Sunday, December 6, 2009

Setting a record...

So far this week, I've knitted one baby hat for my cousin's newborn daughter:
And finished SEVEN (yes, 7) digital layouts. That's some sort of record for me. That's my normal total for an entire month, not a week. I'm very happy with Photoshop Elements. It's so much easier to use for this than Paint Shop Pro. Although as far as photo editing, I think PSP might have an edge (over Elements, not Photoshop itself). That could just be that I've become so familiar with it over the past four years.

Other things on my happy list:
Pandora Internet Radio
Being so much closer to finished my Christmas shopping than I ever have been on December 6.
My halls are decked (even though we haven't gotten a tree yet):My kids have the day off school tomorrow (I don't actually get to sleep in, but I can have a pajama morning)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Back in the saddle....

My husband and I decided that for the first time in our marriage (or either of our lives) we would join the crazies (no offense - it's just that choosing to wake up before the sun on a day I don't have to goes down as crazy in my book) on Black Friday. The kids spent the night at my mother-in-laws and we set our alarm for THREE FRICKING THIRTY. I was not amused when it went off. But we were after one of Wal-Mart's big limited deals, so we got up and drove ourselves over there. I do NOT go places before the sun is up, so this is major (and probably the only time it will ever happen).

Once we'd made the decision about two weeks earlier, I'd been scouring the internet leaks of all the ads to make my list. I knew I wanted the laptop from Wal-Mart (pretty much all three of our computers are/were on their last legs and I'm of the belief that once your computer starts giving you the "I'm in trouble" signals, you need to get a new one and get anything important off the old one). I added to my wish list the TomTom GPS and Kodak digital camera at Wal-Mart, a certain tall, busty fashion doll for my girlies (that ended up not being on sale, but still had to be purchased) and Adobe Photoshop Elements, which was on sale for $49.99 at Staples.

We got everything on the wish list and then some. I've been campaigning for a GPS for months. I get lost very easily, even in towns I've driven in for years. I'll think I know the way somewhere, but somehow have it totally wrong in my head. Happens every time I overthink. If I just drive and don't worry about it, I do fine.

The best end result of our Black Friday craziness is my new laptop. We bought the computer for Tom, but he's being a baby about it not being a Dell (and it's not like it's Brand X - it's an HP). So I said, what if I keep this one and we buy you a Dell later. He was actually cool with that. So I immediately began taking this laptop over. First of all, the fact that it's a laptop (I've always been a desktop kind of girl) was weird. I'm still getting used to it, but I've set up a sort of docking station at my magic desk (which is apparently not magic, since it's a total mess) and that works for me. I have the desktop like atmosphere I wanted and I can pick it up and eat lunch in the kitchen with the girls and surf the internet while we eat.

Do you know which Black Friday purchase I currently like the best , though? It's Adobe Photoshop Elements. We got it on sale at Staples (I was only mildly annoyed to learn that it was only that cheap due to a rebate). Once the computer was for sure mine, I installed it. I played a little the first day, but it had a minor learning curve and I wasn't into it. But now? Now I'm in love. I've been using Corel's Paint Shop Pro, which is somewhere in between regular Photoshop and Elements - it allows you to have a lot of control, but there are some key things I had to create workarounds for. So far, my favorite thing about Elements/PS is ACTIONS! I'm so excited about them. I've sort of been off my camera lately. I didn't even take new Christmas card pictures. I just used nice ones from the fall. But I think actions might inspire me. I need new photos to run these actions on. I should have broken down and ordered PSE years ago.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Music matters...

I could easily be spiralling into depression right now. Honestly, I'm not sure that I'm not. I'm sort of avoiding dealing with certain topics that would lead me there. My grandfather has cancer, a type of cancer that is pretty much fatal. He's doing chemo, which I think is just meant to buy him some time.

I can't imagine not having him in my life. My grandparents ahve always been a major part of my life. I was their first (of many) grandchild. They took me on trips with them when I was little. My sister and brother and I spent a lot of time at their house. I've always tried to visit as often as possible, especially now that I have kids. I want them to know their great-grandparents, something I didn't have an opportunity to do.

This could pretty easily send me into a catatonic type depression. Sometimes it does. I lose myself in stupid video games when I should be cleaning or reading books to my kids. But it's getting better. Because I noticed that I'm much, much happier and engaged with life when I'm listening to music. So I spruced up my iPod playlists and have it on me almost all the time now. It makes me run faster (though I have shin splints right now and am taking some running time off again), clean more, and get moving easier when I'm listening to it.

But that's not all. When I'm not listening to music, but have been recently, I'm in a better mood. Listening to music while doing all those activities is boosting my spirits later when I'm no longer listening to it.

I suppose there have been studies about this for years, but it never really occurred to me that it could have such a concrete impact on me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

More digital simplifying...

That I think will lead to actual simplifying. I tend to get caught up in certain crazes. Sometimes I eschew crazes all together because I generally dislike being on any bandwagon blindly. I don't mind being on bandwagons, just not blindly. I hopped on Twilight, Sookie Stackhouse, knitting, Big Bang Theory...all done with intent and only after I decided it was really for me.

But I think the internet creates a whole new sort of keeping up with the Joneses. I have to keep off of knitting sites because I'll order (or wish I could order) loads of yarn and patterns and books that I'll never use. I don't read scrapping websites because I'll buy more stuff for that hobby that I'll never use. I see people doing all these cool crafts that my left side of my brain realizes are not for me, but my creative right side says "Ooh, pretty! Let's make that!"

My latest craze was quilting. I gave it a try and didn't really love it, but I still want to get a new quilting sewing machine and buy all these quilting kits. I think a better machine really would make the process more enjoyable, but honestly, it's just not something I can see myself doing every day. Or even more than when someone I know is having a baby or as holiday gifts.

So now I'm going through my Google reader and unsubscribing from all the beautiful quilting blogs I was following. I think I'm going to do the same with a lot of the digital scrapbooking blogs I follow. I click "mark as read" on those two categories more often than not.

I think new new craze should be organizing. And doing more than just following the blogs. Actual organizing. (Left side of brain laughs and wishes the right side of my brain luck)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Digital simplifying?

Yes, I'm going to whine about my own stupidity again. Over the summer I had a catastrophic external hard drive failure. I had gotten lax about backing up to CD, so I was only able to recover the photos I had uploaded to Shutterfly. Which is to say, only the ones I initially deemed good enough to order a print of. I'm in the process of going through all my years of digital photos (since 2003) and putting them on my new external hard drive (while putting my recent photos on disc). And I realized something. I don't really need or want ALL of those photos on my hard drive. Probably not even on disc.

I've been known to take 100 photos just of the kids playing in the yard. Forget Disney World or actual events (which surprisingly aren't all that much more - probably because I have better things to do than keep the camera glued to my face). The only photos I delete are the truly awful ones - blurry, horrible expressions, etc. That means I have A LOT of not so great pictures that I have no intention of printing, digital scrapping, using in projects or otherwise ever opening again except to confirm that it's an awful picture.

So why can't I let go of them? My hard drive failure forced me to accept that I still have the best of late 08-mid 09, but why can't I just delete the dregs from 2003-2008? I'm not deluding myself that I'll scrap every single picture. For one thing, I don't like to reuse photos and I'd have to get out my old scrapbooks to see which pictures I've done with paper (haven't totally given up paper scrapping officially, but haven't touched it in over two years. Loving digital lately, though).

