Friday, September 30, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 30

List 10 things you would hope to be remembered for.
  1. Kindness.
  2. Being a good mom.
  3. My creativity.
  4. Happily married.
  5. Being open-minded.
  6. A sense of humor.
  7. My millions of dollars worth of hats.
  8. Being my truest muggle self.
  9. Good skills, like nunchuck skills, bow hunting skills...
  10. Making "fetch" happen.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 29

What do you think people misunderstand most about you?

Many people think I'm much younger than I am. It comes as a "huge" surprise to them when they learn I'm not 18-20, have been married nearly a decade, and have three children. It's a flattering assumption in most cases. However, I'm not taken as seriously because "she's so young, what does she know?"

I don't like talking to people, which comes off as rude. I'm an introvert with mild social anxiety and enjoy silence. I will carry a conversation if it's something I'm interested in, but inside, I'm having a tiny panic attack and the conversation dwindles. I'm working on it, though. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 28

What is your love language?

Zac and I have always loved quality time with each other more than anything else. Even now, with three children, we make time to just sit next to each other and watch a movie or play WoW, or hang out in the same room while we're with the kids. Zac will play a card game on the floor with the big kids while I read in a chair with Elias. We've never put a lot of effort into coming up with conversation, as we already know all there is to know about each other. I know what he does at work, so there's no real need to ask how his day was, and vice versa with me staying at home with the kids.  Neither of us really like small talk. I love that we can sit quietly in each other's company and enjoy a comfortable silence.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 27

What is your favorite part of your body and why?

I've always liked my eyes. I usually only dress them up if I wear any makeup. The eyes are the windows to the soul.

Monday, September 26, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 26

What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?

I think the world puts too much effort into telling people what is and isn't physically beautiful. There is beauty in everyone and everything, not everyone sees it. What I hate is how every year, these same people who think a thigh gap is attractive, come back and say thick thighs are now attractive. Eyebrows go from pencil thin to dramatically thick so often, I can't keep up. My eyebrows have been tweezed so much over the years, they grow back sparsely and are best left thin. My waist will never be like it was before I had babies. I love food too much. My thighs will always touch. They kinda have to in order to support the sizeable backside I've been dealt (thanks, Mom). My postpartum belly will remain soft and stretched out, no matter how many sit-ups or crunches I attempt. I'm sure my body is not "appropriate" in the eyes of the world, but it's mine. In the end, it won't matter. I don't want to be remembered for having toned abs and beach legs, especially by my kids. I want my children to remember me swimming with them in the pool or the ocean, not sitting on the side because I don't like how my body looks in a swim suit. I want them to remember pizza night and ice cream Sundays, caramel apples, and taco Tuesdays. They don't need to see me step on a scale to see how heavy I am today, or feel bad for eating a second or third cookie because I won't. We have one life. We need to enjoy it without the world telling us we shouldn't because it's "ugly".

Sunday, September 25, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 25

If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?

I've mentioned in a number of posts that I adore Shirley Manson, so I'll toss out my Pokéball and choose her. Most likely we would pick Mexican food, clink our margaritas together, and dive right in.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 24

Describe your family dynamic of your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.

My childhood:

My dad was never really affectionate. I remember he used to be more strict with Carlton than with us girls. If Emily and I didn't pick our toys up within a certain amount of time, he'd come into our room with a garbage bag and whatever was left on the floor was put into the bag and put outside. I lost a lot of McDonald's Happy Meal toys that way (Oliver and Company, The Little Mermaid, etc.). Emily and I learned to just not make a mess and play outside instead.
We never went to the zoo or the aquarium because "too hot, too many people, and you can see those animals on TV." He worked across the lake in New Orleans, but would be gone for 12 hours. I would see him from around 6:30pm until about 8pm every weeknight, but there was no real conversation. He'd get home, eat, have an argument with Mom, and go to bed. On the weekends, he mowed the grass or ran errands, or went hunting, or played with tools in the garage. Sometimes, if he was in a good mood, he'd take Emily and me to the gas station to pick out some candy. One of the only positive things I can say about Dad is that I could tell him anything and could trust that he wouldn't tell anybody.

Mom worked a lot. I don't really remember her doing much with us growing up. She never painted my nails or showed me how to put on makeup or taught me to cook. I remember she was depressed a long time, a few years maybe. She would lay in Carlton's bed and drink Cherry Coke while playing Super Mario World on his Nintendo. She had migraines a lot, as well. Sometimes, usually on a weekend, Mom would make junk food with Emily and me. I'd pull the piano bench to the sofa and set cheese dip, cocktail wieners, and meatballs on it buffet style. We'd pick a movie and sit and watch it. When I got to high school age, Mom started letting Emily and I stay up late with her on Friday nights to watch Friends and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air on TV.

Karen and I didn't develop a relationship until I was an adult. She would bring Krystal over for Thanksgiving or we'd see her at Gommie and Dandy's for Christmas, but it wasn't often. I think I only went to one or two of Krystal's birthday parties.

