Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Crochet and things

Lots of things have happened between my last post and now but rather than try to smush all of my life events into a rushed paragraph, let's talk about crocheting stuff.

I've never been much for crafty activities.  I like painting and drawing and ceramics. I'm an artistically inclined person but I just don't like crafts such as scrapbooking, modge podge and taking tiny beads and stringing them together to form jewelry.  I feel like most of the female people I talk to on any given day like at least one craft related activity that has never even flickered a speck of interest in me.  But the one thing that makes me even mildly interested in crochet is I love random character/critter themed knitwear and so do my kids.  Not that I would wear a pig shaped hat but my kids think it's hilarious and amazing.  Plus for some reason people all around me seem to be doing it and I'm starting to wonder what's so great about it.  A SAHM down the street sells her crochet goods on etsy.  Charlie's best friend's mom crochets all kinds of odds and ends.  Even my own Kim crochets and apparently never shared this activity with me.

Anyway, having been one of those sad souls who dropped $30ish on a handmade crochet hat for Deuce I know that the markup is kind of ridiculous to compensate for the fact that buying fiber isn't cheap.  I can buy a knit beanie for like...$3, less if I'm clearance shopping and patient.  If I MAKE a hat I drop at least $6 on just one skein of yarn and that's not including the fact that many hat designs require more colors (thus more skeins) and buttons as accent points.  Plus you have to have the right hook for the right yarn plus tapestry needles to sew in all the ends.  It becomes more expensive to make it than it does to allow economy of scale to work it's magic and just hand over $3 plus tax to Target or whatever.  Add into this the fact that my mother (bless her heart because she's a really wonderful person) is stone cold about any sort of object related sentimentality.  When I mentioned in passing maybe making a baby blanket one day for my cousin she basically said why even bother wasting the time and effort when I can buy one for less hassle.  If you ever wonder why I am the way I am (points arrow in direction of mother).  Anyway, she's obviously not a source of support on this particular front.  I kind of liken it to the whole nursing thing.  If you have support in what you choose to do it makes it easier to move along with it because you know you have a support system in place.  Can you just do whatever you want to do? Of course you can but it just takes a bit more force to get yourself moving.

So why even bother on this money wasting venture that my mother spits upon?  In part, you are staring at it right now.  I spend 8 hours in front of a computer at work every day. I spent an atrocious amount of time on my smartphone now that I've had the Kool-aid and can not function without it.  I am always plugged in and I think it's a disease in a way.  It makes me more aware of others and less aware of myself and as a classic introvert I am expending a lot of energy trying to appear like a normal human anyway.  I need to keep something saved away for myself.  Plus in an actual piece of news, Trev and I went to Grenada for his dear friend Tyler's destination wedding and while yes there was internet available I thought it was nice to be more removed from being plugged in.  I'm sure the 80 degree perfect weather and sunshine helped a lot too.  I'm so happy I got married ages ago.  The stakes keep getting higher and higher.  You feel pressured to not only have the photo booth, but also the candy buffet and the flip flops for guests and the customized favors along with signature drinks.  How do you ever cut the budget?  How many favors do people even need to walk away with?

Anyway, not wanting to risk dealing with the TSA ripping all my stuff apart and taking my one lonely hook away I didn't venture with any crochet work while on vacation but I kept thinking about how great it would be if I knew how to do it.  I had long stretches of time to myself without bouncing children creating large knots in everything and no pressure or desire to be working on an excel spreadsheet so why not be creating something?  And since bringing paints and canvas and brushes is even MORE tedious painting didn't seem like a good alternative.  Maybe that's why people are so into that adult coloring lately.  We're just like, strangely prewired to want to create SOMEthing.  Sure you may not have the talent of DaVinci but you can throw some pencils in your hands and pretend that you are the master of pretty random swirly mandala things.

I made myself a hat from yarn that's been bouncing around my house for 5 years.  After said "success" with ancient not-high-quality yarn I then decided to make my son a silly themed hat, so with almost no tools and very minimal practice I made him a hat too and he seems to really like it though to be fair his expectations are very low.  I think this is key for a amateur, have a demographic that is super excited and open to your creations even if you are not doing a perfect job yet with controlling your yarn tension.  After this I had to make Deuce a hat too to be fair.  He was more receptive to his than my big boy.  Probably because it's something that has a theme that ties into his backpack and favorite bath towel.  The kid is particular but if you tap into the things he likes he's very enthusiastic.

I have no interest in making pot holders or pot scrubbers or afghans plus I personally have like 30 normal knit scarves so I don't anticipate any desire or need in that department.  I think every Christmas for several years I've either bought myself or been gifted one.  I'd make them for my husband or kids but none of them seem to enjoy material wrapped around their neck, probably because it makes you such an easy target for random strangling.  I have two boys so in case you are not in the same position, they are constantly grappling with one another.  Does it matter that one is 2 years younger? Not at all.  In fact I'd venture he fights dirtier than the big one.  My only current project desire/inspiration is just headwear.  Maybe some boot cuffs?  I don't really see the massive appeal of another accessory I have to coordinate to my clothes, hat, shoes, coat and purse but it seems like a quick project that expends very little yarn so I'll probably make them just to use up ends of skeins.  I hate being wasteful after all.  I don't often see normal people wearing them in the actual world I walk around in.  Sure I see it on pinterest or instagram but that's like the fake world where people always have beautiful  messy-on-purpose-hair, on fleek eyebrows and crock pot recipes look browned and roasty.  Maybe if you live in a cooler urban area than I do it's a thing but in the 'burbs I feel pretty overly fancy when I'm the only mom not rocking leggings and a tunic length shirt.

