Five Things {ten twenty five fifteen}

Since I've neglected this spot for some time, I needed a way to bring you half way up to speed on my life. So I picked five things that went on over the last week or so.

#1 Sick Days
I'm just beginning to feel better. I was sick for over a week and it got worse before it got better. I'm a real pain in the ass when I get sick because there isn't much I can do about it. Most antibiotics contain some kind grain or sugar I cannot have. Also, most cough syrups contain HFCs, which I cannot have because I'm allergic to corn. So while I went to the doctor, I couldn't take anything that was prescribed. Bummer. So I just kind of whined and bitched my way through the week. My husband is one lucky man.

#2 Class Reunions
The Hubbs had his class reunion last weekend. I knew we couldn't miss it, so I went even though I was sick. Yeah, I know. It didn't help at all and made me worse. It was worth it though. I got dressed up, heels even. I curled my hair and put on make up! And of course it was a date night for the two of us. With dancing I may add. So even though I woke up on Sunday worse for wear, I'm so glad we went.

#3 Red Ribbon Week
Red Ribbon Week was almost the death of me. Maybe it was because I was sick. Maybe it was because I was not prepared, truth is I just totally sucked at Red Ribbon Week. In years past the dress up days have been, Super Hero Day, Pajama Day, Crazy Hair Day. Those I can do. Those are easy and usually I have something in my house so I don't have to buy anything. This year was, Neon Day, Surf/Hawaiian Day, Mix Match Day. On the surface they appear easy, but when you actually have to find something that both kids like, is comfortable and within the dress code... Disaster.

One happy kid, one kid who gives zero...

#4 Writing vs. Working Out
Confession: I cannot workout and write on the same day. It never happens. I either wake up early to work out and then I fall asleep before I get time to write, or I don't work out and then spend that time writing. Second confession: I didn't do much of either last week. I'm in this holding pattern of what is more important right now. I feel like I'm stretched so thin already that I have to choose between my thighs and my blog. That's a really tough choice for me. I want to do both. I really do. I want to be the kind of woman who wakes up in the morning and runs five miles and then writes for two hours a day. I dream of being that kind of woman, but I'm not her. Not today. I'm really thinking about this writing challenge for November, but I'm scared. I'm scared I'll fail. I'm scared I'll get writers block. But then I'm also scared that if I don't dive in now, if I don't concentrate on my words instead of my thighs, I'll never really concentrate on my words. I'm still thinking. I'm still sitting on fear.

#5 Christmas is eight weeks away
I'll let that sink in. I'll let that play with your emotions. Christmas is my favorite, but its also the hardest holiday. Don't you think? I'm already in a tizzy about Christmas gifts because, I HAVE NOT STARTED! Oh, the panic and the pressure. Can't I just buy every single thing on Amazon and have it shipped. Damn if I'm not going to try. Also the girls wanted to play Christmas music today and so we did. And I kind of liked it even though it's not even Halloween. Maybe that's what happens when you work in retail. Christmas is always.

Five things. Just to bring you up to speed. Hopefully I won't disappear again.

Five Things On Friday {ten sixteen fifteen}

I made it. Friday has a little over an hour left, but I really felt the pull to put my fingers on the keyboard tonight. It's been eight days since my last post, which to me seems like years as I type. I'd like to say that it's because I've been so busy, or because I've been working so much. The truth is, I just haven't been inspired to sit down and write in this space. I take pen to paper often, but the idea of sitting at the desk to type out thoughts makes me shifty. I'm still working on the final "Summer Cliche" post. I think you'll really like the last one. I've also been working on some of my fiction that I keep starting but never really finishing. And of course there is motherhood. I'm always working on motherhood, I'm always inspired by her, and lately I've been spending a lot of time there. In motherhood. Volunteering, being a taxi service, making dinners, reading books. All of the things that inspire words, but keep me from feeling like I can sit here for any length of time. So for now, I'm going to leave you with five things. Five things that were fresh in my mind and brought me here tonight.

I'm sick. Sore throat, cough, irritable, exhausted. I hate being sick, and I'm the worst patient. The entire house is annoyed with me. Still, the girls were kind and let me nap after pick up yesterday. I think the fudgscicles had something to do with that. The Hubbs brought me ice water at three this morning when I was coughing and crying because I felt like I was swallowing knives. I found some delicious cane sugar sweetened Popsicles at Whole Foods, since I can't eat normal ones like everyone else. I feel better today than yesterday, so I'm hoping tomorrow is better still. Being sick is stupid.

