Start, Stop, Start Again

School started up again last week and that one start alone was enough to throw just about anything else I had going into a tailspin. One of the results – no blogging.  One week in we are going great though. Classes, all good, teachers, all good etc…

So this week I’m focusing on getting back to focusing on me. Here’s a list of the small starts I’ve made so far this week:  (yeap bullets – other wise known as blog cheating)

  • So starting to exercise is on my list of things I want to do but I’m attacking that one fairly slowly .. like most parents I’ve realized the only time I can really do this is if I give up some sleep and do it early in the morning. So my start has actually been to start getting myself up at 5:45 just to get used to doing that. I know that might sound weird but my theory is this, waking up and exercising – that’s two mental hurdles to jump. If I can train my body to wake up on it’s own at this time first, I’m only tackling the one hurdle then.
  • Middle School PTA – I’ve been active in our elementary school PTA for many years but it’s time to start moving on and let the newer crowd have some space. I found that the easiest way to be okay with this was to throw my hat in the ring at the middle school, where truth be told, the extra pair of hands is needed much more.
  • Pumpkin Patch Leadership – Our youth group at church runs a pumpkin patch that is so big and local famous that it’s able to fund a great deal of the activities they do for the rest of the year. (Seriously we’re knows as “The Pumpkin Patch Church”) Last year, being our first year in Youth Group there, I just did a few cashier shifts but this year I volunteered for a leadership role because I’m trying to become more connected with the other parents.
  • Today I signed up for the Subtraction Project which technically starts in September. I chickened out last time but I’m jumping in feet first this time around.
  • And then there is the BHAG that is floating around in my head. A scary perhaps life changing project that I’ve been wanting to start but have not told a soul about. Today I told four friends about it for the first time and asked a favor of them to help me get started.  <Holds breath waiting on the reply, hoping they don’t laugh>

So much for not posting aggravated and grumpy things…

This post might end up making me seem like a bit of an ass but bare with me and I’ll try to explain what’s got me a bit fired up.

There are two very big news stories being discussed tonight (three if you count the fact that we seem to be bombing Iraq again but I can’t even think about that) and I think the wrong one is getting all the attention.

My Facebook stream is loaded with post after post after post about the death of Robin Williams. Everyone from neighbors, to my employer, and of course, other celebrities have something to say about it. In fact I’m kind of shocked by how much attention it’s getting.

Don’t get me wrong it’s a horrible and sad turn of events, but what it has not struck me as is surprising. His talent, while genius, has always danced on the edge of insanity. To describe his standup act as “manic” would be an understatement. I’ve always thought that it must be a tremendous burden to live inside his head with a brain that could do all the amazing things his brain could do at the speed at which it did them. And while he was certainly a comedic giant, he was also able to tap into some pretty dark stuff, he never struck as a particularly happy person. This almost seems like an inevitable ending.

Given the above it’s not surprising he battled addictions and depression. But he was also a very wealthy man with every advantage and had clear access to all the help he could possibly ask for. He sought help but it wasn’t enough. In the end he made a choice, a tragic one for sure, but a choice none the less. This is the ending he apparently wanted. We can only pray that that choice has brought him the peace he desired and he most assuredly deserved.

But in St Louis tonight there is a family of a teenage boy who did not make that choice.

But who is also dead none the less, and at the hands of the police.

A boy who was killed on Saturday – and whose death is surrounded in questions. Racial tensions appeared to push peaceful protests beyond peace and looting and rioting ensued. A tragic response to a terrible problem, undermining the intent of those who would be like their voices of protests to heard and acknowledged in a meaningful way.

Later, resumed peaceful protests appear to have been met by amped up police actions ready for more trouble, whether trouble arrived or not – almost willing it to. According to live on the ground twitter reports unarmed people carrying nothing but cell phones have been attacked with wooden and rubber bullets as well as attacked with tear gas. Residents are being denied access to their homes. Police are attempting to quarantine the press and refusing to allow up close coverage of what is happening. Not in the middle east, not in North Korea, but right here in the United States. A no fly zone has been established to help aid in the press blackout.  Property owners are being gassed on their own property, video tape shows them in their own yard with the police coming down the street, they stand with their hands in the air behind their fence and property line – and the police shoot at them.

Even seasoned veterns are starting to question the amount of armor that is being displayed by the SWAT teams.

But not one person in my Facebook news feed has mentioned it at all. No one is upset by any of that.

Maybe it’s just me but I’m far more concerned about racial divides in this country and police misconduct and censorship,  than I am over whether or not there will be another Ms Doubtfire movie. Since when does a celebrity death become more newsworthy, up worthy, or sharable than the police killing an unarmed boy or peaceful protesters being bullied by police?

