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Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Heartbreak of TV These Days

I was impatient to see all the excitement on Downton so we veered away from PBS to finish up the season.  After using my movie pass on Amazon to stream the last three episodes of Downton,  I now feel as if a part of myself is missing and the part that remains is rather hopeless about the prospects for a happy ending.  I won’t give away any spoiler details but I will say....oh, my gosh.  

I also feel as if I should write a letter to Julian Fellows.  If I did, this is what it would say:

Dear Mr. Fellows:
Julian, (you don’t mind if I call you Julian do you?) I had to take a moment and write this letter to you so I could simply could you do this to me?  First, you break my heart over sweet Sybil, then you lull me into believing all is right in the Downton world.  Episode 8 ends with smiles all around and a feeling of hope and possibility, then....WHAM, you shatter my heart all over again with Episode 9.
What can you possibly have in store for the residents of Downton is Season 4?  More importantly, how can you possibly make up for all the heartache of Season 3?
Please, please, please, I beg of you, please do not break my heart again in Season 4.
Like many others, I will be waiting with baited breath for Season 4.  In the meantime, I will be catching up on all my recorded episodes of Revenge and start watching it weekly.  

What else am I watching you ask.  Here is my tv schedule:
Sunday - Downton Abbey/Revenge
Monday - Bones
Tuesday - NCIS, NCIS LA
Wednesday - Criminal Minds
Thursday - Grey’s Anatomy, Elementary (on occasion)
Friday - CSI NY, Blue Bloods
Saturday - Nothing scheduled.
Other than Sunday nights, there is nothing on this schedule that I must watch.  I Tivo Revenge, Bones, Grey’s and Blue Bloods so if I miss it, it isn’t the end of the world.

I also watch a lot of cooking shows.  I think Chopped is my favorite.  I like to see what people come up with based on the mystery ingredients.  I also like Nigella but can never seem to get my butt out of bed to watch it or when I do, it is always an episode I have seen before.  I find I like the shows on the Cooking Channel better than those on Food Network.  Like other networks, there are too many reality tv shows on the Food Network these day for my taste.  

It is my opinion that reality tv is killing today’s society.  Other than Chopped, I don’t watch any reality tv.  It all irritates me so much.  I can never understand how people can fuss about the state of the world (the way people treat others, everyone’s selfish attitude, the fact that no one is really trying to make a difference, teenage pregnancies, ignorance, etc.) but yet, most people in the U.S. watch some sort of reality tv shows. These shows highlight teenage pregnancy, ignorance, promiscuity, just to name a few issues.  I can tell you that for myself, I have no desire to watch the Bachelor or Bachelorette and watch one person have sex with 10 - 15 different people to see which one is the “right” one.  It grosses me out so much when I see one of them make out with one person and then later in the day, make out with someone else.  

Or when tv shows glorify teenage pregnancies.  Come on people.  Being a teenage mom is hard and is not something we should encourage.  We need to encourage our teenagers to finish school and go make something of themselves and I don’t mean make themselves into poor, (usually) single mothers who will have to struggle for the rest of their lives to make a good life for themselves and their children. We should encourage our teenagers to graduate high school, go to college (if that is what they need for their dream), get a job, and get into a place where they are grown ups before thinking about babies.  I wish I could tell them from someone who knows how hard it is but I am afraid it is one of those times where the glory that comes from shows like these outweighs the voice of “reality”.

Wow, I apologize for my rant on reality tv.  Obviously though, it is pretty clear that I don’t watch a lot of tv.  When I want to watch something these days (that is not listed above), it is usually Battlestar Galactica reruns (because you can never watch them too many times).  I also have started watching London Hospital.  It is pretty gory and kind of gross but also very interesting.  It is like a 1900's version of ER in London without so much of the sex.     

This posting is one of those examples of how scary my brain can be since this post originally started out about Downton Abbey and took an interesting little trip to the end.  Strange how my brain works.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

10 Books on Your To-Read List

10 Books on Your To-Read List
  • Topsy-Turvy Inside Out Knit Toys: Magical Two-in-One Reversible Projects by Susan B. Anderson
  • Everyday Heroes: 50 Americans Changing the World One Nonprofit at a Time by Katrina Fried
  • 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up by Julia Eccleshare
  • Riding with the Queen by Jennie Shortridge
  • Away: A Novel by Amy Bloom
  • The Lace Reader: A Novel by Brunonia Barry
  • My Only Story by Monica Wood
  • The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook: Recipes for The Best Pan In Your Kitchen by Sharon KRamis and Julie Kramis Hearne
  • Unravelled by Robyn Harding
  • Home: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson

Friday, February 15, 2013

Feel Good Friday

This makes me sneeze but it also makes me smile because it is a sign that spring is here.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

On Valentine's Day and Being Alive

We interrupt our normally scheduled post to bring you a special announcement:

Since leaving elementary school, I haven’t been a big fan of Valentine’s Day.  When you are a kid, there is just something so fun about decorating a shoebox with pink, red and white construction paper hearts and then reading the cheesy, commercial Valentine’s your school mates leave for you.  