I looked up a few nights ago and saw this girl jamming while doing her homework. I promise you guys, we have been limiting screen time for these kids, but they slip under our radar. I wasn't mad though. Music is a huge part of my life, and it's becoming a big part of hers. We don't like the same tunes, but I will allow her to be inspired by whatever makes her dance. The headphones are my favorite. She was just in her own world, with her own beat.

This Instagram comment on my #ootd post made me laugh. I'm so happy that my Husband still thinks I'm a hot piece of ass, because I haven't felt that way at all. My jeans are tighter than they used to be. There are shirts that don't quite fit. It's difficult to remember that I'm not sick anymore. That I've found the correct way to nourish my body without it falling apart. The Hubbs still grabs my ass or my boobs whenever the mood strikes him. He doesn't understand why I complain about the jiggle and the wobbles. I laugh because sometimes he acts like I still look like that twenty two year old who thought she was fat. I appreciate him though. Even when I get mad when he grabs my boobs while I flip pancakes on Sunday morning.

I was feeling really uninspired this week, mostly because I was sick. As I was laying on the couch feverish and grumpy, I stumbled across's "six word story" hashtag. Boom. Inspired. So many writers tweet their six words, and they are so fun to read. I love little challenges like this, because they strike creativity from the silliest of places. I would have never thought to write about a lonely ophthalmologist. Now I can't think of anything else!

I've started volunteering at school again. Now that I'm only working part time, I can do those kinds of things. I took this kind of time for granted when Caitlin was in kindergarten. It's only now that I realize how precious it is, and how quickly it passes. I'm back to kindergarten with Mac, and that time is loud and busy. With Caitlin I'm in a very quiet and very serious class of third graders. It's so quiet while they do their morning work, and I feel like I'm making so much noise as I staple homework packets. The thing that has surprised me the most has been the reception. Three third graders asked me this week when I would be back, and they were disappointed when I told them I had to work. It made me grin, but it made me appreciate the time I can give not just to my girls, but to the teachers and the other students too. Sometimes I surprise myself.

Five things, just in time. Good night Friday. Thanks for the inspiration.

Bridesmaids, Hindsight, and my Gut {My summer as a cliche Part two}

Since graduating with my degree fifteen years ago, I've always been the assistant. I was an assistant to the assistant as an early graduate. Then I was the Assistant Buyer in my twenties. Then in my later twenties I was an Assistant Manager at Victoria's Secret. I was always the bridesmaid, and never the bride, or always the assistant and never the manager if you will. No matter what I did to prove myself, to better myself, to rise in the ranks, there was never a real opportunity for me to become a manager. Sure I could have left each of those companies to be a manager somewhere else, but I always liked the companies where I was employed. So why leave? Still, I always wondered what it would be like to be a manager.

That is why my eyes lit up with the prospect of managing a small business, when the opportunity presented itself last April. Not only would I be managing a small staff, but I'd also (according to the business owner and friend) helping plan special events, revamping her social media, and even having a hand in buying. Buying. Being a retail buyer in Fresno California was a dream that died when I left a regional retailer back in 2002. Plus that regional retailer closed it's doors years ago. At this point being a manager was going to be icing on the cake. In my mind this truly was going to be the job I had always dreamed of.

I won't bore you with the details, but this dream job turned into a nightmare. For starters, my start date was pushed back by two weeks. Then when I started, I went in blindly, with no set training or info, and basically observed the daily operations for three days. The communication I had with the owner was that I was just there to observe, create an action plan around areas of opportunity, then touch base with her the following week. The staff I was observing was told that I was just the new gal, there to learn the ropes and basically be a consultant. They had no idea why I wasn't doing a single thing but taking notes.


It didn't take long for me to realize that the other employees hated me. They didn't understand what I was doing there, and took offense to the fact that I was eventually going to be their manager. They had no desire to show me the ropes or teach me the daily operations in the absence of the owner. They were also quick to talk behind my back to the owner. Ultimately the owner cut me off at the knees, didn't back me as a manager in any way, and ultimately tested me on "business plans" and "marketing plans" that she wanted me to create, and if I'm honest with myself, she was never going to use. Four weeks into my new "dream job", my gut told me that this was a bad idea. My gut told me that I really should have looked before I took that jump.

