Tuesday, July 21, 2015

WWJD?




My husband is a Salesforce guy. He's always tsking about various organizations' and companies' poor handling of data and how they should try Salesforce.

I think churches could use Salesforce too. Imagine the marketing and donor tracking they could do with all that data! Just imagine...


It's WJWD.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Dinosaur Splash! Jaguar Turns Three-osaurus

I wish I could've had the time to write some beautiful, meaningful, heart-wrenching words regarding my youngest child turning three last weekend, but with my new job and trying to throw a birthday party with next to no planning, I just didn't have the time or the energy. I also just can't face it. If we were still in Scotland right now, this little boy would be starting Gaelic nursery next month. (Never mind the child is only just starting to speak English! Speech therapy has been awesome.) To think that this baby...



... is now this kid...



... is pretty much incomprehensible. Where did those years go? He has had one busy life in his eensy weensy three years. 

So last Saturday was his birthday, and we wanted to indulge his obsession with dinosaurs while also keeping the children from dying of July heat exhaustion, so we put on a Dinosaur Splash party for him.

My amazing friends Victoria and Brian lent us use of their incredibly awesome inflatable water slide, which seriously made the party. We had paddling pools too, but only the babies were interested in those. Everyone else went bonkers for the water slide.



We tried to make it as dinosaur themed as possible. Starting with the invitations I never sent out.




(These are actually purple, not blue. Jaguar was adamant that he was having a "puhple didor" party. It had to be PURPLE or else.)

We may have never sent the invites out, but we did at least manage to make him a purple dinosaur cake. Thank you, Pinterest!



Even the inside was purple. Jaguar freaking LOVED it.

I also made a few dirt cakes with plastic dinosaurs stomping about in them. The plastic dinosaurs may or may not have been food safe, but just shhh. We don't need to talk about that.



And I even went so far as to order a dinosaur piñata. Which of course the kids had enormous fun bashing to death. Sadly it wasn't puhple, but the Boy didn't notice.


(The best part about this piñata was how the candy flew out of it's mouth when you hit it. Even I sort of squealed the glee the first time a Tootsie roll projectile vomited out of its mouth.)

I found some cute dinosaur cups on Amazon too, which I filled with dino tattoos, stampers, candy, and more probably-not-food-safe-but-whatever mini dinosaurs. I didn't get a picture of these though, because I almost forgot to even hand them out. They never made it out of the house into the backyard, actually. I hope everyone took one home anyway. If you didn't, I still have a whole box of them in my kitchen.

Can you guess which was Jaguar's favorite?

So, despite lacking my usual over-preparedness, the party was still a smash - or shall I say a "splash"? Everyone had fun celebrating my little boyosaurus's third birthday.

Fifi apparently needed goggles.




So did Lolly.













Thanks to everyone who came over to celebrate Jaguar turning three and for making his dinosaur party a hit.  We love you!

A very happy birthday boy. He slept great that night
amongst a huge pile of new plastic dinosaurs.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Working Girl

So I have survived my first two weeks at BANPO (Big Anonymous Non-Profit Organization).  If I had tried to blog even four days ago, it would have been a disaster.

I have never been so stressed in my life.  The first full week was a hurricane of new information, new things to learn, new responsibilities, and new names and faces, and that didn't even include the slew of crazy emotions I felt from leaving my kids all day (and for the first time in Jaguar's life) and only seeing them for a couple of hours at night, during which time I was exhausted and grumpy.  I know it takes supposedly six months to really learn a new job, but I'm impatient. And I'm a perfectionist. Put the two together, throw me into a new job atmosphere, and you've got a pretty useful nuclear weapon.

My first day.
About midway through this week, I calmed down a little.  I took some work home, got myself organized (with Scott's enormous help - all hail Scott!), and took a lot of deep breaths and shed a lot of tears, and then... ahh.