Mr. Williams led a troubled life but left behind a brilliant body of work that will carry on his legacy for years. Michael Brown never even got to start his freshman year of college, and regardless of the events that lead to the shooting, was unarmed and died at the hands of someone he should have been able to trust with his life. Which of these deserves our attention or outrage more?

Maybe neither is more deserving then the other but certainly they should at least carry equal weight in our consciences and social media streams.

Eating Our Vitamens

So I’m a couple of chapters into START by Jon Acuff, and right off I identified with his point about one of the barriers to starting is that we want to have the whole thing planned out, and how that just about never happens. That making a small start, “sample yogurt sized” as he puts it, is where it’s more likely to root successfully.

One thing I’ve decided is that out of my ideas that I’m flirting with is that I can’t possible start everything all at the same time. So I need to prioritize. Clearly I’ve put firing up the old blog at the top.. mainly because right now I’m seeing it as a tool for working through the other things. For thinking my thoughts. After that I might tackle one new start every week or so for the next few months. I’m starting small with my starts.

Up Next comes the food thing.

This is one effects the kids so I want put this high on the list. We don’t eat well. We used to before the drama but now, not so much. By well, I’m referring to nutritionally, rather than volume or quality. Two factors contribute to this, first we are on the go all the time with the girls sports schedules. And second I hate to cook, or more correctly I hate to clean up afterwards, the cooking I’m okay with actually. So as a result, given those factors we have snacked and munched our way through summer and very little of it holds that much value.

Summer is ending so it’s a good time to change.

The truth is I’d love to be a whole-food, vegan dish preparing mom whose kid’s lunches are little bento boxes of wholesome organic goodness. That is the BHAG, That is where I get stuck on this food thing. I have felt like it has to be an all or nothing, zero sum change. We have to go all in or not at all. But that isn’t going to happen. At least not overnight. So I sat down to figure out where we can START.

Here are my goals with #EatingBetter:

  1. I want to eat well enough so that we are getting our needed vitamins and minerals in our food and drinks. If it doesn’t help fulfill this goal, we probably don’t need to eat it. I’m looking at you Cheetos, we love you but really what is your point?
  2. When given the choice, I’m going to pick versions of the things we like that are more natural or organic or  free range or hormone free or whatevergogurt
  3. There are still somethings we’re allowed that aren’t going to fit into those first two rules but that fit into our lives: like Pop-Tarts. That is okay.
  4. We will limit meat but aren’t going to give up meat or dairy – I feel that the girls need the protein and the calcium sources in their diets. But again, better choices and better sources. We might work our way toward vegetarian but probably not vegan.
  5. It’s okay to treat ourselves occasionally – yeap I’m looking at your snack sized McFlurry

So there are the 5 rules I’m going to START taking with me to the grocery store and through the drive through and into the take out menu.

I’ll let you know how it’s going next week.


{Shift} has been my motto for the past few years. It was more than a word or a theme, it was a way of life, of survival. When life has been turned upside down and you’re just finding you way through each day, shifting as needed is how you get by. Never expecting anything to be in any particular way, just accepting things as they come as shifting to move through, around, and with them.

Today I found myself unexpectly alone with no kids for an entire day – a weekend day. After a summer of juggling work, kids, sports, and everything else a totally free nothing but me weekend day was a daunting gift.

I had no idea what I wanted to do, I struggled with what to do for most of the morning. I knew if I didn’t get myself out and leave the house I’d regret it – staying home was no way to spend a free day. Finally I decided at the very least I’d go to the grocery store.

As soon as I got out of the driveway and down the road, three or four other things I would rather do and wanted to do occurred to me and as I allowed myself to shift to doing those things instead I realized that I have perhaps developed a problem with all this shifting.. I can no longer easily {Start}. Because action was required of me to initiate something rather than react to it – I was almost so frozen that I didn’t leave, but once I just got in the car and was going, creativity flowed, ideas came, plans hatched.

I’ve become so adept at adjusting to what comes at me, I no longer feel confident to start something on my own. As I’m driving along and considering this, I started thinking about all the ideas I’ve had rolling around in my head the last few weeks.

Starting up this blog again for instance…

Changing how we eat, figuring out some exercise routine, getting serious about my photography and turning it into something more than a hobby, decluttering the house.

These are all things I want to do. But I realized that I can’t get started, I flirt with the idea and roll it around and maybe take a step or two but it seems overwhelming to not have a fully fledged plan so I just never get anywhere.

And then I laughed as the lightbulb in my head went off, yesterday in flirting with the idea of decluttering I had cleaned up a pile of stuff that had been sitting in the laundry room. The only thing I kept from the whole pile of stuff was this book.










Life has a sense of humor like that sometimes. I have no idea when or why I ordered it and the only reason that I didn’t throw it away with the rest of the junk in the pile was that I thought I might try and resell it instead.

