Dreams of the Undead

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A friend at work and I were talking recently. And the topic of her husband being a little clingy came up. We have talked about this before. Her husband is not a bad guy but just tends to be a little possessive at times. But the end of the conversation told me something about myself that I wasn’t aware of.

Friend- He told me that he doesn’t get much sleep because he is thinking about me.

Me- That is a little creepy. Sounds like he is stalking you. Or watching you while you sleep. Even if he means he was dreaming about your that is weird.

Friend- I know. Do you dream about your husband all the time though?

Me- No… (me thinking) I mostly dream about zombies.

Friend- That is a little weird too.

Me- Yeah, I am not sure what that says about me.

To clarify I have been watching a lot of The Walking Dead. In fact I have binge watched the entire series so I think zombie dreams are normal, right? RIGHT!?

TA DA!

I Resolve to Not Resolve!

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So here we are in January of 2015. And I have no doubt that there are millions of people out there working on their New Year’s Resolutions. Good for you! I am sure that gym memberships are on the rise. The sales of smoking cessation products have increased as well. More power to you. I think that these are great goals and if you are one of the people who have made one of these resolutions, I wish you great luck.

In the past I have made resolutions. I have been somewhat successful and I have been a miserable failure. I have vowed to lose weight. I have promised to drink more water. Well, I am still a fat girl and I still drink more caffeine than I care to admit at times. This year, I decided that I was not going to make any resolutions. Take that New Year!

Sure, I am trying to drink more water. As always, I am wanting to read more. But I am looking at these things as more of a goal than a resolution. I have set my reading goal on http://www.goodreads.com so that is still going to happen. I may fail some days or I may do great. But I am not going to beat myself up.

This year I am focusing on being more positive and trying to give back to the community/world/universe whatever. This year I am trying to be more in the moment. No worrying about what has happened or will happen, but on what is at hand. There are endless things to worry about. “What if?” can be a great game at times but it can lead you down a dark rabbit hole also. One thing that I have learned, the older that I get, is that change is inevitable. And even when things do change, we always somehow, someway adapt.

I bought myself a beautiful bracelet to help me focus on doing good (www.100gooddeeds.org) I have tried to check myself when complaining creeps in. The slight case of road rage that I have previously mentioned… Well that is a work in progress. I think that what I am attempting to do, is rather than change myself is be a better version of myself.

Wow! That sounds preachy or hipster or something like that. Not my intention, I promise. I think that what I am finally understanding is that a resolution for me, if something that goes to the wayside within a couple of weeks. But optimism, well that just a perspective.

So Happy New Year to you all. I wish you success in your resolutions, goals or perspectives. And thanks for reading my ramblings. It means much more than you realize, to me.

TA-DA!

Podcast Heaven

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A little over a year ago, I discovered the fantastic world of podcasts. As usual, I am late to the party. But, better late than never, as they say. With the runaway success of the Serial podcast, however, I am feeling like I am a little ahead of the game for a change.

On a suggestion from my husband’s BFF, I checked out the podcast app on iTunes. I can’t recall now what my first podcast was but I quickly fell in love with this fabulous media format. It was like talk radio on my own terms and time. Glorious!

I have learned new things. So many new things! I have become a new fan of celebrities, singers, authors and comics. I discovered GISHWHES, and if you have been reading any amount of time, you will know how important that is to me. I have laughed out loud at my desk at work. I am always entertained. The nice thing about podcasts, for me, is the learning.

I was one of those kids that liked school. I love learning new things. The sad thing with life, is that once you finish formal schooling and fall into a career, your learning decreases. Unless, you pursue knowledge, if does not always happen. Not to imply that people don’t continue to learn throughout their lives but rather that their vastness of topics becomes smaller. So this is one way for me to add to my trivial knowledge of the world.

One of my favorite podcasts is The Nerdist podcast. It is a bit geeky and a bit funny but I have learned new things about new people from it. Hey, trivial knowledge is still knowledge. You never know, I could have a shot as a Jeopardy champion some day…

I have listened to a couple different podcast from Kevin Smith’s SMODcast network. Hollywood Babble On and Edumacation are my favorites. They are a bit irreverent but still funny. Edumacation is irreverent but great for learning new things.

