Saturday, December 31, 2011

Twelve for Twenty-Twelve

I’ve said it before but it bears some repeating: I suck at blogging. I’m not disciplined enough. Not dedicated enough. Too easily distracted by shiny objects. Or dull objects. Or things that make noise. Or smell nice. Or…well, I’m sure you get the picture.

I’m not good at it, but I’d like to get better. I’d like to blog more without feeling obligated to do so and without feeling guilty when I don’t. Hmmm… That sounds an awful lot like a resolution. Of course, it’s that time of year again, when people under the glamour of one too many champagne shots holler out a New Year’s Resolution when the clock strikes midnight. Statistically most resolutions are thrown on the backburner after the haze of alcohol dissipates or by the end of the month. Me? I think about my resolutions well in advance. There’s certainly no alcohol influencing these much needed improvements.

Right before Christmas I read an article in Parents Magazine that gave suggestions on making and sticking to New Year’s Resolutions. Instead of making large lofty goals, setting smaller monthly goals makes it easier to accomplish each goal. So while I have listed twelve (dare I say lofty?) goals, aside from the first one, they are listed in no particular order nor am I planning on cramming every single one of them into January. I can spread them out and take my time with them. I have, after all a whole year to fill!

1. Write every day. No excuses. With me out of a job right now, there isn’t any reason why I shouldn’t be writing daily, but I always seem to put other activities ahead of writing, especially chores. That needs to stop. I have always wanted to be a writer and it is time for me to start acting like one!

2. Post to my blog at least once per week. And as much as I lurk on other people’s blogs, I am going to start commenting too. I don’t expect to gather a following, but it would be nice and maybe, if more people came to my blog, the more I might blog.

3. Resume my daily exercise routine. Once upon a time, I walked four to five miles a day. It was the justification for getting a dog! I also did free weights. Once upon a time I lost a good bit of weight and then gained it all back because I fell out of my good habits. I started daily walking again this past August when the girls went back to school, but then holidays and company put me into a lazy frame of mind and I put off what I should have stuck to.

4. Get back to better eating habits. It don’t have bad eating habits per se. I eat lots of fruits and veggies (especially oranges as I have no desire to get scurvy). BUT, I could do a lot better with portion control. Maybe cut back on cooking and baking with so much butter. And maybe…just maybe take a step back from my love of dairy – do I really need four pounds of cheese in the house at all times?? Now as far as sweets go? I’ll eat them if they are in the house, but I don’t often have them because I know I’ll eat them. Same thing with soda. I don’t have it in the house, because if it is here, I’ll drink it. I maybe should cut back on my caffeine intake as well…but that’s debatable.

5. If I stick with Numbers 3 and 4, then number 5 should happen as a by-product: lose at least 50 pounds. I should lose much more than that, but 50 seems like a reasonable goal that I can meet without getting discourage. At just a little more than 4 pounds a month 50 pounds is reasonable and attainable. Along with that, I will go back to weighing myself daily. Now, I know that all the weight-loss gurus say you shouldn’t do a daily weigh in, but I find that I am more honest with my eating habits if I know that every morning I step on the scale. It makes me rethink that second cup of coffee or an extra helping.

6. Organize my photographs chronologically. I have a giant plastic tub of pictures, plus a number of smaller photo boxes AND a gazillion empty photo albums. This is the year that I get them organized. And if I enlist the girls (which I plan on doing) then hopefully the task won’t seem so daunting.

7. Along with Number 6, I want to scrapbook more. It’s a hobby I really enjoy and have tons of supplies for. While I organize the photos, I will also plan different scrapbooks. I got interested in scrapbooking with my best friend and one thing I’ve discovered is that it is more fun to scrapbook with someone. Both the girls are interested in scrapbooking as well and it is time for them to create their own books too!

8. Write actual letters to friends and family. I keep meaning to and then never follow through with it. Getting mail is so…nice. It makes you feel loved and remembered. In this age of instant messaging and Facebook and Google+ we think we are so connected, but really…I don’t think we are. I don’t post anything important to my Facebook, not really. A little blurb of information on a social network is not sharing your life with someone. It’s not making a connection. Letters and cards are a lost art that need to be revitalized! With that in mind I am also going to make a concentrated effort on sending birthday cards to family and friends.