When in job interviews the interviewer asks what your biggest weakness is, it's the running joke to say, "I'm a perfectionist." But y'all, the struggle is REAL.  I don't give myself any slack. I berate myself over every tiny mishap. I torment myself over every stupid or misinterpreted thing I say. I hate asking for help, because I believe I should know it all right away, immediately. And that kind of perfectionism and lack of self grace is actually pretty debilitating.

I'm feeling better about my job now, though. I do not under any circumstances have it all down, but I feel like there is going to be a point in the future someday, somewhere, when I probably will. I work with an amazing team who are all really supportive and great to work with.  It's a big adjustment, working full time after having been a stay-at-home-mum slash work-at-home-mum for the past eight years. I'm still trying to figure out how to prioritize my home time. I still have so many of the same responsibilities as well as hobbies that I did before but only a fraction of the time.  I have four baskets of laundry on the couch waiting to be folded and put away - and it's the weekend, so I'll be doing laundry again. I have complimentary copies of my book to mail out to various people but no time to get to the post office, plus I haven't had a chance at all to market my book, which is a little disappointing. I am still trying to get to the gym at least three times a week (which I managed the first week) but only got there once this week. It's mid-July, and I'm still trying to read the same book I started in mid-June. (Half of that is due to it being a long, dense book, of course.) And I miss my babies, and I miss my friends.

But.

I'm using my brain again. I'm becoming a stand-alone person again, not just a mummy. Even as I work in the same company as Scott, I don't feel like "Scott's wife". I'm my own me. My confidence is building, though ever so slowly. I am brushing back up on my skills. I am contributing financially to the family again, and not just in a small way like I did when I worked from home. We're going to get to take our family on vacations, maybe even back to Scotland again one day (for a visit). I get to eat lunch with my husband, which is like a mini-date every day. I get to dress nice, wear heels, and put on make-up. I get to meet tons of new people and network. There are a lot of benefits to working again.

I always knew I'd go back to work eventually, so even though it's hard (especially not having Jaguar around - I miss that boy!), I have no regrets. I am sad to see that lovely chapter of my life close, but the new chapter looks promising too. Maybe even exciting. It is the year of adventure, after all.

However, it's the weekend now and time to stop thinking about work.  I'm off to go read some more of my book before turning early into bed. My mom, aunt, and I have a garage sale in the morning, so it's early bells for me!

Next on the blog, I'll talk about my little baby boy turning three. THREE. He turned three last weekend. Sob!


Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Challenge Accepted! June Books

June. Oh June. I read only two and a half books.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (A book with a love triangle)
Continuing along with The Hunger Games series, I read Catching Fire, the second book. I think I possibly liked #2 better than #1. I don't want to give any spoilers, so I'll just say A) the characters in this one were all so much more interesting, complex, and diverse and B) the love triangle sucked. Gale? Seriously? I'm #TeamPeeta all the way.

I mentioned last month that Fi wanted to read the series too. I went ahead and let her. She whizzed through The Hunger Games and has now started Catching Fire. She used to want to be Hermione Granger and do magic. Now she wants to be Katniss Everdeen and shoot arrows.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (A book by a female author)
As for checking off Reading Challenge categories, yeah, I'll admit it, I had to stretch for this one. It was the only way I could simultaneously finish the series AND check off a box. "Book by a female author" ... it was always going to be a throw- away.

I didn't enjoy this one. It must be a YA trilogy thing, but I just don't enjoy the way the third part of these stories unfolds. Death and destruction, rebellions, endless warfare. Bleh. I felt the same way about Mockingjay as I did about Allegiant in the Divergent series. I soared through the first two books then had to trudge through the last. It took me a while to finish it. I will say this: the ending to this series is far more satisfying than the end to the Divergent series.


As for movies, I watched Mockingjay Part 1 after finishing the books and was okay with it. It wasn't great, but it was entertaining. As usual, though, the book was better. (And I didn't even like the book, just Katniss and Peeta. And Haymitch. Haymitch is my favorite. Katniss should've ended up with Haymitch. Just sayin'. I've got a whole theory about this.)

