Thursday, February 27, 2014

One Little Word Thursday: THRIVE

First, a side note: I just (finally) finished the last episode of season 3 of Sherlock and I am totally split down the middle about either loving it or thinking it was sort of lame, so I took to google (of course) to spend nine hours reading recaps and reviews. And the people are split half and half too. I think I'm leaning towards the loving it, just for the scene where Molly smacked him around. And the scene where he looked like an idiot when he figured out those glasses were just glasses. HOWEVER, no one has mentioned the most SHOCKING thing to me!!! People keep talking about how Mycroft let him off easy, sending him into exile for a mission- but HELLO!!! Mycroft SPECFICIALLY says that the mission would last six months and then Sherlock would be killed. And then Sherlock himself says "Any my brother is NEVER wrong." So basically, Mycroft sent him to be executed!!! And not a single of the HUNDREDS of recaps and reviews I read have even mentioned it!!!

Also, Moriarity being alive? That will me LAME in all caps. Those writers have better have bigger plans or else I'm bailing.

Not really.

Man, good tv really makes me miss Lost. Sigh.


So last time I checked in with thriving, things weren't going so well. And as always, looking back, gooooosssssshhhhh am I dramatic enough? Sheesh. It's almost embarrassing, except I can still vividly remember how desperate I felt, that feeling of heavy despair, like everything I had to do, I had to swim through maple syrup to do it. Weighted. Heavy. That's really the best way I can figure to describe it, everything feels so fucking heavy. I could barely lift my arms, my legs must have weighed five hundred pounds each. Everything happens in slow motion. It's just heavy. And desperate. I dunno. Maybe I'm just crazy.

ANYWAY. Point being, I'm a lot better. "I'm feel much better now. Clearer." Seven thousand points to anyone who can get that quote. Going to Rome helped, not only the INCREDIBLE vacation (duh) but also just the break in the monotony. I mean, my life is pretty fucking monotonous.  Not only am I a typical Stay at Home mama with small children, I'm a Stay at Home mama with small children who never leaves the house if I can help it. And yes, I understand that that's a (sort of) choice, and it's what I need to do right now, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't start to wear on me every now and that.

To address that point, I am making it a point to get to play group tomorrow and hopefully have my neighbor over next week for coffee.  Baby steps, right?

But of course, being me, my hatred for monotony is a double edged sword because I actually love it too. I love knowing exactly what's going to happen next. I love to eat the same thing for lunch, every single day. I love a plan, step by step instructions, every hour of every day.  I love it, and I hate it.  It's hard to be me, I'm tellin ya.


I have gotten back into the habit of using my awesome note app to make a detailed list for the day when I'm getting ready for bed, and that helps. I know for a lot of people, part of scaling back and thriving is to stop being a slave to their to-do lists, but (as always, it seems) I'm the opposite. I like to fill it up with the tiny details, because when I'm in a fog and feeling weighted down, it's very easy for me to forget the basics like 'empty the dishwasher after lunch' or 'put away the basket of clothes you've just folded' and things like that. And if I'm honest, I also really like that rush from putting a check in the box. Hey, I never claimed to be cool and sophisticated.

So ordering my day helps me to thrive. I've been reading the kids (Ava, no one else actually pays attention) a chapter each night from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe every night, and that really helps me thrive. I've been working out every morning, and while I don't necessarily think that helps me to thrive (sleeping would help me more, I think) it helps me put another check in the box. I've been working on various quilts, and I'm trolling the ole pinterest looking for other ways to get the creative juices flowing. I've finally joined the library, and that, above all else, is helping me to thrive. Seriously. I mean, I love amazon as much as the next gal, but I like to read a lot. And books are like eight bucks a pop. So it gets to be pretty expensive. The library system here is pretty massive, and so far, I've been able to find a LOT of stuff to borrow and read. I figure I've saved a hundred bucks already, and I've only had my card about six weeks. (For any interested parties, so far I've borrowed What Alice Forgot, Dark Places, Echo Burning (a Jack Reacher book :) I'm addicted) the new Dean Koontz book, In the Woods, The Long Earth, and the ending of the Pure trilogy. All together now: LIBRARIES ARE AWESOME.)