9. Reinstitute Family Game Night. For awhile we had a game night every Tuesday. I’m not sure when or why we fell out of doing this, but I miss it. We are a family of gamers: RPG, board games, Wii, and cards… we love games! And conveniently we have a virtual treasure trove of available games to play.

10. Living in a house with a big yard, I would like to commit to getting a backyard homestead going. A nice big vegetable garden, a smaller but equally important herb garden. I have a garden layout in mind based on the French intensive method and I’ve already started a compost pile. Add to that a small flock of chickens, and I think I’ll be well set. We have the space, I think, to add some other small farm animals, maybe a goat or a sheep…or better yet a llama!! But that will need to wait until I am comfortable with raising chickens and veggies.

11. Another thing I’d like to accomplish this year is getting my favorite recipes organized. For Christmas I received a Moleskin Recipe Journal from the girls. Not only is it a perfect way to organize the multitude of recipes that I have printed or ripped out of magazines over the years, but it will be something for the girls to have as well. A collection of all our family favorites in one place. Maybe (and this is ambitious) I’ll pick up two more and make on for each of the girls! With me not working, I have more time to think about, plan and execute nice dinners. Often while I was working I resorted to box dinners: Mac and Cheese, chicken nuggets, easy and quick fixes that would only take a few minutes to prepare. We got stuck in a routine of old standbys and never strayed too far from the familiar. As I am organizing my recipes, I will try to add one brand new recipe or food once per week.

12. Finally, I want to get back to traveling. The last part of 2011 was financially tight and the few trips I had planned I had to cancel. I imagine that 2012, unless I find a job, will be equally tight. However, I want to get back out there in the world and show the girls how amazing our country is. Camping trips will be the least expensive way to go again, but I want to go other places too. North Dakota, Arizona, DC. I know I can’t afford oversea travel in 2012, but someday, I’d also like to go back to England, explore Germany and Sweden, and visit Egypt.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Jumping In

Back in 5th grade we had an end of the year field trip to Moriello Pool. Moriello Pool, like any other community pool, had concession stand, a slide, a kiddie pool, two diving boards and a playground. The highlight of the end of year celebrations, we always looked forward to the trip.

Clear blue skies, soaring temperatures made the day seem perfect and endless. A group of us gathered along the edge of the pool near the deep end and set up our towels and our boom box (yes, it was that long ago). The lifeguards made us swim a lap across the deep end in order to test our swimming ability. Anyone who couldn’t make a lap had to stay in the shallow end.

My friends and I easily pass the exam and spent the next hour splashing and jumping, playing Marco Polo, giggling. There was a lot of giggling. After a while we all got out to lie on our towels and watch the other kids still in the pool. Many kids more adventurous than I were taking turns on the high dive. We laugh as they plough into the water more often than not flat on their stomachs.

Not to be outdone by our classmates we make the choice to each take a turn diving. One by one, we file over to the high dive. Soaring twenty feet above the surface of the water I stare up at it as the line slowly moves forward. I’ve always been nervous about heights. Not so much the being off the ground part, but the falling to my death part.

I count the kids in front of me. Ten more until my turn, five, four, three, Oh my God two, Jeez what the hell was I thinking one… Crap, my turn.

I place my hands on the ladder.
One foot on a rung.
Two feet on the rung.
Hands moving up.
Looking down.
Five feet off the ground.
Hand, hand.
Foot, foot.
Up and up.
Ten feet.
Fifteen feet.
Hand, hand.
Oh My God, the top.

I’m on the top. My hands clench the railing and turn white. I look down again. Big mistake. I back up a little my heel skims the edge of the board. I know the rungs are right there. I can just climb back down. Back to the ground and I’ll be fine. I look down. Three of my friends still wait below. Two of my friends cling to the side of the pool watching.

I feel like I’m in a movie when everything slows down. Seconds feel like minutes and each thud of my heart rattles my ribcage. Chlorine stings my nose and shrieks, giggles and squeals of laughter are drawn out and echo across the pool.

I look down again and my best friend smiles up at me and nods. She knows how scared I am. She knows that I want to climb back down. And I know that if I do climb back down she won’t think anything less of me.

I move to put my foot back on the top ladder rung, but stop a mere inch before my toes touch. My best friend might not think any less of me. The other kids might tease me about being scared. And that isn’t a big deal.

