Archive for the 'random' Category



should i care?

In terms of the internet, I’m out there. My persona, my name, my likeness… all of it. I’m “google-able”, if you will. I do try to sensor my posts, at the very least omitting my last name from my blog. I’d rather remain somewhat anonymous in terms of the world wide web. However, for someone skilled in this area, it’s not that difficult of a task to figure out who I am.

So, as I prepare to re-enter the working world, I’m asking myself this question… should I care?

My blog, be it fairly open and somewhat random, really doesn’t contain too much unsavory information. I’m usually fairly tame in what I post here. Even if a potential employer searched me out, and discovered this blog, would it be an issue? I’d like to think that my blog reflects a well rounded picture of me – I feel like written communication is one of my strengths, and hope it comes across here as such. The only place I see it might be an issue is if an employer is anti-family, but (aside from the illegality of this) that’s probably not a job I want anyway. Please, go ahead and screen me out of that one. You’ll be doing us both a favor.

I have the option of using my formal name for anything job related. It creates one additional layer to peel back before stumbling upon the rest of my public information, but maybe that’s all I need. A cursory google search reveals nothing other than my Linked In page, which is perfectly fine by me, as that only contains professional information. Entering my common name, the one everyone knows, pretty much points you straight here. Just check out the third entry in google.

So now I ask you… should I care? Should I be doing more to obscure my blog from probing eyes?

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Finding Happiness

What makes me happy?

I’ve been pondering this question a lot lately. Is it individual acts and things, or is it the bigger picture? My guess is that a lot of little things add up to the bigger picture, so, in fact, the answer is both.

De-cluttering our house has led me to start examining my life, my person, my self, and see where clean up might help. Are my actions leading me to that fabled place of happiness? Or am I seeking short term fixes that detour my path? I have a feeling it’s a bit of both, and I have a strong desire to explore those things that bring me long term and enduring happiness. Things that keep the ultimate goal in sight and make me a happier person in general.

I’m goal driven. I know this about myself. I’m also ridiculously competitive. I’m not sure if this is something that I do a good job of hiding, or if it’s so obvious that it’s pointless to state. Often, I am fixated on a goal. An end result. Making something. Seeing something come to fruition. Standing back, admiring it, then moving on to the next. The journey isn’t my primary focus, the goal is.

In life, though, this approach doesn’t really work. How’s that saying go? It’s the journey, not the destination. Yes, I lose sight of this all too often. For example, when hiking, I have a destination in mind. I’ll push myself to get there, blinders on, focused on the goal ahead. How much do I miss by taking this approach? What am I giving up by focusing on the target ahead, completely oblivious to the beauty surrounding me in the moment? I know I miss a lot. When I reach the destination, I stick to my schedule. I mentally check each thing my list – reaching the goal, spending the obligatory time taking in the nature around me, snapping photos,consuming lunch/snack/water, starting the trek back.

I enjoy hiking, but I don’t know that it’s for the right reasons. I enjoy being outdoors. I enjoy being away from civilization. But mostly? I enjoy having a goal in mind and seeing it get done. At the end of the day, recalling that we had a plan for the day, and we were successful in setting it in motion.

I don’t think being goal driven is always a bad thing. It pushes me to do things I might otherwise pass up. But I don’t know that it, or things on my lists, bring me happiness. In fact, I’m fairly certain that they don’t. Maybe I can use the goal driven side of me to increase my happiness factor overall. Seeking out things I enjoy, new and old, and setting goals around them to keep them at the forefront of my life. The best of both worlds.

I have a plan for all of this… stay tuned for more.

(tagged – the happiness project)

media jam tray 1

Seriously printer? A phantom media jam… again? You really are irritating me these days. Your status alternates between that and “Incorrect Black Cartridge” (a constant reminder than we opted for the cheapy, off brand version instead of the name brand that cost thrice as much). I would throw you out you if I didn’t have other reasons to love you.

