Three things I now know…

This is uber-surface level banter today, so don’t get your hopes up thinking I’m sharing my soul. I’ve recently been made aware of three rather decently major things that I have plum gotten wrong in life, and feel it’s only fitting that I share these with you, my loyal readers, in hopes that you will not be deceived as I have been.

Here we go, in order of importance.

The lie: these flowers are called buttercups. 

primrose

NOT TRUE!!! I have for my entire life referred to these little pink wildflowers as buttercups. They’re not yellow, but whatever. Butter can be housed in a pink cup. Due to my impassioned research (I read the sign at the Wildflower Center, y’all – see photo below for it’s dang obviousness), I learned that these are Pink Evening Primroses.

This enlightenment isn’t blog post worthy, you say? I beg to differ. A) I’m very pregnant, so EVERYTHING is a big deal these days, including this. Also, B) Wildflowers are of epic importance these days because Central Texas is in bloom and I don’t want to be cooing over the wildflowers on the trails and roads, imparting my ill-gotten nomenclature to anyone within earshot. But insightful reader, you are correct: mostly A).

primroses.jpg

 

The lie: mosquito hawks eat mosquitoes. 

What-is-a-Mosquito-Hawk-ABC-1-min

NOT TRUE!!! These flighty bugs are kind of birdlike, so you know that means I’m creeped out by them at a basic level without knowing anything about their gastronomic preferences. They are really crane flies, but their nickname has always implied to me that they are hawks that eat mosquitoes (duh!), so I have tolerated and even supported their existence for many, many years, even when they sneak into my home and stick to the wall in the EXACT SAME PLACE (weirdos) for the entire day. My hope has been that they will later feast on mosquitoes, so I haven’t minded their weirdness. For the common good of a lessened mosquito population on this earth. Amen and Amen.

And it’s all a dad-gum hoax. They are not on my side, so I will no longer take pity upon them. Mosquito hawks, be forewarned: you’re dead to me.

Author’s note: It was a challenge to determine the ordering of the wildflower name or the alleged mosquito nemesis, since if there’s one thing I love in Texas, it’s wildflowers, and if there’s one thing I despise in Texas (or anywhere), it’s mosquitoes. Please know that a thoughtful amount of time went into the organization of this post, with you, dear reader, in mind.

The lie: Daylight Saving Time benefits the farmers.

NOT TRUE!!!!!

daylight saving time

(Side note: I had to include the meme above, the truth therein displayed I also recently learned, and now judge people who say “Daylight Savings Time” like they are people who say “volleyvall,” “valevictorian,” and “expecially.” And for that matter, people who don’t know how to properly use the Oxford Comma. Wake up, America.)

I read this article (posted by my old boss, Rep. Lyle Larson) that points out that the whole “we need Daylight Saving Time because it helps the farmers” is a lie from the PIT OF HELL that was perpetrated by none other than East Coast Commercialism, the Boston Chamber of Commerce. Something about more daylight for more shopping time.

All these years, I thought I was doing my duty for God and country and countryfolk by suffering through the twice-yearly phenomenon of “where am I and what day is it and what time is it and why am I so tired and for the last time, Carl, it’s spring forward and fall back!” And it’s been 100 years of this insanity. Having a toddler on a schedule, though, has brought me to my knees, and after this last round of DST adjustment, THAT’S ENOUGH. So let it be written, so let it be done, I’ll be joining the folks with torches and pitchforks and tin foil hats and whatnot at the Capitol next session, passionately advocating that we END THIS monstrosity. And you should totally join me.

So now you know, too. Do with this imparted, hard-won knowledge what you will.

focus, or lack thereof

What? You miss me? Aw shucks. So here’s the deal. Part of my hesitancy in writing more and more often is that I’m still trying to figure out what exactly this blog is for.