My mom raised me to not worry about what others think. It’s what I think that matters to me. And I know that if I climb back down the ladder, I would disappoint myself.

I put my foot back on the board. I took a shuffling step forward. One foot after the other, my hands edging along the railing until there was no more railing. I slide my feet along, letting go of the railing. As I make my way to the end of the board each step the board flexes and bows beneath my feet. I reach the end of the board. Bouncing gently, both feet on the board, arms outstretched for balance.

I push down a bit with my feet and come up on my toes. Push down. Come up. Push down. Jump out. The board disappears. Wind whistles across my face. My eyes screw shut. My stomach drops — No. I drop. Feet first. Arms out and up. I gulp in air. I scream. I suck in a lungful of air. My feet hit the water and then I’m under. I slow down, pause, my feet start scissor kicking, propelling me up, my arms pulling through the water.

I break the surface, gasp and shake the hair and water from my face. I look up at the board. My best friend stands on the end and with only the slightest of hesitation plunges in.

She surfaces near me and we swim to the edge of the pool.

“I didn’t think you were going to do it,” she says. “You looked like you were going to throw up.”

“I felt like I was going to throw up.” I tell her.

“But you did it.” She smiles at me and hoists herself out of the water onto the concrete. “Want to go again?”

“Nope,” I tell her. “One risk a day is plenty for me.”

Back then jumping off the high dive at the community pool seemed daring and life altering. I was a risk-taker, Damn it! And I could do anything!

Now, risk taking seems more weighted, more intense and important. Taking a risk must be weighed against what is best for my family. And despite all assurances, taking a risk is more than just jumping off a diving board.

I want to take the risk. I want to jump in fully committed with my eyes open and no hesitations this time.

But if I screw up…

If I can’t make it work…

Two tiny letters. One HUGE concept.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sailor Talk

Having an outdoor space that we can actually move around in is one of the reasons why Scott and I liked this house so much. The girls have a great place to play and run around and actually get to be kids. Towering trees, a pond and a gazebo make it an excellent place for young explorers.

The only draw back we’ve discovered is that despite all of our camping trips, the girls, mostly Cyra, are not 100% sure which bugs, spiders and snakes to avoid. So I found a friendly blog about snakes that live in Florida that had some amazing pictures.

“Look, Cyra,” I say pointing at the screen, “this one is an Eastern Diamondback Rattler. Stay the Hell away from this one.”

“Do they live here?”

“Yes. But you probably won’t see on in the yard. Besides, you’ll hear it before you see it anyway.” I click on the next picture. “See this one?”

“Yes.” Cyra says. “What is it?”

“It is a Southern Copperhead. Stay the Hell away from this one.”

“Okay, Mommy.” She pulls her feet up onto the couch and looks anxiously at the floor.

“Okay.” I tell her clicking on the next picture. “This is a Coral Snake. Really stay the Hell away from this one.”

“Mom, but the Scarlett King snake is okay.” Ashleigh pipes in.

“Yeah, but to be safe, stay the Hell away from both of them,” I reply.

“Mommy, I know that if the red and yellow touch it’s venomous,” Cyra states.

I nod and click on another picture.

“Look, this one is a Cottonmouth. Stay the Hell away from it.”

“I get it, Mommy.” Cyra says.


“Mom? Shouldn't you just tell her to stay away from all the snakes?” Ashleigh asks.

“Well, yeah, but like this one?” I click to another photo. “Eastern Indigo. Good snake to have around. And they’re pretty.” I look at the picture for a minute. “This is the one you saw, Cyra that made you jump 12 feet into the air shrieking like a banshee!” I pause, “You should probably just stay away from snakes.”

I swivel the desk chair around to face the girls. Cyra’s feet are tucked up tight beneath her.

“I am never going outside again,” she says.

“That’s silly,” I tell her, “What are you going to do when you see a snake in the yard?”

“Stay the Hell away from it!” she exclaims.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cramped For Space

1300 square feet is actually not all that much space, especially coming from 1700 square feet and an attic. I am discovering just how attached I am to certain things (like books and crafts) and how completely unattached I am to other things (please explain to me why I have four queen-sized comforters/quilts).

