Random Thoughts

Random thoughts:

I’m pretty sure I’m an over-sharer. I have several blogs that I read on a regular basis. Some are themed to a specific topic and some are more journalistic like this one has become. But the theme through them all is that they don’t lay bare their souls on a daily basis to the ethers of the internets. They all have filters it seems because I’m sure they all have stresses and bad days just like I do, but they somehow manage to not share every single iota of minutiae with their readers. Apparently I do not have one of said filters. I’m sure you wish that I would procure one post haste.

My alma mater just announced who they hired for the job I wanted so badly and did not get. She’s quite a bit younger than I am, has a Master’s degree and has been involved with campus activities since graduating. So she has the campus ties that I don’t have and she has the higher level degree which I don’t have. And I’m sure she’s a very nice person, which is up for debate about me. But from what I can tell from the announcement she does not have any alumni/donor experience. So she got the job because she seems like a better PR candidate instead of possessing the core experience and expertise. And that pisses me off. I should have expected it, but it still pisses me off. So I’m having some bitterness today.

I made a fairly successful chicken korma last night. Although pretty much the whole meal was a big fat cheat. I used a jarred korma spice mix. I used rotisserie chicken that I just cut up and heated through with the veggies, cashews (pre-roasted), raisins, spices, a bit of water and milk (I didn’t have any whipping cream on hand). I even used microwavable jasmine rice. But it tasted good and took me about 20 minutes to put together. The Boy liked it. The Girl wouldn’t touch it. My husband picked at it. I’m having the rest of it for lunch today.

Mercury is doing something funky and I’m a Gemini. Welcome to my day.


Romancing the Lyrics

I tried to tell you before I left
But I was screaming under my breath
You are the only thing that makes sense
Just ignore all this present tense
We need to feel breathless with love
And not collapse under its weight
I’m gasping for the air to fill
My lungs with everything I’ve lost
– It’s Beginning to Get to Me – Snow Patrol

I am completely head over heels for the band Snow Patrol. They are a new discovery for me, but they’ve been around for a while. I’ve apparently just been underneath the motherhood rock again and didn’t notice them until recently when the lovely D introduced me to them.

As I was listening to one of their albums yesterday on the way to meet K for lunch it dawned on me why I love them so much. Because I’ve finally found a band that rivals my own inner sense of romanticism. I mean these guys are a bunch of hopeless romantics just like me. And unlike a lot of other bands/artists/authors who stray into romantic arenas, they have no trace of cynicism or regret or judgment about their romantic natures. And that is utterly refreshing. I mean there is sadness in their lyrics. Sorrow for the loss of someone dear. But that doesn’t take away from any of the heartfelt things they sing about. Their songs are just so poetically sweet. And I love that.

I have spent most of my life hiding/dumbing down/wishing away/disowning/ignoring my own over the top romantic nature. Wishing that I didn’t blush at the drop of a hat. Pretending that I just didn’t care all that much. But as I’ve well documented here, I make the same wish on the first star every night and I was laying on my trampoline fervently wishing for the Goblin King to take me away after seeing Labyrinth and I’m so obsessed with the Twilight Saga because of how rooted in romance and love the whole silly thing is.

I think I was born in the wrong era. I should belong to an era where there is courtship and chivalry and blushing means you’re doing something right. Oh well, maybe next lifetime.

9/28/09 - Presently Stressed

My irritation level has been through the roof lately. I mean, yes, I have a lot going on right now and I’m doing everything I can not to project or cause myself any unneeded stress by letting my imagination run wild with anything. And it’s not so much being so quick to crabbiness that has me baffled, it’s who I’m taking it out on that is strange. Mostly my mom and The Girl. They are both just driving me crazy and I’ve no idea why.

My mom was in town all weekend for The Boy’s birthday and I found myself snapping at her left and right no matter what the request or observation was that happened to come out of her mouth. And I felt awful about it, I mean she totally did not deserve the force of my wrath. And neither does The Girl, but I swear I would do almost anything if she would just be quiet. She’s been throwing massive temper tantrums for about the last week; finally coming into her full 3 year old self. And my tolerance for her is remarkably low. So I’ve been yelling and not engaging. And throwing my own tantrums right back at her. It’s not fair to her, not to mention that all I’m actually doing is compounding my own irritation by feeding into hers.

It’s ridiculous really. I mean seriously, how old am I?

Maybe instead of staying as present as I thought I was, I’ve actually been stifling my stress. Thus taking it out on the safe people in my life, i.e. the people who will love me no matter how big of a bitch I may be at any given time. Maybe I should just let myself be stressed. I mean I guess I’ve earned it. I just thought that maybe I was finally above it a bit. That maybe I’d made enough progress to not allow myself to be drug down into the quagmire of drama and trauma. But maybe that’s my ego talking and instead being present right now means just being stressed out. For better or for worse. And knowing that it’s temporary. That everything changes. All the time.


Another Happy Birthday!

One of the first times I ever really met my husband was on his 21st birthday. I saw him long enough to wish him a happy birthday before his fraternity brothers took him bar hopping. I saw him again several hours later when those same brothers deposited him face down on the floor in the quad. After standing around him for a while, occasionally checking to make sure he was still breathing, someone flipped him over and brought out the markers. I wrote something loving on his forehead with a big black Sharpie and bid him good night. If I remember correctly, it took him several days to get all the marker off his face. He was already nursing a crush for me at that point, so I was quickly forgiven, but it’s still one of the funniest memories I have of him.

