Tuesday, June 12, 2012

{motherhood} things I love, and don't

things that are hard

Discipline. I hate disciplining them. Gracie has been going through another testing phase lately. Pushing against the rules that bind her to being three-almost-four, trying to be more independent, assert her own desires and will.

That is natural. It is understandable. I don't like being bossed around either. But I had to have my turn there, and that is how this part goes. So there have been lots of consequences, lots of time outs, and I even sat on the floor and cried after she went to bed one night. Where is my sweet, lovely girl, and what have I done to force her away?

Steve told me I haven't done anything wrong. That it is just a phase. I know that, in my mind, but so much of mothering goes on in your heart, doesn't it?

She is already talking about how I won't be in charge of her when she is eighteen.

And I just keep thinking... don't be in such a hurry to grow up....

those things are hard. But there are so many things I love.

things I love

The smell of their hair when its all dried off after a bath.

Their laughter in another room; that it means they are playing happily together, unrefereed, and that their love has lit the other up from the inside.

How Charlie backs up into my lap now with a book in his chubby hands and says, "Book! Book" until I read, and, when we finish, says, "Book! Book!" until I read it again.

Finding toys set up around the house after bedtime or during naptime. Last night a plastic horse stood sentinel outside Charlie's bedroom door as he slept.

When they are kind to someone else, on their own, when they don't know I am watching.

How Gracie worries for anyone who is injured.

When she makes a connection between a word we've read in morning scripture study and the real world and shouts something like, "WILDERNESS!?!?! THAT'S LIKE IN THE SCRIPTURES!!!!!!!!"

That pleased little smile babies get when they accomplish something new. Proud of themselves. The I-did-it smile.

Their cheeks. I could kiss their cheeks all day long. I do. Every time I pick them up, I kiss their cheeks.

How they lay their heads on my shoulder when they're tired.

How they both insist on cramming themselves onto my lap--together--when we read.

When they lean back against me during a good story and relax into the moment.

How Gracie wants to be like me, dress like me, wear chapstick and brush her hair. How she beams under praise. How she loves hard and fiercely, like I do. How I know her so well, because she is so much like me.

Charlie's mischievous smile, the aw-come-on-just-one-more-time! smile that steals across his face when I've caught him climbing up the couch or pushing the button on a forbidden electronic device.

How they hug my legs.

How Gracie draws pictures of me, and tells me I "look like a doll" and tells her daddy that he "looks so handsome."

How sweet they look when they sleep.

How happy/bubbly/energetic they are in the morning.

How Gracie always tries to climb into bed with me when she wakes us up (the MINUTE her clock says 7:00).

Saturday, June 9, 2012

can you think of nothing?

I find myself in need of an outlet.

Which is funny, because sometimes I think all I do is outlet. I sew, I draw, I write, but more importantly I talk talk talk to anyone who will listen.

I think it is because my brain works so fast. It is a constant whir of thought, drawing connections, daydreaming, worrying, making lists, making comparisons, remembering, forgetting, forgiving and occasionally beating myself up, but not so much of the latter anymore.

If I don't talk and write and draw and sew and shop, it all just stays in there whirling around and, quite honestly, making me tired.

Sometimes I will be laying beside Steve on a lazy morning when the kids don't make us get up too early, and I'll ask him that ever present question, "What are you thinking about?" and he will say, "Nothing."

I used to not believe him. Not because I thought he was lying, but because I didn't think it was possible. But after five years of marriage and plenty of discussion, I realize that it is possible. Just not for me. I am a little envious of that talent.

What about you? Can you think of nothing? It seems like it would be very nice. :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

not really writer's block.

I've stumbled through writers block before. Sometimes months at a time. But now that I've surpassed my 60,000 word goal, I'm finding not so much that I can't think of anything to write--I've actually finally got a TON of things to put on paper, and I can feel the plot pacing speeding up to a thrilling speed--but that I can't seem to get things down fast enough.

