CatchtheMoment, Writing

Why I Started Blogging

Hannah over at Cats and Coffee made a list of blogging ideas! I’ve been enjoying her blog, and thought I’d use one of her listed topics for today’s post. (Thanks Hannah!)

Note:
There are currently NO affiliate links in this post, I haven’t set any of that up yet. I just linked a bunch of stuff for the sole purpose of sharing it with anyone who comes across it!

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Why did I start blogging?

In March of 2001, my then-boyfriend-now-husband, Joe, said to me, “Hey, have you ever heard of this site called LiveJournal? I think it’s something you might really like.”

And it was all over from there!

It wasn’t surprising I fell in love with it, as I’d always loved the ideas of stories, journals, diaries, this completely private divulging of one’s deepest thoughts. As a child, I was privy to just a few diaries. Two nonfiction – the diary of Anne Frank, and the diary of Zlata Filipovic, the diary of a teenage girl living through the war in Sarajevo. Also as a teen (as in just barely 13 I believe), I read a fictional diary, The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer. That is not a kid’s book! But I just snuck it off the large bookshelf in my brother’s room and was quite fascinated!

snoopydiaryAnd of course, part of my fascination with other peoples’ diaries was the fact that I’d been keeping my own for so long. I believe my first one was my Snoopy diary in second grade (excerpt here), and then I moved onto my pink, green, and blue-paged Lisa Simpson diary next, and it simply continued from there!
Continue reading “Why I Started Blogging”

Parenting

The Kindness Sandwich

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“Do you want peanut butter and jelly, or cream cheese and jelly?” I ask, heading toward the fridge.

“Cream cheese and jelly!” he shouts. My five year old’s smile is wide, his energy contagious. He gets to the refrigerator first and pulls the cream cheese out for me. Then he hands me the jelly. I reach next to him and get out the bread, and he pulls out a butter knife from the drawer. Our plates are arranged side by side. I’m having one too. A cream cheese and jelly sandwich. A kindness sandwich, I think to myself, and a bittersweet smile spreads across my face as white and red swirl together under the motion of the knife.

I’ve thought of this particular kind of sandwich as a Kindness Sandwich for probably twenty or so years. The way I first heard the story was that my mom’s teacher shared her cream cheese and jelly sandwich with her when she was young.

Little by little, more of the truth was revealed. This is the way things go when there’s a checkered past in the family tree. You don’t hear it all at once. Much of it is too tragic to be shared, too difficult to explain to a very young child. So first I heard that Mom’s teacher shared the sandwich with her. And that sounded nice.

Over time, I heard more about Grandma’s drinking. And Grandpa’s drinking. And the fighting. The shouting. My mom and her brothers, who were just little kids, commonly laid awake listening to the sounds of thrown dishes shattering against the walls. My mother told me she often laid in bed, wishing her parents would just stop so she could finally sleep.

One morning, my mother, who was then only a tad bit older than my son is now, walked outside with her kindergarten class for a picnic, and she had no lunch. Her mother never made her any lunch, and of course, in those days, making lunches for children didn’t fit into a father’s job description. So, since she had no food at all that day, her teacher invited her to sit next to her and share her lunch, handing her half of her cream cheese and grape jelly sandwich.

My mom has told me that story many times. Sometimes I still ask her about these things, so I can remember, too, and carry on some of her tales of the past, the way stories are passed down by generation. By now, I can hear her voice tell it in my head. I can see her in my mind’s eye spreading cream cheese and jelly on bread for me, many times over the years, back when I was little. What I didn’t realize then, that I know now, especially now that I’m a parent, is that, in those moments, she held in her hands not just two pieces of bread stuck together with filling, but the the embodiment of kindness manifested in physical form. She passed it to me: a torch she never received from her own mother. A legacy she created from absence.

In the absence of happy memories, she vowed to make a safe, loving space for her own children to form their own…
In the absence of nurturing care, she vowed to be there for her children…
In the absence of food, she vowed to always feed her children…

“I’ll never do this to my children,” was the mantra of her formative years, and with that promise, she invented a new life, one she’d never experienced firsthand, for all of her children, one in which we knew we were loved, above all else, through good times and bad. And though she may never have thought that far ahead, it is a gift she created for her grandchildren, too.

