New Year’s Resolutions

Another New Year’s Resolution post!

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Except, I’m going to be honest with you. My three resolutions are continuations of resolutions I made some time ago. This is really just a reiteration and confirmation of what I’ve been doing.

January is an exceptionally busy month where I work. Not as bad as the end of November and into December, but it’s still year end close and all the tax work is due. That means this is one of the worst times of the year to make changes to my life, and I rely a great deal on routine to get me through it.

So, I start implementing my resolutions early. I wasn’t kidding when I said I was planner. Which is why I can’t figure out why I’m such a pantser when it comes to writing.

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My Three Resolutions:

  1. Write at least an hour a day. That can mean query letters, editing, blogging. Something in the craft to get me closer to my goal. I’ve been mostly doing this, but I want to keep up the momentum.
  2. Eat food before it goes bad. Didn’t see that one coming, did you? Our refrigerator is a black hole, and too often stuff goes in and I don’t find it until it’s sporting a mold colony. By eating what we buy, it saves us money and reduces our environmental footprint.
  3. Figure out how to get movement in despite the frozen winter. Going to the gym is a joke with two small children, a full time job, and a spouse. But I love going for walks spring through fall. Unfortunately, winter feels like it’s six months long here, and then my instinct to hibernate kicks in, especially when it’s dark both on my way to work and on my way home from work. I’ve been trying to fight this for the past month, and I’ve failed spectacularly. As I said, now might not be the best time to try to start a new habit, but there has to be ways I can get movement in that doesn’t rely on going outside.

 

How about you? What are your resolutions? Have you started on them? Do you think you’re likely to keep them?

Five Tools in the Battle Against Eczema

My daughter has eczema. She developed it around three months old, and it literally covered her body. I will not disgust you with pictures of what eczema, particularly on an infant, looks like. Trust me (or, if you don’t, Google it), it’s awful.

To “cure” it, (those of you who suffer from it or know someone who does, are laughing right now), we started with her pediatrician. After failing to get it under control for weeks, he referred us to a pediatric dermatologist She told us it appeared to be caused by an allergy. She referred us to pediatric allergist.

At this point, the allergist had my daughter and me (I was nursing at the time) remove all of the following from our diet for 16 weeks:

  • Peanuts
  • Seafood
  • Cow’s milk (including cheese, yogurt, etc.)
  • Tree Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Wheat

 

Imagine a diet without this for four months. No pizza. No bread. Nothing pre-packaged as most of it has wheat or soy or both in it.

Probably the healthiest I’ve ever eaten in my life, but it meant absolutely no going out to eat. If we went to a friend’s house, I had to pack my own food. But I did it because I’d do anything to make my baby not hurt and itch.

At the end of 16 weeks, there was no improvement. It wasn’t food based.

As we were going through this, I began to research.

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I read anything I could get my hands on regarding eczema. Reams of it. Some of it was good, a lot of it wasn’t.

 

Here Are 5 Things I Learned

1.It’s All About Moisture. – My daughter’s eczema clears up in the summer and comes back in the winter.  We are fortunate she doesn’t have it year round, and this gave us clues as to what was causing the issue.

Her skin is losing more moisture in the winter, and this is giving the eczema the weakness it needs to take hold.

I tried lots and lots of eczema friendly skin moisturizers. Best thing I found was coconut oil gently rubbed into her skin (dye free, and the scent is all natural). We follow this by slathering her with baby aquaphor.

 

2.Household Cleaners: Most of the cleaners we use aren’t eczema friendly. Goodbye Formula 409, hello apple cider vinegar.

 

3. Dryer Sheets – I learned about dryer sheets, why I shouldn’t use them, and what to replace them with (and that I had to wash out the inside of my dryer). I use these from an Etsy seller. She was super helpful about how the balls were made so I could be sure they were made in a way that wouldn’t further irritate.

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4. Detergents – I learned all about detergents, how they worked, and how they could cause eczema. This was HUGE. Detergents are in everything. Why? Because they are cheap and extremely effective.

I found a way to make homemade dish soap for our dishwasher. It works, but it’s not as good as detergent.

