Saturday, February 21, 2015

Not Intimated by Weather

Perhaps it was that my Mom grew up in mid-northern Canada (where it rarely got above 65 F in the summer).  Perhaps it's that her Mom was born and raised in mid-northern Canada.

Perhaps it's the other side of the family who has told multiple stories of driving through blizzards in the Utah/Idaho/Montana/North Dakota area where the interstates are closed (but they still keep driving).

I'm just not intimidated by the frigid temperatures and/or forecasts of snow.

Don't get me wrong, seven feet of snow is a big deal, and I would definitely be intimidated into cancelling events/plans for a six/seven feet of snow blizzard.

But given all this above history, a forecast of 1- 5 inches of snow and/or frigid temperatures is not going to keep me at home.  Just sayin'.

Everyone is different of course, and some people like staying inside and warm (curling up with a good book, movie, etc.)  I suppose this is where my extrovert side shines through.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Goals - 2015

February is here (the time for resolutions long past), but I heard this podcast the other day about goals.  I always heard about goals and goal-setting growing up, so to actually sit down and set goals seems anathema to me.

But I have set goals in the past (even sneaky goals) and I have met them.  The cast talks about sharing goal setting and successes with other people as encouragement.  So this is my encouragement to the few cranberry blog readers I have left; along with some of my current goals.

*I stopped drinking a particular diet caffeinated beverage daily.
This was not an easy thing.  One day I woke up and I had been drinking a particular diet beverage daily for years (probably over ten years). I had a routine.

I have no qualms with caffeine, but I had also read the numerous studies that showed this beverage's negative effects.  And my dentist wasn't happy with it either.  So I switched to unsweet tea and lemonade.  My dad (famously) said it wasn't possible but I've kicked the habit.  Frankly, I think the additives were more addicting than anything else.

*I stopped using as many paper plates.
At one point, paper plates were de rigeur at my house.  But with all the changes in my life in the past year, this is one thing that that has changed.  Perhaps it helps that my kids can help load the dishwasher.

But I've moved almost completely away from paper plates.  This gives me a strange satisfaction.  It's not as if my use of paper plates (or non use) will save the environment.  But it is one small thing I can do.  And I'm also washing some dishes by hand!  That would have been unthinkable some years ago.

* I try to read a classic book each year
So this goal I haven't been so good about following.  I did read The Mill on the Floss in 2013, but I haven't been as consistent as I'd like.  Fortunately, this is an easy goal to remedy, and the only person I'm accountable to is me.

This year the goals and resolutions are similar to last year, particularly this one:
*Try new foods
Trying new foods isn't terribly difficult for me, but it is a stretch for my kids.

*Spend an hour without screens each day
This one is also difficult for my kids. We've been reading books together (which counts), and also doing experiments from this book (Totally Irresponsible Science).  In the end, it's a good practice.

*Continue to work out
My apartment complex has a workout room that my kids can use with me.  It's a great benefit (though I think we probably annoy my neighbors).  I work out regularly and am planning on walking a half marathon in May.

*Continue to volunteer
Since I now have a lot more free time, I have time to volunteer.  While I have mixed feelings about my increase in free time, it's nice to be able to volunteer for various causes.  I'm honest about how much time I can spend, and can set my own hours.

*Pass a certification test for my work
I took this test last year, and unfortunately didn't pass (although I use the software daily).  Basically the test is written multiple choice with some trick questions (depending on the version of software).  I missed passing by two or three questions.  So I'm confident that if I study this year, I will be able to pass.

Best of luck to my readers (I haven't been writing as much, of late) in setting and working towards goals.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Honoring others' truth

I recently listened to this fmh podcast about perfectionism and the perfect mormon family (the fmh podcast is great, if you haven't already heard it).

It should come as no surprise to my friends and regular readers, but I was not raised to be comfortable with different narratives and different needs.  I was not raised to be comfortable with disagreement.  In fact, most things were black and white (hence I identify with Christine's experience).  I believe many mormon families (particularly those with mental illness or tendencies towards scrupulosity) may have a similar experience or experiences.