My son bites into his sandwich and jelly spreads out, a smudge of red in the corner of his lips. I smile and lick my thumb, and wipe it away. We finish our sandwiches together.

Around Here

Around Here (Early Summer 2015)

Outside my window… Summer is here and it’s pretty dang beautiful…

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Don’t ask me what that is, as I have no idea! It’s growing outside our windows, though.

Anyway, I do realize that the First Day of Summer is technically June 21. It says so on our calendars, after all. But to me, it’s silly to say, “Summer is starting in a few weeks!” when kids are out of school, and it’s 85 degrees outside!! Summer is now, people!! I’ve even heard, “But it’s June, it’s not supposed to be this hot yet!” Which makes me laugh, as I have always lived in hot climates, and June = Summer in my mind. But really, I’m just trying to live the seasons by what’s actually happening outside, and Summer has definitely arrived early. We had some high 80s days, and today is like 75. And freaking perfect!!! It makes me ridiculously happy.

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In my head… People who read this may or may not know that I have general anxiety and OCD, and take medication to help with these things. Because of the medication aspect, I decided to start seeing a psychiatrist in order to figure out what to do medication-wise (keep things the same, or what changes to make, if any, etc.). I’ve seen her only once. Well, twice. But the second time was messed up because we had each written down a different time for the appointment, so we only had like ten minutes to meet. Anyway, so what’s been taking up space in my head lately is lots of wondering if she’s the right fit for me, not because she’s a bad therapist. On the contrary, she seems like a great therapist! What she says is great so far. But she’s so weird about scheduling that it is kind of causing me anxiety. Which is just awesome when you’re there to be treated for anxiety!

Anyway, I just felt like writing about that, because if you’re like me, you torment yourself with whether or not you really need therapy (which probably means the answer is “yes, you do”), and then there’s the whole process of finding one, seeing who is covered by insurance, and then CALLING to make the first appointment, which is the hardest part, if you ask me. There’s just a lot of rigamarole and honestly, it’s a giant pain in the ass to get started. But I’m hoping it’ll be worth it, and I already think it is. Just getting started has already inspired me to take care of myself in other ways, too, and shown me the importance of doing so. And that is a good thing!

On the kid front… Homer is so funny. I feel like I always start any story about him by saying that, but it’s really true. He and I have been playing a lot of video games and board games together, which has been really fun. I try to take him on little adventures nearly every day. Recently, too, we tried out a drop in daycare place, and he was super anxious about it at first. When I picked him up, though, he was already talking about “when I come here next time…” Next time!! I’m so proud of him for rolling with it so well. He only cried a little, I only cried a little. And now we have a nice place he can go, so I can go to appointments or have some me time, or something!

Also, guess who’s been sleeping in his own bed at night AND stopped nursing??! There’s been some very big stepping stones over here lately!! And he’s taking it all in stride.

One tough thing that happened recently was sort of multilayered… First, he saw his little buddy, Marcus, get stung by a bee on the face, which lead to a very strong fear of bees, unsurprisingly. And all flying bugs, really! Then, Homer got stung by a bee on the bottom of his foot as he ran barefoot through the grass! At least, that’s what I think happened. He was screaming and crying for such a long time. He kept saying there was a splinter, but there wasn’t. And he wasn’t near any wood. And the crying was similar volume and pitch to when he got shots, so really, all evidence points to a bee sting. But the poor kid, whenever I said that (which wasn’t too often), he’d get like ten times more upset (and this was hours later!). He hated the very idea that it even could have been a bee! Poor kiddo. I’m glad he’s doing better now, at least. I think the apprehension of flying insects may last a while, though.

Funny Homerisms…

“We should call Ashton: The Sweet Destroyer… Becuz he’s really sweet to us. And he destroys everything.”

“I gotta drink this water. I’m so dehydrated!!”

