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Back in August, when I thought that Olive would be in school full day, I signed up for Alt Summit. It’s a blogging conference held here in Salt Lake City. I have wanted to attend for the past few years, but have always had other obligations.
This year I was sure that I was going to have time to start devoting to some sort of online presence, which hopefully would be a means of income for me.
If you have a sad trombone sound effect filed away in your mind, please press play on that now.
I’m sure that it’s incredibly clear that I hit a patch of depression when my plans were curtailed. If you have to drive in winter conditions, you are familiar with black ice. The road can look completely normal, just a bit wet, when suddenly you lose control and are slipping all over the place because you have hit a patch of almost invisible ice.
That’s how I felt when my plans were changed, like my wheels were spinning in different directions and I was completely disoriented. It’s a strange sensation for me, as I am usually very good at revising plans. I like to think of myself as a quick thinker. I like to think of myself as someone who can get over disappointments relatively well.
Yet, I still don’t think I have entirely course corrected. I don’t know why I am having such a hard time, but the upset to my plans really really messed with my head.
For the first time in a long long time, I don’t know exactly what I want to be doing. I feel more than a little lost.
I am excited to attend Alt, but I would like some sort of action plan to follow when I get there. What am I trying to learn? What do I want to do with my brain and my time and my future?
Today I took an online class from Alt about business card designs. I LOVE any thing about the design of promotional materials. I KNOW that this makes me sound like the biggest nerd in the world. That’s okay, because I am. Back in the day, before we had kids, Brett and I used to go to the bookstore and look at books about pamphlet, product packaging, and business card designs. For hours. Just for fun.
Sitting and watching Laurie Smithwick talk about different business card ideas, I felt a few little tingles in my brain.
When it comes to my business card, or this blog, or my life in general, I still don’t know what I want to do exactly. I do think that something great will come of the whole process. I just have to wade through my psyche, which, let me tell you, is a murky murky place.November 15, 2013
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All of the toys are still in the shed, but I think we are just about to start reintroducing them into their natural habitat.
We have been super busy over here. While the girls had a sleep over with their cousins at their grandparent’s house, Brett and I spent hours at Home Depot and here installing and painting pegboard.
I searched high and low on Pinterest and Google to find out if anyone else had used peg board in their kids rooms. There were plenty of examples of garages, basements, and craft rooms, but not a lot of bedrooms.
Are you familiar with it? It’s that big sheeting that has tons of holes into which you can hang hooks to organize a multitude of things.
The walls in the room the girls share is masonry, and it’s a pain to hang anything in there. As I’ve said, the changing nature of what kids need or want when it comes to space is overwhelming. What they want on their wall today is probably going to change in a few months. I made them some small memo boards to hold little cards (tutorial over at On The Rag Mag), but that just wasn’t cutting it.
Because it is a shared space, I want the girls to be able to express their different and unique styles in their own corners. We just weren’t able to do that the way the room was functioning. We had a little picture rail that ran the length of their beds, but they both were so crammed with stuff, and large posters would fall off, it just wasn’t functional.
That’s where the peg board comes in. I love that we could paint it, and then it would allow us basically floor to ceiling customization options. The girls can hang all their jewelry, posters, stuffed animals, photos, and art on this thing.
We let each girl pick out the color they wanted to paint the boards next to their beds. They are HUGE fans of design shows and so took this task very seriously. They picked out paint swatches, brought them home, and held them up to the walls. Phrases like, “This one really pops!” and “This clashes with the light fixtures” were thrown out amid giant grins.
They finally settled on two different colors of pink and then the hard work began. Our ceilings are 12 feet tall, and we live in a house that is over 115 years old. There is not a level nor plumb surface in this entire structure. In order to line things up we have to pick a crooked line and follow it, otherwise it can make you feel dizzy. We once tried to hang a shelf level on the wall, it looked like everything was going to spill off of it, because the rest of the house is so crooked.
Luckily, I married a dude who is great at the detail work. He measured and hung everything up, and made it look relatively straight. I’m not saying I married him because he is so great at reading a ruler, but I’m not saying that it wasn’t one of the attractions to him either.November 14, 2013
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I can’t tell you how many drafts of posts I have saved up in here.
