What I’m Reading

iloveI’ve been blogging since 2007, and I’ve been reading blogs for even longer.  Over the past few years, I’ve lost the hours where I could leisurely click from page to page, catching up, peeking into other people’s lives.  Now my reading usually happens during a nursing session, and more often than not, I end up killing that time with games of Two Dots, or taking the Buzzfeed quizzes that clutter my feed.  I’m not reading nearly as many blogs as I did in the past, and I kind of miss it!

I’m starting to get back to reading, and I thought I would share some of my favorite bloggers (old and new), and some of the posts that made me fall in love.  I’ve also started listening to podcasts- pretty much anything MPR puts out or that is history related.  Why waste those precious hours spent washing dishes when I could be learning something, right?

 

Brittany, Herself
This was the first post that hooked me.
This inspired me to buy boots.
This inspired me to, well…

The Bloggess
The post that still makes me laugh just thinking about it.
A Diary of a Mom
The post that made me think about how I talk about the boys and autism.

Serious Eats
The post that became a staple of our meal plan.

The Candy Perfume Boy
As fragrance reviewers go, he’s at the top.

Podcasts:
The History Chicks
Grammar Girl
Backstory
Russian Rulers History Podcast (I totally nerd out to this one. No apologies.)
Librivox Not a podcast, but free domain audio books- pretty much any classic you can think of.

 


Goodbye Reader. Hello Feedly!

When I read the pop-up on my Google Reader that it was going away in July, I had a mini freak out.  Seriously.  Thoughts of never seeing my favorite bloggers again because I depend on my reader for URL’s like people depend on cell phones for phone numbers.  I spent a good part of the next few days agonizing about all of the things I was going to miss out on- would the bloggers I read miss me?  I surely wasn’t going to be reading as many blogs as I currently do- however would I find them all!!!

Yeah.  So it was a little dramatic.

I popped over to Feedly on the recommendation of pretty much everyone, and you know what?  It took about 8 seconds for me to transfer my Google Reader.  But, the most exciting thing?  All the blogs I had subscribed to on a whim and never ever read and could never get out of my reader because no matter what I did, no matter what trick I followed, those blogs that always came back as soon as I logged into Blogger?  GONE!  All of them!

I also took the time to cull though all of the blogs that had long since closed up shop- last post 56 days old?  They might be back.  Last post is 1,347 days old…probably not!  It was the most satisfying kind of organizing.

So, starting fresh with a newly pared down reader.  I have less than 100 blogs in there for the first time in years.  Of course now I am itching to add some more- preferably people who are not dabbling in blogging until they find something new and shiny in 5 weeks.  Also- no strictly monetized blogs.  I get it- I do it to an extent over at The Slacker Mom, but when every single post is brought to you by a sponsor- it doesn’t matter what your story is, if every post is sponsored, it just reads like copy and I’m not buying it.  I want some real, old school blogs.  Blogs where the writing and ideas took center stage.  I feel like I’m trying to resurrect a dieing breed, but I know they are out there.

Here are 5 blogs that stand out to me in some special way:

– The first blog I ever read (before I even knew what a blog was) was A Serious Job is no Excuse.  I am so not into fashion, but I LOVED that blog.
– The first blog I commented on, and the first Minnesota blog I ever read, AND the first blogger who I sought out via google months after she shut down her old blog knowing that she would probably pop up somewhere else is Kitchen Blogic.  (I was totally right, and I’m so glad I did!)
– The blog post I have linked to the most is the tutorial on washing an lanolizing wool diaper covers from The Gnome’s Mom.  It is seriously the best.  If you are addicted to wool- check it out!
– The blog that makes me nod my head, laugh, and cry is Yeah. Good Times.
– And the blog that has never steered me wrong when it comes to food is Smitten Kitchen.  I miss our Friday night dinners with my mom- kids really do change everything.


2012: A Look Back

I didn’t start writing over here until this past summer but I thought it might be nice to get everyone (and by everyone, I mean Beki) caught up on our year in a nutshell.  I can’t say it’s been a bad year, although I am always ready for a fresh start!

