Crappy days are going to happen. I admit that often a day’s crap factor has a lot to do with whether or not the kids are being difficult, or if I’m tired, or if I’m distracted. But today was more like just a series of unfortunate events, all Lemony Snicket up in here.
• I was tired. I’m always tired. These 6am wake up calls are brutal. By Wednesday I’m dragging, and by Friday I am questioning the purpose of life itself.
• I was rushed. I got the big girls off to school okay, but in the hour and a half between their drop off and taking Zoe to preschool, I felt completely pressed for time, with all of my to-dos hanging over my head.
• Christian spilled my coffee. All over Zoe. Everyone promptly lost their shit in attempts to clean up and tear piping hot clothes off of the traumatized 4-year-old.
• I looked at my dining room table that I had just cleaned off the night before and just could not with all of the drawings and stickers and markers and tiny scraps of paper from having to make snowflakes at a rate of 37 per minute.
• We were super late to school, thanks to the Great Coffee Flood and the fact that I had to wrap a book for Zoe’s class book exchange. And then we forgot the book. Minor swearing ensued.
• Operating on autopilot while working, I made an error that my supervisor and I couldn’t fix.
At this point I just sat at my desk and ugly cried. The crying wasn’t about work. It was a culmination of everything that had happened so far, with the main factor being that I was just feeling so damn overwhelmed. And sometimes you just need a good cry. It was too much, and I don’t even know what IT was. IT was just a feeling.
I don’t ever feel particularly stressed around the holidays, but it usually manifests itself in different ways. Like completely breaking down after realizing you clicked a wrong box and sent someone’s notification into The Nothing instead of their inbox.
Let’s just say it was not a good day to have zero Christmas cookies in the house.
Luckily there were some bright spots. And even as the craptastic day continued with other craptastic events including, but not limited to, me spilling an entire serving of green beans, me sitting in cat puke, and me getting a phone call from UPS informing me that the package I shipped to my dad has been “damaged,” only no one could tell me what the damage was or if they were still going to ship it or dispose of the package of cookies that I slaved over for days (like they would actually just throw my package away), these bright spots kept me going:
• This sticker that Christian slipped inside my laptop when he saw me leave all Eyeore-like. This kind of thing pretty much sums up our relationship.
• A group of online girlfriends who lift me up when I’m feeling down (and who let me pipe up and say TODAY SUCKS!)
• A bottle of Hubert’s lemonade
• This meme, which – believe it or not – had nothing to do with the sticker above:
• Sharing some mutual girl-crush moments with a much-admired friend.
• This awesome panda sticker comment:
• Going to bed super early and falling asleep with a book on my face. Technically I haven’t done that yet, but I’m on my way. As Scarlett put it, “Tumarrah is anuthah day!”
How do you bounce back from a crappy day?
I’ve been wracking my brain for the past couple of days, trying to think of something – anything – that I’ve ever been truly passionate about. I’m coming up short.
Let’s go through my short history.
I always loved art, and I still do, but I was never passionate about it. I can spout off random fact and interesting anecdotes about various artists and paintings. I’ll still immerse myself in an art museum or gallery from time to time. But I’m happy to leave it. In college I rarely went into the studio during non-classtime hours. I knew I wasn’t going to move to New York and try my hand at making a career, even though I had spent practically my entire life declaring that that’s exactly what I wanted to do. I was good at it, and maybe that’s why I liked it so much. We often enjoy things we are good at.
Even now as a writer and a blogger, I can’t say I’m truly passionate about writing and blogging. I don’t eat, sleep and breathe writing. I love it, and it’s something I enjoy doing, and something that has led me to lots of fabulous opportunities, but if it came to a choice between writing and taking a nap? I’d take the nap.
Come to think of it, I am pretty passionate about napping. I will nap you under the table.
Over the weekend I got to meet a few people who have what I consider to be that rare passion for what they do.
One after another, trainers and handlers in the SeaWorld dolphin, orca, beluga whale, and bird habitats spoke to us and told their stories, which all were mostly some variation of this:
I visited the park as a kid, and I said, “This is it. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Can you imagine?