I'm getting ready to get a new computer and I'd like to make the switch with some organization. I use folders for everything, but I still keep too much junk. This is not exclusive to my digital life, by the way. My magic desk that was supposed to help me get organized since now I would have all this space to put everything really is just a holder for even more junk.

I'm trying to get the house sparkling and organized in advance of Christmas. I don't want to decorate for the holidays until I've got the current clutter under control. Which means maybe never. I will eventually lower my expectations of myself and just decorate. But in the meantime I'm making the effort to organize. Maybe I need a class.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Let the baking begin...

I don't host any major holiday events. I'd kind of like to, but since I'm the junior (or lower) ranking mama in both my and Tom's families, that honor goes to other people (I've lately been realizing that I'm a control freak, and apparently it runs in my family). I've heard of families whose older generations hand over the entertaining duties, but it doesn't seem to work that way in mine.

I still get the urge to cook and bake, but since I don't have to make turkey and stuffing, I get to be as creative as I want. I like to try new things all the time, but I also have consistent requests. This means that I have a set list of things to make for Thanksgiving. I'm on tap for pumpkin rolls (times two - one for the in-laws and one for my grandparents' house), pumpkin pies (times two, both for the in-laws), and fresh cranberry sauce/relish/whatever it is. I thought about canning some ahead of time, but really it's so easy, there's no need.

I think for this year's round of parties, I'm going to try a spinach and artichoke dip like this one from Alton Brown. I've never made it before and Tom asked for it, so it sounds like a fun one.

In addition to what I take to confirmed parties, I love, love, love to bake cookies, make candy and otherwise fatten up myself and those around me. I baked my first batch of chocolate chip cookies today (got back on the treadmill today too). I tend to stick to classics. After many years of searching for the right sugar cookie recipe that didn't need frosting (sorry to the majority of America, but I think frosted cookies are gross) and were nice with just colored sugars. Mrs. Field's Sugar Cookie is my go-to recipe after many flops.

I might branch out and try some caramels again this year. The last time I made them, they didnt' harden as much as I wanted them too. I'm definitely making peppermint bark, per Tom's request. His diet is pretty much out the window with mine for the next two months, I guess.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tales of a disorganized nothing...

You know, when I was in second and third grade, that series was my absolute favorite. I tore through every single one of them as soon as I found them. My son, who loves to read, hates them. I don't get it. They're about a boy. Why doesn't he like my favorite thing? WHY?

Now I must force myself to accept that my children are half my DNA, but not me. I think I'll blame his poor taste in books on his dad.

I'm a disorganized mess. I'm always trying to stay on top of things, throw out the junk mail the day it comes in, not hang on to magazines and books and *stuff*. But somehow papers pile up. Nothing's where it belongs because I can't figure out where it DOES belong. I'm not a naturally organized person. Add to this my four kids' junk, my husband's junk (which I don't generally touch so as to avoid the "Where did you put my junk?" quiz) and I just have lost any small semblance of control I once had.

Who am I kidding? I've never been organized a day in my life.

BUT....BUT!!!!! I bought a desk this weekend. This big huge desk with tons of storage space and a file drawer and a big old hutch. Now I have places to go with the "everything in its place" theory. Tons of space to organize and put things. Now I can be organized.

I'll report back to see if my theory had any validity whatsoever. I have a hypothesis, but since it's a little pessimistic, I'm going to pretend that I don't.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Trying to get my groove back....

I'm still not feeling the fall inspiration I usually do. I'm not even up to faking it this year. I'm trying to be okay with doing what I can do and not berating myself for not doing more. It isn't easy. It's sort of a lifestyle for me - lying in bed each night cataloging every thing I think I did wrong during the day. Or at least, when I'm in this sort of funk, that's what I do. Most of the time I can let it roll off and not take it to heart too much.

I'm trying to make a few changes to get me jump started. I finally dyed my gray hair - I wanted my natural color, just not gray. I started with a semi-permanent dye because I was terrified to dye it. I'm a natural kind of girl when it comes to beauty - I hate hair that looks dyed and I think mine does, although my husband didn't even notice I'd done it until I pointed it out to him.

I've lost about 20 of the 40-50-60 pounds I'm working on (depending on how optimistic/realistic I'm being - apparently my ideal weight would have me losing 60 pounds from where I started, but 50 is the more realistic for my body, but not likely, so I'm shooting for 40 by the end of the school year/Miss V's second birthday). I feel better about myself, but I'm having some muscle/tendon problems that make running difficult and I probably shouldn't run today, but I'm going to give it a try. I hate not running now (and if you knew me, you would know that those are the strangest words I've ever typed).

I think I'm going to sign up for my first 5k. My brother has also started running so we might do a 5K together (although not together - he runs faster than me).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

not feeling it...

and by it, I mean pretty much everything right now. I'm normally high in the middle of my fall creative period in a typical mid-October. But nothing is inspiring me. I'm in one of those "nothing I do turns out right, so I shouldn't bother doing anything" moods. I blame it on the failed quilting experiment. Which might only be due to my sucky sewing machine, but still. It didn't go well. And I don't even want to buy new craft supplies because I just waste them. I have an attic full of yarn and fabric and other crafty junk, and yet every time I want to start a new project I just go buy new stuff anyway. What's the point of buying stuff I'm not going to use?

My husband would be super proud of that statement. He doesn't really get why I need to have a stash of everything. It used to be that I would get a sudden inspiration while stuck at home with no car, so when I did get out I bought everything I might possibly need for the next burst of inspiration. But that was 5 years ago and I haven't been without a car or a craft store since. The need for a stash has been eliminated.

I also work on a reward system. If I actually create something and use from my stash, I allow myself to buy new stash/suppplies. Like right now, I'm digiscrapping all the time, so I allow myself to buy new kits. But I'm slowly knitting Tom's felted clogs, so no new yarn until they're finished (I've only had the yarn for these since March). And I've decided I can't sew until I get a new sewing machine (hello, Christmas list), so no fabric.

Right now I'm trying to get my house under control. We've finally got every last bit of stuff from the old house here and it just doesn't fit. So we've got crap everywhere. But on the good side, we have some extra money to buy shelves and other storage type stuff. I'm not a naturally organized person, but I'm hoping we can make some headway on the junk this fall. Starting with a real desk for me rather than an oversized end table that exactly fits my monitor and keyboard and mousepad. My kingdom for a desk...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Quiet lately...

I've been pretty quiet and introspective lately. I've also been in major avoidance mode - totally into mindless video games so I don't have free time to think. Because if I think then I have to think about my grandfather and realize that he's dying. And try not to completely break down. I'm already crying just typing that. I did the thing you're not supposed to do when you hear a diagnosis - I googled. The median survival rate for his type of cancer is 20 months.

I want to write more, but I just can't yet. I've always been very close to my grandparents. I've especially loved that my kids have been able to know their great-grandparents. My oldest three have known five great-grandparents, although two died when Susu was a baby so she has no memories of them at all.

The tree in front of my grandparents' house has a big split in it. It's not healthy and is going to be cut down. Healthy new saplings are being planted from it. I hate that this beautiful old tree is going to be gone. Just gone...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Seriously annoyed...

