Category Archives: blogging

Better Together With Time Apart

Song Lyric of the Day:

To realize the hand of life is reaching out / To rid me of my pride, I call allegiance to myself

half•alive / “still feel.

No, this is not a post announcing a separation. Lately, though, Rich and I have been working to give each other solo time. For years now, I’ve complained that even though he’s promised I’d get alone/quiet time to write and do non-household-related things, it’s almost never happened for one reason or another, whether through my own fault or his. So to shut me up and make me happy, he recently said we needed to make a point to prioritize solo time and finally make it happen.

For the last several weekends, I’ve grabbed my laptop and a book and headed out for a solo lunch, followed by writing time. So far I’ve only gone to local Paneras, which is where I wrote this post. That way I can kill two birds with one stone: I can eat lunch while I read a bit, then enjoy using their free Wi-Fi to help me do book research and update my blog. Also, I’m not a coffee drinker, so I’m not sure I’ll ever head to a local cafe to write unless it has a decent lunch menu. (If any locals are reading this, I’d love to get recommendations on local haunts with free Wi-Fi.) Eventually I’ll go somewhere different for a change of pace. I might hit Lawson McGhee Library downtown as it’s the only library branch open on Sundays, which is usually the day I get to pop out for solo time as we’re typically running errands and doing house projects on Saturdays.

I recently found this list on The Write Life of places to write outside the home, and it has some great ideas. For instance, I never would have thought to hit a museum to get some writing done. I like the public park idea, but given that the weather here is all over the place lately, that’s probably not in the cards for me — I really don’t need to catch a cold right now. I love the idea of a coworking space, but (1) it could be cost-prohibitive and (2) I haven’t heard anything through the grapevine about the ones that exist here in Knoxville. Again, maybe a local can share what they know about these spaces.

As for places in/around the house to work, that’s where things get tricky. Sebastian is an avowed mama’s boy, and trying to shake that kid off my trail is not easy. Our house is a good size, but have you ever tried to hide from a toddler? They’re basically smaller, more committed, more relentless bloodhounds. They won’t rest until they’ve hunted you down. I could simply close the door to my home office, but Sebastian — who has freakish strength for an almost-2-year-old — would just bang on the door until he either knocked it off the hinges or I cracked and let him in. You remember how the leper pirates knocked on doors in The Fog? That’s pretty much Sebastian’s knocking style.

I could turn on the heat lamp on chilly days and hang out on our screened-in porch as long as the curtains stay closed. Or I could hole up in the guest room downstairs; I’m pretty sure Sebastian wouldn’t think to look for me there. Then again, the dogs might give me away, too: “She’s in there, kid. Now get us a treat as a thank you.”

I’m really enjoying my new solo time, and have to thank Rich again — in writing — for making sure I get it. (In case you were curious, his solo time is usually gaming nights with buddies.) You know those couples who have no problem working together, living together, and spending all their free time together? Those couple who seem to never argue or get on each others’ nerves? Yeah. That’s not us. Rich is my best friend, but that doesn’t mean I need or want to spend 24/7 with him, and I know he feels the same way. We both think some alone time is healthy for our relationship. It’s also critical for our sanity. Time apart is making us better together since we’re now both getting dedicated time to decompress and just do what WE want to do, even if for a few hours a week.

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14 Years of Talking to Myself on the Internet

Song Lyric of the Day:

Well if you don’t like girls that are stronger than you / And if you don’t like girls that are faster than you / And if you don’t like girls that are smarter than you / Well then you might not like me / You might not like me

Brynn Elliott / “Might Not Like Me

Today marks 14 years of blogging for me. I started out with a post about how miserable I was in my professional life. Last year I wrote about how it turns out things were the way they were meant to be. I’m happy to say I’m still in a good place, particularly now that we are single homeowners once again.

So what have I learned in 14 years of blogging? As I wrote recently, I know I’d be doing a lot better with this blog and have an audience of more than six (hi, guys!) if I had more time to write and post with regularity. Alas, I have a full-time day job and a full-time 24/7 job as a mom. There’s a reason my blog had the most readers I’ve ever had when I was unemployed and could rant write whenever I felt like it. Which, it turns out, was often. Turns out *that’s* when I should have monetized, but at the time I didn’t know you could do such a thing. Oh, well. Good thing I have that day job to pay the bills, right?

