Reconciling the Hard

I have over 200 blogs in my reader and yesterday there were three posts. All day. This morning there were five. I guess the summer doldrums are already here.

My husband and I had a fight last night. One of our old ones. It wasn’t even a very thoughtful rehashing of the topic. I struggle with the idea of living forever in the city. It’s harder than I thought it would be. It seems increasingly impossible that I will ever develop any real sense of community here. My husband would be miserable in a monochromatic suburban wasteland. I am honestly starting to wonder if it’s better to be surrounded by diversity but ultimately alone, barely participating in it, or to just give up and feel at home with a bunch of people who look and talk like me (and have about the same amounts in their bank accounts). The progressive, liberal part of me (and it’s a BIG part) wants to slap the woman who would rather run away from the hard to a place where she feels like she truly belongs. The part of me that is actually living the experience of being one of the only white, English speaking people on her block, and sending her daughter to a school where she is one of the only white kids in her grade, wants to scream that it’s hard, and there is a reason so few other people are doing it.

It’s not hard for my husband because he loves living here. Being in the city provides him with all sorts of opportunities that he appreciates, even if he’s not able to take advantage of all (or even most) of them right now. He doesn’t crave community, in fact he’s happy to avoid it. And he is more removed from the challenges of raising kids in an urban area, because I handle a lot of the day-to-day logistics. While he attends most special events at my daughter’s Title 1 school, he’s never there for drop off or pick up or during the regular school day. He doesn’t see how rough the older kids are with each other on the playground. He does see that the line for the general education (as opposed to Spanish immersion) Kindergarten class usually only has 5-7 kids standing in it, even though there are 20 kids in that class. He doesn’t read all the articles about how schools with high percentages of lower income students (our daughter’s school is 92% free or reduced lunch), NEVER perform as well as schools attended primarily by upper socio-economic families.

I haven’t written much about my thoughts and feelings regarding my daughter’s school, mostly because COMPLICATED, but I think about it A LOT. Every day I drop my daughter off at one school and drive 30 minutes away to teach at an arguably “better” school. Obviously, we decided that it was best for our daughter to send her to the school in the city, and I still believe in the reasons we did so, but they are more abstract and harder to quantify. When there is so much written about the failings of inner city schools, it’s easy to wonder if we made the right choice.

I really hope I write more on this here, because I have a lot to work through and process. In the meantime, I need to get to work.

My Failure Resume

Mel wrote a post about writing one’s Failure Resume, the idea for which she got from a Lifehacker article. This is how the original article begins:

Listing out your victories is a great way to build some confidence, but it can also warp your perspective on how you achieved success. Listing out your biggest failures instead will remind you how you got to where you are, and help you learn what you need to succeed.

I think it’s true that we can learn a lot from our failures. I know I have. And while I don’t revel in revisiting all the many ways I’ve failed in my life, I do appreciate the chance to review the lessons I’ve learned. Here are just a few of my failures (both big and small) and what I learned from them.

The car I crashed (and totaled) two days after I got my license. The loss of a thing can be hard, but never take for granted that everyone is okay–that is a priceless gift.

My ectopic pregnancy. Really horrible things can happen, for no reason at all, and I can survive things that I believed would destroy me.

The book that never got published. Sometimes just creating something is a triumph, even if no one else ever sees it. I can hold my children’s book close to my heart, and even though no one wanted to publish it, the fact that I wrote and illustrated can be a victory.

The fact that I’m still not as fluent a Spanish speaker as I would like to be. The journey can be profoundly gratifying, and sometimes it’s hard to recognize when or if you’ve arrived at the ultimate destination. I’m not really sure if I’ll ever believe I’ve gotten there, and that’s probably okay.

My secondary infertility. The most unexpected thing can happen, even the ones that feel like miracles.

The YA novel I never finished. I may not know yet if I want to finish something, but that doesn’t mean starting it is a bad idea. Learning that I am not really interested can be just as valuable as completing what I set out to do.

