Sunday, December 18, 2016


Things I'm really thankful for tonight:

That my place is warm. Delightfully, luxuriously warm. The past few days of cold temps meant that even going full blast, the place was chilly,  even by my standards. I came home on Thursday night and ended up going to sleep dressed almost as heavily as I had gone to work that morning, hat and all. The poor heating system just couldn't keep up. I woke up this morning and my front steps were encased in ice, but by noon the sun was out and everyrhing had melted, and in face the temperature will continue to rise throughout the night.  So very thankful.

Also thankful that there was no damage to my pipes when they froze earlier this week, nor to my hot water heater. I would have dealt, but I'm really thankful I didn't have to.

There's a huge stack of (newly wrapped!) presents taking up much of my couch now, and I am so, so thankful for everything it represents - the wonderful people in my life to whom all these presents are headed, and the fact that I'm in a place in my life right now where I'm able to give gifts.

I am healthy right now and I'm so, so, so thankful. I feel like I've been sick or recovering for most of the past three months - recurring infections, two rounds of antibiotics, trying to recover from the antibiotics as much as from the infections, and dealing with a bunch of issues after each sickness because my body is apparently just out of whack. I thought for sure I'd end up doing a third round earlier this week when I woke to my ear filled with fluid again, but I was able to head it off early and seem to have escaped.

Thankful for some time off - a day now, and several coming up in a couple of weeks - and a perceptible shift in pace. Wrapping up school with M and the triplets for the year, marking off the last few swim classes, finishing up the tasks that have to be done. Getting a chance to sleep for a few hours today,  in the middle of the day, because I was tired and there was nothing left that absolutely had to be done that minute.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Let It Be Over

I just realized that this is the last night in November.

Good. Let it be over.

It's a bitter, vengeful sort of gladness.

Lately I feel - almost constantly - like I'm just failing as a human being. I'm always doing a thousand things and I don't have the time (or, truthfully, the physical/mental/emotional energy) to do any of them well. I can think of literally hundreds of ways I'm failing every. single. day. And some of these are deeply important ways.
I should remember to actually text my friend who's going through a health crisis, and tell her how often she's on my heart, how often I pray for her. I've been virtually radio silent. I should spend ten minutes a day with each triplet working on letter and number recognition (why is this so impossibly hard to make happen?!). I should set up a station for Mason so he can be self - directed in the mornings; I know exactly how it should be organized but the act of actually creating it seems overwhelming. I should do more arts and crafts and science and geography projects with the kids.  (I'm really, really failing here. Almost laughably.)

I should mail the baby gift to Matt and Jess before the baby turns a year old. 

I haven't written a thank-you note to anyone all year, and I've only barely kept up with birthdays. (I just had a small panic attack typing that because I was suddenly convinced that somebody had a birthday on December first and I was screwed.  But no. The first of the December birthdays - all seven of them! - is not until next week, thank God.)

I should write better lesson plans and keep better track of which drills and ideas we're using.  I should watch the videos Casey sent me - like eight hours worth, of which I have watched about forty minutes. I should figure out some weak spots I could put some attention towards but for the love of God I can't even keep up with everything I have going right now.

As busy as it is,  December might be my salvation. There's a break in there somewhere, and I so desperately need my feet under me again. I just need a pause,  a break, a time to regroup. I'm grasping at straws here but I need a spark of energy - a new year, another semester, a fresh go.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Holiday Bucket List

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Holiday Bucket List

*1. Make a holiday craft with the kids
*2. Drink something festive
*3. Listen to Christmas music
*4. Buy wrapping paper
*5. Search for positivity
*6. Donate to a good cause
*7. Mail Christmas cheer
*8. Gather with friends
*9. Buy pine oil for the diffuser
*10. Go to a special service
*11. Give thanks
*12. Decorate
*13. Add a new Christmas CD
*14. Leave a message
*15. Buy new pjs
*16. Write thank-you notes for the team
*17. Bake for loved ones
*18. Go see A White Christmas on stage
*19. Listen to A Christmas Carol
*20. Watch "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" with the triplets and Mason
*21. Pick out Christmas cards
*22. Take a nap and stay up late wrapping presents
*23. Spent time with siblings who are home for the holidays
*24. Go see Christmas lights
*25. Read the Christmas story
*26. Take Abby on a lunch date
*27. Random act of kindness
*28. Clean and purge
*29. Stay up late
*30. Make a resolution

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Five Quick Takes

1) At the start of the season,  I downloaded the Meet Mobile app. So now I can sit at home and watch my kids' times pop up even when they're there and I'm at home coughing up my lungs. So very cool!

2) I switched practice groups this week (I'll be working more with the middle group of swimmers) and loved it. Tons of new stuff going on that I'd never seem before, and I walked away with lots of ideas I wanted to steal or modify for my kids. I told the coach I was working under to "teach me everything" and she took me seriously and let me ask a thousand questions without ever getting annoyed. ;) But none of that made me as happy as the fact that the next day I got mobbed by younger kids wanting to know why I'd crossed the deck, and was I coming back? I've had some serious doubts about my role here in general, and it was reassuring to feel missed.

3) Also - I found out this week (to my great surprise!) that getting pulled to work with me is considered a plus. Who knew?!

4) Lastly, I've been thinking lately how I've shed so many labels in the last few years. Baptist. Republican. "Biblical patriarchy." I've come to think that labels on peoppe are mostly about giving you the ability to define "us" versus "them". When you give them up, suddenly you're forced to evaluate people as the complex,  nuanced creatures they are. It's made me a better person,  and I'm grateful.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

More life, lately

Projects I've been working on: finally got my bed curtain hung on a real curtain rod. Liked it so much that I went ahead and bought enough material to finish putting up curtains on all the windows (and good thing I did, because I really love that print and it was the last bolt they had, with exactly as much as I needed, AND it was discontinued). I bought a magnetic strip to hang my kitchen knives on (can't wait to get it up and installed!). Started tiling the vanity backsplash (need to buy trim pieces and finish it off).

