Putting on my Minnie Mouse ears

We took a last minute trip to Disneyworld in December, a chance for family bonding and fun. This was my first trip to Disneyworld and I didn’t know what to expect. It was like an initiation. I knew nothing about parades, fireworks, character dining, fast passes and all these little ins and outs that make up the Disney experience. But I learned fast.

Going to Disneyworld isn’t just your normal theme park experience, it’s a celebration. I love people watching and seeing the groups of people there - families, wearing matching t-shirts and  kids dressed up in costume - little girls in their princess dresses, and tiaras and hairpieces - boys in goofy hats or star wars t-shirts, carrying their stuffed ewoks. 

I was surprised to see adults joining in too. Women wearing Minnie Mouse ears stood out to me. There were all sorts of designs and colors - simple black ears with red bows, stripes, polka dots, animal prints, sequins, feathers, roses,  - the Minnie Mouse ears were practically an art form. 

The women who were wearing the Minnie Mouse ears seemed to be having the most fun - whether they really were or not - wearing those ears was a message that screamed “I’m happy to be here! I’m here to have fun! I’m not afraid to let my inner child out and let everyone else see it!” 

I was envious of these women and their bold declaration. I wasn’t wearing Minnie Mouse ears, but I easily could if I wanted to. They were around the corner in every gift shop, only $20 away. But the thought of wearing them was daunting. It didn’t feel like “me” - to put myself out there, to be exuberantly childish and playful, to invite attention or perhaps judgment, to outwardly wear celebration and joy, to go big.

So the next morning before we set out, I bought a pair that felt most appealing - silver sequined Minnie Mouse ears. My husband was surprised to see me put them on - as surprised as I was - and my son was delighted and wanted to wear them himself. 

I felt silly, but those ears changed me. Yes, that headband was uncomfortable, but when I was wearing the ears I had a better time, a better day. Those ears were a declaration that I was here to have fun, a reminder to myself. 

Because you see, I’m not really a theme park person - the noise, the crowds, the overstimulation, the long lines, the endless gift shops, the overpriced fast food - that can turn me into a serious grouch, fast. I’d much rather be sitting in a cafe sipping a latte and writing in my journal in peace and quiet. It’s easy to be cynical in a theme park, to be judgmental, to be above it all.

But I was here. We decided to go to Disneyworld - to have fun as a family. And I wanted to have fun - not just for myself, but also for my husband and my son. 

Putting on those ears was an outward declaration of the woman I wanted to be -  lighthearted, playful, flexible, optimistic - even if I didn’t feel like her yet. Putting on those ears, for me, wasn't totally natural, it was a deliberate choice.

It’s made me think about how I move through my life when I’m not at Disneyworld. Who am I? Who do I want to be? Do I want to sit on the sidelines? Do I want to avoid attention? Am I afraid of being myself out loud? Am I afraid to be too exuberant, to be too happy, too playful? 

How can I go through life wearing my Minnie Mouse ears? How can I be the woman I want to be, how can I choose her, even if I don’t always feel like her yet? 

Disneyworld is a rare experience, a world of staged fantasy, but now that I'm back in the "real world" I want to hang on to what I learned and choose happiness everyday, even when it doesn't come naturally to me.


Adrift in daydreams of frosting

Today I am struck by the urge to bake.

It started with something simple enough. Sugar cookies. Decorating Christmas cookies with my 2 year old is on my must-do holiday list this year.

But then I started thinking about chocolate chip cookies, and sandwiching them together with pink buttercream frosting. I started thinking about icing bags and decorator tips and sprinkles and food coloring.

I started thinking about making hot chocolate mix and homemade vanilla marshmallows (something I've never done).

I started thinking I should whip up a batch of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for the freezer.

And maybe I should make some cupcakes too - vanilla bean, swathed in swirls of lavender frosting.

Help! Help me! I'm lost in daydreams of Martha Stewart and the Back in the Day Bakery.

Sometimes I think I missed my calling as a pastry chef.

All of this will not happen today. There is laundry to do. And exercise besides, lest my bottom catch up with my baking.

Happy baking holidays to you!

p.s. We did end up baking sugar cut out cookies. Yay! The rest will have to wait.


Lately I've been craving... Glamour

Lately I've been craving a little more glamour in my life.

