Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rushing Past

I am SOOO excited to participate in the Write on Edge prompt this week after a long hiatus. I can tell I'm rusty, but so glad to be back!

•  •  •  •  •

Though nervous, I felt uncharacteristically confident. After all, I wasn't going to pledge; I was only rushing as an avenue of meeting people. A friend back home who had become BFF's with a girl in her rush group had suggested it. Not to mention that I was a junior transfer amid a group of twenty twittering freshman girls who had no idea what university life was like. Not that I did either; living at Mom and Dad's while attending the local junior college does not a university scholar make. But surely being two years older than them, I was wiser, or at least more learned than they. Surely, I had a better sense of self, having two solid decades of living behind me.

Who was I kidding? The entire reason I'd moved 600 miles away was to "find myself" and be wholly self-sufficient. If you count relying on Sallie Mae as self-sufficient, that is. But it was true in the most important sense for me at the time. I really did not know a single person on the Colorado State University campus. And that was why I had chosen it. Well, that and the breathtaking view of the mountains. And the opportunity to minor in dance.

I could have stayed in my home state and attended KU. I'm a Jayhawk fan, and it would have cost half as much to attend twice as long. But it also would have been reliving high school as roughly three-quarters of my class was slated to go there. People told me it would be different; those 400 kids would be lost amid the 20,000 others on campus.

But it wouldn't have mattered. For me, knowing one of my former classmates could be around the next corner would mean I would be the same insecure version of myself that I had always been. And I wasn't too fond of that nerdy, awkward girl. I knew that inside, I was a better woman than that. I knew there was more to me. I just needed a chance to start over.

And so I approached each successive Greek house on the first round of the rush tour with aplomb. I was friendly, engaged, enjoying the gorgeous, hot August day. We arrived at the Pi Beta Phi house and our rush leader knocked on the gleaming white double doors. The chapter president opened it graciously and ushered us into the foyer, accompanied by a melody sung by a hundred, eager, smiling faces. The mingling began.

As I was led toward the refreshments, my equanimity shattered. The sorority girl ahead of me was from my high school. She saw me, flashed a sympathetic smile. I flushed. Fumbling my words, I tried to continue the small talk with the Pi Phi who was assigned to me, but I couldn't concentrate.

What was she doing here? She must think I'm so weird for rushing as a junior! This girl had never been rude to me, but we weren't friends, either. Just cordial classmates. It didn't matter that our past was ambivalent. She knew me. My clumsy, ineffectual ways broke through the strong exterior I'd adopted that morning. The thirty-minute visit dragged on as she and I did a delicate dance of avoidance. I felt only relief as I left that house.

Thankfully, I was able to pull myself together and complete the day with poise, albeit less confidently than I began. Though my time in Colorado did result in growth and self-assurance, one of the things that rush taught me was that you can't escape your past. Avoiding it only ensures its resurfacing. I learned to be ready, and when the time comes, to embrace it.

This week's Write On Edge prompt was: "So often in our lives, defining moments occur when our past and our present or our future clash. For this week’s RemembeRED prompt, write a memoir post describing such a time and the results."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Good News!

I'm excited to finally be able to make this announcement that's been in the works the last week or so. Those of you who read regularly know my husband and I have been having some employment issues. DH has been at a crappy job that he's been trying to leave for two years. We both found out the last week of December that we were going to be laid off. I was let go at the end of January, and he has had his layoff date move from end of March to end of February to sometime this summer. He's been job hunting even more intently the last few months, and it finally paid off! After a rigorous interview process and an intensive background check, he accepted a contract job with a highly regarded pharmaceutical company. He gave his notice on Friday - hallelujah! The contract only runs through December, so he's concerned about that, but we are hopeful that it will lead to another position within the company, but if not, at least it will make an impressive addition to his resume. And of course, we're hopeful I'll have found employment by then as well. Thanks to everyone for the prayers and well wishes!!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

March Madness Parenting Methods

I'm not the stay-at-home-mom I thought I would be. For one thing, I thought I would handle the bickering over toys with diplomacy, tact and patience. Yeah, not so much. Today I hit upon brilliant approach that I credit to all the basketball we've been watching lately.

The girls were fighting over a toy we found in the basement at my parents' house while we were looking for my old records yesterday morning. For those of you 80's kids like me, you may remember this:

Fisher Price Sesame Street toy set

I had to explain to the girls that Mr. Hooper used to run the store instead of Chris, but other than that, most of the elements from the show featured in the toy are the same today as they were 35 years ago.

The girls helped me wash the figurines while I wiped down the apartment building, and then happily played together for awhile. Before long, I heard them arguing. They both wanted the trash truck. (I sort of remember that was the piece my sister and I fought over, too.) They came to me crying and screaming and claiming each had it first.

