Typed while nursing…excuse my typos

You thought I wasn’t going to post today, didn’t you? Me too. But Kai unexpectedly insisted upon nursing before we went to lunch, so here I am. Or, rather, here we are.

Loving:

The beautiful cool, crisp, sunny weather. I am wearing my huge fuzzy knee-high slipper/boots out of necessity, and loving every moment of it.

Reading:

Sadly, not much got read last week. I didn’t even do much on social media, much to the shock and awe of my activity trackers.

Watching:

Nothing I want to. I’m behind on all my shows already. Gotta figure out a way to remedy that.

Listening to:

I have been listening to what I lovingly refer to as the college angst playlist Spotify made for me. And rolling my eyes at some of the lyrics. One of the benefits of 40 is that you are no longer subject to much of the inner turmoil that plagues 20. Which makes me wonder what I will think of my current self at 60. What do I consider important now that I will learn is a complete waste of time?

Working on:

Right now, trying to keep my son from picking my nose. Overall, sorting out insurance for next year, planning a wedding menu, and trying to find time to do my writing homework.

Anticipating:

Next weekend. Zoo Boo, corn maze, and a train ride. Should be fun!

Making me happy:

My son’s sudden infatuation with Owlette from PJ Masks. I’m starting to consider her my daughter-in-law.

 

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That old October magic

“October is a fine and dangerous season in America. It is dry and cool and the land is wild with red and gold and crimson, and all the lassitudes of August have seeped out of your blood, and you are full of ambition. It is a wonderful time to begin anything at all.”

– Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

It is in such a mindset that I find myself this month. Unfortunately, my body is not with me. Ovulation means I’ve been too sore to do much above and beyond the bare minimum. And I’ve been having a lot of pain in my hands, probably from my less-than-ideal work station setup (still at the kitchen table), so I’ve been limited in what I can take on. (No, I’ve not written a thing.) But my sinuses are nearly clear, so I’m hoping that in the coming week I can start exercising again.

Not that I’ve been completely idle. I’ve baked the annual apple dessert (Anya voted for apple crisp, which she then refused to eat even though it’s flipping delicious), and conducted my first wedding food trial run (a pie crust cookie we call Anna Maries, after my maternal grandmother, who used to make something similar for my mom and her brothers). I finished setting up my business bank account, so I can get on with being a one-woman business and weed out some of my lower-paying clients. I did a small clutter purge. I got the house cleanish (and it already needs it again). I stumbled across a recipe modification that makes one of my standby quick dinners healthier and easier on my 43-year-old stomach. I finally (after three attempts) bought the right filter for the fish tank. (PetSmart, your website needs help. Call me.)

This weekend, I’m having my makeup trial run. Next week I’m going to try to get my car’s recalled dashboard fixed and squeeze in the annual corn maze and Zoo Boo trips, plus a family train ride that promises to be quite memorable. If my hands cooperate, I’ll wrap up the wedding decorations. And hopefully find time to write a little.

I’m also going to go back to my daily smoothie habit, schedule some yoga time, resume my ab work, and see if I’m up to running yet. This year’s holiday season promises to be even more hectic than usual, and I want to make sure I’m in the best shape I can be.

But today, I have apple crisp, and a pile of work before me.

Oh, there you are, Peter

I’ve been in reading/writing mode, which is why there was no post Friday. Gearing up for Nano.

Loving:

Anya is making record progress in her reading. The other night, she read four books almost entirely unassisted.

Reading:

I finally finished Tell the Wolves I’m Home. I didn’t love it; I found it incredibly hard to relate to the characters, which is odd considering that I was roughly the same age as the narrator at the time the story was set, and similarly geeky. But as the story concluded I had such a strong emotional reaction that it spun into a sort of anxiety attack; if that’s not good writing, nothing is.

I then plunged into Confessions of a Funeral Director by Caleb Wilde, who I’ve followed on social media for a while now. It’s a quick read, but not an easy one — especially last week, amid all the stories about the Las Vegas shooting. It’s a good read, though, and one I recommend highly.