I started blogging to stretch my writing muscles and to keep our (then far-away) family up to date on our lives. This blog is basically a de facto journal for me, with certain events, travels, and random adventures written down for posterity. I do want to get back into writing an actual journal, though, where I can write down the really personal stuff I would never broadcast on the internet. To that end, I need to work on my handwriting. After 12 1/2 years of a computer job, my once lovely, legible cursive writing is now a scrawled mess.

I’ll keep writing here for the foreseeable future since writing is still very much a release for me and I love the immediacy of being able to write a post and the ease with which that helps me preserve a memory. Here’s to future blogging and whatever that might bring.


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One Day Post at a Time

Song Lyric of the Day:

So, bless my heart and bless my mind / I got so much to do, I ain’t got much time

Alabama Shakes / “Hold On

I’ve made my peace with not being able to update here every day. I work outside the home most days, and it’s hard to find the time to write on a good day, nearly impossible on a bad/busy/interrupted day. I can always go the nocturnal-blogging route again, but I’ve been working hard to get to bed at a decent time on weeknights. I had lights out at 10:45 the other night — that’s a recent record. If I have lights out by 11:45 on most nights, I’m ahead of the game.

It’s OK that I haven’t posted a lot lately as not much is going on, other than life getting a bit overwhelming here and there (more on that another day). We drop the kids off at camp or Abuela’s house and day care, go to work, pick up the kids, and have family time in the evenings. We take care of household chores as time permits once the kids are in bed and based on what else we need to do, like cleaning up the trail of destruction I routinely leave in the kitchen when I cook. I am not a neat cook by any means; Rich once commented that when I cook it looks like the kitchen blew up. He’s not that far off with that assessment. On weekends we bust our asses catching up on housework and errands we can’t get done during the work week, because once I’m home from work and the pants have come off, I’m not going out again.

There’s a reason that the big bloggers I read post daily or at least with regular, scheduled frequency — they work from/at home and their blogs are their source of income. Which is obviously not the case for me. If I did have those 40 hours (plus commute time) at home every week, and didn’t have to work? Oh, the things I could get done:

I’d have the house looking like a show home, gleaming like the top of the Chrysler building (ha).

I’d actually — heaven forbid — plan meals and cook on a semi-regular basis. Well, at least more than I do now, anyway.

I’d get laundry done in a timely manner instead of a crap-the-kids-don’t-have-any-clean-shorts-left manner.

I’d be able to run errands at my own pace sans children.

Things would be more organized than they currently are, with things in the proper place instead of carefully controlled chaos.

I could work on landscaping projects early in the day before it heats up too much for me to be outside.

I could update my blog with some regularity.

I could work on my book and maybe even finish it someday.

Toys wouldn’t always be scattered all over upstairs in Hurricane Sebastian’s wake.

This is all also assuming that we would still have Sebastian in day care most days, but if I didn’t work outside the home he would not spend as many hours per day there as he does now.

I would be killing it as a mom and wife, instead of feeling like I fail in a million different little ways every day.

At least, that’s what I tell myself.

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Epiphany Revisited

Song Lyric of the Day:

I wish I knew you when I was young / We could’ve got so high / Now we’re here it’s been so long / Two strangers in the bright lights / Oh I hope you don’t mind / We can share my mood yeah

The Revivalists / “Wish I Knew You

The 13th anniversary of my first-ever blog post just passed. It’s not nearly as momentous an occasion as my cat, Buster, turning 20 in late September, but it’s still worth noting. For me, anyway. I originally started blogging to keep our family up on the happenings in our lives. Rich and I were living in Chesapeake, Virginia, at the time and most of our immediate family was here in Knoxville. It seemed like an easy enough way to share what was going on in our daily lives.