We have a konica minolta magicolor DL. It’s a laser printer and a solid beast. It was $350 from costco six years ago, and has seen a full gamut of work thrown it’s way. Everything from wedding invitations to 10K reports. It’s a workhorse. It’s also finicky and high maintenance. It’s very particular about the type of paper it likes and will behave like a spoiled four year old if it doesn’t get it’s way. Puttering out, giving a sigh and flashing “media jam tray 1” until you coax it back to life. It doesn’t like too much paper in the tray (forget about filling it up to the “max” line). It also doesn’t like too little. Err on either side, you’ll find out soon enough. It doesn’t like labels – you have to manually feed them in one sheet at a time, giving a little shove when you feel the rollers grip the edge of the page ever so slightly. Don’t push too much, though, or the machine will protest. Same goes for photo paper, card stock or any other non standard type of paper.

The reviews online actually rank our printer one of the best for the money. We’d have to move up to the $1,000 range to find comparable features in a replacement. So, I really shouldn’t complain too much.

Here’s the “love” part of this machine. It’s reliable. Although it has it’s quirks, and requires a lot of hand holding and babysitting to get through the most basic of tasks, it works. There are days it works flawlessly. You feed it the right kind of paper, just the right amount, and send the right documents over? It’s perfection. My favorite part, though, is something I stewed over with ink jet printers for years. There’s no ink to dry up. In six years, we’ve replaced our black cartridge twice, and our color cartridges ONCE. We’ve saved hundreds in not throwing out dried up ink cartridges that meet their demise early. That part? I love. It negates almost all of the cons. It allows me to forgive my printer for it’s neediness and bad attitude.

The final con, though, is one that can’t be offset. I’m constantly underwhelmed by the quality of photos from our printer. I realize laser printers are just not built for this kind of job, so I can’t fault our specific printer. It just comes with the territory – the pictures that print out are probably going to suck a little. What I don’t get is why the laser printer companies profess how wonderful the pictures come out? When we bought this printer, the demo photo was a guy on a snowboard, thrashing down the side of a mountain, snow spraying the trees in the foreground, beautiful blue skies in the background. Why did you let me think this printer could be anything more than it is? That it could function as a substitute for printing family photos? That it would address all of my printing needs?

It’s a good thing it’s so cheap to print photos at costco… and they do a fantastic job, at that. Otherwise, printer, we might have to find you a little brother or sister to handle those photo printing jobs.

feeling cheated

You know that buzz you’re supposed to get from exercise? That euphoric high that accompanies and rewards your hard work? Yeah, I don’t get it. Never have. It doesn’t matter how hard I’ve pushed or the amount of sweat I’ve worked up, I’m exceedingly happy to reach the end of my workout and be done until my next.

It’s unfair that I don’t get that high that so many others feel after pushing themselves through an exceptionally hard workout. That addiction that pushes you to keep going and makes you want more. That reward for your hard work. Sometimes I see brief glimpses, but for the most part, I hate every minute of the activity known as “exercise”.

There it is, folks. My shameful admission. Because you’re supposed to like exercise, right? Or at least not detest it. Or exhibit some emotion about it other than disdain. Especially when you’ve been doing it faithfully for several months. It’s supposed to get easier. Better. Less horrible.

Some days are better than others. Today was an off day. Physically, mentally, emotionally. Drained. Had to smile and fake it through the day though. Days like this, I like to keep busy away from the house. Lots of activities, playdates, etc, to keep us actively engaged. Ballet this morning, playdate with friends, naptime at home for C, reading and (blah) exercise bike for me, a visit to the chicken park to swing and feed the chickens (swing C, not the chickens), then to Barnes and Noble to finish out the final hour before Ben came home. Yup. Busy day.

Here’s the deal. I’m having a bit of trouble getting my brain around the whole “going back to work” thing. While I feel like it’s time, I’m feeling a bit nervous about it. It’s been, what, six years since I last interviewed for a job? Since 2006. And nearly two years that I’ve been out of the work force. I realized that this is the first year since I was 16 that I haven’t gotten a W-2 form. Whoa! Where’s my piece of paper quantifying my value for the past year? Showing my contribution to society? How do I determine my worth if monetary terms are out of the equation? Certainly, the bright, delightful, sweet girl sleeping in the room next to me fills some of that gap, but in a system like ours, where qualitative measures aren’t of much use, it leaves me feeling a bit lacking. There’s no resume line item for “Worked my a$ off at home with my daughter”. No reviews to show my boxes were all marked “satisfactory”, or “exceeds expectations”. No referral I can provide for the work I’ve done over the past two years. Unfortunately, in terms of my career, it’s as if I took that time off.

