November 30, 2011

I Just Want to Work in a Bookstore

I'm in the process of looking for a part time job right now.  I hate job hunting.  I know that I'm overqualified for most of the jobs I'm applying for, and sometimes I know that means I'll get overlooked.  Believe me, I've been there.  I reviewed hundreds of resumes a week when I worked at my last job.  I had a good process for weeding out the overqualified though - an email I'd send out with the job description and pay to see if people were still interested.  Most places don't do that though.

Part of the thing of it is...  I really just want to work in a book store again.  Unfortunately for me, there are only two bookstores in Bellingham.  There's a Barnes & Noble.  I turned in an application last week and someone told me they were hiring.  But just now when I asked they said they are 'always accepting applications' but may not be actively hiring.  ANNOYED.  I was really hoping.  The other one is a locally owned store called Village Books, which would also be cool.  Their application is a bit longer, but I'm going to try & finish it tonight and drop it off tomorrow or Thursday.

I've also been looking at administrative type jobs - receptionist, office manager, that type of thing.  I'm really good at it and I have great organizational skills and attention to detail.  But I know that the unemployment rate in the administrative field is even higher than the general rate, and they're all probably getting a billion applications. 

Second to the bookstore thing, my perfect job would be a writing or editing job I could do from home (or a coffee shop).  I know these types of jobs are hard to find.  I did some ghostwriting for a while, and I really loved it, but I got that job by posting on my blog and Twitter, and a friend of a friend.  It's all about networking, and I don't feel like my networks are very strong right now.  I guess I can put out feelers on Facebook. 

I found an ad for an editing job on Craig's List, but got an email back saying there's a "test" to find 5 errors on a website.  A dating website that required you to sign up first...  um, no. 

So, anyone got any ideas?
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November 29, 2011

The Christmas Coaster

December is just around the corner, and Christmas is in the air.  Lights and decorations are starting to pepper our neighborhood, and Santa has taken up residence on his throne at the local mall.  Downtown, the snowflake lights are hung.  Local art and craft fairs are in full swing. 

On a grey Tuesday morning, I find myself sitting in Starbucks sipping a peppermint mocha from a cup adorned with snowmen and snowflakes.  It is sweet, and after I sip it I stare out the window and try to figure out how I feel about the holidays this year.

It seems like I have a rollercoaster relationship with the last sliver of the year.  I'm never sure how I will relate to Christmas, and too often in the past I have found myself unexcited.  It is supposed to be a joyful time, but something inside me doesn't always let it be that.


I do not feel as excited to get a Christmas tree as I did last year.  I find myself unable to even think about Christmas shopping because I don't know how we'll really afford much of anything.  I'm not super excited about Christmas break - three weeks of having Sam home all day, every day?  I've gotten used to his school schedule already.  The days have gotten shorter and my spirits have gotten lower.  I want to push everything aside and let it be warm and fuzzy, but this year I'm not sure if I can.

Every year, around Thanksgiving, I suddenly find myself contemplating December.  How fast or slow will it go by?  Will I find gifts I really care about for people?  What activities will we do, and what family will we spend time with?  Will we be able to travel to the East Coast to see my Stepmom, Dad & little Sister who I miss so much?  This year, it's a big fat no - $500 a ticket to fly there is so unfeasible it makes me laugh (bitterly). 

Right now, I am worried.  I am worried about money, about my kids and how they are doing, about other things.  I wonder if I will be happy when we put up the lights and decorate the tree, or if I will cry and the lights will fan out into stars through my tears.  As the new year approaches, I know I will pray.  That next year will be a better year.  Maybe through those prayers I can find a better focus for Christmas - to appreciate what I do have, to share my love with my family, and to remember what Christmas is really about.  I guess the only way to find out is to take the next step forward.
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November 24, 2011

Is Michael Jackson Real?

Lately, Sam and I have been having some conversations about things that are real vs. not real.  He seems pretty wise - so far I have learned that zombies, unicorns, fairies, and monsters are NOT real.  When I asked him if the Easter Bunny was real, he said no.  Then yes, then no again.  I asked if he is not real, who brings the Easter baskets?  Sam said they magically appear.

On Halloween, Sam watched Michael Jackson's Thriller video at a party we went to.  For whatever reason, he must have thought of it tonight, because as we were lying in his bed and his eyelids were getting heavy, he suddenly asked me.

"Is Michael Jackson real?"
"Yes, he is real.  Well, he died.  But he was a real person."
"In this one movie, he was a zombie."

It took me a moment and I realized he was talking about Thriller, so I explained that it was a costume, like on Halloween then told him that Michael Jackson was a really good singer and dancer.  

So, this Halloween, I am thankful for my kids.  And the fact that at 8:45 at night in the dark, my kid might ask me if Michael Jackson is real.

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Happy Thanksgiving

I am off stuffing my face with rolls, stuffing, and pecan pie. In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving. I hope that everyone has a lot to be thankful for this year, including some delicious eats. Have a great weekend, good luck if you are venturing out tomorrow.  See you next week!  Also, this made me laugh.

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November 23, 2011

Thirty One

Today, I am 31. 

I can honestly say that right now, my life is more difficult than it ever has been for a variety of reasons, most of which I can't really write about out here.  I hope that my birthday next year will be better. 

