The Posting Problem

Before I start preaching let me tell you that my hand is raised guiltily in the air for you all to see.

Okay with that being said, lets talk about social media addiction. Lets talk about our culture’s need to SHARE! Why do we need to share? Why is it so appealing?

I check my social media platforms of choice very often throughout the day. It’s as if not checking them would leave me susceptible to missing out on vital information. In my head, I know it’s ridiculous. I know that no real emergencies are going to occur because I didn’t refresh my newsfeed one last time before putting the car in drive. I know that urgent messages from close friends will be relayed to me through more personal avenues of communication. I know that 98% of what’s on the feeds of my sites will be useless junk that I won’t care about. But I still do it. Why?

I’m not an expert or anything. I’m just a regular person. I’m the Superhero of Imperfection, remember? So here are some of my imperfect theories:

1) We crave information. We live in the age of information, after all, where pretty much anything we could want to know is only a google search away. Our eyes want candy, our brain wants candy, but our lazy selves don’t want to actually think very hard. So we pacify our hungry bored eyes and our hungry bored brains with photos of cats wearing birthday hats and an update on a high school acquaintance’s relationship. It’s as if we all have a very mild case of ADD and social media is the therapy that gets us through the day peacefully.

2) We are interactive creatures. The difference between watching television and social media is interaction. I become a participant in the content I am reading when I am on social media. For this very reason, I believe that television that we are used to is going to be replaced gradually with video sharing sites like YouTube. Because on YouTube, not only is the content made by users like us, but we also have the ability to choose the videos we watch, comment to the makers, and even reply to videos with our own “reaction” video. We want our information interactive, and we want it interactive now! (Because we are spoiled little information lovers.)

3) Proof. We all feel like we’ve got something to prove. We’ve got someone to impress. Our scientific little selves live in a culture where the “Prove it” motto is taught in kindergarten on the playground when Johnny brags about how quickly he can cross the monkey bars. Prove it, Johnny, or we’re not impressed. You have a cute baby? Prove it, Martha, or we’re not impressed. You have a lot of friends and feel generally satisfied with your life? Prove it (insert generic name here) or we are NOT impressed!

I did something cool today but I can’t tell you what it is because it’s the type of thing that just shouldn’t be shared with the general public online. You will never guess, so don’t try. Seriously. But anyways, while I was doing this really cool (legal, might I add for the benefit of the NSA’s lurking eyes) thing, I took a really great photo. And I mean it was really great. I really enjoy photography, so when I am proud of a photo I took, I really want to share it. So not only did I do a really cool thing, but I also took a really cool photo. And I can’t share them. And somehow I feel like I didn’t quite do them. Because I haven’t had it validated by a bunch of people online, I have an empty little spot in the gratification section of my brain.

And that is just pathetic.

That’s where we stand.

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Getting Competitive With A Toddler

Do you ever think to yourself:

“You know, self, I really wish there was a game I could play against toddlers that was competitive, where I don’t have to let them fake win.”

?

No?

Okay, well maybe I am the only one. But whether or not you ever yearned for a game that fits that description, you will still love this game I made up.

It’s awesome if I do say so myself.

So all you need are some Mega Blocks and a toddler. I use two toddlers because I have them handy, but you will have more success if you aren’t double teamed. Mega Blocks are basically just huge Legos. You shouldn’t try to use any crazy specialty shapes- you just need the basic set. For the girls I watch, I use two complete sets because they have two. The more blocks you use the more challenging for the adult. The less blocks you use, the more challenging for the toddler.

Now, the great thing about this game is that you will not have to explain the rules or give any instruction to the toddlder (at least I have never had to.) The driving force for this game is the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Don’t laugh, I’m serious.

The second law of thermodynamics is probably a pretty complicated thing, but basically, in a nut shell, it is that things will naturally be chaotic and disorganized. If you want to read more you can on this children’s site

Okay so your goal-

You need to work as quickly as you can to stack all LIKE blocks together into one long chain. For example, every red block with two prongs needs to be connected in a long chain. Every green square block with four prongs needs to be connected. Every blue single pronged block should be connected. You continue this task madly, and trust me, the toddler should know naturally what their job is. They will be driven by the Second Law of Thermodynamics-

They will begin to tear apart every chain you make.

