08 November 2010

a little blatant self-promotion

I'm doing some hack writing for a couple of internet sites, including eHow and Naked Law. I love doing this sort of writing. Random topics, internet research, down-to-earth writing, and getting paid for it. I am quite geeked about the whole thing, to be honest. I'd do this all day every day instead of my actual official job, if I could. Not practical, unfortunately. But for the moment it helps fulfill the creative urges and also helps pay the bills, so it's all good.

I also get to find out about things I would never have otherwise known. Granted, perch fishing isn't a subject I am dying to know more about, but I did find out some interesting stuff about the history of not-well-known area of my state. I also have discovered:

See? Isn't your life more complete for knowing these things? I thought so.

02 November 2010

A platypus, a koala, and Medusa walk into a library....

My super-awesome friend Kate takes really nifty pictures, and she offered to take some product pics for me for my Etsy store. Since we both work at the library, that was the easiest place to set the pictures, and the first shoots turned into a sort of photostory. Now that there's a theme, I think all my crocheted goodies will be pictured in library settings. Because why not?
The apple of knowledge?

Mindy does some old-fashioned research.

Medusa can total relate to French mysticism.

Mindy feels a little dwarfed by the armchairs in the reading room.

The pencils, however, are just her size.
Koala is researching his family tree.
Platypus finds he is slightly the wrong size to work a microfilm reader.
Meanwhile, Mindy has made a new friend.
Koala, the stacks are no place for shenanigans!
Lost Platypus is lost. Maybe this map will help.
"Um, guys, it's this way!"
"Don't you think this book cover complements my dress perfectly?"
Hey! No eating in the library!
"I'm following the rules. See how well-behaved I am?"

"Whatever, Mindy. Don't be such a drag."

"Yeah, look at me! I'm not even using the steps!"

"You guys are lame. I am so out of here."

29 October 2010

Apology accepted, kid

Mimi started taking a very very small dose of Pr*zac two weeks ago. I think we are starting to see the effects, here and there. She finished her homework last night -- I was able to talk her through a difficult spot and help her understand the concept without a gigantic meltdown, which has been a rare thing this school year. She seems more cheerful. She has slept through the night in her own bed at least twice this week.

But she also is extremely excitable and distracted, even more so than usual. I have to ask her five or six times to put her shoes on or turn off the tv or settle down so that we can sit down to dinner. Getting ready for school in the mornings has been a nightmare this entire week. Boo feeds off Mimi and copies everything she does, so there have been several mornings where I have dragged both girls out of the house, screaming, teeth and hair unbrushed, to deliver them to school 15 minutes late and arrive at work half-an-hour late myself.

She's not on any sort of ADHD med right now. We stopped all meds about a month ago to see if her anxiety level diminished. It did, a little bit, but not as much as the psychiatrist would have liked. So, the anti-depressant, which has been shown to be effective in small doses for anxiety in kids. But we didn't want to start any other meds at the same time, because we needed to be able to judge how this was working. She goes back for follow-up on Monday and I guess we will discuss all of this then and decide if she needs yet another medicine, or, you know, just some restraints. (Kidding.) (Sort of.)

I don't mean to imply that life with Mimi is always difficult, or always about her history of trauma. My lovely girl has a whole lot going for her and many qualities that make her lovable and fun to be around. At least half of my parenting with her is fairly, well, "normal" (whatever that is) -- did you brush your teeth, how was school, no, you can't have ice cream for breakfast, I love you too, no you can't have chocolate before dinner, thank you for helping set the table, stop bugging your sister, give me a hug, have a good day, listen to your teacher/dad/grandma. Etc. I don't think constantly about her adoption, and her life before that. Often, yes, but not all the damn time. More so lately, because it has clearly been on her mind more and she is definitely going through some processing of her history before she was adopted. And when she's processing, I know we are going to have a bad evening or night or following day.

The other morning the girls' dad came to take them to school so I could leave for work early. This did not happen, because the girls were being uncooperative screaming banshees, and I was frustrated and still needed to get ready for work myself. I made the poor decision to let M handle the getting-ready process so I could get ready myself. I got out of the shower and heard screaming. Poked my head out of the bathroom and saw Boo running around in her underwear, and Mimi eating breakfast in her pajamas. And M yelling at them both to hurry up. I got dressed and combed my hair and blow-dried and brushed my teeth and 20 minutes later, Mimi was still in her pjs, Boo was still in her underwear, and M was still yelling. I came into the living room to hear Mimi yell from the kitchen "I HATE THIS FAMILY! I HATE BEING IN THIS FAMILY! I WANT A DIFFERENT FAMILY! I AM GOING BACK TO CHINA!"

I've heard this before. I tend to take these outbursts with a grain of sale. Usually I say something like "Oooh, sorry to hear that. I would miss you if you went to China." It deflates her anger and makes her annoyed that I am not freaking out about her threats. M, however, doesn't always (or, to be honest, ever really) get that it's not personal, it's not really about hating us. It's just the only way she knows to express her frustrations and the way she knows will hurt us. It's the worst thing she can think of to say and every time she says it and I respond calmly and non-threateningly she feels that tiny bit more secure. M doesn't get this. He never has and I don't think he ever will. So he yelled something back at her like "Well I don't like this family very much right now EITHER."

