Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Obligitory Christmas Post

When everything is “meh,” it’s hard to get excited or involved in anything. I found Christmas seriously, seriously hard this year. Decorating became a chore, baking became overwhelming, shopping? All I can say is thank whatever supreme being there might be for Amazon. The most enjoyment I got out of Christmas ramp-up, and don’t laugh because I am dead serious, was ordering wood grain wrapping paper paper to go with our Christmas tree theme: wood ornaments only. 

We spent the week leading up to Christmas shouting, "That's mahogany!" every time a cat or a girl got too close to the tree!

The other highlight of Christmas? Funny story actually.

We haven’t updated our gaming console since the PS2. Really. We have a first gen Wii, but I don’t considering that as an “us” update. The Wii was a gift from my mom many, many years ago. So our console gaming has been rather limited in the past few years. Don’t get me wrong, I love my PS2 and it will not become part of the Dejunking 2015 project at all. I have very specific, very joyful memories attached to it. Yeah, I’m looking at you Sara. Baulder’s Gate Marathon? SSX Tricky until our fingers cramped? Still play ‘em. Still love ‘em.

This Christmas Scott and I decided to finally update to a PS4. Cool, right? We completely skipped a generation! The girls were thrilled when they opened it Christmas morning, squeed even, and couldn’t wait to start playing. So as I was making the Christmas Breakfast and getting ready for work (yeah. Work on Christmas. Sucks, but that’s the hospitality industry for you.) Ashleigh started unboxing and setting up the new shiny.

After a few minutes of ripping plastic, tearing tape, and shredding cardboard, Ashleigh appeared in the doorway, a cord in her hand.

“Mom, I can’t set it up.”

“What? Why?”

“There’s no plug for it,” she said.

“Just unplug something else.” We’ve got a dvd player, Wii, and PS2 all hooked up to our TV, surely there is something we can do without.

“No, Mom,” she wiggled the cord at me, “It won’t plug in. There isn’t a port.”

Frustrated because of the 20 million things I’m trying to get done, I walked into the living room and took the cord from her. “What do you mean?”

“This cord doesn’t fit the tv.” She wiggled the cord at me again.

I pulled the cumbersome, heavy tv away from the wall and look at the back. And Friends, wouldn’t you know it, our TV is so old, that it doesn’t have an hdmi port! Seriously? Yup. Our ancient, only got it because it was on sale and they were discontinuing the model, tv can’t handle new technology.

Scott and I couldn’t stop laughing. The girls? Well, they were less than amused.

Guess what else we got for Christmas?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Dejunking: My Life and Home, 2015

One of the most frustrating things I’ve encountered recently is my growing desire for a Big Change.

I’ve mentioned it before here, here, and here, my itchy feet syndrome. My inability to be content with the same place for more than a few years. It has hit again. Hard. Especially towards the end of 2014 when I kept looking at 2015 with hope and excitement. 2015 represents a clean slate, a new start, a tangible end to a crappy year and the beginning of a year that isn’t crappy - in fact, 2015 has the potential to be awesome. It is, of course, what we make it, and I am determined! Determined to make 2015 a Great Year!

Back to my itchy feet. About every three years or so, I get the urge for change. Change of jobs, change of location, change of something. Unfortunately, Scott and I have already made the executive decision that a relocation right now is not feasible. We want to get Cyra through middle and high school without another move. We want to save up money so that in a few years Scott can start his plan to go to brew school. To do that we need to do a few things:

1. Stay on target - with our budget and our long term plans.
2. Keep put - no moving or major life changes.
3. Live modestly - we are planning on living on his salary while socking mine away into savings.

These three things…well, actually, just the second item on the list, put a real kink into my BIG CHANGE and ITCHY FEET plans.

What’s a girl to do?

Well, it all goes back to one of the things I’ve been obsessively googling lately: the Small House Movement. Tiny little portable homes, with tiny little footprints, being all handmade, cute, and minimalist.

I. Love. It.

Scott and I talk all the time about buying land in the middle of nowhere and building a tiny little house, a chicken coop, and a garden. Maybe even a couple of tiny little houses, one for us and then an extra one or two for guests. Ah, the dream of living off the grid and off the land.