I actually bought a book kit thing to learn crochet but when I tried to read it it was pretty much gibberish to me because even the most basic concepts like a slipknot and a single crochet were greek.  All the shorthand they used made no sense at all so I learned from youtube and after repeated efforts I finally got it to work.  Thankfully unlike many other art projects you can very quickly revert a crochet project to it's original form with just a good yank at the string.  Why did I not pick knitting?  I don't know as many people who knit.  I have nothing against it I guess but I know even LESS about knitting than I do crochet and the two needles thing seemed kind of tedious.  Surely I would lose one.  I don't even understand how you'd make anything other than square or rectangular items from knitting, that's how ignorant I am of the most basic concepts.  I think I'd need an actual human teacher person to get me motivated for knitting.  Seems a tad fussier since you have to be careful not to drop your stitches and the few videos I watched made it seem like I needed far more than just two needles.

If for some reason I wanted to start making sweaters or mittens I'd need to learn to knit because it has far more give than crochet.  Crochet just doesn't stretch very much and the whole point is people probably want to get that sweater over their heads.

Is it changing the world? Of course not.  But there's a nice feeling in making something and finishing it to completion.  Would I say it's relaxing? For me? Not particularly.  I am probably too high strung though because I'm obsessively counting and recounting my stitches to make sure I'm on track.  Is there a fear of messing up?  If there is, I have that.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Leaves are falling

It's fall again.  My favorite season.  I've already been sick twice from my germ carrying children now that they're both in school and covered in bacteria.

In less charming news I've been very MIA because a lot of life things have happened.  Uncle Henry passed away.  Evelyn passed away.  A co-worker of mine passed away that was younger than I. There was a great deal of tenant turnover over the summer and Trev had to deal with a lot of that drama and the physical demands of renovation between patrons.  The summer as a whole was not what I had anticipated so in a way I'm happy it's over.  I won't get into the minutia of all of the things but it was very emotionally distressing in addition to the overall grief of people passing away and having to explain it to the children in a way that wasn't too disturbing.  My heart is pretty tired of feeling so sad but I try to keep reminding myself at least it's still trucking. 

They're such good kids.  They put up with a lot while daddy was working on updates and I was at work.  The ever-present guilt of being a terrible parent could suffocate you if you allow it.  I had some less than ideal moments where just having my own kids and the dog felt like a monumental task and that feeling made me feel like a failure.  That Duggar lady has like 24 kids or something and she's not having an emotional crisis so why do I get to mope?  I have a lot of envy for the stay at home moms because as lonely as their lifestyle can be they have other SAHMs to commiserate with.  And once their kids are in school they actually get to experience some mild freedom.  The most freedom I ever get is when I get someone to watch the kids while I go grocery shopping.  I know I could do the peapod thing but I'd be mentally unstable without an hour to myself even if it's just spent shopping for milk and coffee.  

Plus, I love grocery shopping.  Sure it's annoying spending tons of money on stuff as unexciting as bread and chicken but I enjoy a good mental exercise in couponing.  You have to remember what offers can stack, the limits on each and how to best combine them so you get the most out of it.  Especially now, you're not just limited to stacks of manufacturer's coupons so it can get really complicated.  Store coupons, manufacturer's coupons, loyalty rewards, catalina coupons, ecoupons, rebate checks, ibotta, savingstar, ebates...it's a lot of stuff you could potentially use if you have the mental willpower to remember it all. Or you can be a person with lists...but I have enough paper jammed into my purse. Lists don't always work for me when I make them and leave them at home.  If you want to coupon, well...you can do your own research.  There are literally blogs who focus on nothing else but couponing so I'm sure they can lead you in a far better manner than I could.  I used to coupon a ton when the kids were little because diapers get expensive and formula costs an arm and a leg.  Now that we're done with that I tend to just do it because it's fun.  As an example I got a standard sized bag of Twix fun sized candy for the trick or treaters for $0.99 after all my couponing.  I had to buy it anyway but since I'm couponing I get the freedom of being more generous to the neighborhood kids with the "good" name brand candy.  I'm not even personally that elated about chocolate but I know that's what typical kids want to see in their bags.

Now I just get creative.  If I need ground beef and it's not on sale and some other weird cut is on sale then I drag out my meat grinder and grind it myself.  If the particular cut of chicken a recipe is asking for is not on sale (usually recipes tell you to use boneless skinless chicken breast) I can pretty quickly break apart a whole chicken and debone it for my own purposes and then butcher it down into shapes appropriate for the recipe. If I'm lazy I go and grab a rotisserie chicken but I use all the leftovers in various different dishes so we aren't sick of it.  Southwest chicken eggrolls.  Chicken pot pie. Chicken burritos. Burrito bowls when I run out of tortillas. Chicken soup of some kind depending on the vegetables I have at hand. I had this odd turkey butternut squash chili I threw together and somehow it worked.  I figure people make white chicken chili, what's so different about using turkey and then adding squash for flavor and texture? Plus with all the savory spices it is nice to have a soft mild slightly sweet element to round out the zip of all the jalapeno and cumin.

