What’s on Your List?

Everyone who has every gone through a period, long or short, of self improvement or reflection has made “the list.”  On it is usually a litany of very exorbitant goals that are all but unreachable.  That’s fine.  I say reach for the stars.

In the few short weeks (!!!!) we have left in 2013, however, I am setting some very realistic and attainable goals that I would like to carry into the New Year.  It looks like this:

  1. Write 12 more articles for publication
  2. Work more on my fiction writing
  3. Blog consistently
  4. Spend more quality time with my kids
  5. Take more pictures with my good camera
  6. Date my husband more often (at least twice a month)
  7. Be more efficient with dull work tasks (ie STOP PROCRASTINATING!!)

My more involved list for the future includes things like visiting Paris, scuba diving in Australia and spending a month or two on a grand tour of Europe.  All of it is do-able in time, but for the rest of this year, I’m focusing on the short list.

What’s on your list?

Connecting with Our Children

Parenting is hard.  When you have a full schedule at certain times in your life, it can be harder still.

Making an effort to connect with our children on a daily basis is imperative not only for their sakes, but for ours as well.  The feelings of failure we can feel as mothers when we miss out on moments with our kids has a monumental effect on our mental well being and our outlook on life in general.

This article from Babble.com gives moms some great tips on how to connect with our babes every day.

One of those days…

Today has been one of those days.  I just can’t even put it into words right now.  If this is a test, consider it failed because… Well.  Just because. 

Frustrated. 

Tired.

Angry.

Confused.

And nothing major or life changing has even happened.  I can’t imagine how I would even be functioning if a crisis had arisen (no fate… I’m not tempting you). 

I. Can’t. Deal.

Perfectly Imperfect

Okay. I definitely have ADD. Or at least some sort of focus issue. I am constantly bouncing from one thing to another and I want to do EVERYTHING. My ideas are constantly churning and I am fairly certain that if I had an awesome assistant, I would world renowned for my brilliance. Okay. Maybe not. 

But today, I digress.  After one of the most embarrassing and simultaneously hilarious moments in my life, I feel the need to share. 

We have a recycling center here in Rockville, MD that gives out two dollar bills and fifty cent pieces.  My dad, being in construction, often has the need to recycle large items and when he does he brings two dollar bills and fifty cent pieces to my kids.  For the last (almost) five years Grace has been collecting these treasures.  Every couple of weeks, my dad comes back from the recycling center with treasure and the kids “feed” their pigs. 

A few weeks ago, right around the time Isabella was born, Grace started asking if we could count the money in the piggy banks.  Since they just started learning about money in her Junior K class, I thought it was a great idea.  So after a week or so, the kids came home to individual stations with plastic baggies, envelopes and their individual piggy bank (how organized of me!).  It was great.  For an hour and half, we dug every dollar and cent out of those pigs.  We piled up the ones, the twos, the fives and the occasional ten from a birthday card. 

Grace was very proud of herself because she had the most “paper.”  After counting up all of the money, we tallied up over $500 in small bills (mostly twos… Thanks Papa!). 

So I bound counted the money carefully and bound it up with a rubber band for ease of transportation and tucked it into an envelope with the total on it.  Then I let it sit on my countertop for a week.  Because I’m efficient like that. 

Now comes the embarrassing part. 

Today I decided it was the big day.  I grabbed the baby and the envelope and hopped in the car to go to the bank.  I pulled up, filled out my deposit slip and popped the cash into the drawer.  And then the wind blew.

I won’t place blame (Madison) because I don’t know which of my darling children (Madison) was rooting around in the envelope of cash (Madison).  Well, unbeknownst to me, the rubber band had been removed from my lovely stack of cash and, in an instant, two dollar bills were swirling around like a tornado. 

I squeezed out of my car (because how far can you really get the door open in a bank drive thru) and began collecting the money.

It was hilarious.  Stuff like this happens to me all the time.  I swear I’m living The Truman Show and there were some idiots in their living room cracking up as I rushed around the drive thru picking up dollars as they danced in the rain.  It was beautiful really.  I kept apologizing to the woman at the window and attempting to direct the cars behind me into the other drive through lane, but still, I got the mandatory awkward stares and fist shaking that come with living and banking next to a retirement community.  Some of my neighbors aren’t terribly patient. 

You know how they say “we’ll laugh about this someday?”  Well I laughed about it right there.  Standing outside of my car in the cold rain with the wind blowing the two dollar bills my kids had so meticulously collected. 

I laughed like an insane person and you know what?  I found every single dollar. 

