It's Time For Elf on the Shelf (Or Not!)

It's Time For Elf on the Shelf (Or Not!)

Any day now my Facebook news feed will be inundated with pictures of the cute and clever things my friends have done with their Elf on the Shelfs (Elves on the Shelves?), links to lists of cute and clever things to do with an Elf on the Shelf and posts from friends lamenting their lame, last minute efforts to do something with their Elf on the Shelf before their kiddos notice that he hasn't moved in a few days (quick, fling him down the stairs!).

We don't own an Elf on the Shelf for a number of highly significant reasons that are similar to the reasons we don't "do" Santa or the Easter Bunny at our house. That's not what the season is about, I don't like to try to convince my kids to believe things that aren't true because I want them to trust me, blah, blah, blah. If you choose to do the Elf on the Shelf, Santa, the Easter Bunny, leprechauns, fairies and unicorns etc. with your kids rest assured that I AM NOT JUDGING YOU. I've just chosen  to do things differently with my kids, for all the significant reasons I allude to above but also, and most importantly, because I am HORRIBLE at those kind of things.

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The Road to Hair Nirvana

The Road to Hair Nirvana

This is what my hair looked like when I woke up this morning. Not the greatest quality picture and the lighting's bad (makes my hair look way darker on top than it actually is, but it gives you an idea anyway...

Those of you who don't know me personally or who don't generally see me roll out of bed in the morning have no idea how impressive this is, but trust me, I usually wake up with my hair sweaty, slightly greasy and plastered to my head on at least one side. I may be able to wear my hair down the day after washing it, but trust me, I won't be loving it, and more often then not it goes straight into a braid, ponytail or bun. This morning however, I was beyond impressed with my hair. I may possibly have actually made a few extra trips to the bathroom just to check out my hair in the mirror.

So, how did I reach this amazing second-day hair nirvana? It's been quite the journey, let me tell you.

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Experiments In Breakfast

Experiments In Breakfast

I've never been much of a morning person or a huge breakfast eater but since I've been consistently getting up fairly early and walking Charlie (our dog) in the morning, I've realized that I'll never make it to lunch time if I don't eat something for breakfast. Some of my favorite breakfast foods are French toast or pancakes with bacon, omelettes, and soft boiled egg with toast and tea. I've been trying to cut back on how much wheat and flour I eat in general and I've also been trying to be a little bit more efficient in the morning so I have time to work out, walk the dog, take a shower, write and still get all my work hours in for the day. So I've been experimenting (fairly successfully) with some different breakfast options.

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Throwback Thursday: WHAT???

I recently reviewed all the blog posts I've ever written for myself, starting in 2002! Some Thursdays I'll be reposting from my archives just for fun. The post below was originally published October 21st, 2003. Needless to say, that was far and away the most "interesting" employee review I've ever had. Thankfully I cannot imagine any employer I've had before or since offering this kind of feedback.

So, a few weeks ago I had my employee review. Apparently I am not answering the phone happily enough, or greeting the clients with enough friendliness when they come in. My boss told me that, get this, I should be more like a Hooter's girl. When I just looked at him, like, "um, what?" he said, "I don't care what you think about Hooters. Some of my friends' kids work at Hooters. Those girls are just like any other girls, just trying to make money, except they wear shorts to work instead of long pants." Yeah, right.

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My Ten Step Family Reunion Survival Guide

Family is a complicated thing. I love my parents and brothers and sisters and I think we're a much closer than a lot of families. (When you grow up sharing one bathroom between eleven people, a bedroom with anywhere from one to eight siblings and occasionally a bed with one or more siblings, that tends to happen.) Sometimes there's drama or hurt feelings, but for the most part we enjoy spending time together and get along when we do. There are definitely issues that have carried over from childhood and plenty of personality conflicts but (from my perspective at least) they don't generally stand in the way of us feeling like a family. In fact, for many of us, our family members are our best friends and the only people we truly feel free to be ourselves with.

Extended family is a little different. Maybe it's because we have such a large family that we didn't feel the need for exceptionally close relationships with extended family growing up, maybe because we lived farther away from the rest of our extended family than they did from each other, maybe because many of us are introverted and/or shy and don't find it easy to talk to people we don't know well or maybe it involves interpersonal dynamics between my parents and their parents and siblings that I never understood as a child and still don't really grasp today...Whatever the reason, I don't feel particularly close to or comfortable with most of my extended family. This makes family reunions awkward, to say the least.

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Throwback Thursday: Update

Throwback Thursday: Update

I recently reviewed all the blog posts I've ever written for myself, starting in 2002! Some Thursdays I'll be reposting from my archives just for fun. The post below was originally published September 16th, 2002. Note my super-creative title. :) It's funny - Jordan looks so much older now, but Justin and I haven't aged a day (although we've definitely attained some wisdom along the way). Haven't witnessed a bar fight or any antler stealing in ages! ;)

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Book Review: The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota

Book Review: The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota

I heard an excerpt from this book on a thought-provoking public radio show - To The Best of Our Knowledge: A Borderless World, which is well worth a listen. I've been thinking about immigration a lot lately, considering the issues, the varied way people respond to them and what can be done to help people who are struggling to escape extreme poverty, violence and oppression. 

