All great changes are preceded by chaos

Everyone knows that saying “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” (My personal favorite incarnation is “When life gives you lemons, find someone who was given vodka and have a party,” but you know, 6 of one, half a dozen of the other, right?)

Anyhoo, sometimes life gives you lemons. And sometimes life throws them at you as if to say, “See what you can do with these!”

Life threw some lemons at me a earlier this month when I was let go from my job. I do not completely understand all their decision making, and why they decided to lay off who they did and keep others, but the reasons behind it aren’t so important here. Suffice to say, no matter what happened, I am currently unemployed.

I was bitter about it for a couple days, but now I see it as a blessing in disguise. I hated that job. It made me a miserable person. It physically made me ill most days to be in the office, like it was toxic (and it probably actually was, if you could only see the conditions of the buildings). I feel like me again.

I’d been praying on this for some time now, looking for direction in what to do. I think God knew I was never going to quit, so He literally forced me out of the situation I was in, giving me a lot of free time to find something better. Not to mention some time to be a quasi SAHM to my sweet girl.

It’s also giving me time to focus on the one thing I have always loved to do, the one thing I really do want to make a career out of: Writing. I’m officially a freelance writer, getting paid to write articles about anything and everything. I have to say, it was one of the proudest moments of my life when I sold my first article. It made me realize I can do this.

I’m also focusing on my creative writing as well. I’ve written a couple short stories, and have some more in the works. It feels so good to just write again. All of the negative energy from my old job just completely stifled any creative flow I might have had. Being away from that atmosphere unclogged a pipe in me that had been completely blocked off.

Being unemployed does have it’s perks. Getting to change from PJs to yoga leggings for one, and not ever having to wear make up for another. Also, I can finally go grocery shopping at times when no one else is there. Not having to navigate your cart around other carts at Target might be a form of heaven on earth. Double points if I get to go alone

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. God would not put something on my plate if He didn’t know I could handle it. I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be right now. I am confident that the right job will come along, something that works for my family and our circumstances. For right now, I’m enjoying the time with A and all the writing I get to do. I have to say, it’s a refreshing change of pace.

HSM’s Ultimate Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s day is around the corner, y’all! I am ashamed to admit prior to having Amelia I never thought much into Mother’s Day. I know, I know, I’m a terrible daughter. I mean, I love and appreciate my mother every day, but now having a child myself, I am way, way, way into Mother’s Day. Not so much because I love presents and cards and flowers (well, I mean, I do), but because I am into showing my love and appreciation to the mothers in my life way more now that I too am a mother.

I know gift giving can be difficult, and because of that, I have put together a neat little gift guide. Fellas, if you are looking for ideas, chances are something on this list will work (I am into almost everything on the planet at least a little, and I am very much a typical “girl”, so chances are something on this list will work for your leading lady). Mamas, feel free to forward this to your man, use it for ideas for your mom or MIL (or important mother figure in your life), or even buy yourself a little something. You deserve it!

Almost everything on this list is less than $50, because I know I am not the only person that needs to pinch their pennies, but everything is lovely and thoughtful, and a lot of it is even useful. A lot of it is also frivolous because sometimes gifts should be.  Don’t say I never did anything for you.

For the Coffee Lover

Adorable coffee cups (Like these, these, or these)

A French Press. I LOVE COFFEE. I seriously have two coffee makers on my counter, but I don’t have one of these, and the more I read about them the more I want one.

For the Tea Drinker

Ridiculously cute, vintage tea cups (use these, these, or these for inspiration)

A tea kettle. I always made my tea in the microwave (all the hard core tea drinkers are gasping in horror right now), until John got me a tea kettle for Christmas. I won’t say it changed the way I drink tea, but it is adorable and nice to have.

Loose leaf tea/infuser (I love this robot infuser and want him for myself!)

Tea brewing system. John got me this Tea Forte tea brewing system for Christmas, and I love it. It’s a really convenient way to make loose leaf tea!

For the Wine Aficionado 

Wine glass charms (How stinking cute are these? I am seriously in love with them.)

