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bed and a book

i love reading through the previous hobby posts by my fellow o+u ladies. no surprise that we share so many similar likes in hobbies.
knitting. i too loved knitting, but i have come to realize what i really love is all the squishy delicious colorful yarn. the actual act of knitting left me a bit frustrated, and so my needles sit idle.
sewing. YES! i do love my little hand-me-down sewing machine and adequate sewing skills, but once the weather breaks (like now) it too collects a lot of dust. sewing is more of a winter thing for me.
biking.  this is on my to do list. i always loved bike riding, but for the past few years i have been bikeless. that is all about to change very soon. now that both my young ones are at the riding age momma needs a bike too!
gardening. sigh. we rent, this means no garden. because of this, i have been making a concerted effort on houseplants this past year. i am happy to report i have only killed one. 1 out of 6, i am calling that a win.

right now i have not been very active in a lot of hobbies except that last one jessica mentioned, reading. reading used to put me right to sleep. i am NOT joking. if i needed to fall asleep all i needed to do was crack open a book and goodnight world! i was out like a light. this went on for years.my husband is an avid reader and it made him sad that i just couldn’t get through a book. eventually i stopped trying. magazines i could do, but any big books i suddenly became a narcoleptic. last year i decided to try again. i was visiting the library more and more since both my kids became independent readers. they LOVE bringing home stacks of books. so i tried again, and i have no explanation as to why, but this time it stuck. now i get to catch up on SO many great books that most everyone else has read and re-read long before me. i even joined a bookclub in my neighborhood. non reader me! i like it because each month a new book is chosen by a different member of the club. this has exposed me to books i would never have picked for myself. plus we get to gather and have some wine, snacks and laughs. that’s always good.

some of my recent reads:

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed (though i have to admit, i loved her memoir Wild even more)
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
The Bean Trees (another Kingsolver book)

i started, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, just last night.  already over 100 pages in.  LOVE it.

have you heard of Goodreads? i am probably the last one to know. i am forever the last one to the party. seems like the happening place for all book lovers. like i need another site to become a habit. LOL

most nights this is where you’ll find me, in bed, tucked in under my covers, with a book.

what are you reading these days?

“if we don’t change we don’t grow. if we don’t grow, we aren’t really living” -gail sheehy

i admit, i am a lover of routine. i snuggle up in predictability. there are many reasons why i think i have become this person, but really we do not have the time for that psychoanalysis in this post. 🙂
one thing is certain, change can be a difficult for me to embrace.

having kids provides an ever constant state of change. “in your face!”, “take that!”, kinds of changes that can be shocking to someone like me. they force me to face the discomfort of change without even trying.

they go from swaddled – to crawling – to running – to driving a car  in lightning speed.
they grow hair, inches, and new teeth seemingly overnight.

we are having that sort of big change right now. our youngest fell flat on her face at the age of one.  no hands to break the fall, instead her face stopped her fall and her little baby chicklet front tooth broke in 2.  the remaining piece eventually abscessed and needed to be pulled.  she has been our gap-toothed, pirate smile, girl for 6 years now.  that missing tooth has been a constant in our every day life. her gap toothed grin and wrinkled up nose was just so “her”. i knew eventually a big tooth would grow in and fill that hole we all came to love so much, but time kept passing and the gap remained.  a few weeks ago her gum became swollen, the tooth was coming. she walks around singing, “all i want for my birthday is my big front tooth.” (sung to the tune of “all i want for christmas is my 2 front teeth”)

this coming monday she turns 7. will she get her wish? …

2008

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2009
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2010
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2011
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2012
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right this moment,
same wrinkled up nose,
brand new tooth.
change.
BOOM.

casey new tooth
happy soon-to-be-7 to my april fool baby, whose smile lights up my every day.

by Tiffani Michele

A bunch of my friends call February, “Sexuary”, and vow to have sex every day with their husbands. This has been going on for a couple years now.