There ARE some things I am looking forward to though.  Tonight, my Mom will make me stromboli and a pecan pie for my birthday dinner.  Friday, I get to have dinner with some of my very best friends and see a silly movie.  Saturday I get to spend time with my sister, who I miss and love.  Christmas is coming, and I get to watch Sam and Danny enjoy it.  I wish I could be happier today.  So, anyway.  Here are my two favorite pictures of myself from when I was a kid.

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Rachael008

If you want to give me a birthday present, leave a comment with a joke or a link to something online that made you laugh lately.

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November 22, 2011

I am not

Today, I am not good enough.

I am not strong enough.

I am not pretty enough, skinny enough, rich enough.

I can't do this.

I can't take care of other people with nothing left for myself.

I do not have enough faith.

I do not have enough love.

My arms are not strong enough to hold you.

My ears are not ready to listen.

My heart is not big enough.

My muscles are atrophied.

My brain is slow.

I am walking through a fog.

Today, I am weak.

I am only human.

And there is always tomorrow. 

Tomorrow, I can be whoever I want to be.
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November 21, 2011

Good Reads

Sometimes, it's nice when someone else does the work for us and suggests some good reads.  If you've got some extra time this weekend, here are some things I came across this week that I enjoyed.


  • The lovely Angie at GnomeAngel included me in a nice little post she wrote about blogs she's been enjoying.  I love her blog, and was honored to be one of the blogs she wrote about!  Her blog is wonderful - I love following her journey through infertility (and finally, a bun in the oven!) and her adventures with crafts and wonderful quirky finds on Etsy.
  • This week I also discovered the blog Nailside.  It's what you think it is - a nail polish blog run by Jane, a 21 year old girl from the Netherlands who loves doing manicures.  They are amazing, and I have SO many ideas now I can't wait to try out!
What did you read this week that you loved?



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November 18, 2011

Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, "Heard" items, and other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post.

Friday Fragments are the brainchild of Mrs.4444 and you can find more at Half Past Kissin' Time.

*****

Next week is going to be so exciting!  First, my birthday is on Wednesday.  I am turning 31.  I don't have any plans yet, other than my mom making me a pecan pie, like she always does for my birthday.  Then we have Thanksgiving at my Mom's house, which should be fun.  Mostly because I don't have to cook.  Or clean.  Then on Friday I get to go down to Seattle for my birthday trip - I did it last year and I think I like the idea of an annual tradition.  Friday, dinner with friends and joint b-day celebration with my friend Tara then Breaking Dawn part 1, Saturday a me-day then spending the night at my sister's and helping decorate her tree.  I can't wait!

*****

Are you watching Glee?  I felt so bad for Santana in this week's episode.  Yes, she is mean.  But no one deserves to be outed like that.  And that Adele mashup?  Amazing! 

*****

I took Sam to see Puss in Boots last weekend, and my head almost exploded when I saw this preview.



This is one of my absolute favorite books and it looks SO PRETTY! I seriously can't wait to see it. Justin said the words IMAX when we watched the preview, and that might need to happen.

 *****

Speaking of movies, this:



CAN'T WAIT!

*****

Sometimes I see videos online and I kind of can't believe them.



First off, what a great voice.  Second, this just blows my mind.  I can't imagine having the skill or ear to put something like this together.

*****

Have a great weekend!
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November 17, 2011

Riding the Bus... or Not.

Tears streamed down his face as I tried to gently push him into the open door of the bus.  His hands grasped the doors, resisting, and he looked so small compared to that big yellow bus.  He was absolutely beside himself.  Even as his friend was calling to him from inside the bus, telling him to come, he just wouldn't.  They couldn't wait.  I pulled him back and he crumpled to the ground, I pulled his arm and told him to get up.

By the time we got home, he was calm again.  I, on the other hand, was beside myself.  I was angry at him.  So angry that he couldn't just get on the bus, that now he would be late for school, that I had to hurry and get ready, that I had to get his little brother ready and take him inside the school too.  Angry because it's not convenient to drive him every day.

I was also extremely upset.  We have a really strong emotional connection, and when he breaks down like that it breaks my heart.  I KNOW that he is not just trying to be difficult, I know that he was really upset about getting on the bus.  I hate seeing him that way.  I hate that he feels so scared or uncomfortable or whatever that he will physically pull back from getting on the bus.  I hate that the bus driver and the other kids witness it too. 

I've tried talking to Sam about why he doesn't want to ride the bus.  Mostly, his answer is that he wants to be with me.  Between the adjustment to school - going from 2.5 hours of preschool 4 days a week to 6.5 hours of school plus bus time 5 days a week - and tension at home, he is unsettled.  He is clingy, and now there are no substitutes.  He wants me to play with him, put him to bed, drive him to school.  All of it.

It's exhausting.  Having someone want that much of me just drains me.  And since Danny is only 18 months old, it's more like having two people who want me like that.  Sometimes I feel like I just want to climb up high where no one can reach me so I can just be by myself for a few minutes.