Today is his 32nd birthday. I don’t make grand plans for his birthdays anymore as he’s made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t really like to celebrate his birthday much. And he had to work today anyway, so we couldn’t really have done much. But I made him his favorite mismatched breakfast – orange cinnamon rolls and bacon and tried to let him just have a fun day when he wasn’t working. My mom took us all out for dinner, which is always a nice treat.
It’s been a nice weekend, celebrating my two favorite boys. Pampering them silly just because I can. I wish I could find ways to pamper them on a daily basis. But it’s hard to find new ways to pamper someone you’ve been with for 10 years and it’s even harder to pamper a 6-year old boy who changes his mind every 17 minutes. But I try. I try to make them their favorite meals whenever I can. I try to do little things for them that will make them smile or let them know that I’ve noticed. I do what I can because they deserve it, I love them and it’s my job.

Happy Birthday my husband. I hope this next year is full of hope, the best kind of surprises, success, health and happiness for you.


Happy Birthday Sweetest Boy!

Six years ago today at 8:47pm, The Boy was born. I had gone in to my OB for my weekly appointment in the morning, feeling huge, but fine. Knowing that my due date was the next day and wondering if I had made any progress at all or if all of those pesky Braxton Hicks contractions were just there to get my adrenaline pumping. I was excited and exhausted all at the same time. Mostly though, I was expecting her to check me, find everything to be as it should be and to send me home with a “see you next week!”

Instead, this is the conversation that followed:

OB: “How are you feeling?”
Me: “Very pregnant, but fine.”
OB: “That’s not what this says.” (Eyeing my chart with a wary glance.)
Me: “Oh really?”
OB: “Yeah. You’re spilling protein and your blood pressure is through the roof. You’re having a baby today.”

To say that I was shocked doesn’t even begin to cover it. I truly felt fine. Not the blurred vision, painful, totally out of it that preeclampsia and high blood pressure should have been making me feel. So she gave us instructions to go to the hospital, that they would be expecting me and that they would start induction immediately and she’d be by to see me in a couple of hours to break my water. And off we went.

I called my mom to share the news and she got in the car immediately. I called our friends and my husband’s parents and brother. We luckily already had my bag packed and in the car so off to the hospital we went. I was nervous beyond belief. I was not at all prepared for being induced. I was not at all prepared to walk into the Labor and Delivery ward not in active labor. This was entirely outside of my expectations.

But eight and half hours later, The Boy entered the world. There were moments I thought I would never make it. But I did (thanks in huge part to my amazing husband). He was big, beautiful, unbelievably strong and hungry. And he still is. Happy 6th Birthday my sweetest boy!


Thoughts on the Future

Every time I look up it seems like another month is gone. So as I am heading into the last quarter of this year, I naturally have started thinking about the end to this project. I’ve really grown to love being forced to write every day. So I have been trying to think about what I’ll do when my 365 days are over. Trying to figure out how I could still have some sort of commitment to keep my writing going but something that will kick it all up a notch so to speak.

One of my favorite things about this whole project has been the symmetry of it. I love the numerical constraint. It forces me to focus within the word confinement. But I’ve gotten really good at it. I know how to manipulate my writing to achieve the word count and I’ve gotten much better at allowing my writing to be as raw as it gets while staying true to myself. I have let myself just put it out there for better or for worse. That in and of itself is huge for me. Before I started this blog I hardly ever let anyone read my writing, let alone broadcast it on the internets for everyone to find and trip across.

So I’ve been trying to figure out how to push my bravery even farther. And, at the same time, how to push my writing. Because even though I know you’ve all loved the year long, in-depth guided tour of my deepest, darkest neuroses, I’d love to be able to write about more than my day-to-day life. I’d love to take some risks and see what I can really do. And while I would love to go to grad school post haste, there is just no way to make that work right now. So I thought maybe I could put myself through some sort of boot camp.

I’ve got a couple of ideas percolating, but I thought I’d throw it out there for you as well. I’m blessed with some pretty incredible writers who read this blog, and I’d love to hear from you! Have any ideas for where to take my writing next?


Premier Week

It’s premier week. And that makes me pretty darn happy. It’s sort of like starting a new book full of your favorite characters (speaking of favorite characters in books, Dan Brown has a new Robert Langdon book that I’m totally stoked about). There were a couple of new shows that I got totally addicted to last season, so I’m especially looking forward to their return.

Sons of Anarchy started last week. Going into its second year, it’s far and away the one I was most looking forward to. Which probably seems weird. I mean, it’s a show about an old school motorcycle gang that is violent and illegal and mean. They do awful things to people and those things inspire other people to do even more awful things back to them. But the writing is brilliant. The characters are utterly intriguing and I’ve always had a soft spot for bad boys. Plus Charlie Hunam is hot, I love Katey Sagal and Ron Perlman is just fun to watch.

Also? There’s Castle. I could watch Nathan Fillion fix a light bulb and call it perfect TV. I just flat love the guy and he can do no wrong in my eyes. Which is a good thing because this show is not really all that good. His co-star, Stana Katic, is sorta funny and smart, but pretty much the whole show revolves around (and works because of) Nathan Fillion. And even though I’d much rather watch his talents be utilized in a way that is much more befitting of his talent, I’ll take what I can get.

Then of course there are the returning favorites, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Bones, House, Heroes, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory and Numbers as well as a few others (that I would also name but I just noticed how long the list is and I’m suddenly very self-conscious).

And Chuck and LOST will be back after the beginning of the year.

There are a few new ones this year as well, although none that I’ve been impressed with enough to really give that much thought to so far.

Time to put the Netflix account on hold again.

9/23/09 - Stewy Perfection

**Sorry this is late!! I got my ass handed to me yesterday by either a migraine or the plague and I just couldn't drag myself to my laptop.**

As a self-professed foodie there are several dishes that I’ve been trying to perfect for several years. They’re mostly down home comfort foods. I’m pretty sure it’s my Nebraska roots coming to the surface that I don’t really care all that much if I ever perfect Beef Bourguignon or Mole , but I care deeply about the state of my chicken fried steak with perfect country gravy and I take my lasagna very personally. So you can start to understand why I could get so excited to tell you that I think I’ve finally nailed the perfect beef stew recipe.