I had to re-read that first post to refresh my memory. (I’m an old — I’ll be 70 in a few decades.) I wrote how I was beyond miserable in my job at the time; government contracting is not for the faint of heart. Or for anyone who wants or needs long-term stability. Or mental stimulation. I wrote about wishing I could go back in time and not major in technical writing; now, I’m not sure I’d change that. It’s precisely because of my degree in technical writing that I ended up at HGTV. Who knows where my then longed-for degree in creative writing would have landed me, especially given how much the publishing industry has changed in the last decade. I’ve acted a few more times since that post, and it is still way more fun than being in a cube all day (dream role: Colin Farrell’s human blanket). I still remember seemingly irrelevant, unimportant things — dates, old phone numbers, dialogue, names of people I met once decades ago. Just don’t ask me what I had for lunch yesterday.

I still don’t think I’ve quite figured out what I want to be when I grow up, but I can tell you I would never have thought I’d end up a mom of two, married for 17+ years, a homeowner, with the same company for more than 11 years, yada yada yada. I can say with certainty, though, that I’m definitely happy with exactly where I am today.

I’m sharing the video for the song for today’s Song Lyric of the Day because it makes me all kinds of happy. I hope it makes you happy, too, and that you can find happiness in where you are in life at this moment.

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Is This Thing Still On?

Song Lyric of the Day:

I guess I can’t believe you really came / And that we’re sitting on this pier / See, I’m smiling / That means I’m happy that you’re here

Sherie René Scott / “See I’m Smiling

I haven’t blogged in months. I haven’t even read blogs in months. Not that I haven’t wanted to, but life has been busybusybusy, which is nothing new, right? Regardless, I’m still alive. That’s something, right? So what’s been going on?


In early September I was in lovely Toronto, Ontario, for the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. I first went to the festival in 2009, and after much hemming and hawing for the past several months, Rich finally convinced me to go ahead and take the trip. So off I went. And yes, I was boo-hooing just a few months ago that I didn’t think I’d get to go anywhere this year. I had, however, been saving for several months for a new camera, which is the money I used to pay for my trip, which turned out to be as much fun as I’d hoped and then some. I will *try* to write about it more in depth soon. The Wi-Fi situation was not good, to put it mildly, while I was in Toronto, so I didn’t get to post anything here and barely managed to FaceTime and/or Skype with Rich and Coraline. In between seeing all those movies, that is.

This Is (Insert Old Age Here)

I hit a milestone birthday not long after I got back from Toronto, one which I have yet to celebrate with any sort of party because I was focused on a certain curly-haired bambina’s upcoming 4th birthday. Besides, my Toronto trip was pretty much my early birthday present to myself.

In honor of my 56th* birthday, I took a selfie. *Would you believe ... 57?

In honor of my 56th* birthday, I took a selfie.
*Would you believe … 57?

She’s 4 Now

Coraline turned 4 six days after my birthday. We celebrated with a bounce house party here at our house, which was a relief. Coraline has been to every kind of birthday party imaginable this year — Chuck E. Cheese, Ijams Nature Center, The Little Gym, The Pony Party, The Knoxville Zoo, to name a few — so Rich and I were surprised that she really wanted a party at home. And who were we to argue? She’s 4 now, after all, which she constantly reminds us of. Constantly. Did I mention she’s 4 now? Because she’s 4 now.

Coraline clowning around on her 4th birthday

Coraline clowning around on her 4th birthday

Working Title

One of the main things that has kept me from blogging and reading blogs these last several weeks is that I have been writing. As in really writing and working on my book. I’ve made good progress and am happy with the direction it’s taking. It’s fiction, so I’m really enjoying letting my imagination run wild. I’ve been researching PTSD in combat veterans — triggers and treatments — so that my main character is believable, although I’m putting the poor bastard through the wringer. Now I just need a title that’s not complete crap like the one I originally slapped on it.

Did I mention that in my head this is what my main character looks like? I'm already casting the movie version. Image of this hot man courtesy of a Google search and Sebastian Stan's mother.

Did I mention that in my head this is what my main character looks like? I’m already casting the movie version.
Image courtesy of a Google search and beautiful man courtesy of Sebastian Stan’s mother.