  • A vehicle for me to rant about whatever situations of varying levels of injustice happen to be on my mind: entitled Millennials (I’m still incensed that I have to be part of this generation), people who love their pets too much and think I should too, the price of a dang chai tea latte, affordable parking scarcity downtown…. to actual legit/infuriating injustices like corruption and incompetency in elected and appointed office, those with entirely too much campaign money trying to wield power over people who threaten/question what their donors/puppet masters demand (oh yeah, clearly still have some burnout/bitterness issues lingering from my former roles in the Texas Legislature), dangerous hypocrites in all levels of humanity, monsters who prey on little children and deserve to be tortured before burning in hell…. and now I’m all fired up. Ahem. Next bullet.
  • Exploring Austin and documenting my attempts to be effortlessly hip/hipster/Austintatious/soooo easygoing….
  • Wowing you with my Pinterest creations for A’s Valentine’s Day party today….oh gosh, fine – since you asked, here’s a photo:

Valentine's Day

(I bought a glue gun. Which – as it turns out – is only $4.27 at Walmart so that barrier to entry into the craft world has been shattered. They really weren’t that difficult and I only had to make 7 and this Pinterest lady took a ton more photos so I don’t feel so bad.)

  • Sharing hard stuff I’m going through but in such a way that a) I am real and not fake and b) I am the heroine of the story, not the crumpled mess I may or may not more closely resemble, and c) you don’t know too much about my life #downwithoversharing, and d) how do people write memoirs when their friends and family and anyone who knew them haven’t been abducted by aliens?! Are they all in the witness protection program?! Moving on.
  • Being a mom, staying at home for right now, not wanting to take up knitting or purchasing a mom car… but trying to find a sweet spot of still using the powers of my brain and being engaged in other parts of who I am while also being an attentive, engaged mother…..all the while acknowledging that it’s freaking hard to be good at this. Oh, and a good wife. That’s important, too.
  • Being pregnant and starving for pizza and burgers and FRENCH FRIES and Thai fried rice and cookie dough and chili mangoes and I WANT ALCOHOL….
  • Adventures in trying to live a more simplified, less technology-driven existence… balancing fear-mongering/guilting anyone who uses a smartphone in close proximity to my child with my pathetic Instagram habit…and hoping my kids won’t be too behind if they are forbidden from owning a phone till they are much older… like 15…

Unplug

  • Documenting my continued failures to grow plants/keep them alive (my latest attempt is an indoor pot with rosemary and mint. They’re alive after 10 days so that’s promising.)
  • Delving into the Enneagram to help me understand myself and other people….current dream job.. I think… is to be an Enneagram coach.
  • Hypocritically ranting about how so many female podcasters do not have an adequate grasp on the basics of elocution…much less the English language…and say “like” and “yay!” and “I’m SO EXCITED to have ___ on the show today….” to every dang guest they ever interview. For the love, y’all. I’m not saying they can’t be cheerful, but we do have other words that can be substituted for “GET EXCITED” like thrilled. Ecstatic. Intrigued. Grateful. Get a thesaurus. It makes me want to listen to some nuclear physicists debate. It will undoubtedly go over my head but would at least keep my brain from turning to mush. Yay.

Can I sum this up by simply saying this is a lifestyle blog and that will somehow cover all topics and BONUS I don’t feel pressure to make a commitment to a more focused subject matter?! Especially since I don’t have any sponsors?!?!

I don’t know. Sorry. Till I figure it out, you’ll have to deal with these scattered musings. Thanks for reading, as always. 

gosh pam, control your child.

So after 6ish months of being a bonafide SAHM, I’m finally venturing out beyond my standard cattle trails to Starbucks, Target, and the library and am exploring some of the fun kid-things that this wonderful city offers. I’ll be chronicling the more noteworthy experiences here as time and mental capacity allows.

Today: Book People children’s storytime.

Y’all.

I love me some Book People. Back when there was freedom, I’d spend hours there, reading interesting books and accidentally running into Brene Brown at her event (met her, she signed the Daring Greatly book I decided to buy after listening to her, we ended the night practically BFFs #lifegoal) or getting a chair massage from a hippie masseuse or picking a new country/destination for the next big trip, so I was predisposed to have an awesome time at this children’s shindig.

But no.