January:  In January I launched the biggest blogging undertaking I had ever attempted (or thought of attempting) with the 30 Days of Dipes cloth diaper giveaway event.  30 days of product reviews and giveaways and by the end I was completely turned off by product blogging and giveaways and all of the things that come with promoting and monetizing a blog.  Which is part of the reason I launched this space.  So I could write words that whether they are read or not, are not muddled by ads or sponsorships.  Part way through I almost had a nervous breakdown so I wrote about one of my old favorite things: Perfume.  I love it.  January was also one of the most difficult months with the boys because of an extended winter break with a cross-country road trip and various issues with meeting their sensory needs.  It was a very long time before we got back to where we were pre-vacation and I never even wrote about it because I was so overwhelmed with the posts I had to write for the cloth diaper event.  I also took over the Breastfeeding Blog Hop.  Because I didn’t have enough blogging obligations on my plate…this was the highlight of my blogging career to date and also the beginning of the end.

February: I finally got to put down my thought on the stressful issues we were dealing with regarding Autism and the holidays.  I finally kicked myself in the butt and joined a gym.  I finally set some goals for myself when it came to taking care of me.  I will tell you- I lost a few pounds and then as soon as school was out for the summer I stopped going to the gym and paying attention to what I ate and right now, I am almost exactly the same place weight-wise as I was when I started last February.  I still have that gym membership and I need to get back on track once school starts again on Wednesday.

March: I turned 34!  Not a monumental year, but I don’t mind getting older.  I added to my Bucket List– and looking back, I actually can cross a few of these off!  I waxed poetic about my love for all things preppy– I need an escape now and then and I do it within the pages of Town & Country.   What’s wrong with that?  I had a wake-up call while driving through campus (apparently although I don’t mind getting older, in my mind I am still 18).  this was also the month where everyone was sick.  It seems like a domino effect in this house and it always goes on forever.  This ruins everything for me schedule-wise and I start to lose my mind.  I started to work through my fears over a possible 3rd pregnancy.  I am still working through those fears.  the low-light of the month was my first attempt ever at taking two kids at once to the doctor– remember, at this point I had twins who were 40 months old.  I am no super mom.  I do not strive to be.  I will always take the easy way out.  How is that for honest?

April:  I was happy to leave March behind.  It was a tough month.  April was proving hard to focus, but I was actually getting to the gym, so I was still happy with that, even if I was failing with my food choices.  We participated in our first ever Fraser Walk for Autism and I will say, we have the most generous friends and family and co-workers who pretty much blew my expectations out of the water.  It was a fun day, but an emotional day too.  I had some tears.  Speaking of Autism, I completely flaked out on writing for Autism Awareness month.  Last year I wrote nearly every day but this year, I just couldn’t do it.  I had an unexpected day where I was disconnected from all things digital and I spent it dyeing everything I could get my hands on (talk about a fluff piece)!  I wrote a fantastic tutorial for dyeing pre-folds (if I do say so myself).

May:  This month started with a tree falling on our garage.  I was super excited about this because to me it meant more grass would grow.  It actually meant it would just be hotter than Hades in our backyard and no one would want to sit out there past the first week of June.  I had a few really exciting partnerships with sponsors- Let’s Dish (a company I adore) and a fun movie premiere for What to Expect When You’re Expecting, where I got to meet some of my readers.  I tried to (unwittingly) kill my kids with Foxglove.  I fell completely off the healthy eating wagon and stuffed all the food I could find into my face.  I put a stop to weekend blogging and chasing the almighty sponsored posts.  I participated in what will more than likely be my last Flats and Handwashing Challenge, and I loved almost every minute of it.

