Friday, August 30, 2013

To the zoo

My company gave us the last two Fridays off {for good behavior}, and because Jonathan already has Fridays off working four 10-hour workdays {yeah, it sucks}, we decided we should spend one solely on Vincent. Usually the weekends are so packed, we don't just get to stop and enjoy Vincent. What's more, we don't often get a chance to take him away for the day. 

So on Thursday evening we told him that we'd be headed to the zoo tomorrow {after he wake up, Vincent speak}. I'm not sure who was more excited, Vincent or me! I knew he'd enjoy every moment of it. He loves getting out and about with us when we go places and he's so easy. In fact, sometimes I think it's easier just to go somewhere and not have to endure playing with him {which currently consists of him bossing us to no end}.

On Friday morning we headed out. We opted not to go to the big city zoo and instead headed to Topeka, which has a zoo probably a fourth of the size. I'm sort of a seen one zoo you've seen them all kind of girl, so I knew I wouldn't be disappointed and I knew Vincent wouldn't know the difference.

We brought the stroller just in case, but that boy, the one who will have only been walking a year come October, walked the entire thing, maybe even ran half of it {so proud of him that I glow and wipe away happy relief tears}. None of the animals really held his interest long. He kept saying "I want to see something else," .2 seconds after stepping up to the cage. Not one to dawdle at a zoo, I was fine if we didn't take our time. 

There were lots of inquisitive questions: there's the daddy elephant, and the mommy elephant, but where's the Vincent elephant? I had no answer. Where was the Vincent elephant?

The other perk going on a Friday morning: no crowds. I think I counted 20 cars in the parking lot. I'm sure most of them were probably SAHM looking for an escape. 

And yes, he's the proud owner of light-up Spider-man shoes. He has no idea who that is, but we couldn't resist getting him light-up shoes at Stride Rite. He was pretty proud to show them off later that day at Daddy's work. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pushing myself

I've had back to back freelance projects lately. This is on top of applying and interviewing for jobs. I'm feeling great about the freelance. It's really a positive change for me to take on more writing and even make some extra money. It's the job search that's killing me emotionally.
In my field, you apply for a job with your resume, a cover letter, and usually a job application. If they like what they see, and for me, they usually do since I'm in the senior level of my field, they call you for a phone interview, followed by two to three in-person interviews. These interviews are usually panels, and the questions range from the basic (what are your strengths) to the irritating (tell me time when something went wrong. how did you solve it?). I have been reading about how companies are asking more questions to gauge your emotional intelligence (how do you handle conflicts with co-workers?) I'm not the most eloquent speaker. I'm a writer who requires time and thoughtfulness to create smooth, clean, and interesting copy, and even then I'm pretty technical. Face to face, I end up coming off as flaky. No matter how much I prepare, I seem to always be holding myself back despite my experience, best effort, and intentions. Afterward I drag myself down thinking what I could do differently or how I could have answered that question better. No amount of wine, chocolate, or Starbucks can usually make me feel better. I can only sit with the feeling long enough that I become indifferent. Today I began to wonder if I'm just not cut out for this line of work. Do you do that? Do you give yourself enough praise or do you critic to the point of exhaustion?

Another step in this process is writing post-interview thank you notes to each person in the panel. That means today I wrote five thank you notes. What's more, I caught errors after sending them. Don't worry, I proofed them—apparently. There is no margin of error in this field when it comes to grammatical mistakes. So I'm sure that will go over well. Hmm, I think I have another bottle of wine in fridge.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bookshelf redo

Getting organized and decorating with what you got has me looking all over the house for small upgrades I can make. Like this bookcase in my office. It's from Pier One. I think I probably bought it 8 or so years ago. I'm honestly not ever sure what I thought was so great about it, unless I had a gift card to burn. I'm really hoping that was it because it's small, has red detailing, and a bit too open for my taste. But this is about working with what you have. So looking over the jumbled state of it, I decided some changes needed to happen. 

