The Best Laid Plans

I am a planner — I have to be. Part of it is my anxious nature: I want to know what, when, how much, and where. Part of it is simply the fact that much of my time is not my own.

I meal plan. I schedule. I put everything in my phone: to-do lists, shopping lists, soccer games, school activities, date nights. Everything goes in there, with a reminder, at that.

I have summer planned nearly through the end of July. It’s not set in stone, to be sure, and a good thing too, as I already had to change my plans for this weekend.

Instead of enjoying a day of soccer (Saturday) and a lunch and shopping trip with my SIL (Sunday), I have been moving furniture and cleaning. We are getting new bedroom furniture — I thought we could get it last week, but that didn’t work out.

Unfortunately, we didn’t plan adequately. We don’t have any where to put our *old* bedroom furniture, so things upstairs are cattywampus. Michael’s room has gained a dresser and a roll-top desk; the girls have another dresser. I was hoping we would be able to wash walls and start painting last night, but I finished washing the wall about five minutes before I sat down to write this post.

I get a little burned out on all this planning. It keeps me from being overly anxious, sure. But when things to need to change, sometimes I feel like I don’t want to do *anything*. I get decision fatigue; I don’t want to plan anything else. And forget “planning” on the fly. If I can’t sit down and make a to-do list, I get totally overwhelmed.

It’s not pretty.

I also have a problem with minutiae. I want to plan every last detail — what and where we are eating, or feeding the children; what time we’re supposed to do what. My poor family.

Anyhoo, I have about another five things on my to-do list before the furniture arrives, so I’m going to go cross them off. And then piles of stuff to sort through. Part of this process has created piles of stuff to go through, most of which probably has to be tossed. Dan did go through his closet last night and got rid of at least 20 shirts, which is amazing progress. Now to convince him to part with some pants (and not in the fun way).

Are you a planner? What happens when plans need to change?

Copyright for featured image: mexrix / 123RF Stock Photo

ETA: This apparently goes for my plan to blog daily this summer. It’s 9:42 p.m., I have yet to clean the kitchen, and I do not have a good post in me. I don’t even have a bad post in me. Thanks for playing along, I do wish others the best of luck!

The Instant Post

We went to see Leon Bridges last night. He and his merry band are AMAZING. The back-up vocals on “River”… I still have chills.

I promise to actually *write* another post, and soon. Although today’s prompt from Sugar Pill is “instant”, so I feel like I’m being true to my 99 days project.

Plus, a good date night and a good night of sleep are helping me get over the “fried from this week” feeling.

I Got 99 Problems (But This Blog Post Isn’t One)

Here are my strategies for blogging for 99 days in a row.

1. My favorite Christmas gift, which Flora bought for me.

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2. A virtual writing retreat from Sugar Pill. They are posting a word a day on Facebook for June. (If you want to join, I think I can invite people. Shoot me a comment.) So while I may not follow along exactly, I will have this if I need an idea to spark.

3. A calendar with ideas written on it — a less formal version of a content calendar. So far I have about 20 days filled in. Again, this isn’t something I have to follow rigidly. It’s just a way to map the way.

4. Other people doing this. Pittsburgh Bloggers, Emily’s 100 Days — she ended each day with a thought-provoking question — other blogs and writers.

5. Ideas from BlogHer and NaBloPoMo sites.

6. Instagram. I’ve been playing with this site more, and if nothing else, I can always post a picture. It’ll be worth a thousand words, right?

How do you get ideas for writing?

Copyright: jezper / 123RF Stock Photo

Kate’s Close Call

When Kate was 2, she ran into the street and almost got hit by a car.

We were leaving a Steelers viewing party on the South Side. As we were saying goodbye to our hosts, Kate darted out of the house, across the sidewalk, and in between two cars, heading for the playground across the street.

I screamed her name.

I don’t know if the man driving the pickup truck heard me or saw Kate run across the sidewalk. He had turned right onto the street that Kate was about to cross, so fortunately his rate of speed was not very high.

He braked. Kate stopped. I would estimate there were about 12 inches between her and the bumper of the truck. Maybe less.

I also have no doubt that had he been traveling straight, through a green light, or if he had been driving drunk, we wouldn’t be talking about how Kate almost got hit by a car.

I have nightmares about it. You know the phrase “heart in mouth”? I know what that feels like — it does indeed feel like my heart tried to exist my chest through my mouth.

And if we had ended up on the news, I’m sure I would be judged as a bad mother. For all I know, that pickup driver still thinks of the time that idiot mom let her child run into the street.

This incident with Kate has been on my mind for days, since the incident at the Cincinnati Zoo. I have seen several posts calling the mother an idiot, saying she’s a bad parent, and just all around blaming her for the fact that the gorilla had to be shot and killed.