You will make some chains that the toddler destroys. You will have to go back and reassemble those chains. You can’t use your strength to pry the blocks from their hands. You can only pick up blocks they are not holding. You can reassemble the chains as many times as you need to.

If you successfully connect every single block in the set,, you have won. If you fail to do this (basically just give up because the toddler you are playing with is a really good destroyer) you lose.

If the game is too easy for you, or your competitor is too slow, you can play a variation where you give yourself specific patterns to make with the blocks rather than just connecting like ones. That’ll make it a bit more challenging for you and give the destroyer more time to destroy.

This game is about perseverance, speed, and strategy. Toddlers have great perseverance and speed (at least when it comes to destroying things). You will need to beat them with your strategy. The more excited you get about your job, the more excited they will get about theirs.

Good luck! I want to hear about it if you give this a try! It’s super fun.

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Essential Oil Excitement

My newest little hobby is essential oils.

This natural lifestyle crap is like a flipping snowball rolling down a snowy hill, and I’ll explain why:

So first I went Pooless here. Because I was going to be giving up the nice smell of my old shampoos with this new hair cleaning method, I decided to purchase some essential oil with which to scent my hair. And then it just went downhill from there.

I am by no means an expert. Let me just throw that little disclaimer out there before we go any farther. All I have learned about the oils has been from a little handbook I have, the Internet, and the actual labels on the back of my oils.

Even though I am no expert, I have learned a few tips through my exploration, and I would like to share them with you.

1)Lemongrass is not a good perfume alone.
Have you ever smelled pine-sol? The cleaner? You probably have. Want to know what lemongrass smells like?

Pine-sol.

The first time I ever wore my lemongrass in public was to church. I sing in the choir in an historic church with wooden pews. I had the revelation that my lemongrass was not a good idea when my choir mate sitting next to me turns to me and says “Wow! The janitor must have polished our pews last night! It smells so clean; he did a great job!”

How do you tell someone- “No, it’s not a cleaning product, it’s my hair.”

I’ll tell you how- awkwardly.

2) If your sister is hyper, don’t vaporize sweet orange.
Vaporizing is a technique of experiencing your oils where you heat the oil so that it scents the air. It’s a great way to set the mood in the house. When we have family disagreements I vaporize lavender to help everyone calm down. When my dad is cooking I vaporize some savory oils to get everyone’s tummy excited. My fatal flaw came when I vaporized sweet orange with my sister around.

You see, my family was staying up late to play cards, and I wanted to set a fun, energetic mood.

Mistake

Blondie has so much energy on her own, that the sweet orange made her quite a nuisance for the rest of the night. I’ll just leave it at that and say that I have learned my lesson.

3) If your handbook says to avoid baths with cinnamon if you have sensitive skin and you have sensitive skin, then you should avoid baths with cinnamon.
Well that title was probably self explanatory so you can skip this explanation if you have really good inference skills. For those of you who don’t, or who just care enough to hear more:

Bathing with essential oils is probably my favorite way to experience them. It’s relaxing because it’s a bath, but you can also focus your energy and your nose on accomplishing a particular goal (for example de-stressing, relaxing, creating positive thoughts.) HOWEVER, when you bathe with essential oils, your skin is coming in direct contact with the oil. For some reason I thought I was above the warning.

I wasn’t.

That cinnamon bath left my skin BURNING, swollen, red, and sore. It was literally painful.

I recovered after about 30 minutes of getting out of the bath, but it wasn’t a fun 30 minutes. The moral of the story is to read the labels and listen. I could have experienced cinnamon a way that was safer for my skin. Next time I will.

4) If you have a hunch, try it out!
I recently taught music class at Vacation Bible School. I was working with children aged 3-13. It was a little hectic trying to teach four dances to the kids in only five days. The night of our final performance I was very stressed. The kids hadn’t been focusing well and I only had thirty minutes to rehearse the dances with the children before they performed for their parents. I needed their attention.