I am trying to dig myself out of the clutter factory I live in, and it’s a long hard battle.
This week I will share with you the enormity of my hoarding issues.
First up though, the little hoarders I live with.
If you have ever lived with kids, you know they come with a lot of stuff. Whether they are babies or elementary aged, kids have needs. Needs that are filled by an overwhelming amount of stuff. Mostly toys, but helping stuff too. Things like small bathtubs, potty chairs, diaper pails, lots and lots of step stools, a whole lot of helping aides.
Every six months or so, I realize that my kids needs have shifted. They aren’t so little anymore. Suddenly they can reach the bathroom sink by themselves, and I can get rid of the step stool in there. I blink and then they have braces and I have to find ways to accommodate an electric toothbrush and a waterpik. Things with these little people are in constant flux. Add to that fact that there are two of them around here and we have double the trouble.
I know I have mentioned that we are emotional hoarders in this house. Once something comes in, we love it forever. Either because it is a gift from someone we love or because it has a cute face or decal, it is difficult for the kids and this grown up to part with things.
Which leads us to the mess we live in now. The girls share a room and have the majority of their toys in the room as well.
I am sharing just one dimly lit picture of one teeny tiny fraction of this room to show you how bad things are right now. This room pains me so much I can’t even open the windows to let the light in. I walk through the doorway to their room and immediately search for Miss Haveshim. That’s how bad it is in there.
I have since cleaned this monstrosity out, and like a good archeologist I noted what each level of strata told me. There were dolls, doll clothes, kid clothes, books, toy noodles, and baby blankets all up in this bed. Leading me to believe that the organizational systems I have tried to employ in there are just not working.
Let me be clear, I am not a neat freak. A little clutter is A-OK. It’s just when the clutter becomes taller than the residents of the room, I think we have a problem. I am so tired of asking my kids to clean up, only to find they don’t have room to put things away, even if they wanted to.
Let me make a confession, as a child I was horrible at keeping my room clean. My parents got so frustrated that they barred me from even entering my own room which led to a gigantic fit on my part, which led to me almost burning down the house (ACCIDENTALLY). I had been storming around in a huff and I knocked down a lamp which was still on when I laid down to sleep on the couch. It burned a hole in the carpet and could have been much much worse if the hideous smell of melting carpet hadn’t alerted me to a problem. So you see, I know that NOT cleaning your room can be life threatening. In a way.
On Sunday I talked with the girls and we came up with a plan of action. We decided to take every last toy out of their room. Then we are going to slowly reintroduce things and make sure that everything has a place. This may have just been a plan to wear me out, as hauling buckets full of toys out to our shed is a monumental task, but for the sake of my sanity I am willing to try it.
I spent yesterday moving out about half the toys before the sun went down. I already feel so much better! I know the girls won’t agree to never moving back in their toys, but I feel like getting them out of there gave us some breathing room. After I get the rest out today, we can begin to reorganize the furniture and start weeding out all the friends we have made over the lifetime of my kids. Oh, right. That’s the hard part.
I have some ideas I am really excited about which are spurring me on. We are on a zero to nothing budget, so it’s going to be very interesting to see how it all works out.November 5, 2013
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Every week I am forced to wait in a specific coffee shop while my children take lessons in an adjoining establishment. I feel obligated to buy something because I am sitting at one of their tables, waiting for an hour.
Every week I text my husband about my experience there, because it is always comical.
He’s in a meeting this week. So I will instead share it here with you.
At one time in my life I worked as and trained other baristas. I have been frequenting coffee shops for most of my life. I have NEVER experienced the ineptitude that I do weekly at this coffee shop.
Let me also say that unless something is hideously bad, I will not say anything to an establishment. Instead, I passive aggressively text someone or post about it on my blog. It’s so much more fun that way.
The first time I frequented this place, I ordered an iced latte. Not a difficult order, just espresso & cold milk over ice. I was the only customer in the shop when I heard the barista steaming milk. I think I have established that I am a neurotic worry wart, so I went up just to make sure she knew I had ordered an iced drink.
She looked at me and told me she knew it was an iced drink and that she always steamed the milk for an iced latte. I told her in the nicest way that cold milk would be just fine, and there was no need for her to trouble herself with heating it up before pouring it over ice.