He also used a few other large vocabulary words completely correctly. Like “automatically,” and… I forget the others. It’s just so incredibly fun listening to him talk, the stories he tells, the way he says things. Today, he said, “Hey look! The sprinklers are sprinkling!” It was so cute!

The Menagerie… Oh, sweet Ashton. He’s been so sweet and doing pretty well. He’s only a pain when we’re walking, and he insists on barking at every dog he sees. The good news is he is still out of his crate almost all the time, doesn’t potty in the house while we’re gone, and when we went to the dog park, he didn’t bark at all as we approached the gate. He was just plain happy about it! He’s sleeping under my chair as I type at my desk right now. And when we snuggle on the couch, he likes to settle his chin into my leg or on my ankle, which is the sweetest feeling.

Tails is doing well. He’s awesome and loves rubbing all over me every morning. He’s super happy I cleaned my desk. He would’ve slept on it regardless, but now there’s a lot more room for him. See creative corner, next!

In the creative corner… I cleaned my desk!!! Behold, the beauty:
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It’s nice to have an actual workspace again. The whole desk had been completely piled high with clutter. Joe started referring to it as the hoarder desk. It was not good. But now it is!! I still need a good computer chair to actually be comfortable sitting here. That’s the next step. But it works. I’m using it right this very moment, after all!

In other good news, I’ve been feeling more like writing lately, I’ve been actually writing more, getting ideas for stories and blog posts, and I feel more confident in sharing that writing, too. It’s hard, because it feels so vulnerable and weird to be like, hey read what I write! But I think the whole point is that I need to write, so I should, and if others gain anything from it as well, all the better. The only way to know my voice is to just keep writing. So I’m going to try to make blog posts here a really regular thing.

In the garden… I am growing stuff!! It’s not that fast-going at all. But it is happening, slowly but surely. The tomato plants and jalapeño plants are pretty itty bitty. I doubt any food will come from them, but it’s still fun watching and trying.

The coolest thing in the garden, I think, is my fairy garden!! I just got some new plants for it, and check out how cute it is now…

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I’m super happy with it, and want to get much more! But I’m holding back until after construction on our balcony is over (it hasn’t begun yet, but will soon).

In the kitchen… Still stuck, stuck, stuck. Same ol’ bad habits, mostly. I did talk to a friend, though, who is a nutritional coach, and may be getting her guidance to get in my best shape, eating and exercise – wise. I feel like I just need some guidance, you know?

On the fitness/health track… Same as above. A bit stuck. But definitely better. After all, I did actually go walking for exercise with Tina recently! So I’m glad about that. Now I just need to go walking daily, and I’ll be golden. I feel a lot more motivated now, after getting some results other than “perfect” from my latest lab results from the doc. I just got a regular physical, typical bloodwork, just routine stuff. And it came back with high cholesterol and high blood glucose, and low vitamin D. So, I gotta do something, and then go back in in 90 days for a recheck of everything. The silver lining to this is that now I have a time frame and a bit of fear fueling me – I would like to avoid any major health issues, thanks very much. Time to listen to my body screaming at me, “treat me better!” I’m trying, I really am!

I am reading… Still working on Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, as well as chipping away at Neil Gaiman’s collection of short stories, Trigger Warning. Both are incredibly awesome! I feel like there’s so much more I want to read, too, but I need to finish these first.

I am watching… America’s Got Talent is definitely fun to watch! I’m so glad it’s back!! I’m also watching Silicon Valley, which is hilarious! I’m in the process of catching up on the second season.

I am hearing… I’ve been listening to They Might Be Giants’ album “Glean” in the car a lot lately, and I LOOOOOOOOOOVE ITTTTTT!!! It makes me happy. I’ve been listening to them since I was 10. Weird but true. So new(ish) music by them that is still them, their style, their sound, just brand new to me.. just lights up my whole being. Maybe that sounds silly, but it’s true. I’m really enjoying it!