So here I am. Anxious to get back on the horse, but nervous and scared at the same time. I will mourn the loss of my time with C and my flexible schedule, but will gain things like lunch hours with unlimited freedom to go wherever I want and get things done on my time frame. Oh yeah, and a paycheck.

I’ll likely still have two days a week home with her, so life as we know it will not be going away completely, but will be more complicated as we add commitments such as preschool and work to the agenda. What happens when she’s sick? What of there’s a special event I want to attend? And here’s the really, really scary question for me. What if I just can’t hack it at work? What if I’ve lost those great ideas that used to flow effortlessly to me? What if pregnancy turned my brain into mush? I know I was off my game during pregnancy, and even still during the three months I went back to work, but I chalked that up to hormones and sleep deprivation. What if that wasn’t it, though?

Although I have a few interesting job paths I could look into, I’m thinking I may ease my way back in through temp accounting work. Here’s the bad thing with that, though. Aside from the fact that jobs may be scarce as the applicant pool has ballooned, I also won’t have much flexibility if, say, C gets sick while at preschool. With a permanent job, I think such a situation would be handled with a bit more forgiveness. But when you’re already filling in for someone else who couldn’t make it? That’s probably awful form.

Job search starts next week, I think. Maybe by then I’ll have wrapped my brain around things a little better and be slightly less anxious about the whole situation.

preschool

C started preschool today. Since she’s only two, it’s more of an “early learning” program, but you get the idea. Drop off went well. The other kids were sitting in a circle when we arrived, engaged in story time. C joined them, tentatively at first, then took her seat and forgot all about me. No tears, no big goodbye, just matter of fact about it. This is what we’re doing now – ok, I can handle that. She’s definitely our kid. Makes me proud that she rolls with the punches so well.

So, this morning is “me” time. I’m on my own until 12:30 pm. At that point, I’ll collect C and bring her home for nap time. We have her enrolled three half days a week right now, but will most likely bump it to three full days once she acclimates. Hopefully I’ll have found some part time work by then, too. Back to the “me” time thing, though… ah, yes. I’m tempted to check things off my to do list, given the opportunity to do so without distraction, but, really? It’s been so long since I’ve enjoyed any length of time in our house alone. Aside from Saturday mornings, which afford me an hour while Ben and C attend Gymboree, I can’t think of the last time I was home alone since C was born. Maybe once when I was sick. So this morning, I’m ignoring the chores that are calling my name and the bills that should be paid, and am sitting on the exercise bike, reading and blogging.

It’s lovely. Just lovely.

common mistakes

image I know I shouldn’t be so snobby, but one of my biggest pet peeves is improper use of the English language. Yes, I have my snafus and errors, just like anyone else, but what I’m referring to are consistent and overriding errors that make a passage unintelligible.

I get it. English is hard. We have words that sound the same, but mean different things and are spelled differently. We have silent g’s and k’s. We have Oxford commas. We have commas and colons and semicolons. I know I don’t always get it right, but I try. I think back to that AP English class from high school and pull out what I remember. I recall college English and creative writing, trying to remember where to place the comma or period in relation to a quotation. I’m fairly certain I make errors there. I’m sure my English major friends would happily correct me. But, when it comes to the words I use, with the exception of typos (thanks swype), I am deliberate. I want to say what I mean and put care in to my work. If I’m not sure I’m using a word correctly, I look it up. Google is a wonderful thing. If I’m still not sure, I pull it and use I word I know is correct. It’s important to me.

When I was in the dating pool, browsing on match.com and other popular dating sites, this was one easy way to weed out potential contenders. Sure, you may be hot, with your perfect smile, smoldering eyes and defined muscles, but really? If you don’t know the difference between there and they’re… no thanks. A single mistake, or even a handful, I can overlook. When it’s clearly a typo, no problem. But when a poorly constructed paragraph gives way to crimes against the English language, I draw the line.