Every week has been something like that. This week I ordered a chai latte.
This is what I got. A mug full of foam.
I really like foam. So while it was a little surprising, I wasn’t too upset. What was shocking was the weird lukewarm temperature beneath the foam. That takes talent.
I know it’s all *first world privilege* to make a blog post about how shitty my coffee shop experience is. I live in the first world though, so that’s what I have to talk about. I spent $5 of my very last $10 I managed to scrounge up in an old wallet to get a horrible coffee because I feel guilty about taking up space in an otherwise empty new age vegan coffee shop. I KNOW.
Still though. That shit was gross.October 15, 2013
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After putting some serious time into my gigantic, never-ending crochet project, I realized this behemoth will be in process for some time. I sat down and worked on it every evening and only got two rows done in two weeks. I still have about ten more rows to go.
As I said in my previous post, my fingers have been itching to knit. It’s a weird phenomenon, but as soon as the days start getting shorter, my body just knows it is time to start knitting.
Luckily I have people around here who put in custom request orders and there is never a shortage of things to make. I have had a sweater for myself in my queue since the spring, but I wanted to start a little smaller. Plus I am crazy time insane and never feel comfortable taking time to make myself things. I know that is wacka-doodle-doo. I know that it’s a symptom of some crazier stuff, but honestly it’s not even on my radar because I have itchy hands and limited concentration and time, and also a huge ol’ project that is partly for me, so whatever, I’m glossing over this issue for now.
My youngest daughter loves hand knit items much more than the older one. Olive will wear things I have knit for her or even for Sadie with pleasure. That in turn makes it more fun to make her things, because they will actually be used. A few weeks ago she asked me to make her a new sweater as she is growing out of the older ones I have made for her.
We sat down and looked through some patterns on Ravelry and she picked the one she liked best. She chose a Georgie Hallam pattern I’ve been eyeing for some time. I love all of her patterns as they are well written and very easy to follow. This one is called Granny’s Favourite (She’s Australian, hence the extra “u” in there).
We went to the Knit Picks website and she picked the color of yarn she wanted. I have used Knit Picks yarn for my past few projects. I really like the quality of their yarns and the color selection. I also really like that I can order the amount of yarn I need for a project.
For you non-knitter’s out there, buying yarn in person can be tricky. Even if there is a bin of seemingly identical yarn, there can be miniscule variations due to the skeins being dyed in different lots. Every little sleeve is printed with the dye lot number. If you are needing 7 skeins for a project it can be super frustrating, because a store may have only 6 of a particular dye lot. You’d think a little variation in color wouldn’t matter, but trust me, it does! You get a giant stripe where you don’t want it and it’s a pain.
I’ve loved not having to get the “yarn store sweats” and just ordering directly online. I don’t have to dig in a bin, or actually talk to a real person at all, which makes me very happy and maybe is another problem I need to add to my growing list of mental issues to dive into on another day.
I forgot how much I love having a project to carry around with me. It’s so nice to have a way to pass the time and feel productive at the same time.
Olive and I are both liking the way it’s coming out, and I anticipate finishing it this week. Even better, I can happily report though that the weird itchy feeling in my hands has dissipated. Sadie has already put in a request for some new mittens, and then I might actually start work on my own sweater, we’ll see.September 30, 2013
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Over here we all have end of summer colds and I threw out my back this weekend, so please excuse the radio silence. I’ve also been busy studying all about home school techniques and ideas. Say what you will about Pinterest, but it does make some tasks so much easier!
When we found out that Ms. O was enrolled in half day Kindergarten I knew I wanted a “go to” list of educational activities for our afternoons. I checked out a few books from the library, and found a few resources online, but because I only found out about the switch to half-day one day before school started, I kind of had to hit the ground running.
I’ve always admired people who homeschool their kids. In principle, I love the idea of great projects and feeding curiosity. In practice though, I am not selfless enough. Just look at the emotional turmoil I have experienced knowing that my child will be home with me in the afternoon. I love my kids, and I love helping them learn, but I also need time for my own creative pursuits and to bring in some much needed capital. I’m sure there is a way to both work from home and homeschool, but I am down with sending my kids out of the house for school.