Last year I ran my first half marathon and moved into a cute little house, and I kind of went under the radar while I focused, ran, and packed/unpacked my little heart out. I barely had any extra energy to feed myself, let alone spend any time texting/facebooking friends or thinking about sex. Plus, I didn’t have a boyfriend. So Sexuary came and went and I had no idea.

This year is a bit different. I happened to meet up with a bunch of these friends in Vegas and they spent part of the time talking about what they had in store for their month long sexathon…outfits they’d put together, toys they’d bought, and all the things they were going to try. Committing to a month of daily sex takes a bunch of planning and, aparently, alcohol. Also, the floozies were sexting up a storm with their husbands while they were living large in the LV.

There isn’t much I miss about being in a relationship, I think the divorce thing is still too new for me to harbor a strong desire to get back into something that still feels like going to jail…but I did feel sad that I couldn’t join in their girly games. And while I have no problems being alone, I did feel lonely for the first time in a while. I have no one to send pictures of my glittery cleavage too. Or my ass in fishnets. Or just me smiling into my phone, wishing the other person was there. My friends were nice enough to tell me I could sext them anytime and they would respond accordingly, but it’s just not the same.

I also started to opt out of all their Sexuary talk, since I’m not in a relationship nor do I have a dude for a booty call every day of the month. I also don’t have 28 dudes for a booty call one time each. I don’t have 14 booty call dudes for sex twice each. I, uh, have no booty call dudes, period.

But then I thought to myself, “Don’t forget about a little something called masturbation.”

I was raised with the belief that masturbation is wrong. To keep me from doing it, or anything bad, I was also told that God could hear my thoughts and see my deeds. And that, my friends, is a real ladyboner killer. I immediately felt sick to my stomach, and so knew I had to commit to Sexuary. Daily sex, oh yes, and with myself. I had some ‘hangups’. I had some nights I felt uninspired. I discovered that I also needed good planning and booze to pull it off.

I’ve invested in myself a lot this month. Some days I knew I didn’t feel in the mood, and did whatever it took to help myself out.

Me to me: “What do you need right now to get you to a happy, sexy place?”
Me to me: “Ice cream with hot fudge!”
or: “Baked brie with french bread!”
or: “new shoes!”
or: “something from a trashy store!”
or: “I need to dance!”
or: “I just need to find a quiet spot to chill and think. With wine.”

So far, so good.

Strike that.

So far, so great!

Actually…

So far, so amaaaaaaazing.

I shortly worked out how to get God out of my head by realizing that if he’s going to be listening to anyone’s scenarios in their head while they masturbate, they won’t be mine. Not that I’m boring, but I know a lot of highly creative people who I’m sure have a lot more twisted shit going on in their imagination that would be a lot more interesting than anything I’m whipping up in there. And with billions of people on the earth, I think my thoughts are flying under the radar.

And I don’t really give a shit anymore, anyway.

What I do give a shit about is learning how to use the most expensive toy I’ve bought for myself. All I can say is, before I didn’t know what to do with this thing that some amazon reviews claimed was “pretty and would even make an attractive sculptural decoration”…and now I can tell you it’s worth the money if you’re in the market.

IMG_5677

I’ve learned a lot this month. I’ve learned so much, I’m surprised. Maybe I’ll sum it all up when this Sexuary month is over. Some things have been fun to learn and some things have been profound. It’s been a lot of fun and it’s been a lot of work, too. It has taken a kind of commitment and devotion to myself that has been unprecedented in my life so far. I can only imagine that this same commitment and devotion is also present if you do it with a partner, and now I understand why my friends do this every year.

