me

would you rather – deuxième partie

join the Avengers or join the Justice League
Avengers. I mean come on!

wear formal clothes or pajamas every day
Pajamas all day every day, even when I have to go do ‘the things’.

live in a cave or live in a tree house
Tree house. I once chose an apartment because of the giant tree beside it. Looking out the windows and on the balcony felt like living in a tree house.

be a deep sea diver or astronaut
Though I’m fascinated by all things ‘under the sea’, I feel panicky about diving. So, I’m going to say astronaut. Something about being able to see Earth from space appeals to me.

live without music or without television
I mean no TV might suck, but I could never live without music.

Now it’s your turn!

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what’s your favorite

Time for another round of faves.
I’m hungry this morning so I’m going to do food and drinks.

Y’all ready to play?

What’s your:

favorite breakfast food
french toast with butter and powered sugar

favorite Thanksgiving food
stuffing (not cornbread and no oysters)

favorite cereal
Life (but I only eat it dry)

favorite Asian dish
tom kha soup and khao pad bai kraprow

favorite way to eat bacon
I will eat it on a train
I will eat it in the rain
I will eat it in the house
I will eat it (but not share it with) a mouse
I will eat it here or there
I will eat it anywhere
(Props to Dr Seuss)

favorite comfort food
my grandma’s macaroni and cheese (mine is *almost* as good as hers was)

favorite alcoholic drink
(currently) this delicious concoction of cranberry vodka, dry apple cider, vanilla and spices, garnished with sliced apples, dried cranberries and a cinnamon stick

favorite thing to cook
breakfast
(and I mean a big ass farmer’s breakfast for a house full of folks)

favorite cake
angel food garnished with mixed berries and sometimes (homemade) whipped cream

favorite fast food restaurant
Nando’s or Chipotle

What are your favorites?

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would you rather

I’m inviting y’all to play a little game with me…

meet my great grandchildren
Baby K having babies? I’m SO here for it!
(I actually knew two of my great grandparents)

more money
I’ve been poor most of my life. So to me, ‘more money’ means enough to live without worrying about how to keep a roof over one’s head or food in the house. Therefore, it stands to reason that my time could be more precious if I didn’t have to worry about money.

pause button
While reliving truly wonderful moments would be lovely, I’m at the place in my life where I think a pause button would suit me better.

all the languages
This one’s a no brainer for me!
While I love animals, I’d much rather be able to read, write, and speak in any language I chose.
It literally opens the whole world to me.

no one at my funeral
The best day ever was the day I married YBW. Everyone I love most (with one exception) celebrated with us that day. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Ever!
I’ve always joked I’d want to hover ghost-like at my funeral to see what folks said and did…but I care so much less about that now.
Let’s celebrate our lives together when we’re all here to enjoy it.

stuck on a ski lift
While elevators aren’t normally a trigger, I am claustrophobic. To be stuck in an elevator without fresh air sounds horrific! I’m cool with heights, I’d be bundled up enough to keep warm, and have all the fresh air I could breathe, so ski lift it is.

dinner alone
I have no problem eating alone. In fact, most of the time I eat alone.
But a concert? Oh no! A concert is to be enjoyed together. With as few or as many.
Especially when someone who loves you surprises you with concert tickets!

stop world hunger
Little children should have enough to eat. Teenagers should have enough to eat. Adults should have enough to eat.
Being well fed won’t bring about world peace, but it sure as hell is a step in the right direction.

sky diving
Jumping from a perfectly good plane with a backpack full of parachute strapped to my back? YES, PLEASE!
Jumping from a bridge hooked to a rubber band? Oh HELL no!
I know some people don’t see the difference, but I absolutely do.

be an adult
This was a tricky one.
But I landed on adult because being a kid forever would actually suck. Being an adult doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy kid things, but it does mean you can drive and vote and earn money and shop. And go to shows and bars and out of the country by yourself. I have a whimsical, childlike sparkle inside me, so I’m fortunate enough to have the best of both worlds.