Which wouldn't be hard, since I don't have much. Funny thing, becoming a mom, I've seemed to settle so easily into practicality. I eschew clothes that require dry cleaning and ironing - anything that would billow in the wind or snag on small fingernails or stain. I favor easy tees, wash and wear, practical footwear, mix and match.

But I miss it. Being impractical. And pretty. Feminine. And over the top.

 I'm craving lavender ruffles, silk pleats, ivory lace, tailored dresses, and shoes that ooze ooh la la.

I'm craving Paris at midnight. Coffee with kahlua and cream. Chocolate mousse.

Jungle red fingernails. Washed silk blouses with high-waisted palazzo pants.

White roses. Orchids. Peonies. Gardenias. Anything lush with a heady fragrance.

Afternoon teas. Patisseries. Macarons. Eclairs. Frosting piped in frills and flaky layers.

Sheepskin rugs. Linen napkins. Shimmering candles. Mirrored trays set with crystal perfume bottles and italian orange blossom hand cream and unopened coffee table books.

Fancy handbags, the sort that elevate an outfit to divine. French poodles. Long walks, window shopping and people watching.

Sequins. Feathers. Velvet. Sparkly lights.

Maybe it's the holiday season, but I find myself daydreaming about dressing up, way up, and going to a fancy schmancy party. 

Here's to daydreams...

If you're craving glamour too, here's a few things you might enjoy: 


Dear Blog

Dear Blog,

I’m back. Yes it’s me, back at your doorstep. 

It’s a cold, rainy day, the shivering sort, and I’m soaked to the skin, hoping you’ll let me in, hoping you’ll forgive my long absence, and offer tea and comfort. 

I’m hoping you’ll sit me by the fire and offer me dry clothes, and only after the pink is back in my cheeks again, you’ll gently ask, “So my dear, where have you been, all this time? And are you here to stay?”

And I will tell you of my wanderings here and there, the times I’ve been lost, the times I was afraid to come back to you, for fear you would not recognize me or even refuse to open the door.

I will tell you how I’ve forgotten who I am or how who I am has changed, and I don’t really know which. 

And how I’m hoping to find myself again, that colorful slip of a girl with big dreams and wild ideas and romantic words - I’m hoping to find her and bring her back to life. 

She might be different now, but she is still mine to uncover, and dare, perhaps to share with you.

Dear blog, will you have me back again? 

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Will at 23 months

  • He's discovered how to pick his nose. Sometimes he picks it with two fingers at once. Sometimes he tries to pick my nose. When I catch him picking his nose, his facial expression indicates that he is very impressed with himself. 
  • He giggles when he puts his finger in his belly button (or mine). He thinks it's hilarious.
  • He answers "no" to every question, even when I am not sure he really MEANS no. It's just what he says. Until he learns to say "yes". Hopefully soon.
  • He's still light on words. His latest words are eye, uh-oh, blue, bath and bye-bye.
  • He likes to shake his head and nod his head over and over, with emphasis. I am not convinced he's trying to communicate anything, he just enjoys doing it, especially when we do it back to him.
  • He still loves the vacuum. He likes to play with the actual vacuum or pretend he's vacuuming with an object.

  • He loves to give high fives. This is something I taught him in an attempt at social skills, since I decided it was weird when he was going up to strange kids trying to hug them.
  • He likes to hug his stuffed animals. And give them milk from his cup. It is soooo cute.
  • He still hasn't had his first hair cut yet, but he needs one now!
  • He likes to spend a lot of time outside. So it's been rough on winter days or sick days when that was impossible.
  • He likes to go exploring down the streets in our neighborhood (while I follow) often pushing a little wheelbarrow or red wagon, or even a plastic chair! Cute. Except when we need to go back home and he doesn't want to go and I have to carry him the rest of the way, sometimes kicking and screaming. (He does do tantrums these days, oh yes.)
  • He likes to swing in the back yard. And swing. And swing. And swing some more. And then do a tantrum when mommy decides we can't possibly swing anymore.

  • He now has much more of a "taste" for kid's tv. I try not to let him watch it too long or too often. I don't want him to be too hooked on it at an early age, but there are days when an episode of Thomas the Train comes in mighty handy for mama, I hate to say.
  • He's pretty independent sometimes, but those random moments when he gives me a sweet hug or comes running to me with a huge smile just make my day.

I can't believe he's almost two! I understand the nostalgia of mamas now as I see little babies in carriers or just learning to walk. All of that now seems so far distant as he tears through the playground like a big boy.


