Monday, August 02, 2010

Two New Library Loves: Read Them!

Continuing my library love, I have to talk up the two books I've been reading in the past week--both SO great. First, I finished The Help a few days ago. It is really a tremendous achievement for a first-time novelist and I just hated having to put it down. A serious page turner that has the characters really coming alive in your mind--so much so, I'm still thinking about them (especially Aibelleen), days since I finished the book. Loved every page. Cried at the end (and a couple times in other places).

On Saturday, I started reading the non-fiction book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Wow! As a person not particularly interested in science, I have found this book about cell culturing and the discovery of the HeLa cell line, (from the cells of a poor, til-now, unsung heroine, Henrietta Lacks) that helped find a cure for polio and create numerous other important medical advances, infuriating, engaging and totally engrossing. The more I read, the more I want to read. I'm about two-thirds through it, but can't wait to see how it all wraps up. It is really an amazing, and often sad and unjust, true story.

Need to line up my next book at CPL. Any reccos? Am thinking about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

I have to say, I am loving making use of the quiet time when my boy is napping with a good book and cutting out all the background noise of the TV. Makes me want to get my chores done that much faster, so I can get back to the story!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Oh Library, How I Love You!

Did I mention I've in love with the public library? Maybe I did. But, oh, it is SO GREAT! I have been reading a lot more (watching much less TV) and learning good, useful, interesting things and just being entertained. Am currently reading The Help, which is really great, Continued my inexplicable Tori Spelling obscession by reading Uncharted TerriTORI (pretty good actually, if you like TS) and also her mom's book, Welcome to Candyland (pretty lame, actually, but a super quick read).

I love putting something on hold online and then getting an email from CPL when my item is at my nearby library. So exciting to go pickup that new book.

And almost best of all: absolutely free of cost and clutter. Am loaning out books I used to buy (great savings!) and, though they clutter up the house when they are here, can quickly round up all the books I'm done with and take them back for someone else to read. Once again: awesome!

Have been checking out books that help me save money (Coupon Moms Guide to Cutting Grocery Bill), green up our living (several titles) and just requested Rosie O's Kids Craft Book to find fun things for Mr. H to do.

Can't believe I ignorned using the library all these years. If you don't have a library card and like books, run, don't walk, down to your nearest branch. Library, I "heart" you!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Playing Catch Up

Last posts were bleak and wintry and often about illness.

I'm happy to report that summer and good health have been reigning supreme. Work is still up in the air (still consulting and have been busy until about a month ago, am getting a strange number of job offers out of the blue!) but good. Am considering taking a real job again (one of the offers seems particularly intriguing).

Still not as far with the decluttering as I would have liked and have subsequently discovered thrift stores! Much of Henry's cute summer wardrobe and my own new wardrobe additions are thrift store finds. Score! Have also rediscovered the delights of the public library. Especially here in Chicago--where you can request books online and they let your know when they are in for pick up at your favorite branch. Awesome. My tax dollars at work in a way that actually feels beneficial. Great.

Need to dash out to buy groceries, pick up more library books and also make some lunch for me, Henry and the nanny. Then time, hopefully to try and tidy my office which is a downright disgrace of a mess. Shame on me.

Feel like I've been good at tackling messiness and disorganisation little by little. Still big piles to get rid of, some kind of inexpensive vacation to be planned, garage sale to be held. Lots to do and never enough time or sleep. Outdoor space this year is fab, however. New outdoor rug (craigslist find) was super addition to deck, creates a terrific outdoor play room for baby. Lots of flowers and red, juicy tomatoes ready for picking all around. Am LOVING our deck this year.

Baby Henry is a walking, talking wonder of a boy. At 19 months, he's a curly headed blond bombshell with a vocabulary of 100 words that he likes to use often. A boy who knows his own mind and will let you know it, but also a cheerful, loving little chap. What did we ever do with all our extra time before his arrival?

Having baby at almost 44 = best decision ever made. Keen to win the lottery one day. But can't be greedy. In so many ways, feel like I already did!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Puke-Free Friday

This has been a challenging week.

Baby Henry had stomach flu and managed to cut two molars at the same time. Needness to say, both of his parents are sleep deprived. But our happy boy is back and puke free (I got the total non-formula, chunky puke christening on Monday night--lucky me!).