Yeah, mature. I know. My point here is not to complain about M, although I could (that would be a whole other blog, with daily entries, footnotes, citations, etc.). It's to point out that despite Mimi's trauma, anger, rage, she feels safe enough at home with me to express it in words that have meaning and sense. She is processing her trauma and working through it and when calm is able to say things like "I bet my family in China misses me" and "Boo doesn't even have two moms. She just has one" (in tones of massive superiority) and "My brain is this way because this is how my mom and China made me." She's getting it. A little at a time, with lots of patience and discussion and moments of rage and everything else. If M could refrain from responding to her at a maturity level slightly lower than hers, we'd probably be making even more progress. Because she's starting to understand the things he says, too, and process them. And after she has outbursts, she is almost always sorry, and almost always apologize, unprompted. I can't say the same for M.

As we were leaving I calmly told M, "Don't come out in the mornings for a while." He snapped "I don't want to anyway." Later that night Mimi said to me "Dad doesn't want to come over because we weren't behaving." And I said, "well, Daddy and I both like when you girls listen to us and follow directions, and you definitely weren't doing that this morning. But it's not ok for Daddy to yell at you any more than it's ok for you to yell at us. And if he decides not to come see you then he's probably not making a good choice." We talk a lot about choices -- good, bad, difficult, etc. I want the kids to know they have control over some things (whether or not they lose tv privileges, for example, and if they choose to go to bed RIGHT NOW or in half an hour. Heh.)

Oh and the apology? Five minutes after her outburst, she said to me "I'm sorry I hate this family. I'm sorry I hate Dad." I started laughing. Tension diffused, just like that.

14 October 2010


Mimi has a weekly writing assignment for school. She knows about it on Monday but we usually end up doing it, of course, on Thursday. Before we could even get started on homework tonight, she had a massive meltdown that involved yanking my hair, which hurt badly, and hiding under a blanket on the couch screaming that she hated herself, that she didn't want to be her and that she didn't want to be from China.

She calmed down and, as she tends to do, went on to do her homework like we hadn't just had a 45 minute screaming fit at the thought of it. This week's topic was "write about a time you were surprised." After some thought, this is what she wrote.
I forgot my umbrella yesterday so I was surprised when it rained. Another time I was surprise when my mom and dad came to pick me in China! I was surprised because I was two and I never seen any body with blond hair before. And brown hair too!
It made me think of this picture, which Mimi's dad took in the elevator in our hotel. She screamed and screamed the first couple of times we went in the elevator (but we were on like the 12th floor, so, sorry babe, but we're taking the elevator) until she discovered the mirrored back wall. Then she loved it and wanted to go in the elevator all the time.

Oh, my baby. So tiny. So scared and surprised. I wish we could find a magic mirror for you again.


Fight Like a Girl

I made this treasury of awesome, inspiring girl-power stuff I found on etsy for a couple of reasons. I needed something to remind myself of my strength. And I needed reassurance that my daughters will grow up knowing their own power, strength and wisdom. I needed to remember that there are plenty of women who don't rely on others to solve their problems, and that even when things don't go quite right there are lots of reasons to go on.

And, of course, just because as women we are awesome, and our daughters are awesome, and it doesn't hurt to tell yourself that as often as possible.

01 October 2010

Make It Better

I kind of forgot to blog this week. Here's a picture instead. 

Ok, fine. I didn't actually forget. It's been a rough week all around and every time I thought about writing about it, I found something else I needed to urgently do ... You know, emergency Etsy Treasuries, complaining on Twitter about the use of the word "soda" on Detroit 1-8-7, and downloading free Tetris apps onto my fancy new phone (which was fairly cheap since I was due for an upgrade, and is PINK, which makes my daughters ecstatic).

I've spent most of the past couple of weeks dealing with Mimi and her needs. Not unusual for parents. Really not unusual for parents of special needs kids. (That link, by the way, goes to a wonderful site, essential reading for anyone parenting a child with special needs.) The thing is, see, it's really hard to write about your kid's special needs and biweekly doctor's visits when those needs are psychological and the visits are to a psychiatrist. It's hard to write about the bedtimes when when your kid says "I hate being me" and "I wish I wasn't born" and talks about the people in her head who make noise all the time and keep her from being able to sleep. Or how when asked about her biggest worry, your kid draws a picture of herself in jail. It's hard to think about putting your 7-year-old on Pro*zac, never mind write about it. Rit*alin, ok. Lots of kids take ADHD meds. We talk about ADHD a lot, and kids on the autism spectrum. These are things people are starting to understand in children. But a clinically depressed, chronically anxious 2nd grader? People start to look at you, as a parent, a little funny. What's this mom doing wrong that her kid is DEPRESSED? (Must be the divorce. Or you know, those adopted kids, you never know with them.) What does a 7-year-old have to be depressed about? 

Well, a lot, it turns out, and nothing that I did "wrong" made her this way, but it's what we're dealing with, and it sucks all around. It sucks for Mimi, of course, most of all. But it sucks for me, too, and for Boo. It is really hard to live, never mind talk or write about. I come home from work most days, and spend four to five hours dealing with Mimi's needs, meltdowns, behavior issues, and moods, while trying to love her as much as I can and make sure Boo isn't completely ignored in the process. The other day I spent nearly a full hour walking back and forth between the bathroom (where Boo was taking a bath) and the girls' bedroom (where Mimi was supposed to be doing homework -- one math sheet with four questions on it  -- but was actually screaming, throwing her pencil, spinning around and around in the desk chair, crying, whining, and tearing paper into teeny shreds), dealing with their needs in 3-minute bursts. Bathroom -  bedroom - bathroom - bedroom -- they are about nine steps apart, but I felt like I was running a marathon. Some nights it's homework, some nights it's whatever I made for dinner that she doesn't feel like eating, some nights it's when I say "no more tv" and turn off the set, some nights it's nothing at all that I can discern but something awful is happening in her head and that's enough.