I admire and envy that kind of passion, the passion they have for their jobs, for their animals, and the thirst for knowledge they have as they continue to learn about these magnificent creatures, both at the park and in partnership with other research scientists. I admire the tenacity involved in following a goal from dream to actualization. These people never lost sight of what it was that they wanted, and now they are able to say they are truly doing what they love. Dream job.
I look back and I think, Did I miss my passion? Was there something that I came across as a kid and said “Man! I want to do THAT!” I don’t know, maybe if it involved ice cream or making those Jacob’s ladder things with the edges of the paper from the dot matrix printer. What I do know is that if we or our children are lucky enough to stumble upon something that makes our eyes grow wide with wonder and fills us with joy, that’s something to pay attention to. I left inspired to explore more of the things that interest me, but that I convince myself I have no time for. Sure, it’s possible I could grow weary of it once I realize that I am not that great at embroidery and vacuuming is actually super boring. But that initial interest and fascination could turn into a life-long passion. (Totally not going to be embroidery or vacuuming though. Sorry.)
I wonder if I had met Pepper the Gentoo Penguin as a kid, or any penguin, would I have had the same pull to them as I do now? They are my absolute favorite. Obviously, I need a penguin now.
Right now it’s looking like the passions around my house mainly revolve around Ninja Turtles, making homemade books about Ninja Turtles, and eating Pirate Booty. But Zoe is showing some promise with her ability to quote just about every single fact from every single Wild Kratts episode ever made, so there’s that. OUR HOPES AND DREAMS LIE ON YOU, LITTLE ONE.
Have you ever experienced real passion? Keep it clean, folks. We’re not talking about THAT kind of passion.
….that it’s not really pronounced bluebomment.
….that she did not, in fact, lose her teeth “a long long long long long time ago” and her baby teeth grew in after them.
….that an entire morning of board games is one of the most effective forms of torture for parents. Yes! please! You may now play your iPad!
….that Chris Kratt is married with 5 kids and like 40+ years her senior.
….that it’s about time the 2T polka dot jacket she covets was sent out to pasture.
….along with that favorite dress that’s looking more like a shirt these days.
….that she has Nutella all over her face.
….that as much as you love playing “Ninja Turtle Scares Mommy,” there are only so many circles a mommy can stand to run around the couch.
….that “eecause” starts with a B.
….that I really love it when she comes and snuggles in my bed, especially when she starts flailing and throwing her legs over me.
….actually, go ahead and tell her that part, about the leg flailing thing.
….that her stubbornness and determination will probably make her a real go-getter one day, but probably more like a complete asshole to work with.
….that she’s cute.
….that those shoes are too big.
….or that those shoes are too small.
….just…it’s best you just stay quiet and try not to make any sudden movements.
As a part of the Netflix Stream Team, each month I share my favorite things to stream online.
My Netflix watching has been all kinds of random this month. But you know what? That’s the beauty of Netflix.
Christian and I bought a new TV as an early Christmas present to ourselves, and we’ve just been having fun with it. Our old was was about 11 years old, and he found a great deal, so we went for it. I’ve never been one to need the latest and greatest, but man, those zombies on The Walking Dead are coming through crystal clear.
First, what we’ve been watching….
Burt’s Buzz – I first heard about this from my friend Corrin at Oh Hey, What’s up? Burt’s Buzz is a documentary centered around Burt Shavitz, the eclectic co-founder and face of Burt’s Bees. It was so interesting to see the distant relationship he holds with the company and hear how he, a no-frills loner, feels about his “fame.”
Django Unchained – Not gonna lie, I didn’t want to watch this when we had the option to rent it from Amazon. I just wasn’t interested. But we pulled it up one night on Netflix, and it really is a fantastic movie. Gory to all hell (it is Quentin Taratino after all), but a good story with fantastic actors. I loved Christoph Waltz’s character (you may remember his as the complete asshole Nazi from Inglorious Bastards), and Leonardo DiCaprio gives a great performance as a slave master. And Jamie Foxx’s Django was completely lovable and badass at the same time.
Fun fact: Did you know that Zoe is named after a character in a Quentin Tarantino movie? We settled on her name after watching Death Proof. We’d been having trouble for weeks coming up with something we really liked. One of the characters in the movie was named Zoe, and I said, “Huh. Zoe. I like that.” DONE.