I am thankful… that the weather has been nice, for beach days and sand, for iced coffee, the smell of sunscreen, beers with friends on their back patios, play time in fountains, cupcakes and/or ice cream with friends… I’m thankful for the comfort of writing, and for the encouragement to write. I’m thankful for my awesome little family, and my wonderful friends. I’m thankful that I’m feeling better than I have in a while. That’s definitely a good thing!

I am going… to a beautiful park tomorrow, to a dance class this weekend (exciting!), and to see Eddie Izzard with Sarah in just over a week!! I’m going to start walking regularly, and writing regularly, and see where life takes me. I’m looking forward to it!

How about you all? How’s summer treating you so far? Anything you’re looking forward to this summer? I’d love to hear from you!

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Parenting, Writing

My Week in Haiku

haiku

i.
Summer has arrived.
The sun doesn’t set ’til ten.
It is pretty weird.

ii.
My kid was screaming
Because I didn’t let him
Touch the hot burner.

iii.
My dog barks a lot.
Why are you yelling at that
Other dog, Ashton?

iv.
We had plans to craft:
DIY deodorant.
Instead we drank beer.

v.
Dog likes the dog park.
My kid, however, doesn’t.
Fetch was fun, it seemed.

vi.
Frequently I ask
Am I doing these things right?
As if there’s one way.

vii.
If I keep asking
‘Should I be in therapy?’
The answer is yes.

viii.
Sometimes I hide from
My own kid and everyone.
I need alone time.

ix.
Sometimes it’s hard to
Believe we even live here
I love Mt. Rainier.

Parenting

Baby Steps

I decided to share this blog I wrote here, because it was such a simple thing, yet such a landmark moment for me. I frequently think about it, because this one moment symbolizes so much of parenthood for me. Maybe it’ll resonate with you, too? …

Originally written August 22, 2012 (Homer was 18 months old).
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As we got to the top of the stairs, I held his hand, as I always do. He began to cry, something he’s started doing lately. He pulled his hand as forcefully as he could, trying to get away from my grip. I resisted, creating a tug-o-war of tension that scared the hell out of me. I didn’t want him tumbling down the stairs! I relaxed my arm, and he relaxed his pull, and I let go to see what he wanted to do. He sat down immediately. Then, realizing he was free, he stood up. I reached out for his hand again and he shook his head, pulled his shoulder up to his ear, scrunching himself smaller, angling away from me. “No,” he said.

I realized what he wanted. He wanted to do it himself.

I stood in front of him, and my tiny boy moved over to the other side of the stairs. He put his arm on the wall to balance, his hand not quite reaching the bannister. And he smiled. A look of concentration replaced his smile and he began his descent. One little shoe came down, then the other one joined it. Step-step… Step-step… I walked backward down the stairs directly in front of him, spotting him but not touching him. My heart was in my throat, but my inner voice said, “Trust him. He’s ready.”

In an instant, he was a teenager, standing before me, hand outstretched for the keys to the car. In an instant, he was 18, ready to leave home into the grand world. This isn’t the last time you’ll need to trust him, I thought, and tears pricked my eyes. This is where it begins, I thought, as my little boy stepped steadily, confidently, more quickly than I’d expected, down the staircase, balancing so well, doing great. I felt my anxiety simmering wildly, but I kept it under the lid, as he did what he needed to do, as a simple staircase became a symbol for burgeoning independence.

When he reached the very last step, he stopped suddenly. He raised his face and his eyes met mine. He reached out his hand to me, and I wanted so much just to take it.

Instead I said, “You’ve got this.”

He looked at the ground, that one last step, then at me again.

I made my voice more sure, because I *was* sure. “You did all the others just great, and you can do this one too. You’ve *got* this. Go ahead,” I said, with a nod and a great big smile.

He looked down, thought for a second, then sat down, scooted forward, planted his feet on the ground and stood up. Before I’d even started to cheer, “Yay!” for him, his hands were in the air, as he shouted, “Yeah!!” with the most confident smile I’ve ever seen him wear.

We walked to the garage, side by side, both of us smiling, as a few more tears slid down my cheeks.