Also, Fi may be allowed to read the books, but she will NOT be allowed to see the movies. It's one thing to read about blood with an imagination of an eight year old who has never seen such gory images and therefore can only take it so far in her mind (or even let them pass over completely). It's another to see those images in all their horrific detail, thus imprinting them in her innocent little brain. She can watch them when she's older. A policy she thinks is totally unfair and preposterous.



I did start reading a third book last month, but I'm still only half way through. I'm reading Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama (Mr President himself), but it's a little dense (in a good way) and very thought-provoking. The main theme throughout is race, particularly what it's like being a black man in America, even more particularly, a black man with a white mom and white grandparents trying to figure out where he belongs in America. It's so full of things to think about and ponder over that it's taking me some time to get through it. I read a chapter, then have to sit on it. Hopefully I'll be finished with it soon. If I only read two books a month, I'll never complete the challenge! I'll do a more comprehensive review on Dreams... at the end of July.



To see what else I have read this year:
May
April
March
February
January

Monday, July 06, 2015

My Book ... Is Totes On Amazon: The Last Petal Falling

I kind of almost can't believe it. It's pretty much totally surreal.

My book is now available for purchase.

!!!!!!

I'm incredulous, but I'm also beyond excited. And nervous. And scared.

People are going to read the intimate details of my life. Worse, they are going to read the intimate details of my SOUL. And along they way, they will read some intimate details of my friends' lives (names changed though). I hope you will all forgive me for that...

But that's what it's all about, right? Write a memoir, a true story about your life and those who touched it (or bruised it), and then let people read it. It's part of the writing process: the sharing.

It's the most vulnerable thing I've ever done. Far more vulnerable than blogging. This is truly heart-on-my-sleeve stuff.

But y'all, I've done it. I've actually done it. I started, finished, and (self) published a book. I wrote, edited, and formatted a book. (If there are STILL mistakes after ALL the editing I've done, please don't tell me. Just shhhhh.)

I'm kind of at a loss for words. Let me just say this:

Thank you so much, all of you who helped me along the way. Those of you who helped me in the writing, editing, and publishing process, and those of you who were with me throughout my life in the good times and the bad. And thank you to everyone who encouraged me to keep writing and who made me believe it would be worth it to finish. At the end of the day, I wrote this book for you as much as I wrote it for me.

It's available right now on Amazon (including UK and Prime!) and Kindle. It is also available from CreateSpace and if I'm remembering correctly, a few other online retailers (like Barnes & Noble). You can choose paperback, if you like something you can hold in your hands (like I do) or you can go the Kindle route. I kept the price as low as I could without totally underselling it, because I want it to be as accessible as possible. I don't care about making money off of it. I am just happy to have it out there. My story isn't all that different or unique, therefore I know it will resonate with many.

Please also feel free to share the link. And if you read it, please leave a review (good or bad!) on Amazon or GoodReads. I'd really appreciate that!

So without further ado...

Here is the link:

The Last Petal Falling by Lori Arnold McFarlane

And for those of you who have no idea what the book is about, here is the back cover:


Sunday, July 05, 2015

Freezer Meals For the Slow Cooker

So. Tomorrow.

It's my first day at my new job.

My first full-time office job in over eight years.

My first full-time office job since having children.

After Lolly was born, I did go back to work full-time as a childminder, where I worked nine hours a day taking care of children, but I worked from home. I didn't have to leave my kids anywhere besides school. I was still able to throw a load of laundry in the washer and run my errands during my work day.

This is going to be a whole new experience. I'm not gonna lie; I have no idea how people do it.

I mean, who takes the car to the shop when it needs an oil change? How do you keep the laundry up to date and the dishes washed? When do you shop for groceries? What time do you eat dinner if you don't get home until almost 6pm? How do you cook every night when you've been at work all day?