Because I do follow a few homeschooling blogs and advocates on social media I did have a few places to start, but Pinterest was my bestie in this regard. I took a few areas that Olive has interest in, coupled with the resources we already had in the house and got down to business.
We have the entire set of Bob Books, which I highly recommend for beginning readers. What’s even better is that there are tons of free printables that people have made available that correspond with each book. We have found fun and educational activities to keep us busy for months!I found a lot of the Bob Book companion stuff on Pinterest. I just typed in Bob Book Printables, and so many great things popped up. We spent the summer reading these books, but Olive is much more engaged and interested now that we have some corresponding activities to do.
This girl loves science! She loves to learn about it, and she loves to do experiments. We found this liquid rainbow in a jar experiment in a book I checked out from the library, but I also saw it on Pinterest as well. Almost all the ingredients involved in the experiment are things you have in your own kitchen. We only had to purchase the rubbing alcohol needed for the top layer.
I have read a bit about project based home schooling. The idea is that it is child leading the learning experience. You take something they are interested in and run with it. You can insert whatever academic principles you want to and just keep with the theme. So whether it is math, or phonics, or science, you can have it revolve around the theme they are interested in.
I asked Olive what she would most like to learn about outside of school. She said she’d like to learn about the solar system. I found a few things on Pinterest, but we headed straight to our local planetarium for the real fun. We observed giant models of the planets, and Olive sat down and sketched a few of them. We are going to be studying the solar system this fall. She really wants to make a model with all of the planets, so that’s our end goal.
I am enjoying the half day homeschooling experience, and I am trying to focus on that. I am trying not to focus on my professional and personal goals I was so excited to pursue this year. I think that eventually we will have some sort of system in place so that I can still work, but as for right now everything in my Etsy shop and my creative plans have kind of screeched to a halt. The thing is, I’m getting to do lots of fun projects with my child one on one, and she is learning! Were it not for the financial deficit, I’d be in heaven.September 24, 2013
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My parents are going to Japan. As a favor and as an enabler, my incredibly sweet mom is going to pick up some fabric for me while she is there. She has a pretty good handle on what I like, but I made her a little wish list pdf with some pictures of things I am looking for. I also added a note with the general themes I am looking for. Looking over the list, I realize, I have the taste of an 8-year-old girl.
Just read my list.
- Russian Dolls
- Small World or Little Golden Book Style
I could have easily written that entire list in third grade.September 17, 2013
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I was all set to write about something else today, but I wanted to share this post I made over at On The Rag Mag today.
Aging and Free To Be You and Me
Last week, as Tracy and I sat in her car eating milkshakes, we were talking about aging. It’s something that being in our mid-to-late thirties, all of the women who write here are starting to think about.
This morning when I sat down to write a little something here, I find that my Marlo Thomas piece was mentioned by Ann Althouse on her blog yesterday in a piece titled Did “Free to Be You & Me” imply getting a lot of work done to one’s once perky face?. She begins with a picture of Marlo’s original face and then her face when she was on “That Girl” She says:
Obviously, she needed to get some work done to look like “That Girl” and not that girl that was on “Dobie Gillis.” Look at her father
She then has a picture of Marlo’s father Danny Thomas who is well known to have a shnozz that lasts for days.
Ms. Althouse then goes on to state:
Marlo went on to that “Free to Be You & Me” project, which began in 1972, when I was 21 and not interested in that sort of thing, and not just because it was for children and parents, but because it was square and middle class. I don’t think I have ever listened to a single track on that record, but I know it had a huge impact on younger people. (I wonder if Obama’s mother played it for him. I’ll bet she thought it was too square, too middle class.)
In my piece on Marlo Thomas I said, “No one can stay young forever, and we all deal with the aging process in different ways. It’s a mind fuck no matter how you go at it, and it’s her face so who am I to say anything?” Ms. Althouse responds:
Oh, bullshit! You did say something. Quit pretending you didn’t. It may be “up to” Marlo to decide what to do, but she did it precisely to affect what we see. She did it to us as well as to herself. We can complain. We can try to influence others not to make the same awful mistake. And there’s just so much hypocrisy, or at least that’s what I would say if I had any familiarity at all with the songs on “Free to Be You & Me.”