June:  This month came much to quickly.  I was not prepared for the hell that would be summer school and summer vacation.  We had been holding out hope that we would be getting into Day Treatment for the summer session but we did not make the cut and were instead clinging to the 6 week summer session at the boys school to get us through.  That is a lot to ask for.  It started out OKI sobbed on my couch over blogging.  BLOGGING!  If that isn’t a call to step back, I don’t know what is.  We had an ER visit with L and our first stitches.  He taught me a lot during that visit- namely that I should trust that he will handle himself just fine.  I wrote possibly my favorite post ever and I was speechless when Swistle gave her $0.02 in my comments!  To round out the first half of the year, we converted J’s crib to a toddler bed. (Dun Dun DUNNNNN!!!) and I vowed to get rid of the clutter, do more with less, simplify.  Oh, and I started Mill City Mom!

July: We traveled to Kansas City.  L showed us that he can read- no more guessing!  He’s a readerI toured a pig farm, something I never in my wildest dreams imagined I would do.  J had his first haircut.  It would be almost 4 months before I allowed another scissors to cross his path.  I continued to struggle with the direction my blog was taking.

August:  This is the month where I finally lose my mind.  I was literally frozen in my kitchen on a chair while life sped up around me and I felt like I was losing my grip on my ability to deal with the day to day chaos.  Other things happened: J turned 2 and had a real Big Boy birthday!  Yogi Dad had a business trip out east.  The boys started school , again.  We went to the State Fair!  But, it will forever be marked as the month where I lost my shit.  A month I will happily forget.

September:  School started, and was great.  And then Day Treatment started.  And I found myself advocating for my kids over things like proper carseat installation in the Care Cab that picks them up in the morning and how and when they will transition from Day Treatment to school each day.  And I about lost my mind, again.  Because these were not the issues I imagined having to put my big girl panties on for.  These were just the logistics of getting to school and into buildings.  Things were worked out, mostly because Yogi Dad took over because I became an emotional mess (I am not cut out for this, there are things I cannot handle about parenting special needs kids).  And, I went to a blogging conference.  Because I guess that is what you do when you are slowly losing your grip on life and need a grown-up, professional getaway from the trappings of your day to day.  Even when you are trying to veer away from anything that looks like professional blogging.  As it turns out, this was the perfect day off for me.

October:  Yogi Dad and I celebrated 10 years of marriage!  I don’t feel like I have anything interesting or inspiring to add about being married.  I think the key is to be a team.  And find a way for the work not to seem like work.  You know what they say- do what you love and you will never work a day in your life?  That can apply to marriage too, right?  The months started off with a bang, and a call to Poison Control.  I told you I’m not a great mother.  We attempted to add the boys to the gym membership and it didn’t end well.  I almost pulled my membership as well, I thought it was handled so poorly, but I just gave it some time.  Actually, I haven’t really been back since this happened.  Halloween happened, and I single-handedly ruined J’s costume by getting his haircut 2 days before.  his flowing blond locks pretty much made his costume (he was Thor).

November:  Yogi Dad turned the big 3-5 and the boys turned FOUR!  I cannot believe it.  I did a really bad job of participating in the Thankfulness Project.  But that is mostly because I am overwhelmed and lazy most days.  Believe me, I am thankful for everything we have and all of the people in our lives.  We are surely blessed.  Thanksgiving itself was pretty good and I started a new tradition!  I opened the dam on my political and religious views.  I find politics and religion endlessly interesting.  I don’t know why they are so taboo.

December:  Honestly, December has been a complete blur, and I can’t believe it’s not January yet.  We just celebrated 3 different Christmases.  The boys are on the tail end of a two week break.  We’ve seen many an out-of-state guest and eaten way too many Rosettes.  We have always tried to pare down the gifting aspect of the season, but it’s tough to do.  There was the massacre at Newtown, which pretty much shattered me as a mother.  I don’t know what we need to do to fix this, but guns and mental healthcare are at the top of the list.  Let’s get to work on that.  To close out my fails as a mother, I didn’t have boots and snowpants (or even check to see if what we had from last year still fit) until we had 12 inches of perfect snowman snow on the ground.

Looking back, I had a lot of Mom  Fails!

2013 will be better.  Not that 2012 was particularly bad, but because we are always evolving and getting better.  Isn’t that why we keep going?