Talking to my other work-away-from-home friends, the answer seems most often to be "crock pot". An idea I can stand behind.

I love my slow cooker. I am a regular slow cookerer. However, even dumping ingredients in a crock pot can end up taking half an hour, especially if there's other prep involved, like frying up the beef or chopping up the onions. I won't have time for that in the mornings, what with going to the gym, eating breakfast, getting dressed for work, and getting kids fed, dressed, and out the door on time.

So being the planner-psycho that I am, I decided to try something new for these first two weeks of work.

Yesterday, I made my monthly menu plan as always, followed by my grocery list.  I took Jaguar with me to the Farmer's Market at 8am followed by the supermarket to pick up all the ingredients I'll need for the next fortnight. (Apparently, Saturday mornings are now the time one goes grocery shopping. I remember back when they were for sleeping.) When I came back home, I got to work.

Okay, so I haven't gotten as far
as the last week's menu...
I spent the rest of the morning into the afternoon making seven freezer meals to get me through the next two work weeks. (How seven and not ten? I'll get to that.)

Everything I made should easily go into the crock pot in the morning and will be ready for dinner when we get home. In theory.

I did some googling and got some ideas. I also used some ideas out of my own clever little brain. Together, I have hopefully come up with some ideas that will take one major chore off my daily To-Do list.

I started out labeling all the freezer bags. Learned The Hard Way: Label all before getting wet/frozen. I used some bags of mince or chicken that were already in the freezer and the moisture messed with my Sharpie. Anyway.


Next, I chopped up a buttload of onion.  Buttload is the precise measurement of onion you will need to make seven freezer meals. I also minced a buttload of garlic.


Then I just started filling bags. Some were easy, like the curry one. I simply purchased two jars of Tikka Masala sauce, which I combined with chicken breasts and some additional seasonings of my own liking. Some things, by the way, don't freeze well, like potato, so I'll need to remember to chop up some potatoes the night before and throw them in the crock pot with the bag that morning. (Thursday, I believe.) Then I'll just need to boil up some rice when I get home. Other meals took a little longer to throw together, like the chicken tortilla soup that required chopped onion, chopped cilantro and basil, and crushed garlic. Still, when you are crushing a buttload of garlic into a bunch of bags, it does make the process go a little quicker.

Learned The Hard Way: Gallon bags don't stand up well on their own, especially when you pour enchilada sauce into them, and they tip over and run out.  Google taught me to stand your bags in a drinks pitcher first, which is a very clever idea.


I made tortilla soup, chicken enchilada mix (just need to throw the mix into some tortillas and into the oven for a few minutes when I get home), curry, chicken pot pie (same idea, throw in oven quickly with pastry over top), chicken rice casserole, chili, and meatloaf. The meatloaf is going to be interesting... I made it all up, formed it into a ball, and froze it. It's got egg and heavy cream in it which I've read don't always freeze well, but mixed into a meatloaf I'm thinking is different than mixing in a soup or something. I hope it works.

In fact, I hope it all works. Of all the recipes, only a few of them I've ever tried in the crock pot (chili, chicken pot pie, tortilla soup), and only one of them (tortilla soup) is actually a "freezer meal" recipe. So it's going to be an interesting experiment. Or an expensive mistake.

Learned The Hard Way: Next time, I will bake or boil all the chicken first before putting it in the bags. The breasts were frozen, but the room temperature of the ingredients thawed them a little. Not entirely, so I'm hoping I don't poison the whole family, but next time I'll use either fresh chicken or pre-cooked. Again, interesting experiment or expensive mistake. For the meals that work, I'll share the recipes. I'd hate to share my recipes before discovering if they work, because obviously.