The songs on Free To Be You and Me are about loving yourself and being empowered to make your own choices. The album influenced a generation of women and men. I find it frustrating to have a thoughtful discussion about something when someone hasn’t taken the time to study the source material. Whether you find it too square, or too middle class, it still exists and has still shaped the culture that you live in. Whether or not President Obama was raised on it, other policy makers were, and it can do no harm to understand where those who are different from you are coming from.
I appreciate thoughtful discourse on just about any subject. I do believe that it is someone’s right to get plastic surgery, have an abortion, use contraceptives, or otherwise exist on the planet without my consent. The seeds for my attitude were planted by listening to “Free To Be You and Me.”
It seems that Ms. Althouse is asking if “Free To Be You And Me” implied that one should radically alter ones appearance in order to fit the beauty normative of our culture. The initial answer is of course no. This, like most social issues, however, is extremely complex. Feminism is wrapped up in inter-generational politics that I feel I can’t really get into in just one piece here. The way that first, second, third and even fourth wave feminists see each other is so complicated. The way that each generation perceives the others colors quite a bit in social and political discourse. Sometimes the nature of the discussion is lost entirely because of that fact.
I do personally wish that there were more people around aging naturally. Really though, I wish that people weren’t so intent on changing their faces at all, if I’m being honest. I’m not positive, but it seems that Ms. Althouse deems the first round of Marlo Thomas’s plastic surgery necessary in order to look different from her father, but that the alterations done in later years are “an awful mistake.” I don’t understand the distinction. I am saddened that anyone feels the pressure to go under the knife to fit into a narrow beauty paradigm at all.
Still, though, I don’t feel that it’s entirely my business what someone does with their face. This is an issue I struggle with daily. It’s my own hypocrisy, and if Ms. Althouse wants to call bullshit on it, so be it. I am upset by the current beauty paradigm, but I also want to respect the rights of an individual. It’s the liberal conundrum: how do I respect everyone and make the world a better place at the same time? So I take to the internet to discuss it. I talk with friends, my husband, and my own daughters about it. When it comes down to it, I believe the personal is political, and I make choices based upon that.
Ms. Althouse writes:
As to whether “the aging process” is “a mind fuck no matter how you go at it,” if that’s the level of wisdom you’ve reached, that doesn’t speak well for the foundation you acquired from “Free to Be You & Me.” One more reason why I will continue to refrain from ever hearing “Free to Be” and to believe that it’s drivel.
I still assert that aging is a mind fuck. Though the people leaving comments on Ms. Althouse’s blog seem to disagree. As I age, I understand more and that in itself changes the way I perceive my reality. Reality shift is indeed a major mind fuck, because all that I believed to be true is no longer completely so.
As a young feminist I was so angry with baby boomers. I was filled with rage when I thought about the world I had inherited. As a woman more advanced in my years, I see that change is not instantaneous, that as humans we are all flawed. I see that those who came before me were able to break down certain misapprehensions about what it is to be a woman, but were still trapped by some social mores. As I age, I can see that I have blind spots I don’t even know about. It is a total mind fuck to know that there are things you are influenced by that you can’t even see. I owe my critical thinking skills to a lot of things, but I know in part it is because of my exposure to “Free To Be You And Me.” If Ms. Althouse chooses to believe that is drivel, that is her own decision, as well she’d know if she chose to experience the thing she so freely denigrates.September 3, 2013
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Sometimes I see things that are so cute they make me drool. Like a human transforms into a werewolf, I can feel my pupils shift from ordinary black circles into bright pink hearts. When this happens I usually have to show my husband, my children, my family, and my friends how cute something is. I pin it. I email it. And I was just thinking this is the perfect place to share those things too.
Here are a few pairs of shoes I have been obsessing over lately.
Both of these pairs of Dr. Martens Women’s Harrie Boot are making my heart sing. I don’t care if this trend from the 90′s is back or not, I am a girl who loves a big ol’ boot with a dress, and I can see either of these colorways with some cute tights. The only hard part would be picking which one you love more.
These Umbrella Statement Flats have been on my love list for a while. I love the scallops and the pretty pretty colors all in a row.
