27 October 2010

Shutterfly Holiday Cards

I'm one of those people who's extremely (perhaps excessively?) fond of holiday cards. I love receiving them, which is why I make a point of sending them. Even last year when I told everyone that I was going to skip my Christmas cards, I totally didn't. I ponied up the cash and I sent them out.

Holiday cards are a major part of my holiday decor; I hang them and prop them up, and post them with magnets on the fridge.  I'm not one of those people with inspired Christmas decorations (I usually just have a tree, and maybe one string of lights on the patio) so they also make everything seem more fun and spirited.

Also?
Hi.
I'm judgmental, so I totally judge your holiday cards.  My system more or less mirrors this one by Swistle, only she said it much more eloquently than I ever could, per usual.  If you are familiar with this superior holiday card rating system, you'll note that photo cards, or cards containing photos, get extra marks for participation.  This is especially true if you have children, and your holiday card serves as the tool by which I adjust my mental image of child size and age.

I never sent Christmas cards before I had Gabriel, although I have always loved receiving them.  I think it's interesting to note that while I personally felt that my pre-baby single girl life wasn't interesting enough to document with a photo card, I am 100% appreciative of the holiday photo cards I get from my childless friends.

What I'm trying to express here? Photo cards:  really, really good.

This year marks my third year of doing Christmas cards.

My first year of cards was the first year that Gabriel and I were on our own, he was 23 months old.  I used this photo:
It was the most absolutely representative picture of my kid that I had. And while I realize that it's not explicitly Christmasy or holidayish, y'know what? My kid in legwarmers and a cape is year-round awesome.

The photo I used for our 2008 card:
Again, not exactly holiday themed, but I liked the contrasting colors, and it went nicely with the blue 'winter theme' card I had picked out.

2009:
Summertime BBQ at Carl's
Last year I decided that I really wanted a photo that had both of us in it, and this is one of very few in existence (that's the sort of thing that happens when you're the photographer).  I would have preferred one where you could see more of Gabey's face (and maybe less of mine), but I thought this was sweet enough to make do.

This year I definitely want a picture of the two of us, and I'm hoping to get one where maybe you can even see both of our faces, all in entirety and stuff.  This may involve a backyard Christmas card photo shoot, so stay tuned for that.

I'm getting my cards from Shutterfly this year, which will be a first, but I'm pretty darned excited.  Have you seen some of their designs? Beautiful.

I'm sort of toying with the following three, dependent on what kinds of pictures I manage to unearth for holiday card purposes:
* Snowman Wishes - I like this one because it is not specifically Christmas, so there aren't any non-Christmas people politics in sending it to everyone I know.  Also I only have to come up with one good photo to make this card look great.
* Tweet Evergreen - This is another HOLIDAY card, which I like.  I love the birdies, and I feel like it's not impossible that I procure three good photos for a spread like this.
* Emerald Green Stars - This one is nicely formatted for two pictures.  It is a Christmas-specific card, but I really like it, and personal preferences trump all, especially when considering the fact that I do, indeed, celebrate Christmas.

What do you think?
--
Do you want 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly? Click here to go to Shutterfly for information on how you can get 50 free cards this holiday season, and make sure to select Clever 1000 as the referral source.


This post is part of a series sponsored by Shutterfly. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

25 October 2010

Flicka Sabine JR McWolfFeather

Flicka

Day 17 → A book you’ve read that changed your views on something

I'm such a reader.

I feel like every word I read or write shapes and shifts and develops and changes how I see things, how I feel.

It seems impossible to say just how, exactly, a first person narrative can subtly shift the way that I interpret my day.
How a historical account reworks my understanding of events in our collective past.
How a moody post-apocalyptic disasterfest brings my eyes back around to to the political and environmental practices of today.

Books that I read as a little girl that shaped the direction of my elaborate games of pretend.
Books that I read that kept me up at night reading.
Books that kept me up long after I'd finished with the reading, just thinking.
Books I've read for school.
Books I've read for work.
Books I've read for play.
Books that have taught me something new; how to knit in the round, how to make crème brulée.

Picture books.

Collections of poetry.

Reference books, even dictionaries.  Just the way a book is laid out and organized can show me a new way of sorting all the information knocking around in my head.

Books, books, books.

Every book I've ever read has changed my views on SOMETHING.