First, all those French books and flash cards needed to come off. Although I aspire to practice my French daily, I don't, and I need to be realistic about the space those books were hogging up. Au revoir! Down to the basement they went {to hang with all the other books we have no place for}. Next up, removing Vincent's books from the bottom shelves and putting them on his own new bookcases. Then to freshen up those horrible looking Bankers Box magazine boxes, I perused my selection of scrapbook paper. It doesn't go fantastically well or what I would have selected if I were actually shopping, but it works better than the faux wood print any day, hands down. Next I added some storage boxes I had on hand but were hiding downstairs. I have a couple more too that I'm going to use elsewhere. No sense in storing them downstairs when storage that looks like that is supposed to be seen! After pairing down and organizing my magazine collection, it doesn't look half bad. These aren't really shelves meant to be decorative. Being in the magazine industry and a magazine lover, I definitely need to use these shelves for functionally and not decoratively. It's way more streamlined now. Mmm. Just looking at it makes me happy! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Waiting waiting waiting

I'm amid a land of plenty. Plenty of babies, that is. I swear everyone and her sister is either making babies, cooking babies, and having babies. I'm not in any of the camps, and I have to say, right now, it hurts just a little in a strange way. Honestly, I'm not entirely ready to go through THAT again, but it would be nice if I that's really what I wanted, we could be thinking about it. But we're not. We're fortunate to live in a nice house with a nice mortgage to go along with it. We're fortunate in our jobs since people are still being furloughed and let go but what we make together probably one of us should be making almost individually. Yeah, that hurts. So we're waiting and saving. Our lives are in a sea of change anyways with me trying to get a new job and Jonathan's job moving to a new city next summer that's almost 2 hours away. Yeah, that sucks and we're still not sure how to deal with it. So we're waiting. We're enjoying Vincent. He's at a wonderful age, and he's a little sponge saying new words, asking inquisitive questions {what's this name for objects he doesn't have the word for yet}. So while we're waiting, we're also taking this time to sit back, take stock, enjoy what we have, and even glimpsing some hummingbirds in the process. Sure the grass might be greener over there {better paying job, more babies, stylish clothes, and a magazine-worthy house}, but green just means there's been a lot of manure and rain. Manure and rain. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Not fancy but super functional

I'm sort of kicking myself for not doing this sooner: I finally got around to buying bookcases for Vincent's toys. I actually had a particular bookcase in mind that was low and more trimmed out than a normal bookcase, but I couldn't bring myself to pay more than $100. And since it wasn't sold in stores I couldn't tell if it would suit. Enter two $17 cheap black bookcases from Target. Normally they're $25 each, which I really didn't think they were worth; $17 I'm OK with. But just because they were cheap doesn't mean they have to look cheap. So once I got the "wood" parts all assembled I pulled out the last remaining yardage of my Dwell studio fabric I splurged on three years ago as our sidelight curtain. I picked up way too much, so on top of it being a sidelight curtain, this fabric is also a skirt for my desk to hide the cords snaking behind it, fabric on my office walls as art in embroidery hoops, and now the backing to Vincent's two toy bookcases. Honestly, I'm not keen on the fabric like I once was. It's hard to use and doesn't look great but probably on an ottoman or some other chic piece of furniture that screams, "No kids allowed." But it's better than nothing. I'm also thinking about buying a piece of trim to glam it up a bit more. This week I'm going to go basement diving for wall decor to make it be less of a toy focal point. I've already decided to hang my sailboat up there as well. 

