Feb 28, 2013

I'm Still Here

Tap. Tap. Is this thing on?

Blank stare. Blink. Blink.

Oh, hello there. Let me give you a minute to dust off your keyboard and reading glasses. I'll still be here.

I'm not really sure why my inspiration to write has been dwindling. I still want to, it's just that any time I think about writing a post I find my brain an empty shell, empty except for the numerous cobwebs that seem to have taken up residence.

(By the way, this whole lack of inspiration and cobweb thing seems to apply to other interests of mine as well, say, photography.)

And yet, while two things that I absolutely adore -- that I might even go so far as to call passions -- struggle to thrive and grow, I find myself deciding to take on new and sometimes random ideas.

Introduced to the blog 100 Days of Real Food, I have decided that now is a good time to start cutting out processed food and making more foods at home and from scratch. (Which, to be fair, isn't it always a good time to start eating more consciously? But it certainly does make for more work on my end.)

Also, Sarah from The Sunday Spill has started a Self Portrait Per Day project, which sounds like a fabulous idea to this mother who, while being photographed is not her favorite thing, really gets tired of having photos of everyone else and not herself. (I mean, I don't want my kids to grow up and be like, Why aren't there any photos of Mom? And have to either explain to her that 1) Mom wasn't a fan of how she looked so she never got in front of the camera or 2) nobody was there to take a photo with her in it. I am all about trying to embrace photos with me in them even though there are things about my physical appearance that are sometimes not what I want forever and ever in photo form.)

These ideas, or really projects, are not really that numerous (and I haven't even really committed to them or anything) and yet, my kids are getting baths about once per week, the laundry is constantly piling up, and our house is never clean. So, I do wonder, if I can't keep up with day-to-day on a "normal" basis, why in the world do I find it necessary to add more work to that? (Because eating healthy should always be a priority and taking photos is actually something I enjoy and want to expand on?)

All this to say, well, I don't know what this is all to say. Maybe life is always about trying new things and finding ways to incorporate what's important to you and what you enjoy. And sometimes that means other things you enjoy don't get as much of the time you might want to give it. Or maybe I'm just not taking the time to give my writing the priority I want it to have.

But I'll keep trying. Just like I'll keep trying to improve my photography and change our eating habits. And just like I'm sure new and sparkly things will distract me and interest me and tempt to try other new things, too. And that's all okay with me.

Just taking some time to enjoy the snow this past weekend.


Feb 23, 2013

I Want to be a Part of It

I got back from New York late on Tuesday night. I was not ready to come home. Don't get me wrong, I love the hugs and kisses and giggles and loves, but I really was not ready for the laundry, cleaning, meal planning, and tantruming that comes with being home.

There is something about that city that just speaks to me. Maybe it's just my small town Midwestern roots in awe by the sparkles of big city life, but New York pulls me in and leaves me desperate to move our family into the heart of Manhattan. Of course, my sister is there and calls the city home, which certainly can't hurt that tug in my heart.

I know she feels bad that we didn't "do" more, but to me the visit was perfect. There was walking around the city (even in the freezing winds), a little bit of shopping (jewelry), a lot of good food eating (the best Malai Kofta I've ever had), and plenty of time to chat and joke around and watch a few good shows together. It was the first time I got a chance to spend extended time with both her and her husband, which was especially nice considering they've been together for over seven years.

It is strange for me to think about how my sister's every day reality is so different from my own. The walking versus driving, the neighbors upstairs and downstairs versus the ones next door, the twenty-four hour noise, the views from a high rise apartment, the groceries delivered to the front door. Just a sample of how different our lives are twelve hundred miles apart.

But I suppose that is part of the fun then, of those times that we get to visit each other. Now I want to plan a big girls weekend in New York. Time to start saving my pennies for a few flights to La Guardia.

A big Thank You to my sister and her husband for hosting me. And another big Thank You to my parents who got me the free ticket.


Feb 14, 2013

The Big Reveal

So, I got my haircut last night. It's been, oh, about seven months since I even had a trim so I was over due. I've been dying for some freshening up, and even wanted a change, but I've been working on growing my hair out the past yearish, so I opted to chop just the front of my hair instead.

Yes, I decided on bangs. Now, at this point I feel obligated to point out that I have been contemplating this style for at least a month, long before the article in the Star Tribune came out about this new "it" thing (and all the hullabaloo with Michelle Obama's do). In fact, when I read the article it almost made me want to avoid the bangs because, for many reasons, I don't like people thinking I'm doing something because everyone else is doing it... Not that I should care what other people think but that's a whole other post.