A little less conversation, a little more action

I have a balance problem. You might be expecting me to say something like "work-life balance" yadayada. But since becoming a stay at home mom I've figured out there is no work-life balance. I'm just ON all the time. 

No. My problem is balancing input and output. I have this thing. I always want more. 

More information. More books. More blogs. More podcasts. More pretty pins. 

I have an until now unspoken fallacy of a belief that somewhere out there is some "thing" - that magical thing I need that will change my life. The parenting book that will make tantrums manageable. The organization method that will keep my house clean for only ten minutes a day. The blog post that will inspire me. The style that is just so me. The perfect - easy - diet that will change my body forever. The book that will keep me up reading it all night and dying to read the sequel.

I'm always looking. I am hooked. I am addicted. 

It's an internet thing, yeah, primarily. Blogs have been my crack for a long time. Don't take away my feed reader, people! 

But it also applies in other areas like books. For me a satisfying trip to the library is leaving with a stuffed tote bag. Okay, so maybe I will only read 20% of the books, but it's the promise, the potential, that appeals to me, the hope that maybe one of them will be a gem, the thing I can't explain, the thing I've been looking for, the book with a treasure inside.

I not only hoard books, but ideas of books. I have a wish list on Amazon, free samples on my Kindle, a want-to-read list on Goodreads, and a for-later list on my library web site. I'm always looking for more books I might be interested in reading. It will take me a hundred years just to read through my current wish list, not to mention the fact that I keep adding to it..

And then there's my recipe problem. If I get a magazine I just have to tear out any recipe that is vaguely appealing. I have folders full of maybe someday recipes. And then there are the bookmarks, the pins, the cookbooks. I'll never cook them all. And lately, I mostly cook old standbys anyway!

This might sound like just a quirk. But there are problems with it. 

I'm so busy looking for new ideas and taking them in, that I don't deeply absorb and apply things to my life. Let's face it, I know 90% of what I need to know to eat healthy and exercise by now. I could quit reading about it and do it, but instead I spend thirty minutes on the internet reading about it, instead of doing it. Not helpful, really.

Another problem is it perpetuates this magical thinking, that there is a "magic" answer out there to every problem that can easily solve it, if only I knew it. Not only do I spend so much time looking, looking, looking but I also carry around this idea that all problems are meant to be solved. When in truth some problems are just walked through blind until I reach the other side. 

It's been worse since I've become a mother because I go looking for escape or for solutions to all the challenges - cradle cap, climbing out of cribs, bored toddlers, tantrums, teething, etc. 

But I also became addicted to mindlessly searching the internet everyday. When I was breastfeeding for HOURS a day, it's what I did, and I carried it with me, the habit, into my daily life, that need to just wander and search for something. It seemed like it made me less lonely, seeing what other moms were going through. But at the end it only made me more lonely, a halfway connection and not a full one.

And then all of this has me consuming things others have created and not creating my own. Not crafting, cooking, blogging, writing - all things I find fulfilling. 

So I'd like to break this hold it has on me. Maybe not completely. I'm not sure I'm ready for cold turkey from the internets. But I'd like to spend more time applying the knowledge I have, more time creating, more time living, and less time reading about how to live and peering into someone else's windows. 

I haven't decided on a course of action yet, but something MUST be done.


January and everything

Almost February? Already? Wow. Here's all the stuff about January. And everything.

I have January-itis right now. That condition where you made grand plans for the new year and then at the end of January realize that you and your oversized ambitions were insane and feel a bit depressed, you know?

 I suppose I shouldn't be so hard on myself. I have the tendency to DREAM BIG and I keep forgetting that mothers of toddlers need to dream small and be ready to drop those dreams at a moment's notice and get down in the floor and have a tickle session. I'm still struggling with how to let things go and be okay with this season of life, this season of making messes and cleaning messes over and over in a circle. 

This week Will got a cold and started climbing out of his crib for the first time. I thought my head was going to explode. Change is hard for me. I resemble a toddler more than I want to admit. We've got two toddlers living in this house and one of them is me. Uh-oh. 

Speaking of Uh-Oh, that's my little guy's word lately. He's saying it and saying it. Which is good, because he doesn't say much we understand.

Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel - I really loved this book. I didn't expect to love it. It's YA. It's about British royal stuff a long dusty time ago. And the cover is really pink. But I ended up loving it beyond rational explanation.

