I want to garden

I do not have a green thumb. Two summers ago when I tried to keep a catnip plant alive, it died a gruesome death. When I was a child and my mom asked me to help her weed our family garden, I wanted to do anything but that.

But recently, something changed. I got into meal planning and cooking more. I grew more concerned with eating healthier and making better food choices. I tried new things, I bought more organic. And I feel a responsiblity to keep all of that up!

I really like the idea of being a little more self sustainable. No, I’m not gonna go all hippie farmer pioneer lady, but having some of the items I regularly buy anyway at the grocery be from my own garden sounds so good. No pesticides, no whatever else is on the stuff I buy at the store, plus hey, I’ll probably save some money.

I think having a garden is another one of those things I relate to being a grown up. I love trying new things that make me feel like a wife, and maybe possibly a mom sometime. Heck, I never once flipped over to HGTV until I was married! And I kind of love it. My husband even seems excited by the idea!

With that being said, I need some help. I have no idea what to do or where to start. Disclaimer: We still live in an apartment, so any gardening would need to be out of planters/pots/trays/tubs on our patio. I know tomatoes are easy to grow, but neither of us like them and have no interest in ever having one in our house. So that aside, what are some of the easiest plants to grow? So far I’ve heard cucumbers, leaf lettuce and peppers. I would LOVE to have some asparagus and carrots too, though word on the street is they’re harder. What are some successes you’ve had, readers? What other tips can you give? Where do I start? What do I buy at the store? How often do I water? How long will it take to have actual food?

I may fail miserably at this, but it’s something I’m really excited to try.

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The weird thing I did to feel like a grown-up

There’s a bunch of things you should do once you become a wife. I did a lot of the standard ones, but I also had a list of some bizarre things that I wanted to do to feel more like a wife and an adult and less of a cheap college kid. So finally, six years after my official cheap college kid status, I have crossed one of those off.

What is it? Buying real pajamas. No more ratty old T-shirts I got for a random volunteer project in high school or those Pink sweatpants that once were cool but now have multiple spilled cheese stains and don’t even look that good.

I also have to credit one of the cutest reality TV shows ever to encouraging this. When Bill and Jenn from The Little Couple were in the process of adopting their son, Bill decided he should also get some real pajamas so his son wouldn’t have to see dear old dad in his skivvies in the morning. Makes sense.

My mom always wore real pajamas too. Like pant and top sets from the actual sleepwear section of stores. Of course in high school I thought that was weird and wore my Soffee shorts and said ratty (albeit less so then) T-shirts.

I must admit that sometimes I don’t wear much to bed now. I’m like an old lady these days and get hot flashes at night, so I just wear a bandeau bra and underpants to stay cooler (as in temperature, not trendy!). TMI? Sorry, blog world. I’m trying to keep it real here. Then I thought about what if there’s a fire at night and I don’t have time to put on real clothes before escaping? That’d be awful!

And so to Target I went. Thankfully I went at a time when Cartwheel had some coupons for pajamas, so I grabbed several items that were also on sale for a double shopping win. It was important to get things that let my skin breathe and were super comfortable, and I’m pretty happy with what I bought. I came away with the set pictured here, a warmer bird print flannel shirt for the winter months and this super cute pink chemise (whatever that is. I call it a dress).

pajamas from target

I don’t know why, but this silly little thing is a milestone I’m pretty proud of. Wearing real pajamas is just one of the weird things that makes me feel like an adult. That and meal planning, budgeting, talking about 401ks, saving for a house and thinking about kids too, but pajamas was an easy accomplishment.

Is that weird? I feel like it is. But who cares. I have new pajamas that I got on sale!

The Value of Friends

This past weekend, a good friend of mine came to visit. Amy and I met in college freshman year when we had a few of the same classes together. After two years in the dorms, we moved into a real apartment together and she was my first real world roommate. We get along grand. Since she moved away, I only get to see her a few times a year, and when we do get time together, it’s really nice. We’re both low-key people and prefer to stay in and hang out and drink wine and just catch up on each other’s lives. This time, though, I wanted to go try out a new restaurant in town that’s all the rage, a German-themed pub called the Wurst Bier Hall (clever, right?!). The drinks were pretty good (this beer wussie loved the pear cider), but I thought the food was a little overrated, but who cares. It was the company that was best.

with my friend at wurst bier hall

I’ve never been one to make friends easily. I’m incredibly shy, and opening up to new people is really hard. Many people would label me as a snob because of it, which can be hard when someone doesn’t give you a chance and judges based on an assumption. But over the years, I’ve learned to let that go. If you don’t want to get to know me, fine. You’re not worth my time then. I’d rather focus on the small handful of people who have gone beyond the surface and made that effort to get to know me.