Sunjeev Sahota is a British novelist whose paternal grandparents emigrated to Britain from the Punjab in 1966. He was brought up in the British Sikh community and regularly visits extended family in India. So although The Year of the Runaways is a novel, it is grounded in the reality of what Sahota has witnessed both in India and in England.

Here's a synopsis from Goodreads:

The Year of the Runaways tells of the bold dreams and daily struggles of an unlikely family thrown together by circumstance. Thirteen young men live in a house in Sheffield, each in flight from India and in desperate search of a new life. Tarlochan, a former rickshaw driver, will say nothing about his past in Bihar; and Avtar has a secret that binds him to protect the choatic Randeep. Randeep, in turn, has a visa-wife in a flat on the other side of town: a clever, devout woman whose cupboards are full of her husband's clothes, in case the immigration men surprise her with a call.

I can't honestly say I enjoyed The Year of the Runaways or found that I found it fascinating. Those are the wrong words for an exploration of lives lived in situations ranging from unfortunate to brutal hardship where, despite people's best efforts, everything seems to go from bad to worse.

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These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

I love to share things I like, love or find thought-provoking or inspiring with others. It's a huge part of why I blog and use social media. Occasionally I'll share a round-up of interesting links, books I've read, music I'm loving, cool artwork etc. Enjoy!

LINKS:

Zen Habits: The Downward & Upward Spiral of Health & Productivity The bad news about health and productivity habits is that if you start to slip up, things can slowly spiral downward. If you are tired, you can’t focus on your important work, you don’t make time for exercise or cooking healthy food, so you grab some fast food, you veg out in front of the TV. This doesn’t lead to better energy the next day, but it does lead you to feel worse and worse about yourself. When you feel worse about yourself, you want to comfort yourself with more unhealthy food. You don’t feel motivated to exercise or be productive. Things spiral downward, until you feel hopeless and out of control. The good news about these habits is that they can also spiral upward...

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Small Steps Towards a Healthier Lifestyle

A friend recently emailed me to say that she was impressed with how I prioritize healthy choices (eating whole foods and less sugar, being active, using natural remedies etc.) in my life and was inspired by how I live those ideals. Those are all things that she strives for as well, but feels like she's failing miserably at. One thing she said which really struck me was, "It's so easy to get caught up in the easy way out...or the 'this takes less time' approach." So true!

I have to start out by saying that I was incredibly touched by her kind words. It's such a gift to have someone recognize the efforts we make and to offer such generous and positive feedback. That's something I've recently realized I need to make a much more conscious effort to do. There are so many times that I appreciate something that someone said, did or created and I fail to let them know when all it would take is a few moments of my time.

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Missing Micah

Missing Micah

Yesterday my youngest brother left - he's moving to Montana. I'm so proud of him for making the leap and I'm really happy for him because I believe it will be a great change for him, but oh, how we'll miss him! He's such a ray of sunshine in all of our lives - silly, sweet, smart, strong (and smelly, I feel compelled to add, since he's our favorite sibling to pick on - lucky him!).

As the oldest of nine kids, I can't really imagine how it feels to be the youngest but I'm guessing it's hard to fully come into your own as an adult when you're surrounded by people who think of you as the babiest baby of the family. Micah's always been very much himself and he's certainly grown up into a wonderful and independent young man but I imagine living over a thousand miles away from most of his family will prove a truly defining experience in his life.

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Holding the Bath Mats Hostage

My husband and I never really sat down and discussed who was going to do what when we got married. For the most part we naturally fell into pretty traditional gender roles. He's always worked full time (or more), second shift for the most part, and I've always worked part time. So while he's has always helped out around the house and with the kids, I've done the bulk of the childcare, day-to day-housework (cooking, laundry, picking up, watering the garden etc.) and overall running of the house (organizing, planning, scheduling, filling out paperwork etc.) for most of our married life.

Every  once in a while we get into a small "discussion" over who has more responsibilities and how they should be divided (usually when I'm feeling particularly overwhelmed and/or annoyed that something he said he would do isn't getting done as quickly as I would like it to) but for the most part we just carry on doing the things the way we've always done them.

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A Funny Thing Happened When I Gave Up On Being Perfect

A Funny Thing Happened When I Gave Up On Being Perfect

Yesterday was the first day since I gave birth to my son thirteen years ago (hello post-baby belly)  that I looked in the mirror and thought, "Huh, maybe I could wear a bikini in public again someday, if I wanted to." Now I probably never WILL wear a bikini again, not being that much of a bikini person to begin with ( I like to actually swim when I go to the beach and I don't like to be constantly adjusting my swimsuit so that nothing shows that shouldn't), but it would be nice to feel like I have the option. 