This is its own kind of problem. I know I have places to go now, things for my characters to do and say and discover, but I am so discouraged by all the many tiny steps it will take to get there. 60,000 words seemed like such a huge accomplishment, but not I realize I've done that much, and I'm still not finished. I feel a little deflated again.

Sitting down to write, getting through the backstory to get to the good stuff, is even more frustrating to write than it is to have to read. You know those few pages you skim because you know something good is coming? You can't really skim it when you're writing it. :p

This is just part of life, this feeling, but it is terrible to be discouraged, nonetheless.

I think that might be another reason to pour yourself into lots of things you love. I'm cutting together family videos, working on new sewing projects, taking photos (I'm doing pictures for two families tomorrow) and daydreaming about art projects. Little victories make this long haul part seem not so bad.

I love writing it, but I also kind of wish it was just done.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

refashion #1 + tons more words

Change freaks me out.

It's not that I consciously think about how things are changing, but just, when I feel a big change creeping up on me, I get a ton of nervous energy, which, if I don't channel it into something productive, will just demolish all my good intentions. And since we have a lot of change on the horizon (tons of our friends are leaving, and a year from now, we will be, too!) I've had a lot of that energy! So, I've been doing lots of projects.

One of them is refashioning! I am obsessed with one of our local thrift stores--I sneak over there at least once a week to browse by myself for name brand clothes for pennies on the dollar (GAP jeans? $2.50!) or search for things that could be cute, with a little help. I really just needed some easy dresses to wear in the summer because it gets HOT here. So they don't have to be perfect, just wearable-to-the-grocery-store.

My favorite find so far is this lovely number, which the hubs eyed suspiciously and (aptly) called a "mumu."

Sorry I'm not wearing it and that the floor has stuff on it and that this picture is terrible. But I think you can tell it is HUGE.

I paid $10 for it, which is A TON by my thrifting standards, but I just loved the buttons and the print so much, that I decided it was worth it.

And a little pinning and some time with my 1970's sewing machine, and I decided I was right.

Oh, and in other news, today I hit 60,000 words. Which is novel length (mine doesn't have an ending, though, so it will be longer than that, obviously). But no big deal... Just kidding. BIG DEAL!!! I am excited. :)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

almost 49,000 words and ⌘ + Shift + 4

Every weekday during the kids' naptimes I work on my book. For almost all of last month I hated it. I had terrible writers block. I knew where I was going, but I was slogging through the pages so slowly. Sometimes I was lucky to get a couple hundred words down. The places I was going had fun, exciting scenes to write, but the pages I had to fill to get there were grueling to write, because they were the every day things that lead to the interesting things.

But you can't have a meaningful first kiss if there's no reason for you to love the boy, right?

So I had to write them. But man, I hated it.

This month has been more fun. I'm averaging about 1,000 words a day, give or take about a hundred. I think about my characters during the day, zone out driving thinking about how to get something to happen, and have to tune back in to my girlie asking questions about lizards or what have you from the back seat. It's been exciting. As you see above, I'm almost up to 49,000 words. Check it out:

Are you trying to read it? Don't. I'm pretty sure the gaussian blur will attack your retinas.

48,862! 60,000 is a full-fledged novel length (but my story has far longer to go before it's finished, I think). Still. Thats a ton of writing. A ton of naptimes. I don't think I've ever gotten this far, at least not since I wrote a slightly embarrassing "novel" start to finish at age 14. You can imagine the kind of things a 14 year old would write in a novel, I'm sure.

No, you can't read it! How terrible! There is enough bad writing out there without you reading something I wrote when I was 14. (Which is also what I tell myself on the days that I think I am a terrible, terrible writer. I just figure, I've seen some pretty terrible things in print, so even if I have no talent, that doesn't mean I shouldn't eventually get published. Persevere!)

About twice a month I want to screen capture something on my Mac, but I always forget how and have to google it. If you're wondering, it's ⌘ + Shift + 4.