It wasn’t that I thought myself above these people. I just knew this was an effective filter for finding someone who was compatible for me. Someone who cared about all those stupid rules some scholar thought up however long ago, and adhering to those rules because that’s just what you do. Chatting with Ben over IM those first few months of dating was a great way to know he got it, too. He passed with flying colors.

Here are my biggest pet peeves, in no particular order, and some tips on how I keep them straight in my head…

There, Their and They’re
There is used to describe a place or in stating a matter of fact. As in “here, there, and everywhere”. Or, “There were two cupcakes left.

Their is possessive. It is used when something belongs to someone. As in, “Don’t eat their cupcakes!”

They’re is a contraction. Only use it when you can replace the word they’re with the words “they are“. Otherwise, it’s a no go. “They’re going to eat cupcakes” becomes “They are going to eat cupcakes” with ease, as it should.

Your and You’re
Your fits the same rules as their above. Think possessive. Belonging to someone. “Your cupcakes look yummy.”
You’re is the same as they’re. If you can replace you’re with “you are“, go for it. “You’re going to eat all those cupcakes!?” You can swap it out easily. Otherwise? Don’t use it.

Lose / Loose
You don’t loose weight, you lose it (after you eat all those cupcakes, right?). You lose your cupcake because the lid was loose. How do I keep it straight? Replace the “L” with an “M” and sound it out… Loose –> Moose. Helpful, eh?

To / Too
To tells about an action, as in, “I’m going to the store to buy more cupcakes!”
Too means also. One can be swapped for the other and the sentence will still make sense. “I’m coming, too!” (“I’m coming, also!”)

Yeah, I know. In the big picture, this stuff doesn’t matter one lick. It still bugs me, though. By the way, I have no clue where the cupcake theme came from. Maybe they just sounded good.

Now that I’ve put this in writing, someone will no doubt call me on the errors I’ve missed in my own writing. Oh well, let the onslaught begin.

impossible things

Did I really only gain 2.5 pounds during our whole ten days in hawaii? It seems highly unlikely, and, yet, that’s what the scale says. Keeping me at the midway point of what I consider a “respectable” weight range. And Ben? This is so unfair that I don’t even want to state it, but he only gained one pound.

How is this even possible? We indulged! We ordered dessert! We ate chocolate covered macadamia nuts by the bag full! We ate bread! And potato chips! We drank rum and POG cocktails! We drank wine and champagne! And ate tortilla chips! And guac! And yet, the juice fast before our trip seems to have reset things and allowed our bodies to process these rich indulgences more efficiently, thus, creating less impact at the end of the day.

I do think we were conservative with some of our meals, which probably helped. In addition to the indulgences I mentioned, we had lots of fresh, healthy meals. Lots of incredibly fresh fruits, smoothies, fresh coconut water and salads. But I kid you not when I say that we went through those chocolate covered macadamia nuts like they were… well… candy! One bag of each – dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and milk chocolate covered toffee. And several more bags of savory style macadamia nuts. The dry roasted and salted ones. And the onion and garlic ones… mmmmm.

I definitely feel less fit than I did when we left. I think a big part of that is not working out daily during our time away. I got a few mini workouts in, but nowhere near the length and degree of intensity that I normally get at home.

Still, pretty awesome to come home and realize that the damage wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be. Yup, pretty darn happy.

the trade off

I find some of the hypocrisy in our society odd. For instance, when changing in to swim attire, usually from garments that don’t look a whole lot different from swim wear, why do we feel obligated to find a modest place to keep our undergarments off display, but have little issue bearing all in our swimsuits? It just strikes me as odd why two garments, each covering the same body parts, can be so vastly different in terms of social acceptance.

Is the issue that one connotes images of the bedroom, while the other belongs poolside? Is it really that simple? Are we so prudish that we can’t accept one as a reasonable substitute for the other? Or perhaps we’re so fixated on sex that we can’t displace those thoughts when faced with a reminder if it. We blush, cover our mouth with a hand and suppress a giggle.