I touched on my frequent illness as a result of having two school aged children ferrying viruses and bacteria with them.  Soup and chilis have been good friends of mine in recent memory. I love spicy soups when I'm sick because it opens up all my passageways and I can breathe again.  Trev says that's weird and people usually eat like clear broth type soups but I think that if the sinus pressure and persistent stuffy nose bothers you that there's nothing like blasting them open by any means possible. The kids are fine.  They're more persistent than I am honestly. When they're sick they don't really seem too down about it.  I am already halfway ready to give up on this adulting business and just crawl into bed for a week in hopes of purging out whatever ails me.

I'm in such a a weird place right now. The combo of sickness (I am never normally sick. Pre kids I was very hardy) sadness, grief and general exhaustion is eating at me.  I want to feel better though, so at least that's something.  I wasn't even close to my co worker who passed.  I'll be real with you, I hardly said two words to her so the grief I felt wasn't because I lost a dear friend.  Honestly my heart hurt far more because some poor guy had to call his daughter's work and tell them she died.  The things you think about doing on behalf of your kids like filling out forms, chaperoning school trips, buying overpriced plastic crud...I'm pretty sure he never thought he'd have to make that kind of call.  No one wants to think their kid is going to go before they do.  20somethings in the prime of life are not supposed to die.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Having a Ferris Bueller Moment

I'm kind of a boring with age.  I am tentative about using the term conservative because it has distinctly political connotations and I don't want to deal with any of that but my choices as I age are less crazy and risk taking.  Plus as I understand economics better I feel the need to put my money where my thoughts and beliefs are.  Example, I don't do that whole Kardashian thing.  Like, at all.  I don't watch the shows, I don't have the apps, I don't buy the makeup or the clothes or any of the things that they shill on the regular.  I don't do it because a.) I genuinely don't believe there's that much quality assurance that goes into their products b.) if you keep buying into it they'll keep thinking you want more and they'll keep pushing out more.  I'd like for it all to quietly go away.  Much like I'd like Jessica Simpson to please stop "designing" clothes, shoes and bags.  I didn't care for her music or shows in the 00's and I find her a sad example of a not especially talented person who is a multimillionaire because of several circumstances and some PR opportunities.

I don't watch anything anymore actually, trash tv or otherwise. The kids want to watch kid shows and I don't want them to inadvertently catch some disturbing moments of violence if I'm watching some grown up movie.  I was watching Beetlejuice and thought nothing of it because it's not really violent or vulgar and even the dead people are pretty cartoonishly dead but forgot about that scene where he turns the banister into a big snake and starts shaking someone upside down.  It's actually pretty darn creepy in comparison to the tone of the rest of the movie so I had to change it to hedge being up 10 times that night due to bad dreams.  The kids understand zombies and vampires and pointy hat wearing witches aren't real but regular things in their normal life magically turning into snakes (which are real) can be pretty hard to kindly dance around.  So since my eldest could form opinions we pretty much watch PBS kid programming and NickJr whenever the television is on.  It'll be that way for a while since we reset the clock a bit when we had a 2nd child.

Does anyone else have that sentiment? I feel like if I had a 3rd then I would basically reset my 18 year prison sentence.  I'm not saying that to be depressing or anti-children but once you have two kids you realize that you should have grown 2 more hands in order to juggle it all so the thought of a third is pretty ridiculous to me.  I guess if money is no object you can just pay enough nannies and housekeepers and groundskeepers to do the lame stuff and just sit back and take your kid to the park and eat ice cream cones then yes, let's have dozens of kids.  I'm used to feeling trapped now so I stock up on wine knowing I can't very well drop everything and go to the liquor store with two kids in tow.  Other than looking like the worst parent in the world there's way too high of a likelihood they'll break something.  Those stores are full of glass! I can't afford to pay for that toppled champagne display.  Actually I stock up on everything except milk and bread.  Frozen loaves of bread do not defrost well in my opinion; I always have overly soft mushy spots from condensation.  I want to like it because it'd make life easier but bread is cheap enough I'll just buy it every week.  I'm trying to reverse this hoarding tendency though because we'll be drowning in body wash and laundry detergent if I keep up at this rate.  Thankfully my friends are good sports when I purge 8 bottles of surplus shampoo onto them.