I’ve seriously been working on this one for at least 8 years and it’s different every single time I make it. I’ve tried everything from letting its simmer all day to starting with already tender, perfect cuts of meat for a quick thrown together stew. Everything from a whole bottle of wine and orange peel to homemade beef broth and a whole head of roasted garlic. Although knowing me as you do by now, it should not come as a shock to find out that the recipe nearing perfection is somewhere in between all of this (well except for the orange, I pulled that out entirely at my family’s request).

The only tweak left is to get it a bit thicker (to appease my husband who is obsessed with super thick stew) and tone down the acid from the wine a bit. I think if I just up the quantity of flour for the roux and throw in a pinch or two of sugar at the same time I add the veggies, I should be able to leap both hurdles in a single bound. And to solve my loathing of cooked carrots, I’m not adding the veggies until about 30 minutes before the whole thing is done that way they lend their flavor and sweetness without turning into nasty little pucks of mush in my mouth. Throw in peas, mushrooms and potatoes and it’s hard to get much heartier than that on a cold day.

I think my Grandmother would be proud. Now I’m ready to move on to my next conquest – macaroni and cheese.


Language Arts

They always say that teaching something is the best way to really know it. But I can honestly say that I am not a good teacher. I was trying to do homework with The Boy tonight (my husband turned over the language arts section to me since words are my thing) and I found myself off on this tangent about punctuation and declarative vs. interrogative sentences and by the time I realized how far I had strayed from the path The Boy was looking at me as if I had truly lost my mind. It was pretty funny actually and just totally drove home the fact that I suck at teaching.

I started to realize this last year when The Boy was trying to learn how to read in Kindergarten. As you may remember he was having a hell of a time and I just could not figure out why. All things words have always come so easily to me that I just don’t get it when they don’t do the same thing for everyone else. And because they’ve always just sort of clicked for me, I don’t have the foggiest idea of how to break the whole thing down for someone else either. This fact in particular poses quite the problem when one is attempting to help their almost 6 year old son with beginning sentence structure.

Although in my defense the instructions on his worksheet were in all reality meant for the teacher. I mean there’s no way that someone could expect a first grader to read the instructions “Determine whether each sentence is declarative or interrogative and then add the correct punctuation mark.” I just took the material in front of me and ran with it. My guess is that these worksheets were meant to be done mostly out loud in class, but what with his school being closed for the last several days his teacher just sent the whole thing home with him.

She probably had no idea that one of her student’s mothers would be a crazy word freak hell bent on teaching her son the finer points of the English language before he could wrap his brain around it.


Post-Movie Deep Thoughts

I took the kids to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs today. This story in particular is really tied to a very specific piece of my childhood. Our Wyoming friend, J, used to create books on tape for children’s books and this one was my absolute favorite one. I think he may even have “cast” me to read a couple of lines once, and that was a thrill to be sure. It is just such a fantastically heartfelt story that really ignited my imagination on so many levels.

There was the obvious question of what food would I have ordered from the machine? What would I love more than anything to have super sized? What would a gigantic meatball actually look like? And the biggest question, would food that big still taste good?

But sitting there watching it today, and sobbing at the end, it brought a whole different set of imaginings with it. The entire central theme of unrequited and malnourished dreams and relationships really struck a chord with me. I mean, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I was a ridiculous crying puddle at the end purely because I’m just generally really emotionally raw right now. But regardless of my emotional stability at the moment, it’s a potent message that bears consideration.

I worry on a regular basis that because our financial situation won’t allow us to put the kids in extracurricular activities that I am shortchanging them from discovering their passions. I also worry that because I’m so not an artsy crafty type of mom, that I’m also taking those opportunities to create away from them. My children know that I love them fiercely, but I often wonder if they will grow up and tell stories of their childhood that sound like “yeah, my mom loved us a lot, but…” and that scares me. But at the same time I’m not entirely sure how to stop it.

I know that there will always be something lacking from every childhood in retrospect, I guess I just hope for my children that it won’t be something that I could have so easily provided if I’d been just a little more aware.



I sometimes feel like I’m not very good at this whole day-to-day life thing. It just feels like my process for living is just not all that compatible with the rest of the world’s population. Or maybe I’m just totally thrown off-kilter today because of the horrifically bad nightmare I had early this morning that I just can’t quite get away from.

It wasn’t one of those dreams where you wake up screaming or sweating or even bolt straight upright in bed. I just simply opened my eyes but the images were so vivid and so awful that they still flowed in front of my eyes. And I realized that I was awake and it was indeed just a dream and when I tried to go back to sleep the dream just kept going, in my waking mind. Going back over the worst parts again and again. I dreamt that The Boy was killed in a truly frightening way. And I was there, watching the whole thing. And the two points that stuck out the most was the sheer quantity of blood and the absolute feeling of desolation after I knew, in my dream, that he was gone forever.

I haven’t had a dream like this since I was pregnant with The Girl. That’s actually usually the only time I ever have dreams like this is when I’m pregnant, but since that is definitely not the case right now I’m going to have to chalk it up to stress and my subconscious wanting to supplement my waking stress with some dreaming stress.

When the kids came in to wake us up, The Boy crawled in next to me and I immediately started crying. Am still crying looking at him now as he’s playing superheroes with The Girl on the floor with NFL Countdown on in the background. I just can’t quite seem to shrug off the sorrow of this dream.

Which is really screwing with my plan for today to bring myself back from the solitude seeking, brain candy book immersed, disengaged place that I’ve been in for the last several days. This dream makes me want to crawl right back in with renewed commitment.


