Sitting To Write

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
Henry David Thoreau

I’ve decided the only way I’m going to write again is to just do it. I have pages of journal entries from this summer. Most are one or two lines – blog post ideas, submission and stories ideas, quotes from the kids that I don’t want to forget, and then of course dozens of doodles. I’ve always been one to doodle flowers. The same flowers that I’ve drawn since I was about 10 years old when I first discovered the art of doodling during a boring lesson in class. I will go back to fifth grade notebooks and recognize my childish script that is crowded into the center with flowers filling the margins. My flowers always have five petals, a big center, a curvy stem and two leaves.  My artistic ability has not improved in these 35 years, nor has my want to draw something bigger or better. I’m happy with my flowers and the familiar.

 

So I sit content this summer not looking for the new. Not looking for that viral piece, that big break, that instagram picture with 100 likes. I sit here in the happy of my same and good. Yet instead of sitting, I’ve spent more time standing up and moving. And maybe a little time on a lounge chair by the pool.

 

Yet I sit here right now and try to write again. I’m at the breakfast bar that has become our family gathering place, our homework center, our meal eating area, and my desk, and I hear good things. Eloise is above me in the in living room playing the piano. A few years ago she learned Für Elise(the child version) and now is learning it again(for grown-ups) and she plays it again and again and again. She could play this for days and I would never tire of it just like my flower doodles that still make me smile. She misses a key and goes back and picks it up again and gets it perfect this time. It makes me want to stop typing and head to the couch to be near her and either close my eyes or read a good book that might match the rhythm of the music.

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Astrid goes between dancing in the living room – practicing her ballet positions and leaps to the piano music, and heading up to her bedroom to play with Calico Critters. During the summer she has created elaborate houses, roads, businesses and schools with her Critters. She can finally dress them and undress them and manipulate them as she wishes without assistance. She is six. And she is big enough to do anything by herself. It should make it easier for me to find time to write – this time of “no assistance” to her. But instead all I want to do is be near her for as many moments as I can while she is still little. She is still so very little.

 

Esther is in the other room with her iPhone. Yes, I said HER iPHONE – the original sin of parenting in the 21st century – getting your ten year old their own iPhone. Believe me, I never thought I would do it either. And I could go in depth on why we bought it for her – or I could write a list post about the top 10 reasons why our fifth grader needed an iPhone. But you know what, it doesn’t really matter as we just did what we felt needed to happen for our own family. Ain’t nobody got time to read posts about how my choices are better than your choices. They are just different. Or the same. Or whatever. So she’s currently in the rec room making videos with the cats. She’s trying to make them dance and do jumps and maybe even talk. I really have no clue – but she’s laughing and the cats seem happy. I mean, cats rarely seem happy – so they are as happy as cats can get. And all I want to do is shut this laptop down and go spy on her…and the cats.

 

Jed is at work. I’ve said that sentence about 1454 times in the past four months. Work is good. Work is busy. But by August I see how hard it has been for him. So when he’s here(which isn’t much) we all shut down and spend time together. Not a laptop or a phone has even come to bed this summer, and it’s been nice to unplug and see new life.

 

Fall is coming(I’d love to say Winter Is Coming – but fear of plagiarism you know), so there will be a shift. I will sit here alone. And it will be quiet. And my excuses for doodling flowers will be gone. And then I will sit and write about what it was like to stand and live. So I must go now as someone wants to play another song, dance with me, help with shooting a video, or just be given the ease and time to fall asleep together…early.

 

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On Writing

It’s been almost four months since I’ve really written anything. After seven years of blogging(yes, my blogging anniversary came and went last month without a mention from me), I’ve never been quiet for so long.

 

Even this morning, I actually sat down nearly three hours ago to write this post. I started this post exactly 12 times – but found other things to do…email, grocery lists, bills, laundry, paperwork, messaging friends on facebook, maybe crying a few times, talking to my mom on the phone. So then I would get back to this post and delete everything and start again.

 

Like now.

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This is not what I meant to write about. I’ve started posts about tweens and some troubles we are having. I’ve started posts about our move to the suburbs. I’ve started posts about buying Smashbox at Nordstroms. I’ve started posts about my cats. I’ve started posts about Easter and family. I’ve started posts about training and injuries. I’ve started posts about summer camp sign-ups. I’ve started posts about painting furniture. I’ve started posts about lice. I’ve started posts about books I’ve read. About going to Haiti again this Fall. I’ve started posts about Listen To Your Mother. I’ve started posts about being Pro-Choice and about politics. About morality vs. religion. Did I mention cats?

 

But instead I now sit here and write about writing. I know that I still need to write. I feel it deep and shallow inside of me when I don’t. A weird frustration that I cannot explain. Like if I don’t write soon, that I’ll just explode. Hitting publish on a post brings almost a sense of relief – both spiritually and physically that the words are out there to read and weave and I can move on to another thought.

 

Yet for nearly four months I cannot get the words down. They seem trite or meaningless. Already said or not important. Or maybe too personal and not to be shared.

 

And I now I’m teetering on the edge of unhappiness and what that brings – self-doubt and going to bed before I even tuck my kids in. And I know that I should be using my blog as my place to write and share and feel healthy again that my stories are worth something if even just to me. That’s enough. I need to stop over-thinking every word and every post for it’s virality and SEO and just go back and know that even if I can write 100 words and share 3 pictures – well that is still a story worth sharing.

 

I’m back. I think.

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What stops you from writing?

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New Year New House

I haven’t really opened my laptop for 10 days. The kids are on holiday break and I intend to soak up every moment with family and friend time until they go back to school next week. It’s been nice not to have schedules or carpools or many obligations of any type.

 

We’ve eaten entirely too much chocolate, watched too many episodes of Gilmore Girls on Netflix, and probably dressed, undressed, and then dressed again too many American Girl dolls to ever count.

