What happens when you go to bed early

Wow, I go to bed at 9:00 pm and wake up with three nominations to for the Liebster award, which is thrilling, and just the kind of encouragement I need after a harried morning battling dishes and children’s outerwear.liebster

Here are the rules attached the Liebster award:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
2. You must answer the 10 questions given to you by the nominee before you.
3. You must nominate 10 of your favorite blogs with fewer than 200 followers and notify them of their nomination.
4. You must come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer.

I’m going to thank all three of my nominators and do my best to answer their questions.  Hopefully all of you reading will not get bored with hearing me talk directly about myself.

First, thank you Cindy at Cabin Pressure May Change.  I’ve loved what I’ve read at her blog, and the tagline, “getting just to whelmed,” makes me smile.

  1. Why did you start your blog? – I wanted to put down reflections and accounts of my everyday life, to remember how full my days are, even when they’re full of normal stuff
  2. What is your favorite thing  about having a blog? – It makes me take time to think
  3. What do you do for fun? – Projects!  I love to work on my house, and I love to spend time in my kitchen.
  4. What is your favorite book? – How do I pick just one?  I cannot.  I’ve been on a Willa Cather kick lately, so for now I’ll say My Antonia.
  5. What is your favorite movie? – Same issue as above.  There are those that I love from childhood, those I watch when I want to laugh, those for when I want to cry.  I love the classics though, and I often turn to My Man Godfrey when I’m in a bad mood and need some cheering up.
  6. If you had really good news to share who would you call first? My husband.
  7. On your 85th birthday what do you hope your loved ones are saying about you as they celebrate your life so far? That they know what I believe by how I live, and that I make the best cakes and pies.
  8. Thinking back to the last time you laughed so hard you couldn’t breathe, what was so funny? I try to laugh a lot, I’m sure the last time it had to do with Parks and Rec.
  9. Thinking back to the last time you cried, what moved you? I cry a lot.  I have a tendency to take stories and images too far sometimes.  I was crying in the library last Friday as I finished reading Death Comes for the Archbishop.
  10. What is one of your favorite quotes? ” I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” – E.B. White

Next, a thank you to Kathy, at Art Catalysts by KathyClem, a visual artist and a poet (mediums that blend so well together, don’t you think?)

  1. When did you start your blog? I first opened this blog last August, but didn’t start posting to it until the beginning of this month.
  2. What made you do the Zero to Hero challenge? I needed some motivation to get in gear, and some guidance learning about WordPress
  3. Do you have any pets? Four: two cats, two dogs.  Why?  Because I’m crazy.
  4. What is your favorite hobby? Baking and building, but my baking seems to be more appreciate by my kids.
  5. What do you do most of the day?
  6. Do you believe in Magic? Yes, emphatically.  Magic is one language we can use to describe the world, and it’s one of my favorites.
  7. If you could have another life, what would you be? I love to imagine living in New England or somewhere in the United Kingdom. Perhaps on a farm.
  8. Why?  I love trees and fields and a sense of history.  The romantic in me loves the idea of making things from the earth.
  9. How big is your immediate family? There are 5 of us.
  10. What do you like about writing? Writing is deliberate.  So much of my time I feel like I’m in reaction mode.  Writing for me is the opposite.

I’m not squelching on the other responsibilities for accepting this award, but right now this is looking like a lot of text.  I will put part two up thanking the third blogger and post my questions and nominees very soon.

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Zero to Hero: Day 12

Today we are tasked with coming up with a post inspired by a comment we made on another blog.

This morning, as I pulled up my reader and explored tags related to parenting, I came across this post by MommyBlogga: 10 Reason Why Being a Mother Makes Me Want to Kill My Dog.  Before I go any further, I do want to make clear that she does not actually condone petricide.

We have four pets: two dogs and two cats (we also have an aquarium, but the maintenance on that is pretty low).  Our cats, George and Maggie, we adopted.  George is and has been the most laid back, easy to care for cat ever.  Maggie has been neurotic since we took her home.  When we moved into our current house we didn’t see her for a year, and she still seems to forget who we are if we go away for a weekend.  Our dogs are Mortimer and Zelda.  Zelda is a wire-haired fox terrier.  Those who don’t know me ask if we named her after the Nintendo game, those who think they know me assume it’s after Zelda Fitzgerald, and those who really know me know that she’s named after the video game, but that I wanted people to think she was named for Fitzgerald.  Mortimer is an 85-lb black Goldendoodle.  I happened to have finished Terry Pratchett’s Mort, so…big black dog…death’s apprentice…Mortimer.  Luckily both dogs are breeds known for their lack of shedding.  