The Chicken and The Egg

I’ve been thinking about confidence quite a bit lately. Wondering how important it really is to overall success in life. What’s the balance, if there is one, between pure talent and confidence in that talent. Which comes first? I know it’s a chicken and egg sort of question which after much debate you realize it doesn’t really matter which came first as long as they’re both there. But equally as important is that you cannot have one without the other.

I wonder if that dependence plays a bigger part than most realize. I really wish that I knew whether Charles Dickens or Gustav Klimt or David Sedaris or Margaret Atwood had the kind of overwhelming confidence that kept them going through rejection or writer’s block or running out of paint. I wonder if they had the utmost confidence in their abilities or if they just kept going because it was all they could do. That their need to create was completely outside the realm of caring whether or not they were appreciated or noticed or judged as good.

Because I have always been my worst critic. Because I’ve always been the one to hold myself back when it comes to pretty much everything. I pigeon-holed my writing into research based forms because they are widely accepted (and marketable) and I knew that I was good at it. Plus it’s pretty easy not to take it personally when you don’t get a grant because while the writing is important, mostly it’s all about the foundation and the proposed project.

Sometimes I think I might have epic stories in me, vast adventures swirling with romance and intrigue. But then I sit down to write, trying to put down any preconceptions or assumptions and just give myself the freedom to write what’s there. And the wisps of characters and distant vistas start to fade in the face of confrontation. And I wish I had the balls to demand that they line back up front and center. To forbid them from scattering like mice when a light flips on.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to let the possibility of my talent share the room with the whisper of confidence.


Rollercoaster Ride

Today has been an up and down sort of day. I’ve been struggling the past several days with this whole bankruptcy thing. I welcome and cannot wait to embrace the clean slate of freedom it will bring us, but it’s still filing for bankruptcy you know? I still see it as a failure on my part to protect and provide for my family regardless of how irrational or untrue that may be. So I’ve pretty much handed the whole process over to my husband, thinking perhaps if he takes it under his wing perhaps he can shepherd it into a much safer port than I’m capable of. So I’ve been working mightily to strike some sort of balance between curbing my needless self-berating and staying as present with whatever arises as possible. I was already failing in that pursuit today when it was time to take The Girl to the doctor this morning.

I fully expected this appointment to be nothing more than a 10 minute in and out visit so that we could touch base with her doc on her asthma management. I’ve been pretty happy with our progress so far. Her doctor came in and we chatted and caught up a bit and then he dutifully listened to her lungs and heart. Got quiet, flipped through her electronic chart and said that she had a heart murmur and wanted us to get in to see a pediatric cardiologist as soon as we could. I adore this doctor for many, many reasons and one of them is because through everything we’ve been through with The Girl he has always been there to keep me grounded if by no other means than he sees so much worse the majority of his days. But today he looked at me and said he was worried.

The rest of my day has been lost to a haze. A haze of fear and uncertainty with me somewhere in the background attempting to bring myself back down to some sort of rational level. Because really we don’t know anything. Just that we need to follow up on these newly presented symptoms.

And so we will. And I’ll keep you posted.



There are a whole slew of pedantic things I could write about today. Like the fact that we retained the services of a lawyer today and that in another week we’ll be officially filing with the court system for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

Or the fact that The Boy’s school got shut down today because half of the student body has been absent all week exhibiting “flu-like symptoms.” And that it will stay shut down until next Wednesday as they do a top to bottom sanitization of the entire building and hope that having the kids out of contact with each other for a week will stop the contagion cycle. And me wondering what the hell I am going to do with my children for the next week (with little to no spending money) with no school for The Boy who is now utterly accustomed to being engaged just about every minute of every day.

Or the fact that The Girl has had two solid days of throw herself down, scream and throw things prime of her 3-year old life temper tantrums. I was just beginning to think that perhaps I had escaped the 3’s with her, at least to the extent that The Boy had tortured me throughout his 3rd year of life. And then two days in a row she’s had utter and complete meltdowns to the point where I could not take her out in public. All I could do was sit her in her room and let her go. Whatever she needed to do in order to extract herself from screaming banshee mode and back into sweet little girl mode.

Or the fact that I am so completely focused on hiding from my own emotional ramifications of this whole bankruptcy thing that I’ve totally tuned the rest of the world out. My husband worriedly touched base with me last night; attempting to make sure everything was ok. And I’m not entirely sure how “I’m fine, I just don’t really want to talk to or see anyone right now, I just want to read” could be reassuring. But I think he knows me well enough by now to know I’ll be back soon.


Solitude Please

For as long as I can remember I have craved solitude. I mean don’t get me wrong, I love to be with the people I love and often at that. I love to be fully immersed into a social setting chock full of laughter and cavorting, story-telling and conversation. It’s good for my soul to see my own joy reflected in the faces of those dearest to me and I love to be their mirror as well.

But alone time has always been at the root of my sanity. I need the time to decompress and/or process life and the world around me. I’m not much of a think on my feet kind of girl. I’m more of a think it all through, every last detail, and then stride out into the world at large kind of girl. And because my own internal processes are probably more complicated than they ought to be, I need this kind of alone time on a pretty regular basis. I knew yesterday that I was in need of a solid chunk of peace and quiet when I picked up the Twilight series again (this will be the fifth time). And that knowledge solidified today because every time The Girl shadowed my every move I was overcome with a distinct feeling of annoyance instead of patient acceptance.

Life currently has dealt me yet another shift. Another step stands in front of me demanding to be conquered and learned from. And I’ve gotten strong enough this year that I’m welcoming the opportunity to build yet more strength and experience. But I’ve also learned that I need to do preparations so that I can climb with finesse and purpose instead of just blindly throwing myself at the task at hand. So that I can remain grounded in the moment instead of getting strung out on the future; what lies after getting over the current hurdle.

