Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Quirk # 572 - My Ears

Here we are 2/3 of the way through January. I said I was going to try to write here – something – every day. The key word, of course, being ‘try.’ So far, if I had to grade myself, I'd give myself a C. I've missed some days, for various reasons. I’m thinking that every other day might be a more realistic goal. I’m afraid if I try to do 365 posts this year, I’ll be scraping the barrel so hard for things to write about that I’ll lose any chance at good substance.

So that’s where that stands.

Our big trip is now only a few days away. I vacillate wildly between panic and good, healthy coping. Today I went to the drugstore (gosh, it’s still weird to live in a place with a drugstore) and picked up not one but TWO kinds of ear plugs in an effort to hedge my bets as far as my ears possibly causing a problem on this flight.


A couple of friends told me about these Earplanes. One of them insisted that his wife had horrible ear pressure issues when flying until she started using these. Now she won’t fly without them. Being the obsessive creature that I am, I read a lot of reviews online about them. Most said that they work very well, but a significant number also said that because they’re silicone rubber and not foam, they can be a little uncomfortable when wedged in the ear for long periods.

I don’t even like to use ear buds for that very reason, so I decided it might be wise to pick up an alternative so that I have options when the time comes.


No, I don’t care that they are pink or that they are “women’s.” Actually, I’d prefer they were purple. Ha! I chose these solely because they say “ultra-soft” instead of just “soft.” Someone who knows what they’re doing as far as ears and planes told me that super soft foam ear plugs are wonderful for

It seems ridiculous to need to buy two kinds of ear plugs for a simple three-hour flight (let alone to write an entire post about it). However, I know myself well enough to know that the better prepared I am, and the more options I have with me, the less anxious I will be. And since I’m fully aware that at least half of this problem is due to anxiety, I find it worthwhile to go to some hassle to bring that anxiety down a bit.

I do have one more weapon in my arsenal – that’ll be another post! Do you have any tips for flying with finicky ears?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Addiction

The lame thing about feeling the need to purge the blog every so often to remove the accumulation of personal information is that it means I lose great old posts I would love for people to read. The cool thing about that is I can tell the same story more than once and no one will be the wiser. Well, unless I have long-time readers who might remember. But what are the chances of that, really, as much as I’ve neglected this space since kiddo was born?

Here comes a confession. Are you ready?


I am completely and totally, unabashedly (well sort of) and passionately addicted to Starbucks hot chocolate. I don’t drink coffee because it reminds me of armpits, so instead I drink hot chocolate. I don’t consume caffeine in any other form either, so the hot chocolate has just enough caffeine to give me a ‘buzz’ without making me act like a meth head on a case of Red Bull. Plus, hello, they are incredibly tasty.

I went on a three-week sugar detox back in October (that’s a whole other post) and did not have a single hot chocolate for 32 whole days. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. I finally did have one after the detox was over, and then of course slid back to having them pretty frequently, because they just make my life a lot more enjoyable.

This morning I was sleepy and my stress level has been up anyway due to my impending flight, so I really wanted a hot chocolate. Alas, life happened, and there was no time for a Starbucks run. I found myself quite agitated! I’m not a morning person anyway, so on tough days I really rely on that little pick-me-up, just like most other people rely on their coffee.

As much as I may realize that my dependence on hot chocolate is kind of a bad sign, it doesn’t reduce the craving at all. And I know that if I don’t indulge some of those cravings, they will eventually become giant growly monsters and much harder to subdue.

I may or may not have run to Starbucks on my lunch break… ahem…!

So tell me, dear Starbucks, what illicit super-addictive drug do you put in your chocolate syrup?!?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Best Friend I've Never Met

Somewhere around 15 years ago, I was a young(er) person with a job and an apartment (shared with hubby, who was only my friend then) and so much free time it was ridiculous. If only I realized at the time how much free time I had!

One of my pastimes then was playing games online. Yes, I'm a closet nerd. Kind of a big one. Anyway, at the time I was playing a game called EverQuest. It was a wonderful way to spend my dark winter evenings, and because it was an online game, I could even claim to be somewhat social while I was doing it. I did meet lots of great people, many of whom I'm still friends with now.

But there is one who stands out.