Meredith was bossy. So, so, so bossy. When she was left in charge of us, Carlton would go next door to see his friends and Meredith would have Emily and me clean the house. We washed dishes, vacuumed, and dusted while she sat on the sofa reading a magazine or watching soap operas. But when my parents would come home, she would take all the credit for cleaning. She babied Emily to pieces. Everything Emily did was so cute. I would see her painting Emily's nails or brushing her hair, but she never offered to do mine or would tell me she didn't have time or didn't feel like it if I asked.

Carlton was terribly mean to me when we were kids. I was never allowed in his room, but Emily was. He would pass me in the hallway and grab my arm, digging his nails into my skin. I would tell my parents and show them the marks, but he would say I did it to myself to get him in trouble and they would punish me for "lying". He would spit on me in the car or pull my hair since he would always sit behind me. If we went somewhere in the smaller car, I would be stuck next to him and he would pinch me over and over again. I tried to avoid him, but he would come after me on purpose. One time, he was bothering me in the kitchen, and I guess I snapped, so I grabbed this giant butcher's knife from the counter and held it out at him. I was shaking and upset and just so angry that he was bullying me. He laughed at me and I burst into tears and ran to my room. He came after me, of course, and was laughing while apologizing, "Aw, don't be mad, it was just a joke!" I think I responded with something along the lines of, "I fucking hate you!" It was a relief when he moved to college.

Emily was my best friend. She drove me crazy and got me into trouble, but our relationship was so strong growing up. We shared secrets, talked about boys, went to the movies together, and generally enjoyed each other's company. People at church thought it was so weird that we were as close as we were, especially as sisters. We used to pretend we were Jillian and Sally from Practical Magic because we could relate to them.

* * * * *

My adulthood:

Dad still doesn't like his current life. He wants to move out into a nursing home or into a little studio apartment. The thing is, he needs us. If we don't cook, he doesn't eat. He doesn't think to make a sandwich or ask us to make something. Zac will cook dinner sometimes and Dad will head to bed. Unless we place a plate of food in Dad's lap, he will go hungry. We dragged him to Disney World, despite him not wanting to go, and he had so much fun. He doesn't remember it because he was so focused on how long it took to get there and back. The same was for our Tennessee trip. He had fun and even talked about moving to the mountains after Mom retires, but he hated the drive. He just spends time in his chair now, watching TV and napping. He doesn't remember what he does day to day. He tells the same stories over and over, and he's just so mean these days. We used to have a really good relationship, but now, it's just different.

Mom basically went crazy once she started going to to nursing school. She became a stressed out mess, always in a rush, always emotional, always at the end of her rope. If anyone has a problem, she turns it into her own story of "well, you don't work as hard as I do" or "if you think you had a hard day, let me tell you about my day". My lack of "empathy" makes her crazier and we butt heads a lot. I try to be nice to her, do things for her, or act polite, but I don't do it right (according to her). If I say "thank you", she doesn't think I mean it. If I apologize, I "didn't word it correctly." So it's pointless to try. I nod and get through each day as quietly and without confrontation as possible in order to have a pleasant encounter. Don't get me wrong, there are a few good times now and then, but they are few and far between.

Karen and I started forming a relationship when we were planning our Disney trip back in 2014. We started talking more and it was just nice getting to know her. I know she had a hard childhood because Dad was much more strict with her than he was with Emily and me. She loves Disney more than I do (which is a lot), and loves her animals the way I love my kids (also a lot). I think if we were closer in age, we'd have been close like Emily and I were.

Meredith and I have a weird relationship now. Our kids get along great together, but I can't tell if she likes me or likes being around me or not. I visited her at college a few times, but she fretted over my makeup too much, always trying to dress me like her because whatever I liked to wear "embarrassed" her. One time, I was staying at her house and we went to the grocery store together. I was wearing a spaghetti-strap tank top with a pair of jeans. She saw someone she knew and based on how I was dressed, she had me wait in the car so the person didn't see her with me. She doesn't like my tattoos, but sometimes I wonder if she may want tattoos for herself but won't get them because she's a pastor's wife and is holding herself to a particular image. She's a people-pleaser and knows how to comfortably hold conversations, something I've never been good at. She's also a great mom. I always thought any kids she had would be brats because in my experience with pastor's children, they were all atrocious. Her kids are pretty awesome.

My relationship with Carlton is awkward, to put it nicely. It's weird to be around him, strange to hug him, and he's got three of the most challenging kids I've ever met. His life choices make it difficult for me to respect him as a person. He apologized for my childhood torment a few years ago, but I get flashbacks when I'm with him. There are just too many wounds and not enough bandages.

Emily and I have had our ups and downs, but she's a good sister. She tries to be there for me when she can, which is more often than not. We usually make up easily because we don't like being mad at each other. Mom sometimes tampers with our relationship with exaggerated versions of things Emily or I say to her and we have to go back and fix it. I do feel sad that she never wanted kids of her own so my kids could have blood-cousins, but it just wasn't something she wanted. She's a good aunt to my kids, though. They love her to pieces and enjoy her when she visits.

Friday, September 23, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 23

List your top five hobbies and why you love them.

I listed my five passions on Day 8. My hobbies are my passions.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 22

Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years? Fifteen years?