I’ve never understood how some people can just talk to anyone they meet like they’re old friends. The funny thing is that nearly all of my friends are like that though! They are mostly exactly the opposite of me. They’re friendly, talkative and outgoing. They can easily swap life stories with the checkout lady. At social gatherings, they’re the ones telling jokes and hamming it up while I sit awkwardly in the corner observing. And that’s how I like it.

Give me a chance though, peel back some of the Amanda layers, and I will start to open up … and eventually never shut up. In those small setting with my closest friends, I feel so comfortable. That’s the real me that comes out. Few people get to really see it, and I guess in a way, I treat my friendships as gifts that I don’t just give to anyone. You have to earn me!

Life’s sort of this funny journey where along the way you pick up people who stick around. Some others come and go, and that’s OK. But those few that stick are really special.

I met my best friend Amanda when I was probably less than a year old in the church nursery. Well, technically, our moms met because of the nursery and they became friends, so naturally, we grew up together and stayed friends too. For 28 years, almost my entire life, she’s been in it, and that makes it so special. We have tons of memories and experiences together, and we saw each other through every single awkward and awesome moment.

The Amandas on our first day of school

The Amandas on our first day of school

Years later she was my matron of honor

Years later she was my matron of honor

Even though Amy and Amanda are some of my very best friends, for some reason, since they both live far away from me, we tend to not keep up while we’re apart. Maybe it’s because we’re busy, maybe we’re lazy, maybe there’s no good reason and that’s just how things are. The thing is, the second we’re together again, it’s just like old times and it goes right back to where we left off. We have Facebook to keep us updated on some of the daily life events, but we’re always there for the big events now. Maybe that’s strange, but it works for me.

I then met Meredith at what I consider to be my first “real” job. At our local Fargo newspaper, I got hired to write obits and do some of the other odd newsroom jobs, and she trained me in on that job as she was moving on to copy editor there. We found out pretty quickly that we had lots in common, and it all snowballed. I don’t think there’s been barely a week we’ve gone without hanging out since then.

with mer

She pushes me to do cool, fun things. We’ve gone on many road trips to concerts and even back to Indiana, and we love going out to the movies or for margaritas. It’s pretty crazy stuff, I know, but otherwise I’d be sitting at home, so I appreciate this. She’s the one I’m constantly emailing back and forth with, often while also texting and IMing, and talking to for endless hours about who knows what. She now is engaged, and it’s so fun to help her plan her wedding since she was such a rock to me when I planned mine.

These days, I count my mother as a friend too. You know, once you get past those angsty teenage years, you start to see how cool your mom is and actually want to be around her more! And now that she lives 800 miles away, I miss her so much. Like my girlfriends, when we get together now, we giggle uncontrollably, and then she looks over my paperwork to tell me which 401k plan I should choose. I spend hours on the phone with her every week, and no one is more excited about hearing about my life than she is. That’s what moms are for though, right?

But my best friend above all now is my husband. He may not know about all those embarrassing things about me from when I was 14 (thankfully), but he has become my confidant now. He knows everything I worry about, everything I love, everything I want. He knows what I do when I get home from work and he knows what makes me tick. And that’s how it should be, I think. The relationship with your husband has to go deep. You have to love being with that person every single moment and tell them every single thing. To be close, to stay connected, to have a solid marriage, I think they have to be your best friend.

That being said, even the husband will never really fill the gaps of your girlfriends. They can’t dish on how cray cray the last episode of The Bachelor was, they can’t understand how much you friggin’ love cupcakes, they can’t tell you that new skirt is adorable and try on 20 of them with you at the mall, they can’t spend hours at a jewelry party and love every second of it, they can’t giggle uncontrollably with you about the cute guy over there, they can’t debate Ryan Gosling versus Ryan Reynolds, and they certainly can’t understand what’s going on with you that time of the month.

All of these people in our lives round us out, and we need all of them to be our best. We’re not really complete without them. Sure, it’s great to be a powerful, independent women, but it’s also great having people you can’t live without.  I’m sure I’ll feel the same if and when I have children, too. It will be one of those blanks I don’t really know I have now, but is added on my journey through life that becomes something I couldn’t have expected would mean so much.

What do friends mean to you?

Let Me Tell You About Little Girl

This is part of the Pets Are People Too linkup with Jade and Oak and Karly Kim.

