Happy New Year!

Happy New Year 2013!

Peace Out, 2012. Welcome, 2013!

Every December, like many people, I tend to look back briefly on the year that’s about to end. However, I don’t spend too much time reflecting on the year that’s just passed, other than to shake my head in amazement at how quickly it went by. If I spend too much time looking backwards, I’m likely to end up feeling guilty and inadequate about what I didn’t do or what mistakes I made.

Instead, I put much more effort into planning the upcoming year. I love the look of a blank monthly planner, the lined pages just waiting to be filled with birthdays, appointments, nightly dinner ideas, you get the idea. I love starting fresh, with 12 whole months ahead of me. The only disappointing part of it all is that, when I wake up on January 1st, I don’t actually feel a tangible shift from one year to the next. By now I shouldn’t expect to feel noticeably different between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, but I still love the idea of a clean slate.

In some ways, 2012 was a forgettable year. Don’t get me wrong. Every day I count my blessings and feel grateful for having another day to enjoy life. But, looking back over the past 12 months, nothing remarkable really stands out to me. Our little one seemed to grow up quite a bit between ages four and five. He was in nursery school and we were getting ready to choose an elementary school for him to start kindergarten. Personally and professionally, I just sort of floated along, going with the flow of each day.

This year, I’ve decided that my mantra is ACT. I’ve spent far too much time reading others’ advice and researching career options, trying to figure out how much time to dedicate to marketing myself as a freelance writer while also earning an actual income. I’ve researched enough and the time has come to take action and see what happens.

On a more personal level, I’m going to ACT in order to improve my physical health by exercising regularly and eating better. I’m pretty excited to get back to the gym and to take more positive steps toward good health.

In other words:

“The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” – Amelia Earhart

Do you spend more time looking backwards or planning for the future? Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Feel free to leave a comment!

Advertisements

Stressing Over Dressing

These rhyming titles have to stop. First it was “Only the Lonely” and now–

Stressing Over Dressing

Salad dressing, that is, not my wardrobe.

I found a bottle of Newman’s Own Lite Caesar dressing that I should have used, oh, before two weeks ago when it supposedly expired. But it’s still unopened so, according to a bunch of sites, I should be okay. Right?

The iffy thing for me was that it contains cheese, so…hmm. But I’m just going to eat a whole lot of salad and use up the dressing in the next three months. I can’t believe I’m a slave to salad dressing.

Only the Lonely

Our son is an only child. I count my blessings but sometimes it’s hard. Today mine nearly broke my heart when he came up to me in the park, after trying unsuccessfully to join a game of tag with two other boys, and said, “Nobody never (sic) wants to play with me.”

Ouch.

It hurts my heart to hear my sweet boy say that. He’s so friendly and kind, and he’ll walk right up to other kids, so I can’t stand to watch him look longingly as they either ignore his smiling face or flat out ask him to go away.

He doesn’t understand why he can’t just play with anyone he wants to. Usually the other kids are already part of a group, like friends or siblings who came to the park together. So mine’s the outsider. If he’s alone, why not let him join in? Well, he’s not always alone. He does have other friends, but they just weren’t there today.

Anyway, these are the times when I (almost) wish he wasn’t an only child. It’s bad enough when you have no one to play with, but when you approach a couple of other kids and they tell you outright that they don’t want to play with you, what can you do? I know kids can be harsh, and it might get worse as he gets older. I guess I just want to know what I’m supposed to do as a parent. I’m not going to force him to make friends, but I am going to make sure that he’s in situations where he has the opportunity.

I want him to experience the camaraderie and the fun of just being a normal kid. We often forget that children are not mini adults and, for some reason, we tend to treat only children even more like mini adults. I don’t want him to feel like he has to entertain himself all the time. Sure, he could do it because he’s creative and smart and funny….