 

And during this easy time we closed on our new home. We are making a bit of a lifestyle change this year as we move down the road a bit. New house, new neighborhood, new town, new routes, new schedules, new things. We are buying an older home with tons of character but a bit more space. It’s the right move for our family – but big and scary at the same time. And I want to open it up for all of you. I want more parties and people stopping by and more kids running through the family room. I want more dinners and coffees and my doorbell ringing more. Consider this an invitation to visit. Unless you are my stalker. Than we will just have to meet for coffee nearby with witnesses.

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I feel like 2014 went too quickly – there was so much left undone, so my 2015 list is long. I don’t do resolutions or words or goals for each year, as really I just want everyone to be happy – and to figure out what that means for them. I want good health for all and I want our world and country to come together rather than continue to move apart. I want kind words and good deeds to first think of our neighbors before ourselves. I want genuine acceptance and more laughter. I want more hugs. I want to say “I want” less and to say “they need” more – and then do something about it.

 

And I want to wish you all a Happy New Year.

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Listen To Your Mother 2015

A HUGE announcement was made yesterday! LTYM announced their 2015 season with 39 cities!

 

And the Twin Cities will be back again for our THIRD show! Watch for dates, sponsorship opportunities, and information on submissions soon! We cannot wait to read and share your words that continue to give Motherhood A Microphone!!

 

The talented and incredible women that we have met over the past two seasons leave me verklempt – and with friends for life as we continue to connect and inspire each other to write more and share more.

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And I couldn’t live without my partners in crime(and in production) Galit and Vikki. My sisters in this journey. May we one day bring LTYM to a beach in Costa Rica where we can enjoy margaritas and an outdoor venue and a motto of pura vida..and no worries of making anyone mac-n-cheese. Love these ladies.

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You must watch the 2015 LTYM announcement video – and watch for details about a show near you soon.

 

And in case you can’t wait to hear all of the new pieces read – well go back and watch 2014 and 2013. Grab some tissues.

 

Happy almost 2015!!!

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So Much Stuff To Move

Another mom at my daughter’s voice lesson picked a large piece of fuzz out of my hair as we stood outside the classroom waiting for our kids to finish. I don’t know this mom. The music studio is quiet and not very welcoming of conversations or talking in the hallways while lessons are happening. So instead we just smile, or show our resting bitchy faces, or nod, or now pick fuzz out of another mom’s hair.

 

Embarrassed but pleased she did it, I whispered “Thank you, I’ve been cleaning and packing my basement all day.” And I looked down at the rest of me – in sweatpants and a t-shirt and UGGs – and I wiped off the layer of dust covering my clothing.

 

We are moving.

The home we are leaving

The home we are leaving

And I’ve spent two full days in my basement yet feel like I haven’t made a dent. We need to stage the house for selling – and in doing this we need to clean and pack up as much as the ‘non-essential’ items that we can. And we have about seven days to get this done. Three floors of 10 years of life. Three floors of bringing two babies home here. Three floors of creating our full family.

 

And the AMOUNT OF STUFF is overwhelming. And I think about how good I am at throwing crap away. I mean I throw EVERYTHING away. Each child only has a small bin of ‘art’ and ‘school’ and ‘memory’ stuff that we’ve kept. I keep about three items for each of them per year. We purge closets each season. I donate. I consign. I toss. I box up books that are no longer age relevant, and I give away movies as my kids outgrow them. I TOSS SHIT. I DONATE SHIT. Weekly.

 

And yet, my god the stuff in our house. I’ve filled a full room floor to ceiling with donation items. Games and puzzles and linens and kitchen stuff. I’m hauling things to my minivan and will make numerous trips. I’ve piled bigger, more valuable, but I’m too lazy to sell items to the alley for the ‘pickers’ – the changing table that we never used as I preferred the floor or the bed, the easel, the toy horse, the last of the large plastic kid crap, a chair that I never loved. I’ve filled bags of clothing and pjs that are still in great shape to donate, and I’m making the girls try on every pair(450 give or take) of shoes that we own and making them choose their favorite five pairs. And then I get all depressed about the excess of our society and all the things we have to have and then I just want to sell everything and maybe our home will seem larger.

 

Where does it all come from. Do we need 16 board games that we rarely play? 25 shirts to choose from? A fondue pot? Seven frying pans? I started going through kitchen crap and was all of a sudden keeping all of the crap – thinking that ‘maybe’ we will use it again. Like the waffle iron. But then I set a rule – if I hadn’t used it in a year – GONE. I filled two huge boxes. I hope I don’t regret donating that Christmas stocking cookie cutter.

 

I do all of this alone – when the kids are at school because I know if they were home – they’d be all “OH we love that!” and “Don’t toss that!” and then we’d get in a big fight because IT ALL HAS TO GO. I don’t care about your love of Sequence Jr that we haven’t played for FOUR YEARS DAMMIT. And tomorrow I’m going to tackle their stuffed animal collection. This will be tough for me as I brought my entire stuffed animal collection to college. But I never had 42 stuffed dogs. AND THEY DO.

 

So if I seem dirty, and dusty, and a bit frazzled over the next week, just know that I’m busy dusting off our old life, donating excess, and making room for many more memories.

 

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Their Stories

There was a toddler who has having a FIT at the restaurant tonight. So loud that even kids noticed it happening. I could see that Eloise kept glancing over at the screaming girl as the parents tried to stop the madness with any means possible.

 

To distract Eloise I said “I’ll always remember the day that you turned six weeks old and decided to start screaming. We were out to dinner as you were such a sweet newborn that going out was never a problem – and then BOOM right after the salad you started screaming and didn’t stop for about four months. I was MORTIFIED in that restaurant – tried to nurse you – my milk going everywhere, tried to rock you, dance with you, burb you, EVERYTHING. But you screamed and screamed and screamed. We left with food uneaten and drinks full. I went home and cried louder than you were crying. And then we didn’t go out to dinner again until you were about one. And you’ve been quiet ever since. I think you got it all out of you early.”

