Monday, October 24, 2011

Where I Face the Music

In addition to the car drama, a lot has been happening around here. I am about to start a new job, and just as I was prepared for that, an opportunity came up to continue working with my current position on a contractor basis. This means a lot more money for our family, which is more than necessary with two car repair bills looming.

It also means a lot of hours away from my family, something I've struggled with while making the decision to keep both positions. For the next few months, I have to put my big girl pants on and accept that the things that are taking me away from my family for the short-term will ultimately allow us to comfortably spend more time together in the long-term...and hopefully grow our little family, too!

It means I need to make a conscious effort to spend every non-working second keeping my marriage and my parenting as the biggest priority.

And this means taking a longer hiatus than I had planned.

As much as I wish I could do it all, I know I can't. As much as I know I will miss this outlet and corner of the Internet, I also know I would miss so much more if I didn't take a step back for awhile.

I won't pretend there won't be days where I'll want to post, and maybe I will. And I hope to be back to posting as usual after the holidays. In the meantime, I look forward to keeping up with as many blogs as I can and seeing you all on Twitter and hopefully some of you in person.

I hope when I return, I'll see all your smiling faces and amazing comments. For the last two years, I have depended on you and turning my back on that, no matter how brief, isn't an easy decision. I don't ever take that for granted.

All my best for a beautiful and happy rest of the year!


Monday, October 17, 2011

What Fresh Hell?

I wanted to wax poetic about how I got an awesome new job and how excited I was to start a new adventure.

To celebrate my adventure, I went away with some friends to Wisconsin. Near the site of my recent rocky road incident.

I had some celebratory Prosecco and so allowed Scott to drive the car I had borrowed from my sister-in-law.

All of a sudden one of my friends yells "WATCH OUT" and I hear SLAM, followed by seeing a hoof and a very airborne deer.

To put this in perspective: that is two trips to Wisconsin resulting in a car being put into the shop. That's two car repair bills, if my car can even be repaired.

And that pretty much takes care of any extra money I was making at the new job.

I've been trying to keep a stiff upper lip through a lot lately. We seem to repeatedly hit financial setbacks right when we think we have our finances where we want them. Additionally, there's the fact that I hurt someone else's car, and all of the drama and horror that went with making that phone call.

I just don't have anything to spare at the moment, so I'll be taking a hiatus this week.

Hope your days find you deer-less and healthy this week!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Potty Power or Well of Course She Did

So my parents have taken to picking Wee 'Burb up on Thursdays and hanging with her. She gets pancakes and Elmo and all of the other awesome grandparent things that go along with that.

Really, this couldn't work out better for Scott and I. It's quiet time, sometimes a date night, sometimes just catching up on Tivo and eating dinner together. It's magical.

So we go to pick Wee 'Burb up after a rather awesome dinner at a malt shop nearby. We were high on peanut butter and chocolate malts and Wee 'Burb was high on grilled cheese and Elmo movies.

My parents hand me the daycare daily sheet and point out where it says she sat on the potty. I tried to ask her if she sat on the potty at school and she giggled, pointed to their dog and yelled "CASS!"

The dog's name is Cash.

The kid is Fort Knox about what she's into at daycare, I tells ya.

I almost forgot about it but in the car I said to Scott "you don't think she potty-training at daycare, do you?"

We both snorted. We had a traumatic experience a few months ago when we ordered her an Elmo potty chair only to discover it has like 100 sayings in 4 or 5 languages. Traumatized, I forced Scott to disable the voice and we kind of didn't talk much about potty-training after that.

I mean, really, what's the kid going to do in the real world when Elmo doesn't cheer her on for dropping a deuce? Right? Isn't it just setting her up for disappointment??

Anyway, since then she's sat on it, oh, like 4 times. She's very fascinated with flushing the big toilet and every time she farts she declares "I poo-poo."

That's the extent of training.