My point is that if he’s not able to have the experience of growing up with siblings, he at least needs to be around other kids with the potential of becoming friends. School will help, I think, but I’m worried that it could also be a hindrance, only because the classes are so small and he’ll be with basically the same kids for the next several years. It’s a small group from which to choose his friends, so I guess we’ll have to keep him involved with outside activities as well, encouraging him without forcing the issue. It’s a fine line.

On Summer and Slacking

This blog needs to be resuscitated. It wouldn’t be the first time, and it probably won’t be the last. It’s not that I have nothing to say. On the contrary. I always have a running list of interesting topics that would be fun to write about. My problem is that I don’t always get around to writing the material. It’s like a perpetual to-do list.

I’m cutting myself some slack for the rest of June. It’s summer vacation and we’re still getting used to being out of school. But in July I hope to make some better progress, at least with this blog. I don’t want it to sit here stagnant. I’d like to join the A to Z road trip, visiting (and re-visiting) some blogs from the challenge, hopefully becoming inspired by reading other blogs, and perhaps bringing some readers back here to converse with me.

Truthfully, I’m really struggling with where to take this blog. I want it to showcase my writing abilities, but how casual should it be? How serious? I kind of regret abandoning my Posterous Spaces, because the Your2Cents blog had a purpose–to post blurbs about current events or issues and ask for feedback. My other (main) space over there was random, and that was okay; it was a place where I could post what I ate for dinner and other minutiae. I even had a private journal just for writing practice. But now I have this one blog here and I’m not sure where it’s going. I can’t figure out how to combine my former spaces into one comprehensive site. Maybe I’ll just worry about it on a post by post basis.

Hmm, I just checked over at Posterous though, and their official blog hasn’t even been updated since March 12, the day they announced that they were being bought by Twitter. Not a good sign after all. Looks like I’ll continue twiddling my thumbs over here for a while.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Greetings! Since the A to Z Challenge ended, I seem to be flailing a bit, as far as figuring out what to write about. Not to worry, I’ll be back on track soon. In the meantime…

Just for fun, here are five things you might not have known about Memorial Day, to be celebrated this year on Monday, May 28th.

1.) The first Memorial Day was in 1865 and honored those who died in the Civil War. It was originally called Decoration Day, because people decorated soldiers’ grave sites with flags and flowers. Later, the name was changed to Memorial Day to remember all Americans who died in any wars or conflicts.

2.) In 1971, Memorial Day was officially moved from May 30th to the last Monday in May, a practice that also took place with other holidays in order to create a three-day weekend. Some people disapproved and thought it defeated the purpose of remembrance and undermined its meaning. Some of the most common Memorial Day activities include:

  • Parades
  • Picnics and Cookouts
  • Road Trips
  • Camping

3.) A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00pm local time, thanks to the National Moment of Remembrance resolution, passed in 2000.

4.) Memorial Day Weekend is notorious for huge summer movie openings. This year, the hype is surrounding Men in Black 3. Go see it and tell us what you think!

5.) 7 BILLION?!?! That’s how many hot dogs Americans will eat this between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

When did eating hot dogs become a sign of our patriotism? Confession: I do feed my kid organic chicken hot dogs. Beyond that, I don’t want (or need) to know much about them.

All kidding aside–

Regardless of your political/religious/philosophical leanings, this holiday weekend is a great opportunity to reflect on the privileges and comforts afforded to us by the individuals who have fought for our freedoms and who continue to serve their country.

Happy Memorial Day! And feel free to share some pictures of your favorite service persons with us over at A Common Sea.

(Sources: aarp.org, wkrq.com)

Boing! Spring Has Sprung!

SpringI’m so, SO happy about the recent change in weather, even though I feel unprepared in terms of my wardrobe. I had gotten so used to bundling up in four layers all day and wearing two pairs of socks to bed…well, not really, but it was freezing in this house!

Anyway, the last couple of weeks have brought a warm-up and I think that the winter weather may be behind us for this year. I have to admit that the snow was very pretty when it fell, and it was fun introducing Junior to snowmen and playing in the snow after it took 40 minutes to get him all dressed, Lightning McQueen boots and all. Plus another 10 minutes to get his mittens on, ha ha. But aside from the fun of playing outside and then drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows afterwards, I was going a little bit stir crazy from all of the snow. There was nothing to do but stay in the house and stare out the window until it got dark at 4:00. Rinse and repeat the next day. Talk about depressing.