Halloween 2011

Halloween 2011

We laughed. Eloise’s eyes even smiled. Who doesn’t love a story about you.

 

“Did I ever cry in a restaurant Mom?” Esther asked.

 

“Never.” I replied truthfully. “You never cried ever. You just sat and ate and slept and got all fat like a Shar Pei puppy. You were the happiest baby and toddler.”

 

“But you, Astrid. You cried for the first two years and weren’t fit for public consumption for quite some time.” We all laughed together as the older girls remembered how Astrid would scream as a baby.

 

“Do you think that girl’s mom will tell her about the time she cried in the restaurant someday?” Esther asked me quietly.

 

“Oh I am sure -and maybe she’ll save it for a time that she needs some proof that no one is perfect. Or maybe to embarrass her in front of her prom date. But yes, I bet she’ll share.”  I replied.

 

“So how do you remember all of these times, Mom?” Eloise asked.

 

“Oh, you have no idea the details I remember from your lives. Such tiny details and moments that you truly don’t even believe were a moment. But as a mother, we do. We savor them all – the good and the bad – and they all belong right here in our heart. Even the times we didn’t think we’d make it until the end of the day. They’re all here.” I smiled as I told them the dear truths that they too may hold one day.

Halloween 2014

Halloween 2014

“That’s a lot to remember. I can’t believe that moms do that for us.” Said Esther.

 

“It’s truly our most important job. You need to know your stories. And someday I will have told them all to you.”

 

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Welcome to November And NaBloPoMo

I decided to blog every single day in 2014. Do you remember that promise? Well I made it exactly two months and then quit. Because ain’t nobody got time for that. Well actually some people do – OMG – but I don’t. Yet I loved blogging everyday as it gave me a reason to sit down and clear my mind and write. Sometimes my writing wasn’t have bad. Sometimes my writing was just a bunch of random words about the day. Sometimes my writing was not really writing at all – but pictures of life. And sometimes I probably made some shit up. But every day I sat down and published something.

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So for November, I’m joining up with hundreds of other bloggers and BlogHer who promise to write every day for the month. And here I am with only about two hours before the end of day one and I’m struggling to get a post up. Because time. Where does the time go.

 

I’ll freely admit that I’m having a tough time writing lately. Time is not on my side. I’m being pulled and pushed in so many directions, and with my traveling over the last few months I am so behind in just everything. And then today we went and made a HUGE life-changing decision and I have even more on my plate – so hey, let’s also add blogging every day.

 

But I think I’ll need this outlet and enjoy this outlet again. To share more again. To give you tidbits and slices of our daily doings. And to give another excuse to get my camera out again.

 

And it’s time I get my blogging mojo back and enjoy it again like I really used to. And I bet with daily blogging that discipline will help me get the rest of my life some organization and discipline. Hey, maybe I’ll get laundry put away!

 

Or maybe not – instead maybe I’ll just spend the whole day putting on make-up for Halloween. And then wonder why I never get things done.

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Maybe prioritization is my issue? And this blogging every day is really bad idea?

 

Nah, that can’t be my problem.

 

But if you don’t see a post up one day and it’s pushing midnight – holy heck message me. Because I will probably be online shopping or binge watching Scandal or something equally as important.

 

 

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Five Random Facts About Me

Vikki insisted that I go all old school blogging and share 5 random facts about myself. At my age it’s honestly getting hard to remember random and interesting things. And after 7 years of blogging you all pretty much know everything there is to know about me. Basically I like wine, coffee, cats and cute clothing. I’m an open book that way. An open book who owns more than one lint brush.

 

But I thought of a few more random things that maybe you don’t know – and between these random facts I could either insert cat pictures or fashion pictures. I’ve decided to use fashion pictures because Fall is finally here and it’s my favorite season(you already knew that), and Aventura Clothing sent me a few things to wear that I have to share with you because I’m in love.

 

So here you go – randomness and fashion. Maybe tomorrow will be cats.

 

1. I’ve broken six bones. I broke my collar bone when I was eight years old by falling off the top bunk while sleeping. I believe this is why bunk bed guard rails were made mandatory just a few years later. Oh the chances we took in 1976 just to get a good night sleep. The other five bones I broke were my ribs when I was tackled while playing touch football after foolishly deciding to join a work league to meet guys. It WORKS! I met doctors in the ER. It hurt to breathe for like the next four months and my football career ended that day, but the evening in the ER was fantastic.

aventura-clothing-sweater (You need the Valencia sweater and scarf from Aventura. Jeggings are American Eagle. Yes, I am still in love with my hi-rise jeggings)

 

2. I dog-ear my books to mark the page when I’m reading them. I always have. Some people(my oldest daughter) get super upset about dog-earers – thinking that we are damaging books. I think it just increases the character. I do admit that I feel a bit guilty when I borrow a book and dog-ear without permission. I apologize for that. But if I can’t dog-ear that dang book it just never feels like I can truly get into it. This is probably why I don’t read library books. Dog-ear guilt. It’s real.

aventura-clothing-leggings (The Aventura Lily leggings are a go-to item this Fall. Paired with a tunic from Target, sweater from Lucy, and the Chevron scarf from Aventura)

3. I hate painted fingernails and have never quite understood this look. My kids are not obsessed with polish or manicures, but I’d paint their nails every day if they wanted it…but they rarely ask thank goodness.  But don’t touch my nails. And don’t even get me started on my toenails. And let’s just say that being a runner…no one wants to paint my toenails. Or touch them. Or have me remove my shoes. Jed wishes I would always wear socks to bed.

aventura-vest(Perfect for the apple orchard – the jeggings from American Eagle, very old sweater from The Gap, my favorite Frye Veronica Shortie boots, and YOU NEED this Owen Vest from Aventura, and Alisha Infinity scarf from Aventura)

4. When I was in second grade, my best friend was run over by the Avon Lady. I still remember yelling “MOM – come quick, Linda just got run over by the Avon Lady!” You would think that Linda just earned free make-up for life. But this happened in 1974 so she just brushed herself off, headed to the ER and her parents probably didn’t even get the Avon Lady’s name to sue her for lipstick or cologne encased in a porcelain sports car.

