Five Things

Hey, it’s November 1! Even though we gain an hour tonight there’s a very good chance I’m going to pass out from wine consumption soon and miss the extra hour, so I’m taking the next 10 minutes to tell you five random things about me. Because Jana told me to.

And it’s the beginning of NaBloPoMo so YOLO and all that. Are the kids still saying YOLO? (Do I care?)

1. I’m named after my maternal grandmother and great-grandmother. The kids both have my middle name, but Joshua’s is the masculine version.

2. Once upon a time I wanted to be a voiceover actress person and voice Disney characters. This all began with The Little Mermaid and I’m still coming for you Jodi Benson.

3. My elbows are weird. Like, seriously weird. I cant lock my arms or my forearms bend at a weird angle and my arms look broken. It’s called “double jointed” but that’s dumb because it would mean I have four elbows, which I don’t.

4. I hate tomatoes. Being a southerner makes this damn near blasphemous. I think they’re beautiful when cut and arranged on a plate but come near me with a slice of one that isn’t green and fried and I’ll cry.

5. When I was 8 I wanted to be a pediatrician because I was the only kid in my 3rd grade class who could spell the word. That desire to be a doctor stuck with me until high school when it dawned on me how much I hated needles and shots.

And that’s 5 things about me. I’m not tagging people because, well, lots of people find that sort of thing annoying. I don’t want to be annoying. But I do want to hear five things about you if you want to tell me five things about you. So go and do that. (You know you want to.)

Cheers to Day One.

All Done

I DID IT! I did it! With this post I have posted every day for 30 days straight!

I KICKED NABLOPOMO ASS (and all I got was 30 blog posts).

I tried this last year and I made it about 15 days before I just gave up. There were a few times this month where I thought “meh, no one will care if I don’t do this.”

And you know what? That’s probably true. None of the people who read all 30 of these posts, or even a fraction of them, would have cared if I stopped. Some of them probably wanted to beg me to stop but were just too nice. (Looking at you, D.)

But I couldn’t let myself stop. I needed to finish to prove to myself that I could do it and now I’ve done it and now I might hibernate for the month of December. Maybe I’ll take a long winter’s nap.

That’s not true, by the way. I have posts itching to get out of my fingers. I’ll definitely be blogging in December.

My god. This was hard. And also not? But mostly it was hard.

It was hard to come up with new content every day, but content wasn’t the hardest part.

It was really hard to find time every day. As I look back over my blogging history, time has been the thing that has changed the most.

When I first started blogging, Joshua was an inside baby. I could write whenever I wanted. I’d blog in the evenings while Dan watched whatever. After Joshua was born, I blogged on my lunch break or after he was in bed.

Then I stopped writing at work because I couldn’t trust that my internet usage, even as benign as the WordPress dashboard may be, wouldn’t be used against me. Then I started writing in the evenings for TV Fanatic and as that picked up, my time to blog–to write for myself–became less and less.

Now with two kids and a part time job, there’s even less time. But the desire to blog is still there, and that’s what doing this taught me. I write every day, whether it’s for work or for me. I’m writing somewhere. I do it because I love to do it and because I have to do it. But also because I want to do it.

That’s why I blog. Because I want to. No matter what happens, deep down, I know I still want to write here.

Just maybe not every single day. At least not until next November.

Friday Five

I’ve been up since 5:30 this morning and I’m about to (probably) be up all night tonight thanks to what is apparently an allergy not only to scallops but now to all shellfish. Yay.

So on this, the eve of the end of NaBloPoMo, I bring you the Friday Five, which is really just a fanct and alliterative way for me to say “here are five random things that I’m thinking about that I’m going to tell you about because I’m still too exhausted to write the posts I actually want to write.”

ONE DAY I WON’T BE TOO TIRED! It will happen.

1. One year when I was home for Thanksgiving, I met up at Waffle House with some old friends who were also in town for the holiday. We were busy talking and drinking coffee and people kept coming in and we could not figure out WHERE all the people were coming from and WHY they were streaming in at 2:30 in the morning. Then we realized they were Black Friday shoppers getting breakfast before starting their day. We stayed until the second (or third) wave of breakfast-seekers wandered in after having been shopping. Basically, I spent the night people-watching in a Waffle House. Part of me–just a tiny, slivery part–misses being able to do nonsense like that.