It's not all bad, and I don't mean to suggest that what we're dealing with is any worse than what many other parents go through. There's still this stigma, however, to mental and mood disorders, and so often we still are too squeamish to discuss them openly. Especially when it comes to children. I struggled with whether to post this or not, because after all it's not my issue, it's Mimi's. She doesn't seem to mind talking about it -- in fact, recently, she's become quite verbal and open about it, and for the first time is really finding the words to describe what goes on in her head. I want her to be matter-of-fact about it, and so we say things like "some kids wear glasses because their eyes need help to work right. Some kids have leg braces or wheelchairs to help them get around because their legs aren't as strong. Some kids take medicine to help their brain figure things out a little bit easier, or help them feel better." But it's different, of course it's different and she knows it and so do I, because no one wants to think about a 2nd grader with crippling anxiety and mood disorder.

So I'm posting, so you know. It happens, kids DO get depressed, seriously, life-changingly so, and if we don't talk about and do something when they are little, or whenever things start to get bad, then
we raise people unable or unwilling to share the hard stuff, other people unable to deal with people who are not like them, people who can't cope with their own feelings never mind take into account what other people might be going through. And ultimately we get bullies, and kids afraid to go to school, and kids who won't talk to their parents, and parents who don't see their kids' emotional pain, and middle schoolers and college freshmen, beautiful young people who could change the world, we get these kids hanging themselves and jumping off bridges because they have no hope that things will ever get any better.

It will get better. Whatever I have to do to make it better for Mimi, I will do. And I hope that talking about it can help, a tiny bit, make it better for someone else.

24 September 2010

life is messy

It has been a super-annoying week.

Mimi and Boo have both had difficult days, although they at least had the grace to alternate; Wednesday Mimi raged and screamed from the time I got home from work right straight through until bedtime; tonight Boo started whining at me the minute I walked in the door, everything from "I want milk!" to "That's BOOOOOORING" to "my thumb tastes nasty." I am thinking about ripping my ears off.

I made my kid cry by threatening to trash her play-doh.

My kids keep substituting the word "poop" into random song lyrics.

The house is a wreck and I'm having family and friends over tomorrow for Boo's birthday so I have a ton of clean-up to do. Plus presents, decorating, wrapping, etc.

I got called judgmental on twitter, in the process of asking people not to judge others, in regards to the whole Similac formula recall. Some people can't successfully nurse their babies. Some people choose not to. Can we all stop being MEAN about it, please?

I posted a link to a blog post about taxation an the middle classes on facebook, and started a whole thing without intending to, and called someone an asshole, and somehow got insulted for being short. I just thought it was an interesting blog post. I should really know better by now.

I have crochet orders backed up the wazoo and barely any time to work on them. I strained a tendon in my hand a few weeks ago and couldn't crochet at all for a couple of weeks, which didn't help.And I was recently reminded about some stuff I still owe people from the summer. And it practically takes an act of God to get me to the post office, I don't know why.

I got accepted as a hack writer for a content provider which is wonderful because I desperately need even the pittance that might bring in, but I have not been able to get my brain functional enough to write a 500-word article about perch fishing in Michigan. Seriously.

The cat keeps eating the dog food. The dog keeps eating the cat food.

And this is not even counting the normal, everyday woes like not having a functioning washing machine, the laundry piled everywhere, my broken tooth, the house falling apart around me, my negative checking account balance, Mimi's psychological issues, childcare scheduling difficulties, and my tendency to start crying at the stupidest things these days.

This is my life. It's insane. I wish certain things were very different. I would like to be able to pay my bills and own a house and sent my kids to gymnastics class and buy pretty things for myself.
No time, no time, no money, no time.

Really, the reason I started this post was to say, gah, I have had a crap week so here's some cute stuff to look at. But instead I made a wish list at etsy to cheer myself up. Someday when I have discretionary income again, I am going to buy myself some cute stuff and not feel guilty about being good to myself and everybody else can just bite me.

I'm here. I'm alive, and I'm grateful for that. Life is messy. The alternative is worse. I beat myself up for lots of reasons, most of them related to things listed above that aren't really even in my control. I am not the best mom in the world. Or the nicest person. But I'm the best me there is and that's what you're all going to get.

This post was inspired by this one. Please read it. It's important.

22 September 2010

What's Going On With Us

I don't know if anyone missed me, or what, but since it seems I am blogging again, I thought I'd do a nice little catch-up post. I haven't really blogged regularly since May of 2009, and kind of a lot of stuff has happened since then. Although you might mostly know this already, since I tend to overshare on Facebook. Anyway. In no particular order (neither chronological nor in order of importance):

I got divorced. I separated from M officially in December 2008, although things had been pretty much over for about a year before that. The divorce was final July 2010, which took longer than I might have hoped but was at least fairly drama-free, as these things go. It was delayed because we filed for bankruptcy jointly before we filed for divorce. M's years of unemployment and some poor financial decisions on both our parts had got us into a hole there was just no way out of. Our house went into foreclosure in the summer of 2008, and we moved into a rental, where I still live with the girls. The only way out of that was bankruptcy. So that all sucked, but it's done. I'm still on rather shaky ground, financially, since I'm not getting much in the way of child support -- M is working, but not making much more than minimum wage, and there's a support order in but sometimes I get the money and sometimes I don't. I'm managing (some months, just barely, and I have no savings or extra) and things are hopefully starting to turn around in that regard. Emotionally, I'm good. The girls have adjusted fairly well, all things considered, although it's an ongoing process. M is around a lot, takes them to school most mornings, and we get along well. But I'm making all the big parenting decisions and most of the little ones, and paying all the bills, and yeah. It's stressful.

