Friday, Apr 16, 2010

In Which Objects Are Closer Than They Appear

Not a fabulous week for me in terms of making new habits. Ate food I shouldn’t have, didn’t exercise when I should have and haven’t been terribly focused on the work front. Then again, it was my birthday, so I’m going to cut myself some slack this week and try to rally from here on out.

Today I went to renew my license. It has been ages since I’ve been to an RMV and now we have one just a few minutes from my house. I was honestly a bit stressed about going for my license renewal. I have glasses that I never wear unless I’m driving in really bad weather at night. The eye doctor told me that I barely needed them, but I am never sure if he was just being nice or if my eyesight isn’t really that bad. I vaguely remember squinting to see at my last RMV vision test, so it seemed likely that I wasn’t going to pass this time around without some help from my glasses.

Even though things seemed to be moving along, it took about 40 minutes for my number to be called. I’m not sure why the license applicants were taking so long, but I was surprised at the number of parents (with teens in tow) who were shocked to find out that you need a birth certificate to get a license. Hello. How will they know your kid is who he says he is? And how come people don’t stop to think that they might need some form of identification to get a license? Don’t they teach that in driver’s ed?  Anyway, when my turn finally arrived I had worked myself up into a minor panic. I don’t know why. I brought the glasses with me, so it’s not like I’d end up walking home.

I told the woman that I have glasses, but that I don’t wear them. She told me to try it without. Apparently, this happens a lot. In fact, it happened to a kid before me, but he ended up needing his glasses. So I took a look in the little test-goggle things and read the numbers in the first line when asked. And the little colored numbers in contrasting boxes. And checked to see if the little green lights were on in my peripheral vision. And waited for her to ask me something hard. Did they change that eye test? Because I don’t remember anything being quite as clear as those numbers. So I looked up and the woman at the RMV said, “There is nothing wrong with your eyesight.”

Imagine that.

She took my picture and asked if I liked the way it looked (now they’ll retake it for you!) and even though I look a little smug in my shot, I said it was fine. Who wants to tempt fate on something like that? I just can’t seem to smile properly at the RMV, even though there’s nothing wrong with my eyesight. And the last thing I need is to be stuck with a really awful picture on my license. Smug is acceptable.

So here I am. My new license is on the way and I feel like I’ve wiped the slate clean somehow. Off to a good start!

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010

In Which I Turn 39, a.k.a. Countdown to 40

Today is my birthday. I know a lot of people prefer to ignore birthdays, especially once they pass infamous number 29, but I believe that as adults we only have one day a year that’s special just for us. Now that I’m a mom, the kids come first. Well, usually. Anyway, I think birthdays should be magical for kids and adults alike. To be completely honest, I believe in birthday week. And why not? Life is short. Let’s celebrate!

This year is a bit different. I’m turning 39, which feels a bit traumatic to me. It’s silly, really, but I went through the same thing when I turned 29. I was so freaked out about the idea of turning 30 that I decided to just sort of force the issue. If I imagined that I was already 30, it wouldn’t be so bad when the time came around, right? I was so convincing (to myself) that I got it into my head that I was already 30. I’ve been screwed up ever since. I’m not going to do that again – I can’t afford to lose two years due to arbitrary birthday stress – so I’ve decided to try something else instead.

For some reason 40 seems to me to be the beginning of the end. Like my life is half (if not more) over. But I’ve decided that if I can convince myself I’m 30 when I’m only 29, I can change my perspective. I’m going with the glass half full ideology. With that in mind, 40 is simply the beginning of the rest of my life. And it’s a life without learning how to ride a bike, puberty and first heartbreak. Sounds like it has promise, right?

So. What to do over the next year while I look forward to all that 40+ has to offer? I’m going to practice living more mindfully. I’m happy about where I am in my life. I have done some amazing things with my time so far and I’m looking forward to another 40 years of more. But I want to make it a point to do something mindful each and every day. It could be small, like reflecting on a special experience or getting in touch with an old friend, or it could be more life-changing, but I want to get in the habit of paying attention and making deliberate choices. And I think I may just blog the journey…

Sunday, Feb 28, 2010

Avatar: Archetypal, Cliche’ or Both?

Those of use who spend a lot of time online think of an “avatar” as a digital representation of yourself, such as you might use in a virtual world or social networking site. That definition certainly makes sense for the movie of the same name, where the characters take on an “alien” persona in order to interact with the indigenous people on a foreign planet. The Free Online Dictionary also defines the word avatar as “an embodiment, as of a quality or concept; an archetype.” And it is that definition of the word that struck me so hard during the movie that I found myself in tears halfway through.

