UPDATE TO Mrs. Flinger October 16, 2015
Because the Universe has a wicked sense of humor, after this delcaration, my blog threw up all over my last upgrade.
So I'm starting over using Craft. Turning 40 and kid entering Jr High next year, sometimes it's just time for a change. These archives will still exist in the way the last child goes off to college and their room is the same for 20 years, but it's just time to move forward.
On the road again Mar 01, 2011
I remember visiting a family friend in Dallas when I was 10. I flew, on a plane, alone, to spend four days with their family. Looking at this now, I can not believe they let me go.
My mother planned ahead and mailed a letter to me, most likely days before I ever left. It arrived on the second day of my stay. The bottom of the letter was signed, “love ya, Mom.”
That closing made me ache in homesickness. It spoke more to me about my mother than most of the letter. It was exactly how she spoke. “Love ya.” It is not “Love YOU,” just “love ya.”
Twenty five years later, in Dallas, my husband emails me a simple reply to a question. We’ve talked multiple times a day during my stay, have access to each other in ways not conceived of in 1985. and yet, there is one letter, 2 sentences long, with a closing that stings my eyes during class.
The smallest familiarity can bring an ocean of homesickness and I’m blinking back tears.
Writing Conferences Mar 01, 2011
I’m humbled and honored to have had my blog be a finalist in four weblog awards since its debut in 2003. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to speak on writing topics such as Prompted Writing, Story Success, Keeping Your Audience Engaged, and Mom Bloggers and Brands. Writing is a passion so I take every opportunity to inspire and be inspired.
I pioneered a project for bloggers to get feedback from peers and inspire each other to write creatively. In the wake of two full time jobs, it didn’t last as long as we’d like but the plan is to one day resurrect the Write-Of-Passage.
Today I lost my Mom Black-belt Feb 24, 2011
It’s been a day. You know how people say this, “It’s been a day,” and nobody ever says, “oh, what do you mean?” It’s like The Pill. Someone says The Pill and you know that means THE PILL. Not headache medicine, not Vitadmin D, but THE Pill.
It’s been a day.
And while I can certainly give you details, let’s face it: You KNOW what that means. There’s a list of things that started out great and went to crap. Quickly.
There’s a joy and a sorrow of working at home. It’s that on one hand, you can do a podcast for work while wearing a snuggie. On the other hand, if the children don’t have school because of snow, you might end up seeing something akin to a nuclear paint explosion in the family room. Just for fun, let’s say, they might toss in four hundred and three straws because that’s how they roll.
Maybe there is blue paint dotting the kitchen floor from one end of the room to the other.
And maybe, just *maybe* there are a few big deadlines and a few additional gray hairs that bring one particular mom to her wits end about the time her daughter loses her absolute blessed mind and refuses to go to karate.
She loves karate. *LOVE* She was going on and on and on the entire way to Karate. “I smile because I love Karate!” “I love it when I get to kick!” “I’m learning so so much!” So when we pull up, I tie on her Gi, and turn to usher her to class I’m floored when she starts pulling on my arm crying. “What on earth?!” I have no patience. I look in to my daughter’s terrified eyes and I question their sincerity. “WHAT is going on?! Go. You will go. This is not acceptable. Not ok. No, you just told me how much you love this. What are you doing here? Oh, comon, you WILL STAY and watch. Sit like you are respectful.” I got hard on her. I went all 1972 on her. I was channeling Okinawa and playing the hardest cards of all, “Do this or you don’t get any more hot chocolate. EVER!” Ok, so I got lost in the moment.
She stayed. She did not participate. She sat, tearfully afraid, the entire two hours until her dad picked her up. I ask them at home, “So what was going on? Why didn’t you participate?” I’m fire and brimstone. I’m seeing her 15 year old self backing out of commitments. I’m playing the Future. “I was afraid of breaking the boards today, Mommy.”
My heart broke in bits as I hugged my honestly scared daughter.
“Oh honey. You need to tell me what is going on so I don’t get mad and think you’re playing me.” Her eyes, big, round, soft, nodded. She hugged me. “I can understand being afraid, sweetie. But you need to say that to me. Don’t make excuses about being too tired. Let me know, ok?”