Never being invited to write full time for the magazine. I have to ask specifically for what I want, not expect people to just hand it to me. That means I have to be confident enough in my own abilities to feel like I deserve asking for it in the first place.

Dumb shit I have posted on my blog. I don’t need to put it all out there; my words can really hurt people. Sometimes the best course of action is no action at all. Always wait a few days to publish (or send) words written in anger, frustration or pain.

My continued struggle with classroom management. Some skills are really hard to learn, but it is worth attempting to master them.

All the ways I’m not the mother I want to be. Good enough really can be good enough, AND it’s always worth trying to be better (as long as I can practice self-compassion along the way).

That time I walked the last three miles of a half marathon. Just because I finished a marathon a couple of years ago doesn’t mean I don’t have to train for a half marathon now. If I train for it, I can finish it, but if I don’t, I probably won’t.

My many shopping bans. I can fail to achieve a certain goal (not buying anything for six weeks) but still benefit from the ultimate desired outcome (changing my spending habits).

Embracing minimalism. Just because I’m not there yet doesn’t mean I never will be.

My failed friendship. This is the one I’m still not sure of yet. I guess maybe it’s that sometimes I will endure a tragedy and not learn anything more from it than the extent of what I can endure. I don’t want the lesson learned from this to be that you can never know or trust anyone, even those you feel closest to, so I’m going to stick with the first one.

What is something you would learn if you wrote your failure resume?

Goods and Bads (This time the Goods!)

Yesterday’s post was supposed to be about goods and bads, but I ended up writing so much about the bads–that work stuff probably should have been it’s own post–that I needed to save the goods for today. So without further ado, here are the goods from the past week.

  • We attended my daughter’s Kindergarten Promotion on Thursday. While I don’t think that kind of celebration is necessary (and it was super frustrating to miss work on that particular day), I appreciated the opportunity to take a moment and recognize how much we’ve accomplished this year. My daughter really has grown up in a lot of ways, and even though I still worry about her considerable struggles with emotional regulation, I do recognize that things are much improved.
  • My daughter’s last day of school is this Thursday. She will be going to camps until I’m out, so most of our basic schedule will stay the same, but the slightly later start time should improve mornings quite a bit.
  • I thought my washing machine was broken, but then it wasn’t. So grateful I’m not dealing with a broken washing machine right now.
  • My son is finding his sense of humor and he makes me laugh. A lot.
  • I only bought my daughter three things for her birthday. That is by far the best I’ve done on the gift buying front yet. I’m proud of myself!
  • The trampoline fiasco was threatening to be a really big blow up between my husband and I, but we managed to reign it in and handle it respectfully. It might not seem like a big deal, but it really does signal that we’re learning to communicate with each other better, and that is a big deal.
  • Dr. Google suggested that my “nose zit” was actually a recurring staph infection and prescribed an OTC ointment (bacitracin) to treat it. After just 48 hours of slathering my nostril with it three times a day it feels worlds better. I have high hopes that if I keep up the ointment for two weeks the infection (and accompanying exquisite sensitivity) won’t come back (I’ve been dealing with this, off and on, for months now).
  • The weather has been cold, cloudy and windy, which is actually a good thing at the end of the school year. If it were warm and sunny outside the kids would be even more crazy than they already are.
  • I’ve kept up my exercise regimen even though it’s driving me a little crazy to do so, and I’m proud of that, because I know it’s the best thing for my mental health in stressful times like these. I’m not really looking forward to starting my half-marathon training, but I’m hoping when I have more time it will be more enticing. (I also seem to have avoided a possible IT band issue by doing a set of exercises and stretches every week. I’m very thankful that it no longer seems to be a problem.)
  • On a related note, I have some nice color on my face, shoulders and arms right now from my weekly runs. I look so much better with a little color.
  • The day I had to take off for my daughter’s Kindergarten promotion I was able to make a big drop off at the Young Families Resource Center. It feels REALLY good to get that shit out of my garage, where it has in the way for months (we do not have a big garage).
  • My husband is starting to get on board with getting rid of more stuff, which is no small feat. Now if I could just get him to actually help me sort through it all…
  • I just finished listening to La casa de los espiritus (The House of the Spirits) by Isabel Allende. The narrator had a thick accent (I’m not sure what accent it was, actually) and it was initially difficult for me to follow it, but I stuck with it, and ended up really loving it. It’s been on my must-read list for years and I’m proud to have finally finished it, in Spanish no less. Sometimes it’s the small wins.

