Thursday, May 28, 2015

Self-ish

Sometimes I only get the chance to blog once a week. And since I can't always get up the motivation to think of a topic, it's nice to have other friends to blog with so we can take turns. I enjoy being challenged to write about stuff that might not normally come to mind and also reading everyone else's thoughts on the same topic. Blog Project 3.0 has been going on for over a year, even though one of the group members changed after a few months. I love blogging with this group and I hope we can continue to inspire each other.

This week, Darwin Shrugged chose the topic: Write about a guilty pleasure and why you enjoy it so.

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic. I will be only posting links to posts on this same topic from my group. So check back if you were hoping to read their blogs and don't see a link yet.

Darwin Shrugged
Froggie
Moma Rock

I recently saw a post from Humans of New York (on Facebook) where a mother of three kids talks about how she takes a little time for herself each day, even if it's just flipping through a fashion magazine in a café. Her post definitely resounded with me because I find my "me time" to be a guilty pleasure in itself. It's really more than that...I thrive on spending time by myself. I could be shopping, watching a girly movie or TV show, reading, taking a bath, etc. Even before I met my husband, there were times I would just shut off my phone and lights and have a movie marathon.

I think the reason I like watching movies and TV shows that are mostly geared toward women is because it gives me some time by myself. There are some shows I know my husband won't watch and I call them guilty pleasures, even though the act of watching them is more of the guilty pleasure in the long run. My husband tries to pull a guilt trip on me by saying he'd watch a chick flick with me even though I won't watch an action or sci-fi flick with him. I try to just focus on things we like to watch together. Orphan Black has the perfect blend for both of us to enjoy. We also like watching comedies and some psychological thrillers or Oscar nominees. There are way too many movies out there and if he waits for me to watch most of those with him, he'll be waiting a loooooong time.

Another reason I like to watch movies by myself sometimes is that I only have my own opinion to go with when they're done. I saw a movie with my mom and sister recently and afterward, my mom was complaining about some parts of it. While I enjoyed the movie, the stuff she pointed out took away from that enjoyment. However, I still had the gorgeous actor from one of my favorite shows to keep the good memories of the movie going in my mind.

There are times when all I want to do is read. Especially on Shabbat, when I don't have to worry about checking e-mail or taking phone calls. I'm thankful that my kids like to play together on their own, which affords me some reading time. My husband isn't as much of a reader, but sometimes he'll delve into a Jewish book. Most of the time, he wants to talk. I love talking and joking around with him, but I also want some time to read too. Then I feel guilty for wanting to read, especially when my book is really good and hard to put down. A friend of mine suggested a different type of book club where we wouldn't discuss books, but instead lay around on comfortable chairs and couches and just read whatever we feel like without worrying about anyone else needing anything. I keep telling her that we should actually do this! As much as I love to read, with everything that goes on during the week, sometimes I just have to carve out the time or it never gets done. When I'm at work, I usually read on my lunch break. The break room is nice for sitting in and reading, but I also like going outside in nice weather, as long as it's not too windy. I sometimes feel guilty about wanting to read when other people are in the break room and want to talk. I try to make polite conversation, but then I'm relieved when someone else comes in to take over so I can get back to my book. I do have social lunches sometimes, so I'm not a complete hermit!

A while back, I challenged my blog project group to write about their ideal "me day." I had way too much fun imagining what mine would be like. And it's not just because I have kids around me all the time at home. I just think it's nice to treat myself to something special that only I would enjoy. I even referenced an article about things that are more fun when done alone.

While I love my husband, children, family, friends, etc., I still feel it is so important to have my alone time, even if it's just when I'm exercising in the morning. I definitely think it allows me to retain my individuality while still giving parts of myself to everyone else in my life.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cruel to be kind

Sometimes I only get the chance to blog once a week. And since I can't always get up the motivation to think of a topic, it's nice to have other friends to blog with so we can take turns. I enjoy being challenged to write about stuff that might not normally come to mind and also reading everyone else's thoughts on the same topic. Blog Project 3.0 has been going on for over a year, even though one of the group members changed after a few months. I love blogging with this group and I hope we can continue to inspire each other.