I like Call Your Girlfriends. Occasionally I listen to What’s the Tee? with RuPaul. We all need our drag queen fix from time to time. The Bugle with John Oliver & Andy Zaltzman. If you like John Oliver’s show on HBO, this is a great podcast but is focuses on European news from a satirical stand point. I love the Say What podcast. And have enjoyed The Alton Browncast but there has not been a new episode in some time. (Insert sad face here)

One of the best producers of podcasts is NPR. Now, I must admit that I have never really been an NPR listener. (Not that classy of a girl, I guess). A friend recommended a podcast to me called How To Do Everything. They are short lessons in how different things work or answering listeners questions. I like that they are usually less than a 1/2 hour. From How to do Everything, I started listening to the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. I love the slightly upscale look at various pop culture topics. I love that some of the hosts are in my age range. And recently I started listening to Ask Me Another. Which is a game show but presented in a bit of a nerdy way. Seriously, who can resist that?

And well there was Serial. Oh, Serial! I loved this podcast, It was addicting. I somehow managed to save a couple of the last episodes for a couple of weeks after the last episode aired due to my denial that it was over. If you aren’t up on the hype about Serial, do catch up! (www.serialpodcast.org) Sarah Koenig, you are brilliant! I can’t wait for Season 2.

I will admit that I can’t always keep up with the volume of new episodes. Obviously, from my sporadic blog posts on occasion, my free time, is at times, a luxury. But I know that I can always learn something new from of these delicious little radio programs.

It never hurts to check out new media. And there is definitely something for everyone. Just look, you will see. Happy Listening!

TA-DA!

The Nothing Vacation

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First, Happy New Year readers. Thanks for sticking with me. I hope that your 2015 has started out well and will be a great one.

I have taken the last two weeks of the year off as vacation for the last several years. I get a decent amount of vacation every year, and Ed doesn’t, so it is not like we can take too much time off together. I figure that take these two weeks off helps reduce Holiday stress, my niece’s are off school and I can hang out with them, plus with the holidays in there I don’t have to use two full weeks of vacation time. It is a win-win for me.

The funny thing about taking vacation is that everyone asks where you are going or what are you doing. My answer has always been no where or nothing. True, I am not going away to somewhere exotic or warm. But it dawned on me this week that I did not do nothing. I did all kinds of stuff. And it is perfect.

By the time that I go back to work next week, I will have had a total of 17 days off.
I will have celebrated three holidays [Christmas, New Years and my birthday.] I have cleaned my house several times. I have taking in our recycling, donations and e-waste. I have listened to 6 podcasts. Finished two books. Read the whole pile of magazines on my coffee table. Caught up on several shows on my DVR. Watched most of th 1st season of Orange is the New Black [Finally…] Slept in. Had lab work done. Renewed my driver’s license. Had a mammogram. Had a job interview. Kept my e-mail in box to a reasonable level. Had a Twilight movie marathon with Niece #1. At the time of this writing seen two movies in the theater, with one more pending. Hung out with friends and cousins. Cooked bigger meals, that I don’t normally have time for. Made tamales. Made cheesecake. Watched football and more football. Snuggled with my dogs. Packed away my Christmas decorations for another year.

I have had a lovely vacation. But I have certainly not done nothing. I have relaxed, and been more positive. I have found time for all those things that I normally don’t get to do. I have spent time with people who I love. That is never nothing. I would prefer that the time off were not coming to an end. I could really get used to getting paid for being at home, but I supposed that is too much to ask for.

So as we begin a new year, with new resolutions, new outlooks and a clean slate, I encourage a little more of this “nothing.” It is very good for you.

TA-DA!

All Hail the USPS

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I love the mail. I have loved the mail since I was a kid. I remember making silly construction paper mail boxes to hang on my bedroom door, for my mom to put my mail in. Because you know just how much mail kids get.

I admit that one of the highlights of my day is seeing what we have gotten in the mail. It is true, that as an adult, I get more bills than other mail but it is still an adventure. We have a P.O. Box and I think part of the reason why we continue to keep it, is because somewhere in my sad little brain I think of it as an adventure to go get the mail.

I remember as a child writing away for free stickers or information packets. One year I wrote to every Major League Baseball team to request a schedule. I wish that I could explain why I did this, but I can’t really. Well, other than I love baseball and I love getting mail. I mean at the time that was 30 potential pieces of mail that came to me.

I had multiple pen pals from other countries. I wrote letters to my cousins. All for the love of the correspondence. I am a little sad that this era is gone. I do love the ease of a text message, but it does not have the specialness of getting a hand written letter in the mail. It was knowing that the person sending you this treat had taken the time to sit and write to you. They spent a small part of their day thinking about you.

