Friday, October 12, 2012

On trying new things

I know a lot of people that set all kinds of lofty goals when approaching a BIG BIRTHDAY.  You know the sort: "I want to visit Italy before I'm forty." Or how about "I want to backpack around Europe before I'm thirty."  I'm not that kind of girl.  I believe in setting goals, sure, but I don't think that your goals need to be based around your age or station in life.  Want to visit Italy or backpack around Europe?  Well, go.  If you can't go now, then find a way to get there later.  There's no reason you can't do these things before you reach a certain age.

All that being said, I reach a certain BIG BIRTHDAY next March, and I've been doing a lot of thinking this past year about what I've learned in my thirties, and what I've done with my thirties.  Recently, I've been thinking of just one thing. 

This is me, in June.  Age 39.  I had just run my first 5K.

This year is the year I decided to run.

Now, I originally wrote "The year I became a runner" but I'm still a little uncomfortable with that phrase.  I don't run far, and I certainly don't run fast.  I don't look like a runner, and I probably still can't keep up with a pack.  But I'm running.  Me! 

I've never been what you could call an of my family's favorite stories is about how I signed up for softball in 3rd grade, went to one practice, and never went back.  I've always kind of felt like a fish out of water around any kind of sporting activity.  Being a bit uncoordinated and awkward will do that to a person.  I've always secretly admired people who could run any distance at all without looking completely silly, because when I ran I always felt a bit foolish. 

So I decided a year or so ago to start one of those couch to 5K running programs.  As an aside, I believe that 5K is the new yoga.  You?  Anyway....I started one, then I stopped.  Then I started over again, and I stopped.  Then it got cold.  Then hot.  Then I got serious and I joined a gym.  I actually go to the gym, and I actually enjoy it.  I started running one day, and I didn't use any program to tell me when to run and when not to run, I just ran when it felt good and walked when it didn't.  I was astounded one day when I looked down at the treadmill and saw I had been running for 13 minutes.  Me!!!

So here's to deciding to try something new.  For being able to overlook awkwardness and discomfort.  Here's to going out and doing it, even if I don't look like everyone else out there.  Here's to me, finally doing something I always wanted to be able to do.  Here's to new things, to my health, to the rush I get when I really get going.  Here's to silencing the voice inside me that says "you can't do that". 

Yes I can.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Let's talk about goals...

...and by goals I do not mean lofty ones.

Hello, summer.

Let's talk about what we want from each other.  I need you to know that since I've had three babies in five years, it's been awhile since I've truly been able to enjoy you to the best of my ability.  I've been really pregnant, or a little pregnant, or hanging out with an infant for a few summers now.  Sure, there was that one year when Toast was about one and a half, but that only served to whet my appetite for more....more time outside watching independently mobile children play. More time not sitting on a blanket trying to convince a baby NOT to eat the sticks and leaves, but in the garden while they toddled around on the grass.  In short, I've been waiting for the summer where I (and my kids) had a little more freedom and independence.

So, summer, now you know why I've called you here.  Let me talk a little about my needs....I was inspired a while ago by this post written by one of my favorite bloggers, Ali Edwards.  She is calling her list a "manifesto", but I feel a bit more comfortable just calling mine a bucket list.  So here's what I want to accomplish with you this year:

- Take the boys for ice cream after it more than once this year
- Plant a garden
- Eat outside as much as possible
- Enjoy all three meals outside: breakfast, lunch, and dinner, at least once (dinner's easy...the other two, not so much)
- Pick up breakfast and eat it at a park early in the morning one day
- Play in the sprinklers
- Go Up North. (Not a Michigander? Here's what that means.)
- Take the boys camping
- Swim in a lake
- Have cocktails on the deck with friends a few times
- Have friends over for dinner
- Take a long bike ride, picnic on the way
- See an outdoor concert for lunch AND dinner...picnic
- Sidewalk chalk
- Bubbles
- Catch fireflies
- Stargaze
- Have a bonfire.  Roast all sorts of food over it.  Share.
- Drink a beer with family around the bonfire
- Go to a U-pick farm.  Pick berries
- Make Jam
- Do more canning than last year....a tall order!!  But we loved it all winter!!
- Eat heirloom tomatoes warm from the garden
- Attend a family reunion
- Swim in a lake
- Swim in a pool
- Visit a splash park
- Take in a parade
- Go fishing
- Teach the boys a new outside game (freeze tag, red rover, kick the can, etc.)
- Encourage my kids to play outside as much as possible and get as dirty as possible