I read Marie Kondo's book "The Life Changing Art of Tidying" and though I think I'll pass on a few of her ideas I do like the overall zen-like Japanese perspective.  Japanese people are so interesting because the aesthetic is so spare and controlled but then the culture is so based on innovation and like cutesy anime collectibles and out of the ordinary fashion choices.  You'd think all of those things wouldn't work together and apparently it doesn't if they need self help books about tidying their lives.  I like to know everyone struggles with everyday boring stuff, not just me.  If you are unfamiliar she instructs others on how to tidy and she has a general philosophy regarding what to keep and what to chuck based on if that object "sparks joy." That sweater your mom got you for your birthday that's kind of too itchy and a bit too bright for your coloring? Chuck it.  If it's only hanging around out of obligation then it's not bringing you any more joy. That disgusting teeshirt from middle school with Sailor Moon on it that you love to death and wear to bed in secret shame? Keep it.  While everyone else hates it if you love it so badly then allow it to spark further joy in your life.  I can't really apply this joyful philosophy to say, my toilet brush or that bottle of generic Tylenol bopping around in the drug cabinet it's kind of nice to be told that we don't need to feel an obligation to objects.  I try not to collect too much stuff anyway.  In a world of digital files and portable devices why do I need stacks of DVDs, Blu-Ray and CDs in my life?  It's not 2001.

But I have to admit many people do like collecting things.  I don't really collect in a traditional sense, I just like makeup and clothes and shoes but I don't actively collect say, the entire set of McDonald's toys or Pokemon cards or anything.  I like having fun colors and styles that feed into my aesthetic but I don't care about having a "full set" of anything.  My parents collect nothing. No figurines, no books, no movies, no ever expanding music library...nothing.  They pick up music when they like it, they watch movies here and there, but they don't collect and in that way I never learned how to bite my nails I never learned the joy of collecting piles of dusty beanie babies with hard plastic covered tags to protect their value.  In my parents defense they left Vietnam as boat people and lived in a refugee camp before they ever came to America.  To say they came with nothing but the clothes on their back is not hyperbole, so I think in many ways that has an effect on how they live their lives now and therefore that's just what I have always known to be "normal."  When I was really little I collected stickers because they were so pretty, especially in the Lisa Frank laden 90's with such awesome graphics and the advent of scratch and sniff technology, but then I realized it was dumb because I never got to enjoy the stickers.  I had them in a box for safekeeping but because they were "safe" I didn't see them.  And then I was scared of actually sticking them to things because that's pretty much the entire life span of a sticker. The moment you use it then it reverts to being a small piece of paper with fuzz on one side.  So once I realized that simply having them exist nearby me was boring I was over it.

That sentiment follows me even now.  I have some expensive random objects I desired to have and I use them whenever I feel like and often everyday.  I abuse my Coach sneakers every bit as much as my other shoes, I don't give it any preferential treatment or save it for special lounging occasions since they're not fit for true athletic endeavors.  I don't even know what a special lounging occasion is.  Shoes are meant to be worn.  I wear my "wedding" shoes whenever I feel like because it's not like someone's going to suddenly put them in a museum when I die as an artifact of my greatness.  I liked them enough to buy them and I like them enough to wear them. If they get ruined and I have to toss them at least I had several years of rocking them out and feeling great because they are the world's must comfortable heels without looking old and matronly.  I wear my "fancy" earrings whenever the mood strikes me.  I don't wear them when I think I'd look like a lunatic of course but I think saving things for a special occasion tends to backfire.  You save and save and save it and eventually realize you only enjoyed it for like 5 days over the course of 10 years.  I'm not about to tell you it's silly to spend your money any way you want but you should enjoy the fruit of your labor.  If you worked hard to earn your money, spent time away from your loved ones to work and toil at your job, spent your precious free time shopping and browsing for just the right thing, then why is it so crazy that whatever lucky object you picked should "spark joy" for you?

I'm not advocating excessive consumption, just that you should enjoy the things that surround you.  It's easy to get caught in the "it's not my favorite thing but I guess it's okay" trap.  Or the "my mom bought me this and I think she expects me to keep it" obligation trap.  Or the "maybe bell bottoms will come back around if I wait long enough" argument.  If you hate it, dislike it, can't fit in it, don't have room for it then stop letting it boss you around.  Life is too short for a pair of very expensive Diesel jeans manipulate you. I'm not overly sentimental anyway but I even get mad at myself for being overly precious about things because the truth is that no one cares.  No one wants to look at the tattered old ancient playbills from middle school plays I was in...not even me.  I was in them and I don't care, but somehow it seems uncouth to throw it away, as though the paper has feelings and will be hurt I don't want them. I'm actually much more concerned about the "feelings" of the things than I am about the actual thing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Run, run as fast as you can

I don't post frequently but in my mind I do.  Kind of like how I feel like I've replied to text messages but in reality I thought the reply but never actually created words and sent them. Um...do I get points for at least mentally replying? Anyway, mild momnesia aside my point was that I organized a group of a few coworkers and a few non coworkers to run a local 5k.  Actually I can't hold a gun to anyone's head and make them run so a few are walking but their participation warms my heart.  Nothing like forced social situations to make us feel guilty about not remaining active!

Actually as silly as it may sound to pay money to participate in running in circles I'm fond of it because it's a good clean healthy thing to do with others that involves no drinking, no arguing about movies and not spending copious amounts of money eating out and trying to accommodate everyone's dietary restrictions and preferences.  It used to be so easy to hang out with people, maybe because we were young and could all eat junk?  Now I'm terrified of inviting people over in case they're allergic to nuts or gluten or chronically dirty houses and suddenly I've poisoned them.  I'm not ready to take on that kind of guilt.