I sighed. I've tired lots of things when they fight over toys. Take the toys away, put the kids in time out, attempt to discern who really had the toy first to begin with and then set the timer so they can take turns.

But yesterday for some reason, the first thing that popped into my head was this: "Ok, the possession arrow goes to Baby R this time."

I was half kidding, but realized that this approach was pure genius! The next time they came to me about wanting Bert, I ruled in favor of S. It had no bearing on who really had it first. It didn't matter. I didn't have to try to figure it out. I didn't listen to any arguing. All I had to keep track of was who had the possession arrow.

The best part was that there was no post-decision tantrum, because it was over in a second. It was so liberating!

How about you? What's your approach to dealing with fights over toys?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Skills Left Unused Go Dull

I took a week between posts, and the one from Friday is far from good writing. It's notes on things that happened, and I wanted to document them, but I simply entered the facts, I didn't embellish or craft a story. In general, my posts as of late have been flat. I feel like I'm in a slump. I've lost my mojo. And I haven't made myself push through it and write more to get to the other side. I've slacked off because I can. And I can tell. I care, but at the same time, I feel like I need a break.

Last week I mostly didn't post because things were a little chaotic. Monday night I had a get together with my girls from high school. While I was there, DH called to say our refrigerator stopped working, so he was moving everything over to the beer/pop fridge in the garage. When I got up Tuesday morning, I heard the ice maker drop ice, so I thought it was working again. This seemed like an opportune time to clean the inside since it was empty. I let DH know, and he said to put a thermometer in it to make sure it was really working again. So I did. It was around 40 all day, which I thought was fine, but DH said was too warm when he got home. The kicker was that when he opened the freezer to see the ice, it had all melted. Good thing I wasted the day cleaning the dang thing.

Anyway, I am trying to get back into the habit of writing a little bit every day. So forgive me for awhile as the quality and content may be less than stellar as I get back into the swing of things!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Baby Bullets: 8th Edition

  • Baby R named one of her baby dolls "Safety." I have no idea why or where it came from, but I suppose that's a good thing?
  • Baby R is really into princess stories, and the girls have started pretending to be princesses waiting to be rescued by a prince. I'm trying not to poke my eyes out, but I feel like all my girl power talks have been lost already. I keep saying, "You don't need a prince to rescue you. You can rescue yourself! Or maybe you could play that the prince is locked in the tower and you can rescue him?" It's not working.

  • Despite that setback, we have two big announcements! S learned how to tie her shoes all by herself!! And....
  • S learned how to ride a bike without training wheels!! 
  • Finally, a short, "bulleted" version of yesterday's funny story: On the way home from the bank, the girls were trying to blow up the balloons they had gotten. I cautioned them not to accidentally bite off a bit and choke on it. S asked what would happen. I told her they could die. She asked if they would go to heaven. I told her, yes. A few minutes later I heard her say, "Baby R, don't pull so hard! You'll go to heaven!"

Friday, March 9, 2012

When Our 4-Year-Old Did Division

The other day, S wanted the rest of the tropical dried fruit. They are pretty big chunks, so I told her she could have half of them. She poured them all out, and I asked her how many pieces were there. She counted ten. I told her to split the pile in half, and then count them again. She did and ended up with four and six. Since it wasn't even, she moved one over so there were five each.
"How many did you start with?" I asked.
"How many piles did you divide them into?"
"Two," she answered.
"How many are in each pile?"
"So ten divided by two equals five. You just did division, kiddo."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Composting: Have We Really Become That Pretentious?

Until last fall, whenever I heard people talk about composting, one of two things came to my mind. Either they were farmers, or they were pretentious hipsters who wanted everyone to think they were green even though they secretly loved styrofoam.

While we do have a garden, it's not like we have a tiller or a tractor or anything; it's modest in size. I didn't really think we needed to compost. Plus isn't that kind of a pain in the butt to mess with all the time? When DH suggested it, I thought it would be a hassle to do and envisioned a stinky pile with a 2-year-old playing in it.

When we first started to discuss it, DH and I argued about the process considerably. I told him we should follow the directions in a handy book I got at the library and photocopied about 4 pertinent pages out of:

He said our neighbors at the end of the block also compost for their garden (hence, why he thought we should), and they just chuck it all in a pile, so that's what he wanted to do. My biggest gripes about DH's plan in the beginning were that #1: It would stink and our neighbors would hate us; and #2: In addition to the curious toddler, animals would be digging through it. And I don't just mean squirrels. We don't have a fenced in backyard, and there are two large parks near our house that have deer and coyotes. I didn't want to encourage them to hang out in our neighborhood.