Had a meeting yesterday with the folks I've been working for re: my new contract. It was actually quite pleasant and the partner I met with was very complementary about me and my work for the company.

Seriously, sometimes I think that I get myself so tightly wound and stressed out about things for no good reason. I was dreading the meeting all week and it turned out to be totally reasonable and pleasant.

My own head is often my own worst enemy. I think it's time to re-read A New Earth. Time to stop with the self-defeating dialogue and arguements that I have with people in my own head. For whatever reason, I often think that people are angry with me when they are not angry at all. Need to start living in the moment and stop needlessly stressing over non-existant issues that are just of my own imagining.


Monday, March 08, 2010

A Word (or a Few) From Ms. O on Decluttering

I recently saw an article on (authored by Oprah) about decluttering. I could really relate to her resolutions about decluttering other areas of your life not just related to physical stuff:

"-Relationship to self: good riddance to decisions that don't support self-care, self-value, and self-worth.

-Relationship to others: do the people in your life give you energy and encourage your personal growth, or block that growth with dysfunctional dynamics and outdated scripts? If they don't support you as a loving, open, free, and spontaneous being: Goodbye!

-Relationship to emotional life: out with stagnant patterns that no longer serve you.

-Relationship to work: not only reducing the "clutter" of paperwork, inefficiency, and overcommunication, but also striving to create a balanced workload and make your work invigorating, inspiring, collaborative, and empowering to others.

-Relationship to nature and play: seeing these as expressions of love and opportunities to fill your life with truth and joy."

All great words of advise for the Great Purge of 2010!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

13 Days: Down, but Not Out

13 days. That's how long I've been sick so far. Headache, sore throat, tooth pain, face pain, runny nose, cough, tired all the time.


Every day I think it's getting better and then it's just not. Finally going to doc today to see if I need some pharmacological help.

In the interim on the work front, my last month of new biz development (retainer work) is now concluded. The people I've been working for are being really weird. They sent me a new contract and I just don't feel like I want to sign it. I'm torn between the opportunity that they might have work for me to do (though to date, none of the work I've done for them has been particularly engaging or creatively rewarding) and the fact that they just seem sort of slimy and unethical. I got an email from one of the partners last night that sounded like their lawyer drafted it. Weird for such a small company. They are secretive and strange. Not sure that's a game I wish to play. Not even the BIG agencies I've worked for in the past have been so legalistic (if that's even a word) and odd.

I had high hopes for this, so it's a bummer that it's turning out to be not so great. I'm still not sad I turned down the other job I got offered though, as doing this has allowed me to work from home for the past 8 months. Key when baby Henry was so small (though now 15 months).

I wish I could gear myself up with confidence and optimism to just go out and tackle the world, but at the moment, I'm just too tired. Thank you, weird work colleagues. I think all the stress you've caused me over the past month has compromised my immune system. And thanks Winter 2010 virus, think you delivered the knock out punch.

Down, but eventually, not out...just need some more fluids, antibiotics and a nap or two.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Magic Time?

I am at a bit of a loss today. I am oh, so, tired. Just very weary. Babe had me up again at 5am and wouldn't go back to sleep. Too early for this woman.

That said, I hauled A to my morning Weight Watchers meeting and recorded another loss of 1.2 lbs. That's 15.4 lbs off since Thanksgiving. One again: hurray for me!

A "witch" I know (a good one, I think), told me today that I have my own brand of magic and that magic is all around me at the moment. I have to admit, I don't feel all too magical. Maybe a good night's sleep is what is needed for the magic to return? We shall see. I feel like I could use a little magical infusion into my current situation (especially on the work front).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Path Ahead

So, four inches of snow yesterday was a major underestimate! By the time I got outside to shovel (around 9:30 pm) there was more than a foot of the stuff surrounding our little house. We're talking serious snow removal.

I did the front steps/porch and path up from the sidewalk, the sidewalk in front and the path at the side of the house, the stairs leading to the deck/back door and then also the deck and back door area. I left the path from deck stairs to garage and front of garage for Craze to tackle--my back was killing me after all that heavy lifting! Not to mention that it was snowing the whole time I shoveled, so I came into the house looking like a snow woman come to life.