But the best thing of all on my $34 expenditure: 

Getting my fireplace hearth back, which had been stacked and crowded with toys. Vincent exclaimed the bookcases were awesome {the words he comes up with these days are hilarious} and immediately set to work exploring his treasures that are usually too piled up and jumbled together to be interesting enough to play with. Functional, cheap, and awesome indeed.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Oh, we can do this

My dear friend invited our family unit over for dinner tonight. Both having two and a half year olds and a serious picky eater among them {my kid}, I worried, she worried. We just generally wondered how it would go and it's probably the reason why we've put it off so long. We're both fairly ambitious working mothers, which contributed to our angst. We want everything to be perfect and go perfectly. The fact that we are mothers is surprising. {I'm not sure it bodes well for our children.} But we got together and lived to tell the tale. She made dinner {amazing grilled salmon with basil corn tomato relish and green beans with pancetta}. I brought dessert {chocolate peanut butter Reese's cookies and gelato}. Of course our kids didn't want to eat it {more for us}, so we heated up pizza and they gobbled that up. Success! The cookies were amazing, but a source of contention when the tots wanted more {of course}. I was amazed how well Vincent did, mainly playing off on his own with toys. I can't wait to do it again. I'm truly surprised how enjoyable it was since Jonathan and I are not that social {introverts}, but we both enjoyed the company and the kids {the wine was good too}. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

New rug, new perspective

On Saturday morning I did something I never do. I shopped. Online. I splurged. Big time for me. 
I've been wanting a foyer runner for ages, but wasn't sure what color and I didn't really want to shell out $150+ for one. 
Finally I settled on a color direction: black and white. This was after seeing a black and white stripped Ikea rug that's no longer available. {so disappointing when I went} 
But then I saw a black and white chevron rug on Target's website when I was showing a friend a rug I eventually want for Vincent's room. I had blinders on. I wanted that rug. I have been working hard on some freelance writing, so I decided I had earned it, but that I should also shop around. Wouldn't you know it but Home Depot was having a sale on a similar rug, was $15 less {$130 total}, and also had free shipping. I didn't think. I just bought.
It arrived today. In hindsight I should have measured my foyer. I know I have a long foyer, but it really puts it in perspective when a 7ft. rug manages to look short in it.
To counter the shortness {because I'm not returning this gem}, I centered it. If I were rich I would keep looking for one that fits better but then I worry when we move at some point I'll end up with a runner too long to go anywhere. 
The runner makes me want to style my foyer better, buy new light fixtures {not in the budget}, paint, and hang up mirrors and more art. I have this grand idea of hanging decorative mirrors on the wall the stairs are on in hopes of a)reflecting light since it tends to be dark and b)making them seem like windows. I'm kicking myself that that was one of the design changes I didn't take time to consider. 

Please ignore all the crap sitting out in the foyer. I'm in the process of going through some of my baby stuff to loan to a neighbor.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A masterpiece

Paint Therapy Uncorked was so much fun. We spent 15 or so minutes picking out the piece we wanted to try to imitate. My middle name is overachiever, whether or not I succeed, I want to know I've gone for something good. So in true fashion, the piece I selected, a sailboat on an evening sea, was one of the harder pieces. Yup, overachiever. 
Putting my paint brush to work, I got busy. Everyone poked fun at how serious I was. Good thing I was drinking wine to loosen up and paint those millions of paint strokes. 
It didn't turn out too bad, especially if you stand far, far away. I sort of think my sailboat is floating in space rather than sea. Vincent called it a castle. I guess I'm impressionistic to the extreme. 
{my inspiration work}

{my blank canvas}

{not an exact match. need more wine}

{finito. Not perfect but not bad. from far away}

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Paint Therapy Uncorked

Jonathan is sick. Vincent is getting over a cough. But it's always something, right? Tonight I'm heading out to paint and drink wine at Paint Therapy Uncorked with my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law. Me, wine, paint. Things could get very interesting.
I need a fun night out with all the busyness going on: work deadlines, editing freelance, writing freelance, and I'm designing some prints for one of my good friend's nursery for her son. I'm actually hoping I turn out something descent to hang in my house. I'm not a drawer or painter by any means, but I can follow directions with the best of them.
Do they have one of these paint places where you live? You pay about $40 for all the art supplies, but you bring your own libations. It's a little pricey, but from what I see from the pictures they post to Facebook that everyone's work is well done. I think they must have good teachers. Unless there is some person being told to hide in the corner gripping their "masterpiece." {That'll probably be me.}

