34.


Today is my birthday, which I really, truly don't care that much about. Sure, a tiny part of me wishes for grand gestures and being excessively spoiled for a few hours, but that's never been the way and I'd probably feel uncomfortable. Plus, I have shit to do. No time for bells and whistles, folks. The pies won't bake themselves and Sawyer can't exactly drive himself to the dentist or flu-vaccination clinic, right? 

But still, it's a birthday. And that's a reason for some reflection, if you ask me. Here are some things I've learned in my 33rd year that will hopefully make 34 a little better:

I Measure My Worth in My Productivity
I can't help it, I seriously feel a rush of adrenaline crossing things off my to-do list and staying busy. Tuesday I got up, took Sawyer to three different grocery stores for our weekly shopping/Thanksgiving prep, put everything away, got back in the car, got gas, drove to Buena Park to hang out at Knott's Berry Farm for four or so hours, drove home, cleaned three bathrooms, played LEGOs, vacuumed upstairs and down, put together three bookshelves, cooked dinner, hung out with Sawyer some more and did the bedtime routine, went back to the store for something I forgot, made pumpkin bread, finished a book, and then went to bed. It sounds like a ridiculous amount, I know, I admit it, but I literally felt giddy by the time I went to bed because I had accomplished so much. I am addicted to productivity and this year has helped me accept and embrace it. It's who I am. 

I Don't Care What People Think About My Internet Presence
I've never been extremely hung up on what other people think of me, but I do try to be conscious of not bombarding feeds. But you know what? I don't care. I still don't post excessively to Facebook, my blog, or regular Instagram, but if I want to put up ten Instastories a day, then I will. If I want to blog three days in a row about non-book topics, then I will. If I want to link to a progressive, liberal article on Facebook and risk pissing off a relative or coworker, then I will. I try not to be obnoxious or annoying, but I've come to the realization that people have a choice about what kind of media they consume and if they don't like what they see they can stop viewing it. You can't please everyone and you shouldn't have to. 

It's Time to Amp Up the Skin Care Routine
I've been noticing things I'd rather not in my face lately, so I've tried to really up my game when it comes to skincare (I actually have a post about my current favorite products coming soon). I know aging is normal and natural, but I can slow it down a bit, if I'm willing to shell out a few bucks and be consistent. 

It's Time to Go (Without Guilt)
This past year has made me realize how much I need to travel, and how much I deserve it. I have a few degrees and credentials, I work hard, and I've saved a more-than-adequate safety net. I need to stop feeling guilty about spending money on travel when I'm financially responsible and have a true passion for seeing other places. I've been hemming and hawing for weeks about booking our Banff trip, but I really, really intend to do it before I go back to work. I've run the numbers a million times, have done my research, and now feel really confident with the Great Car Seat Situation (basically I just learned how to install one a week ago). I owe it to myself, and I owe it to my son as well. 

My Friends are the Best
I have a group of maybe five or six women that I consider close friends and who all play different roles in my life, but are equally important. I know who I can go with if I have a weird parenting question, or who to talk to about relationship stuff. There's someone for politics, for work, for random outings (and some of these overlap). My friends range in personality, age, and background, but they all have helped me through rough times whether they realize it or not. They always seem to check in at the right time or suggest making plans when I need it the most. They aren't needy, they have realistic friendship expectations, and they're all just really special. 

Make the Best Out of Things
There have always been bumps of various sizes in the road and my 33rd year was no exception. But the older I get the better I get at handling things and quickly morphing into problem-solving mode (my default setting). It's so corny, but this is all we're getting, unless you believe in reincarnation (god, I hope it's not a real thing), and you have to make the best out of things. Sure, I do freak out still and I do overcompensate in planning and saving, but the older I get the better I am at taking a breath and making a plan.

I think thirty four will be great. I have at least one half marathon planned, a few trips, will see my seniors graduate, and will get to watch my kid keep growing and thriving. I plan to read great books, maybe get in some writing of my own, and keep surrounding myself with the people I love and respect. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

[from a recent trip to Downtown Disney for the LEGO store]


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1. Thanksgiving break is flying by- I barely blinked and the week is half over! At least once we go back it's only a few more weeks until Christmas vacation.

2. I ran a 5k at UCLA over the weekend and did much better than I thought I would, considering it's a really hilly course (I gained the equivalent to about twenty flights of stairs during it). It's always really fun to run around the campus, though, since I only go back once a year and there are always so many changes. Training on the boring treadmill sets me up for success in this respect, too, since outdoor running is so much more distracting (a good thing). After running I walked around campus for an hour, reminiscing and even reading for a few minutes (and losing my credit card for a few anxiety-producing moments). 

3. Today I get to take my three-year-old for a flu shot and dentist appointment. He will do fine, since he much rather waste his tears on trivial things like LEGO buildings falling apart, and one appointment is fine, but two waiting rooms and two clipboards of paperwork to fill out and several medical professionals to make small talk with is just too much. Not really fun for me (nor the best way to ring in my thirty-fourth year of life, but that's what being a mom and getting old is all about, right?). 

4. I fully intend on going all-out with pie crusts this year, using the different designs on King Arthur's Instgram as inspiration. It's just the three of us, but I don't care- I live for cooking Thanksgiving food. French bread cubes are drying out as we speak and I'll start the turkey brine soon. 

5. I've finished two books in the last few days- Artemis by Andy Weir (definitely not as good as The Martian.. review to come next week) and History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (so good, but so depressing). I just started Joe Biden's memoir and it's moving pretty quickly, so I'm feeling good about my November reading!

6. I'm just going to come out and admit it: I really, really like Taylor Swift's new album and yes, I actually bought it. Because I know no one my age who feels the same way I randomly text an old student my thoughts. 