However, since he was the one doing most of the work, we used his method. (I think it will end up working, it's just taking a little longer than I think it needed to if we'd done it my way, ahem.)

We have 3 raised garden beds:
The one closest to you in the photo is the one he decided to use for the composting. Basically we started to put grass clippings, raked leaves and table scraps in there (plus random stuff like dryer lint and coffee grounds that I didn't know you could compost before I read that book!) in no particular order or fashion starting around November.

Since it was winter, we knew there wouldn't be any progress for awhile since it has to be fairly warm for the waste to start decomposing. But then a funny thing happened; we sort of skipped winter this year in Kansas. So a couple of weeks ago, we decided to really start trying to get it going. The book says that if you water and turn it every few days, it can compost in about 6 weeks. Which would be perfect timing for the garden. DH even bought a bottle of some liquid compost starter that has bacterial and fungal cultures that are supposed to help move along the process.

Turning it basically means mixing it up so the stuff on the bottom gets moved to the top and air and water circulate through to aid in the decomposition. We only have a shovel, but I think we will have to get one of the twisting digging things (that's the technical name, of course) that are mentioned in the book if we don't buy a rotating bin next year like the one pinned below (which our friends have and would be my preference once I have a job again, and we can spend money). 

Or the one that Carrie from The Sweetest reviewed on my fave review site, This Blogger Makes Fun Of Stuff. I can't say that our chosen compost process has totally worked (I just turned it today and discovered some rather large food particles that I thought would be gone by now), but I do think in general, it's going ok. Surprisingly, not much foraging (by the child or the animals). There was a little in the beginning, but it seemed like smaller animals; maybe a raccoon had gotten in, but most likely squirrels and rabbits were the biggest culprits. And it really doesn't smell at all. The book says if you do it right, it shouldn't, so that's encouraging, I guess.
So even if it turns out that this process doesn't result in the end-product in six weeks, based on how it looks so far, I definitely think it will happen eventually. And it's completely worth it even if we miss our start date. Not only because we can use it later, of course, but even if we weren't gardening with it and just spreading it on the lawn, we have reduced our trash output considerably. 
(Excuse me a minute while I put on my skinny jeans, pretentious TOMS and big glasses.) I can honestly say that once we potty train Baby R this spring, I bet only a quarter of our regular trash barrel will be filled each week. We cut it by a third when we started recycling (maybe even by half) and have cut out another 1/4 to 1/3 by composting. Granted, we have small children who waste a lot of food regardless of how hard I try to avoid that by making them eat leftovers later or finishing it off myself. (I draw the line at cookies dipped in Ranch.) So our trash quantities may be affected in different percentages than the average person's. Still, even if it's less than that, it's a positive step for the environment.

Do you compost? Have you considered composting? If so, are you wanting to use it for a specific project timeline or just start it up? If you're only wanting to do it for the sake of doing it, I say go with DH's "just chuck it" approach. If you want some organization to it, grab that book at the library for some tips.  Good luck!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Poor Pinterest Projects

Since I'm unemployed, we are doing our best to only buy necessities which has put a lot of my crafting on hold. But I have been able to accomplish a few things mostly using stuff I had on hand. Here are the latest Pinterest projects I've gotten done!

First, for Valentine's Day, I made these cute butterfly cards for S's party at school. I skipped buying the googly eyes, so all I had to pay for were the suckers. I would have had to buy some kind of candy anyway, so that worked out well.

Then, I've really been wanting to make a menu board I had pinned, and the only thing I needed was a frame. I found a mirror on clearance at Target for $5 that would work perfectly, and the price was right to move forward with completing this project. I did end up having to buy the gingham paper for the edging to cover up the mirror since the size was off. But the paper was on sale and only $0.30.

I used a suggestion from the comments on the original pin, and put velcro on the backs of the clothespins. I decided to color code our recipes with red for beef, blue for fish, orange for pork, yellow for chicken and green for vegetarian main dishes. I usually make one of each every week with a pizza day and a leftover day thrown in.

I customized it to include sides, too, since some of our favorites (mushroom barley, edamame salad) are more complicated and require more ingredients to prepare for. I color coded those as well - yellow for starches, green for veggies. I try to have one starch and two vegetables with dinner.

I love how it turned out, but I do need to find some more recipes to include!

Finally, DH had bought a generic brand of Tide the last trip to Costco in an effort to save money, so I decided to try making some laundry soap since I'd found a recipe that was supposed to be $20 for 9 months of soap. Finished it yesterday, so I haven't used it yet, but the majority of the reviews on it were positive, so hoping it works well for us!

What have you pinned to your "I Did It!" board lately? Check out mine to see the original pins for these projects.
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