Friday, March 16, 2012

that awkward moment...

Have you guys seen those "That awkward moment when..." memes floating around the internet?

Or, okay, a little more relatable:

both from here.

Which yes, I do that all the time. (I'm pretty sure I choke on my own spit WAY MORE often than on, say, food.)

Or, you know, like...

That awkward moment when you get into a dressing room at a store after doing like five million other things and talking to a bunch of people and look in the mirror and realize your fly is down.

That awkward moment when you hit SEND before you actually finished your text message.

That awkward moment when you realize that your baby has pooped all over her clothes on an airplane and the only thing you have to dress her in is a crop-top sweater and some sweat-shorts.

NOT that any of these things have happened to me.

What about that awkward moment when your BFF gets her 4-year-wish granted, and you want to cry because it means she is moving away from you, probably forever?

I know, I know. That's really more sad than awkward, right? But it is still totally awkward. I just saw her, and she was so happy, and I just wanted to cry. I haven't yet. But I did eat a whole Ghiradelli brownie this morning. Well before lunchtime. Which is pretty much the same thing.

I don't want to bum you out, though, even though I am totally in need of some B&J, A&E P&P, & a good cry. (Sadness requires a lot of ampersands, FYI.) So I'm going to leave you with some more awkward moments (again, definitely NOT from my life, but if they were, MOST of them would be from a long time ago):

That awkward moment when you fall asleep at your friends' house during a movie and wake up realizing you've drooled on their pillow.

That awkward moment when you're walking backwards trying to talk to a guy you like, and you accidentally run into a trashcan and almost knock it over and everybody laughs.

That awkward moment when you're riding your bike and decide to spit your gum out and it gets caught in your hair.

That awkward moment when someone congratulates you on your marriage by saying "Enjoy it while it lasts."

That awkward moment when you mutter "You suck" at someone under your breath and they turn around and say, "What?" (Okay I have to cop to this one just because I have to say that this happened in high school and I would never ever do that as a "grown up")

That awkward moment when you're talking to a boy you like and your backpack gets hooked on a ladder and you get jerked backward and everybody laughs.

That awkward moment when you fall in mud that looks like poop and have to call your mom to bring you new pants.

That awkward moment when you learn HTML encoding and build a website like a huge geek to impress a guy and then find out he doesn't know how to do either of those things. (But at least you ended up kind of loving it and getting a job post-college because of it.)

That awkward moment when you're meeting a bunch of people for the first time and your pants split and you have to low-ride your bag over your bum and stay seated for as long as much as possible so nobody can see your underwear.

That awkward moment when a bird poops on your head at lunch break and your friends have to help you wash your hair in the middle school bathroom.

...man, I didn't realize there were so many of these. If you're wondering how I still ended up realatively well adjusted and had steady boyfriends in high school and lots of friends and married a super cool guy I will tell you the secret:


Because birds poop on your head no matter who you are.

...I was kind of meaning to write about my BFF and how much I am going to miss her, but I feel like this post got waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay off track somehow.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

thoughts & confessions

Does anybody else wander through their day thinking of status updates to write, and then never writing them?

I do this way too often. I think it is because I am a little bit narcissistic. Or no, not exactly narcissistic, but I like to talk about myself. Or I want everyone to validate that what I'm thinking IS AWESOME.

For example, status updates I could write right now, if I hadn't just written one like an hour ago (I don't do more than one in a day unless something crazy happens. I don't know, it is one of my internal rules. My moral compass. You shouldn't have to experience that much of my day... But in case you wanted to here are the things I could "update" you with.)

Is it weird that, after finishing Mindy Kaling's book (Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me) I feel like I know her and could just call her "Mindy"?

There is nothing as exciting as knowing a box of books is making its way toward your porch through the mail!

I've had a sore throat for a week and it won't go away. It isn't a bad one, but it is annoying.