These Joy and Merri-mint Flats are from a company called Bait Footwear. Are you familiar with them? Pretty much every single shoe they make is adorable. I follow their brand on Instagram and it’s an account full o’pretty, let me tell you.
These boots from Swedish Hasbeens have been breaking my heart for so long. When they were available to buy from the store they were so expensive, I could only dream of owning them. I did, I did actually dream that I owned them, and it was the best dream ever. They still haunt my waking thoughts too, but are no longer for sale, so even if I did sell a body part, I wouldn’t even be able to own them now.
I ran across these boots the other day and seriously gasped out loud. I don’t think it’s a secret that one of my style icons is Liberace, and when I saw these boots I knew that they were Liberace-iffic! One of my favorite color pairings of all time is pink and orange, and I can just see myself wearing these with some bright pink tights. Pretty soon you will be seeing it too, as I actually ordered myself a pair of these. I mean glitter and bright orange and under $40? C’mon.
I know that posting these shoes is only cementing the idea that I dress in what is known on the street as “clown chic” but I love bright colors and I love stripes and polka dots. I also like all of those things all together at the same time.
I also really loved sharing some of my favorite things with you and can’t wait to assault your eyes again next week.
Full disclosure here: These are affiliate links, If you like these and click through and decide to buy them I will get a little percentage of the sale. That being said, I am only sharing this stuff with you because I genuinely think it is rad and bad.August 29, 2013
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Well. Here I am. At my house with no kids. I’m trying to look on the bright side. I will be without my children for 2.5 hours every morning. That’s a wonderful beautiful fabulous thing.
But I still feel like breaking down and crying. This kindergarten experience has already been a huge bummer. I feel like a total jerk for saying so, but it’s the truth.
There are WAY worse things going on the world. Political issues, women’s issues, economic issues. This is my day-to-day reality though, and I am disappointed.
I was so excited to have some time to myself, and I DO have time to myself, I keep telling myself this exact thing, but still the disappoint looms.
The thing is, I am going to be ok, this new situation is going to be fine. Truthfully, I think it may be better than that. It’s probably just what Olive needs. It might even be just what I need. It’s just I need a minute to switch my gears. I need a minute to mourn the dream of what I thought was going to be my day to day life. It sounds dramatic, but 1. I am totally on my heaviest flow day of my period, so shut the hell up AND 2. Change is hard!
I had these visions of actually cleaning my house! Of being able to write and sew and list items and take care of business, all without feeling guilty. When I have a child underfoot and I am trying to do these things, I always always always have a voice in my head saying I should be spending time with my kids. Always. Even if my husband is home and seeing to their needs. It’s just always a split in my focus and my feelings.
I was so excited to have an entire workday.
Instead I have 2.5 hours. Just long enough to mope on the couch and write this post.
The second issue, apart from my whining about me and my time and my needs and me, me, me, is my child. She was not placed in the accelerated program that her sister was, and she knows it. She is at a point where she needs more from her schooling than her ABC’s and since she is not going to be getting it from her school, that falls to me.
I wasn’t planning on learning all about homeschooling techniques, but it looks like that’s the road I am suddenly on. I don’t feel comfortable following the same path we did in preschool. I know that my child is ready for some serious enrichment, watching Disney Jr. and playing video games are just not going to cut it in the afternoons.
My dreams of luscious amounts of ME time are put on hold for an entire year, and it stings. It means that I have to take the precious little time I do have and make it work for me. Efficiency is going to be the name of this here game.
My disappointment about the academic experience that my child will now be having is another tough pill to swallow. We spent the entire summer thinking she would be at school all day. We received a letter a week ago telling us we might be switched to a morning half day program. We only had it confirmed yesterday that she would only be there for 2.5 hours instead of the 6 hours that the full day kindergarten is. She doesn’t even get to eat lunch at school, which was one of the things she was so excited about.
My child will be ok. I know that. This experience does not mean she will drop out of school and become a drug addicted homeless prostitute. As a parent, it’s just like little sharp pins being slid into your heart, watching these little disappointments happen. It’s character building or whatever, but it sucks and I hate it.
So to look on the bright side, I’m going to be able to get some of the things I want to done, AND I’m going to have more time with my child AND we are going to be taking a new journey.
Thank you for letting my vomit out all my bad feelings first though.August 28, 2013