So that's a recap of my mental state these last few weeks. Now on to the assignments. I'm still trying to keep up with the Ali Edwards prompts, but this month was sort of...not my style.  The first assignment was a card for reflections for each month, and I can't think of a SINGLE thing to put for January!!! Not one.

That blank page is mocking me. MOCKING ME.

The next part was to list off some Actions for the year. Ugh. I'm good with goals like "put on socks and shoes" not year long aspirations. We're supposed to have twelve, the best I could do was eight. And they're lame, so please keep your opinions to yourself and your other friends.

Ugh. I do have the cards for 10, 11, and 12 made up in case I ever come up with anything else, but I'm not holding my breath.

Lastly, I needed something to go against the back of a page, so I made up my thrive Bible verse.
I don't love the layout like I love the Maya Angelou one, but it had to be landscape like that, so that's the best I could do.

What about ya'll, anyone else still doing the One Little Word business?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Warren Ray Engelbrecht, Age 5

Of course, I love all my children equally, blah blah blah. But I have to say, watching Warren's personality develop has been the most fun. Ava is very much like me, bookish, sort of quiet, very emotional- nothing new here. Scott is basically growing up to become Dexter, so that's not very fun to watch. But Warren? Man alive, he's just HILARIOUS.

He's the Zach Morris. He's funny, and he knows how to land a joke. He knows how to work a room. He knows when to goof around, and when to give a hug. He's SOO kind, I'd say he's the nicest of all four kids, the most genuine TRUE kind of nice, just for the sake of being nice.
Dear God, I was huge.

Warren is the one who didn't want to leave the womb. Five years later, it's so OBVIOUS, because he's basically the same way today, he likes to be in physical contact with me so much more than the others. I never had a single contraction with him, up until I laid down on that table and they yanked him out and ruined his life.

He was my biggest at eight two. And even though he's making a terrible face below, he was VERY handsome with a PERFECTLY round head because duh, he never even engaged.

This is late June, 2009, so he's what, four months old? And he already has that glint in his eyes!!!

August 2009, six months old, right after we moved to Connecticut.  Isn't he gorgeous?!?!

January 2010, at the Chuck E Cheese. Gag. Warren (and all the rest of them) was a late walker, so Ava just dragged him around. 

First birthday. I actually remember this like it was yesterday. Isn't that crazy? We were down at my mom's house in Biloxi, waiting for our flights to Guam!!

May 2010, on the beach in Guam. Happiest baby in the world.  Sometimes. 

Second birthday. Don't remember this one at all, I blame the one month old infant who'd recently arrived at the house.

May 2011, bloody nose or red cupcake icing? You decide, I have no idea. 

November 2011. Turkey in the preschool Thanksgiving production. Type casting.

Third birthday, February 2012, just after we left Guam and moved to Hawaii. In case you're wondering, yes, I am sobbing. I started crying as soon as I opened the Feb 2009 folder on the hard drive.

July 2012, perfecting the classic Warren "Hey mama, look at me!!!" while not paying attention to what he's doing, ultimately leading to disaster.

October 2012, getting sick of me taking is picture.

Fourth birthday, February 2013, right after we moved to London. Sob. He's all grown up.

April 2013, on vacay in Ireland. Isn't he cool? So dapper. And such a turkey.

December 2013. 

And just for fun, a few scattering shots of Warren sleeping. I randomly opened a folder every four or five months per year to pull those pics for this post, and in each folder, I found a sleeping shot. Imagine if I'd gone through all twelve months of all five years?

Gorgeous, am I right?!?! 

Happy Birthday Number Three.  You're the best. Especially when you're awake.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Our Roman (Half Term) Holiday

So for winter half term (I gotta break in here and say HOLY SHIT YEAR ROUND SCHOOL IS AWESOME. You get a break every six weeks!!!) we headed to Rome.

Let's get the logistics out of the way first, on the off chance that someone stumbles on this post looking for actual direction.  Hey, it could happen!!

We flew Easy Jet again, which is how we got to Prague. We flew into and out of Gatwick, parked our car there for the week. They have a free bus from the parking lot to the terminal.  Of course, we used Home Away to find this apartment in the Campo dei Fiori neighborhood. Two bedrooms, pull out couch (we just stuck the boys one on each couch) good wifi, tiny but functional kitchen, washing machine, drying rack.  No bathtub, and not enough hot water in the shower, but we were a ten to twenty minute walk from the Vatican on one side and the Colosseum on the other, and everything else in between, and we paid probably a fraction of what you'd pay for a tiny little hotel, so what are you gonna do, right?  I will never understand why anyone would EVER stay in a hotel when you could use Home Away instead. Cray.