Despite the snow, our nanny was back today. I hit the 9am weight watchers meeting (-2.4 lbs this week for a total of 14.2 lost so far!) and then met a woman for coffee who has been working for the same company I have been working for. Unhappily for us both, she has also been having a challenging time with the partners and has also been concerned with their ethical standards in some of her dealings with them. Aye, yaye, yaye. . .

Why can nothing ever seem to be just straight forward?

It got me thinking though that there must be a way to join forces with women in a similar situation (smart and hard workers who want to 1) work from home and 2) not work 5 days a week and/or the crazy hours that jobs in our professional often seem to require nowadays). Maybe it's time to revisit my consulting business, but from more of a full-service perspective with other consultants making up the team. Other people do it and have success. Why can't I?

Why do I keep looking for the least disagreeable working option, when really what I need to be doing is creating my own option, suited entirely to me?

I think it's clear that my current position isn't going anywhere. So, it's time I made a way for myself. Now, where I'd put that shovel?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Snow Day!

Nanny's car broke down this morning (well, her room-mates car really), so no nanny today. Work was quiet so it turned out to be a nice day, just the two of us.

Baby Henry and I played, had lunch (he ate cottage cheese, peas, pears, and hummus on whole wheat bread, oh, and some cucumber), he napped some, I did some laundry and wrote some belated bday cards and then he did a little art project for Daddy for Valentine's day. All while the snow fell and fell outside creating a deep and quiet blanket of white.

At least four inches out there now if not more. I think once Craze gets home I'll head outside and do a little shoveling. It will be nice to get some fresh air and shoveling always seems so gratifying for some reason. Not sure how to go forward?. . .Just shovel, shovel, shovel. . .voila, a clear path ahead. If only life in general was so straight forward.

Not so stressed out by my work situation. After 10 days of intense online research and numerous emails to old work colleagues, I still don't have any new business opportunities. But I'm just taking a Candide sort of attitude, "everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds."

It will all work out, one way or another. I'll figure it out. I always have. I'm a superior figureitouter.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Sorry, Not a Winner. . .

Today is just one of those days. . .

Monday and Tuesday I felt like I was doing a good job of stirring the pot in terms of connecting with folks who might be able to bring me some business. Today, however, feels bleak and my prospects of success very limited.

It all started off fine. Went to my weekly Weight Watchers meeting. Pretty much knew I was going to gain, but only 1.2 lbs, so not too bad. Ran an errand to the grocery store to get a few things I needed (though left my list at home and forgot key items like salt!). Was going to stop at Dunkin' Donuts for a nice, hot cup of coffee on the way home and unwittingly changed lanes and drove right past. Arghhh!

Oh, and even before that, the kicker. . .checked my MegaMillions lotto ticket with the automatic scanner at the grocery store. Scanned the ticket, waited and then saw the message, "Sorry, Not a Winner."

In that moment, I felt like the machine was speaking right to me rather than referring to my non-winning lottery ticket. In that pause between breathes, I felt like "Not a Winner" summed up my life.

Clearly, be it hormones or this grey, winter day, I am just feeling sorry for myself. Yes, I've had some tough times. Yes, things have not always gone my way (least of all the ill-starred junior high cheer leading tryouts of 1979!). But for the most part, I do think I've been able to rise above my circumstances and misfortunes and make a pretty great life. I've traveled and seen a lot of the world. I had a pretty successful career. I have a great and handsome husband who I love. I have a smart, healthy and also handsome baby boy who makes me smile every time I see him. I am healthy and have a cozy, warm home and food to eat. So much wealth. So many good things to be grateful for.

Let's face it, I'm not the homeless guy at Six Corners who lives in the bus shelter and seems to do nothing day in and day out but hang out there and try to survive.

So, why, in the midst of everything that we have, is it so easy on some days to only focus on what seems to be lacking? Even on those days when we can't put an exact name on what we lack, how is it that you can feel so alone? So lost?

I wish I knew the answer. And I wish I'd stop taking pronouncements from lotto machines quite so personally. . .stupid machine.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Baby is sick. Mama is sick.

I dragged myself out to a client meeting yesterday for the job I may only have for another four weeks. It was fine. I dosed myself with Emergen-C and Wal-act before going out in the bitter cold to drive to the near-airport burbs, park in a big concrete parking structure and then attend a somewhat boring meeting. Then off to Target to buy milk and a few other odds and ends on the way home.