Projects I need to be working on: coach roster for new session. Getting everything winterized before it gets cold enough to be a miserable chore.

Projects I want to be working on: pulling out my dinette and sofa and putting down new flooring. I have a vision now, I'm pretty excited. Just need to figure out where I can stash the removed pieces...

Enjoying: the cooler weather. Mason sounding out words ALL BY HIMSELF. Getting to spend some one on one time with one of my special needs swimmers,  and just getting to enjoy her since none of her classmates showed up. Impromptu team dinner last night (no one showed up for the final class, so we knocked off early (with permission!) and went out for sushi). Kombucha and coffee.

Listening to: lots of classical music (even the kids are near, usually a Beethoven's Wig album). The Girl On The Train via Audible (ack! So amazing!). The pool filter at work, which is unusually loud lately.

Laughing at: one of my coaches who had a kid last night who refused to stop crying because she was cold. The coach told her the pool was cold because Elsa had been swimming in it, and the tears stopped. (Although the kid did ask at the end of class if we could PLEASE ask Elsa to STOP swimming in our pool.) ;)

Thinking about: the weekend. I think we're going to sell the boat. :( How badly I just want to skate through today without hearing/seeing any election news. Someone being very gracious to me during an awkward conversation, and how deeply I appreciated it. How less stressed I am after the awkward conversation!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


I remember once being restless, looking for something to make my life better.

Now I can't imagine what material object could possibly make my life better (or how I ever thought it possible).

Here is a truth: depression means a loss of scale. Little chores become insurmountable tasks, huge problems become so abstract as to become almosy meaningless; sometimes the decisions involved in the act of, say, feeding yourself, feel totally overwhelming. Losing your sense of scale means that all problems become equally crushing.

Here is another: happiness works much the same way. Today there is coffee in my cup and beautiful, beautiful children, and water against my skin and sunshine on my face and today they are all equal cause for joy. They are inseparable, and it would be impossible to discern which contributes the most happiness to this wonderful, amazing, wild and precious life.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Last week, out of the blue, my wonky ear started killing me. The next day it was bad enough that Amy called in a prescription,  and confirmed that yes - I not only had swimmer's ear but an inner ear infection as well. :(

Things I've learned this week: apparently, I have tilted ear canals (perfect, right?); wearing ear plugs sucks (they're much more uncomfortable than I ever imagined); there are more treatments for swimmer's ear than I ever wanted to know, and they all suck, also (hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, alcohol mixed with vinegar,  drying your ear out with a hairdryer,  a garlic clove placed at the entrance to the ear canal (ick!), Eucalyptus oil rubbed behind the ear for pain (this is actually awesome)... but mostly staying out of the water. Three days and counting. I'm gonna die.

Also, my equilibrium is well and truly shot. I put some hydrogen peroxide drops in my ear earlier today and a minute later as I was walking through the kitchen I almost couldn't stand.  I spent a few minutes holding onto a wall trying to act nonchalant and as though clutching a wall while trying not to fall over was completely normal, (I think the kids bought it) while also trying not to throw up (because the wave of nausea was right behind the dizziness).

Bah. I hate it.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

In The Now

- Diffusing clove, cinnamon, black pepper, and orange oil. Smells like autumn.

- Appreciating the cooler weather. Keeping the windows open all day. It was 60° inside this morning when I woke up which was lovely.

- There's never enough time, never enough money. In general, this doesn't bother me until I'm sad, and then it makes me feel like I've failed as a person.

- Drinking a venti flat white. Appreciating how a hefty dose of caffeine makes me feel less miserable for a few hours.

- Dealing with back pain and joint pain and brain fog. Totally unable to sort out what's due to stress, what's due to all the gluten I ate after life started to feel unmanageable, and what's due to injury.

- Crying a lot, especially towards the end of the week. I had a panic attack on Thursday night (first one I've had in YEARS). Right now I'm just trying to put one foot in front of the other and keep dealing with it, while also being kind to myself and also not let down any of the many folks who are depending on me in one way or another. Bah. I'm so tired.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

On Not Being Loving

It was not a good week last week.

If you had asked me on Friday what the problem was, I would have said there were behavior issues galore. At one point I thought the kids had conspired to drive me insane. One day everyone was "red zoned" by nine o'clock.  I spent one swim practice telling the same child repeatedly to keep his hands off the smaller child he was bullying. I had a difficult encounter with a person and I did not respond well. I was working hard but not getting enough done. It was like the universe itself was set against me.

You know what, though? My answer has changed. The problem last week was me. I was not loving.

I had a moment towards the end of the week where I suddenly stopped midstride and said to myself, "Nothing I am doing matters at all." I was completely convinced of it. Nothing seemed to have changed, but this work that I do that I normally regard as world - changing (because if helping to shape little lives doesn't make the world better, I don't know what does!) suddenly seemed meaningless. So what if kids learned to swim. So what if they swam fast or didn't DQ on their backstroke flipturn. So what if M learned to read. Everything seemed very unimportant. I was unimportant. 

It took me days longer than it should have to remember:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have no love, I am just a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have enough faith to move mountains, but have no love, I am nothing. 

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have no love, I am nothing.

Love is patient and kind... It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful (ouch)... Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (Paraphrased from 1 Corinthians 13)

It stings to realize that you've invalidated yourself in a way that nobody else has the power to do. And it hurts - it really, really hurts, in a feeling small, injured heart of way - to realize that not only have you failed, but you failed in the one area of your life you've long claimed is the one most important to you.

In fact, in a true "pride before fall" moment, I posted this last week on my Instagram:

"I read this quote yesterday by Anna McCarthy ( "I am designed to love and love well." It hit home powerfully and stuck with me all day. There are (a lot of) days where I'm not doing anything particularly well. Where I struggle to do any one thing well... But I love well... I love passionately, deeply, fiercely. I have found my purpose in life, and I am infinitely, perfectly designed for it."

