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My own permission

This is nothing new.  You’ve heard me say this before: there’s too much.  Once again, I find myself in the position of trying to figure out how to cut back, stop the train, do less, focus on priorities; in a nutshell, I’m too busy.

My weekly schedule is definitely full.  I’ve been around long enough to compare and I know that I do more than many.  I work full time, manage a family of five with my husband, have a large extended family, mostly-regularly attend church and try to be involved, try to read, try to exercise, try to see friends, and try to write.  I’m a do-er of many things and a master of none.  Most of the time I’m just doing enough to scrape by until the next moment.  All of that is what you see from the outside.  Inside, my brain and my soul are even busier.  Constantly thinking about everything that I’m not currently doing, questioning how I am doing things, trying to remember all of the details so we never drop a ball.  I’m rarely just present, and it’s exhausting.  I’ve accepted that it won’t ever stop. But I might possibly, maybe, be getting better at realizing when the stress gauge is getting dangerously high and making changes before, instead of after, everything blows up.

I’ve had some success in the last six months with this blog.  Even though the numbers are modest, I have more followers of my blog and social media space than I imagined I would at this stage.  I’ve had three posts syndicated on other sites.  I got enough positive reinforcement, and truly enjoyed the process, to be excited and want to come back to more writing.  Right now, this just isn’t the best time of my life to keep it going.  Some of you do just as much, and more than me, and still run a very successful and amazing blog.  I have a lot of respect for what you do.  That pace just doesn’t work for me right now.

So, what I’m putting the breaks on is this – my writing.  I’m not happy about it, but I am at peace with the decision.  From your perspective, not much will change.  I haven’t been writing much lately anyway.  But what changes for me is my internal turmoil.  By writing this post, I’m giving myself permission to release the stress.

As I started getting more into blogging this year, I was really happy with the things I was learning and the progress I made.  But for someone like me, who isn’t a full-time writer, blogging takes consistency.  The more you write, the better you become at sharing your voice.  The more you post, the more people read your work and give you feedback to help with continued improvement.  Facebook gets your writing to more people’s newsfeeds.  Followers click on your content more often in Twitter.  More begets more.  Even though I haven’t been writing, I’ve been consistently stressing about the lack of consistency.  Feeling stressed to write, feeling stressed to share content, feeling stressed that I just can’t find the time for any of it.  So with an officially  communicated time-out, I can let all of that go.

You will still see me around every now and again during this hiatus.  If Iuntitled-design-1 have the time and something to say, I’m going to write.  When I see content from other people that I want you to see, I’m going to share it.  I still have too many funny stories happen in my family that will need to be told. Continue to follow me on social media to get notice if I happen to write new posts and to catch little doses of the craziness that is my family.  And one day, I hope to be back here, consistently writing and connecting with all of you once again.

 

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Who Says That, CAT the CAT? (Board book)

Sprout Score

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IMG_20160710_124642546This is the second experience we have had with a Cat the Cat book.  (The other was Who Sleeps, CAT the CAT?)  Both books follow the same design, with the cat, named Cat, speaking to different animals to see what they do.  In this book, Cat finds her (she’s kind of wearing a t-shirt/dress, so I’m guessing Cat is a girl) friends and asks “What’s your sound?”  Cat’s friends all respond with a resounding woof/peep/moo until we meet Bunny, who responds differently than all the rest, leading into a snuggly ending.

Cat the Cat throws me as a reader and therefore confuses my daughters as they listen.  The repetition of the animal having a name that is the same name as their species is, for some reason, hard for me to read smoothly.  It feels awkward and I’m never comfortable with Continue reading

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No one is unaffected

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

In the wake of the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five Dallas police officers, I have seen this quote popping up throughout social media.  (Usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin, though I have also seen that challenged).  For the last 24 hours I have been following the news updates, reading emotional, painful posts from friends and strangers alike, and continually coming back to this quote in my mind. It doesn’t sit right with me.

When taken very literally, yes, I am unaffected.  I am a white, middle-class, heterosexual woman who works as a corporate professional and lives in a country where my religion is practiced freely.  I have not been forced to flee from my home.  I do not live in poverty.  I am not hated for the color of my skin or the sex of the person I married.

But this is where that translation ends.  I may not fall into any of the categories that threaten my immediate safety, but I am affected.  Please understand, I do not for one second think that my emotional outrage is on any level of comparison to those who are living in actual fear and danger.  But those people living in actual fear and danger are my Continue reading

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Can we call a bad news time-out?