If you don't like nerdy things, just go ahead and close your browser now.

I was hunting one night with my elf character in the Lake of Ill Omen. (How is it that I remember the names 15 years later but I cannot remember what I walked into a different room for?) went to a merchant to sell some of my loot. Sitting in the tower that housed the merchant was a fine specimen of Barbarian manliness.

Yes, I'm laughing as I type this. Completely hilarious that I remember all of this.

I don't know if I was bored or what, but I decided to strike up a conversation with this guy. We started chatting about the game and such, and soon we were having a great time talking about all sorts of different things.

Eventually, I learned that the person behind that character was actually a woman, not a man, and that she lived four time zones away near Boston.

Over the course of the next months and years, we grew so very close. It started with a silly video game and a couple of twenty-somethings on opposite ends of the country. She was in college and living with her boyfriend; I was working and living with a guy I was stuck in Friendville with. 

Today, we are both happily married with kids and houses and pets and white picket fences. Well, we WOULD have white picket fences if such a thing existed. We compare notes and commiserate on motherhood, wifehood, life in suburbia, being working moms, the whole bit.

I can easily say that she is my closest friend. She is kind and thoughtful and funny and just talking to her makes me feel great, no matter what else is going on. She understands me on every level (well, as much as anyone can ever understand me!) and she might be the only person on the planet that I can tell anything to - ANYTHING - and not even worry she will think less of me. Sometimes we talk every day and sometimes we go two months without talking. And when we do, we pick right back up where we left off as if no time had passed. Our relationship is so special to me.

So it's that much more bizarre, and kind of a shame, that we have never met. I've been thinking about that a lot lately. As we approach my first flight in seven years, I wonder if one of the payoffs of this trip will be the freedom for me to travel more, and therefore to finally meet my Lisa. I hope so.

The other day we were talking about stuff - just stuff - and I made a couple of self-deprecating jokes about my weight. I'm very hard on myself about my weight. She stopped the conversation immediately and said something like, "okay I let the first one go and there's another one, knock that off." She might be the only person in the world who can say that to me without me either blowing her off or reacting in a negative way. Immediately I knew she was right and I changed my thought process. Just like that, even if only for a short time, she made me a better person. She does that a lot.

I told her about how I'd read somewhere that people in my situation can benefit from a vision board, anchored by a picture of the person as a child. Around that picture, you are supposed to place other pictures of family members, or fit people, or inspirational quotes, or anything that motivates you to be better at whatever you are working on. If you start being mean to yourself, you're supposed to look at the picture of that child and ask yourself if you'd let someone talk to that child that way. The whole concept is pretty powerful. We talked about how that seemed like a wonderful idea, but that I had just never gotten around to it.

Shortly thereafter, our conversation ended (not because of the previous comments!). 

A little while later, I found this in my email with a caption explaining that she made this for me so that I could have my vision board and not have it be one of my "to-do's" anymore, looming over me like another chore on a long list.


I opened this email at work and I admit that I started to cry.

She had nabbed that picture from my Facebook account and created this mini vision board from it. For no other reason other than to make me feel better about myself.

How lucky am I to have someone who cares so much about me and with no agenda? Who would have thought that a couple of 21-22 year old girls who met on a video game would have this relationship 15 years later?

Definitely not me.

I came home and printed this, then laminated it, and it's been on my kitchen table since. I'll hang it up once I figure out where it should go, but for now the table is the perfect place for it. I see it multiple times a day and I smile and think maybe - just maybe - I am worth this.

And I'm not sure anyone could convince me of that like she does.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Flashback

After living in our new city for well over a year, we finally made it to the public library for the first time a couple weeks ago. I really wanted to get Aidan to a library sooner than later, now that he's only months away from being a reader himself. Of course, I wanted to do it much earlier, but that pesky life thing gets in the way.

I was pretty impressed with the library here. It's larger than the one back home and has a lot more research materials. And the kid area is great! But I admit the library back home does have a certain charm that this one did not. Anyway, we were introducing the kid to the kid room and all the wonderful things that libraries have. I wandered around a bit to check out the kids' books and just happened to walk by this one.


Oh, hello huge pre-teen flashback!

WOW!