Confession time: I kind of like diapers. I know, apparently this makes me a freak. But honestly, they're super convenient. Expensive, yes. But so damn convenient. 3-hour trip to a cabin in Wisconsin? It's cool, she has a diaper. Grocery cart full with only 10 minutes before we have to be somewhere? It's cool, she has a diaper.

You see where I'm going. Also, in addition to my selfishness, I just kind of assumed potty training would come a bit late to Wee 'Burb given our walking dilemma.

So I go in to the daycare the next morning and a teacher confirms that it was probably a mix-up, that there is a girl with a slightly similar name to Wee 'Burb and the new teacher probably mixed up the charts.

Confession time: I had kind of hoped she had just, you know, taught herself to go potty.

Later that day, I pick her up and the teacher writes on the sheet that this is NOT a mistake. In fact, Wee 'Burb has been sitting, and sometimes actually going, on the potty at daycare.


Apparently her seeing other kids do it was just too much and she has been asking every day since at daycare to sit on the potty. She only goes a few times, and she has ZERO interest in sitting for more than 12 seconds on the now-silent Elmo potty here at home.

I by no means think this means she is potty-trained, or even really that ready to make this happen for reals.

But somehow it just seems right that every time I think I know how to guide my daughter developmentally, she has a different idea.

So now, moms, I need your help. I want to say this: NO JUDGMENT! I don't want anyone saying anything negative about anyone else's comments or thoughts. I DO want to know how you potty-trained your kiddo. What worked as a reward system? What didn't work? How long did it really take?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Not Sure I'm That Kreativ

Ryan over at The Woven Moments gave me this loverly award recently.

Coincidentally when I had actually given her the 7x7 award I had received.

So the challenge is to come up with 7 random things about me. Because I just tagged a bunch of people in my 7x7 post, I'm not going to tag anyone. I decided to make this 7 things I am afraid of.

1. I'm afraid of carcass. I love meat, but I can't deal with anything in the form it was when it was alive. One of my biggest accomplishments was making Thanksgiving turkey. I only cried for a few minutes. It's not like I feel there's a soul or whatever, it's just too primal for me to deal with.

2. I'm constantly afraid people will be hurt. Whenever I hear a traffic accident or see anything on the news, I have to go through in my head where all my loved ones are to see if they are in the vicinity. If they were, I have to call or e-mail. One time there was an accident near where Scott was working and he didn't answer his cell. I cried for an hour, paced for another hour, texted and called him excessively. Turned out he was on a job site with no cell phone access. He thought it was "sweet" that someone cared that much. And he now knows to text me whenever he will be late, even if it means leaving his work site.

3. I'm afraid to speak Spanish. I'm technically fluent. I studied it through college, I can understand it almost perfectly. I can speak it almost perfectly...technically. But I am so afraid of being judged, I don't speak it enough with native speakers, and therefore my accent isn't what it used to be, which makes me more afraid. Here was just one incident where this was a bad thing.

4. I'm afraid I have no personal style. I'm always jealous of people who walk in a room, no matter their size or appearance, and they just OWN it. Because they are 100% confident in their skin and style. Here's a good example of why I am like this, and why it bothers me.

5. I'm afraid I'll miss things. I'm about to take on some things in life that will mean more time away from Wee 'Burb. While I want to believe in the long run that this will show her that women can hold positions of power, that I will do almost anything to try to relate to what my daughter will be going through in the future, the reality is in the "now" I will miss some things. And I worry she will resent me for it instead of really understanding why I do it. I know, I know. She's not even 2.

6. I'm afraid I won't be able to let go of my body issues. I am working so hard, between seeing a nutritionist  and a personal trainer and meal planning. I don't ever want my daughter to be where I am, to be feeling like despite my best efforts, I will not be able reach the goals I wanted for my body. I want her to love food and not worry about what it will do. I want her to try new foods, to always see healthy as a flavorful option. And yet, I know that her growing up in this media-rich collarbone-obsessed society...that's not likely. And a part of me dies every day knowing she might look in the mirror and not see how amazing she is.