But, in all reality, I probably couldn’t go that way, at least with the house size. I like my dvds, crafts, and games way too much. Those three things alone could take up an entire 150 square foot room!! But, I find more and more, as I look around my cluttered home, there is a lot of stuff that I really could do without. I might not be able to reduce enough to live in 150 square feet but I can certainly pare down what I have to live in my 1300 square foot home without feeling claustrophobic.

Now, by no means am I a hoarder. I’ve seen that. I’ve got a family member who is one. But I do have a tendency to collect a lot of crafting supplies. You can see my craftway here. It takes up my entire entry hall (that we don’t use anyway). But with so many crafts (I really do know how to do pretty much every. Single. Craft.) I get overwhelmed with all the supplies. It is time to pare down. I have roughly 60 pounds of scrapbook paper. Who needs 60 pounds of paper? Not this girl!! Not anymore!

So, to alleviate my itchy feet and appease my need for Big Change, I’m down sizing my life. I’ve made a list of rooms, closets, and cabinets I want to tackle and each week I’ll put a dent into my life. That being said, I’m not touching the girls or Scott’s stuff. For one, Scott doesn’t actually have that much stuff and what he does have: books and clothes, are already at a minimum. As a child of military parents, he already has a minimalist mind set. As for the girls, I’m hoping that as they see me donate, toss, and yard sale stuff, they’ll get into the dejunking.

I’ve actually already started. Remember I mentioned my recent weight loss? Well, I’ve donated roughly a third of my clothes and thrown away another quarter. My closet is much more accessible now. And I felt great about getting rid of stuff I never wear!

I think I’ve found the cure for my itchy feet and restless urge for change. Next up: The Kitchen!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Reading Challenge - Introductions

Reading has always been my main form of entertainment. I’d much rather pick up a book and escape into a world woven together with words and imagination than passively watch a tv show or movie. Don’t get me wrong, I love tv and movies too, but active entertainment they are not. I can’t get swept up into a tv world like I can a book world. So I was rather disappointed with myself when over the last year, Netflix became my go-to entertainment. But last year I needed to be passive. I hadn’t the energy to do much and getting emotionally involved in a book? Well, that was way too much commitment on my part.

As I’ve said, reading was something that I pushed to the side in 2014. Not this year. 2015 is the year of Doing Stuff! And stuff has got to be read!

One of the blogs I follow posted this 2015 Reading Challenge from PopSugar. And I dig it. It is vague enough that I can customize it to fit my favorite genres and subjects but detailed enough that finding books to fit it will require thought and effort.

I need to make an effort right now.

Throw in my BFF and I’ve got a ready made book club reading challenge. Hey, Sara, shall we post reviews on our respective blogs? I’ve noticed a lack of blogging on your part lately too. Granted you’ve been busy with Baby, so I completely get it. No worries or pressure.

Even if Sara does not, I’ll post my reviews of what we read. Which should be interesting since the majority of my reviews of things tend to be: “I liked it.” “I hated it.” Or the ever popular, “Meh.” I’ll try to be a bit more descriptive than that. Sara picked the first book: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn which covers the Mystery/Thriller book. Given that I don’t tend to read reviews often, my only real knowledge of Gone Girl is: 1. It’s quite popular, 2. They made a movie, 3. A wife disappeared.

I started reading Gone Girl on the 1st and I was pretty much hooked from the first couple of pages. So it looks very promising.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Things I Didn't Do In 2014, But Will Damn Well Do In 2015

2014 sucked. A lot. And it became a convenient excuse to not do anything. My one resolution this year? 

Do Stuff.

Do the stuff that I love to do. Do the stuff that I ignored.

Here is an incomplete list of things I did not do in 2014 but will do the hell out of in 2015:

1. Write. Okay. That one was obvious. Seriously, three posts in 2014? Cut the crap, Heather, and start writing!

2. Read. Weird, right? I think I might have read three books this year. A long way off from my normal gazillion. I’m not counting, of course, favorite books that I always reread like World War Z and Jurassic Park. Like old friends I find great comfort in picking up a familiar book and I did that, but new books? Even with the ease with which I can now acquire new books on my Kindle, I haven’t read all much.

