30 November 2016

Nine Years of NaBloPoMo

I looked at my NaBloPoMo tag on my blog and realized I had 299 posts with that tag. Today's makes 300. Divide 30 days in November and that would mean I've been doing it for 10 years? I just checked and nope. I must have tagged more than just the first post of the day, because I started in 2008, so this makes the ninth year completed. Weird to have completed exactly 30 extra posts. (Here's my first NaBloPoMo tagged post.)

This may have been the hardest year to do NaBloPoMo. Everything is just so awful and terrible. I say that knowing full well 2017 will bring even bigger, more awful challenges. I hope I'm still able to write next year!

I also realize in some of my ranting posts I don't cite or link sources. My journalistic muscle is rusty maybe, or I'm also realizing that no one cares about facts or the truth or more information. NO ONE CARES.

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I have been on two big vacations with my inlaws. We went to Dollywood in Tennessee and to the Outer Banks in North Carolina in summer 2014 and 2015 respectively. This year the area we stayed in North Carolina received a major flood, and just this week the area we stayed in Gatlinburg is burning.

I think for the sake of the places we'd go visit I should never go on vacation with my inlaws again???

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My health is improving. I still cough a bit in the night, but not as much. There's hacking up junk in the morning, but it's not green anymore. (TMI?) My back is still sore, but the pain isn't debilitating anymore. I should still see a chiropractor.

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When I was in college a friend from church called me "Governor" a lot. I was a smart kid and just all around promising I guess. I certainly had a superiority complex (mixed with an inferiority one!) and this surely fed into it. I've been thinking about it recently, whether running for office is something I could consider doing. I'd be a terrible direct-ask fundraiser, and I am not the best at talking to people. I hate giving speeches or being in front of a crowd. Probably a behind-the-scenes job would be better. And my communications skills and journalism training should be useful in a political situation. Basically I am thinking by typing ... considering what I might do after my girls are in school or otherwise cared for enough that I could jump back into the working world. I know I don't want a "normal" job anymore. There's going to have to be political meaning, and frankly I'm going to want to spend my time RESISTING what's coming (and which by that time will be fully entrenched).

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Hold me!

29 November 2016

Not Ready to Make Nice.

I really liked this post, No, We Don't Have to "Get Over" Anything.
I’m not okay with this.
I’m not getting over it.
I’m not going to accept it.
I’m not going to move on.

I’m not going to shut up.
I’m not going to make nice or give the benefit of the doubt or hold my tongue or fake unity or pretend that my eyes don’t see what they see. They see clearly, and that of course is the source of my burden. I don’t want to see this, but I do.
Day by day new crazy things happen. Each new appointment brings a new awfulness to the scene.

(The Secretary of Education is particularly troubling, and we need to call and write our members of Congress to express our displeasure. She has no experience and is anti-public schools. If you have kids who go to school or did go to school, if you are a public school teacher or love a public school teacher, or if you just care about how we educate our kids in the U.S. this should matter to you!)

We also learn more about the admitted corruption in DT's past -- the foundation, the Trump University settlement -- and they pile on so fast that they get glossed over and kind of disappear in the mist. And we are seeing the corruption and wrongheadedness coming on our future. The future wherein our president uses his office and our nation to make himself, his family and his loyalists even richer at the expense of our nation's interests and safety. I still can't get over people voting for this. Even more baffling is people STILL insisting this will be a good thing. Nope. Nope. Nope.

Also the weird tweets and retweets. Are they sign of instability? Sign of regret (because doing this kind of thing with ANY OTHER JOB would get a person fired)? I certainly question the random tweets about flag burning becoming punishable by a year in jail or LOSING YOUR CITIZENSHIP?!?!?! (Supreme Court ruled it's a form of protected free speech, see the First Amendment.) That's wrong and scary. And the tweets came about after a segment on Fox News about flag burning -- this is what our country has come to. The president-elect watching cable news and tweeting while turning away actual national intelligence briefers.

What's ironic to me is that the correct way to retire a flag that is tattered and torn is to ... BURN IT in a special ceremony. I know that's not what protestors are doing and they're giving the finger to America by burning our flag. It's not something I would do myself, and I go around chasing Jane with her little flags from school making sure they don't stay on the ground once dropped (Girl Scout training alert!!!). But I still believe it's just a flag and it isn't magic.

So I'm still boiling over with anger about the election results. With terror. And trying to come up with actions and to gear myself up to actually call my representative and senators, all of whom are white, Republican men who vocally support DT and his policies. I am sure the staff would be polite, but I don't like using the phone for anything ... let alone something this big and important. It's anxiety leveling up.

I assume DT supporters aren't getting the same information or are choosing to interpret things differently? I just don't understand how support doesn't waver in a rational person's mind? But then I didn't think rational people could actually vote for him in the first place, as they voted against their own interests (unless their interest is white supremacy and/or no material support for poor people).

I hate everything about this.

28 November 2016

Read: Murder in the Bayou

Murder in the Bayou: Who Killed the Women Known as the Jeff Davis 8?Murder in the Bayou: Who Killed the Women Known as the Jeff Davis 8? by Ethan Brown

This book is kind of terrifying, chronicling the unchecked power held by parish sheriffs. I'm sure not all are corrupt, but the author has revealed illegal actions in this parish's department. This isn't close to where I live in Louisiana, but then it's not a very big state.

As far as the book itself I could have used more details about the victims. I read another reviewer say something similar. There was just nothing personal about them. So they were drug users and sex workers, that was certainly repeated frequently. But what else? In most cases we didn't even know their races. I found this troubling throughout the book to not know the races of most of the people being discussed. Pictures of the victims would have been helpful too. And thinking about some of them left children behind ... maybe a count of how many motherless children there now are thanks to the criminal enterprise that, if not run by was at least condoned by the law enforcement of the parish. Just because the killings have stopped doesn't mean the illegal behavior has -- dope for sex, etc.