Stainless steel wine glasses. Summer is upon us after all, and summer is the season for picnics, outdoor concerts, and camping. While I am not above drinking wine out of a Dixie cup, every now and then it’s nice to look cool and classy, no?

In-bottle aerator. You know, if you care about things like “letting wine breathe” instead of just immediately chugging it out of the bottle. Oh, is that just me? Never-mind then.

For the Foodie

Spiral Vegetable Slicer. Making your veggies look like pasta is ALL THE RAGE on Pinterest right now, y’all.

My Family Cookbook. Better than a box of recipe cards.

For the Stylish Mama

Fun jewelry! Not necessarily even nice jewelry, just something fun, like a cool statement necklace or chunky bracelet.

Birthstone earrings. Especially good if she already has a pendant or ring with your kid’s or your birthstone.

A cute clutch (pair it with an invitation for a fun night out if this is given to your wife, hint hint)

A subscription to Stitch Fix (I haven used this for myself, but I really want to, and I have heard great things about it. You could also do BirchBox or Ipsy if makeup is more her bag).

For the Artsy-Fartsy Mama

Fun, original artwork. Etsy is a great place to go for stuff like this! I myself am partial to this, this, and this.

DIY something with your kids. Pinterest is filled with easy crafts to do.

For the music lovin’ mama:

CDs. Does anyone actually buy CDs anymore? If she has a band she buys all the singles on iTunes for, get her a few of their CDs, especially if they have older stuff she doesn’t know. Or rebuy some of her favorite CDs from high school or college, especially if it’s band you both loved and the songs have significance.

Cool old vinyl

Make a mix tape! Fill it with songs that mean things to her, to you, to you both, and to your kids.

For the Nerdy Mama (I told you I would have something for everyone)

Harry Potter nerds: This, this, or this, all awesome.

Doctor Who nerd. I never was able to get into Doctor Who, but even I still find this, this, and this cool.

Supernatural nerds. If you can’t get Jensen or Jared to make a personal appearance at her house, this or this is a good consolation prize.

Random things from around the Internet that I think are cool

Because who doesn’t love cheeky embroidery. I would want any of these in my house.

Personalize your voice sound wave. This is just plain awesome.

I feel like even a brown thumb like me could handle the moss in this adorable, recycled wine bottle terrarium.

Beach lover? Then she needs this!

If you are willing to spend the big bucks, this “A History of Existing Life” framed print is awesome.

These engraved, stackable rings are beautiful, but again, cost a lot of money.

My favorite online places for gifts: Etsy, Amazon, and Uncommon Goods. Sale sites like Zulily, One Kings Lane, and Rue La La are also great, but products often have short shelf lives and long shipping times, thus requires forethought.

Also a good idea: Hire a photographer for a family session, and whip up a cool gift certificate (this is pretty easy in almost any desktop publishing software, and there are plenty of free templates online). Most moms wish they had more pictures of them with their kids. I for one am always saying we need to do a family portrait session, but never seem to get around to doing it. Bonus: Everyone knows at least one budding photographer that needs material for a portfolio, so you can even do it on the cheap.

And don’t discount the power behind homemade cards and breakfast in bed, either!

Where I’ve been

So, it’s been a few weeks (three, to be exact) since I’ve blogged. It’s not because I’ve forgotten, or haven’t had things to write about, because every day when I get home from work, I think to myself, “I should blog…I need to write…I have to write…” And I often find myself thinking, “This will make a great post…I can’t wait to write about this.”

And then, for the past three weeks, I haven’t.

I don’t really have an excuse other than pure exhaustion and what I believe has been a bad case of the winter blahs. I just haven’t had the energy to summon up a coherent thought. If I’m being entirely honest, a lot of this has to do with my job right now. To be frank, my work situation isn’t great. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve cried at work the last few weeks. I’m not an expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s a sign something is not right.