Every single book.
--
30 Days of Truth

22 October 2010

Ferocious

fierceGabriel
We're putting on our fierce faces, and we'll be okay.
Thank you to sweet Janeen for sending me this picture, which positively brightened my day. 
Gabriel and I had the pleasure of meeting her at Grace's house this past Saturday, for a much needed breather, which featured my very favorites nakedjen, Sarah Dopp, Glennia and Gwendomama as well.
Also?
Wine.
And brownies.
 --
I've temporarily pulled my post from yesterday back into my drafts folder.  Gabe's dad called me last night all sputtering and furious.  And then he tried to convince me that the image I posted said something it didn't, which, weirdly, almost worked.
Anyhow, his thesis statement was (as usual) that I'm overly dramatic and my life is actually quite easy to live, and last night, from my bed, with my phone, I didn't really feel equipped to deal with all of it so I just pulled the thing down for the time being (fixed that).
--
Are the sponsored posts I've been putting up too obnoxious to live?
Be honest.
They pay me you see, and I'm poor.
But I don't want to drive you batty.
--
Some practical steps I'm taking to FIX THINGS:
-Going back to 40hrs/week at work (I was at 36.5)
-Changing my federal tax deductions (thanks for that tip Crystal, I'd forgotten about that option)
-Eliminating my voluntary retirement contribution (I know this is stupid, but for today, we have to live)
-Scaling my debt repayment back to the minimums
--
There is still some monthly shortage, but it's not quite as daunting as the $700 I was originally looking at.
--
We will be okay.
We are usually okay.

19 October 2010

Day 16 → Someone or something you definitely could live without

Obviously there's all sorts of glib bullshit answers I could throw in here. I could live without disease and cruelty and liars and global warming.
How about something that I *like* that I definitely could live without?

I could definitely live without a car.

That sounds totally weird, especially when you consider how recently I bought a car, and the fact that I don't live in a big city, or even a medium sized city, or even just SOMEWHERE with reliable public transportation.

Howevah.

I live like 45 seconds from work and mostly I don't drive during the week anyways.
I take Gabriel to school on the bus.
I go to work on the bus.
Hey!
I have a bus pass.

I have the car because of the trips I have to take to Sacramento to pick Gabriel up from his dad's house.
And yeah, it's easier for doctor's appointments, going to my parents' house, lazy mornings, grocery shopping, et cetera.

But really, if not for the INTERMINABLE DRIVING TO SACRAMENTO, when my car died? I just wouldn't have a car now.

And that would be okay.
--
30 Days of Truth

18 October 2010

Day 15 → Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it

Affection.

I can't live in a space without demonstrative love. 

I need to feel wanted.  Not just needed, but wanted.

I need to be liked and I don't just need to be liked, I need to know that I'm liked, via words and actions.

I tried.

I moved to Chico to try to 'make things work' and I tried.

I was pregnant and scared and alone. 

I was doing without quite a bit of accustomed friendship and support.

But it was the lack of affection that truly crushed me.

That's how I ended up all hidden and wrapped inside of myself.

I need affection.
--
30 Days of Truth

15 October 2010

Some Things that Make Me Smile

A dust mote caught in a ray of sunshine.

A yellow wildflower in a sea of crumpled autumn leaves.

The look of fierce concentration that consumes Gabriel's face when he's building or drawing: the way his tongue pokes out of the side of his mouth, the particular furrow of his eyebrows.

A hot cup of coffee warming my hands on a chilly October morning.

Reading something that genuinely makes me laugh out loud.

The tingly prickly too hot feeling when I first sink into the bathtub.

Taking my hair down at the end of the day.

Breathing in the little kid smells of dust and finger paint and juice and grass and maybe a little bit of pixie dust.

The first sip from a first glass of wine.

My fingers all smudged with oil pastels.

Running barefoot.

Laying in bed thinking about the latest book I read.

Scrabble.

Finding the perfect gift.

Resting my forehead on the cool of the sliding glass door.

Old photographs.

Daydreams.

Finding a pressed flower in a book.

The sound of cutting paper.

The perfect sweetness of a quiet hug.

The absolute silence of a power outage.

That first stretch when I wake up from a completely frivolous nap.

Majestic Redwoods are Majestic

Redwoods

Redwoods

Redwoods

Redwoods

Redwoods

Redwoods

Redwoods

Redwoods

Redwoods

Redwoods

Redwoods

Redwoods

Redwoods

13 October 2010

Day 14 → A hero who has let you down

Do you remember in elementary school, how you would have these writing prompts and it would be homework and you would have to do it?
There were two prompts that I seemed to get, well, always, that I never knew how to answer.

1.  Write about your hobbies.
2.  Write about your heroes.

I don't have any hobbies.
Seriously.
That's not to say that I sit around staring at the wall in my free time, but when people ask me what I do for fun it's like....oh god I don't know.
Nothing? 
Oh wait.
We're not writing about hobbies, or the fact that I never turned in a single writing assignment re: same (note to self: write about this later, doofus).