Jade and Oak

My cat Little Girl is pretty much the weirdest cat I’ve ever known. She’s a goof. She’s kind of dumb. She’s ditzy. She’s strange. She’s a hot mess. She’s incredibly annoying. But she’s lovable.

I can’t count how many times we joke about this cat. Almost every day. Compared to my other pets, she was really cheap. My other cat Captain was somewhere between $100 and $200 when I adopted him, and our dog Brick was the same. Little Girl was $30. She was cheaper than a tank of gas. I sometimes call her the “clearance kitty.” Don’t worry, her feelings don’t get hurt. Nothing fazes her. Seriously. It’s one of the things that makes me love her.

485872_691656797817_496097360_n[1]I think she has the motto that any attention is good attention. My husband and I tend to amuse ourselves via her. For instance, he likes to hold her up and sing in his Little Girl voice “My Milkshake Brings All the Boys to the Yard.” (Yes, each of our pets has their own voice and we talk like them ALL the time. Her voice is kind of like the Long Island Medium lady because we gave her a shrill Jersey accent, but with a lisp). He also holds her face in a way that makes her look like an alien and is hilarious. I like to make her dance. I hold up her arms and make her do the “Thriller” moves. She’s got it down. I put her in silly costumes, and she even has a party dress that I put on her when we have company over. Yes, we mess with her so much because it’s so easy. She doesn’t wiggle out of anything, doesn’t complain, and when we’re done, she acts like nothing happened and snuggles back down with us. It’s so bizarre.

She gets bursts of energy after she eats and literally runs around the whole house, often barfing because it was too much activity too soon after eating. But she never learns.

5888_536432807937_4235521_n[1]She usually has this drunk and/or confused look on her face. But she is SO CUTE when she’s napping. She has this happy, snuggly type smile that makes me happy. And she LOVES my husband. Her favorite spot to sleep is curled up on his chest, right up on his neck. It’s so cute.

But most of the time when she is awake, she is so annoying. We’re constantly yelling at her because she’s always into something. Years ago, we stored the pet food in the cabinet under the sink. Years ago. We’ve sinced moved it into the storage closet because she found a way to open the cabinet and would have a feast. But she still hasn’t figured that out because she still tries to get in the cabinet and look, so we constantly hear the banging of that door.

246464_673764025077_1720230580_n[1]Then at night, she’s rustling around everything in the bedroom. She hops from dresser to dresser, to the bed, to the laundry hamper, to her cat tower by the window and back and forth. On the dresser, she knocks off everything, so we hear the thud of my deodorant as it hits the floor. I had to relocate my jewlery, because when I had my necklaces on a tree/stand thingy, she would jingle them all night. Then, the closer morning comes, she sits right by our faces and meows. And meows. And meows. And paces, walking all over the bed … and our faces. And we can’t just close the door because then she howls on the other side of it and scratches up the carpet.

Just yesterday, my husband was loading the freezer up with the massive amounts of meat I bought on a super sale at the grocery store. Little Girl was sitting on top of the fridge watching (she intently watches everything we do when we’re cooking too from her perch up there). He closed the door for a moment, and she scooted up to the edge and had her front paws on the top of the freezer door. My husband then realized he forgot something and opened the door again, causing the cat to slip and do this super ungraceful but so funny recovery and scuttle to the back. She definitely did not get the gracefulness that many cats have. Again, she’s a hot mess.

We also usually get her the lion cut shave in the summer because her hair gets so clumpy. But she looks ridiculous without hair. I’ve only ever seen fat cats shaved, and they’re kind of adorable. But she just looks strange. She’s actually a really small cat, and most of her is hair, so when it comes off, there’s not much left. My husband says that she looks like an ’80s aerobic workout squirrel (because we keep her leg hair, so it looks like she’s wearing legwarmers, and without the hair she resembles a squirrel more than a cat). I think she looks like an awkward bobblehead the way her fluffy head looks against her hairless body. It’s kind of pathetic, but also endearing.

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Before

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After

Even when she’s not shaved, that’s kind of how she always is. Incredibly annoying about half the time, but the rest when she’s being a goof, letting us make her dance and snuggling, I adore her. She makes our lives interesting, that’s for sure.

2013-09-12_09.10.15 2013123095213516

My 2014 Resolutions: EFFORT

I’ve been working on this post for well over a week. It’s been a draft that I just keep adding to and tweaking till it felt right. Finally, 14 revisions later, the big reveal!

