100 Happy Days Take 2

Honestly folks, I'm killing this project - and my life, pretty much in. fucking. order.

Not that this project is the reason my life is in order. My life is in order because I hit rock bottom a month (or two) ago and was forced to drag myself up by my own hair with the help of my own brutal honesty and a pretty phenomenal therapist.

First rule of life, if you can't admit what kind of shape you're in, you cant fix yourself. True story.

Anyway. In no particular order, and not even necessarily my happy image for the day (because apparently iphoto isn't importing images I shoot in Instagram). So if you're that curious, you can keep up with me on Instagram @photosensitive.

Waiting in the car for Pops to pick up our Five Guys Friday. I look over and Pops and M are dancing, Pops in the Five Guys window, M in the passenger seat.

Sometimes, I get shit done.

this picture just makes me so happy. She picked all these clothes herself. They are all her big sister's.

"look at these fuckin flowers mom!!! loook at them!"

don't be fooled, this kid was in the process of ripping these to shreds
And last but not least, a selfie.
We were celebrating 2 straight weeks of me adulting, like a boss. No serious anxiety or depression issues in that time; I also was on top of my shit.

Granted at this very moment my house is slightly destroyed and I've done nothing to fix it. Yesterday's dishes are still spilling out of my sink, and I just might go get on that. Unfuck my habitat for a bit before bed.

But I feel all right. Not perfect, but all right.



Life isn't always this beautiful.
But there are days where I walk out my back door armed with a camera and M is in a good mood... It's been months since I've seriously attempted to photograph anything. But for two days in a row I've captured my kids. As they are, dirty knees, scabbed legs, caped, with wind-blown hair.

So I Might Have a Problem

With Facebook.

I know people who sit at their computers and/or smart phones all day looking at facebook. They play games (which thankfully I have never been tempted to play). They stalk people's pages. They scroll for hours, and hours and hours. I know those people. I feel bad for those people.

And secretly - I have more in common with those people than I'd ever like to admit.

Granted I don't exactly have the luxury of spending hour after hour at my computer any more. Thanks kids. But if I did, I could totally hyper focus on Facebook or Pinterest or whatever for half a day or shit, even a whole day. I've done it before.

I have, however, discovered this really gross habit that I've developed.

Obsessively checking Facebook. Perhaps not obsessively - but entirely too often. The click back from one page to Facebook intermittently throughout the evening/afternoon to see who's said what about something I posted... It's time consuming. And when you realize you're doing it, it's a bit soul crushing. But there I was an hour later with seemingly nothing to do, plopping down at my computer and clicking the little blue F on my bookmark toolbar...

So I gave up Facebook, what? Four, five days ago? I've lost count honestly. And I've done pretty well with it. I've signed in a couple of times, going directly to the homeschool group's page to check on outings (while wandering round the Botanical gardens, wondering why I hadn't seen anyone from the group there yet) and I've posted photos directly from Instagram. But I have left the red little bubbles that alert you to new things up at the top completely alone.

So far, so good.
Except not really. I find myself staring at Instagram, looking for me. me. me. Look at me. Who's talking to me? Who's out there willing to connect with me? Even if it's just a little <3 on a photo I snapped of my kids.

Do you want to throw up yet?

Because I do.

How disgusting am I that I have come to rely on social media to connect with other people??? Today I really just wanted to pull my own fingernails out after realizing just what I was doing...

And so, I texted my two best friends in the whole wide world - who currently live a thousand miles away from me and with whom I don't talk as much as I'd like.

I sent love to them. I reminded them how much they mean to me and how much I miss having them in my life. And in return, I got love and sunshine.

And I called my brother and talked to him.

And I chatted with my grandmother.

Because realizing that I had grown dependent on social media for human interaction (a large chunk of human interaction in my life) was beyond disturbing. And I decided right then and there that there are meaningful connections that I could and should be making instead. There are letters to write and phone calls to make. There is a real life to enjoy outside of me. me. me.

Am I going to give up on Facebook all together? Probably not. But Lent starts tomorrow and I think I'll let it go until Easter.