Mimi is now in second grade. She'll be eight in December. EIGHT. Remember when I was blogging her adoption? That was six years ago. Seriously. I didn't blog any of her first grade adventures, and I feel kind of badly about that, but it was a tough year all around. Second grade has gotten off to a bit of a rough start, but things are starting to settle down. I hope. She's dealing with some major adoption-related trauma -- her dad not being around as much has predictably brought up a bunch of abandonment issues -- but we're getting through it. She's talking about it, which is huge. She blindsides me with it at bedtime or on the way to school, but she's talking. And because her dad's disregulation was contributing a lot to her own, she's also relaxed quite a bit in the past year. Developmentally, she's still a bit behind her peers in her class, but she's come such a long way. And she read TWO CHAPTERS of a Junie B. Jones book out loud to me last night. That is remarkable. I about cried.

Boo is in full-day preschool. Seriously. She can write her name and climb to the top of the monkey bars and ride a bike with training wheels. And she will be four next Sunday. Thankfully. Because three has been extremely difficult for her and for me, and while I know she won't magically be a reasonable person next week, I can hope that the combination of being FOUR and being at school all day will turn her into more of a human being and less of a wailing banshee-child. She already has a friend, whose name she actually shared with me, and this is a big deal. Because last year at daycare, where she was two to three days a week, all day, she pretended not to know any of the other children. For MONTHS.

I started tango lessons. I'm still doing this, although not as frequently only because my schedule is all effed up right now. I love tango. I have shoes I wear just for dancing. This is remarkable, trust me, and I will be writing more about this.

I started dating. Kinda sorta. With varying degrees of success. And dealing with quite a bit of emotional that the whole oh-right-I'm-single-now thing brought up. That's an entire post in and of itself. More than one. But for the moment things are going kind of well in this department, and that's all you're going to get. For now.

I made it into the Regretsy book. Because I make these chapstick cozies, see, and sell them on Etsy. And then I made a whole bunch of them for a Regretsy book signing and the photos made it onto several mainstream sites. Never would have guessed I'd get my 15 minutes due to crocheted genitalia.

I think that's kind of the highlights. I traveled a bit for work-related conferences and classes -- Chicago, D.C., Charlottesville VA, Philadelphia. I crocheted a lot. I wrote a little. The girls and I all watched too much tv. I got drunk. I kissed some boys (sometimes while drunk). I lost a couple of friends, and made new ones. Just, you know, life. And stuff. And so now I'm back. Yay!

16 September 2010

Nobody puts baby in a tutu

It's that time of year, post back-to-school and pre-Thanksgiving, when we parents start hearing about Halloween every five minutes. The stores have costumes and candy out the minute they get rid of the lunchboxes and notebooks, so it's difficult to avoid. I've been poking around the web looking for ideas for Mimi, who is in 2nd grade and therefore, I feel, should not be dressed as a stripper or teen skank ho. I blogged over at The Sink about the issues I have with adult costumes, which seem to have a theme of "take a beloved childhood icon and make it 'sexy'," which mostly have the result of making me want to take a very hot shower in bleach.

So I don't have time to make a Halloween costume and I don't have the money to buy one (or the inclination to support the business of any industry that suggests this as an appropriate "nurse" costume for a child. (I particularly like the stripper shoes.) I could do a whole post on inappropriately sexy children's costumes, but I won't, because I don't particularly feel like grinding my teeth to nubs today.

Instead I went over to Etsy to look for ideas for appropriate, cute, handmade children's costumes. And what did I find? Tutus. Lots and lots of tutus. If your local Joann's is sold out of tulle, this is why.

Look, if your kid is a ballerina or a fairy for Halloween, fine. Maaaaybe a ladybug or a butterfly -- it's a stretch, but ok. But if your kid is Cookie Monster, a pirate, or a cowgirl? NO. TUTU. Ditto giraffes, spiders, and cupcakes. Seriously. Does EVERYTHING have to be teeth-achingly adorably girly? 

So I set out to find some cute, reasonably priced kids' costumes on Etsy that did not involve tutus in the least. It was harder than you'd think, and I had to venture into the dreaded BOY territory for some of them, but I was reassured to discover that there are people making cute, creative, APPROPRIATE outfits for kids. I put together a Treasury (because those are SO FUN, seriously, and I'm a little addicted to making them.) Click on the image below to get to the treasury, and click on each pic to go to the individual items. Explore all the great stuff in these sellers' shops. Enjoy. And buy handmade! 

15 September 2010

not myself

Mimi was in a major funk today after school. She's been in a mood for the week since school started: everything is "booooring" and "toooo haaarrrrd." She wants to come home from school and sit in front of the tv until bedtime, basically, and gets terribly angry at me when I won't let her.

Today I got home from work shortly after my mom picked up both girls from school, and when I came in I could tell it was going to be one of those days. Mom was tired and cranky, Mimi was tired and cranky, and Boo was pretty much the only one glad to see me. I let Mimi finish the show she was watching, and then reminded her that it was time to turn the tv off and have quiet reading time. She is very stubborn about reading, and still wants me to read for her most of the time even though she is perfectly capable, so I am trying to encourage her as much as I can. But reading? It's BOOOOORING and TRIIIICKY and TOOOO HARRRRD. I understand her frustration, and I was ready for it so managed to stay calm and offer to help her with her book. Instead of listening to what I was trying to tell her, she ran across the room and burrowed into a blanket, totally hiding herself.

