Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Embracing Self Care - Taking Some R&R

tiverylucky @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
It's kind of funny that this week's theme is rest and relaxation, considering LAST week was my spring break. We all know that doesn't necessarily mean R&R, though, right? Especially whilst chasing around a little boy with more energy than half a high school football team and emptying, painting, and re-filling the dining room.

But, the truth is that this week is more about finding healthy ways of treating ourselves. Of finding that rest and relaxation in a healthy, self-kind (totally made that word up) way. In my mind, it's also about a couple of the issues I addressed during my "self assessment": life balance and making time for "us" (having fun together as a couple, having fun together as a three-peas-in-a-pod family, etc).

I thought it'd be helpful to make a list of the things that I think *would be achievable* to help bring some rest/relaxation/fun into my world (solo), our world (couple), and our world (family).

For ME:

- Reading. For me, this involves turning off the TV at the end of the day and MAKING myself read. Sounds weird, being a librarian and all, but the fact is still that I'm beyond exhausted (even if I go to bed at 9) and if the TV's on, I simply won't relax or be able to focus on what I'm reading. I literally have a STACK of books and magazines next to my bed that I've started but haven't been able to chip away at.

First things first, though. I need to look them over and see which ones I'm actually in the mood for. It feels daunting to see a stack 20 books high waiting to be read, like anxious puppies all vying for your attention. Guilt, guilt, guilt. So, the ones I'm waiting on will go in another stack, far far away from my guilt-ridden eyes. The ones I WANT (3, max) will sit...and will be read. I may not turn off the TV every single night, but every other night, it will be done. Oh, yes.

- That whole meditation thing. I talked about this during my spirituality self care conversation, but think that it overlaps into the rest and relaxation side of things, too. Finding one's center can soooooo help in handling the other side of the seesaw, can't it? 

- Research. Wait, is that fun? When it's my guilty pleasure of trolling ancestry.com to discover enthralling facts about my ancestors and family tree, yes. The only issue here is that the only time I tend to find to dig around is at the end of the day, pre-bedtime (and often overlapping well into bedtime...last weekend I was up until 2am one night). So, I've gotta figure out the balance between reading, ensuring that I actually pay attention to my husband after the baby goes down, and sleep in order to allow myself time to do this stuff.

For US (couple):


- Engage more. We are SO good at living life next to each other. You know the way: living in the "now" (not in that good way), making sandwiches next to each other, discussing issues ahead for that given day, scooping cat poop and changing diapers and chasing a naked toddler around...but not really TALKING to each other, or checking in about, "Hey, how you doin'?" or, well, lots of things.

I talk to my kids about "being engaged" and "actively listening and participating", but I've gotta check in with him to see how he sees us doing this. I swear we email each other more during the day about personal issues we're having than we discuss them in "real life." Not that that's a bad thing....


- Date. We haven't done this a lot since Hadman came around, but truth be told, we didn't do it much beforehand, either. Maybe back in our "courting" days (man, I sound like a Duggar; a Duggar, I ain't...love them, though), we did this, but the time, energy, and money don't seem there for this.

The time, I understand, but we haven't managed our time great lately. Energy...well, yeah, ya got me there. Our "dating places" tend to be 30 minutes in each direction, so it isn't an easy thing just to go out to dinner or hit up a movie. If I'm totally honest, though, these are all silly excuses. A date doesn't HAVE to be going some place special -- or even some place, at all. Dang it, we've got a Redbox about 4 blocks from our house, Dave makes the best air-popped organic popcorn EVER, and we can totally swing some half-caff to keep our eyes open after the baby hits the hay. (I'm talkin' a Friday or Saturday night.) On the other side, I'm dying to get to a REAL movie sometime, and I know he's talked a lot about hitting up Beardslee or some other locavore haunt, so the time's upon us.

For US (family):

- Plan. Sometimes the planning is as much excitement and fun as the actual doing. The anticipation and preparation for a vacation (even just an overnight trip of some sort) is enough to give you energy to see through the really sucky or depressing times. Plus, planning a totally family-oriented trip means that you'll be better prepared for traveling with a toddler and foreseeing his needs (such as planning plenty of stops to run around a grassy area -- one of his favorite things) makes the actual trip run way smoother. Win-win!