I feel like this list isn’t very impressive, but honestly, Monday wasn’t a great day and I almost didn’t write this at all, so I’m calling it a win. This time of year is super stressful for me and I know I just need to get through it. In four weeks it will be over and I’ll have seven glorious weeks of summer ahead of me. I really am so close.

Goods and Bads (Ok, only Bads)

It’s been a really shitty week and I’m feeling pretty down right now. But I also recognize that some good has happened, and I don’t want to overlook that. So in the spirit of “Goods and Bads” (what we call Highs and Lows at our house, because my daughter kept getting confused on which was the good thing to share, the high or the low) here is a look at the past week. I’ll start with the bads, because I always want to hear bad news first. (It turns out there were a lot of bads, so the goods will have to wait for tomorrow, but I promise I’ll post them).

BADS:

  • This week was really busy, and almost all of the events were obligations that I dreaded. I hate having a calendar full of cringe-worthy shit that I must attend.
  • One of those cringe-worthy events was Open House at my school, which is by far my least favorite night of the school year. I hate schmoozing with parents who want to turn a two minute handshake into a mini end-of-year conference. I also wasn’t at school that day, so I had to go early to make sure my room didn’t look like a bunch middle schoolers with only a sub to keep tabs on them had occupied it all day. I was also super nervous that the mom who has been writing shitty emails about me to my principal was going to be there (because she said in one of her emails that she would be), but luckily she never showed, or at least I never saw her. Still, I spent the whole night nervously scanning the room, anticipating her arrival. It was exhausting. (But my room was in surprisingly good shape, so that was nice).
  • My mom wanted to get my daughter a trampoline for our backyard for her birthday and it was on sale so we had to give her an answer pretty quick. We said yes and she ordered it, but then we did some research and realized that trampolines are incredibly unsafe for children under 6, and while we knew there was some risk involved in jumping on a trampoline (and had created a list of rules to mitigate that risk), we were not at all comfortable with how dangerous simple jumping on a netted trampoline is for smaller kids. So after much agonizing, we told my parents to return it. Of course by then my daughter had figured out it was coming (long story) and she was upset, and my mom was annoyed (rightfully so) that we hand’t done the research before she bought it, and I was disappointed because I know my daughter would love it and she really needs good ways to burn off her seemingly limitless energy. Sometimes being a responsible adult is such a bummer.
  • My son wakes up, ready to greet the day, every morning between 5:30am and 6am. I doubt further elaboration is necessary.
  • My son also remains decidedly two-and-a-half. That compounds the exhaustion of waking up with him at the butt crack of dawn.
  • My daughter’s birthday party is in two weeks and I’m not at all ready. In fact I’m not even close to ready. It’s totally stressing me out. I HATE that her birthday is at the very end of my school year. It creates all kinds of stress.
  • There are four more weeks of school left. This is the critical tipping point, where there are not nearly enough days to get everything done but too many days to be excited about summer’s imminent arrival. There are also TONS of assignments and projects and tests to grade. And the kids are fucking maniacs. (Truthfully, I’m not doing much better.)
  • Our Blu.Ray player mysteriously stopped working over a year ago. Suddenly we started getting a “No Input Signal” line on our TV when we tried to use it. We haven’t replaced it because we mostly just watch Net.flix and we could hook our computers up to the TV when we really wanted to watch a movie (ahem Disney) that wasn’t free through one of our services. Except that sometimes we only have the Blu.Ray of a movie (not sure where the accompanying DVDs are going, because we always buy the set with both) and even when we do have the DVD, our computers are so old and slow that hooking them up to the TV is a pain in the ass. So I finally bought a new Blu.Ray player at Cost.co and my husband finally set it up and we’re still getting the “No Input Signal,” even with a new cord, and trying all the inputs (including the cord and input port that allows us to successfully use the Ro.ku). It just doesn’t work. So clearly something is wrong with our TV, but WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH IT THAT IT JUST DOESN’T REGISTER BLU.RAY PLAYERS?! That makes no fucking sense! Especially since they were two totally different kinds of players. Anyway, it’s not so much that the TV doesn’t work, it’s that it works in such a annoying and frustrating way that defies the laws of electronics. And now we can never watch a fucking Blu.Ray (or even a DVD again without using our computer), until we get a new TV. So fucking annoying.
  • My house is a fucking shit show and it’s stressing me out.
  • And the BIG ONE (to be written in regular paragraphs because it’s that big):

