On Feminism: Me Too

It’s Tuesday. I’m sitting here after a particularly draining session with my personal trainer. I told her I needed to work so hard that my brain shut off. I’ll feel my abs until Saturday and my brain is still going.

I’m tired. Exhausted is actually a better word. If there a word more severe than exhausted that’s actually the right word, but I don’t know it. Physically yes, but also mentally and emotionally.

It comes in waves. The frustration. With the “boys will be boys” and the “that’s just who they are” and the need to put on a smile and go about life as if everything is just perfectly fine because it’s easier if you play the ostrich.

I volley between angry and heartbroken and scared. Sometimes I feel all three. Mostly, just heartbroken and scared.

I see things I didn’t see a year ago. I’m more tender to them. I react differently. I don’t laugh at the unfunny jokes. Sometimes, when I’m brave I even say I don’t find them funny. Occasionally, I open my mouth and say more. I wish I didn’t regret it, but often do.

I don’t want to be that person. The stick in the mud. The angry feminist. The raging voice that grates and annoys.

But I am angry. And I am a feminist. If only because I realize now how it’s still necessary to be one. We still live in a world where men find assault or the bragging about it okay, or worse, funny. Women who still blame the victim. We still have bullies who haven’t been taught our personhood is a right not because we are someone’s wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend but because we EXIST.

And I don’t know what else to do with my voice. I’m tired of swallowing it down and smiling and running away and keeping peace. Maybe people need to be annoyed? Why aren’t more people annoyed? Why aren’t more women just PISSED?

I don’t know how to find the balance yet. I don’t sit well in tension. I worry, I fret. I want people to like me. But I don’t know how long I can want that because as much as I want to be liked, I want things to change more.

I’m angry and heartbroken and sad. I’m more than exhausted. I’m absolutely terrified and uncomfortable and I don’t know if any of the things I do or words I say are going to matter one tiny little iota.

But I won’t be quiet.

Juggling Act (Where I Beat a Metaphor To Death)

Quite a few years back, my very wise grandmother told me the key to juggling everything is to know which balls bounce and which balls break. “As long as you’re keeping the important stuff moving, letting a few things drop isn’t going to be the end of the world.” Granted, my grandmother is the kind of woman who, at 80, was scrubbing her kitchen ceiling just a few weeks after open heart surgery. I’m pretty sure she could handle whatever you threw at her and ask for more.

I am not my grandmother.

And did I mention, I don’t know how to juggle?

It’s the end of September. I should be settling into the routine. I know library day is Thursday. I know the days they have gym. Violet needs to bring her flute on Mondays and Wednesdays and gym clothes Mondays and Thursdays. I know the checklist I have to rundown with each of them in the morning because their brains are full of thoughts that don’t include “jacket for recess”.

The problem is my brain is also full of thoughts and instead of my inner monologue saying, “It’s Monday, remind Violet to pack her flute and the gym clothes.” It says, “It’s Monday. Dear god, I need to take the dog to the vet and I need to get to the grocery store. And don’t forget to pick up Abram’s medicine. And make sure to wash his jersey so it’s ready for tomorrow. And Jesse has a meeting tonight so be sure to tell Violet she needs to hurry up after swim so Abram can get to bed at a decent time. And look at the time” and then I’m yelling, “GUYS, WE NEED TO GO!!! LOAD UP!” and the flute gets left at home.

Please don’t be one of those people who talk to me about packing everything up the night before, because our evening rituals of school work, dinner, sports activities, getting ready for bed, and trying to get to bed at a decent time are busy enough. Changing what time of day the monologue goes off in my head doesn’t solve the problem.

In the midst of all of this, I’m fighting a severe case of bitterness. I don’t know why it’s hitting so hard but it’s a constant drumbeat in my head. “I need more joy. I need something just for me. I need to feel smart and valuable and important and seen. I’m so tired of being everyone else’s. I want to be MINE.”

That ball filled with the dreams, ambitions, and goals that are *just for me* is waiting to be picked up but I’m scared. Scared to throw it into the mix because I’m scared of dropping it again. It’s dented and cracked and so much more fragile than it used to be. With so many other precious things to keep moving and a penchant for picking it up only to let it fall again, maybe it’s just easier to leave it on the ground?

I know this isn’t new. Our mothers and grandmothers had these same conversations and with fewer options. I know that in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, my concerns are somewhere toward the top which in and of itself is a blessing. But the drum is still beating and I’m still trying to keep all the balls in the air and staring at the one I’m too scared to pick up.

When is it safe? When is it unselfish? What can I let fall to pick *me* back up?

I don’t know if there is a good answer, but I’m looking for it.

On the Election: Take Two

To the Trump supporters, those who don’t think it matters that much, who don’t viscerally fear the outcome, think I’m melodramatic for feeling this way, this post is not for you. Go away. I don’t want your eye rolls, your derision, your inability to see that what happened last night is a travesty. If the result of this election hasn’t brought about a crisis of faith in you, I don’t want you here.  I am holding a funeral for the faith I had in this country and I need the support of fellow mourners.

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Last night, I sat on the floor of my living room and wept. I cried so hard that my husband asked if he needed to be worried about my personal safety. The thoughts and feelings are whirling in a deluge and I don’t know how to find the contentment I felt just yesterday while I was going about my day. I don’t know how to mesh my thoughts that people are basically good and kind and decent to the reality of a racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic president.

And because I can’t make words work – because they come pouring in fits and stops that I can’t string together to make sentences – I’m sharing some links. And I’ll keep adding to them to reference whenever I need hope.

As I look at the world and my children and wonder how to help them keep their joy and innocence despite my despair: This poem.

This playlist. Loud. (Remember blue collar Democrats? Yeah, I miss them.)

A post on kindess. Because we need more of that.

Lin-Manuel’s twitter feed. (I broke my social media ban and went to Twitter yesterday for tweets like his.)

Because I process all things while knitting and I have the pattern for this scarf (or stole) as member of her last year’s color ways club, I think I’ll have to pick it up. It’s intricate and a bit advanced for me. Meditation and peace seeking via knitting.

Words that say what I feel better than I ever could.

This post. Not just for our children, but for everyone who feels scared right now. We need to keep each other safe. We need to keep fighting against the hatred and anger.

A list of pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-earth, anti-bigotry organizations that could use your support. (Thank you, Rita for pointing it out.)

And finally hope. Every bad thing I’ve ever said about millennials? I’m taking it back.

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For those of you still here, please know I’m grieving with you. I feel your pain, your loss, your confusion. You aren’t alone. We will get through this. Together. Even if we don’t know how. Even though the words sound trite and empty. We will get through this.