I’ve since moved on to Outside the Lines, by Amy Hatvany. I had apparently started it once before; a piece of paper bearing the outline of my hand and an unmistakable Anya scribble rested between pages 40 and 41 when I pulled it off the bookshelf. But since I’d forgotten that I’d ever read those first few pages, I’m starting from the very beginning.

Unless I miss my guess, this is the most I’ve ever said in this section. I used to read like this all the time. More, even. It feels weird to have been away from it for so long.

Watching:

I have fallen behind, but I got to catch up on The Good Place the other day. I like that show even more this season.

Listening to:

My Spotify has created the perfect reading playlist, full of instrumental music. I’m picking up tunes to play at the wedding from it as well.

Working on:

This week will bring more wedding work. (More news/pics on that later.) But I’m going to try to also get the bones of my story in line, so that there is a shot in hell that I can get married and finish Nano in the same month.

Anticipating:

I’ve collected a pile of recipes to try, for the wedding and just for dinner. Bring on the food!

Making me happy:

The way that I look at the world when I’m writing. I’m home now.

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Hello, October

Time to pumpkin all the things!

Loving:

The other day, Anya told me I am her best friend. As she’s applied that label to kids she’s played with once and never saw again (not to mention people she’s never actually met), I take that with a grain of salt…but it feels good all the same.

Reading:

I found a stack of early readers in Anya’s room that we got who knows where, and Anya and I are working on them. She’s doing pretty good!

Watching:

Oh, This Is Us. I have missed you. Even when you make me ugly cry.

Listening to:

Kidz Bop is making me realize just how creepy and wrong young love can be. And how hypocritical Censor Moms can be. But I continue to listen so I can attempt to curate a playlist for Anya that doesn’t piss me off or creep me out. An exercise in futility, I’m sure, but I’ll be damned if I let her grow up thinking stalking is love and “skin” is a bad word.

Working on:

I’m still(!) fighting off a sinus/ear infection, so exercise is a no-go. Instead, I am expanding the list of fruit I can trick myself into consuming through the magic of pureeing. Raspberries are now on the list. I’m working up the courage to try a banana in something. Maybe a pumpkin smoothie…

Anticipating:

My wedding dress fitting. Mom’s birthday. Zoo Boo. Corn maze. Kettle corn. Hay rides. Apple picking. Sweaters and boots. Halloween. October, how I love you.

Making me happy:

Our morning glories have bloomed.

Morning glories and moonflowers.❤

A post shared by Nicole (@nmb1974) on

 

Oh, right…I’m getting married in a month and a half

I’d best be getting on with the preparations, hadn’t I?

All right, I completely forgot to write a post for today, so this is a cop-out pictorial of the things I’ve been working on this week.

First off, I dug out and washed up the glass vases and candle holders I plan to use at the reception. (All battery-operated candles, because kids and fire means nobody can relax and have fun.)

I decorated some pumpkins. I wrapped light strings around the pip garland; it looks really pretty lit up. (And yes, I’m going to take off the tape and hot glue those down. I am just waiting until I have all of my gluing projects together before I dig the gun out.)

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This vase is nice, but we’re going to have black tablecloths on the tables — black metal wouldn’t show up, really. So I painted it. And some leaves, because I’m weird like that. Pics to come.

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Weddding in a box. (Really, almost all of my decorations fit in that box. Including the bouquets, pictured bottom left.)

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Today’s dilemma: I designed the invitations to bleed (print off the edge of the page), but my printer apparently can’t print bleeds on paper this size. So I have to tweak my design. I have some ideas about how to do that without starting from scratch, but I haven’t had the chance to test them out yet.

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I also scheduled the engagement pics (tomorrow), and a dress fitting (next weekend). I’m putting together an Amazon order of food-related things for the reception (cake stand, plates/cups/napkins, etc.), and R and I are looking at recipes. We’re also putting together a group of games for the kids to play with at the reception, because grown-up parties are boring.

It’s coming along. More slowly than I’d like, but we’ll get there!

You spin me right round, baby

Because it’s Sunday and I’m stealing this time to blog before we go out for the day…prompt time.