And I find them infuriating. My friend Jennifer has an *excellent* post on this, titled “My Child Would Never Fall in the Gorilla Pit Because I’m an Attentive Parent… and other lies we tell ourselves.” She nails it.

If any experience in this life should lead to the mantra, “Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”, parenting is one of them. I have, without question, lost track of my children for 30 seconds or longer. My children have darted away from me at stores and in parking lots. I will never judge another mother or parent for the speed and impulsive behavior of her/his child.

And when those judgmental posts come from child-free people? Do. Not. Even. And don’t give me, “Oh, I’ve spent time with my niece/nephew/neighbor’s kid/friend’s child.” Until you’ve done the job with multiple children on a daily basis for an extended time, you have no room to pass judgement. As Jen says: Shut your piehole.

Actual bad parents exist. Children die (and kill) as the result of unsecured guns every single day in this country. Where is the daily outrage about those tragedies? Children are left alone for days while parents go on benders on their addictive substance of choice. An idiotic couple in Japan left their son in a bear-infested wood as a punishment, and he’s still missing.

Go judge those parents. Or, better, fight for better laws, better foster care, better adoption in this country. Let’s actually protect children from real threats.

Leave this mom alone.

Copyright for featured image: tommroch / 123RF Stock Photo

Important Lessons for Boys: Learn to Accept No as a Complete Answer

This is actually an important lesson for anyone, and it’s two-fold.

First: “No.” is a complete sentence. This is something that I’ve been seeing more and more of lately. People trying to regain control of their lives and schedules by learning to simply say, “No.” Don’t explain, don’t elaborate, don’t go into detail about why you are declining. Simple statements such as, “No, thank you.” “I am unable to do that.” “I am unavailable.” That’s all you need.

And don’t say, “Sorry.”

I fully advocate for this idea of simply saying, “No.” It something that I have no problem doing. Ask my children!

I understand the social impetus to say yes to things. We want to be thought of as nice people. We want to be seen as helpful, thoughtful, or skilled. We want people to say yes to us. And it may not be until a long string of “yeses” that we realize that people don’t see us as nice or helpful or kind, and some people certainly are not saying yes back. We realize that we are getting taken advantage of, and it’s time to start saying “no.”

And saying no can be hard.

You are important. Your time is important. Value yourself.

This is what we can learn by learning to decline every invitation and request that come our way.

The flip side of this coin is this: We have to learn to take No as an answer.

I love the Meghan Trainor song “NO”. Love the attitude, love the unapologetic nature of it.

The problem with this “just say no” philosophy is that sometimes, for many women, it goes very, very wrong.

We are not entitled to a yes. We need to learn that and we need to teach that. And there doesn’t have to be a reason.

She doesn’t have to have a boyfriend or a prior commitment. She can say no to you.

Of course we want people to come to our events or go on dates with us. Of course hearing Yes feels better than hearing No — no matter how politely it is said.

But we don’t get to choose for other people. We don’t get to make other people do what we want them to do.

And I feel that we don’t get to ask why. “Why did you decline my wedding invitation?” “Why won’t you let me buy you a drink.”

The why doesn’t matter. That’s just our egos wanting to be soothed.

Whichever of these things you are worse at, I challenge you to get better at it. If you don’t say no to enough stuff, try it. If you say no, but offer a lot of reasons, try not to. And if, when you hear no, you say, “But why not?” — don’t. Say, “Okay. I thought I would ask.” And then walk away.

Copyright for featured image: tharakorn / 123RF Stock Photo

4th of July Fireworks

99 Days of Summer

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day (and including those days), summer is 99 days long.

Melissa Firman, a fellow Pittsburgh blogger, has developed this project, and I have decided to join her (and others). We have all been inspired as well by Emily Levenson, who blogged for 100 days recently.

My biggest reason for deciding to do this is to get better at developing content ideas and plans. I need to sit down with a calendar, my book of 300 writing prompts, and a pencil, and start planning some things out.

Right now, I am struggling with this post, and I’ll tell you why. Because we were gone this past weekend, and this house needs some tending. I need to do some meal prep for our Memorial Day dinner. We have mice AGAIN, and I need to get under sinks and into cabinets to clean them out and clean them up. The children are supposed to be joining me in this endeavor, but they are outside instead, and since they are not on their tablets, I am considering that a victory. I am hungry, and don’t feel like making myself anything to eat.

These are the small daily things that get in the way of writing in general. But if I make a plan, and read some other blogs, and look at some writing prompts, this is doable. Sure, summer is busy, which is why I shouldn’t wait until the last minute to sit down and crank out a post — kind of like I’m doing right now.

I have a post is draft that I will finish and schedule for tomorrow.

And that will be two days down. Already, only 97 more to go!

Image by Melissa Firman.
Image by Melissa Firman.