So I have a new reading assignment. And a new word. Start.

Let’s see where that shift takes us…



Exactly how many times can you start a blog over again?

Yeap, here I am again, considering the blog. I’m not sure exactly why but the last week or two I find myself writing blog posts in my head for the blog that barely exists.

Maybe it’s that school is starting up again in a week or so and subliminally I think I need to starts something again also.

Maybe it’s because S is really getting into writing and making up stories and journalling and she’s reminded and inspired me to do the same.

Maybe it’s still that nagging feeling that it’s important to document this time in lives so the girls will understand it better when they are grown up and look back on it.

Maybe it’s because I’ve enjoyed the #100happydays experimented I started 10 days ago. (I think I might retro that one back into here)

Who knows? Does it matter? I really think it doesn’t.

What matters is that I feel like doing it again and that thought makes me happy.

Merry Christmas

Sigh, I took the plunge. I did it. I spent money on me.

That’s a very hard thing to do these days. It didn’t used to be. I had gotten to place both mentally and financially where I allowed myself to not just have the things I needed, but also the things that I wanted. It took me over 40 years to get there but I did get there.

And then it was ripped away with the tide.

For almost 2 years now I’ve been back in that other place. That place where I stay up late worrying about money and security. Money = security to me. I need it in the bank to feel secure. Just knowing it’s there helps me sleep at night, sometimes. Those nights when I don’t lay there playing whatif scenarios for how it could all wash away again and worrying that there isn’t enough.

I’m never going to be as financially secure as I was there for a few golden years but I work hard at reminding myself I’m far from in trouble. I have a good job, and I make a good salary and while sure with two kids it’s easy to blow through each paycheck. I’m pretty good at not doing that.

So today I splurged and spent money on a “want” that I’ve been wanting for some time. A camera upgrade.  My old camera is now almost 4 years old. I just checked, it will be 4 in December. And in technology years – that’s what 87?

It’s had some wear and tear and still in good shape. But it’s slow, for a DSLR it’s slow. And 80% of my shots now are of sports and a 1/3 of those are in some pretty crappy low light gyms. So fast is important. Fast is needed. The (new) Precious though, she’s twice as fast. And her buffer is huge. Which in photography terms means more shots in a row – essential for sports.

I started to do this back at the start of swim season but one trip to the camera store convinced me to wait. Just holding the D7000 and seeing how different the dials and menus are from my older model Nikon – I knew I had a pretty steep learning curve in front of me and I wanted to be able to take that curve on with some time and patience. I didn’t want to get a whole season of crappy swim shots because I was working with new equipment.

I’ve said this here before I’m just not one of those people who can buy a piece of equipment or gadget or car or even a piece of software not want to know how every bit of it works. I have to know what every button, every menu, every option does. Taking on new equipment for me is not a light weight transaction.

So now we’re between sports seasons. And I’ve found a really great resource for learning.

I have a new fan-girl crush on Jared Polin from FroKnowsPhoto. He’s awesome. I love that he’s just so real with this advice and how he talks or explains things – there is no pretention at all but he’s wicked smart and knowledgeable.. He seems like the kind of guy you’d want to hang out and have a beer with and you’d always come away knowing something you didn’t know before. I love those sorts of people.

I started with this video where he just does a walk around the camera and discusses what each dial and button does – he manages to be so basic, but never boring, never condescending. Did I already know what the majority of the buttons did – sure I’ve been using Nikon DSLRs for 10 years now, but I still learned stuff that I didn’t know. (and it was the tipping point for me to take the plunge on the purchase)

I started the 2nd video where he discusses the menu system and while I watched it before – I’ll be watching it again today as a walk through as I set up my camera the first time – he is that thorough.

As if all that “new” wasn’t enough – I’ve also taken advantage of the special Adobe  is running right now (9.99 per month) and upgraded my Photoshop to the Creative Cloud version that includes Lightroom. So I’ll be managing and doing post production tweeking for all my shiny new photos in Lightroom now. More new stuff to learn!

Anyone know any great (free) resources learning your way around Lightroom?

Friday Internet Roundup

This describes every trip I’ve every made to Whole Foods Ever

And then there was this post over at The Bloggess that made me smile so much my face hurt.

The new iphone came out today and good news is your cat can use the new fingerprint scanner just fine.

HULU made me very happy by adding Dr Who this week. Not sure why this makes me so happy since Amazon Prime already had them but it just does.

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Watched some of CreativeLive’s free sessions this week and fell in love with the amazing Brooke Shaden and her work

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Who Needs Autocorrect … I can have screwed up conversations with my kid just fine all by myself

ImageIn the car discussing why her little sister couldn’t play after school yesterday…

Me: (referring to the 8 yo) …then she was so eager to get back to reading her Captain Underpants book. she pitched a fit about doing her worksheets and got in trouble.