We (convinced two sweet mama friends who each have two kids to join A and me) got there a few minutes early to ensure decent seats, and the people already there were hovering over their kids and marking their spaces. Clearly everyone was wary of everyone else’s kids and whatever germs they were carrying. This was the responsible crowd.

By the time the storyteller began, the delinquents had showed up, crowding all over the place and letting their sniveling children roam wild and free. There was now no semblance of personal space or volume control or acknowledgement of the storyteller for that matter. It was CHAOS.

The storyteller tried to make small talk with the adults, but all I could think of was GET ON WITH YOUR BOOK, LADY. She asked everyone who was a nanny to raise their hands, and over half the adults in room shot their hands in the air. Okay, then. Now that that’s settled we can begin.

Feeling neither young nor sprightly, my legs were falling asleep as I strained to hear her tell these stories with pictures I couldn’t see. Relatedly, I could barely see the words to the songs, and the songs went too fast for us to use the sign language she was trying to teach us. She meant well – maybe she was trying to get this thing over with. This whole ordeal lasted 30 minutes but felt more like an hour – we would have left sooner, but there were SO MANY children we couldn’t escape. Like fire hazard level of people, or maybe I’m just more protective of my personal space than the average human.

So that’s what you can expect if you are planning to attend such an event. You’re welcome. (a simple fix would be to simply limit the number of people after who can enter!!)

The morning was redeemed tenfold by a trip to Steel City Pops afterwards, the best popsicle (or “poppy-sicle” or “popsicabable,” depending on which toddler you ask) joint in Austin. Life goes on. So glad we had some friends with us on this morning’s adventure!! Next time we might stick to somewhere outdoors with a tad more personal space.

Till next time..

neighborhood truck routes

Happy New Year! We’re going to jump right in and talk about Compost*/Recycling/Garbage truck routes.

*Oh yeah, we are full-blown Austin hippies who religiously participate in the weekly curbside composting program. Don’t act like you aren’t a smidge impressed. Next up, I’ll be a true blue Zero Waste Home disciple (but seriously…. it’s pretty cool stuff. More on this later).

Routes. Have you ever thought about this?

I’m highly interested (and when I say highly interested, I have done zero googling on this, but was shocked to know this isn’t included as a FAQ on the Austin Resource Recovery site) on how these routes are determined, and if assistance is needed (by yours truly, naturally) to suggest more efficient maps. In my extensive research, consisting of my several* walks around the neighborhood on Mondays (trash day for our ‘hood), there is an enormous amount of circling back, looping, multiple trucks in close proximity, and OH THE SMELLS.

*I’ve altered my approach to not be walking on Mondays in our neighborhood because lawdy lawdy ain’t we all grateful our taxes pay for our refuse to be picked up and taken away?! Seriously!!! This is a great thing!!!

BUT THEN. The questions.

How do you account for the capacity of the truck and allow for all the different sizes of bins that may or may not be overflowing or well under capacity? Hypothetically, some neighbors have the biggest bins and have overflowing garbage weekly. And….

  • What’s the average bin size for an Austinite?
  • What is the gallon capacity of a standard trash truck?
  • Please do the math for me – how many residential bins, on average, fit into each truck?
  • How many residential receptacles are there in the city limits?
  • And tell me more about the giant bins at apartment buildings!
  • Are there trackers in the trucks to monitor mileage and potential inefficiencies?
  • Does having to alter pickup based on holidays create a massive logistical headache and potentially force employees to work overtime to double up on shifts?
  • How many trucks does Austin Resource Recovery have for trash, recycling, and compost?
  • Do employees have odor neutralizers in the cabs of their trucks?
  • If people aren’t putting the right things in the compost, is there any way they can get caught/be held accountable?
  • Why are the trash cans that ugly fleshy brown color?
  • What’s the participation rate with the compost program?
  • How successful was the pilot program for composting and what criteria did you use to select the pilot neighborhoods?
  • What’s the gas budget for Austin Resource Recovery?
  • Where are the authorized gas pumps located throughout the city?