There are times a parent will think they are doing their children the best of intentions. I am making you strong! I am helping you get over your fears! I am not letting you fake a way out of your commitments! And sometimes there are times the parent will get the biggest lesson of all: I am not listening to your fear. I am not understanding your voice. I am lost in my own world.
There is a joy and a sorrow of working at home. Today I had both. Thankfully, there is one moment I did not fail to appreciate:
Some things truly do not change.
It’s like starting all over again. You can be whomever you want to be. And other lies. Feb 23, 2011
It’s funny the things people will say when you enter a difficult situation. My family was uprooted from the upper-middle-class subburbs of a major metropolitan city with 300 days of sun at the end of Jr. High. We settled in a mill town in a small rural area of a state that sees 30 days of sun a year. The entire time my parents sang chorusses of “But you can remake yourself! You can be anything you want! You get to start fresh!”
Dude, I was 13. I was fresh. I had no idea who I was in the first place. Also, these people don’t peg their pants like we do and why aren’t they wearing neon?
Did I mention it was 1989?
Similar in a way only I could make the metaphorical leap, learning Java in grad school brought me to tears. I remember telling people I’d rather have sharp pins stuck under the bed of my toe nail for fun. “But you’ll refresh yourself! You’ll learn something so useful! You’ll be renewed!”
Did I mention it was 2004 and Java was the defacto language for All Things Ever? And oh, memorize this chart and create a program like pong. Thank you.
I feel the same queasy, uncomfortable awful when I’m asked to write a bio about myself. “You can be anything! Put your strengths out there! Say who you are but, you know, better!”
Oh god, so don’t write a professional bio that says I sweat more than most women when I’m nervous, forget about calling it the “glow” and oh, can you hand me a towel because I need to dab my armpits.
There is no cussing in a professional bio. This greatly limits the number of words I can think of to exclaim my powers.
I enjoy writing. Writing is, in my case, the way my brain organizes thought. I do it daily. I write to remember dates, bill, commitments. I write to create flow charts of thought from jumbled masses of uncertainty. I write because it is the one expression I have which freely flows above second guessing and doubt.
So why do I clam up in a sweaty gassy mess when I have to write a bio?
I’ve been meditating on my bio for the past two weeks. Literally. I’ll sit in yoga in child’s pose and try to picture what it should say. This is not as morbid, but nearly, as trying to write your obituary. Only I have to be accountable for the words I write and I don’t get to say glowing things like, “The greatest accomplishment of Leslie’s life was catching the Rainbow fart of a Unicorn. For this, she won a nobel prize.” Instead, I have to live with the consequences of this one pass intro to who I am. I have an entire blog full of WHO I AM but here I sit, dumfounded, trying to tap out a 3 line bio.
Who knew asking such a small, normal task would lead to so much self inflicted doubt and struggle?
I’ll just be sitting here…
Ethics and Values Feb 14, 2011
People so often lump a person’s “core” within boxes. Boxes of artificial labels society places on ideals. “Republican.” “Pro-Gay-Marriage.” “Working Mother.” “Christian.” “Athiest.”
Our values in my family are above labels. They are paragraphs of ideals, gray areas of judgement. They are curated over years and formed through connections. They are intangible but visible.
Between work and family and bills and co-workers and clients and rainy drizzly days and sick kids, it becomes rare if not impossible to have those conversations. The lists stack up, the mail remains unread, the dishes grow hard with food someone didn’t finish. Perspective is lost and ideals get boxed. Identities fail.
Within that space, the failure, the questioning, the near-palpipal-self-doubt, I boarded a plane to Glens Falls last Tuesday to work with a firm I’ve freelanced for two years with. And, more importantly, within that firm I’ve had friendships deep and connecting above labels and distance.
Arriving in obvious discomfort of my own skin, sharing a hug by littles who barely know me, and a glass of beer of a website I helped build, I found again the conversations, the gray areas, the perspective. Within hours the labels dropped away and connections cleared and values were defined. I was refreshed.
As the week sped too quickly along, I remained optimistic. Exclaiming beauty at every space. The snow! A ski resort a mile away! The sun! Lovely people! And the office, oh the glorious office filled with humans who work and laugh and rally. A lovely office of people I’ve known and connected with two years ago and work so well together who have the same taste in music sans a few Country Songs.
It’s painful to see the alternate versions sometimes.