If 2014 wants to be nearly as awesome as my 2013 was, it’s got a lot to live up to. But, I have high hopes and want to use every day to work toward changes. I’ve read articles that suggested making much smaller, achievable goals like giving more hugs or eating more leafy greens, but I decided to go big this year. I want to be ambitious. I may not achieve all my resolutions, and that’s OK. I at least want to put forth that effort to try.

I was inspired by Charlene’s blog post about picking one word to define your goals, your year, and for me that word is effort. Because I need to make much more effort in each of the areas below that I’ve made resolutions. Here’s to effort in 2014!

Financial goals

GET OUT OF DEBT!  I am already working hard on paying off my credit cards, and just instituted Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball idea to help me get there faster. In just 6 months, I think I can eliminate half of my credit card debt, and I WILL stick to that plan. I’m very motivated for this one. Because otherwise, no house for me, and I badly want to be in a house. And be able to comfortably afford it without living paycheck to paycheck. Once my cards are in a much better spot, we will…

Build up savings. We need to be saving for a house and an in general emergency fund. I have some in savings already, but I’ve dipped into it for bad reasons, and that also has to stop. With proper budgeting, meal planning, couponing, checkbook balancing and planning ahead, I should never ever have to touch my savings again except to put more in or take some out for that house or major emergency.

Pet-related goals

Last year, I had a resolution to walk my dog more often, and while I succeeded a little bit, I still didn’t do it nearly as often as I should have. I blame the combination of laziness and frantically planning my wedding, then the summer and fall to follow with more commitments than I’ve ever had and a seriously busy year. Anyway, no more excuses! This year, I’m carrying over that resolution again: to walk Brick more often, and if I can’t because of whatever reason, he at least deserves more play time and training.

My other dog-related resolution is working on ways to keep Brick from jumping on guests when they come in the house. I knew it was a nuisance, but just never took the time to really correct the behavior. I would use “band aids” by physically preventing him to jump and holding him by the collar as guests entered, then letting him loose once they were settled. But this just builds his excitement even more. I’ve made some small steps already to work on it by using common sense and basic training techniques, but I know there has to be even more I can be doing.

Relationship goals

Always put effort into my marriage. Like I want to give 100% in my job, I need to give even more to my marriage. I need to be more patient in general, but also with my husband. I need to stop interrupting and really listen. I need to be there more, like emotionally present and understanding.

I also really want to do regular date nights. Not too often, because we have a house to save for, but if we can find cheap way to dedicate to connecting on a regular basis, I think it will do us a lot of good. Now that I’m meal planning for us to save money, we haven’t actually gone out just the two of us, for a long time. And I miss it! Some days we can stay in and have a planned activity, or do free activities like picnic in the park, but we also really enjoy eating out, so we’ll fit in some of those trips as long as we can afford it and do it wisely (i.e., with coupons, gift cards, during happy hour, etc.).

Personal goals

Work on my punctuality and time management. One of my biggest flaws, in my opinion, has been that I am perpetually late. I rarely am on time for most things. It annoys me and I hate that about myself, but I just can’t seem to find ways to fix it. It’s not intentional by any means; it just sort of happens. I lose track of time. I get caught up in XYZ and realize all of a sudden, ‘OMG, I need to be there NOW!’ and rush out the door. That leaves me feeling frantic and upset that I let that happen, and I hate that I made people wait on me. I’ve got to find some ways to fix that. Anyone got some tips?

Be happier. I have a bit of a temper. I have anger issues. I have little to no patience when it comes to certain things. The dumbest part is it’s usually over really small, stupid things. I think the root of it is that I’m not very understanding of strangers’ situations. The biggest issue I have is with people that I think are inconsiderate. Most any time I go to the store, I rage about someone who is blocking an aisle and seems oblivious to it. I get upset that a child is screaming and stomping around next to me. What a waste of emotion to get worked up about that! Maybe the person is just really sidetracked about something in their life, or is intent on reading the label on something to make sure it’s a good product and simply didn’t see me. So instead of steaming that they’re jerks, I should step back and give them some slack. And maybe that screaming child is simply acting out because he’s sick and doesn’t feel well but doesn’t know how to contain it, or maybe he’s neglected or dealing with his own issues and is simply acting out to get attention from his parents. Who knows, but it’s not worth me self-sabotaging my own shopping trip because I can’t handle a few people who are doing something I think is annoying. Get over it and move on! Really, what I think I need to do is notice all of the good in the world around me, not the bad.