I know she's stressed and anxious about school and changes and all the new things. I don't know how to help her through this right now. Eventually she came out from under her blanket, after I started reading to Boo. She said she didn't know what to do, so I suggested several options: reading, drawing a picture, coloring, writing a story or a letter. None of those were acceptable. She finally decided it might be ok to go outside and do chalk drawings on the driveway. Boo was thrilled with this idea, but once we got outside Mimi threw herself down on the ground and just stared at the sky. I asked if she wanted me to make a chalk outline of her we could color in but no. I asked if she felt ok, and if something was worrying her, and she said no. Then she thought for a minute and said "I'm just not myself, mom. I don't feel like myself."

Later we came inside and cut out pictures from magazines to paste into a collage. Boo didn't want to come in but was convinced when I told her she could use scissors and a gluestick. Mimi at first just wanted to watch, but she shortly got into the spirit of things and produced a fantastic collage of a peacock on a spaceship exploring the solar system. Then she gave me a big hug and said "Mom, I'm myself again! I'm so happy. I like being myself." Then we put on some music of Mimi's choice and danced around the living room, and both girls dissolved into hysterical laughter while they watched me. "Mom! You are shaking your booty!"

Crisis averted, for tonight, but oh, I am so tired. I don't have the energy for this sort of intense hands-on Mimi management every single night, and keeping Boo entertained at the same time. The evening eventually devolved into fights about coloring and what color a certain princess's hair should be so I had to cut things short;  Mimi accuses Boo of copying her but when Boo wanders off to do something else Mimi can't leave it alone and keeps poking at her until Boo comes back and "copies" some more. This is fairly typical sibling stuff and I can manage it, for the most part, but when it's on top of all Mimi's emotional issues, well, I'm exhausted. Mimi will be fine, I know, and Boo totally is fine, but me? I don't know if I'll survive.

16 August 2010

so now what?

So I haven't been writing much lately. At least not much longer than 144 characters; if you follow me on Twitter, you've no doubt found that I am quite prolific over there. I do think that as I became more active on Facebook and Twitter my need to blog about my life shrank to almost nothing; cute stories about the kids which I used to blog now go on Facebook; pithy quotes (again from the kids, for the most part) go on Twitter. Random updates about myself and my life can be found both places. And then divorce process finished killing what had been already dying slowly; there was so much I couldn't talk about no matter how desperately I wanted or needed to.

I tried focused blogging, for a bit, experimenting with a crochet blog, a tango blog, even a "look at this ridiculous shit"-type blog that people keep getting book deals for. I'm no Cake Wrecks or Regretsy, however (although I AM in the Regretsy book, so booyah) and no book deals fell out of the sky for me. I also had difficulty keeping on topic, since I'm a bit "ooh shiny!" when it comes to my writing style. So I established this site without really knowing what I'd do with it, since I can't just, you know, NOT have a web presence or a place to write things down when the mood does strike, which is still does once in a while, but I'm still trying to figure out how that presence will manifest itself. I have a few ideas, which I am presenting for your consideration. If anyone is actually reading.

1) Twitter, but more so
I've thought about taking me tweets and expanding on the more interesting/funny/popular ones. The main idea is already there and written, so it's a bit of a time-saver. This seems a little self-indulgent, however.

2) Single-parent blogging.
There are a lot of "mommy" blogs out there. Mine was one of them, for a long time. I don't know if there are a a lot of single-mom blogs. My guess is most single moms, including myself, are too freaking busy and tired to write about how freaking busy and tired we are. We also face a lot of challenges 2-parent families don't have to deal with, and considering how many single-parent families there are out there, I do think we are rather underrepresented in the blogosphere.

3) Dating, with children
An offshoot of the single-parent thing is trying to restore some sort of social life to one's schedule after a divorce. We're still human beings with the need for adult interaction, adult beverages, and adult activities, and this can be quite difficult to manage, as I am discovering. It can also be fun. And heartbreaking and frustrating and all the things regular dating (pre-children) was, but more so.

4) Crochet, with patterns
I'm not sure about this. I love to make stuff. I love that people are starting to actually buy stuff I make. I don't know about pattern-writing, which is harder than it seems, I've discovered; I don't know if anyone would pay me for my patterns.

5) Contract blogging
There are a few aggregate sites which hire bloggers for specific gigs, or for certain topics. I've thought about chucking my own site altogether and trying for a gig like that. However, I don't know how to write a pitch and I have no idea how to go about getting it together for something like that. It would be nice to get even nominal pay for this stuff, though, I mean really.

And again, I just don't know if I can stick with a focused format, or if I'll eventually do what I always do and either wander off, or go back to writing about whatever pops into my head.

16 July 2010

These conversations always happen in the car, for some reason.

Scene: We're in the car, on the way to daycare. For some reason I don't really recall, we are talking about babies.

Mimi: I was a baby in China.

Boo: I was a baby and I grew in Mommy's tummy!

Me: Not in my tummy, in my uterus. We talked about how there is a special place in your body just for babies to grow. [Note: I hate the "tummy" thing. It's factually incorrect, and then there's the confusion with how the baby GOT in the tummy. Did you SWALLOW it?]

Mimi: Yeah! And then the baby comes out your VAGINA! [Note: We had just talked about this a couple of days before, after Mimi informed the babysitter that "Babies come out your butt!!!" Again, precision is important.]

Boo: Ewwwwwwww!

Mimi: Yeah! There's a hole the baby comes out of! [Pause] Mom, when I grow up ... [longer pause] You know what? I changed my mind. I don't want to grow up anymore.

Me [stifling laughter]: Well, you will grow up. But just because you get to be an adult, doesn't mean you have to have kids. Some people choose to have kids, and some choose not to. And some people adopt.

Mimi: Like me! You adopted me!

Me: Right! And some people, like our friends Kate and Deb, chose not to have children at all.

Mimi [indignantly]: BUT THEY HAVE US!

Boo: YEAH! US!