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(I am in love with these Morgan corduroys from Aventura. Sweater is from Cabi)

5. I never lived in a dorm. I attended night school for my first two years of college as it was the only way I could afford to attend school – so I lived with family and then in a cheap apartment, and didn’t start regular day classes until my junior year. So this meant I never really met anyone at college either as my night school classmates were like super old(30!). I also did not attend my college graduation as I had already moved across the country for a job in LA once my last class was finished. But I guess since I did not really even know the name of one person I went to college with – my party would’ve been pretty lame if I had stayed for graduation.

 

So there you have it – I am deeper than just clothing and cats. Also, I really don’t like Avon products still to this day because of poor Linda. Now it’s time for you to share five facts about you on your blog and get all old school blogging with us – or leave a comment with a super random fact about yourself!! And check-out Aventura for some amazing Fall fashions!

 

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy for WIWW.

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The Blank Page

I’ve started and deleted and stared for days now. Trying to document a conversation or something that happened or a funny story. Most of the time I get distracted by work emails or a snack that needs to be made or a hairball that our new cat coughed up. And the rest of the time I don’t even open my laptop. In fact this past weekend I left my laptop at home. Just like a did the weekend before. And the weekend before that I was at home – but never opened it.

 

I still enjoyed snippets of life and love and family and conversation on Facebook – but haven’t read blogs for weeks. And I’ve started feeling almost selfish for ‘making’ you read my stories, my conversations, my thoughts…because I’d rather you work on your tan or hit the beach or take a bike ride and not worry about me.

Family Picture - Watch out for the penguin.

Family Picture – Watch out for the penguin.

It’s weird how I can thrive off relationships but then get to a point of exhaustion when I just need to focus on what’s right here and touchable. My work is very busy – work that I LOVE and am more inspired by than ever before when I see the good this company does in the world. My kids are just the right kind of busy and I feel the need to be with them and near them, but just as an observer in a way as they play and enjoy a lazy summer together without early wake-ups or routines. My family room is filled with Calico Critters and My Little Ponys and Lego Friends and they play for hours. Or I find one of my girls reading alone on the porch. They’ve reached that age where they can run off down the block with friends, make their own lunches, and empty the dishwasher without a reminder.

 

I’m spending more time in a quiet and restful state when I’m home – and besides our family room – the house is clean and  I’ve read eight books since mid-June and delight in losing myself in a story almost feeling like I’m a high school girl again and I believe that fiction can come to life. And I’m running daily and using that time to push myself HARD and really feel what great things a body can do if you just don’t sit back and go with the flow.

 

I’m happy.

 

And I don’t want to do it all. My life is so beautifully boring right now and I’ve found no greater joy really. We’ve spent more time with family and we’ve laughed so hard.

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Jed said to me last night when he made a joke and I laughed my deep laugh that actually makes me sound like my brother “There’s nothing hotter than listening to you laugh.”

 

Good things are coming – I can feel it. Until then and September and The Busy – I’m just going to work on what feels right, parallel my kids’ joy in the ordinary, and fill my bedside table with more books.

 

And of course run like the wind(my own definition of wind).

 

Linking up with Heather.

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Like A Bad Line From Frozen

My hair – graying and thinning and splitting at the ends – gave me away last week. Well I thought it gave my age away – but instead my four year old helped me once again look on the brighter side and gave me pause like a bad line from the movie Frozen. “Mama, did Elsa freeze you?” And while that was a lovely thought – gray streaks caused by a princess – I had to instead tell her the truth that most of my gray can probably be directly attributed to her and her sisters. And sure, maybe my age.

 

So I tweeted our little conversation. And like anything Frozen related – people loved it. NickMom and HuffPo even included me in their funniest parental tweets last week.

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Which sure – fame and no fortune is fabulous – but what our little discussion did do was make me finally call my stylist and get an appointment THAT DAY! So now I’m no longer streaked with magic. Which is a win for this lady but a lose for the Astrid who now thinks that I’ve never met Elsa.

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Things that also happened last week – The Listen To Your Mother 2014 videos are NOW LIVE! Yes, you too can stay up four nights in a row living the magic from the LTYM stories. You will laugh and cry and nod and share.  And maybe also eat a Ho-Ho or two if you watch mine. (Wow I look so angry in the still frame…).

I also did a podcast for The Blogging Betties last week. I talked about blogging for a long time, how to recharge your writing, training for marathons, producing a LTYM show, and waved ‘hi’ to my stalker – who still reads me. “Hi hon!” I love what the Blogging Betties do – sharing tips, tricks and advice on how to manage a blog and social media. They are a kick-ass group of professional bloggers.

 

Also – my post – 12 signs you are in menopause struck a chord with many people. Many hot and bitchy people – my tribe. I love you. It was picked up my HuffPost 50 – which once you are on the HuffPost 50 site – well you are pretty much in menopause.

 

I’ll be offline much of the week as I’m visiting my parents and attending a work conference. I hope you are enjoying your summer.

 

And with that – I leave you with cat pictures.