Hindsight tells me that I should have gotten my employment agreement in writing. Hindsight tells me that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Hindsight tells me that somethings just aren't meant to be.

Six weeks after quitting my full time job, my hours were cut. Shortly after that my pay was cut. The atmosphere was toxic and there was no team. It was every (wo)man for herself. I was never given the opportunity to flex any of my management muscles. I was never able to utilize my almost fifteen years of retail experience. The toxic environment made me timid, it made me doubt myself in a way I hadn't in years. Again, fear and anxiety reigned, as I began to regret my decision. Did I really just throw away a really good job and really good pay for a dream?

The truth is, I wasn't any happier than I was before. The only difference was that this time, I didn't have any kind of job security. If anything I was more stressed by my job than ever before, because I was so afraid of failing. I felt like I had failed at my opportunity to be a manager, that I had failed in making a smart decision in the first place, that I had failed in taking a leap of faith. I was so afraid to admit that maybe I hadn't made the best decision. And I held on to that fear. I let it guide me. I let it hold my tongue. I let it tell me lies. I let it take control.

Then one morning as I was working at the counter, helping clients, I made the wrong person wait. Someone the owner knew. Someone important. There were two other associates in the building at the time, and they both acknowledged this person, said hello to him, and went about their business. The owner was in a meeting at the time, so I told him that he would have to wait. When he couldn't wait any longer, I took a message for him and he left. This was something that happened daily. Everyone always wanted to talk the owner. I thought it was no big deal. I couldn't have been more wrong. As soon as the "important" person left, one of the other associates asked me what he wanted. I told her, and gave her the message. She disappeared into the back and less than a minute later the owner came out and yelled at me. Yelled. When I tried to explain, she told me "I don't care", and walked away. It took every fiber of my being not to walk out, but damn if that altercation didn't light a fire that had long been extinguished. Not only was the writing was on the wall, but my gut was now screaming at me. This team of people obviously did not have my back, they obviously were not interested in training me or showing me new procedures, and they were so obviously never going to work with me as an peer or a manager. I was done. This was not the place for me. And so I decided to go with my gut.

I left work that day with a new resolve. I was done here. No matter how badly I had wanted the job, I couldn't wait to leave. I asked for a week off before the girls started school, knowing good and well that I wasn't going to return. When I got home that night, I did something I should have done months before. I contacted blog friends and peers and asked them if they needed any writing services. I was honest and said I was looking for writing jobs, because I was going to be unemployed very soon. Before the night ended I had two. It was exactly what I needed to know that there was a way out, and that even though I felt like I was falling, I certainly wasn't failing. The next day I called my old manager and asked her to coffee.

That coffee date turned into an interview the following day, and I was so grateful that she welcomed me back with open arms. I left that coffee date and sent a text message to the owner. Yes, that's right, a text message. I was as professional as you can get by text, but basically said I wouldn't be back. I felt so light after sending that text, and even though it's probably the most unprofessional thing I have ever done as an employee, it was also the most freeing. After spending the summer with extra time on my hands, I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted to work part time, I wanted to ghost write, and I wanted to be happy. Was that even possible at this point? The kids started school, I went back to work, and life returned to our brand of normal again.

In May I quit my job for a new job. In August I quit the new job. In September I went back to my old job, but this time would be different. This time I'd go back and work instead of manage. By doing so, it would change everything about being an employee and a working mom. Today I'm happier than I have been in almost two years. Quitting my first job seemed like a mistake all summer, but hindsight and my gut say it's the most important mistake I have ever made. With every mistake, comes a silver lining, and I have to tell you that this silver lining sparkles.

Stay tuned for Part three:

Picture day almost killed me

I will tell you again and again that I just wasn't built for motherhood. I have about a baseline education in what I think it takes to be a good mother, but sometimes I think that those natural maternal feelings were lost during my creation. I'm impatient. I yell. I lose my temper way too fast. Yet as the years go by, I start to feel like I have a foothold in motherhood. I'll feel like I've learned enough from my on the job training as a mother to handle all situations well. Not perfectly, but well. I'll go along like this for awhile until something knocks me off my feet.

Today, that something was Picture Day.