Sometime, We Fail

I have lost my mind.  Not totally off my rocker, insane asylum mind loss, but that overwhelmed to the extreme loss of mind.  I am exhausted.  Aside from giving birth to our beautiful baby girl this past December (she was eight weeks old yesterday!), I have been trying to get back into the swing of things at work (sort of) and I started back at graduate school last week.  All while I’m trying to get my writing life back in order.

The worst part of it all is that my children have clearly lost their minds as well.  Which, I suppose, is to be expected.  Quality leadership is the hallmark of a well run home and, frankly, I am failing miserably.  Everything from chores and routines to extracurricular activities and visits with friends has fallen to pieces and I am teetering on paying my ten year old to hold the baby for fifteen minutes so that I can get a decent shower.  Did I mention that I am attempting to work and go to graduate school in the midst of all of this chaos?

My four year old went to school with her hair looking like Hush Puppy’s from this year’s Oscar nominated film, Beasts of the Southern Wild.  I highly recommend the film if you have a couple of hours and a smidge of tolerance for crazy, ignorant parents with a penchant for abandoning their young.  I do not, however, recommend recreating the main character’s hairstyle for your young children.  She’s four, she didn’t care.  But I did.

So, why the hell am I on here blogging?  Why the hell did I spend the afternoon yesterday recreating gorgeous, crafty Valentine’s Day goodies from Pinterest?  Is it because I have lost complete sight of all priorities and refuse to reclaim my life?  No.  It is because sometimes a Mama has to do SOMETHING she enjoys.  I like to bake.  I like to write.  Sometimes even more than a decent shower.

So we didn’t get back into the swing of our morning (or afternoon or evening) routines today.  We’re getting there.  For now, everyone is healthy, happy and we have some lovely Valentine’s goodies to enjoy this week.

Now I’m going to take a deep breath and keep it moving.

Faucets and Tile and Toilets, OH MY!

So much going on!  I know God won’t give me more than I can handle, but oh my!  I spent the last two hours working on a selection sheet for a customer who wants to remodel two bathrooms.  We want to get them signed and done ASAP so I felt an obligation to get their selections finalized as quickly as possible.  That plus I still need to complete two chapters of reading and a conference submission for my graduate school class this evening and it is 10:30 already! 

But would you look at that?  I checked in, blogged a quick note to all of you and I’ll be upstairs feeding the baby and reading about “Non Racist Teaching” practices in no time!  (Yes, that is actually part of the title of one of my textbooks this semester)

Hope you all are having a spectacular evening! 

Writing

Who knows why we stop doing things that we love?  This afternoon, my second copy of Christina Katz’s lovely book The Writer’s Workout: 3655 Tips, Tasks and Techniques from Your Writing Career Coach arrived on my front porch.  The first copy was destroyed in the eighth of a string of toilet overflows that I would prefer not discuss (thank you Madison).  I had planned on starting the New Year off right with writing every day, expanding my writing career and working on figuring out the next five years of my life.

Writing is my passion.  I have been a writer in my soul since I was able to put pen to paper.  Somewhere along the way, someone told me that writing wasn’t a good career and that, if I went to college with an eye on creative writing, I would fail.  This person’s opinion has always carried a lot of weight with me (maybe a little too much weight), but I listened.  I put my writing away, had my first child, joined the family business, had a few more kids and have been designing kitchens and running the office of my dad’s remodeling business ever since.

Seeing as I am responsible for the care and responsible upbringing of four lovely children, one would think I would have things figured out a little more than I do.  You see, I’m a floater.  I’m full of ideas and ambition and when I find something I love, I work at it hard.  Until things get tough.  Then I tend to chicken out.

Kitchens and bathrooms provide opportunity for creativity, parenting provides me with more joy that I could have ever imagined, and marriage is a thrilling ride.  But none of those things can both fulfill my creative nature and allow me to contribute to my household the way that writing can.  It is my passion and I want to make a career out of it.

Back to the book… The very first chapter of the book, on day one, it discusses writing as a habit; something that comes as naturally as breathing.  After reading this, a light bulb went off in my head.  I have stopped writing altogether for anything other than work and school.  My creativity has no outlet.

This, I do not like.

I want to understand my creativity, the thought processes behind my ideas and my craft.  I love to write, to create stories, to learn and to inform.  I want to get back to it.  Perhaps it will begin by writing journal entries like this and proceed to exploring the many characters I have begun to introduce to the page.

However it happens, I am on to Chapter 2 and highly recommend this book for any aspiring or established writer.