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xo

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How To Prioritize

I ran-hobbled down the basement stairs and grabbed a load of laundry from the dryer and transferred the next load in before carrying the heavy pile of clean clothes back up the stairs. I was still in my running shoes and clothes with my fuel and water belt strapped around my waist. As I was walking in the back door from my 18 mile training run I realized that I had left a wet load of laundry sit all night.

 

Typically when I come in from my long training runs I slip my shoes off, unsnap my fuel belt, pour a big glass of water, and lean into the kitchen counter to catch my breath.

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But last week, catching my breath seemed nearly as impossible as a ‘spa day’ or ‘lunch with a girlfriend’ or ‘shopping for new spring sandals in Milan.’

 

Last week was one of those weeks when you look at the calendar on Sunday and scan your eyes to the next Sunday and just hope that you make it through and it all comes together. That you don’t forget a child somewhere, that your four year old doesn’t mind sitting for hours for days as you have to bring them for work hours, volunteer hours, class hours, that you don’t disappoint someone because you just could not do it all, and my personal pet-peeve  – that you are late.

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And somehow – at 4pm yesterday when I walked in the door from the last ‘thing’ that was expected of all of us – we survived the week. And the last thing I wanted to do(all week really) was open my computer. Instead last night I poured a large cup of coffee, piled the two kids that were home on my lap, put blanket after blanket on us, and I took a nap while they happily damaged their brains watching Sam & Cat episodes OnDemand. It was bliss.

 

May is hard(I know, not May yet), but this still counts. From recitals, end of school projects, field trips, cleaning, wardrobe transitioning, school carnivals, yard work  and cleaning-up crap from the snow, finalizing camps, my own things – Listen To Your Mother, work, writing, making sure there are groceries and toilet paper, marathon training – life is busier than usual and we are surviving week by week and day by day.

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And I need to look at my own priorities or nothing will get done that should get done.

1. Family – Jed and the kids and all the school needs. Also the cat. It’s Astrid’s last year at home before school. If that means I play animal bingo 453 times a day until September, well that will be my priority.

2. Home – food and toilet paper and vacuuming and making it a relatively nice place to inhabit. I find that if I let our home go – it messes with my mind and overall happiness. I want to be here. I want to exhale when I enter our place. Lately I just want to slam the door and find another house that feels better.

3. Work – many of you probably don’t know I have a full-time job because I keep it separate from my blog and writing. But I do. With real hours and money. This is getting busier and it is what helps us have fun things as well as food – and my focus MUST be here before the blog – so I kind of think my focus is changing a lot as I put not only my time but more of my heart in what’s important. We have some pretty aggressive financial goals this year and this is where my focus needs to be.

4. Me – what feeds me right now – marathon training. I’m running a lot – nearly 60 miles last week and this will hopefully continue as long as I’m healthy and injury free. Working on LTYM – working with other writers, sponsors and our charity to give back. Friends. I miss having time for friends.

5. Taking pictures – I have the heart and equipment to do more with this. I need to carve out time. I’ve been saying this for nearly five years – and each year I say “THIS is the year!” and it’s not.

6. The blog and social media – I will still write(on paper)(on a word document) and submit other places – but I’m not sure what I’m going to have time on a regular basis here when I look at everything that comes above it. And maybe all these beautiful things always did come above this – but I wasn’t aligned with my own priorities – so I have words here but a house that is uncomfortably messy and too many email apologies to others for not getting a project done.

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I want the luxury of hobbling in after a long run knowing it’s okay to just lean and breathe at the counter for a moment. I want less emergency-I forgot trips to the laundry room and less last minute cereal and milk meals because life is too busy to slow down and focus on what I really should be doing. And if that means more silence here – than I need to have peace with that. And after this week of waytoomuch – I do.

 

But right now I need to get off of here and find a good and easy Bavarian cream recipe because I promised to make homemade eclairs for Eloise’s class tomorrow. WHY?????

 

Do you ever think and change and tweak your priorities. What comes first for you right now?

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My Writing Process

A beautiful chain-letter of writing has been circling the internet for the past few months. Typically, I’m not a fan of memes or chain letters, and I’m certain I’ve brought bad luck upon my family for not forwarding recipes to my seven best friends, or deleting emails I was suppose to give to 10 amazing women in my life, or hurt my child somehow by not mailing a book or something to eight of her friends.

 

But this chain intrigued me. As a blogger(and a writer) I love to learn more about my favorite writers and how they write exactly – their process, what they are working on, how they write, why they write, and how the hell are they so damn brilliant when some days I truthfully would rather watch a marathon of made for Netflix series than to even open my computer. Do others ever feel that way?

 

So I’ve been reading about writing processes and learning a lot, nodding my head in ‘yeah I do that too’ and taking notes on some brilliant ideas that they have shared.

 

I was honored when Denise of Universal Grit asked me to share my writing process next. I met Denise through our essays for This Is Childhood. I’ve been honestly overwhelmed being grouped with these amazing women and writers as their words humble me yet push me to write more and better.

 

So with that – I give you my writing process:

1. What am I working on?

Sadly not much lately. After writing a lot over the past six months I honestly am very busy right now with my co-production/direction of the Listen To Your Mother Show in the Twin Cities. I am actually reading an original piece for the show – so I did write that! I also have several essays in draft form that I need to revisit when I have the time as they are topics I really want to explore more. I’m finding that right now this isn’t a great time to write – the kids are busy, work is busy, Jed is busy, Spring is busy – that writing for me has hit the back burner hard this season.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I consider myself a blogger more than a writer – but I hope I do a decent job with both? I don’t know. This question is hard because I don’t feel like I’m different or stand-out from others – but what I do write is real – it’s me – and it will always be more for me(and my kids) than for you. Is that weird?