We’re meeting with the bankruptcy lawyer again tomorrow. This time to retain his services. I am looking forward to the opportunity to exchange this burden with the freedom to make different choices. I truly am. But I thought a little extra calisthenics training with Edward wouldn’t hurt first.


Day of Gratitude

I am in a strange space today. Part overwhelming gratitude and part wistful I think is the best way to describe it.

As I have well (and long) documented here, this has been a fairly shitty year by all normal standards. What with The Girl and the multiple pneumonia’s, the seizure, the hospitalization, The Boy really struggling with school, my mom’s heart attack, my husband and I trying to figure out what we want the next phase of our marriage to look like, The Boy’s concussion and our imminent filing for bankruptcy looming on the horizon. And so many other things that drug me down into the muck of the daily grind.

And believe me, I’ve spent my fair share of the last 9 months shaking my fists at the sky and cussing loudly. And drinking. And smoking (I’ve quit again by the way). And cussing some more.

But today, even in the face of a gigantic life change right in front of me, I am just filled with this all-encompassing gratitude. I am so grateful that we have The Girl’s asthma under control and she is healthy. I am so grateful that The Boy is loving school and doing so well in it. I am so grateful for my friends; the old, the new and the ones in progress. I am so grateful for my parents’ support through all of this, it would have been so easy to just shake their heads in my general direction and wait for me to get back to normal. I am so grateful for my husband’s parents who have been so thoroughly supportive from afar, who quite literally have made our next steps possible.

And I am wistful because I am hoping against all hope that I can get through whatever is next with my head held high and my lessons learned intact. I am hoping that I can continue to prove to these people who enrich my life so completely that I am worthy of their belief, support, compassion and love. I am hoping that I can continue to show my children how to face adversity with determination and a smile always waiting in your back pocket.



I cannot tell you how much I am loving reconnecting with old friends. Reestablishing friendships with people that I was always friendly with, but perhaps not the closest of friends. And now we have the chance to get to know each other all over again as the people we are now. As professionals and parents and whatever else we may find ourselves being and doing. It’s just such a gift to be able to have these people with whom I have history and be able to extend that history beyond what parties we went to on Saturday nights or what we wore or what boy or girl screwed us over. It’s just so lovely to be able to vault these friendships into the current day without losing the history.

I am such a radically different person now than I was in high school and college (and other than the tire around my waist and spreading childbearing hips, it’s all for the better). And for a while when I was coming back into contact with old friends I worried that they would see the me I am now and wish for the me I was then. But I’m finding that we’re almost entirely able to just take each other where we are now, for who we are now, while still remaining grounded in the history we’ve shared. There is just really something about having known someone for 15 years or more that provides a foundation that is so safe.

I love to watch these people be parents. I love to watch their kiddos who look so much like them test them and push them in new and different ways; I love to watch them laugh with their children and significant others. I love to talk about big world events now that we have all travelled and studied and expanded our world views. I love to see how our experiences and loves and sorrows and passions have shaped us.

I just have such deep gratitude for the chance to renew friendships with people I thought I’d never see again. To be given the opportunity to relish in shared history as we watch our children create their own.


Football and a Birthday Party

Alright. I got nothin’ today. I woke up with a pounding headache this morning and it has been with me all day in varying degrees. I’ve got some serious allergies kicking my ass and I’m just generally not in a great mood today.

Today is the kickoff to the fantasy football season and my star quarterback, whom I’ve loved long time, had a crappy day. The one star running back that I have also had a crappy day. My kicker didn’t put up any points at all. Right now my defense is the only component of my entire fantasy team putting up any points at all and that’s because they are playing the Bears offense which has yet to figure out how to play as a team. All three of my rookies either didn’t play or had crappy days. It’s just been a crappy day all around. Except for my backup quarterback who had a killer day and was, of course, benched.

I took the kids to a birthday party today and that was fun. Although as the kids get older I’ve noticed that the back yard parties have started to get more and more out of hand both in volume and activity level. All of these boys who have known each other since they started walking are now getting huge and powerful and loud. But as always, it was lovely to see this particular set of friends and I always love to see what sort of cake C is going to make for his children. Today he made a Millennium Falcon and two X-wings while his sister added an R2-D2 to the mix. It’s really very impressive. I think they should totally do it as a side venture. And E is still gorgeous and glowing in her pregnancy. The kids passed out in the car on the way home, which was a nice surprise. So my husband and I get the evening to ourselves to watch the season finale of True Blood and the football game.

My head is still pounding, but it was a good day all in all. Even though my beloved Peyton temporarily forgot how to play the game of football.

9/12/09 - Wanna be my friend?

**Sorry this is late - I was totally wiped yesterday after Garage Sale Day 2 and went to bed without posting.**

I’m really not very good at developing friendships. Once I am in them, I’m a pretty good friend. I do a pretty good job of keeping in touch and letting the people I love know that I’m thinking about them. But when I get into new friendships, I’m not so good. Mostly I think because I lack confidence. I always end up feeling like I’m imposing in some way or another. So I often find myself taking a back seat in the friendship and waiting for them to come to me. Which, I’m fairly sure, ends up sending mixed signals to those with whom I’m trying to strike up a friendship. They probably find themselves thinking I’m unreliable or finicky or some other inconsistent sort of personality trait. But really it’s just that I can’t quite fully bring myself to believe that they would want me around.

Yes. I’m fully aware how silly I sound. How juvenile and ridiculous. But it’s the truth nonetheless.

There are a few women in this mom’s group I’ve been a part of for years that I would love to know better and I’m sure they think I’m flaky as hell because I always tell them how much I enjoy hanging out with them and then I never call or email or follow through with setting up further play dates. They just seem so much cooler than I am.

