19 December 2014

Taking a little time off....

As an independent contractor, I don't get paid vacation days. If I don't work, I don't get paid. So as the holidays approach, it's important for me to balance work time with family time, especially around holidays and birthdays.

It's been difficult this month to take time off. I've had a lot of deadlines this month, so it's meant late nights and long hours. Fortunately, the big deadlines are coming to an end (at least until after the new year), so I'm looking forward to having some time off next week for the holiday.

This year is a little bit different because Puck and Tink are spending actual factual Christmas with Monty. But Bo and I will still be celebrating the holiday in our own way, and since she has two whole days off of work for the holiday, I'm planning to take the 25th and 26th off, as well.

It's going to be nice to have some time off, especially since it's been such a busy, chaotic month (or two) lately. I'll sleep in, drink my coffee out on the patio, and watch too much TV all weekend.

It will be a much-needed break before I jump back into work.

17 December 2014

"I'm not a boy:" Tink's gender expression

Tink is what many people would describe as "all girl." She likes pink and dresses and lacy and frilly and princesses, princesses, princesses. And that is perfectly fine with me.

However, the week of Thanksgiving, I gave Tink a green and silver striped shirt (with sparkly silver threads) to wear. She took it from me, made a face and said, "I'm not a boy, Mama."

Yes, because the shirt I gave her was not pink or frilly (though it did have a little sparkle to it), she assumed it was a shirt meant for boys.

I explained to her, briefly, that clothes have no gender, and that I got the shirt for her because it's sparkly. She wore it, and when someone complimented her on how cute she looked in it, she was much happier for the rest of the day.

The next day, she picked a pink shirt.

This is something that came up with Puck, as well. He went through a "but that's for girls" phase, which has been revisited during this school year. So whenever the opportunity arises, we emphasize that there's "no such thing as boy/girl..." whatever, and remind the munchkins that those who identify as boys and those who identify as girls can do or wear or be whatever they want. There is no gender requisite.

Right now it's not a big deal. And when the kids get a bit older and are involved in picking what clothes we buy for them, they'll have a more significant role in expressing themselves through clothing.

For now, I think Bo and I will be incorporating some more non-pink and non-purple clothing in her wardrobe. Just to mix things up a little bit.

14 December 2014

Renew your spirit with a magical afternoon

Magic Kingdom
December 2014
Yesterday Bo and I took Puck, Tink, Mimi, and Papa G to the Magic Kingdom for an afternoon and evening of Christmas-decorated fun.

We managed to keep the trip a surprise until shortly before we left, but even then, they had no idea that we were going to get to see Queen Elsa light up Cinderella's castle with snow and ice. (Puck got a little teary-eyed during the show because he was so excitedly overwhelmed by it.)

We rode rides and saw shows and stood in lines in between. We got to take the kids on a few things they'd never done before and, of course, there was Elsa.

We walked too much, paid too much for food, and stayed too long.

It was wonderful.

It was exactly the memories I hoped to create for this Christmas, and a wonderful way to end this week with the munchkins before they go back to Monty this evening. Especially since they'll be with him through Christmas.

It was a happy, happy day.

08 December 2014

Ending the year with mindful eating

Life has gotten busy lately, and I've fallen back into bad habits. So as this year wraps up and the new year begins, I'm focusing on getting back into my good habits of holistic living.

It was a little bit of a challenge through the Thanksgiving holiday, not only because we were traveling, but because I'm the only non-omni* in the family.

As I'm making the transition back into the healthy lifestyle that works for me, I have to focus on remembering why I'm doing it.

Yes, a big part of the reason I'm going back to a vegan lifestyle with regular exercise is for my health. (I feel better when I take better care of myself.) But it's also because I know how my body reacts to animal product.

My body doesn't like meat and dairy. I can eat it, but quite often, I feel ill afterward. When I was a kid, I couldn't handle dairy (which came up again in both my pregnancies). So it's not a shocker to me that I can't handle animal products now. Since a plant-based diet is not only healthier for me (as an individual) but healthier for me in general, it just makes sense for me to be on a plant-based diet. It's the best way for me to keep my body in balance.

The good news is that the next two holiday meals (Christmas and New Year's) will be at home, so I can make sure there are vegan options (especially since our New Year's meal will be all finger foods). It will be a good way to end this year and start 2015.

*I know that veg*n living is not a requisite for holistic living, but my body is much happier with a plant-based diet, so it is a requisite for me.

07 December 2014

Renew your spirit with winter decorations

Shortly before Thanksgiving, Bo and I put up our holiday tree and some winter* decorations.

I usually like to wait until after Thanksgiving (truthfully, I prefer to wait until December), but we wanted the munchkins to be able to help and enjoy the decorations, and since they went back to Monty right after Thanksgiving, it just worked out better this way.

I like having winter decorations out. I love this time of year. People are happier, kinder, and much more compassionate. People are taking action to make a positive impact on the world around them. People are more optimistic about life and society.

It's a good time of year.

I wish more people would carry the spirit of these holidays with them through the rest of the year. Think how wonderful our world would be if people made an effort to be compassionate and generous every day instead of just once a year?** What if people focused on bringing light to other people's lives instead of bringing "stuff" into their own lives?

Sometime in January our decorations will come down. Our winter tree will be put away until next Thanksgiving, the ornaments packed away in a bin. But this January, I will be making a conscious effort to keep the joy and excitement that comes with those decorations in my heart through the rest of the year.

You don't need lights up around your home to be a light to the people around you!