3.  Why do I write what I do?

I started my blog because I wanted to capture moments of what our lives are right now. Right here. And as a way to make connections. I’ve always tried to be transparent in my writing – but it’s hard sometimes because of the feeling of being less-than or judged. My worst days are when my husband receives a phone call from a family member questioning me or my decision to write what I do. Like it’s not okay to be vulnerable. But I think we can’t be strong without being vulnerable. I hope through my writing that my daughters will see and know that it’s okay to share and just be themselves. Worrying about what other people think will always kill your creativity and joy.

IMG_4105-0014. How does my writing process work?

Ha! What’s that? My process goes something like this…pay very close attention here as you will learn to better your process…

4:45 come up with brilliant story idea while out running

5:15 return home and forget brilliant story idea

5:30 pour coffee and remember story idea

5:32 sit down to write but open facebook

6:15 still on facebook

6:25 oh…pinterest…instagram….twitter…

6:35 read other blogs. think that I’ll never write anything that great…

6:40 brilliant story idea is not so brilliant

6:45 wake-up kids

8:00 wave good-bye to two kids after the last hour of DOING ALL THE THINGS FOR THE KIDS

8:05 stare at third child who is staring back at you. tell her that mommy needs to write for awhile – so just go play.

8:15 realize child will not go play. plan something to do that will exhaust her so she takes an afternoon nap.

9:00 go to zoo. try to act like I love the zoo

12:00 lunch of mac-n-cheese eaten right off the plate of my child because she ate like four noodles and just lives off of air.

12:30 child settles down to rest/nap/watch a show/generally just let MOMMY WORK for two hours

12:35 sit down to write

12:40 open facebook

12:45 “Mommy I’m bored.”

12:50 close computer, snuggle with child, fall asleep

2:30 SHIT – the other kids are getting home soon

2:35-3:15 do ALLTHETHINGS FOR THE HOUSE – laundry, kitchen, sweeping, bathrooms, prep dinner

3:15 kids home – ALLTHEHOMEWORK

4:00 cook all the dinner

5:00 eat dinner

5:30 shuttle allthekids to alltheactivities

7:30 get home from alltheactivities

8:00 littlest bedtime late tonight because of alltheactivities

8:30 big kids bedtime

8:35 sit down to write amazing story that maybe really is still amazing

8:40 check facebook

8:45 fall asleep on the couch

fade to black…

Next week the writing process continues with my sisters from another mister. Since nepotism is alive and well in the blogging-world -I am asking Galit Breen and Vikki Reich to share their writing stories. I love them both so much that I could dedicate hundreds of blog posts just to them – if I ever found the time to write. But they both have inspired me – as mothers and as writers to dedicate time to both amazing crafts(motherhood and writing), and I hope we are old and cranky and still hanging out together when we are 85.

 

Be sure to check-out their posts next Monday, April 28th.

 

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10 Things To Do Instead Of Blogging

10 things I’ve done this week instead of blogging…

 

1. Drank my body weight in Prosecco at our Listen To Your Mother cast gathering, and laughed HARD with about 20 of the most amazing and talented women I’ve ever met. Prosecco wasn’t required to laugh so hard, but it makes my very introverted self talk to all of the people. listen-to-your-mother

2. Ate a peep cupcake. Or two. It’s Peep Week over at Vikki’s place and she merrily and kindly baked Peep cupcakes for my kids. So I ate them.

peeps

3. Astrid is on Spring Break so we went to the zoo to see the farm babies for Easter. It was 19 degrees, snowing and cold. I didn’t really take any pictures because I had decided to put my winter gear away – so I was hiking out there in a spring coat and no mittens and I lost feeling in all extremities. Also, I hadn’t been to the zoo during a weekday in years and it turns out everyone at the zoo on a Monday is four and under – which is just not an age group we associate with much anymore. I forgot how crazy two year olds are and why I don’t have one anymore and don’t want one anymore or why I’m not a preschool teacher. So then we went to the bar to be with older people. Okay, maybe not the bar..but Starbucks for a coffee and nice conversation. And then to the Minneapolis Institute of Art to look at paintings. Astrid needs to sit to “admire them fully” as she now says. It is nice and quiet there.

minnesota-zoo

4. Saw Muppets Most Wanted – WORST MOVIE EVER. Even worse than The Lego Movie. Astrid and I both fell asleep. When it was over Astrid even said “I’m so sorry mommy for making you go to this.”  I haven’t yet forgiven her.

MIA

5. Running. I’m in full-on marathon training right now. Getting up at 3:30 again to do some long runs(18-20 miles) and frankly this makes me nap most of the day. My legs are working a lot more than my mind and my fingers these days.

 

6. Watching the final Dance Moms episode before the “Moms Tell All” next week! Oh Abby – this season has been a HUGE train wreck. I just don’t even know where to start. When not watching Dance Moms – I am at dance. All three girls are dancing a lot this year and loving it. I used to bring work with me to do while they were in class – now I bring a coffee and People magazine BECAUSE I CAN.

IMG_6745

7. Buying all of the Easter candy. I just realized yesterday that Easter is this weekend! Hopefully our egg hunt won’t be in the snow. Hopefully I won’t eat all of the chocolate before Saturday night and then have to go back out to buy more.

 

8. Texting my mother. Seriously, someone from my mom’s cell phone texted me with a “Hi.” And I was all like “Who is this and what did you do with my mother??” She’s still resistant to the whole thing – but I think she’ll like it. She just needs a better phone because she cannot see our emojis on her 1978 brick phone.

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9. Browsing Petfinder looking for a cat friend for Truffle. I know we don’t really need another cat..but we WANT another cat. Maybe 50 more cats. In the meantime I just go look at the hundreds in our area that need homes and cry a little. The other four people in this home are pushing for a dog. I don’t want a dog because I’m the one home all day and just really don’t want to have that responsibility, and I can’t keep this house clean as it is. However, I said “Sure, we can get a dog as soon as the four of you pick up after yourselves every single day for six months, don’t moan when I give you chores, and take over the bathroom cleaning.” Since none of this has been done since my announcement this week – I’m assuming we will get a dog oh in about NEVER. But it’s not my fault.

