H/T Polly Pagenheart, LesbianDad, BlogHer '14 conference
This was a quote that I heard today, at the BlogHer conference, and that, combined with the questions I was asked in a video interview - yes, I was interviewed on camera, and it was super fun (because, hello, I talk all the time and have never met a stranger) - got me to thinking about something.
Why do people read my blog, I was asked.
My answer? To make them feel better about their choices and how they aren't screwing up quite as terribly as I am - was my answer. And it was funny, and it was a good sound bite, but it was also true and it also make me a tiny bit uncomfortable.
Because I am totally honest on this blog, and you guys know it. I'm honest about the truth and the toughness of parenting and how it sucks the every loving life out of me on a daily basis. How I go to bed with work undone and unfolded laundry and at any given day, at least two of my kids are upset with me and I've probably made someone uncomfortable in my daily travels
And I try to do it all with humor and grace but sometimes I just don't have it in me.
The cool thing about blogging?
I don't feel alone.
I am not alone.
I know, thanks to my writings on this teeny tiny blog, that I am not alone.
That most of us feel deeply flawed. That most of us are exhausted and worn out and doing the very best we can. That we love our families passionately and deeply and yet? By the end of the day, we all want nothing so much as just a few minutes of quiet time and the time to read something mindless or think about something that doesn't involve One Direction or nail polish choices for ten year olds or deciding what classes would be the best for your kid or thinking about how to write a 504 that will be actually, you know, followed and how to speak to teachers so they won't think you are the biggest asshole parent in their class and ignore every single email that you send. Sometimes, you just want to daydream that the person who should most have the interests of your child's educational plan in their sights won't actually avoid you when she sees you coming at school. Sometimes, you don't want to hear people say that they don't care that a food might kill your child, how DARE you infringe upon their constitutional rights?
Sometimes, you don't want to think. You feel deeply alone, which completely contradicts what I said a couple of paragraphs earlier.
Writing this blog has reminded me that I am not alone. That all of us struggle with the hows and whys of how to be a grown up when there is no manual - and I DEMAND a recount on this matter, I think all of us would really appreciate a manual - and trying to raise children who will become adults who will be a pleasure to be around and not the subject of a hate group or shown on the nightly news as an example of a really terrible person.
Writing this blog has shown me that no one really knows how to do it. That no one does it all. That none of us does it well. Not one of us knows what we are doing, and not one of us has the answers, not even those of us who pretend that we do.
Writing this blog has given me such freedom to be me. (Not that I really know who me is most of the days, but eh....) It's given me an area to have a voice, to hear other people say that they've done it too, that they know what I'm dealing with, that they hear me and feel me and that I'm not crazy.
Well, wait. No one has actually ever SAID I'm not crazy. Hmmmm. Maybe I should hear the lesson in that, yes?
Writing this blog has shown me that we are ALL making it up as we go along.
I may never be invited to read my writings in public. Writing this blog may never secure a book deal for me. It may never be my ticket to fame and fortune and I may - probably, definitely - slide off into the oblivion, where all blogs go to die -
but at least I won't be alone. I will have you fantastic people holding my hands, agreeing with me that yes, life is hard, and it's unfair, and raising children sucks the life out of you and gives you gray hair and relationships of all kinds are blow your mind out difficult and life is just scary
but that it's also beautiful.
I've never made a secret of the fact that I appear to have a dark cloud of bad travel karma hanging over me.
Whatever can happen, usually does. My flight is delayed. I get pulled for extra screening. My kid goes beserk over the thought of getting back on that plane. I have gun powder residue on my hands and get swabbed. My shoe breaks. I miss my connection. My luggage is lost. My ID is lost.
Oh, hey, yeah. I forgot to tell you about that. When I was traveling back home from the trip to see my dad, I realized - on the way to the airport, naturally, because that's EXACTLY how I roll - that I didn't have my ID. We pulled over on the side of the Texas highway - in the broiling heat - and I frantically unpacked the suitcase and all four carry ons as well as my purse about 495673920 times.
You haven't LIVED until your dad tosses your undies out of the suitcase on the side of the road, I'm telling you what. Embarrassment has no place when you are already crying.
That ID never appeared. The best I can determine, I think I left it in the security checkpoint when I first began the trip - I had some difficulty with my youngest and so I was distracted. TSA was especially helpful and very kind and aside from a bit of confusion over why I'd be traveling with a big container of soy butter - and I told them to throw it away but they finally classified it as a medical supply and let me go with it - and the fact that my business card had my picture on it totally saved me - and the fascination over what, exactly, is a blogger and what kind of work does a Program Manager for BlogHer do.....
