Uber-List 2015

I commit to the following:

1. Different bedtimes for my children. Michael needs to have an earlier bedtime than his sisters. During the week, he needs to be in his room at 8 p.m.

Now, if I could figure out a way for him to learn to fall asleep on his own, that’s the next commitment we need to make. I don’t know when it started — I guess around the time we moved him into the big bed — but I started laying down with him at bedtime. I *never* did this with the girls.

Maybe when I started, he fell asleep faster, too. At this point, I am spending an hour laying there wishing for him to fall asleep. Thinking of all.the.things I need to be/want to be doing, from cleaning up the downstairs to reading my current book. It’s maddening.

M sleeping
More of this, sooner in the evening.

2. I commit to 20-30 minutes at least three times a week, in my home office, cleaning it out. Shredding paper, donating stuff we don’t use anymore, organizing files and photos. I want that room back. This is the year I take it back.

3. I commit to getting my hallway painted and hung with pictures. We bought all the supplies when we did the front closet re-do. It’s a matter of me persuading Dan to take the time, and then having a plan to make it look nice once he’s done his part.

4. I commit to a new family photo.

5. I commit to getting our finances in order. Dan and I are on the same page on this one. We need to cut some expenses (which we have already begun to do), recover our credit, and tighten the budget in 2015 so that in a year or two, we can loosen the belt again.

6. I commit to auditioning for Listen to Your Mother. Like my raise of last year, this is a cheat to put on the uber list. I have the essay written, edited down to under 5 minutes, and an audition time scheduled. It’s happening.

Tomorrow in fact.

7. I commit to being more focused and productive at work. I know I bitch about my job sometimes, but I am not switching lanes at this point unless I absolutely have to. I’m dreading the move to the open office, but I think I can be an advocate for positive change in my workplace. I have to keep my eyes on that.

8. I am committed to writing more than ever this year. It may not all show up on this here blog. I have a lot of words up in my brain that have to start getting to paper. There are things I want to change about my blog, expand it to more than the occasional diary entry or rant, BUT, I may need some other words elsewhere first.

9. I commit to at least one public reading this year.

10. I commit to applying to grad school. I have a particular MFA program in mind. I can’t believe I just wrote that. All righty, then.

I’m committed.

Troublemaker Red Wine
I am going to need plenty of this.

Yesterday in Tweets

So this happened:


We were in a meeting — six women, one man — and my supervisor said, “To each his own.” Without even thinking, I responded, somewhat amused, “You mean, ‘To each her own’.”

He laughed, and said, “You’re absolutely right!”

I feel I made an appropriate point, and I also feel that my boss handled it with humor and grace. Good on both of us!


Then this happened:


My girls had their “Buddy Lunch” yesterday, and they invited me, and Bella and Tadone. We all accepted, and I used some of my PTO to be able to attend.

And I stand by what I said. I like being a WOTHM — even if we didn’t need it for financial reasons, I would want to work outside the home. If we didn’t need me to for financial reasons, I’d like it better. I could find a position on my own terms.

I’ve been at this job long enough to have three weeks of vacation time, though. They don’t pay me to NOT take it. And they really don’t pay me enough to forgo special little things like Buddy Lunch with my children.


I felt good yesterday. It’s amazing what a new hair style, some sleep, and sunshine will do for a person.

How was your day?

Word for 2015: Commit

Please note, I do not mean “to be committed”. Which is how I feel some days, right on the cusp of a 201 (therapist speak for voluntary commitment).

My goals for 2015 all center around my need to commit.

I need to commit to getting M to bed every night at 8 p.m.
I need to commit to my career — as well as my job.
I need to commit to stretching, even when it starts to get uncomfortable.
I need to commit to cleaning and reclaiming space in my house.

My über list is coming together.
My essay for Listen to Your Mother is on paper.

My commitments are to little things and to big things.

I’m ready.

Do you have a word for 2015?

Year in Review: 2014 Uber List

How did I do?

Here’s my list from last year:

1. Ask for a raise. This is kind of a cheat. I already have a meeting scheduled, and my reasons worked out. Now I have to sit in my bosses office and say, “It’s time for me to get a raise.”

I’m pretty terrified.

2. Update and promote my blog.

3. Redo the front closet and paint the hallway going up the stairs.

4. Write and publish something not blog or work related.

5. Find a new brand of pants that fits. And buy all the colors.


1. I got a raise. It has gone poof this year, but that is a story for another time. (Think health insurance premiums.)
2. Um… I did make a few tweaks. And I’m more active on Facebook. But I need to do better.
3. Front closet: yes. Hallway: no.

Front closet redo
Front closet redo
Up-the-stairs hallway.
Up-the-stairs hallway.

4. I did branch out a little bit. I guest posted here and here a few times. I wrote copy for this guy.
5. This one hasn’t worked out so far. But, I don’t shop that much either.