My VP–who is actually leaving for a high school position next year (I think I forgot to mention that here)– pulled me into her office on Friday and dropped a pretty significant bomb on me. She told me that our incoming principal and the will-be-principal for the other middle school in our district want me to teach two classes at the other middle school and three at mine. They also want me to teach zero and 1st period at the other middle school and 4rd, 5th and 6th at mine. That means they want me to be teaching at 7:45am when I wanted to have my same schedule as this year to start teaching at 9am, so I can be home in the mornings and take my daughter to school. When I mentioned wanting my same schedule, my VP said the new principal wouldn’t go for it regardless, that evidently he’s not about making accommodations like that. So best case scenario I can stay at my school all day but still have to be there at 8am (which will be a massive burden for my family) and worst case scenario I will be teaching on two campuses, lose all sense of community at my work place, and gain the considerable stress of reconciling scheduling differences between the schools on certain days, and commuting between them (they are about 7-10 minutes away from each other, depending on how you hit the lights).

Oh, and the school board decided that we will be trashing our Spanish 6 classes so that all 6th graders take the same “World Languages” class, which allows them to pick between five languages on a computer program. This decision was made in the name of “equity” because they want the course offerings at both campuses to be as similar as possible, and they have had a historically hard time finding and keeping a quality Spanish teacher (hence, the desire for me to teach 7th/8th grade Spanish over there for part of the day). I created our 6th grade Spanish curriculum almost from scratch, and it’s a damn good program. It’s also VERY POPULAR. The fact that they decided to throw it away, without even speaking to me about it, feels incredibly disrespectful. I don’t necessarily love teaching 6th graders, but I’m really proud of what, and how, I teach them, and I’m really disappointed to see it thrown away for some bullshit computer program in the name of equity.

The most frustrating part of all of this is that I’ve been trying to get a meeting with our incoming principal for over a month and he keeps avoiding me. And I also told him that I hoped to keep my current schedule in one of those emails, so he knew that working at 7:45am was going to be incredibly disappointing for me. (I would assume he’s also realized that no one wants to teach at two different campuses during the day, and broaching that possibility needed to be treated with a certain amount of sensitivity, but who knows.) Either way, the fact that he didn’t make a meeting to talk about all this with me himself, but instead sent someone who doesn’t give a shit (and can’t even answers my questions if she did) because she won’t be here next year, feels really fucking disrespectful. One of the reasons I decided not to look for a new job is because I’ve had positive experiences with this man and had heard he was a respectful and effective principal at the other middle school. I had considerable hopes that he would make positive changes next year. Now all that goodwill is gone, and I’m left with the prospect of working with a principal who has already treated me poorly.

I’m so angry at myself for not looking for a job during the prime months of the school year. I can still look, and obviously will, but there are not many positions posted in the summer, at least not many desirable ones. Of course, it wouldn’t have to be that great to be more desirable than what I’m probably going to end up with. (And no, I’m not sure yet if they can MAKE me work on two different campuses. My guess is they can’t, but that they’ll offer me something so shitty at my own school that teaching 7th/8th grade Spanish at the other middle school is preferable.)

