The obligatory NaBloPoMo recap

You have to write a recap of your NaBloPoMo experience in order to get paid for doing it, right? Mama really needs to get that paycheck before Christmas, so let’s get to it.*

I did NaBloPoMo for the following reasons:

1) To force myself to write more regularly and not get so hung up by my usual downfalls like overthinking, procrastinating, self-doubt and laziness.

2) Because I like adventure and taking risks.

That second one is a lie. Here is what I learned:

1) November is a terrible month to commit to writing every single day. Did you know that Thanksgiving almost always falls during November? And that public schools are not in session at all during the holiday week?? You can’t even try to bring your kid for just a little bit so you can get some writing done. They lock the doors. It’s an outrage.

So the timing was not particularly conducive to the fact that I had both of my kids home all last week, there was a huge eating holiday during which I was very busy eating all of the things, and my parents were in town. February is much better for me – please consider moving it next year.

2) Forcing myself to write something – anything – every day was both good and bad for me. I am not very organized or disciplined in my approach to blogging. Shocking, I know – take a moment to catch your breath. I tend to write when the mood strikes. And sometimes it doesn’t strike for weeks at a stretch.

To help overcome this problem, at the start of November I actually wrote out an editorial calendar with a different post topic for every day of the month. I cannot tell you how impressed I was with myself for this achievement.

Unfortunately I then proceeded to actually write only 2 of those 28 post ideas. Instead of following my own very clear plan, I opted to randomly veer off course ALMOST EVERY DAY and instead write 20-200 word posts about riveting things like donuts, nachos and puzzles. I’m sorry, internet.

However the exercise of making an editorial calendar and writing down post ideas was surprisingly productive and useful. Even though I didn’t use most of them, I now have 26 ideas sitting in my brain, waiting for their moment to shine. Many of them will probably die there, but hey – a few might make it out. And that potentially makes it easier for me to write more regularly in the future. Potentially. Maybe. (probably not)

So to recap my recap, a) I remain disorganized but will take baby steps to improvement, b) I am bad at following writing plans or prompts, and c) I ate too much last week.

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*Before I spread false information and raise hopes, I am updating this post to clarify that this was a lame attempt at a joke – there is no payment for completing NaBloPoMo. But there is a sense of victory, which is priceless.**

**I do not have the priceless feeling because I failed to write one day and therefore did not technically complete NaBloPoMo, but I still feel a sense of partial victory, which I would say has an approximate value of $7.50.

Jiggidy jiggidy jigsaw

It’s Thanksgiving weekend, also known in my family as ‘let’s do all the puzzles until we can’t see straight anymore.’

puzzle

There’s nothing like the feeling of finding that final edge piece. Amirite? Can I get a whatwhat? Is there an echo in here? I don’t know what’s happening anymore but I totally thought this was the last day of the month, and therefore the last day of NaBloPoMo, but NO! – there is one more. Longest month ever.

Please stop asking me about my Thanksgiving plans

“Amy, do you have a centerpiece?”

“Do you have nice napkins and table linens?”

“How are you going to prepare the turkey?”

“Do you have a turkey??”

“What time do you want us to come over?”

Seriously what is the urgency here, people? It’s only Wednesday.

A tinkling tower of terror

I told my parents this story at lunch today, and it reminded me how much I like it. Hello, NaBloPoMo post #23.

Last summer my family attended a going away party for my former boss at a local park. As we were preparing to leave, my 5-year-old had an urgent need to pee. So my husband raced her up to the restrooms while I got the car and drove to meet them.

The toilets in the men’s room at this busy urban park, at the end of a weekend without being cleaned, were beyond disgusting. So my husband decided that instead of letting my daughter sit on one, he would hold her over it while she went – sort of like a urinating hovercraft. She climbed up onto his knees, hung her bum over the toilet, and let loose. I was not there to witness it, but I am told the bathroom gymnastics looked something like this:

tinkle tower

Unfortunately the angle was not quite right, and instead of peeing into the toilet, my daughter proceeded to urinate all over my husband. And once the flood waters were underway, there was really no way to stop her. So he had no choice but to stand there and get peed on for what was probably the longest 45 seconds of his life.

In an even more delightful twist, my daughter managed to pee squarely onto the crotch of my husband’s pants. I believe the science community calls this phenomenon “urinary transference.” I’m not a scientist and cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of this statement.

By the time my daughter was done relieving herself, it looked, and smelled, like my husband had just had an epic potty accident.

Adding insult to injury, my boss came walking into the bathroom just as my husband was rushing to get the hell out. My husband used my daughter as a shield to hide his man-sized potty stain, abruptly said “Hi, Bye,” and jumped into my waiting getaway car, leaving my daughter on the curb to fend for herself.

