make sense to you. All this craziness needs to be worth it in some way, shape or form. And life balance? Sometimes just doesn’t exist.
I spent pretty much the entire weekend watching my kid play softball. The same kid who also had homecoming Saturday night. And whose team made it to the championship game Sunday evening. She’s busy. And our weekend was busy supporting her. But I have no regrets that I was there and didn’t miss it.
Even if that means that today I’m faced with EVERYTHING that needs to be done.
So here’s to a little reorganization. It seems like a perfect time to re-think how we do things. Fall just feels like a natural time to make some changes, even if this is probably something I should’ve done a long time ago.
Now is as good of time as any.
Yesterday I left work around 5:45. I was already running late to pick up Beezus from school and water polo practice when she called me.
“Um…do you have my softball bag?”
“Uh…no. Did you put it in my car?”
“Um…no. Ok. I’ll just tell coach that I’ll be late to batting practice so we can go home and get it.”
“Can’t you just use someone else’s bat?”
(Exasperated sigh from both of us.)
We don’t live close to her school. We live slightly closer to where batting practice was, but driving ALL the way home and then basically ALL the way back wasn’t going to work for me. I was already solo-parenting it last night. Dropping Beezus off late would’ve made me late getting home for Ramona when my parents dropped her off.
I have nothing planned for dinner. I also don’t have much to make into dinner.
Being sick all last week has put me behind on all household things. Although, my house is pretty clean, thank you husband and my short breaks from feeling poopy.
(I still don’t feel all that great. But at least I’m better than I was.)
Ramona still had homework to do when she got home. I worry about her getting it done and still getting to bed on time.
Feed the dog. Clean up…after the dog.
Husband, thankfully, was able to pick up Beezus from batting practice, but I was already in the car and a quarter of the way there when he called. (I had no problem making THAT U-turn to head back home.)
Help Ramona with her homework. Remind Ramona that she needs to finish homework and hurry to bed because it’s getting late.
Laundry. Damn. That should’ve been started hours ago. I rushed to get that going. OH BUT WAIT. I forgot that I washed towels two days ago. So, yeah…THOSE need to be washed again.
Do we have anything for lunches? NO. No we do not. So to the grocery story I go. At 10 o’clock at night. Knowing that I have to be up at 4:30 to help get Beezus and The Dude out the door by 5am. (Tuesday mornings at our house suck eggs, y’all.) (The Dude offered to go to the store. But helping with high school math is way harder than a grocery store trip. I made him stay home.)
I try to not feel guilty that I toss crap like Uncrustables in my cart. Sure, PB&J are the easiest sandwiches in the world to make…but let’s go ahead and make it easier on Jill because I’M STILL NOT DONE WITH OTHER SHIT ONCE I GET HOME FROM THE GROCERY STORE. There’s lots of other good and healthy food in my cart, so I try to make myself feel better. Except…what is my family going to eat for dinner tomorrow while I’m gone at an event? Probably should grab something for them…
Get home and start the load of laundry that I needed to start HOURS ago. Put those pesky towels in the dryer.
Put away groceries. Stopped feeling bad about Uncrustables when I think about how all lunches are practically made.
Send some emails that I meant to send hours ago. Love that emails can be sent so late.
Put clothes in the dryer.
Head to bed. Pretend that I’m going to bed at 9 and not midnight. Laugh at earlier in the day when I thought I might be able to go to bed early.
Remind myself to be grateful that not all nights are like this.
I haven’t been running much lately. Or at all, really. But it makes me feel better if I can say it the other way. I mean, I do realize life has been insane. We’re always on the go. I don’t … Continue reading
I have written several paragraphs for a few different blog posts that I can’t seem to grab on to. I think this one is my fourth try. (Apparently the third time is NOT the charm. I’ll speak to someone about … Continue reading
There are many (MANY) people in my “real life” that don’t know I have a blog. For the record, I hate the term “real life” because this blog is part of my REAL LIFE, but you get what I’m trying to say. There are friends that I’ve had for years that don’t know that I have a piece of internet real estate right here. There are family members that don’t know a thing about this. And I don’t know how to handle the possibility that they will.
I blog semi-anonymously. Mostly because of someone’s job, but also because I think I’m fairly protective of my on-line presence. I mean, I use MY real name. And my dog’s really name. But no one else’s. (Unless you have a blog of your own. Then all bets are off.) I usually don’t remember I’m a control freak. Until something like putting my website link on my Instagram account made me break out in a cold sweat. Because there are people in my life that follow me on IG that don’t know I have a blog. I like all of those people. What the hell is my problem?
So then I try to remember why I even started writing and blogging in the first place. Because I had something to say. A story to tell. Words to share. I love reading other blogs because I’m fascinated by other people and their stories. I love creativity. I love learning. Why couldn’t it be possible that someone feels that way about what I’ve got going on here? (I’m not saying they do or they don’t. But the possibility is there. I think.)
I feel like an asshole even writing this, but if I’m going to be honest…well, I’m going to have to be honest about this too.