With the bus, I'm not sure what to do.  He has relayed that there WAS an incident one day.  There are 3 boys at the playground/bus stop that Sam is friends with and plays with.  One of them in particular is very hot and cold with Sam.  One day they play well, and the next day this boy is not really being Sam's friend and is tattling on him or sometimes making fun of him in a way.  Apparently, when Sam tried to sit in a seat with this boy and one of the others one day, they pushed him out of the seat.

Sam is a really sensitive kid, and it's hard for him to understand why someone would be his friend one day and not the next.  He is a good friend, and he would never turn and NOT want to play or be friends anymore.  His friends mean the world to him, and it's confusing to him when they don't want to be around him or are not being that nice to him.

Between the pushing incident and the general rowdiness and number of kids on the bus, I think it's not a place he feels that safe.  He has said that he doesn't like it because there are so many kids and only one grown up.  And that grown up is concentrating on driving the bus, and can't be watching every second.

I'm just not sure what to do at this point.  I could just drive him to school every day.  It's not that convenient - it's about 10-15 minutes each way, and once I get there I have to unstrap Danny and walk Sam into his classroom.  BUT it would give us more time in the morning, he would be able to get 15 or 20 more minutes of sleep and have a bit more time to wake up and get ready.  Maybe we could split it so that I drive him a few times a week and Justin drops him off some days, or my Mom could take him on days she is volunteering at the school.  I also talked to his special ed teacher, and it is a possibility to get him on the special ed bus.  It would be a smaller bus with less kids, and maybe he'd feel more comfortable.  When I suggested it to him though, he was just concerned that his friends wouldn't be on it.  Which is funny, because he won't get on the bus his friends ARE on.

Is it really worth it to try and force him to ride the bus?  Maybe I should just wait until he's ready.  If I thought that he was doing this just because he wants to be with me, I might try to force it.  But I really do feel like he is not comfortable on the bus.  The last thing I want to do is force him into a situation that is making him anxious or unsure.  I know that going to school takes a lot of effort for him.  He gets tired, and I don't want him starting his day every day with something that's stressing him out.  

Have you deal with a challenge like this?  How did you resolve it?


This week, I chose prompt #2.) Your biggest parenting challenge and/or joy.
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November 15, 2011

20 Kids is Too Many

So, did you hear?  Michelle Duggar is pregnant AGAIN.  With baby #20.  Look, to each his own... except I'm a bit bugged by this one.  First of all, she is now 45 years old.  She has given birth 19 times.  She is of "advanced maternal age" which means that there's a higher chance for something to go awry with the baby.  If she has a special needs child at this point, there are already more than a dozen young children that need to be taken care of.  Mostly what bugs me about that she is pregnant again after what happened with the last one:
Michelle Duggar suffered preeclampsia during last pregnancy. Her blood pressure soared and protein appeared in her urine. To save Duggar’s life, doctors had to deliver daughter Josie three-and-a-half months early. She weighed only 1 pound six ounces and experienced a number of health problems, but she’s now a healthy toddler who will turn 2 in December.  However, some problems related to prematurity don’t become apparent until a child is in school. source
Yeah... so she couldn't carry anywhere near full term, and both her life and the babies life were at risk.  I think it's irresponsible.  It's one thing to put your own life at risk if you don't have children, but she already has 19 kids who love her that she needs to be there for.  Additionally, she's putting the babies life at risk by even being pregnant in the first place.  She had preeclampsia once, which means she is at a higher risk for having it again.  Having a higher number of babies can also lead to risk of excessive bleeding after birth.

I know, it's her life.  I'm not going to tell people how many children to have.  It just seems like there must be a point where the risks outweigh the benefits, and it seems like that time has arrived for the Duggars.  Their last daughter spent the first six months of her life in a hospital and was in critical condition.  I'm sure that took them away from their other kids and caused a lot of stress for everyone.  Yes, I'm sure that every baby is beautiful and makes them happy.  But, when is enough just... enough?

I also don't buy the argument that we should butt out and let them be happy.  If you're going to put your life on National TV for everyone to watch, have a very nice, professionally designed website about your family, and publish books about your life, you are ASKING for people to have opinions about you.  You can't have it both ways.

One of the things that bothers me about The Duggars and other families that play out their lives on channels like TLC is that they are not really being authentic at this point.  Sure, they can say they live a certain way.  But they're also making $25,000 or $40,000 or more per episode of the show.  They also have their own store at Christianbooks.com.  They can talk about the lifestyle all they want, but the reality is that the lifestyle they set out to have when they were just a big family five or ten years ago has certainly been altered by the media attention and the fact that they are advertising for CollegePlus and whatever else.

At this point, they have a grandchild who will be older than their next child.  Maybe they could concentrate on giving love to that kid and supporting their child, who is now a parent, through that journey.  It's certainly not always easy.  I can't help wondering if after this baby is done, Michelle and Jim throw in the towel.  Or whatever.  It would be such a shame for those 19 or 20 kids to lose their mother.
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November 14, 2011

You Should Be Reading Rick Riordan

I just finished "The Son of Neptune" by Rick Riordan, and it was fantastic.  I started reading Riordan's books back in the summer of 2010 after seeing previews for the movie version of  "The Lightning Thief", the first book in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series.  I wanted to read it before seeing the movie, and once I started I was totally hooked.