However, the charm of Valentine’s Day quickly wears off once you start middle school, then high school and adulthood, especially as a single parent.   My attitude from around the time of my second marriage to a few years ago was “Valentine’s Day…bah humbug!!!”

However, my attitude changed drastically in 2007.  Not because I fell in love or met the most romantic man in the world, not because of flowers or cupid, or anything like that.  My attitude changed because…well, I lived. 

For some back story, please see my post Why I Love Valentine’s Day here.   A short version of the story is that I was in a horrible car accident involving a blizzard, a snow plow and my little Honda Accord.  I was initially listed as a fatality because they were expecting me to die.  I didn’t.  

After that horrible day, I vowed to live life to the fullest at all times and never take any of it for granted.  Have I always done this?  Well, no because I am human.  Am I constantly working toward this goal?  Absolutely.   

My reminder to you.....Love your family right now so they will always know how much they mean to you.  And, live your life NOW.  Don’t wait for someday to come because we can lose all of our “somedays” in the blink of an eye.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Spoiled Dogs

Pandora a.k.a Panda, our yellow Lab-Sharpei dog, is super sweet but not very bright.  She got scared the other night when we ran a quick errand and she did this.  

Yes.  She ate the couch.  Needless to say a new couch is on the list of upcoming purchases. 

This weekend, The weekend before last, we built a fence.  (Last weekend I slept all weekend with a cold.)  The fenced yard is for the dogs to run around in off of leashes.  Since we moved here in August, we have had to put the dogs leashes on (and with Pandora it can be a challenge).  The dogs seemed to really enjoy it and we really enjoy being able to open the door and just let them out.  

New Fence
Mom's handmade gate

Very blurry shot of the skirting Princess Ivi put up
Pics of the dog enjoying her new play-yard. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

10 Items in Your Ravelry Queue

Since I can never seem to get my act together enough to participate in the 10 on Tuesday by CaroleKnits, I am going to create my own little 10 on Tuesday list and post it on Tuesdays.

I missed last week because of work things (I changes jobs yesterday so I was busy wrapping stuff up and missed the 10 on Tuesday post last week).

Here is this week’s topic created by me.

10 Items in Your Ravelry Queue (in no particular order)

1. Cable Vest
2. Christine Bag
3. Oz
4. Ivy
5. Tomato
6. Giselle
7. Zoro
8. Quadrat
9. Pyroclastic
10. Shapely Boyfriend
You can find me on ravelry as SoccerMomKnits.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Knitting and Stress

I find myself sitting at my desk with my jaw clenched tight, shoulder and neck muscles locked, and my patience gone a lot these days.  Some of it is caused by general life stress but most is caused by work frustrations, primarily difficult coworkers, changing criteria and dealing with family law in general.  These are the days that I turn to my knitting to help me deal with stress.  As I often joke, I knit to stay sane and so I don’t kill someone because let’s face it, prison orange is not my color.

I have never been very successful in sitting still and breathing yoga-style.  Mainly, because I can never get my brain to shut up long enough for that.  However, knitting is my meditation.  There is something peaceful and relaxing in the repetitive action of knitting and purling that soothes my frustrations. 

I will admit, though, that on days when I am really stressed out, the best thing for me to work on is something mindless (garter stitch, for example) that does not require a lot of pattern reading.  There is nothing worse than knitting to relieve stress on a complicated project and finding yourself making mistakes and dropping stitches.  Talk about frustrating.

If you find yourself stress to the point of no return, pick up a craft like knitting or something similar that will help you learn to relax and let go of your day. 

Here are some interesting articles on knitting and stress relief:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Currently Reading

The book I am reading right now is The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau.