Which also includes telling myself how stupid I’m being:
If any person I know in real life asked about any post that I wrote, I would be honest with them. Things they might learn about me that they might not know? I’m a mess when I think about my kid going off to college. I have bad days/weeks/months. I meet and work with some awesome people in this crazy internet world. I worry about my kids starting new schools. I love that damn dog more than I (sometimes) let on. I was a teen mom/college dropout. I love my family more than anything. Campfire Wednesday is my new favorite thing. I’m a hot mess when I think about my kid going off to college. (Yes, it deserves to be on the list twice.)
What is so wrong with people knowing this about me? I’m Jill. This is me and this is who I am. This website just might show a different side than they’re used to seeing. More than they bargained for at times. But…I mean, is that so wrong?
I’ll try to stop being and idiot asshole tomorrow.
quote photo credits here.
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When we decided to put an offer on the house, we knew we would have some work to do. Every homeowner is…different. They probably loved their (horrible) orange and green and yellow colored (and sometimes sponge painted) walls. And, honestly, … Continue reading
The thing about having your oldest child start her junior year of high school AND turn sixteen in the same week is that it makes you a bit nutty. Or raving effing lunatic. Whatever. You’re a nut job that is … Continue reading
I cried for more than half my commute today.
This is one of those things that you really (probably) shouldn’t admit to the internet, but there you have it. I did a lot of crying on the way to work today after I dropped Ramona off at her first day of middle school. And, by some crazy luck, I didn’t destroy all of my makeup that I had already applied. Apparently, I’m an excellent car crier. However, if you saw me crying on the freeway, please don’t tell me what that looked like. I for reals don’t want to know.
Every now and again, as it is well documented here, I have trouble with my kids getting older. I’m a big ‘ol baby about all of it and I cry just talking about it. In my defense, I spent many years being completely immune to the milestones, so I’m making up for lost time. Or I’m really just in a panic now that it’s close to sending one of my kids off to college. Or maybe I’m just the b00biest of b00bs and I cry a lot.
(I also keep typing “cry” as “cray” and I find that this blog post is trying to tell me something.)
I had a feeling that today would be hard for me. I’m not ready to let go of summer and I’m certainly not ready for my “baby” to be this old sixth grader person in middle school. And I also had so many worries about this kid starting a brand new school in our brand new area where she doesn’t know anyone her age. She was so nervous. I, of course, don’t blame her one bit. And my heart broke about a 2,264 times when I thought about her and all her worries and fears and weird school dreams.
I’m glad that we did all that we could last night to make this morning run smoothly. She knew what she was going to wear. We went over the map of her classes and where she would need to go. We made lunches. We got the backpack all set up. We told her over and over how awesome she was. And reminded her again and again how much we love her.
And honestly? She did great this morning. She was nervous and couldn’t eat her breakfast, but she had a great attitude and a smile on her face. We parked about a block away so that we could all walk her up, and she kept grabbing my hand over and over until we got closer to the school buildings. I worried that she would feel embarrassed holding my hand, but she didn’t. And when we got closer to the school, I just let my hand rest on her back so that she didn’t have to worry about pulling her hand away or making me feel bad. She walked into her “homeroom” class and the three of us walked away.
So…yeah. I cried while I drove to work. And then I scolded myself because driving while crying is not the safest way to travel. I thought about how blessed I am and how grateful I am for these amazing kids that I have. And I tried to focus on all the gratitude as I turned on the radio to try to distract myself. I was flipping through the different channels when I heard a Steve Miller Band song that I used to sing (the chorus) to her because it’s one of the nicknames I call her. It’s not a song that gets played very often, so I kinda chuckled to myself. The song after that is one she really liked when it came out. So I smiled.
But then in an unexplainable coincidence (or maybe and probably not) on the same radio station, Joan Jett started playing. Blame Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, but I will never (EVER) forget how much my kid loved “I Hate Myself for Loving You” and how she would sing it at the top of her lungs. And as the song played while I was driving on the freeway, I pictured six-year-old Ramona singing her guts out as she battled it out on Guitar Hero. So it will surprise no one that the crying resumed at that time. In a very ugly fashion, I’m sure.
Everyone is quick to tell you how hard it is to be a mom and how fast time flies by. But it’s amazing how none of us really listen. We always roll our eyes and say “yeah, yeah…I know” as we clean up after the kid that just dumped cereal on her head. We ignore the warning as we drive all over God’s green earth taking each kid to their various sports practices. And then all of a sudden, you drop your kid off at her first day of sixth grade and a Joan Jett song has completely ruined you AND your makeup.
It is both wonderful and awful all at the same time. And, my goodness, is it hard.
You are not going to believe me, but I swear to you that the universe, God, and the radio station wanted to make this story a good one. Or they just wanted to see me cry a lot this morning. It’s probably the crying, but as I finally start to laugh at myself, and turn onto the street where my office is, Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” started to play. I shit you not.
I laughed just as much as I cried.
And then vowed to start listening to a new radio station starting tomorrow.
I’m stuck. It’s my own fault. I don’t know what ‘unstuck’ looks like. I’ve been too busy with being so busy, I haven’t stopped for two seconds and figure things out. I haven’t really been listening. I haven’t really been … Continue reading
This one has had a rough week. It started with a tick found when she was getting groomed. For a dog that spends more than 95% of her life indoors, finding a tick isn’t what I was expecting. I tried … Continue reading