 

On the Election

Person holding an American flag on wooden table

I heard the news.

I watched the debate.

I thanked God I wasn’t on Facebook.

I heard a friend say, “It’s not like it matters who is president anyway. The world will go on.”

I thought of my friends, my family who would vote for him.

I thought of my friends, my family who wouldn’t vote against him because “She’s just as bad, if not worse.”

It made me think…how many woman have been moved on, grabbed, kissed, fondled without consent?

I was a kid when it happened. About the same age my daughter is now. Playing hide and seek. And I had no clue. I never told anyone. I just stopped hiding with him because I didn’t like how I felt when he stuck his hands down my pants. I didn’t even really get that it was wrong or that there were people you should tell until I was an adult. (Hi, my name is Kate and I still live in a bubble of naiveté). And then you find Kelly Oxford’s timeline and realize there are so many of us. Too many of us.

Now there is tape of a 60 year old man bragging about something no one should ever do and ten years later, he’s on presidential debate stage.

His defense is that it’s “locker room talk”.

This isn’t funny or cute or “boys being boys” or acceptable. This is rape culture. And it’s time we stop allowing it and show our girls and perhaps more importantly our boys that women are people. And we don’t treat people that way. And we don’t talk about treating people that way.

It does matter who gets elected. Hillary Clinton is not just as bad as Donald Trump.

And I have no room for debate.

The Post for Julia and Monica

Dear Teacher,

Thank you again for your thorough daily emails. I just want to say how much I appreciate the weekly newsletter, but my favorite is the three paragraphs you send each day outlining everything that happens within the classroom.

Because I know how important it is to build that school to home connection, I wanted write you with my own daily email letting you know what your student’s daily life is away from class.

We left the parking lot at around 3:35. During the ride home I was informed that recess was cancelled due to too much talking and energy. I completely understand how frustrating it must be to have a disruptive class of students. I will continue to talk to my child about being quiet during your instruction time as suggested, but may I suggest that taking recess from active, restless students (especially in elementary school) is somewhat counterintuitive? Because my child had so much pent up energy, I did allow for 15 minutes of playtime. I realize that cuts into the homework schedule you have outlined, and I hope you will forgive me.

After the allotted 15 minutes, the student had a BM. We’ve been working on getting those on a before and after school schedule as requested because I know it “disrupts the day” to have a student leave the classroom due to those pesky bodily functions. I’m really hoping we can get this schedule to work, because I would hate for the student to just hold it and end up with constipation issues. After, it was about 4:15 so we drilled our spelling words for the 15 minutes you requested then practiced our math facts for the 20 required after which we started dinner. We usually enjoy preparing dinner together as a family, but my child had those worksheets you sent home, so I put the student to work doing those instead. Homework finished and put away just as dinner was ready, so we sat down and ate a nutritious and healthy meal and I set my child to work doing the (highly recommended) extra credit worksheets while the rest of us set to work cleaning up after dinner. After that was complete, the clock read 6:45. We were hoping to get a few minutes to practice at least one of the extracurriculars of piano, soccer, or dance but the hopes of raising a well-rounded individual take a backseat to the strident responsibilities of raising a student in your class.

At this point, we were very close to the 7 o’clock bedtime you recommend (I do agree that 10-11 hours of sleep time is very important for my child’s growing brain) so we quickly brushed teeth and got our pajamas on before tackling the 20 minutes of reading (we find that reading before bed helps us settle down so we save that assignment for the end of the night). Currently, we are reading the first Harry Potter together and are enjoying it immensely. I know it’s not “serious” reading, but we try and fit fun in where we can. My child fell asleep at around 7:45 last night.

Wake up was 6:45 today. The student had a BM (maybe this schedule you’ve suggested is really working!), showered, and dressed for school, made sure to have the library books ready for return (thank you for the reminder email this morning and yesterday afternoon!) and proceeded to leave for school. I was running behind this morning and didn’t have a chance to make the usual healthy breakfast, so the student did have sugar cereal for breakfast. I just want you to be aware in case the student seems a little hyper and unfocused or has a sugar crash before lunch. We’ll try to do better tomorrow.

I hope this email helps you to have a better view of your student’s day at home. I’m looking forward to hearing more about my child’s day at school later today!

Talk to you tomorrow!
Kate

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Edited to add: This blog post was inspired by a discussion I was having with some friends regarding the paperwork and information overload I feel (we all feel?) at this time of year. It is exaggerated (though probably not in the places it most seems to be) and meant to be tongue in cheek. I am raised by a teacher and at one point in my life wanted to be a teacher (and then realized they get far too little pay and appreciation for how hard they have to work) so I by no means am trying to criticize the amazing individuals who I trust my children to on a day-to-day basis. That being said, I think a good many families can relate to the pressure of trying to raise children with varied passions, creativities, (and enough sleep) in a world that is putting more and more responsibilities on them to perform and and behave as miniature adults. This post stems from that frustration.

When Life Gives You Lemons

lemon curd

Are we even allowed to talk about making lemonade out of lemons anymore? I mean, it was cliché before but Beyoncé has to have that trademarked. So as not to step on the Queen’s toes, I made lemon bars.

The last three months have been full of breathtakingly beautiful, and amazingly ordinary, and I’ve shared a lot of that. What I haven’t shared is the crap bag of difficult in between the beautiful and ordinary. The reasons for not sharing are many. 1) I’m not Anne LaMott and as much as I appreciate her writing, I am not the sole owner of this story. 2) I can’t do the words. Or at least I can’t make the words due justice to the experience.  3) I’m beginning to realize that sometimes it’s okay to say, “I’m going through a difficult time right now.” and not share the reason. And I know that there are people in the world who are going to judge that and roll their eyes and have something to say. So, if you’re one of those people, go find another blog. Because I need positive thoughts and prayers or whatever it is you put out into the universe for the people you care about and I don’t want to explain the details. (And it’s my little corner of the internet, so I get to do that here.)  There isn’t a reason for anyone to worry – we are all healthy, we are all going to be okay. I have just hit one of those bumps that life can throw at you. It’s hard, it sucks, I’m not exactly certain things are going according to plan. I don’t even know how to plan which alone tends to be a bit of a struggle for me. (Give me a problem and I’ll organize that bad boy into submission. See here, here, here, and here.)

Which brings me to the half a case of lemons that’s been sitting on my counter since Sunday, the perfect metaphor. When I agreed to split the case with my friend, I had all these ideas in my head of what I would make. Then they arrived and I was feeling kind of punky. Then once I started feeling better, it was hot and I had too many other things to handle. Then I used one and realized that they were larger than I had planned. I hated the stupid lemons sitting in that box. Sour, bigger and juicer than expected, useless because I didn’t want to deal with them. I wanted to leave them there to rot.