I have my word of the year, and lots of thoughts about it.

My uber-list for 2015 is shaping up, and it will be short and sweet like 2014’s list.


Random Thoughts: The Seven Things Edition

1. Two nights ago, M complained about his ear hurting him. He didn’t have a fever, but I gave him some Advil because it was bedtime, and I didn’t want him to be in pain. When I picked him up from daycare yesterday, one of the women told me that he had had a scab in his ear. When I looked in it, there was a bunch of gunk there, which shouldn’t be there because he has tubes.

So, off to the doctor we go.

2. Our health insurance plan changed (thanks, Corporate Employer!), and it’s stressing me out. We’re about to see it in action.

3. Kate sometimes gets worked up. Gets upset or agitated, and she can’t get calmed back down. Dan and I have gone around and ’round about what to do about this. She gets anxious, she gets angry, she gets sad, and she doesn’t know what to do. After a long discussion, we’ve decided that the three of us (me, Kate, and Dan) are going to find ways to help Kate “put on the brakes”. That’s what we’re calling it — putting on the brakes, as in, “Kate, you have to put on the brakes.” And then we have to come up with behaviors and strategies to help her do so.

Wish us luck.

4. Our January weekends are all booked already, which isn’t exactly surprising or unwelcome. It just seemed to happen so suddenly. This weekend is a three-day weekend for the children and me, and it’s not completely booked up — we have one social thing to do Sunday afternoon. And we have to finish packing up Christmas. My parents will be in town next weekend; and the weekend after that is my birthday weekend, which I’ve already planned. So: all good, just busy.

5. Speaking of being booked in January, I am auditioning for Listen to Your Mother, which is coming to Pittsburgh for the first time. If you’re interested, check out the details here. Um, I have an essay to write. BRB.

I doubt I’m going to be able to top my friend Kim’s performance, but I hope to do her proud — if I even make the show.

If you have a story about motherhood — whether or not you’re a mother — you should consider auditioning too.

6. I just want to get something posted today, which is why I started this and now I can’t think of seven things. Hashtag pathetic.

7. Here’s proof that 2015 so far is as good musical as 2014. As far as I’m concerned, anyway.

— Belle and Sebastian, “Party Time” from their new album Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance

Thoughts on an Afterlife

Thoughts on an Afterlife

I’ve been ruminating on this post for some time. I blame Stephen King.

Dan bought me King’s latest novel, Revival, for Christmas. I finished it some time ago, my first book of 2015 — and it’s good. I would recommend it if you are a King fan. Compelling story-telling, as always.

*Spoiler alert* (skip on down to the ++)

Toward the end of the book, we, of course, get what we came for: a good dose of nightmare imagery from the King of Horror. A peek into what lies on the other side of the earthly curtain.

Our protagonist is a boy when he first encounters charismatic minister Charles Daniel Jacobs. These two men are destined to encounter each other over and over again, and each is dealing with his own obsessions and demons. Finally, our protagonist, having been cured of his heroin addiction through the application of “special electricity” by our antagonist, finds himself witness to a breach into the afterlife.

And it’s horrible, a terrifying landscape of dead souls prodded through a barren valley by ant-like creatures. The sky is a void hiding “The Mother” an insectile being from the Null. This, according to King’s character, is what awaits us when we die.

No God, no peaceful afterlife, no heaven or nirvana — not even a blank void of nothingness. A version of hell awaits every person who is alive.

The depiction of this afterlife reminds me of other King novels, including Lisey’s Story and From a Cadillac 8 — neither of which I liked at all. I pretty much hated Lisey’s Story. Too fantastical for my tastes, I suppose.

And even as a work of fiction, the story fell apart for me right at the end. My suspension of disbelief couldn’t deal with this imaginary afterlife. As part of the story, it makes sense. It is crushing to Jacobs because instead of being reunited with his beloved wife and son — who have been dead for years — he has discovered that Hell awaits.


Sometimes Dan asks me if I think I will be reunited with loved ones when we die. He asks specifically if I think I will get to see Gabriel. In other words, what is heaven like? And I truly do not know; I don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on it.

If I were more romantic, I would like the idea of seeing my first son. Something about that thought brings me peace.

But what I do believe is that after we die, we are reunited with God. That there is a heaven. And that regardless of how we conceive of it, we enter a world of love and light. Such that it doesn’t matter if our loved ones are there to greet us or not. That beyond this earthly plane there is no more longing, no more pain.

The infinite nature of God, or heaven, is completely beyond our comprehension. Since we can’t wrap our heads around the idea of the infinite, I think we try to give form to what may be waiting for us. We guess, we hope, maybe, we dread. King paints a picture of terror; books like Heaven Is Real paint pictures of a welcoming afterlife.