At an inanimate object. My sewing machine. I think it's dead/dying. I could probably send it in for repairs, but I'm pretty sure the cost of repair would at least equal the thing's value. If I were a car insurance company, I would total it based on that figure. Sewing is an absolute chore, which sucks because besides testing out how I like quilting (which so far is about a 7 of 10 - don't love the prep of cutting, but loving my finished quilt top), I have at least one Halloween costume to make. The boy has chosen Optimus Prime, which we're going to fashion out of stuff we have. Miss G wants to be Supergirl, which we don't have and I haven't seen in stores (haven't looked online yet, though). Miss S wants to be Snow White. No, Cinderella. No, Snow White. Lucky for her, we have gorgeous dress-up dresses for each, so she doesn't have to decide until Halloween.

But I'm going to sew the Supergirl costume (Baby is undecided - by me, that is - so I might stick her in something the other girls wore, or make her something. Not sure yet). And if my machine is as annoying as it was yesterday, I'm going to scream.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My experiments...

I conducted two experiments (although I'm sure they wouldn't hold up to scrutiny, being minus a control group on at least the second) today.

The first one involved laundry. I have a sensitive-skinned bunch, so I normally use scent-free, dye-free detergent. But something in the water or the washer at our new (to us, really quite, quite old) house leaves the clothes smelling funky no matter how quickly I get them from washer to dryer. I've tried scented detergents for Tom's clothes. It helped a little. Today I tried vinegar in my rinse cycle. Nothing came out of the dryer smelling like pickles, so it's already better than I feared. As to how fresh-smelling, they were okay. I think the concern is long-term. If we don't wear something right away, it smells. I have to assume it's the water here (we're on a well, don't know if that would matter - I'm a city girl living in the country - this is all new to me).

Final results on the laundry experiment (which did have a control group - one wash in free and clear with vinegar, one in scented with vinegar, one in free and clear sans vinegar and one scented sans vinegar) will be determined sometime next week.

My other experiment was chocolate. Yes, I've had chocolate before. I'm practically an expert on chocolate. But I've been trying to lose weight and working my butt and I've been so good about not snacking or having too many sweets (after about a two-week weaning period). Today I tried a handful of M&M's and...freak, they're what's missing in my life. I could have finished the LARGE sized bag. But I showed restraint and put them away.

So the results of that experiment show I can actually eat a little bit of chocolate. My hypothesis (that I would eat the whole bag but was extremely on edge and didn't give a crap) was wrong.

Friday, September 18, 2009


everything's kind of crazy at Casa Christy right now. We've finally sold our old, which is good. But we settle in 6 days and I still have the inspection repairs to get finalized. It should all be done by this time Monday, but for now, I'm going crazy with worry and keeping which repairman is coming when.

DH and I are the leaders of the Bear Scouts for our oldest this year. I've got the year pretty well set up, but getting everything together every Tuesday is making my brain crazy.

I'm also the co-leader of my oldest girls' Daisy troop. But I'm not really in charge there and it's making me a little crazy. I'd like to get the year set up the way I have the Bear year set up (weekly lesson plans, complete with what materials I need and minor homework assignments - sort of reconsidering my longtime statement that I never want to be a teacher).

My house is a bigger wreck than usual - I've been sick since we got back from our busy, busy weekend last week. I've gotten next to nothing done. I need to get up and fold the laundry, but, well, tomorrow's football day, so that's my plan for watching a few games and chilling out on the sofa.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Like I need a hole in the head...

That's how I need another hobby. Seriously. But I'm thinking of taking up quilting. Last time I considered a new hobby it was jewelry-making/beading. It lasted for a month. It just wasn't me. I still have all the stuff for it. I already like to sew, so this could be something I like. But making a dozen rag quilts last Christmas didn't go so well. I still, all but one. Three are finished, but they go to siblings and I felt weird giving two of the siblings their quilts, but not the third (whose quilt remains unfinished to this day).

I love to read hobby blogs and so many of the quilting blogs I read are just gorgeous. I get obsessed with stuff like this. I read and read and shop and shop (window-shop, that is). I think I'm obsessed with the couch to 5k stuff too. I'm still doing it, which is good. But I'm getting frustrated that I haven't lost weight yet. I don't know. I guess I just need to be patient. I definitely feel stronger and healthier, which is probably more important right now.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Desperately seeking routine...

Well, actually, I'm not that good with routine. I prefer to have a frameworkroutine with mix and match parts. I need to get into some sort of routine now that school's started, especially once Miss S goes to preschool next week.

I"m really overwhelmed by the clutter in my house right now. I just have stuff. And no place to put it. And at least half of the stuff is not mine. Which means it's either kid stuff (which I do take responsibility for, at least somewhat) or Tom's stuff (which I try not to touch so I don't have to answer the "where did you put..." questions). I just don't know where to begin.

It's come to my attention lately that I'm a perfectionist. And I hate the idea of failure. So if I think something's not going to be perfect, I generally don't try or at least only half-heartedly.

My goals for September - declutter, establish a cleaning routine, one digital page/day, complete one knitting project, get organized for Christmas (list-making). I'm sure more will follow. Something that I shouldn't do, but probably will sometime this fall is try my hand at quilting. I don't know if I have the patience/perfectionism for it, but as I get older all that stuff is easier.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mini-review: Secret History of the Pink Carnation

Let me just sum up my feelings about this book with this: I stopped reading halfway through - not to skip to the end like I do with most books, but to order the next one in the series. I liked it that much.

To begin with, my impressions of the book from the blurb and cover were completely mistaken. I thought "stuffy book about stuffy people. Blech." I want to like books that are "quality" fiction, but usually I don't. Well, that's not true. If they're well written, I don't really care what they're about. I just don't generally like really sad books (like the one I was tricking into reading last night - more on that later), which seems to me that the book club types usually are.

So I thought it was a take-off on a book that I'd never read and never wanted to read and thus, I wouldn't like it. Like all the Jane Austen take-offs. Some seem fun and interesting, but I can't bring myself to read Austen (mainly because the books have the tiniest print and I just can't read it - maybe I should make that eye doctor appointment).

And it was, in fact, sort of based on the Scarlet Pimpernel, which gets points for using one of my very favorite words inthe world. Scarlet. My middle daughter (as in middle of my three daughters, but third in line) was almost middle-named Scarlet because I love that word so much. Another of my very favorite words is vermillion - probably not a coincidence that they both describe my favorite color.

Misconception #1 - Despite being initially based on a book that I hadn't read and will never read, I wasn't lost in any way. The Scarlet Pimpernel was a very distant reference. This book was very much self-contained (well, as much as the first in a series can be - I just mean it didn't depend on my knowledge of something before it).

Misconception #2 - This was not some stuffy book. This was a romance novel. Shuffled in the pages of a chick lit novel.

I read it in a day. From cover to cover. Which is unsual for me because usually I get too impatient/bored to not skip to the end. Some books the ending tells me to go back and read the rest, some I just put down right then. Can't wait for The Masque of the Black Tulip.

In short (I mean in long and rambling), highly recommended if you like chick lit and historical romance.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Couch to 5K - Day 3, Week One

First off, I am in no way a runner. I have no intentions of running a 5K (though I reserve the right to change my mind about that as I get further into the program). I don't like to sweat, I don't like to exercise.