vacay with spouse
If I had a different spouse, the answer to this ‘would you rather’ would be different.
I love going on vacay with YBW! We always plan the perfect balance of ‘doing the things’ and relaxing. We’ve become adept at understanding each other’s travel idiosyncrasies and can facilitate whatever change is appropriate to ease each other.

side of salad
I love soup, but I love salad more.

brand new house
This answer might be different under different circumstances. Being stuck at home so much for so long, a brand new house sounds like the right combination of new surroundings and new projects. It can take a great deal of time to find the perfect dining table for a new house. And currently, I’ve got nothing but time.

Please play along with me.
Would you rather?
Ready…Steady…GO!

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Wednesday morning thoughts

We’re getting a break from construction for a few days.
Our bathroom is finished (and gorgeous) but the shower glass is taking longer to manufacture than expected. And while it would be convenient for the contractor to demo and start on the hall bathroom we have no place to shower if that happens.
So, they can’t demo until we have shower glass.
Which means we get a break from having people in the house. It’s easier for the dogs. It’s easier for the baby. (therefore easier for Thing 1 and Husband N) And let’s be honest, it’s easier for me too. I like to write in my bedroom and with the work going on, that’s simply not doable.
Waiting is a pain in the ass, but at least we can clean our asses, you know?

Thing 2 and Boyfriend M will be here in five weeks, everything will be finished by then, so I’m not going to worry about timing.
I’m going to enjoy less chaos in the house for a as long as I can.

YBW and I are going to the design center Friday. It’s the first meeting about the new house. Navy kitchen cabinets, here I come! We’ve been on their website ‘hearting’ what we like, and if I understand correctly, they’ve pulled everything we like and we’ll have the opportunity to lay hands on it. I’m especially curious to look at flooring. There are two different options I like, and being able to see them live will help make that decision.

I’m having a hard time with keeping track of the date.
I know what day of the week it is, but I’ve no clue as to the date. I was looking at the milk this morning, it has a sell by date of 10/4. I had to ask Thing 1 about today’s date because I realized I had no earthly idea.
I mean, I’m putting stuff in my phone calendar and writing it in my planner…you’d think I’d have some idea WTF day it is…is it just me, or is it covid life?

My TBR stack continues to grow.
Why do we purchase books at a faster rate than we read? (I say we to ease my conscience)
I’m reading a book called Rules for Being Dead.
So far, I like it.
Have any of y’all read this yet?
I just got Matt Haig’s new book and I’m excited to start it.

I miss being at school.
I haven’t been to school since February. And distance learning doesn’t really require subs so I’ll be waiting until we actually go back to school.

What makes missing school tolerable is spending time with Baby K.
That girl is something else!
I am so grateful to be an active part of her daily life.
My time teaching and learning with her is sacred. I know how lucky I am.

I’m going to wrap this up. I realize I’m just rambling at y’all and most likely, that’s not much fun to read.
I hope your Wednesday is lovely.
I’m going to go read now…

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the ultimate girl power

Wednesday last, I took my absentee ballot to the county election board to cast my vote.
It took longer to find a place to park than it did to actually vote.

I went in and was assisted by the kindest older gentleman.
He first asked me if I was comfortable with everything about my ballot inside the sealed envelope.
After I assured him I was, he explained my ballot would go in the box, he would stamp the date on a receipt, then give me “the coveted I voted sticker”.
Then he asked me if I’d like to drop my ballot in the box.
Would I ever!

By sliding my envelope into that box, I exercised my 19th Amendment right and responsibility during the hundredth anniversary.
Votes for Women
I am eternally grateful to the women who came before me. The ones who fought tirelessly and selflessly to make this a reality. My voice is heard because of them.
Because of these women, these suffragettes, these community organizers, these mothers and daughters and sisters and wives, I have the right to vote.
I believe that right is also my responsibility.
The ultimate girl power!

I purposefully wore this mask in celebration of their hard work.