Me: Well, yes. And they like to come over and play with you and then go home. They are friends, not parents. So maybe you will choose to have a baby that grows in you, and maybe you will choose to adopt, or maybe you will choose not to be a mom at all. Those are all good choices.

Mimi: I want to have kids. As friends. Can we listen to the Chipmunks now?

24 June 2010

not quite the Amazing Race, although a million dollars at the end of all of this would be nice

If you follow me on Twitter at all (@jen_talley) you may have noticed that I have been on the road for nearly the past two weeks on what I have been thinking of as my multi-city librarian-extraordinaire Eastern Seaboard extravaganza. I had two professional obligations in a row, one at the University of Virginia last week and one in Philadelphia this week. I am currently sitting at the Philadelphia Amtrak station waiting on a train that doesn't leave for another two hours; I could have done some lunch-type stuff with my colleagues at the conference, but at this point I am so tired of hauling around an insanely heave suitcase (hereafter the IHS), various totebags, a backpack, and a camera bag that I came directly here after the morning's sessions and am happy to just be sitting.

Since I was on this multi-city journey it seemed like a good idea to take the train. Flying would have been prohibitively expensive, even with the university covering a great deal of the travel costs, and would have necessitated checking the aforementioned insanely heavy suitcase and paying probably the overweight penalty as well as the bag-check fee, as well as dealing with various taxis and switching to trains or renting a car. Instead I plotted a course that went like this: Ann Arbor-Chicago-Charlottesville. Charlottesville-Washington D.C. D.C.-Philadelphia. Philadelphia-Pittsburgh-Toledo-Ann Arbor.

So I left Ann Arbor on the Saturday around lunchtime and headed five hours in utterly the wrong direction to Chicago. Two hours in the Chicago train station and then boarded the Cardinal for Charlottesville, a bizarre route that takes one across Indiana, along the Ohio-Kentucky border, through West Virginia and northwest Virginia before dropping one in Charlottesville and then continuing on to Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, and finishing up in New York City. And this 30-hour plus extravaganza is considered a direct connection between Chicago and NYC. Really.

This should have taken about 20 hours and gotten me into Charlottesville midday on Sunday, but overnight we lost massive time due to apparently storms, and scheduling issues, and freight trains getting priority on rural West Virginia tracks, and when I woke up Sunday morning (not that I really slept much overnight, but I dozed off and on) we were still in West Virginia. And at lunchtime, we were still in West Virginia. I think we made it nearly to Staunton VA by dinner time and were finally deposited in Charlottesville around 7:30 pm Sunday night. By the time I gathered my bags, got a taxi, got over to Conference Services for my room key, had the taxi take me over to my Lawn room, and hauled everything across the Lawn into the room, it was nearly 9 pm. The wine-and-cheese opening reception which I was so looking forward to (and really, at this point, how badly did I need the wine?) was long over; I opened the window, closed the screen doors, pulled the bed out to the middle of the room under the ceiling fan, and collapsed.

So then there was a week of easily the best, most intimidating, exhilarating, inspiring professional experience of my life. It might be hard for people outside the profession/obsession to get how obscure points of bibliography can be exhilarating, so you'll just have to trust me on this. Or judge me and think I'm a complete nerd, but this is also true. My class finished up on Friday afternoon; I met up with a TARflies friend for Friday evening (we had frozen yogurt, which was awesome, and went to Target, which is always awesome) and then stayed up very late Friday night into the wee hours of Saturday morning drinking wine on the Lawn and talking with classmates/colleagues/new friends. Four hours later I got up, repacked the IHS, and got back on the train to head up to D.C. Stayed with another TARflies friend there and did touristy and/or relaxing stuff until Monday (Archives, American History, Toy Story 3, catching up on Dr Who and True Blood at her place, Air and Space, Lincoln Memorial, etc.) I got a ridiculous sunburn wandering around on my own on Monday, because I am an idiot and because it was REALLY HOT AND SUNNY, and headed out once again on Tuesday morning for Philadelphia. Except really, Wilmington, because I met Natalie there for the afternoon and we proceeded to hang out and talk and have a really good lunch and wander around her wonderful local yarn store, after which she drove me to Philadelphia and I plopped my insanely heavy suitcase into yet another dorm room, scrounged dinner at a 7-11, and collapsed again. Wednesday was spent being all professional and stuff again, and then dinner with yet another TARfly (we're EVERYWHERE) at a nifty restaurant called El Vez where I had a very yummy blood orange margarita and a crazy amount of chips, guac, and various other corn-based based food products. This morning it was back to professionality (oh, whatever, it's a word), along with the repacking and hauling of the IHS, navigating the Philly subway, and finally ending up here, now, at the train station with a couple of hours to spare. Seven hours today on the train to Pittsburgh, overnight to Toledo, and then from Toledo to Ann Arbor, a bus, and I will finally be home sometime tomorrow morning. Laden with books, papers, and other professional conference detritus, souvenirs for the kids, two more totebags than I started out with, lots of dirty clothes, a sunburn, and a completely exhausted, burned-out brain. And likely, immediately upon arrival, two small girls whom I have missed as desperately as I needed a break from them when I began this trek.

Holy cow, I'm tired.

04 May 2010

Hail to the Chief

So, Saturday, I went to see the President.

Obama's speech at University of Michigan Commencement

Rather than trying to recap the experience now in some kind of coherent textural fashion, I'm going to paste in my stream-of-consciousness tweets from the day, with commentary.

6:40 am
It's pouring rain, thunder and lightning. Oh yay.

(My alarm went off at 6:30, but I'd woken up already to the incredibly loud thunder. Debating whether to go sit in a giant metal box in the middle of an electrical storm was worth the chance of seeing the President. Maybe not.)

