Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Three's So Nice We Celebrated It Twice

Finn's birthday was awhile ago, but we celebrated again big time this last weekend with his two besties, Sawyer and Noah. Their birthdays fall back to back, so us mommies put together one big blast for the three of them!
Here's Finn with Chuck E Cheese on his real birthday:

And here he is at the big bash we had this weekend (of course, I totally forgot to get a pic of all three birthday boys together):

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New News

I did it. I started another blog. One that's a big more suited to my current state-of-mind.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What Was the Question Again?

Let me invite you into my brain. Somewhere between 10-50 times a day I ask myself this (about many various and random things):

"Am I the problem or the solution?"

Why do I do this? Because I am a crazy Virgo that feels I must perfect every action of my being from tooth-brushing to fish-feeding (Note that I say action. If you have seen my house you know that I don't care too much about perfecting my possessions). I never have an answer; it's just a little bit of self-torture that I love to cram into my already over-processed brain.

But I'll tell you what I do know. Change takes a long time. You take little baby steps until one day you forget why you even started. At which point I usually find something new to carp on.

I want to say that each time I torture myself that I will instead remind myself that "Change takes time!" I want to say that I will be vigilant in my inspirational statement until I forget all about that annoying question that I so frequently worry about. But, for some reason I don't want to let go of this one. Perhaps there is some way to marry my perfectionism with a degree of moderation? With some sort of sympathy for myself and my lowly imperfect state? I've been trying to become a happier person (another quest for perfection!), but does that mean I have to turn my back on crazy Virgo tendencies?

Once again, way to many questions with no answers.
But on the note of change...one thing is clear. I can't go on with this blog the way that it is. I either need to start a new one or change this one up or something. It's working it's way through my brain, but as I said before: Change takes time. (I want to make it just PERFECT!)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Faking It

Not to toot my own horn, but when I meet up with people that I used to go to high school with they always seem to remember me as "the smart one." I admit that I derive a secret pleasure from this since I do try to represent myself as educated (have I mentioned I have a master's degree?), but often it's not much more than that--a representation. I'm not even sure how good I am at this anymore since a work friend of mine told me yesterday that in high school I was probably "the bully." Guess I am picking up a few new tricks.
I think this is a very interesting exploration however. We all have roles that we use to define ourselves--mother, spouse, employee, butt-wiper, etc. But what sort of attributes (real or wishful) do we cling to about ourselves? And once you take inventory of this, how many of these are actually positive? In a brief personal assessment, "educated" (although I'm not really sure how accurate this is--I'll admit the only thing I know about the health care debate is that it sounds REALLY expensive) and "children-oriented" are the first two positive attributes that come to mind that I try to throw out there about myself. Whether I am these things or not, it doesn't really matter as long as I reinforce them in my words and actions. I represent myself negatively too. I come off a lot less confident than I should a lot of time, usually when it comes to child-care. If I say "I just don't know how to handle this situation!" then most of the time I DON'T have to handle the situation. Get it? Calling yourself a doofus outloud lets you off the hook a bit.
One thing that I have never identified myself with is a profession. Not even "geographer" although I have two degrees in the field (have you heard?). Now, in my life I have wanted to be many things--including a vegetarian veterinarian, but that is neither here nor there--but one thing I continually come back to is "writer." It's arguable that I actually already am one. I have written a couple of things, including this blog and an 80-page thesis (for that master's degree that you may not know about). I'm curious, just because you say you are something, does it make it true? Am I a writer? Am I educated? Am I a moron? (I believe you can be all three of these things at the same time. My evidence: college professors) Is what we are what we reinforce?
My answer is split and I'm afraid it's also going to get a bit touchy-feely (all you cynics out there watch out). I think everyone has a bit of a war raging within them between their brain and their soul. Now I know that the "soul" has gotten a lot of press for being the victor of all that is good and right; the direct connection with whatever force created the universe and all that. But I don't think it should always be in command. The brain, for all it's bullying and control issues (see which one is winning in my head!) has it's place. For if we didn't let the brain make up roles for ourselves and push us to be what we want, where would we be? And if our soul wasn't there to tell us to quiet down and just chill, I think some of us would never break our insomnia.
Ultimately, I DO think that we are what we act like. But it is never set in stone. The great thing about having a brain and a soul is that they are always pushing the other to evolve. It's like having a built-in personal trainer for your thoughts. They always try to even each other, if you can just shut your brain up long enough to let them work it out. And when I finally do, they both tell me that I am none of these things that I make up. I am Elizabeth. And I can be whatever I want today.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Balancing Act

I'm not really sure who the phrase "Everything in Moderation" is attributed to (although it reeks a bit of Buddha), but I've heard it said many, many times. However the first time I really took note was about a year ago when my friend Nicollette used the phrase. I can't even remember what we were talking about, but it really resonated with me for some reason. Probably it seemed like the highest type of wisdom coming from Nicollette, someone who is particularly calm and even-keeled (let's just say I can't picture her crying on the floor of her bathroom because her toddler won't eat his veggies). Now whenever I think these words, they always come out in her voice. And I think these words often, in fact, because they are certainly words to live by. In my quest for truth and happiness (they most often come hand in hand) this is a mantra for a perfectionist like me. In the past I have strived for an ascetic lifestyle. I thought that pleasure was only derived from hard work and pain. Which is an entirely absurd notion. Still, old habits die hard and, therefore, the words are repeated day in and day out.