In five years, I want to go to Paris. I've been studying French and hope to be nearly fluent by then, enough to get around comfortably. I hope to have a second car, and maybe have our own home in the mountains. Zac thinks we'll probably go on our first cruise, just us, by then (even though I want to bring the kids).

In ten years, I want to be living up north. I want to be efficient in gardening and canning, and have a number of chickens.

In fifteen years, the kids will be grown. The current pets may no longer be with us. I want to travel or have traveled a bit by then. I might even be a grandma.

* * * * *
Happy Autumn! I'm going to probably overdose on pumpkins and that will be just fine.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 21

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and what would you do with it first?

I suppose if I had to choose a superpower, the ability to fly peaks my interest more than, I suppose, invisibility or teleportation. Though, I'd have to figure out how I fly. Would I be able to carry a bag of clothing or belongings? Would I be able to carry a child or groceries? But, of course I would because why not?

If I could fly, the first thing I would do would be to take a trip across the ocean, all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Being above the ocean would probably freak me out, but I can fly, so all is well. Maybe I could swoop down and touch a few waves. It would be the most fun way to get to Paris.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 20

Describe three significant memories from childhood.

My most favorite memories of childhood happened with Daina. Even though we drifted apart as we got older and made lives of our own, she was my best friend and I'll always be grateful to have made the memories with her. I've got so many memories, but I'll try to pick just three.

I remember meeting Daina when I was probably four or five years old. I was sitting in our den, probably playing with a few McDonald's Happy Meal toys when a woman with white-blonde hair and golden-brown skin knocked on our front door. It was always weird to me when people knocked on the front door. They would have to park at the front of the driveway by the old metal gate instead of pulling all the way to the end by the garage to knock on our back door by the kitchen. Mom invited her and her little girl in. Daina, I remember, was shy. She hid behind her mom's leg, peeking around to look at Emily and me. She had red hair! I had never seen a kid with red hair before. Ms. Sue introduced herself and Daina. "I was driving by and saw two little girls who lived here around Daina's age. Maybe they could play together sometime." She told us we were welcome to come by anytime. She had a swimming pool and a trampoline, as well as a barn with horses, chickens, goats, and a few ducks.

A few days after the introduction, all I wanted to do was go play with Daina. My parents were weird about it since Ms. Sue "probably smoked" or "probably didn't go to church". Lots of meaningless probabys to me. I wanted to be friends with Daina. My parents relented and let us go to her house to play. Emily and I would play outside and wait for the school bus to pass behind our house. Daina would wave and shout for us to come over, so we would run inside, put on our swimsuits, grab a change of clothes, and run down the long, paved road to her house (barefoot!). Some days it would be so hot, our feet would get blistered. We would stop on the shady patches of road made by the overhanging trees to cool our feet before running again. Looking back, I don't know why we never put our shoes on.

Daina lived in a mobile home when we first met. She shared a room with her older sister, Sherry, and used the second bedroom as a playroom. She had so many toys, we could barely move in the room, but we would sit and play with Barbie Dolls for hours. We spent a lot of time in the swimming pool, or jumping on the trampoline, singing as many Disney songs we could remember (a lot). Her mom made the best pancakes in the morning.

In middle school, Daina moved to Picayune (about an hour and a half from where we lived in Pearl River) into a house her mom designed. I was so sad when she left, even though I still got to see her on the weekends when I would sleep over at her house or she would come to mine. She had her own bathroom, plus a bigger area of land for her animals. She had cows, a mule, and a pony by then, as well as a feisty bull. I remember when we wanted to go play in the woods across the pasture, we had to climb the fence and run like hell because the bull would sometimes chase us. We were idiots, but it was exciting. 

Daina was the only kid my age who had a four-wheeler. When she got it for a birthday (I think?) she invited me to her house to ride on it. She would drive us down the super long dirt road from her house to the highway, then back again. Sometimes she'd ride through the pasture, making sure to run through all the cow patties she could find. So gross! Riding through the woods was my favorite, even in the rain.

One of my favorite memories was when Ms. Sue would invite me to go camping with them. She had a cabin that was high off the ground with huge windows. There was a kingsized bunk bed and a wood-burning fireplace, but no bathroom. Daina and I would walk through the woods to the creek to do our business (I think she loved it far more than normal). When it would rain, we'd play board games or play house (if we brought our baby dolls). At night, her dad would grill hot dogs or burgers. Daina sometimes invited another friend along, but I never minded because I got along with her friends. Sometimes they made me feel less afraid to try new things, like swinging from a rope attached to a branch of a tree at the top of a steep slope and splashing into the murky, brown creek. Sometimes we would bring flashlights and walk through the campsite after dark and try to scare each other with stories or "what ifs". During the day, we'd ride horseback down trails. Sometimes, I rode with Daina, sometimes I rode alone, but I was never nervous.

Daina taught me how to put on makeup, something Mom and Meredith never did. She showed me how to tweeze my eyebrows and apply mascara without getting it clumpy, as well as how to dress with style, and paint my nails neatly. It was so much fun getting ready to go to the movies or to the mall with her. She would sometimes do my makeup for me or let me borrow some of her clothes or shoes. And so much GLITTER. I had so much fun growing up because of her.