I still needed to tackle washing clothes and washing us.

Trying to find real soap (and not detergent in disguise – which darn near required me to get a chemistry degree) was incredibly hard. After a lot of searching, I eventually came across this place.

It’s amazing. Almost anything sold there is safe. Everything I have tried has smelled good and worked. It looks like the owner of the store might be a sufferer himself, and when he couldn’t find the products he needed, he went into business making them.

Nothing here is cheap, but it’s good stuff (and no, I’m not getting paid to say that). As a matter-of-fact, since switching over to these products, my husband no longer gets super -dry scaly hands in the winter.

5. Contact – I learned changing things out for just the little one wasn’t enough.  Any of us that touched or held her had to use the same products or the residue on our skin could inflame her eczema.  I had to wash all of our clothes as I did hers. We all had to use products that were okay for her.

 

We were fortunate. A combination of these techniques worked, and she is mostly eczema free. I just put in another order for the special hand soap as we’re getting low.

She still gets the occasional flare-up, and we have to reassess what might be causing it.

 

If you’ve ever had to deal with eczema, any tips on what you’ve tried? Anything work really well? If not eczema, something you ever spent a lot of time researching when traditional methods failed? What worked for you?

 

 

The Fear of Regret

“Enjoy it now, because you’ll miss it later,” is a refrain I hear all the time.

I have two small children, a spouse, I work full-time, and I carve out time to write.

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My life seems full of regret.

  • I regret the time I’m at work and not with my family.
  • I regret not pushing harder in my career.
  • I regret the time I spend writing.
  • I regret when I don’t write.

DD2 insists on being on my lap all the time. She’s going through a powerful “momma” phase, and while it’s super sweet, it also seriously limits my ability to stuff down around the house. If I try to slip away from her, she’ll grab my arm and pull it around her. If I leave her anyway, we have a full melt down including real tears.

I can’t walk away from that no matter what anyone says. She’s my toddler. So, yes, it’s a tough time for both us, but whenever I mention it, I’m told how much I’ll miss it when it’s gone.

Yes, I probably will. And, in a few months, I probably won’t remember the dishes that needed to get done, the floor that needed to be swept, or the laundry that needed to be folded.

I probably won’t regret how much time I spent holding her and being there for her.

But fear of regret holds me back.

Have I tried for some of the toughest jobs in my field? No, because I’m afraid I’ll regret spending less time with my family, that I won’t be the spouse and mother they need.

I feared I’d regret it if I didn’t dedicate myself to our family and soak up every precious moment. So when we decided to have that family, I put aside writing for years. How could I not regret taking time for writing when I only had a few hours with my spouse and daughter?

Yet, I also regret the years I didn’t spend writing. I frequently wonder where I would be and what I could be doing if I’d taken it more seriously. I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. It’s one of the few things that’s remained constant in my life.

I want to shove regret aside. Learn to live in the moment. Learn to follow my heart (and learn to accept a messy house with two small children).

 

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My role model!

 

How about you? Anything you don’t do because you’re afraid you’ll regret it? Or are you like a cat and regret nothing? Have you learned to accept a messy house?

The “Talk”

This is my daughter’s first year in public school. As part of their curriculum, they learn about Hanukkah and Kwanzaa as well as Christmas. So, I wasn’t entirely surprised when my daughter came home and told me she wanted to celebrate Hanukkah. I figured all the days of gifts would appeal to her, even though there is only one thing on her Christmas list. (One of the benefits of having Netflix and Amazon Prime rather than cable TV!)

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I explained to her that we aren’t Jewish, so we don’t celebrate Hanukkah. She’d have to wait for Christmas.

Then came the question. “What’s Jewish?”

I should’ve seen it coming, but I walked right into that trap.

I find myself trying to explain religion to a five-year-old, knowing she’s going to repeat everything back to her class and really not wanting a parent-teacher conference if it doesn’t come out of her mouth the same way it went into her ears.

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As I stumbled through, my husband came to my rescue and asked our daughter if she’d like to watch an episode of My Little Ponies before dinner. As she usually only gets TV after supper, she jumped at the chance and raced into the other room to watch Ponies.