And aren’t those people who ask entirely too many questions so annoying? Makes me stop reading. Dorks.

Last year, I got to geek out and visit the Balcones Recycling Center in East Austin (because my boss was on the House Environmental Regulation Committee) and it was pretty much the coolest thing I got to do all session. That’s what having a kid will do to you, sheesh.

The field trip was like I was on a real Mister Rogers Neighborhood show….err… now it’s Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. I wasn’t a fan at first, but now I love the little guy. Balcones was really well run and we got to see all the conveyor belts, bulldozers, suction tubes, paper smashers (that last one is clearly a technical term). Fifteen percent of what they receive is not able to be recycled – it’s trash – and must be transported to the landfill SO THINK ABOUT THAT next time you try to make yourself feel better by putting non-recyclable items into your cleverly colored blue recycling bin.

Clearly I have some other things I need to be doing right now. Procrastination is a STRENGTH, people!!

barking neighbor dogs

First off, becoming  mother has made me realize that for most of my life I have valued SLEEP (preferably 7-8 hours a night, thanks) as an inalienable right. On an infinitely higher level than any other claims I think I should have, like access to clean drinking water or universal health care.

Sleep, give me SLEEP!

And it is no secret that falling all over myself for dogs really isn’t my jam. It probably doesn’t take much effort to imagine just how quickly my temper goes through the roof (rest assured, it’s warp speed) whenever a neighbor dog decides to go all out barking (ahem, “RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF!!!……..RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF!” maddeningly identical intervals of 5, followed by an ever so brief pause, over and over and over – CLEARLY THIS DOG IS AN INSANE ROBOT) at 1:00am, only to be joined by another dog a yard or two away with a more uneven “ROWLF….ROWLF………ROWLF” cadence (it appears this dog’s more uneven response illustrates that it is capable of thought and discernment, and I have determined that – if possible – this larger sounding, likely more useful dog is on my side, telling the other yapper to shut up OH WHO IS INSANE NOW?!?!).

Yes, we have the Sandra Boynton book Doggies in our house, so no need to be “funny” and give it to A so I can read it to her BECAUSE I ALREADY DO. I’m quite well versed in the different yaps of dogs, thanks.

doggies by sandra boynton

And yes, A is kind of obsessed with dogs (or “DAHH-wuh-gus” in a deep southern drawl like she’s channeling my Georgia grandmother). We have sat and watched “funny” dog videos on YouTube together (what has my life become).

Back to the neighbor dogs. To give you a better idea of the situation (to remind all you animal lovers of the objective realities of this world), this is what it looks like at 1:00am WHEN I JUST NEED SOME SLEEP, FOR THE LOVE:

darkness

Added to that reality, the way our backyards come together forms a sort of giant misshapen asterisk so I can’t tell for certain which house is home to the offending canines… but MY identity would be glaringly obvious if I decided to, say, scream out of the bedroom window or catapult poison medieval-style in the direction of the barks… which seemed like an awesome idea earlier this week IN THE MIDDLE OF MY SLEEPING HOURS.

Upon the advice of (my own) counsel (to myself), any details on any sort of resolution/closure to this situation/crisis will likely be vague., so please don’t hold your breath for a Part Two to this saga.

the mess we make of things

This is the massive (for these parts) bass I caught with my spiffy new pole and the powers of my brain last weekend.

mybassfish

It was probably 15 pounds because it’s been a fair amount of time since I’ve lifted weights and you weren’t there to weigh it.

This is what ensued shortly afterwards, as I endeavored to remedy an ever so slight loopy tangle on my reel. Yes, I continued pulling the line out despite the wind making a greater mess of said line that was all over the dock, and while the husband urged me to just cut the line and let it go, and while I insisted that no, this is actually fun for me – I love a good challenge.

fishingline

I didn’t know you can add line to a reel by tying a knot – I thought you had to start over. So I’m pretty sure that after cutting the line in 10 different places (MESS), I have about 20 yards max left.

But seriously, it was fun. And no, you can’t see the photo of the husband’s big catch (biggest of a dozen or so), because this isn’t his blog and comparison is the thief of joy and I would have caught more but was indisposed with the aforementioned situation, so there’s that.