But I need to lose weight. I weigh the same as I did the day I went into the hospital to deliver my fourth child. She's almost 15 months old. My experience with my other three was that I didn't lose weight while nursing - in fact I couldn't lose weight until I stopped. Well, Miss V still nurses on occasion (maybe once every other night), but I'm hoping it works anyway.

I decided on the couch to 5K as my exercise routine because I wanted something intense but that didn't take forever to do. A - I get bored very easily and can't finish an hour long workout - not because I can't physically, I just can't stand that long doing one thing that usually isn't that interesting to start with. B - the less intense exercise I've been doing (albeit sporadically) hasn't done crap for me.

So I just started. Then I found some podcasts (though the Ullrey podcast is the best of the ones I've tried). And I've done it for three days now. My next goal is to work on my eating habits. I have a tendency to snack a lot, especially at night. I'm hoping that if I see some results this week, that I'll be inspired not to snack endlessly.

I'll try to update on my progress weekly. I'm not sure if I'm going to start week 2 on Thursday or if I'm going to do week 1 one more time. My first time I only made it halfway through (got bored and tried to run too fast too soon).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thinking this morning....

I'm sure I'll be late getting the kids down to the bus. I was drinking my (100% essential) coffee and perusing my Google reader and totally lost track of time (damn, I had a lot to read this morning). So I was left with 15 minutes to make lunches and get the kids dressed and combed and ready for school.

But this article about being disorganized and unproductive really spoke to me. It IS me. I'm completely a perfectionist and I know some things will never live up to my expectations, so I don't try or I don't try my best. I'd have words with one of my kids if they did the same thing, but for me, it's completely acceptable. Actually, not really. I get very irritated with myself that I am flummoxed by my imperfection.

I'm making decluttering and maintaining a less cluttered (not clutter-free, since I think that's setting myself up for failure) home my main goal this year. I've totally slacked off this summer, so I have a lot of catching up to do. I think some shelving and other storage solutions are necessary to this endeavor, so hopefully Tom and I can make one of our pilgrimages to Ikea in the next month or so.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Couch to 5K...

I got the brilliant idea that the way for me to get back into shape and lose the baby weight (she's only 14 months - it still counts, right?) was to do the couch to 5K program. Basically I want results, fast, or I know me well enough to know that I won't keep up with it if it frustrates me. I've been being more careful about my eating habits for the past week - no extra snacks, a very small dessert (cause if I couldn't have dessert, I'd go a little nuts), nice small, healthy meals. And I freaking GAINED five pounds. Screw that - if I'm going to gain weight, I may as well eat good stuff, right?

And this is why I have sort of a bad attitude about this whole weight loss/get into shape stuff. I need to lose at least 20 pounds to feel good about myself, up to a max of 50 (which would be what I weighed before I ever met Tom, got married or had babies - it would be less than what I weighed on my wedding day, so is not at all realistic). After my previous two babies, I was able to lose 30 and keep it off and live the way I wanted to. That's my goal, right there. I want to be able to have a dessert if I want to. I want to be able to splurge on fried chicken every now and then (and really that's all I can stand it anyway).

Day one of Couch to 5K down. It went...okay. Tune in later in the week to see if I kept up with it.

First day!

Yesterday was the first day of school for my oldest two kids. The third one starts pre-K after Labor Day (Mama is not happy about the public schools going back to school two full weeks before Labor Day when the norm here for years has been to start the day after Labor Day). Everyone was in fine spirits yesterday morning, even though I forgot that my clock isn't 45 minutes or more ahead - it's only 10 minutes. So I rolled over and went back to sleep at what I thought was 6:30, but was actually 7, when I wanted to be getting up. But I made it up in time to get everything done, so all's well, right? Especially given the nightly screaming fits Miss V has been having. I'm hoping it's molars or something non-permanent. If this is a new personality quirk, I am not amused.

Miss G came home from her first day of first grade completely wiped out. Her top two front teeth are loose and probably hurting, but she can't talk about anything right now without sounding like she's about to cry. I had to wake her up this morning, so I know she's exhausted. I might suggest a little nap this afternoon (yeah, right).

Mr. T started third grade. Just typing that makes me want to cry. He looks so grown-up in his back to school pictures. Something about him aging makes me sad/nostalgic/introspective in a way that his sisters aging does not. Probably because he's my first. My first child is 8. My first child is two years away from middle school.

Miss S is mad because her sister and brother got to start school and she didn't yet. She had to wear her own first day of school outfit yesterday, since it wasn't fair that T and G got to wear their new outfits and not her. I appreciated her logic and let her wear it (it's easily washed).

So now I'm anxious to hear if the fallout from the first day makes for a less than wonderful second day. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lucky number 20,000

Yep, that's right. This photo represents the 20,000th click on my DSLR. It's SOOC except for rotating the file. I told my sister I was on the countdown to this and she was in shock. Who takes 20,000 pictures in 3.25 years? Obviously, I do. Now, that's only shutter clicks. Not to imply that I have 20,000 keepers. I tend to be pretty exacting about what gets kept (although I still think I could do better - and thanks to my hard drive crash, I have no choice, now, right?) I'm sure I have more like...okay, I have no clue. I can easily take 100 pictures just following the kids around the backyard. Which is sort of what precipitated my thoughts about the crash of my external hard drive. Now I'm left with the ones I cared enough about to do something other than just let sit. Probably what I should have had to start with. Maybe I need to start thinking about quality v. quantity on a regular basis and toss out a lot more of those less than perfect shots. Like this one. My focus fell on the grass in Violet's lap. She's not looking at the camera and furthermore, this was supposed to be part of a series of her standing and walking for the first time (go, V!).

But I'll probably keep it because it's my 20,000th click.

Below, I've edited with my first method of editing my photos (curves, brighten/contrast, saturation and unsharp mask).

Below is more in line with my current method of editing photos (duplicate layer, soft light - which I think sharpens photos enough for my taste)

I still switch back and forth between the two methods, depending on my original exposure and the photo itself.
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Monday, August 17, 2009

My next book...

I'm debating starting the books by Lauren Willig. The first one is the Secret History of the Pink Carnation. I think there are four or five others. I saw one at my long leisurely (kidless) trip to the library last week, but since I knew there were others, I thought I'd do some research and see if I needed to read them in order. I have yet to do that research, so I don't know if that will go on my list.

I finally came up on some of my paperbackswap wish lists, so once those books come in (Four Dukes and a Devil, Sleepless in Scotland and How To Tempt A Duke), I'll have a lot of reading to do. The kids go back to school next week, so maybe I'll have time. Not likely, actually. For the first couple of weeks, it will be as rough on me getting back into the routine as it is on them.

This is our last gasp of summer vacation. We're trying to make the most of it. We went to the Smithsonian last week, something we'd been planning to do all summer but never got around to. We still have to go to Hersheypark, but I think that might have to be a September weekend. This week is dentist for the kids, visiting my family and school shopping with Grandmom (my mom).

Then we have back to school events and end of summer parties. It's going to be a busy couple of weeks, so maybe my reading list will need to be put on hold.

UPDATE: I decided to order the Secret History of the Pink Carnation with my paperbackswap credits. If I like it, I'll either order more (several were available, unlike most books I want which are wishlisted so long I'll get them in the next decade) or through my library (which for some reason only carries the later ones).