It's ironic how it only takes a few weak moments to lose track of what is most important. And you know what? It's funny that nothing in my life changed last week.  I didn't do anything differently. Nobody watching would have seen any change. But my heart had shifted, and while it was misaligned, I was right - nothing I did mattered.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Fall Bucket List

*1. Bake muffins for the coaches
*2. Drink a flat white
*3. Start Christmas shopping
*4. Go to the fair
5. Take a walk to enjoy the leaves
*6. Do a pumpkin craft with the kids
*7. Buy a pumpkin
*8. Listen to a new book
9. Have friends over
*10. Girls night out!
*11. Buy new sheets and unpack the electric blanket
*12. Sleep with the windows open
*13. Make apple sauce
*14. Burn a CD (or make a new playlist) for listening with the windows open
*15. Eat honey crisp apples
*16. Make chili in the crockpot
*17. Go to Art Fest
*18. Buy new essential oils (cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg)
*19. Winterize trailer
*20. Go to an escape room
*21. Send a care package to Anna and Liz
*22. Watch a sunset
*23. Be kind
*24. Go to the farm with the kids
*25. Try a new tea
*26. Get my CPR/First Aid certification renewed

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Right Now

Right now, I am overwhelmed (and that's okay). I'm doing really, really well in some areas and I'm barely keeping from failing in others (and that's okay). I'm making my best effort at staying away from gluten and grains and sometimes I've forgotten and eaten something without thinking and that's okay (and this actually seems to be enough to still have an impact. Even MB noticed how much better I seemed).

I'm giving myself permission to cry because, again, overwhelmed, and also permission to self - talk like an insane person, even if that means repeating "It's going to be fine. Just keep going" out loud a hundred times (and that's okay). But also, permission to notice how the ripples in the pool are so beautiful they hurt, or how my heart skips a beat in terror and gratefulness the first time a child calls me "coach". Even though it probably means I'm a nut for even noticing (it's okay). I'm giving myself permission to totally freak out because there is so much to do, and there are just moments where I think of more things I didn't realize until now also have to get done (and that's okay). And after I freak out I pull it together and I get it done, because.

And I just keep reminding myself that it's okay - that this is just a season - that someday I'm going to realize I've got this and it's not so crazy anymore - and all I have to do in the meantime is to keep going.

Saturday, August 27, 2016


This has been the summer of minimalising. I don't know what shifted in my psyche or changed in the universe, but I've been spectacularly successful at decluttering,  letting go of belongings, paring down. It feels right.

The "couch of shame" is gone, save for one small laundry basket that I use to corral items that are in transit to new homes (friends, thrift store, donation center). I've gone through literally every square inch of my trailer and purged through everything. I have a better idea of what is important and what is not, what makes me happy and what doesn't.  And I've gotten into the habit of taking a few minutes to evaluate areas as I use them. Skimming through a box if DVDS when I watch a movie to see if there are any I no longer want. Or mentally evaluating my wardrobe as I do laundry, to see if there's anything not worth putting back.

And here's a funny thing I've realized - decluttering AFTER the big purge is actually easier.  This makes sense, if you think about it - during the big purge you're trying to make decisions about 20 DVDs all at once. Afterwards, you're only making decisions about 1 or 2 at a time. Discarding half of your wardrobe is scary - what will you wear?! - but realizing that you no longer need this particular shirt is easy.

This is important. Why didn't I realize this before?

Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Stream of Consciousness

Finishing the bathroom remodel. I should have done this years ago - it's amazing how transformative a little paint and a few updates can be! The biggest project (installing the new high profile toilet) will have to get done next weekend, but it looks amazing. Also - washing out my crockpot and wondering at how easy it is now, with the new high faucet, when it used to be such a pain.

(With all the home improvement projects I've been doing lately, I am forced to contemplate: do I want new flooring? I have some in mind, I think I might buy a few tiles and lay them out to see how I feel.)

Sitting down to pay all the bills yesterday, and being struck suddenly with an overwhelming sense of gratefulness. Not only because I am employed and able to pay bills, but that I am able to pay those bills doing work I love. That's precious.

Having lunch with someone who loves me, and walking around for the next few days feeling deeply loved and thus unstoppable. Thinking about the nature of faith, and how sometimes God uses others around us to speak Truth into our lives.

Not reading much of Atlas shrugged. Gotta get back to that.

Experimenting with going gluten free (some success and some failures). Discovering strawberry seltzer water (yum!). Making veggie pizza rounds (slices of zucchini topped with tomato sauce, thin slices of Roma tomato, pepperoni, and cheddar cheese) and falling into a pan of them - so, sooo good! Finding spiraling veggies at the grocery store (I don't want to own a spiralizer, but I want to be able to buy them every once in awhile).

Thinking my tiny garden was NEVER going to do anything, and then the next day it bloomed.

Explaining how pickles are made to Mason and the triplets.

Getting a stack of antique books and reveling in them - the smell, the feel, the type. (I kept one that I fell in love with and will pass the rest on to a friend with similar appreciation!)

Playing with Zephyr, and snuggling Zipper. I love their tiny faces and paws. Zipper is getting much better at being picked up (he's always liked being held, but always been skittish about getting lifted). I love seeing Zeph hang out in his hammock. :)

Thinking about our trip to the beach, and anticipating a fresh dose of inspiration. Making plans and writing lessons for next year. Spending Tuesdays and Thursdays cheering for Ruth at swim meets. Learning how to be a timer with Cris (and only screwing it up once!).  Putting cream in my coffee and needing to stop and watch as it melds (my version of "stop and smell the roses"). Pricing out a new phone (and deciding I'll wait til Christmas sales). Looking at tons of tiny houses and getting excited because my floor plan is staying pretty consistent - I think I'm ready to get some blueprints made and some price quotes.