Riordan's books are technically intermediate reader level, but don't let that stop you.  I've found that I really like reading books from the young adult and intermediate sections, particularly when it comes to genres like science fiction and fantasy.  The stories tend to be more character driven and not as technical, and that often makes for a fantastic read.

In the world of Percy Jackson, "the gods of Olympus are alive and well in the 21st Century! They still fall in love with mortals and have children who are half-god, half-human, like the heroes of the old Greek myths.*"  These children, or demi-gods, end up at Camp Half Blood, where they learn about their heritage, discover the gifts their parents have passed down to them, and sometimes embark on quests that affect the fate of the Gods and the world we live in.

I've read all the books in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians Series, and now the first two in The Heroes of Olympus series.  One of the things I absolutely love about these books is the amount I've learned about Greek and Roman mythology.  In fact, I was amused last year when I saw the new Clash of the Titans and was able to recognize the characters and their relationships because I'd recently finished "The Lightning Thief!"  I can definitely say that I would not be tempted to sit down and read a dry book full of straight information about Greek and Roman Gods.  It might be interesting, but there is a kind of magic in the way that Riordan is able to teach you about them almost without you realizing that you're learning.

Riordan's books also all feature teenage heroes.  These kids are thrust into unfamiliar and sometimes frightening situations, and must figure out how to make the right choice, even when it's not always easy.  The demi-gods in Riordan's books are also kids who have ADD and dyslexia.  It's woven into the story that in our world, they are diagnosed with these because they are meant to be in battle, not to sit still.  They are meant to read Greek and Latin, so have a hard time reading modern English.  The idea that you can be struggling in the modern world but also be destined for something great is really powerful.  There is a lot to be said for heroes that you can relate to.  I love the idea of inspiring kids imaginations while also telling them that they can grow to be heroes by the actions they choose in life.

For anyone that has enjoyed books like Harry Potter and The Hobbit, books of epic battles and quests for good, these books are perfect.  I am eagerly awaiting the day when my son gets old enough for me to read these out loud to him.

Riordan has also created a second world in The Kane Chronicles series.  In this series, Carter and Sadie Kane discover that they are descended from the most powerful magicians in ancient Egypt.  They must learn to use their powers to right the world when a magical accident releases the ancient Egyptian Gods into the modern world.  I've read both books published so far in this series, and enjoyed them immensely as well.

As an added bonus, I've listened to the first two books in The Heroes of Olympus series as audio books, and Joshua Swanson does a fantastic job.  There's not much worse than trying to listen to a good story when the narrating voice is not right.  Swanson does different character voices so well, and it's a joy to listen to.

My only complaint is that I know the next Heroes of Olympus book isn't coming out for another year!  I can't wait.

* From Rick Riordan's Website
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November 10, 2011

Friday Fragments: Shoes, Scandals & Stories

Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, "Heard" items, and other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post.

Friday Fragments are the brainchild of Mrs.4444 and you can find more at Half Past Kissin' Time.

*****

I was thinking last night when I was putting Sam to bed about US shoe sizes and how they're messed up.  In Europe, they just start and then keep going up and up as you grow.  But here, there are three sets - baby/toddler, kid, and adult.  Why do we have to make it so confusing?!

*****

You've probably heard some about this huge scandal that's come out at Penn State about the assistant coach who is a child molester.  Allegedly.  I'll add that since I have to.  I was actually born in State College, PA while both of my parents went to school there, and have lots of friends and family from that area.  It resulted this week in Joe Paterno, the head football coach, being fired after 46 seasons.  Basically, back in 2002 a graduate assistant reported to Paterno that he'd seen the assistant coach raping a 10 year old boy in the showers.  Paterno told his bosses, who didn't do anything, and over the next 9 years this assistant coach went on to molest many other boys.

My gut reaction is 'hell yes, he should be fired.'  He absolutely should have reported it to the police.  The graduate assistant should have reported it to the police.  Paterno's bosses should have reported it to the police.  This brings up the whole issues of personal conduct vs. professional conduct.  Michael Vick is still on the Eagles after his whole dog-fighting scandal.  I'm not comparing dog fighting to pedophilia either, just thinking about general issues of conduct, job performance, and being a role model.  If Paterno had been the only one who knew, then it would make sense that he'd be the only one ousted.  But McQuery, the guy who actually SAW the act is currently still employed by Penn State.  I'm just not sure how THAT makes sense.

The bottom line is that it's a big effing mess.  It sucks.  Lots of boys were hurt, and it absolutely could have been prevented.  It's deplorable.  And it's a shame.

*****

I am excited because my best friend and her kids are coming up to Bellingham today to visit since there's no school.  They haven't seen our new house yet, plus it's nice and tidy now since that usually happens before we have visitors.  Double bonus!

*****

This week, I got caught up on my reading for my book clubs and I'm now on track again to meet my goal of reading 50 books this year!  I am SO excited, I haven't actually met the goal for a couple of years.  I'm currently reading "Matched" by Ally Condi and enjoying it so far.  I'm about halfway through and really starting to wonder when something big is going to happen.  I have high hopes since a friend told me they liked it even better than "Divergent," I'm just not seeing that quite yet.