I've listed a few things that we've already planned, things I know I will cross off, but I didn't want to list too many things that were already in the works.  Examples: we'll be visiting Mackinac Island, I'll be running a 5K (*gulp*),  we're hoping to convince our friends to take us out on the boat as soon and as often as possible.  I also left out all the things we *have* to do: paint trim in the house, buy a new swimsuit, work with Toast daily on his letters and numbers.  You know, the things that will get done because they have too.  No, summer, you and I...our relationship is all about fun.  Nothing serious.  I know you're just a fling.  The thing is, sometimes a little fling is good for what ails us.  :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The right tool for the job

I've heard it said by many of my friends that they wish they had registered for their wedding AFTER they had already set up housekeeping...and I completely agree.  As I've been on my own more, I've started to realize how much I love cooking.  I've also started to realize that I'm fairly good at it, as long as I have the right tools.  Cooking is one area where I'm not willing to sacrifice for something that is good enough....having the right tool for the job really does make all the difference in the world. 

I've just ordered new saucepans for my kitchen.  If you're curious, I settled on these.  This will actually be the third set of sacepans Hubs and I have owned in our eight year marriage...three sets seems ridiculous.  We came in with one (we didn't register for a set, which is a story for another day) that the Hubs was using in his apartment.  We replaced those with a non-stick set that was part of a cookware set, and I was sorely disappointed.  The non-stick started flaking off despite the fact that I'm diligent about using wood, plastic and rubber utensils on them. 

What I've decided are two things: first, no more non-stick for me.  It's simply not going to last for a lifetime, and that's what I want.  I use my cookware every single day, and  need it to last and be durable for a good long time.  Second, no more multi-sets of cookware when I can buy only the pieces I need.  I like the cookware we bought before, but we have pieces we rarely use...I could easily have bought better quality of the things we need and avoided having extra stuff sitting around. 

I wish I had been a better cook when I made these decisions, so that I could have made the right one to begin with.  Sounds like I'm thinking about curating again, doesn't it!?  This part of the curating process is very difficult for me.  I am actually a fairly good decision maker...but I tend to make decisions quickly.  When I come to something that I need more information on, I agonize, get frustrated with myself, and tend to do nothing at all.  If I can't test out something I want, I avoid shopping for it all together.  If I think that something will not be what I want, I avoid it, too.  It really pains me to spend time and money on a product or a decision and have it not live up to my standards.  It's as much about the time investment as it is about the money. 

So the question is, how do I avoid this?  What's the best way to chose products we expect to last for a lifetime, without disappointment?  In the past year and a half we have had to replace nearly every appliance in our house (our new dishwasher is on the way as we speak).  (Related: COME ON DRYER, I KNOW YOU CAN LAST!  I KNOW YOU CAN!!!).  Each time, shopping for an appliance leaves me absolutely exhausted.  I cannot stand the fact that I am spending all that money on something I MIGHT NOT BE HAPPY WITH.  It has happened, and I really don't like the washing machine sitting in my basement right now.  But I live with it.  I wish there was a different answer, but there's not.  We live with it. 

We're planning on shopping for a new car this summer.  That ought to be fun. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I've recently read a blog post about...well....blogging!  One of my favorite blogs (and podcasts) is "CraftyPod", written by Sister Diane.  She had a great post this week titled "Why Bloggers are Curators, and Curators are Really Important".  It's a great read and you can find it here.