The Walking Dead – What, you aren’t watching this show? We’re all caught up to the latest episodes, but we started watching the first three seasons on Netflix. Christian had already watched some of it, and finally convinced me to give it a chance. The first episode I thought I was going to completely lose my mind, I was so anxious. “If the rest of the episodes are like this,” I said, “I can’t do it.” But of course as with any good show, we have gotten totally invested in the characters. Daryl forever, y’all.
I was sick this past weekend, so I was able to catch up with Katniss in Catching Fire before I head out to see Mockingjay soon. And yes, I’m still watching Sherlock. Benedict Cumberbach, you are growing on me, sir.
The kids are watching all kinds of silly holiday and non-holiday goodness, so I thought I would round up a few of our favorites. The best part is that we don’t have to commit to anything and don’t feel bad about turning something off if it’s completely terrible, which may or may not have happen last night.
Robin Hood – One of my all time favorite Disney movies.
The Muppet Christmas Carol – Who doesn’t love the Muppets?
Wild Kratts – Zoe could watch the Wild Kratts all day and all night. She has a terrible crush on Chris Kratt, but it’s her undying love for animals that really keeps her interest. She spouts out the most random things she’s learned from the show, and her enthusiasm is unwavering.
What are you watching?
This post is graciously sponsored by Uncommon Goods. Uncommon Goods believes that it is their responsibility to use their business to impact the world in a positive way. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support this little blog.
I have a new desk! Of my own!
For the past, oh, forever, I’ve had my laptop firmly planted on the dining room table, unless I took it with me when I firmly planted my butt on the couch or on my bed. We live in a smallish house, around 1600 square feet, so there’s not a lot of extra room personal space. The dining room table, although in the middle of the house, was the only place where I could carve out a little space.
But it was never a perfect solution. The kids are constantly drawing, and we’ve amassed piles and piles of drawings of Ninja Turtles, baby spiders, family portraits, Hello Kitty, and then there are the fun times when Zoe goes on a snowflake-making bender, leaving itty bitty teeny weeny microscopic pieces of paper littering my floor like confetti. I myself have kind of a “paperwork” problem, where I collect any and all papers that I need to read, respond to, fill out, remind me of something, along with my calendar, notebook, and other random, super important crap.
The worlds were going to collide, and it wasn’t going to be pretty. I needed a space of my own.
A few weeks ago Christian got a wild hair to rearrange our bedroom, which allowed space for an old desk we had sitting around collecting dust. Years ago it was my art table, so its black formica was paint splattered and stained. For the past several years, every time the bulk trash people came around, I was tempted to put it on the curb, but it never found its way out there.
Thank goodness, because look at this baby now!
I cannot believe how good it looks, and you would not believe how happy it makes me. For the longest time I’ve wanted a little space to call my own, and if i can’t have my own room, dammit, at least I have my little haven. Before I painted it, the area was so dark and dreary. Our bedroom gets terrible natural light, even with the huge sliding door on one side (pro tip: do NOT buy a house with a sliding door in the bedroom, unless you want to play revolving cats all night, every night). Painting the desk white and stealing the kids’ lamp from the playroom has really brightened up the space.
The great people at Uncommon Goods sent me the beautiful piece of art hanging on the wall. When I first chose it, I wasn’t sure where I would put it. Maybe the girls room? My gallery wall? I wasn’t sure. Christian suggested I hang it above my desk, and so it was. And it was this piece that inspired me to get the ball rolling on refurbishing this terrible ugly desk that is terrible and ugly no more.
Plus, I kinda need this message too.
Uncommon Goods has long been one of my favorite places to buy gifty things. It’s one of the few physical catalogs that I hang onto so I can flip through it while the kids eat their after school snack. Uncommon Goods supports and provides a platform for artists and designers. About half of their products are made by hand, many incorporating recycled or upcycled materials. There’s a huge range of unique items for those people in your life that just don’t need another pair of gloves or socks (find great gifts for your wacky aunt here or something unique for your hard-to-shop-for brother here).
