Thursday, April 17, 2014

let's chat

In the early stages of my relationship with Zac, we talked on the phone for hours every single day. This should have been sign number one that I really liked him, because I absolutely hate talking on the phone.

When I was in high school, I was totally about AOL Instant Messenger (REMEMBER AIM?), and spent hours and hours and hours talking to my friend John. Part of me was a little in love with John, but things never worked out and when it did one time it was weird and not what I think either of us thought it would be like. Still, we had so many great conversations on AIM and I felt like we really, really understood each other at that point in our lives. (We didn't. But it felt like we did!)

But let's take it back a little further. Phone conversations with friends have always been tragic for me.

There's the half dozen of times that I had a "friend" call me and begin saying mean (but true) things about another "friend." When people say negative things about other people that are warranted I often agree; sometimes it's to try and make the person who is clearly upset feel better, but a lot of the time it's because the person we're talking about is being kind of shitty and venting is a normal part of friendship. But what would end up happening is as soon as I'd agree with them -- BAM, there we are on three-way with the friend we've been talking about

That was junior high, by the way, but it feels like last week. I'm sure it's one of many reasons why I have a very small group of friends to this day.

Then there is the time that I was talking to my mom and my sister about one of my friends who I was having a really hard time with. We were driving somewhere, I don't remember where, and I was saying some pretty mean things out of frustration. Like things you would only say to your family, because they love you and won't disown you for it. And suddenly I heard a voice from my phone. This was before we even had the phones with slide out keyboards -- this was legit old school Nokia, one step above the 80s block phone -- so I'm not even sure how this happened, but my phone called the friend I was talking about.

I mean, she was mad... (can't blame her.)

So now that I sound like I'm always talking crap about my friends, I want to tell you some of the things Zac has said to me lately. Totally smooth transition.

After being sick for 2 weeks in Florida
Zac: I don't think I can survive being single.
Rachel: You're single now?
Zac: You know. Solitary. Alone. Because I don't have a wife to take care of me.

Talking about places near Orlando
Zac: Someone at work lives in New Smyrna.
Rachel: ...
Zac: That name is so gross. Can you imagine what Old Smyrna was like?

Unprovoked Facebook message
Zac: this is us
He really gets our relationship.
Me talking about my desire to eat healthier
Rachel: I'm just going to put in a medium effort right now, because I have to travel this weekend and we're eating out like three times.
Zac: You know another word for medium? Mediocre.

Unprovoked Facebook message
Zac: you and roo
This is true.
On me being sick
Zac: Don't die on me. Who would keep me straight?
Rachel: Your second wife.
Zac: I don't know. I tricked you into marrying me. I don't know if I could pull that sham off again.

On living together again when we move to Florida
Rachel: You're going to be exhausted after getting used to so much time alone.
Zac: Yeah. I hear wife induced stress is the number one cause of husbands dying.

After sending me several pictures of men with beards
Rachel: I like your beard when it's grown out a little better than the guys in these pictures.
Zac: What I'm hearing is that I have beard superiority over models.
Rachel: ...
Zac: That last piece of majesty took me over 6 months.

Response to me sending him the following GIF
Zac: I thought we hated her.
Rachel: No, we like her.
Zac: I can't keep up with you.
Rachel:
Zac: That seems like an appropriate response.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

the sick weekend

Apart from the comments on my last post, I got a couple of emails. First of all: what? People are actually reading the thoughts I carelessly toss up on this blog? Second of all: you guys are smart. One of the people who emailed me asked a really great question (in a totally nice way): what genre of blogging am I aiming for? Because sometimes I'm funny (not usually) and sometimes I'm serious (not usually) and sometimes I write about just being in a bad mood (usually). 

My answer is this: I'm just blogging what I want to blog. This isn't a for-profit blog. I'm gifting you with my sometimes humor and sometimes seriousness and most of the time bad moodiness. This is a toned down journal of my crazy if you want to get right down to it. Don't try to make sense of it, just jump on board.