It’s carrying over a lot of stress and anxiety into my personal life. I’ve always been prone to stress and anxiety, so this level of stress on top of daily life stress, is really affecting everything rather negatively. It’s hurting me, my family, and my ability to be a productive member of society. I’m starting to think maybe I should talk to someone about it.

I have always been independent, almost to a fault. I don’t like asking for help. I don’t like feeling like I can’t do it by myself. I don’t like not being able to fix the problem by myself. It’s hard to admit when you can no longer do something on your own. It’s hard to admit something is not working, especially when you so desperately wanted it to work, and thus feel like a failure. It’s hard to open your heart and soul to friends, family, and strangers on the Internet. It’s hard to change. But the hardest thing, I think, would be to continue to live in unhappiness because I was too proud to ask for help.

Life is balancing act, and unfortunately I’ve never been very coordinated. Bear with me while I learn to balance better.

Guilty pleasures

Everyone has those “things” in their life they desperately love, that make them happy and giddy. But for whatever reason, you don’t make these little favorites known for fear of embarrassment.

Yep, I’m talking guilty pleasures. One of the little things that just make life worth it. You have ’em, I have ’em, and now I’m going to admit mine to all of you, and fear public criticism and condemnation.

If you’re having a rough week like I am, hopefully this will make you feel a little better.

Reality TV: I don’t watch a lot of television, but if I do watch it, it’s probably a reality/competition show. I can’t help it, they draw me in like moths to a flame. American Idol, The Biggest Loser, America’s Next Top Model…I love them all, but my long time favorite is the Bachelor/Bachelorette. I can’t help myself. In spite of knowing how fake it is, and reading the spoilers each season on Reality Steve, I cannot stop watching the train wreck. I love the canned drama and the vapid girls/guys they always seem to cast. This season the bachelor is a total space cadet who has no idea what’s going on. It’s awesome.

Military homecoming videos on YouTube: If I’m having a bad day, or need a good cry, these can fix both circumstances, almost instantly. I find the longest compilation and just blubber. I literally cannot resist these videos. If they are linked anywhere, I must watch.

Shopping the clearance racks at Target (also the dollar spot): I literally cannot resist the call of the red stickers at Target. Do I need four v-neck tshirts in varying shades of neutrals? No, but they’re only $4! Same goes for The Dollar Spot. Ooooh, every random thing under the sun for a buck? Don’t mind if I do.

Filling up my cart in stores (or online) then slowly emptying it: I cannot be the only one who does this, right? I just like the idea of maybe buying these things, imagining what it would be like to have said things, then just abandoning that dream because I don’t want to spend the money.

Really, really, REALLY bad music: Most people would be ashamed to admit to the kind of music I like. I too am ashamed. Some people say there is no such thing as bad music. I say that’s a lie, it does exist, and I most definitely listen to it.

Pinning recipes I’ll never cook and crafts I’ll never craft on Pinterest: Like so many other modern moms, I too fall victim to the pretty photoshopped food porn and crafts on Pinterest. I pin them knowing full well if there is more than five ingredients and/or steps, they are never, never, never happening.

What are some of your guilty pleasures?

Happy New Year

So, this is a little late, I actually started writing this yesterday then got side tracked. Then when I was trying to finish it while multitasking (translation: Holding my fussy, teething toddler), A smacked my keyboard and deleted the post. So I had to rewrite it this morning, but Happy New Year anyway! I hope you all spent your New Year’s Eve and Day doing whatever it is that makes you happy. For me, that was watching the ball drop while drinking champagne on the couch in yoga pants, and reading and playing and movie watching. Bliss.

2013 was definitely A Year for us. If you had asked me last year this time if I saw myself sitting where I am now (on my couch, staring outside at almost six inches of snow and counting), I would have laughed at you. But I am where I am, and I’m pretty happy with it (snow not withstanding). We both started new jobs, watched A turn one and learn and grow so much, and moved 1000 miles away from home to Indiana. 2013 definitely had ups and downs, but overall it was a great year, and I think we are starting 2014 in a great place. I’m ready to see what this year has in store for us.