Which on top of being wasteful, never works.

So I searched and searched and searched for my favorite lemon bar recipe and couldn’t find it. Finally I gave in and pulled up another recipe that someone had recommended to me awhile ago (it was okay). I’d like to find my other one. In my searching, I found a recipe for raspberry lemon muffins. And strawberry (or raspberry) lemon popsicles. And I juiced and juiced and juiced and poured that juice into ice cube trays so that I’ll have “fresh” lemon juice on hand.

I made a plan to get through that box. And I’m loving all the tart and juicy goodness.

I wish everything was that simple.

Oh, Please Just Shut Up

Two examples from the last two days on why becoming a homesteading hermit sounds awesome (minus the endless amounts of work part):

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You don’t realize all the things you need in a house until you have to stock one. My husband and his siblings have acquired a cabin for us all to share and we went this weekend to pick up the required supplies. (I offered to do it because one sibling is in the process of planning a wedding while in medical school and the other is helping plan the wedding while juggling her child’s high school graduation. The least I can do is pick up sheets). So on Sunday, Jess and I took our children and filled multiple carts with bedding, cleaning products, kitchen necessities and other miscellaneous home goods. It felt a little bit like Supermarket Sweep. And then we took a house worth of stuff up to the register where the cashier would. not. shut. up.

An endless stream of consciousness came pouring out of his mouth while we unloaded and reloaded our items. I even stopped with the polite “oh”s and “yeah”s in the hopes he would eventually wind down. No luck. A Niagara Falls of words deluged over me.

Today, I had a dentist appointment. I will never understand how hygienists expect you to carry on a conversation but they do. Yes, it’s summer. Yes, it rained this morning. Yes, it’s sunny now. Yes, my kids are out of school. They’re almost 9 and 7. Yes, good ages. Yes, we have a vacation planned for the summer. All while thinking, “Dear Lord, I know I’m supposed to ask you questions too, but this is torture. Can we please just be quiet while you assault my mouth with pointy metal things?”

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I do try. I understand that part of the social contract is that we pretend that other peoples’ musings on the weather report are more interesting than the thoughts in our own heads. I accept that mindless chatter is the grease of social interactions because nice people make small talk. Nice people ask follow up questions. Nice people carry on conversations about banalities and enjoy it. It’s an absolute miracle I have friends. I am not nice.

So can we make a deal, random people? I’ll ask how old your kids are and muse that it was so, so, so hot on Saturday, but please, after a few minutes…just stop. I’m really not trying to be rude. I just like the quiet*.

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*I’m so tempted to have that made into a button I wear everywhere.

RIP Merle

I’ve always kind of rolled my eyes a little bit when people get verklempt over the death of a celebrity.

And then today I read that Merle Haggard passed away.

I feel a little like I’ve lost a favorite uncle.

Because there wasn’t a single get together with my dad’s family that didn’t involve Merle.

I just can’t hear his music without thinking of my dad and my gram.

So tonight I’m listening to that Okie from Muskogee and remembering the bonfires and beers and saying a big thank you. Mr. Merle Haggard may have left this earth, but he’s left his music and his mark on my memory.

The Post Where I Kind of Lose My Shit

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*Disclaimer: This is a full on momma bear rant. I have discussed the issue with the person I’m talking about in this post though *shockingly* I got absolutely no where. I don’t know that writing this post will serve any purpose other than making me feel a little better. But it’s my blog so I can do that. And I’m posting the disclaimer because it’s your life and you can move on if you’re not interested. (I won’t be offended) For a more positive spin on a similar topic, I will refer you to this post that my friend shared with me.*

I’m feeling kind of crabby today.  Maybe it’s because my house is half torn apart while I’m having new flooring put down and nothing is where I need it to be.  Maybe it’s because I’m sleeping next to Abram (because my house is half torn apart and I can’t sleep in Violet’s bed because it hurts my back) and he is the suction cup of snugglers and I need room to breathe when I sleep so I’m not sleeping very well.  Maybe it’s because I quit smoking about two months ago and managed to gain 10 pounds which I did not need to gain and I’m now in the process of losing those 10 pounds by eating things like roasted chickpeas when I’d rather be eating my kids Easter candy.  Or maybe it’s because my son came home really upset at being called a girl. By a grown adult man. (And while I’m kind of offended that the worst thing you can call a six year old boy is a girl, it really is the worst.)

The reason a grown adult man would call a six year old boy a girl? He paints his finger nails. And only girls do that. (Yes, the picture at the top is badly painted toenails, not fingernails, but you get the idea)

And here’s the thing: this isn’t my first go ’round.  We’ve talked about it. He’s heard things from his friends and the conversations have been had – different parents have different rules, people have different styles, kids may tease him, but if he likes it and can handle the teasing, they’re his nails.

But when an adult teases my son (even “good-naturedly”) and calls him a girl because he likes nail polish, the conversation changes. It’s no longer a peer to peer interaction. It’s another adult telling him who he’s allowed to be and it’s an authority figure picking on a child. And that is not okay. Ever.

And when I tell that adult to stop and get a lecture on gender…well, I’m just mad.

I get that not every parent is going to raise their children the same way I raise mine (Violet never misses the opportunity to tell me about how some other mom is nicer than me) and I get that societies have societal norms because that’s how societies work. I even understand that one of our (outdated) societal rules is that girls wear nail polish and boys don’t. But if it doesn’t exist already, I’d like to put forward a new rule:

Let’s not make a six year old kids feel like garbage over something as trivial as nail polish.

In fact, let’s go so far as to say:

Making rude and hurtful comments to anyone when they do something different than you but has absolutely no impact on your life is just wrong.

Okay?

Okay.

My Thoughts on Facebook

So a little less than a month ago, I deactivated my Facebook account. (For those who don’t already know: deactivating is essentially a super powered log off. It closes down access to your profile and information but doesn’t actually delete anything.  All you have to do to get it back is log on.) Largely because every time I sat down on to the computer (and I was sitting down often ordering and checking on the orders of Christmas gifts) I found myself just wasting time clicking around, reading garbage, getting aggravated, and not using my time to the best of my ability.

I reactivated my account for about 10 minutes a few days ago because a family member had messaged me an address earlier last year and I had forgotten to write it down. I got the address, clicked around, thought to myself that if I kept my account activated it would only be days before I started clicking on it constantly, and deactivated it yet again.

The first week I quit, I can’t tell you how many times I typed in the address just out of sheer habit.  Something funny or annoying or stupid would happen and I would immediately start thinking about the status update I would write.  At times, I actually felt uncomfortable not sharing my funny, annoying, stupid thing because…well, I had to SHARE.