It is grueling though, so I also understand why they pick a month that only has 28 days in it!

i’m a list maker. rather, i’m a to-do list maker. i would forget half of the things i need to get done in a day if i didn’t write them down.
however, i’ve never really sat down and made a list of my goals before. mental checklist, sure. pen and paper, not so much. i know that i am terrible at planning and working on that isn’t going to end up on any list of goals (it isn’t high on the priority list of things i’m concerned about with myself). so, when i learned that the topic for the month was going to be ‘goals’ i wasn’t sure what i would write about. i suppose that many of my goals aren’t that unusual or even interesting (be patient, eat healthier, get off my ass more, spend less time on social media, blah blah blah, et cetera).  but, i did come up with a few goals that might sit a little more comfortably under the title “notes to self”.

1. be more of a hard ass & less of a sissy.
i let things bother me when they shouldn’t. i internalize things (for long, far too long periods of time), this is a message to myself to stand up and have the courage to deal with things as they come at me.


2. trust myself.
trust
lately i find my self second guessing everything i do and being in a state of constant doubt. the internalizing plays a big part in this, i’m sure. time for that shit to stop.

3. get organized.
just kidding. that’ll never happen.
some things in my life are just going to be a mess (like my closet and my desk). if those things get organized it means somewhere else more important things have fallen into serious disarray. i’m fine with this arrangement.

4. experiment more with photography.
i leveled off with my photography sometime last year. it’s time to shake things up, try new things,  step up my game and grow as a photographer. my goal with this years 365 is to come up with different ways to push/improve myself each month. whether it’s trying new edits, finding new subjects, using camera settings i’m not comfortable or familiar with or just giving myself a theme to work within.
also, repairing the shutter on this girl falls into the “experiment” category since i’ve never attempted to repair a camera on my own. internets, please be good to me with your how-to advice.
jan18thru20-15

5. be someone who doesn’t take everything so seriously.

 

 

I’m not going to lie – I love Christmas. Here’s the thing though, I really only love it in July when I catch a glimpse of a Christmas scene in a movie and I think “I can’t wait for Christmas!” Cut to me in December and I’m left feeling like something is missing, and wondering how I can fix it.

On the outside we go all out. The lights are up, candles are in every window, the tree is trimmed. Hell, we’ve even been listening to Christmas music since the day after Thanksgiving. Every year I try a little something different- we’ll do our shopping early, we’ll do it late, we’ll get more decorations, we’ll hit all of the Christmas parties, we’ll stay home. Truth be told though, I know what’s missing, it’s magic.

We just returned from Disney World where we had a surprisingly good time. Seeing the world through a 5 year olds eye’s in a place like that is payoff for parents’ sleepless nights, struggles at dinner, and all-out battles at bedtime. I’m not altogether sure those payoffs outweigh the tradeoffs so I’m going to count them where I can get them.

The most poignant and memorable part of the whole trip was easily inside Belle’s castle. We had just finished watching Beauty and the Beast in the rental van and Wyatt was most excited to see the Beast’s castle. Inside, a talking mirror transformed into a door as we were “magically” transported to the castle. Behind us the voice of a girl no more than 7 exclaimed “Guess what? It IS real.” Those five words sound so simple but they were loaded with joy, and wonder, and a belief in the magic that doesn’t extend beyond childhood. I instantly teared up. That’s the elusive feeling of Christmas that no matter how hard I try, I just can’t access. It’s the magic.

The magic for a 5 year old being surrounded by his favorite characters.

maul

mater

The magic of being able to dance with Belle in her own castle.

beauty

The magic of watching a parade, and fireworks, and staying up past midnight, and waiting for Santa until you’re so exhausted you can’t stay awake any longer.

wy parade

And it’s this magic that leaves me torn – do I feed into the belief in santa, filling the stocking and wrapping the gifts with different paper? Do I let him believe in magic knowing how fast it could, and one day will get ripped away? Knowing how small this window is for this kind of wonder do I encourage it? Or am I setting him up for a lifetime of Christmasses that no matter how hard he tries, just aren’t quite right?  How do you handle santa in your house, and how have you come to grips with it?