I can relate to most of the items on her list.  Mortimer’s tail is right on head level for my 3 and 1-year-olds, so there is frequent face smacking.  They bark at everything which makes nap time tenuous.  They do smell like dogs, and since this summer there have been several occasions where they’ve brought fleas in.  If we had our three children before taking on any pets, we’d probably have at least three fewer pets.  Still, I started thinking about the not so obvious upsides.

First, the barking; yes, it’s annoying.  I’ve started to hate squirrels and I curse the wind when it shifts, as both of these are just two of the many things that set my dogs into barking hysteria.  On the other hand, I am aware of anyone coming up to my door as soon as they step into our yard, and occasionally Mortimer’s booming voice turns solicitors around before the ring the doorbell.

Then there are the attempts to snatch food right out of my children’s hands.  All in all, this is a bad thing. If he’s not paying attention, Zelda will slyly eat the exposed part of the banana that my son is holding in his fist, which leads to legitimate outrage and a potential fit.  However, my kids have gotten savvy, and know that the best way to keep their snacks for themselves is to eat them at the table, which theoretically would make my house neater.  Likewise, I’m not happy that the dogs push my kids around, but, my kids are stronger and stay better aware of their surroundings for it.  I figure, with the food snatching and knockdowns, if there is ever a toddler Hunger Games, my guys have a leg up.  They know how to stand their ground and defend their food.

Related to a point made above; I am not going to win any awards for housekeeping.  Today was the first time I’ve mopped my floors since I don’t know when, and I don’t keep up on sweeping and vacuuming as much as I should.  I frequently insist my friends keep their shoes on upon entering my home. I’m ashamed that it would be worse if it were not for the dogs.  If you were to look at the floor under where  my 3-year-old sits at dinner, you would guess that he just opens his mouth, throws food at his face, and hopes it gets in.  The dogs take care of that mess expediently.

That’s just a few of the positives; along with the fact that they’re family, and I love how Mortimer allows the kids to use him as a step stool, and how Zelda has actually jumped into the shower with me when she was frightened by thunder, and how both George and Maggie seem to know when I’m a little down, and sit near me and console me with their hushed purrs.  Those are upsides too.

Money Matters

One of the themes of my 2014 is frugality, and I’m not going to lie, it’s hard.  My husband and I never felt like we were really living above our means, and we knew, when during my second pregnancy we decided I’d stay home with the kids, we were going to have to make some really tough choices.  The thing is, we never really seemed to make them.  I wasn’t aware that we weren’t until recently, when we’ve actually started to budget.

Budgeting doesn’t mean cutting all frills and luxuries from your life.  It just means having a plan for your money.  That may include putting money in a vacation fund, or new TV fund, or even just a spending money fund.  Not so much for us right now.  We’re currently more on the cutting frills and luxuries plan.  Maybe managing money will be more fun when I have more to manage, but right now, it’s like “okay, this will go to bills, oh yeah, and we need to be able to eat and drive to places, so…there, done.”  It really takes me all of five minutes to make my budget.

Of course the hard part comes in trying to stick to it and make it work.  I’m still trying to get the hang of this part, and it’s frustrating.  I’m somewhere in the middle, between the people who just need to go down to one vacation a year and cut back on eating out for lunch and the people who eat only 5 different meals on rotation or try to earn some extra income as medical test subjects.  I can’t save money with the simple tricks that all the Yahoo! articles I keep clicking on suggest, because I’ve already done them.  And I can’t or don’t want to do some of the things that are suggested in the extreme budgeting articles because they just don’t fit into the lifestyle I want for my family.  Money is a tool.  I’m not trying to amass large quantities of it (but I wouldn’t turn it down, either).  I just want to be able to have enough so I can use it in the way that best suits my family.

There are some upsides beyond getting closer to a place of financial security.  Making intentional decisions about where you are putting your money helps you to examine what things are important to you and what you can easily live without.  I’ve still been able to get creative with dinner time, although I’ve noticed we’re eating a lot more bread and bready things.  It seemed many of our weekends used to involve us going out for lunch and then buying something.  Now we are spending more time in our home together.  Then there’s the fact that when we do splurge, like when the boys came downstairs Sunday morning and saw a dozen Dunkin’ Donuts on the table, it’s a big deal.  My 3-year-old got in his chair and his whole body shook as he exclaimed “I’m just so excited.”  These kids are now not ones to take donuts for granted.