Also because Anya is listening to “You spin me right round, baby, right round, like a record, baby, right round round round” on a loop three feet from me and I cannot concentrate enough to say anything deep and meaningful.

Loving:

It is fall. I love fall. I love fall more than I love Christmas, and I love me some Christmas. As I usually spend most of fall sick with allergies and various other sinus complaints, I can’t really explain why I love fall so much. It is simply the best of the seasons.

Now if the weather would get with the program, I’d love it even more.

As I have taken to honoring the seasons with home decor, I have swapped out the front door wreath and the kitchen tablecloth/flower arrangement. This week I will wash up the throw blanket. And I swapped out our “what we love about summer” pantry door decor with the “what we love about fall”:

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When the seasons change, I save these scraps of paper for the scrapbook I fully intend to put together someday.

Reading:

This past week was crazy on the work front, so…nothing other than kids’ books. But there have been a fair amount of those. Both of my kids are asking to be read to these days, and it warms my little word geek heart.

Watching:

I’m going to admit it: I was not a huge fan of the animated Beauty and the Beast movie. It was all right. But it didn’t hold as dear a place in my heart as, say, The Little Mermaid. I related to Belle as a character, obviously; good on Disney for finally grokking that brainy misfit brunettes need love too. But the whole Beauty/Beast scenario was a bit too Stockholmy for me. I wasn’t a fan in any of its many incarnations. But I love the live action movie — more so than my daughter, who adores it because it’s one of the first she saw in the theater. I have watched it 10 times already, easily. And I don’t watch TV much, or care for musicals.

Listening to:

The other day I spent half an hour hunting down a song I heard on Kai’s Baby Einstein video because I want to play it at the wedding. (Pachelbel’s Canon in D, if you’re curious.)

Working on:

This week I am going to work on turning the pile of craft supplies in the office into wedding decor. My dress comes back from the cleaners, and I will go in for a fitting. (Undergarment shopping might also come into play, depending on the miracles the tailor can bring about.) Engagement pictures will, weather permitting, also take place. I really need to get off my arse and print the invites so we can find out who is actually coming to this shindig. And I need to start scoping recipes for the food.

Wedding stuff. That’s what’s happening.

Anticipating:

Cooler weather. I am tired of my arms; I would like to trade my short-sleeved tees for long-sleeved tees for a while.

Making me happy:

Surprise flowers.

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He buys the prettiest just-because flowers.

Do you 10Q?

This year’s 10Q is gearing up again. If you’ve not heard of it, 10Q is an annual site on which you store the answers to 10 questions; at the end of the 10 days the answers go to the vault, where they stay until the following year. Shortly before the next year’s 10Q session begins, the site sends you your answers from the previous year, so you can review them before answering those same questions again.

10Q is an amazing tool for self-reflection and goal setting. I have participated for the past five years, and look forward to doing so again this year. I have learned so much about myself through this exercise — the areas in which I get stuck, what really matters to me, how current events color my experiences, and how, much to my surprise, I do have my own brand of spiritualism. I recommend 10Q to anyone interested in digging a little deeper. You won’t be disappointed.

Here are my answers from last year. I’m pleased to say that I have, in fact, made tremendous progress in several of my problem areas over the past year. To correct a pattern, first you have to recognize it exists. I’m so excited to answer the questions again this year.

Day 1: Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?

I got laid off.

It has had a major impact on my life, for obvious reasons, but it’s also made me truly examine how I spend my time, how I view myself, and how I approach life. And it has inspired me to re-evaluate my priorities. So while I won’t say I am grateful, I cannot see it as entirely a bad thing. (But that’s easy to say when there’s money in my bank account and food in my belly.)

 

Day 2: Is there something that you wish you had done differently this past year? Alternatively, is there something you’re especially proud of from this past year?

I have made many positive changes in my life over the past year. I am not “there” yet, but I am moving in the right direction. Most days, I am doing my best. And really, that’s all anyone — including me — can expect from me.

 

Day 3: Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?