Plus I enjoy the anticipation of a 5K because it really amps up my running schedule.  If left to my own devices I just plateau and don't push especially hard.  Not that I have any interest in pushing it much further than a 5k, maybe a 10k; it seems more like torture to my old-lady joints to go much further than that.  My knees have been cracking since I was a teenager, I think I was just born to be a grumpy old lady. I can run for a little while but I'm not especially fast.  With time I have vastly improved my stamina and ability to continue pushing through that tight horrible feeling of mile 1 to get to the euphoria of mile 2 and 3.  Truly the first mile is the worst and likely why I always detested running.  In school all they ever made you do was 1 mile for the physical fitness test and then you were set free.  They also didn't teach me how to run.  What pace should I set? How should I pattern my breathing? How do I know when I'm pushing too hard? How do I know when I need to push harder?  I appreciate explicit instruction in all things.  I still often refresh my memory by reading recipes on how to boil eggs, something you'd imagine is easy but I still either end up either constantly under or over cooking and if not that then I can't get the shell of cleanly and make a huge mess.

I love eating so sadly I probably won't be size zero any day in my immediate future even with my fondness for the runners high and being able to hold boat position in yoga.  I really love seeing how strong my body is and after having two kids, seriously? A little agonizing eagle pose is no comparison to childbirth.  I definitely have a renewed sense of strength, competency and just overall composure.  In the last six days I've run almost 12 miles and did 3-30 minute blocks of yoga and surprisingly though I'm a tad sore I'm not in agony.  It's a pace I can handle and when I feel overwhelmed by the combination of a full time job, full time parenting, this exercise regime I've taken on and the general upkeep of my days, I take a run rest day and pick it up again afterwards.  Yoga is great in tandem with running.  I was just running prior years and it was fine but I was almost always sore the next day no matter what pace I was going at.  I think that at least for me, it's a great combo to keep my blood pumping.  I know Yoga gets this like hippy new age feeling to it, but that's like saying you don't like comedy.  There are so many kinds of comedy that yeah maybe you don't like slapstick but some dry British humor really gets you going.  It's the same thing with yoga because there are several different methodologies and variations.  I practiced Kundalini in college and while it really worked my body hard I found the breathing technique difficult to keep up with and lately I've been into Vinyasa Flow.  You have to get into something that works for you.  I've never tried "hot yoga" that seems to be popular now but I also don't care for being hot.  It's too suffocating and stifling. Also I just do like 20 to 30 minutes of yoga and it's not quite such a big to-do.

Eating.  I don't talk about food as much in great part to the fact that if I run after dinner I can't be stuffed or I'll want to barf.  I just can't deal with overfullness.  I can't work out on an empty stomach either because I get light headed and faint so in order to be a functional human I have to just cut it down and eat light.  This pains me because I hate eating light and part of me is irritated it works and I feel so much better eating less and eating more fresh foods.  I'm not above admitting that bathing suit season scares the heck out of me.  When I was 20 and never had to work at my flat stomach life was easy.  Now I really got to get some serious sweat in to get my stomach looking where I wouldn't be mortified to show it in public.  There are always people who are WAY more fit than I am and there are people who are way LESS fit than I am.  That is not the point.  I'm never going to be 5'1" and 82lbs.  It's never going to happen.  I can't beat myself up over it because it's impossible to shrink that far even with old age. I try hard not to envy what other people have and just focus on what I have.

I'm not a dieter because I hate it.  I hate being told what to eat.  I hated it when I had gestational diabetes and I hate it now. It is no fun being told what to eat, when to eat it and in what quantity.  It's all a catch 22 anyway because it seems like if you restrict your diet and cut down your calories to lose the weight eventually once you lose the weight you feel justified in finally eating a cookie and gain all the weight back.  That is literally every person I have ever met that has ever been on a diet ever in the history of mankind.  Your body rejects what you want it to do and your metabolism slows to the rate of a slug. Then if you try a different diet you have to work twice as hard to be successful because that first failed diet already took a dent out of your metabolism.  I have no solutions for you, I'm just stating my simple observations.  If you maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle FOREVER then it's a different story and you're a frickin' machine and I wish I had your determination. There was an interesting article about how pretty much every single contestant in the biggest loser gained a certain chunk of weight after the show ended no matter how much they tried to fight it. When you go from a situation where you work out 8 hours a day to normal life again where you need to work your body fights your intentions to keep the weight off. No huge shocker but it's good to use such a public example to give normal folks some perspective.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Do you believe in magic?

I'm not Christian so I hate holidays like Easter.  Wait, hate is a strong word.  I'm "divided" about it because yes I want my kids to have a well rounded "normal" childhood that often mirrors the experiences of their peers however, I don't believe in Jesus zombies and I don't want to teach my children about that as anything other than general mythology.  Kind of like how we talk about Zeus and Athena and all those cool Greek Gods.  "It's a pretty cool story huh?" and then we can move on.  If my kids want to be Christian later in their lives, that's fine.  I'm not anti-religion.  If you want to believe in something that's great and wonderful for YOU.  Good for you, not for me.  I identify as Buddhist but I don't give other people a hard time about not celebrating the various Buddhist fetes.  You probably don't even know about them.  But with Christianity? It's everywhere.  I can't get away from it.