By the time I got the full story out of both of them, I was in tears. To this day, my daughter thinks it is one of the funniest experiences of her life. My husband is still recovering.

Moral of the story: Female urination is all about angles and math and that’s why we sit down when we go. I am not a mathematician or a urologist and cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of this statement.

Throwback Thursday: Hair-crossed lovers

I am barely making the Thursday cutoff. Blogging on fumes, as they say in Nerdland: Population 1. So I’ll keep this short and sweet. This is my first grade picture:

Grade1

That haircut was the source of serious drama. I hated it so bad that I wore a hood all day, every day – including at school – for several weeks. Ask my mom – she’ll vouch. I can still remember the sweatshirt – it was a red hoodie, and that thing must’ve stunk by the time I finally took it off.

In hindsight, it makes me realize that perhaps this hair incident was just preparing me to make wise haircut decisions in the future. Or not. Definitely not.

OR perhaps it was destiny’s way of aligning me with my future husband, who looked like this in his first grade photo:

hubs

BAM! Twinsies.

That’s the last of the childhood photos I have in my possession, so I will stop torturing the internet with my bad haircut stories.

Nachos 101

I asked my husband to help me brainstorm post ideas tonight and he suggested I write something about our new printer. I would like to state for the record that I will never again solicit his advice for a blog post idea.

Instead I flipped through photos on my phone for inspiration and found this one:

IMG_20131119_213001

A couple weeks ago I asked my daughter if she wanted me to make her some nachos and in response she asked me, “What are nachos?” I felt like I had failed her.

Needless to say I took the opportunity to give her a critical life lesson in the art of nacho-making and nacho-eating – two very different but equally important skill sets.

After a lengthy discussion about the meat vs. no meat options, I explained that you can add things like black olives (duh), onions (meh), jalapenos (no), tomatoes (yes) and of course the dipping/sauce trifecta of salsa, sour cream and guacamole. I try to pretend like I’m healthy sometimes and abstain from the sour cream, but every now and then you just need to indulge in that fatty goodness. I mean – you’re already eating NACHOS. Who are you trying to fool?

My daughter opted to play it safe and just went with cheese for her inaugural nacho session. While her limited topping choices gave the appearance of a novice, I have to say the girl had the nacho noshing skills of a pro. She instinctively knew how to maneuver around that plate to find only the cheesiest chips, leaving the naked crusty dry chips for me. Mama was so proud.

Lately I have had a ton of life lesson conversations with my kid – where babies come from, how to deal with being teased, the importance of being kind, the words to that annoying Taylor Swift song…no, the other one – kindergarten is bringing out eeeevery topic and question for discussion.

So I was delighted to tackle an easy one for a change. It’s going to take multiple nacho lessons to make sure she has it down, but fortunately I have the experience, drive and appetite to coach her through it.

Throwback Thursday: Let’s Dance

Front row. Second from the left.

Dance2

Those bangs so painstakingly perfect. The ends curled and flipped with tender loving care. All leading to a portrait of a confident and poised young dancer with a bright future ahead of her.

Not that I would know, because I am the one in the back row, second from the right, who apparently was out drinking and smoking weed all night.

Amydance

What on earth. How rough-and-tumble can a first grader possibly look in a formal tap dance photo? Did we lose our hairbrush that day? Was I pissed that they made me dress like a patriotic clown? And am I holding a knife behind my back? Because the girl in front of me looks a wee bit concerned for her safety, white-knuckling that top hat. (She also looks exactly like Tina from Survivor.)

All I can tell myself is that my mother must’ve forgotten it was picture day. Or that I didn’t understand how cameras worked.

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Warning: I might need to ride the Throwback Thursday wave all month long in order to get me through this NaBloPoMoMeeMoo business.

Making friends is hard to do

Close friends are a bit of an elusive thing for me these days. What a surprise! said no one, as they read her 10th consecutive day of talking to her computer.

When I quit my job nearly two years ago, I lost most of my day-to-day friends. I knew that was going to happen, but I didn’t realize quite how isolating this stay-at-home gig would be. (For the record, I have loved the chance to be home with my kids and would do it again in a heartbeat.)

It’s not that I haven’t tried to make new friends. Last year I joined a local moms group. Small talk with strangers is not my jam, but I thought the play dates would be a good way to entertain my kids, and maybe I could meet a few friends too. I paid $25 to join. Unfortunately I think I’ve gotten maybe $4 worth of friend-ish interactions out of it.

Befriending other moms at the park is not very realistic. I lack the social skills needed to accelerate a conversation from “Cute shoes!” to “Do you want to hang out sometime?” in the span of a playground visit without sounding like a creeper.

I’m also not the type who chats up the person next to me on the treadmill at the gym. Partly because I’m never at the gym.