And not in a good way. Clearly. Note my lack of makeup and smile.
Spring has sprung and is currently killing me softly with allergies. If I could think of a more cliche way to start this blog post then I'm sure I would have done so, but this is as good as it gets when I have a low-grade fever and a constant pressure in my head.

I woke up Friday morning with a sore throat, but thought maybe it was the result of too much lemon water on Thursday. Is that a thing, you might ask, too much lemon water? Yes, it's a thing. Of course it's a thing. But it turns out lemon water is actually supposed to make your throat stop hurting, which I know because I immediately Google all possible sick symptoms the moment I feel them. I swear I have some barely conscious belief that my body is conspiring against me, and one day Google will help me save myself.

But it turns out that I just have allergies like everyone else in the world, and the pollen here is so thick that the puddles are yellow and the cars are covered.

The thing about being a mom is that you don't really get to be good and sick. You don't get to sleep all day and only come out of your room for water and medicine. You don't get to watch ten hours of Grey's Anatomy in reverse order (I have done this. Don't judge.) while wearing your grossest and yet most comfy pajamas and taking your temperature every thirty minutes. You know what I mean: you don't get to enjoy it.

The things I miss out on now.

I'm lucky that my mom lives with me, because she is able to pick up my slack whenever I need a break. It's an arrangement that is working well while my husband is in another state, and will continue when we move this summer. Having a multi-generational living arrangement is really something I will have to write about at another date, because there is a lot to be said about it.

The point is that I'm really glad that I don't have to go it alone every day, but even more glad that I don't have to go it alone after being unable to go to sleep until 1:00am due to an inability to breathe when I lie down. (Super side note: I will never get lay down / lie down right no matter how many degrees I get in English.)

So after my crazy wild Friday night of sweating and taking cold/flu medicine that I bought by accident it was wonderful to go back to bed for a few hours to sleep off the sickness while my mom played nana. I'm one of those weird people who thinks that sleep is a cure-all for nearly everything short of "you're dying" so take what I say with a grain of salt, but I really think that extra few hours was the difference between me being siiiiiiiick and just sick.

Going out and getting allergy medicine probably helped, too.

But can I just say that getting sick on a weekend is a total rip off? If I'm going to get sick at least let me miss work instead of missing my most holy of days. They already go by too quickly.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Quick Takes: Volume 3

This was a rough week for me so in an attempt to make something good out of it I thought I'd only write about happy/positive/awesome things in this volume of quick takes.

1

My friend Patty Ann sent me the trailer for the new Girl Meets World show. Yeeees!! I mean, Boy Meets World was my life. And if I'm being really honest I feel like I'm a bitchier version of Topanga that married a more frustrating version of Corey so watching it will be like watching my future.

2

I've been making fun of my friend Michelle for her love of "water with lots of lemon" for years, because she seriously orders it everywhere we have ever eaten. And she will bring a giant jug of water and sit at her desk and put lemons in it. I read some positive things about it and decided to try it out this week.

Consider me a convert. Maybe it will help with my forever soda addiction.

3

Roo did not sleep well Tuesday or Wednesday night, but as I type this on Thursday night she is snoozing with nary a wake up in sight. #knockonwood #nevermindshejustwokeup

4

This passage from Orthodoxy was something I needed to read right now.
We do not always choose our questions, any more than we choose our spouses. Our questions drag us about like chariots, which is precisely why letting them go can be so hard. They make us feel as though there is something incomplete that we desire to resolve. Our desire for satisfaction may be stronger or weaker, may intensify or wane, but it is always present.
It's in my nature to question and research and try to understand everything. But maybe it's okay to realize that the journey is in the seeking instead of in the answers (that I might never find). Maybe that's clarity.

5

I feel like a very old 27, but at least I still look young enough to regularly be mistaken for a college student. Somewhere in there is an insult about the way I dress and present myself in a professional setting, but since I'm staying on the positive train I'll let it stay buried.

