I started with one blog, increased to two, and found myself with three before too long.  Well, three is too many.  I'd resisted the urge to have a "mommy blog" for many, many reasons, most of which have disappeared after reading so many wonderful blogs by other mothers.  The main purpose in having two separate personal blogs (the third is about a book project I'm doing) was to give myself a space to be someone other than a mother.

However, in writing the blogs, I've learned that there is really no part of my life that has remained untouched by the birth of my son, so there is very little point in artificially separating my thoughts, goals, or funny stories.  And so, whether you were following one or both blogs, I'm settling into Team Rasler and retiring Some Wisdom to Know the Difference.  I am still aiming for wisdom, but how my Team is doing has everything to do with my quest and is the reason for it in the first place.

So I hope you will keep following along there and offering up your own words of wisdom and encouragement.  I appreciate them all!


So it's the first week of January, and that means that my first post back after a very long holiday is required to be about resolutions, right?  And since most of my posts have been about my goals, resolutions, and Happiness Project, this ought to have been easy.  Unfortunately, my head was about to explode thinking of all the aforementioned goals and I couldn't figure out whether to pick one, keep doing the five per month plan, change the whole thing, or what. 

And so, here we are on the fifth of January when I am finally figuring out what I'm resolving to do in 2010.

I am going with two resolutions.  I'm going to work on the first one until I've got it down, at which point I'll reward myself with the second.  Here we go.

My first resolution is to get back on track with my Daily Habits.  There are just some things that I hate doing or can't remember to do but which must be done so that I don't go insane or live in a garbage heap.  You know what sorts of things I mean because you have them on your list, too, and if you are anything like me you have become very good at finding reasons to do them tomorrow, Scarlett, because that is another day.  But after one too many people showing up unexpectedly at my door when my house looks like I live in a hurricane zone (rather than the earthquake/volcano zone in which I actually live), I decided I'd better get serious about my daily list.

I read some great advice over on Zen Habits about choosing triggers that will help remind you to do the new habit you're trying to form, and I realized that the only To Do's I had kept up with were the ones that were completed after one of these "triggers" - things I do every day, like wake up, pass the munchkin to his dad for a half hour in the morning, put him down for a nap, get him up for a nap, put him to bed, etc.  All of those events happen pretty much every day without fail, so if I can get two things done after each of those, that's already 10 items completed.  So for example, when I wake up, I'm doing a 20 min workout and putting any clean dishes away so the dishwasher is ready for reloading.  I wake up every day, so it's not like I'm going to forget to do those things, right?  When he gets turned over to Daddy, I clean the cat litter and start a load of laundry before I shower and dress.  You get the idea.

The problem still is motivation {because, really, was I forgetting to put away the dishes?  Not so much.} so that is where my second resolution comes into play.  I'm still using my charts with the smiley faces because I'm a dorky teacher who likes things like that, but finally I have figured out what my reward will be.

Once I can say that I've successfully completed my daily habits for a month, I'm moving onto phase two:

Making 2010 more musical.

I realized that so much of what I love to do in my free time (besides read, read, and read more) has to do with music - singing, dancing, and playing the piano.  I've gotten away from all of those things for various reasons like raising a small child and quitting my job that provided income for beloved activities, but it's time to get back to it.

Once I've got my habits firmly established, I'm going to add one more to them:  playing the piano every day.  No, I don't have a piano yet, but we have a keyboard that can stand in, we are going to be looking to buy a used piano, and I'm going to treat myself to piano lessons so I can relearn how to play correctly and get MUCH better than I was the last time I took lessons (probably when I was 9, right, Mom?).

I'm really psyched about this, but it's going to require me to shed a lot of my Procrastinating Self to get to this second resolution.  We'll see how well the triggers work at keeping me focused and on track.

Meanwhile, I'll use this blog to help keep me honest, since that's another suggestion:  be public about your resolutions.

So in all honesty, I will say that I got everything done on my list except that I did not check or sort the mail today.  And I have no intention of going out now in the dark and rain to do so.  Therefore, it's a good thing that tomorrow is indeed another day. 