This week, Froggie chose the topic:  Great strengths that are also great weaknesses 

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic. I will be only posting links to posts on this same topic from my group. So check back if you were hoping to read their blogs and don't see a link yet.

Darwin Shrugged
Froggie
Moma Rock


This topic was a challenge for me. I was first thinking about how when you go to a job interview, you tell people your weaknesses based on strengths. (Ex. "Too much of a perfectionist.") Then I gave it some more thought and came up with one that fits the bill....KINDNESS.

In this day and age, I think it takes a lot of strength to be kind vs. being mean. It's easy to be mean. I even have my mean moments (at least my kids think so). Kindness takes a lot of patience and vigilance. You have to think before you act. Would the world be a better place if everyone were kind? Sure. However, movies would be so boring without a villain. I was thinking about the recent version of Cinderella and how her mother tells her to always be kind. Even when dealing with her evil stepmother and spoiled stepsisters, she somehow maintains her kind demeanor. If I were her, I would have been exacting revenge on them any chance I got! Of course, it's a fairy tale so kindness wins out. However, my own level of kindness has not gone unnoticed and has been rewarded in some ways, even when I wasn't looking for such rewards. It's nice to get a shout-out from someone just for being my kind self. :)

On the other hand, kindness can render someone weak. It's so easy to be stepped on and treated poorly when you're always kind. Especially if you excuse such behaviors in an effort to not hurt the feelings of someone who could care less about hurting yours. It's also easy to be taken for granted, like that you'll always be kind. When you have a bad day and lash out about it, it's somehow a huge shock because you're almost expected to be pleasant all the time. It leads to passivity and the concept that "nice girls (or guys) finish last."

In the long run, I'd rather be known for being kind than for being a cut-throat go-getter. I have my ambitions, but I'm not about to step on someone to get what I want. I just have to find the delicate balance between being kind and not being stepped on in return.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What CAN'T you do?

Sometimes I only get the chance to blog once a week. And since I can't always get up the motivation to think of a topic, it's nice to have other friends to blog with so we can take turns. I enjoy being challenged to write about stuff that might not normally come to mind and also reading everyone else's thoughts on the same topic. Blog Project 3.0 has been going on for over a year, even though one of the group members changed after a few months. I love blogging with this group and I hope we can continue to inspire each other.

This week, I chose the topic: "I can't..." (However, it's not about self-bashing, but more fun-spirited, like "I can't believe how full my bookshelf is.")

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic. I will be only posting links to posts on this same topic from my group. So check back if you were hoping to read their blogs and don't see a link yet.

Darwin Shrugged
Froggie
Moma Rock

*I can't imagine a world without The Mindy Project. I really hope another station picks it up for next season. Even if that station is Hulu.

*I can't drive home from work without chewing a piece of gum. I recently got back into the habit. Even if my drive home is stressful, it helps me to blow bubbles.

*I can't have Reese's peanut butter cups around without wanting to eat them. They're just soooo good!

*I can't resist my kids when they're being insanely cute. My daughter will have a huge tantrum and then the next moment she'll be smiling at me and saying something adorable. Hard to stay mad over the tantrum, right?

*I can't go into a bookstore and come out empty handed. This mainly applies to used book stores, as I'm spoiled by the prices there (and by the abundance of free books I get for reviewing at the blog), so it's hard to shop retail. My used book store has a huge sale going on and it's hard not to buy everything I see!

*I can't go a day without reading a book at least once. Like that wasn't obvious!

*Along those lines, I can't ever have too many books. You haven't seen ALL my shelves yet...

*I can't find the motivation to write even a short fictional piece. I know I keep saying this a lot, but it's true. It's enough that I get everything done that I need to. Then I'm just drained and want to do mindless Internet activities, like watching silly videos.