We flew in on Sunday night, the owner had set up a van to come get us, and as soon as we dropped of our bags, we headed to the square to eat a quick dinner before we went to bed.

Monday morning we got dressed with no long johns, no undershirts, no hats, gloves, or scarves, just our light jackets and SUNGLASSES, and walked to the Vatican. I'm not a hundred percent sure why we did this. We are NOT museum people. I got confused booking the tickets, and I think if we'd gotten into the Basilica, maybe we would have been more impressed? I don't know.

We spent a few hours fighting the crowds, looking at all of the famous artwork and sculptures, all that cultural stuff, then we got lunch and bailed. I felt like such a stupid American tourist, but it just wasn't happening. I'm sorry!!!

After that, we walked down to Trevi Fountain, which became our favorite hangout for the rest of the week, then wandered around the Pantheon.

The Pantheon was everything I'm looking for in life. EVERYTHING.  It was built two thousand years ago. It's a dome. It's magical. How did they do it? How does it stay up? Why doesn't it fall down? How is it STILL staying up? Two thousand years later? Seriously, how did they get those stones up so high? Into a dome? HOW?!?!?!

Then we ate a lot more pasta and a lot more gelato and went home to watch Gladiator and rest up for Tuesday. The best day of my life.

The Colosseum. The Flavian Amphitheater. I wish I could put into words how absolutely breathtaking  it was.

I understand that I'm a slightly tacky American tourist who watches too many movies and makes up too much history. But Gladiator is like the best movie EVER. EVER. And the scene where they first come up on the Colosseum and Juba says "I did not know men could build such things." That's how I feel TODAY. Today, with the internet in my phone and things like cranes and math and cement mixers and stainless steel rebar and all that shit- I don't understand how TODAY men can make such things.

And men made this nearly TWO THOUSAND YEARS AGO. No iPhones. No electricity. Hell, no smallpox vaccine!!! I mean, seriously, HOW DID THEY DO IT!?!?!

We used Real Rome Tours and booked the Colosseum Underground and Forum tour. I've never done a tour before, and let me tell you right now, this made ALL THE DIFFERENCE.  Our guide was some sort of student, or maybe he'd just graduated, I dunno. But he did his PhD thingie right there in a hole in the Roman Forum. So that dude knew his shit.

It was our family of six, and a family from Yorkshire of four. It was just amazing. I cried twice. And the kids were great, and the sun was shining, and the skies were so blue, and the guide just knew SO MUCH about the history- it was basically my dream come true.  I seriously could have died happily that afternoon.

The Forum was a little harder for me to imagine. I mean, it doesn't look ANYTHING like the movie, it's ALL ruined. The guide did a decent job explaining it, but the kids were getting hungry and it was just so ruined, so that didn't blow me away quite as much as it might have otherwise.

Then we ate a lot more pasta and gelato, wandered around, ate some more, and headed back to the apartment.

Wednesday we did our open top bus tour. I don't recommend this for normal people, but for people with kids who need a break for a few hours, do it. The commentary was fine, I'd heard that a few companies have AWFUL commentary, but ours was fine. I don't even know what tour we took, that's why I'm not linking to it. We rode around the whole route, then got off and explored a lot more before dinner and gelato. We hit the Spanish Steps (they're pretty lame, but right across the street was the best cookie I've ever eaten.) and wandered back to the Trevi Fountain because we really did love it there. It's contained, it's loud but not too crowded so the kids can be wild and run around, plus I rented a badass 10-24mm lens, so I could get the ENTIRE fountain in the frame standing like six feet in front of it!! WINNING.

Thursday we explored Palatine Hill. I am ashamed to admit that I didn't really know what this was. In my defense, the tour guide from the Forum never mentioned (he probably did but I wasn't listening?) and when I saw it, I just assumed it was part of the Forum. But it's not? Or it is? I don't know. It's a whole bunch of ruins. SPECTACULARLY GORGEOUS ruins. Unfortunately, the weather was crap (but still warm!!!) by then, so my pics didn't come out that well :( After the Colosseum, this was my favorite part about Rome.