2. Christmas stuff is sort of magical. I’m 31 years old and I geek out if a house strings up one strand of lights with only half the bulbs working. It can be the most half-assed display of decorations and I’ll ooooh and aaaaaahhhh like it’s that crazy Mannheim Steamroller house on YouTube. One day I’ll decorate the outside of my own house. The only thing that stops me is knowing that I have to take it all down. Taking down the decorations always makes me sad. (And I will inevitably look up sometime in February to see that the Nutcracker is still on the shelf and then I’ll put him away while frowning.)

3. I was a latchkey kid in elementary school. One year I unwrapped one side of my Christmas presents to see what all of them were and then taped the packages shut again. Then I was sad because I had ruined my own surprises but since I had done it to myself I couldn’t be too sad. One of my gifts that year was a set of hot rollers. I hated them and still to this day use my mom’s Conair set from…1980? They’re older than I am, I’m sure. And they still work just as well as the day she bought them. (I also stole her iron when I went to college. I feel like there’s some sort of correlation between the things I borrowed from my mom with no intention of returning them.)

4. I can’t decide if my tongue is tingling right now because I’m allergic to shellfish or if I’m just imagining that it’s tingling because I read that a tingling tongue is a side-effect of a shellfish allergy. I’m half-convinced I might die (half die?) and also half convinced that I’m a hypochondriac who needs to stop diagnosing herself with the internet. (But seriously. If I die, the King crab was probably as good a last meal as any, you know?)

5. It’s probably time to potty train Emma. I’m scared.

Blog Spam Is So Weird

I’m exhausted, kind of whiny, and I have a headache from too much coffee and not enough water. The thought required to string together words and phrases and make them intelligible is on its way out of the building.

But I’m also FOUR POSTS away from completing NaBloPoMo so I cannot give up. I can’t. FOUR POSTS AWAY. So let’s talk about blog spam, shall we?

Blog spam is so weird.

Blog spam comments are typically perpetrated by some sort of wizardry I don’t entirely understand. Most of it isn’t generated by humans and the computers spitting out this spam? Well, let’s just say they’re not Skynet.

A lot of it doesn’t make sense. At all. Sometimes it’s hilarious and sometimes it’s just weird. And sometimes it’s in Japanese. Most of the time it’s trying to sell something.

(Why does blog spam exist? Because when it’s not captured, it creates a link out there on the world wide web for whatever spammy site needs that sort of link juice. I definitely understand this but I definitely am not explaining this well. See also: extremely tired.)

I’m a fan of scrolling through my captured spam just to see what’s in there. And when I realized it was 9:00 and I hadn’t written today, despite having at least three things I want to write about but which require more humor than I’m capable of producing on my own, I decided to sift through my spam folder and pull out my very favorite ones and share them here.

This will probably be TERRIBLE for my SEO. (Or really great? No idea.)

On Tell All The Truth But Tell It Slant, in order to sell knockoff Hermes bags:

I am so satisfied finding this blog and I have to admit that all information stated here is really useful. I hope that youwill continue to post such great posts like this one in the future. Thanks a lot again.

and then this novella:

Truth is transparent, truth is universal, truth is ever lasting, truth is one and truth is god. It is very hard to hide the truth how much ever you try and therefore, being true is next to godliness. Truth does not fear anybody and it tries not to hide itself. But being always true is practically humanly impossible as someone said, if you cannot tell the truth, dont hide the truth. Speaking the truth gives a clear conscience, peace of mind, fearlessness in any situation and the courage to move bravely on in life. Truth is so powerful that even god cannot hide it and will stay on, as long as the sun and the moon exist. Cultivate the habit of being true by sending the following quotes to your friends or others. Truth is the accomplice that will come with you till the end of your life and beyond.

Alright. So. Some…uh…truth…there.

On Broken Mama Heart, apparently to protect the native (angry) birds:

UPDATE: Due to some comments suggesting illegal action on this article, comments are now closed. Sadly some people cannot seem to understand our laws relating to native birds.

On Parenting: You’re Doing It, for unexplained reasons but maybe something to do with the price of gold?:

It’s difficult for most parents to allow their kids to play video games for hours and hours every day. I know, so I spend a lot of time reading about the effects of video games to understand the dilemma. And the first thing I’ll tell you is that research based on “screen time” which includes television, concludes that it’s detrimental to kids in large doses. Research specific to video games shows largely positive effects from high engagement .

and

There are all these new books out there portraying Asian mothers as scheming, callous, overdriven people indifferent to their kids’ true interests. For their part, many Chinese secretly believe that they care more about their children and are willing to sacrifice much more for them than Westerners, who seem perfectly content to let their children turn out badly. I think it’s a misunderstanding on both sides. All decent parents want to do what’s best for their children. The Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that.