*I can't believe it's almost two months until my birthday. I know it's almost the end of my 30s, but I still love counting down.

*I can't wait for season three of Orange is the New Black! Now that Jane the Virgin is done until the fall, OITNB will tide me over. One of the actresses is also in JtV. Here's something to tide all you OITNB fans over until then. (And if you're new to the show, binge watch the first two seasons NOW so you can catch up!)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Book Review: Henna House

The book club I'm in usually has a hard time deciding between books. I tend to suggest a lot of books via e-mail between each of our meetings. Recently, I came across Henna House by Nomi Eve, perhaps through an Amazon ad or something along those lines. The synopsis drew me in and sounded perfect for my club to read and discuss. I sent them the suggestion and it ended up being chosen for our upcoming meeting. I'm so glad it did, as it was a moving and powerful story about women, family, and Judaism.

Nomi Eve’s vivid saga begins in Yemen in 1920, when Adela Damari’s parents desperately seek a future husband for their young daughter. After passage of the Orphan’s Decree, any unbetrothed Jewish child left orphaned will be instantly adopted by the local Muslim community. With her parents’ health failing, and no spousal prospects in sight, Adela’s situation looks dire until her uncle arrives from a faraway city, bringing with him a cousin and aunt who introduce Adela to the powerful rituals of henna tattooing. Suddenly, Adela’s eyes are opened to the world, and she begins to understand what it means to love another and one’s heritage. She is imperiled, however, when her parents die and a prolonged drought threatens their long-established way of life. She and her extended family flee to the city of Aden where Adela encounters old loves, discovers her true calling, and is ultimately betrayed by the people and customs she once held dear. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Oddly enough, even though I suggested Henna House for my book club, I was initially hesitant to read it. I don't normally read historical fiction unless there's a blend with a modern day story. However, seeing that it was compared to The Red Tent moved me to give it a try. Once I did, I was immediately grabbed by the story and didn't want to put it down to get back to real life. It had a Khaled Hosseini feel and reminded me of A Thousand Splendid Suns in some ways. I could see why it was compared to The Red Tent though. While it wasn't biblical in nature, it was still about female rituals and one woman's journey toward love and redemption. Adela was so easy to relate to and I felt like she and I were the same person when I was reading the story. She made me see what she was seeing and feel what she was feeling. While some parts of the story were either gruesome or disturbing, it didn't keep me from reading on to find out what would become of Adela.

The only critcism I have is that there were too many characters to keep up with between all the brothers, sister-in-laws, cousins, etc. I kept mixing everyone up and also couldn't remember why I had heard certain location names. This didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story. I've been recommending it to everyone and even purchased Nomi Eve's debut novel, The Family Orchard. While I've been to a Hindi wedding, I've never been to a henna ceremony and after reading Henna House, I'm interested to observe one in person. In the meantime, I can't wait to discuss it with everyone at the next book club meeting and chat with Nomi via Skype during that time.

Disclosure of Material Connection:
Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Bare-ing it all

Sometimes I only get the chance to blog once a week. And since I can't always get up the motivation to think of a topic, it's nice to have other friends to blog with so we can take turns. I enjoy being challenged to write about stuff that might not normally come to mind and also reading everyone else's thoughts on the same topic. Blog Project 3.0 has been going on for over a year, even though one of the group members changed after a few months. I love blogging with this group and I hope we can continue to inspire each other.

This week, Moma Rock chose the topic: If you could travel with any band for one week, which band would it be, and why? What sort of experiences do you think you'll encounter? This can be a band currently in existence or one that is no longer; the sky's the limit!

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic. I will be only posting links to posts on this same topic from my group. So check back if you were hoping to read their blogs and don't see a link yet.