The grass beneath the snow in a state three thousand miles away beaming greener and more fresh smelling than your own.
The children who face-time with friends they’ve met once and squee and exclaim love for me and mine.
The hospital with the blog I coded.
The Brewery with the owner begging us to move there, bring our family, stay in Glens Falls and thank you for coding his award-winning site.
The sun beaming in the windows of the office above the store anyone should be proud to own and support those whose craft and brand are breathing it to life.
The underground bar owned by a couple of wit, sass, and class as comfortable to be around within minutes as a friend you’ve known for years.
The lines blur. Home. Values. Family. Truly, there are places just as fitting and as lovely as the one we’re in now. Some days, perhaps, possibly, even more so.
As I come back to my own, the reality of the days catch up again. My husband, my rock, the amazing man who takes our small children while I pursue so many dreams and propel in a career I could not have without him, takes his turn to work on his own boxes. He leaves for work an hour after I arrive, after hugs, and kisses, and I miss-yous. He trudges to work and stays over-night tackling his own deadlines and expectations.
These are the values we own. These are the labels we wear proud. We work hard. We love our family. We snuggle and exclaim with joy our children’s delights. We go above and beyond the expectations and push ourselves to achieve more than we thought. So long as the days continue to march, we teach our children the value of ethics.
I count myself thankful for all those who share this core. Who remind me it’s possible. Who dance with their children and believe in their work. Those who also connect above boxes and labels and share a belief over beer.
Did I ever tell you about the time… Feb 04, 2011
My children were playing “little fucker” at Home Depot?
Now, look, before you get all judgy, let me just preface this with a post I wrote two years ago to prove I have no idea what I’m doing as a parent. Ok? I had a plan. I had a theory. That theory sucked.
In retrospect, the “time and a place” mantra could work. Teaching your children that anyone can say anything as long as it is the appropriate time and place is rather discerning. I don’t want to shield my children from the world but would rather teach them how to navigate the gray areas of society including cussing, standing up for oneself and when an appropriate toilet joke is funny.
I guess at 5 and 3 they’re not discerning yet.
Case in point:
Mr. Flinger and I took the entire family to Home Depot. (Clue One: that’s best to do on a date because children lose their ever-loving-minds.) We have expectations that mimic parents of the 70’s. We tell you to sit in the cart and you will sit, wait, talk quietly among yourselves until we have thoroughly discussed the options of shiny silver and chrome for the new locks to the house AND YOU WILL LIKE IT.
The children looked at us with wide eye, “But we don’t have any toys,” LB gasped. “Use your hands. You know what makes a good toy? Your hands. And? You won’t lose them and you’ll never get them taken away,” Mr Flinger solves the problem. (Side note: This has been repeated to me half a dozen times so it did in fact make an impression.)
The children begin playing “where is thumpkin” and other hand gesture games appropriate for their age.
The discussions went forward about types of locks, shiny locks, keyed locks, locks of what size and shape and on and on and on until I hear, or I think I hear, one child say, “Hey.. Fucker!” and the other reply back, “Hey! Fucker!” I glance up at two men standing next to the cart where the children are sitting. Their expressions are both half laughing half shocked. I stride over, “Did they just say….” “I think so,” replied one man. “Oh, uh, I don’t know WHOS kids those are. No, I’m kidding, I’m the proud mother.” He looks me up and down and says, “Oh, you’re their mom?” “Yes, and .. uh.. I’m sorry… Uh.. lemme just move them…”
I lean forward as the children continue their “little fucker” play which involved a thumb telling the other thumb he’s a little fucker and then the other thumb quips, “hey! fucker!”
A proud mother indeed.
Since that time I’ve changed some things around here. I now say “Oh MOTHER OF PEARL” and “For PETES SAKE” and “HOLY MOSES.” I like to think I’m still a little badass. In fact, sometimes I know I’m in the company of other mothers when someone shouts out, “SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!” in exclamation.
Having children truly does change you in ways you never could anticipate. It’s true. Those little fuckers.