I also have a new baby niece, Adriana, and Rich started a new job with a new company today. So now you know some of the main highlights of the last few months. Really, though, I’ve enjoyed spending time with my two favorite peeps and focusing more on living life offline. Or as the old-timers called it back in the day, life.


Finn decided to photobomb the family portrait we took on Coraline’s 4th birthday (9/23/14).

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When It’s Time to Stop Reading

Song Lyric of the Day:

I hear you laughing at me when I’m up / I see you when you’re crying for me when I’m down / I see you when you laugh at me when I’m up / I see you when you’re crying for me / All you do to me is talk, talk

Talk Talk / “Talk Talk

Lately I’ve noticed that while I’ve been reading some of the blogs I’ve read for years, I haven’t been enjoying them like I used to. I originally started reading these particular blogs because they were funny, insightful, poignant, entertaining, and, most importantly to me, relatable. But lately something’s changed –in place of those great, well-written posts I used to enjoy there’s filler. Granted, I think most of us bloggers have occasionally used filler posts just to throw something up there (I’m raising my hand — guilty as charged). But most of us don’t have the type of readership and communities — or, in those rare cases, livelihood — tied to our blogs that these blogs in question do. I know I have a loyal little core of about 30 readers (see what I did there? I subtracted a few). So what’s changed? The majority of posts I’m reading are complete one-eighties from what the blogs used to be about; where one blogger was known for, say, baking, suddenly they’re posting about homing pigeons. I’ve lost my connection to them, that relatability that drew me to them in the first place and kept me a loyal reader for many years. Which is why I’ve come to the realization that I’ve been hate-reading them. (Somewhere my husband just said, “Well, duh.”)

In all honesty, I’ve never been so enamored of any blogger that I idealized them, put them on a pedestal, whatever.  But I did really, truly enjoy their writing for many years. These days? I find that more often than not their posts are about nothing — and not in that funny, clever Seinfeld about-nothing way. Just about nothing, as if they’re going through the motions. Granted, some of them (but not all) have pretty big life issues they’re dealing with these days, but when you’ve made a living/created your blog brand, as it were, based on your brutal honesty and outspokeness and willingness to share personal things, well … it’s quite an adjustment when you clam up and instead post a picture of a homing pigeon. I know there’s plenty of other stuff they could be writing about that would entertain/satisfy their readers (myself included) that wouldn’t even have to touch on subjects they’d rather not be blogging about at this time. And the ones who are closing/deleting/altering comments just because they don’t like dissenting opinions? So much for encouraging honest feedback.

But it’s not up to me to dictate what anyone else can do, you know? Except for Coraline — I’m bossing that kid around until the day I die. Will she listen? Well, that remains to be seen. I do expect some pushback, though.

So what’s my solution to my hate-reading problem? I’m going to stop reading those blogs, cold-turkey. That’s the goal, anyway; after years of lunchtime reading, it’s going to be a hard habit to break. It is going to be an adjustment, though, since I really did enjoy the stories and glimpses into their lives that these bloggers shared over the years. But all good things have to come to an end, right?


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Life Offline

Song Lyric of the Day:

And my heart beats faster than safe / Faster than the train in my mind / And I’m not / But I try to find out / What to do with my life

The Shout Out Louds / “A Track and a Train

Wow — I didn’t realize a month has passed since my last update. Not blogging was a mostly conscious decision, though (as in I would have liked to update here and there but time/the desire escaped me). I felt like I needed to just step back and enjoy living my life instead of trying to document and share online what I was up to. (Hence my decreased Facebook activity, too.) Although, in all honesty, blogging helps me remember a lot of things as my memory is just horrible. My short-term memory, to be exact — I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but I remember phone numbers from 20 years ago without any problem. Weird, huh?

I’m aiming to update on the more interesting stuff that’s happened recently as time allows — my class reunion (very belatedly, but at least it will satisfy Miss A’s curiosity. Hi, Miss A!); a long-overdue visit with my aunt and uncle from New York; our trip to Asheville, including an accidental two-day Biltmore visit; and our visit to Hampton Roads, from which we just returned on Saturday. And let me just say — two days of doing nothing after eight days of doing everything, and Rich, Coraline, and I are exhausted. I took a three-and-a-half-hour nap on Sunday. Three-and-a-half hours! Our first day back at work today (and day care for Coraline) is going to be a long one. Fueled by copious amounts of caffeine (and juice for Coraline), no doubt.