Monday, September 19, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 19

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?

I used to think I wanted to live on the beach. Listening to the waves at night, collecting seashells by day, and enjoying all the seafood I could imagine. But, I started thinking about how much the salt water ruins my hair, the sun isn't good for one in large doses, and dealing with sand in an apartment or house all the time is just annoying. I do love visiting the beach, but I can't see myself staying more than a few days.

I have always wanted to live in the mountains. Ever since Zac and I evacuated to Tennessee during Hurricane Katrina, the mountains felt like home. I loved the view, the air, everything. When we went to Gatlinburg a few weeks ago, it was all I could do not to cry when we packed up and came back to Mississippi. While I may not want to move strictly to Tennessee, I do want to move to the mountains. Wyoming is beautiful, as is Montana. A place like that would be so perfect for us. Zac thinks we have plenty of time, but I'm in my 30s and I don't want to find our home when I'm too old to enjoy it. We're toying with the idea of a road trip next year, but have no immediate plans to move, though I can't promise I won't look for work (haha).

Sunday, September 18, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 18

What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?

There have been a few things, but I try not to hold grudges. I won't name names, just in case.

Person One stole money from Zac and I for a fake supposed-to-be-reimbursed trip. Her behavior was a shock as we were so close for years. I had to let it go and learn a lesson that people lie and can't be trusted. I'm almost sure of where she is now, but it's been so long, it's not worth the effort to seek her out for punishment. Karma will deal with her in due time. I've forgiven her, but it took a long time.

Person Two had a drug problem and stole pain pills from us after James had his tonsils removed. She had to go looking for them with effort because I hid them. She also stole alcoholic beverages and would lie about it. She's now in rehab and doing well, has been sober for quite a while, and we're working on our relationship. It's still difficult to trust her, but we're getting there. I forgave her, but can't fully get us back like we used to be until she proves herself.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 17

What is the thing you most wish you were great at?

I wish I could be great at coming up with unique ideas, like painting or story-telling. I follow so many creative people on Instagram and wonder why didn't I think of that? Sometimes it bums me out, but there are times when I feel inspired by them to create my own take of a project.

Cooking would also be something I'd like to be great at. It's amazing how people on TV shows like Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen just know what to throw together. I'm sure they've taken cooking courses and have professional jobs, but it just fascinates me how creative the chefs are.

Friday, September 16, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 16

What are your five greatest accomplishments?

Giving up cigarettes was the hardest thing I ever had to change about myself. I smoked from age 11 to 25 (stopping while pregnant and breastfeeding, of course). I tried to quit multiple times over the years, but always found my way back to them. However, on New Year's Eve 2009, I smoked my last cigarette and never picked one up again. It's been nearly 7 years and I don't miss them.

I struggled with an eating disorder and self-harm in middle school through high school. I was severely depressed and trying to find a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. I started blogging as a way to cope, but realized I was saving all the negative energy by writing about it. I decided to start over and created this blog to focus on all the positive things that go on in my life. It's worked. After about a year, I didn't feel depressed anymore. I'm not saying blogging will work for everyone, but it helped me immensely.

One of my favorite accomplishments is becoming a mom. It's cliché, but it's true. I always wanted to be a mom and after being devastated by two different doctors who told me I would never have a baby due to PCOS, I'm truly blessed that I have brought three into this world. I can't imagine my life without them.

I taught myself how to cook and have come to enjoy it. Growing up, I never had the experience of being in the kitchen with Mom and a grandma or aunt, helping or being taught anything. After Zac and I started living together, we started learning together. Neither of us wanted to live on Ramen noodles or macaroni, so we started cooking together. I'll admit, he's a much better cook than I am, but my confidence has definitely grown and I've been getting the kids involved.

My last accomplishment is homeschooling. I was homeschooled, which I both liked and disliked. When James was reaching his Kindergarten age, I felt panic at the thought of him being away by himself, learning new things that I could teach him, and not being there. He's my first baby and it was a huge change for me. Zac convinced me to enroll him, so I did. James didn't make friends and was bullied most of the time both in the classroom and on the bus. I had parent-teacher meetings to find the root of the problems, but nothing changed. He had allergies and overactive tonsils, so his weekends were spent in the emergency room or at the doctor's office. He was miserable at school and didn't want to go back. Once the school year finished, I researched homeschool curriculums and picked the one I was raised on. I don't agree with the gender stereotypes and the overly religious subject matter, but the teaching procedure is easy to follow and easy to explain. I love the leniency of making my own schedules, planning vacations, and taking days off throughout the year. I love being able to wake and make breakfast without rushing around filling lunch boxes. Sure, I have days where I wonder what I was thinking, but those are very few. I love relearning the grammar terms and math techniques. The quality time is wonderful, as well.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 15

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

As much as I love foxes, I think I'd be an owl. The ability to fly would be so useful. I would have amazing vision, could swoop down and catch food, and creep humans out by hooting in the dark. And laying eggs would be much easier than pushing out a live baby.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 14

Describe five strengths you have.