I think I have a bad attitude. And just feel sort of disheartened. Adrift.

This is probably due, in part, to the fact that 1) I feel terrible (head is full, tired, runny nose, sneezing) and 2) I'm still irritated by my job situation (or, potentially-soon-to-be-lack-of-job situation).

I did have a brilliant idea yesterday, though. Maybe I can do what I've been doing for the past months for another company. One with deeper pockets and better clients (i.e. I'll be able to do more challenging and creative work and have better job security). Anyway, that's the idea. Get someone to pay me a monthly retainer to work for them exclusively for 2 or 3 days a week (hopefully, mostly from home). I have someone in mind and I sent them an email earlier today to see if we could meet for lunch. They might be interested. I guess it never hurts to ask!

In the meantime, the sick baby is goofing around in his crib instead of napping. And mama needs a nap. And her own blankie, a box of tissues, some more Emergen-C. And a reason to hope that this whole work thing will work itself out.

Well, if it's any consolation, the sun is shining (after about a week of dark, dull, grey days). And maybe I'll have to take that as a good sign. . .

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Am Filled with Perturbation (and, yes, that really is a word!)

So, I find myself perturbed today.

Had a call with one of the partners of the company I work for and while they previously extended my contract verbally until the end of April (though, funnily enough, never actually sent me the actual updated contract), they have now decided that I have until the end of February to bring in a new big account or my monthly retainer arrangement is kaput!

I'm perturbed that they have gone back on their word and that I have so little time to make things happen (considering they have been loading my plate with other work to do well beyond my agreed retainer hours, which has taken my eye off of my new business ball). Also, since they acknowledge that I've worked hard and been a great contributor to their business, it just makes me wonder about the kind of people I'm working with. . .True to their word? Hmmm, maybe not.

So, after hanging up the phone and a bout of momentary moaning and groaning, I made a list of possible career options to consider:

1. Go hell-bent-for-leather about trying to drum up new business and try to turn the contract situation around (but even if I win something, will I find myself in the same situation in another 2, 4 or 6 months?).

2. Continue working for the next month (giving it my best) and then plan on going back to my own, non-exclusive, consulting business if I don't score a big win (which was dead as a doornail last year and, since it is very hard to schedule in advance, presents real childcare issues).

3. Win the lottery (This is an excellent plan until you get to the third step in the plan, i.e. 1) buy ticket; 2: check to see if you won; 3: make alternative plan in absence of lottery win. . .)

4. Get a real job (i.e. not working for myself, probably not able to work from home). Possible increased job security and financial stability, but other clear trade-offs.

Oh. . .what to do?

Somehow, though perturbed, I'm not actually surprised. I've had a feeling since the holidays that something was going on behind the scenes related to me and my position. The business partners are famously secretive and it's not a quality about how they run their business that I really appreciate.

I sort of feel like a weight has been lifted. What I've suspected is now out of the bag and, if I'm honest, I haven't been loving the work I've been doing lately. It's often challenging merely in the frustation of dealing with people who can't make up their minds, are often in disagreement, often provide poor direction but then are unhappy if you don't get everything exactly right the first time. It's not challenging in healthy way that feels like you're learning and growning and just able to do your best work.

So, I appear to be at another career crossroads. I need to make money to help support my family. That is without question. But which is the best way to turn?

Well, I guess at least I have four weeks to try and figure that out. . .

Friday, January 22, 2010

Reading Plans Shelved: Not Any More!

Besides the Great Purge of 2010, which got a big boost last Sunday when we finally got rid of the Christmas tree, moved the elliptical machine and cleared out a bunch of stuff to create a big play space for the babe in the living room (hurray Purge!), one of my other resolutions was to read more this year. Less wasting my time with crap and crappy TV. Less mindless time wasting. Time instead to fill my brain with useful, thought-provoking or just funny and interesting things.

I would say that so far, I'm off to a good start. Thus far, in this, just the third week of the new year, I've read The Queen by Philippa Gregory (historical fiction based on a Plantagenet Queen), The Lovely Bones (pretty engrossing) and just finished The Road (which was at times, hard to read, kept me up at night thinking about "the boy" and "the man" main characters as if they were real, was terrifying and beautiful all at the same time). In fact, I think The Road might just make my list of favorite books of all time (even though I didn't love some parts-- frightening).

