Monday, May 24, 2010

Fashionably Matt

My husband, who doesn't hesitate to leave the house wearing head-to-toe camouflage in assorted patterns, has recently become quite opinionated about my wardrobe. I love getting his opinions on my clothes because he's very direct - he either likes it or he doesn't. Recently, however, he's become more specific in his opinions. Here are a few examples:

When asking about my capri/blouse combo for dinner with my parents:
Matt: I don't think that watch matches your shoes.

When asking about my new sporty capris and cotton t-shirt:
Matt: It's nice. Casual, but anal.

Any day now he'll have his own show on TLC, I'm sure of it :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Good Life

Midgie knows how to enjoy the day.
Because of my early mornings this week (I woke up with Matt @ 4 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep), for the last two afternoons I've hit the proverbial wall. I tried to move past it, but when the world starts spinning, it's time to surrender.
Since Midgie is an expert in the area of afternoon naps, I turned to her for guidance. With the warm, sunny weather gracing northern Michigan, I climbed onto the bed and invaded the largest sunny spot. At first she and Bucket were a little annoyed with me, but it didn't take long before the curled up next to me and drifted off.
I used to pick on Midgie because she wanders around the house, moving from one sunbeam to the next, but not anymore. She's got it made. I now understand the draw of the sunbeam, and I hope to take advantage of it again soon.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My First Garden!

Today Matt and I planted our container garden - yeah! This is a new experience for me, but I was pretty excited. We started with our tomato plants. We have three varieties: lemon boy, celebrity, and juliet. We planted some marigolds in the right pot (Matt says they're good companion plants. He's the certified master gardener, so I didn't argue).

Then we moved on to my herbs: basil, thyme, cilantro (two of 'em!), and parsley. Matt picked a special container for those ... the front yard.

Kinda grizzly, I know. And not really what I had in mind when I thought of "containers" but, like I said, Matt's certifiable, so who am I to disagree? I did a LOT of weeding, but I sure looked cute doing it.

In the end, we put the herbs by the front door, along with a few random flowers. We also planted some ornamental grass and we moved the hosta.

The dark black soil is organic potting soil that we picked up at Lowe's (on sale!) a few weeks ago.

Note the lovely stepping stone? Matt's had it for 15 years - we can finally use it!

The hosta didn't mind moving. It's still next to a purple bush of death (the thorns on those things are nasty!), so it doesn't feel so homesick.

After we finished, I decided to plant Matt. This spot gets a lot of sunlight in the afternoon, so I'm expecting him to grow nicely!

We weren't the only ones who enjoyed the fine weather, though. Midgie and Bucket love having the windows open. It gives them a nice breeze as they sun themselves on the bed.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stale Mate (and Second Thoughts)

I could probably post this on my writing blog, but I don't feel like it. It's entirely writing related, but I want to post it here. My heart keeps leading me here because this is where my friends are - this is the site that my loved ones visit to see how I'm doing, not how my writing is going.

So here it is -writing is not going well.

I don't have a great reason for it. Matt's been cancer free for two years, so there's no medical crisis. I have two regular gigs, so it's not like people won't publish my work. Truth is, I'm tired.

It's not even Memorial Day (which marks the beginning of Matt's "busy" season), and he's already working 60 hours a week. I expect that he'll do 70-80/week this summer. That means everything else is in my lap. I might be able to handle it if I had the chance to talk with him throughout the week, but it doesn't happen.

This is how it works: he leaves the house at 3:30 or 4:30 am. He gets home at 6:00 or 7:00 pm. We talk on the phone while he drives home (which is about 30 minutes). When he gets here, he jumps in the shower, then sits down to eat. I empty his lunch box and then re-pack it. If I'm lucky, he has 30 minutes before his brain starts to shut down, but after his long day he doesn't have the energy to chat - he usually checks the weather and news online before passing out.

It would be easier if he traveled - then I would have to cook and clean-up after him, but as it stands I get all of the work and none of the benefit of being with him.

So that leaves me doing everything else around the house. Plus substitute teaching. Plus writing for two papers. Plus working on my manuscript, maintaining my blog, trying to keep up with other blogs/writing news, researching conferences...I could go on, but I'm tired.

