My Bleeding Heart

When I was a kid, and my mom was fresh out of pity for my plight, she would say “Jamie, my heart bleeds for you.” The idea behind the phrase is that her heart was bleeding anyway, so my nonsense didn’t truly affect the pumping of her heart.

As an adult, I walk around bearing a crushing guilt for nothing other than my privilege. My heart bleeds for those less fortunate. I mean, the muscle pumps blood for my own survival, but there is no other way to really explain this internal need I have to make everyone better.

About two weeks ago, I saw a small, adult dog pacing nervously on the grassy median of a the main street in my neighborhood. My heart bled for him, but I had the kids and no way to transport him to safety (and no safe place for him to go). I drove on, and on my way home, I saw his lifeless body on the side of the road. My heart broke, and I vowed to do everything in my power to help the next stray dog I saw.

A few days later, a tiny puppy ended up crying outside my front door. My heart bled for her, so I took her to the vet and spent several hundred dollars I didn’t have on getting her healthy. Unfortunately, we decided that we couldn’t keep her permanently, so I tortured myself about her fate. I’ve had a lump in my throat since Saturday. Rescues, fosters, shelters, craigslist crazies…. Every available option wasn’t good enough, and I had fearful visions of her ending up as bait in a dog-fighting ring or dying slowly of distemper in the back of a damp stone kennel run. I spent hours coddling her like a baby, whispering that it would be alright; we’d figure something out. I’ve known this animal for seven days, and my emotions were so tied up in her future, I couldn’t think straight. It was selfish to keep her to assuage my guilt because I knew our home wasn’t right for her. It was selfish to give her away because she would require so much that we don’t have to give. Happy ending though: I found a family who has the resources to give her a wonderful home; I drove the puppy to meet them and we talked for over an hour. In the end, an abandoned puppy on my doorstep may have even gained me my first Texan (human) friend.

Apart from that, the other day, I was driving to work and saw a woman, about my age, standing on the corner with her toddler and a sign that read Please Help, No Work, Mom of Two Kids in Spanish. I don’t usually give money to panhandlers (or even have cash really) but something about that mother, forced to beg on the street in the rain with her daughter, tugged at my bleeding heart. But giving money never makes me feel better. It never feels good to pass spare change through the crack of the window and then avert my glance away from their exaggerated gratitude. It never feels good to assess someone’s need on the sidewalk and be grateful that the light turns green before I can decide whether a person deserves my dollar. It doesn’t feel good to smile apologetically from the warmth of my car when I have nothing to give. It didn’t feel good to give that young mother a ten dollar bill when I knew I had two twenties tucked next to it in my wallet even though that $50 was earmarked for our own groceries. I drove away, feeling sick, knowing that her daughter was cold and maybe hungry while my children cried about their vegetables or argued over which show to watch before bed. It never feels like enough.

I didn’t realize the void that would be left by spending so much time on volunteer projects in Idaho. Without those things, I live with a weight of guilt that I am not making the world, or even my community, a better place. I tried so hard to want to deal with all that a puppy entails because she needed someone. I gave that woman ten dollars because it would cover milk and a pack of diapers for her baby.

I belong to a class of people snarkily called “bleeding heart liberals”, going back to the sarcasm of my parentage. We are overly sympathetic and we want to help everyone. We offer more than we have and feel legitimately guilty when we can’t give more. I’m not ashamed of the label, but not having an outlet (like V-Day and PFLAG used to provide for me) is driving me a little insane. I’m not trying to brag; I’m trying to write it out, to try and make sense of the dissonance in my brain between what I have to offer and what I really do.

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A Toast

new year 2015

Well, 2014 was a roller coaster over here. The first half was awesome– I found my place in community activism by organizing my first V-Day and serving (however briefly) on the board for the newly assembled chapter of PFLAG Coeur d’Alene. I further developed my relationships with my fellow mothers, my co-workers and activist friends– having some of the most fun, memorable times. My kids have been happy and healthy– constantly impressing me and making me laugh.

We made a big change in July of 2014: the move to Houston, TX. And the last 4 months in and of themselves have been a wild ride– ups, downs, and everything in between. It has been so eventful (good and bad) it’s hard to even wrap my brain around it all. What I know is that I, like most people, am choosing to view 2015 as a clean slate, a fresh start to make some more stuff happen. I can’t say I’m going to make it all work out. I’m making the same goals this evening as I did 365 days ago. (Live healthier, budget better and find my perfect career.)

But, in the spirit of optimism and being the lover of planning and goal-setting that I am, I’m not going to let this funk settle over me for good.

Here’s to you. Here’s the me. Let’s kick 2015’s bitchy ass!

What Happens in the Dollhouse…

…stays in the dollhouse.

I love coming upon A-rod’s dollhouse and surmising what the characters were up to.

Here is what I found today:

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What do you see here?

There are three scenes that I found particularly disturbing. Can you see them?

Scene #1: Jurassic Park Meets Beauty and the Beast

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Scene #2: LIVE (opposite of) Nude Girls! Girls! Girls!

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Scene #3: Disney Princess’ Crack House Castle

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Deep in the Aisles of Staples

I spend a long time making a decision. I’m not impulsive. Sometimes, I wish I was, but snap decisions just aren’t my thing. Even unimportant things like which cover to get for my new planner take me days (and that doesn’t include the week it took me to pick which planner system to try after EC proved to be too expensive). Once I’d made up my mind, however, there was no stopping me. I ordered the parts I wanted and waited. A whole day. Thanks to my free trial of Amazon Prime, I only had to wait that one day for my fancy hole punch. But my discs were another story. They won’t get here until next Tuesday, and I. Could. Not. Wait.