Darwin Shrugged
Froggie
Moma Rock

I will admit this topic was a challenge for me. I love music, but it's hard to choose a band to want to travel with for a week. Then two words in the topic stood out: "One Week." That made me think of Barenaked Ladies (BNL), whom I saw in concert twice. I love their music and got to thinking about how much fun it would be to travel with them. This would have to be prior to when Steven Page left the group, as it's not really BNL without him any more than 10,000 Maniacs is the same band without Natalie Merchant.

I don't know that my husband would want me going off with a bunch of guys for the week, but he has nothing to worry about since they'd be more like a group of big brothers than anything else. However, if I needed a chaperone, I'd invite my friend Cass, with whom I used to work at the cell phone company. We saw them in concert together and would e-mail lines from songs back and forth all day long to stay entertained at the office. I'd also ask "Will" to come along since he loves BNL and he used to play me their songs on the guitar. Since he's gay, the threat factor isn't there either.

I don't think I'm creative enough to come up with an agenda for the week, but this is some of what might happen:

*I'd learn all the lyrics to "One Week" to perform at concert with them. I enjoy a challenge.

*We'd eat all the time, whether it was snacks or stopping for meals.

*We'd have pool parties at whichever hotel we were all crashing at for the night, as well as go to water parks.

*We'd have sessions to brainstorm rhymes and puns for new songs. I love how wordy their songs are and how they play around with the rhyme schemes. One of my favorites from their songs is "I could hide out under there. I just made you say 'underwear.'" ("Pinch Me")

*We'd have karaoke nights with not only their songs, but we'd also turn down the volumes on some classics from the 80s and 90s and see if they could fit the lyrics into a new tune or even change the tempo.

*We'd have nightly Big Bang Theory marathons since they wrote the theme song. ("We built the pyramids!")

*Just for fun, we'd do a scavenger hunt around a mall.

*While on the road, we'd have to stop and see oddities like largest ball of yarn

*We'd make it a point to go to a zoo and take pictures of chimpanzees to make postcards with.

*Finally, we'd visit their hometown of Scarborough, Ontario (Canada), and they'd take me to all their favorite places.

Since Moma Rock said "the sky's the limit," it made me think of this BNL "classic." Try NOT to sing along...I dare you! (This video has a special bonus too, and it involves some more fun play-on-words! Another pun I love of theirs is "I would buy you some art--a Picasso or a Garfunkel.")



Are you a BNL fan? If so, what is your favorite song of theirs?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Something's Gotta Give

Sometimes I only get the chance to blog once a week. And since I can't always get up the motivation to think of a topic, it's nice to have other friends to blog with so we can take turns. I enjoy being challenged to write about stuff that might not normally come to mind and also reading everyone else's thoughts on the same topic. Blog Project 3.0 has been going on for over a year, even though one of the group members changed after a few months. I love blogging with this group and I hope we can continue to inspire each other.

This week, Darwin Shrugged chose the topic: Write about a time someone else described you and you were shocked -- either because they were so wrong or because they were spot on.

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic. I will be only posting links to posts on this same topic from my group. So check back if you were hoping to read their blogs and don't see a link yet.

Darwin Shrugged
Froggie
Moma Rock

Funny timing with this topic...around the same time Darwin Shrugged gave it to us, she posted the following comment on my post from last week, Operation: Procrastination:
"I have such a hard time believing this because you are one of the most organized, on-top-of-it people I know! I refuse to believe you procrastinate!"

From there, this week's post was born. Darwin Shrugged made my "job" that much easier! Of course, she was wrong in her description of me. When I participated in Susie Schnall's Balance Project interview last fall, I mentioned how it's not possible to have it all and that something's gotta give in some area of life. I reiterated this in my review of Susie's novel, The Balance Project, that just came out this week. That "something" for me is my organizational skills. As hard and as often as I try, as soon as I get organized, everything erupts all over the place.

Since Darwin Shrugged likes when I refer to past blog posts to explain what I'm talking about, I'll share a few of them here....