I realized the other day, while at my P.O. Box, that one of my favorite parts of the Holiday season was sending and receiving Christmas Cards. I liked that those people took a little time to actually send you a card. Now, most people order their photo cards from Costco, our house included. But, it is still that investment of time. I made an attempt to take a second to send a happy thought to every person/family that we sent Christmas cards out to this year. (Those of you that read my blog, hope you felt it!)

It saddens me that Christmas Cards are a dying art. (I think that greeting card industry as a whole is a dying art.) I have noticed over the last few years that regular boxed cards are not as plentiful. The full aisle of cards that used to exist every year at Target is not a partial aisle shared with endless gift bags.

There is a part of me that wants to start a trend to bring back Christmas cards or we could even call it Holiday correspondence. (#BringBackChristmasCards , anyone?) I will take that Costco photo card any day, because it means that my friends took that time out for me. Plus seeing all those pictures is pretty nice.

Now, I am not going to give up my technology, but I might make a little more effort to send a note to friends this year. And you definitely won’t see me giving up the Christmas cards.

So, I hope that your Holiday season is cruising along slowly. And I hope that your mailbox is filled with Christmas cards.

TA-DA!

Blame the Zebras

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A couple of weeks ago, my husband finished up his third year as a football referee for a local association. He works at local high school and youth games. He truly loves doing it and I could never not support something that makes him happy. The truth of the matter is, I kind of dig him doing it too.

Ed loves sports. He played sports growing up, and continues to participate in some local rec leagues for various other sports. It is part of his hard wiring. He has an amazing mind for stats and dates and teams and all that. I have become much more of a sports fan than I ever was thanks to him. So, I can see that the desire to participate as an official is somewhat natural. Had we had children, I have no doubt that he would have coached on some level.

It is pretty cool to watch him as a referee. He knows what he is doing. It makes me proud to see him have such command of the field. Granted, he is not alone out there, he is part of a crew, but he has such confidence. There is truly something about seeing the person that you love really take pride and have joy in something that they do. Not to mention, it is exciting every week to see where he will be scheduled and who is on his crew. I have met a few of the other officials but I hear so much about them, I feel like I know them. There is a great deal of camaraderie in officiating.

When my oldest nephew played football, and we still sat in the stands with the other parents/family, we would overhear the people around us complaining about a call. Everything is always blamed on the refs. They would always assume that the refs come from the town of the opposing team. When the truth is, they just didn’t know the rules. Now, I am a little more defensive because one of those refs is mine. Refs are human and at times calls are wrong. After all they are human, but they take a great deal of time learning the rules. Rule changes happen every year, they have meetings and discussions about these things. They take tests that they have to pass. Officials take these things seriously. I have corrected people on FB, who were complaining about the refs in their kids youth game. I guess when in doubt blame the zebras.

One thing that I can assure you is that the referee’s do not hold a grudge against your team or city or your kids for that matter. These men truly take pride in their performance as an official. And they love the game.

So, Ed is packing up his ref bag, and hanging is uniforms in the back of the closet for the season. I am sure that he will not miss the sore muscles from running, or the rainy, muddy fields. But I do know that he will miss reffing. And I will just a bit too.

Don’t hate on the stripes, folks! They are a necessary part of the game. Zebras are people too!

TA-DA!

Positive Thinking & All That Stuff

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I have been told that I am sometimes perceived at work as being pessimistic. This was a bit of a blow, as I don’t generally see myself this way. But in thinking about this, I can see that I may be less than positive at times. I know that I don’t always make the best first impression. It is not that my intention is to be negative, but I observe procedures and rules and try to see the pros & cons. Apparently, people hear me speaking the cons more than the pros. It is something that I am working on.

Recently, I had a minor tiff with a co-worker/friend, who I trust and whose opinion I value greatly. And when he reminded me of this negative perception at times, I was hurt and upset. Of course, I dwelled on it for several days, because I spend waaaayyyy too much time in my own head. And I realized why this was so upsetting to me….. I do not want to be my mother. The fear of many people, becoming my parent.

I have said before that I mean no disrespect to my mom. She is not a bad person. But she is not the most encouraging, touchy-feely, Leave it to Beaver type mom. She never has been, so this is not new to me. She has good traits but being the first person that I would turn to for comfort is not one. Sometimes when I spend too much time with my extended family, I can feel the negative energy, and it is not a good feeling. This is not something that I want to be known for.