This post spoke to me in a big way.  As I began writing today I glanced back at the past few posts I've written and there seems to be a theme.  That theme is "I really miss blogging, but what do I blog about?"  I started doing some thinking about what's holding me back.  Obviously there's the big thing: topic.  For so long I was blogging to update people: tell everyone about living with my Tiny Man, about how he was doing, how he was growing and changing.  Then I was blogging through and about grief after he died.  Now I'm just not so sure.  I'd like to come to this space with some organization in what I write about, not just a random report of what we're doing each day.  I'd like to have a topic...but I don't feel like I'm an expert in any area and have any right to start blogging on things I do...I mean, there are people out there who do that.  They're GOOD at it! 

There's a lot at work in my brain when I think about this blog, and a lot of it is judgement.  "What do you think you have to say?" My subconscious mutters to me.  I read A LOT of blogs every day, and some of them are so beautifully written they regularly move me to tears.  Others are inspirational in my craft life, even more are inspirations in my kitchen.  I've worked very hard at curating (there's that word!) my reading online to the things I only love to read. Something I haven't worked so hard at curating is my online habits.  I think, on average, I probably waste about 2 hours on Facebook every day.  In that time I could write, edit, and publish a blog post...complete with lovely pictures.  I wouldn't be publishing comments weeks later (OH HAI!!!).  I'd be curating my blog's content so much more lovingly. 

I enjoy writing.  I enjoy my life.  I would like to write more about my life.  I have come to accept this week that what I need to do is stop that tiny voice that tells me what I'm writing isn't interesting enough, or creative enough, or good enough....I need to START WRITING again.  I believe that through the process of writing posts I will find a way to express what this blog is about...again.  I can start over.  I need to stop worrying about not being an expert, and share my experiences.  The internet is a wide open place, and people are free to drop by here to read as they wish.  If nothing else, my dad is always here reading.  (Love that.  Hi Dad!)

It's not just my online presence that needs curating....this week I've been in deep clean and purge mode here at the Casa....I'm collecting things to garage sale, I'm reorganizing, I'm trying desperately to stay on top of the clutter.  I want my house to be a place that is more well-curated, to be full of things I absolutely love or use.  Everything else has to go.  This does not come naturally to me....I'm very much a "this will do" type of girl; a collector; a thrifter.  Did I mention I'm also cheap frugal? Decorating a home is not something I am particularly good at.  My bookshelves will never make it on to the pages of a magazine because my books are, you know, books I've actually READ....they're all crammed in there together instead of being thoughtfully organized.  Here's the thing,'s starting to drive me nuts.  All the clutter.....the things.....they make it hard to clean during the, oh, ten minutes or so that I have in my day to clean. 

I'm pleased with where I'm at in my life right now....I just feel like my days could use a little curating...a little pruning here and there.  A little less social media, a little more life.  A little less clutter a little more clean.  A little more blogging to get the mental cobwebs swept up.  Here's to plunging ahead and making a new way. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hello, old friend

I've been fortunate this year (and other years, as well) to get lots of support through the month of February, where two of the hardest days of the year fall.  Ben's "Anniversary", as we have come to call it around here, is next week.  His Birthday falls exactly seven days after. 

I've had a lot of friends looking out for me this year, asking me how things are, how I'm feeling, how I'm doing, and truthfully, I think this year might be an okay one.  I can't tell if I'm just handling the upcoming dates okay, or if I'm just numb.  Certainly the mild winter is helping...being able to go outside in the sun in February to play ball with Toast in the yard is a luxury I don't get often enough.

I'm just riding through this month, hoping to make it through to the end, as I always do.  Christmas was so very very hard this year...maybe I can make it through the anniversaries as well. 


I keep saying this, but I miss blogging.  Every time I feel I have something to say, though, I am not sure it's something the world needs to hear.  I think I need to just get on here and write.  Write what I want to.  Stop trying to write for other people. 


Currently working on: some vintage pillowcases.  I made a lovely discovery (long story) of some pillow tubing with cross-stitch patterns on the edges.  I'm really enjoying working on them in the evenings while I watch TV.  It's a nice break from the knitting, and I'm REALLY excited to wash them up and put them on our pillows, just for a little change.  Typing that made me long for the first spring day when I can open the windows and let the fresh air in.  This winter has been mild, but not that mild. 