Bad digital news...

Here I go again making a drama out of a relatively minor thing (in the grand scheme of life, that is. See, I'm still sane - I know that there are more important things than a total catastrophic hard drive failure). I've lost a lot of pictures, all my digiscrap pages from June to now (and I was busy for me), a logo I was working on for a friend, etc...I don't know the full extent of it all. I hadn't gotten around to a full backup since May - and apparently even those I chose to skip about half my photos, so I lost a good bit of the last few months.

But what did I lose? My best pictures are safe. Sure, my digital kits are gone, but they were mostly free downloads that I never used anyway. I kind of like the idea of starting from scratch on that level. I'm trying to redefine my goals and how I look at this stuff. I lost a lot of pictures from my baby's first year. But nothing I had already defined as "good". So what did I lose? A lot of digital files that I was never going to print or scrap. Did I really lose that much? They were just going to languish on my external hard drive for what?

Actually, in some ways, it's been nice. I've been looking back at old photos and getting re-inspired to scrap them. I'm buying digital kits that really mean something to me and my style and the colors I use rather than just what's free and available.

So it's been about a week since the big demise. I'm still trying to revive the thing, but I've sort of come to grips with the fact that I might not. I'm trying to be okay with that and taking measures to not have this happen in the future. I don't know what the best method is, but I'm exploring my options.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Deceiving my children...

I don't know how I feel about this. I'm finally getting around to trying the Jessica Seinfeld cookbook Deceptively Delicious. I have a couple of picky eaters (my 6 year old and the 14 month old). But the book is for picky eaters who don't eat veggies. That's not my problem. At least, not with the 6 year old. She loves a nice tray of chopped veggies and Ranch dressing. She just won't eat anything else. There are a couple of recipes that address how to get more protein in a diet, so we're going to try those for her. For Baby, anything that gets her to eat something other than pancakes and macaroni and cheese is a plus.

Right now I'm steaming cauliflower for twice-baked potatoes. But while I was chopping the cauliflower to steam and "hide" from my kids, they were all over it trying to get some. Although, they won't eat it it once it's steamed, so maybe this isn't such a bad thing.

I'll update and let you know. I could always use more veggies in my own diet, so I'm not opposed to the process. I just don't know if it's worth it.

So I made cauliflower purée for the twice-baked potatoes. My oldest doesn't eat potatoes, so I decided to give the deceptive mac and cheese a try since it also called for cauliflower purée. Both dishes received major thumbs up from everyone who tried them. Making the purée was a little bit of a pain, but it gave me an excuse to use my new immersion blender I got for my birthday.

End result? Both of these are keepers.

My recent book list...

The books I've been reading lately:

This Duchess of Mine: Meh. Not my favorite Eloisa James book. In fact, my least favorite (unless a rereading reveals something new in the future, I can't see that changing). The story of Elijah and Jemma had been so much revealed in the other stories in this series that little was left for their own book. I normally love Ms. James' style of interweaving these stories together, but this story could probably have remained in the subplots.

We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals I started reading this at swimming lessons last week. It immediately got my interest, which is unusual for a non-fiction book. I don't know if I'll read the whole thing (I'm easily distracted and it's due at the library soon), but I thoroughly enjoyed what I've gotten to at this point.

Marrying Mozart: Started out strong and interesting, but quickly became repetitive and annoying. I'm not Mozart expert, but it also felt rather dry - much more non-fiction with imagined conversations than really rich historical fiction. I guess that's sort of the nature of novels about real people, but I've read better examples.

A Duke of Her Own: Much better installment in the Desperate Duchesses series from Eloisa James. Villiers, the main male character, has appeared in the other books in the series, but we've seen his growth throughout them, but not his story. Loved meeting Eleanor. I really enjoyed this one.

The Gatecrasher: Sophie Kinsella/Madeleine Wickham. I wasn't sure what to expect from this alter ego of one of my favorite funny chick-lit authors. But it was just what I would have expected - an enjoyable, quick read with likable, flawed characters.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My secret reading guilty pleasure...

Well, it's not really that big a secret. I read romance novels. I'm a well-educated, intellectual type who reads romance novels. I also read biographies, historical fiction and cereal boxes. But I love a well-written historical romance novel.

I like to argue that real life is depressing enough - I try to avoid the "book club" books unless I know the basic story. I don't mind a non happily ever after ending, but I don't like true downers. I'm a worrier by nature. I don't need to read books about anything that will add to my list of worries (which is already pretty long). I fight my tendency to worry - sometimes I can keep myself up all night thinking about every awful thing I can think of. So I don't generally read books that will make that worse.

Probably I need some help (in the professional capacity) about this worry issue of mine. But I've mainly got it under control now.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Happy birthday to me!

A few days late. My birthday was last Thursday. I've always loved my birthday. Except for the complete tragedy of not being able to take cupcakes in to school on my birthday like my siblings and pretty much everyone else in the world without a summer birthday could (and to a seven year old me that was everyone). I'm over that now. Helps that kids can't really take treats in to school anymore.

This was my birthday cake. Um, may I oh-so-modestly say that this cake was DIVINE. I mean seriously fab. I eat a little sliver for breakfast for the next four days and it was just so, so good every time. It started life as the cake in Pollyanna, which is one of those movies I subject my kids to on rainy Sunday afternoons. Last time we saw it, I was reminded how wonderful the cake she eats in the bazaar scene looks. As a child, I always wanted it. And as an adult, I wanted it even more. The difference is as an adult in the digital age, I can Google. I can also bake (see husband's birthday post from a few days prior). So I set about making the Pollyanna cake. I Googled and found a site where someone loved the cake the way I did and had recreated it. I made the cake. All went well. But then I tasted the crumbs. They were pretty almondy (there's almond extract in the recipe on that site). Which tasted good, but not like it would work with chocolate. So I began to brainstorm. Strawberry, I suggested. No, lemon, Tom thought. We both stared at each other and around the room to see what we had for inspiration. Finally, on the back of my cake flour box was IT. I'd been admiring the pretty cake on there since I'd bought the cake flour. It was a raspberry vanilla layer cake. Yep, that's it.

I ran to the store for seedless raspberry jam (since all I had was grape jelly) and went to town. I sliced all my layers in half and filled and stacked and ended with a very tall cake. I stuck it in the freezer to set up before the final frosting. Oh, and in between all of this I was running the kids back and forth to swimmng lessons. Fun.

But the cake was perfect. Not quite the Pollyanna cake I started out wanting, but absolutely delicious nonetheless.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Near miss makes me think...

We had a bit of a catastrophe on Sunday morning. No lives were at risk. No humans or animals were hurt. But it caused me a bit of a personal crisis anyway. And I feel ....just selfish and spoiled.... for even thinking about it and dwelling on it. It's over and everything is fine now, but for a moment I was devastated. And I remind myself that things could have been much worse.

What happened? What could have caused me to be so introspective and desolée (sometimes only the French word expresses what I mean to say)? I left my camera outside Saturday afternoon. Then we went out for the evening. I was lucky in that our puppies (who eat everything) just left it lying in the grass where I'd set it to fix the kids' sprinkler. rained Saturday night. It poured. I went outside to look at my garden Sunday morning and almost cried. Forget it. I did cry.