If you grew up in the 1970s and 80s like me this School House Rock song will be familiar to you:

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September gratitude

Today is October first.
The official start of Halloween month!
But before I get all SQUEE about that, I’m going to express my gratitude.

September was straight chaos. But it was also quite lovely.
As I look back on this month I find myself grateful for both.

I’m also grateful for:

a porchlife lunch with Mike and Josie
Husband N’s willingness to transport a 16 foot ladder
a successful and fun flea market day with YBW, his brother and sister-in-law
meeting with the builder about electricals in the new house
stackable jewelry organizers
a tearful conversation with YBW

Target run with Thing 1 and Baby K (sassy thing chose her own new shades and bag)

finally getting to talk with Jessica
Husband N’s mad landscaping skills
cool Autumn mornings
Thing G seems content at his mom’s
winery day with Nora and Dale’s family
joyfully ‘hate watching’ the Twilight saga with Thing 1

bathroom construction progress

windows open for several days in a row
playing a game called Bye Felicia
making good use of my instant pot
two of my alternative healthcare providers
Saturday morning snuggles with YBW and Baby K
exercising my 19th amendment right and responsibility by voting early
TJXrewards points

inventing this ridiculously delicious cocktail with Thing 1

having airline miles to purchase tickets for Thing 2 and Boyfriend M to visit in November
the post office in Old Town Manassas
taking a chance on the curated bundles at Bards Alley and getting some great reads
red toenail polish
CBD oil capsules
being in the car by myself

My heart is full of gratitude as I look back at this lovely and chaotic month.

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feeling hopeful at the end of the second month

I’m beginning to feel more at home in my own skin.
In my own home.

The first year of teaching is often called survival year.
The first year of anything could probably be called survival year.
This is the end of the second month.
End. Of. The. Second. Month.
Of a survival year.
During a global pandemic.

All the changes came so hard and fast. And came during the strangest possible time.
Pandemic kept us cooped up for safety. And just when that started to feel unbearable, three more people and three dogs joined this household.
Initially it was exciting and new.
Then it was all about getting settled.
Then simple logistics of cohabitating.
How do we make this work? Two small families creating one big family…how can we be both?

Expectations are being ironed out.
Anybody else hear Hamilton in their head?

“I’m past patiently waitin’. I’m passionately mashin’ every expectation. Every action’s an act of creation.”

Just me? OK…
Anyway, we’re beginning to managing expectations. We’re learning how to navigate each other’s personal language. We’re asking what did that mean when you/she/he said that? We’re figuring out how to cohabitate successfully.

I’m used to being alone the majority of my time.
Now I’m never alone.
My daughter is used to being in charge of her own environment.
Now her environment is not her own.
YBW continues his routine of going to work each day.
Now he supports more people.
Husband N is becoming more and more anxious about finding a job.
YBW and I agree he needs gainful employment, we want him to make the best possible choice instead of taking any job because it’s a job.
Baby K alternates between being so delightful it nearly kills us, and being a tiny terrorist demon bent on destruction. (as a toddler do)

And doesn’t even include the chaos of construction in the house.
YBW and I have no access to our own bathroom. And trying to make due with the bare minimum in the hall bathroom is taking it’s toll on me.
I know I’m feeling the stress.
I am acutely aware everybody experiences me feeling the stress.
I do my best to make sure to explain myself and/or apologize if I’m irritable or querulous. (more than normal)

It’s simply too much all at once and my adaption rate is lagging.
To combat this, I am actively carving out time for myself.
I’m reading again. That simple act sparked a change in me. Shifted me from the back of my brain back to the front. My brain moved out of survival mode and into all the good stuff.
I’m so much better off for it. (so is everyone else)
I’m engaged in a mindful way, not simply navigating fight or flight.
I will work as hard as I can to remain here in this healthy brain space.