The paramaters of my Lenten Fasting are as follows:

For Facebook: ONLY homeschool group business. No clicking alerts, checking my home page OR my news feed. No adding new friends, messaging (unless it's a group thing and I don't have a phone number to call), and obviously no posting/commenting. For Instagram: only posting of photos. No scrolling the newsfeed, no social interaction, no notifications of <3. Basically just continue my 100 Happy Days Project, because I seriously love that shit. And Pinterest, o Pinterest you rascally devil - you and I have been on good terms these past months since I decided to just chill the fuck out on all the craziness. But you and I should really part ways these 40 days. I may use you to find a link to a recipe or craft or home school lesson from my own page. But that is all. No going to pinterest.com and pinning all the things. Just a pop in at My Page to find what I'm looking for. When I'm looking for something specific.

Instead of all this internet time I think I should like to improve the flow and rhythm of my days. Set a bit of a schedule and follow it. Get outside more (which I have been doing quite a lot these days) go for walks, read more, write more, make more art and work on My Family History Project.

Will I accomplish anything at all with this fast? I don't have a damned clue. For now I just feel better airing out my dirty laundry, setting out my selfishness into the blog-sphere and releasing it. Now it's out there and now it can stay gone.

Adios narcissism.

100 Happy Days

Everyone is looking for the key to happiness these days. I watched some Ted Talk on it and the statistics on just how well books sell when they have the word "happy" or "happiness" in the title is astounding.
I too, would like to be happy. Because I am a human fucking being. And who doesn't want to be happy? So, last Saturday (possibly Sunday) my dearest friend casually mentioned that she was doing this 100 Happy Days Project and I said, I am in bitch.
The gist of the project, for those too lazy to click the link is that you document the happiest moment (or maybe just a happy moment) of your day every day for 100 days. It's supposed to be like a social experiment so they encourage you to use Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. But I like the idea for just yourself as well, and I like checking with with mi compadre, asking her what her happy moment was and sharing mine with hers. Seeing as I just gave up Facebook for the foreseeable future and that's where she's documenting and she doesn't have an instagram and that's where I'm documenting, daily text messages keep us accountable to each other.
It's nice.
So far, I've stuck with it longer than any daily photo project I have ever signed up for.
Because it's about the moment, not the image.

Slide Climbing @ Lettuce Lake Park, Day 1/100 Happy Days project
Last Sunday was the shit. I spent the day with the family after church at Lettuce Lake. And damn that place is beautiful. I calmed myself down after realizing that it is much more crowded on a beautiful Sunday afternoon than it is on a rainy Tuesday morning. I'd never seen more than a handful of cars at the park before, and Sunday it was a full house. I shifted my perspective, lowered my expectations and had an amazing time. Also, Lena is a tenacious little slide climber... not too successful, but tenacious.

Reading this on my patio, dreaming of all the lovely containers we will soon have. Day 2/100 Happy Days Project
 I don't have a green thumb at all. But I have a gorgeous backyard that I don't have to care for. And the beauty of my wild space is thrown into stark relief next to my frankly, ugly patio. I've always wanted a garden and the kids and I have spent every. single. day. outside this week. I'm ready to start small.
Movie Night, the kids are still and quiet. Day 3/100 Happy Days Project
This day was rough. And my kids didn't really make it any easier on me. But I did get them to sit and watch Frozen together. And I ate a box of girl scout cookies and drank vanilla chai tea. And it was glorious.
Screenshot... Windows down, radio blasting. Day 4/100 Happy Days Project
 Ummm... do you guys listen to the Arctic Monkeys? You should. Pulled out of my shrink appointment feeling good, turned on the iTunes and drove around like I was 17.

Faery Garden at USF Botanical Gardens, so awesome. 5/100 Happy Days Project
I love gardens. I beautiful gardens that aren't perfectly manicured that I can roam around in. I love paying only 5 bucks for me and my children to roam around said garden. I just wish it was closer to our house. But I think it's worth the drive every once in a while.

Giggles. Just Giggles all around. 6/100 Happy Days Project
Saturday was a big day for me. I got all dolled up and went out with my husband and friends to celebrate his birthday and the return of a couple of his friends from a deployment and it was sweet! This vegetarian had a delicious meal at Texas de Brazil (their salad bar is NOT fucking around). It was phenomenal and I was happy, too happy to whip out the phone and photograph it. But I also saw this on Instagram and laughed for like twenty minutes just thinking of it. Seriously. Twenty minutes.

Le Fairy Garden on our patio 7/100 Happy Days Project
Finally, our first container in our garden. It is lovely. A bit of English Ivy, a lovely begonia, a few fairy friendly accessories et viola! Le faery jardin prefect! You say it with a French accent even though I'm about 100% positive that's not French at all.  Let's just pretend guys.