Heroes!  Heroes?
I don't know.
I feel the same way I felt when I was eight years old, writing about my heroes for Mrs. Walker's third grade class.
I don't have any heroes.
I mean, okay.
I think my dad's pretty awesome, but I've never wanted to drop out of high school, get strung out on drugs and work a factory job, so I don't think "hero" is appropriate.
My mom's really, really great.
I strive to mother like her.
But I mean, not all the way.  Not with the struggling to be all things to all people that she does.
What about my grandmother?
God, she was so damned spirited. 
She volunteered at the county jail, she always gave her leftovers to the homeless.
She also got so drunk that she couldn't manage getting on her flight in Chicago,  leaving my 8 year old mother calling home for help.
I adore, admire these people.
But their flaws have never been hidden from me.
That goes for athletes and politicians and authors and scientists and public figures and everyone in the world.
I can remember no point in my life when I thought that there was a single unblemished person out there.
Humanity is imperfect.

Maybe my understanding of 'hero' is all wrong.
I don't think that the absolute model of behavior and action exists out there. 
I don't feel like I've been raised to set people up on pedestals, to expect heroics out of them.
People are just people, doing their best.
How could a hero let me down?
People have let me down.
Regular human friend people, with regular flaws and regular abilities and everyone fucks up sometimes.
Not heroes.
Just people.

Maybe I don't understand the question, but I just don't think it applies.
I don't think I have any heroes.
Just friends and family and people, with qualities I admire.
But nobody's perfect, and no one should be surprised when someone they love and admire fucks things up occasionally.
That's sort of what we do.
--
30 Days of Truth

12 October 2010

Not Eighty Seven

Jonathan, Grandpa, Randy, mom, Grandma, Brian
(l-r) Jonathon, Randall (grandpa), Randy Jr, April (mom), Caryl (grandma), Brian
Today would be my grandfather's 87th birthday.

Yeah, still miss him.

11 October 2010

Day 13 → A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days

I'm supposed to write a letter but I don't want to.

I remember when my grandmother called to tell us that my cousin Harley was dead.  My mom kept mouthing "Harley" over and over again.  Really she was saying it all, she was saying "Harley died," but it was too foreign, too wrong.  My 19-year-old cousin couldn't be dead, and I could only hear "Harley."  The other half of the sentence didn't, wouldn't compute.

This was the song that my mom kept playing.  The song that looped through our house in the days, the months that followed.

Harley would have hated it.
Hokey old country music.
But I hear it and I think of him.


--
30 Days of Truth

10 October 2010

Day 12 → Something you never get compliments on

Like...something I never get complimented for because it would be a lie, or like, something I never get complimented for but I think I'm deserving?

I'll go with the second.
We don't need another list of things I'm bad at.

I'm really good at math and hard sciences.

I'm like....way, significantly more talented in those arenas than I've ever been in writing/English language type stuff. 
I'm not an especially good writer.
I've never spent all that much time focusing on any of math/hard science because it requires actual effort and right answers, as opposed to  a sociology paper, which can be spun entirely out of bullshit and air.
I altogether skipped a year of math in junior high, and another one in high school.
I always got perfect test scores in physics and perfect lab scores in chemistry.
In college, I stopped going to my calculus class after the midterm, because I had the highest grade in the entire class, so even if I failed the final, I couldn't get a grade lower than a B-. I got an A-. 

I didn't take any science classes in college because I was allergic to class, but addicted to good grades.
It's hard to skip labs, but sleeping through an anthropology class is easy.

I'm good at math.
--
30 Days of Truth

07 October 2010

Day 11 → Something people seem to compliment you the most on

I'm leaving the title of this prompt as is, despite my deeply ingrained never end a sentence with a preposition teachings.

Oh I don't know.
I'm not comfortable with compliments.
They don't sit well.
I shy away from them so much that it's hard to tally up, I don't know what I hear the most.
Here we go?

The Superficial:
Nice tits.  I have actually never liked my boobs, and that's extra MORE true since I've had Gabriel.  They only look good when they're all holstered and properly stowed, and I just. No. You're wrong.
Nice ass.  Yeah, well. I'll take that one, I suppose.
Pretty eyes.  I guess you don't know that I think my eyes are weird and squinchly and small.
Good sense of style.  I do love clothes, so I can usually manage to just say thanks for this one.
I don't really want to write this next one out cuz it feels like it violates one of my blogging rules, but, for the sake of honesty and inclusion, and I mean, I'm not saying THIS IS TRUE, I'm just saying it's a compliment I get, from anyone who's had the opportunity to form an opinion, so: I'm good in bed.