But I got home. In one piece. Just like always. So the travel karma is distressing and inconvenient but ultimately, it always gives me something to write about. Which is totally what my dad said when he was driving us to the airport and I was furtively wiping my eyes.
I was not amused. I probably need a better sense of humor, eh?
So. I'm traveling for the BlogHer '14 conference this week - and I've replaced my ID, thanks be - so who wants to take a stab at what my next bout of travel karma shall be?
This is the tenth anniversary of the BlogHer conference, and my ninth in attendance. I think back on who I was ten years ago, and where I am now. I have never hit it big, like I was convinced I would, that first year. I thought all you had to do was pass out those business cards and BOOM. Everyone would flock to see what an AMAZING writer I was and Bob's Your Uncle, I'd be famous.
(I really do have an Uncle Bob. So do my kids. Isn't that weird??)
The me of ten years ago was so, so naive. (And? She had so much more energy. Although she wasn't a very good writer - I'm hopeful that I'm at least a little bit better now....)
I've made some very good friends, though - both online and in my daily life. Women - and men - that I consider myself fortunate to know. I've had experiences that I could never have imagined - taken trips I would have never dreamed of -
I mean, Harley-Davidson camp? For real??
I work much of the conference, so my experience now is vastly different than that of nine years ago. I hope that I help others have a good conference, hope I make a good impression on those who matter, and do my job with patience and understanding and fortitude.
And that I have good travel karma. Or at least don't lose my ID.
One of my favorite parts of going to blogging conferences is getting to meet new people. If they have a really cool blog, even better.
When I went to Miami for the BlogHer Food conference, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Morgan at a dinner. She gave me her business card - actually, she gave me a choice of a few and I took three. I was really struck by how amazing her photography was. I saved the cards and made a mental note to visit her blog with the cute name of Peaches, Please.
Seriously. I love peaches, so yes, please. It helps that her pictures were just really inspiring. I dabble in photography but I'm not really very good. I'm always trying to learn more and improve.
Segue - Meatballs are my nemesis. I really have a tough time making good meatballs - although I did find a recipe last week that made a good, firm meatball that I sliced (when chilled) to use for a pizza topping.
While I was in Texas, I spent some time on her site and looked through her photography section. In my browsing, I saw a recipe that called to me - Veal and Ricotta Meatballs.
I rolled up my sleeves and got busy with what turned out - through no fault of the recipe and totally my own fault at time management - to be a three day recipe. One that was worth every minute I spent on it. And the 17 seconds I took to inhale them.
It helps that I had these fantastic fresh items in my garden.
I have to admit to a little bit of skepticism when they were frying. They were pale. Even when completely cooked, still somewhat pale in color - but I just kept forging on with the recipe.
and it was amazing.
I followed the meatball recipe precisely. I changed the sauce recipe a bit - I added carrots to the peppers/onion/garlic mixture (peppers also came from my garden, yay!) and tossed the fresh tomatoes into the sauce. I cooked it a bit longer to compensate for the raw tomatoes. I doubled the wine for the deglaze. I was really skeptical because, hello, no oregano? Yes nutmeg?
Do eeeeeeett. I will probably weight 300 pounds when these meatballs are all gone.
It will be well worth it.
In March, maybe April, I saw an offer on my facebook from a local photographer who specializes in vintage photography. She was offering a vintage photo shoot with old cars and trucks. Being that the only thing I love more than vintage anything is old cars and trucks, I asked for more info.
I went back and forth for a LONG time as to if I should do it.
Ultimately, I decided to go for it - even though I'm not feeling good about my looks right now. I didn't know if I'd ever get the opportunity to do it again, and I'm trying to be more, "Take each experience offered to you when it's offered" in my life.
Mainly, I wanted to get a new photo for my husband's desk. The picture he has of me is about 6 years old and I don't like it - but he loves it - I think it looks nothing like me. (Maybe that's why he likes it?) I wanted to try to get a photo that wasn't overly sexy, but nice enough - and safe enough - for a desk that sees many, many visitors.
So, I'm hopeful that he likes one of these.
All images from Pop & Locke Pin Up Photography.
Tonight is our last night in Texas. True to form, we packed as much as we possibly could into our day - we had time at the gun range, shot bow and arrow, worked on training the dogs, I had lunch with my Dad, and we took lots of pics.
Please enjoy tonight's video - you'll probably need to full screen to appreciate it - and please send up some prayers for us tomorrow that the flight home goes more smoothly than the flight out - I'm anticipating many, many tears.
We are all going to be so sad to go home.