Thursday, August 8, 2013

On the cusp

Lately, I've been getting that feeling I'm right on the cusp of being that person I want to be and imagined for myself, and what I want to do. It's so easy to let your situation in life define you, or at least to the point you're negative about it. 
I tend to have these grand ideas and little carry through and I think I've let that define me. Mainly because I don't know how to get started (hello, grad school, moving, tiling a bathroom, completely changing careers, writing) or where to start. But I find as I get older, that's changing for me. I'm making realistic goals {at one time I wanted to write for Time magazine. I'll pause while you laugh at how lofty and ridiculous that is} and keeping them. They're little goals, but goals nonetheless. And I'm proud of myself. I'm proud that Vincent has me for his mom and Jonathan has me for his wife. I know they could do far worse and probably much better, but when I look at what we do as a family unit, I can't help but think: We've got it going on. 
So I'm on the cusp. Maybe I always will be, but it seems far better than completely out of reach. And it feels good. Now, if I could just decide a color for my office and bravely roll that color on. 
{sorry for the lack of pictures in this post. Call it wordy Friday post. It was a crazy week where I took almost no pictures.}

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Evening walk

These days I'm donning a pedometer and tracking my daily mileage. Working from home, I don't log much, as you can imagine. So this weekend we started family walks. We don't go far. It's more just a way for me to get out of the house, tire Vincent out before bed, and soak in the last rays of summer {that feels like a wet blanket}. Tonight, Vincent was super charming, and wore both his hat and sunglasses. The whole way. He was serious too, which probably makes the whole get-up even funnier. He's never serious {unless he's demanding something}. This boy has my heart these days. I'm glad to know he's mine and that I get to be his mother. We had a rough go of it the first two years. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

What I missed while I was gone

I can't tell you how excited I was to get home to my boys. As much as I thoroughly enjoyed my time away and hanging with some family, I couldn't wait to find out how much Vincent missed me. Or not.

I walked in the door and the first thing he asked, "Where's Tami (my sister) and the doggie?" Wow. Mom's home and he barely notices.
In the week I was away it seems like Vincent learned more words and is speaking in longer sentences. He told me all kinds of things and coherently. 
The thing I did forget: how exhaustive it is to stay present and engaged with Vincent. It took less than a day for the magic of my vacation to wear off. I do feel more patient in his melodramatics.
This morning he flipped out over the flax seeds in his oatmeal. The oatmeal he has eaten every morning, stuffing it in his mouth as fast as possible. So I calmly took him out if his seat while Dad threw waffles in the toaster. After Vincent had inhaled a couple of waffles, getting some food in his system, he was calmed down and ready to take on those pesky flax seeds.
Oh the dramatics!

Friday, August 2, 2013

On the road

Whew! It's been a whirlwind five days traveling to Denver.
For our last day, we headed to Devil's Gulch to hike up and see Gem Lake, but the heavens open right when we decided to eat a picnic before we headed up. We all ran to the van and looked at Andy to explain why the heck we were hiking up a mountain when it's raining! 
Our new plan: finding bowling alley while the rain let off. Nothing says fun like kids throwing blowing balls. I'm not kidding! 

After that adventure of running and ducking from 6lb bowling balls we traded our bowling shoes for tennis shoes and tried once again to head up the trail.
By this point we were all tired and it was almost dinner time. It was hard to focus on the beautiful nature surrounding us when you're going up almost a straight vertical and the trail side animals {mostly chipmunks but we did see a rabbit} look like dinner. Half way up we called it quits, headed down the slide, and got pizza in picturesque Estes. {I want to live there.} I didn't get any pics because I didn't want to accidentally fall on my phone and break it! But I loved to tell the tale! Till next time Gem Lake!