I grabbed my vaporizer and my rosemary and headed to church. Without mentioning what I was doing, I vaporized rosemary essential oil for the kids during our final rehearsal. Guess what?

It actually seemed to work!

I felt like they were calmer, more focused, and more willing to follow instructions. I’m not saying that will always be the case and I know that experiment was not very scientific, but it worked for me and I would definitely try it again.

5) My last and least professional tip is this:

If you don’t know which oil to use for a specific purpose and you don’t have resources to figure it out- guess lavender.

Lavender is my go-to oil. It smells great and it has a ton of other benefits that you can look up if you care to learn them. I use it in my hair for perfume, on my pillow to help me sleep, in a vaporizer to help tense people chill out, in my bath to relax me, on rashes to sooth them, in my facewash because it just seems like a good idea, and in massages. If I ever wonder which oil to use and I can’t think of which one is right, I just use lavender. I love it so much I might name a kid or pet lavender one day. You just never know.

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Out of the United States

Before last month’s trip, I had never left the United States of America. (Okay, that is slightly a lie. I visited Niagara Falls, Canada a few years ago, but I hardly think that counts.)

I learned a lot.

First let me start off by saying this post is not going to be a “travel journal” entry. I can’t describe everything we saw and I honestly don’t feel like it. I’ve got photos for that. I do want to share with you a few surprises, tips, excitements, and reflections. I’ve been putting off writing this because I knew it would be a gargantuan task- so I am just going to not make it that. I was traveling with my sister (Blondie) and two aunts (Q and Titlis).

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1) Paris, France

Boy was that overwhelming. So we landed in Paris sometime around 6:00 AM (their time. To my body it was the equivalent of 1:00 PM.) Jet lag is no joke! My butt was thoroughly kicked the first two days (which happened to be the only days we spent in Paris.) A full day awaited us! We toured the Louvre, had dinner at the big old tower they’ve got in Paris, cruised napped on a boat on the Scene river, and finally saw Moulin Rouge before our heads ever touched pillows. Those were all super awesome and exciting with the help of periodic caffeine intake. When we finally slept it had been almost 48 hours since our last bed! We slept very well.

Of course we slept in the next day, then did some exploring. We visited Notre Dame (from the outside- the line to get in was insane,) ate dessert at an adorable cafe (where my sister scored the cute little French waiter’s digits,) did some shopping, had a late supper and put our tired butts back in bed! One thing that was super fun about being in France was using four years of French lessons from high school. Even when the native I was speaking to spoke perfect English, I made every effort to communicate with him or her in French. (That embarrassed the crap out of Blondie.)

The first major shocker- French apparently aren’t into air conditioning much. There was no AC anywhere we went! Not restaurants, not shops, not inside the bus. Only our hotel (aiming to please visitors) offered AC. I realized just how spoiled we American’s are that we sometimes take that for granted!

Second shocker of less importance but still weird- they don’t give you bread plates! When a restaurant serves you bread, you hold it. When you’re not holding it, you set it right on the table! It was so strange to me and I felt so rude doing that. I just held my bread for a long time until I saw people who looked like locals setting theirs onto the tablecloth. We just did as the French do. Really it makes sense not to waste that plate on crumbs.

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2) Switzerland

We stayed in Zurich, but I’ll be honest- there was not a whole lot to do in that city. The no air conditioning thing proved to be a trend throughout our travels. Zurich was pretty much just a normal little town full of middle class people going about their daily life. The first day we did a little exploring and ended up ordering room service for dinner for the lamest reason ever-

It was hot and our hotel room was the only place where there was AC.

Don’t judge us please. It truly was hot.

Anyways, the next day in Switzerland was absolutely incredible. We took a bus ride into Lazerne, and then to Mount Titlis (the blog namesake of my second aunt, remember?). Three sky carts toted us up the mountain. On top, I took a photo for my favorite person, Ellen Degeneres, sporting her underwear:

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That was the highlight of Switzerland for me.

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3) Venice

Venice was so beautiful. If I had to give one tip to future Venice travelers it would be this-

Know where you are going and how to get there.