 

10. Filing taxes. Being self-employed is all unicorns, rainbows, and good wine until tax day.

 

What have you been up to? I’ve missed you.

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Six Years Of Blogging And Now A Book

My six year blogging anniversary passed quietly last week. Celebrating my six year ‘blogiversary’ is kind of like how I handled my 45th birthday – locked in the bathroom alone with a glass of red and a dark chocolate bar as I pondered what I’ve really accomplished.

 

I started my blog as a blog. It had five readers and I shared silly, daily stories of my girls and cats. It grew to something a little bit more as I shared stories of loss and hope and I found my voice in humor.

 

After six years of blogging – fame and fortune have not come my way – except for that one viral post that made me step back and be quite comfortable really without fame and fortune.

 

Actually, blogging has given me something much better than fame and fortune – it’s given me friends and the ability to be fearless.

 

And blogging has made me become a writer.

 

Six years ago – or even three years ago I would never say “I’m a writer.” Me, who went to school for business and engineering and took many math and economics classes, and took only speech and debate as my required and very painful English class.

 

I wasn’t always adverse to English classes. I was a voracious reader as a child and kept a journal since I was eight years old. During high school I filled notebooks with poems about asshole guys ,and I submitted short stories to magazine contests.

 

Until that year of AP English when my teacher sucked all the joy out of reading, appreciating good literature, and creative writing. I sat in the back of the class refusing to participate, listen or engage. I wanted every book to burned, every piece of paper to be shredded, and every English class in the world to cease immediately. That’s how much she made me hate literature and the beauty and power of words.

 

I was an A+ student and near the top of my class, and I still smile when I see that string of Ds on my report card from that year of AP English.

 

However, I still remember the one and only assignment I completed for her. The assignment was to write a personal essay about a difficult time in our lives. At first I resisted – because completing an assignment for her was like cleaning my room when my mom asked me to. I was 17 and liked to push her buttons just like any adult who told me what to do. I told her that I had nothing to write about and did not turn in my assignment. I still remember her coming over to my desk, kneeling down to be eye to eye with me, and saying “I’m giving you 24 hours to turn something in. Just try doing this – not for me – but for you. Don’t make me fail you because you’ve failed yourself.”

 

That evening I sat in my room with some nameless punk music blaring and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote about something very personal until my hand hurt and tears smeared the ink on my papers. I turned that first draft as my final paper into her that next day. The pages that were frayed, smudged, and with some margins filled in with edits – just like my life at the time. Imperfect and feeling still so incomplete.

 

Two days later she passed our essays back to us. I expected my usual ‘D’ as I did appreciate her effort to not fail me in her class, as god knows she wanted to see me again next year even less than I wanted to see her.

 

But instead there was a big red ‘A’ on the top of the page. Along with a note “Tracy, see what you can do when you write from your heart.”

 

And I find that still today – the best writing comes from my heart – and no, it won’t be with the best grammar or spelling, but it will always be me.

 

Which is why I’m thrilled to announce today that my words are in a book.

 

A little over a year ago, two amazing women came up with a writing series called “This Is Childhood.” They invited eight of us to join them to celebrate each year from age one to age 10.

 

I wrote about seven. My Esther at seven.

this-is-childhood

Well Brain Child Magazine picked up our series of essays and has published them in a journal that launches today. This journal includes not only our essays of childhood, but also provides pages for parents to write their own thoughts as their children experience the joy (and the hard) of just being kids. It gives parents a place to write from their heart. Which is where all of our best writing comes from.

 

However, for me, being included in this book is just the frosting on the cake. The cake is made up of many layers of love from getting to know the nine other authors and moms. Over the past year they’ve become friends, mentors, and women I admire more than anything. They are brave, beautiful, and giving. I’m so grateful that blogging has given me the gift of incredibly talented ‘writerly’ friends, who don’t think my words aren’t worth publishing because I am ‘just a blogger.’

This Is Childhood cover

I stand among greatness my friends…

 

So thank you Allison – whom I’ve know the longest – for your friendship, your support in this endeavor, your brilliant writing, and the daily laughs and tears we have in this strange on-line space.

 

Lindsey, whose writing makes me want to write more. Her honestly and emotional availability and wisdom and talent come through in everything she writes. I’ve loved getting to know her and her beautiful family more.

 

Galit, my Minnesota sister and a ‘co-bringer’ of Listen To Your Mother to our fair state. We’ve become close, forever friends, and her writing will always inspire me to be more. I do not have the words to express my love for her. Also, she’s made me ‘almost’ like dogs.

 

Nina, another Minnesota friend. I’ve admired Nina’s writing for years, but now we are ‘in real life’ friends and I am forever grateful for her talents, kindness, honesty, and advice.

 

Denise  – whom I met through the ‘This Is Childhood’ series, and I am overwhelmed by her writing experiences and talents, and would follow her writing to the ends of the earth if she’d let me..in a non-stalkerish way of course.

 

Aidan – another mom of three girls and a truly beautiful soul. I admit to reading her blog archives because she is a master at her craft and deserves to be published everywhere. I’m honored to have my words close to hers. Also, I want to live in Manhattan.

 

Kristen’s writing inspires me, makes me think, and makes me want to hug her daily for asking the hard questions in a beautiful way. Her heart comes through in her essays in a way I can only dream of doing.

 

Bethany makes me laugh and cry and share with every word she writes. Her talents are immense and she almost..almost..makes me want to have a house full of boys. Almost. I find myself nodding along with her essays and wishing we could take a long run together. There would be so much laughter that just writing about that run makes me want to hop on a plane and show-up on her doorstep in a sparkly running tutu.