3. Craft. My only crafty accomplishment for 2014? The Christmas decorations on the tree.

4. Bake. Didn’t even so much as bake cakes for birthdays this year.

5. Cook. Along with baking, cooking in general became a chore. Normal menu planning and prepping for dinners became stressful and making lunches? We went from bento boxes to here’s a sandwich to make your own lunch. I had plans last year to prepare one meal a week that we’d never had before. With all the crap, easy recipes that I knew by heart became the norm. 2015 shall bring a return to new dishes. I also plan to do at least one meatless meal a week.

6. Travel. No. I take that back, I did travel, but it wasn’t for pleasure. Scott’s father passed and we went to be with him. I’d like to plan a trip back home and to Maine this year. It’s been six years since my last trip home.

7. Camp. Different than “travel.” It is. Honest. We actually haven’t camped since 2011. First it was budget constraints, then it was work constraints. This year though I plan on taking a few 3-4 day weekends now that I have vacation time built up.

8. Celebrate the Birthday Fiesta O’Fun. Although, to be fair, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to. I was desperate to get together with Sara for that. Unfortunately, both the girls and I were miserably sick the one stinking week that Sara came back to Florida.

9. Document. I took very minimal photographs this year and most were on my phone for work. Birthdays, holidays, candids, nothing. 2014 will be a non-scrapable year.

10. Budget. Scott and I were getting really good about budgets in 2013. 2014 destroyed that. We didn’t go crazy with spending, but we certainly didn’t pay attention to our finances either. 2015 will be a year of back to basics budgeting.

11. Socialize. I didn’t Facebook, blog, call, write, or visit much in 2014. I wrapped myself in isolation because it was what I needed.

12. Exercise. I’m not a big fan, but a walk around the neighborhood a few times a week isn’t out of the realm of impossible for me. I enjoy it even. I didn’t do anything in 2014. That being said, I still managed to drop (in a majorly unhealthy manner) 30 pounds. I got a new bike for Christmas, though, so exercise is in my future. Though I do need to lose more weight, ultimately, my overall goal is to get back into healthy habits - daily exercise and healthy eating.

13. Family Game Night. 2014 ended family game night. 2015 will bring it back. Scott and I both agree that family game night was and is something that we need. We don’t often eat together - our work schedules often run past dinner time so family game night was a way for us to all sit down together. Christmas helped with that as many of the gifts under the tree were table top games.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Line in the Sand

I’ve never been much for celebrating the New Year. I’ve been to exactly one New Year’s Eve party way back in the early 90s. Staying up and watching the ball drop in New York City is about all the enthusiasm I can muster for what is an arbitrary human line in the sand. Depending on which ancient civilization you favor, the new year fell on the winter solstice, the vernal equinox or some other logical celestial event. The winter solstice makes the most sense to me, but who am I to argue with history winners?

In recent years, staying up to watch the ball drop has become a chore. The older I get the less interested in I am in staying up late and if my neighbors would stop with the fireworks every year, I’d blissfully sleep through the whole thing.

This year though? This year that arbitrary line in the sand is vitally important to me. It’s a tangible moment that will allow me to put 2014 into the “history” category. And Friends, I really, really need to do that. 2014 was a challenge. 2014 sucked spiky, radioactive, guano balls. 2014 just needs to end already.

While I won’t be staying up this year to tell 2014 to “suck it” I’m certainly looking forward to waking up on January 1st with a metaphorically clean slate. I don’t expect things to be magically better though. They won’t be. The same issues that we have been dealing with all year will still be lurking. We’ll still be fighting to reduce some of the shit that has been dumped on us this year, but thankfully, the pile is definitely getting smaller.

2015 isn’t going to be be about new beginnings and changes so much as it will be a return to things I stopped doing in 2014 because it was too much, too overwhelming, too hard to juggle. I’m not one for sticking with resolutions, but I’ve got them this year and I am determined to keep them. Nothing in the realm of impossibility, nothing far-fetched. I’m not planning to take up mountain climbing, become fluent in Latin, and certainly not overcome my fear of sharks by swimming with them. 

Goodbye 2014. Make sure you leave your keys and close the door on the way out.