And woah, Boustany's involvement. I'm so glad he didn't make the run off, although I'm none too thrilled about creepy John Neely Kennedy. I'm a Foster Campbell voter, even though he doesn't align with my political ideals perfectly either. The allegation of Boustany's visits to prostitutes who were later killed was damning. I'm not sure I heard anything about it while he was in the primary. But I tuned out a lot of it. Yuck.

Anyway, a timely read even if it did make me feel bad.

View all my reviews

Edit to add: wow, this is my 1600th post.  

27 November 2016

Crocheted Blue & Orange Dino Hat

Yesterday I finished a dinosaur hat for a friend. It's his birthday today -- he is 3! I still might add braided ties to the ear flaps, although Jane says they aren't needed and I kind of like the hat how it is. I still need to wash it to rid it of any lingering cold germs.

I hope I'll get to see the friend later this week to give him the present. Last month I'd babysat for him and his siblings (I had five kids for about an hour -- including two babies -- and I survived!), and I'd asked him if he'd like a dino hat and if yes what color. He chose blue with orange spikes.

We weren't invited to his party even though his mom told me about it -- it was weird because we always come to his older brother's (he and Jane are the same age/long time friends). We met at the park a couple weeks ago and were comparing notes on renting bounce houses. She told me they were getting one for little brother's party, where they were having it but not exactly when/what time. So I didn't push it or ask anything else. Kind of a delicate social awkwardness that I find myself in plenty...




Excuse the mess in the background -- good grief.

26 November 2016

This is 36

In its short hair, filtered, no-makeup glory.

I had a rough night with chills and hot flashes. I feel some better this morning, but not great. I need to be healthy tomorrow to go to church. I'm reading the Scripture. D'oh.

I've lived away from Indiahoma as long as I lived there (approximately). I moved away when 18, and it's 18 years later. That includes living in Stillwater for school and coming home for summers. I guess it's not fully true until the same time I left, which would be next August. But the symmetry of 18 and 18 feels significant anyway.

We don't have plans today. Not sure if we'll do anything. I don't have a present to open, although Jane has been drawing me pictures and Shawn made me a card with pictures of the girls. I didn't even buy myself anything this year!

Edit to add: My mom DID leave me a present to open! I just didn't know it was there. xoxoxo

25 November 2016

Phoning it in


I finally got a hair cut today -- just before I turn 36. My back is a little better, but I'm still pretty sick with my flu symptoms. I have aches and shift from chills to hot flashes. My head hasn't stopped hurting and I have a fever. Can't imagine how I'd be feeling if I weren't taking ibuprofen at every chance I can.

Thank goodness for the world's best husband picking up the slack. The house may be crumbing around us, because I was behind on cleaning anyway. I can't imagine getting out the Christmas stuff or dealing with that, but I hope when I feel physically better I will.

Ugh.

24 November 2016

Generation Catalano

I have the flu or something. And I hurt my back while making Thanksgiving lunch. I moved my heavy Kitchen-Aid, but didn't notice anything. A bit later I was hunched over rifling through a drawer of our dining room hutch for a gravy spoon and OUCH. I stayed hunched. I powered through lunch and then fed Livi, took a rest with her until the sun woke us up. Then Gingie (thank the Lord for Gingie) watched the girls while I laid on a heating pad for an hour. (Shawn was out of town/coming home from a family funeral.)

I'm still pretty sick and my fever has spiked to 102. Advil should bring it down ... I hope? I don't know. I feel like crap. And my back still hurts.

Hey - I wrote about wanting my insides to match my outsides ... but I guess this is more like my insides matching my other insides (physical and emotional)? Ugh.

One good thing I read on Twitter today: The Agony & The Angst: An Oral History of My So-Called Life.

Proud to be generation Catalano, but I was sad that the interview didn't include Claire Danes, Jared Leto or A.J. Langer. The first two are too popular now I guess to talk about something they did so way back, and Langer married someone in another country and is out of the public eye basically.

SO - NaBloPoMo complete for today. Really hoping I get well enough to get a hair cut tomorrow afternoon.

23 November 2016

Thanksgiving Prep

Last year I wrote detailed posts about my Thanksgiving menu and the cooking/prep process. Today has been a busy day with prep and cooking. I didn't take any pictures of the food. The menu is basically the same, although I'm not making the broccoli salad (it's never been as good as it was the first year I made it), and I'm giving up on homemade rolls. They're amazing, but store-bought brown-n-serve will be just fine too.

I'm tired. Was on my feet a lot. Last year I was pregnant and had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes for about a month while I was doing the Thanksgiving cooking. I was on my feet and busy all morning. I'd had my snack but I still felt weird. That's the only scary episode I had during the pregnancy, and I kind of blacked out -- not fully but everything went black/I lost vision while I stumbled to the table and sat down. I couldn't stop laughing after I recovered. But it scared Shawn. I was very pale too. Nothing like that happened today, of course. I'm healthy-ish.

I am not in a cheery, holiday mood. I don't know how I'm going to celebrate Christmas. It's not going to be the same. I am looking forward to Advent -- sitting in the dark, waiting for the light. And I hope and pray the the miracle comes to me again anew. At the very least I'll be going through the motions for my girls -- Jane's sixth Christmas season and Livia's first. My precious baby girls.

There's something to be learned here, even though I would give almost anything to not be learning it.

22 November 2016

Make My Outsides Match My Insides

My face and left hand
Or vice versa?

I still feel terrible. I am not reeling any longer, and I can stand my ground.

My outsides match that internal upset. But I need to start something to keep myself together.

That means exercise. That means a hair cut (scheduled for this Friday). That *might* mean wearing makeup more often.

What else should it mean? More rest? (Once Liv and I are better that should come) More reading? More movies?

I've got to keep myself together. I do not want to feel "better" or OK with the situation, but I do want to be able to live my life and be ready for whatever comes our way.