 

Amanda. Oh Amanda. Don’t tell her but I want to be her neighbor. I have these strange dreams of living next door to her, our six girls playing in the yard, our husbands enjoying a few beers together, while I run my fingers through her hair. OMG, I mean while we discuss life and writing, everything because I think we’re meant to be friends forever, and her words have forever changed me.

 

No matter what happens with  my writing and my blog. Whether I am published again, or I take my blog down before the 7th anniversary – I will always be grateful to count these women(and many others) as friends who’ve inspired me, challenged me, laughed and cried with me, and celebrated good things like being published in a book. SERIOUSLY GUYS, WE ARE IN A BOOK!

 

Buy it.

 

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About That Blogging Every Day

In case you missed it. I did not blog this weekend. And here after I promised you that I would blog each and every day in 2014.

 

our house

But here’s the thing. Esther turned nine on Friday and the thought of burying her birthday, her face, her joyful jumps and a celebration of her just seemed so wrong.

 

And while we did fun things and had a lovely weekend – there was nothing I wanted to write or post or capture that trumped our celebration of Esther.

 

How could I bury this on my little blog? And yes friends in Florida, this is the road in front of our home from November til March. Pavement is an urban legend.

this-is-nine

So I did not write this weekend. I wanted Esther front and center for as long as possible. It seemed like the right thing to do.

 

I’ve enjoyed blogging every day for the past two months. And yes, I made it for exactly two months. It’s given me the motivation to really write every day, to get my camera out more, and to dig deeper for stories for share. The exercise of blogging every day has been amazing.

 

But it’s also hurt me. Because of the burying of posts. Some posts, some writing, some photos – but most importantly – some people deserve a heck of a lot more than 24 hours.

 

So as I sat down to write on Saturday, all I did instead was stare at Esther’s sweet and joyful face at the top of the page, and I stopped typing and just took her in. And let her stay there. She needed a longer celebration and nothing I would write could outweigh her coming into our lives nine years ago. A three week early surprise of laboring all night, a placental abruption, an emergency ride to the hospital, to a c-section before I could barely get undressed, to a chubby and healthy baby girl in my arms.

 

And with Esther, and then Astrid’s miraculous arrival almost five years later making us the family that we are… well keeping my computer closed and just enjoying the five of us in our house during this(hopefully) very very cold last weekend of below zero temperature seemed like the right thing to do.

 

Blogging every day has given me the discipline to write more and realize that I do have stories worth telling. But living every day has given me the grace to know when it’s better to just let our stories happen while keeping my hands busy wrapped around my children instead of typing on a page.

 

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More Cat In The Hat

We have a crazy weekend – but I still need to blog every day – so I’m going to delight you with more pictures of Truffle in his beret. He’s saying “Bonjour.” Or “Fuck you.” I’m not exactly sure which…

cat-wearing-beret

…so I’m grateful for the following things…

– That cats cannot talk

-That American Girl Doll clothing fits our cat perfectly

-That our cat is super nice

-That our cat is also super forgiving and doesn’t kill us in our sleep

-That he will sit still for pictures

-That he loves treats

-That I talk about how busy we are but I still find time to dress-up my cat

-That we have a cat

-That Jed doesn’t think I’m a crazy cat lady when I put a beret on our cat

-That berets exist

 

Happy Caturday!

 

Do you dress-up your pets? Please tell me yes. Or tell Jed yes. Or just lie to me.

 

 

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Well THAT Was An Interesting Week

Well I’ve had an interesting week. One I’ve been trying to write about, but the words seem to fail me. Or they are just wrong. Or not as meaningful or deep as they are suppose to be. So I walk away from the internet and start putting hats on my cat. I’m not even kidding.

beret-cat

This week I’ve had bad words thrown at me and good words offered to me with incredible kindness. I’ve had letters full of ugliness and letters from strangers saying “me too” and “thank you for speaking up for us.”  Some strangers were 15 and some were 50.

 

I’ve had friends write posts about their struggles – and the silent struggles of moms just like us.

 

And it’s time that we aren’t quiet anymore. Or ashamed. Or just a statistic that we brush under the carpet and pretend that what we experience doesn’t exist.

 

I’ve heard radio stations talk about ME – when they think that I’m not listening or didn’t bother to do their homework to find out that maybe I’m in their backyard and they could CALL ME to discuss. Or maybe they’re afraid I’d come whack them with the pillow.

 

And the thing about everyone thinking they now know you because of your 800 words that went around the world – it takes what you feel and say when you felt strong enough to voice it, and it takes every layer of skin off of your body and leaves you naked and bleeding and exposed, and you spend awhile hunkered down thinking you may never get up again and maybe you should not have sent those words out – but sometime at about day three, you get up and get dressed and your heart grows about three sizes because of the people who matter, and you come out on the other side feeling even stronger than you did when you first wrote those words. And you think of about 2000 more words that you want to write because you were right to say those words. And no one can take your voice away. Also you write run-on sentences.

 

So today – I talked to people. I had a radio interview on our Top 40 station this morning – KDWB. It’s my kids’ favorite station and now I’ve probably ruined it for them because they interviewed THEIR MOTHER! It was not a great interview as it was at 7:15am and we were having a burnt waffle/lost hair bow/I need help with my homework/WHERE’S MY BOOT/Mommy I can’t find any undies kind of morning and on our way to missing the bus.

 

And then this afternoon I was on HuffPost Live, which was super fun and I met some great co-panelist. It was kind of awkward to do though as when you’re talking the screen goes white so I never knew where to look because there were no people to look at. Next time I have to remember to just stare at the white and pretend there are people.

And my internet stalker is back. Have I told you about my stalker. Well that’s a very long story for another day…

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