I'm open-minded. Growing up, my parents tried to teach me the way they believed based on the Christian religion. I never agreed with it. I didn't like judging people based on what God thinks. I'm pro-choice, pro-marriage of all types, and supportive of the LGBTQ community.

I avoid confrontation or try to get through it the easiest way possible. When I worked, sometimes there would be an issue with a customer. My best defense was to apologize profusely and give them cavities with my over-the-top sweetness. This was also one of my weaknesses as being passive. It worked, though. Kindness in the face of aggression is the best defense.

I think I'm creative. I like coming up with new ideas, be it homeschooling differently or finding a new way to rearrange furniture, or even decorate. Sometimes I help the kids find a way to use their imagination with their toys by making up a story for them.

Having a sense of humor is important. Being able to laugh at oneself or not take everything serious is something I'm trying to encourage my kids to do. Since I watch a lot of TV (it's usually in the background), I find myself using random quotes in every day situations, which helps make being awkward more pleasant. My favorite quotes come from The Office, Friends, or movies like Young Frankenstein.

I'm realistic (nowadays). I don't "try to keep my hopes up" or "think positive" because that leads to more disappointment in the event whatever I'm hoping for doesn't work out. It keeps me prepared. If I try to drive somewhere new, I expect to mess up or get lost, just in case. If my GPS doesn't fuck up, I feel relieved and happy for myself. If I make a wrong turn, I've already expected it to happen, so I don't freak out. The same goes for trying to draw something outside my comfort zone or crochet an unfamiliar pattern, or attempt a new recipe. I'm prepared.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 13

Describe five weaknesses you have.

I'm a big procrastinator. If I didn't have Zac or one of the kids remind me, I wouldn't be posting every day for this blog challenge. If I have to choose between washing laundry or vacuuming, I choose crochet. I suppose I get overwhelmed when I see the pile of laundry, just sitting there in its basket looking at me. But washing has to be done, so I'll wash more clothes and they are added to the already too-big heap. I'm working on it, though. Most days, I'll make a to-do list. I am better at following a to-do list than just spontaneously cleaning something.

I hate being the center of attention. Having Elias' baby shower was absolutely horrifying (though so very thoughtful and much appreciated) because everyone was looking at me. Even my wedding was awkward and we're planning a vow-renewal next month to do it again. I get super uncomfortable if any attention is brought to me, even if it's something as small as being told "good job".

I don't like small talk. It's boring and something people feel obligated to do. I'll participate because it's the right thing to do, but it's something I'm reluctant to volunteer.

It's hard sticking to a routine. When I was doing Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred, I did it every day for about three weeks. I lost 15 pounds, was fitting in my "skinny" jeans, and had so much endurance compared to my pre-workouts. Then I got my bleeds and stopped for a week. The procrastination happened, the weight came back, and chips never tasted so good. I've been trying to get back into a workout routine, but as a procrastinator, I put it off and before I know it, it's been three months. Three months during which I could be more fit, healthier, toned up, etc. Nobody to blame but me.

I'm passive. When I would go places with friends, they'd ask what I wanted to do and I always responded with "It doesn't matter to me" or "Whatever you want to do" while I really wanted to do something specific. I feel this particular flaw developed during childhood as a middle child. On paydays, Dad would pile us in his "big van" (16-seat vanpool) and we would go to Wendy's for Meredith, Taco Bell for Carlton, and McDonald's for Emily. If I wanted Burger King, I was told to pick a burger from McDonald's or Wendy's. I learned to just say "Up to you" and go along with the plans.

I'm working on some of these weaknesses because I want my children to see that it's okay to say "no" or to say what they really want/think/feel and be honest. I'm trying to teach routine with school and bedtimes, as well as trying not to procrastinate. Getting things done means they don't loom overhead for later. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 12

Describe a typical day in your current life.

Zac's 6:40am alarm starts playing through the radio. For whatever reason, the station is usually on gospel pop, even if we switch it to something alternative. Elias is snuggled between us, his pacifier drooping out of his half-open mouth. I nudge Zac to get him to turn off the alarm before the baby wakes up, then doze back off. Fifteen minutes later, I'm startled by Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat Song" coming from Zac's ok-seriously-time-to-get-up phone alarm. Once again, I nudge Zac until he turns it off.

Zac quietly gets ready for work, kisses me goodbye and whispers "I love you", and heads downstairs to have his coffee. He's gone from 7:30am until 6pm. Meanwhile, I'm debating whether or not to roll over and sleep a little longer or read the news and scroll through Instagram on my phone (a trick that helps me wake up). Nine times out of ten, I go back to sleep. The other time is when Elias wakes up and wants to stand up and pat the wall or lay on my face, pull my hair, poke my nose, attempt to remove my earrings, or poop (in which case I have to get up to change him). Sometimes, I'll take pictures of us in the morning.

I brush my teeth (and Elias'), head downstairs, put Elias in his high chair, and make myself a cup of tea. My big kids are sometimes still asleep or James will be awake and watching TV while Leah remains in her bed. On the chance they're both up, I make pancakes or we eat cereal or toast together. I clean the kitchen a bit and load the dishwasher so I won't be overwhelmed with dishes later in the evening.