I opened it up and left it to dry and a few hours later, astonishingly it's fine. The lens might still be shot (but I didn't really like it anyway), but the camera with another lens works perfectly. Even if it hadn't been fine, I constantly remind myself that there are many worse things than losing a camera to one's own stupidity (isn't that the worst part though? it was my own fault)

And that brought me to some introspection. It was my husband's birthday. He wanted to go somewhere special and spend the day. I did too. Except that I wouldn't be able to take pictures. And if I couldn't take pictures, it's almost as if it didn't happen. There's no point in going and doing something special if I can't take pictures of it.

I haven't quite processed how I feel about what I was feeling in that moment. In some ways, it makes me want to just leave my camera at home. Maybe I'm so worried about taking pictures that I don't experience "the moment" the way I ought to be experiencing it. Or maybe the camera is just such a natural extension of me and the way I view the world that my identity is wrapped up in it. Wife, mother, sister, photographer.


This is the Boston Cream Pie I made for Tom's birthday. It was a pretty complicated process (since mostly I make box mix cakes as I've never found a scratch recipe that tastes quite as good - make my own frosting, but never the cake). I made the custard filling first so it had plenty of time to cool. Then I made the cakes, though they came out a little shorter than they should have. I only had 9-inch rounds, not 8-inch like the recipe needed. I let them cool along with the custard. Then about an hour later, I made the ganache and assembled the cake/pie.

We went to the Delaware State Fair (which is weird to me as a Maryland resident). I loved it - hardly any crowds. Everyone had a fabulous day, including my hubby -the birthday boy. When we got home, we dove into his cake. He LOVED it. The kids loved it. Even pickly me, I loved it.

I really enjoyed the process of making this cake, despite its lengthy and messy process. I loved creating something wonderful from such simple ingredients (all of which we had in the house - nothing expensive or useless).
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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Happy birthdays...

Tomorrow is my beloved's birthday. Mine is four days after that. We love having both our birthdays in July (so much that our wedding bands have rubies in them - our mutual birthstone). We planned to have one of our children have a July birthday (though she didn't make it to being a Leo, like hubby and I are). Her birthday was last Tuesday. This is a special week for us. We're basically in party mode from July 21st to the 30th (my birthday).

And do you know what that means? CAKE!!!!! I love cake. And I love to bake. Seems like a match made in heaven, right? Actually....secret confession time...I prefer store-bought cake - like from the bakery. Whaaaaa? I know. But it's true. I have a sweet tooth, inherited from my mother's side of the family. Those without it or with a milder version prefer that whipped frosting some bakeries use. Not me. Lay that sugary goodness on me. In fact, I asked that my own birthday cake this year (normally I prefer to bake my own) come from a bakery.

However, I'm making a scratch cake for my husbands birthday tomorrow. He asked for Boston Cream Pie or a Black Forest Cake. I get to choose which I'd prefer to bake. I think I"m going with this recipe from my favorite website to drool over: Boston Cream Pie. Seriously. I see no end of things I want to bake on that website. Must. Resist. Must not, bake every single baked yummy on there.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

pickles, anyone?

I asked my father-in-law to get me about 3 dozen cucumbers for me to make pickles. Apparently, he didn't think that was enough. He brought me at least 10 dozen, probably more. I've been making pickles (both dill and bread and butter) and pickle relish and more pickles.
I even properly canned some, instead of just refrigerator pickles (which are ridiculously easy, especially if you cheat and buy the premixed flavor package like I did).
Cucumbers, just waiting for my pickling touch.

Fortunately, I love pickles.
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pudding Pop Success!

We used the Cool Whip variation that I saw in Kraft's magazine. We just made instant chocolate pudding (I CAN make homemade, but the skin it forms freaks me out so I won't) and added a cup of Cool Whip. Tom pronounced it "very close" to the pudding pop of our youth.
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Monday, July 13, 2009

I did it!

I grew vegetables! I picked my first three cucumbers this morning. I'm trying to come up with some method of serving them that honors their special "firstness." They'll probably rot before I figure it out. I also have tomatoes that are big and green, but should be red soon. And I have a pumpkin about the size of a child's fist. I may have planted my pumpkins too early.

Right now I'm on a quest for a pudding pop recipe. And it's not just frozen pudding. We tried that last year and it was not what we (the husband and I) remembered. I don't know if that classic Jell-O texture is recreatable, but I'm going to try.

I'm also thinking it's time to break out the ice cream maker. I don't know what I want to make yet, though. Just something icy and homemade. Right now I'm thinking chocolate gelato. My mom has requested peach ice cream, which I'm planning to do as soon as I get my hands on some fresh peaches.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

questions on my mind...

  • why must my almost 13 month old sleep worse than many newborns? WHY? WHY? (running on a serious lack of sleep here)
  • how might i convince my darling husband that a meal does not need to include meat to be complete? I admit that my favorite "dad's not home" dinner is a little lacking for him (just rotini noodles and tomato sauce - Hunt's, please), but I'm not asking him to dine on pasta all the time. Just once in a while.
  • when did daytime tv become obsessed with judge shows? or rather, since I know when, why hasn't that genre died yet? (My dad just had surgery and is home during the day and only allowed to watch TV, not read or computer or anything. We were comparing notes)
  • would a sinus infection make me randomly dizzy at times? guess i ought to see the doctor. bummer. Not that I dislike doctors (i'm over that after four kids), but taking the time to do it tries my patience.
  • what should I have for dinner tonight (see second question)?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fighting the good fight...

I thought I had that damned virus/trojan whatever the hell it was under control. And then, no one in our house can access our wireless internet if the infected computer is also accessing. Probably not good. So I'm at my last resort - a repair install of Windows. Don't try to convince me to switch to Mac. I am fully capable of using a Mac, I just don't like some of the logistics of how it's set up. I can't really see me switching, considering the knowledge I've gained on working on PCs over the years.

This morning I had some of the best mojo around - creating something simple, yet impressive as a gift. Hubby wanted to give the office staff a little something, like a fruit basket. Since it's summer in a school, I didn't want anyone to have to worry about fruit going bad. I made this:

Into this (sorry this one's out of focus):
It's mainly 100 calorie packs. There's a few bottles of water and some Nutri-grain bars. I tried to get a little variety to make sure everyone had something they liked. I'm sure it cost more than it needed to, but if I'd been making more than just the one, it wouldn't have been so bad. (Note to self: Christmas gifts for teachers this year=gift baskets of food).

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

Posting this late because I started it on Saturday and then got distracted - story of my life, I swear. It's my favorite holiday, I think because it's so close to my birthday (26 days from now). I decorated our mantel for the holiday, but otherwise? It's woefully lacking. It's my next big project (photo wall was my most recent one, but it's a work in progress). I want something huge in the middle - like a vintage poster (kind of like in my kitchen in our old house, hmm...) and some smaller vintage jars and tins and stuff on the sides of it.

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Computers. Sigh...

My husband decided that his antivirus was slowing his computer down too much, so he turned it off. Yeah, you can guess where this is going. I'm hunting viruses right now. And...I'm somewhat embarassed to admit this, but it's totally fun for me. It's like a puzzle that I have to solve. Right now I'm just running the basic spyware/antivirus just to get it usable again (it's that bad - he may also have turned off the firewall).