So, the bangs. I have long struggled to find a stylist in the Twin Cities area that I like, so not only was I trying a style I haven't had since grade school (that's right, I grew my bangs out in middle school and never looked back), I was also trusting a young woman who I've never trusted with my hair before. (Talk about anxiety.)

But the thing I've decided about my hair is that it's just hair. That is, it is something that, if I don't end up liking the cut, I can always change. Yes, sometimes it might take a long time to regrow, but I sort of feel like I don't want that to keep me from experimenting.

All that being said, I'm pretty happy with the cut. It hasn't even been twenty-four hours so I feel like I don't yet have an accurate assessment though. (I'll keep you posted.) My family, of course, all have their own thoughts. My husband didn't even recognize me when I came home and told me he felt like a stranger was walking around his house. My five-year-old turned her head away and started crying, and my two-year-old stopped dead in her tracks and said, I don't like it.

All three of them are still getting used to it (as am I) and I catch them sneaking glances at my face every now and then. My five-year-old has since changed her opinion, insisting it looks nice, and the two-year-old decided that it looks silly.

So, now, whether you actually care to or not, judge for yourself: bad, good, silly, or something else.

Before and After

For now I'm just rockin' it out and embracing a change.


Feb 11, 2013

I'm Counting Down the Days

Have I mentioned I'm going to New York? In an unexpected gesture, my parents gave me their extra miles for a free flight to visit my sister. I am more than thrilled at the prospect of chatting, giggling, coffee sipping, and general sister-bonding for an extended weekend.

At home I am finding myself already checking-out. With the anticipation of a weekend away I feel like I should have extra patience and stamina, yet instead I find myself dragging my feet and raising my voice and generally in a huffier mood than usual. (Which looking back is not that unusual for me. It's like any time I have an opportunity to anticipate some Christine-time to refresh, the anticipation also includes an impatience to just get away.)

I have a haircut scheduled for Wednesday, because well, obviously I need a fresh new look for The Big Apple (not to mention I've been wanting to get one for a month or so now, this trip just encouraged me to make the appointment). I am obsessing over my clothes like a junior high girl (which, funny to say, I'm not sure as a junior high girl I put this much thought into my clothes...maybe I shouldn't admit that?), and have already set items aside to pack. (I guess I'm just a long-term packer. I want to make sure that I have what I want to wear when I'm gone so instead of wearing it and then just making sure I do laundry a day or two before leaving, I just set it aside for a week so that it is ready right then and there.)

Anyway, this trip is my oxygen tank, and I am looking forward to it like it's my breath of fresh air during these winter months that get oh-so-long, even though the air won't necessarily be any warmer in New York than it is here. February seems to be a rough month, even though it's a short one, and I am getting that draggy cabin fever feeling a lot lately. Except my cabin fever is more of a laziness and lack of motivation to want to do anything but curl up inside the house and watch movie after movie after movie.

I'm counting on the buzz of New York City to reenergize me and make me return feeling strong and in charge. And, if it doesn't, at least I'll get a guaranteed four nights of non-interrupted sleep followed by long morning sleep-ins. As Ol' Blue Eyes says, "It's up to you New York, New York."


Feb 5, 2013

This House is Falling Apart

Every time we leave someone's house there is crying, whining, running away and hiding, a Fit. And that is with a capital F. If it's not one of my girls it's the other with a full on meltdown and hiccup crying in the car. On our way home I think, I can't. I just can't. Never again. But, of course, the next time comes around and inevitably we do it all over again because the girls have fun and this mama can't pass up an opportunity to hang out with other grown ups.

It makes me contemplate my parenting and what I might be doing wrong, or (heaven forbid) what is wrong with my kids -- and by that I mean, have I failed them in the discipline department. Because we do have friends, I do know people, whose kids will listen when their parents say it's time to go; they will get their shoes and coat on and wait at the door while mom or dad get the baby ready. What the heck am I doing wrong?

I realized today that we are doing too much. I am extended us to far. With preschool, ECFE, gymnastics, and trying to have outside of school playdates with friends, I am just trying to fit too much in. And it is catching up to me. It is catching up to all of us.