I loved these books! I had at least... gosh... maybe 40 of them?? Maybe more?? I read them over, and over, and over again. I wondered if I had grown up in a more densely populated area like the girls in those books, could I have started my own Baby-Sitters Club? I would have loved it.

You know what the funniest part is?

I darn near checked this book out. 

Then I realized I'm now in my late 30s (how did this happen?) and that might be weird.

Actually, I'm okay being weird. I just need to work up to checking out tween books!

Monday, January 12, 2015

One of Those Annoying Mysterious Posts


I can't go into detail, but this graphic I saw on Facebook this morning sums up some stuff I've been thinking about lately.

I've always considered myself to be a forgiving person who gives people the benefit of the doubt wherever possible and is willing to keep giving infinitely even when not much is coming back my direction. I have always felt like this is one of my best qualities.

I don't know if it's that I'm getting older, or that now I have the duty of protecting someone else's heart in addition to my own, or what. But I've started to lose my willingness to be in one-way relationships. (Obviously I'm not speaking of romantic relationships, as I am still quite happily married, thank you very much!) 

I mean friends and acquaintances and coworkers and even relatives in some cases. I just feel like I've reached a point in my life where I don't want to devote any more time and energy to people who give nothing back or, worse, actually TAKE even more than I give.

Don't get me wrong, I don't ask much. Basic courtesy is about as much as I ever expect; anything beyond that is a welcome bonus. Like communication, for instance. If I leave you a voice mail or send you a text or a Facebook message or a carrier pigeon or whatever, please find the time to respond in some way when it's convenient for you to do so. It doesn't have to be right away and it doesn't have to be a big long response. But know that if you ignore me for weeks or months on end, you're on my list. If you're unpredictable in a way that messes with my heart or that of my kid, you're on my list. 

What list, you ask?

Well, the list works a lot like a list on my TiVo box. When I delete a show, it goes into the deleted shows folder. It doesn't go away completely; it's recoverable from there. But it doesn't take up any active space. If it becomes active again, it comes right back as if nothing happened. And if it stays there for a long period of time, it eventually falls out of that list into the abyss, never able to be restored. Just gone.

I've had to put a couple people in the deleted folder lately. I hate doing it. I really, really hope they find their way back into the active folder. But I'm starting to lose hope.

Is this bad? Would it be better for me (and/or my kid) to keep trying indefinitely and to just be the bigger person all the time even if it is never reciprocated? Does this mean I am turning heartless? I wonder about that. I don't want to be a cold person. What would my Aunt Betty say about this?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Oops.

Well, I made it nine days with writing each day. That is a pretty good run. Then, yesterday, I blew it! I can't truthfully say that I didn't have time to write, or that I couldn't think of anything to write, or that I was too busy helping old ladies cross the street.

It's just that I completely forgot.

Which brings me to one of the hardest things about parenthood, at least for me.

I don't feel smart anymore!

I used to be so darn smart. I was in a gifted program in elementary school, I got good grades all through high school (except chemistry, because yuck) and I quit after my first year of college not because it was too hard, but because there was nowhere to park. Okay, that's a really grossly oversimplified explanation of that, but the parking situation was a factor. What can I say? I didn't want to walk a quarter mile to class at -40ยบ.

Anywho...

I miss my brain. The sharp one that remembered the birthdays, anniversaries and various other details about virtually everyone I knew. The one that never needed to make a list for grocery shopping and never forgot where the car keys were.

Where did it go?

I remember back when all my friends started to have kids, they used to warn me about 'pregnancy brain.' The spacey condition that happens with pregnancy and never goes away after the kid is born. I was on the lookout. Except, obviously, pregnancy was not so much in the plan for me, so I've decided this is actually just... 

Mommy Brain.

True story. This kid is my everything. And since the day he was born, I am forgetful and scatterbrained and so easily distracted. Don't get me wrong, it's completely worth it, but I miss that sharpness.

He's four now, so tell me, will I ever get my brain back!? 

Friday, January 9, 2015

October Baby

The other day, I saw one of those goofy little articles somewhere on social media, you know the type. This one was about how to get the most out of Netflix. I thought Netflix was pretty straightforward, however it did have a few good tips. One was to create different profiles within the account for each person who uses it. I kind of thought this was silly at first, but decided to try it. I was instantly glad that I did! You can start by rating a few movies and from there, the service starts to recommend movies it thinks you would like. So far it's pointed me toward several movies I never would have run across otherwise.

