Monthly Archives: September 2015

Too much clutter

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I feel no shame- ok- only minimal shame about the fact that I tend to function best with a bit of clutter around. But there is such thing as too much clutter, even for me. I am only kinda referring to the clutter on my desk at work of the multiple piles of things to do, things to file, or things that I have absolutely no idea what to do with. Or the clutter that accumulates at home- clean clothes piled in random places in the bedroom or couch, mail that needs to be sorted on any flat surface, half completed art projects or Newt’s school papers that I can’t part with but that have not yet made their way to the “forever box”.

I’m really talking about my cluttered mind.

I have never been particularly structured in my approach to anything. My days have never adhered to a specific time schedule or flow. I always assumed that when we had a kid our days would inherently get more structured, but when Newt was a baby, she did best with an on-demand feeding schedule, and she never slept anyway, so a sleep schedule seemed futile. Matt and I always said that we would get more structured when and if Newt needed it…but she never seemed to need it. She’s only had a bedtime since last month- when she started kindergarten, and even then- we kind of wing it. But as long as she is happy, healthy, and thriving- it works for us.

At least, it usually works for us. Right now I’m wondering how well it works for me.

Matt has always done shift work, so he works weird hours, and has non-regular days off. Plus, he has had more schedule changes than I can begin to count- especially in the last year or two. Every time we hear of another schedule change, we always reassure each other, “We’ll make it work.” And we always do.

Matt’s job has zero flexibility in when he can work, but I am extremely fortunate to have a job that I love that also gives me the flexibility to work around my husband and my daughter’s schedules. However, having a job that is flexible, means that I have to be flexible too. Sure- I can get off at 3 pm to get my kid from school, but that also means that I need to get some work done at night after every one has gone to sleep. That also means that my brain is full on functioning when I finish my work at midnight and should be going to bed. So….I write a blog post instead- maybe in an effort to get some of the clutter out of my head to allow me to sleep.

I decided a week or so ago that I was going to create a “Command Center”. You know- the ones that all of those really organized moms make and post on Pinterest. We have the perfect place in our kitchen- one that is actually made to be something like that. So, I’m psyched about this great idea and got started on Sunday. I perused some great ideas from other blogs and pins. I got rid of 3 garbage bags full of clutter (mostly bills from 2013 for some reason). And then I found myself staring at the lovely paper calendar I purchased for “Command Center” that is going to revolutionize my life. I’m staring at it with a fairly deep resentment.

This calendar is a great idea. One that was actually my husband’s. One that will allow him to be more aware of the upcoming events and bill due dates. This idea is to allow him to help me. THIS is one of the things I vowed to open myself to in my last post. But it just pissed me off. I’m sure there are so many things that this says about my psyche, but to me, it is just another thing that I will have to manage. I already keep everything in my google calendars on my phone. They are color coded, actually well organized, and I can get to them anywhere. So now I will have to get in the habit of transferring the information from my google calendar to my paper calendar in my half completed “Command Center”? Somehow, this does not seem likely.

I will keep you posted on the progress of my Command Center. Or not. Maybe I will magically turn into that really organized person with a clutter free home. Or not. Who knows.

One thing I do know- not matter how overwhelmed I feel or cluttered my mind is- I will make it work. I always do.

On being Wonder Woman

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Some time after I had my daughter and went back to work full time, I adopted Wonder Woman as a sort of totem. Finding it difficult to live up to my own expectations of myself as a wife, mother, therapist, supervisor, daughter, sister and friend, Wonder Woman became my reminder to “put on my big girl panties”, suck it up and just do what I thought I needed to do.

Art by Ant Lucia www.antlucia.com

Bombshell Wonder Woman by Ant Lucia
http://www.antlucia.com

But somehow, even in trying to internalize these thoughts that I am a badass Wonder Woman, somehow even in surrounding myself with images of this goddess super hero that can keep up with BOTH Batman and Superman, I found myself just frustrated. The fact is, I feel barely capable of managing my life as well as a normal human being….never mind someone with super hero abilities.

The myth I was creating for myself, was the myth that not only could I have it all- things like motherhood, career, happy marriage, good support system, a house with a pool; I could also DO it all and do it all-by myself- all of the time.

But something happened today. Something that made me feel a much deeper and more real connection with my mythical role model. Something that felt more empowering.

In a training today on clinical hypnotherapy of all things, I was reminded that while Wonder Woman CAN do it all, she does not do it all by herself. She is part of a team, part of the Justice League. I was reminded that I am part of a pretty fantastic team too, that has people from both my personal and my professional worlds.