21 November 2016

Volunteering with Gritted Teeth

I'm a volunteer at my church. It's become a bigger "position" than I expected at first, and I just kind of fell into it. There wasn't a time when someone asked "will you do X, Y and Z." It was more like "we need help with our website," and I lunged at the chance.

The responsibilities morphed as I kept seeing more things that could be done and took on additional responsibilities when asked. When I was going to be out for maternity leave I suggested the church hire an intern to take over for a few months. That morphed into something entirely, and I've been told jokingly (perhaps?) that I've been fired because ...

The church hired a communications director, which really is great. She has zero communications experience, which is not so great.

She'll work out fine, and I've been spending even more time training her. And of course NOTHING is being done to my liking. I'm biting my tongue and sitting on my hands a lot. (Or bitching about it to anyone who will listen and on my blog here...)

There are still places I can contribute, and I'm still leading the communications "team" of volunteers, although I'm hoping that responsibility will eventually fade away if this new hire can be a true leader. I vacillate from wanting to control everything to wanting to completely wash my hands of the whole thing and only attend church as a "visitor" of sorts or to somehow contribute in other, non-communications ways.

And as much as my Type A personality clashes, I know what I want to do -- either option, all or nothing -- is not the right thing.

Recently our pastor prayed before a leadership meeting, and a line stuck out to me enough that I wrote it down: "Our relationships are more important than the work."

That's so the truth, and it's also a very hard truth to deal with, at least for me. I want the work done flawlessly (or at least to my liking!) and on time. But what I should really want is to cultivate a relationship with this new friend and let the work sort itself out. (I think?)

Also if I had a regular job of my own this would all be moot as I wouldn't have time or energy to be upset about any of the church communications. (Maybe?) Being a stay-at-home mom and taking care of the girls is a full-time job, but it definitely leaves space for me to fret about stuff like this.

I'll never change myself or my feelings about it, but I CAN change how I react to things and temper what I actually say. Maybe if I fake it I'll make it?

20 November 2016

The Grace of Grandparents

I was in front of someone in line at Target this week and she was on the phone (people are always on the phone). She was talking about her toddler daughter and how she'd been a handful that morning. The mom had to get groceries and didn't feel like dealing with her. So she called her dad and asked if she could drop off her girl, so that's where the daughter was. (Apparently the person on the other end of the line had asked.)

I wonder if she understands the privilege of that -- having family so close? Of having a safety valve like that whenever you feel like it.

I felt so jealous eavesdropping, even though I only had one of my two children with me, and she was sitting happily in the cart. I would love that option of spontaneous drop off.

I could probably build relationships with some people at church to the point I'd feel comfortable dropping off one or both girls for a few hours at a time. But I'm so uptight, I don't know that I ever will. I also have a weird sense of not wanting to be a burden on ANYONE. I don't even like asking Shawn for help, and he's their dad!

I'm lucky in other ways, I know. And I'm grateful my girls are so loved. (And that their Gingie is here for Thanksgiving week!)

19 November 2016

Filler Post

One week until my birthday... Better get shopping!

(Or donate in my name to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, Together Baton Rouge or similar.)

My mom made it here for a Thanksgiving visit. The girls are playing with her in the living room.

Livia has been sick. Jane had a short-lived ear ache and cold last Sunday. By Monday, when she had her 5-year checkup, she was completely healthy. I asked the doctor about her ear, but it was fine. Livia didn't start feeling bad until Thursday or so. Not sure if it's the same virus or something else. Shawn has been battling a sore throat for a couple days too. My chest congestion started last night. Pathetic family. Jane is still raring to go.

When Livia coughs sometimes she throws up, so that's fun and messy. She's been in bed with us when it happens. And I've gotten a shirt-full a few times. Lovely. Grateful for laundry room that works so well and time to get it all done. Livia's had a mild fever too, so we've given her Tylenol for the first time -- going 7.5 months without a true illness is pretty good. Hooray for breast milk! (And imagine how sick she might be without it!)

I took a bike ride around our neighborhood today. I only (only?) saw one Trump sign, and it was nailed high on a tree. I'd like to think it's because the rest of the neighbors would have taken it down otherwise. I know I'm a blue dot in a red state, although cities are often blue havens, and Baton Rouge is no different. (Probably it's more purple, as I know plenty of people who are pro-Trump, even in the face of all the revelations and craziness since his win.)

The weather is cooler today -- the "cold" front came through. And although the weather said these are "winter-like" temperatures, I'm still roasting inside my house a bit with the sun beating down. It's definitely cool -- in the 60s -- outside so I can just open the windows and/or run fans to cool myself off. But with company and sick kids ... it's back to shorts for me!

Orange juice all around ... slip a little vodka in it perhaps? Or not.


18 November 2016

Iron Man ... not Iron Girl!

Jane dressed as Iron Man this year for Halloween, part of her ongoing love for the Avengers (thanks, Gingie!). I didn't put a lot of thought into it -- she chose it, I double checked (maybe triple checked) with her before buying the costume on Amazon. She LOVED it, and I probably didn't let her wear it enough, although she got to wear it to the Halloween parade, Trunk-or-Treat and Trick-or-Treating, although she left the mask off most of the time because it made it hard to breathe and look around. She was also adamant that she was Iron Man, not Iron Woman or Iron Girl like some people said when they saw her dressed up.

I read a great post right around Halloween about boy choices vs. girl choices and how parents/society can be overwhelmingly proud of girls choosing a typically boy activity or costume. I admit a smug sense of pride that my girl isn't constrained by gender norms at this point as far as her Halloween choice was concerned. But the point of the article, which really resonated, is how girl choices -- a princess, Elsa, whatever -- are not inherently bad or worth less than a boy choice.