Hello 2015! Come on in, sit and stay awhile! I've been looking forward to your visit!

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Countdown Is On

There’s a two-part episode of Star Trek Voyager titled “Year of Hell” in which Captain Janeway and her crew suffer a series of calamities over the course of a year. Eventually, through the magic of temporal phenomenon, everything ends up honky-dory, and the Year of Hell never happens. Voyager’s crew continues on their journey unaware of the disasters that befell them or they avoided...I’ve never understood temporal mechanics.

There have been more times than I can count that I’ve wished for a temporal phenomenon to undo this year or fast forward it. My very own, very real, very intense Year of Hell. As science fiction isn’t all science fact yet, that leaves me just waiting for the end of 2014.

Many times, almost daily, I ask myself what right have I to complain. I know people who’ve been through far too much for me to ever complain about anything. How dare I mope when people are starving, when wars rampage across the world, when cities burn, and mothers lose their children! Who am I to lie in bed at night crying? My husband holds me but is helpless to comfort me because I am inconsolable. In those moments, I allow myself to fall because I tell myself that grief is not a contest and there is no measurable way to compare pain, that even though others have suffered far more than I could ever imagine, my anger, sadness, and hurt are just as real.

I count, I breathe, I pull myself together because I have no other choice.

Am I depressed? Yeah. Clearly. There’s no denying that. My one and only solace? I know that my depression is situational. That things are generally shit right now, but it won’t be like this forever. I know that as long as I keep putting my feet on the ground every morning, that someday it won’t feel like such a chore. There are days when my smile is genuine and my laughter is not forced. And those days are slowly starting to outnumber the others.

I’ve said it before that I should have done an anonymous blog, then maybe, I’d post more about my life. Maybe if I had a top secret super blog I’d vent, I’d rant, I’d utilize an outlet that I honestly should have been using: my words. My chaos has been my own this year. I’ve not wanted to share it or talk about it here or anywhere, so even an anonymous blog would have sat unattended this year. I’ve got 31 more days to go in what I expected to be a great year. I have used this year as an excuse for not writing, not crafting, not doing and that’s got to change. Whether I post to a public blog or just jot notes in a journal, writing has always helped me work through my issues and I need to get back to that.

In 31 more days I’ll have survived 2014.

In 31 more days I’ll file 2014 away as a lesson learned.

In 31 more days I’ll jump into 2015 looking to exceed rather than endure. 
 
Scott asked me the other day if I expected 2015 to magically be better. Of course not, I said. But it’s like a clean slate. New Years is a tangible mark, a concrete, albeit human, passage of time. Time allows distance and clarity, healing and hope. Time, right now, is the best friend I’ve got.

This year I fell. Come January 1st, I will start standing again.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Troublesome Little Elf

By now, everyone is probably sick with all the Elf on the Shelf photos floating around the Internets in December. But I was going through my Christmas photos (finally!) last night and doing my monthly external back-up when I happened to spy this one photo of Rupert's Shenanigans that I absolutely loved.

Rupert is our Elf on the Shelf brought to Cyra when she was in kindergarten, before the huge Elf on the Shelf bandwagon was formed (OMG please tell me that doesn't make me hipster!). After a pretty rough November in which said kindergartener was misbehaving, Santa brought Rupert to keep an eye on things.

For the most part, Rupert just moved around, watching...watching...like the burning eye of Sauron. That is until 2012 when Rupert decided to have some "fun" and got into plenty of trouble: TPing the Christmas tree, dying all the milk green, using all of Cyra's bodywash taking a bubblebath. You get the idea.

This past Christmas was probably the last that Cyra will be a firm believer in the Magic of Christmas. And Rupert, willing shenaniganer that he is, was a willing participant. That is until some of the other toys in the house got tired of his crap...

A Paizo Goblin, a Dalek, and Sebastian from Black Butler all ganged up on Rupert and Irish Princess Barbie (Rupert's love interest) and tried to feed Rupert to a collection of evil monster miniatures.
Cyra, the calm, collected kid that she is, came out in the morning and just shook her head.

"Oh, Rupert," she said softly, "What have you gotten yourself into now?"