7. I've been trying to throw a bag of stuff out every day during break, whether it's just leftovers or trash from my car or random things I spot around the house. I love getting rid of crap- it makes me feel so much better about my house. 

8. Is it me, or does it seem like such betrayal when you abandon on old family recipe for something new? I did that the other day for pumpkin bread and felt like I did something wrong. 

9. I have pretty much no interest in Black Friday, except I do want to find Scrabble on the cheap so I can pick up a few more for my classroom and maybe some cardigans at Loft. 

10. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Moonlite Review

[source]

A little less than a year ago a friend tagged me in a post about the Moonlite Projector, which was in the process of being Kickstarted. I was instantly sold- it's a little projector (think Viewmaster from when were were young) that clips on your Smartphone and projects images from a story on the ceiling. The text from the story appears on your phone, which you then read to the child and click certain buttons for sound effects as you manually click through the picture reel. 

After several delays, as is not uncommon to crowd-sourcing, our Moonlite Projector arrived a few weeks ago and we've used it a few times since then (I must add that the creator and company through in some bonus stories to make up for any inconvenience, which was a nice touch). Here are my thoughts so far:

[source]


Pros
- The novelty is fun, and it's a cool way to shake up story time once in awhile at bedtime (I still prefer the old-fashioned method, though)
- The set up of the actual projector, the downloading of the app, and the functionality of both combined are extremely easy to use
- The projector has been created so that it's pretty universal, meaning a variety of devices and brands
- The images project clearly and the colors are vibrant 
- I love the idea of using my phone for something.... else
- It doesn't seem to phase my battery 

Cons
- I wish there were more stories and that there wasn't the delay of ordering them (I know, what else can you do?)
- The packaging is extremely wasteful and bulky- I'd much prefer something sleeker 
- Some of the sounds effects are a little dinky, but I'm sure they'll be jazzed up as the project is updated 
- It is a little expensive

All in all, watching the project updates and development, as well as actually experiencing it in person has been really fun. I think I overpaid a bit, but we did get several stories and two projectors with the package I backed, so at least I have something to show for my money. It's definitely not a necessity, but I think it's a fun little addition to our library. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts



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1. No matter how many stacks of papers I have (a lot), it's still always great to finish a pile and put them in the grade book.

2. I'm reading History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund right now and it's really disturbing me. It's good, definitely, but she alludes to something happening to a young boy at the beginning so I'm just on pins and needles for this bad thing to happen. Since I've become a mom I have a really hard time with this sort of thing, but I'm sucking it up for the writing.

3. Joe Biden's new memoir, Promise Me, Dad and Andy Weir's Artemis both came in the mail for me yesterday. I think this will conclude the book buying until after the holidays. 

4. Starting on Saturday I have things going for nearly a weeks straight, but I am SO excited, since it's all fun stuff (I have next week off for our Thanksgiving break). I'm running a 5k at UCLA, I'm taking Sawyer to Knott's for a few hours (we have super cheap annual passes, so I can do that now and not feel bad), I'm getting my hair done, I have plans to see friends, and hopefully some reading, running and relaxation. I just have to get through the next few days at work.

5. I think the site Cupcakes and Cashmere is a little fluffy, so reading her blog is definitely a guilty pleasure. She did post something timely for me last week, though, about remembering that a lot of the time when people act negatively towards you it really is a problem on their end. So, basically, yes, people may hurt your feelings but often it's because they're having a rough time, are insecure, or thrive on negativity. Obviously that's not always true, since we all deserve attitude from others on occasion. But recently someone I care about greatly has been a little judgmental towards me and I've remembered to pause and look at things from a different perspective. 

6. So, it has to happen- we're getting more crappy Ikea bookshelves. We have several tall Billy book cases with shelf extenders in our great room, but we've outgrown them. We want to do custom shelving, but that is probably after a year or two of saving for the Big Remodel. For now I'm going to get a few small white units for our dining room, which means I get to reorganize. 

7. I made this pumpkin cake, minus the toppings, and layer instead of sheet, last weekend and it is so good! It's basically pumpkin bread in cake form with an extremely delicious.

8. One of Sawyer's teachers is leaving next week and I am so bummed. She is the lead teacher for his room (the other two teachers are great, though) and has been such a huge help transitioning him there. I know this is part of the process, but I still was sad when I head the news. 

The Pros and Cons of NaNoWriMo



As most of you probably know, November is National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo. If you choose to actually participate in “the movement,” you pledge to write 50,000 words by the end of the month, which equates to about 1,666 words a day. Five or so years ago I decided to do this, and was successful at meeting the final word count with a day or so to spare, no easy feat considering I was working full time and hosting Thanksgiving. Every year during this time I reflect on the experience with mixed feelings. On one hand, I’m glad I did it. On another, it was actually kind of a huge waste.

Pros

A friend of mine at work participated at the same time, so it was a fun experience comparing numbers and lamenting together.

I always enjoy a project.

I loved the graph features of the website- I’m driven by numbers and progress, so it was really motivating to log on and see where I was every day.

It was a good writing exercise- there is something to be said for being able to produce under pressure.

Bragging rights!

Cons

NaNoWriMo is really about quantity, not quality.

Somewhere around day 15 or 20 the goal became a massive chore, which took away from the initial fun and passion.

Because of the time and word count the process never felt organic. If you lag one day you have to make it up later.

There really isn’t time to revise, at all, which for many people is part of their natural writing process.

Novels are generally more than 50,000 words, so if you really want to write a book and try to publish it, this would be an awkward amount to stop at (not really a novella, but not a novel either).

I am actually quite embarrassed about what I wrote, which seems like a pretty pathetic end to a month of hard work.

Personally, I'll never do it again and the whole thing sort of left a bad taste in my mouth. Anyone else try it? Thoughts?


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