Here's what the author had to say:
It implies that breaking from the pack automatically makes you superior in some way. Sometimes the pack likes awesome shit because it’s awesome, you know? And it’s fine if you – or your kid – wants to like that awesome stuff, too. It’s like shaming someone for liking pop music because it’s popular. Shut the fuck up. It’s popular because people like it. You’re a people. Do the math, jerk.
It also implies that choosing a superhero is superior to choosing a princess, and that is some bullshit internalized misogyny to stick on your four year old. “Boy” stuff is not inherently better than girl stuff. Girls who are into “boy” stuff are not “cooler” than girls who are into “girl” stuff.
Hammer meet nail head. (And the rest of her rant is good too.)

It is really what feminism is. Not tearing down the male, but building up the female. Demanding that they be seen as equal, which they intrinsically are. THIS is what I want to teach Jane and Livia ... all the subtleties and ultimately being a good, strong woman who likes what she likes.

(Another post that could use more consideration I'm sure...but hopefully you catch my drift.)

17 November 2016

More Terrifying Reading ... I refuse to look away.

Some articles about how to talk to people/persuade them, although I don't think anything will persuade white supremacists from their core beliefs, I have to hope that some of his supporters are open to dialogue:

Using Strategies to Persuade
And in Storify/Tweet form: Rhetorical Theory for the Dinner Table
From the Southern Poverty Law Center: Responding to Every Day Bigotry

An incomplete list of reasons why supporting Trump was such a bad idea:
  • Misogyny: Trump and his supporters don't treat women as full equals. WOMEN ARE EQUAL TO MEN. This is more about just me being equal. This is also about my daughters being equal to your sons.
  • Racism: Trump is supported by the KKK and the American Nazi Party. His supporters are violent and awful to people of color and a particular faith. His rhetoric has incited violence and continues to do so even more now.
  • Media: Trump bashes the media and threatens reporters. Diminishing the Fourth Estate is absolutely a fascist government step. We're on our way to having a state-run media and no outside watchdog, which is what the news media is tasked with doing as part of our democracy.
  • Inexperience/Incompetence: Trump literally doesn't understand how the government works. He's the least competent person for the job, far and away the worse choice of candidate. You may think "change is good," but when the change is this unqualified you've just created a power vacuum and the darkest, slimiest Washington insiders are the ones who will fill the void.
  • Rhetoric: Drain the Swamp, America First and Keep Trains Running on Time are all catch phrases from authoritarian regimes (like the Nazis and Mussolini). THIS IS BAD. 
  • ISIS: They endorsed Trump's candidacy and celebrated when he won. YOU ARE ON THE SIDE OF THE VERY THING YOU ARE AFRAID OF. (The only way I understand this is that they expect to fight and kill more Americans, and a president as thin-skinned and volatile as him will be more likely to make that happen ... not to mention Republicans are hawk-like re: war and more likely to want to send in troops.)
  • Ties to Russia. You want a foreign government pulling the strings? You got it...
An amazing post about why everything about the transition so far is NOT NORMAL:
The one thing authoritarians want you to do is to accept that their conduct is normal, even when it is not. They do not want you to yearn for a freer, less oppressive and less corrupt time, and they do not want you to think it odd when, say, a government agency is purged or a bunch of protesters are arrested and vanish into the prisons without ever seeing trial. They want you to think it is normal when the President is openly selling your interests out to a foreign power, or when he is using the levers of government to materially enrich and empower his family. The presumption of normality during abnormal times is one of the most powerful weapons the authoritarian has, and that is why it is so important to recognize how profoundly abnormal Donald J. Trump will be as president.
I refuse! And although I feel awful and expect I'll continue to feel awful as long as we're faced with this reality I don't want to let it slide or get back to my regular emotional state. This is insanity.

Edit to add: I just realized from a Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweet that DT's positions are key for ISIS recruitment (i.e., he plays into their idea of big, bad America and they can radicalize more young men and women to their cause because of his rhetoric).

16 November 2016

What a Darling Boy ... Gender Norms in Dressing My Baby Daughter

One of the first reactions I had when learning we were having a daughter was a negative feeling about the bows and glitter and girly-ness of dressing her. (I was also terrified of the patriarchal system we brought her into, and that fear is more deeply rooted now in the start of her sixth year, but you know what I mean...)

My fears of "girlie" clothes have been pretty much unfounded, and I've found plenty of clothes I'm fine with Jane wearing. And she gets to choose what to wear from what I've bought and has been handed down to us. I help with appropriateness -- always shorts/leggings under dresses for school, always tennis shoes at school for safety and dressing for the weather -- and I probably "help" a little too much to get my favorite tops or pants worn. But Jane's learning to be confident in her style and clothes choices. (Her latest is Avengers, thanks to my mom -- and she wears her sparkly Captain America shield shirt at least once a week ... marketing geniuses, I tell ya.)

I didn't have the same "OMYGOD" reaction to finding out Livia is a girl. We'd been there, done that and were up to the challenge of doubling the fun (and stress) by raising two daughters. But her babyhood has been very different.

Where Jane had tons of hair and very early had to have hair clips to hold it back Livia came out with much less hair, some of it fell out and it's just now coming in. Technically it could hold a light hair bow or I could always make her wear a headband with a bow, but I reject that style in favor of her comfort!

But combined with her somewhat gender neutral baby clothes this means Livia is often mistaken for a boy.

I can only remember that happening once with Jane, and it was our first visit to the doctor's office after her birth. She was wearing gray sweatpants and a blue UC t-shirt. I'm pretty sure it didn't happen again, and not because I dressed her in pink or frills. I avoided those for a while. (Jane's love for pink and seeing how cute she looks in and how much she likes some frilly, sparkly things made me relent.)

Usually I don't correct strangers if they mistake Livia for a boy, just say thanks because it's usually a complement and move on. One of the guys who delivered Jane's bounce castle told Livia, "It'll be your first birthday before you know it, little man." (And I'm pretty sure she was wearing pink!)

But of course this last week I've been pissed at everything and everyone and will absolutely let anyone know "Oh, she's a girl." And it's grated me enough to write about it.

The default baby is a boy. Short hair equals boy, even when literally this hair is all that's ever grown on her head.