When our stories merge and I remember that blogging is not futile. Jan 22, 2011
“WHY is Mommy wearing her scarf and coat and shoes? WHY?!” The question comes from my small man wrestling on the couch with his dad. It’s one of his favorite games to play. “Wrestle with me, Daddy!” He’s as joyful as he gets, rumbling around dictating points and I wins and no, that’s a tie. As happy as he gets so long as we’re all there, together, in the room. “Mommy is going to go finish up some work, Buddy.” The answer send him screaming to the kitchen. “NO! I WANNA GO WIFF YOU! NO! I WANNA GO, TOO!”
It’s been weeks now that I’ve kept this schedule, working while the children sleep, on weekends, after my other job. I’ve explained to the children that sometimes you have to work a lot. It’s OK. It’s not forever. Right now, we NEED Mommy to work. And I LIKE my work. I don’t mind diving in to code on a Saturday morning sipping coffee and watching cars whiz by the window as people do their own weekends. I’m OK with this.
My son, he is not.
I sneak in moments while he is home sick with me I take ten minutes to play race car. I use a break to sit and eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with him. I rub his back while he goes down for a nap and I’m there as he opens his eyes three hours later oblivious to the tasks I’ve completed in that interval.
I emailed Amanda this question. “Just logging in [to work] as Buddy is having such a hard time with me not being around him. Do you think that’s normal?” We are so similar in our work. Hell, we work TOGETHER and I’m sending gratitude for these coding jobs and she’s sending gratitude for my working on them. It’s a wonderful system. I appreciate getting the work and she appreciates the work getting done. In between we share our struggles as working moms with little people, goals we know we’d have if we didn’t work and reassurances that we’re not alone. No, no, I just had a melt down yesterday. And oh, yes, good, go work out. Balance. Support. Yes.
I pondered the futility of blogging just this morning. Ironically, I contemplate not blogging nearly always around upcoming blog conferences. I begin to wonder what the point is, everyone is so determined to make money on their own words and voice and I do not. I start thinking there is not room for ONE MORE THING as I pull myself away from my clinging preschooler. And then I read Amanda.
Her entry, “Not this minute” unglued me. THIS. Yes. This. While formulating my reply, clarity as shiny as crystal formed. I do not favor my son. I have patience with his clinging that I did not have with my daughter. I do not mind being the only person who can kiss his booboo and the only one who he wants to lay him down in bed. I don’t mind that I am the center of his world, no. While my daughter was never a snuggler, so independent and pushing pushing to just go, walk, run, dance. She’s as lovely as flowers and generous with her affection but she is independent, now wanting her own space and offering to help her brother get his teeth brushed or grab a class of milk. I see how the change happened, in only a year or two from needing to being. It is because of this knowledge that I cling to my son’s dependance as much as he clings to me.
This will fade, change, mature. He will push me away one day and the thought wets my cheeks with salty tears almost immediately. My daughter will have kisses from boys and dance with other people and I barely know that reality. Nor do I want to.
These thoughts, swirling in a confusing pensive of work, bills, todo lists, unable to form actual words finally make sense as I read this. It’s not just the words but the yes, ohmygod yes, I understand, I know, I am. Suddenly blogging is not futile at all. It is what my life finds security in: Friendships, understanding, sometimes clarity and knowledge.
One day my children will not beg for my attention, for my immediate participation. On that day I will look at this entry, I will re-read Amanda, I will call her and we will laugh and cry simultaneously because yes, remember that? Yes.
Why Three Year Olds Don’t Blog Jan 20, 2011
“Actually, I don’t wear boobies right now because I’m a little kid. You wear boobies because you’re a mommy. When I grow up and are a Mommy I will wear boobies, too, right? And OH LOOK my race cars just crashed that was funny. Whoever gets to the side of the closet first wines. Are you still getting dressed? Oh, you’re wearing a red shirt like I am! Look I’m wearing red, too! Did you see? Now can you see? I’m wearing red, too! SEE? IT IS RED? DID YOU SEE IT? RED. RED. Oh, can we do pizza tonight. Now can you play race cars with me? Why are you still getting dressed. It takes FOR EVER TO GET DRESSED, hu. Why are you brushing your hair? I brush my hair, too. See? Now can we do race cars?”
My Mind Enema Jan 10, 2011
“Um, do you have sage?” I ask at Whole Foods. It seems logical that if one would need something to cleanse spirits, Whole Foods would have it.
You know: Hippies and all that.
