Friday, January 25, 2013

Frickin' is Not A Swear.

Hello friends! It is I, Lauren.  Embarassingly sporadic blogger, with a perchance for flawed punctation. But none-the-less, it is I. Here today to talk about January. (Unless you have a more interesting topic.)

It's January 22nd, (now it's the 24th. It can take me days to write one of these.)  25th, and we're closing in on the end of the month. I regretfully report, at this point, I have yet to really get back into the groove of things for the new year. Which is frustrating because I'm the kind of person who likes routine. Better yet, I THRIVE on routine. Routine, Routine, Routine! I love you, you snuggly, little parameters. I love you, you predictable method you!

Everyday for hobby, no matter weekday, weekend or vacation,  I wake up between 6:00am and 7:30. I make the coffee, I feed the cats. I turn off the alarm and the porch lights, open the blinds. All in an awesomely routine way. I have very special, thoughtfully crafted sequences and protocols for many mundane tasks. Total precision and efficiency. LIKE A BOSS!

If you are interested, I can tell you the most reasonable way to take a shower. Whether to floss or brush first, and why. Or, what day makes the most sense to water the houseplants. I have even figured out how to replenish your bird feeders with the least likelihood of contracting a disease!

But, all this December, followed by January stuff, has just thrown me for a loop. Not very conducive for routines. It's all been lumpy schedule-wise. It's so annoying.

I think it started when Jon left a few days after New Years, for the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. This was his FORTY-SOMETHING-TH business trip to Las Vegas in the past nine years. Forty-third of so. I never get used to Jon traveling, although he does regularly. The days seem longer and more exhausting, I don't really sleep well, Noah starts acting a bit weird. It's just kind of  hard and throws my usual routine off.  Also, this is what the cats look like when Jon travels:

All depressed and de-motivated. I don't blame them.

Oh! On a side-note, I do have a very special "sub-routine" for travel weeks. Everything I would normally do, I do it way earlier in the day, or earlier in  the week. Being uber-prepared makes for smooth single-parenting. So, a week's worth of our clothing is washed,  ironed, grouped by outfits. There you have it, and ready to go! Meals are figured out and shopped for ahead of time. House cleaned. Paper work and school work done.
Dinner is early too, Noah's shower and pajamas are early, stories began sooner. I know that I need to do it all way in advanced, to get the kid in bed by 8:00. After which I collapse like a slug on my bed. But....only at ten minute intervals between Noah CALLING OUT THAT HE CAN'T SLEEP!
I don't know what it is, but when Jon is out of town, each night, Noah pulls out every trick in the book to not go to sleep. I might as well install a toilet, drinking fountain, wall of night lights, sound system, thermostat and a Build-A-Bear -Workshop in his bedroom to prepare.

The point is, travel weeks do not feel routine. There's never time to get everything that I want done, done. (Including blogging!)

This is a random photo of Jon with a Praying Mantis.

So there was the Las Vegas trip, followed by a continued Christmas break. Noah was out of school until January 10th! Doesn't that feel elongated to you? It feels elongated to me. You know what the weird thing is? We're on a school break AGAIN! There was  Martin Luther King Day on Monday, followed by some teacher in-service days for report writing. School is back in session on Thursday.

I'm hoping that next week, the LAST week in January, I can finally get into a great routine for 2013.  For I am softly weeping. Routine, come baaaaaack to me!

Although it's been a little stop-and-go, I HAVE gotten some things accomplished. For example, I took down all of the Chanukah and Christmas decorations, inside and out! I was going to wait until the end of January, but the greenery started to brown. :(
You should have seen me out there, frozen fingers, plucking a million plastic blue and silver ornaments.  I was trying to carry the sixty feet of garland around, and teatering high up on a ladder. (Not so smart.) Remind me to ask for some help next year. I kept day dreaming that a nice person working at the ad agency across the street, would see me out of their large windows, and coming running to assist. Maybe hold the ladder, or carry all of that wet garland to the side of the house for me. Never happened. I don't blame them, it was freezing out.

*I am now going to tell you about something very embarrassing and strange that just happened.

I just brewed a pot of coffee, but forgot to add the water. It didn't work.

I thiiiiink...... it's the ADD. Really. Sometimes I think about 500 things all at once, and then get distracted. For example, in the one minute that it took for me to grind the coffee beans, grab a new filter, scoop the grounds, fill the carafe with water and errrrm........put the full carafe back into the coffee maker, THIS is what I was thinking about......... (60 seconds)