I find it challenging to not give advice, to not jump in with my take, and to honor other people's feelings while still honoring my own.

That's what I want, in the end, to show love to the people in my life.

I don't have any answers on this one.  This particular part of relationships is not easy.  The only thing I've found that has been helpful is to acknowledge that there are multiple truth(s), even in the same family - even in the same relationship.  Each person is able (or not) to acknowledge certain events, and views them in different ways.  And each person processes things in their own way.  I find I'm incredibly opinionated, and it's hard to not always share my opinion.  But my opinion is often not helpful.

I'm doing the best I can, and I acknowledge the others in my life are doing the best they can.  And, as I was discussing with my friend Kathryn the other night, time tends to bring clarity.  I wish I had known that at 20.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Recently some prominent celebrities made some unfortunate statements.  Chanson has some good analysis on the subject.

My first caveat is that I'm not 100% familiar of the specific situation, who said what, what may have happened.

But it sounds like there are some older males (I'm considering over 35 old) who are adjusting to society's new understanding of consent.

Because there is a new understanding of consent.

I think about the rape scene in Sixteen Candles.   I'm embarrassed to say that I was much older (much too old) when I became aware that the behavior in the movie (sex with someone who is too drunk) was rape.  I was never taught that was rape (particularly growing up mormon).

That's why the conversation about consent is important.

I'm not surprised that there are older people (male and female) who hadn't revisited this.  It's true, sex and relationships  can be complicated.  And our society changes (our ideas of appropriate/acceptable change).  This is a good thing.

And I think this should be part of a larger conversation in our society.  Conversations can lead to new understandings. I wonder if it's frightening for people.  It's not comfortable or lauded to admit one was wrong.  Some people will do whatever is possible to not admit they made a mistake.

I'm glad our society has changed and continues to change.  I'm glad we're having a conversation as a society; it means that beliefs have changed.  For a long time, women simply had to accept the status quo - and many men didn't realize they were doing anything wrong (privilege).

I'm not trying to defend the rape apologists here (perhaps I am defending the rape apologists).  What I'm saying is, it's okay to change your mind and to admit you were mistaken.  Consent is a good thing (particularly as an over 35 male) to revisit and gain a new understanding.  Our society sees consent differently than we did, so it behooves all of us to understand why and what that means for our daily lives.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

All Joy and No Fun review

There are two trendy ways to talk about motherhood, much like the virgin/whore dynamic.  Either one loves and cherishes being a mother every moment - or motherhood is the most difficult, soul-crushing experience  ever.  With that said, it's progress that anyone admits that parenthood is exhausting or difficult - for a while it was heresy to admit in many circles.

In All Joy and No Fun, Senior talks about how perceptions of parenthood have changed radically throughout the years.  It's no surprise that children and teenagers were viewed differently in the 19th century and before.  Children were seen as real assets to the family (in the assistance they could provide to the family)- not the current state where parenthood is a relatively conscious decision in later life.  She writes: 
Children are no longer economic assets, so the only way to balance the books is to assume they are future assets, which requires an awful lot of investment, not to mention faith.  

Not only has our perspective about child-rearing changed - we now have the choice about when and if to have children in the first place.  Then, we're told from a young age that we can be whoever we want to be - whether or not it's actually true.  Senior writes: "Even if our dreams were never realizable, even if they were false from the start, we regret not pursuing them".  

And I agree completely that this is one of the most difficult parts of transitioning from an autonomous adult to a new parent.  I had some idea of what I was in for (being the oldest of six), but not for how much I would lose.  What I lost is something I am gaining back (slowly) as my kids grow older - just simply being able to go out on Friday night and not worry about who would watch the kids and where the money would come from.  

I welcome this notion of the paradox of modern life - that many of us hold ourselves and our lives to a standard that was never possible (given current social norms, class mobility, opportunities, etc.)