This is a quick take on something that's been on my mind, so it needs work and more thought. Filling up the NaBloPoMo challenge I've set for myself and keeping up that momentum. Over halfway there...

15 November 2016

Crafting to a Story: Hot Air Balloon

The LSU Museum of Art does a program every month called Stories in Art. They read a book and do a craft with the kids who come. It's a pretty fun program and is the first Friday of the month. Before Jane started at her current preschool we went regularly, but because it's in the mornings we couldn't do it while she was in school.

Over the summer I looked forward to taking her (and Livia) to it again. But for whatever reason they didn't meet in June and July. Of course I didn't realize that in June and got Jane all excited to go.

When we realized they weren't having the program I put my thinking cap on and my Pinterest fingers to work and we came up with this craft and reading a Curious George book we had checked out of the library.

We were able to use supplies we had on hand - construction paper, yarn and a toilet paper roll (for the basket). Jane was a happy camper, I didn't have to battle downtown traffic and it passed some time.

The balloon itself didn't last and has long since ended up in the trash can, but at one point I put this on my "to blog" list and I figure this is a way to get through NaBloPoMo without EVERY post being apocalyptic ranting. (If you want that visit me on Twitter.)

14 November 2016

Bullet Journal Update - Mixed Book

I've been using my bullet journal as a planner for a little over a year. I haven't been consistent with it, and when the baby came things kind of fell apart in the scheduling/planning department.

I'm in my second notebook, and this time I went with a hardback version similar to what's recommended by "real" bullet journalists. I got mine from Target on clearance though, and it's off-brand.

I've found that I much preferred the spiral-bound book that I used at first, because I like leaving the book open and turning it to the current page. That's not possible with the hardcover, and even with the ribbon bookmark it's not as quick access for me. So I have a spiral-bound to move to when I finish this one up. I'm only halfway done with it though ... probably because I don't use it as much because it's slightly less useful to me!

My favorite thing about my bullet journal is the making lists. I love-love-love lists (in fact I want to make a list of all the reasons Americans, particularly white Americans, made such a mistake last week, but I digress...).

I also really like saving things like stickers or small drawings Jane makes. I don't do anything fancy. I can't draw and my lettering is sloppy at best. I'm just scribbling things in.

The index is still a key feature that I like. I just haven't been making as many lists/notes sections that need to be indexed!

My work ebbs and flows, and when things are hectic the bullet journal is useful. I've had a few projects and busy days where I needed to write out everything I need to do. There's something so satisfying about crossing off something from a list -- whether a load of laundry, an email blast or article written.

I don't really journal anymore in a regular way, and that's something I wish I did. I am a writer and I need to really write more. (NaBloPoMo is proving that again to me this year... When will I find my year-round dedication to posting something daily?!) Sometimes it's inconvenient to have a pen and paper in hand or to type it out. But I wonder if having one book makes me less likely to write out longhand. Probably not -- probably just a factor of this stage in life.

One thing I wish I were better at recording is Livia's milestones. I think I was more meticulous about Jane's -- in her baby book and in her weekly emails. I still do the weekly emails but don't write as much about Liv's development. It's not the end of the world that specifics are lost to time I guess. But a bullet journal would be a good place to record that kind of thing.

13 November 2016

Hallelujah



This SNL cold open was powerful and, if not healing at least comforting, to me. I watched it live last night, and I was grateful I had decided to. I wasn't sure I could stand watching Alec Baldwin's Trump now that there's nothing at all funny about it. I definitely cried during the song. (And woah - Dave Chappelle was funny af.)

(FYI: Leonard Cohen's "Ain't No Cure For Love" was the song Shawn and I danced to at our wedding reception.)

Church this morning made me feel a little better and a little worse.

The sermon was good, although there was nothing condemning hate crimes, racism or vulnerable people. There was some mention of the "hurricane of a week," and the point was made ... I think. But I'm sure people of the opposite persuasion as me could read their own meaning into it.

Communion is always good. And a way to help me look at the bigger picture beyond just a nation falling.

BUT I also felt a little crazy ... because no one else seemed upset. Maybe no one could tell I'm upset either though, as I continued with me "just fine" answer while juggling the girls. Maybe things really won't impact the people I know. Maybe I'm overreacting.

But I don't think so.

12 November 2016

How are you?

At the grocery store today I ran into a Sunday school classmate. She's easily 30 (40?) years older than me, and very kind. I like her so much.

But I also think she supports Trump. (6/10 white voters did, and that's probably higher here in blood red Louisiana so odds are...)

When she said hello and spoke to Livia, who was riding in the cart she asked "How are you?" and the automatic "Oh, we're fine" came out involuntarily.

I AM NOT FINE.

I didn't feel immediate anger toward her, and I guess I don't really feel that now. But I am not OK, I am hurt and mystified. And even in the moment I realized I should answer differently and tell her the truth. But instead I kept on with my shopping.

I'm reading a lot more than I should. Listening to bits and bobs of NPR when I can stand it. (On the way to the grocery store heard a story about how Planned Parenthood defunding would work and what it would mean to low income women ... and I got so upset. I still am, because taking away access to birth control and reproductive health care is the worst way to reduce the number of abortions, which is so important to an anti-choice/pro-life person.)

I guess I'm still kind of walking around in a fog.

But should I find the strength to be honest with people I KNOW have different opinions than me? Who love me and with whom I have Jesus in common? I am sure she would have responded in kindness ... maybe? I don't know. Some of the other classmates -- whom I'll see tomorrow -- would definitely be hateful and condescending. But she is my friend and has demonstrated her love for me and my family in the past.

It's so hard for me to imagine a rational person choosing Trump and this draconian policies he's promised. And if you think he's going to change his ways in office ... you're fooling yourself.

Some reading:
Perhaps the right question is "Are you OK?" And my answer is "No, but I think someday I will be." (Right???)