This has been an eventful year. My mother retired. I got laid off, and for the first time in nearly 20 years do not have a job. My daughter started school. We have collectively undergone a major paradigm shift, and it hasn’t been without its growing pains. But I feel we are doing well. We are learning how to adapt to our new normal, and slowly starting to thrive.

Much as I hate to say it, those things have overwhelmed what should have been the biggest change this year: R and I got engaged. I even forget we are engaged sometimes. Whereas when I was engaged to my ex, it was all I thought about. I don’t know if the difference is because I am 42 instead of 27, or if it is because this will be my second marriage. Perhaps it’s the fact that we have already been together for nearly a decade. Or that we have two kids. At any rate, I wish I were more excited; I kind of feel that he’s getting shortchanged somehow. But we are hardly blushing kids anymore.

 

Day 4: Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

The refugee crisis tears at my heart. All the dying babies. For what? Will we never as a species stop inflicting such pain on each other?

 

Day 5: Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? “Spiritual” can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth.

Breastfeeding my son during the requiem mass at my great-aunt’s funeral. Mass was held in the church my mother attended growing up. My parents were married there. I was baptized there. I remember going to church as a small child, laying on the knee rests when I got bored and looking up at the amazing Gothic architectural details (it’s a gorgeous church). Feeding my son there felt like coming full circle, somehow. Life alongside death. A meeting of generations. There hasn’t been much of that in my life. It was a humbling experience.

 

Day 6: Describe one thing you’d like to achieve by this time next year. Why is this important to you?

I want to be financially stable. I know I keep saying that, but it’s because I continue to be financially chaotic. I would like to have a steady income, decent insurance, and less debt. Ideally, I would like to have enough left over at the end of the month to start saving again. And if I’m really going to shoot for the moon here, I would like to have a new car and at least be moving towards buying a house. I’m tired of worrying about money. Tired of the debt game. Tired. Just tired.

 

Day 7: How would you like to improve yourself and your life next year? Is there a piece of advice or counsel you received in the past year that could guide you?

I want to establish a routine so that I can accomplish all I want and need to accomplish. Doing so will help me be better in all I do, and also to be less cranky while I do it.

Eliminating the unnecessary is a good start. I have begun spending less time on social media, and unfollowing those whose posts cause me inner turmoil, because I would rather spend my time doing productive things than by getting bent out of shape over things I cannot control. And, dare I say, I have been happier for it.

Conversely (I know, I know), I would like to make at least one close friend in the coming year. Someone local. Someone I can hang out with. Preferably someone with kids near the age of my own! I have no idea how to do this.

 

Day 8: Is there something (a person, a cause, an idea) that you want to investigate more fully in the coming year?

Education. Specifically, how to engage my children in learning. I am already beginning to see the resistance to new experiences in my daughter, and want to nip that in the bud. My son is currently fascinated by learning, and I want to figure out how to keep him interested.

 

Day 9: What is a fear that you have and how has it limited you? How do you plan on letting it go or overcoming it in the coming year?

Financial ruin. I allowed that fear to keep me in a thankless, dead-end job for over a decade. I’ve allowed it to lock me into jobs I disliked, felt uninspired by, or actively hated. I allowed it to suck up my entire adult life, leaving no time for my wants or needs or dreams. In the coming year, I will actively focus on attracting work I love, that I am adequately paid to do and respected for doing. I will seek to do work that allows me enough time for myself and my family. I will make us my priority, not money. We can live without money. We cannot live without us.

 

Day 10: When September 2017 rolls around and you receive your answers to your 10Q questions, how do you think you’ll feel? What do you think/hope might be different about your life and where you’re at as a result of thinking about and answering these questions?

This year, I was amazed at how much of what I said last year still rang true. I am hoping to have accomplished at least some progress in the coming year, so that next year I can grouse and worry about new things.

 

Day 11: What are your predictions for the coming year?

Optimistically, I hope that my recent revelations regarding the recurring patterns in my life allow me to make sweeping changes and take my life to new, greater heights.

Realistically, I will probably plod on as I have been, making tiny but significant steps forward.

I suppose so long as I am moving forward, it’s all good.