- Enjoy the now (in the good way). I mentioned "living in the now" before, but now I mean it in that "enjoy the good moments, for they'll be gone before you know it; enjoy the bad moments, for they're not so bad in the long run" sort of way. It'd be easy to get downtrodden with how many meltdowns Hadman has. It'd be easy to get downtrodden by how many times I find myself not yet showered (for time sake, I shower at night), with zero dinner plans, a fussy baby who also needs a bath, and a looming bedtime. Craziness. But, it's not the end of the world.


Above all, the best way to get some rest and relaxation is to cut yourself...and your loved ones...some slack. Isn't it strange that we're harsher on ourselves than we'd ever be on an enemy?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Blogiversary 4.0

Tomorrow's Earth Day again, and you know what that means! Well, maybe you don't, but let's pretend you already know that it's my...


Yep! This marks my fourth year blogging. Pretty cool, huh? Also super cool that I share my blogiversary with Earth Day. It's only appropriate, really, although I realize I haven't written many "green posts" lately. We're just livin' it everyday, is all. This is one of my favorite weeks of the year, though, except for that whole "spring break is over" thing.

My mind was blown and I was wicked humbled when we topped 2,000 views last month -- one day being the brunt of the views with 753...yes, in one day! (I still haven't figured that out...and I MUST KNOW! I'm blaming a computer glitch. ;-)) Overall, we've had shy of 35,000 views. Considering last year we had close to 16,000 (and only around 6,000 [or 9,000, depending on who's doing the math...which would be me...which means they're probably both off] the year before), I'm floored. And happy. And, again, humbled. It's just nice to know that I'm not just writing for myself. Well, I AM, but I'm not...y'know what I mean?

I thought today I'd share a story of my love affair.

Um, no. Not that one. Or any of them, for that matter.

This is the story of my long love affair with the world wide web.

When we were kids, "computer class" was all about playing Oregon Trail and maybe even typing a paper up...maybe. That was kinda it. And I loved it. My family had an ancient Mac that my dad used, but my oldest brother got to use it after Dad passed...and I don't really remember what happened to it after that. So, our weekly computer class was pretty much the peanut butter to my jelly. Yes, I even preferred it to library. (I didn't always see eye-to-eye with my librarian in elementary school. I am TOO ready to read Little House in the Big Woods!! Forget you, lady.)

Then, one of my best friends (who happened to be better off than my family; the things we didn't wonder or feel weird about when we were kids) got a computer. It was housed in her parents' room, and every once in awhile we'd be allowed to use it. I can still remember that god-awful sound of the dial-up internet screeching and crackling making its eventual connection to the outside world. I loved it. I loved it more than my friend did, so I'm sure I irritated her when I'd (almost constantly) ask if we could hop on the computer almost every time I visited. The obsession had begun.

What did we do on this oh-so-new contraption? Why, go into chat rooms, of course! I look back and consider how a) stupid and b) innocent I was about those people we were talking to from, oh, everywhere.

I started to save up for my own computer, but given their extreme expense, I just couldn't swing it. Cue my mother's marriage to my stepdad when I was in 8th grade.

Shortly thereafter, he purchased us a laptop. A heavy, square-ish, clunky gray laptop whose fan ran at jet-level propulsion speeds and whose graphics took an hour (or more) to load. Those were the days when we'd turn it on, go let the dog out, pour some cereal, finish our social studies homework, then go back to the computer to click on Internet Explorer. Type in site (Geocities, anyone? Monkees.net? I can't remember the other chat rooms I used; probably Yahoo), continue doing chores, let dog in, see that half of Peter Tork's face has appeared on the computer screen, finish eating cereal...and the beat goes on.

Eventually, AIM (for those too young, it was AOL's Instant Messenger, and it saw me through high school and college before MySpace) made communicating with friends from school insanely convenient and faster than a phone call. I got into writing some Monkees fanfic and started researching other musicians I enjoyed. Heck, I even "met" some fans and for the first time didn't feel like quite such an outcast for my interests.