It’s all walking. There were no cars. I mean I was told that beforehand and I knew- but until you are standing on the cobblestone with your luggage next to you, sweat dripping down your back, looking at a footbridge you need to cross, and there is not a taxi driver in sight, it’s hard to process.

Once we found our hotel, Venice became an inviting, quaint, intimate little island. We took a gondola ride and really enjoyed the shopping. My favorite part was the spaghetti. Lord knows that spaghetti was so good. I’ve been craving it since I’ve been back home 😦

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The second day in Venice we took a boat ride to the islands of Murano (known for glass blowing,) Burano (known for lace making,) and Toticelli (known for a really old church who’s name I cannot remember.) Beautiful everywhere. Q really knew what she was doing when she planned that day! There was so much beauty just across the water that I am grateful we didn’t miss. I was about ready to pack up my crap and move out to Burano to become a fisherwoman. Instead I opted for our third train to go to Rome.

A funny anecdote worth sharing from
Venice is the way locals give directions. Our directionally challenged little selves had to constantly ask shopkeepers and restaurant hosts for directions in order to get, well, anywhere. Q had printed up the name of our hotel on a card for each of us to show in those exact instances. I would walk up to a Venetian, point to the card and ask how to get there, and a typical response would be something like this:

Go over two bridges, turn right at the church, and ask again.

We would follow those directions, ask again, and get a response something like this:

Oh you are close! Just go up two streets, turn left at the clock, and ask again. You are very close!”

We met a lot of people that way.

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4) Rome

Rome was satisfying to the art history lover in me. Seeing buildings, techniques, sculptures, piazzas, and churches that I have studied was just like taking the best field trip ever.

There was so much to take in that I got a little anxiety worrying I would not see it all. In hindsight, though, Rome is a little smaller than I had imagined, with the cool stuff fairly close together. It actually makes it convenient to see all the things you want to see and I shouldn’t have worried. All the same, that little push motivated me to handle the map and orient myself to the city. That was the first stop where I felt totally comfortable directing our group where to go!

Though I am not Catholic, the Vatican was AMAZING. We had tickets to a skip the line tour, which made the experience about ten times better. I especially loved St. Peter’s Basilica.

A bit of a let down was the Sistine Chapel. It’s so famous and I have studied it. People make it out to be the most awesome place ever- but truly it’s just a big room, stuffed to the absolute maximum capacity with tourists, with a beautiful ceiling. That’s about it. I mean don’t get me wrong- it was worth seeing. I just, personally, did not get that awe factor that people describe. Don’t worry though, the basilica satisfied that for me!

I continued my diet of spaghetti in Rome. I highly recommend that diet.

Of all the travel photos I took on my trip, I’ll show you my absolute favorite:

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So anyways, it was the trip of a lifetime. My travel mates made the trip extra fun. There is a ton more I could say about the journey, and I will address any questions you ask, but for now I think this is good. Was any of this surprising to you? Comment below! Thanks for reading 🙂

Got the t-shirt

I adore the twins I nanny. I’ve been with them over a year and I like to make or get them little presents every now and then.

You know how grandma’s, aunts, mommy’s, daddy’s, and cousins love to buy onsies for little ones that say little things like:

“Grandma’s Girl!”

“Daddie’s wrapped around my finger!”

“My Aunt loves me!”

Call me cheesy but I just love that crap. To see a shirt on a little baby where mom gets a little chance to brag and show her affection at the same time is just a neat thing to me. Bibs, t-shirts, and onsies on little kids are pretty much the ONLY place where you can compliment yourself and it’s somehow socially acceptable. I like it.

I feel pretty close to the little ones I watch. You can only change so many diapers on the same tooshie and get so many snuggles before you become a little attached. I wanted a chance to do the wardrobe brag! My problem was that stores don’t think about the little people like me.

Babysitters are not related technically and it is incredibly difficult to find a cutesy shirt for us to don the tiny little people with.

So I made it work, and this is what I came up with!

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Done with plain old white onsies and sharpies. I wrapped them up and toted them to my girlfriends’ house to be ripped apart! If nothing else, I sure got a kick out of it!