Now you probably hate me, but hear me out.  I don't LIKE being forced into things in general.  I didn't like team sports in school.  I don't like pledging allegiance to the flag, but I put my hand over my heart and mumble because there's no harm in some mild outward assimilation.  I'm not a jerk about it, but it doesn't mean I agree with all of it.  When I am at someone else's house and they insist on saying grace because they believe God had something to do with the 4 hours they spent slaving over the stove, I hold hands and mumble with my eyes downward.  Despite being raised without the fear of God I became a decent and empathetic human being that understands that we have different perspectives.  No one is "right" when it comes to opinion.  I like french vanilla ice cream over vanilla bean.  It's just a preference, I don't yell at people who buy plain chocolate for being dumb.  

My kids know Easter like it's a Hallmark holiday.  Chicks and bunnies and eggs made of plastic filled with junky candy.  I liken it to a springtime equinox that we threw some holiday decor around.  We're happy it's spring and we can finally shed our parkas and gloves and hats and welcome the warmth and new life popping up around us.  My kids also know Christmas as a silly holiday where a fat stranger gives gifts to good children and we drag a tree from outside into our home and hang lights on it as though we are not lunatics looking for a fire hazard.  I don't go crazy about any of these holidays because they're just holidays.  I don't like, decorate 4 Christmas trees and buy $5,000 in gifts and make homemade jellies for all my acquaintances.  If you can afford to do that? Great.  I'm actually not knocking it.  If you find joy in sharing your love and affection via sweaters and xboxes that's great.  I hate decorating the house.  I think mulled wine is strange and full of lumpy things I dislike such as cloves. I think peppermint flavored anything is meant for brushing one's teeth and the amounts of peppermint candy at Christmas pretty much ruin candy all together for a month because I never know when one of those peppermint bombs will find their way into the mix.  I love cookies but whenever I make more than a dozen at a time my kids start bouncing around like my own live action pinball machine.  Your family must really enjoy your enthusiasm for it though and I commend you for the energy to pull it together.  As long as you can afford it and you're doing it out of the joy of giving and not out of some expectation of receiving then I can't see the harm in straight up generosity and thoughtfulness.  Again, "Good for you, not for me".  Do I aspire to have more holiday spirit? Sure, but so far it's not catching on so well.  

My ultimate motivation however? The kids. When other kids talk about their holidays I want my kids to be part of that too.  I often felt left out because Santa literally didn't come to our house.  My parents bought me gifts and didn't want any mythical fat man taking the credit for their hard work, labor and money.  I kind of don't blame them since I bust my hump making the holidays happen and it'd be nice to get a pat on the back for all that sneaking around and buying presents on the sly but seeing happy kids is worthwhile.  When they're babies they don't know anything from anything, but since my kids are 5 and 3 now they are totally with it and aware of what's going on and the magic is real.  The mythical magical strangeness of a bunny that poops out jellybeans totally makes sense to them.  Funny enough when prompted my 5 year old will deny the existence of a Tooth Fairy but believes with all his heart in a human sized Easter Bunny.

I think religion is great and it probably really helps form a community around you and your children.  The problem for me is that I am introverted and strange people even within my community make me highly uncomfortable.  Some of the nicest people I've ever met happen to have very strong religious affiliation and I wish I could also be as sweet, generous, kind and outwardly willing to just accept others.  It took a good year for me to make good friends at work and I literally see those people everyday.  Now I have a work bestie whom I am attached to the hip with but connections don't happen overnight for me.  I wish they did but they don't.  It seems to be so much more tedious to befriend others as I get older but probably because I value friendship much more and I think it's important to flesh out a truly good compatible friend that gets my idiosyncrasies and can laugh along with me instead of immediately pouncing and acting so righteous and better than me.  Trust me, you aren't a 24/7 picnic either but it's about finding those moments of humor and shared humanity versus showing off how great every facet of your life is.  There are days when I am a hot mess and my kids eat a corndog for dinner and the kitchen sink is completely overflowing despite the lack of culinary finesse.  And then there are days when I throw together a full Easter dinner complete with several sides and a homemade cake from scratch everything down to the candy coated pecans decorating the outside, the kids are dressed like angels and we pretend we've got it together.  It's those tiny moments of getting my act together and creating that magic which I hope the kids remember.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Body Talk

Do you believe in New Year's Resolutions?  I don't really because I think it's silly to set goals just because it's arbitrarily the New Year.  If you want to set a goal just do it, you don't have to wait until a specific date to set it.  However I do like taking a moment to access yourself and determine how to better one's self.  That's nice.  So I have a love/hate relationship with the whole thing.

Totally unrelated to the Earth completing a rotation around the sun, my cousin, I shall call Haley got engaged and has sprung it upon me that she needs me to participate in her wedding.  To which of course I think I'm just like, making food or prepping flowers but in fact I now need to be dressed identically to three other girls for the ceremony, so....in that roundabout way that I get wrangled into a lot of things I will be an active participant.  Since I had her be part of my wedding party I suppose it's only fair.  But when she was a bridesmaid for me she didn't have two kids already explode out of her body.  I on the other hand am now freaking out that I'm going to be this horrible gigantic fat monster in comparison to her other friends.