Bruce Timm's Justice League

Bruce Timm’s Justice League

I am a badass Wonder Woman, but my strength does not just come from inside me. I am stronger with my badass team standing with me. My strength is not diminished when I need or ask for help. I don’t have to prove to myself that I “can do it” by trying to do it all- by myself- all of the time. I am a strong woman, trying to raise a strong woman.

Art by Andry Rajoelina http://andry-shango.deviantart.com Words by random internet people.

Art by Andry Rajoelina http://andry-shango.deviantart.com
Words by random internet people.

I turned my bathroom into a sewer…but it works!

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My husband is the kind of guy that does not buy into the phrase, “Less is more.” To him, if 2 is good, 4 or even 6 is better. So, I should have known when he volunteered to help Newt redo her bathroom, things would get a little out of control. I did not know we could fit this much stuff into the smallest room in the house. But the kid loves it and I think it turned out really cute.

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He started with the shower curtain and let everything flow from there. Cute loofah sponges, though he maintains we still need to get Donnie (the Mikey one is in the tub). Little colorful plastic bins and baskets (only in green, red, orange, blue and purple, of course). Liquid soap dispenser, turtle clings and of course, TMNT body wash. You can’t see it in the pictures, but the wastebasket is Ninja Turtles as well.

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He chose to get purple towels, because Donnie if her favorite turtle, and a couple of TMNT towels to bring it together. He insists he showed some restraint, as he did not get the Mikey bath mat and chose a plain purple one instead. He said he was worried it would look too busy. Ha!

In the above picture, the orange crate is stacked on a purple one. One for storing bath toys and one for dirty laundry.

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Inside the tub is a bathmat and some bath toys.

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And of course the decorations, not functional, but really cool.

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The bottom row are Funko Pop Turtles and Splinter. We love, love, love the Funko Pops. I have some in my office at work of characters I like.

The weird looking green things in front of the picture are bean bags I made of each of the Turtles to go with our cornhole game for Newt’s birthday a couple of years ago. I didn’t realize they were smushed until after I took the pictures. I have since fixed them!

All of the art we got at Tampa Comiccon over the last 2 or 3 years. We have even more cool Turtle prints, but they are in Newt’s room. The picture above was done by Martin Dunn.

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All five of these were done by Joe Rocks.

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And we got these from colorist Jeff Balke.

*RWMOTB is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
*The links to the artists’ websites are because I believe in giving credit where credit is due.

Conquered the first 2 weeks of school. But this homework thing….

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So far we seem to have conquered the first 2 weeks of kindergarten fairly unscathed.

No tears from anyone on the first day of school, though on the 2nd day when I dropped Newt off in the car line instead of walking her to class, a mini panic attack ensued.  Not for her. For me. She was fine of course.  She doesn’t need me anymore.

For the first week, at home, Newt was the definition of labile. Or rapidly changing mood/affect. She was overtired, over stimulated and I was over it.

She naturally got sick and missed Monday of the 2nd week. Super germs.

The second week, I won mother of the year award when I forgot to feed her breakfast. She realized this as we were pulling in but was too nervous to go to the lunchroom for school breakfast by herself. No problem, I just fed her her packed lunch for breakfast. There I was in the school parking lot warming up the still frozen Nutella Uncrustable between my two hands so she could at least bite it. On another note…it’s totally cool to give your kid what amounts to a chocolate sandwich for lunch (or in this case, breakfast), right? She was fine with the “hot lunch” option at school, so problem solved. I found out that afternoon that she chose a PBJ Uncrustable for her hot lunch option. Variety is the spice of life, right?

She got her first homework assignments last Friday, so we are starting to work on them. They are not going as well as I hoped. She is super stressed. A perfectionist, like me, who is so worried about getting it wrong, she just keeps melting down. I just sent her to her room for a non-punitive calm down time to watch her fish swim. I am taking a calm down time too.

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Making the commute work for me.

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Like many moms I drive a lot. At a minimum, I drive 40 minutes each way to and from work, and that is if I don’t have to take Newt anywhere. Add in a stop for her and I tack on another 20 to 40 minutes depending on the day and destination. In my world, where there is never enough time in the day to get everything done, this commute was just the ultimate of wasted time.

Until I made it work for me. I discovered Podcasts.