Worry less. I have a tendency to overanalyze. Many tasks I have to do I obsess over. And anything that happens in my life I obsess over. Every little thing gets me worked up. If I overdraft in my checking account, I think that I’m doomed and will end up homeless soon because I can’t manage my money. If my husband doesn’t text me back within a couple minutes while he’s out at band practice, I think he got stuck in a ditch and is dying.

I have to consider every scenario. Which made planning my wedding particularly hard. I thought that if I didn’t give my bridesmaids awesome gifts, they would hate me and not be my friend anymore. If I had to choose a caterer, I contacted every single caterer in a 30-mile radius, stalked their websites and Facebook pages, picked out my theoretical menu and calculated the cost at each. Because if I didn’t have the perfect menu at the right price, obviously my guests would be disappointed in the wedding and never speak to me again. What a waste of time and emotional energy! Let’s focus on the things that truly matter. Otherwise do a quick, rational analysis and move on.

Kick butt at my job and other commitments. Now that I’m in a job that truly fulfills me, where I feel appreciated and respected, I want to do my absolute best to reassure them and myself that I am the right person for this job. That means trying to not get sidetracked, staying on task, doing things ahead of schedule and putting 100% into everything I do.

I need to apply these same principles to my volunteer and freelance work. Because why bother with any of it if I’m not going to be doing my best at it?!

Eat better and live a healthier lifestyle. I’ve been surviving off junk food and couch potatoing for years. It’s got to stop. I have already been doing significantly better with my meal planning, but I need to be even stricter about it. I have meals planned now, but not snacks, so I still reach for those chips far more than I should. I’ve found that healthy food CAN be yummy too, so I want to keep trying and discovering new things that are better choices. Similarly, I’ve found some cool beauty and household products that are organic and natural, and I’d like to  be more conscious of the things I put ON my body and use in the house, too.

I also need to be more active. I used to do sports in high school, then pilates around college … but then I got lazy. We have a free gym at my new workplace. I should use it. I should dust off those pilates DVDs and do them on the weekends.

Maintain the house and organize more. I do a pretty good job at basic home maintenance, doing a few things every single weekend like sweeping and Swiffering, wiping off the counters and cleaning the toilet (and my husband vaccuums every weekend and does the dishes every day, bless his heart), but there are some areas that I let accumulate too much stuff. The kitchen table is absolutely awful, and the day after I get it looking presentable again, it’s messy once again. I need to come up with some kind of better filing system or a mail organizer or something to keep the clutter off the table. Our spare bedroom is also a disaster zone and the dumping ground for anything we can’t find a good place to put otherwise. We clean it up if we expect company soon who will be staying in there, otherwise, some days it’s like an episode straight out of Hoarders. Not even kidding.

Likewise, I need to tackle small spaces that have too much “stuff” too. I’ve done a couple closet clean ups, but I want to do a massive overhaul. I still have things in there I know I’m never going to wear again. And you don’t even want to see the magazine rack. I literally have magazines piled up on top of it feet high from 2007 and on. I will stop subscribing to new magazines, even if they are free (that’s been my downfall. A free subscription to Oprah, Brides and Better Homes & Gardens? Don’t mind if I do! But I never read them. I throw them in the corner.), until ALL my current ones are gone, and I will slowly start getting through the ones I have. Goal: Read one old magazine a week. Bring it to work to flip through on breaks.

My bookshelf is organized neatly, but has far too much in it. I recently came to the realization that of all the books I own, there are only a very small handful I actually ever intend to read more than once. So after I offer the ones I have read and won’t again, or never have and never will, to my friends, what is left over is going to Goodwill. End of story. On a kind of similar note, the recipe board in my Pinterest is overflowing with the same thing – stuff I’ve tried and won’t make again, and some things I pinned for fun that I never really plan to make or do. I will organize my pin boards and delete pins that aren’t useful. Who wants to scroll till the end of time trying to find that one recipe that I did actually like? Of the probably 100+ recipes pins, there’s only 5 or so that I have made and were successful enough I would make again.

My email is also full of clutter. I need to unsubscribe from newsletters that I just scan and delete anyway and work at getting my unread count to 0. I have 500 unread emails in my box right now. That’s down from 1,100 I had about a month ago when I did one round of purging. Don’t worry, I do scan it every single day for things from friends, coupons, blog related or other important things, but 90% of the junk I get I don’t care about. Arby’s has a new sandwich? Who cares; I haven’t been there in years! Unsubscribe please.