I know it’s not reality to imagine the world with less bad news.  Even during times when there are fewer media reports of major crises, heartbreaking evil, or severe weather events, I know there are countless instances of bad news happening every minute all over the world.  But right now I feel like there’s a constant barrage of awful on the front page. The deadliest mass shooting in the US at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The Stanford rapist.   The US political race with all of its protests, hatred, and bullying.  The daily reports of death by gunfire in every major city.  The endless story of racial conflict.  The toddler who lost his life to an alligator in Florida.  That’s just to mention a few just stories happening in my own country.  To keep up on current events right now, you almost need a prescription for anxiety meds.

Realistically I understand that this period of time is no worse or better than any other in the past hundred years.  There are different conflicts, different evil, different crises, but there have always been conflicts, evil, and crises.   I understand that as an adult, as a parent, I see the world through different lenses than I did before.  I understand that we know more about everything and we know it instantaneously because of the advent of social media.  I get it.  But I still feel like there is more today than there ever has been.  Reality or not, my heart wants a break.

Can we all just come to an agreement that we acknowledge all the badness that is happening, but we want a tiny break?  Like, maybe an hour where all the news outlets report on the heroes, the silver lining, some light at the end of the tunnel of all these crises.  The examples of people working together and supporting one another.  Individuals putting themselves last so others can come first.  I know that all of that is happening every minute all over the world, too, and I need to hear about it.  I need to know those people, I need to hear those stories.  I need to show the good to my children, so they know that even in a world that feels like it is falling apart at the seams, love is present and love still conquers.  Everyday heroes exist.

Do you agree?  Can you help?  When we post, blog, publish, and report the bad news, let’s also do another one on the positive side.  Share articles that highlight hope.  Tweet about people doing good.  Write stories of light and love.  We will always hear about the awful.  Let’s make news out of the wonderful.

Sprout Score

Ben Loves Bear (Board Book)

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IMG_20160424_145951The story in this book follows Ben and Bear as they go through a typical day together.  Ben appears to be a two or three-year-old, big enough to sleep in a big-kid bed, and Bear is his teddy that never leaves this side.  The illustrations are uncomplicated and focused on only those two characters, showing snapshots of the fun they experience throughout the day.

The language is succinct, with an almost calming cadence as you read through the three to five-word sentences. For me, the reader, it is challenging to embellish.  For my toddlers, Continue reading

Photo via Visualhunt

High-tech convenience is making my life harder

I’m probably somewhere in the middle of the scale of my generation when it comes to using the best/fastest/easiest inventions to make my life better/faster/easier. I refuse to put a DVR player in my minivan, but I do have a cable TV system that I can control with voice commands.  I use an online grocery delivery service, but I won’t buy Lunchables.  I use a coffee mug to drink my coffee instead of disposable cups, but I use K-cups to make that coffee.  I’m as amused and impressed as the next guy when new ideas to improve convenience are marketed to the masses, but I always have a weird twinge of guilt, like I’m cheating by taking the easy way.  I don’t know why that is.

What I do know, though, is that some of the conveniences I regularly enjoy are also finding sneaky ways to make my life harder. Continue reading

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Beach Babies (Board Book)

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Beach Babies, Author Puck

This book is a lively bunch of illustrations of babies and their families having fun at the beach.  There is  a snippet of text to start the dialog as you turn the page, but the main appeal of the book is pointing out all of the different babies and the fun they are having.  The children and adults are diverse and dressed in lots of bright colors.

There are two pages at the end with tips for the reader with questions to ask and things to point out on each page. This is a great idea for a board book.  The first few times I read this with my toddlers I skipped over those pages and they were indifferent to the book.  Once I took the time to read and use the tips, it turned this book into a favorite that needs to be read before bed each night.

The most exciting page for my daughters is the one that has some mischievous babies who have taken off their swimsuits.  They point and laugh and say “butt! butt!”  I guess that kind of humor starts earlier than I realized.

Once I took advantage of the reader tips, this book became a lot more enjoyable for me.  We interact, point and ask questions, and it is great reading time for both parent and kids.

Sprout Score: ★★★★★ 

Reader Score: ★★★★

Author: Puck

Illustrator: Violet Lemay

For Ages: Toddlers and Preschoolers

ISBN: 9781938093234

For more about the authors and Beach Babies, go here.