We head downstairs to the sun room after breakfast, usually around 10:30, and I get Elias settled in his playpen with a few toys. James cleans out the litter box and feeds Fig while Leah lets Toby and Ruby outside and puts food in their dishes. I get my teacher books together, turning to the current lesson number, then we get started on school. During this time, I crochet or listen to an audio book under an earpiece, sometimes I play on my ukulele or read through blogs on my computer. On a good day, the kids finish their lessons around 1pm. They put all their books away, I check over tests or quizzes, and we eat lunch. On a not-good-day, we take a break around 1pm to have lunch or a snack, then continue until 2 or 3pm. After school, James and Leah play outside or we watch a movie together. Elias usually falls asleep in his playpen while we're doing lessons and he sleeps about an hour or two.

I start cooking dinner around 4:30 so it will be ready when Mom wakes up and Zac gets home. Sometimes, I won't cook and Zac will pick something up on his way home. At 6, Mom gets her food and heads to work and Dad heads to bed, so Zac and I have dinner with our kids, just us. I prefer it this way as the quality time is important to me.

Big kids get their baths around 7. Since we have two bathrooms upstairs, they've started racing each other to see who bathes the fastest. Zac showers after they're done and he'll sometimes bring Elias in there to bathe him as well, or I'll do it on my turn. Elias loves the shower more than the tub, which is funny because the shower freaks Leah out. I picked out a book called The Candymakers* by Wendy Mass when we were at the Renaissance and I've been reading them a chapter a night. After I read, they brush their teeth and go to bed. Zac prepares a bottle, I feed Elias and rock him upstairs until he falls asleep, then lay him in his crib. I check on James and Leah to make sure they're tucked in, then head back downstairs with the baby monitor.

Zac prepares his coffee for the next day and I brew our Sleepy Time Tea, then we spend the next hour or so playing WoW or watching a few episodes of a show on Netflix. Lately we've been watching  Stranger Things. Zac lets the dogs out one last time and we head upstairs to bed around 11. We'll watch a few YouTube videos or look at funny pictures, then we go to sleep. Elias will usually wake up around 3am and I'll go get him and put him in our bed for the rest of the night.

*The Candymakers is actually a pretty cute story, but the details are crazy elaborate and it takes a long time to get through the chapters. The kids are enjoying it, though. To quote the back cover description: At the "Life is Sweet" candy factory, Logan, Miles, Daisy, and Philip are about to compete in the national candy making competition of a lifetime. Who will make a candy more delicious than the Oozing Crunchorama or the Neon Yellow-Lightning Chew? The contestants face off in a battle of wits and sugar, but soon they realize that things are not what they seem, and they find themselves in a candy-filled world of surprises, suspense, and mouthwatering creations.

* * * * *

I have a torn ligament in my knee as of today, so my routine is going to be much different for the next six or eight weeks. I'm using crutches for the first time and the stairs are a challenge worth crying over. As of now, I'm probably going to be staying upstairs and the big kids said they'd help me with whatever they can as far as getting diapers or bringing me something to eat from downstairs. Zac is going to buy me a few easy things to keep upstairs so I won't hurt myself by making trips to the kitchen. I feel pathetic and a little embarrassed that this has happened, but the pain is something I've never experienced.

Friday, I tried to push Zac's motorcycle over a little in order to reach a table in the garage. I guess I put too much force on my knee? It didn't hurt, I didn't feel anything, but I did have a cramp in my stomach from the strain. That pain went away after a few hours. On Saturday, I was having trouble bending my knee, but it wasn't painful. I could go up the stairs without much trouble. The worst was it felt annoying and uncomfortable. Last night, I woke up to use the bathroom and could not walk. The pain was so intense, I cried out. I couldn't sleep, the pain just stayed without easing up. I tried my best to make it down the stairs (picture a mermaid) and started sobbing. Zac took the day off work to bring me to the emergency room this morning. My parents were fretting, something they haven't done since I was little. Both trying to help me get to the car, or get my balance. It was kinda cute.

The x-ray didn't show any major damage, but the swelling was so bad the nurse couldn't examine me without me blacking out from pain (her words, not mine). She prescribed some pain medicine and advised us to buy a immobilizing knee brace and crutches. So, now I take it easy and heal.

In other news, I'm a great-aunt once again. My tiniest great-niece, Piper, was born early this morning.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 11

Describe 10 pet peeves you have.

Only ten? (LOL). This will be tricky narrowing down my original list to only ten things...
  1. Women who smoke while pregnant.
  2. People who chew with their mouths open.
  3. People who force their opinions on others.
  4. Rude people.
  5. The movie Home (Jesus, it was the worst ever).
  6. People who feel they're entitled to special treatment.
  7. Ray Liotta's face Arrogance.
  8. People in general.
  9. Unsolicited advice.
  10. Bigotry and hate in the name of religion.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 10

Describe your most embarrassing moment.

I don't embarrass easily, though I do blush severely. However, I did experience a lovely moment a few weeks ago.