I think this discomfort with undergarments is engrained in us at an early age. Remember that rhyme? “I see London, I see France, I see Suzy’s underpants!” The sole purpose was utter humiliation. And how did we play it off as kids? I remember in the fifth grade, after performing a revealing cartwheel while wearing a dress, telling another kid that I was wearing my swimsuit under my dress, so it was ok. And you know what? He bought it. It was ok. Swimsuit? No problem. Underwear? You’re in for some teasing.

Here’s the other thing… girls wear dresses and skirts. Whether by choice or parent and societal pressure, that’s what we girls often wear as kids to feel “pretty”. We can argue the pitfalls of this sense of validation later, but that’s just been my observation. Along with the pressure to “look pretty”, the female sex is expected to do things just as well, hard and fast as our male counterparts. So, when out on the playground, do you subdue playing and your sportier skills to keep yourself proper, or do you opt for sturdier clothes that can handle cartwheels, tumbling and climbing on jungle gyms, compromising on that self confidence boost from feeling “pretty”? It really is a trade off, and one that doesn’t make me happy to think about.

Granted, there are some good middle of the road options these days. Cute jeans, nice pants, flattering shorts. But traditionally? If you’re a girl and want to look nice, a dress or skirt is the most conventional option. Even in the professional world, there were certain clients where you still wore suits, and skirts suits were preferred. Even interviewing ten years ago, the recommendation from our career counselor was to wear a skirt suit. They were classic and distinguished, and in the accounting world, there wasn’t a whole lot of room for budding fashionistas.

The whole thing is just strange to me. I accept that we still live in a very sexist society, where a woman earns $0.80 for every dollar that her male counterpart does, but the whole societal pressures dictating what is ok and what isn’t is a bit unsettling. I’d love to think it will all balance out by the time C is thirty, but I highly doubt it.

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Uninspired

The last few days have been rather uninspired food days for us. Breakfasts are always easy, but the rest of the meals are a bit trying. We come to lunch and dinner time and ask… “What to eat?” Do we stick to a strict low carb regime or do we cheat a little? Or a lot? I think the idea of “cheating” has made decisions more difficult for us, as it opens endless possibilities for us. Luckily it’s limited to a single day (usually Saturdays), then we go back to our boring, carb-less week. The thing is, it shouldn’t be boring. There are plenty of recipes to scour through and delicious meals to eat. I’ve found a whole collection of recipes that look fantastic to me, but none of them seem appealing. I need to get over this food slump. It doesn’t help that the weather has been crappy lately (rainy and grey), so bbqing isn’t always an option and the remaining choices seem hard and laborsome.

 

I’ve managed to pick up a few long outstanding projects and actually make progress on them. I pulled out my sewing machine on Friday night, and although our blinds still need to be hemmed, I managed to complete a gift bag (for the birthday party we attended on Saturday), a pillowcase dress for C and two head rests for C’s carseats. The headrests were a bit of a challenge, but were fun to put together. I had one in her seat that I purchased from Walmart over a year ago. It basically sits behind her and is an upside down U shaped pillow that cradles her head when she sleeps. It gave her a place to put her head when she fell asleep in the car (other than slumped over). It worked great, until a few months ago, when she started to outgrow it. As she did, she was more and more prone to slump over in the car, as her head needed to be perfectly centered to fit in the upside down U. So, I needed to expand on the current design and make something that would fit her now, but would also grow with her. I managed to put together a design that accomplishes just that – she can rest her head on either side of the pillow, but there is plenty of room at the top for her to grow. It moves up with the carseat harness each time we move it in the car, so the placement will get higher as needed. She will most likely out grow the width of this one before she outgrows the height. I’ll try to get a picture of her in it to show what I’m talking about. I’m pretty impressed with it overall. Plus, she loves the snazzy new design (blue background with white moons and stars). It takes a few more minutes to get her in the carseat now, as she wants to turn around and check out the pattern before she’s sitting on top of it. She loves it so much, I plan to make her a pillow out of the excess material. It’s awesome that she’s so easy to please at this age. If only it could be like this forever!



Mom to "C", wife to Ben. I'm a part-time blogger, cook, organizer, seamstress, house cleaner, taxi, nurse (the mom kind), accountant... I could go on, but really... it's all in the blog. Read away!

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