Monday, July 4, 2016



- getting stuff done. Painting the kitchen backsplash orange (love it! Though not sure this will be the final end. Still contemplating tile). Painting the bathroom (finally!) and all the prep work that entails - putty, sanding, cleaning. Decluttering in a MAJOR way. Buying a new kitchen light after Allen told me he'd install it for me, only to realize midtown that it was incompatible (bah). Installing a reading light in my sleeping compartment (whee!). Cleaning EVERYTHING.

- watching: the fifth season of Castle. I was baffled because I didn't remember any of the episodes, until I checked the year and realized that the fifth season was released the same month I ruptured my eardrums (coming up on three years this September) and I watched it while dozing in and out and on pain meds. Crazy.

- enjoying: the positive energy around the pool this week :). Four days in a row that I got to sleep in (!!! I refuse to be guilted about it). Grilling (all by myself, because I-am-woman-hear-me-roar). Getting a rare cool, overcast day to leave the windows open and listen to the birds. Ice cream (I'm not normally a fan, but I've been craving it like crazy these past few days).

- excited about: my tiny garden growing (still no produce but I have hope!). All the swim teachers coming back from vacation this week (whee!). A week with a lot of downtime, split between getting stuff done and relaxing.

- listening to: Jack Johnson. Herman's Hermits. The Beach Boys. Lots of GLAD.

- cooking: Italian sausage with kale and blistered tomatoes. Lots of green juice. Spring rolls (and spring roll salad, after the leftovers fell apart). Grilled sausages, zucchini, tomatoes, and Mexican corn (ohmagersh, so good). Bunless cheeseburger with avocado, kale/chard/spinach mix, and tomato (and coconut mayo - so amazing!).

Sunday, June 26, 2016

More Sunday Afternoon Randomizer

I am...

... drinking: tons of seltzer water (I gave up sugar in my coffee last year, this summer I'd like to give up sodas, tea with sweetener, etc. Except for mojitos. I am NEVER giving up mojitos!). Lots of iced coffee (I should buy stock in Starbucks).

... eating: smoked salmon (I am OBSESSED). Eggs, cooked every which way. A (very) late night cheeseburger after a long night.

... watching: finished the Dick Van Dyke show (all five seasons). Started rewatching the old Wild Wild West show (kooky old scifi? YES PLEASE!). Went to see The Shallows with Allen - such a truly terrible shark movie but so. much. fun. I screamed every time the shark popped out of the water and laughed at myself a lot.

... enjoying: the new car, and being able to drive around with all the windows down (although I'm NOT so excited that the same window that they worked on to get it to pass inspection has quit working again. Nor that I have to get the oxygen sensors worked on). Getting to spend some time in the water helping out my instructors with tricky kids.

... thinking about: my Alabama family (I'm missing them terribly). Going to the beach in August, and how I really should make reservations before everything fills up like last year. All the little tasks I need to get done when I have some spare time. Next swim season, and what we should do differently (or continue doing). Tiny house rooflines. How big Zephyr is getting - I bought a harness for him at the pet store and it was TOO SMALL.

... (re) reading: Atlas Shrugged. Remembering how (for me) this is the ultimate novel,  the most beautiful thing ever written. I love Dagny and Francisco D'Anconio and Ellis Wyatt and Richard Halley.  And if I ever have a son, I am so naming him Rearden.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Randomizer

I love Sunday afternoons when I don't have to work. (I don't mind working on Sundays,  exactly - some of my best times with the kids have happened on Sundays - but inevitably when I don't get those few hours on Sunday night to set up for the week ahead, I end up playing catch-up all week.) I've spent this weekend getting stuff done. I pulled out everything from storage underneath the trailer and either discarding or donating most of it. I got my little (very little!) garden of zucchini,  tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and basil planted. (I'm so terrible at gardening. I want so badly to be good at it.) I replaced the faucet sink (with liberal help) after the original one broke. I did laundry and dishes and put them away. I ran a ton of errands. I went to the dump. I cleaned out and vacuumed the car. I cleaned the house.

I cleaned both boys cages and figured out a way to rig Zephyr's drip bowl with zip ties so he can't remove it. (Why he likes to detach it and sleep with it is BEYOND ME.)

Someone made me see red for a few moments this weekend when they called me "lazy" for not singing or playing the piano. I was furious for a moment because so many people who never mattered have tried in various ways to guilt me into doing what they think I should be doing. And then I thought about how little this person's opinion mattered, how unhappy his life looked, and how happy I was, and I let it go. Small victory.

I've been eating some amazing food lately. A birthday dinner at Charles Street Brasserie (pork kabobs, a smoked salmon platter, and seared tuna). Homemade shrimp tacos. Baby kale and swiss chard. A burrito. Snow crabs and salmon for Father's Day.  Soft - boiled eggs with smoked salmon, capers, and coconut mayonnaise. So. Much. Coffee.

Also,  I've been listening to Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged through Audible. I fully intended to listen to as much of it as I could for free and then cancel the subscription,  but I like it so much I might keep it. It's an interesting experience, listening instead of reading. I've reread Atlas Shrugged every summer but one since I first read it - which means that I've been reading it for about a decade.

I'm enjoying the new car. Not that I ever disliked it, I just had a hard time giving up my beautiful orange truck. But I am really enjoying having more room and doing lots of driving with the windows down.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Summer Bucket List 2016

*1. Buy new CD
*2. Road trip!
*3. Watch it rain
*4. Go to the lake
* 5. Play in the sprinkler with the triplets
*6. Go to the movies
*7. Buy new goggles
*8. Try a new restaurant
*9. Watch a sunset
*10. Cheer for Ruth at a swim meet

*11. Take the triplets and Mason swimming
*12. Paint the bathroom
*13. Take Allen on a brother date
*14. Buy new sunglasses
*15. Write end of season thank you notes
*16. Purge and clean
*17. Paint the kitchen backsplash
*18. Read a new book
*19. Swim in the dark
*20. Dinner with the swim gang

*21. Eat seafood
*22. Go to the beach
*23. Watch the Olympics
*24. Reread Atlas Shrugged
*25. Go stargazing
*26. Feed giraffes
*27. Go people - watching
*28. Shakespeare! 
*29. Take one picture every day
*30. Go geocaching with Abigail

Monday, May 30, 2016


I am...