So I’ve spent the past two years talking mostly to myself, my kids and strangers on the internet. Oh – and my husband. We usually get a chance to speak between 9:00-9:30 on Sunday mornings.

But I had heard that when your kid starts kindergarten, it can be an introduction to a whole new social circle. I was mildly excited about this prospect but wasn’t holding my breath for fear of disappointment. Two months into it, and my elementary school socializing has been limited to hallway chatter, but that’s about it.

Then today I spent some time with another mother on the playground after drop-off. Her oldest son is in my daughter’s class, and her younger son is the same age as my youngest. She quit her job when #2 was born, just like I did. We commiserated about how disconnected we have become from other friends and ‘real world’ activities, how nice it would be to have our income again so we could take a vacation, and how we both tend to wear the same clothes every day because who cares? Yet we both agreed we wouldn’t trade it.

I also really liked her sneakers.

So I guess what I’m wondering is, is it too soon to ask her to be my BFF? Or should I just play it cool and give her my phone number on the back of this photo?

BFFs

Lefse get this party started

Yesterday I learned how to make lefse, which is a traditional Norwegian flatbread that my grandmother used to make every Thanksgiving and Christmas. I grew up on the stuff and the sight of it reminds me of home. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make it, so I could not resist when I heard there was going to be a lefse-making workshop in the basement of a nearby Lutheran church. I signed up immediately.

I grew up in Minnesota and my family is made up of lefse-eating Lutherans. Learning to make lefse in a church basement feels like a rite of passage. I was excited at the prospect, but I got downright giddy when the event organizer sent out a lefse recipe, and it repeatedly used the word “ladies” in the instructions:

  • “Some ladies put the potatoes through a ricer twice.”
  • “Some ladies cover their rolling board with canvas.”

That’s a legit lefse recipe right there.

So of course I brought along my best gal pal and ‘lady’ baker – my husband. He is much more of a natural in the kitchen, and I knew it would be essential to bring him along if I ever hoped to replicate the recipe at home. (However I must confess that we used potato buds instead of real ones, which probably saved us a bunch of time and caused my grandma to call me a “drittuna” from beyond the grave.)

The lefse-making crowd was a fairly quiet, kind and mild-mannered bunch. I’m pretty sure my husband and I were the only ones giving each other high-fives and yelling “BOOM!” when we’d flip a pretty patty on our lefse grill. We don’t get out much.

But I am so glad we went, because it was a fun, albeit random, outing for us, we discovered that we make a pretty wicked lefse team (it’s a competitive sport, yes?) and now we have a lifetime of lefse-filled holidays ahead.

When I sent my mom this photo she said, "You even put it on an embroidered towel like a good Norwegian girl."

When I sent my mom this photo she said, “You even put it on the obligatory embroidered towel like a good Norwegian would.” Nailed it.

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I can’t find an actual Norwegian spelling for “drittuna” so I don’t know if that’s right, but she always said it affectionately meant “little shit.”

In defense of my NaBloPoMo progress, I posted this on November 11 despite the November 12 dateline. WordPress, you are a drittuna.

It’s revolutionary up in here

I am scrambling to squeeze in a post today – I failed to write early this morning, my kid is refusing to nap right now, I need to go pick up the other one at school soon – and my brain is dry and empty. In need of help, I turned to today’s NaBloPoMo prompt, which was this:

Prompt #6 (Nov 8)
We all work with social media and when we first started experimenting with it, social media was disruptive and threw each of our careers and professional lives in a new direction. But what was new then has grown old. So tell me about the last time something blew your mind. What’s the last truly revolutionary idea, experience or thing you encountered?

Uhhhh. Uhhhh. Uhhhh. Let me think…the last experience that truly blew my mind would have to be…childbirth. Or was it a new app on my iPhone?* No, no. I think childbirth wins.

Ok fine – I realize that’s probably not what the prompt creator had in mind. So if I had to think of another, I would say…breastfeeding. I had no idea that milk came out of multiple holes! Or that my boobs would leak all over my shirt when a baby cried. Any baby! Not just mine!

Ok, ok, you can do this, Amy. Tap into your former career self. It’s only been two years – she’s in there somewhere. They are probably looking for some kind of product here. In which case, I would say…the breast pump? Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be able to feel like cattle at a dairy farm, with modern day machinery sucking milk from my teats, enabling me to feed my child AND do a conference call from my office at the same time.

It probably speaks volumes about my current life stage that my brain could not get beyond anything related to children and parenthood for this one. I read things like this and am reminded how far away I am from my old life, where my job required me to think about technology and pretend like I had a passion for it, when all I wanted to do was get home to see my kid. I’m so grateful for the change.

Which leads me to one last thing that really does blow my mind – isn’t it amazing how much life can change in just a year or two?

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*I actually have an Android phone. I just said iPhone to sound cooler.