“You mean for burning?” I clearly don’t know what I’m talking about. I think you burn it. I’m not sure what I’m looking for but I’ve been told by at least four people to try a sage cleanse for our house so this year will be infinitely better than the last. Sage cleansing. I couldn’t even bother to look it up before I go marching in to Whole Foods to buy it.
“Here you go,” says the thin, purposefully unkempt girl working at the Yuppy-Hippie-Overpriced-Grocery-Store. She leaves and I’m faced with a decision; two small sage sticks or one large stick? “We need all the cleansing possible,” I mutter and grab the biggest sage stick I can find.
It sounds cheesy, and it is, I’m sure. Sage cleansing our house? As if I believed in spirits and karma and life forces and such. Bah.
Except, ..... what if?
Mr. Flinger and I decided to try our very own Mind Enema this year. After two coincidental clicks pointed us to The Secret, the documentary, we watched with small cynicism and large wonder. “Well isn’t THAT ridiculous,” Mr. Flinger says at the close. “But, what the hell, right?”
Right. This is how we embrace our future. “What the hell!”
What the hell indeed.
So going forward, decided to think only positive thoughts. “Think about what you WANT not what you DO NOT want.” This is my mantra.
“I will.. I am.. I shall… I have…” Not “I don’t.. I won’t… I refuse… I hope… I fear…”
It’s such a subtle adjustment, such a tiny switch. The answers come quickly and quietly.
“I miss Yoga. I will find a new Yoga studio,” I said during Kick Boxing a month ago. Two days ago a new friend informs me of the new Power Yoga studio down the street. It’s amazing. It’s perfect. My new friend and I hit it off on yet another level and I proudly add her to the list of people I’m thankful for.
The list is growing with my appreciation and joy.
“The Condo will close.” I say it with confidence. I do not jinx it. I am not afraid to say it with pride. The Condo Will Close. The home we have been selling for nearly a year is ready to go to new hands. The home we brought our baby boy home to is ready for a new family. The home we first knew here so far from our friends, became a place of familiarity, friendly playdates, many holidays. It now goes to a new set of memories and we let it go. Friday: The Condo Will Close.
The list goes on and on. We say things with confidence and power and love. We declare our lives as worthy and joyful. We tell our family they are loved and strong and beautiful. We work together, actively making goals reality.
“You’re working so much.” “You’re always working.” “It sucks you have to work so much.” I’ve heard this from no less than 18 people in the past month. I’m working, working a lot. I’m fulfilling my full time job and a part time freelancer job on top of being a mother and a woman who strives to work out and find harmony. Harmony in the midst of chaos and deadlines and bills. Harmony and Joy.
I *am* working too much but I am thankful for it. Working too much right now is the appropriate solution. It’s not forever, I tell my children. Mommy has to work a lot right now because we need it. Right now I am thankful to have venues to bring in money, to get our family in a new situation, to grow beyond the last year of turmoil. However much the world tries to get us down, I am thankful for the opportunity to prosper.
We are prospering. In spite of all the financial heart-ache, emotional frustrations, negative energy surrounding us: We. Are. Prospering.
I went for a run today. I looked up as the clouds parted for an entire twenty minutes. The sun spoke down to my skin with kisses and warmth. Joy. Happiness. Heaven.
How are we doing, you ask? We are fine. We are. Perfectly. Fine.
Who you should nominate for teh Bloggies. Jan 10, 2011
This time of year makes my skin itch. Mainly because the heat is always on and the air is so dry, but ALSO because the weblog awards come out about now and everyone gets all weird about it. Everyone says “those are SOOOO 2004.” But let me tell you, I was in them (ok, one) in 2004, and I’m not proud to admit that I buckle under the pressure of a pretend award like the zipper of my jeans do on Thanksgiving.
That doesn’t stop me from nominating you, though.
As “they” say, I hope it truly is just a joy to be nominated because you have been.
In no particular order, I will tell you who to nominate. Not only will you do so (waves hand as if using the force) but you will tell others to do so as well. (waves hand back)
Here, ladies and gentleman (one) is my predication for the final contestants of this year bloggies.
Clearly, Chookooloonks is a must. I’ve known Karen since 2004 when she first adopted her daughter, Alex. I love Karen’s spirit and joy and positive nature. I fly to her like a moth to light. Sometimes she even hugs me.