It seems as though I got off track somewhere, left out a picture along the way. And you know what? I don't even care. I know I've taken a pic every day and I've counted my blessings at least once every day for the past week.

Quitting Facebook?

Yet another list of reasons to quit Facebook, another person pointing out just how shallow human interaction is on that sight popped up in my newsfeed just now.
In the past I've always thought, yeah that's great for them, but it really is such a simple way to keep up with family and friends and when you live 1,000 miles from your nearest family member - easy upkeep is important.
So I thought.
But tonight the sinking suspicion that Facebook is actually harming the way I function as a human being morphed into something just a touch beyond suspicion.
The people I'm most concerned with on Facebook are my mother, my grandmother and a couple of my friends. For the most part my facebook experience consists of a shit ton of videos and links to "cool shit" and "inspirational ideas." And while those things are fun and can be great - they're not actually helping me get anything accomplished.
Like at all.
And while it's so nice to know that people appreciate the photos of my children and status updates of their witticisms on occasion - I find myself regularly posting a slew of political links and getting enraged about issues and then doing nothing at all about said issues - except posting and getting pissed off.
And it's ridiculous and quite frankly, embarrassing.
Like -ooooohhhh look at me, look at what I believe. Look at how well-written this argument is for x don't you wish you could state your counter argument as eloquently as this person??? And I'll admit - I even knowingly troll some people. How immature can you get? I know this person is a fundamentally different human being and I pretend like there is no feasible way that I could even begin to understand where this person is coming from on any number of issues (even tho I know that ze is coming from an upbringing shrouded in religious dogma and social intolerance and there is no way we are ever, ever, ever going to see eye-to-eye).
So, tonight with that humiliating confession, I'm changing the way I use The Social Network.
I've already got instagram and pinterest. Those two things are amazing and time consuming enough. I really don't need the added drama of Facebook, constantly scrolling through to see who's doing what with whom and how (or more likely who's posted what link about the government's plot to take over our lives, the disintegration of women's rights, and/or failings of the public school system).
It's not like I enjoy being up on people's drama. In fact probably half of my friends are blocked from my newsfeed because I was sick of their bullshit but didn't want to go through the hassle of "why'd you defriend me bro?" What's that say about the state of my affairs when I'm blocking half the content of a site yet still hitting said site up every day... multiple times a day.
I have A.D.D. and things like Facebook and Pinterest can really turn into a time suck for me as I hyper focus on my screen, ignoring things like whining children and household chores for hours on end (maybe that's an exaggeration.... eventually I will snap out of it and likely scream at my children for being so damn whiny when in all actuality, I've been a pretty shitty mom for the past x amount of time that I was just blocking them out).
My point being - Facebook, as it is simply isn't a healthy tool for me.
But it is a very cool scrapbook of sorts of my past 8 or so years.
And my family does enjoy getting to see instant pictures of my children.
And it's not likely that any of them will join instagram with any regularity anyway.
So, for my sanity I'm going on one of those new faddish Social Network Diets.
I'm not going to log in to Facebook for the next two weeks. I've got a cool homeschool group I interact with on there so I've marked their upcoming social gatherings on my paper calendar and will see those real, actual human beings on those days.
But for the rest of it, I'll likely just Instagram it up. Maybe post a bit more on Ye Olde Blog here. The awesome thing is, I can take this Social Network Diet and still share photos with my family simply by hitting "share on Facebook" when I Instagram.
Easy Peasy. No hours spent watching videos, following the rabbit hole of HuffPost links or whatever it is I find myself doing, reading about people I don't really care about that much.
Sure it's not a total media blackout - I enjoy Instagram and my followings are minimal so there's not a ton of scrolling to do there. And I've been getting better about hanging out on Pinterest the past few weeks but I'll probably hit it up with my morning coffee for garden and homeschool inspiration.
The facts are these: A.D.D. chronic depression, and the rat lever, blackhole that is Facebook (and Pinterest and to an extent even Instagram) just DO NOT mix.
I feel shitty when I sit at my computer all day, clicking the bookmarks at the top of my browser, switching between Pinterest, facebook and yahoo. It's a shitty feeling and I'm tired of it. Just like I got tired of sitting around binge watching netflix a couple of years ago.
So, I'm going to get outside more. Engage in my 100 Happy Days on Instagram (more on that later in the week, I promise) and get shit done.

Hey Mom, Can I Have A Mohawk?