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, it might not be as tasty as Pioneer Woman or as pretty as House of Turquoise, but it’s our life.  Honest and messy and perfect in it’s imperfection.

Happy New Year!

“Be at war with your voices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every New Year find you a better man.”  ~ Benjamin Franklin


Relax. You can do this.

Things are finally starting to take shape over here.

School has been in full swing for about a month now.  Transportation issues have been worked out with both the school and Day Treatment.  Who knew that being an advocate for your special needs child meant putting your foot down over car seat safety?  It definitely wasn’t on my list of things I might have to deal with over the years.

Sleep.  After months of middle of the night wake-ups and earlier and earlier mornings (5:30 anyone?) we decided to drop the boys nightly melatonin.  So far it’s been good.  They fall asleep easily on school nights, weekends are a bit trickier as we don’t run them nearly as ragged as a 6 hour school day does but it’s much more manageable.  No more midnight wake-ups.  No more early mornings.  Now that I’m thinking about it- no more hair pulling!  I’ll take it.

We’ve implemented a few weekend traditions just to try and keep a little routine for the boys.

Friday night is movie night on mom and dad’s bed- so far, Puss in Boots has been the request the last 2 weeks.  It’s pretty cute and has plenty of stuff added in there for adults that kids won’t catch- I mean really, the first scene is Puss leaving a kitty one night stand!  L is the only one who sticks with it the whole time (he loves the “baby goose”), W usually ditches halfway through to go to bed and J is busy tearing up everything in sight but it’s fun to have something to look forward to at the end of a busy week.

Saturday night is Pizza Party night.  We put out a spread of toppings and let the boys go to town.  The boys seem to enjoy it (although a lot of it ends up in their mouths before it hits the oven) and the possibilities are pretty much endless so I don’t think we’ll get tired of that anytime soon.

Also: I’m Baking!  I haven’t baked in forever because with only window units to keep us cool, running the oven in the summer is not an option.  Seriously.  It was mid 80’s today and I was sweating like crazy while I was washing dishes and it dawned on me while we were eating dinner- I have the oven at 425 to bake pizza, I’m standing over steamy water and I have nary a fan on or a window open let alone the A/C- of course I’m hot!  I was seriously ready to lose my shit.  Apparently heat and humidity make me cranky.  It’s almost October- why is it so hot?!

But, back to what I was saying- I baked a cake last week (So good- the boys were eating it by the handful every time they had the opportunity to get into the fridge.  I was a little disappointed to come home last Saturday to find nothing but crumbs left.), Toffee Bars on Wednesday, Jell-O Cookies today, I think I’m making Saltine Toffee Cookies aka Cookie Crack tomorrow to bring to my mom’s…it’s a good thing I’m back at the gym because all this butter and sugar is going right into my mouth.

I almost feel like a regular sane person with all of the normal things that are happening in my life.

(Um, I’m already head first into a stream of consciousness post so I’m just going to go for it- ya with me?)

We had a busy day planned today: haircuts for the twins, a mid-morning run for Yogi Dad around Lake Calhoun and a neighborhood block party this afternoon.

First.  The haircuts.  I’ll just say I’m not impressed.  Probably 50% of the boys haircuts have been done by my fabulous sister who is a stylist extraordinaire who happens to live in Kansas City.  She cuts their hair and they look fab, like little hipster men.  When we try and recreate that at the local kids hair place, we end up with cuts that miss the mark by about a hundred miles or look like something I could have done with my non-existent hair cutting skills.  I think I need to find somewhere else to take them but taking them to my stylist seems like a bit much.  At least my sis will be here in December and she can fix them up a bit.