Be more fashion conscious. I’ve been working on my style more in the past yearish, but I can be even better. I have too many slept-in-too-late-throw-on-the-first-thing-I-see days. I saw a pin that had a weekly outfit organizer – it was a shallow, long storage tub that had cubes for each day of the week. I’d like to try each Sunday planning my outfits for the rest of the week so it’s one less thing I have to think about in my morning haze. After my closet is more cleaned out and I have the money to, I also need to add more staples to my wardrobe. I need more versatile pieces like plain T-shirts and tanks, cardigans, jeans and boots that I can rewear and accessorize in many different ways. Plus a few statement pieces for days when I feel a little wild. Rawr.

My faith. I grew up in a religious household in a religious family. But since I’ve been on my own, I’ve let my religion slide. Granted it has changed a little bit – I question some things and just don’t think I’m ever going to be a super religious person in general, but a few core basics of religion in general I miss. I used to pray, all the way through high school. Then in college I stopped. Who knows why. No good reason. I didn’t prioritize it. But now that I’m an adult and may have children on the horizon, I want to take some time for reflection and remember what values are important to me. I still won’t go to church every Sunday, read the Bible frequently or pray over every meal I eat, but I should fit in SOME aspect of faith back in my life. Which is pretty much nothing right now, which makes me feel really ashamed. Praying when there’s something worth praying about is something I want to do again. And maybe even expanding my horizons and reading up on other religions, or just spirituality in general, would benefit me. Remembering and trusting that something out there is bigger than me. I lose sight of that a lot.

Read more. I read about one book every other month for book club, but I have so many more books I want to read, some of which I already own. Set aside some time each week to read for fun too.

Blog goals

Schedule time in my day/week to devote to posting, as well as reading and commenting on other blogs. I was beating myself up for awhile because I felt like I was starting to fail already, but thanks to the advice I received, I realized that I can only do what’s achieveable, am inspired to write and have the time for. The goal will be at least one post a week, but if that doesn’t happen, that’s OK. If it’s more, even better!

I’m considering making a blog calendar so I have set goals and topics I should be posting about. I’m not sure if that will work for me, but I like the idea of scheduling that time. Of course, I can switch it around, but having some kind of outline might make me feel better about this whole thing.

Accountability

If I want to have greater chances at success at these goals/resolutions, I need to make a plan how HOW I will try to achieve them. My first step  will be literally penciling some of them into my planner. I live by my planner and setting deadlines for myself, so if I see that next Tuesday I’m supposed to organize the closet, I will. Simply saying, “some day” doesn’t work for me. I need to define specific times I’m going to work on tasks.

Some of them aren’t things I can schedule though, like being more patient and listening more, so I’m going to print out my resolution list and post it on my fridge, maybe even in the bedroom, bathroom and my work cube, so I see all the time the things I need to be focusing on. Maybe I’ll fit in some blog posts about it too!

Again, to me, making resolutions is about acknowledging areas in which I can improve upon and making the conscious effort to work toward those things. It’s self-awareness. Even some amount of effort or small success is worth it. I’m not setting out thinking I will accomplish all these things, because I probably won’t. But I will try! That’s the promise I’m making myself. Wish me luck. We shall see!

Seeking Blog Advice

This post is for all you bloggers out there! I’m still feeling very newish to blogging and am having some early struggles. I wish that I could blog all day. If I didn’t have a job, I’d probably sit for hours every single day thinking about and writing my own blog posts, reading and commenting on other blogs, finding new ones, reading blog tips. I love doing that. But here’s my dilemma and a confession: At my old job, the one I was at when I started this blog, I did a lot of blogging at work. I know, so bad. But in my defense, I still got all of my work done, and darn well if you ask me. But I had lots of extra time in the day, and I was just obsessed with bloggy land and stalked all that had to do with it.

The problem is now that I have a new job and just can’t work on my blog during daytime hours anymore, I’m struggling keeping up with it. I’m behind in my daily blog digest emails and don’t get to comment on others as much as I did in the beginning, let alone write as many posts as I wish I could. Then when I get home, I have so many things on my to-do list, from making dinner to doing laundry to cleaning up cat puke, doing my volunteer and freelance work, reading for book club and paying bills…you know, life. By the time the weekend is here, I am so tired from the week that I just zone out to the TV pretty much all weekend in between snuggles with the husband, other social commitments with friends or family or running errands. I just am having a really hard time finding time to give my blog, or maybe it’s the motivation to MAKE time for it. It’s really important to me, and I do NOT want to become one of those blogs that starts out strong then tapers off till posts happen a couple times a year and each of those posts start off with an apology for the time since the last post. The graveyard of blogs – I don’t want to end up there anytime soon.