 

 

So me. About ME. My about me link has sat vacant for over a year now. I have clicked on that link and tried to write about me. And I am left tapping the keyboard. What do people REALLY want to know?

I am deathly afraid of sounding cliche. Or sappy.

So do people REALLY want to know who I am? Do you want to know that my one year old just emptied the trash can into the toilet? Or that that my son dumped an entire bag of pretzels in my car last week and I still haven’t cleaned it up? Or how about that I pulled the cleanest pair of dirty pants from my three year old’s hamper this morning. hmm…probably not.

I feel like I have to sell myself in my about me. And it has to be grand and spectacular. I have to tell you how great I am at catching that “moment”. And how I have this undying love affair with my camera. When it’s not about that. Really it’s not. I mean I love my camera but really I am in love with the people I photograph. When I was a senior in high school I had a girl tell me I was “nosy”. Well you know what, I am. I want to be all up on your business with my camera. Like one of my favorite photographers Erika Ray says, “Lifestyle photography is like classy reality tv.” I think she’s right.

So again I am left tapping the keyboard. What do people want to know?

by jess lewis

with a ginormous thank you to laura  –  for the inspiration, the friendship, and for essentially holding my hand and giving me courage while i gave street shooting a try. i wish we could do this together every single day.

Today’s guest blogger used to call me up every snow day and whisper the three little words most teachers love to hear: No school today. And for the longest time, I had no clue who she was since her Caller ID didn’t match the name on the weather tree. Turns out she was living in sin back in the day, and twelve years later, I’m happy to say that she is one of my best friends. She’s also child free, which means she brings something new to our month of women. But I’ll let Mary Burke explain why she made that choice.

I am super selfish . . . I always have been . . . and I don’t think it’s such a terrible character flaw when one is aware of their selfishness. And when it comes to recognizing that one is too selfish to have children, is that a bad thing to know your own limits? I think not! At this point in my life, I am absolutely confident I made the right choice not to have children. Actually I was pretty confident all along that this was the right choice for me. This is a very good thing because at this point my eggs have expired. Some people talk about a biological clock. I am convinced I wasn’t born with one. I never heard ticking, and the older I got, I found babies and small humans less and less appealing. Ironically, I am a teacher, and I choose to work with children everyday. I love my job and I love (for the most part) my daily interactions with kids. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Well, except being a stay at home dog mom . . . but that’s just not in the cards right now!

I grew up with a fairly large, close extended family. I’m the oldest of four children and the oldest of 22 grandchildren. There were always lots of babies around. I loved taking care of my younger cousins at family functions, and once I was old enough, I babysat. I have many wonderful female role models in my family with my mother leading the way. She was nothing short of amazing while we were growing up, and she still is tireless in her efforts to care for our family. It’s almost like she set the bar too high! Despite early positive experiences and being raised by supermom, sometime in my early 20s, I had a shift in my perspective. I don’t remember an actual defining moment, but thinking back I can easily remember the time in my life when this happened. I was in college when I realized I wanted to work with children, but I didn’t want to have children. I began to understand what an absolute CHORE it would be to have to care for another human being for the rest of my life. Also, I can’t do throw up or diapers. Don’t tell me I’d feel differently if it’s my kid; that’s just BS. I have nieces and nephews, and I always enjoyed holding them as babies, but as soon as a diaper change was needed, I passed that kid off as fast as I could! I recall a time holding my nephew and as he was throwing up, I almost dropped him trying to get rid of that little spewing alien. I think my tubes spontaneously tied themselves! I guess I just don’t really have any maternal instincts. I also find that I have an absolute lack of patience outside of the school setting. It’s like I have an off switch when I leave work. However, I am the kind of aunt that loves to sugar those kids up, spoil them rotten, whip them into a frenzy and send them home with my sisters. Remember . . . I am the oldest and I have a long history of sibling torture! I love family get-togethers, but I am always thankful that I get the fun part of spending time with the kids and not the daily hassles and never-ending work. I am simply in awe of the work that goes in to being a parent (if you’re doing it right, because believe me, I see way too many examples of poor parenting choices . . . but that’s another story for another day).