Before we moved, I did a lot of dejunking. A lot. Bags and bags of books donated to the library, boxes of miscellaneous mismatched dishes, old linens and clothes. As much as I thought I could get rid of, I did.

But I am finding that it wasn’t enough.

We have a great deal of storage space but it is all outside storage. And right now, I am a bit concerned for my many boxes of Christmas decorations, teaching supplies, crafts and books that are in a hostile environment.

Oh! The humidity. The blazing heat. And let’s not get started on the bugs.

I went to Barnes and Noble today to browse because I have a gift card (yes this is related). I picked up nearly a dozen books throughout my leisurely stroll around the store. Yet every book I picked up went back on the shelf. I can wait until the library has it, I thought. I’ve got a ton of books that I just checked out from the library. And then, a most horrific thought: Where exactly would I put this book? On what shelf?


Ready to leave, I walked to the front door empty handed right past the shiny display of Nooks and the delightful saleslady making an exuberant pitch to a little old lady.

I paused. I picked up a display Nook secured tightly to the counter with a white springy wire. I pressed a few buttons and the screen whizzed into action: menus, demos, apps. I sighed quietly at the price and put the Nook back on its display shelf.

I turned to leave and the saleslady caught my eye for just a second. Her glance clearly screamed, “No! Don’t walk away! I know you want this and I will be right with you! Please!”

I smiled and walked out of the store.


1300 square feet is just almost enough motivation and justification for buying an e-reader.

But then I think to myself, there is just something so nice about flipping the pages in a book, the smell of the paper, the stiffness of the spine.

I am sure one day, I’ll get an e-reader or the next Great Thing, but it will be the day when books are no longer published on paper. A day when paper maybe too costly to use or too rare.
And that day, my Friends, that day makes me sad.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Potting and Plotting

In the old house, I had a bunch of flower pots left over from the previous woman who lived there. One pot, had a bunch of amaryllis bulbs in it that every year bloomed faithfully even though I didn’t ever do anything for them except occasionally pulling a few weeds out. The other pots pretty much just had weeds.

I kept them around because even though I do not consider myself a gardener or a person who can actually keep a plant alive, I know how much large ceramic garden pots can cost.

I always figured that someday, I might just be ambitious enough to start a container garden.


If scientists ever create genetically modified flowers that are indestructible.

In any case, when we got ready to move back to the St. A. I decided to take the empty pots with me. The house we found to rent has nearly 2 acres with it and the Girls were excited to have space to plant a vegetable garden.

Knowing my propensity to kill green things, I opted to wait before digging into a garden and do research. (It is one of the things I miss most about being a slacker college kid)

While I research the girls bounce around me begging for a garden.

“Okay,” I tell them, “but we will start small with what we have.”

While Ashleigh was off frolicking on a GS trip, Cyra and I wandered around Home Depot picking flowers solely on prettiness factor and color. Luckily, most of them turned out to like sunshine (we get a lot here!) and I eventually figured out the difference between a perennial and an annual (remember, black thumb over here!).

And people, I totally have a garden!

Red one.

It's a pink one! We also got the same kind in a dark pink and white!

It's a purple one!

Firecracker Flower

Some type of Daisy

Balloon Flower - Cyra's Favorite

All planted and ready for the Sun!

The ease of which these plants went into the pots makes me almost confident about a larger garden down the line. Now let's see if we can keep them alive...

Dreaming Big

I only discovered Miss Britt a few short weeks ago and I’ve been lurking ever since. She’s totally living my life! Well, the life I totally want to live.

Liquidate the assets.
Buy an RV.
Home school the Small Fries.
Travel the continent.
Blog about it.

Totally. Want. This. Life.

But for now, the best I can do is to vicariously live through her spectacular blog.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Back And Better Than Before. Probably.

I’ve been in dark places before. Back in high school I went through a stupid dark place.

I haven’t posted here in a while because I was once again in a dark place and I had no interest in blogging about it. I still don’t, so don’t look for me to go into the details now.

But I am coming back to myself, I think, with a new location, a new attitude and a new purpose. I’m ready to talk again, ready to write here again.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride it is sure to be exciting…at the very least quirky and maybe even entertaining. There’ll be adventures in parenting, writing, teaching, crafting, gardening and maybe some chickens.