11 November 2016

Self Care and Nursing Shirts

I've been reading some about "self care," which might just be "basic care," as in eating, moving your body, sleeping ... going through the motions of day-to-day living until you feel better. Part fake it til you make it and part genuine survival.

I've also seen a tweet that said "enough with the self care - this is why they think we can't be president" (or something like that). So yeah, there's that. Also an article about a harder kind of self care.

One thing I found mildly helpful was making a list of things that comfort me. I guess ways I can care for myself. That's somewhat trending on Twitter, at least I've seen a few similar lists. But I'm really not feeling much better.

Here's my list so far:
  • My babies & husband 
  • Cool air ... finally 
  • Cake making videos 
  • Crochet 
  • Offline reading 
  • Voyager (mid 7th season) 
  • Sleep 
  • Dixie Chicks music
  • Consignment shopping
My favorite nursing shirt is on its last legs...
Today I wore my favorite nursing shirt, even though it is falling apart at the seams, especially the neckline. It's got a cool crochet inlay in the back, but after 2+ years wearing it with Jane it is a bit torn and tattered. But it's long, has pockets and is comfortable. So I save it for "special" occasions. (I've tried to find a replacement -- but Motherhood doesn't sell anything like it anymore and searches online for "nursing shirt with pockets" haven't been any more successful. I should be willing to pay $50 for a shirt I'd wear every week, but so far I'm not ... I digress.)

I don't know what right I have to feel so bad. It's the fear of the impending tyranny and stripping of rights -- for humans, for women and specifically for me. For my daughters. My disappointment over not seeing the first woman president may be subsiding slightly, but my abject terror of what's still to come only seems to ramp up.

And wearing a comfortable, useful shirt isn't really cutting it as far as successful self care, I'd say.

Also this, "a time to heal:"

10 November 2016

Breastfeeding Reading & Yeast Infection Update

I am cautiously optimistic that my deep breast duct yeast infection is under control. I'm still taking grapefruit seed extract twice a day and keeping up with the increased laundry with vinegar rinse, but my pain is gone. (The fear of pain is not, but that's to be expected I think.)

(Read about the cost of fighting this infection here.)

The search for answers led me to a wonderful book, Dr. Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding. (I also found it in Barnes & Noble's "scratch and dent" for $5, but of course I paid full price!)

I'd recommend this book to any breastfeeding mom and actually any mom considering breastfeeding. It has the science behind breastfeeding well beyond just "breast is best." It explains the tricks and techniques formula companies use to get new customers, including enlisting doctors' help via free samples, office artwork, etc. (Criminal, in my opinion, since at the expense of babies' optimal health!) But even more it has best practices for breastfeeding -- getting started, troubleshooting, etc.

I bought it for the section about thrush/yeast of course. And although the candida protocol information is available on his website there's something about a book that provided me comfort. Reading the other sections have been good for informing my "lactivism," and I've come to believe even more in the power of breastmilk and the perfection of it as a baby food.

Backing up this belief: I have the chubby baby who so far is a somewhat reluctant eater of "real" food but a champion nurser who is big, strong and developing gorgeously.

09 November 2016

The DayAfter

This wasn't what anyone expected, and certainly not the post I want to be writing.

Telling Jane that Hillary lost was a hard thing to do. She took it better than I expected, probably because she's five and it doesn't really mean anything to her.

But it meant a lot to me.

And someday it will to her too.

Because a vote for him was a vote for misogyny, sexism, racism, xenophobia and hate.

I honestly don't know how I'm going to face people knowing their support for the president elect and delight in his election when his policies are in direct opposition of my daughters' best interests.

I am hurting today, like so many others.

I am afraid for the future, but there's not as big a risk to me, being a white woman married to a white man with a professional career. But I am even more afraid for others whom the president elect has threatened with his rhetoric.

Today I got to work with the new communications director at church to film our pastor -- he did a new welcome video and some short Advent-series promos. (I was there just to train her on using the camera.) Advent season is so needed -- and the topics we'll be covering and he'll be preaching on sound like the balm my soul needs.

May we survive...

08 November 2016

On Five and a Historic Vote

Jane is five today - hip, hip hooray!

This always feels like a free space for NaBloPoMo. I can write about Jane's quirks -- stubborn as anyone I've ever met, strong and fierce, smart and beautiful -- and funny expressions -- "can you take me a bath?" (instead of give me a bath). I love her deep to my bones. She can push my buttons like no one else can, but she's also someone I feel happy to help even in the middle of the night when tummy aches strike after too much cake and too much bouncing at her birthday party!

Jane is my treasure!

Today is also election day, and there's plenty to say about that too!

We made our plan and got up early to go to the polls. We've never hard very long lines at our polling place. I'm not sure if that's white privilege, suburban privilege or just dumb luck. We vote at the local elementary school (where NONE of the local children actually attend, but that's another post).

I wore a pantsuit, of sorts. I don't own a colorful one or a white one, so black had to suffice. It's also too hot here for a jacket (STILL), but I rocked it to vote anyway. Once at the polls we didn't wait at all. Shawn was holding Livia and I took Jane with me. I made my selections on the electronic ballot, and Jane and I pushed the "cast ballot" button together.

I'm so grateful to be able to vote in this historic election! To do it on Jane's birthday makes it even better. Still terribly nervous about the election results, and I'll be glad when all of this is truly behind us!


07 November 2016

Accepting Help (My bags are heavy.)


I carry too much.

On Sundays I carry a diaper bag, a Sunday school bag for me, a Sunday school bag for Jane and her church backpack full of stuff for her to look at/use during worship (although we've been having her carry it on the way home I usually have it in my hands). On the first Sundays of the month I'm also carrying a tote bag of groceries to donate to The Shepherd's Market food pantry. If I'm helping with video I carry the church's Mac laptop in another bag too. And of course carrying/wearing the baby, although Shawn handles that when he's with me.

People usually ask me if I want help, especially if Shawn isn't with me. My answer is an automatic, "I got it, thanks."

Because I do.