The union rep at our school is also a good friend, and a fellow language teacher. She has already assured me that they can’t make me teach zero period and 6th period because zero period is outside of the contractually obligated day. So I guess that is one good thing. Even if I didn’t want to be with my family in the mornings, teaching from 7:45am to 3pm would fucking suck.

Can’t you tell how stoked I am that it’s Monday?

Lesson Learned (Yet again!)

I finished today’s other post on my phone last night, and it seems those concluding paragraphs have been lost in the ether.

This is not the first time the WordPress app has failed me. I cannot seem to publish a post on that thing successfully. If I’m trying to schedule it to go up at a later time? Forget about it.

I have a hard time when my words are lost. It frustrates me more than it should. {I’m going to have a hard time not blaming my mood on others or my circumstances today!}

The reality is, it’s probably better that the finalized post never saw the light of day. It was very woe-is-me: I am missing that fundamental piece that allows a person to be a good classroom manager; you can never teach well without that skill; it will really suck to be stuck teaching for 30 years and never become a genuinely good educator.

Because my god I’ve spent a lot of time (and money!) trying to improve my skills in this area and I haven’t seen any real improvement. And the worst part is, I want so badly to get better at this, because I recognize how vitally important it is to ensure a class treats each other with respect. I feel like such a fucking failure when I “learn” new skills and can’t seem to utilize them effectively.

And what happens next? Do I keep trying, and failing, to be a better classroom manager? Do I accept defeat and bolster my other skills in an attempt to mask my failings in that one pertinent area? What does either one do to my sense of self-worth? I have 20+ years of teaching ahead of me, I don’t know how to navigate 20 years of feeling, in some ways, like a failure.

The situation that triggered all this really sucks. I’m having a hard time balancing person responsibility and self-compassion.

And this post isn’t nearly as good as the one the WordPress app ate.

The Chink

Today I was faced with a situation at work that had me lamenting my biggest weakness as a teacher: classroom management.

I have read so many books, been to so many trainings and watched so many videos all with the sole purpose of improving my classroom management, and yet it’s still a massive issue for me.

I’m just not good at classroom management. And I fear I never will be.

 

Financial Check-In

I’m still kind of reeling from the realization of how far I’ve come on the STUFF front. I’m not quite sure which is more remarkable, that I made so much progress without being cognizant of it, or that I forgot how bad it used to be. Either way, I’ve spent a few days basking in the glow of my accomplishments, and getting excited to take more steps in the direction of minimalism.

{Interestingly, I attended a brunch at my daughter’s friend’s house on Sunday and I kept noticing how cluttered their spaces were. The kids room were packed with furniture and each piece was overflowing with toys and books. The house looked exactly like mine used to, and the stuff everywhere totally stressed me out. It was a great reminder that I NEVER want my life to look like that again. I must remain vigilant, I must keep removing things from the house as the stuff pours in, or we’ll end up back where we were, miserable, drowning in junk.}

The thing is, I’m still so far from where I want to be on the STUFF front, but recognizing how far I’ve come has helped me immensely. It’s a lot easier to keep pushing forward when you believe you can make progress. I’m very thankful for those glimpses into the past; they’ve helped me get excited for the future.

Of course STUFF is only part of what I’ve been trying to change in the past year. MONEY was a big part of the change-equation too. In fact, one could argue it was the more important change I was trying to make.

It’s harder for me to feel like I’ve made the same kind of progress when it comes to spending, because my husband and I have merged finances in the past six months and that has totally changed the landscape of our accounts. I’m only just becoming accustomed to how much we have in our checking account at the beginning and end of each month. I think we were always a bit better off than I believed, because I spent so much of the our money and was taking it all form my own reserves. Now that our accounts are merged I’m much less stressed about our month to month spending.

That doesn’t mean I’m back to my old, excessive ways. While I haven’t made the progress I’d hoped to make 1.5 years later, my spending has changed, I dare say, significantly. I may have failed every attempt at a legitimate shopping ban, but I think about, and execute the buying of things in totally different ways. I spend less, to be sure, and I’m much more intentional in my spending.

I still want to make a lot of changes in my relationship with money, but I also want to recognize how much progress I’ve made. Again, it gives me the strength to move forward.