So, I have been trying to focus on more positive thinking. Small things here and there. November is a good month to do this because you are already supposed to be thankful for things, right? I have started my daily FB post of what I am thankful for. That is positive. It may be something as simple as the Starbucks Caramel Brulee Latte being back, or that my husband (despite being a frustrating pain at times) is really amazing and perfect for me. Maybe it is cheesy, but I like it and I will continue doing it every November as long as I am on FB.

Then, I came across a meme on FB that challenged one to try not complaining for 24-hours. In theory, it is the start of being a better person. Okay, sure, I can give this a try.

So I make the decision to be cognizant of my complaining. I think that the first try lasted about an hour. And then there was something silly that Ed did or didn’t do. You know that complaint that couples have about a chore at the house being neglected (Ed- I know that you are reading this. Please do the dishes.) So there went that challenge. So I give myself a break and decide that I will give it another shot.

So the next day, I get up with a fresh start. I am getting ready for work, and all is going well. Until I get downstairs to find a “gift” that one of my sweet little Dachshunds has left for me. (Dog Shaming moment- Otty, everyone at our house knows it was you.)

Okay, minor set back. We can keep this up! And then I get in the car to drive to work. I am realize that I am a failure. I am unable to forego complaining whilst driving…. My name is Jenn and I have a teensy problem with road rage.

So I finished the challenge at work the rest of the day. And I have proven to myself, that I am unlikely to go 24-hours without complaining once. Try it! It is not easy. But by making the effort to complain less, I am feeling less weighed down. The day went better. And birds sang, and clouds rolled by. Wait, never mind, that was not me, but a nice thought regardless.

I am me and this is not going to change. But I can be a better version of me. I just need to aware of what I am giving off. Am I going to seem too focused at times or too serious? Yes, that is the same Jenn that I have always been. Will my first impressions seem a little better? Perhaps. Will it still take time to really get to know me? Probably. But just trying to be aware of the world as a whole and not just my own little realm is a good place to start.

The people who really know me will tell you that I am loyal, reliable, kind of airheaded at times, a little snarky and that I have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy. But not every one gets that from me. It takes time.

That same co-worker/friend that I had the tiff with recently told me that he has “no bad days.” That is truly an awesome way to look at life. (Thanks B, For your unique words of wisdom! As crazy as it makes me, you do have good insight at times. And I truly could not appreciate you more. I will give him credit when it is due!) I am not sure that it will always happen but if the good days outnumber the bad then the world is a better place. Even if it is just my own world. Things could always be worse.

The holidays are fast approaching, so it is just a good time to make these changes in thinking. Make the world a better place a little at a time. It is not going to always be easy, but if each day a little less negativity pops its head up in your life, it is progress!

TA-DA!

My Favorite Things!

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Yesterday, Oprah released her favorite things for 2014. My deskmate, Jodi, and I clicked through the list of 72 items discussing them here and there (all while working of course.) So, here I sit a day later still thinking about Oprah’s favorite things. I realize that this may be blasphemous to some to speak ill of Oprah, but GIVE ME A BREAK!

The items in Oprah’s favorite things list are a list of self-promoting, overpriced things that most of us cannot afford and do not truly need (Rustic Sourdough bread for $150??? REALLY!?!) Sure, some of them would be nice but seriously, there was maybe one item on her list that I would consider purchasing. And I highly doubt that O paid for these lovely trinkets, instead received the items as “gifts.” It is brilliant marketing- Send your product to Oprah, if she likes it and shares that info, you then have an instant hit.

What I got to thinking about was, what would be on my list of favorite things? Not that anyone really cares, but if people stop their day to find out what Oprah loves this year, then why can’t I write in my blog about my own favs?

Sorry kids, no one gets free items or even a discount for reading my list but here it goes:

Toms Slip-on Shoes http://www.toms.com
$48 +
Toms are not the best at supporting your feet, and I don’t recommend them for a day of standing and/or full city sightseeing but I love these shoes. I love what the company stands for, and the versatility of the differing styles. I just wish that Toms had been around when I got married because there would be no question that would have been my first choice in wedding shoes.

Cuisipro Cupcake Corer
$5 (I found mine on Amazon.com)
Yes, I realize that everyone is not an obsessive cupcake maker like myself, but this little tool is the best $5 I have ever spent in my life. It makes filling cupcakes ridiculously easy.

Starbuck’s Caramel Brulee Latte http://www.starbucks.com
Prices vary based on size.
This is my favorite Holiday treat. The red cups show up and I know that I have a couple of months worth of happiness. I love you CBL!