I will learn to balance my needs with my wants when they’re at odds.
I want to spend every possible moment with Baby K.
I need some quiet time for myself.
Every time I think I’m on it, I fall. Honestly, she’s hard to resist…
But then I remember we’re at the end of the second month.
End. Of. The. Second. Month.

And I offer myself empathy and understanding.
Which, if I’m being honest, I never do.
My personal expectations are residual from my childhood, keep my head down and do the hard work and don’t complain about it. I received no empathy or understanding. I was expected to do what I was told without question.
I end up expecting myself to manage all ‘the things’ and be resigned to do so without complaint.
When triggered, we all go to the place we ‘know’.
So, if I offer myself some grace, it can be a place where I can stop and breathe. I can bask in that grace and encourage understanding for myself. I can stop the triggers, and in doing so I can find balance.
I can manage my own expectations.
I can take the time I need.
I can take the time I want.
I can feel strong and grateful instead of anxious and overwhelmed.

I feel indescribable love and joy having my daughter and her family here.
Now I’m working on making it comfortable.
For me.
For my husband.
For Thing 1 and Husband N.
For Baby K.
Though, let’s be honest, she’s in high cotton as the tiny princess in this multigenerational household.

At the end of the second month, I feel tired. But more than that, I feel hopeful.

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favorites or tricking myself to write

Y’all I’m so distracted.
Between the construction and a house full of people I just don’t stop and do any of my normal things.
You know it’s serious when I’m over here like, “I’m going to need you to get it together.” to my own damn self. I keep recognizing that I need to, but don’t quite seem to get around to doing it.

You hear about the glorification of busy…I’m not there. I’m not enthusiastically embracing being busy. I am simply more busy than I’ve been in a while. And the kind of busy that isn’t actually accomplishing much, you know?
Toddler in the house keeps us all on our toes.

I’m making the time to write today.
Of course I sit with my fingertips on the keyboard and wait…where are the words?
My brain is simultaneously empty and full.
Full of ‘stuff’. Empty of words.
In the hopes of jumpstarting the writing, I’m tricking myself by doing a random favorites list and inviting y’all to join me.

Favorite pasta dish?
cacio e pepe
all day every day

Favorite vacation you’ve taken?
Barbados
hooooon-ey-mooooon

Favorite show on the Discovery Channel?
Expedition Unknown
Josh Gates is a great big goober and I kind of love that!

Favorite toy as a child?
Barbies
no unrealistic body image bullshit here, just a girl who love(s) to play dress up

Favorite makeup you can’t live without?
Benefit Cosmetics BADgal BANG! mascara

Favorite thing you’ve done in the last 24 hours?
rock Baby K to sleep for her nap
All! The! Snuggles!

Favorite animal?
kitties
cutie little fluff balls with claws of death

Favorite cover song?
Guns N Roses Live and Let Die

Favorite children’s show?
Bubble Guppies
Baby K digs it and now I do too

Favorite thing in the sky?
the moon

Please play along so I can learn some random cool things about all y’all!

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examining this concept of calling

*W A R N I N G*

This post is going to be straight stream of consciousness writing.
You may find yourself asking, ‘And how is that any different from anything else you write?’ (You also may find yourself having no fucks to give.)
Either way, it’s one of those moments when there are thoughts, and they’re fully hatched, but I’m not sure what to make of them. Or I may not even know exactly what I’m thinking/writing about.

Finding creative ways to live comfortably in one household as one big family while still being two small families is challenging.
Thing 1 and I created a plan for food. Husband N is going on job interviews. YBW continues to keep his work schedule. Running this house with more people and three dogs has proved tricky, but at this point I feel like we’re finally hitting our groove.

In the last two weeks, I sourced nearly all the materials for the double bathroom remodel and construction begins this week.
We’re still making practical and design decisions for the new house. I’m exploring different closet systems to find the best fit, function, and price.

School started this week. I can’t even imagine what subbing will look like in this distance-learning situation. I’ve had no training with the virtual system, and no resources are available no matter where I look or who I ask.
I may simply mark myself unavailable for the time being.