The very first one i decided to try was called October Baby.

I was surprised to learn that this movie had an adoption theme. How funny. Trailer below:



Spoilers ahead, so stop reading if you don't want them!

I'm not going to type out the plot here, but let's just say that Hannah is a young lady who learns that not only is she adopted, she was actually a survivor of a failed abortion. Needless to say, things become very complex for her when she learns about it. 

The hardest part of the story line, for me, was that for the first half of the movie, her adoptive parents were jerks. The type that give the rest of us a bad name. I almost stopped watching it a couple of times, just because I was so uncomfortable with that. But as things unfolded, I started to see that they were scared and really, though they may have been going about it the wrong way, they were trying to protect their daughter.

I don't want to give away the ending, in case you decide to watch it. And I recommend that you do, because it was an excellent movie. Definitely an eye opener, which is always a good thing.

Don't let me fool you into thinking Netflix recommendations are all perfect though. Because I like crime movies, it pointed me tonight to a movie that was based on a true story about a husband and wife who were, well, just doing really terrible things to other people.

Okay, okay.  I totally watched it.

I can't help it!  I am fascinated by how the human mind works and what goes wrong to produce people like those in that last movie I mentioned. What can I say, it's a sickness. Or a blessing. Or something.

Go watch October Baby!!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Kind Of... Blah.


In a fog today and don't know why. Nothing bad, I think my brain just went on vacation. Without me. I don't appreciate it at all!

I'll be back tomorrow when I'm more coherent. 


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What a Difference a Day Makes

I felt better last night after I typed out the scary flight story and the hospital story. I tend to be really hard on myself about things, and so I'm realizing how much I ridicule myself about my fears. Some of them have some legitimate reasons behind them, like I explained in my last post.

Today, however, is a different story. I'm feeling very anxious again today and every time I think about takeoff, my stomach knots up. I'm hoping tomorrow will be better. I'm actually really proud of myself for how far I've come in the last few weeks, but clearly I still have work to do.

In an effort to desensitize myself to the idea of flying, so that perhaps I won't want to throw up every time I think of it, I printed a picture of the inside of a plane like the one we'll be flying on. It's in a spot that I walk by several times a day. I'm still not completely comfortable with it, but I admit the barf reflex has weakened substantially. I also sought out videos on YouTube about how to cope with - or even conquer - a fear of flying. Those were actually extremely helpful. I learned some breathing techniques and some self-talk (as hokey as that sounds) that will hopefully keep me as calm as possible when the time comes.

I also secured some low dose Valium from my doctor and will be taking some of my favorite 'chill-out' essential oils with me, too. I'm also already planning what to pack in my carry-on to distract me.

I sort of wish I didn't have two more weeks to dread this. Let's get it over with already! Well, not the trip, just the flying part.

We did get one step closer to that yesterday when we finally located a place to leave our dogs while we are gone. We were going to have to drop them at a chain store, and I hated that with every fiber of my being. I did visit the place and the people were nice enough, but I just didn't like the cold mechanical atmosphere of it all. And, right or wrong, I don't trust 16 year olds with my 10 year old Chihuahuas. I just don't. And here's what Minnie thought of the chain place:


I must say that I agreed with her.

The girls have never been boarded before and I feel bad enough having to do it, but we did find a great place. It's a small kennel attached to the owner's house, so there's someone there all the time. And they will get some personal attention every day instead of just being stored in a cage. Much to my surprise, it is also cheaper than the chain place. Victory! Minnie will be much more pleased with our choice. 

There is even cable TV in each and every stall of the kennel. I am permitted to request specific shows for them to watch. This cracked me up, but the owner swears some people love it and do send lists of shows they watch at home so that their dog will hear something familiar.

So, one more thing crossed off the list. One less stressor on me.

But... why can't we drive there again???

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Big Thing I'm Dreading & Looking Forward To

I've alluded several times lately to a big thing coming up that I'm stressing about. I'm also very excited about it, so that is a little bit weird. I suppose I should finally tell this story.