A 5-year-old's Mohawk with flower clips

You know you have a good Mohawk when styled down, it looks like this.
I'm well aware that most mothers would have a stroke and promptly shut down that line of thinking if their five-year-old daughter came to them with such a request. And it was my knee-jerk reaction to do just that, but my husband was in the car at the time and I'm pretty sure he said something like, "fuck yeah!" but probably not that exactly because he doesn't really say "fuck" all that much. He's got a cleaner mouth than me. Oddly enough.
But with his response, I quickly got on board with the idea. My husband loathes "faux-hawks" and insisted that if she was going to do it, she was going to go all out. So, the very next day I called up our salon and explained to them that my five-year-old daughter wanted a Mohawk and could they please hook me up with the best person for the job.
And I got just that.
Look at this hair.
Day 1 Mohawk, salon products only - did not do what M had in mind but still looked super cute

First day I got to put up her hawk... she found Pops' safety goggles for a total hipster look.
We have limits - the hawk only goes up on bath days (3 times a week - TOPS) because all that product is terrible for her hair and has to be washed out at the end of the day. So far I love it more each day... and that says a lot because I'm pretty sure I was head-over-heels as we walked out of the salon.

I worried a lot about the way M would be treated with her hawk honestly. The first real test came at her ballet class. She wore it up and it looked awesome (see first picture) but it's not exactly stereo-typical ballerina hair. And the girls she goes to class with are, well, 5-to-7-year-old-girls. Fortunately, I saw no nastiness. A bit of curiosity, a remark or two - but when one of the teachers came through the class she commented how she had seen M's do on the salon instagram account and thought it was the coolest thing she'd ever seen. And today at the library a woman lost her shit over M's hair (she was wearing it down w/ a headband), calling M a little fashionista.

This whole haircut experience has just taken me another step further on my journey to get over feeling "judged" as a parent. Being a young mom took its toll on me and I worried during M's early years constantly about how I was being perceived by others. It didn't help that we were dirt poor and I feared constantly that someone would think (perhaps realize) that we really didn't make enough money to support a child and turn us into the authorities. This fear nagged at me constantly eating away at my happiness. And it wasn't until Micah joined the Air Force and we stopped having to go over to our parents' homes for dinner because we didn't have money for proper groceries that I realized just how heavy a burden that shit was. Shedding that weight was so freeing, but it's not like you can just drop that sort of worry and paranoia like that.

I was physically nervous going into that dance studio last week. There's only one mom there that I have ever said more than three words to - and while everyone else seems all right, they also seem different than me. I can't say, because I don't know them, but I'm assuming none of them are twenty-five and I assume none of them make below poverty wages. I'm pretty sure none of them homeschool their children and none of them live blatantly alternative lifestyles. I felt like there would probably be mass disapproval of my daughter's hairstyle and probably some mutterings behind my back.
And you know what?
We ran into one of the families right after class at the sub shop next door and the dad absolutely RAVED about M's hawk. He loved it. Or if he didn't, he made a big show of loving it for M's sake.

I don't know why I still worry about people judging my parenting decisions. Perhaps it's because my best defense for most of the "why's" people might ask is "why not?" I'm not an eloquent debater when thrown in the spotlight. I mutter and mumble and generally hate defending my choices. But you know what? "Why not?" Is a valid argument most of the time.
And so is "Fuck off."
I've brought two children into this world. I make mistakes, I screw up. I lose my temper and let them get away with shit that they probably shouldn't. I make up my own rules and set my own boundaries. They're not perfect. They weren't gleaned out of Dr. Spock's Guide To Perfect Child-rearing (or Dr. Sears' for that matter)...
I love my kids in ways that I never had fathomed possible before they came along... and everyone says that's what's important.
Nobody is sitting down with a notebook keeping track of what I'm doing except me. Nobody is giving me any more thought than I'm giving them. And because of this, I'm free to live my life and let my daughter cut her hair any way she sees fit.

Since I've Been Gone:

Life has continued on it's crazy roller coaster, as it will whether you like it or not. I've had a few good highs. Not as high or as often as I'd like, but hey. It's November and I am GEARING THE FUCK UP for the holidays. First up is Thanksgiving which also coincides with the first day of Hanukkah this year. And guess what we're going to celebrate this year? Hanukkah bitches. Why? Because as an agnostic Unitarian Universalist family - we can... and it's sort of our duty to educate our children about other religions.

And now, time for completely ridiculous, shitty quality but totally adorable pictures!