Of course, like babies do, the girls quickly outgrew them. Then, as seasons do, the temperature outside quickly rose.

I could make new ones!

Their dad actually thought of the idea before me and supplied me with larger, shorter sleeved canvases for summer. I would be watching them full time and took the liberty to upgrade my work title:

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How do you feel about these types of clothes? Have you made t-shirts for tiny ones before? I’d love to hear your experience and see your work!

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Theodore the Great- Part Three

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Only one day separates these two photos of Theodore. Granted, we had not yet cleaned up his haircut in the second photo. We had to take three sessions to groom him because he was not into the whole haircut thing!

The rest of the story is not dramatic and climactic like the first part was. Mostly now, life with Theodore takes on an episodic nature.

Some of his favorite things to do are come to choir practice at church with me on Wednesday nights, go for walks, play with his toys, and just sit on my lap.

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Some of his hobbies include driving, gardening, and tree climbing.

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He enjoys the finer things in life like Starbucks, dressing up, and being superman.

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Basically, Theodore is Great. I love him. And he will be guest posting once a week. Look for his new segment, which I will try to post on Tuesdays! If you have any suggestions for what the name of his guest blogs segment should be, comment below and I will get the message to him. (He loves alliteration.)

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Theodore the Great- Part Two

When my dad identified the car he was supposed to be meeting, he got out to greet the mysterious young woman. He said: “Hey, how are you?” In a civil way you would greet a stranger.

She responded with an annoyed and exasperated:

“Bad, I have to figure out a way to tell my mom I’m pregnant.”

Just like that. To a complete stranger asking a friendly question.

My dad told her he was sorry and waited as patiently as he could for her to remove the scared little dog from a cage in her back seat so tiny he could barely move around. When she opened the door to the too small cage, the frightened dog would not even come out to her. My dad began to get worried. Should he bring this questionable dog home to his daughter who was already heartbroken over the loss of her Champ? His pocket was full of $150 cash I had left with him to pay for the dog.

After finally having to remove the entire lid to the tiny cage in order to pull the frightened dog out, the woman presented him to my dad. His tail was between his legs. His hair was matted like it had never before been brushed or cut. There was straw knotted up in his coat to suggest that he had been sleeping outside. (A suspicion my dad asked about, but she denied.) His hair was so long and matted that his eyes weren’t even visible. The nervous little dog was so scared that he would not even come to his owner, much less a stranger. My dad asked how much the young woman wanted for the dog. He paid her what they agreed upon and brought the dog home to me.

I had picked out the name Theodore ahead of time. I went searching in the obituary for a name the same time I was searching everywhere else for a dog. I love the idea of finding names in the obituary because it feels like you are giving the word a second chance. It feels like bringing the big world full of strangers into your heart and allowing a small foreign piece to live on in your life. (Sorry I got all hippie for a second, I just truly believe that!)

Anyways, so of the handful of names from the obituary I liked, my boyfriend particularly liked Theodore. I looked up its meaning online: “Gift from God.” I knew that was the right name.

When I met Theodore, I loved him. I almost cried (of happiness this time) when I walked in the front door and he was looking up at me from the couch. I knew he was my dog. He was my gift.

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As you can see, that first day I took loads of photos of my little shaggy sheep. He immediately opened up to me and bonded with me. The scared nature and tail between legs was history. The next day, we took him to the vet for a checkup and shots.

His previous owner had told me he was one year old. The vet said he was two and a half. His previous owner told me he was a purebred toy poodle. The vet told me he was a bichon frise/ poodle mix. None of this really mattered. He was perfect.

His checkup went well, and he adjusted to life with us amazingly well. My dad tried his hands at a hair cut, and by the end of that endeavor, the whole family had taken a whack at it!

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He was not potty trained like we had been assured, so we began working diligently on that. I bought him a crate and he frantically resisted it at first. Now, however, he loves it. He enjoys laying in it and relaxing even when he doesn’t have to be in it! He sleeps with me most nights, and he has bonded to me faster and more strongly than I knew dogs could!

(Look for my next post in this series for photos of Theo after his haircut)