Now that’s it’s officially spring (it is today, isn’t it?), I have a much more positive attitude about things. The day feels longer and filled with more potential (must have something to do with that hour we lost on Sunday.) Now I can go to bed feeling like we actually enjoyed ourselves and did something worthwhile, even if it was just playing outside for 20 minutes. The ground is still a little muddy, but it has potential. We checked out a park nearby and I already can’t wait to go back. Off to enjoy more sunshine. Hooray!

Photo credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=112

Trying to Figure Out What “Home” Means

Hi everyone. Coming to you live (sort of) from our new house. Sorry for not updating the blog more often, but life has been crazy (understatement!) for the past few weeks. We put our house on the market, packed and packed some more, and literally drove away from our life in North Carolina and ended up back in Connecticut, for good this time. (Or just for now, who knows.) One reason it’s taken me so long to post here is that I’m still trying to adjust to a new life in a new place. You might ask, “What do you mean, new? You grew up in Connecticut.” True, but I left as a college student and swore I wouldn’t ever come back (except for holidays, of course). But here I am after 9 ½ years as a Tarheel, expected to jump back into life as a Yankee–not that my true loyalties ever really changed. Things have changed here, that’s for sure. I have to learn my way around again, and investigate important things like pet stores and preschools and playgroups. Figuring these things out as a mom presents a whole new set of challenges.

I still have mixed feelings about the move, and I probably will for some time. It’s nice to have family and friends so close. We had always planned to move back at some point, but I wasn’t expect the jarring feeling that I keep getting; sometimes it’s culture shock, believe it or not, and sometimes it’s just a really sad feeling, like I’ve literally lost a huge part of me. All I have to do is picture our house in North Carolina and the tears start to flow. I do miss the house, even if it’s just a representation of the life that we left behind. But we truly have missed being here too, so hopefully, overall, we made the right decision. Junior seems to be adjusting pretty well, so I just have to work on my own coping skills. More updates to come! Thanks for sticking with me!

All the Time in the World

One day I just started thinking about what I would do if I had all the time in the world. It must have been a particularly stressful day when I felt that time was getting away from me. This is only a partial list off the top of my head: CB007967

  • Read every single book on my to-read list, which I’ve stopped keeping, due to lack of time.
  • Watch every movie I’ve ever wanted to see.
  • Travel to all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, U.S. territories….
  • Travel to several countries around the world. Not too sure about this one, as I’m not a huge fan of flying.
  • Visit each of my living family members. (Hmm, this is not giving me a lot of time to myself.)
  • Attend more local arts events, such as concerts and gallery openings. (I’m starting to need a lot more money in order to enjoy all the time in the world.)

They say you have to make time to do what you love, or to do what needs to be done (exercise comes to mind). Wouldn’t it be great if we could make time, as in manufacture it? Right now I’m not creating time, per se, but using time that I should be otherwise spending on writing a semi-boring article. I shifted the time here instead because my conscience is nagging me to write a blog post after looking at the calendar and seeing how long it’s been since the last one. I’ve already got mommy guilt covered. So is this blogger guilt? Who needs all this pressure?? Hey, I’ll turn the pressure back on you, the reader, ha ha!

The question: What would you do if you had all the time in the world? Or if having all the time in the world is too much pressure, then what would a perfect day look like to you?

Can I rant for a minute?

Jon.

Kate.

Jon…

Kate…

JON!

KATE!

Who wants to hear any more about either of them?!?