Truth is, I'm going to be getting on an airplane in a couple of weeks for the first time in (I think?) seven years. And I'm terrified.

Let me back up a bit. When I was a youngster, my dad worked for an airline and we got 'flight benefits,' meaning that we could fly anywhere we wanted very cheaply. My mom would take me on frequent short trips and the occasional long ones. I don't remember being afraid of flying back then. I'm not sure I loved it, but I don't remember any fear.

It was two unfortunate events in adulthood that brought this problem to the surface.

In 2000, I won a contest at work and got a free trip to Seattle to see the Seahawks play, which was pretty incredible since I'm a lifelong Seahawks fan. However, as we approached Seattle, we apparently flew right into a terrible storm. There were 75-80 mile per hour winds, thunder, lightning and rain. The plane was jostling around every which direction and I was completely terrified.

At one point between several failed landing attempts, the plane dropped straight down for some distance that felt like 150 feet (but I'm sure it was only a fraction of that). People were screaming. I just KNEW that plane was going down. If I remember right, it took 6-8 tries before we got on the ground. As soon as the wheels touched down, the entire plane erupted in applause and cheers. I remember a guy sitting right behind me shouting, "what are you all clapping for, we ain't stopped yet!"

When we got inside the airport, I came very close to throwing myself on the floor and kissing it. Seriously. I'd never been so overjoyed to be alive. Then I realized that the power was actually out in the airport terminal. The baggage handlers tossed our suitcases down the vertical luggage chute and they landed in a big pile at the bottom. We also learned from one of the airport employees that our pilot was the only one that flew into Seattle that night - all others were willing to divert to Portland. I wish that ours had done that, too.

I was actually so traumatized by that flight that I remember threatening not to get back on a plane for the return trip. But I must have, because I'm not still there! I have no memory of it whatsoever. I suppose that means it must have been an uneventful trip back.

Four years later, nine days after I started working for the company I work for now, I was sitting at my desk after lunch, reading policy manuals when suddenly it was as if someone picked up my whole world, set it on its side and spun it very hard. Suddenly I couldn't tell which way was up anymore, or even where the level horizon was. It was the scariest, most bizarre thing I have ever experienced.

Long story short, I ended up in the ICU at 26 years old with atrial fibrillation. They say I almost died. My pulse was over 200. As a little time passed and they pieced everything together, they determined that I was hit with an attack of idiopathic labyrinthitis. This is an inflammation of the innermost part of the ear. It's not an infection; it's an inflammation, which can apparently be terrible. I know I had recently had a cold, but I had no clue anything was wrong with my ears. When I got extremely dizzy, I began to threw up. Apparently, I got so sick that I lost all the potassium in my body. Potassium, I now know, is what conducts electricity in your heart. When I lost all of mine, I went into atrial fibrillation, which is sort of a heart flutter instead of actual beats. It's bad news.

After a day or so in ICU and being pumped up with fluids and a ton of other stuff, I was moved to a regular room and then released from there after another day. My brain had to re-learn how to handle motion. Walking came pretty easily, but riding in a car was pretty weird for a while. A couple of months later, I was comfortable again in most situations. Ever since then, I have had occasional dizzy spells. Most of the time they are mild, but sometimes they are bad enough that I need to stay in bed and try not to move my head for a day.

Between the bad flight into Seattle and this crazy ear thing, I developed an intense fear of flying somewhere around this time. I really didn't need to fly, anyway... right? I have everything I need here in Alaska and plenty of places to go on mini vacations. Besides, flying in and out of Alaska is very expensive, so I don't often get the opportunity anyway.

Three or so years after that hospital experience, I had an opportunity to stick my toe in the water of flight. I needed to travel about 300 miles (within the state) for work. I decided to be brave and try to fly. I think the mistake I made was to white-knuckle it instead of getting something to relax me a bit. Before the plane ever moved, I felt dizzy. Looking back, I think that was probably anxiety, but I didn't know that at the time. I spent the entire hour-long flight in terror, complete with minor dizzy spells. The experience was so hard for me that we actually ended up renting a car and driving back home instead of flying.

I haven't been on an airplane since.

But here's the deal.