... purging, paring down, decluttering. It's becoming natural instead of occasional, more the realization that "I don't need this to make me happy" than "How can I live with less." It's empowering.

... constantly amazed at the power of ten minutes. Ten minutes spent cleaning, praying, stretching.  The gains seem so much greater than the time investment.

... sad. Trying to honor this "down" period in my life right now by making room for it. Recognizing that it's not the end of the world if I need to cry for a bit to let off some stress. Realizing that with change and new starts come endings, and endings are allowed to be bittersweet. Mourning the endings of some things that I loved.

... counting my blessings. Thanking God for the grace that has poured out and so thoroughly saturated my life as of late. Praying. Praising. Playing praise music and being absolutely floored in the melodies, harmonies, and lyrics.

... planning - for summer with Abigail, for next Fall with the triplets, for next month (and next season) at swim, for next weekend (travel with Mags and Cris). There's a certain comfort to be taken from the acts of planning and tidying up.

(And a picture of Zipper sleeping. Just because.)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Ceremonial A/C

I used to joke that I had a "rat thermometer" - when it was cool, the girls could be found curled up on the bottom level of their cage, but when it was hot, they would rise to the top (I always assumed to get closer to the a/C vent). I fussed and worried over them, always running the heat or a/C more for their benefit than mine.

Zephyr seems immune to the heat or cold.  Neither seems to affect his behavior much.

But poor Zipper. He really,  REALLY doesn't like the heat. Poor little guy.

For the record - I turned on the A/C on May 26th this year. I was trying to make it to June but temperatures inside the trailer topped out the thermometer and even the open windows and fans couldn't keep up. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spring Bucket List

1. Make an eye appointment
2. Sleep with the windows open
3. Clean and fill the birdfeeder
4. Walk on the beach
5. Pack away coats and electric blanket
6. Buy a new piece of summer clothing
7. Send happy mail to Alabama
8. Drive with the windows down
9. Get a pedicure
10. Drink iced coffee
11. Buy a tomato plant
12. Buy fresh flowers
13. Take the triplets on a picnic
14. Write thank-you notes to my coaches
15. Make a new curtain for my bed
16. Celebrate Star Wars Day
17. Put the awning up
18. Take Abigail for ice cream
19. Watch a sunset
20. Buy an essential oils diffuser

Monday, March 14, 2016


I always said I wouldn't - I've been squeamish about needles or piercings or anything similar since I was a teenager - but I found I've lost a lot of my fears in the last few years. I've worn clips for years and I've always loved them. It seemed like a good decision. 

The downside to being almost thirty before you pierce your ears is that you inevitably end up feeling like a child. It didn't help that I went with Lucy and Addy lol! ;) (Although it's totally a special memory that will be fun to tell them in the years to come - that we all got our ears done together.)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Zachary Getting Married

I don't have any pictures from the wedding because I spent every last second of it catching up with friends I hadn't seen in way, way too long, eating delicious food,  and even doing some dancing. (And wanting to kill Drew.  Nothing new there.)

But a few days before the wedding, Maggie and I got to meet up with Matt and Jess for lunch at BTB. I hadn't seen them for almost a year, and getting to catch up was indescribably lovely. I forget - I remember in my head but forget in my heart - how much I love these people. These wonderful, amazing, beautiful people that God has given me.

(Also, they're expecting in August and I am OVER THE MOON overjoyed! :) )

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


You feel you'll perish long before it arrives
but then
there it is at last!
Suddenly, everything resolves,
like the denouement of a good novel
and you're left to contemplate
what you might have done differently
except that you never dreamed Spring was so near,
redemption so close.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Missing Them

It'll be two weeks tomorrow since Oliver passed, two weeks on Tuesday since Zinnia died.

And I'm been surprised - really surprised,  actually - at how sad I still am.

Actually, I'm more surprised at the sense of loss that keeps hitting me at odd times, and how fresh it feels - the intense longing for the sensory experience of them. I'll be driving down the road when I suddenly miss watching Zinnia hop across the carpet, miss feeling her tail wrapped around my finger. I want to be able to sit next to Oliver one last time and bury my fingers in his thick fur. I miss his tilted head and I miss his earthy dog smell.

It seems silly that I still find myself crying suddenly at inopportune times, hissing "Get a grip!" to myself in the car while I frantically scrub tears off my face so I can go nanny or coach or not look like a lunatic at the bank.

I'm glad they're at peace. I am. They were both miserable and now they're not and there's relief in that. But I would give up a lot just to have ten minutes with them, to be able to touch, feel, and smell them again.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Introducing Zipper

Apparently it's just not home until there's a small furry to share it with.

I always thought I'd get another pair of rats after the girls passed, but standing in front of the rat cage at the pet store I almost had a panic attack. Apparently I'm not ready yet.

But this little guy... he's already brought so many smiles and warm fuzzies to my heart. :)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Goodbye Zinnia

Zinnia was miserable after Zhiva died. I was heartbroken seeing her so lost, and I thought it would make it easier when she eventually passed, knowing that they'd finally be together again, but it didn't.  :( Goodbye my sweet girl. You were so loved and I miss you terribly.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

It's Been A Long Week

And my heart hurts. :(

Oliver, 2000-2016.
16 in human years, 112 in dog years.
During every one of them you were beloved.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Things, Lately

- Taking stress breaks by looking at pictures of fennec foxes and degus and hamsters and guinea pigs and mice and rats with clever paws and tiny whiskered faces. (I miss Zhiva and I think I'm ready for a new pet.)

- Also otters.