The second week I quit, I missed it. A little. I didn’t miss the politics or the humble bragging or the ads and random articles but I did miss the seriously funny updates of some of my friends. I missed the pictures of friends and family. I missed using it as my blog reader (I tend to just follow pages of blogs I like and when they post their update, I click over.) When I published a blog post, it hit me almost all of my friends use my FB page to know when to visit the blog.

And then I had a fellow blogger email me and ask me about deactivating because she’s been thinking about leaving as well but…it’s linked to everything.

Here’s how I feel about it right now:

The inconvenience is less of a bother than the noise.

Being uncomfortable because I can’t instantly share a moment of my life makes me…uncomfortable. I don’t like thinking in status updates. When I find myself falling prey to the world’s ever decreasing attention span and need for prepackaged ideas? It’s time for a break. I’m not a complete social media hermit. Pinterest is one of my favorite filing systems for recipes and knitterly things.  I adore looking and sharing pictures on Instagram. Facebook just felt…a little bit like the Borg (please forgive my Star Trek reference, I’m a nerd).

I get the hypocrisy of writing about oversharing as someone who blogs, but I can live with that. I write. Constantly. In my head, on paper, here. I string sentences together (with varied degrees of success) because that’s how I make sense of the world.

It’s not permanent. Facebook is convenient. I can connect to blogs I like, businesses I frequent, the parents of my kids’ friends (which is great for an introvert like me). Even my garbage company uses Facebook to let customers know of weather or holiday delays in service. I’ve left too many times and come back too many times to believe I’m gone forever. It might be a week, it might be a month. But for now, I’m enjoying the quiet.

On Politics

I was recently having a conversation on how my politics have changed in the last 10 years. Because they’ve changed.  A lot.

When I was younger if you had asked me how I felt about entitlements, or welfare, or vouchers, my answer would closely mimic the Republican party line. I didn’t identify with the Republicans – I believed too firmly in gay marriage and reproductive rights to align myself completely- but I agreed with the phrases “limited government”, “fiscal responsibility”, “low taxes”.
Then I had Violet.  During her 10 day stint in the NICU we needed tests that weren’t covered by insurance, we met with world renowned specialists, we lined up medicines and knew it would be hard and that we’d need help from our parents but the bills would be paid.In the next plastic crib over, there was a very young mother and her baby.  One night, I couldn’t help overhearing her talking to someone on the phone about what her treatment options were and what she could afford. She was crying. She didn’t know what to do.

It was then that my “pull yourself up by your bootstraps, accept responsibility for your life, get a job, and pay your bills” belief started to crumble.

My daughter was going to get top of the line care simply because she was lucky enough to be born to a family that could afford it.
I’m not a bleeding heart liberal (though my more right leaning friends say so) and I’m not a cold hearted conservative (despite what some of my more left leaning friends may think). Simply stated, I know that we aren’t all fortunate enough to be born with the same opportunities and I believe that we need public institutions and solutions. I hope for a world where that isn’t up for debate.
The education policies and reforms being put forward by our state government right now are a travesty. And I do not use that word lightly. We are gutting our public education system.  The licensing requirements for teachers are approaching those of the normal school era. We are making it next to impossible for our public universities to compete on a national (and global) scale. We’re threatening tenure and watching as amazing educators flee for more welcoming universities. We are smashing the rungs on the ladder out of poverty while protecting our richest citizens.  We are doing this at the same time we are making it harder for our poor to get the resources they need to survive.And the governor who is leading our state down this rabbit hole is planning a run for President.

 And leading in some polls.  

Someone told me the other day that I shouldn’t worry so much about this whole school thing. You send your kids to private school, anyway, so what’s the big deal? 

The big deal is that not every parent wants to send their child to a religious institution for a quality education. And they shouldn’t have to.

The big deal is that education is one of the surest stepping stones out of poverty and into the middle class.
The big deal is that the distribution of wealth in this country continues to become more and more uneven and our middle class continues to deteriorate.The big deal is we need a middle class.  We need educated individuals.  We need to make the American Dream more attainable not less.  I need to stop sounding like a third-rate Presidential candidate.  Anyway…

I saw this poem today on Facebook.  I’ve been a fan of Neil Hilborn for awhile now but something he says in this poem really resonates with me…

I am so lucky.

I wish we lived in a world where even those who weren’t so lucky were afforded things such as health care, food, and a quality education simply because that’s what we do.

On Friends

At 29, I was the most alone I’ve ever been.

I was a new mom.

My daughter had been diagnosed with a terrible heart condition that had two symptoms (fainting, death) and no real treatment options. (Thankfully, we later found out she was misdiagnosed.)

I was suffering from terrible postpartum depression.

My husband was a new dad and didn’t know how to deal with a new mom who was suffering from the fear that her new baby was going to die any second and postpartum depression.

I had two female friends. One – a drinking buddy from before I had babies and another – a woman who lived far enough away that our friendship was maintained over telephone calls.

I wouldn’t wish those months on anyone. Ever.

But I realized something.

I needed friends.

And I remembered my grandma telling me that to “make a friend, you have to be a friend”.

I made an action plan.

And I enacted it.

I made friends.

And I made a lot of mistakes.

But my list of friends got bigger.

I remembered my dad telling me that if you have “three really good friends in your lifetime, you’ve lived a good life.”

And thinking he had to be wrong because I had so. many. friends.

I learned I’m not always the best judge of character.

And had to accept the hurts and bumps and bruises of trusting people who didn’t deserve it.

My list of friends got smaller.

And I learned that there are different types and levels of friendship and that’s good too.

I’m still learning.

And sometimes I feel like I’m the only person in the world who didn’t figure this stuff out in grade school (or middle school or high school).

But I am figuring it out.  I think.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned:

Not everyone is going to like you.  And that’s okay.  It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you, or anything wrong with them.  It just is.

It’s not about finding people with the same lifestyle or opinions or personality.  It’s about finding genuinely good people who will accept you.

Good relationships – whether romantic or friendly – take time to build.

Real friendships allow for disagreements and honesty.   They allow for quiet times and needy times.  They allow for quirks and failings.  They champion successes.

You will have friends and you will have friends.  You will find people you genuinely admire, people who make you laugh, people who help you through life’s bumps, and people with whom you share movies and television shows and books.  Sometimes all of those people will be wrapped in one person.  Sometimes, not.

Loneliness happens.  Even with friends.  You need to learn to deal with it.

Be kind and be honest.  To others and to yourself.

I’m curious.  What are some things you’ve learned about friendship in adulthood?  What do you value in a friend?