It's been AMAZING.
Without further ado, please enjoy today's video. Another BIG fish!
I'm not sure if I will do one tomorrow - the pressure is intense. Thankfully, my dad and step mom took some of the photos today - the water ones - because I was working and they took over the entertainment duties. They take better pictures than I do, anyway.
I did take a few good ones. The sunset was crazy good tonight, and my step mom told me one teeny little camera trick - and I did it, and I was all, "Whoa. Nice!"
I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but it really can't top the past three days.
My kids are going to bed wiped out and exhausted - the best sign of a great vacation.
Grandpa is a supreme fisherman. He loves to fish and has had some real successes lately - a 25 pounder, several in the 8-12 range, and lots of smaller ones. He loves to fish and my kids were really looking forward to learning to cast and reel and all of those other things that I really, um, do not enjoy.
I am not the outdoorsy person. I am way more at home in, say, a Sephora.
One of the first things that they did when we arrived was fish with cane poles, but they weren't successful - Gabe says that they may have caught one, but it wasn't very memorable, is the point there. Riley caught what had to be the world record for the smallest perch ever caught with a rod and reel the next day. They ran jug lines and fished from the bank and tried and tried - but no dice. They have plans to do something called jerk fishing? My dad knows all about the fishing, but the fish didn't get the part of the memo that told them to cooperate, already.
Last night, spirits were pretty low, is the point of the above.
While I was showering last night, I sent up some prayers. Please let them catch some fish. My son was disappointed, my dad was frustrated, and I just knew that if they could catch a good size fish, say, maybe 8-10 pounds -
spirits would improve.
When I woke up this morning - for the first time, at 4:24, gotta love insomnia - I prayed again. And again at 6:20. And at breakfast, I talked up the excitement of fishing, the reality that it doesn't always happen, and it's really about the experience of getting to try.
Please let them catch a fish.
I talked to my husband, who has a maddeningly successful prayer line that appears to go straight to the Big Guy. Whenever I need something, want something, or have a prayer intention, I pray and pray - but get very little result. My husband? Right away, every time. SO FRUSTRATING.
I'm going to ask God to let them catch THREE fish, my husband declared. One for the Father, one for the Son, and one for the Holy Spirit.
Being the skeptical one, I prayed along, just desperately hoping for one. Just one.
About 45 minutes later, my dad texted me from the boat. They'd caught a great big fish, and he was on his way back.
Turns out, they caught THREE fish. Two that were around 8 pounds, and one that weighed an impressive TWENTY THREE POUNDS.
You cannot buy memories like these.
Today's movie starts with an arm representation of "Just how big is that fish, anyway?", lessons and tales on how to clean, filet and gut a fish (euuuwwwww), and afternoon crafting time with nature.
Gabe loved every minute of every action today. It was AWESOME.
A few weeks ago, I posted that I was taking a few of my kids - the group I more commonly refer to as "my shorties" - on a plane trip. We flew out on Saturday morning to see my dad.
Well, it was technically Saturday morning. It felt like Friday night. We had to get up at 3:30.
I had hoped that the new kindles - and forbidden sugar cereal, gasp! - would help to smooth out the anxiety that had debuted a full 12 hours before the flight.
I am apparently hopelessly optimistic. And according to one kid, we won't be getting on the plane to go back, thanks all the same.
We saw the sun rise from the plane, and got a fantastic view of Charlotte, NC as we landed for our first flight.
Unfortunately, the first flight didn't go as well as I'd hoped - in fact, it went much worse than I'd anticipated and much as I'd feared - and we spent much of the time in the air in this position. Please note the headphones. Yeah.
The, uh, flight attendantfor the second flight who to tried to deny me pre boarding for a child who was clearly freaking out and needed extra time in favor of the wheelchair bound customers who were two gates over might have gotten more than she bargained for.
I'm pretty lucky that I didn't get some extra scrutiny in the Charlotte airport - or, maybe I did. I wouldn't have noticed.
Anyway, I've made a brief little video of what we've been up to - I'd love to show you some bits and pieces of our first two days. My kids have gone swimming in the lake, floated duck decoys, learned to fish, driven the boat, floated on the "party barge", eaten birthday cake, made Grandpa's famous fudge, shot pellet guns - and I got a chance to go hunting through antique stores and found some really cool things - and a slightly spooky pair of dolls.
Take a look. We're having fun. A TON OF FUN.
I could read all day long. I love to read. Love it.
Every once in a while, when I remember, I like to post the books I've recently read here. I share my thoughts, hope you will add your own, and that, together, we can all find fantastic books to enjoy. Here's what I've read recently, with a 1-5 star rating - add your latest reads in the comments!
Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon
The 8th book in the Outlander series, I really, really enjoyed this one. The last two were good stores, but left me unsatisfied. This book wrapped up a lot of story lines, created some new ones, and gave a lot of great background into why some of the people act the way that they do. (Sorry - I'm trying not to give away any spoilers!) Suffice it to say, if you have read the other books in the Outlander series, you will love this one. *****
One by One - JoJo Moyes
This was just released, and I'm not finished with it - but I'm enjoying it. I like her books, mostly because they are light and easy reading. Then endings are somewhat predictable - although Me Before You wasn't predictable at all. I'm not sure that any of her books will be as wonderful as that one, though. **** (so far, lol)
Four Past Midnight - Stephen King
I've been trying to get back in Stephen King - because I think he's a FANTASTICALLY gifted writer - with really varied success. I read this one many, many years ago, and just read it again. I devoured the first of the four short stories, the second one I had to quit midway through. Haven't gotten back to the third and fourth - when King is on, he's really, really on - but when he's not, he's not. ***
Mr. Mercedes - Stephen King
This Stephen King I loved. It was a thriller, with a twist - you were able to get deep into the protagonist's mind and know why he had committed the crime that he did - and I was on the edge of my seat at the end, wondering if the good guys would be able to stop the bad guy in time. Really a very well written book. *****
The Fault in our Stars - John Green
Probably not the book for me, mostly because of my sister in law's death from cancer. I read it because, duh, the movie, and my older girls loved it. It was - ok. ***
Silver Bay - JoJo Moyes
Another JoJo book. Good, but not great. A good beach read, it kept my interest but wasn't one I'd read obsessively. ***
Moving Day - Jonathan Stone
This I really enjoyed. The story of an older couple who plan to move to a smaller house - but what happens when the moving crew shows up a day early and pack everything - and then the next day, the REAL moving crew appears - and you realize you've been robbed? To what lengths do you go to get your stuff back? And are older people less apt to try to fight the wrongs that have been done to them? ****
Attachments - Rainbow Rowell
Two work friends use their work emails to gossip - and they have no idea that their company has an "internet spy", hired to read everyone's email. It's only a problem when the spy realizes that he ahs feelings for one of his daily reads. Really, this book was light and fun and I enjoyed it tremendously. ****
Bloodletter's Daughter - Linda Lafferty
This book was super compelling and I am really having a tough time explaining it. So I've pulled this bit from Amazon:
In 1606, the city of Prague shines as a golden mecca of art and culture carefully cultivated by Emperor Rudolf II. But the emperor hides an ugly secret: His bastard son, Don Julius, is afflicted with a madness that pushes the young prince to unspeakable depravity. Desperate to stem his son’s growing number of scandals, the emperor exiles Don Julius to a remote corner of Bohemia where the young man is placed in the care of a bloodletter named Pichler. The bloodletter’s task: cure Don Julius of his madness by purging the vicious humors coursing through his veins.
When Pichler brings his daughter Marketa to assist him, she becomes the object of Don Julius’s frenzied—and dangerous—obsession. To him, she is the embodiment of the women pictured in the Coded Book of Wonder, a priceless manuscript from the imperial library that was the mad prince’s only link to sanity. As the prince descends further into the darkness of his mind, his acts become ever more desperate, as Marketa, both frightened and fascinated, can’t stay away. ****
Hidden - Catherine McKenzie
Why do people cheat? This is the story of an affair gone wrong, when the main character - the man - dies, and the two women - his wife and mistress - are left to pick up the pieces. This was a good read, especially if you need something for a car trip or poolside. ****
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith
I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I've had this book recommended to me 1 million times, and it's my sister in law's favorite book - and I didn't like it. Did you? If you did, tell me why, because I just was not feeling it. **
Unbroken - Lauren Hillenbrand
A very deep book. Very difficult to read at times, because of the fierce brutality that the main character endured. I won't spoil it for you, but if you are looking for a compelling, hero story - this is it. It's going to be a movie, although I'm really curious as to how they will transform it, as the book is very, very involved and quite detailed in it's telling of the inhumane treatment that our soldiers and prisoners of war endured. ****
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
I loved this book. I've read it before, but forgotten most it it, and so when it came up in a Facebook post, I grabbed it. The futuristic tale of how infertility and class might play out in the future, it was scary and fascinating at the same time. It's all too easy to see that this, indeed, could very easily become the future. What if only certain women could have babies - and they were the only women who had sex - and therefore, they had all of the power - but they weren't allowed to have that power? ****