He never said I owed him one, but I totally do. Just like he was the one that explained to her when our cat died. She wasn’t yet three, but he sat her down and explained that our kitty had gotten very sick and his body stopped working. He wouldn’t ever be coming home because he’d died.

There it was. Simple as that, and she accepted it. Sort of. She would repeat his words at what seemed like random times to me, but it helped her get through it. And she never asked to see him or for him to come home.

While he saved me on this conversation, my husband did remind me that we have daughters. There’d be another “talk” they’d need to get, and that was coming from me. Not sure that’s a fair trade…

 

 

Kitten + Toddler = Well-Loved Tree

The presents have been purchased for sometime now and are all wrapped and ready to go. My oldest daughter really gets Christmas this year, so that’s been fun.

My youngest daughter doesn’t really get it, but she has learned the words: Get out of the tree!!  And listens. Mostly. Okay, not at all. She must be physically plucked from the tree, and the moment her feet are on the floor, she’s right back into it.

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She took this as a personal challenge. And won.

She can be distracted with toys, books, and cuddles.

Our kitten, on the other hand, has no such weaknesses. There are no baby gates high enough and no squirt bottles wet enough. I have literally soaked him with a water bottle, and he will not get away from the tree. He has broken four branches, yes, broken them, and destroyed ornaments I didn’t think could be broken.

He steals ornaments off the tree and hides them. The big red Santa has been missing since the day the tree went up.

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Some of you are thinking I should’ve seen this coming. Except that I’ve had cats since I was a about seven and not one of them was this obsessed with a Christmas tree.

While our Christmas tree won’t make the cover of any magazine or blog spots, it’s been well-loved and brought a lot of joy (if also a lot of fussing).  We were smart enough to not even bother putting any breakable ornaments on the tree, and we saved the really sentimental ones for another year.

 

How about you? Ever have a pet, child, or someone else mess with your holiday decorations? Perhaps even destroy them? Any tips or tricks on how to protect them?

Why Books?

Why do I choose to spend my time reading and writing with everything else in this world that competes for my attention?

Television. Movies. Games. Twitter. Facebook.

Whatever is your choice of diversion. But I’ve chosen books. Why?

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For one, I read romance novels, fantasy, and then Sci Fi. I dislike most romantic comedies, so once you exclude those, you’re really not left with much to choose from in the romance category. I can only watch Pride & Prejudice so many times.

Only recently has fantasy and sci fi really gotten any Hollywood love. Even then, there’s only a handful of movies and unless they have huge budgets, they look awful.

At least compared to my imagination.

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Looks like these astronauts are on Triton. There’s a story here…

And then there are the characters. Books, good books, do characters right. I am ecstatic when the bad guy goes down, and I love it when the hero wins because I’m invested in them. It’s much easier to invest me in a character via a book than a movie. That’s just the nature of the genres. I can actually see what the character is thinking and feeling. A good actor can get some of that across, but not like a good author.

TV shows,far more than movies, have a lot of potential for character development, but oftentimes, networks beat their shows to death rather than giving them a graceful ending. I can think of several right now, but X-Files always comes to mind first.

While I love an immersive video game RPGs, so many of them do wrong by the characters. *cough* Danse in Fallout 4 *cough* I feel like video games could be so much more, but they’re not there yet. Maybe they’ll never be. But I can hope. They feel like the closest to books to me, and I love the interactive aspect.

My favorite past time other than reading and writing is playing table top RPGs run by a competent DM. For those not familiar, this means games likes Dungeons & Dragons. Sure, they’ve gotten a bad rap, but our group of friends are all quite respectable and many hold very highly-paid day jobs. No basement dwellers among us, and no one lives at home.

But tabletop RPGs gets back to characters again. A good DM sets up the world and then turns the characters you’ve made loose in it. Yes, they keep the story going, but they never railroad you or force you to do dumb things to keep their plot going. They improvise to keep the players happy and interested. To keep them focused on what’s going on and engaged in the world.

Characters are what keeps me reading and writing.

How about you? What makes you read when you could be doing something else?