How dare you let your kids play video games in large doses but if you do make sure they’re highly engaged? Go get ’em, Tiger moms?

On Listen To Your Mother, Atlanta, to sell me Lululemons (which don’t even come in my size):

Before we take our relationship further (if you want to), I want to state that you have to change as a lover and become more responsive and more attentive to the person you are in bed with and might be in a relationship with. Heres an indication of how selfish you were in bed: [Link to video redacted because I wasn’t born yesterday.]

And finally, this one, on In Defense of Selfies, five times.

So, I take lots of pictures. I blog. I pray. And I try to remember to filter my reactions through my love for her.

Hey, so do I, Spambot. So do I.

How I Knew He Was The One

When I was in college, I lived alone. At least for a while. While I lived alone, I got a cat. Because I wanted a companion and also because I was an English major and also because, hey, I was alone. And sort of in a quagmire of aloneness where it seemed appropriate to have a cat.

His name was Cooper. He was kind of an asshole.

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This is Cooper at around…8 months old? 10 months old? I don’t know. Under a year and way less fluffy and fat than he eventually got around to being.

So I was alone and also lonely. Then I got a new roommate. Then one night my roommate and I went out and we met Dan. And the story of that night is maybe the first story I should be telling, but I’m not telling it right now because it’s late and I’m tired.

But I met Dan and he and I started dating and Cooper kept being an asshole.

He peed in places he shouldn’t be peeing. Like the bed. Or folded towels. Or dirty laundry in the basket. (And also not in the basket. My bad.)

Dan was not Cooper’s biggest fan. Cooper was not Dan’s biggest fan. They both mostly liked me though so we sort of made it work, the three of us.

Cooper used to do this ridiculous thing where he’d get all high on his own energy and start running laps around my living room. One day he made the loop. The loop that went something like fly across the carpet, jump onto the couch, run as fast as you can across the couch, leap across the coffee table and onto the arm chair before cat-apaulting yourself into the floor and then do it all over again.

If you’ve spent any time with cats you know what I’m talking about here.

So Cooper was running the Kitty 500 in the living room one Friday night and then he broke his leg.

Yes. A cat. Who should always–supposedly–land on his feet. With a broken leg. Except I didn’t know it was broken. I thought he’d just landed funny.

The next morning I went to work at the bank and Dan volunteered to take the cat to the vet for me where they sedated and X-rayed the feline and probably did all sorts of undignified things.

Cats are nothing if not proud of themselves and their dignity.

I got a phone call at work “Hey, so Cooper’s leg is broken. They think a splint will do it. It’s going to be about $350.”

I nearly fainted. $350. On the cat’s leg. That was, well, that was A LOT of noodle-and-sauce-only spaghetti.

“So, I know you’re kind of tight with money, so I’m going to go ahead and take care of this for you.”

Dan paid the bill. Even though he hated the cat. (The hating the cat thing is kind of important.)

I cried. My Cooper! Broken leg! $350! Dan paid it! He’s the BEST! And then I went on back to work in the drive-thru.

And then I got another phone call. I could hear Cooper in the background meowing and quite obviously unhappy. He hadn’t even made that much noise the night before when he’d fallen off the chair and broken his leg in the first place.

Dan was frantic. Panicky.

“So, something, uh, happened…when I tried to get Cooper out of the crate and I don’t know what to do and he’s really in a lot of pain and he’s hurt and I don’t know what to do” and he choked up a little bit. And I cried again.

He hated the cat and he was near tears because the poor thing was hurting. I raced home and my mind flew between “THIS GUY IS A KEEPER!” to “MY POOR KITTY CAT!!” to “OMG! AN EMERGENCY VET VIST!” and “THIS GUY IS A KEEPER!”

We took Cooper to the emergency vet who put an actual cast on his leg–purple, which looked lovely against his orange fur. And then we went home to snuggle the poor, broken-legged kitty. Together.

I knew he was the one because of the way he treated a hurt animal. With compassion and concern.

(I later found out that I was allergic to the asshole who continued to pee everywhere, including the carpet and a couch, which is part of the reason he no longer resides here–the allergy part, not the peeing everywhere part–and went to live with an aunt who wasn’t allergic and also had no kids. Cooper was an asshole who hated kids. And I am allergic to cats.)