I’m probably late to the party, but I’m here now. I think for me, podcasts allow me to engage in my curiosity. To think about grown up things again (that aren’t work related). To lose myself for 40 minutes or so. You know- what I used to do when I had time to read a book. I found myself actually looking forward to driving again. And traffic jam? No problem, I may actually be able to finish this podcast before I get home. So, in no particular order, some of the podcasts that I have enjoyed listening to:

Grown-up Time Podcasts

  1. Serial– Ok, this one is pretty obvious, but it is the reason I even bothered to explore what that mysterious pre-loaded podcast app on my phone had to offer.  I heard about this podcast EVERYWHERE and I wanted to know what it was all about. In what is arguably the most well known podcast to date, Serial began as a spin off from This American Life. It has only had one 12 episode season so far, but is already confirmed for 2 more seasons. Serial is amazing. Just really engrossing, sometimes maddening story telling about a real murder and a possible miscarriage of justice. After I finished those 12 episodes, I have listened to another podcast, Undisclosed, which uncovers even more information about the case, but from a more biased point of view.
  2. Invisibilia– This one is all about the invisible forces that control human behavior- ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. Well done and very interesting. My favorite episode was Fearless- which explores the function of fear and sometimes dysfunction of fear. For a super anxious person like me, this made perfect sense.
  3. Stuff You Should Know– I love this one because I feel like I am learning something and there are so many episodes to choose from about a variety of topics.  Some of these episodes are only 5 minutes long, some 40 minutes or more. Some of my favorites: How Albert Einstein’s Brain Worked, What happened to the lost colony at Roanoke, How Ouija boards work, and What’s the deal with Rasputin’s Death.
  4. Really anything from How Stuff Works– Stuff You Should Know is one of the podcasts from How Stuff Works. Other podcasts are: Stuff You Missed in History Class– discussing history, Stuff Mom Never Told You– discussion of issues relating to women, Stuff to Blow Your Mind– just anything and everything, Brain Stuff– science behind how stuff works, and Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know– fun times for conspiracy theorists. What’s great about all of these are that so many different topics are discussed you will always be able to find something of interest.
  5. Lore From the time I was a youngun, I have always loved a good spooky story. Each episode focuses on a different folklore or scary tale and explores the “truth” behind the lore.
  6. The Black Tapes Podcast–  The official site for this podcast describes the series as follows, “The Black Tapes Podcast is a serialized docudrama about one journalist’s search for truth, her enigmatic subject’s mysterious past, and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them both.” For me- another place to explore some good scary stories- at least during my day time drives. This is not one I listen to after dark!
  7. The X-Files Files Ok, so this one is a little more niche, but I still love the X-Files after all these years. Each podcast discusses a specific episode from the series. But it is funny and smart and hosted by Kumail Nanjiani, who plays my favorite character from HBO’s Silicon Valley! One of my favorite parts of the show is when he goes back and reads posts from message boards from the week the episode first aired.
  8. You Must Remember This–  This is about the “secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century.” I found I don’t even have to be familiar with the film or star discussed in an episode to be transfixed. Featuring some dramatizations, film clips and awesome music, this podcast is perfect for this pop cultured obsessed mommy.

Don’t Forget The Kids

It didn’t take me long to realize that there are some really great options for listening when Newt is in the car with me. If given the choice between listening to a podcast or listening to music, my kid often picks the podcast, and my kid loves music!

  1. Stuff You Should Know– Yup. This is the same one I mentioned in the grown up section. With offerings like, Scooby Dooby Doo, Where are You?, Oh No, Snakes!, and Why does toothpaste make orange juice taste bad, it also presents an opportunity for the kiddo to learn something as well. Though it is not geared towards children and many subjects are probably not appropriate, the podcast is not crude and does not have bad language. Some of the scientific concepts probably go over Newt’s 5 year old head, but she understands enough of it to be engaged.
  2. Audio Books For Children– Developed by Templeton Institute for Neurology, “Enhance your child brain imagination ability by focusing on auditory stimulation through audio books specifically developed by our neurologists at Templeton Institute for Neurology. These stories are written by cultures all over the world, refined over many generations of story telling. They are amazing adventures with powerful values and invaluable lessons.” The best are tales from 1001 Nights and from the Myths of the World entries.
  3. Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm The classic tales available to hear in the car. Great narration. Some stories are 4 minutes long and some are over 20. Loyal Books has many many classic tales available for free in audiobook or e-book form. Not just stuff for kids, classic novels too.
  4. Barefoot Books Podcast I have a couple of these gorgeous books with classic stories so when I saw the podcast I had to listen. I was not disappointed. Very good story telling and some songs, too. Even younger children would enjoy these tales. I noticed that they have not added more content since 2013, but there are plenty of things to enjoy.