I appreciated this book because it talks about social issues and attitudes that many middle-class parents face. In the early days, one can feel  alone. Parenting recommendations (and trends) change all the time - what worked for my grandma (give them cereal at three months) is no longer recommended.  Then there is the constant anxiety that one is not doing enough - not pushing one's children enough, not doing enough activities, etc.  This book helped me remember that losing myself, exhausting myself as a mom doesn't help me OR do my children any favors.  

As I've said before, I love being a mom.  Yes, it's hard work.  It is a high cost/ high reward activity.  

I'm glad that as a society we're drifting away from worshiping at the cult of motherhood - that women can now be honest about the impact of motherhood on their lives.  And my hope is that we can start to think about both parents being responsible for their kids (and how they turn out) - not just automatically blame the mother if something happens (this is the typical media bias).  It is our society/community as a whole who is also responsible.  

And to be aware that women (and parents) need to remember themselves and their mental health throughout the process - parents who are exhausted, not setting boundaries with their kids, not being present, not asking for help - are not doing anyone any favors.  

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Turning into one's parents

I was determined at sixteen not to turn into my parents.  That may have been a life goal of mine at the time.

So it's ironic some years later to realize various ways I'm turning into my parents (and admit it to my children and the internets).

- I don't order pizza delivery
It used to drive me nuts as a teenager that my parents wouldn't order pizza delivery.  I ordered pizza myself a few times as a teen.  But now - the cost of tipping the delivery person is just too much.  And it's not as if it's a lot of money.  For me, I am much more willing to drive to the pizza place and pick up pizza myself (bonus points for the frozen pizza they carry).  And when the weather is awful and I don't want to cook - I hate the idea of the pizza delivery person driving to my house.

- I have been putting meat in the freezer
My children's dad was shocked when we first moved in together that I would put bacon and sausage in the freezer.  He felt this was heresy.

But for me, now, I'm eating a lot less meat, and it could easily go bad.  So I'm putting it in the freezer, and defrosting what I need.

- I don't play the lottery
For me, playing the lottery always feels like burning money.  It must be how much I know about the math involved - it's more likely that I will be struck by lightening.  Not sure if my parents said this explicitly, but it was always implied.

One of my goals is to be frugal, not cheap.  I read about the cheap vs. frugal dynamic - being cheap is deliberately not spending money and not being concerned about quality.  Frugal is being conscious about spending money, and working towards quality.

The most important part (to my mind) is making conscious decisions.  I am consciously choosing these habits of my parents (which typically make logical sense). It would be foolish (and immature) to reject good ideas just because my parents did (or did not) choose them.  I think it's only natural that each person chooses to be like their parents in some ways, and chooses a different path in other ways.

The infamous $10 peaches
When I start driving to Utah and canning peaches, that's when it will be time to be concerned.

Friday, August 8, 2014


Rose bush 2014
I received this rose bush as a gift, a few years ago. I wasn't sure if it would survive, if I had enough time to take care of a rose (on top of everything else).

It turns out I did.

And it survived this past winter, which my lavender bush did not.

I wasn't sure that it would weather being re-planted and moving to a new place. But it hasn't just survived (as the saying goes) it's thrived.

My husband and I recently announced our separation and pending divorce.  I don't want to go into all the reasons for what happened.  It's between the two of us.  It was not an easy decision, we are both responsible, and we both tried really, really hard to make our marriage work.

It just wasn't to be.

As I mentioned in my fb status update, we are committed to putting the kids first and making the transition as easy as possible for them. And so far, both he and I have really been successful in that.  I've known too many divorces/separations that haven't been that way, so I am incredibly grateful.

And it has been hard, despite how amicable everything has been.

I have also received an amazing amount of support from family and friends, which is humbling (and makes me tear up sometimes when I think about it). It appears that some of the stigma of divorce is fading (thank goodness) and that our culture is changing.

I don't know what the future will hold.  I do know that so much of my life appears to be unexpected.  But it also has pleasant surprises - and gifts I didn't expect.