Rachel Divine is another amazing photo blog. She shares tips on how to be great and lets us follow her life in Australia in one blog. Truly worthy of a look for everyone.
Please, please, read and nominate Amanda Magee at The Wink. She’s profound, well spoken, and brings so much positive light to my day, I seek her out when I feel frustrated or down. She’s truly someone who reminds you, in amazing voice, to be thankful for your life. She’s funny as hell to boot.
You can’t think of writing without thinking about Megan at Velveteen Mind. She’s long winded in a poetic sort of sense. She won’t write daily, but when she does, you’ll sit down to read the entire.thing.
Do you remember those commercials, “If you love [over-priced well known fragrence], you’ll love [enter awesome but less expensive smell here]”? I feel like that with Blythe. She’s as funny as The Bloggess, as witty as Louis C K and more approachable than your best friend. She’s that awesome. Also? She’s my cyborg. (You’ll have to ask her to explain that.) Without a doubt, Blythe Jewell deserves the humor nomination as well as your undivided attention.
Someone who sort of just sprint in to the blogging scene with confidence and sparkle, for her writing and personality, is Jessica of Mamma’s Gone City. She’s adorable, her children are adorable, and she’s taking New York City by storm. Entertaining and Sassy, Jessica is living the opposite Pioneer Woman as she dives in to city living from her suburban home.
Hey Laura What started this year as well. It’s a wonderful resource for whole foodie types, hippies, family people, and smart people in general. Laura researches everything applicable to every question she receives giving advice on things from amber teething rings to making the best damn soup ever. Go ahead, research on her site, ask her anything you want, and be amazed at the wisdom that flies back at you. No, seriously.
Best Kept Secret
A best kept secret is here in Seattle. Sizzle is a blogger’s blogger. She’s entertaining and thoughtful and engaging. It’s almost like sitting at the coffee table with her. I swear she is talking DIRECTLY TO ME. Not you, no, well, maybe both of us. But her conversational style makes me think I talk to her every day. I wish I did.
The Spohrs are Multiplying is a fabulous journal about Heather and Mike and their new daughter Annabele. We watched in horror as their Maddie passed away and mourned with them as they leaned on the Internet for support. We loved them when they announced their pregnancy and we gave Annabele a high five in utero (ok, maybe that was just me.) Her writing draws us in but her family makes us stay. We love their humanism, we revel in their joy and we hope for their delight.
This category is easily the hardest one to narrow down so let me help you here. Lean close and listen carefully ‘cause I’m only gonna say this once. .... Today.
Busy Mom is a long standing blog of awesome. Consistently funny, smart and honest in a down-to-earth way, you can’t go wrong knowing Elizabeth. She’s a strong person with a great family going through the tweens and teens and defining herself as the person between them all. We’ve been there through her parents’ health troubles and watched her youngest grow from busy baby to busy school boy. You’ll love Elizabeth from day one and you’ll keep reading for five years. (If you’re anything like me, that is.)
Lea (ahem) embraced motherhood with more passion than most people I’ve read. We know her as Lea, the girl who is dating Simon, but her blog has grown along with her home. Watching her family take form is part of what makes her a friend. She shares her life of being a working mom and living in California. Her blog is as homey as her personality and I love going there. It’s like walking in to an old friend’s house where she already knows how you take your coffee.
Ok, look, everyone reads Amalah, right? I’m sure you do. But? If you don’t? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU. Amy doesn’t really NEED any sort of pimping at all but the thing about Amy is that it’s been, Oh, I dunno, FOREVER, and she continues to be amazing. She’s sort of what mommy blogging was before it was MOMMY BLOGGING OMG. Also? She’s pregnant again and that makes me every sort of happy because she makes adorable babies and we’re done growing human beings in our house. I’ll just snuggle hers. No, that’s not weird or anything.
Honestly, there’s more. But my leg hair has grown about seven inches during the writing of this one post and my children are currently jumping off high things with sharp objects yelling “TARZAN” and I’m pretty sure I was just fired from work because I forgot to show up yesterday. Oh, wait, yesterday was Sunday? Great. I need that job.
Go forth and spread joy, people. Spread the joy, the nominations and if nothing else, recommend a few good reads. We can all use more distractions, if they’re quality ones.