Let me say it before it is forgotten, I love my cousin and I would do anything for her.  I'm jumping up and down at the bit to do it, but I know for a fact that I would regret NOT doing it.  That my friends is maturity.  It took a while to set in all the way but I get it now.  Yes it would be easier to sit on my butt eating chips but just because something is easier and more pleasurable doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.  So I am doing what I feel would be the best thing to honor my family, make my cousin happy and participate in a very important day for her.  Oh and I'm helping with the flowers too and will be partaking in that open bar like a CHAMP.

In normal life I love my body, I fully embrace the journey of motherhood, I rock a bathing suit like a bad ass and I take moments to run and stretch and do things for myself in order to feel balanced and centered.  But in my Vietnamese life I am incredibly insecure.  I am disgusted at myself for being so petty but I can't help it.  I'm first generation so I've always been American born and raised which I've never been ashamed of but I am also 6 inches taller than any of my other female cousins, and I have the weight and width associated with such a significant size differential.  My big Sasquatch feet alone are mortifying in comparison to their teeny size 5 lily feet.  It ain't right.  I love being tall in normal life in my normal clothes but you can't help but compare people when they're dressed in the exact same thing.  I will be Amazonian among a line of 90lb waifs that can eat anything they want and still be a double zeros and my self-esteem is not bulletproof enough to take it right now.  I'm working on it...thankfully I have a few months to detox, get more rigorous about getting long and lean versus the muscle packing that I've been doing with my runs and most importantly mentally steel myself for the inevitable comparison making.

Did I mention I'll be wearing an Ao Dai again? The world's least forgiving dress.  Vietnamese people use silk so there's zero stretch and therefore it is a very difficult outfit to wear if you have any curves or gain even an ounce of weight.  I think I only have to wear it for the ceremony and I can wear normal western wear for the reception but...let's not make any promises right now.  As a...whatever I am, I have forfeited any decision making to the bride.  I could be walking around in bunny slippers and a toga for all I know.

Due to our unusual El Nino weather and extra long fall leading into a not as crazy as anticipated winter, I've been able to keep pretty active and my sweet Charlie is a great cheerleader and very encouraging of our little mommy and son yoga sessions.  And my body type is such that a little working out has a fairly decent effect on my body.  When I was younger it meant I could work out once a blue moon and enjoy a flat stomach and average curves.  Now that I'm older working out doesn't immediately slim my body but I do find myself packing on more muscle.  Since muscle is heavier than fat I weigh more than I would like to but thankfully when I run it doesn't look like a plate of wiggling gelatin.  Pluses and minuses.  I'm a work in progress but I think even a work in progress is better than someone who doesn't do anything and complains non stop.  I have lost any patience for people who run at the mouth but never budge their feet.

I don't do the whole crash dieting thing and I hate the taste of fake sugar so I've slowly started trying to force myself into eating a healthy breakfast.  I'm not especially hungry in the a.m. but I know it's important to start up the proverbial engine so now I'm experimenting with overnight oats.  I don't do the whole mason jar nonsense because they are highly breakable and those canning lids are a pain but the more exotic the combination of flavors the more likely I won't get bored. Banana, dates, cinnamon and a huge handful of walnuts is so far my favorite because I get my whole grain, my dairy (from the milk I put in), fruit from the banana and some healthy fats from the walnuts.  I saw some really interesting ones like carrot cake oatmeal where you literally put shredded carrots and raisins in the oatmeal and I think that would also be incredibly healthy and hearty.  Usually hearty breakfast means eggs and fats like bacon but while I am not eliminating rich foods what tends to happen is that if I'm full I won't make the impulse reach for the snacky stuff like a bag of chips.  If I just eat what I am supposed to for my meals then I stay on track.  This is just how my own body works, I don't pretend to be a nutritionist.

My little monsters are now big enough that they eat normal foods but they can't eat, say an entire eskimo pie so what my original problem was they would eat, I dunno 65% of their eskimo pie and then I'd feel it was wasteful to throw away the rest and I'd eat it.  Boom.  Immediate mommy weight gain.  Not that I feed my kids ice cream everyday but I figure that's a good example.  Deuce will grab an apple and eat half of it and then because he's three he'll complain he's full and dump the rest.  Just because it's healthy doesn't mean I should be eating all of my own food and half of his too.  This immediate bump in caloric intake led to some extra pudge.  So I'm learning to let go and deal with a little bit of waste.  It's very unnatural to me because I am not used to this kind of behavior with food.  You're probably saying, why not just give them less portion size, but that doesn't work on my eldest son.  He'll eat the tiny portion and then just say he's full so he can move on to dessert because dessert is the reward for being a hearty consumer.  Even if he's still hungry he's so focused on the prize at the end he can't put it together that he'll be an awful human being in a few hours when his hungry body makes itself known.  Young kids don't care about consequences as much as adults do.  I could give myself the smaller portion but a life eating cold half eaten leftovers from your kids that inadvertently got covered in way too much ketchup is a sad pathetic one.