I was going to Walmart to pick up a few things, so I left the big kids at home with Dad and brought Elias with me (this was before we got our AC fixed). When I arrived to the parking lot, it started to rain. I had to roll my windows up and deal with awful mugginess. Since the umbrella was in the trunk, I crawled to the back seat and reached through the middle section to pull it through. I got out, pulled an empty shopping cart to the car and, while holding the umbrella in the crook of my arm, unbuckled Elias to get him in the cart. I held the umbrella over his head while I tried to jog to the doors. The rain was getting heavier and I was worried my freshly-dyed hair was going to start bleeding down my face. For some reason, the wind picked up while I was trotting and my umbrella blew inside out. I couldn't fix it, so I dragged it along while I tried to get in the store. Then my skirt fell down to my ankles. People saw. It was weird.

I ended up buying a new umbrella and my hair only bled a little.

Friday, September 9, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 9

List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how.

I have to list ten? I honestly can barely think more than one.

Shirley Manson (because duh). We're both middle kids, both struggled with our self-esteem, childhood, and being comfortable in our own skin. I was around 15 or 16 when I discovered Garbage and got hooked on their music. The lyrics spoke to me. I felt like I was reading my own stories. I was a severely depressed teen, dealing with unrequited love, self-inflicted injuries, etc. Shirley pulled me out of some dark times. She inspired me with a quote, "I say embrace the total geek in yourself and just enjoy it. Life is too short to be cool." Life is too short and dwelling on what other people think is exhausting. I shouldn't have to change my tastes or personality to please others, so I don't. I learned to be open-minded, something I didn't grow up with, as well as being honest with my feelings.

As for the other nine? I really don't know that many people who I think inspire me. I admire them, sure. But inspiration is something else.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 8

What are five passions you have?

I love crocheting. When Jessie encouraged me to take up knitting, I learned how through YouTube. However, having two small children at the time made knitting stressful. Curious hands would pull my needles from my work and I would have to start over completely, or cry quietly out of frustration when I couldn't put all my loops of yarn back onto the needles correctly. I gave up on knitting, but had so many skeins of yarn in a box waiting to be made into something. I YouTube'd "How to crochet" and fell in love. It's almost therapeutic. The rhythm is easy and mistakes are easily mended. It's my most favorite hobby.

I enjoy drawing, though lack the ability to come up with my own creative designs. I started drawing when I could hold a pencil. My favorite subject is people and faces. Many of my drawings from childhood are of models in magazine ads. Over the years, I've improved, but lately I haven't made the effort to sit and draw something out.

A few years ago, Zac bought me my first ukulele. I spent a few years in my early childhood learning to play the piano. I wish I stuck with it, but wanted to quit and have forgotten nearly everything I learned. My friend, Patty, posted a video of herself on Twitter playing a ukulele to "Creep" by Radiohead and she told me to give it a try. I jumped in and learned chords online, learned strumming techniques via YouTube, and memorized a few songs.

Reading has always been a favorite pastime. In high school, I worked in the mall and would spend my lunch breaks at the book store. I would have to set a timer or I would lose myself in a book and be late for the rest of my shift. I recently started picking up where I left off on my book list since Elias can entertain himself. There is a lot of catching up to do, but I'm slowly getting there. I've been opting for audio books lately as they're more convenient.

My blog is important to me. My entire life (currently) is in here from meeting my husband, having children, obtaining pets, etc. Everything is in here. While it's not a popular blog like the ones I follow, it's mine. I love that I can look back and read old entries and see my babies when they were babies. I hope to one day turn it into something that my kids can read to their kids.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 7

What is your dream job and why?

I honestly never saw myself doing anything huge with my life. In the past, I considered doing something artistic, like creating props for plays or maybe teaching art. I thought about psychology, and even studied it a bit in college, but it didn't feel right. Recently, I started thinking about journalism or architecture, or even interior design. I've got a lot of idea bubbles, but don't know which one to pop. I think, on some level, I would like to work from home doing something I love. Selling crochet projects or customized paintings would be ideal. I just need to put my toe in the water.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 6

What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?

My miscarriage. It happened in 2013, but I wrote about it here two years later.

Monday, September 5, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 5

What are the 5 things that make you most happy right now?
  1. When Zac gets an extra day off work. We stayed up late last night and watched The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 in bed, or most of it before he started dozing off and Elias joined us for the night.
  2. Rainy nights. I can hear it pattering on the windows and it's quite relaxing. I'm tempted to start up some chamomile tea and get cozy on the sofa with the pets.
  3. I'm working on three crochet projects and my wreath will be finished tomorrow. Emily's blanket should be done this week, hopefully before her birthday on Saturday. The third is the rainbow blanket and it's almost halfway finished. I need to buy about six more skeins of yarn for it.
  4. I fixed up my bathroom. The towels now have a shelf to rest on instead of a laundry basket.
  5. We're in September, which means autumn approaches and cooler weather awaits.
* * * * *

I've been loving my spot by the window to crochet. Around noon, the sun shines through just right to illuminate all the colors on my rainbow blanket. I do get annoyed, however, when a certain furry cat decides to play with my yarn while I'm working (and when I'm not) and ends up tangling himself up into a mess of string that I have to fix.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 4