The thing is, our financial situation has changed quite a bit since I last wrote about it comprehensively. Not only have I paid off my student loans, but my husband’s parents paid off the last (much more sizable chunk) of his. He also inherited a significant (to us, at least) amount of money from his grandmother’s account. It’s not life changing, but it is enough to cover three months of our expenses if BOTH of us were to lose his or her job (and six months if it’s just one of us–we make almost exactly the same salary). So all of the sudden we have an emergency fund and a lot less debt.

My husband’s monthly student loan payment is already accounted for–he needs to sign up for life insurance and start contributing to a retirement fund (he hasn’t since he left the big law firm that paid him the crazy money, which was nine years ago). I have a short-term idea for my monthly student loan payment (more on that soon), and my long term plan is to contribute more to my retirement fund, and allocate upcoming raises to my kids’ college funds.

So our overall financial situation is so much better than it was, due in no way to us. A part of me feels guilty and embarrassed that we’ve been handed this financial stability, but I also want to honor it for the great gift that it is.

I don’t know about you, but I find it’s much easier to stick with something when I’m trying not to lose what I already have, than when I’m trying to initially change it. I struggle to eat right and exercise when I’m first embarking on a weight loss regiment, but once I’ve achieved my desired weight/size I’m very dedicated to maintaining it.

I’m finding it’s the same with our finances. Now that we’ve been catapulted into a feeling of financial stability, I’m way more proactive about maintaining, and increasing, our resources. I’ve started to think into the future at big purchases and important travel. We’ll need  new car in 5-6 years and I really want to take my kids to Hong Kong some day to see where I grew up. These are significant expenses that we need to save for now. I hope to spend some summers in Spanish-speaking countries with my kids and even if we can find reasonable places to stay, the flights will cost a lot. Some day we may want to move into our downstairs unit and would have to absorb that lack of income. As my kids get older I’ll want to offer them dance or music classes if they’re interested, and most sports leagues aren’t cheap either.

Our monthly spending is pretty good right now–we have more than enough to pay for the bigger bills that come due every 6-12 months–but we need to start saving more aggressively for these larger expenses down the road. For the first time since I started focusing on our finances I believe we can have what is most important to us, we just need to be smart about our spending, and forgo some of the non-essentials we’ve grow accustomed to. If we prioritize our values and spend intentionally, we can have the life we want.

In the meantime, I’m still trying to make a budget and fucking stick to it. Some day I’ll manage that, and I’ll look back on this post and be proud of how far I’ve come.

 

Solitaire

I’ve been playing a lot of solitaire lately. It’s an easy, mindless way to kill time now that I don’t have FB to scroll through. I have a free app on my phone and I play whenever I have a free moment.

My solitaire app has a couple useful features, like I can undo a move (or many moves) or replay an entire game at the “push” of a button. So if there are two black sixes I could move onto a red seven, I can move one, see what’s under it, then undo the move and choose the other one to see what’s under it, using the information from both moves to ultimately decide which six to play. And if I can’t complete the game, I can go back and replay it, changing any move, or series of moves, to see if I can actually win.

A lot of times you can tell which card to move based on what is underneath, but sometimes you can’t. And sometimes one move seems obvious, but then later if you can’t win and you replay, you learn that the other move actually allows you to win the game, despite the unimpressive returns in the moment.

And of course sometimes, no matter how many times you replay the game, you end up stuck, unable to win.

I’ve been thinking a lot about solitaire lately, and how it doesn’t matter how “good” you are at the game, sometimes the cards have been dealt in such a way as to ensure your eventual failure. And sometimes every card you move reveals another card you need and the game is over in two minutes and 121 moves.

Life is a lot like that. Some people are dealt a really shitty hand and all they can do is get as far as possible and then just live out the rest of their life, cycling through their options, even though they know they can’t play any of the cards. And some people are dealt a fantastic hand, and they end up successful without even trying.