 

 

 

steve and if you love chick-fil-a, you should be driving a toyota.

It’s true. Anyone who drives a Toyota already knows what I’m talking about, but for you other sadly uninformed folks, allow me to enlighten you.

toyota and chickfilaExhibit A: the holding area in the 4Runner console is the perfect size to snugly fit a kids meal* container and two dipping sauces.

*Yes, because sometimes all you need is a little kid-sized snack that is a) comparatively more affordable than an adult-sized meal (look at that, husband! There I go saving gobs of money again!) and b) doesn’t make me feel like I’m stuffing my face (because that lovely sensation was lo those 2 hours ago for a different meal. Live in the present, y’all. Here’s to now).

For Exhibit B, I have no photo but imagine with me the console of the Tundra with a long, narrow rectangular cutout that is the PERFECT SIZE to house three Chick-fil-A dipping sauces end to end.

THIS MUST HAVE BEEN PLANNED. I love a good conspiracy theory and those “aha! these things are connected!” moments. Can anyone help me verify here?? In other parts of the country, Toyota dealerships have Chick-fil-As in their waiting room/lounge area – Charles Maund, please take note and act accordingly.

In related news, I love drive-thrus and will unabashedly go out of my way for the convenience. I also love apps that make me feel like I’m more productive or am saving money, so I downloaded Chick-fil-A’s One app. Ordered our food on the app, let them know on the app when I had arrived, BUT THEN had to go inside to pick up the food. I somehow thought there were parking spots reserved for One app customers, and the nice employees would bring out your food, Sonic-style. But no.

It was rough. No makeup, in “workout clothes,” and carrying a squirmy toddler, I didn’t know what to do with my hands as I stood in an awkward area to the side of the packed out registers with Steve.

Oh, Steve.

Older guy pretending to be hip and cool who was incensed that he was having to wait to receive his food. Hands flailing, elongated sighs, shooting better-than-thou looks at the employees who were frantically trying to fill orders while he looked around at the rest of us patient souls with “can you believe it?!” exasperation.

Dude. Did you just order your fried chicken and french fries and whatever likely lame sauces you chose from an app in your air-conditioned car, using money you didn’t have to touch, transferred from your bank, and the food is ready to pick up faster than you were able to get inside?! (This is how I know his name – they called, “Steve?? Steve??” minutes before he was hovering over the counter) Are you able-bodied enough to walk into the franchise to pick up your food and take it back to your comfy car?

Don’t be like Steve. Work together, like Toyota and Chick-fil-A. Here endeth the lesson.

how is it already October?

….and how, after 33 years, I still marvel at how these months continue to follow one another in rapid succession!? It’s like Daylight Savings Time that has occurred twice a year FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE but disorients me every time that so help me I may even be motivated to join the tin foil hat lobby and advocate for Texas’ withdrawal from the antiquated practice next session.

And on that note,

daylight saving time

Mic drop. The meme is accurate. I’ve been saying it wrong forever!!! Great, another thing that will undoubtedly annoy me will now be all the people who say “savings” like I used to say up until 2 minutes ago – those uneducated jokers. So clueless.

Oh, and our next mind-boggling exercise shall commence on November 5th at 2:00am. Fall back, which is gaining an hour. Grateful that toddlers come pre-programmed to roll with the punches for DST and not at all get off-schedule

As I was saying, it’s October. And lately Annelise has been skipping her morning naps after our morning walks so I’m faced with the choice of blogging or taking a shower, and personal hygiene has taken the upper hand. You’re welcome, friends and neighbors.