This is what happens when both of my children want to sit on my lap when all I want to do is look at pinterest and enjoy a cup of coffee. or tea. or any boiling hot beverage.

READING! The little one "reads" all the time. The big one never reads.

A new graduated bob for my punkin head. She chopped off quite a ponytail. And hopefully that hair will be long enough to make a new wig for a kid that needs it.

Best Blossom ever. Seriously. Homemade costumes rock my world. This one in particular. M was Bubbles and I was Buttercup. The picture of the three of us is pretty terrible and the one of the two of them isn't loading... so here's Blossom.
And to end things on a high note. This is what happens when I want said children to climb down off my lap so I can finish my now lukewarm coffee, tea, whatever and stare at pinterest for half an hour.

So... there's my life. I cut about 15 inches of hair off and I fucking love it. I have been reading more books (graphic novels totally count as "books" in this statement). I have started M on Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. So far, it's really... easy.
New shrink, finally. No less anxiety or depression yet, but we'll see where this goes.

Super Saturday of Thanksgiving

All the things that are right in my life:

1. Smalls is taking a nap on my lap this very second. She's not cranky, crying or upset that her flipping teeth won't just break thru her gums already!
2. The Punkin Head is doing dot-to-dots of her own accord, counting, recognizing numbers on her own. She asks me questions like, "Is six with the circle on top or bottom?" She is learning. Without much help from me today.
3. Yesterday both kids slept until 8:30. No interruptions. And I slept like my husband.
4. Today Lena woke up at six. But quickly went back to sleep in our bed.
5. My to-do list today is totally doable. And I love it.
6. We spent 40 bucks on groceries this week. Granted that was because we spent entirely too much the previous two weeks, but hey - we've had decent dinners every night. And nobody's starving!
7. I feel better. Monday was rough but every day since that day has gotten progressively better.
8. My bathroom is clean.
9. I am loving my Gender Studies 101 independent study. Because you don't have to go back to college to learn. You can do it at home (or the library).
10. Two words: Harry Potter. We're 3/4 of the way through the first book and I'm stoked. I figure we'll read the first three. And then take a break. The fourth book gets a bit too real for a five-year-old I think.

So there it is. Happy thoughts oozing out of my head. I'm going to go put this baby in bed and conquer the world. Or Get My Shit Together.

Five Minute Friday

Technically, I think it's actually Saturday. But I'm still awake, so we'll call it Friday.
The idea behind this is from Lisa-Jo Baker a blogger that came up with the idea to spit out a stream of consciousness every Friday. Set a timer for five minutes and just have at it.
This sort of thing is right up my alley. In case you haven't noticed, projectile word vomit is sort of my style... for better or worse.

This week's "topic" is True

What is true here, in this house at midnight on a Saturday? Truly, I've been battling my own demons this week. Demons that throw a wet blanket over me, demons that whisper ever so quietly that this life I have... well, I'm fucking it up. That these kids are going to be ruined with such a horrible, lazy, worthless mother.
Truth is - I don't believe them, those demons or their whispers but that doesn't make them go away. That doesn't make the cold, wet blanket they keep tossing on me any lighter.
True - there's couscous all over the floor from lunch, and probably some from last night's dinner.
True - I haven't mopped in well over a week. Damn, tomorrow might make two weeks.
And if we're being absolutely truthful, Marley's homeschool journey lately has consisted of a lot of Harry Potter reading and a little bit of counting with some dot-to-dots thrown in for good measure.
I'm not prepared or over excited. It's fall and my depression is back.
And I was supposed to call and make an appointment with my doctor to see about getting a new psychologist. Truthfully, I didn't. Not because I'm nervous about getting a new shrink or meeting my new primary doctor but because I'm so damned caught up in everything else... like the fact that I put lunch in the microwave and heated it up three times but only ate it as I started cooking dinner because I kept forgetting it was in there.
This is my mental state.
And as bad as it is, I know I'll survive. I know that days will be brighter and I will get back on track with housekeeping and school and general happiness. Life always gets better. Every. Single. Time.
So I make the choice to keep living. And some days it is a conscious choice to live.
That is the scary truth about my life. Some days, I make the decision to keep going.
But I've never decided on the alternative.
And I won't.
Because no matter what, I will be better.

Ok. So I think that was like six minutes of writing. I'm not sure. But there it is.
The prompt was true and you got a rambling confession of someone suffering from depression and anxiety.
It's not pretty.
But it's true.

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