6 out of 7
Furthermore, not all recipes are created equal. Some require longer cooking times and some need shorter. This is where further experimentation will be taking place. Some recipes I think I can safely set on Low all day long (from 7.30-5.45) without worry, like the chili. Others I'm not so sure about, like the meatloaf  and the rice casserole.  For recipes that generally require a shorter cooking time, I'll be breaking out my timer. My timer is just an extension I found in the electrical hardware section of Walmart. You plug it into the wall, set the current time, then set the on and off times and plug your slow cooker into that. Learned The Hard Way a long time ago: These only work with manual slow cookers. My larger one is digital, so when the power comes on at the set time, it just blinks and blinks, waiting for someone to input all the settings (time/temp). So yes, must remember to use manual cookers those days. And remember to set the correct AM/PM in order for it to turn on at the right time. I have definitely come home to a stone cold cooker before by setting the times wrong. Tricky.

And as for the other days that won't be freezer meals, I intend to try baked potatoes in the crock pot, going out to eat (we have a date night planned for Friday, and we'll probably go to Zaxby's with kids one Wednesday when kids eat free), and easy breaded frozen chicken strips for a quick throw-in-the-oven dinner one other night.

Now that all of that is ready, I feel a little more prepared for the morning. Mine and Scott's lunches are made and in the fridge. The kids are all packed up for daycare in the morning with their clothes laid out. My clothes are hanging up and ready to go. I've got all my pre-start paperwork together. Now all that's left is to make myself a cup of tea, relax in a bath with my book, then retire to bed dressed in my workout clothes for 5am. When that alarm goes off at ridiculous o'clock in the morning, I'll be ready to go work out with my protein shake in one hand and a water bottle in the other. "Start as I mean to continue" I like to say. I'll workout for an hour, come home, shower off, eat breakfast, dress myself and the kids, and head out the door.

Gosh, I hope I don't forget to turn the crock pot on...

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

An Epitaph to the Month of June

Hey, whoa, where did June go? Did anyone see it run past?

Honestly. Where did it go?

One whole month of summer has passed.  Zoom.  Gone.  I have no idea how that happened or what I've been doing in the meantime.

For one - my book. I have proofed the second proof copy now, have sent it off for review, and refuse to proof it a third time. This is a problem I have. I'm never satisfied. I'm never finished. I find new things to add each time I read it, new commas to rearrange, new paragraph breaks to insert. There comes a time when I just have to let it go.  Give it wings and let it fly.  Kick it out of the nest. I don't know. I just have to say enough is enough. I wanted to have it launched by June 30th, but June ran away from me.  It's as scared as I am to actually publish the bloody thing.

It will be available on Kindle and in paperback in no more than two weeks. Sooner if I can lasso some damn courage and click "Complete setup."

So yes, the book has taken a lot of June away from me. But what else?  Job hunting for one.  And as of this coming Monday, I will be a full-time employee of BANPO - Big Anonymous Non-Profit Organization.  (I am no fool. People get fired for saying where they work and then accidentally one day saying, "Ugh. Work sucks." on the internets.)  So I got a job at BANPO, and I'm really excited. I'm also really scared about that.  It's been a loooong time since I've worked full-time.  And I'm going to miss my kiddie-dumplings.

June was supposed to be a month of fitting in tons of awesome mum-and-kid time, but I can't even recall what we've done that's been mega awesome. We've gone swimming. We've gotten ice cream and eaten fast food.  We've been to the park (once).  Is that all? I've taken the girls to a day camp at the community center a few times from 8-noon, while Jaguar and I ran errands or worked out.  Still, June, she ran by me so fast I barely saw her. Barely stopped and smelled a single one of her roses - or whatever flower is seasonably Juneish.

Well, anyway. Things got done. Sort of. My book got done. I got a job. Watched a couple episodes of Orange Is The New Black. Didn't get much reading done, though. (Two books. Only two books!) Or any zoo/museum/snow-cones/science center action. Haven't found us a house yet.  Haven't packed the one we're in.  I'm tired.  I kept trying to keep up with her, but June just ran too fast, all the way to her bittersweet end.