List 10 things you would tell your 16-year-old self if you could.
  1. M is not the one.
  2. Never lend anyone money.
  3. Work work work work work. Full-time. You'll be glad you did.
  4. Learn French.
  5. Save.
  6. Travel. Go to Europe.
  7. Break off that friendship.
  8. Stop smoking now. Don't wait.
  9. Eat better. Work out. Get a routine.
  10. Elope
* * * * *

Today, Zac took us on an all-day adventure. We went to the movies to see Kubo, which was really good. The music was nice and I liked the story. I loved the animation as well. We saw it in 3D and I was surprised Elias wore the glasses as long as he did before he fell asleep. It was his first movie and he was so good. We headed to PetsMart and bought collars for the dogs and looked at the fish and birds. James is dying for a new Betta fish. I wouldn't mind having one either, but we're waiting until Fig is older. It'd be nice to have an aquarium in the sun room. After PetsMart, we went to Fernando's for dinner. It's still amazing to me that we've been going to this same restaurant since James was a newborn. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 3

Describe your relationship with your parents.*

Growing up, I never really had the best relationship with my parents. I wanted a relationship with my mother the way most girls my age had with theirs. It just wasn't in the cards for me. I never could confide in her without her telling someone. I couldn't complain about whatever teenage drama was happening to me without her flipping it around to talk about her own stories. I couldn't talk about sex or drugs or love, etc. because she would either get weird and want a lot of details (and then tell my dad all about it and I'd get grounded), or she would tell me she didn't have time to talk and we'd never touch the subject again. The same is true today. I still can't talk to her about anything because it becomes about her, regardless of what it is, or she minimizes it. When I was raped, she told me "You just wanted a reason to cheat on [ex-boyfriend]." When I miscarried, she told me "Well, it was probably a girl and you keep saying you want another boy...". But telling her she said any of those things makes her mad and she claims I "dreamed it up" just to be cruel to her.

My dad, before he started having memory loss, was someone I could talk to and trust with secret information. He would listen quietly, occasionally offering a piece of advice, and I knew he wouldn't tell Mom. However, when Mom learned I had been confiding in Dad instead of her, she threw a fit and told him since they were married, they weren't to keep secrets from each other. It was the last I could go to him for consolation or guidance.

It's lonely, in a way, to not be able to go to my parents for aid or encouragement. At the same time, it taught me how not to be for my own children. I want them to have a relationship with me where they can trust me and confide in me without being judged or insulted or laughed at.

*My parents aren't all bad, but I've come to terms with them as they are and my relationship with them is just going to lack the typical parent-child intimacy.

Friday, September 2, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 2

Describe 3 legitimate fears you have and explain how they became fears.

Um... there have been times in real life when I've mentioned a fear or two and someone intentionally tried to scare me with said fear. I don't know how I feel about this.

I don't like bugs. Some bugs are okay, but most bugs can fuck off. I don't like going outside at night because I worry a bug will get in my hair or bite/sting/try to murder me. I used to go camping as a kid with one of my old childhood girlfriends and the bugs didn't bother me. I think the bug-fear happened sometime in high school but I'm not sure what triggered it. Roaches are the worst.

Cotton balls freak me out. I don't like touching them or having them touch me. When I was pregnant, the nurse would prick my finger and bandage me with a cotton ball wrapped in a bandage. I don't like the sound they make if they're rubbed. #nothankyou #gooddaysir

I'm terrified of something bad happening to one of my kids. I know it seems paranoid, but in today's world,  you just never know. I'm always aware of my children and maybe a little over-protective, but I'd rather be over-protective than not.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September Blog Challenge: Day 1

I've been seeing these over time and never did one, so I'm going to do one. September has 30 days, might as well go for it, right? Otherwise, I'll end up doing it in November when the "30 things I'm thankful for" is all the rage.

So, day 1: List 20 Random Facts About Yourself.
  1. I taught myself how to crochet.
  2. I used to have 14 piercings, but now only have 3.
  3. I prefer tea to coffee.
  4. Halloween is my favorite holiday.
  5. I have 8 tattoos.
  6. My favorite color is purple.
  7. I was homeschooled.
  8. I only had two boyfriends. Zac was my second.
  9. I'm a textbook Scorpio and middle child.
  10. I've been playing World of Warcraft for 10 years. Zac and I had an in-game wedding ceremony back in 2006.
  11. I love sushi.
  12. I can type 85 words per minute, but I type incorrectly. I took a typing class, but couldn't break the habit.
  13. My name was going to be Vanessa. It means "butterfly".
  14. My initials make up my favorite things: Art, Music, Books, Crochet.
  15. I've been learning French with hopes of becoming fluent before traveling to Paris in a few years.
  16. I collect foxes, pumpkins, Eiffel Towers, and snow globes.
  17. I waited learning to drive until I was 21.
  18. My eyes look green but are actually hazel. Sometimes they look grey.
  19. I don't like wearing makeup.
  20. I enjoy drawing people.
* * * * *

I took my kiddos to the park today. We walked from the house to the play area, only to find that construction was happening and the park was closed. Ugh! But, the walk was nice. They collected a few rocks and acorns along the way and it felt good to get out of the house.