In addition to all these ‘normal’ goings on I am plagued by the blood curdling existential pain of being trapped in a constant feedback loop of trying to figure out what I’m going to “do with my life”.

Every time I start to bring it up with YBW, I feel like I don’t have his undivided attention, or it’s a bigger conversation than he’s willing to participate in at that moment.
I brought it up to Thing 2, and she asked for time to let it marinate before she got back to me. Of course she’s become preoccupied with her own life. As she should be! She just started a new job, that’s a huge deal for her.
Thing 1 was willing to have this conversation with me, but we didn’t actually get anywhere, mostly because it was in the car, on the way home from the grocery store.

I kind of got stuck at the idea that initially sparked the conundrum.
What’s a calling?

In true Roby fashion, this sparked more questions:
Is it luck to be employed in one’s calling?
What’s the difference between a job and a career?
How can I help others?
Does helping others help me?
How can I do what I believe is my calling as a way to earn money?
Is this actually my calling?
(y’all get the picture)

It wasn’t that long ago that I felt so certain about grad school for mental health counseling.
Then I didn’t get in. Then I started looking at other schools. Then I realized what it would actually cost (45K) and that freaked me out.
Then it occurs to me that I could get my masters in instructional design in 18 months for about (10K) and teach people new and interesting ways to teach.
But I’m not sure that’s what I actually want to do.

This is when I chose to stop and examine my life.

I wanted to be a mom literally as long as I can remember.
My first calling.
I did it! And if I do say so myself, I did a damn fine job.

I became a teacher by accident. But found I loved it.
Being with kids is great, but not how I long to spend the rest of my working days.
In this moment it occurs to me that teaching isn’t my calling as much as education is. My passion for education, and brain development, and learning styles is what truly inspires me.
Teaching and learning about education is my calling…?

I feel in need of a new career path.

I am ridiculously passionate about mental health care.
But would I actually be a good therapist?
It’s been pointed out to me that I tend to talk more than listen…

I am ridiculously passionate about learning through play, alternative learning styles and environments, and teaching and learning in unconventional ways.
Can I help others learn different ways of teaching and learning together?

If I spend all that money to get this degree and find I don’t like or am not really good at it, what do I do then?
I’ll eventually have to get a proper job. I mean we won’t starve or be homeless because I’m not working, but at some point I’ll have to do something.
So is that working with people from a mental health point of view?
Is it teaching people innovative ways to teach others? Children and adults.

I don’t know.
I’m really trying to examine this concept of calling.

If my calling was to be a mom, I was amazing at it, and still do an excellent job being the mom of adults. But it’s not an active sort of job. For the most part those active days are over. Now it’s mostly listening and offering suggestions, and sometimes monetary assistance.
Teaching became my calling by accident, and I loved so many things about it. But I know I’m not meant to be in a classroom as I move forward.

So this idea of being a helper, a guide, using my intuition to counsel people who need to look at things from a different point of view…it fits me.
I know I’m meant to be a service person. But in what capacity?
Or, can I be a helper, a guide, using my intuition to teach people innovative ways to teach others?
Is becoming a therapist my new calling?
Is becoming an educator of educators my new calling?

Do I let money stand in the way of what I believe to be my calling?
Do I settle for the next best thing?

How do I even know what is my calling?
This is constantly playing in the background of my brain.
While I’m playing with the baby.
While I’m managing the construction here.
While I’m planning things for the new house.
This never ending feedback loop about my calling and a career path…

I am always asking these questions.
I can’t seem to put my finger on the answer.
I find it frustrating.

I want to jump feet first into my calling.
Is it really my calling?

As you see, the cycle just continues…

You may find yourself wondering why I’m worrying myself about this right now while all these other things are going on. (You also may find yourself having no fucks to give. Either way, we’re still cool.)
I’m a doer.
I’m always asking, ‘What’s next?’
I know when we get settled in the new house it will be time for me to do something productive. I want to be ready for whatever that is.
Is that productive thing my calling?
Do I have the luxury of more than one calling in my lifetime?
Is it that managing the project of getting this house ready and planning and choosing things to get the new house ready simply don’t fulfill me?
Does one’s calling fulfill one?