Not only are we doing too much during the week, we're doing too much during each day, and spending too much time doing it. Instead of a nice two hour playdate I want to stay all afternoon (and in my defense so do my girls, but I suppose as the adult I should know better), because I want that time with my friend and other grown up to have grown up conversations. So when it's time to go we are all exhausted and hungry and ready to just be done. No wonder leaving people's houses has been so hellish.

I admit that I have never been good at finding that balance between spending time at home and being out and about. I always felt like a better parent when we were away from the house because when we're home I feel like I should be either playing with the girls or doing housework, and playing with the girls is hard with housework hanging over my head (nor would I want to play with them all day long) and doing housework is nearly impossible with a five-year-old and two-and-a-half-year-old at my feet.

I guess I'm still working on finding that balance. I want to be able to visit friends (for my benefit and for that of my girls) or go to the zoo or play at the park or run to Target. But I have to be better about remembering how much we have already done in one day or one week and adjust accordingly, because even I am getting overwhelmed and burned out. Even I feel like having a meltdown every now and then. So I guess I can't really blame my kids for having them "occasionally" (every time ::cough::cough::) too.


Feb 3, 2013

Sleep Baby Sleep

She climbs up onto the bed, dragging her blanket behind her. I tuck the covers over her, kissing her cheeks. And when she asks, "Can you lay wiff me?" I do.

Her body is so little in the bed, like a baby kitty tucked into a bed made for a Saint Bernard. I ease in next to her, and she slowly scoots her way next to me, and I can feel her warm breath on my face.

It is peaceful. I am happy. Until she starts to toss and turn, and whispers become louder, and sleep seems illusive. But before my frustration turns to anger, I realize, I have no where else to be. Nothing else that needs to be done. And so I let go.

I close my eyes and listen to her voice, reminding her to whisper when her replays of the day get too loud. She throws her arm over, patting my back, and behind her pacifier I hear the muffled words, "Mommy, I love you."

And this is why, when we are not a Family Bed family, I let go and enjoy a few nights in bed with my two-year-old. Why a weekend at Grammy's gave me the opportunity we don't have at home (nor want at home), to have two nights in bed with my baby. Nights I will cherish as she grows to fit into a double bed, to not want her blankie and nuki, to not want her mommy to lay next to her.


Feb 2, 2013

A Whole Lot of Nothing

Well, I was supposed to write a post with before and after photos from our upstairs project redo, but the upstairs was a bit of a mess from the girls playing and I was too lazy had too much going on to straighten up and get the "after" pictures taken.

Here we are, another week gone by and my husband remarking, "You've really fallen behind on your blogging." To which I disgustedly reminded him that it is my blog and there's no set amount of writing one is supposed to or not supposed to do. But it struck a nerve (which is why I say "disgustedly") because I haven't been writing as much lately (not just here but anywhere), and it's frustrating me. Mostly because I haven't been feeling inspired. Not that one must feel inspired to write (case in point = this blog post).

We are right smack dab in the middle of below zero temperatures, unknown Kindergarten futures, and a tug-of-war between cutting myself some parenting slack and fearing I'm failing my kids.

The good news is: the family vacation to San Diego is still on, and before there I am flying to NYC to visit my sister, alone, which won't necessarily be a break from the cold, but will still be a break. The Kindergarten stuff will pretty much work itself out. And that whole tug-of-war thing is kinda just the way I am, in search of the ever-illusive Right Way to parent each child with what I have and who I am.

I guess I am using these as excuses as to why my writing has slowed down, but to be honest I'm not even really sure what is going on. Every time I sort of think of a potential post it's either while I'm falling asleep at night (and then can't remember it in the morning) or I sit down to write it and feel like there was nothing to say in the first place.

And that's just my writing. All the photo taking I was experimenting with has kind of been slipping away from me too. I don't carry my camera around as much, and even when I do remember it I hardly remember to take the photo, let alone give myself time to set the mode to Manual.

It's not that I don't enjoy writing and photography anymore, I still very much do, I just seem to be... stuck. And I don't like thinking that way, I don't like the idea that I might be (or feel) stuck because who wants to be living their life that way?

Or maybe I'm not stuck, just my stories are. Because I'm not actually spending my days feeling stuck or lost or uninspired, it's just when I look for my creativity. My stories, they are somewhere inside but my usual ease in recording them is some how inhibited.

[insert inspiring way to get those creative juices flowing here]

Ah well. My five-year-old is currently building a snow man in the living room using blankets and pillows and has requested some help. I can take my inspiration from her.

Happy Weekend.