I follow several bloggers, and small handful of some I really admire. They update about once a day, write great posts that I find engaging and interesting and clever and insightful. And I think they all have FT jobs too. HOW DO YOU DO IT? I want to know. What’s your secrets?

If I could cut a few hours of sleep out of my day and just blog till my heart’s content then, I totally would. But this girl without her 8-9 hours is a mess. Trust me, it’s bad. So how do I balance this new part of my life with my other life of being a wife, a fur mom, a working professional, and whatever other titles might define me? Help!

I Never Believed in Santa. So What?

I’m going to air some grievances here. While reading my digest of newlywed blogs this morning, I came across one that I will respectfully not name, that for the first time, offended me. Everyone is entitled to their own feelings and beliefs, but what I don’t like is when it feels like someone is telling me that mine are not as good.

Here’s the deal: I never believed in Santa. As a child, my mom told me that Santa wasn’t real, but that lots of my friends and other kids believe in him, so I shouldn’t ruin anything for them, but it was important to her that I knew the truth. It was nothing against the jolly fake man. I think it was mostly because she just didn’t want to build this guy up so much then leave me crushed when I found out the truth later. It also may have had something to do with knowing that the presents I received were from my family members and friends, not some dude from the North Pole. I don’t really know her real reasons though, but that’s my guess. I should ask her some day.

The thing is, I don’t feel like it affected my childhood in any way. I still got photos at the mall on Santa’s lap, watched Christmas movies, we still did plenty of other Christmas traditions like making cookies, singing and decorating the tree. So I had plenty of other magical, fun things to believe in and give the holiday some spirit. Santa did not take anything away from my childhood.

So I did take offense to this blog post today that ranted and raved about how awful it is for parents to ruin Christmas by telling their kids Santa wasn’t real. She went on and on and was so worked up over it. To each their own I say. You belived in him, a lot of people did, but that doesn’t give reason to place your judgments on others who had a different experience. Maybe I think it’s weird that you DO believe in him, but I’m not going to make a big deal out of it.

A comment the author made later on another comment explained that she wrote in a heat-of-the-moment emotion fest, but that she still stuck to her feelings that she thinks it’s sad that kids wouldn’t believe in Santa and that she thinks it’s out of our society’s trying to be politically correct. I think that it has nothing to do with that. It just wasn’t a big deal. And it’s certainly not sad.

I’m not sure if I will tell my own kids about Santa. I don’t think there’s much harm either way, so we’ll see I guess. But Santa aside, isn’t the most important part of Christmas spending time with those you love, making memories and remembering the true meaning of Christmas? I think so. Whatever your beliefs are.

My Personality Style

For work, I got to take a personality assessment to evaluate what type of worker I am and what traits I have. The point is to use it to see how different personality types can work together, understand each other and get results for the good of the company.

I know there’s many different assessments out there, but the one we used have four personality types – dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness, standing for DISC. I tested as a C, with S a close second. This meant that I am analytical, reserved, precise, private and systematic. Secondly, even-tempered, accommodating, patient, humble and tactful. The opposite of the other two types that were dominant, outgoing, lively, direct, forceful, firm and strongwilled.

It’s really not surprising, but then the report went on and things got eerie. It went on to describe my work style and what I do well with and what aggravates me. It said that I want a sense of security, want clearly defined expectations, work in a calm manner, avoid high pressure situations, am diplomatic, dislike conflict, but can get bogged down in the minor details and specifics. Accuracy is most important to me, which makes sense as an editor. That’s pretty much my job to be accurate and consistent, detail oriented. My stressors were listed as making decisions without time for analysis, dealing with chaos, being unprepared and taking risks.

Then one statement the report made hit me hard. It said: “You have a strong need for harmony in your relationships, so you tend to be considerate of others’ needs. You’re unlikely to display anger or impatience, so people are comfortable asking you for help. In fact, you’re often willing to put your own needs aside to give the support that’s needed.”

Dead on. All of it.

Who knew answering 20 or so questions would tell me exactly what I’m like. Even in ways that I kind of knew, but didn’t really acknowledge till it hit me in the face.

The thing that struck me was how similar all of those statements were when it came to my wedding. I made SO MANY lists, I overanalyzed every single minor detail, I triple checked everything, I made sure all details were outlined and planned for. And when things did get stressful and chaotic, I couldn’t handle it. Hence my meltdown in the apartment over ice cream. But I tried so hard to never show any of it. I wanted to appear calm and collected through it all. I wanted to handle every detail and not ask for help so I wouldn’t bother anyone else.