I love the stories that I write for the local papers, but the pay is meager ($3-5/hour). I don't want to lose the connection with my neighbors, but this type of writing won't replace the money I could make at any other job (including substitute teaching).

I want to research bigger markets. I want to submit articles to other periodicals, but I'm so overwhelmed by the number of magazines that I don't even know where to start. And when I finally narrow it down, I can never think of anything to write.

And my manuscript did not final in the most recent un-published novelist contest. I don't know exactly how I did (I'm praying that I at least improved over last year), but I'm dreading getting the scores back. As long as I improved, I think I'll be okay, but if I didn't (or I did worse) then I don't know if I'll be able to continue.

I really don't know what to do right now. I want to write, but the ERN and GTI won't support me and I don't know if I can find other markets.

Maybe I'm just tired. I hope I'm tired. I need to do something to break out of this stale mate - I need something to let me know that I'm doing the right thing.

I need Jesus.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Chit-chat and Gabfests

Yesterday I was talking to my husband and I realized that I come from a unique family. Here's how the conversations went: (when telling Matt how my sister almost ruined a surprise visit to my parents' house by telling my mom)

"I was talking to Cammie today, and she almost ruined the surprise. When I talked to her this morning she had just gotten off the phone with my parents, and they were still planning to come visit us. I told her not to worry, I had just talked with my dad and he knew we were coming, but he wasn't going to tell my mom. Then I was talking will Cammie after Ella called, and she told me that she accidentally told mom what was going on, and Dad had to cover."

If that's confusing, it should be. The point of that monologue is this: I was on the phone with my sister for the second time that day, who had already talked with my parents twice, before and after I spoke with the 'rents.

On the average week day I'll call Cammie 2-3 times. I call my parents 1-2 times. Michelle's a social butterfly, but we manage to squeeze in a call 2-3 times a week. I always thought everyone was like that ... how was I supposed to know they're not?

I don't remember ever making a conscious decision to stay in touch with my family so frequently - it just happened. I suppose a lot of it has to do with the fact that my mom, sister, and I all work from home (if you consider being retired "working"). That makes it easy to give someone a quick call when I have a question about something. Sure, I could research things online, but when you spend hours in front of the computer everyday, a phone call breaks up the monotony.

For the record, every call to a family member isn't a conversation. I've been known to call my mom just to tell her the theme of an article I'm writing. Likewise, my 3.5 yr. old niece will call me to tell me her babysitter is coming over. It's not necessarily about conversing with each other, it's about staying in touch. And we are masters at staying in touch.

I like that about our fam. It's kind of silly, but it's fun. It doesn't take long for info to travel along the VB gossip line. We may not always like what the other person is saying, and the conversations aren't always spoken in quiet tones, but we always communicate.

And it's not just a girl thing ... my 17 month old nephew is quickly learning the fine art of jibber-jabber. I've got the voice mail messages to prove it :)

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Dear Kids*, I love you, but...

...there are a few things we need to discuss. I believe these are things that will help you develop rich, successful lives. They will also keep Daddy and I sane.

1) You sleep too much. It's not the sleeping that bothers us. It's the mad bursts of energy at 5 a.m. that taunt us, reminding us of how much sleep we missed. So please, save your outbursts for times when we won't resent them.
2) You're too curious. It's natural to question how the world works and to seek understanding, but understand this - every piece of food I pull out of the refrigerator is not for you, so you don't need to poke, sniff, or lick it all.
3) One at a time. Yes, it's very cool to have such a large bathroom, and it's awesome that your potty is in the same room as mine...but just because I forget to latch the door does not mean that's an invitation for you to saunter in so we can do business at the same time. Take a number, get in line.
4) Respect my work hours. When I'm typing at my computer and ignoring your continual cries for attention, it's because I'm busy. It's not a challenge to see how far you'll go before I notice you. Trust me, I know you're there, so you can stop putting holes in my pants and jumping on my desk.

I think you'll find that a few minor changes in each of these areas will help us all enjoy a happier, more peaceful hope. Thanks for being so understanding!

Love, Mommy & Daddy

(*Kids = cats)