It’s A 10 Leave in Treatment http://www.itsa10haircare.com/conditioner-products/
I like the Lite version of this product because I have fine hair, but this is a great product to tame my sometimes wild hair. We all need a little more conditioning from time to time.

Klean Kanteen Vacuum Insulated Coffee Mug http://www.kleankanteen.com
$30
This is the best travel coffee mug that I own. I can leave my house at 6:30 coffee and it is still warm 5 hours later. Ed has used it with a cold beverage and still had ice several hours later as well. I love the Klean Kanteen brand. I love their stance on green products. And full disclosure, the company is based in my little city.

So that is a taste of some of my favorite things. I am not Oprah, but enjoy! Sure there are not any trios of T-shirts for $214 but realistic everyday things that make my life a little happier. Hope that you are all enjoying some of your favorite things & people! And maybe some of my favs will become your favs!

TA-DA!

I Think That I Missed the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

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I love Halloween. It is my favorite holiday. Yes, yes Christmas is awesome, but it is not Halloween. I love the costumes. I love the real ghost story specials on cable (You can go ahead and be a skeptic if you want to, I am saying real ghost stories.) The “BOO” gifts left for you at work. And the candy is good too. What is not to love?

As a general rule, my nieces and I start discussing costumes and such around the beginning of September. And the first visits to the pop-up Halloween stores start not long after. This is serious business and it takes planning. I have had years, in the past, where three costumes were needed.

Halloween decorations go up on the first of October. I have only got a month, I am making the best of it. The spider lights, the light up pumpkins, the annoying but yet cool spider webs. All of it goes up. And I add to that collection every year (much to the spare bedroom closet’s dismay.)

But this year has been different. Somehow, all that has gotten away from me. Yes, the decorations went up on time (a day early in fact.) But all else seems to have taken a back burner to life. The girls & I did not hit up the Halloween stores until early October. What? Normally, we would have been there 3 or 4 times by then. The annual Halloween party that Ed & I go to, had no costume planned for it until a week before. There was no visit to the costume rental place to find something great. My out-of-town niece and nephews do not have Halloween cards purchased for them yet. None of it.

And I sit here thinking, what is going on?

The answer is… I don’t know, it must just be life.

The truth of the matter is, I feel like everything is running behind anymore. There never seems to be enough time, or money, or sometimes, energy. And I can’t understand what has happened. This is not a new feeling, it has been coming on for a while. Birthday cards are not sent out like clockwork, as I used to do. (Blame placed on both Facebook and the Hallmark store in town closing). Birthday presents to not-near family is late (Nephew #1, your card is on my desk, it will be a birthday plus 1 month present). Holiday cards are not ordered and ready to go by the beginning of December. The DVR is always full. I can’t seem to find time to site and write on a blog that is important to me. On and on…

None of this is the end of the world type stuff but it is hard for my OCD brain to deal with. Eventually, it all works out. But I have to wonder; Is it just me?

So there are 10 more days until Halloween. And I plan to make the most of them. The costume came together for the party last weekend. We were referees. Not a stretch since my husband really is a football referee but it worked. There will be plenty of Haunted House TV on for the next week. And I am sure there will be candy.

So maybe I missed the Great Pumpkin sitting in the pumpkin patch. There is always next year.

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On another quick note, today is my 14th wedding anniversary. I have not forgotten this and was prepared with a card and a small gift by today. It just amazes me that 14 years have flown by. I won’t actually see Ed until tonight because of work, meetings and niece’s basketball games. But is it nice to celebrate, in my mind, this milestone. I mean, in today’s standard, 14 years is quite an accomplishment.

So on that note. I hope that so much time does not pass again until I can write. Thanks for sticking with me and Happy Halloween.

TA-DA!

What the Young Know (or Don’t)

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With school being back in, I will sit with Niece #1 and #3 on Mondays, doing their homework. Niece #1 no longer needs my help, but Niece #3 does. And I think that she likes having someone help her.

This past week, we were working on her English homework. The assignment was out of a book that was at least 20 years old, or so it appeared (Way to Go California Public Education System!) On the cover of the book, there was a photo of a cassette tape.

Me- My goodness! This book is so old. I bet that you don’t even know what that picture is.

#3- Yes I do!

Me- What is it?

#3- It is a record!

Me- (Shaking my head…) No it isn’t. It is a cassette tape!

#3- Same thing.

And at that point, I am reminded that I am truly old.

TA-DA!