6

This week I made the most amazing white chicken enchiladas, and you should make them immediately (and mail me some). I also made this ridiculous breakfast casserole that I could literally eat for every meal, because cheese and bacon and hash browns.

7

Roo now says "aww" any time she sees anything she thinks is cute. That includes babies, puppies, kitties, her stuffed animals, many of the characters on Daniel Tiger, and the lizard who hangs out on our sliding glass door to taunt the cat. And her own reflection, naturally.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Why I'm not a mommy blogger

Well, it isn't because my kid isn't the most adorable kid in the entire world. Let's just go ahead and make that clear.

For a long time before getting pregnant was really even a thought I had, I was reading mommy blogs and laughing at the things their kids did and fawning over how cute they were with pigtails or overalls. I still read them; some of my favorite bloggers write about their kids daily and I've seen more pictures of their kids than my own.

As a reader, I think there is really something amazing about getting to see other people grow up on the internet. But as a mom, I think there's something a little strange about it, too.

My "this is strange" face.
I try not to judge other bloggers who have decided to wholly focus on writing about and posting photos of their children. I think this is one of those things that everyone has to make their own decision about, and as long as you're not posting naked photos of your children online or writing about abusive things then do what you want (within reason). We all have to walk a fine line when it comes to what we're willing to share with other people about our families and about what we think is sacred and private from the world.

But I have serious reservations about sharing too much when it comes to my own child.

For one thing, my entire life is not limited to being a mother. There are a ton of women out there who stay at home with their children, and have made that their lives... but even they have interests outside of their children. (And I find it pretty sad when it's clear that isn't the case for someone, because women are such a valuable part of our community -- and not only because of their ability to reproduce and parent.)

If I'm being honest, my life really doesn't revolve around my daughter. And if it did both of our lives would suffer, especially as she grows older and more independent. That doesn't mean that she hasn't made my life immensely better and more joyful, because she is the best gift that has ever been given to me. It also doesn't mean that I never write about her. I do, but it's usually to illustrate some flaw in myself or to laugh at a situation I found myself in while parenting. I try to keep the focus on me. I mean, maybe I sound really selfish that I'm not documenting every little thing my kid is doing, but this isn't her blog.

There are also some real weirdos and general creepers out there that I'd like to protect Ruby from, if at all possible. Maybe I'm overly cautious and overprotective, but raising a child -- especially a daughter -- has made me that way. It's obviously impossible to keep her protected forever, but there are so many situations we (and she alone) might have to deal with in real life that I hardly think adding the online world to the equation is a good idea. I've read so many things about pedophiles sharing innocuous photos of children and stalkers tracking down bloggers (sometimes with violent conclusions) that I am constantly oscillating between the privacy settings on Instagram and considering deleting my Facebook altogether.

The fact that she cannot give consent for me to write about her or post photos of her always weighs on my mind. One day she will be old enough to look at this blog, and I don't want her to feel like her privacy was invaded by her own mother -- and through such a public spectacle. I really try to think of how she would feel about what I write here when it concerns her. Will she think this is funny? Will she find this hurtful?

There are a lot of bloggers who make money through their blogs, and if those blogs are focused on their children then they're making money off of their children. I personally find that really troubling, because the more money you make the more you start to push on your boundaries as a parent. Well, yeah, we'll put her in this dress to advertise your company, because it's a free dress can become Well, yeah, we'll tell this story about her, because we need some content and people come here for her, not us.

I don't make any money on this blog so this isn't really a concern, but many of the more popular blogs I read are making BANK basically by selling photos of their children or family to their audience. When I really think about that it grosses me out. There is certainly a way to write about your children without it feeling like you're exploiting them for clicks, but I don't think very many bloggers are good at it.

Here's where I try to draw my line:
  • I don't share it if it's something I wouldn't tell an acquaintance.
  • I don't share it if it's something my child will potentially be embarrassed about.
  • I don't share it if it's a moment that feels private -- either for me or my child.
  • I don't share it if I have any concerns or questions about if it is appropriate.
My anti-role model.
What are your lines for sharing about your family? Or about yourself? I have similar rules when it comes to sharing about my husband and marriage, but if I didn't share anything embarrassing about myself I'd probably have nothing to talk about.