The basic premise of the movie Avatar is that the “alien” planet is being mined for a highly-sought-after mineral and that the indigenous population is getting in the way. Yes, it’s somewhat cliche’ (and eerily close in plot to the kids’ film, Fern Gully, and – so I hear – Dances with Wolves). What wasn’t cliche’, at least for me, was the absolute horror I felt watching it unfold on a giant screen in 3-D.

There is a scene in Avatar [skip ahead to avoid possible spoilers] where the miners attack the forest home of one of the tribes. After having decimated a grove of sacred trees using their bulldozers, the miners decide to take a more aggressive route to their end goal. They attack the massive tree-dwelling with bombs and fire and all the munitions they can muster.  [end spoiler] I was so disturbed by their zealous attack that I had to close my eyes. It wasn’t the fear and sadness of the tribe, or the smoke billowing into the air, or any other drama unfolding on the screen. What made me so uncomfortable was the truth of it all. It was the knowledge that humans are not only capable of that level of destruction, but often revel in it. And it was the simple fact that we have perpetrated acts even more horrible. The reason that the plot seemed so familiar was because it’s an archetypal storyline. That’s the scariest part of all – this disregard for life and liberty in pursuit of wealth and material goods is a recurring thread in human history. The darkest part of all? It was entirely believable that this could still be taking place 150 years in the future.

I may have been the only sap in the room of 500 with tears in my eyes and an overwhelming desire to flee from the theater, but I was so upset that I had trouble answering the question of whether or not I enjoyed the movie. The fact is that, had I not been there with my husband and friends, I would have left. If I had been watching at home, I would have turned it off. It was simply too disturbing to watch. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who loved Avatar and think I’m reading too much into it. But it’s in my nature to read into things and to look under the surface. And I certainly won’t apologize for believing that we could all be a lot kinder to one another.

James Cameron put together a gorgeous film with an important, if not cliche’ message (how sad to that we need to repeat this particular message enough to make it cliche’). Did he intend for it to invoke such an extreme response? I’m not sure. But I can tell you one thing for sure… if my husband wants to watch it again, he’s on his own. This movie has traumatized me enough.

Sunday, Jan 24, 2010

Transition Time

Please bear with me as MoreThanMommy gets a makeover!

Monday, Jan 11, 2010

New Year, Same Vision

I’m not a big fan of resolutions. When I have made them, I have typically broken them right away. It’s just not the way I enact change in my life.

That said, I do like to reflect on the past and think about areas of my life that I’d like to change or keep moving forward. This year I think I’m in a much better place than I was last year (I thought I was in a good place last year, but it turns out that it wasn’t so positive after all). I’m happy with what I’m doing and the seeds that were planted over the past 12 or so months have had time to take root. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but it’s nice to know that I’ve got something to work with.

This year, I have a few things I’d like to accomplish. I’m going to put them out there to help give myself some accountability. I guess you could count them as resolutions. For me, they’re just a To Do list for the year.

  1. Market myself and my skills in a more cohesive and long-term way.
  2. Continue to blog (ideally with more regularity).
  3. Work on my branding, including collateral materials.
  4. Take the next step in terms of building up a regular client base.
  5. Create a vision statement.

The last item on my list is really important for me this year. Having a non-profit background, I know that having a mission or vision statement can help keep you on track. When it comes time to pursue various opportunities, you can use your vision statement to decide if it’s a good match. It’s a wonderful way to keep other people from distracting you, but also to prioritize time and resources.

So there you have it. Here’s to a happy, healthy and successful 2010 to all!

Wednesday, Dec 23, 2009

Voyeurism, Holidays and the Guilt Factor

I haven’t written here much lately because I’ve been busy with this and that and far too many product reviews and kids and hives and Christmas and… bunches of other stuff. The kids are playing nicely together and I have a moment so let’s see what I can do.

I was just reading a blog of someone who has gone through an experience more challenging than I can begin to imagine. I ended up there by accident, but simply couldn’t leave. I think, when I’m in a difficult situation, it’s good for me to keep things in perspective.

I’ll admit it. I’ve been dealing with some depression over the past week or two. It isn’t the hives, or the sinusitis, or LadyBug’s stomach flu or even the possibility that I may have an egg allergy. It’s the feeling that no matter how hard I try to stay upbeat and enjoy the holiday season, something else comes along to knock me down. I had big plans for this Christmas. Decorations and baking with the kids and family outings and such. Not a single one has come to pass. From Big Guy’s work to health issues to bad weather, there has been a roadblock each step of the way. And each time, I just let go and remember that there will be other special moments and experiences.

I have a mantra that I adopted in the past year, “It is what it is.” It’s my way of reminding myself that there are things that we can’t change and it’s much healthier to move on. I suppose it’s a bit like the Serenity Prayer:
“God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things that I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.”