I love sitting down to work at my desk (which I am doing RIGHT NOW). I love looking at it from the other room. I love how much bigger and cleaner it seems with it’s fresh white coat of paint. I kinda feel like a grownup sitting here.
Then Rachel sat down and pretended to be me. She set up all of her little tchotchkes and got to work drawing some ninja turtle pictures. And apparently this is the face I make when I am working?
I really hope she lets me keep these here. Every blogger needs a snake/kitty/ninja/Batgirl team to keep her pumping out kickass content.
Oh. How sweet. Two seconds after this I caught them drawing on my new white desk. No pictures, because we need to retain the beauty of this moment. And my desk.
Uncommon Goods also sent me a package of these adorable little paper angels (find more Christmas gifts here). I love the different colors and patterns and the simplicity of the design, and I can’t wait to include them in my Christmas decorations this year. This one just might stay here on my pretty new desk with me.
This weekend was overcast and cold – like two pairs of pants cold. Saturday we had soccer and a fire in the fireplace and napping, so Sunday I decided I had better go for a run to get my muscles going and work off some of the Christmas-wrapped Hershey Kisses I downed, cold, misty weather be damned.
I was about to google how many minutes one had to run per Kiss, but then I decided not to depress myself.
By afternoon the annoying misty rain had quit, but it was still pretty cold. I headed out in my Under Armor compression capris (the ones with the hole in them from getting snagged in some Tough Mudder barbed wire 2 years ago), running tee (Kirkland’s Best, y’all!), and my C9 running jacket. And today I carried my phone in my husband’s FlipBelt.
My old iPhone 4s armband has worked just fine for my 6 up until recently. The 6 is bigger, so it’s a tight fit, and I sometimes have to velcro it SO tightly onto my arm – especially if I’m wearing a slippery long-sleeved tech tee – that the phone’s power and volume buttons go haywire. My last few runs have been interrupted by my music getting turned alllll the way down or alllll the way up. Stopping to fix these things takes away precious energy. Not to mention is is just hella annoying to have your favorite song just disappear while you’re mid-jam.
I’ve used the FlipBelt around the house to store my phone while I’m doing housework and listening to podcasts (Serial, y’all. Listen to it. It’s amazing.), but this was the first time I had run with it. It didn’t jostle or ride up or down, like my annoying compression pants do. But about a mile into my run, I felt something tugging on my earbuds, and I looked down to see something dangling from my waistband and OMG IT’S MY IPHONE HANGING BY A PURPLE EARBUD WIRE.
You know, I had a dream the night before – a nightmare really – that I had dropped and shattered my phone. I have never broken a phone to date, and I don’t intend to start now.
So I continued on my run, hip-checking myself every 3 seconds. The 6 is a slippery little fucker, and I was paranoid that it was going to slide out again. This wasn’t supposed to happen with the FlipBelt. It was designed to hold all of my belongings, safe and snug and secure, and so I could zone out and not think about running while I was actually running. But all I could think about was how every step was a step towards death for my poor phone. The constant checking wasted precious physical and mental energy. I’m still so fresh and out of shape after my injury, I have no time to waste with faulty gear.
“It’s just that there’s pocket openings all around the belt, so there’s no safe place for my phone!” I said to Christian when I got home and told him about my phone’s near death experience.
“Well, yeah. You put your stuff in the openings, and flip the belt over. So they’re covered.”
“Flip it over?” I said. “Oh…I guess that’s why it’s called a FLIPBelt.” OH. I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE.
You guys, the patience with which this man deals with me is unprecedented. Bless him.
To be fair, FlipBelt’s own damn logo is on the same side of the belt as the pocket openings. So once it’s flipped, you can’t even see the logo, AND there’s a tag on the non-pocket side, totally making it look like the underside of the belt. AND all of the ridiculously fit and tan people in their photos are wearing the belt with the logo facing out. That’s just confusing for us dumb people, and poor design if you ask me. I know you didn’t, but still.
So next time will be FlipBelt 2.0, new and improved, and with it’s actual intended purpose. I’ll keep you posted on whether or not it works, but I’m sure it will. Things usually do work when you use them the right way and all.