6/52

On Monday night the kids and I were putting together valentines, I could feel it coming on.  About ten minutes before Jesse walked in the door, I handed them each an iPad and decided to lie on the couch.  He came home, they ate dinner, we put them to bed, and then I looked at him and said, “I’m getting sick.  I can feel it.”   And then I was sick.
I’m a baby about being sick.  I know people say mom’s don’t get sick days and we always power through and I know a lot of women who are like that.  I am not.  If I’m even the tiniest bit sick, I want to curl up in bed and pull the covers over my head.  And this wasn’t the tiniest bit sick.  This was oh-my-God-I-just-want-to-die-sick.  Fever, nausea, body aches, headache.  The whole enchilada.
So I spent most of Tuesday in bed.  And all of yesterday.  And today I finally started to join the land of the living.  Which is good because tomorrow is our annual party and I’ve been looking forward to seeing my friends and sharing some cheer for weeks.
These are some snapshots I took last week Thursday and Friday and today.  One of these weeks I’ll really get one a day.
Also:  I friend of mine posted this on Facebook and I loved it so much I posted it on both my site and personal FB pages, but in case you missed it I thought I’d post it here as well.  I found it super inspirational (and I love me some Missy Elliott).

Tuesday Things

The kiddos went skiing last weekend for the first time and have already decided we all are going to go again this weekend.  I haven’t been on skis in 8 years and my boots are a size and a half too small    (children are to blame for both of those things) and I keep reminding them that my foot still isn’t 100% from last spring’s injury but they keep reminding me that I can rent if I have to and a foot is pretty much immobile in a ski boot.  Somehow, I don’t think I’m going to be getting out of it.

My body seems to be in complete revolt.  I’ve been getting terrible migraines during the first day or so of my cycle and I’ve been getting some seriously nasty breakouts.  Most of my life, I’ve had pretty easy skin but this last year I’ve become a spotted mess.  I know it’s time to take a good long look at my diet…but…ugh.

I really, really,  really want a couple of these chairs.

We have a party coming up on Friday and I can not wait.  February is an awful month.  Some frivolity (and red wine) are definitely in order.

A blogger I follow wrote a great post on children’s book authors.  I was very lucky to have an elementary school teacher for a mom.  She knew how to pick the best books and did great read-alouds.  Even know she recommends some of the best books.  What were some of your favorites from when you were little?  When your kids were little?

The Planner

Since I’ve spent two weeks talking about my planner and stickers and all that nonsense, I thought I’d actually share it and how I have it set up.

And before I go any further, I must admit: yes, it is an Erin Condren planner.  I am one of those bloggers who has succumbed to both the Whitney English and the Erin Condren at one time or another.  Considering I’ve never gone digital, it’s not a surprise that I’ve tried or at least thought about trying every paper planning method out there.
   

(this would NOT be my choice of quote but designing my own cover adds processing time and I was too impatient.)
Because this isn’t my first Erin Condren planner, I thought I’d give a quick pro/con list. 
Pros:  1) It serves all the purposes I have in a planner – agenda, meal planner, to-do list organizer, ideas jotter-downer – so I’m not carrying multiple notebooks at any given time. 2) I have a full 18 months (or 12) at my fingertips. 3) It’s not so heavy that I can’t have it with me at all times.
Cons: 1) It’s cutesy (but I’m a 7 year old girl covering mine with stickers so that isn’t the BIGGEST thing in the world to me).  2) It’s weekly spread is divided into narrow days which are further divided into morning, day, and evening which isn’t my favorite break down.  3) It’s expensive & shipping is expensive. 4) Carrying a EC planner can feel almost cultish at times – there are whole etsy shops devoted to EC products.  (And I’m guilty of buying some of them)
Okay, so here’s my breakdown:

After the cover I have my daily page which helps me stay on task and make sure I get the household things done that I want to get done.  On the back of that sheet is my weekly cleaning schedule/checklist.  I need to do some editing on that because I’m noticing my weeks aren’t breaking down quite how I have them on this sheet, but for now I’m making it work.  (To make these, I purchased a template on etsy and adjusted them in Adobe Elements.  I printed it out and laminated it so I could check things off with a dry erase marker.  They are attached to the spiral with sticky do-dads that you can order from Erin Condren.  In my old planner I used this tutorial so I didn’t have to buy anything but it was super fiddly.)

Because I always have my planner with me and was using up the notes section for grocery lists/meal planning, I purchased the menu planner add-on from EC.  As you can see the front is the weekly meal plan and the back is a shopping list.  I just write things down using a fine tip sharpie and it wipes off with a wipe.

Once you get past those first main sheets you have your monthly and weekly spread.  You can see good examples of those on the EC website or just by googling it. I haven’t finished filling my info in so there really isn’t much to look at.  You also have a few EC sticker sheets for doctor appointments and what not.

The next series of sheets are ones I made using the “Notes” section in the back of the planner.

I made a quick and dirty “spreadsheet” for those monthly jobs that I want to accomplish but always seem to forget about on one page and my goals for 2015 on another.

Yes, it’s February and I’m already thinking Christmas.  I like to have all of my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving so I can enjoy the holidays without fighting the crazy crowds and I also enjoy making gifts for family.  That means I need to reference what I’ve already purchased (and where I stashed it) and what I need to purchase.  The next page is something new I’m trying – a handy meal list so when I try a new recipe that everyone likes, I can write it down (and where I found it) so we can have it again.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had one-off good dinners but forget where I found the recipe.
One of our goals this year is to really get a good idea of what we spend our money on each year.  I tend not to be very good at tracking the incidentals and random expenses so this page is to help me with that for next year’s budgeting.  And because my planner wouldn’t be complete without a list of house projects I’d like to tackle, I added that as well.

In the back, I laminated and sticky do-dadded (very technical term) my reading challenge list so that I always knew where it was (I lose things) and also so I could have it for handy reference when I was at the library or bookstore. Behind that is a folder (with the included perpetual calendar insert for birthdays/special dates).

Finally, we have the other side of the folder with more EC stickers and a zipping plastic pouch with my stickers so they aren’t floating around everywhere.

Are you still a paper planner user?  Or have you made the switch to digital?  What do you like best about your system?  Tell me.  I could talk planners all day.

**This planner was purchased fully out of my own pocket and links are NOT affiliate links.  I just wanted to share my opinion and set up.**

Tuesday Things

I made the above here.  Fun templates.  This is basically my mission statement.  I’m great at dreaming up and jumping in.  It’s good that I have Jesse.  He’s amazing at implementing and following through.    
It’s February.  It’s gray and cold and just plain miserable.  You know what helps? A good book or some knitting and hot cocoa.  I’m using this recipe (when I’m not just going through Starbucks).  Super simple and very yum.