Still, there are days when the odds feel like they’re stacked against you. And this is what I’ve been struggling with for the past week or so. When you’re tired and frustrated and you spend what feels like hours in the store trying find edible stocking stuffers that your son can eat AND you can eat, it’s not particularly Christmas-y. [By the way, novelty candy manufacturers, could maybe just a few of you make SOMETHING without a nut warning on it?]

Which brings me to the guilt. I’m feeling a bit bad that I’ve been so distracted that I haven’t made Christmas as magical as I could have for my kids. Even if we can’t do the trips or we don’t get up all the decorations, it’s my time and attention that they most need and I haven’t been as present as I could be. I’m working on that. And I’ve been rejecting the attempts that others have been flinging my way to make me feel guilty about other people’s needs. I can’t be responsible for your issues and unmet needs. I’ve got enough of my own. My primary  job is to take care of my kids, my husband and myself. Everyone else will have to manage their own needs and expectations.

Back to the voyeurism. Someone suggested to me the other day that the best parenting blogs are those that impart some sort of wisdom, like parenting tips or recipes or something. To me, the best parenting blogs are those that remind us that we’re in this together and that help us, through example rather than sermon, to get past all of the challenges and to fully embrace all of the rewards. By sharing a slice of life, it helps us connect, see our similarities and, indirectly, support one another.

I’m thankful this year for the mom blogging community, for all of the good things in my life and that my family is relatively happy and healthy. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! And, since we’re going to try celebrating for the first time as a family, Happy Kwanzaa!

Monday, Dec 14, 2009

Food Allergies Revisited

So, I’ve been coping with a mysterious case of hives for more than 6 months. They started small and I didn’t realize what they were. Over the past two months, the hives have gotten increasingly worse until the point where I wasn’t sleeping, barely working and stumbling through my job as a parent. Not good. Hives lasting more than 6 months are called chronic hives and, apparently, usually go undiagnosed. What? Yeah. Roughly 85% of people with chronic lives just have to suck it up.

My allergist ran a bunch of tests to rule out other underlying conditions. Contrary to popular belief, hives do not equal allergic reaction. At least, not in the typical understanding of the phrase. Could be hepatitis, liver disease, lupus, thyroid… and the list goes on. Anyway, tests for everything (including a WIDE variety of allergens) were negative. Good news and bad news. I’m glad to not have a nasty diagnosis, but also want to get rid of the hives, you know? So, after patiently trying a variety of pharmaceutical combinations to no avail, I called my allergist and insisted that it was time to pull out the big guns. He agreed and put me on a round of prednisone. In case you are lucky enough to not know, prednisone is a particularly nasty miracle drug that basically tells your immune system to take a little vacation. Great for removing hives, bad for keep you healthy.

The prednisone worked. I was blissfully hive-free for almost a week. As it wore off, I got a few hives, but nothing too bad, and I came down with a rotten cold. Better than hives. Until Friday.

Friday I decided to bake some cookies. And, since Bug is outgrowing his egg allergy, I made them with eggs. Easy recipe, by the way: box of cake mix, 2C of Cool Whip, 1 egg. Bake for 15 minutes at 350. Anyhow, I ate one of the cookies. They were ok. And then, after I put the second batch in the oven, I licked the spoon and – bam! My lip swelled up. And then my eye started to swell. I took some Benadryl as any mom-of-a-food-allergy-kid would do and then the side of my face started to swell. So… what’s that? Egg? Weird preservative? Beta carotene? Who knows.

A few days later, back to hives (they were pretty bad that night, but they’re still lurking around) and it’s all a fun mystery. I’ll be calling the allergist again tomorrow…

Friday, Nov 27, 2009

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

TodaysMama and Provo Craft are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you. I don’t usually do things like this, but they’re giving away goodies from Provo Craft and I might just walk on broken glass to get freebies from Provo Craft.

1. What 5 items are on your holiday wish list this year?

5 items? I don’t have many things on my wish list this year, honestly. I guess luggage, a gift card to buy some clothes, books, anything crafty, anything crafty (part 2)

2. What is your favorite handmade gift you have received?

My mom made me a stuffed house when I was little. It had a little doll that you could put in the windows or doors. I loved that thing.

3. What handmade gift have you always wanted to tackle?

Pysanky egg ornaments. I’ve done pysanky and it’s very time consuming (plus I’m not that artistic), but I’d love to give everyone a pretty pysanky ornament.

4. What was the best Christmas gift you received as a child?

A trip to DisneyWorld

5. What items are on your kid’s wish list this year?

My son: trains, trucks,everything under the sun. My daughter is too young for a wish list.