Kidographer

Joshua has a Fisher-Price camera. It was a gift for his 2nd birthday or maybe 3rd Christmas. I can’t remember. We’ve had it for at least two years though.

In the great dining room conversion, we unearthed said camera and it occurred to me that I’ve never dumped photos off of it before. So I decided to do that. Two years worth of photos, guys.

Looking at the world from a kid’s eye view is both awesome and a little drunk. But mostly awesome. Here are some of my favorite shots.

Dan’s arm:

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One of us definitely took this one, but can we just take a minute to appreciate how my baby boy looked like an actual baby here?

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Toys are important:

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Mom is important, too. (P.S. One of the photos on this camera is a picture of a very, very pregnant me in my bra and underwear taken, apparently, one morning while I was getting dressed for work. Be glad I didn’t share that one with you. Holy god, I was huge.)

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Grilled cheese:

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Thought this was Jesus. Nope. Just a scarecrow magnet:

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My kid and his trains.

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He had a little tiny toy camera viewfinder thing and he used to say “You take a picture of me taking a picture of you!”

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Tiny Emma!!!

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This is my Daddy.

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Yep. Just an end table. And Daddy’s arm.

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LOL. No idea. But baby hands.

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His name!

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Hahahhahahahhaah. Hahahahha. Oh, Annie girl.

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Hi, Dan!

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Making The Cut

When it comes to interactions with others, I’ve realized that sometimes people just aren’t making the cut anymore and you have to let them go.

Things, too, but mostly people.

It’s hard, but sometimes there’s no other way. It has to happen. When people (or things) take more out of my life than they put in it, they aren’t making the cut and they don’t get to stay.

I’m not sure when I started making these cuts. I’m never dramatic about it. I prefer the gradual drift-apart where you just respond less and less and then suddenly it’s been months since you talked. But it’s on purpose and you know it. Maybe the other person doesn’t. Maybe that’s wrong.

Maybe when we start making cuts we need to say “hey, so, we’re not really going to be friends anymore. FYI.” but that seems unnecessarily hurtful. The slow drift is best.

It’s a survival thing, I think. When you spend a lot of your life on your own and taking care of yourself by yourself, you have to make judgment calls about where you expend your energies, and if you’re expending your energies by filling other people up, all you’re doing is draining your own tanks.

I’ve lamented how few friends I have where we live and how difficult it is, at 31 years old, to make new ones, but I think what I’m realizing is that  my tolerance for the people who take more than they give is just really low. I don’t have enough extra time in my day to spend what I do have trying to build a relationship by myself.

Relationships are two-way streets, and while there won’t always be a 50/50 balance with the ins and outs of our relationships, they can get really lopsided if we let them. So we can’t let them. If we can’t course-correct, it’s time to find a new course.

But I think that’s what life is supposed to be. It’s an ebb and flow of people and experiences brought into our lives to be there for what we need in that moment. A lesson or an ear to listen or maybe we get lucky and the friendship sticks.

It’s okay to drop the dead weight in your life. It’s okay to excise those who aren’t making the cut anymore.

That just makes more room for those who are.

All I Want For Christmas Is A Hogwarts Letter

It seems I may have actually birthed Hermione Granger, you guys.

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No, our last name is not Watson. Yes, I won’t have a problem if my Emma follows in that Emma’s footsteps, particularly if somehow this lands me a trip to platform 9 and 3/4 to send my mudblood off to the best school for wirtchcraft and wizardry ever to exist (in our hearts).

P.S. This is Emma’s–my Emma’s–first school craft. God bless the handprint turkeys, right?

Throwback Thursday: First Grade Me

Awesome 80s photo backdrops

Say hi to First Grade Me.

During the process of redecorating and moving things around to make this office space and playroom, I came across this picture and a portfolio I had to create for one of my introductory teaching courses. I’m not sure why I used a picture of me in the first grade in the portfolio, but I can imagine it had something to do with this being one of the only pictures I had available. Or it was because of how idealistically I remember viewing the world back then.

Well, what I can remember from back then, that is. It was 2.5 decades and two children ago. I’ve slept and also not slept since then.

But I do remember a few things.

I remember being in the advanced reading group and arguing with the teacher about how to spell my last name. She insisted there was a Z in it and even wrote it with a Z on my reader. I, in all of the righteous indignation a first grader can muster, insisted that there was NOT a Z in my last name. She looked it up. I was correct. The next day I had a new reader.