All the Roby questions with no Roby answers.
Twas ever thus…

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thoughts that hatch in the middle of the night

It’s the middle of the night and I’ve been up for hours. Thoughts swim around in my brain. Angry little fish bumping into each other but never giving way to get anywhere.
I don’t write. Not even in my journal.
I don’t read.
I barely even scroll instagram.

I want to do these things. I just don’t.
You may find yourself wondering, mais pourquoi pas? (You also may find yourself having no fucks to give. Either way, we’re cool.)
I don’t know why.
I do know I’m not behaving in my normal way and that has everything to do with it.
I do know I’m feeling the pressure of getting ready to leave one house and get settled into another.

I find it difficult to just be.
There are more people in the house. Two of which I am especially eager to spend time with after being apart for so long. But I’m used to being alone more than I’m with other humans.
This situation is tricky but can be managed.
I need to take time for myself. I need to read and write. I need to journal. I need to organize and prioritize. I need to rest.
But damn if I don’t want to spend as much time as possible with the mad little toddler running around my house!

Thing 1 and I talked a little bit about this Wednesday morning. She’s used to being more quiet too. She’s got the mental load for her little family with the curious situation of being in someone else’s house. She’s constantly aware of what Baby K or the dogs are and what they’re doing. She’s adapting to being an adult while living with her mother. It’s easy to fall into old patterns.

I’m tired of feeding five adults and a toddler.
If I don’t feel like feeding YBW and myself, it’s no big. But now all these other people are depending on being fed. Now, Husband N is quick to ask if he can help do anything, and follows detailed directions well. And Thing 1 does cook occasionally, but for the most part I’m doing the heavy lifting.
This needs to stop.
Thing 1 and I will make a meal plan and create a schedule of who cooks when and that will solve this situation.
We’re both game, we just haven’t done it yet.

Thing G will move to his mother’s over the next ten days. (She lives five minutes away so it’s not going to be a ‘great big move’ it’s just him shuttling his stuff over there.)
This makes YBW sad.
I feel his sadness.
I also feel a bit of relief. Thing G is one thing I can stop actively concerning myself with in this time when I have so many things on my plate. I can slip him off the plate knowing he’s safe and well loved at his mom’s and give myself that small sense of one less thing to pay attention to.

Baby K is exhausting.
Parenting is a young person’s game. That’s why grandparents are a bit older. Forty nine years and sixteen months are not always the perfect combination. But I cannot express my love, joy, and gratitude that I have this opportunity to be with her. To watch her learn and grow. To experience her sense of humor. To build a strong relationship with her.
I understand how truly blessed I am to be involved in her daily life no matter how tired I get.
She’s nearly mastered coming down the stairs in a safe way! And not only do I get to witness that, I’m helping her learn how to do it!

I miss YBW.
We’re never alone anymore. Which is simply the way it is, but I didn’t realize how it would feel.
I suggested we do a ‘date night’ even if we don’t go out, just plan to be together.

We’ve offered to look after Baby K so her parents can spend time together.
It would do them some good to just be.

It’s been just over a month. Literally, less than forty days. We’re still in survival and adjustment mode. I mean, good God, how could we not be? But survival mode simply isn’t sustainable.
Now’s the time to get our selves organized. Our routines. How we choose to be in this house together as one big family. How we choose to be in this house together as two small families.
I know we can do this.
I know we’re all willing to do this.
I think we’re all at a place where we kind of know we need to tweak it.
All it takes is open and honest communication and a willingness to be flexible.

You know, I’m feeling better already just from writing about it.
Of course, I’m still not ready to sleep…
Maybe I’ll take a nap with Baby K later today?

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R. Eric Thomas

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