And in other computer news, but the fun, creative kind, my cousin has asked me to pretty up his blog (not quite how he put it and pretty probably isn't appropriate for a sports blog, but that's what I'm doing). It's another fun challenge that I've already learned a lot from. I got out of serious web design when my son was born (he's EIGHT!) so I've missed a lot of developments. In some ways that's good because I don't have anything to unlearn or remember some newfangled way of doing.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Feeling stupid here...

I just discovered custom white balance on my digital camera - rediscovered, really. I have an older (I've had it for three years so in the world of digital photography, it's practically an antique) Pentax. I've been getting frustrated with it lately because my white balance just always seems to be off. I usually pick a scene based white balance (like cloudy or shady) and my pics are all yellowy. But the other night we were outside as I was trying to take my youngest's one-year-old picture (I was only two weeks late). She hates the grass, so I took a vintage tablecloth (I inherited three boxes of vintage tablecloths from hubby's great-aunt) and folded it up under her. It was pure white, so I decided - what the hell? I'll take a custom white balance off it. And my pictures are spot on for color (to my eyes at least).

So now I'm feeling dumb. All these years I've tried to do custom white balances and I think I've been doing it wrong. Although, this is recent, so maybe it's my old camera too. Our house is for sale right now and we stand to make a little bit of money off it. A portion of that money will go to the camera of my choice (eek - pressure - decision - help!) Luckily (actually unluckily) our house hasn't sold yet, so no decisions need to be made any time soon.

A picture from my shoot the other night? ya go.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How does my garden grow?

Well, a little too well, actually. This is the first year I've lived somewhere where we can have a real garden. I grew tomatoes in pots back in the early days of our marriage (eleven years ago), but in the ground planting and growing is a whole different animal. I really didn't allow enough room for how much everything would grow. Plus, we have puppies who like to dig, so my space for a garden was defined by the size of our fencing. My cucumbers are about to overtake the peppers. My tomato plants are bushing together (my fault for not reading the directions more thoroughly - I read "sow one foot apart" and didn't understand that sow and plant are different. I should have sown my seeds one foot apart and thinned my plants to THREE feet apart.

Oops. My husband also objects to the fact that I didn't plant everything in neat little rows. I keep telling I don't think in neat little rows. I like mess and disorder. He comments on how my plants should be in rows every time he weeds it (isn't he the best? Weeding is my most hated of most hated jobs).
See that pumpkin plant? It's like three times that size now and it's not even a week later. I really had no concept of how all of this stuff would grow. But now I do and it's all being catalogued (mentally) for next year's garden, which will hopefully be bigger if the dogs are past their digging/chewing (ha!).
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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Down on the farm...

It's harvest season here on our farm. I don't have a single thing to do with it, but my husband drives the tractor and my brother-in-law drives the combine. It's their dad's farm.

My husband taking the kids for a ride in the cab of the tractor.
First our oldest daughter (she's six and very into the whole farming thing).
Then our son, the oldest of our four kids (he's eight and I think spent the whole trip cataloging the dimensions of the tractor so he could come home and recreate it in Lego).
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What do I do?

What do I do? Whatever I'm in the mood for. Sometimes I obsessively take pictures, sometimes I bake more goodies than is good for me, sometimes I digiscrap - and who knows what else? Something new and shiny is always catching my eye. I think my actual hobby is finding new hobbies.

Monday, June 22, 2009

And now I'm back...

from Pittsburgh (or parts nearby). We were attending a friend's wedding that happened to fall on our 11th anniversary (we married somewhat young). It was a nice getaway since we left ALL. FOUR. KIDS. with my mom and dad! It was the first time I'd been away from Miss V for an entire night.

Scenes from our stay:Tom and I liked the juxtaposition of the wind turbines and the advertisement for coal.

This was the view from the back of our hotel in a rare moment of sun. Actually, if I'd turned 45 degrees to the left, this would have been all dark gray clouds.

Monday, June 15, 2009

what a weekend...

Just reuniting all over the place. I caved and decided to go to my high school reunion's pre-reunion informal thing at a local bar. It was...surreal. That's really the only word to describe. At times I was completely happy about being there and seeing people and at other times I felt just like I used to in high school - on the fringes. Luckily, at this stage in my life, I don't fight where I fit in. I'm on the fringes of every group - even now. I just go with it. Because to get into a group would mean a change in my lifestyle. I hate making plans because I get so stressed out in advance of them. Hanging with a set crowd sort of implies that you're going to make plans.

Tom and I are going to a wedding this weekend and I've been stressed about it for at least two weeks. I have a lot to do to get ready for it (like getting the kids ready to leave me...I mean, getting the kids ready for their super-fun stay with grandmom. They won't miss me. Maybe Miss V. Maybe.).

Then we had a family reunion with my dad's side of the family. I've always felt like a fringe member of my mom's family too. I'm tall and dark. They're short and blond and blue/green-eyed. I just don't always feel like I fit in there. My dad's side of the family? I look just like them all. I'm...well, let's just say my mom's people have the metabolisms of hummingbirds and I'm again on my dad's side of things. But we don't see my dad's family very often, so while the conversations are easier (so how have the past five years been?) they're not always fulfilling. But again, I stress out at these events. I don't eat, I don't sit down. I end up feeling exhausted and have no idea why (it's all the standing and pacing and not eating).

I'm still trying to process all the things I've taking away from these reunions. I think the main thing for me is that I'm now capable of saying (to myself) so what if I don't fit in with crowd X? And maybe I need to work more on maintaining/reestablishing the relationships I let slide that I regret.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sticking with it...

I'm working out everyday and doing something creative everyday and trying to keep up with most household chores everyday and taking time to play with the kids everyday. I'm feeling really good about most of this stuff which is a big change from how I've been feeling for a while.

I can really tell the difference in just a week of working out regularly. I don't think the number on the scale is much different (and I'm not stressing about that) but I feel more energetic and I can tell my baby flab is tightening up. I've been downloading tv shows to watch on Tom's iPod (mine doesn't have video) and find 20 minutes on the treadmill goes pretty quickly that way.

My digiscrapping is coming along. I find myself admiring these lovely fussy pages but I never make pages like that. My style - in everything - is simple and graphic. I started just using quickpages and filling in my pictures and maybe a little journaling. I'm moving on to templates and the occasional homegrown page. I'm definitely feeling more confident in it and more compelled to keep doing it the better I get at it.

I'm starting small on the household stuff. Keeping up with laundry and the dishes for now. It makes a difference. My bedroom doesn't look like a bargain rack at the Salvation Army anymore. I fold clothes as soon as (or close to it) they come out of the dryer and put them away before bed that same day. I'm trying to keep the dishes done before I go to bed.

Progress. Little by little. It's something.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

trying not to fall in again...

You know how scrapbookers/photographers/knitters/whoever... have all these websites to share their finished products and get praise? I love to look at them and admire people's style and abilities. But sometimes I get caught up thinking I need to buy the right things and make my things a certain way so I can post them too - whether it's the right yarn or scrapbook paper - whatever.

I scrapbook/knit ... etc. for me and my family. No one else has to like it. So now is this my inherent anti-social nature not wanting to share and connect with people? Or is it logic and good sense? Or maybe just PMS. I don't know.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Taking care of me...