7. I'm afraid the wrong decision will lead to ruin. I'm not talking about my recent car drama, but more that as I look to change some things in my life, particularly as it relates to work, that it will be wrong for my family. Currently I am the breadwinner and there's pressure to make all the right financial decisions to make sure we're all taken care of. If I fail, for once it's not just me who will fall, it could be my family, our lifestyle. In a weird way, the pressure is exciting and driving, and then on the other hand of course it's just stifling and overwhelming.

What are you afraid of?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rocky Road, Indeed

I feel I have a healthy fear of cars, a fear that has been slightly alleviated by having a husband who likes to tinker with them. But overall, I live in a constant state of anxiety that I will do something totally insane and my car will blow up.

My nightmare came true a couple of weekends ago. It started off so wonderfully, you guys. I had packed up Wee 'Burb and met my roommate at her work and we took the tot off on her first girl's weekend with my sister-in-law at her cabin.

It promised to be magical: Wee 'Burb got to play with the puppies, the adult chickies would drink some vino and play in the hot tub and watch some movies. It was meant to be a relaxing weekend I had so very much needed.

And then GPS happened. You may recall my GPS was horrifically stolen recently, and Scott kindly lent me his.

Yes, I've been to her place before. But I'm one of those people who, when I am riding in a car, I play with the radio, eat a lot of junk food, babble a lot, and pay ZERO attention to where I am going. GPS, my friends, was a necessity.

And the complete undoing of my life.

It was all going along perfectly, I even recognized the dirt road to my sister-in-law's cabin. The problem is, I couldn't remember what side she was on and all the houses have long dirt driveways with lots of trees. GPS was telling me it was somewhere I was confident it was not, so I went past the non-existent driveway that she was insisting I take and decided I would turn around and call my sister-in-law.

I found a road I thought I could turn on (the road I was on was super skinny and full of trees, didn't want to damage my car with branches, you see). It was all going good for about 50 feet or so when I kind of noticed  that the road was also getting thinner.

Before I could realize that, I heard the most ungodly THUMP followed by my stomach going into my throat.

Roommate and I GASP and look ahead of us. She aptly described it as "Titanic: the boulder version."

By this point, I felt I was pot committed. There was nowhere to turn around.

I absolutely, positively should have just backed up. Every fiber of my being told me to back up, but I just...I kept going.

I don't know why. Perhaps boulder #3 occurring simultaneously with branch #200 on my roof just turned my brain to mush. I don't know.

At this point, the hood of my car started smoking and there was an awful stench. I looked everywhere, no lights. Nothing came on. I stopped and looked under the hood.

For what? Right? I mean, unless wires were exposed or something was on fire, I wasn't going to KNOW anything was wrong.

But we didn't see anything so I felt like the only thing I could do was do a 50-point turn and go back over boulder Titanic and pray. I had to get off this road, which meant going back over what I was sure was certain death for my car.

Every time I tried to steer around a rock, another one would hit my tire or another branch scraped the top and I felt the bile rising as I tried to hold back tears. Wee 'Burb was DEAD QUIET in the back, sensing that the Roommate and I were going to lose it any second.

I finally called my sister-in-law and figured out where I was, got to her house and saw more smoking. As soon as I turned the car off, my car, my sweet lovely car with over 100,000 miles on it, she started bleeding.

Seriously, dark red fluid pouring out of the vehicle as I stared on, completely helpless.

After my awesome brother-in-law consulted with my equally awesome sister-in-law and I simultaneously tearfully thanked my awesome husband for not telling me how stupid I am, everyone concurred that it was transmission fluid mixed with oil.

Which meant both pans were gone.

I was okay with this. Assuming that was "all" that was wrong, I had resigned myself to leaving my car in Wisconsin and facing a pretty hefty bill. Small price to pay for another 100,000 miles of no car payment.

Thankfully my in-laws had an extra car to lend me, we had free towing thanks to my Roommate, and we managed to get through the weekend drunk and happy.