"Hmmm.....the  repair person is going to be here any minute......what do you even call that thing they're coming to fix? Omg, I don't even know the name! I'm going to look like an idiot.  Hood vent? Stove fan? Cooking fan?  It's going to feel so awkward. It always feels awkward when somebody  is in the house with me. It's too quiet, this house is small, where do I even go to sit? I  don't want to look like a weirdo or something, watching them work. Like a stalker. Omg, if I sit in the kitchen, family room or living room, it'll look like I'm stalking.  Wait. will they want coffee? Should I offer? Are you supposed to offer?  Do you think switching from 1/2 & 1/2 in my coffee to almond milk will really make a difference? Ugh, I have to get on the treadmill again. Oh! The coffee can is empty. I have to recycle it. Wait, no....I it's so cool. I should keep it. What could I store in it? Maybe I could make a birdhouse out of it. Oh, I should go put my computer in the front room before the service person gets here. Then I can say that I  'Have to go work'. That sounds legit. But what if he asks what kind of "work" I do? Omg, I can't lie! Wait, look at Willow. Omg. I have to take a picture. She is so cute. Where is my phone? I have to text it to Jon. I have to pee. I should do it now, I can't pee with them here. I couldn't...... 'Frickin' is NOT a swear! It's a stupid word, but it's not a swear."

Actual picture that I took at that moment. 

Ok, you get the point. That's what 60 seconds worth of mind-chatter looks like, rolling around in my head.  You can see how I forgot the water. I'm doomed.

Anyway, remember I was talking about starting out on a new year, with new direction and intention?
This really has to do with getting back into a great routine, but you can't have a great routine unless you're feeling strong and determined and at your best! To be my best, I also have the goal of lowering my stress and anxiety levels. In case you have forgotten, I've talked about my slight predisposition to worry in the post entitled: "No You Can't Catch It From a Toilet Seat", and my post: "Excuse Me, Could You Please Remove Your Latex Glove from My Driveway".  Well, I've already checked off a step towards that goal, and I'm so glad! Two weeks ago, I started seeing a new therapist. It's been a while, and I'm glad to be back . She uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help reason with the worry. She also said that she uses a wholistic, integrated approach. I'm not totally clear about what this entails yet, but she mentioned nutrition through diet. I also know that my therapist also works with yoga and other similar practices for relaxation. This should be good, and she has already given me some interesting new ways to look at certain things. Personally, I think that almost every person would benefit from therapy. Literally, it's a collaborative sounding board. You go in and talk about your experiences, then, an un-biased person helps you to see your experiences, feelings, goals in additional, helpful ways. It's really fantastic, and nothing to fear. :)

In addition to learning to worry less and relax more, my 2013 "new direction" has one more IMPORTANT element. That is, to finally learn how to set healthy boundaries with my time in regard to the outside world!

For me, this means being more mindful of the number of volunteer and social obligations that I say "yes" to.  Learning to cut back without feeling SO guilty. Learning how to politely say "Thank you, but not this time".  It's also about making myself turn off my cell phone, and to step back from social media and endless email checking. All day long, my house phone rings and my cell phone rings, and I receives multiple texts. My email in-boxes fill-up too.

I've been saying for years that I was going to try to focus a little more, cut back on the distractions a bit, but I never truly set that into action. Now I'm ready!

I've realized, I especially believe, because of my ADHD and my introversion, (Yes, I really AM an introvert!) that each and every one of these small "hellos", as well-meaning as they are, force me to stop what I'm doing and I lose my place. This is not normal. We have never, until now, lived in a world where endless mid-day interruptions were the rule. Think about it. Before the advent of the cell phone, text messaging and email, most people, in most professions, were able to focus on the work that they needed to get done, without the sudden demand of an exterior source. Sure you might have colleagues come up to your desk with questions, but at least, usually, they are on-topic with the work you are doing.

I feel so infinitely lucky and grateful to have family and friend who care, and volunteer work that inspires, but for me, when I'm trying to get through my other "work", these little "hiya!'s" from the outside world are a bit too distracting for me personally. In reality, if I was more able to just quietly focus, I'd get a lot more of what I set out to do, done!

I love getting work done by the way. I LOVE what I "do".  Just because I'm not paid for it, doesn't mean it's not a job!  I enjoy stretches of uninterrupted productivity to keep our home going and in order.  To get food on the table, people clothed, animals loved. It's a lot of work to make sure birthday presents are bought for little friends, homework completed, errands ran, school life and volunteer life running smoothly. It's exactly where I want to be at this moment in my life, and I'm ever grateful for this opportunity.

Now though, as I've moved into a new home, with a bit more space to care for, with loftier goals and more intention and pride in my "work", the stop-and-start that comes with the stream of daytime communications, isn't helping me. I have so much more to accomplish, and I enjoy the challenge and there is *new work to be done!'s just a balancing act. That's all. :)

*Hint Hint! I want to BLOG!!!!!!! Will 2013 finally be the year I figure out how to fit it all in? I hope so!

Alright, enough of that heavy, New Year -ish stuff. Back to January and what's been non-routinely happening around here. Ok, THIS is something AWESOME....................

I caught the birth of a TARGET BALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Isn't it fantastic!? I don't know about you, but I've always wondered where those giant, red gum ball looking Target spheres came from. The men installing these told me that each ball of concrete weighs 3,000 lbs! Can you believe that? It looked pretty treacherous. The workmen had to be very precise to load the ball onto it's base. Wow!