Aren't you guys so glad I told you about that stuff?

And while we're at it, I have to unburden myself with some confessions.

  1. I think about dessert a lot. It is seriously a huge motivating factor when I am at the gym. I LOVE DESSERT. In fact, since I've been calorie counting, I plan my day so I can have dessert within that calorie limit. And I'm not talking about a Fiber One 90 calorie bar. Ghiradelli brownie or bust.
  2. For the life of me I cannot remember the difference between it's and its. No matter how many times I look it up.   If you are thinking No big deal, you are wrong. For one, I'm an English major with a life dream of writing a book. Its and it's matters in my world. And for another, I am almost rudely critical of all things grammatical. Your and you're. They're, there, their. Left out commas. The list goes on. So I guess this is the universe's way of putting me in my place.
    (If you were wondering, sentence fragments don't bother me, conversationally writing.)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

{motherhood} : survival mode

I had intended to do lots of things last month, not just try to abandon yelling. But life goes so slow sometimes, and so fast others. February was the month of everyone being sick. An ear infection, pink eye, colds, stomach flu and another (or continuation of the previous?) ear infection, all crammed in to three weeks, each of us effected by at least two of the listed items.

survival mode is okay.

Did you know that?

I have to remind myself of it periodically. That some days as long as everyone is fed and wearing a clean diaper/undies and we've tried our best to be nice, that is good enough to mark the day as a good one. Maybe dinner was Cheerios. Maybe we watched Sid the Science Kid before bed because Mommy couldn't bring herself to read another story. But when everything is falling apart at the seams, that is okay. When it comes to order and homekeeping, I tend to be a little more Lucy Ricardo than June Cleaver anyway. Or at least, I'd much rather be Lucy than June.

Though the hubs has yet to yell at me in Spanish.

Anyway sometimes when things suddenly feel really hard and I am just completely incapable of accomplishing one more thing, I look around and assess the situation. Last month the kids were sick. On occasion, I am hit with a month-long battle: my sunny disposition versus my ever-threatening issues with depression. Or maybe the hubs is doing a difficult rotation, and is just gone a lot. I look at these things, and that my kids are still laughing and eating crayons or what have you, and then I give my self permission to just survive for a few more days, and I put my head down and we get through it.

Survival mode is okay. And a good thing, too.

Monday, February 6, 2012

{motherhood} #1: speak softly.

I came across this little number last month, during my daily pilgrimage (okay, one of many daily pilgrimages) through Pinterest. I felt like I'd just smashed face-first into a wall.

The kids got up from their naps, and things went poorly in the obedience department, and the more I thought about this quote the more horrified I became, because, despite my best intentions I realized that I had become a yeller.

It kind of made me sick to my stomach, to be honest. Putting those sweet things to bed that night, kissing my sleeping girlie when I went in to put her blankets back on before I went to bed. How could I yell at these kids? But I did. Frequently.

no yelling.

So my first focus has been simple: no yelling. My kids were kind of getting immuned to it (I hate admitting this, but there it is), and that is BAD because what if there is a car about to clip them or something that a good yell could call attention to, and they don't listen to it because Mom always yells?

speaking softly

I love Proverbs. It is just full of good advice. Like this in 15:1:

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

I'm trying this, too. To speak softly--use my "indoor voice" if you will. A lot of times that means I have to walk down the hall to stop a fight instead of just yelling for someone to stop it!!! And sometimes it means I am bodily carrying someone to timeout instead of yelling them there.

But it also means that my kids are hearing more, instead of just reacting to volume. Especially my tender girl, who is so so in tune to people's feelings already. I think it is important to get down on her level, look into her eyes, and really talk to her about things.

So step one, for me, is no yelling--speak softly.

Well. Unless there's a fire. Or a really cool trash truck they have to run to the front door to see.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

{check-in} writing, fitness, this month's goal, & etc.