My son is 4. My grandmother is about to be 96. I have never introduced them in person. I'm ashamed to admit that MY fear of airplanes has kept that from happening. It's long overdue and in a rare moment of bravery a couple months ago, I decided I needed to stop standing in my own way. I needed to stop allowing fear to rule me and prevent me from traveling and taking my son on vacations.

I very much want to take the kidlet to Disney World in a year or two. That's about a 20-hour trip (two flights and a layover) from where we live. I really don't want that to be my first experience flying again. Better to take a short flight. Right? I sure hope so. My dad is a non-flyer and has been for my whole life, so I've never been outside the state with him. He wasn't there when we went to Disneyland or on our many other trips. That was a bummer. I completely understand my dad's fear, but I don't want my son to feel like I never went on vacation with him.

I've been trying all sorts of different things to get mentally ready for this flight. I think those will wait for tomorrow's post.

So, it's time.

Here goes nothing (in two weeks).

(Ahem, if you need me between now and then, I'll be over here panicking in silence so my son won't know...)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Apparently I'm No Spring Chicken?!

Last night, I was up until 3:00am. On a work night. On the last of my 11 days off. No, I didn't stay up until 3:00am during my little staycation. But for some reason, I could not slow my mind nor my body last night. Fidgeting, twitching, nervous movement of any sort both in my head and the rest of my body.

Why?

No idea.

But the end result was that I went back to work today on less than three hours of sleep. And it stunk every bit as badly as you would imagine. I am so very grateful that it was a slow day. Had it been one of my busy days, I probably would have made a lot of mistakes. Whew. Several co-workers did ask me if I was feeling okay, to which I replied that I was just really dragging due to getting three hours of sleep. One (younger) colleague replied, "you aren't exactly a spring chicken anymore, you can't party like you used to!" Oh, foolish boy, as if I've done anything that could be considered 'partying' in the last decade.

In unrelated news, I foresee him having some computer difficulties due to snipped wires tomorrow! Call it a gut feeling...

Tonight I tucked the kid into bed - later than usual - and have just climbed into bed myself. Actually... the more I think about it, the more I think I know what's keeping me in a state of mental and physical hyperactivity. But, if I start typing about it now, I'll be up later than I'd like. And I really need some sleep tonight. So without further adieu, I plan to pop one of my herbal muscle relaxers and drift off into (what I hope will be) a deep sleep.

I promise to fill you in tomorrow if I get some sleep.

Goodnight!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sunday Night

It's 11:50pm as I start this and tomorrow is my first day back to work after 11 days off. The dread is so thick in this room, it's hard to see the opposite wall. Don't get me wrong, I like my job. But who wouldn't rather be on Christmas vacation, especially while your kid is 4? That is exponentially more enjoyable than any job.

I spent 5 hours in the kitchen tonight cooking and prepping food for the week. I think I mentioned in a previous post that I've found this is the key to staying on track with good food choices. I did good today! All of this week's breakfasts, lunches and snacks are made, and I made too much dinner a couple of times so that we'd have some leftovers going into the new week. Since we will all be adjusting to being back to work/school, I wanted to make this as easy on myself as possible. Otherwise I will end up in a drive thru or calling for pizza. And that is NOT what I want to do, either for my budget or my health.

Tomorrow night, I hope to have enough time to write about our imminent vacation - it'll be the first time I've been on an airplane in at least five years...

If I fall asleep right now I'll get 5-1/2 hours of sleep. Not enough. That's my cue to say goodnight.

Goodnight!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Poof, Christmas is Over

Christmas is - by far - my favorite time of the year. I love the magic and the kindness, the lights and decorations, the giving and receiving. And okay, I also love the time off work and the excuse to bake like crazy and then bestow the resulting goodies upon others, thereby making them happy. I do love to make people happy.

This year it came and went so quickly! I started counting down about two months beforehand, since my parents were coming to spend Christmas with us again this year and they were going to stay longer. We hadn't seen them in almost six months and I missed them terribly. (Being so far from them is still the hardest part about having moved away 14 months ago, but that's a whole other post.)

Before I knew it, the shopping was done (by the 21st this year, yessss!), and Mom and Dad had arrived.The day itself was wonderful as always. I'll get around to writing more about Christmas itself, I think, but tonight I feel compelled to write about today's process: the dismantling of Christmas.