*In I have my flaws (June 24, 2010), I wrote about both procrastinating and being disorganized. I also mentioned these as some of my vices in We've all got our junk (September 22, 2011).

*I did these FlyLady challenges in the spring of 2010 and blogged about them as I went along. I eventually gave up once I became pregnant and was too sick to concentrate on organizing all that much.

*Since my post about my inbox, You've got (WAY too much) mail! (February 12, 2015), it has grown to now 11,021 new messages. And there are still more read messages too. My other inboxes are smaller but still out of control.

*In My Purse-onality (February 22, 2013), I showed the contents of my purse. Since then it's become even more of a hiding place for all sorts of random items.

*In All Consuming (May 1, 2014) I tried giving away stuff I don't need anymore.

*In Clutter, here I come (January 9, 2014), I made it a goal to organize certain parts of my room and bathroom. As you can see from the picture, I haven't done too well at maintaining my bathroom. My jewelry area of my dresser is in decent shape, but I usually end up leaving my necklaces on my nightstand and they sometimes disappear for a few days.


And if you think this is bad, this is how my bedroom looks in the weeks between visits from our cleaning service:

My laundry basket that doesn't get cleared out
until the night before our cleaning service visits.
(Along with my hats and scarves.)

The wall closest to my bed, where I store all sorts of random things.

My nightstand. Enough said!

I'm hoping some of the tips in this #SpringDeJunkChallenge will help me get a handle on my clutter. Or at least that I'll win the $210 Amazon Gift card (so I can buy more stuff with which to clutter my house....)

At least our cleaning service is coming before my mom and sister's visit or I'll never hear the end of it!


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Operation: Procrastination

Sometimes I only get the chance to blog once a week. And since I can't always get up the motivation to think of a topic, it's nice to have other friends to blog with so we can take turns. I enjoy being challenged to write about stuff that might not normally come to mind and also reading everyone else's thoughts on the same topic. Blog Project 3.0 has been going on for over a year, even though one of the group members changed after a few months. I love blogging with this group and I hope we can continue to inspire each other.

This week, Froggie chose the topic:"To Do" items that you keep putting off.

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic. I will be only posting links to posts on this same topic from my group. So check back if you were hoping to read their blogs and don't see a link yet.

Darwin Shrugged
Froggie
Moma Rock

I tend to be a procrastinator, if that's not already obvious. I get done what I need to, but I also put off things that have been needing attention. Here are some items currently on my "to do" list:

*Take my older son to orthodontist consultations so we can get the ball rolling on the braces process.

*Take my older son and daughter to the audiologist for their cochlear implant mappings and hearing tests.

*Take all three kids to an allergist to get updates on current allergies and find a way to get my younger son's outdoor allergies more under control. Then again, I'd need to find an allergist that is next to a bar because allergist visits require a good drink afterward. For me, of course! The last allergist appointment was so stressful that it is why I'm so behind on getting them to an allergist again. And I need to find a better allergist who is not only good with kids, but also with parents.

*Get my cousin wedding and bridal shower gifts.

*Bake challah again. The last time I made it was well before Pesach and now I'm out of my stash.

*Make bird feeders with the kids that I promised to do after Pesach since it involves Cheerios.

*Catch up on The Big Bang Theory and watch all the shows everyone is telling me to watch...especially House of Cards, Parenthood, and The Goldbergs.

*Read books that were on my TBR list from the beginning of 2014. (To date, I've only read the first two from that pile.) You knew that my "to do" list would have to include reading!

*Catch up on items I've been putting off at work for a while because they're not urgent but probably should be done at some point.

*Donate the clothes and other items that are taking up valuable space in our storage room.

*Write fiction stories! I have the ideas in my head but haven't managed to get them written out yet.

*Clean out my inbox. It's gotten worse since I wrote this post! I went through old e-mails and thought I was making progress, but apparently not... I have been working on a more manageable inbox from another account, but I'm still freaked out to see over 11,000 new messages at my primary account.

What is on YOUR "to do" list?