But, just like this report said, I need those other personality styles in my life to give me balance and help me out. I couldn’t have made it in the end without my husband, friends or family. I do tend to surround myself with people who are far more outgoing than I am. Probably because I like balance. Also, I’m a Libra. I live on trying to be balanced and fair.

Put two shy people in a room alone and neither will say much. I need to lean on those different than myself to bring out those less dominant traits in myself. That’s one thing I love most about my husband. He says without hesitation the things that I’m thinking, but am too nervous or shy to say aloud for fear of judgment. And I like that. I wish I were more like that. I can be passive-aggressive, because it’s easier than being direct and to the point, which I think made me a bad manager at my old job. But in the new enlightened and aware me, I should try more to push myself to say what I’m thinking, because it’s OK to give my opinion and share what I’m feeling. And if someone doesn’t like it, oh well. That’s the part I struggle with. I want to be liked. But I know that if someone doesn’t like me for some silly reason, then it’s their loss. It’s something I have to remind myself. To “Lean In” more. Speaking of, have any of you read “Lean In?” If not, do it. Best book for women in the workplace, or anywhere.

I’m not saying I need to change my personality, because I know we’re all unique and should embrace it. But I do think it’s healthy to be aware of your traits and sometimes push yourself to go outside of your comfort zone to challenge yourself, because it’s a great way to grow as a human being.

That’s part of what this blog is for me. A public space to air my thoughts and feelings. Don’t like it? Stop reading! I’ve found the strength finally to take that attitude here, so let’s see if I can do it in other aspects of my life too. Phew!

TV wives and moms I admire

I know that TV and movies often don’t portray the real world…even reality TV isn’t so realistic. But maybe that’s why I like it so much. Regardless, there are some people on TV that I absolutely love for various reasons. A small handful of women on TV I really admire. Some are actual people and some are just characters, but each of them have qualities that I wish I could embody. And even though some of the shows and situations are fake, I think each woman is genuinely a good person and a good mom/wife.

-Linda Belcher, aka the mom from Bob’s Burgers. I love stupid, crude humor, and that’s why I love this show. Every single episode makes me genuinely laugh. The characters are simply fantastic. Tina is my favorite of them all, but I also really love Linda because I kinda wanna be like her. One, because of her random outbreaks of song. Two, because she loves her husband and loves her kids and would do anything to protect them, but she also has her own life and realizes that she has to let them screw up in order for them to grow.

-Claire Dunphy, aka the mom on Modern Family. Phil, Claire’s husband is my favorite character, but again, Claire is the kind of mom I hope to be. She’s kind of like the more frazzled version of Linda Belcher. She’s trying so desperately to balance parenting and being in her kids’ lives while re-entering the workforce, dealing with her accident-prone, well intentioned but kind of ditzy husband, and so many other family dynamics. Despite her overstressed and trying-too-hard exterior, she really cares about her family and admits that even she has a lot to learn about it all. And she’s deeply in love with her husband, despite his sometimes obvious flaws.

-Roseanne Conner, aka the mom from Roseanne. Again, I really feel like Roseanne is a very similar mom to Linda and Claire. She loves her family so much, but lets them screw up. I don’t want to call it a hands-off approach because it’s not, but it’s also not micromanaging. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t worry about them, because she does, but she also has to be a parent while working a job she doesn’t really love but tries to make the most of it, and with a husband who has his own issues, and they have their struggles, but they always make it work. I also like how she admits to her struggles, and they’re worked out in a more accurate way than in other TV shows. It seems far more real to me than how it is on shows like Family Matters and Full House (albeit great shows as well, but just not very representative of how real people deal with real life).

-Tia and Tamera Mowry. This will likely not be the first post in which I gush about these girls. I absolutely adore them. I liked their show Sister Sister growing up, but it’s their new reality show, Tia & Tamera, that made me fall in love with them. They are both just so genuine. They are kind and nice and friendly and down to earth and just awesome women. They don’t seem like they’ve let fame define them, and they’re still real people, and very relatable. I admire how open they are with their lives, the decisions they’ve made, their insecurities, their careers and their relationships. They have struggles too, but the deal with them the best way they can. But even when they’re down, they always maintain their sense of humor. They love to laugh, and they love to love. I think they’re great moms and great wives (though in very different ways from each other). They just make me so happy, and I want to be their friend. When I watch their show, I feel like it’s an hour I get to hang out with my girlfriends. They make me laugh and they make me cry.

What famous women (real or characters) do you admire?