I prefer to believe in the welcoming version, the version where we are in God’s presence for the rest of eternity. Maybe that sounds glorious, or naive, or hopeful. It’s comforting to me.

Do you believe in Heaven?

Presque Isle
Probably not what Heaven looks like. But maybe!

ETA: It’s From a Buick 8, not a Cadillac. h/t Adam Music! (Who didn’t answer the question. Boo.)

Kate is 8!

My dearest Kate,

That is you, up there in the blog site banner, with the elephant masks going every which way. That image says so much about you.

Oh my spirited girl! Your mind is awhirl with thoughts, and I’m not sure you can keep up with yourself yet. But you are trying to learn how to engage your big, creative spirit. You are at your best with a project in your hands. Otherwise, you bounce and vibrate, looking for something to focus on.


You continue to amaze me. Your anger blazes up; your sadness is bigger than our household. On the plus side, your smile is bigger than your face, your heart bigger than your wiry little frame, and your love brighter than the sun. You are more extroverted than any 8-year-old in the history of 8-year-olds. You are a star.

Kate at 8
Kate the Great

The thing you need to work on for 8 is your worry, which is also large and very consuming. And I will try to help you. Your fretting knows no bounds; you sometimes give yourself tummy aches and headaches. Your father and I promise to help you deal with those worrisome thoughts.

And you and I need to be kinder and more patient with each other. I will do my part.

You will grow into your large spirit, of that I have no doubt. You reach out to others all the time, to talk, to help, to play.

Kate, you are great. Don’t stop reaching.


The Persistence of Faith

Yesterday at Mass, a baby was baptized into the Catholic church. This was the first time I had seen a baptism at our parish, and I was oddly moved by it.

Flora was the only child to attend Mass with me yesterday. During the baptism, she leaned against me to watch the proceedings from our pew.

“Did I cry when I was baptized?” she whispered.

I told her I honestly didn’t remember.

The little baby kicked her feet during the christening and anointing. I was reminded of spending the day after each of my children was baptized leaning over to smell the chrism on their little heads.

I watched the parents, a young couple — “young” being a relative term; they are probably in their 30s, maybe late 20s. They beamed with pride and hope.

I, too, felt a measure of hope and pride. Hope because a church that is performing public baptisms is a church that can continue to grow and thrive. And pride because in the face of the challenges that the church faces, these parents decided to stand up and declare their dedication to said church.

I don’t think that Christians or Catholics in America are under siege the way some far right religious people might feel. There’s no “war on Christmas”.

At the same time, I do think it takes a certain amount of bravery to stand up and declare yourself among friends and family who may have different religious or spiritual beliefs.

I’m not a great Catholic, but I am a practicing Catholic, and I make no bones about it. I’d like see the Vatican change the policy about ordaining women; I miss Mass sometimes, usually on Holy days of obligation during the week; I don’t know my catechism by heart by any stretch of the imagination. I am a creed Catholic; that is, everything that is said during the Nicene creed, I believe, wholly. Although I do wish they would change that part about “for us men” and just say “for us.” I leave off the “men” when I pray the creed aloud in church.

And I also believe and try to practice Jesus’ first commandment, which is simply, “Love one another.”

I was excited to see that these parents and godparents were happy to participate in this child’s baptism. I wonder if they get questioning looks or snide comments from friends or acquaintances about their faith. Conversely, of course, I wonder if they married in the church and are baptizing their child in the church because of familial expectations. (I didn’t get that sense from them. They were *beaming* during the ceremony.)

I think Pope Francis has introduced a freshness into the public Catholic face, and I couldn’t be happier that he is the leader of the church in the world. But the things that he preaches are not new to us practitioners of the faith. It’s a relief that the focus is being taken off of sexual ideology, and the conversation is once more focused on loving *and serving* each other.

I know that sometimes people think we faithful are judgmental, or old fashioned, or stuck in the past, or irrational. (Granted, some religious people are any or all of these things.) But the church is a living breathing organization of real people as well. The people in the church, from the Holy See on down, are imperfect, thus the Catholic church is imperfect. But we’re trying. The best of us (and I don’t necessarily count myself among the best) are trying to live and serve God, and bring the message of Jesus to everyone.


On Christmas Eve, I tweeted:


One of my friends marveled that they make faith so hard. I wasn’t quite sure what she meant, unless she was speaking about faith as a set of rules to follow — which is not how I think of my faith. I find my faith very freeing. It’s not difficult for me to be a person of faith. Although, again, I am not a great Catholic.

Looking at those parents holding their child as the priest performed a baptism, I was heartened. For the Catholic church, as well as for my parish. They truly gave the sense that participating in the sacrament was a joy, not a chore. And I hope that more Catholics feel joyful when it comes to their faith than don’t.

Catholic Books for 2014
Two books my parents gave my family for Christmas. Can you say, “Mixed messages?”