I still recall the time we got home; my mother, Jerry and I, from Christmas Eve mass. I jumped online and found (probably from Napster, of all places) an old Bing Crosby Christmas radio show (on our fancy schmancy desktop -- movin' up in the world!) that bellowed throughout the first floor of our house. It was probably one of the first times my mom didn't despise the computer.

Years later, I've logged countless hours, as have many of us, on several computers. I now have a smartphone -- a thing that my stepdad predicted in the '90s would exist someday -- and a brand new less-than-$500 laptop that does far more, far faster than any of the $2,000+ models of yore.

Today, I still use social media -- namely Facebook, but I'm trying to learn G+, as well as Twitter (on rare occasion), Pinterest, and Instagram -- but don't have to seek out social interaction with strangers as I once did. I'm far more guarded and, hopefully, wiser about my choices on the web. I still over-share (here I am, blogging!) But, I still find my time easily getting sucked up with articles about child-rearing, blogs about how to DIY your own art, and quizzes (things never change there) about which movie character you are.

But, what's my favorite thing to do with the WWW these days? (You know, ASIDE from taking addictive Buzzfeed quizzes.) Tied with blogging comes...

Ancestry.com.

I swear, I'm 90.

It's the weird "gotta find stuff out" research-based side of my brain meeting the romantic history-obsessed side in a glorious series of late-nighters. Yeah, the only time I can get much family tree-ing done in when Hadley's asleep...um, and Dave. Generally next to me in bed. Snoring.

It's an adrenaline rush when you start to see pre-Civil War (and Revolutionary War) years and names popping up. When you're given extra reading to really LEARN the story behind the names, or when you realize that your direct ancestor is laid to rest at a famous historical cemetery that you've visited several times while touring Boston (or, hell, at a tiny historical cemetery less than 15 miles away at the old homestead...that I've never perused), it's exhilarating. Looking up further web sites for information about historical events those names took part in helps the names to walk and move and even talk a little.

So, that's what I'm doing thanks to good ol' technology these days. What about you? How different is your computer experience today than it was, say, 20 years ago? Clearly, you're reading my blog, so I want to give you a HUGE hug (you know the kind...the full-on happy squeeze one) and say "thanks!!!" with a tear in my eye for using a few minutes of your precious time stopping by.

While you're responding below about what you're doing on the Internet these days (um...I should say "keep it clean," but I really don't care ;-)), feel free to let me know what you LIKE, LOVE, and think NEEDS IMPROVING here at Meg, Acting Out. Any feedback helps SO much, guys!

Friday, April 18, 2014

FINALLY!!!

I've spoken often of my disdain for the closed-in, burgundy monstrosity that is my dining room. Well, I can finally say that in the past tense. Ding dong, the red is dead!! For memory's sake, here's a fuzzy old picture. I tried my best to deal with it, really I did!



Just. So. Dang. DARK.

Things take twice as long when scheduling around an almost 2-year-old, don't they? Enter "bursts", stage left. I took an afternoon to empty everything out (lots o' crap in that room, I tell ya! One compound word: bookshelf), a full day to prime (with two coats of trim) and paint (again, two coats of trim for some odd reason), another nap time to prime the baseboard/built-ins/windows/kitchen door, still another nap time to paint the aforementioned stuff white...and let's just say I haven't put everything back in yet. Goodbye, Spring Break! :-P

I'm too excited not to share a couple of crappy iPhone pictures, though. :-D Can you hear me squealing where you live? It might also be my husband, though. He didn't want the red gone, but has since changed his tune and LOVES how open it is. I can't blame him. It's a huge, awesome change.



In some light, it's a light tan/beige with a gray undertone. In other lights (such as the weird, overly-bright shot here), it looks green. I promise you it's the perfect shade of greige (read: beige + gray) with no blue or flesh or purple undertones. Actually, no green undertones, either. Just the perfect neutral.

I still need to (obviously) fill the room and bookshelf, find a rad new rug to replace my, um, attempt at dealing with the red (let's just say that I've become gun-shy to decorate with red...at all...THANK YOU, dining room! *grumbles*), and do some styling.