I also started and finished "One Day" by David Nicholls this week.  I don't read a lot of love stories, but this is the second time in the past five years that I've found myself absolutely loving one (the first was "The Time Traveler's Wife" which is one of my favorite books ever). I am always excited to find a book with a unique format or a new way of telling a story - "One Day" is told over the course of 20 years, the story of the same day each year in the course of a relationship between Dexter and Emma. I was not hooked right away, but as I continued to read I found the writing was striking me with the accurate and unique descriptions of life. It was also funny, and the story was touching. I found the ending unexpected, and at one point basically felt like the book had punched me in the gut, which is both mildly disturbing and somewhat enjoyable.


*****


Today is Veteran's Day, so of course I want to say Thank You to all of the women and men out there who have put their lives on the line to fight for this country.  Whether or not I agree with the conflict, I will ALWAYS support the troops themselves, and be grateful they are willing to fight for me to have the freedom that I enjoy.  Here is a photo of my Father in Law.  He looks young.  That is because he changed the year on his birth certificate to enlist in the Marines.




*****

Should be a good weekend, I have my book club on Sunday and on Saturday I'm hoping for some one on one time with Sam.  Got any fun plans?

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Writers Workshop: Boys, Boys, Messy Boys

This week, one of the writing prompts at Mama Kat's reminded me of another opportunity I'd seen on The SITS Girls website.  So, I'm gonna go ahead and kill two birds with one stone here!

1.) The SITS Girls are giving away a Canon Rebel Camera and are asking people to enter by writing a post following these directions and answer this prompt: Spending time with friends and family can lead to fun and memorable moments, but also some very messy ones. Tell us about the messiest moments that you’ll always remember! Let’s hear yours!

I know that all kids can be messy, but it seems like boys just have that little extra thing inside... that thing that makes them want to do things.  Messy things.

They eat messy.

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They play messy (and eat rocks, apparently).

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They make mischief messy.



When Sam was about three years old, I took him to the park one day and we were exploring the shore of the lake.  It was wet outside, as Washington tends to be, and the sand was wet and a bit muddy.  We met a woman there who had a dog, and Sam started throwing the frisbee for her dog and having a grand old time.  He was also getting all dirty.  She asked me if he was my first child, and when I replied that he was, she complimented me on the fact that I was so calm about him getting dirty.  She said that she knows many parents who, especially with their first, are not so easygoing about dirt.

I guess I just feel that we have five senses for a reason.  Kids like to FEEL things, they like to explore the world by putting their hands in mud.  By sprinkling sand over their heads.  By rubbing baby powder into your couch.  They put their hands in yogurt, and learn how it feels to smear it all over their faces.  They splash and watch the water fly and feel it hit their skin.  They put Play-doh in their mouths.  Then spit it out on your carpet.  They roll down hills and get grass stained.  They eat ice cream with such abandon that a river of chocolate runs down their chin, and down their clothing.  

Sometimes, it's hard to clean up.  But really, that's what washers and driers and soap and Clorox bleach are for, right?  Dirt is temporary, but the smiles and memories and the happiness they get from being dirty?  Those are forever.

I received information about Clorox’s Bleach It Away campaign and am sharing my messy moment for the chance to win prizes from The SITS Girls. To learn more about the messy moment program, check out www.BleachItAway.com.  Sharing your story on the Clorox fan page gets you entered for the chance to win $25,000 and daily prizes, and you can grab a coupon for Clorox® Regular Bleach.
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November 9, 2011

Chuckles

Do you need a little laughter in your life?  Here are a few things I read this week that made me chuckle!

About the East Coast's first snow, Alice at Finslippy said:
"For instance. Look at that. Look at our October Snow. That is the second-worst Guns 'n' Roses song ever. How dare you, climate. How dare you right to hell." 
In response to her questioning whether her 5 year old wants to be at the birth of her coming baby sibling, this is what Kristin at Birthing Beautiful Ideas got in response:
M: No, I just don’t wanna hear those sounds you made on the video when A was born.
Me: Oh yeah.  Those sounds can seem scary.  But…
M: No, no, I know that mommies make them because it helps them to feel better.  And they didn’t scare me.  THEY WERE JUST ANNOYING!

About her kidney stones, Ami at Bunkers Down had this to say:
(Let me just take a moment and wax poetical about morphine.  It truly is nectar of the gods.  It made all the pain go far, far away.  It also made me a rambling idiot who kept saying things like “I love SCRUBS!  They’re sexy!  We should all wear SCRUBS!  All the time!  I just want to say the word SCRUBS over and over and over!”)
and this:
I ended up having a “painless” procedure than used sonic waves or some other awesome scientific thingy (remember, heavily medicated person) that busted up all the kidney stones into microscopic smithereens.  I love it when people call something painless.  Because then I know I am dealing with LIARS.
My friend Kyle started a blog called The Legend of Greybeard.  It's pretty funny and entertaining.  I guess if you are a stay at home Dad to 5 year old twins and a 2 year old AND a "homemakin' dynamo" you HAVE to have a sense of humor.  So check it out.  As long as you don't mind strong language and strong opinions. The world would be dull without them.

Also, this:


What made you laugh this week?