- Finally caving and buying a subscription to GoSwim and spending nearly every moment that the kids are sleeping watching Steve Haufler videos. I love Steve Haufler.

- Lesson plans. Writing so many lesson plans it's insane... Writing swim lesson plans for my Station 7's and my Station 9's and everyone in between - my two 7's who haven't swam in a year, my two 6's who are swimming with the 7's because I've run out of room for them in the regular program, my lone 8. wtiting lesson plans for the triplets - not just for next month, but also looking ahead to next year when we start homeschooling. And also trying to reconstruct the spring semester lesson plan for lit class. I'm losing my mind.

- Also: we hit a new enrollment high at swim. We saw it coming last month and it stressed me out to no end because I thought all the problems we've been having lately were growing pains and there wasn't anything I could do about it. Once I realized that very few issues were in fact related to our numbers, and I could solve (or at least tackle) the rest, I was much less stressed. And while I was off "tackling" we reached and passed our new goal and I didn't even notice til several days later.

- Making: pork chops in the crock pot; a frittata with zucchini, sausage, and orange pepper; portobello mushroom caps stuffed with leftover pork and parmesan cheese; steamed salmon with spinach and quinoa; fresh mango.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

January Craft Round-Up

This month was a little unusual for us; we didn't get to everything on our lesson plan in January because of a snow storm (I lost three days of work), and we also did more activities and "process art" than we normally do (so we didn't have a lot to show for all our efforts other than pictures and memories, lol). Still, it was worth it because some of these activities were just too much fun. :)

Some of our themes this month were ice, snow, cold (we talked about temperature in general) and winter. We worked on recognizing the colors blue and white (with limited success lol).

We started off the month remixing one of our favorite crafts from last month: sensory jars! This time we made them snow jars. The kids had a blast.

One day we did a slew of snowman activities.

First we practiced rolling the dice and counting out the same number of pompom "buttons" onto our snowmen...

... then we practiced building snowmen out of Styrofoam balls (cut in half so they'd lay flat) and construction paper arms, boots, and hats.

And finally we made "melted snowmen" with white glitter paint, googly eyes, and construction paper pieces. The kids did this one all by themselves and their mom and I got a kick out of seeing how each one turned out!

We painted on giant ice cubes (I used the freezer A LOT this month lol) with watercolors.  This was so much fun and I sort of wished I had made one for me, too. At first the paint went onto the cubes like regular paper, then as the water melted it changed until towards the end as soon as you put some paint on the cube, it changed the whole hue of the painting. Very cool.

We also tried painting on snow one day, inspired by this pin. It was a total no - go lol. Pinterest fail!

I also made ice cubes filled with glitter and confetti and let them go at them with paintbrushes and warm water. It was a good chance to talk about melting, freezing, hot and cold.

We did ice chalk! I've been too intimidated to try making my own sidewalk chalk for awhile, but somehow ice chalk seemed less scary. Since it turned out well (and the only significant difference between sidewalk chalk and ice chalk is drying vs. freezing), we'll probably be doing that sometime soon. This was a fun activity! Definitely part sensory activity, as it got rather messy, but fun. It went on like fingerpaint and dried like chalk. Lucy enjoyed "stamping" with the blocks.

We tried making silly putty with cornstarch and Dawn dishsoap, and it failed miserably. I ended up adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that and making it into "snow dough" instead.

I rigged up a makeshift clothesline between the front and basement doors and we worked on some fine motor skills and matching by pinning pair of mittens and gloves. It took everyone quite awhile to get the hang of it, but once they did they had a blast!

That was our month. Of course, there was also a lot of playing in the snow, outings, and play. :) I'm definitely looking forward to warmer temperatures and getting to do more outdoors activities again!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Saturday Randomizer

- I spent most of today resting or napping and I still feel completely exhausted. Granted, its been a week with a lot of stress and not a lot of sleep, but I've been around A LOT of sick people recently, and I'm pretty sure my body is fighting something off. :( Other than chanting "I'm not getting sick, I'm not getting sick" over and over again, I've been gargling with apple cider vinegar,  eating lots of greens and citrus fruits,  and mostly trying to sleep it off. Also Zicam (Zicam is my best friend). Hoping I'll be back to 100% by Monday!

- Everything is in flux right now. On all fronts. And I'm so not good at flux, you know? I'm not good at transitions and change and things being out of sorts. I'm a routine girl, a know-what-to-expect, have-a-plan girl. Granted, in the last few years I've recognized that change is inevitable, and gotten a (little) bit better at rolling with the punches, but rarely have so many different areas of my life been in flux at once and I'm struggling. Trying very hard to take joy and choose to be happy and take everything one day at a time, but it's not working particularly well. I'm really eager to get everything back to some sense of normalcy. Even if the new normal is different than what it was.

- I bought houseplants. Walmart had all succulents and houseplants 50% off, so for a few dollars I came home with three new ones. And while I (and everyone who knows me at all!) know that I will probably have killed (or at least severely maimed) them by summer, for now all the green is brightening my spirits considerably.  Also I'm looking forward to spring and starting seeds and tending plants. Even if they produce two green beans and then die. ;)

- I am making a conscious effort to speak softly to those who disagree with me. I'm practicing being kind, being quieter. Not because what I'm saying isn't important, but because important issues sometimes raise emotions, and I need to be better about offering others safety to disagree with me. Even if I think their opinions are horrific (maybe especially then, because in that case it's even more vital that I give my words their best chance at being heard).

- The triplets start swim on Monday, and I am SO EXCITED. Friday I brought them in for training, and they got to test out their new wetsuits and goggles. I'm looking forward to watching them grow and learn. :)

Sunday, January 24, 2016


This is my third winter in the trailer, and I get better at winterizing each time. Since I just survived a blizzard very comfortably, and the weather is unlikely to be worse this winter, I'm hereby declaring the worst of the winter weathered.