Later on when we were ready to walk out the door for the block party I decided to double check my neighborhoods Facebook page (does your neighborhood have a Facebook page?  I was so excited to see that mine does- a great way to meet people I might not otherwise meet) to see what exactly was going to be there.  Of course, we found that it started much earlier than we thought and we missed it by about 20 minutes.  There were two parts to it- the family friendly part and the drinks on the patio shindig for adults only.  Of course I assumed the adults only portion would start a little bit later than 2.  My bad.  We’d been talking about it for weeks and were a bit disappointed that we had overlooked the time but we rolled with it.  We had promised the boys a treat and so we jumped in the car took a drive around the lakes instead- all three boys chowed down on a cake pop and then promptly fell asleep as we drank coffee and talked.  I love talking to my husband.  It never gets old.

Tomorrow is another busy day and then Monday we have school pictures.  Awesome. There is something that seems so normal about getting school pictures.  Something completely typical.  I love it.  Even if they turn out just so so.

Which reminds me *I* just had the blogger equivalent of a school photo taken!  Last weekend I attended the 3rd annual Minnesota Blogger Conference and I had my first ever professional headshots taken.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but I’m serious when I tell you I was blown away.  I’m usually cropping my face out of a family photo- usually one where I am holding a baby so you get the tiny baby forehead in the picture too.  Not this time- this time it’s all me and I must say- I think I look GREAT!  Thanks so much to Glimpses of Soul Photography for volunteering your time to get all of use bloggers pretty pics for all of our various avatars!

Not bad, eh?

Yikes!  I better stop before I hit 1,000 words!

(Too late.)

 


Playing Catch-Up

Wow.  The past few weeks have flown by, in a good way.

The boys started school during the State Fair (Minneapolis Schools seem to start earlier) and then they started Day Treatment the following week so they are officially in “school” for 6 hours a day.

Of course, this did not all go off without a hitch (transportation woes up the wazoo) but I think things are falling into place now.  As a mom to special needs kids, I never thought the thing I would have to advocate for would be proper use of a carseat.

Apparently my generations obsession with proper installation and usage of safety seats does not extend to people who professionally transport my children.  I’m not asking for them to rear face or anything “crazy” like that- just, you know…install the carseat and make sure the harness clips all work.  Little details.

Aside from that, the boys are really loving school. Engagement at home is through the roof and they are constantly tossing out something new- like a song (so many songs I have no idea what they all are) or naming the kids in their class or telling us about their snack for the day.  These are all pretty huge, we don’t usually get a lot of info about school unless we talk to a teacher.

On the “Me” front, I have started back at the gym with a workout buddy. We just started last week and we’ve only done two days together, but so far I am loving it.  I brushed off my hang-up with only going to swim and put myself in her hands- I will do whatever she says (as long as it’s not run, I don’t do running thanks to lots of shitty reinforcement by high school gym teachers and a particularly cruel classmate).  So far we warm up with 5 minutes on t he treadmill and hit the weights and do some conditioning exercises.

After the first day I felt awesome.  After day 2 I was really starting to feel it.  I feel really good about this.  I’m not going to saddle myself with a weight-loss goal, I’m not going to try and attack my eating at the same time (that can come later) I just want to get into a routine of going and working my body.  Something is better than nothing and it’s time to do something.

I also got back into the groove with my local Mother’s of Multiples Club (Shout out to the St. Paul MoMs!).  I’ve joined twice before but have never gotten into a routine where I actually went to the meetings, but I think it’s time.  I need to have something on my schedule to look forward to and a few beers out with the ladies once a month is definitely doable.

Next month is our 10 year anniversary.  10 years is a pretty good run I think.  Right now we are planning a culinary tour of the city.  We used to get out to new restaurants fairly often but kids have pretty much quashed that and our list is getting really long.  We are thinking lunch, dinner, breakfast and then lunch over the course of a Saturday/ Sunday.  right now our list includes Corner Table, Piccolo, Trevail, Tilia, Hells Kitchen (for breakfast), Grand Cafe and a bunch of others I can’t think of off the top of my head.  If you have any Minneapolis restaurant recommendations I would be glad to hear them!

Hmmmm…It looks like I have 1 hour before the bus comes, J is napping and my October issue of Town&Country just arrived.  I think I’m going to sit on the porch and enjoy the weather.

 


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