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November 8, 2011

"The Plain Truth" Reminders about Simplicity and Community

I just finished reading the Jodi Piccoult book "The Plain Truth" for one of my book clubs.  The book follows the story of Katie, a teenaged Amish girl who hid her pregnancy and is accused of murdering her infant son.  Ellie, a cousin and lawyer, ends up moving out to the Amish farm as part of Katie's bail conditions.  If you've read other Jodi Piccoult books and enjoyed them, you'd certainly enjoy this one.  Her books are pretty solid - good characters, good stories, and usually interesting endings as well.  My favorite still remains "My Sister's Keeper," but this may be my 2nd favorite.

It was really interesting to read about the Amish life and imagine how a girl raised in such a different culture might deal with being thrust into the English legal system.  There were several times while I was reading where passages really made me think about the way we do things.

Brimming With a Quiet Peace

While Ellie is living on the farm with Katie, at one point she is watching the girl brush her hair.
Ellie watched Katie run a brush through her long, honey hair, her eyes clear and wide.  When Ellie had first arrived and seen that look on all the faces surrounding her, she'd mistaken it for blankness, for stupidity.  It had taken months for her to realize that the gaze of the Amish was not vacant, but full - brimming with a quiet peace.
This paragraph really struck me because I don't think that sitting and just being in peace is something people do often enough.  I know that I certainly don't.  In fact, if I'm not doing anything I tend to verge on anxiety and restlessness.  Do you ever go for a walk and suddenly find yourself somewhere quiet, just enjoying the world?  I don't necessarily think we need to give up all of our computers and phones and devices.  But there is probably a lot of value in remembering to put them down every once in a while.

Welcoming vs. Casting Out

During the trial, Katie testifies.  She does not fully understand the legal system because things are done so much differently than they are in her Amish community.  The lawyer asks how it is different.
But the English judged a person so that they'd be justified in casting her out.  The Amish judged a person so that they'd be justified in welcoming her back.  "Where I'm from, if someone is accused of sinning, it's not so that others can place blame.  It's so that the person can make amends and move on."
This really struck me as well.  I see it all the time.  In news stories, online, even in conversations with friends.  It seems like our society is obsessed not only with placing blame, but in ostracizing those who make mistakes and in judging those whose choices are different from our own. 

I've written before about how I miss the sense of community that happens in some neighborhoods.  It seems like even when we have neighbors close by, the close knit groups that existed when our parents were young or that exist in small tows are few and far between.  I don't have the assurance that if I need something, I can go next door and find support and someone I can trust.  I believe that people are inherently good, and that often there are aspects to situations that we don't consider.  What if instead of freezing people out when they make a mistake or say something we disagree with, we allowed them to make amends?  What if we all tried a bit harder to let go of the past, and look forward to the possibilities of the future?  
 
Tomorrow, They Will Be With Me

 At one point, Ellie and Katie are cleaning windows while she is awaiting the verdict.  Ellie wonders how Katie can bring herself to do chores for someone else while awaiting a decision that will decide the course of the rest of her life.
Katie turned to me, her yes clear and filled with a peace that made it nearly impossible to turn away from her.  "Today Annie needs help." 

"Tomorrow, you might need it." 

She looked out the sparkling window, where women were busy hauling cleaning supplies from their buggies.  "Then tomorrow, all these people, they will be with me."

How amazing.  I have friends and family that I know will be with me, and in the last few years I've had the opportunity to really appreciate just how much support I have when I need it.  I do often wish that my community was less spread out, and that I could walk next door and find a friend.  It has been nice just living in the same neighborhood as my Mom and having her help when I've needed it.  I wish that my best friends were not so far away so that we could offer this kind of support to each other on a daily basis like Katie and her community do.

Sometimes, we forget that things really are simple.  One of the things that has gotten to me about the Occupy Wall Street movement is that I can't imagine having millions of dollars and NOT giving more to support my country, my society, and the people who don't have as much.  We live on far less than that, and we struggle sometimes.  We still pay our taxes.  We still donate to charity.  We still try to help when we can.  I just don't understand having the means to help, and being so selfish that you don't want to pay a few more taxes to help people.  I can't imagine working for a corporation whose main goal is foreclosing homes.  Let alone dressing up like a (now homeless) homeowner and making fun of people who are losing everything.  I can't imagine working for an insurance company who denies coverage on technicalities. 

I believe that as people, we have a responsibility to be compassionate towards other people.  I believe that instead of cutting people down, we should try to build each other up.  Instead of judging and attacking, we should listen and ask what we can do to help.  I know that I certainly want to be treated that way, so it doesn't make sense to treat those around me any other way. 
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November 7, 2011

Initiative 1183 - Will You Vote Yes or No?

In Washington, one of the initiatives we are voting on next week is Initiative 1183, which would privatize the distribution and sale of liquor in our state.  This would mean that we would not be limited to state run liquor stores, it would be available in grocery stores and some convenience stores.  Beer and wine are already available at these types of stores, so this applies only to hard liquor.  Out of the 50 states, there are 18 or 19 that are still regulated.


I am planning to vote yes on this.  I don't see any reason for it to continue to be regulated, and de-regulating it will mean stores paying tax on the liquor they're selling, which will provide money to the state to spend on things like transportation and education.