- I've gotten more efficient each winter at heating effectively. The first year I heated exclusively with the propane duct system, and it was a cold, long, less than pleasant (and expensive!) winter. Last year I switched to two electric radiant heaters (one in the kitchen, one in the living room) which did a much better job, but were a pain to trip over and were a bit on the expensive side to run. Also, they provided zero airflow so my sleeping compartment was still always frigid.
This year, Maggie and Cris bought me this amazing infrared heater which is AMAZING. It keeps the whole place warm, is thermostatically controlled, and the blower keeps the air circulating, helping keep the whole place peetty evenly warm (my sleeping compartment was still a few degrees cooler, but that's how I prefer it, so that's fine). Plus, the sensory experience of being able to sit by a stove is just amazing. ;) I think this is the final solution. (When I build my tiny house someday, I think I'll choose a hard - wired infrared or propane fireplace.)
- Still using my electric blanket. I won it at my family gift exchange the first Christmas I was in the trailer and it's still going strong. I would highly recommend it to anyone who's living in cold quarters.

- I didn't insulate the heated hose this time. I always end up ripping off sections of the insulation at least once to deal with frozen sections, and it never seems to make a difference. It hasn't this year, either - if anything I've had fewer issues than ever. I did have a section of the pipe freeze once, but without the insulation I was able to see immediately that the heat tape had loosened, and once I tightened it, it thawed within minutes. So far so good. It's been a huge blessing to have almost zero issues with running water this year!

- The problem spot continues to be the faucet. It seems there's just no good way to insulate it. I wrapped it pretty thoroughly with the heat tape, but it froze in the middle of the blizzard. I defrosted it with a couple pitchers of hot water from the big house, then (since I lacked any other good options and hey, it worked last year!) I wrapped it with a couple of kitchen towels and zip - tied them into place. I'll probably try to pick up a Styrofoam faucet cover as soon as the world thaws and see if that fixes the problem. If not, hey, kitchen towels for the win! ;)

- Also on my "to do someday" list is rugs. The place could be 80° inside but the floors are still icy cold. I could fix this at least a bit by putting up skirting, but I shudder to think about the wildlife that would attract. I think I'll just buy some cheap throw rugs to put down over the linoleum.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Rest in peace, my sweet girl. You were loved.

Friday, January 15, 2016

What I Wish The Parents Of My Swim Students Knew

1. Please buy a swimsuit that fits your child correctly (and is made for swimming, not looking cute). This means a snug-fitting, one-piece suit (a suit with raceback straps like this one is awesome!). Two-piece suits are adorable but the absolute worst. One-piece suits with flouncy skirts (like this one) are also cute, but they make it hard for the child to see what their legs are doing. It's the most frustrating thing in the world to try to teach a child to swim who must constantly adjust the straps, waist, etc (we often ask each other, "Can't the parents, who are watching from the stands, see what a hassle it is?!"). I know it's tempting to get the next size up to try to save a little money (kids grow fast!), but it's not worth the wasted time.
Also, if you intend to have your child in swim lessons (or any other water-sport) for awhile, you need more than one suit, I promise. What happens when it's January, there are no suits in the stores, and your child's swimsuit suddenly falls apart (it happens) or is misplaced? A water aerobics teacher told me once that the rule of thumb for swimsuits is that if you're in the water more than twice a week, you'll probably need a new suit every 12 weeks or so.
If your child frequently complains about being cold, consider getting them a rashguard (Lands End sells lovely ones for both boys and girls, but even the cheapest neoprene rashguards will help immensely).

2. If your child's hair is long enough to reach their eyes when wet, tie it back before sending them to class. (Little girls AND little boys.) Better yet, get them a swim cap (and learn how to put it on: have the child hold the "front edge" of the cap with both hands very near their forehead; count "one, two, three!" and stretch the "back edge" of the cap back toward the nape of their neck. Tuck any loose hairs into place. If you have a little girl, put her hair back in a bun at the back of her head before putting on the cap).
I taught a little girl over the summer whose thick hair - no kidding - reached below her waist. The parents never pulled it back, so after trying for several lessons to get her to blow bubbles, and having her panic every time her hair covered her nose and mouth, I got into the habit of braiding her hair before taking her into the pool. (I did often wonder why her parents, who could clearly see her lessons, never bothered with this step themselves lol.)

3. Don't buy cheap goggles. The best goggles don't have Disney or Marvel characters on them. ;) Make sure they're sized for your child's age (child, youth, etc) and pick ones with a solid nosepiece (like these) and not an adjustable one (like these). (By the way, that first pair is my absolute favorite kind to put on little swimmers, and they're the ones I snap up on clearance to stock the swim bag with!) A pair with divided straps (like the first) is better than one without. If you have a very young child, invest in a pair of Frogglez. You can also try a hybrid swim mask if they have trouble getting a good fit - these cover a little more surface area so sometimes they work better for small faces - but DON'T buy a snorkeling mask that covers the nose. The first and most important skill when learning to swim is learning to control your breath, which is impossible to do if your nose is covered.
Teach your child to hold the goggles over their eyes while you (or their coach, etc) adjust the straps. There's less chance of injury this way, and you'll get a better fit. After they're done swimming, gently rub a little lotion, hair conditioner, etc over the inside of the lens, and swish it off in the water (don't rub!) before the next swim to maintain an anti-fog coating.

4. Don't send your child to class wearing jewelry, a watch, or, heaven forbid, toting a toy.
It's hard to get small children to focus in the best conditions. At best, your child will be distracted, at worst the coach will spend precious class time fishing a lost charm out of the filter amid tears. If the coach wants to use toys to help your child learn to swim, they will provide some. Otherwise, send your child to lessons without accessories!

Saturday, January 9, 2016


- A short weekend for me, since I worked yesterday (albeit a short shift) and again tomorrow. I was going to work on cleaning off my couch, but I didn't get anything accomplished on that front today after all.