It's nothing something I do very often. I make lunch and dinner for the kids. I get Tom's suits cleaned or his clothes hung up and waiting for him. I putz around at the computer but nothing substantial that really makes me feel good.

In the past week I've done more things just for me than I have probably since I got pregnant with baby #4. I've taken care of my garden (tomatoes cucumbers and peppers - starting small this year to see how things go). I planted it on Memorial Day - it's been colder than usual here so I got a late start. I haven't had to water it much since it's been pretty rainy. On Monday I got in and pulled weeds (the most dreaded chore of the most dreaded chore list for me) and planted a few pumpkin seeds. I'm hoping to get at least four (one per kid). Yesterday I fertilized and watered since it had been a while since our last storm (and then it promptly rained all night long). I'm loving watching my plants grow though a little impatient with the process.

On Monday I digiscrapped more pages than I'd done in the previous year. I'm so happy about that. I really feel like this is something I can do and enjoy. I've been asking myself lately what the point of all the pictures I take is and maybe this will help. My goal is to have 20 pages per kid per calendar year (or maybe school year or birthday year - as in from one birthday to the next - haven't decided yet).

And I'm working out. Somewhat regularly. I woke up with a headache on Monday and didn't feel guilty about skpping that day. Elevated heartrate while head is already pounding is bad mojo. Yesterday I treadmilled for as long as I could stand it before I got so bored I just couldn't take it anymore (15 minutes). Today I did yoga and strength training on the Wii Fit. Wow - can I ever feel the strength training! Then I did the aerobic workouts - advanced step and 10 minute hula hoop (which I'll never do again. I think my abs are going to fall off). This is all very good for my ankle which apparently tightened up in my year or two of not working it other than light walking.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Somewhat improved...

I'm doing a little better facing things and cleaning and doing what needs to be done. I still sort of have my head in a little bit of sand but it's getting there.

I'm having a lot of fun digital scrapbooking right now. I've been trying to get into it for two years but my computer was too slow. I finally upgraded my RAM (which was fun in itself) and have been doing mostly quickpages with my photos in them since Christmas. I've started branching out and challenging myself to at least use pre-made templates that I put my own papers and things into. It's been good. I've had to catch up on my boy's pages since everything I'm drawn to has a funky retro floral look to it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

No more excuses...

I've been avoiding dealing with a lot of things in my life lately - in part because they stress me out to even think of them so I just don't. I've been making excuses for why I can't keep the house cleaner or why I can't at least work out and keep my body (ankle) in shape. I'm mad at myself for doing it because it's not entirely true (like most of my excuses/rationalizations it's based in fact though). The baby is at a very difficult age which means I can't really do anything other than be ready to redirect her for any of her waking hours except minor tasks (folding laundry is my usual job during that time). But she sleeps. And I could be productive in those hours. But I let myself get sucked into the Internet or making curtains or one of any fun but not helpful to house or body maintenance projects.

The curtains came from my genius excuse that I can't keep our bedroom neater because we have sheets hanging on the window to block out the light instead of proper curtains/shades/whatever. It looks awful so I feel no need to make it look all pretty and neat. I thought if I took that excuse away from myself I could get it cleaner. The baby still sleeps in there though so I can only work in that room while she's awake. And while she's awake she doesn't like being still. Not a good combo.

A lot of this comes down to a couple of things. One - I need to get up off my butt and do stuff. I'm making myself a deal like I have with the kids. They can "buy" video game time from me for equivalent chore time. Spend 20 minutes emptying the trashcans and taking the trash out? You earn 20 minutes on the DS. So that's my plan for me too. Two - I need to learn to ask people for help. I just need to ask if DH to watch the baby while I clean our bedroom.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dear Spring...

How are you? I am fine.

Actually, scratch that. I'm not fine at all. I miss you. One day it was winter and now it's summer. What is up? Seriously, what the FREAKING HELL is up with 93 degree weather in April? You, Spring, are my favorite season, but you're quickly losing ground to fall.

Please come back, Spring. All will be forgiven.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Feeling fulfilled...

I've been doing some graphic design work for my brother-in-law who is trying to start a local political action group. I designed a logo and letterhead. I'll do business cards next. Then I'm going to work on something for Tom's music department shirts. Then I'll probably do a newsletter and/or website for the political group.

This might be the first time that the 1.5 years I went to grad school for graphic design have paid off. I got pregnant halfway through my degree program - stopped to have the baby and then realized that it just wasn't something I wanted to pursue as a career anyway and decided not to go back. I have no regrets about not finishing (except maybe being able to check of graduate school as the highest level of education completed since I didn't actually complete it).

Maybe culinary school would be useful too.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Freaking kids shows...

I just took a step back today and thought about the shows my almost 4 year old is watching. God they're crap. I mean - don't get me wrong. I think most of them are adorable and the moral lessons and imagination they've bred into my lovely Miss S are priceless. But Dora doesn't teach the freaking ABCs - does she? That's what we watch a lot of. And Olivia. And Max and Ruby. All just cute shows. No ABCs or 123s.

Rethinking a lot of things right now. I'm trying to get myself more motivated to keep the house clean on a daily basis. I do fine with the big stuff - washing floors and scrubbing bathrooms. It's the clutter that gets me. But I'm having a good two weeks. Hoping to keep it up for a while. Reading to Miss S - playing with Baby V. I feel good. Then my evil temper will show up (I'm - like a dimwit - slowly starting to associate those with PMS - who'd have thunk?)

Friday, March 13, 2009

We have a thief...

My nine month old has stolen my ability to knit. Well not my skill and knowledge about how to knit. Just my ability to have needles and yarn in my hands long enough to actually complete a stitch. And I've finally got the urge to knit something. Anything. But I'm stymied by a very active baby who would climb the stairs and eat every piece of dirt - crayon - paper - cat in the house if left unattended for two seconds.

Plus I'm having this mini-crisis of knitting faith. What's the point? What is it for? This probably stems from teh awful hat I made all winter. I worked on it a little bit every day as I picked the kids up from the bus. Finally I made it to decreasing and went to town. Bound off and tried on my gorgeous (in color and pattern) hat. Damn I have a big head. Or I made my hat too freaking small. It fits the 9 month old only slightly largely. So now I'm at a what's the point of knitting things that I can probably buy cheaper and apparently better. I have to find my way back to the "process" of it all being the point not the end product.

In good news - this mini-crisis of faith is preventing me from casting on for huge projects that - let's face it - I'll never finish. I'd like to knit a shawl for my sister or an afghan for my mother-in-law who's been asking for one for years. But I know that I'll cast on - knit a few inches - and abandon it. Much like the rubbermaid tub full of half-finished projects. So my goal now is to finish things. Start things that are finishable. Finish old projects that got left behind. Or throw them out/frog.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I need a rewind machine...

I think I deleted some of my very favorite pictures of Baby V without backing them up to my external hard drive. Of course, I told myself I'd backed them up, so it was okay to delete them. Not just delete them, but empty the recycle bin. I'm a freaking genius. All because digital scrapbooking has taken over my life and I wanted everything together and as much free space on my internal hard drive as possible to make my computer run nice and fast.

Now I have to check if I deleted my favorite picture of my four kids all together. And some other really cute ones. Kick. Kick. Kick.