6:45 am
If I were a narrow-minded conservative religious nut, I'd say that God doesn't approve of Obama giving the U-M commencement speech.
(As thunder and lightning continue, and the rain comes pouring down, and I haven't showered yet because when I was a kid my mom made me terrified of taking a shower during a thunderstorm.)

7:18 am
Ok, i know it's pouring and all, but why are there actual DUCKS in my front yard?

 (This has nothing to do with commencement, but there were, and I thought it was funny. I do NOT live near a pond.)

8:19 am
Waiting for shuttle bus from commuter lot to stadium. Not crazy enough to try to find parking around there.


This is the sign that was at the shuttle stop. Someone had discarded a camera case near it.

8:57 am (As we were getting off the shuttle at the stadium)
Hey, it stopped raining!

8:59 am
No umbrellas allowed! 

 (This no-umbrella policy is not new for the stadium, and it had been posted on the commencement website, but obviously many people were still unware, as the area outside security was littered with discarded umbrellas, as well as bottles, snacks, and bags.)

9:32 am
Will have an excellent view of the back of the President's head

9:50 am
We have entertainment. Not sure if it's the glee club, choir, or what. They're pretty good.

(This was just before they broke into an acapella version of "Here I Go Again." Really. They WERE good, however -- and as I later discovered, apparently members of the theater department -- and other song choices weren't quite so ... disturbing.)

9:57 am
Helicopters over the stadium.

10:19 am
Now BIG, official looking helicopters.

10:21 am
Decided am hungry. In line for overpriced coke and bagel.
(I was in line for a good 20 minutes, during which time they ran out of a)breakfast sandwiches b) fruit cups and c) creamer, and by the time I got back to my seat commencement had started.)

11:06 am
Jumbotron showing clips of various presidents speaking at U-M. big cheers for Ford and Clinton. Not so much for Bush the 1st.

(I spent some time actually listening to the speeches and being impressed by them. The student speaker in particular was fantastic.)

11:48 am
I can't even believe I am sitting here listening to the freaking PRESIDENT.

11:53 am

11:57 am
He's down there somewhere...

11:58 am
Obama: historical perspective. Lincoln, TR, Johnson. Social programs not historically partisan.
(This is about 15 minutes into the speech, when I shook myself out of dazed stupor to remember I was supposed to be live-tweeting. Politics aside, it's remarkable how the guy can hold a crowd of 90,000 people spellbound.)

12:01 pm
Maintain basic level of civility in public debate -- much applause.

(Apparently the President doesn't want me to call them crazy right-wing nutballs. Oops.)

12:07 pm
If you only read NYT, try Wall St Jrn. If you're a fan of Glenn Beck, try reading HuffPo. Expose yourself to variety of opinions.
(Preaching to the choir in this setting, unfortunately. The people who need to hear this message most likely aren't going to listen to this speech.)

12:09 pm
Poisonous political atmosphere discourages people from getting involved. Need fresh blood in D.C.

12:10 pm
Quoting Kennedy's peace corps speech in AA 50 years ago.
(Link added upon reposting here, obviously.)

12:14 pm
Bunch of people leaving now. Rude!

12:39 pm.
"Please stay in your seat. We will let you know when the President has left and you can leave." Hah!

(And this is how well people listened to the announcements)
12:49 pm
Lots of people left as soon as Obama finished his speech. Seriously seriously obnoxious.

(Come on, people, even if you came to hear Obama: it's a GRADUATION. You should at least stay until people, ya know, GRADUATE.)

12:54 pm
And NOW the sun comes out.
Occurred to me this is more fodder for my crazy-right-wing "God doesn't want Obama to speak at U-M" theory: this was almost literally the minute after Marine One and Two flew over the stadium and away.)

And that was my morning with the President. Me and approximately 92,000 other people.

29 April 2010

my 15 minutes

Well, and why NOT use my first post for a little blatant self-promotion?

Regresty Art Auction at Housing Works

See the little crocheted wangs the chick is gleefully holding in the first picture? The same crochet penii referred to (twice!) in the article? Yeah, I made those.

They are also featured in the book Regretsy: Where DIY Meets WTF. Which is how they ended up part of the Housing Works charity auction as well.


I never dreamed that my 15 minutes of internet fame would be via crocheted genitalia, but I'll take whatever I can get.

28 January 2010


I’m finding it harder than I thought to get back into the blogging habit. Of course, the fact that there are about five million things going on in my life is making it slightly more difficult; since my last entry, I had two fantastic nights of tango; my dad went back into the hospital with his third bout of pneumonia in a year; Mimi has had several massive meltdowns; and I had a nasty bout with either stomach flu, food poisoning, or a combination of the two + stress — at any rate, I couldn’t keep any food down for the past 48 hours. That was fun.

I had last week off work and I really wanted to get the house cleaned up and some major decluttering done. I did manage to get through the girls’ room; sorted through some clothes, packed up a bunch of toys, purged the bookshelf. They need to have a minimum of things in there to deal with because the “picking up after yourself” lesson isn’t going so well. I was tired of threatening to take stuff away, and just did. Weirdly, they didn’t seem to mind; in fact, the room has stayed fairly neat for the past week aside from books and clothes on the floor. I can live with that.