• • • • •
In running-related news, I’m excited to announce that I’m serving as an ambassador for ZOOMA Texas and the ZOOMA Women’s Race Series! I ran ZOOMA in 2012, where I was also an ambassador, and it was such a good time, and the event that I credit to “making” me a runner. Since then, as you all know, I’ve been suffering from terrible sciatica that stemmed from a herniated disc in my lower back. But I’ve ben deemed well enough to not only run, but start training again. I’m still terrified that the pain will return, but now at least I (and my physical therapist) know how to manage it if it does.
ZOOMA Texas is held on March 28, 2015 at the gorgeous (and hilly!) Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa in Bastrop, TX. Registration is now open for the 5K, 10K, and the half marathon. Save 10% on registration for any of the distances by using the code LEIGHANN15. Find more info about ZOOMA Texas here. Will I see you there?
I have a crush on David Sedaris. Yes, I know he’s gay, and I’m married, he’s in his 50s, I’m super young and vibrant. It’s not a romantic crush of course. Just that feeling that you want to surround yourself with this person, learn all of their secrets, and maybe absorb some of their talent and greatness just by being in their presence and maybe you just want to rub your face on their blue corduroy blazer.
I wonder what it’s like to be the someone that others always want to learn something from and rub their faces on various clothing items.
Seeing David live was an impulsive decision for me. I found out about it a few days before and contacted my friend Missy, a fellow writer and humor-lover. If she couldn’t go, I contemplated going by myself; that’s how badly I didn’t want to pass up this opportunity to see one of my favorite writers in person.
I could tell you all about how great it was to hear David read some of his essays on stage, how truly funny he is, how endearing he was when he spoke casually in between readings, and how, even though I’ve read a lot of his work, his crassness caught me off guard time and time again. I could tell you about the Sasquatch sitting in front of me who kept leaning forward, then back, then side to side, like he had a bad case of hemorrhoids, making it so I was playing peek-a-boo with the stage.
But what really stuck with me throughout the evening getting to see a little about how David ticks as a writer. He didn’t talk a lot about writing itself, but it’s safe to say that for someone like him, writing is a way of life, a saving grace. Most of all, it’s a habit.
David shared some excerpts from his diaries, and afterwards, when he took some questions, someone asked him what he writes in his diary that he wouldn’t want people to read. Maybe they were expecting a juicy horrible secret.
“Well,” he said. “I write a lot of boring stuff, really.”
That’s right. David Sedaris, master satirist, writes everyday, boring entries into his journal, just like you and me. Specifically, when traveling, he gets up every morning and writes a review of his hotel room. You heard it here, folks.
David Sedaris is an observer. Most of the best writers and artists I know are. It’s whether or not we harness that observation and channel it that decides the fate of our creativity.
The thing is, when someone like David is up on stage in front of an audience that has paid good money to hear him read his own words, it’s normal to think that every day they wake up and just fart brilliance. Clearly their writing process consists of sitting down at their computer in a nice, quiet house (in the English countryside, no less), opening up their computer and typing. That’s it! The words just flow. They don’t self edit. They don’t get discouraged, because everything coming from their fingertips is amazing! Funny! A compelling weaving of life and life lesson.
Are we really all that insecure about out own abilities that we put someone successful up on a pedestal of unattainable brilliance? I’m not saying that all of us – or any of us, for that matter – will ever be “the next David Sedaris,” but it doesn’t mean we are bad writers. Maybe some of us aren’t practicing our craft enough. Maybe we’re comparing ourselves to someone else. Maybe we’re allowing ourselves to get discouraged before we even try.
On stage David said that when he’s on tour, he likes to promote books of other writers he admires. He brought out Ann Patchett’s This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a collection of essays about her commitments to writing, family, friends, her husband. “Ugh, she’s the bomb,” Missy whispered under her breath, as he read an excerpt from Patchett’s essay “The Getaway Car,” which David himself described as the best essay for a writer to read.
“You can either spend 4, 6, or 8 years going to school to learn to be a writer,” he said, “Or you can read this essay.”
And then he said, “I just really wish I could write like her.”