THIS definitive guide to eating.

I have created a Pinterest board devoted to all things First Eucharist.  And while I know it’s not about the dress (I do, I promise) I’m scouring the internet.  I want something classic, that doesn’t look like a wedding gown, and is affordable.  I’m finding that I can have two of the three.  The dress I love the best is linen, handmade, and $399.  It’s a whole lot of money for a dress that will be worn once (maybe twice if a whole lot of other maybes fall into place – like my daughter has a daughter and raises her daughter to be Catholic and wants her to wear the same dress and is the same size) so it won’t happen.  But isn’t it beautiful?

Speaking of church, I’ve been thinking about how to observe Lent this year.  This journal is on my radar.  I’m also thinking about attending daily Mass.  I know I’m not giving up sweets.  Why Girl Scout cookies always arrive this time of year is beyond me, but I have ordered quite a few from Violet and I know my limitations.

And speaking of pinterest, if you look, I’ve gone Perler bead crazy.  We seem to go through spurts in the house and right now we are working with them most every night.  Violet made a really amazing star for a friend in different shades of blue. All I could think was that I wish I was better at knitting colorwork, because it would have been an amazing fair isle pattern.  I found out after googling for patterns that you can perler bead everything from Christmas ornaments to Disney princesses.  I think these chevron necklaces would be adorable for little girl valentines.

Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday Things

I am beyond ready for this house to be healthy.  Violet got hit hard on Saturday night with some stomach bug.  Poor her.  Poor babysitter.  Jess and I had gone out of town for an overnight.  We cut the trip short (obviously) but I am sick of fevers and runny noses and throwing up and disinfecting.  And I’m even sick of talking about it.  So I’m changing the subject.
I printed out this POPSUGAR reading list.  Maybe it will help me put down the knitting and pick up a book?  I started reading Super Sad True Love Story and the first few pages grabbed me, but now I’m having troubles staying with it.  I actually fell asleep reading it last night and I NEVER fall asleep reading books.
I decided I needed a Pinterest board for things that make me genuinely laugh.  Out loud.  Hysterically.  Follow along for random ridiculousness and lots of puns.
Am I the last person to hear of send your enemies glitter? (Warning: adult language) 
I want a snow storm.  It’s January.  It’s cold.  It’s gray.  If it’s going to be all those things, it could at least be snowy.  Not just a dusting but FEETS – a good 36 inches (at least) of heavy, fluffy winter precipitation.  Okay? Thankyouverymuch.
My goal of taking a picture a day has become a complete joke but I’m not ready to give up yet.  I’m going to keep trying.
A friend gave me some of this beeswax heel balm the other day.  Between this and my Diamancel foot file my feet are in HEAVEN.  (Also:  I have the best friends.)
Mary Poppins references and sock yarn?  Yes, please.  Because I don’t already have enough. 
I rewatched the first two seasons of House of Cards.  I meant to time it out so that I’d be just finishing when Season Three premiered but once I started watching that idea was just laughable.  Now I’m impatiently waiting for Scandal on Thursday and Nashville next week.  To think that I didn’t even have a television until I moved in with Jesse – breaking my foot last spring was not good for my brain.
And finally:  need eye cream recommendations.  PLEASE.

Tuesday Things

People all over the internet are talking about how they still have their Christmas decorations up as if they are ashamed.  I feel like I should be ashamed, but I’m still enjoying the garlands and tree and nativities.  Considering the rush to finish Thanksgiving (or skip over it entirely) for Christmas, I’m surprised at how quick everyone wants to tear down – especially in the winter when a little twinkle and greenery can really brighten up a day.  Now if it’s still standing in March, please smack me upside the head.
Okay, so I know that Spotify has totally been a thing now for awhile.  Even my mom was listening to music on her computer using it a few years back.  Somehow it just escaped me.  Until this week.  And now I’m obsessed.  I made myself a couple of workout mixes and a compilation of every Ani DiFranco song I cranked up with the windows rolled down on my ’82 Olds Omega back in the day.  Now I’m currently listening to Greg Brown on shuffle because his voice.  (I really do have a thing for folksy pickers.)
These sculptures of knit glass are amazing.  I would love to own one at some point.
There are so many ways to knit socks.  I think 2015 is going to be the year of the sock.  I want to try the Fish Lips Kiss Heel next and toe up (any pattern suggestions?) and possibly the magic loop method.  Maybe I’ll combine those two with this pattern.  And sock yarn.  So many choices.  Do you have any favorites?  
Speaking of knitting, I’m finding that some of the best storage solutions are fishing tackle.  I like this idea for notions and I just used the last of my Christmas money to buy one of these for circular needle storage.  I picked up some extra bags too so each needle size could have their own space so I don’t always have to have a gauge.  Who knew that Jesse’s extra tackle storage would come in handy?!?

The Magpie

Contrary to popular belief, magpies actually don’t steal shiny things. My daughter, on the other hand, has a bit of a problem. On Thursday night I found out that she had been in my jewelry box. I also found that I was missing four rings – my engagement ring, the engagement ring my dad gave my mom and my mom handed down to me, a ring Jesse bought me when we first moved into this house, and a diamond band.

It was a rough night. I yelled a lot. I cried a lot. I emailed her teacher in a fit of desperation. I felt as if I was completely failing as a parent because this is not the first time we’ve had an issue with her and “Mom, I was tempted.” She has been told. And trying to explain to her that these weren’t just shiny things but shiny, valuable, meaningful things that didn’t belong to her just didn’t seem to sink in.

Friday at drop off, her teacher came out with one of the rings (it had been found by the gym teacher about a week earlier) and a joking suggestion that we buy a metal detector and make Violet scour the playground with it.

I liked the idea (but not the investment) so bright and early Saturday morning Violet went down to the local rental place with her dad, rented one out for the weekend, and headed over to the playground.

It’s a terrible picture, but it’s the only one I have. And it’s my engagement ring. And it’s found. Blurry picture or not, I’m thrilled. Violet maintains that they are the only two she took to school but we continued sweeping just to cover our bases (and try to drive the point home).

We’ve had no more luck as of yet and have reason to believe they are somewhere in or around the house. I’m scouring every single purse and trinket box and nook and cranny I think she may have stashed them in and praying. I’m also trying to remind myself that while they are sentimental and special and valuable things – they are still just things.

More than anything, I wonder what lessons (if any) we have managed to impart on Violet these last few days. We’ve talked about not taking other people’s things, and hurt, and trust, and personal responsibility. We explained that her paying for the metal detector and looking for the ring was a way to try and make it right. Violet’s biggest concern after we got back was whether she could ride her scooter. I don’t know if a single thing we’ve said or done has made a difference. I hope so. For now my jewelry box is hidden on a high shelf.