I finished the one freelance editing job and another typing job, so that was also an accomplishment. I completed two crochet orders from, uh, last month, so again, something. I sorted my yarn stash from its various locations all over the house into one bin. I started sorting papers into keep/recycle/trash boxes. But I didn’t get any farther than that. My room is a disaster, the basement is a disaster. I still have crochet projects to finish, at least two of which have been paid for already. I have to go to the post office and mail off the finished things, which I haven’t done yet because I have no money. My checking account has been overdrawn for a week. I have a bit in paypal but can’t access it, since I left my paypal card in an ATM two weeks ago and the bank destroyed it. I’m waiting for a replacement but in the meantime…

Yeah. That’s about how the past couple of weeks have gone. But I am extremely hopeful that starting tomorrow, things will be turning around. I get paid tomorrow (stupid once-a-month paydays) and there should be about $150 more in my check from this month on since M is no longer on my health insurance. I am also on track to get my federal tax refund tomorrow, at least according to the IRS’s website which I am choosing to believe, and with that, I will be buying a car. Going to the bank as soon as I am able to tomorrow, arranging a ride, and handing over a cashier’s check to purchase a nine-year-old Saturn. My very own car, owned entirely by me. No bank, no one else on the title. Just ME. I cannot tell you how important this is to me. It’s a bit of independence I have been sorely lacking in the past year and a half, and it will feel so good.

I also have a solid weekend of tango coming up, the Fire and Ice Festival here on campus. Child care is arranged, and from tomorrow at 6 pm all the way through to Sunday night, I have workshops, practicas, and milongas, with breaks for eating and sleeping and that’s pretty much it. If I can get childcare for Monday night, I can do the wrap-up workshop as well, but that might be a stretch. Either way. I am so excited. And I bought my first pair of actual tango shoes on eBay earlier this week (which, ok, that was ONE way to use my Paypal money…) and am extremely hopeful they will arrive at least in time for Saturday night’s milonga.

If someone had told me a year ago I’d be excited about strappy high-heeled shoes, I would have laughed. Heartily. But here I am. Heh.

18 January 2010

List of ways tomorrow could be better than today (imported post)

  1. I am not woken up at 4:30 AM by a child who crawls into bed with me and then proceeds to pee all over me.
  2. There are fewer than three (3) screaming fits and/or tantrums.
  3. After I clean a room, someone does not come along and, during the course of tantrum about not being able to find a certain pair of socks, throw all the shit I just picked up all over the room again.
  4. No one says "I hate you" to anyone else in the house.
  5. The dog does not eat either child's breakfast because they left their plate on their small table well within her reach while they distractedly wander off.
  6. No one pushes or hits anyone over who gets to brush their teeth first.
  7. No one poops in their underwear.
  8. I find a way to respond to whining that is more effective than clutching my head and snarling "YOU GUYS ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY."
  9. People deign to eat something other than popsicles.
  10. I am able to sleep in my own bed tomorrow night without needing to fumigate it first.

I'm so glad I took the week off. What a fun day it was.

13 January 2010

Looking up (imported post)

Last year sucked. 2008 sucked, too. I’m pretty sure 2007 was pretty damn sucky as well. Things have not been good for a while. And the first week of 2010 wasn’t looking so hot.

Things are starting to change, though. I’m working on my attitude, which is the first step. I had a nice little nervous breakdown Saturday night, which continued on into Sunday and didn’t really start resolving until Monday morning. I took Monday and Tuesday off work as mental health days and spent a lot of time thinking. (And try to detach my velcro children from my side, but that’s another story.) I’m not going to wax all philosophical here, let’s just say that I gave myself a stern lecture and couple of good mental slaps upside the head.

Also on Monday, I bought a car. That helped. A lot.

Ok, well, I didn’t actually buy it, but I’m going to. Fortuitous connections led me to a 2000 Saturn SL1 in perfect condition with — seriously — only 65000 miles on it. When I get my tax return, which I filed last week through turbotax even before the IRS began accepting returns, I will hand over a check and they will hand over the car. I will OWN it. In MY name. No loans, no payments. I will have an asset. And transportation. SO. EXCITED.

It’s bright blue. That’s what the girls are excited about.

A friend with a daughter in Girl Scouts called for my cookie order yesterday. Also good.

I’m getting a massive tax return. Enough to pay cash for the car, catch up on my bills, and put the rest into savings. Well, with a little fun money set aside. I guess this is what happens when a two-income household suddenly goes to a one-income household for an entire year. I’ve already adjusted my exemptions for this year so as to have more money in my paycheck every month this year, though. While a return is nice, there where many times this past year when an extra couple of hundred dollars a month would have made a huge difference.

I’m thinking about buying new beds for the girls, the kind that can stack into bunks or trundle beds, and then come apart when they are ready for their own rooms. Nice to be able to contemplate purchases like this without prefacing it with “someday, when I have some money…”

And I had enough money in the bank to send some here and here. Just a bit, but I had a bit to spare, and that's a lot for me. Not to get maudlin, but yeah. I have a roof over my head, clothes, food, a steady income, and I know my children are safe and healthy. For today, that is so much more than enough.

03 January 2010

Another bedtime crisis (Imported post)

Our bedtime books tonight were Pinkalicious and Purplicious. Mimi loves these books, but the second one disturbs her a little bit because the main character gets made fun of. She's become extremely sensitive to the possibility of being teased, and has said several times lately that she doesn't want to go back to school because "people might be mean to me."

With school starting back tomorrow, she's been a pill all weekend. Cranky and defiant, she had to be carried to bed shouting that she was NOT going to bed and she was NOT going to school in the morning and I could NOT make her. Half an hour later she got up and climbed into my lap, said "I'm sorry" and told me that she doesn’t like her black hair, she wants pink hair. She likes blonde hair because it's pretty. And black hair is BORING. Then she told me she hates her mom who gave her “stinky skunk hair.”

I told Mimi I love her first mom because without her I wouldn't have my Mimi.

It's heartbreaking how so much of everything for my baby all comes back to that first loss.