My scrapbooking weekend is approaching fast, and I"m worried I wont' have enough to scrapbook.  Not that I'm currently "caught up", just that I feel like I haven't taken a lot of pictures lately.  I'm always so worried about having an equal number of pictures of Jam, so he has a scrapbook equal in size and scope to Toast and Tiny Man's.  It doesn't help when people in my life remind me that the youngest child always seems to get the short end of the memory-keeping stick.  Just gotta keep plugging away.  :)  Maybe I'll make a point to be camera-mom for the next few weeks and bulk up the iPhoto files. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

I had a friend ask me today how I was doing at this time of the year, seeing as Tiny Man's anniversary and his birthday are approaching at an alarming rate.  This is what I told her: 


To be totally honest with you, I don't know.  I really don't. 

Christmas this year was REALLY hard.  Like, every year Christmas gets harder and I can't make it better.  The anniversaries were always hard, but I didn't expect Christmas to be as hard as it is.  I have a lot of trouble being "in the spirit" when I spend so much time wishing he was with me. 

This is the first year that his birthday and his anniversary will fall in the middle of the week (Tuesdays, to be exact).  Sometimes I wish they weren't so close together.  Sometimes I'm so thankful they are I want to fall on my knees.  I feel like I'm allowed a breakdown once a year, then I get up and move on. 

I have come to realize that for some people the grief of losing someone evolves.  I think most of our family is like that.  They still think of him (I hope), and we still talk about him (my parents and I do, anyway).  I can still talk about him with my friends, and they are just so awesome at helping me remember.  For me, though, the grief doesn't change.  It Ebbs and flows, sometimes it's barely there, and I'm thinking of all the good things and laughing.  Sometimes I feel like he died five minutes ago and I'm still leaning over him keening in agony.  There is "in-between" but there is no relief. 

I'm able to keep this hidden, the fact that sometimes I'm still in so much pain.  I know it shouldn't matter what others think, but as time goes on I share my story less and's so tiring to explain, so try and make people understand, to share these last little bits I have left.  And I want to share and I feel like no one is listening.  And I'm talking to much and making them uncomfortable. 


This year it will be four years.  I'm still waiting for February to not hold such weight, such significance in my life.  I create rituals that help me get through.  I find myself looking at the valentine crafts on blogs and Pinterest, trying to break out of this sinking feeling I have about February.  In the end, I just give in and let it overtake me.  I'm not sure when it gets easier, but it must.  It must, right?

Friday, October 28, 2011

I really like holidays. I do. But I also suffer from a little issue where holidays are concerned: fatigue. My fatigue, however, has nothing to do with the constant onslaught of decor, music, and commercials in the stores. Mine is a bit more insidious: it's entirely of my own making. I suffer from high expectations, and lack of time.

This Halloween I decided to make three costumes....Toast's, mine, and Hubby's. I didn't actually begin this process until this week (procrastination!), but figured I'd still be able to get them done in plenty of time. The problem is, as I'm completing them I sit and think to myself "now this? No one is going to think this is clever, or funny. What's the point, really?" Then everything really starts to go downhill and I start to second guess myself, my choices, and the whole holiday. Why don't I just stay in the house and watch movies for the evening?

Inevitably, some event arises that necessitates my attendance somewhere, usually smack in the middle of the plans that are failing so splendidly around me. This year it's a party given by a's a yearly thing and I have never been. It starts to look a bit suspicious when you are friends with someone for years and never attend the biggest event in their yearly schedule. So now there's the aded expectation that I need to go to this party and it needs to be the *biggest!* and *best!* party I've ever been to. In the costume I'm not entirely confident about.

This happens with Christmas. It happens in the summer with our summer plans. It happens all the time: build up, lack of confidence, overwhelm, fatigue, ennui. It's a vicious cycle in which I don't actually live up to the expectations I set for myself and I get all bent out of shape about it. I'd like to say that this is because life keeps happening while I try to plan the "perfect" holiday experience (whatever that is), but really it's my own doing.

I've got to find a way to fix this, to take things a little easier, to experience...not make experiences.

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