Parenting is hard and it’s confusing.

We All Deserve to Wear White

Today, I stumbled on a blog post titled “I Didn’t Deserve to Wear White” (I’m not linking to it because I refuse to send any traffic to a post that promotes an idea that I would like to fall off the earth). Normally, I try to just move along because I am not a religious blogger. I read some. I have a few favorites. But my answer to a great many things theology is a resounding, “I don’t know” so I tend to just keep quiet and blog about happy things. Like knitting. And reading.

This last post, however, was the purity ring that broke the beast with two backs. I don’t know what it is with the interwebs (or the people I keep stumbling on in the interwebs) but I’ve just been inundated the last few weeks with FB memes, blog posts, tweets, and discussion posts that promote the purity culture ideal. And I’ve had enough.

Source

Here’s me in a nutshell: My grandparents are Catholic. My mom left the church shortly after divorcing my dad. My step-father has evangelical leanings and I spent most of my youth attending evangelical churches with my family and evangelical youth groups that give that movie Saved a run for its money. I started really questioning my faith around 17 and left the church at 18. When I did return, not until my mid-thirties, it was as a Catholic.

As a recovering evangelical, I read these blog posts and I hear the voices of my own youth group.

Damaged goods. Tainted. Impure. Defiled. Used chewing gum (yes, really).

By having sex before marriage, we’re throwing away the most precious gift we have to give. The one that belongs to our husband. (I’m just going to just skip over the embedded idea that a woman’s sexuality isn’t her own but is somehow the property of her husband.)

Shame. Guilt.

Ridiculousness.

I am now a mother. I have a daughter. And I can tell you right now, if any person says to her that the most precious gift she can give her husband is an intact hymen, that person will get the most passionate momma-bear dressing down I can manage.

Whether she has sex before marriage or not, my girl will NEVER be used chewing gum. She will NEVER be damaged goods. If and when my daughter walks down that aisle, I want her to feel no shame in the amazing, God-created person she is whether that person has had sex outside of marriage or not. I want her to have no doubt in her value as a woman, wife, human.

And I want that for every single woman.

A woman’s value is not in her virginity.

She is not “Certified Angus Beef” to be labeled “pure” and trotted out as superior.

The shaming of our girls, whether intentional or not, needs to stop.

Every woman deserves to wear white if that’s what she chooses.

The Flap of a Butterfly Wing

When I was 18 and a freshman in college my boyfriend and I broke up. Because when you are a freshman in college and your boyfriend is a freshman in college four hours away, that happens. You listen to sappy love songs and cry for a week, you crank up dance tunes and party for a week, and then you start to get over it. Unless you happen to be like me, where instead you fall into a two year tailspin that involves almost getting kicked out of college, dropping out of college, and racking up a bunch of credit card debt while drinking too much and calling your ex in the middle of the night sobbing because your life is a mess and you just know you are going to grow up to be a failure and it is all his fault.

Yes. This happened. No. I’m not proud. Yes. I’m super glad to be in my 30’s.

I wanted to attend a Big-10 school, study political science, get my law degree, and run for President. I was young, idealistic, and driven. I worked hard to get into UW-Madison and once there I worked my butt off to get good grades. Until the bottom fell out. Then I skipped my finals. And pretty much every class the following semester. Russian Lit in Trans was the exception. I LOVED that class. Nothing like the Russians and a good depressive episode.

I can’t imagine who I would be or what my life would look like if I hadn’t messed it up so spectacularly. I probably wouldn’t have been President but I also probably wouldn’t have been hit by a car walking across the street (sober) to see a boy who would end up breaking up with me in the middle of the night, in my hospital room, with his mother sitting next to him.

Yes. This also happened. And no, I’m not proud (though he should be ashamed). And yes, I’m glad to be in my 30’s.

I didn’t graduate from a Big 10 school. But that car accident pushed me to a place I needed to be. I married the most wonderful man and ironically, graduated from the same school the tailspin inducing boyfriend originally wanted me to attend. At 28. I didn’t go on to law school, but worked briefly as an accountant before becoming a stay at home wife and mother. It’s been a messy but good life. A life absolutely nothing like I had pictured it when I was 18.

My missed opportunities? I regret them but wouldn’t change them. They taught me some hard lessons. They make some great stories. And every single one of them got me to where I am now.

Empty Nesting

In two weeks, both of my babies will be heading to school.

I’m excited. And sad. Ready. And nostalgic.

I know to call it empty nesting is a bit dramatic. I’ll drop them off every morning and pick them up every afternoon and it will be many years before I’m truly empty nesting.

But I am dramatic and I don’t know what else to call the child-free hours (where I’ll be cleaning and studying and volunteering and hopefully having lunch with my friends) so “empty nesting” it is.

I don’t want to dwell too much on how quickly the baby years and the toddler years and the preschool years have gone because time is still going. If I stop for too long thinking about all the past stuff, I’m going to miss all the amazing stuff right in this moment.

I know it’s gotten popular to romanticize the early years. To talk about how fast it all goes and how much you’re going to miss it. People can go on and on with the “one day will be the last time {fill in the blank}” until you’re bawling. Let’s not be those people.

Am I going to miss certain things? Absolutely. But there’s also a whole slew of things I don’t miss and a few things I’m even looking forward to not missing.

I want my children to grow up (it beats the alternative) and I want to (as my mom once said) work myself out of a job by teaching them to be independent and capable. Just not all at once.

School starts in two weeks and both of my babies will be in elementary school. It’s going to be very quiet around here and yes, I’m a little sad. But I’m mostly happy. They’ll be learning new things, making and developing friendships, and seeing a little more of the world. And I will be too.

I think that’s something to celebrate.

Hair Problems

{Source}

I have this hair cycle. I grow it to a little past my shoulders, cut it into a pixie, and start all over. I really want to have hair to the middle of my back – minus the fact I can’t stand having to blow dry my hair and wet hair on the back of my neck gives me the heebs which is why I always chop it.

It seems like I would just embrace the pixie (which my husband adores, most of my friends applaud, and I think I look pretty cute in) but I just have this idea of me with longer hair so I keep repeating the cycle.

And now I’ve reached that point in the cycle that every girl growing out a pixie dreads:

The one where no matter how talented your hairdresser – you look like you are midway from a pixie.

Because you are midway from a pixie.