RIP, June.

I hope July is a little slower paced. I have an uneasy feeling, however, that it won't.

Precisely, son.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Day That Love Won

Approximately the same time I was doing burpees to "Uma Thurman" during Cardio Dance Party at the gym, it happened. The thing I've been waiting for with baited breath for months (years actually). The Supreme Court ruling on the ban on same sex marriages.

I didn't know anything had happened until I got in the car afterwards and turned on NPR. It was the Diane Rehm show, and I caught the tail end of someone mentioning how great this day is, how it's about time we have marriage equality.  The subject then changed, so I wasn't certain of what I was hearing. Then my friend Elizabeth texted me and confirmed what I hoped I'd heard.

Yes!  The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled bans on same sex marriage unconstitutional. Same sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states!


All those people fortunate enough to hold full-time writing jobs in journalism or blogging have already beaten me to the punch, writing amazing responses to this historic ruling.  Meanwhile, I was juggling taking kids with me on errands, breaking up fights, playing on playgrounds, negotiating the terms of my new job (yes!), and making phone calls while bribing the kids with ice cream from McDonald's to keep them quiet.  Therefore I was unable to put in my two cents before everyone else said all the clever and awesome things.  Hashtag StayAtHomeMomBloggerProblems.

Truth of the matter is, I've got nothing new or insightful to say, nothing that will make me stand out or make my words go viral (a blogger's dream).  I am just happy. I am just relieved. I just want to add to the millions of words out there praising this decision that will go down in history.  In fifty years, if my blog survives, I want this day remembered. I was there. I saw it happen. I did a happy dance. (Really, I did.)



I look at my 666 friends on Facebook, and aside from the implication there that I am in cahoots with the devil, I can estimate that at least one-third of these friends of mine are gay, lesbian, or bisexual. (Not to leave out trans*; I just am not aware if any of my friends are in that category.) That's a lot of people I care about. That's a lot of people who have won something special today. That's a lot of lives touched in an incomprehensible way.

Some of them are legally married in other states.  Some have plans to get married soon.  Some are single but wouldn't mind meeting someone special one day and settling down with them. Some are "in the closet", unable to share this part of themselves publicly for fear of losing their jobs or close relationships.  Some who did come out have lost family and friends because of it.

This is such a win for all these people, and so many more.

I know there are many out there who are disappointed, outraged even, by this decision. While I can't pretend to understand, I can acknowledge that this is how you feel. I wish I could convince you that this is a good thing for my friends above. I wish I could show you that this does not interefere with your marriage or your beliefs.  I wish you could see that this is not an attack on religion, but a leveling of the playing field, an equalization of humanity, of love, of individual people's rights to honor the institution of marriage by joining themselves to the person their heart desires. In Justice Kennedy's words from his statement today:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. (Page 28)
I wish everyone who is against this ruling could truly see it through the eyes of all my friends. I wish everyone could agree that while same-sex marriage is not acceptable to them for whatever reason - faith, most likely - it is still a human right.  It is still something that others should have access too. Disagree with it personally.  Preach against in church if you must. But please, soften your hearts just long enough to understand how deeply this affects so many of your neighbors, friends, and possibly even family members.  This does not have to change your views, but it does change their lives.

History was made today.  When I got home after the gym, I grabbed my kids and swung them in the air.  I told them all about what this means.  I listed some of the people they know by name and how this positively affects them. I tried to instill a bit of excitement in them so that one day they could tell their kids they remember Obergefell v. Hodges, that they remember the moment marriage equality was granted to everyone. Just this morning, I was telling Lolly about the Civil Rights Movement and Loving v. Virginia, and how not too long ago black and white people couldn't even eat at the same restaurants, let alone marry each other. ("But that's so mean!" she responded in horror.)  Now when she grows up, she can tell her children how not too long ago, girls couldn't marry girls or boys marry boys.  And her kids will thankfully be flabbergasted too.