Book Description:

If you've ever thought, "There must be more to life than this," The Art of Non-Conformity is for you.
Based on Chris Guillebeau's popular online manifesto "A Brief Guide to World Domination," The Art of Non-Conformity defies common assumptions about life and work while arming you with the tools to live differently. You'll discover how to live on your own terms by exploring creative self-employment, radical goal-setting, contrarian travel, and embracing life as a constant adventure.
Inspired and guided by Chris's own story and those of others who have pursued unconventional lives, you can devise your own plan for world domination-and make the world a better place at the same time.

I am reading it on my Kindle and it says I am 18% into the book and I already have 34 highlights.  I am thinking that this book is so great I am going to buy it in print and an extra copy for my 17 year old daughter.  His insights are great and his motivations to be different are right on point.

I will post a more in-depth review once I am done reading it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Planners and Purses, Oh My!

I know that technically this post is not about parenting but I think it may fall loosely into that category.  Or at least, I am sticking to that story.

I am going to be starting a new job in about a week.  Although the hours are slightly different (9-5 instead of 8:30 -5), I still feel like I may be stressed to be a great employee and a great mother.  In an effort to simplify my life, I am going to get a great planner and a budget planner and make a household binder.

The planner will likely be a mish-mash of refill parts to create something like the one listed on A Bowlful of Lemons.  She is super organized and I wish my planner could look like hers.  I want colored stickies for me, Princess Ivi, and the pets.  That way, I can keep my head on straight and make the most of my time.  

The budget planner (also from A Bowlful of Lemons) will be a big help because this is a dramatic increase in pay which will allow me to pay off a lot of debt and save for retirement.  I love the budget planner that she uses for her budgeting and I think that this will really help a lot.  

The household binder will be a big help because they will corral all the important documents into one place.  I live with my mom and she is listed as a decision-maker on the utilities and by filing the contact numbers and account numbers for the utilities in a binder and something happens during the day, she can easily call and get it fixed.

I am also going to get a new purse and organize it like this (from A Bowlful of Lemons).  I really like this one from Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart Home Office with Avery Small Tote, Raspberry, 17in. x 12in. x 7 3/4in.

But I am not sure how well things will stand up in there.  So I was looking at this one too:

Martha Stewart Home Office with Avery Laptop Tote, Black, 14in. x 16 1/2in. x 6in.

But I will have to go look at it to make sure it doesn't resemble a suitcase.

If neither of these will work for me, I will keep looking because as most women know, the hunt for great purse is almost never-ending.

I think with these organization and budgeting ideas, I will be really organized for the start of my new job.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Playing the Blame Game

I recently read a great article about single motherhood entitled SINGLE MOTHERS AREN’T THE PROBLEM TODAY, ABSENT FATHERS ARE (by Cara Lemieux). 

I am very much like the author in that I get infuriated by those news reports stating that single mothers cause their children to do poor in school and that our children are destined for failure.  I also get infuriated because everyone points the figure at single mothers but forget to mention the deadbeat dads who walk away.

One of the highlights of the article is quoted below:
I can’t help but think that the way we frame single motherhood, while neglecting to mention the absent fathers, is one of the most extreme forms of gender discrimination that exists today.  And because of it, not only is mom typically left to pick up the pieces of the broken home and figure out how to put a life together for herself and her child(ren), the pressure of that is compounded by the extremely negative connotation associated with being a single mother.  And, in my opinion, that negativity can be as harmful as poverty and lack of resources.
And because the dialogue about single motherhood is framed in this way - single moms get hit with a triple whammy.  Society hands them all of the blame for the situation their families are in, while they shoulder the responsibility of raising these children alone, and at the same time they are cited as a main reasons our society is going to hell in a hand-basket.  But very few seem to be focused on the male’s role in all of this.  And that needs to change.
Perhaps, if we shifted our focus and held men more accountable for their roles in creating these single mother households, then we would begin to be able to figure out how to prompt a positive change in society.  Until then, we are just adding one more thing for the single mother to worry about – seeing herself unfairly demonized in another headline.
Now, I am not saying that women should be dismissed of the responsibility - what I am saying is - if we really want to change the statistics, we need to start talking to the party that is abandoning their responsibilities – not to the party that is doing everything in their power to live up to theirs.
This article clearly articulates my thoughts on single parenting and the blame game that is often played with single moms.  Most of us are trying and doing the best that we can while dad is doing nothing.  If, for some reason, our child doesn't measure up to your standards, talk to him not to me. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

(in) RL 2013

I registered for (in)RL.  I am super excited about this because April 27 is my birthday so this will be like a birthday present for myself.

I am really looking forward to this because I find that I don't have a lot of girlfriends so I am hoping that this will help me find some.

If you want to register too, go check it out at (in)courage .