What relevance does this have? I often get inspired by things. At the moment, Julie Powell is making me want to blog more, and about more honest things. Also, I have been caught in the whole late-twenties-what-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life snare, and the conclusion is I would like to work on my writing (I've always had a hard time marrying facts and details when I write--probably because the only thing I've ever written is college reports or this blog). Anyway, I am reminded to pace myself. I feel as if I jump around from wistful brain sketches to "what my kid ate for dinner" type posts way too often.
Anyway, bear with me. I feel like I want to do more with this blog, but at the moment I am using it for my own personal experiment (perhaps my own Happiness Project?) I've always believed that one person could change the world! But for now, I am trying not to expect too much from myself--just the ability to be moderate.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Junior Year

Have I mentioned how awesome 3-year-olds are? I am only a month in, so this may be premature, but Finn has never been so clever or charming as he has been this month. Three-year-olds may know how to push your buttons (it's positively MADDENING when he interrupts my singing to tell me that the words to the Thomas song say "falling fate" instead of "hauling freight." I'm pretty sure I'm right since they spell it out for you each episode and I'm the one who knows how to read!!!), but not always in a bad way. Finn knows that a quick kiss or an "I'm sorry" can work wonders on my mood. I'm going to optimistic and call it the "terrific threes" in this house.
Two of my favorite 3-year-olds (I promise Kristal--I didn't lock them in there or anything. They were enjoying themselves up until I pulled out the camera):

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

From the Inside Out

This has definitely been one of those weeks where I completely question what I am doing with my life. I'm consumed with envy just watching the teens on Gossip Girl as they barhop, sleep around and get ready for college (three things I don't really want to be doing anyway--OK, barhopping doesn't sound so bad on the days my kids treat my house like a toilet). The point is, I am jealous of fiction. "There has to be something more!" I keep telling myself. This never leads to anything good. It's only a short downward spiral into me breaking something just to make sure that I can still influence anything in my life.

I haven't done that in many months though. It's gotten better. And it will continue to get better, I know this. Tonight, after shedding a few tears at my inability to get my one-year-old to eat even a noodle of macaroni, I remembered that I do have the power to change something (and I didn't have to break anything to prove it). I can change the way I was thinking. Why is this so difficult? It's a completely inside job. I rely on no one but myself to change my attitude. Also, why has it taken my 27 years to figure this out? I can't even count all the "Attitude is Everything" signs on my grade-school walls. Why is my ego working so hard against me?

I used to think that there were just certain things that couldn't be done. For example:

  • I can't just not count every single minute of television time that my children get and agonize over every single one (BTW Finn is watching Wubbzy as I write this)

  • I can't get less than eight exact hours of sleep and still be in a good and energetic mood the next day

  • I can't not tell myself what a horrible imperfect slob I am everytime I want to sit and watch FRIENDS at 5:30 in the afternoon

And so on. But you know what? I decided a couple of months ago that maybe these things weren't set in stone. I thought, maybe, just MAYBE, I could try to NOT freak about these things for one month, (hell, even just one week!) and I could wait and see if the world fell apart or the sun went spiraling out into space. And, as I'm sure you know, it hasn't. In fact, life has been a lot better when I don't agonize about all the little things that I SHOULDN'T be doing. And I thought of it all by myself (although Robert Holden has been a huge influence)! Is it possible that I could LET myself just be happy?! Amazing!

So, tonight, after eating all the leftover macaroni straight from the pot (with the big spoon and all), I reminded myself just how great I am. I have a master's degree dammit!! I worked hard for it! And I do things! I go to the zoo on rainy days just to get out. And I enter writing contests! I work at things! And, most importantly at the moment although it REALLY doesn't feel spectacular, I am there for my kids. When I am daydreaming about running away to an ashram in India, I remind myself that right now, THIS is where I need to be. I decided to bring them into the world and they need me. This thought usually keeps me from climbing the walls. Let's see them make an episode of Gossip Girl where Blair trails two toddlers all day (without Dorota's help!). Her Manolo's would be stubs by lunchtime.

Now if you will excuse me, I have to go pry Finn away from Noggin...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Picture Time!

And now a couple of outakes:

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