Argument One:  CostCo is bad?

One is that CostCo has spent a bunch of money promoting the Yes on 1183 campaign, and probably stands to make a buttload of money if it passes.  I don't understand why people are so upset about this.  They're a big company, why WOULDN'T they campaign for something that would boost their business?  It's not some evil plot, and they are not "buying the vote."  Everyone still gets to vote on this.  Plus, they will be paying the higher taxes on whatever liquor they do sell.  I just don't get what the big deal is.


Also, according to The Seattle Times:
The bill to do this is already law: Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5942, quietly signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire months ago. Under this law, the state would turn over all liquor wholesaling in Washington to one private monopolist. This company would be the exclusive supplier to the state liquor stores, probably for 10 years.
So, I don't get it.  It's okay for this monopolist to make all this money if 1183 is voted down, but it's NOT okay for CostCo to make money off it in the free market?  That just doesn't make sense.

Argument 2: Drunk Drivers Will Multiply Like Rabbits?

I also got a No on 1183 flier in the mail with this story about a mom whose child had been killed by a drunk driver, complete with a school photo of the little boy.  One of the things it says is "1183 could allow hard liquor sales in nearly 1,000 mini marts across Washington - which is where the dunk driver bought that last fatal drink that changed my life and robbed me of my child."

Am I missing something here?  Because it seems like this person's son was killed by someone with alcohol that is ALREADY available in convenience stores... 1183 is not going to take beer and wine OUT of the stores if it's voted down.  I'm not sure how this is supposed to affect my decision to vote on this...  In most of the 50 states, between 30 and 45 percent of vehicle accident fatalities are caused by drunk driving.  It doesn't seem to vary much based on how regulated the liquor is.  If people want to drink and drive, they are going to find a way to do it.  I feel like implying that this is going to hugely change it is manipulative.

Additionally, unless they were already a state contracted liquor store, businesses will have to be 10,000 square feet in order to sell liquor.  That means that not every mini-mart and gas station will have it, they have to be a certain size.  But no one is talking about that limitation.

As for teens, they're going to get booze no matter where it's available - where there's a will, there's a way.

Argument 3: What About the Jobs?

My only hesitation is that state owned liquor stores will be shut down, meaning some people will lose their jobs.  Privately owned stores who currently have a contract with the state will be allowed to stay open and compete in the free market.  It is hard when a choice has to be made that will mean such huge changes for people.  I do know that these are people with families and that they need jobs.  Sometimes, though, I think that there has to be change.  Additionally, it IS possible that jobs will also be created:
The "Yes" campaign says the initiative might create other public-sector jobs, because of the additional money going to the state and local governments, including $10 million a year guaranteed for public-safety programs.

And restaurants could save and add jobs, said Bruce Beckett, head of government affairs for the Washington Restaurant Association. "Anything that can improve efficiencies, cost structures and options for people not having to pick up liquor at the state liquor stores could have a positive impact on jobs," he said. …
Right now, the law enforcement officers who are responsible for enforcing liquor laws are under funded and unable to enforce the laws fully.  Additional revenues from this initiative would actually strengthen the law enforcement and create higher penalties for selling liquor to minors.  In the end, I still think that voting yes is the right choice for our state.
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November 4, 2011

Friday Fragments: TGIF!

Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, "Heard" items, and other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post.

Friday Fragments are the brainchild of Mrs.4444 and you can find more at Half Past Kissin' Time.

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I am feeling really fragmented this week. It's been a bit crazy with Halloween parties on the weekend, then Halloween. I am looking forward to a quiet weekend for the next couple of days, and not doing much!

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My father-in-law has been in the hospital this week.  He fainted last weekend, so they took him to a clinic, who in turn sent him to the hospital.  He doesn't really like it there, and would very much like to escape.  Fortunately for the nurses, they can move faster than he can.  Justin spent Monday night there and much of Tuesday.  It's a bit surreal for me because my parents are significantly younger and pretty healthy, so when things like this happen, I am a bit unprepared.  It turns out one of his medications was messing with his sodium levels, so hopefully the doctors will be able to find a better combination.  It was hard having Justin away from us for so many hours, but I am proud of him for being there for his Dad so much.  It must be hard to be in the hospital like that when you don't want to be, and lonely too.  I know that he really appreciated having someone to talk to and to help him out.

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Does anyone else use Google Reader?  They changed their format this week (I really don't like it yet), and there's no longer a 'share' option.  I previously had my shared items showing up on my Facebook page as well as on that "Reading Online" widget in my sidebar.  Does anyone know of a good way to still have shared items from a reader?  I really want to keep that feature here on my blog.  If there is another feedreader that people use and like, I might consider switching if it lets me do this.

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I have been really enjoying some of the new fall shows, including two that I didn't expect to like as much as I do.  I've been eager for new episodes of Revenge (CW) and American Horror Story (FX).  I was totally unsure about AHS because the first episode was super creepy, but I am really into the story now!  I can't wait to see what happens with the baby.  Of the returning shows, I am really enjoying Supernatural and The Walking Dead - I totally knew what really happened with Otis last week.  I also really liked the conversations that Rick and Lori about why (or why not) they wanted their son to live.