I've done a bit of cooking and baking this month. One hit were these gluten-free vanilla cupcakes, made with vegan coconut frosting.  I used Pamela's Classic Vanilla Cake Mix, which could easily be made vegan using egg substitute.

For the frosting, I wanted to see if you could make a traditional buttercream frosting with coconut oil instead of butter! Coconut oil stays in a soft-solid form when temperatures are under seventy-five degrees. After that, they melt into a liquid form, so this type of frosting is best for cooler months.  HERE is the recipe that I used for the frosting. Did you know about all of the health and beauty benefits of coconut oil? It really is amazing. Everything from lowering your cholesterol to fighting off viruses and bacteria. Even helping to regulate your thyroid hormone levels and blood sugar! Some say that it increases metabolism, helps with digestion and energy.  In addition to cooking with it, I also put coconut oil on my face as a moisturizer!

Let's see....what else.... Well, one interesting thing that Detroit, the MOTOR CITY has, is the North American International Auto Show. A huge event. Jon and Noah went together this year. I stayed home to work on the blog, but ended up getting a little distracted by cats and birds......

Isn't Hector just the sweetest? He really really is. This boy, he's just the most gentle, most calm and lovable guy. Did I ever tell you that I started a Facebook page for Hector? I mainly created it to promote the adoption of special-needs pets. Hector is blind if you didn't know, but it matters not one bit. He is an amazing, wonderful boy. :)

Speaking of cats.....and birds....Willow spends every morning in the family room, watching the birds out the window. It's perfect cat entertainment.

One day, I came in to find these three guys feeding on suet and nyjer seeds.

I can't get over these sweet American Goldfinches. They'll turn brighter yellowing the warmer months. I think they're just gorgeous either way. One day I counted eight Goldfinches having some breakfast!

We have a whole bunch of Downy Woodpeckers. I saw a gorgeous Red-Bellied Woodpecker right on our deck last year. I'm still waiting for him to come back.

(This is the Red-Bellied Woodpecker that I saw. His red cap is unbelievably vibrant and glowing in person!)

We're lucky that Noah enjoys trips to coffee shops. It usually includes a chocolate milk or some kind of Rice Krispie treat.

I shared some of my paper craft decorations before in THIS post. I just love making paper decorations for our front windows. There is a sweet, little preschool two lots down, and weather permitting, they take daily walks past our house and on to the park I believe. I've heard that they enjoy seeing the different ways that I dress up the front of the house for the changing seasons and holidays. Right now I'm gearing up for Valentine's Day! I decided to try my hand at a paper Willow the cat first. Once I buy some matte lamenting sheets, I'll put Willow on the window sill looking out.

Speaking of cats. AGAIN. After school today, I snapped this adorable moment between Noah and Hector. Often times when Noah gets home, the first thing he does is lie on the floor, and Hector comes over for a hug. He climb up Noah and lays down! Can you see how Hector is snuggling his head into Noah's neck? Is that that the cutest thing? They're totally BFF's. :)

OMG! This is so weird! I know! It's like a headless lady, taking a picture of herself in an awkward pose. But, I just liked my outfit today, and wanted to tell you that I love Boden. All of the colors...the prints...the comfort. It's just so much fun. AND, I liked how the crocheted flower pin that I made, matched the flowers in my dress. Crochet is so great!

Speaking of crochet.... I think I am going to be working on this project forever...last month I made my first shrug, and after realizing how easy it can be, I decided to try the next one. You can kind of get an idea of how it works HERE.  Basically, it will be a large loop, that you wrap around and then button together in the back rather than sewing. I hope it comes out. I found this soft, pink yarn that is like a boucle, and some sparkly pink buttons.  I've been wanting to post my first shrug, and I'll be sure to post when this one is done too!

The last thing I have to say, is that for some reason, San Francisco has been on our minds a lot this week.  Jon always says that his dream is to move back one day.  It was amazing to live there, but hard, but also incredible, and frustrating at the same time. It such a wonderful city, no doubt. Today I told Jon, if we ever moved back, the only thing is, I'd miss the seasons too much. Which is true. I can't imagine not seeing fall colors or fresh, white snow. I suggested that we become reverse snowbirds, and summer in SF. 

A few, random pictures from our last trip to San Francisco. It's been much too long. We have to visit again soon. I really hope we do.

And from the recently late, and forever great Dear Abby - A reply to a San Francisco questioner that will go down in history. You could not have said it better Abby! Thank you.

Dear Abby: Two men who claim to be father and adopted son just bought an old mansion across the street and fixed it up. We notice a very suspicious mixture of company coming and going at all hours — blacks, whites, Orientals, women who look like men and men who look like women. This has always been considered one of the finest sections of San Francisco, and these weirdos are giving it a bad name. How can we improve the neighborhood? — Nob Hill Residents
Dear Residents: You could move.

And with that, I bid you good night!
Until next time..........

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