My other hair dilemma (it’s earth shattering stuff on the blog today) is whether I embrace my gray. In the last few years my hair has decided that it’s going to be really finicky about taking on color. As in, twice the processing time and half the amount of time between color. And I’m gray. Not quite fifty percent, but easily more than twenty-five. At what age do you accept the salt and pepper? I feel like 36 is too young, but the amount of time and money I spend not accepting it is enough to give me more gray hair. (This is also one of those moments when I want to smack my sister who is only four years younger with maybe 10 gray hairs on her whole head. Brat.)

I’m tempted just to flip a coin. Advice? Grow it/chop it? Dye it/Accept it? Stop being so vain and shut up about your damn hair already?

Sunk Costs Don’t Count

Cleansing and an economics lesson all in one post. You luckies, you.

About a month back I decided that I would jump on the bandwagon and try a 3-day juice cleanse. I’d heard good things about BluePrint and their juices so I talked with Jess, planned the start on the calendar, and placed my order.

I’m supposed to be on day 2. I’m not. I really felt weird and icky yesterday and while I know those are normal detox reactions and they go away and you feel dynamite if you power through – I am not a girl who powers through. I’m not. And I know that about myself. So this morning, I got up, ate a couple boiled eggs and a banana, and figured 24 hours of cleansing is better than no cleansing at all.

A couple thoughts on the cleanse:

1) I take all responsibility for the cleanse not going as well as I had hoped. I wasn’t as diligent about the pre-cleanse process as I should have been and while I didn’t really indulge in the three days leading up to it – I wasn’t nearly as strict as I could have been either.

2) The juices are delicious. I ordered the Renovation but if I had to choose to do it again, I’d go with the Foundation because I prefer the green juice to the C.A.B. that’s in the Renovation. No matter what you do when you include beets, I just taste dirt. My son, on the other hand, had a couple of sips of it and thought it was amazing. He doesn’t like meat either, so there is no accounting for tastes.

3) I was not hungry, did not feel deprived, and none of the drinks was truly off-putting. The Pineapple/Apple/Mint and Spicy Lemonade were absolutely delicious. I struggled at times more because I was consuming a LOT of liquid (they recommend drinking at least 18 oz of water between each bottle) and less because of taste. The cashew milk was a little gritty and VERY rich so if you’re a texture person, that’s something to keep in mind, but they give you straining directions if you like a smoother texture.

4) Because I had scheduled it before I hurt my foot, I decided to go forward. But a cleanse is…well…cleansing. I don’t recommend doing it when you don’t have quick and easy access to a restroom. Had I had an easier time getting to and from the bathroom, I might have continued with it. TMI, yes, but also valuable information.

Now about how “sunk costs don’t count”: It’s a statement that was DRILLED into my head by an economics professor because as humans we tend to be a little illogical about using things for which we’ve already paid. It’s a sunk cost. For example, I have tickets to see a play when a friend I haven’t seen in forever says she’s coming into town and wants to go out to dinner. Just because I’ve purchased the tickets and can’t recoup the cost, doesn’t mean that I should turn her down and head to the play. The money is gone whether I go or not. I should do whatever will ultimately be in my best interest or bring me the most satisfaction. I have since carried on the lesson and drilled it into my husband’s head so today when I was struggling with my decision to stop, he kindly reminded me that sunk costs don’t count. And now, if you ever need an excuse to not use something you’ve purchased that is unpleasant but can’t be returned…you can thank my economics professor.

**This post was not sponsored in any way and is my personal experience. If you’ve used a cleanse in the past, I’d be interested to hear about your experience and what company you’ve used.

On Friends & Crutches

Two things I want to say:

1) On Friends:

The last few months I’ve really been thinking about friendships. I’ve mentioned this a gazillion times, but about seven years ago I looked around and realized I needed to make women friends. I made a plan, executed that plan, and started developing friendships. It was longer and more complicated than that but if you’ve read me for any length of time you’ve read it and if you haven’t, well, maybe I’ll share it again sometime since UpsideDown Kate (the blog I wrote it all at) no longer exists. The point in all of this: I made friends. And that was a really big deal for me.

But lately I’ve really been struggling with friendships. Like how do you know when to bite your tongue and nod or when to advise caution/disagree? (Take a guess which side I tend to land on most often.) Or how do you know when to put up boundaries or when to love them through? I read on a pinterest thing the other day that if hanging out with a person drains you – you’re supposed to drop them (those aren’t the exact words, but it was the mindset) but that doesn’t seem like friendship. Another said that if a friend is there for the ups but not the downs – they aren’t a friend. But what if they are only there for the downs? That doesn’t seem like friendship to me either. (Maybe the problem is that I’m looking at pinterest snippets for friendship advice). But really, when it’s all said and done:

What makes a good friend?

And how do you know when you have one? And how do you know if it’s time to let it go? And what are some of the things you do to insure you’re being a good friend?

And because I can’t let a single post go by without mentioning my busted up foot (seriously, ALL. THE. TIME. with this thing)

2) Crutches: I don’t remember them being this much of an ab workout. Or I’m using them wrong. Either way, my abs are soooooore and that makes me feel out of shape and old.

Toyland

When it comes to toys, I’m a big fan of the go outside and use your imagination variety. But we have stormy days in the summer and below zero days in the winter and it’s always good to have a few go-to playthings ready. With A’s birthday just around the corner and V’s the following month, I’ve been thinking toys. Here are a few of our favorites:

We received our first set of MagnaTiles for Christmas this last year and when I decided to add more to the mix, I was surprised at the price tag. They aren’t cheap, but I still bought them without hesitation. Why? Because they are my kids’ absolute favorite toy. They are played with almost every day and it’s amazing the different ways kids find to put them together.

Another Christmas gift that gets regular play is the Brio train track. I love that in an era of plastic and easily breakable toys, this has heirloom possibility. My brother still has his set from 20 years ago and with the track, trains, and most pieces made out of wood, I know that A will be able to share his set with his own kids one day.

Calico Critters are a favorite of V’s. She loves setting up the furniture, placing the little pieces (soda bottles, flowers in vases, throw pillows) just so, and enacting little stories. You can find an endless array of kits (grocery store, dress shop, camper) or just use your imagination with things around the house (V uses one of my small jewelry boxes as a table) to create houses and expand villages. I especially love that she gets to enact stories like she would with Barbie, but without the whole body image thing of Barbie.

Is any list complete without Lego? We just recently packed up all the big old Duplo bricks (sniff) when V bought a Lego set with some reward money and they both decided “small Legos” were the way to go. We added a few of Dad’s old kits to the mix (heirloom toys…love them) and have our eye on a few pieces from Lego City and Lego Friends for birthdays this year.

As you can tell, we’re big fans of expandable kits. By doing it this way, the kiddos get to add the excitement of a new toy but without adding a slew of different “stuff” to be corralled and stored.

What are some go-to toys in your household?