To hear someone as revered in the writing world as David Sedaris say that he wishes he could write as beautiful as someone else was not as much a shock as an affirmation. We all do this. And it’s okay. I will never write like David Sedaris, because I am not David Sedaris. But I can let David Sedaris, and others, inspire me with his wit and observations and his mastery of creating a story.
• • • • •
After the reading Missy and I stood in line to get our books signed. We were having a riveting conversation with each other about a mutual acquaintance’s yoga pant-clad derriere when we approached the table.
“So what were you guys talking about while you were waiting?” David asked.
“Yoga pants,” I offered up, sadly aware of how typical suburban mom I sounded.
“Butts,” Missy interjected, always the Peppa to my Salt. “Specifically our butts in yoga pants.”
“Oh! And how does your butt look in your yoga pants?” he asked me as I handed him my book.
And as I gave an idiotic explanation of how it depends on whether or not I’m running, (“like not at the moment, but you know, in training HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”) David is drawing this in my book with his arsenal of Sharpies:
And then he draw this:
And you know, I can’t even be offended. Because how many other people can honestly say that David Sedaris illustrated his own book with a drawing of their butt?
Last Wednesday was a “challenging” day for Zoe at preschool. I believe her teacher said (and I’m totally fine with this) she was “a little toot” that day, which is really her nice way of saying she was a little shit.
I know this Zoe. This is the Zoe who is feeling too big for her britches and too cool for school. I don’t like parenting this Zoe. It’s hard, and to date she’s been my easiest child. Unfortunately it seems like I’ve taken her ease for granted.
Often her attitude is related to her being tired or hungry. On that day in particular, she fell asleep in the car, 4 minutes into the 10 minute drive home. Kids and car naps: making grownups’ necks hurt by association since forever.
This new school year has kind of shattered all of Zoe’s expectations from the previous year. She expected to walk into school to a class full of friends and a teacher who doted on her. But her friends were all separated into different classes, and she didn’t understand why she didn’t have the same teacher. Miss M and been Rachel’s teacher, then Zoe’s first teacher. It just made sense: Miss M was THE teacher.
When her new teacher – also Miss M – was going through her roster, everyone sighed wistfully and said, “Oh, Zoe T. She’s a special girl. You’ll love her.”
I like Miss M2 a lot. She’s a great teacher, she’s fun, and she’s is doing fantastic work with the kids to get them ready for kindergarten. She’s just different from Miss M1, less doting and more matter-of-fact and tell-it-like-it-is. Some kids respond really well to that. Zoe responds well to feeling like a princess.
The thing is, Zoe needs to feel like she’s special. I can’t think of any other way to say it. I’m not saying she should get special treatment, but she flourishes when she’s given a little more attention. The fate of the younger sibling of identical twin sisters is either make yourself seen or you fade into the background. Zoe prefers to make herself seen with a charming, gregarious personality that hardly anyone can resist, but also hanging back when she senses her sisters are being too overwhelming. She practically got away with murder for way too long, and we had to reign her back in with some discipline after we royally kicked ourselves in the behinds for being so enchanted with her. She’s tricksy, that one.
“I like you,” she said, a few weeks into the school year, “But I don’t like you as much as Miss M1.” She was just being honest. She’s 4. Miss M2 wasn’t offended; this isn’t her first rodeo. She thanked her for her honesty and went on with her day.
She’s acting out…spitefully. Oh, you want me to put this book away? Sure. Right after I take my time flipping through every. single. page. Don’t spin around on the carpet, you say? Fine. I’ll wait until you look away, but then my ass is spinning.
Honestly, I think I’d rather she was having trouble with her “listening ears” as opposed to vengeful disobedience.
I can see why she’s having a tough time. She stood out in her first class. Not so much here. So she’s trying to make herself seen, even if it’s with less-than-desireable behaviors. It makes her look like she’s spoiled and maybe she is just a little bit. She’s my baby, and I can’t resist her snuggles and sweet kisses.
But she’s also helpful and funny and wicked smart. These little dips in behavior make up only a small percentage of what we see at home, so it makes me sad that they make up so much of her day at school, that her teachers may not be seeing her potential to be a really fantastic kid when she’s given the right motivation.