Down there on the right hand side of the page, but in the bottom left corner? Those white stones? They're pretty sure (definitely sure?) that that's the foundations of the huts where Romulus lived as he was founding Rome.

Mind. Fucking. Blown.

Then on Friday we left at like eight in the morning and were back in our own homes by like three.  Pretty cool.

For normal people, I'd say you definitely need more than four days to REALLY enjoy yourself in Rome, but for us, with four kids, it was PERFECT. Iceland and Prague we stayed a week each, and it was just TOO MUCH, but last year when we went to Scotland for a long weekend, that was way too short. So four or five days is PERFECT. Five would have been better just because then we could have taken an entire day to lay around the house and let the kids play and sleep, but other than that, this has hands down been my favorite holiday yet.  Nick still picks Bruges. Weirdo.

Let me know if you have any questions, I feel like it should be my mission in life to get as many people to Rome as possible!!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

One Little Word Thursdays (The Crazies are Back)

Well. Obviously, I am not exactly thriving.

In fact, I am barely surviving.

It's actually pissing me off, more than anything else.

I am doing EVERYTHING right. I wake up obscenely early, five days a week, and exercise for an hour. AN HOUR. Gotta get those endorphins. I take my zoloft religiously, every night with dinner. I swallow the recommended amount of not just any ole Vitamin D supplement, but the mack daddy D3, the king of vitamin D, the 'feel good' vitamin. I've drastically cut gluten and carbs and grains and processed foods, I eat more spinach than anyone I've ever met, I eat salads like they're girl scout cookies. I go to bed early. I get dressed, wear makeup, put in some effort sometimes. I use my SAD lamp for hours, plural, every single day.

And I still want to crawl into a hole and cry and cry and scream and pull my hair out.

This. Is. Not. Fair.

Remember on Friends, after Ross marries Emily and Rachel tells him she loves him, then starts laughing and talking about how she feels like she floated out of her body and watcher herself say that and it was so ridiculous? That's how I feel. I feel like I left my body and I'm floating around the living room, watching the Other Jennifer lie (lay?) on the couch, staring into space and crying intermittently, and I can't help but think get over yourself, you useless lame-o!! GET UP!! Get a move on!! Put a smile on your face!!!

It's not as bad as it's been before, and that's so great. And it's even more great that I have the...wherewithal? Is that a word? It's even more great that I have the ability to notice and appreciate that this isn't THAT BAD, this time.

I'm keeping up with some things. I'm not interested in tv (yes, me, I know, it's shocking) but I've been reading a lot. I'm still sewing a little, but I'm waiting for some supplies, so of course I feel like OH POOR ME, THIS IS THE WORST DAY EVER, WHY WON'T MY SHIT JUST GET HERE ALREADY!!! I'm still doing laundry, and putting it away. Keeping the house somewhat tidy. I don't want to cook, but luckily Nick is taking over for now. I don't really want to have anything to do with the kids, but I've still be trying to read to them, and not snap at them, get off the couch a few times when they're around.

There's some sun out today. I've rushed around this morning, moving all my plants into the dining room. It's a conservatory, meaning it's all glass (apparently that's big here, these 'conservatories' built onto the backs of the houses?) and if the sun is out, no matter where in the sky, no matter what time of day, the sun hits the dining room table. Maybe I should shove all those plants out of the way and lay (lie?) on that table myself.

We're leaving for Rome Sunday, and while the forecast isn't amazing, it's certainly better than here. Cloudy, instead of raining, and a bit warmer. And the sun rises almost an hour earlier there, and sets an hour later. So that's awesome. AWESOME.

I don't even know what the point of this post is.

It's obviously not a real One Little Word post. The prompts for February are all about setting goals for the year, things like 'look the kids in the eye' and 'spend less time on the phone' and things like that. Things that a thriving person would do. But I can't very well come up with goals like that right now when my actual goals are 'don't lay (lie?) on the couch for more than two hours today' and 'don't forget to brush your hair before you go out in public.'

I guess I just like to write it out. Right? It not only makes me feel validated, but it also makes me realize that things aren't as bad as they seem.

Who knows. Maybe I'm just a narcissist and like to hear the sound of my own voice.