Monday, April 7, 2014

5 Ways to Find Blogs You Like

Let's take a moment to bow to the prettiness of this graphic. // Original image located here.
I've been reading blogs for a long, long time. Like Livejournal and Diaryland were popular when I started reading blogs only no one called them blogs... they called them journals. But there are millions of blogs out there (literally)! Finding the "right" blog to read can feel overwhelming in the same way it feels overwhelming to find a single book to begin reading in a sea of over a hundred million books. So I thought I'd make a little list of the steps I take to find blogs that I'm interested in reading.

{ understand what you want from a blog }

Before you can find blogs you want to read, you have to know what you want to read about (and that it will change over time). Do you value writing style and personality over pretty photographs? There are blogs that focus on that. Do you value words of wisdom about life over lists of what people do in a day? There are blogs that focus on that. Is there an issue or topic you're especially interested in learning about? There are blogs that focus on that.

 

{ google that }

Say you want to read a fashion blog about Muslim women who wear a hijab. That's a really specific type of blog you're probably not going to stumble on without looking for it. And that's just it: if you know what you want to read, you need to search for it. So let me Google that for you. Then the only thing you need to do is go to a few links on the first page, and you're going to find several bloggers who are blogging about exactly what you're interested in.

Another (maybe better) way of looking for blogs is to use Google's blog search.

Not sure what you want to read about? Go back to the first step.

 

  { look at the comments of blogs you like }

Here's the thing: you only need to find one blog you really like by searching through Google. You might not even need to do that; you might already have a blog you read and love. If that's the case then great! You've done the hard part.

The easy part is going to the comments section and visiting the people who are commenting on your favorite blogs. These are people who have similar interests to you and your favorite blogger, which means they might also blog in a way or on a topic that you're interested in. It might take going to 25 blogs to find a single blog you love, but you can look at the comments on each of these blogs to find more. It's a time commitment, but you aren't going to find blogs you enjoy reading without doing the work to search for them.

Blogrolls are also a great way to find blogs that your favorite blogger reads, but I've noticed that blogrolls are slowly disappearing as blogs become more about making money and less about community.
 

{  use a reader for suggestions }

Are you using a reader? There are a ton of them available, but I personally use Bloglovin, because it gives me recommendations of other blogs to read based on the blogs I currently read. Sometimes those recommendations are way off, but I have found several blogs that are currently on my blogroll through Bloglovin's suggestions.

 

{ ask for the content you want or where to find it }

Sometimes I read blogs that I really like, but the one thing I really want to read about from their perspective is nowhere on their blog. For example, I'm really interested in reading about people who have converted to Catholicism as adults. I've found several blogs on that topic, but not all of them write about their conversion experience on their blog. Asking a blogger if they've written about something or if they can write about something in the future is a great way to get the content you want. I've done this a number of times, and bloggers have generally responded by writing about the topic I mentioned. A couple of others have emailed me to speak more candidly about things than they feel comfortable doing on their blogs.

It doesn't doesn't hurt to ask (nicely!) if they know of any other blogs or books that grapple with topics the blogger is writing about. I've found some really amazing writing through asking bloggers for their recommendations.

 

{ bonus tips }

  • Check out link-ups. There are link-ups on everything from fashion to recipes, and they're a great way to find a ton of like-minded people to read about in a single place. Just figure out a link-up topic you're interested in and Google that.
  • Help readers find you. Become engaged in the blogging community by commenting on the blogs you're interested in, and readers who like your writing will find you. That doesn't always mean you'll like their writing, but they're not interested in what you're saying for no reason.
  • Look at the blogs without a lot of followers.  Just because a blog is popular does not mean you're going to like it. I've found that some of my favorite blogs have less than a hundred followers, and only a couple of comments per post.

If you have other suggestions on finding blogs you're interested in please share them in the comments below.