12 yo: You know Captain Underpants is partly pornagraphic novel right?

Me: Captain Underpants IS NOT pornagraphic what are you talking about? Why would you say that!?!?!

12 yo: Pornagraphic? I said “Captain Underpants…is…partly… a…. graphic…… novel.”

Me: Oh

12 yo: I don’t even know what pornagraphic means.


12 yo: Mom? Mom?

Me:  Look at that cloud over there.

Food Rules: Or the lack there of

infinite_food_tshirts-rff85332d577c4af7a7189ac6f4bf40ae_8nfss_512 The food rules in our house are quite different than what I suspect you find in most homes. That’s okay we all do it a little differently.

1. Just because I cooked it, does not mean you have to eat it. (and vice versa)

I grew up in a house where the opposite of this was a hard and fast rule. As a result I spent a great many meals forcing down food I didn’t like. The end result of this was not that I grew to have a varied and sophisticated pallet but instead, what I was left with was a long lasting dislike of food.  I view a meal as something to be gotten through or dealt with and it holds no enjoyment for me at all.

I am the opposite of an emotional eater.

In fact, food in general just pisses me off and stresses me out. It carries expectations and emotional land mines. I’m aggravated that I have to source it, pay for it, and hand it out. I get angry when dealing with it pulls me away from something I’d rather be doing. Food is a necessary evil.

Eat what you want.

2. We do not all have to sit down at the table together to eat it.

Mostly I eat standing up in order to quickly get it over with. I don’t expect others to do that. So by all means eat when and where you want but please do not expect me to stop what I’m doing three times a day and feed you or eat with you. Eat when you’re hungry, get it yourself. I have a great big table, it seats 8 but don’t look for me.

Caveat – I make the kids eat at the table still though, mainly for cleaning up purposes. They are messy eaters and I require them to clean up their mess when they are done. This is easiest for everyone if it’s all contained around the kitchen table and chairs. They are not however required to maintain a three meals a day routine. Surprisingly due to social norms and school routines and probably a little healthy rebellion, they prefer to, therefore I do my best to make sure they have the time and opportunity to do it.

3. We don’t eat junk.

You might expect that given the two above rules, my kids live off waffles and french fries. They do not. It’s pretty simple really – if you don’t buy waffles and french fries, no one eats them.

We buy healthy food and therefore they eat healthy food.

Is there an occasional pizza? Sure. But it’s not a regular thing. Mostly they eat vegetables, pasta, cheeses, fruit, and chicken or pork. I’m not a big beef eater with the exception of having a requirement of ground beef in my spaghetti sauce. As a result they gravitate towards the same.

Since we live in Florida – it was inevitable they discovered seafood. I’m not a fan personally but they are, especially the young one. She loves her some shrimp. I make sure she has a regular selection of seafood as well.

My children have a very healthy diet and zero weight issues. While genetics play a pretty good role in this – it’s also due to the fact that they don’t sit around eating bags of chips and gallons of ice cream. It’s not rocket science.

4. The older you get, the more you learn to feed yourself.

Do I expect my 8 year old to make her own dinner, of course not. But I do expect my 12 year old to  take care of her own breakfast and lunch.  And she’s been learning to cook since she was around 10. Now 2 years later there’s not that much that she can’t safely make herself. She is not expected to cook dinner, but she is allowed to if she wants.

As I see it, it’s my job to prepare her to be able to take care of herself. This includes cooking for herself. As a result she has a much healthier and normal relationship with food than I do. She’s a scientist at heart and enjoys experimenting in the kitchen. She determines her own food agenda.

5. Make your own plate with a reasonable amount of food for someone your size. Adults eat more than kids because they are bigger. Teenagers eat like bottomless pits – pile it on. Everyone’s plates of food should not look the same – adjust to what is appropriate to you.

Since mostly I feed two little girls, this doesn’t come up often. But when family  or friends visit, this rule comes into play.   We eat what will fill us up. If you need more, then serve yourself more. If you don’t need as much then don’t put it on your plate.  Simple.

This rule gets me some looks sometime. When I give my kids the appropriate portion for a person their size. They are smallish girls who don’t need 5 pounds of food to fill up. I’m always surprised when people give adult portions of food to children.

6. We don’t eat from the bag/box/carton/packaging.

Get a plate, a bowl,  or a cup. We may not all sit around for family dinners but we do have manners. If you want some popcorn fine, make it and put a single serving in a bowl to crunch on – don’t sit there an eat from the bag like a horse from a feed bag.

7. Children don’t drink soda.

They just don’t. Water, milk, juice, Gatorade, I’ve got it all. Any soda brought into this house if solely for adult purposes.

    So what are the food rules at your house?