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Book Review: All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

Book Review: All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

What can I say about this novel? I came across it while browsing the "new book" shelves at the library. I think I picked it up because the bright orange cover caught my eye, it's not too big (good for carrying around and for holding in one hand while I eat) and the title intrigued me. I read the back cover and debated putting it back. I wasn't in the mood to read a book about the struggles of two sisters after one of them attempts suicide. But after a moment's reflection, I decided to give it a try.

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Back To School Already?

I can't believe the second week of school is almost over (the third week for Karlye). This summer just flew by in a blur. Most of the things that make summer feel like summer to me didn't happen nearly as much or at all this year. I started a second job in December, so I worked more this summer than any in recent memory. That meant more chores for the kids, less get togethers with friends and less day trips to do fun stuff. Until last year we had a whole gang of neighbor kids hanging out and playing almost every day, but a couple families on our block moved and it's been really quiet around here ever since. Overall the weather was pretty cool, so we didn't hit up the beach much and we only went to the pool once. No family camping trip and no family vacation. We had the "fun" and expensive task of rebuilding our increasingly precarious deck instead. On the plus side, we now have a safe and gorgeous deck over twice the size of our previous one with stairs leading down to the back yard. Hooray for that!

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Getting Dirty

Getting Dirty

This past Saturday I participated in the Dirty Girl Mud Run for the third year in a row. For those of you who aren't familiar, it's 5K with obstacles, most of which involve mud. The first year I did it I was so nervous. A good friend talked me into it, against my better judgement. I don't run, I generally don't like mud and I wasn't too sure how I felt about obstacles. Turns out it was an absolute blast!

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In Memoriam

In Memoriam

Last night my Grandma Ingrid passed on from this life to the next. I haven't seen her much in recent years. She moved away, and somehow I never found the time to visit until this fall. Although she and I had a good relationship, she'd said and done things that hurt people I cared about and sometimes she made critical remarks that made me really uncomfortable. I sent her letters occasionally, cards on her birthday and gifts for Christmas, but I wish I would have gone to see her more often. I think it would have made her happy. Although she did have strong opinions about a lot of things, including how other people should live their lives, she was a very giving person. I have so many wonderful memories of the times I spent with her. I saw her just a week ago, and although she was frail and got a little confused, we had a really nice visit. We talked a lot about the times my brothers, sisters and I spent with her as children. I told her she had been such a blessing to our family, and it must of been a lot of work for her to take care of so many of us. But she said no not really, it had been a lot of fun. I know it was for us. I love her so much and I'll miss her.

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Finally, Fall Fun

Finally, Fall Fun

Normally I love fall, except for the fact that it precedes winter. This year though, I've been feeling kind of "meh" about the whole fall thing. All of a sudden I feel like I'm too busy, it's too cold and it's getting dark too soon. October flew past in a blur and I'm already stressing about Christmas. We hadn't picked apples, gone for any hikes, made any leaf piles, put up Halloween decorations or carved jack o' lanterns. Thankfully today ended up being just the kind of fall day I was looking for. We started off with two chilly windy soccer games. Sasha had her last soccer game of the fall season and scored several goals. She has a great team and loved every minute of the season.

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Your Daughter Is A Rock Star!

A few weeks ago Jordan informed me that he's in the highest reading group in his class. Last week he told me that he'd moved up to 6th grade spelling. And this week we received the following email from Sasha's teacher.

Your Daughter Is A Rock Star!

Hannah - I forgot to mention this to you when you were in our room today. I told Sasha I would email or call you both to let you know that she did a great job working on kidblog today. I took my whole class to the computer lab today to write about their favorite fall activities. Sasha ended up being my hero. She listened well to directions because getting to kid blog and logging on can be tough. She also started walking around and helping everyone who needed help. She did it in such a nice way and was really patient with everyone (when I was about ready to pull my hair out lol.)

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Changes

September is, increasingly for us, a month of changes. As the seasons shift from summer to fall, the days, and especially the nights, are cooler. It's getting dark earlier. The kids have gone back to school. Karlye's mom moved so Karlye is attending 6th grade at a new school, in a new city, in a new state. Jordan started 5th grade at the local intermediate school. Sasha's still at the elementary school here in town, but first grade brings a new classroom, new teacher and new classmates. So far the kids are enjoying school and coping with the early mornings and more structured schedule just fine. I'm not loving the whole "waking up to an alarm clock again" deal, but I guess I don't really have a choice.

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Firsts

Firsts

This month we had several firsts. Sasha lost her first two teeth. She actually pulled the first one out herself! Since she's starting first grade she got to put her school supplies in her very own desk for the first time ever. Jordan and Karlye got their first locker shelves and other assorted locker paraphernalia and got to arrange their lockers for the first time. Charlie had his first doggy play date with our friends' miniature pinscher Pagoda and lived to tell the tale. (He's normally terrified of small dogs.) And I did my first mud run! 

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