It’s a strange thing. That I can be so confident in my skills as a mother and professional. As a person in general and then all of that confidence just fails me in new friendships. I suppose I could look at it as I value the people in my life so greatly, that I think so much of them that I try to hold myself to that same standard. That how much I love and appreciate them, makes me want to be a better friend to them.

And that is true. I just sort of wish I could take the confidence component out of it altogether. That I could just be with people as well as I can just be with myself and my family. It would be so much easier.



Oy vay. Today was the first day of our garage sale. And I hoped that it would kick off with a bang. That I’d have people fighting over stuff, or at least a steady stream of lookers and buyers. Or at least decent weather for The Girl and I to sit out in the driveway all day smiling weakly at people driving by ogling our schtuff in the yard. Or at least enough people to make it worth our while.

What we got however was gale force, relentlessly cold wind. All day long. I didn’t even get half of the stuff put out because I quickly tired of having to chase knick knacks and children’s clothing across the neighbor’s lawns. I’m not a fan of wind under the best circumstances, but on this day where I needed stuff to sit still on our driveway so people could look at it and then give me money for it, this much wind had me shaking my fist at the skies and on the verge of tears.

But then I returned to my senses and remembered that weather is not personal and that it is the middle of September after all and I should have known that this was a risk having a garage sale this late in the season.

The Girl had a blast playing with toys she hasn’t seen for the past year (so they were, of course, new to her once more) and didn’t seem to mind the wind much once I got her bundled up. And if I count the ladies who came last night to paw through the bins and bins of kids’ clothes we have, we had a really good first day. So I really can’t complain that much. I’m hoping the wind dissipates over night so we can have a clear and still day tomorrow to get rid of pretty much everything that is left. I really don’t want to spend my entire weekend on the driveway.

I’m tired. And windblown. And glad that my husband will be around for day two. And really looking forward to our stay-at-home-date-night this evening featuring tasty Greek food after the kiddos go to bed.

9/10/09 - Garage Sale Time

** Sorry this is late!! I got all busy and flat forgot to post it yesterday. **

We are having a garage sale tomorrow. It is more than a year overdue. We started moving stuff earmarked for the garage sale out of the house over a year ago. We have been storing it in our garage thinking that any day we’d get our parking spots back and make some money at the same time. But thing after thing just piled up and we were no closer to selling or giving it all away and reclaiming our garage.

So I just decided last weekend that we were just going to do it. I no longer cared whether it was perfectly organized and advertised. I didn’t give a rip if it was pretty late in the “garage sale season” to be doing this. I just wanted it done. I wanted to sell what we could and make some space. I have been simultaneously dreading and looking forward to it ever since I made the decision. And to make sure I follow through with it, I started advertising for it today on Craigslist and a mom’s group forum I am a part of. The Girl and I went and got some signs today that I will ask my husband to put up around the neighborhood. This sucker is just happening.

There has always been one problem with me having garage sales, however. It’s actually sort of a two-fold problem. When I go garage-saleing I fully expect for prices to be rock bottom. I mean I come close to taking it as personal offense if I have to pay more than a few dollars for something. And I have a hard time thinking that anything I would put in my own garage sale could possible command much more than that as well. So I tend to price things extraordinarily cheaply. Which is great for moving stuff off my driveway, but not as great as it could be for, you know, actually making some money from it.

But it’s fine in the long run. If the lesson we learn from this whole bankruptcy thing is to find and embrace the beauty and freedom of simplicity, I will take cleaning out my garage as a terrific first step.



I was sitting at a local bar/brewery with my dearest friend E this evening, celebrating her good ultrasound news and just enjoying one of my most favorite woman friends and our conversation turned to family and childhood. She comes from a very large, very involved family and as you all know by now, I am an only child. She is the second oldest of five and her family was relatively traditional (at least compared to mine I think).

E has always been a bit shocked by the words that come out of my mouth. I think she thinks I’m a wee bit brash, maybe even a little crass. My own personal vernacular is so far outside of her day to day rhythm of speech and until tonight I think maybe she thought it was intended purely for the shock value. That perhaps I chose my words with the sole purpose of dropping verbal bombshells for fun.

But honestly, I drop the f-bomb just as often as just about any other adjective (although I have consciously tried to not use it as often in this blog thinking maybe I was inadvertently offending people new to me and my writing, but the reader count has pretty much stayed the same so I may be reintroducing it in the near future). Cuss words really are just like additional adjectives in my vocabulary. Any additional weight they may carry for some who don’t use them very often is lost for me by sheer familiarity of use.

As a writer and overall lover of words, I’m always on the lookout for new ways of expressing myself. So in that way I wish that particular set still held the vehemence and awe that they do for most. They would give me yet another set of screwdrivers in my tool box. But in my historical choice of words those specifically are center stage on the same level as all of my other favorite words.

Favorite words like livid and lovely, genau and gorgeous, demand and despise, strumpet and harlot, kerfuffle and wonky, wander and focus, fantasy and flaky, blessing and belated, dearest and daughter, saunter and son and so many, many more.


Next Steps

My dad was a banker for 30 some odd years. Even if he wasn’t technically working in a bank for all of those years, he was the financial go-to person in pretty much whatever company he was working for. He’s an extraordinarily patient and methodical person, so spending his entire career working with numbers and then teaching other people how to also work with numbers was a pretty good fit for him. He was really good at his job even if it didn’t make his soul sing. He probably would’ve been happier being a high school history teacher, but he fell into banking and there he stayed.