- Maggie and I went to get coffee (#flatwhitesforlife!) and to put the kitties at Petco (Saturdays are adoption days). I wanted to take all the kitties home with me. Maggie reminded me that the landlords said no cats. Maggie met a cat who adored her. She wanted to take it home. I reminded her we have the same landlord.

- They had guinea pigs for adoption. I held one, it purred, I wanted to take it home (since guinea piggies fall under "acceptable pets"). I'm seriously considering getting one for my next pet when the Z-girls pass.

- I went out for a jog (I'm using C25K again) and, again, forgot how much I hate running. Barely finished, did some yoga afterwards because I hate running.

- Cooked zucchini alfredo and packed breakfasts for this week. Printed out the new rosters. Packed my swim bag and generally geared up for the week ahead.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Christmas Toddler Craft Round-Up

I thought I'd take a moment and share the activities and crafts we did month (December). Realizing that it was going to be an incredibly busy month, I was on the ball early (I'm not usually half so organized!) and had a whole calendar written out before December even started. (I have one written out for January, too, so hopefully this trend will continue!)

Some of these are art process projects, some are more traditional crafts, and some are newer ideas. The kids were really into Christmas this year (I think they remembered some from last year) and got very excited whenever we did anything "Christmasy" - even if it was just painting for a "Christmas craft" lol. ;)

Our counting wall. We always have something seasonal up on the wall to practice our counting with, so this time we did ornaments. I had the kids paint a big piece of paper with glitter paint, that I then cut into 20 circles and attached the tops to make ornaments (although I feel they're out of scale somehow - the struggle of being an art-challenged nanny, sigh.)

Michaels has had a great assortment of cheap craft kids lately. I picked up this bracelet kit for $1.29 and it had enough for three projects. As much as I love homemade craft projects, sometimes it's nice to be able to grab something prepackaged and all-included in a pinch! :) This is great fine motor skill practice; we also worked on patterns and color recognition as they worked on "green, red, white" order.
I was confessing on Instagram that I rarely do "invitation to play" crafts because they can get so out of control so fast; however, this one was so worth it! I adapted it from this pin and put out pompoms, pipe cleaners cut into 1/2" lengths, red, silver, and gold glitter, pony beads in red, yellow, and green, and sequins. The kids took forever filling up their bottles (bonus!) and then played with them nonstop for over an hour, rolling them back and forth, having "races," and just shaking them up and watching them settle.
I created these simple "order puzzles" for one of our circle times. The kids struggled more than I expected to complete them!
We played this counting game at the same circle time; throw the dice and find the Christmas tree with the same number of stickers.
Torn paper collages are fun, and we've done several different seasonal themes. This time I let the kids use scissors for part of the time, which they enjoyed, but got frustrated/tired with easily.
Another really fun activity, especially for Miles (who often tires of being told to "stop banging on things" - he kept banging on the buttons with the hammer, then looking at me like, "Can I really hit it?" lol). Oversized buttons, crab hammers, and styrofoam cones. We have to figure out a way to reuse these cones, or else save them for next year - they were easily one of the more expensive craft supplies I've ever bought!
Super-easy craft, making pipe-cleaner and pony bead candycanes for the tree.
The kids were able to do this craft completely by themselves this year. I did the cutting, but they did the gluing and positioning without any help. :)
Another easy ornament craft - popsicle stick trees. (I swear they're almost totally painted in real life, I don't know why the glitter glue won't show up on the camera!)
Cinnamon-dough ornaments. The kids loved mixing the dough and enjoyed playing with it for a bit before making the handprints. We followed up this craft several days later by painting the handprint ornaments.
The kids LOVED getting to paint their hands lol.
Sometimes our crafts turn out more "Fail" than "pinterest" lol
We did this after dinner one night with all four kiddos. Right before we turned them loose, I told DB that I had the sudden feeling I was making the biggest mistake of my nanny career ;) but it ended up being a relatively mess free craft and one that they definitely enjoyed!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Another Randomizer

- Today was the last day I had off before going back to two jobs (and I resume job #3 next week, so life is about to kick back into normal!). I did not move as fast as I possibly could have, but man did I get a lot done! And in between I watched the second season of Broadchurch. And drank coffee. And now my house is much cleaner and organized and I'm excited. And I feel rested and ready to get back into the swing of things. So yay.

- Things I'm loving lately: leggings (still not wearing them out of the house but they make incredibly comfortable and WARM pajamas) and fuzzy socks; the new heater Mags and Cris got me for Christmas (it looks just like a woodstove and BLISS); opening up cabinets and storage compartments that I remembered being crammed with junk and discovering that I did a much better job of purging last year than I remembered.

- Here's a bit of news: as of this moment, I own 200 books. To put this in perspective, the summer before I moved into the trailer I owned over 1,000 books. I took 500 with me when I moved. I'm not neccesary on a mission to get rid of more (good books are one of those things I'm ok with giving space to) but 200 books fit so much better than 500. Also, I got rid of James Joyce's Ulysses. I am probably never going to adore James Joyce, and if I decide I want to read Ulysses,  I will get a Kindle copy or something, instead of a ten pound hardback with gold lettering and a stamped cover. Reality sets in at last.

- Speaking of Kindle: I'm reading "7" right now and it's excellent. An excellent book to be reading during the new year while you're cleaning/organizing/purging.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Winter Bucket List 2016

1. Go to bed early
2. Go stargazing
3. Buy new music and burn a mix CD
4. Make valentines with the triplets
5. Stay up late reading a novel
6. Start a summer vacation fund
7. Start a reading list
8. Run or swim 3x a week
9. Declutter and clean trailer
10. Repaint
11. Get truck repaired (fan and airbag light... what else?)
12. Start new devotional
13. Take the girls ice skating
14. Do a Whole30
15. Make treats for my coaches
16. Clean out swim bag
17. Put together a "nanny bag"
18. Make chili and cornbread
19. Go to a bridal shower
20. Buy new tea