The Subficial:
People who know me know that I'm intelligent, but from people who don't know me, or don't know me well, I get a variety of shocked exclamations about the fact that I'm smart, or that I've gone to an awful lot of school, or jayzus woman what is with your freaky memory?  I don't know if these are compliments exactly.  Apparently I exude enough fluffy dumbness that the braincells I'm hiding in this here hat rack of mine aren't wholly expected.
People say I'm a good mom, but 90% of them have never actually seen me parent.   I do go all squooshy inside when I hear this from someone who knows me in 'real life' and within the context of my child.  When my mom told me that I'm a calm parent, it was one of the most soul-lifting compliments I've ever received.
My friends tell me that I'm a good friend.
I've been told that I'm good at seeing all sides of an argument.
I have a good eye (photography).  I accept this one.  I'm not a technically skilled photographer, by any stretch of the imagination, but I can find good pictures to take.
I'm clever with my words (possibly true) and I'm a good writer (certifiably false).
--
30 Days of Truth

Day 10 → Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know

Oh.
My.

I wish I'd never decided to be your friend. 
I still remember when I decided, "I'm going to be your friend."
I wish I'd never got it into my head that I could save you.
I wish I could stop myself from thinking about you, wondering how you're doing, if you're happy (I hope you're happy).
I wish I didn't wish we were still friends.

I miss you.
--
30 Days of Truth

06 October 2010

Day 09 → Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted

I haven't been keeping up with this meme because I don't really want to write this post.

I had an idea, but the Terra plucked it right out of my head, and she said it better than I ever could anyways.
--
Oi.
So I have another idea, but this one is even harder to write about.
I feel like writing it will set it in stone, and I don't really want it to be true.
--
My brother James.

James has always been difficult and temperamental and unwilling to compromise and completely willing to get in an argument or make a scene or whatever.  
James and I have always had a somewhat contentious element to our relationship.  He pushes my buttons, I tease him, he freaks out, I tease him for freaking out, he freaks out more, I apologize, he pushes my buttons, and we start over again.

Underneath all of that, we've always been close.  We've always been friends, despite our 10 year age gap. 
There has always been a baseline of getting along.
And James has always been so sweet.
In first grade, James had a project where he wrote about the best part of Christmas.  He wrote, "The best part of Christmas is my whole family coming home."  
When James was turning nine, and my sister and I were both away at college, he told my mom that what he wanted most for his birthday was for all of his siblings to be there.  And we all came. 
The thing about James is that under all the yelling, there's this sensitive person, someone who adores children. 
A competent babysitter.

Up until James was 13, he was a chubby kid.
When James was 14, he went on a major fitness kick.  And he started making snide remarks about my sister, me, my mom being fat.

I would never say something like that to you James.  I never did not once.  I have never in my life called you fat.

He'll say the meanest things.

You can't TALK to people that way.  No one talks to you like that.

FUCK YOU MOM!

James I never said things like that to mom. Never.

At some point we were all just holding our breath waiting for him to go away to school.  Not that we don't love him, because obviously we do.
And not that we don't understand teenaged hormones and male rage and difficult people because OH HAI WOULD YOU LIKE TO MEET MY FAMILY?

He came back for a weekend, and it was just yelling and strife and OHMYGOD go!  Go back to San Francisco!

I still adore the kid, he's still sweet sometimes, and I'm pretty sure by the time he's 25 he'll have figured out how to interact with us without flipping out or flipping us out, but man.  I used to really like to hang out with himLike we were friends.
--
30 Days of Truth

Diptychs - Incunabulum & Foudroyant

Incunabulum: the earliest stages or first traces of anything.
I know I know, egg? For a word that obviously shares a root with incubate?  That's the best you could do?
Well, yes.
Thanks.

Foudroyant: sudden and overwhelming in effect.
It always comes back to coffee....

Partner: Kellee
Information: Here

Next week: lupine (look it up! That's what we're doing)

04 October 2010

Fire Station Open House

If you're a parent, and you're into awesome, completely free activities, I'd like to put forward a recommendation for fire station open houses.  This is the second one we've been to in our area.  All of the vehicles are available for inspection, the firefighters are available for questioning, Smokey the Bear was on hand for high fives, there was a completely free and also delicious lunch, prepared by the firefighters themselves, a rescue helicopter was flown in with associated personnel, and they had a climbing wall.

Did I mention the part where it was free?

And they feed you?

Helicopter.

Climbing wall.

My sometimes overly cautious four-year-old blew my mind by kicking major ass on the climbing wall, by the way.
IMAG0142

IMAG0143

IMAG0144

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Fire station open houses: Awesome.

01 October 2010

Day 08 → Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit

Me.

I'm the one who puts myself in bad situations, against my own better judgment.
I engage myself in unhealthy friendships.
I look in the mirror and I call myself fat.
I look at my life and I call myself a failure.

I treat myself like shit.

I should probably stop.

I think I'll make that a goal.
--
30 Days of Truth

(I must give a shout out here to Zoeyjane, because man oh man, THE PARALLELISMS. I'm not convinced we're not somehow related)