*Since our holiday celebrations are secular, I prefer to think of our decorations as for the season rather than for the holidays. Not only does that keep traditional religious decorations out of the equation, but it means I can keep them out a bit longer, which makes me happy.

**I know there are people who are kind and compassionate and generous all year round. That's one thing that I'm working on in myself in an effort to live a more holistic lifestyle. But I'm speaking in generalities for the purposes of this post.

03 December 2014

MTTSM's meme

Mom to the Screaming Masses posted a meme yesterday.

I do memes now. Memes are cool.

Signature Dish: Right now, spaghetti. It's quick, easy, and everyone eats it. So spaghetti.
Worst Thing I Ate This Week: Way too much of a pumpkin roll.
Favorite Junk Food: Kettle chips. I love them. I eat them too often.
Favorite Board Game: Scrabble. I'm much better at Scrabble than I am at Words with Friends. For some reason.
Household Chore I Enjoy: Sweeping/mopping. I find it very satisfying.
My Secret Cleaning Weapon: Multipurpose spray. I should start keeping one in every room, really.
Etiquette Pet Peeve: I hate it when people ignore common courtesies. I find it very disrespectful.
I Will Never Care About: Twerking.
The Last Thing I Bought Online Was: I can't say. Bo reads my blog and it's for Christmas.
I Drive: Bo's sister's car.
Good Habit: Listening to my body's needs.
Bad Habit: Picking at my fingernails.
Before Company Arrives I: Frantically straighten the house.
Cat/Dog/Other: I was always a cat person. Now we have a Clara dog.
Stuff I Can't Live Without: My family, coffee (especially now that I have a Keurig!), my book, pen and paper....
If I Had An Extra Hour Today, I Would: probably waste it.
My Handbag Is: in need of replacement.
On My Bucket List: Run a marathon.

Feel free to participate. It's fun!

01 December 2014

Holiday memories

Bo and I took Puck and Tink to visit Mimi and Papa G for a long Thanksgiving weekend. It was a wonderful trip full of good food, new memories, and great family conversation.

In addition to Thanksgiving, we did our family Christmas since the munchkins will be with Monty for actual factual Christmas. So we decorated Mimi and Papa G's house and did our gift exchange.* We ate lots of delicious food and were loud and laughed a lot and took all the pictures.

I loved getting to spend time with everyone and eat delicious food. I loved getting to see the munchkins get excited about decorating--including making ornaments--and opening gifts. Puck even fired Papa G from handing out everyone's gifts so he could do it.

It was our first holiday as a family--as this family--and it was a wonderful way to start making memories. This was the first holiday meal in what is sure to be many, many more, and I think we set the bar pretty high.

I was worried about being so far away from my family for this year's holidays. Last year, the munchkins and I went up north for Christmas, so I still got valuable time with my family. This year, because of how timesharing with the munchkins has worked out, along with my work schedule, it wasn't an option.

But Bo's family has claimed us as their own, just as we have claimed them. There's nothing for me to worry about because I am surrounded by family.

It's going to be an amazing holiday season!

*I got a Keurig! *happy dance*

27 November 2014

26 November 2014

Remembering why I left Christianity

Every once in a while I am reminded that not all Christians are closed-minded, small, angry, judgmental people. I meet people who happen to be Christians and are perfectly wonderful examples of what was likely intended by following the teachings of Jesus.

But then I read news articles about people's rationale for blocking same-sex marriage and safe, legal abortions and reliable birth control and I am reminded once again of why I am an atheist and unashamed of it.

I see people bury their heads in their Bibles, praying for their god to do something for them, allowing themselves--or worse, their children--to stay in difficult or dangerous situations because they think it's where they have to be for their god to teach them some kind of life lesson.

And I'm reminded of why I left atheism.

I watch a documentary like Kidnapped for Christ* and see the basic rights of human beings violated and ignored and laughed at by people who claim to defend the human rights of the unborn above all else.

And I am glad I have enough sense to step away from the hypocrisy and violence and judgment and oppression that comes from Christianity (and religion--let's not exclude anyone).

I know there are people out there who are good people and happen to follow religious traditions. That's fine. The problem is that those good people aren't the spokespeople for their religions. Instead, they let the loudmouth bigots take the bullhorn and spread lies and hate and make people think that that is what it means to be a Christian, now and forever amen.

When you've got people like this who are getting the attention, what do you expect?

There are so many people who stand by their beliefs in religion at all costs, ignoring the fact that there is a big, wide world outside of their pastor's pulpit that answers the questions they're not allowed to ask.

Sorry, I'd rather know about the world around me based on the expertise of proven scientists and authorities in their fields than become convinced that the people who contradict me must be conspiring against my children (see link above).

Thanks, though.

*Available on Netflix.

23 November 2014

Renew your spirit with cooler weather

It's finally cooled off here in central Florida.* I'm wearing jeans and even bought a couple of cardigans.

I love this weather. Autumn is my favorite, and that's what Florida winters feel like to me. I love the crispness in the air, the sudden warmth of stepping into the sun, the cool breezes.... It's wonderful.

This is, really, all the munchkins (and Bo) know. Puck and Tink did spend a couple of years living with me in Illinois, but they were so young that I don't know how much of the cold weather they really remember. Bo has lived in southern states her entire life, so this is all she knows, too.

But I remember cooler weather form living in Illinois and other places. I remember the excitement of the first snow of the year. And there's magic there, too.

I miss Midwest autumns and (some aspects of) winters. But getting to enjoy what feels like a Midwest autumn until spring is okay by me.

Florida rules.

*This is relative. I just checked the weather and it's about 81°, but it has been quite a bit cooler lately than it was, and has even been in the forties and fifties.