Until I was informed by the mechanic that I drive a Saturn.

Yes, I know I drive a Saturn. This wasn't news. I'm not that stupid about cars.

I also know that they don't make Saturns anymore. Which means the part that I need? Doesn't exist.

Well, it does. Possibly in Pennsylvania. It's, seriously, the ONLY ONE out there and they're not keen to part with it. If they did, it would be $400.

My car is worth $1300 max.

All this is to say, please pray for me as I pull the girl card, crying softly while calling junk yards on my lunch hour today to see if they have Saturn parts.

Otherwise, know anyone who is selling a car?

Please tell me I am not the only directionally challenged one. And also that I am not the only one who has done something stupid knowing full well while doing it that it's stupid.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Drawing the Line

When I was in Elementary School I recall doing a lot of art projects. I remember being slightly excited and more than slightly anxious when they were assigned.

You see, I loved tag board. I loved the idea of art, though my execution was terrible.

I did not love my lack of creativity and the inevitable "help" my mother would offer.

Each trip to Target meant we would buy two pieces of tag board, the first being a practice piece, you see.

Each time I thought for sure I wouldn't need the second piece. I would get it right the first time.

I should have bought stock in the stuff.

I've never been one to focus on anything artistic. Even now, I use Shutterfly as my only means of Scrapbooking and PowerPoint as any illustration I ever need. If it takes more than an hour to do any project, I'm just not that interested.

You could say I have artistic ADD.

Anyway, my mother is a perfectionist. She would immediately begin "helping" by drawing lines with a ruler and getting out stencils. While other children were out there (GASP) free-forming their text on tag board, I sat with ruled lines and small dots to indicate the spot where the stencil should butt up, thus allowing for even and clear spaces between letters for maximum legibility.

Making the lines took about an hour, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to do anything beyond that. While most kids were willy-nilly gluing on objects from magazines and catalogues, I was story-boarding my ideas by carefully placing items down on the tag board in the form I wished them to be later.

If those were deemed appropriately spaced, I would then draw a line at the top and bottom of the item so I would know where to glue when I was finally allowed the glue stick.

Back then I saw my mother as a demanding perfectionist. Now I think she just wanted us to take pride in our projects. I think she was encouraging us to think and plan before doing. Just as I would always write an outline to a paper, having a plan before execution was crucial to tag board art in her mind.

Wee 'Burb is too young for any kind of art, really. Though I do of course hang her "sticker art" from daycare (which is exactly as it sounds, she places stickers on a piece of paper). When she's old enough for art, I doubt it will involve tag board. Instead, it will involve whatever future form of illustration software is out there.

I wonder, though, if I will be standing over her, encouraging her to count cursor spaces between illustrations and double check her fonts are all sans serif.

How did your parents "help" with your homework growing up? Were you grateful for their involvement or resentful? What do you think now as you're older? How do you plan to help your children or students?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mute This!

Our lifetime has brought about some pretty damn amazing technological breakthroughs, wouldn't you agree?

But none quite as miraculous as the power to selectively mute certain people.

Here's the gist:

Matt Richardson, a video producer for technology magazine Make, likes to keep the TV on in the background while he works but got irritated when certain celebrities came on the air. So he invented "The Enough Already," a device that let him put those bothersome blowhards on mute automatically.

Using a versatile piece of computer hardware called Arduino, Richardson cobbled together an infrared device that he programmed to decode his TV's closed-captioning system. The device monitors the closed-captioning track in real time, and automatically puts the TV on mute for 30 seconds when certain keywords—the ones Richardson programmed it to pick out—appear. He made it in about a week, working in his spare time, he told CNN, and his prototype cost about $70 to put together.

I submit to you the Top 5 words/people (in no particular order) I would mute if given the technology:

1. Taco Bell
2. Kardashian (all. And since they're all the same, they count as one).
3. Fox News
4. Chelsea Handler (she's not funny, do not argue this with me, you will not win)
5. Palin (any and all)

Please share yours!