I’m not doing any fancy resolutions or goals this year. I’m keeping it pretty simple: Be healthy, be happy, write more (not just for this blog, but in general, going to try to get back into freelancing and maybe some short stories), read more, drink more tea, and enjoy my life. I think I can handle those. What are your goals for the new year?

(It’s still snowing, by the way.)

Home wasn’t built in a day

I knew it would happen eventually.

I am officially homesick.

I miss my family and my friends. I miss my old house and my old city. I miss being able to run errands and know exactly where I’m going. I even miss my old job and my old co-workers. (I’m getting into the hard part of my job and have had a couple rough days. I’m sure this is partly to blame for these emotions.) It’s not that Indianapolis is a miserable place, it’s quite nice, and everyone I’ve met here is quite nice. But it’s not my home yet, and they aren’t my good friends yet.

I miss being able to pick up my phone and have someone to text/call and go hang out with. I miss being able to make plans with family and friends. I never truly appreciated how lucky I was to have such an amazing support system of family and friends in place. Now that I don’t have that, I wish I had taken better advantage of it the months before moving. Like my best friend often says to me, “Sometimes life gets in the way of things.”

I know it’s true, but it stinks. This is part of the hindsight is twenty/twenty thing that comes with being an adult, isn’t it?

Even though right now I’m feeling sad, I know it’s not permanent. When I moved to Boston for grad school I went through the same thing (and I even had family up there). Eventually, I got used to it and the people I met became good friends. I’m sure the same thing will happen here. And of course I have the added bonus of being with the two people that mean the most to me here.

In the end, home is wherever we’re all together.

If I had a million dollars…

…I would do a lot of things, but first I think I’d hire someone to finish unpacking all these boxes for me. I’ve been staring at them for days now. Part of the problem is after work, I just don’t feel like unpacking, or unpacking is just logistically difficult. Obviously, after work I am getting dinner prepared or A ready for bed, and after that I am just tired and want to play Candy Crush until I inevitably lose all my lives. Both weekends we’ve been here so far, John has been out of town, so I can only unpack when A is sleeping. She is a TERRIBLY light sleeper, and I’ve woken her up a couple times trying to put things away .

Also, I really don’t know where to put a lot of things. I’ve never had an “adult” house to decorate, and I’m unsure where to start. Along side my professional un-packer, I’d hire a professional decorator. I have never had an eye for design, which is pretty obvious if you’ve ever been inside any of the places I’ve lived. Part of the problem is I’m cheap. I would like to be all Pottery Barn, but then I see the price tag and I’m like “LOL no.” I know you can decorate, tastefully, for significantly less, but that whole not-having-the-time thing really gets in the way.

pottery-barn

What my house will never look like (Photo courtesy of Pottery Barn)

 

This is a problem because I need a lot more things to get this place looking good (right now it’s just functional). We got a nice couch and chair for the living room, but we need a media console and coffee table. I’d also like to get a low bookcase with room for storing some of A’s toys/books, and maybe a couple storage ottomans to keep DVDs and video games out of sight (and for additional seating). I’ve been checking Craigslist and a local thrift store but have yet to see anything that I like.

For the first time, I have a room I can actually dedicate to an office, which is awesome, because I’ll have a place I can call Hot Shot Mama HQ (instead of just, you know, my couch, where I am currently writing this from), and my new job is going to require some working from home. I just don’t know what to do with it. I’ve been spending a lot of time on Pinterest trying to find ideas. I like the idea of a Parsons style desk and a funky chair, but other than that I’ve got nothing.

alloffices

(That last one is my dream office, if I had unlimited space/funds. I would love a desk for writing and a desk for other tasks. But I have neither so I’m going to try to marry things from the first three. I really like the oversized pin board in the first image, all the storage in the second, and the floating shelves in the third. Since I can’t have the epic desk from my dream office I will settle for the cool chair.)

Seeing as I am unlikely to fall into piles of money anytime soon, I really need to get over the not-being-good at decorating thing and just figure it out, because this house? Not going to decorate itself.