So I had my mother-in-law chauffeur me to Staples. As I mulled in the Arc System aisle, she and the kids wandered around pushing all the buttons on the display calculators. When they finally found me, I showed my choice to Patty and rambled on about the pros and cons of each. Ever supportive, Patty smiled and nodded and actively listened. Once I realized I was drunk-talking about planner supplies, I stopped suddenly and yelled, “YOU’RE THE NERD!!”

She laughed, and we both knew it was a lie.

You’re The Nerd!

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I’ve talked about my planner before, haven’t I? If you’ve organized anything with me or seen me around town or follow my Instagram or know me even a little, you know I like my planner. Since my third year of college when I began juggling full-time academics, a full-time job and a marriage, I bought this lovely beast from Franklin Covey. It was my rock. Through the rest of college and on to the life that followed. It tracked my work hours, my happy housewife chores, my do-it-yourself projects for the next few years. Then it began to fill with ovulation and cycle trackers (yeah, unabashed oversharing happening there), doctor’s appointments and nursery decorations. Play dates, lady dates, Matt dates, homeschool needs, blog planning, project organizer. It was my second brain. As a lover of lists and an addict of the sound of a pen scratching a task off the paper, I will always love planners. Even though I get mocked frequently for not utilizing my fancy phone for to its full potential.

Anyway, despite my Franklin Covey binder being in my top ten favorite things of all-time, it is just too big to lug around. I needed a change. Erin Condren came in to my life. A concise spiral-bound notebook that had a calendar at a glance, two-page weekly spreads, to-do list pages and loose paper folders. Neat. Fifty bucks each? Not so much.

Through some geeking around the interwebs, I discovered the notion of a discbound notebook. If you haven’t heard of it, it will change your life. There are several options, including the Arc System by Staples and the Circa system from Levenger. I have a hybrid of the two brands now (the 1-2-3 Portable Punch from Levenger and the Junior Polycover Notebook and accessories from Arc), and it is working just dandy. I love it because it is as compact as a notebook, while allowing me to rearrange, add and subtract pages. It’s also cool that I can punch whatever size paper I want (i.e. birthday card, invite, index card, doodle, picture) and stick it on the discs and it won’t hang awkwardly like in a three-ring binder.

Pictures!

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I’m getting more discs and a laminator to make the kids some homeschool workbooks.

Here are the pages I designed to go inside my new friend. They fit on a standard 8.5×11″ piece o- copy paper. Cut at the 5.5″ mark and hole-punch in the middle. You have a planner now!

half sheet calendar pdf

half sheet grocery pdf

half sheet monthly goals and bills blank pdf

half sheet notes pdf

half sheet thoughts pdf

half sheet weekly pdf

DIY – Front Door Decorations

Remember how my house is ugly (Y-O-U-U-G-L-Y, yeah, you ugly)? Well, I wanted to cheer up the front door, and I came across this cute idea on Pinterest last night. I thought to myself: Self, I could use some leftover tree decorating balls and make a dandy wreath just like that. Then I read through the tutorial and found that the pine cone idea was already derivative of a Christmas ball creation, found here.

Follow either one of those tutorials to make a SUPER cute and SUPER easy cheerful front door decoration for the holidays. If you’re like me, and you fell short of the 80+ decorative balls called for (because it’s completely normal to have fewer than 80 extra balls just lying around) you can use wire cutters to shorten the hanger. I also used hot glue to hold the ribbon in place to hide the excess white hanger bits.

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Whilst digging around in the Christmas bins to find what amounted to three dozen extra balls (see this year’s miniature tree on my Instagram) I happened upon a bunch of brightly colored ornaments on tangled fishing line. Had I found that before I had the wire hanger thing in my head, I would have just hung that on my front door. As it stands, I added a bow with hot glue and it hangs over my stove. For funsies.

wreath

My House is the Brown One

I live in a rental. We moved in, sight unseen, after four days of driving cross country. It smelled moist as soon as we walked in, and there were bugs (mostly dead) everywhere. But we had a moving van full of our possessions in a brand new city and no real clue where we were on the map. This would have to do.

my house

My mother-in-law and I were browsing around a local home goods and furniture store when I stopped in the outdoor furniture section. I started pricing benches and chairs. Patty gave me a bemused expression.

Patty: What are you doing?

Me: Well, I was thinking I could put a colorful bench and maybe some plants in front of the house to make it look more… welcoming.

Patty: Oh, honey. You’re going to need more than an aqua bench to make that place look welcoming.

Me: You mean, like a home and not a meth lab?

Patty: Exactly.

Touche.

My 4-Year Old Said…

On Saturday night, my husband and I had our very first overnight away from our children. My in-laws kept them at their house from 4PM on Saturday evening until 11Am Sunday morning. That was nice. Matt and I saw a movie at the theater, ate some ice cream without sharing and came home well after dark to an empty house. We watched a great deal of Breaking Bad (yeah, we’re behind the times, but we’re almost done).

Then we slept until 9AM! It was crazy. But I told you that to tell you this:

When we went to pick the kids up at the grandparents’ house, I wanted to hear all about how the evening went. I must admit I was half expecting my daughter to have written me off entirely, content to spend the rest of her life with Grandma. Thankfully, that was not the case. Around bedtime, A-rod had a bunch of question about us.

A: Where are Mommy and Daddy?

Grandma: They are at your house.

A: I can’t stay here forever.

Grandma: Oh, no, honey. Mom and Dad just wanted a date night. They went to a movie and they’ll pick you up tomorrow.

A: Oh. They can’t deal with me?

Yep. That’s my kid.