And, yes. So far, the Boston Massacre has survived. At least until Hadley starts questioning why we have a crude drawing of people being shot on our wall.

So...what do you think? Improvement? When all is said and done, I'll be sharing the color name and taking better pictures. Just couldn't wait to share it so far!

Time to go celebrate with the family. This is such a weight off the ol' shoulders eyes, and it's time to enjoy the last couple of days of spring break.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Embracing Self Care - Peace in the Home

Welcome back to our third installment in the "taking care of yo' self" series! (Not really; I just called it that.)



This week's "Embracing Self Care" theme involves peace in the home. Now, this can encompass many different topics -- from finding peace through organization, surrounding yourself with decor that helps you find peace (or finding decor that helps you feel at one with yourself; finding your "style"), finding a schedule/routine that works for you, etc. See? It really can mean ANYTHING! Love that!

For me, this involves a couple of things. Obviously, I'm in the midst of some "low-stress" spring cleaning. (Taking it a day at a time, folks.) When I'm done with the "cleaning" part (ie the scrubbing, dusting, mopping, vacuuming stuff), I plan to attack on the organizational front. I'm weird that way. I see cleaning as more of a "must destroy dust bunnies!" and "wash windows" sort of thing; yes, things are neat and orderly afterwards, but more in a "picked up" way.

So, after things are spic and span, I'm going to address any organizational issues that we have. This will entail looking at areas where we're falling short (like finding better uses for our closets and built-ins, and my bills...I pay them, then pretend they don't exist 'cuz, y'know, I don't like them...so they just end up in random piles) and areas that just need our attention, like the basement and garage (y'know...the dirty places).

This is twofold for us. Yes, we want to have an organized, happy, serene environment...but we also hope to ready our house for a possible move. See? Two birds, one stone. ;-) (Hate that phrase, but it's relevant.) And, of course, I'll share any tips I pick up on the way.

The second "peace in the home" factor I hope to work on (which goes hand-in-hand with readying our house for a sale) is our style. This is the week I'm FINALLY working on painting the red out of our lives dining room, with the help of my uber-motivated mom. (Spoiler: It's already gone! Just got some trim to do before sharing.) The other rooms are relatively light and airy (our bedroom is a little moody with a green wall, which we may or may not keep) or at least neutral, and the burgundy sticks out like a sore, outdated, 1990s thumb. 


Aside from that, I've got some Pinspiration regarding other areas of the house. Our front room was a spot that helped sell us on the place originally, so I'm hoping to modernize it a bit with the help of some better window treatments (we still use the short sheers that came with the house...for shame). So, I'm on the hunt for some extra long white curtains to hang "high and wide" and a few more bamboo shades, for an effect kind of like this --



I'm also excited that my stepdad has offered to help me complete the tub surround with a ghetto he-thinks-it'll-work solution (I have my doubts), so that'll finally be a done project. I'm not happy with the art I made for that space, so I've got my eye out for other DIY art solutions that'll make me happy. Not to sound picky, but I'm not a huge fan of the word art stuff ("Brush your teeth. Wash your hands." Uuuummm. No comment.); I guess I'm more into either a graphic or a vintage botanical print type thing.

Maybe something like this... (Different colors.)
Not sure of original source :-( Hate that!
If anyone knows, let me know, please!

Or this type of botanical...
Original Source

I also recognize that a big part of moving will be weeding out things that we don't wish to drag with us to our next residence. That can be a horribly daunting task, or it can be an uplifting "ahhh" getting rid of stuff we don't NEED in our lives task. Probably 50/50, in all honesty. There's a part of me that looks forward to taking all the wine bottles off the shelf and in storage, putting only the pots and pans that we need in our cupboards, and having less "visual clutter" around the place. I'm already asking myself how many mugs we actual need to have on-hand for guests and for ourselves, how many utensils should be in our drawers, and what food we truly need around cluttering up our cabinets. Maybe it'll be therapeutic, who knows?