So, my choice to be childfree is not typical, and it’s especially not typical in my family (did I mention large? and Catholic? Breeders, those people are). My husband and I lived together (SINNERS!) for eight years before we got married. We had the “kids” conversation a couple of times, each time completely agreeing that no, kids just weren’t for us. Pretty serendipitous, huh? Of course, this is much to the dismay of my ever-growing family . . . there are now 19 great-grandchildren . . . breeders, I tell ya! My husband and I jokingly came up with reason # (insert any large number here) why we don’t want children. One funny, with a wee bit of truth, reason I have is not wanting to procreate with my husband: because when he was in school, he needed a custom made football helmet for his giant melon.

I have come across many people in my life who simply don’t understand my choice. And that’s OK. I love the life my husband and I have. We have independence, time to enjoy things together, and less of a financial burden than our friends with children have . . . kids are EXPENSIVE and not always the best investment. I’ve had people ask who will take care of my husband and me when we’re old . . . and I tell them I’m counting on other people’s children to go into the health care field to take care of us! I even have one friend who still holds out hope that I will come around. Honestly, that ship has sailed, and I’m pretty sure it sank!

I once had this conversation with my mom at an age when my eggs were not past the expiration date: ME: Mom, you know that feeling people get when they hold a baby, and they just need to have one and that’s all they can think about? MOM: (Holding her breath with anticipation) Yes! ME: I had that feeling today . . . I was holding a puppy and it had the sweetest puppy breath and my heart ached because I just knew . . . I need to get a puppy! MOM: Mary, that is NOT funny! True story, I think it’s the closest I’ve come to having ”that feeling,” and I really do love me some puppy breath! I have a soft spot for dogs. I don’t think my childfree life would be complete if it wasn’t for my dog. Dogs love you unconditionally, and they don’t ask for anything in return. My brother and sister-in-law are expecting their first baby, and I really am so happy for them, but I did tell my brother I would be way more excited if he was expecting a pile of puppies. (BAD SISTER!)

When we figured out this month was all about women, I was thrilled. “I’ve got this” I thought. I’ve crafted a half a dozen posts in my head and wondered how in the hell I would ever narrow it down. I figured the words would be pouring out- celebrating our power, lamenting the ways we fail to claim it, demanding that we do better. As the time got closer for me to actually write I came up with at least a half a dozen different topics- breastfeeding and wage gaps, and feminism, and having it all, and the war on women. Cue to me sitting in front of the computer in the final hour, with so much to say I’m silent.

The truth of the matter is this. There is SO much to celebrate about being women. Despite the many (many) ways we are oppressed, I’d still argue that we get more space on the gender continuum to be both masculine and feminine. Don’t believe me? Try sending a boy to school in a dress. I love being a woman, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I will say this- ladies, we need to get our shit together.

Every semester I get the chance to teach young women about feminism and gender stereotyping, and underrepresentation in politics, women’s representation in media, the list goes on and on. And every semester I get blank stares, and papers stating we’re all equal now (hooray!). It’s a tough sell to them to make them feel oppressed which in its own way is good, I suppose. I remember what it’s like to be 18, 19…feeling like I could take on the world, and nothing, not even my gender, was a barrier to that. The only problem with that is that it takes away the fight, and we NEED the fight, desperately.

 
Instead the fight all goes toward each other. We’re back here bickering about who’s mom enough, and meanwhile women are earning $.77 on the dollar for men. I don’t know how exactly, but I vow to take up that fight just a little more. When I was pregnant in both instances I wanted a girl so that I could teach her how to take on the world, but more and more I’m realizing it’s equally important to raise men who appreciate and expect that strength and fire in women. In this way I do my feminist work every day, but today I’ll try a little harder- for us, for them.