I also remember when corporal punishment was still a thing.

We had assigned seats at lunch and mine was next to this girl I didn’t like. She wouldn’t talk to me. Every day I sat there with my Care Bears lunchbox and she leaned down the table to talk to people on the other side of us, lifting her butt out of the seat like we weren’t supposed to do.

So one day, while she had her first grade butt lifted in the air, I moved her chair. She splatted onto the floor in the cafeteria and begain wailing like I’d broken her tailbone and crushed her life.

Our teacher heard her cries (as did the rest of the world, I’m certain) and came rushing over to see what had happened. I played innocent, but she saw through me. She knew I’d been up to no good.

I cracked in about .02 seconds. Hey, I was 6.

We left the cafeteria and made the single-file walk back to our classroom, me beside the teacher at the back of the line. When we arrived, she told me to stand on the wall just outside the classroom door. So I did.

After she got the class settled, she came back out into the hallway with me, paddle in her hands. And we waited. In order to paddle me, she needed another adult present. The other first grade class had art after lunch and their teacher was taking her sweet, sweet time returning to her room.

I, meanwhile, was sweating bullets in that hallway.

Eventually, my teacher got tired of waiting for her neighbor’s return and took me back inside the classroom.

I lost all of my popsicle sticks and missed recess for an entire week, but I had dodged the paddling bullet. Hooray!

I never pulled a chair out from underneath anyone ever again. And I had a new seat at lunch for the rest of the year, right next to my first grade best friend.

It’s Okay To Tell My Daughter She’s Pretty. And Smart.

Emma’s not a fan of getting dressed. Actually, that’s not entirely true. It’s more like she’s a fan of running away from me while I’m trying to dress her.

She wants to climb into the rocker and squeal in delight as the chair moves back and forth, nearly toppling over backward with the force of her movements. Or she takes off streaking through the house, her tiny little feet just pitter-pattering on the hardwoods.

“Emma! Look at this pretty shirt!,” I said to lure her over.

Curious, she climbed her naked baby butt off the rocker and toddled over.

“Pwee!,” she exclaimed as she pointed at the sequined star. My gut seized up a little bit at Emma’s new word.

Earlier this week I followed a link on Twitter and ended up at a post where a woman admonished people against telling her daughter that her Christmas dress was pretty. The woman wanted no acknowledgement of her daughter’s looks at all fearing that the statements about her appearance would be all the little girl would internalize.

Her post ran through my head and I mulled over her words. Then I decided I really didn’t like what she’d had to say at all.

If Emma wears a Christmas dress that makes her feel like a million bucks, I have no problems at all telling her that I think she looks amazing in that dress and asking her to do a twirl or two for me so I can see it. And then I’ll curl up with her and ask to read her favorite books and we’ll talk about them.

It’s okay to tell my daughter she’s pretty. It’s okay to tell my daughter she’s smart. Because the truth is she’s both. 

We’ve reached a point with gender-neutrality and leveling the playing field where we’re forgetting that feeling attractive is part of being attractive, and as much as we don’t want to admit it, feeling attractive matters. We’re telling people that it’s never, ever okay to compliment young girls on their looks because doing so sends the wrong message. It tells them that looks are all that matter and who cares if they’re good at math or if they like science!

And don’t even get me started on the opposite of this with boys. (Short version: It’s okay to tell my son he’s handsome. And smart. He is both.)

Guess what?

Society–the media–are telling our kids that looks matter and there’s really no way to get around that unless we lock them in a bubble, eschew television, and never stand in a grocery store checkout ever again. So isn’t it better to build confidence by telling them they’re beautiful just the way they are instead of refusing to acknowledge that appearance can be important?

Isn’t it possible to teach them that they can be both smart and pretty? They don’t have to choose one or the other as more important, and in fact, we should be teaching them how to balance the two.

And really, what’s wrong with taking pride in our appearances? If you ask me, nothing at all.

The “don’t tell her she’s pretty” schtick is knee-jerk, and it overcorrects for the problem that exists when girls aren’t shown that it’s okay to be intelligent. The pendulum swings so far in the opposite direction that it becomes just as big a problem as the one it intended to solve.

It’s okay to teach our kids to feel comfortable in their own skin, to want to look good in what they’re wearing as long as we’re also teaching them that their minds matter just as much. That education and the pursuit of knowledge are equally as important as how they look each day.

It’s okay to tell my daughter she’s pretty. And smart. Go ahead. You have my permission.