So, the only way that "schedule" really fits into this "finding peace in the home" concept is that we need to better schedule our "to dos" to actually, um, y'know...get them done! ;-) The goal is to remember to keep the peacefulness of our lives while working on these projects and focusing on our future, and to make sure that the monkey doesn't get his routine too knocked out of whack.

What about you? What "peace" do you hope to achieve in your own lives? How are you hoping to achieve it? Feel free to post a link to your blog (if you have one), or just share in the comments.
 

TThisWednesday, April 16: Peace in the Home

This can encompass home decor, fashion, organizing and decluttering, schedule and routine, etc. Whatever needs to happen in your life in order to restore peace and equilibrium will be represented during this week!

Wednesday, April 23: Taking Some R&R

This week we’ll dive into taking time to pamper ourselves, time to fully relax, putting aside the to-do list, etc. We will recognize that we need to find healthy ways of treating ourselves so that we aren’t tempted to bad habits that ultimately harm us (i.e. emotional eating of sugar, etc.)
- See more at: http://thehumbledhomemaker.com/2014/03/embracing-self-care-community-blogging-project.html#sthash.aWSSQQGz.dpuf

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dick Van Fans

It's no secret that we're kinda...yeah, we're a tad "different." We listen to eclectic music selections; we watch vintage Sesame Street; we wish Hadley could grow up in Carville while we devour our Andy Hardy movies (rest in peace, Mickey!) and other classic, black-and-white films; I love history books and Dave loves comic books. We've got all sorts of quirky up in here.

So, it should come as little surprise that we have a new favorite.

Thanks, once again, to our super basic cable package and Netflix usage, we have stumbled upon The Dick Van Dyke Show in much the same way that he tended to stumble over a wayward toy or ottoman. With great zeal!

The weird thing is that I never watched this show as a kid, and I don't think Dave did. I followed plenty of old shows (Mr. Ed, Dennis the Menace, Lassie, My Three Sons -- horrible acting, great storyline, a bunch of the old cop shows, and two personal favorites -- Batman and The Monkees), but I never saw "The Dick Van Dyke Show." But, boy, are we wicked glad we have now!

Since the winter has kept us pretty much eating in front of the TV every night, we've gotten into the habit of dragging Hadley's seat into the living room, firing up the ol' Wii sensor, and continuing on with the next show. We've become familiar with every single character and their particular quirks, and Dave has read several "trivia" pieces from the interwebs when a question or an "I wonder if they..." idea pops up.

A few of our favorites?


- The show was the first of its kind to have a character like Sally (played by Rose Marie, who just happened to guest star in two Monkees episodes), a single, independent, working woman.

- Dick Van Dyke gave up his role on Broadway to star and was such a mess on the day they taped the first show that he missed out on Kennedy's inauguration (which everyone else seemed to watch).

- He also seemed to think that Mary Tyler Moore was too young to portray his wife, and she was also meant to be a secondary character (with most of the action happening at the office). Her talent was quickly noticed and her character was given more storylines (Rose Marie didn't get along with her very well for this reason), and Dick was won over. Side note: They were said to each have crushes on the other at certain points throughout the show. *blushes* So cute!

- The show was actually based on Carl Reiner's time writing for "Your Show of Shows" with Sid Caesar. The character of Buddy was based on Mel Brooks.

- Buddy (friend and "co-writer" to Dick's character) and Mel (the "show's" producer) were actually great friends in real life despite having characters that are constantly at each other's throats. As a matter of fact, they used to get together and have drinks after work to see what zingers they could come up with.

Ohhh, it just keeps going. Of course, my favorite bit of trivia happens in our very own living room. Hadley sometimes finds himself smitten with Laura, giving the TV doe eyes and getting shy. It's these times when he decides to shout out to her -- "Mama! Mama, mama, mama!" I could possibly be flattered, but I know that anyone who appears to be a) a woman or b) in pairs, he tends to refer to that way.

We also ADORE the fact that they tried very hard to keep slang out of conversation in order to make the show seem less timely. In other words, it has held up VERY well (for the most part) and we find ourselves laughing our butts off today.

What about your family? Do you have any quirky favorites?