Monday, January 18, 2016

It's a cushion...for my face

Did you miss makeup madness?  Probably not, but while I'm in the mood I've wanted to mention my current interest in cushion foundation.  I don't think too much about the other cushion products but since it's such a craze in Korea there's typically a reason something like that really takes off.  Typically I'm a big fan of Physician's Formula products at the drugstore even though they're a pricier product there because they don't make me break out, almost everything contains SPF30+, many are fragrance free and all of the BB and CC products other than just tinting my face actually have skincare properties as well and I'm willing to pay a bit more to avoid looking like a pizza.  I was going to try and get the PF cushion but as much as I wander CVS I haven't seen my shade and in an impatient moment I decided to just jump on and get the L'oreal True Match Lumi Cushion product instead.  I bought it with my own money and after sales and rebates it was less than $6, which I feel is a totally appropriate sum to pay for less than half an ounce of product that I probably won't even wear everyday because I'm too busy for that.  The product is literally soaked into a sponge that's inside a compact.  The sponge applicator provided is not meant to absorb the product as much as it's just a thin flat plane which to pick it up.

Color.  I detest picking my shade and for some reason L'oreal must have known this because they had these sheer, kind of sticker type things to help you pick your color.  It's actually more like transparent tape but there are mini examples of the foundation color and if you smack them on your face you can try and determine which is closest to your color.  It's pretty cool and every company should probably try this.  Other than looking like a weirdo for a second I think it was pretty helpful.  Oddly enough the sticker test told me I'd be "Classic Ivory" which I'd never pick for myself.  I'm usually some form of Beige.  I'm not super pale by any means but Ivory always means pale to me.  Feeling confused I bought the recommended "Classic Ivory" dubious about the color match.  I was even more dubious when I dipped my finger in and swiped on my hand.  It seemed way too pale but I kept moving forward and tried it anyhow.  At first I looked like a ghost but once I added in my blush, bronzer, contour and highlight, surprise! Everything blended together and looked good.  I think the product oxidizes a bit, so yet another reason why it's so hard to find a correct match.  If you find one of the little sticker things I'd recommend using it as a guide before you throw down the retail price of $16.99.

Method.  I like the weird little sponge and how it forces you to press the product in a kind of blotting motion rather than rubbing it in like you'd do with sunblock.  I have a beauty sponge and it follows the same idea and I think the finish when using a beauty sponge is amazing.  Not the little white triangle things but the ones that look like a big teardrop.  I haven't a clue why but it makes a world of difference.  Also you put on the sheerest possible amount with one press of the sponge and it feels really lightweight even in comparison to my usual CC cream which is already less coverage than normal foundation.  I don't know how but although it's feather light the coverage is good for me and I felt I didn't need any concealer at all.  Normally the bags under my eyes beg for some lightening up but surprisingly the cushion really did make it seem nice and luminous.  I know I've heard people complain you get less product than a typical foundation or BB cream but for a higher price however I'm not bothered by this because you don't need to use as much product and if they gave you more you'd likely exceed the correct life span of your foundation and get all kinds of gross bacteria build up.  In my opinion it's better to have slightly less product and force people to be mindful of their expiration dates.  Also? If you're really industrious you can clean your cushion and sponge and refill it with whatever mixture of product you like.  Some CC cream, sunblock, liquid bronzer, facial serum blend, perhaps?  Have a power punch of color, sun protection, glow and true skincare all in one little easy to transport compact.  Unlike with powder or regular foundation this really lends itself to reuse.

Wear time.  It actually lasted all day with minimal need for touch up and when I finally decided to clean my face and take it off there was a ton of makeup that came free.  Much better lasting than BB or CC cream.  For both products I tend to set my face with powder because I don't think any foundation-type product really stands a chance without a little help.  I have normal/combination skin and I think overall this is a nice natural finish everyday "natural look" makeup that tends to hang on more like a traditional foundation and if you don't need intense coverage you may find this to be a fun alternative to whatever you're already into.  I don't have acne scarring, zits or anything of major significance to cover up but I like how it just evens out my color without making me look like I'm layering it on like a drag queen. This L'oreal product surprisingly has no SPF in it but I know a lot of American makeup companies try to avoid it just because for flash photography it can cause flashback issues.  Also SPF has a certain shelf life and would often diminish the time people would feel comfortable using their product.  Most Korean cushions will contain SPF.

Will I buy it again?  I don't know.  There are too many products on the market to try.  I know Laneige launched their line at Target so I can get authentic Korean product to try and their cushion product comes with refills so once you buy into it it's a lower cost to simply refill your cushion case rather than start anew and fill our landfills with more stuff.  There are several other Korean brands that are growing more traction in the states but their limited color range hasn't quite caused me to jump onto Amazon and start filling my cart.  And again, I've been very loyal to PF and appreciate that their products have a multitude of benefits for a forgetful busy mom-type.  I'm not crazy about all of their stuff but the BB cream, CC cream, mineral wear powder, most of the bronzers, argan oil and Eye Booster products are top notch.  Lancome came out with their cushion months ago and since L'oreal is owned by Lancome I'm not surprised that it's overall execution has been very good. Of the ones I've seen L'oreal and Lancome have by far the most extensive color selections.  You're pretty much out of luck finding your shade if you're any darker than I am if you're choosing from original Korean offerings.