6. What is your favorite holiday food?

Russian tea cookies. We can’t have them any more because my son is allergic to nuts.

7. What will you be hand-crafting for the holidays?

Every year I make an ornament. I use a different craft/technique each year, so the collection is eclectic. I’m not sure what the design will be this year, but I think I might do a cut-out reindeer.

8. What is your favorite holiday movie?

Scrooge – the musical version of A Christmas Carol

9. Favorite holiday song?

It’s a tie between the John Denver & the Muppets version of the 12 Days of Christmas, This Christmas and Christmas (Blues Traveler). Weird mix, I know.

10. Favorite holiday pastime?

Singing Christmas carols… goofy, but true.

Sunday, Sep 27, 2009

Saying No and Setting Boundaries

I recently canceled my trip to the Type-A Mom conference in Asheville, NC. I was really looking forward to it as a way to re-connect with some of the fabulous ladies I met a BlogHer. I booked it while still on a BlogHer high, but over the next few weeks I was asked to speak at another conference and to do some workshops out of town and my fall schedule started to look a bit overwhelming.

I started trying to justify my trip to Type-A as a networking opportunity, but in the back of my mind a little guilty voice was telling me that I really didn’t NEED to go. So, as Big Guy started to look a bit more anxious about how long I was going to be away this fall, I considered canceling the trip. Canceling my flight (and re-depositing my frequent flier miles) wasn’t cheap and I knew I’d probably have to just eat the registration fee. I finally accepted the trip as a special treat for myself and let it go.

As the conference grew closer, I started to feel more stressed about the money, the time, and the travel. And then, I got a sign. As I was confirming my flight less than a week before my departure, I realized I had booked it into the wrong airport. This is unheard of, by the way. I have traveled literally around the world and have never booked a flight into the wrong airport. Perhaps my subconscious was sending me a message. Or maybe my kids have finally destroyed my mind, but whatever… I scrambled to find a ride from the airport, as my anxiety grew and grew.

Finally, when my entire family came down with colds (and Bug was on a nebulizer for asthma) and I was trying to put together some important articles for my site on, I gave in and canceled the trip. It was hard to do, even though I had no doubt that it was the best choice for me. I was sad to miss my new friends and to miss out on what I knew would be a good experience, but I also knew that something had to give.

Instead of heading to Asheville (or to NY, where there was another conference I wanted to attend), I rented a beautiful house on a lake and took some time for a writer’s retreat. It was less expensive than either trip and meant that I was close enough to home if anyone needed me. I also had time to get some work done and reflect on where I am in my life.

I have been watching my fellow bloggers get caught up in frenzy of opportunities. Trips and speaking engagements and freebies and this and that. It’s seductive to be courted like that by PR companies, and it’s hard to say no and possibly miss a fantastic experience, but I have had a wake-up call this week. I don’t want to become a media whore (I’m sure this is going to draw some interesting search engine traffic to my site!) or a pseudo-blog celebrity. I don’t want all of my opportunities to come from being a mom who blogs a lot. Instead, I want to be recognized for my writing and speaking talent, for my creativity and for my other areas of expertise. The good news is that some of that has already started to happen. Now I just need to nurture it.

I’m not sure what this means for me going forward, but I want to make sure that I remember what my long-term goals are and to make sure that I hold on to those opportunities that move me in the right direction. And I need to let go of those that don’t contribute to my future dreams or that aren’t right for me “right now.”

In the meantime, I did miss all of my fantastic ladies at Type A Mom and I hope to see you all soon!

Saturday, Sep 5, 2009

Things Are Looking Up

Yeah, yeah. I’m overdue for a post here. Then again, this is my spot to do whatever I want, right?

I’m here in good spirits. First of all, an overdue link to an article I recently wrote for the 360PR Trendletter on Dad Bloggers: It was fun writing about something a little different and the dad bloggers I interviewed were fantastic. Make sure you take a moment to visit their sites (after reading my article, of course).

Then, I was asked to speak on a panel at Blogalicious this fall. I am thankful for the opportunity to attend the conference, since I didn’t think I’d be able to.

Overall, I have a bunch of things in the works and I know I’m going to have a fun, busy and rewarding fall. It’s nice to have so many things lined up rather than waiting for the next big thing to happen. I was talking a bit about the “tipping point” awhile back. I was saying that I felt like I’ve been putting a foundation in place and that, at some point, I was going to cross a threshold and things were going to start happening quickly. It’s like the slow incline on a big roller coaster… you wait and wait as you creep up the hill and then you hit the top and suddenly you’re zipping downhill and around hairpin turns. It’s a thrilling time and everything is just as I would like it to be!