So, blog, I haven't been super loyal to you lately. Sorry. But I know you'll understand. Because when we started this goal-tracking thing back in the day (well, you know, last Fall) the deal was no guilt, just pick up and keep moving.

Anyway part of your abandonment has been for good stuff. All that time I was spending on Pinterest and reading emails and blogs and finding coupons and other rationalized-time-wasting stuff during naptime? Well, that whole 2 hours every weekday is now spent working on my book. I've been researching and emailing up a storm contacting experts (and one of them even sent me an 88-page draft of a project he's been working on, which thrilled me to pieces in a super-geeky way) so I can learn more about what I'm writing. And I've also been writing a lot lot lot. We are almost up to 30,000 on the rewrite, and I finally know where everything is going, and how things are going to tie in. So sorry I haven't been writing to you about it--I've been busy enjoying just doing it (or forcing myself to, depending on the day).

Part of it is burn out. I don't know what it is about January. I think a lot of things. Like I'm starting to realize that our life is going to go through upheaval again soon--starting this May when a huge mass of our friends move on to residency and new jobs (I'm happy for them, but a little sad for me) and compounding with the hubs' away rotation(s), match day (ours is in December), and them a move and my girlie starting kindergarten. I know some of this is a long time (over a year) away, but I think we all get it--change is hard.

And I know in my brain that all this exercising and calorie counting is making a difference. I have dropped a lot of poundage, I've gotten better at ignoring the pain of workouts, and I am a regular gym-goer, usually 5 days a week, but even a bad week is usually still a 3-dayer. So that is progress. But I don't look the way I thought I would after 3 months. I am lighter, stronger, but not trimmer. And I'm not going to lie--I'm a little bummed out. And I miss eating just for enjoyment. Without portion control. I know that's silly--moderation in all things, right? But, at least with brownies, I like not so much moderation.

Good news, though!

I chose a goal to focus on for February. Since it's such a lovey month, I decided to work on the goal I've been kind of nervous about touching: being a better mom. Or maybe what I mean is being a more true-to-myself mom. There are some wonderful things from my childhood that I cherish: reading with my mom, art projects, family "field trips"... And I haven't been super great at doing these with my kids so far. I want to focus in on what I want my kids to learn, love, and focus on, decide how best to teach those things, and slowly start putting them into practice.

It's going faster than I expected it to. I only have Gracie home all day for another year-and-a-half. I want to make it count.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

{the dream} Writing the Book

I just emailed a stranger to ask him about an old landmark in San Francisco, which he visited as a boy in the 1930's, and told him I was doing some research because I am writing a novel.

I actually wrote that, to a stranger. So now its not just you who knows. Strangers know. Or at least one will, when he opens his email. If it didn't go into his spam folder.

Actually, if you like history and humor, you should take a look at his website. He is an 89 year old gentleman and writes about life in the 20's and 30's--and he's pretty funny. I'm really hoping he writes me back.

Its been kind of funny, the things I've looked up researching just random things for this book--its not going to be a great work of historical fiction or anything, but I find that I am writing things a little out of my scope of knowledge. And I want to be right if I can, because someone somewhere with a much broader scope of knowledge might pick it up, and I don't want them to toss it aside because I use a poor metaphor or give some bad information. Here are just a few of the things I've looked up, book related:

caves breathing (like this one in Australia)
English cucumber tea sandwich recipe (like this one)
How to type French accents on a Mac (keyboard shortcuts)
the top baby names of 1951 (here are the top 100, if you're wondering)
Betsy-Tacy books (they have their own society!)

So, can you guess what its about?

Actually, most of these are not at all related to the plot--they are the background stuff, but I feel like a lot of times that is what makes a book feel real. It has been pretty fun, actually, learning new things like this. Sort of at random. I haven't focused on learning a lot of non-parenting/marriage/household new things since I've been out of school & not formally working.

And now that I've looked through my google search history, I'm a little disturbed by how much of my life gets typed in to google. Hmm...