Currently reading The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. It had high marks on my library web site and got my attention. It's intriguing and different and kooky and weird - big on alternative world-building. It hasn't captured my heart yet, the characters - I just haven't fallen in love with them.

Reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Whoah. This is an eye-opening book. It's a little slow for my book-crack-craving-brain these days. I find myself wanting the Cliff Notes. But there are valuable nuggets in here. The summary (so far, because I'm not done reading it yet): 

  • Most of your life is an accumulation of your habits - stuff you do every day without thinking about it.
  • You don't think about your habits, you just do 'em. That is both scary and freeing. 
  • Because if you can change your habits to positive ones, then you start going in positive directions, on auto-pilot, no struggling to "do your new year's resolutions". Sounds goooood, right?
  • And you CAN change your habits. Whoopee!
  • Now I just have to keep reading to hear how to do that…
  • Oh, and other interesting things you'll discover in the book - smart advertising people know how your habits work, and they're using it against you to get you to buy their stuff, over and over and over. Now when my new lipstick has a minty smell, I know why. If you want to know why, read The Power of Habit.
Reading The Heavy by Dara Lynn-Weiss. Oh ho ho, my friends, this book deserves a post all it's own. Let's just say: 

  • I didn't go looking for this book. I stumbled across it at the library and it interested me.
  • It's about a mom who has an obese 7 year old and ends up putting her on a restricted calorie diet to get her to lose weight and move into the healthy range. 
  • You get into interesting territory here, not only on body image, diet, etc, but also parenting.
  • I have a child who is in the high 90s percentage wise on the weight charts. This is something I've tried not to worry about, but honestly, I am kind of worried about as he hasn't grown out of it. 
  • I have had body, weight, food issues since my teens. I have no idea what I weigh. I refused to know my own weight the ENTIRE time I was pregnant. I have no clue how much weight I gained or lost since then. I hate thinking about and talking about diets, calories, weight, etc. A number on the scale can send me into a tailspin. 
  • And yet if I don't pay it some mind, my muffin tops threaten to take over the civilized world - or at least my jeans.
  • So this an interesting book. Full of controversy. And for me, because of the above facts, full of things to think about personally. Maybe I'll share more in a later post?
Girly stuff

Bling. I bought myself a Hippie Bling bracelet by Kim and Kozi and I love it. Silly things, but I love silly things. 

Speaking of silly things, I really want some of this Mermaid perfume. How can one not, after this review on Making Magique

Pedicures (the kind where someone else does them, and massages your legs and feet) are from heaven, don't you think? I got one this week with toes painted a shade of nude. I like nude polish lately. It feels beachy and bohemian, while also sophisticated and lady like and minimalist. Quite a change from my stoplight yellow and indigo blue polish days.

Ballet. I've been doing these Ballet Beautiful workouts featuring Mary Helen Bowers via Amazon Prime. They are so minimalist and white and sophisticated. I feel so ladylike.  I get to fantasize about being a ballerina, when I'm the farthest thing from it. But oh, these workouts BURN. 

(Also, am I the only one confused by the conflicting fitness advice? To "transform" the body, one group of people advise working the accessory muscles aka tiny underworked muscles in the body for long lean muscles without bulk. The other group advises doing heavy intense weight bearing exercise with the largest muscles of the body - gluteus maximus, yeah. Which one is best? Which one really works? I kind of think they may both be on to something, which is why I do kettlebells too.)

Try and stop me. 

Sunday nights you can't peel me away from Downton Abbey and Monday nights you can't peel me away from The Bachelor. Well, I say that, but it's just been kind of "meh" so far. I'm waiting for the really crazy ladies to show their stuff. That IS why I watch The Bachelor, btw, for the crazy ladies. It's always useful to compare yourself to someone crazier than you, to be able to say "well… I'm not THAT crazy…" 

Speaking of The Bachelor, if you're into it (ugh, like me) then you might like these Bachelor recap blog posts on Oh Jones

I'm also addicted to Hart of Dixie and Reign on the CW.  The CW could make a show about a talking monkey who goes to High School and I'd watch it. It's embarrassing. What is their demographic, like 12-25 year olds? Guess I'm young at heart. Anyway. Reign. Historically accurate? No. Plot? Ridiculous. Costumes? So much fun. And I like the cast. I mean really, Anne Shirley as the Evil Queen of France? And she's soooooo good too.

Bloggish stuff

p.s. Do I ever have to write on this blog again? I think I just wrote enough for a year.