(That is, of course, if she chooses to have kids!)


However. I hate to rain on anyone's (pride) parade, but there is still work to be done. There is still a fight to be fought.  Just like bringing down the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state house was a small battle won in a much larger on-going war, this too is just part of the continuing story. Absolutely the SCOTUS ruling today was HUGE, especially compared to a few flags coming down, but the fight for equal rights is not over.

After today, kids will still be kicked out of their homes for coming out gay.  After today, people will still lose their jobs and their housing for being homosexual.  After today, young people will still be uneducated about safe sex, and HIV/AIDS will still be spread, because parents and schools are too afraid or disgusted to talk honestly about it. After today, young people will still be afraid to get tested because of how it will "look".  After today, kids will still be sent to "pray-out-the-gay" camps and told they are going to hell.

I hate to be a downer, but this is the truth.  Just as Civil Rights was an enormous step in the process of equalizing rights for people of color, so too this is a huge step in normalizing same sex relationships. But just as the Civil Rights Act could not end racism, today's ruling will not end sexual prejudice. Fifty years after the CRA, we are still arguing over whether it's okay to fly a flag that has come to represent racial hate and bigotry over state buildings. In fifty years, we may still be arguing over the morality of homosexuality. I hope not. But I can say this:

We've come a long way, baby!  But we still have a long ways to go.


P.S. For some of the best things I've read all day, visit these links.
To My Evangelical Friends Upon the Legalization of Gay Marriage (A great article)
Arguments For and Against Same-Sex Marriage (this one is from The Onion, so don't expect the depth of the former link!)

P.P.S. If you know someone who is LGBT and homeless or at risk of homelessness in the central Arkansas area, please contact Lucie's Place.

P.P.P.S.  So I don't end on a totally negative note, let me just say TODAY WAS AN AWESOME DAY! LOVE WINS,  ya'll! And congratulations to all my friends who can now enter my state as a legally married couple. (Ya'll know who you are.) THIS IS THE MOST EXCITING DAY!!!




Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Don't Be A Spector

Ahh it's been a while since I've posted church signs from the little country chapel down the road.  Not for lack of material, mind you.  Material has been abundant as ever. It's just that I was starting to feel a little sorry for them, that's all. I mean, some of the signs are just really poor spellings, and one of them was actually in memory of someone in the congregation who had died, and you just can't make fun of that, even if the spacing was so bad it took us several days to realize what it said.


I was starting to wonder if maybe the church sign man/lady is dyslexic and making fun of their signs was just mean. Or if maybe all their letters were getting stolen by delinquent local teens and they were determined to get their messages out to the public no matter how many letters the devil took away from them. Whatever the case, I was feeling guilty about it.

Then last week, this sign came up.


I saw it in passing and was totally confused.  Risking a car crash, I craned my neck backwards to read it again over my shoulder. What? I'd have to try again on the way home.

On the way home, I still couldn't read it, so I pulled over and took a picture.

"Are you a spector are precipitator."

Am I a ghost or a rainmaker?  Hmm, I'd have to think about that one. (Maybe I'm a filtration device.)

Or my more educated guess is that it's asking if I'm a "spectAtor" or a "PARTicipator".  Maybe the spelling is just really off, or they didn't have enough letters to ask me this, or maybe they wanted to be enigmatic to get me thinking?  Am I going to just spectate and not wonder any further what the sign means? Or will I participate in solving the puzzle?

I'll participate.  I'll blog about it.

I'm a precipitator.


P.S. For another discussion on strange church signs, check out this one from HeIsSailing.

Monday, June 22, 2015

June Is Bustin' Out All Over My Free Time

It's nearly the end of June. Kids are out of school. I'm facing one of the busiest summers of my life.

I'm a list maker, and with all that's been keeping me busy lately, there's no way I can catch up without just listing out what has kept me from my beloved blog.