New Bookclub

I recently joined a book club, the first book club I’ve ever joined.  It’s called “The Fun Book Club.”  I have several issues with the name, but I understand the intent.  Apparently the woman who organized it belonged to another book group in our neighborhood that only read serious, often depressing, books about past and present problems in the world.  She wanted one that offered an escape from this world, so this has a focus on sci-fi and fantasy.  All of this is fine with me, but I am sort of concerned that the majority of the books were are reading are 1) seem to only be books that are being turned into movies and 2) all fit into the genre of Young Adult.  Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s some great YA fiction out there, but this is where I have issues with our group’s moniker.  “Fun” does not have to mean an easy read.  A book that challenges you either through its style or theme can still be fun.  I’m not suggesting that we crack open Dostoyevsky each month, but if the first thing someone tells me about a book it that it is such an easy read, chances are it’s not going to be on my To Be Read list anytime soon.

We just finished reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  I’m horrible at writing about books (a skill I hope to practice), but a one line summary could be : a circus unlike any other serves as a venue for a strange competition of magic between two young, and sometimes hesitant, participants.  The settings in the books were amazing, and you can tell the author had a lot of fun with them.  I imagined Cirque du Soleil doing a show celebrating the imagery of Tim Burton.  Character development, on the other hand, seemed lacking. At the end of the book, I found that I didn’t really care what happened to the two protagonists.  Not that I disliked them, I just didn’t feel like I’d gotten to know them personally and didn’t have anything at stake in their outcomes.  

I’m not sure if there was a general consensus as to whether we liked the book or not.  Some people were frustrated by the fact that it jumped around in time.  Some thought that the ending seemed forced.  All in all, I thought it was enjoyable.  I didn’t get home from the discussion until after 1:00 am and several glasses of wine, so maybe the name “The Fun Bookclub” is more appropriate than I thought.

Day 8: The “About” Page

Today we were to tackle our “about” page, a task I’ve been putting off because, you know, it’s hard.  I’ve been doing everything I could to not start working on it, even choosing the dirty dishes in the sink over the keyboard on the desk.  How can I express the different sides of my personality without letting one dominate?  It definitely deserves some revisiting, but at least I have something up.  Let me know what you think:  https://complexitythroughjoy.wordpress.com/about/

Daily Prompt: Sense of Style

Describe your personal style, however you’d like to interpret that — your clothing style, your communication style, your hair style, your eating style, anything.

Right now there’s a big gap between my desired sense of style and how it’s actually being expressed.  Fashion-wise, it’s pretty much non-existent.  I’m frequently sporting the jeans and t-shirt look, occasionally changing it up for yoga pants and a t-shirt.  The imaginary me rocks a very different look, sort of a modern farm girl/pioneer meets vintage 1940’s and 50’s garb, with some elven accessories.  I know it’s  a little hard to picture: Firefly meets Madmen, a touch of LOTR in the hair or around the wrist.

The disconnect between my imagined wardrobe and actual wardrobe is easy to reconcile.  I’m not really putting money aside for clothing right now, and I’m a very impatient shopper anyway.  Plus, I’m not sure I’d even know where to find clothes like that (if anyone has any recommendations, I’d sincerely appreciate sending them my way).  For now, I’m comfortable and content in my jeans and t-shirts.

Daily Prompt: Style Icon

Day 6 – A New-to-You Element

This one’s easy for me, because basically all of WordPress is new to me.  I really need to take a decent chunk of time, sans kid-induced distractions, and try to figure things out.  I’m not technologically challenged, but lately I’ve had trouble getting beyond the basics.  While I’ve been typing this, my daughter has repeatedly gotten on top of the kitchen table, and my son keeps asking my why I’m not using any of the numbers.

It was cold here today.  Below freezing.  Kindergarten was cancelled for my oldest and I didn’t want to spend the whole day in front of the TV.  I wanted to do something crafty or sciencey with my kids.  I’m not sure how many people saw this floating around:

Frozen soap bubbles!  So cool!  Only… not for us.  I’m not sure if it was too warm when I finally decided to go out with the kids.  I thought 15 degrees in the shade would still have been cold enough, but apparently I was wrong.  It took ten minutes to get all the kids in coats and hats, and we were outside for only three.  We ended up with cold, wet hands and not a little disappointment.  They did love viewing the images on the computer in the warmth of the kitchen though.

So, TV it became.  I tried to assuage my parental guilt by encouraging them to watch PBS Kids shows (because that’s so much better, right?).  It eventually turned into a Sonic The Hedgehog marathon.  I’m not sure how many other 5 and 3-year-olds in 2014 run around as Sonic and Manic, yelling “back in a sonic second” and calling every meal chili dogs, but that’s what my boys are into lately (thank you Netflix!).