But sometimes help would be welcome. Help is needed. The bags are too heavy.

This is true for my metaphorical bags. They are heavy.

I'd like to get a hair cut, but arranging child care with an appointment has been tricky, and after one attempt I gave up.

I have some side work to do, and it's hard to concentrate. I need a couple hours to sit alone with my computer and get it done.

My house is messy and the piles of papers and magazines are stacking up. We just had a birthday party and I cleaned like a madwoman and hid even more junk. But the mess still mocks me. You're a stay-at-home mom and your house looks like this. Failure.

These bags are so heavy.

I am averse to asking for help. So averse. Because often I will be disappointed.

A church example -- I filled in for the video recorder a couple weeks ago and filmed/processed the sermon video. I plugged in the extra camera battery to charge, but I forgot to put it back in the bag after Sunday school. I emailed and asked the new communications director, who is at the church every day, if she could just go get it and put it back in the bag. (Instead of me making a special trip to church just to unplug a battery.) She emailed back to say she was on her way to do it and I let it go, assuming it was taken care of. When the regular video guy asked me about it I told him she should know where it is. But yesterday he told me  they finally found the battery plugged into the wall -- she had no idea what he was talking about when he asked her.

Basically the lesson from that and the way I feel about A LOT of stuff is if you want something done you HAVE to do it yourself. People will disappoint you everywhere you turn.

But does that really apply to my heavy bags?

06 November 2016

So Tired. So Embarrassed.

Humiliating incident, and it hasn't actually happened yet (because she won't read her email until tomorrow).

I got an auto email from the secretary at Jane's school about the bill. She sent it to the whole school but it was personalized with the attachment specific to us. The formatting was bad and I replied, meaning to just send it to Shawn, with some snark about the formatting (basically "should I critique the formatting, which is bad? Not my circus or just LET IT BURN"). I realized it SECONDS after hitting send, but I hadn't *yet* turned on the unsend feature for gmail. I quickly googled and set it up, but not in time to make it work.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

Well, I quickly replied again and apologized, asking her to disregard it and how embarrassed I am.

Maybe she won't even reply, because the last couple times I've emailed the school it's been a black hole. Somehow I doubt that will be true with this snark.

GOOD GRIEF. I shouldn't even be emailing. I shouldn't even be on my computer. I am so wiped out from the party, the time change and a full day of church and other obligations. But I had to blog today.

AND I have a work project to start, but I'm so tired and hot (thanks, Louisiana November) that I am just looking at a blank screen with a blinking cursor. (Cursing myself over that stupid, stupid email.)

Well, if that's the worst thing I do this week I'll be OK. Urgh. I just wish I could crank out this email article project as easily as a silly little blog post. (I really need to get back to writing from my list of ideas...)

05 November 2016

Survived the Party

We survived Jane's fifth birthday party. We have only had small parties in previous years, and this was the first time we invited her whole class. I didn't get RSVPs from most kids, but six families came (some with siblings) and a couple friends we know from other places. So we had about 18 kids and at least that many grown ups.

We ate about half the cake, and only a few cupcakes were eaten. I was surprised that some of the kids really did say they didn't like chocolate!

Jane got some nice presents, but about three of them didn't have "from" tags on them, and she started opening them after some people had already left. Ugh. I am very into Thank You notes, so it's going to be difficult. I don't think everyone brought a present, which is perfectly fine, but I won't know who to thank and for the people who didn't put their name I'll have to say "thanks for coming to my party" instead. Them's the breaks.

My feet hurt so bad, even though I didn't leave our house today. I was on them for hours doing things during the party, helping kids, etc. And for at least half of the party I had Livia strapped to my back. She actually really likes it and fell asleep for a while. It's much easier on my back than carrying her on the front for some reason.

The bounce house was a huge success, and Jane loved it. She was sad when the guys came to pick it up. It was huge and had a slide and basketball hoop (we took her ball from her Little Tikes goal and it worked great). Some friends stayed after the party, so she had friends to bounce with for a couple more hours. I'd say she bounced at least 4 of the 6 hours we had the bounce house, so she is completely wiped out.

MAYBE she'll actually sleep the extra hour from DST ending? One can hope. (Well, two can hope actually since I'm sure Shawn would like that too.) There's probably no help for the baby, and we'll be up at 5 instead of 6 tomorrow.

I'm still going to stay up and watch Benedict Cumberbatch on SNL tonight. Zzzzzz...

04 November 2016

A Baker I am NOT

My sister has a cake decorating business on the side. This is decidedly NOT in my skill set.

When I looked at buying Jane's birthday cake I balked at the price -- about $70 for a cake from a nice bakery that would have enough to feed as many people that *might* come. (That's another issue -- I'm getting RSVPs today for a party that's tomorrow!) This is the first year we've invited her entire class, so we have the potential for a few dozen people in our backyard. (Thank God for gorgeous weather!)

Anyway, I decided "I can do that" and planned to make the cake myself. I did do a test cake, and I picked the Pioneer Woman's "best chocolate sheet cake ever" because I wanted something to feed a crowd. I also bought a sheet pan to make it in! The cake was delicious, and my Sunday school class agreed. But it was thin and didn't seem very BIRTHDAY-y to me.

So my plan was to bake the cake twice and stack it up, using the fudgy frosting from the recipe, although without nuts, as a filling/on top of the first cake. Sounds good to me/easy enough, right? I even bought a box so that I could easily move the finished cake in and out of the fridge.

My first attempt at the cake was fine this morning, but I didn't put a lot of thought into how I would get it from the pan to the cake "platter," which ended up being a piece of cardboard wrapped in foil. And I tried to move the cake immediately/while it was still warm. FAIL. I had a broken cake, a crying baby (from being neglected) and serious agitation.

I threw the cake into a bowl and set it aside. I took care of Livia and tried again once she was napping. I was smarter and able to flip the cake onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and then flipped again onto the foil cardboard. I put the fudgy, warm frosting on top of that layer then made the second cake. It also turned out fine and I put it in the fridge because I read layers are easier to work with when cold.