So morning walks. I try to walk with A most mornings, whether in our neighborhood or around Zilker Park or Town Lake. I listen to podcasts (and recently learned to download them pre-walk using ye olde wifi instead of streaming them so I don’t go over my data plan AGAIN) and try to keep up a brisk pace so I can count it as a decent workout. These podcasts are filling up my plate these days:

  • The God Centered Mom – Heather MacFadyen is real and interviews really interesting people. No fluffy tee-hee-like-um-like-yay-mommy-you-know-like-Pollyanna-yay-motherhood dialogue (clearly the latter is on my LARGE AND LONG LIST OF THINGS THAT MAKE ME COME UNGLUED).
  • The Next Right Thing – I just started listening to this one. Emily P. Freeman’s voice is so soothing, and she’s incredibly thoughtful in these short, encouraging messages about making decisions, what’s next in life, etc.
  • The Road Back to You – you know when you hear about a book from multiple sources you really listen to? This is one of those. I’ve got this book on hold at the library, and am listening to the podcast in the meantime. The authors Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile break down the Enneagram in their book, and while the first two episodes are slow, they interview people who are all types – fascinating, this Enneagram stuff.
  • For the Love – well of course I’m listening to my imaginary pal Jen Hatmaker. She has wonderful guests like Brene Brown and Jessica Honegger and for a split second you feel like you’re eavesdropping on a convo between two friends, then before long you think you’re in the convo yourself.

By my humble estimation there are approximately eleventy billion podcasts out there on the interwebs. Are there any others that make you think, make you laugh, teach you interesting things? I’d love your recommendations!

make your soul see good

“It isn’t the great big pleasures that count the most;
it’s making a great deal out of the little ones.” ~ Jean Webster

Y’all. I’m slowly coming out of a place of feeling dull and apathetic about many things. Jen Hatmaker calls it “the doldrums” in her Of Mess and Moxie book and that’s a great term. Not straight up depressed, but just a numbness of sorts that has had me all, “Meh, why do we bother with pursuing a career when we’re all going to die anyway?” and “Meh, what’s the point of all this effort?” and “Meh, whatever, Whole30, you’re not the boss of me I eat what I want” and “COME ON! Another horrific storm, murderous earthquake, maniacal terrorist attack – what’s the point, Lord?!” Lighthearted stuff, I know.

I’ve been wrestling with being content in this SAHM phase. A dear friend mentioned a sermon on Ecclesiastes that I should check out, but after a mediocre search on my podcast app came up empty, I decided to just start reading the book, one which I’ve always avoided because Solomon seemed like such a Debbie Downer with his all-are-from-dust-and-to-dust-all-return negativity. Ahem.

Solomon, y’all. He had it all in terms of wisdom and riches. He too wrestled with finding what the aim of life is, and concluded all our best efforts are but a vapor – a breath – here for a second and then gone. He had pretty much all the resources ever for this grand experiment – he built houses, planted vineyards and parks, had tons of livestock, drank all the wine, bought slaves and had concubines (well ok then)… he tried all sorts of ways to find happiness, but after it all he determined that everything is “vanity,” a vapor, a mere breath.

SO WHAT ARE WE TO DO??!

He concludes that “there is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil (work)” (Ecc. 2:24a). This meaning of “find enjoyment” is also translated “make his soul see good.”

Make your soul see good.

AHA! THAT is what it is to “find enjoyment” in life. Joy/enjoyment isn’t some passive phenomenon where my ship comes in, happening upon a magical system to help me lose 10 pounds or getting a check in the mail for $5 million dollars or that magazine-worthy lake house or 15 BFFs from college on that annul fancy trip or being a National Geographic photographer assigned to epic locations or instantly earning a massive following on this blog and being famous because I’m so dang clever….NO. It is making a conscious decision, choosing, for my soul to see the good in my life. That’s it.

Maybe that looks like gratitude for little things. Like when Annelise and I were crawling up the stairs this morning. I was singing a silly song and when it was over, she stopped, turned to me, and started enthusiastically clapping as a huge grin spread across her sweet face. Be still my heart. Or what is it with all these crepe myrtle tree branches sagging with lush, gorgeous, vibrant flowers throughout our neighborhood AND IN OUR FRONT YARD?

It seems pretty counter-cultural, this searching for good in the here and now. How many industries would crumble if we were more content with where we are, what we have? Something I’ll be exploring more in posts to come.

gratitude turns what we have into enough

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