VIOD Book Club
1. Kids are out of school. Need I say more?

2. I'm looking for a job. Yep, like a full-time 9-5 gig. Job hunting is probably one of the most stressful things I've done in a LOOOONG time.  Tailoring resumes to suit each job spec, writing countless cover letters, interviewing... it's hard work, and I'm not even getting paid for it yet!

3. Subject to said job, we are planning on moving this summer. Originally we hoped to be moving out of state (Seattle! We long for you!), but after really getting nowhere with the out-of-state job hunt, we decided we are staying here in Arkansas. Yep, you heard me right. Arkansas. Us. Staying. But we are NOT staying in Nowheresville... the plan is to move into The Big City (aka The Littlest Big City), where life's happenin'.  So I'm slowly packing up the house and impatiently waiting for all our ducks to get in their row, so we can conclude the house hunt.

4. I am finishing my book. Funny, I "finished" it back in March, but I'm still not "finished". In March, I finished writing it. But oh my word, I had no idea how much time, energy, and headaches would go into editing and self-publishing. But I am so near the end of the tunnel, I can practically touch the light.  I *really* hope to have it out on Amazon (paperback) and Kindle (ebook) by the end of June!

5. I'm trying to keep up with my exercise routine.  It's hard though, when each day is so full of kids and errands and responsibilities. But working out keeps me centered and in control, so it's important to me. I've actually started going to a few 5am classes just to fit that time in. But on nights where I've stayed up late doing other things, 5am just comes too early.

6. I'm trying to fit in as much summer fun as possible before I start working. That means play dates and swimming pools and parks and zoos and museums.  I want to enjoy these last few weeks of stay-at-home-mum-dom before they are over.  Before they go into daycare all day...

7. I'm looking for daycare.  For the time being, they will go to the daycare just down the street from me, but even that is wrought with uncertainty. Do I start them before knowing for sure if I'm going to get any of these jobs, or before knowing a start date?  Do I wait and take the chance of the spaces currently open getting filled?  When we move, will I be able to find a daycare in the new area with open spaces?  Do I have any aspirin in the house?

8. I'm volunteering for a charity.  Right now, I'm just doing some posters for them.  It's called Lucie's Place, and it's an organization that assists homeless LGBT young adults.  Soon they hope to actually open up a shelter, but for now they assist these young adults with writing resumes, finding jobs and housing, and how to budget. I'll be doing some of that mentoring stuff contingent upon moving into The Big City, contingent upon jobs, contingent upon blah blah blah.... But of all the busyness going on right now, this one is one of the more rewarding ones.  I'm happy to be doing something for someone else once again.

9. I'm planning Jaguar's 3rd birthday party.  Little Jaguar (can't call him Baby Jaguar anymore!) freaking loves dinosaurs, so I'm planning a dinosaur party. It's only a few weeks away, and I've barely done any planning - which is so not like me, especially when it comes to birthday parties - but I'm hoping my preliminary plans of a dino cake, dino pinata, and paddling pools will be enough to get the party started.  Dino invites might need to be next on the agenda. (And a guest list. And dino party favors should get ordered. And do I want to rent one of those big inflatable water slides or just get some cheap slip n' slides and baby pools? Hmm...)

10. I'm reading as many books as I can fit in before going back to work. Who knows what my time will look like soon?  Without a day time to do laundry, dishes, housework, errands, car maintenance, quality kid time, and Facebook browsing (ha), will I even have time to read in the evenings after work? And if I'm going to the gym at 5am, I'll have to go to bed early, so no late night reading time.

And on that note, I'm going to go read.  I recently listened to over half of Barack Obama's Dreams From My Father on audio book, but have since forgotten where I left off.  So now I've gone back and restarted the book the old fashioned way - by reading it.  I do miss hearing the President of the United States read out classic literary lines like "bitch-ass mother-fucker" though. It's just not the same in my own voice.  Obama says it all so much better.