YEAH, they are, if they're out of the pan. D'oh. I didn't take this one out of the pan and it was impossible to get it out. And I'd used the last of my sugar on the third cake. Being the clever, clever girl I am I first tried using my iron to heat up the bottom of the pan and get the cake to release. It didn't work -- possibly because of lack of patience. I was baking cupcakes at the time (because what if someone doesn't like chocolate?), so I slipped the pan in for a couple minutes to warm it up. That worked and the cake released.

Back into the fridge to cool off some more. Good grief. The cake was still mostly cold, just wanted to chill it back as much as possible. The cake is so big it won't fit in my freezer, since we have a side-by-side and the freezer is smaller. ANYWAY.

My prayers worked because the cake layer did NOT crumble and I was able to place it on top of the fudgy frosting layer. I made a Mark Bittman chocolate buttercream recipe from a library book, and it technically wasn't enough. I got the top frosted really well and most of the sides, but it definitely doesn't look professional. I'm hoping the fudgy middle party will make up for that. Argh.

I also made vanilla buttercream and piped on Jane's name using letter cookie cutters to make an outline. It worked OK, but my star tip was crummy and it was just easier to draw a line. I also put sprinkles on and they migrated much farther across the cake than I intended. And in a dumb move I put sprinkles on the letters, kind of obscuring them. Hopefully people will think Jane helped and did that. (HA! She helped with the cupcakes, but not the cake itself.)

We'll see how it tastes tomorrow. I'll keep it in the fridge overnight and then pull it out in the morning so it can be room temperature for the party. I have ice cream to serve with it, and I'm making cake balls with the first destroyed cake. We'll see how those turn out. I'm not that hopeful, and honestly don't really feel like doing much more work tonight...

The moral of the story is that next time I am absolutely going to BUY a birthday cake. (And if someone doesn't like chocolate/whatever Jane chooses for her cake they can settle for ice cream!)


03 November 2016

Book: Bad Feminism

I read this book last month, but I keep thinking about it and wanted to record the things I highlighted.

When I read the title I start singing "Bad Medicine" in my head, but of course with Feminism.

I loved most of this book, and the parts that weren't my favorites were just because I'd never read or heard of the material she was talking about so it was less relevant to me. (I am not an English Lit person, so while I'm fairly well read I am not as well read as the author!)

From my Kindle Notebook, which I learned about with this book. I can highlight things in an ebook (even a library ebook) and then export and email the notebook with the highlights.

"The notion that I should be fine with the status quo even if I am not wholly affected by the status quo is repulsive"
"To have privilege in one or more areas does not mean you are wholly privileged. Surrendering to the acceptance of privilege is difficult, but it is really all that is expected. What I remind myself, regularly, is this: the acknowledgment of my privilege is not a denial of the ways I have been and am marginalized, the ways I have suffered"

"Men invented nepotism and practically live by it. It’s okay for women to do it too."

Can't wait for Roxane Gay's next book to come out! I'm certainly a bad feminist but getting better all the time...

02 November 2016

Costume: Cabbage Patch Kid

For Liv's first Halloween I dressed her up as a Cabbage Patch Kid doll. I don't remember how or why I saw the idea, but it combines crochet with nostalgia so sign me up!

I started by crocheting the Cabbage Patch Kid hat/wig, which was pretty easy and a riff on a regular baby hat (of which I've made so many I can nearly do it in my sleep). I learned a new stitch following this pattern and its video. But instead of making the whole hat with that stitch I just did the brim area. I did braids instead of big puffy pony tails. I may be remembering wrong, but I think my Cabbage Patch doll (Justine?) had braids. She definitely had this dark brown hair.

For the stroller box I had intended to use a more square box, but it ended up being too small. Shawn had ordered some baby gates that came in a box that ended up working out perfectly. "Real" Cabbage Patch doll boxes have clear cellophane across the top, but this one is cut out in the back and front with an opening for the stroller handle. The box slipped over the stroller easily, which made for simple transport.

I used plastic table cloths (about $1 each at the dollar store) to wrap the box and to place on the stroller for her to sit on. If I'd been more intense I could have painted the box and/or added green trim around the box opening. It's clear I free-handed everything. And I like the hand-made/laziness it evokes.

I printed the Cabbage patch logo, some generic flowers and a 2016 ribbon (which I made in Word) and cut them out then taped them on with shipping tape. When I was putting this together I ran out of tape. I swear I go through packing tape like crazy ... and we haven't moved in more than five years, so I don't know where it goes. Luckily I started before I needed the costume finished and had time to buy more tape.

I printed a "birth certificate," although it isn't really visible in the picture (it's by the baby's left shoulder). I used the logo and copied a certificate from online in style and used my baby's name and birth date. I taped it in place too.

My daughter wore clothes and shoes of mine from when I was a little girl, so vintage early 80s stuff. It really completed the look, although the wig/hat itself was enough to get the point across!

The costume was a big hit at our church's trunk-or-treat, and some of the trick-or-treaters even stopped to take their picture with her! I thought that was kind of neat. (Also many of them were like "huh? what's a Cabbage Patch?" but it was the moms who got it!)

Jane wore an Iron Man costume, and I'll have a post about that later this week.

01 November 2016

Vote for Hillary Clinton on Jane's Fifth Birthday!


Vote For Hillary Clinton from Mari W. on Vimeo.

One week until my baby is five.

One week until we elect our first woman president.

ONE WEEK.

(Time has been passing so slowly in the anticipation of these two things!)

Jane's party is this weekend, so this week I have a ton of things to do for the party. We're having everyone come over to our house and got a bouncy castle thing. It's the first year we're inviting her entire class, and we don't have many RSVPs. The responses we do have will make a nice party, but I'm anxious about having enough food if more people do show up ...

Edit to add: OMG, it is NaBloPoMo! I almost forgot!!!