Seriously. How much more of their family drama must we suffer through? I don’t even consider it family drama anymore. It’s just a hot mess of back-and-forth jabs, inflammatory headlines, and speculation. I bet the TLC execs are kicking themselves for letting what started as a wholesome family show turn into such a train wreck. But then again, ratings are ratings. I’m sure this topic has been covered from virtually every angle by gossip columnists, pop culture gurus, bloggers, social workers—and I consider myself a social worker so, no, I’m not mocking them. At this point, I’m not sure what I could even contribute to the conversation. But after reading yet another headline–there’s at least one new one daily–about what one of them allegedly did to the other, I just want to scream.

Are we supposed to choose a side? It’s like picking the lesser of two evils, so I guess we’re supposed to just munch on our popcorn and watch the “drama” continue to unfold. Their behavior should be offensive to anyone, but I think that they strike a particular nerve with regard to their children. Who, if anyone, is looking out for the best interests of their children? Now, we’ve seen those shows about “whatever happened to…” fill in the blank with a child star’s name, and the results weren’t always good. Children of celebrities and child celebrities themselves often have a rough time, we know that. But in this case, it’s not just that the Gosselin kids are constantly in the spotlight because of being filmed for their TV show; they’re also being damaged by the irrational behavior of their celebrity parents. A while back, before Jon and Kate’s marriage blew up, Kate’s sister-in-law constantly accused her of exploiting the children, and the show was a hot topic on mom blogs and parenting forums. I didn’t follow the chatter too closely. But the show went on and grew even more popular, at least in part due to the gossip, I’m sure.

Then the rumors of infidelity and a possible breakup started, and since then, the situation has spun out of control, so I’m just wondering who in their right mind still thinks that this show is a good idea? A TV Guide poll from Oct. 2nd asked if “Kate Plus 8” should be cancelled, and apparently 72% voted yes. See http://www.tvguide.com/News/Jon-Gosselin-TLC-1010402.aspx

That’s comforting, but it doesn’t mean it will happen anytime soon. I admit that it’s kind of fun to read other people’s comments about the whole fiasco. Hopefully TLC is reading as well, and realizing that a lot of people seem to be tired of the garbage that they’re showing. Oh, and Kate’s going to star in her own talk show? Ugh, I’m ready to cancel our cable service now. It’s been said before, but someone needs to step up and look out for the children. Rant over.

Happy October!

42-15584316 It’s a great time to enjoy the cooler weather and the bright autumn colors. I love the contrast of the red, orange, and yellow leaves against the Carolina blue sky. Even the grass is still bright green. Most of the month is nice, but towards the end the days get more gray and cold. At least we can look forward to Halloween. Every year I try to figure out how (or if) I want to celebrate. I can’t remember the last time I wore a costume, and most years we stay home and just hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters.

Now that I’m a mom, it’s fun to check out the cute Halloween costumes for kids, or to look for party ideas. So I investigated some of the top Halloween trends for 2009, just to see what’s out there for kids and grownups alike:

There are some great party ideas at  http://www.celebrations.com One popular buzzword these days is frugality, and this site has a cool section on “cheap and chic” party ideas. The idea I liked best was to stream Halloween-type music from Pandora (which I happen to be listening to as I type this). You could choose traditional Halloween party music (Monster Mash, anyone?) or something more contemporary and dark. I’d play a lot of The Cure! Cheap decorating is as simple as covering your furniture with white sheets, hanging fake cobwebs, tossing around a few leaves and dead flowers, and of course using a lot of candles for dramatic effect.

I’m also interested in “green” ideas, and this site mentions things like making homemade Halloween candy and other treats.  As far as the kids’ party ideas, I have to say that a lot of them were more on the chic side than cheap. One author cited a “small” party budget of $500. WHAT??  That’s not cheap in my world. Clearly the bulk of the budget was spent on the parents who attended the soiree with their toddlers, because I honestly don’t think that the 2-year-olds would have noticed if the party hadn’t been professionally catered. Oh wait, I just re-read the article, and the author’s based in L.A. Maybe that explains it.

Seems like, around here, families do Trick or Treating and that’s about it. I’ve never actually hosted my own Halloween party. What are the popular activities in your area? Adult parties? Kids’ parties? I’d love to get some ideas!