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I had to get my photo taken on picture retake day at Sam's school for my volunteer badge.  I went to pick him up for OT today and the secretary showed me my badge and handed me an envelope.  Apparently, even the volunteers get a code and a chance to order copies of our school pictures!  It was pretty funny because it included a sheet showing my picture on a bunch of the school photo backgrounds available, including this one with fall leaves and a painted bus.  I wish I had my scanner hooked up so I could share, because it gave me a pretty good laugh.
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Hope everyone has a great weekend!  I'll be around to visit some fellow fragmenters!
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November 3, 2011

Writer's Workshop: I can't understand the world



I've been enjoying participating in Mama Kat's writing workshops. This week, I went with #3: 

3.) Write a post in just in eight lines. (inspired by Mommy Nani Boo Boo).  (I interpreted lines as sentences, so mine's a little longer than some of the others.)

Is that really necessary?

Complaining about a $70 increase in your taxes that will pay for roads because it's not fair that households with cars and households with no cars have to have the same tax increase?

Are you really that hard up, because this morning I saw a homeless woman on the corner begging for diapers for her child.

Having the bass up so loud in your car that it is shaking my car as I sit in front of you at a stop sign?

Refusing to vaccinate your child, then feeding them a lollipop with chicken pox so they can gain natural immunity?!?

Do you know that your non-vaccinated child can infect smaller, weaker children who are not old enough yet for vaccination and cause serious illness and death?

Denying gay people the right to marry, but giving that right to Kim Kardashian and watching her get divorced after 72 DAYS?

Sometimes I can't understand the world around me.


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November 2, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Summer Fun

I've got 500 photos sitting in a folder on my computer, waiting for me to process, upload, and archive them.  I started working on it this week, and I've got some good ones to share.  In July, my cousin Emmy came to visit us from Philadelphia.  I never got photos from our trip up, and I have really been enjoying going through them!  Here are some favorites.

Seattle Mural

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Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle

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Windmills, Eastern WA

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My sister & my cousin

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Sister in the sun @ The Gorge Amphitheater

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Lamps

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Art in Ellensburg, WA

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Seattle Public Library

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Click here for more photos @ Wordless Wednesday.
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November 1, 2011

The Human Yo-Yo

Lately, I have been feeling pretty down about myself in one area - my body.

I have written here before about the ups and downs, how much I have struggled, my triumphs, and how hard it is for me to get on track.

I lost 50 pounds when I was pregnant with Sam - and gained it all back.  Plus some.

I lost 30 pounds doing Weight Watchers after I got medication for my thyroid etc, plus another 20 during/right after I was pregnant with Danny.  I have gained 25 of it back. 

I am angry.  I am ashamed that I allowed it to happen.  I feel like a yo-yo, ever time I manage to lose it, I just spring back and put it back on.  It makes me feel disgusted with myself - not only do I hate the way I look, but I hate that I am so weak that I don't have the willpower to become healthier.

I seem to be holding steady right now.  About 23 pounds lighter than I was at my heaviest.

I don't feel good when I look in the mirror.

I don't like the way my clothes fit.

When I sit in the booth at a restaurant, sometimes it's not that comfortable.

I am totally out of shape, and get winded easily.

It sucks.  Every day I think about how I SHOULD be eating, how I SHOULD be getting more exercise.  But I am so un-motivated to do it.  It's such a struggle.  I wish that there was an easy way to do all of this, but there just isn't.

It's not just a matter of simple willpower.  I think about food all the time.  When I am not eating, I am often thinking about what I can get to eat next.  I also don't always stop eating when I should - I eat too much and too quickly and then by the time I get my 'I'm full' signals, I start to feel kind of sick because I ate too much.  It's just SO EASY to eat junk.  It tastes so good, and it's cheap and easily accessible.

I need to stop.  It is not easy, but I have to try... Again.

So, here is what I need to do.  As soon as we get paid from the big job Justin is working on, I am going to re-join Weight Watchers.  I found out there are daytime meetings on Tuesdays, which is usually the day my Mom has Danny while Sam's at school.  If she doesn't, there is actually a Mommy & Me meeting at 10:30.

I pulled out my tracking notebook and calculator and started counting points again today.  I did okay for breakfast and kind of for lunch, then this afternoon I ate a couple of pieces of candy Justin gave me.  And a couple of Krispy Kreme donuts.  Just because I was near it and I wanted to.  Of course I didn't feel very well afterwards, and I didn't need them.  But I am not going to hide it, I'm writing the stupid points down and they'll come out of my weekly points.  If I cheat, it doesn't work.

I am going to get out at least twice a week and walk for an hour - at a park, at the mall, whatever.  It needs to be more than twice a week, but I need to be realistic and start with achievable goals.  The truth is that I HATE exercising, and I have to force myself to do it even though I know it's good for me and makes me feel better.  So, start small.

I WANT to do all of this, so why is it so fucking hard?  I don't get it.  I feel better when I eat right and exercise.  I feel happier and more confident when I am able to lose weight.  I don't understand why I struggle so much to get on track and stay there when it's what I really want.

Once I get back into things, I will probably start doing weekly weight-themed posts again like I was when I first started Weight Watchers.  It's just too hard to do this alone.
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