I've also started "In Defense of Food" which is really quite interesting (explains the change in the American diet over the past 30 years or so, the rise of processed foods and how that might not have been such a good thing); as well as "The Nasty Bits" by Anthony Bourdain. I'm not loving that book so much. I LOVED his first book, "Kitchen Confidential" (you'll never think of a restaurant the same way again!) and "Cook's Tour" was also good. I'm finding "The Nasty Bits" a bit repetitive and somewhat boring. Or maybe I'm just over the whole "food porn" movement (truth be told, I care not a wit for celebrity chefs, their 5-star restaurants or the clientele of such establishments). So, I'm not sure if that one will get read in end. I may give it one more try.

I think next on the list is Nick Hornsby's "How to be Good." I've never read any of his books, but lots of folks have assured me they are very funny. Work has been crazy in the past couple weeks, and I'm in need of some "funny."

Part of my reading push is also related to the Great Purge. I've got so many books all over my house that I bought, but to date have never read. Time to read them or be rid of them I say! So, I'm aiming to read them and then pass them on and free up some space.

I also went all retro on myself and went and got a Public Library Card right before Christmas. So, no more book buying. From now on, I shall be lending books from the numerous branches of the Chicago Library. I'm looking forward to loaning out "Cherries in Winter" before too long.

And finally, in terms of the "Great Pound Purge of 2010, I've lost over 4.5 lbs in the past two weeks. I have been sticking to my WW points plan like glue. Like glue, I tell you! Now, I just need to start working exercise into my daily habits. That will be a toughy ("WHAT!!!????" I hear you say, "But she has an elliptical machine in her living room.")

Yes, people, it is true. Approximately 6 or 7 years ago, I thought putting a giant elliptical machine in the middle of my living room would make me use it. Reality? Not so, I'm afraid. Clearly, I am exercise averse. I need to figure out how to change that. . .maybe there's a book I can read. . .wonder if they have it at the library?

Monday, January 11, 2010

She Bites

I just bit him. Really hard. My 13 month old baby boy.

Totally by accident.

I was holding him. The phone rang. I picked up the phone, said "hello" and the next thing I know, his thumb is in my mouth and I bit it accidentally. There was a shocked look of disbelief and then a good 10 minutes of serious, pained screaming, tears and agonized writhing.

Poor guy. I totally don't know how it happened really.

Nanny leaves because she's sick (puking everywhere, poor girl). Mommy takes over. Bites baby really hard on the thumb. And isnt getting any of her real work done.

Today, I appear to be failing at both my jobs!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Before I Forget

A list of foods my 13-month old bubba likes to eat:

100% wholegrain bread, hummus, fruit (orange, kiwi, banana, apple, cantalope, pretty much any), raw baby spinach (!), homemade olive oil and vinegar coleslaw (!!), eggs, soy sausages, oatmeal, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, provolone, yogurt, milk, green beans, baked beans, any kind of cooked bean, water, turkey, chicken, bbq pork, toast, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, brocolli, cooked kale, stuffing, mashed potatoes (regular or sweet), chicken noodle soup, and whole grain pasta.

He has an on again, off again relationship with brussel sprouts.

And his number 1 most favorite food appears to be: CARROTS! I'm surprised he's not orange.

Great Purge Off to a Slow Start

Great Purge of 2010 progress? Not a lot really. I guess in the past week, I went through a big pile of mail, did a bunch of laundry (not purging per se, but organization nonetheless). And it should be noted that of the 2.6 lbs that I managed to lose over Christmas week, I regained every single ounce last week. What the what??? Every. Single. Ounce.

I was so excited about my loss and none too happy with my back slide. That said, I have re-energized my healthy eating efforts and hope to see my pound purge number on the increase again next week.

Been busy working this week, but off today. So if I can ever get Mr. No Nap to go to sleep, I shall endeavour to get myself dressed and used my time wisely. Time to take down the Christmas decorations and then purging will be easier. Need to alkso banish additional Christmas clutter (gifts that still haven't found a new home).

Have also spent the past week convincing Craze of my rightness in this campaign. Think he's coming over to my side. Excited about re-energizing our home and making it a more tranquil, easy to clean and organized space--especially with a "I want to touch everything" little one crawling around.

Off I go. . .let's see what happens today. . .