Of course, in real life you can’t press “undo,” and most of the time you don’t get to see what was under the other card. When you get stuck, you can’t replay the game, making the other possible choices. You can never know if moving the other card would have allowed you to win the game.

It’s just something I’ve been thinking about, as I move ever farther into the game of my own life. I wonder sometimes if there are moves I’m missing, cards I’m forgetting to play. In the end will I look back and feel like I’ve completed the game? Or will I wish I could replay my hand in the hopes of ending up with a different outcome?

I suppose only time will tell. Maybe I shouldn’t spend so much of it playing solitaire.

Quick Thoughts on a Friday

Just some shit that’s been making the rounds in my head recently:

My husband’s been gone for a few days and I genuinely miss him. That’s gotta be a good sign, right?

On a related note, I had two mornings alone with the kids and didn’t even make a big deal about it! Look at me! All grown up!

I’ve been driving a friend to sub jobs on the peninsula when she works at this one school that’s on my way. It’s fun to have someone to talk to in the morning and after work. I also like helping out my friends.

My daughter will be six in three weeks. She’s has grown up so much this year and is a lot of fun right now. I’m looking forward to this summer.

My son is a handful but so incredibly sweet. He frequently stops me in mid sentence to announce that I’m his best friend. When I tell him I love him he says, “I wuv you to mommy.” His favorite form of showing affection right now is the “hi-ya hug,” where gets a running start, jumps at me yelling (a-la-karate/kung fu) HI YA and wraps me in a giant bear hug.

I recently finished No-Drama Discipline (by The Whole-Brain Child folks)–on Ana’s recommendation–and it’s hands down the best parenting book I’ve ever read. I wish I had saved myself the time and energy of reading any other parenting book ever and had just read this one. So, so good. I hope to write more about it soon.

While my husband was gone I let my daughter sleep in my bed. Last night I decided to just go to bed with her and was asleep by 9:30pm. I didn’t sleep straight through the night, but it was still amazeballs.

My two-year-old is a shit sleeper. It’s starting to wear on me. (And yet at my mom’s house he sleeps straight through the night and doesn’t wake up until 8:45am. What the actual fuck!?)

On a related note, I wish my son’s room didn’t share a wall with the kitchen. Worst. Idea. Ever.

I’m so done trying to sell and buy shit on Craigslist. Unless I’m making $100 or saving $100 it’s just not worth it, and sometimes it’s still not worth it even if I am making or saving a ton of money. From now no I’m just going to donate my stuff to the Young Families Resource Center. At least there I know it’s going to a really good cause, and I can feel good about that.

Having said that, I’d love to find a site where I could get some decent money for my cloth diapers, because I know those resale well in the right circles, and I’m not 100% sure they’d go to good use at the YFRC.

(I wish I were thinking about selling my cloth diapers because we didn’t need them anymore. Sadly that is not the case. My son is 2.5 years old and not the least bit interested in using the potty. After almost six years of cloth diapering I am SO DONE! But I’m trying hard to be patient and not push it.)

My allergies are SO FUCKING BAD RIGHT NOW. They are really messing with my quality of life.

I’m finding it hard to motivate to work out these days, probably because I have so much going on in the afternoons and evenings. Not wanting to work out is uncommon for me. I hope I shake this feeling soon, because I’m about to embark on a half-marathon training regimen.

I sent out the invitations for my daughter’s birthday party so I’m feeling a lot better about that. Now I just need to figure out what to put in the party favors and make sure I don’t need to order that shit ASAP.

For my daughter’s last party we put “No Presents Please” on the invitation. This time I did not write that, because my daughter has been having meltdowns about the presents other kids get at their birthday parties for months now. Presents are basically the whole reason she wants to have a party. And yet, I don’t want all those fucking presents at my house! I’m seriously considering offering to buy some of them off her for cash, and then donating the ones she sells me (or just regifting them at subsequent birthday parties). Somehow I doubt she’ll be okay with that. I will be instituting a one in, one out rule with her presents though, so we won’t just be adding to her stuff. Maybe that will help persuade her to get rid of some of her new stuff, along with the old.