I mention this because he taught me about budgeting from very early on. When I returned home from my summer working on Mackinac Island he sat down with me and all the money I had saved and we worked out a budget for a new car and for me to move out of my parents’ house and support myself while I looked for a job. He’s done this process with me several times over the years for different things. And six years ago when my husband lost his job and I couldn’t find work and The Boy was a newborn, he and my mom swooped in and bailed us out of certain financial death. I still have a hard time thinking about that as it embarrasses me so.

I help organizations manage their money for a living for all purposes. Finding, writing and helping to track and manage grant money are a huge budget responsibility and I do it really well. I love working with budgets and financials.

Which is why it’s so hard for me to admit that we met with a bankruptcy lawyer yesterday. We are to a point that we can’t hide from it anymore and it’s time to get serious about our options. He recommended a Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy also known as A Clean Slate. Now we just have to figure out how to pay the lawyer up front for his services to guide us through the process. Which would almost add insult to injury if the guy hadn’t been so dang nice.


Mad Love for Subtlety

I have some mad love for Timothy Olyphant. It has been one of those things that has grown over time. I did not love him immediately. He had to grow on me a bit. But now? Now there is mad love.

I think he may very well be one of the most subtle actors I have seen as of late. He has this ability to narrow his eyes the slightest bit or turn up the corners of his mouth or hunch his shoulders in what seems the most minor of ways and the whole tone and tenor of the scene changes.

Unfortunately I think that very subtlety is what has kept him off of the main stream radar for so long. The first movie I remember seeing him in is Gone in 60 Seconds (“Are you ok? Are you sure? Because you just went through a wall.”) But I caught a movie on HBO not too long ago that he did the same year and I’d never heard of it – The Broken Hearts Club. It was a lovely little character movie that he just relaxed his shoulders, and his jaw muscles, into.

He has also had a few roles that were pretty forgettable. Like Fritz in Catch and Release and the guy who threw Mark Wahlberg out of the band in Rock Star (he is not so very pretty with a mullet by the way).

But where I really grew to appreciate him was in watching him play Sheriff Seth Bullock on Deadwood. There have been several times that I have just come to the conclusion that he is a pretty one dimensional character and then some surprise in the story will arise and prove me wrong. Not because of overt and dramatic choices, but because his once stony face softens and he suddenly has tears in his eyes. Or because he displays a sense of humor in the driest sense. And I love his sense of righteousness as the bad guy in Live Free or Die Hard. He’s smooth, clean cut and wicked smart.

But, call me shallow if you’d like, I am a total sucker for his billy bad ass character in Hitman.


Spicy Field Trip

I get all of my spices from a place called Penzey’s. My mom and I discovered it almost 10 years ago and now and it has been my go-to for all things spiced and herbed ever since. I love them. I love the company. I love the people who run it. I love their products. It’s just a company that I’ve fallen in love with hook, line and sinker. There aren’t many of those, so when I find them I have to give them their proper recognition.

And I have been waiting for them to open a store closer to us for a while. They opened one a couple of years ago outside of Denver, but it’s in a part of town that we never frequent, so I’ve just never been able to make the special trip. But they just opened one very close to a part of town I’m in pretty much whenever we go to Denver, so we decided to head up there yesterday and check it out. I was so excited I could hardly sit still. I got all silly and did a little happy dance when we reached the store’s front door.

I had envisioned spending quite a large chunk of time in the store, just looking and smelling and perusing. But the dang place was so well organized that I got a little basket and walked from display to display and found exactly what I was looking for. I think we were in there for maybe 20 minutes. And that’s only because my husband and the children were going around smelling everything. It was still a lovely experience and I am so glad I went, but it just wasn’t quite the luxury experience for which I had hoped.

But now I have some new spices with which to experiment. I’ve been really getting into Indian flavors lately, experimenting with different curries. And I am trying to figure out how to bring out the more subtle of the Asian flavors so that everything doesn’t just taste like soy sauce. Mostly I’m just trying to shake up our family menu a bit. Re-challenge myself in the kitchen and find some new staples.

9/5/09 - Weekend Writer's Block

**Sorry this is late, I flat forgot to post it yesterday!**

I have a hard time writing these blog posts on the weekends. During the week, there is always something going on, something that I’m working on or figuring. Something begging to be written out. On the weekends however, I try to settle in to a different pace. Slow things down, in the hopes that not only the weekends will move a bit more slowly, but also so that I don’t miss a moment of whatever it is that we’re doing (especially if I’m stealing an hour or so of alone time). Also because we’re flat broke, we hardly ever do anything interesting.

The weekends are typically full of chores and errands, hanging out around the house, catching up on the little things like dusting and email, bathing the dogs and getting ready for an overly belated garage sale. Watching the kids play in the yard with all of their neighborhood friends. There is just a whole other rhythm to the weekends and it makes it hard for me to write about them. The Boy never has homework because his school thinks that being in school for a solid 8 hours a day is enough. The Girl follows her brother around waiting for him to bless her with some sort of amazing new revelation or game. And they both follow their dad around begging to play tag or launch some other soon to be beloved adventure.

These posts usually take me about 20 minutes to write and publish on weekdays. On the weekends I am lucky if they take twice that long; they usually take three or four times as long. Mostly, I think, because the order and focus that I keep up on the weekdays, just falls away on the weekends. So my brain wanders to and fro and is very rarely able to pull a concentrated eye on just about anything.

My mind turns into the aimlessly jaunting thing that is currently being illustrated by this very post. Case in point? I have been staring at this page now for the last 45 minutes. It could be infuriating except that it’s the weekend and that is just not how I roll on the weekends.


Tiny Town

I took The Girl to Tiny Town today with a dear family friend. P is a woman that my mother has known since high school and I grew up with. She has always been much like a second mom to me and I love her. She was laid off from her job last year, which was, incidentally, the year before she planned to retire anyway. So she’s been relatively footloose and fancy free as of late and since The Boy went back to school we’ve been trying to figure out a time when The Girl and I could come and see her. In the midst of emailing back and forth, she mentioned going to Tiny Town, so we picked a date and today we went.