I promise you friends, I thought I was prepared. My little Mac who hates dresses, found one she liked at Walmart of all places. My darling Caitlin had decided to wear what she wore on the first day of school, which was perfect. A week ago, we had it all planned and settled. Then yesterday it all went to shit. Mac decided at eight o'clock last night that she didn't want to wear that Walmart dress or any dress for that matter. Mac is famous around here for not liking dresses or ruffles or sparkles. You can say she is a no nonsense kind of gal. If Mac had her way she would wear screen printed tees and shorts everyday with her favorite pair of tennis shoes. I should start the hash tag What Mac Wore on Instagram so you all could marvel in how far I've come as a mother. These days I let that kid wear whatever she wants. Of course Mac decided that the Walmart dress wouldn't do when I had hair dye on my head, and two kids to throw in the tub. I started going through her closet and through some hand me downs from Big Sister and realized that Mac really doesn't have much of a wardrobe. I was able to find two fairly new dresses that Caitlin wore in kindergarten, but those were not even remotely acceptable.

I was sitting in my closet floor, hair covered in black  hair dye, close to losing my shit. I called the Hubbs from the other room and said, "Do we just go to Target or what?". And because I'm crazy and easily fly off the handle or have panic attacks about such things he just said "Sure why not". I showered, threw the girls in too, and was able, with his help, make it to Target by nine o'clock. I know. On a school night. Shopping for clothes for the next day. I'm telling you this blog literally writes itself some days.

Here is where my story starts to get sticky. Mackenzie picked out two pairs of pants and one shirt. She also found a pair of sparkly Mary Janes that we just couldn't pass up. We had discussed with Caitlin on our way over in the car that sister really needed new clothes, especially for picture day. Of course as soon as we walked in, Caitlin started pulling things off racks like she was on Super Market Sweep. When it was all said and done, Caitlin walked away with new unicorn printed leggings (because, duh), a Shopkins shirt (if you don't know what Shopkins are, I want your life), and new boots (because the Cartwheel made them 25% off, so duh). At the time, I really thought we were walking away happy and content.

Then I woke up this morning.

I woke up this morning at six. Six. Once I got my eyes to adjust to my iPhone screen, I woke up Caitlin who asked me to curl her hair. All of her hair. It took me forty minutes, and by the time I set the last curl, the first curl was already out. Awesome. Then I sent her to get dressed, while I tried to wake up Mackenzie, and wash my own face because it was probably the only chance I'd get to do so today. I'm telling you I live a glamorous life.

Mac got dressed in her new leggings and shirt. Happy with her new sparkly Mary Janes. I combed her hair and was just about to congratulate myself when I heard the crying. The sobbing. The sounds of discontent that are so familiar to me.

Caitlin was losing it.

The short story is, "Sister has a better outfit than me". Add to that, the fact that we had less than thirty minutes before we had to leave the house. Then add on the fact that she refused to wear the same thing she wore on the first day of school, because she couldn't wear it twice. Good Lawd Child, are you a Kardashian? Then her shoes were dumb and her life was over and so on and so on, and I was losing my shit in tandem. It was beautiful and my husband was most likely drawing up divorce papers. At seven forty five I did my best to hold it together, I yelled a few times, but was able to reel myself in. With minutes to spare, I helped her pick out a nice shirt to go with her new unicorn leggings and new boots. Tears were shed, nerves were rattled, and we were late to school by our own personal standards.

All this for picture day.

Here's a thought. Why don't we take pictures on the first day of school when we are excited and chipper. Don't we always wear our best on the first day anyway? My kids look amazing every day that first week. Even their hair looks great. But now? One month in? Fatigue has set in. Homework has replaced playing in the yard until the street lights come on. No one wants to get up in the morning. No one knows what to wear and God forbid we wear anything twice.

Picture Day had me exhausted by eight twenty this morning. I'm sure my kids were too. There is so much pressure on them and us as parents to make sure those pictures are perfect. To make sure we get our moneys worth for every sixty dollar packet (that is not an exaggeration). Picture day is just another "something" in a long list of "somethings" that derail me. Mostly because I don't think they are a big deal. It's picture day, right? How does that compare to those three in the morning feedings, or that time we tried to sleep train Caitlin? I'll tell you how, that baby wasn't telling me how awful her life was because she had to wear the same dress twice at three in the morning. I thought things were tough then. Now that my kids can talk, things get very real, very quick.

Tonight, as I get ready to watch my favorite shows that are only on Thursday nights, I'm going to say a prayer. A prayer that my girls kept their eyes open in those pictures. A prayer that they smiled their real smiles. A prayer that their hair isn't a disaster.

Because surviving today is just the beginning. I'm smart enough to know Picture Day still has the potential to kill me.