It’s Friday! There are five more weeks of school left! Woot!

Nice Things

Our house is not what one would call nice. It’s old. It’s run down. The quality of pretty much everything inside it is shoddy. The pipes are loud. There is one electrical outlet in each room (and some of them don’t work). The garage is a glorified cement hole. The garage door has to be opened manually and one of its windows is covered by a wooden board.

We do not own one quality piece of furniture. The few pieces that weren’t purchased at IKEA were donated by our parents or bought used. Our computers are old and shitty. Our iPads are hand-me downs. Our car is the most common, boring utilitarian vehicle you can get (silver, four-door Honda Accord) and can only be distinguished by its myriad dents, dings and scrapes.

Everything in our walls was created by me and framed for the lowest possible price.

I don’t own one piece of jewelry priced in the four figures. Our wedding rings cost just under a grand each. I don’t even have an engagement ring. My jewelry collection consists of two necklaces my husband got me as gifts and some cheap pieces my mom has gifted me over the years.

Most of my clothes are purchased at Old Navy, H&M or Uniqlo. Some at the more expensive stores like Gap. I have a few pieces bought on clearance at Anthropologie and two pairs of designer jeans (though I just discovered one has a whole in the ass!) Most of my shoes are (warehouse sale) Toms or were purchased on sale at Macy’s.

The point is, I don’t have Nice Things. I have useful things, comfortable things, maybe even some interesting things, but no Nice Things. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about that, the lack of Nice Things in my life.

I notice it most when I visit someone’s nice house. A house with a stylish exterior, an interesting, antique piece of furniture, a recently remodeled kitchen. I notice it when someone gives me a ride in their nice car, or when they hand me something and my eye catches on their beautiful diamond ring. I don’t have anything of these things, and sometimes it kind of bothers me. I have no idea why.

I’m trying to figure out why it vexes me. I mean, I could have Nice Things, if I wanted to, right? I could make Nice Things a part of my life. Clearly it’s not a priority for me. And yet, sometimes the absence of their nice-ness (exacerbated by the not nice-ness of everything I own) feels so glaring, I can’t see past it.

What do Nice Things means to me? Do they signal something? Success? Style? Something more subtle? I’m honestly not sure. It’s almost as if nice things validate the person who owns them, an assurance that they have arrived, that they are legit. But arrived where? Are legitimately what? It’s all so slippery, so hard to pin down. It dances in my periphery, a glimpse here or there, but never the whole idea still and unwavering, so I can study it.

I do know that when I’m with someone who has nice things than me I feel different. I feel like something separates us, like I’m not quite at their level. Like maybe adults have Nice Things, and evidently I’m not an adult, not really, because I don’t.

I tried to have a conversation about this with my husband but he absolutely could not relate. He’s not interested in material things. He never has been and never will be. Nice Things don’t mean anything to him.

The thing is, I don’t want them to mean anything to me either. I don’t want to be interested in material things. I don’t want to be dazzled by the shiny allure of Nice Things. And yet, I clearly am. The idea has been there, vague and half-formed but a shadowy presence none the less: maybe if I have fewer things, some of them can be Nice Things. Maybe if I spend less money on dumb, unnecessary things, I can finally prioritize Nice Things.

But are Nice Things what I really want to prioritize? Is resurfacing my kitchen really my ultimate dream? When it comes down to it, are Nice Things that important to me? Or do I just like to admire them from afar, allowing jealousy and envy bestow vague and misunderstood significance to them because it’s easy and I’m human and our consumer culture is so convincing. Is my desire to have Nice Things nothing more than me falling for the siren song of consumerism? Are a quality set of cultural ear plugs all I need?

I guess I’m not going to tie this one up in a neat little bow, but I wanted to put it out there, because it’s something I’ve been thinking about here and there. I’d love to figure this out so that the Nice Things in other people’s lives don’t keep me in a comparison loop that siphons my appreciation, gratitude and joy.

I wish I could really believe, once and for all, that Nice Things aren’t necessarily Important Things, and that I have all the really Important Things that I need.