This morning, I still had a tree in the corner of my dining room, Mary, Joseph and Jesus on the table, our Little People nativity set on the end table along with the Mickey Mouse that rocks in his chair and recites The Night Before Christmas, the stuffed dog that sings Blue Christmas and wiggles its bell-adorned tail tossed haphazardly on the floor days ago... you get the idea.

Today was the day I said I wanted to put everything away. And so after three hours of family teamwork, it's gone. It's amazing how much time and effort and money and energy goes into this one holiday season, and how quickly it all ends. Bam, gone until next year. It always makes me just a bit sad.

But... as I began to take down the tree, I had a very eager helper for the first time, which made the whole thing so much more fun, and maybe a bit maddening at times too, but we aren't focusing on that!


By the way, I admit I haven't shared nearly enough pictures here ever since the anti-adoption morons got to me a couple years ago. Here's me sticking my toe in the water, so to speak. Even when you can't see his face, is he not adorable, helping take down the ornaments he haphazardly but lovingly placed on that tree a few weeks ago?

Soon we were done and he went on about his business eating dinner and playing with race cars and helicopters as if we hadn't just boxed up the best time of the year.

I'm happy to have my house back. And... only 326 days until next Thanksgiving!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Completely Random Rumination

Day 2.

Don't say I didn't warn you that these things might be pretty random.

I was thinking today... why do we as a country (world?) continue to use our mothers' maiden names for security reasons? A person who can find my mother's maiden name is someone who can trigger password recovery processes for several different websites - and I mean important ones, like pertaining to my money! They can also make changes to my cable service and I think even access my medical records.

Maiden names aren't nearly as hard to come by as they used to be. In an age when many women don't change their names when they get married, or hyphenate or even hybridize their names (is hybridize a word?), are their children just out of luck when they grow up and are prompted to use their mother's current last name for a security word? Heck, some women do change their names when they get married and still include their maiden names on sites like Facebook. Just right out there for the whole world to see.

I'm a subscribing member to Ancestry. I bet I can find pretty much anyone's maiden name there. If I come into some money in the near future, don't think anything of it. Deal?

How about we use our mothers' middle names for security? Or grandmothers' middle or maiden names?  Or how about, heaven forbid, we choose our own security word and have to remember it like responsible adults?

Speaking of security words, when I was in middle school, my mother gave me a security word for logistics and safety purposes. She said that if anyone ever tried to pick me up from school or offered me a ride claiming that she or Dad had sent them, that I was NOT to go with them unless they had the security word. We never had to use that system, but looking back on it now, I kind of think it was brilliant. 

So, yeah. If you ever want to kidnap me, the security word is broccoli. But please at least take me somewhere nice, with a soaker tub and a view and no bills and where it's always 60 degrees and drizzling.

Thank you in advance.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year, New Effort

It's a new year. January 1st today! Facebook is an entertaining slew of optimism, half of which is from people who spend most of the year whining or ranting. Don't get me wrong, I love me some positivity, but come on, people!

I stopped making resolutions years ago. If I decide to change something in my life, I won't generally have the patience to wait for January 1st, and if I don't want to change it, then I won't keep the resolution anyway.

I will say, as far as kitchy optimism on social media goes, that this one actually got me.


With that said, I thought it might be fun to make an effort to write something - anything - every day this year. It might be one sentence or four pages or this post might be as far as it goes. It might be stories about my laundry or things about work that will make no sense to anyone but me. Who knows. But writing is good for my soul and also for my brain, and this is my little space, so why not? 

After completing a 21 day sugar detox not too long ago, I'm displeased but not shocked in any way to report that I really hosed myself over the holidays. I started out doing pretty well, actually. It wasn't even cravings that got me - those were gone. The health train went off the tracks when I allowed things to get too hectic and stopped properly prepping food on the weekends. I've learned that a couple of hours of food prep every weekend is going to be the biggest key to my long term success with being healthy.

As I type this, I may or may not be awake too late eating a couple of Hershey's Kisses leftover from my Christmas stocking. At this point, I'm ready to get back on track and feel better. The junk food is almos gone from the house and I'm formulating my plans for the coming weeks.

Wish me luck - I'll need it.