They have a small train that takes people around to see all of the buildings and from the moment we stepped foot in the place she only had eyes for the train. I got her interested in the small scale buildings occasionally, especially the ones where they got to crawl around the insides of the Colorado landmark re-creations. But mostly she spent the first hour we were there asking when she got to ride the train.

After our first train ride we decided to go to Morrison for lunch as the Tiny Town concession stand only had hot dogs and ice cream to offer and while that made The Girl one happy camper, P and I decided that we required more substantial nourishment than questionable porkbeefchickenonlygodknowswhatproductinacasing.

So we endured the worst service I’ve had in a very long time and we made our way back to Tiny Town for the promised second train ride and ice cream (which I ended up eating half of when she couldn’t keep up with the rate at which it was melting).

It was such a lovely day in all respects. And it brought such a smile to my face to have my daughter bonding with this woman who is such a hallmark of safety and affection in my memory and life. The Girl asked her to share a seat on the second train ride and they walked hand in hand back to our car.


Fairy Godmother

My mom revealed herself as my own personal fairy godmother today. It was wholly unexpected and it made me cry.

The Boy’s 6th birthday is just over 3 weeks away and I’ve been trying to figure out what to do for his birthday. Or, to put a more painfully truthful point on it, I’ve been trying to figure out how to finagle money for a birthday party and a birthday present out of our completely debt consumed budget. As I’ve already told you, The Boy was promised a pair of guinea pigs for his birthday and that was to be his big present from us and my parents. But as our financial picture is worsening daily, I finally had to face up to the fact that we simply could not afford to do both. So in the interest of acknowledging my son’s new found grown-up-ed-ness, I asked him what he wanted more – the guinea pigs or a birthday party. And he asked for some time to think about it. I asked him about it last night as I was giving him a hugkiss good night, this is what he said to me, “I think I’ll choose the birthday party. Maybe I can get my own special pet for my birthday next year, maybe you’ll be able to afford it then.”

And I can honestly say that I’ve never felt like a more horrible mother than in that moment. That moment when I burdened my son with my adult money troubles. There was so much wrong with that I didn’t know what to do but cry and tell him I loved him more than anything, tuck him in and turn off his light.

So I was tearfully relating this story to my mother this morning and she gracefully, mercifully and wonderfully offered to pay for The Boy’s birthday party and his guinea pigs (if that’s what he really wants for his birthday). I know she did it to protect her grandson and make sure his birthday memories are fun and carefree for as long as possible. But with one stroke of her wand, she brought just a touch of magic back into my life as well.


Cartoons and NPR

The Girl is watching Tom & Jerry right now. She loves them and asks to watch them often (almost as often as she asks to watch Max & Ruby). I just looked up and the current tomfoolery afoot was Tom holding Jerry’s tail onto a stump of wood while he attempted to put a hatchet into Jerry’s little mouse body. All with a smile on his face. And it dawned on me that perhaps this is not quite on the appropriate side for my 3 year old daughter.

Some of my friends would be aghast at the very thought of allowing either of my children to watch this particular cartoon. Of course most of those same friends would come unglued at the very knowledge of how much TV I allow our children to watch in the first place. I know I should turn on the TV less and bring out the art supplies more. I know I should do some research on Montessori methods that can be done at home with stuff around the house. The Girl is seriously my little Montessori poster child and I should encourage that now so that she doesn’t run into the problems starting school that her brother did.

But at the same time I think about the fact that I grew up watching Tom & Jerry, Looney Tunes and a host of others that were perhaps a bit too old for me and I’ve never once had the urge to murder a mouse with a hatchet. Or anything else for that matter. I just always knew that it was a cartoon and therefore not real. Not to be imitated. Not to be attempted. It has a level of common sense to me. And maybe I’m just willing to give my kids the benefit of the doubt that they too will know that it is all just pretend.

And yes there is the whole exposure issue, i.e. not wanting to expose kids to that sort of violence/behavior until they are much older. And I get that, I really do. But I guess if I am really concerned about exposure, I shouldn’t listen to NPR in the car with them either.


Fear and Anger

Here’s something I haven’t quite figured out yet – how do I get far enough away from the fear and/or anger in a situation so that I can be active in the problem solving?

We’ve had this whole money problem thing dogging us for years. It all started when I quit a really toxic job not long after we moved back to Colorado. I got pregnant with The Boy soon after that and even though I was still looking for a replacement job, no one wanted to hire me when I was already pregnant and would be leaving for maternity leave so soon after being hired. My husband lost his job when The Boy was 6 weeks old and with both of us essentially being unemployed (I had started my consulting business by then but was nowhere close to bringing in a consistent paycheck) we drained our savings and racked up a suffocating amount of credit card bills. That was more than 6 years ago now and we’ve been seriously struggling ever since. There have been times of respite, when my consulting business was going gangbusters or when my husband was on hurricane catastrophe duty and getting doubled paychecks with all the overtime. But essentially it’s been a constant struggle.

And with each passing year the options available have lessened and become less solutions and more choice between two bad alternatives. I’m just not a big fan of being pushed into a corner, especially when I’m the one who has done the pushing.

It pisses me off that we haven’t been able to visit my husband’s parents since The Boy was about 18 months old simply because we can’t afford it. It pisses me off that I’m about to ask The Boy to choose between a birthday party and his guinea pig birthday present because we cannot afford both. It pisses me off that I can’t put The Girl in preschool this year. It pisses me off that we don’t get to have date nights nearly as often as we need them.

But under all that pissed-offedness is fear. A deep fear that my family will be living in a cardboard box in the near future.