Let's just hope I'm not still saying that on December 31st.

Christmas is for everyone

I have lost count of the number of times I've heard it this year. "Let's just do gifts for the kids." And every time I am shocked, dismayed, speechless. What? Since when is Christmas just for children?

These are not easy times for most people, I know that. Everyone is trying to squeeze as much out of their budgets as possible, including us. If I don't impose spending limits on myself for each and every recipient on my Christmas list, I end up spending twice as much and eating things like macaroni and cheese for most of January.

But still. Only the kids get presents this year? Am I the only person who objects??

My husband asked me if Christmas was "only about the presents" for me when we had the discussion about whom to include on our list and how much to spend. After I sputtered for a while that it was about much more than presents, I tried to explain that I wouldn't even care (too much) if I didn't receive any gifts, but I didn't see why I couldn't buy or make gifts for the adults, too. I happen to like my friends, siblings, and other relatives just as much (or more) than I like their children, and I don't see why I shouldn't be able to do something special for them as well. Doesn't everyone enjoy gifts? Ok, no, some people don't. They find them a waste of money and usually don't get what they want or need. I won't name names here. But most people do like gifts, even if they are small and/or homemade. In fact lots of people like that kind the best.

I can't even picture what the Christmas trees at the various family parties will look like this year. Decorated and sparkly, sure, but mostly empty underneath. I come from a huge family, and the Christmas Eve pile at my grandparents' house is usually pretty impressive. Not this year. There are a handful of children doing an exchange, and everyone else has agreed not to do gifts. I understand, I do, but deep down I hate it.

I think the idea of outgrowing Christmas is depressing. I may be a lapsed Catholic, but I'm pretty sure I learned that Christ was born for all of us. And even if you don't go for the religious angle, everyone is in need of some thoughtfulness, especially if times are tough. It's true that I can sleep through the night on Christmas Eve (something that was particularly upsetting to me the first time it happened, as though now I was finally, sadly a grown-up about Christmas), but I still get that thrill when I wake up and realize what day it is and head for the stocking I just know will be stuffed with all kinds of fun goodies from my family.

This year I went along with it (mostly) in order to keep from making people uncomfortable. But this is my fair warning - a year in advance - that I'm going to refuse from now on. I'm going to buy or make gifts for anyone I want, regardless of age. I'm happy to do something free if the money thing will make people uncomfortable, but I don't want my son to grow up thinking that the holiday is all about him, but only until he is 18.

And no, I don't believe my parents or in-laws who say that we are still their "kids" so they can still get us presents. No need for the loophole or rationalization. We are not kids.

And Christmas is for all of us.

Sleep deprivation

Lack of sleep is currently responsible for the (temporary?) destruction of my resolutions, effective habits, and overall mood. I am never surprised in moments like these to recall that sleep deprivation is used as a means of torture and mind control.

Though our trip back to Michigan for the holidays was wonderful, it resulted in now nearly two weeks of interrupted nights courtesy of our toddler who had difficulties adjusting to the time zone each way, and is just generally having a hard time putting himself back to sleep without shouting about it multiple times a night. I know there are people out there (like my next-door neighbors who just brought home a newborn) who have to actually get up when their child cries and who are probably more exhausted than I am. I don't even know how to express my sympathy to those people because really - I NEED my full night's sleep. Even more than 3 or 4 hours uninterrupted would feel like bliss right now.

Even with monitor turned off, the mid-night cries of my son have yanked me out of a sound sleep for too long now, and if one more cat jumps on my head to demand to be fed at five in the morning, I might go seriously off the deep end.

If anyone knows how the fathers among us can sleep through the vast majority of this, let me know. I read an article about how it may not be their fault; they're just not programmed that way. I am no less annoyed.

I am fortunate enough to not be teaching this year, because I'm not sure that I could handle a classroom full of holiday-crazed children with any amount of patience right now.

Really, I have no patience for any of the Christmas cheer going on these days, which more than anything else tells me that it's getting close to time for drastic measures. Like sleeping in the guest room with our loudest fan. Or a hotel. I'm considering it.