Another reason I’ve stepped back from my online life is that I’ve been working on a massive photo archiving project, which has necessarily taken up a lot of my free time  most evenings. I know I take too many photographs: I was down to less than 1MB of space on my MacBook (which has 80GB of storage) due to said photos. So I’ve been backing up photos from my laptop to a 500GB external hard drive I bought specifically for photo storage only. I’m up to a whopping 12GB of free space now. Even my iPhone was too full — I could only get maybe three apps to open because I had too many photos saved. Photos I couldn’t upload into iPhoto because I didn’t have enough free space on my laptop. It’s a vicious cycle. And yes, I wanted to be a photographer when I grew up. Hence my compulsive need to photograph everything.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled program.


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31 Day Blog Prompt Challenge Day 31

Day 31: Free day. Whatever you like!

I’m so tired writing this now (and Coraline just threw up in her crib) that I’m drawing a blank as to what to write about. Aha — how about some of the stranger search terms that have brought people to my blog? In no particular order:

  1. Good Will Humping (awkward … this is why people land here when they search for that term)
  2. cow repellent (yeah, that’s me alright)
  3. curly crazy haired baby (that would be Coraline)
  4. what is the black market? (because I know)
  5. let’s blow this popsicle stand (OK!)
  6. names of black cabbage patch kids (this one’s new)
  7. TV shows about vampires witches and werewolves (I’m an amateur authority)
  8. Simon Baker’s father (he’s a personal friend)
  9. Aidan Turner pretty (why yes, yes he is)
  10. freaking out about nose surgery (with good reason — it hurts like hell)

And this brings an end to my 31 Day Blog Prompt Challenge. This month is the most consistently I’ve blogged in ages, and I have to admit, it’s been fun. At least for me, anyway.


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31 Day Blog Prompt Challenge Day 30

Day 30: Your spouse or significant other.

I’ve been pretty open about expressing my fondness for Rich in the past. And since I’ve already poured my heart out like that, I’ve resorted to creating a fake profile for him based on how well I know him and what I love about him. Let me just say that it is next to impossible to find a fill-in-the-blank dating profile using Google. Without actually signing up for a dating service, that is. Which is why I resorted to modifying one of those American Express cardmember profiles — because it’s free.

A fabulous recent photo of Rich taken by our amazingly talented friend, Jeff. Who I need to get to take headshots for me. You can see some of Jeff's photography here:

Name: Richard Lee

Married Since: 2000

Occupation: website guy/poppa extraordinaire/geeky gamer/squasher of bugs

Proudest Accomplishment: having my own art gallery showings/becoming quite handy at home improvement/having made an awesome daughter with my awesome wife/teaching Coraline to fist bump

Perfect Day: Convincing Pattie to go to Mirage to smoke a hookah (someday …)/convincing Pattie to go to Amsterdam (hey, I can dream)/not having to change a poopy diaper — hell, any diapers

Most Unusual Gift: That I received from someone else? African fertility statue (don’t ask). That I gave to someone? Two rolls of nickels (again, don’t ask).

Recent Impulse Buy: my iPad (here iPad, iPad, iPad)

Internet Therapy: World of Warcraft/reading up on and geeking out about coding languages/watching Archer via Netflix streaming

Can’t Shop Without: Pattie making me

My Wife: ROCKS

Doing what he does best: being a great dad to Coraline


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31 Day Blog Prompt Challenge Day 29

Day 29: Your dream vacation.

Years ago, my dream vacation would’ve been to see the pyramids and Valley of the Kings in Egypt or to traipse through Spain. More likely, it would’ve been to Atlantis in the Bahamas. Don’t get me wrong — I still hope to go to all those places someday. But now, after having read a certain book series and the subsequent movies and embracing my inner geek, I would kill to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. I could walk through Hogsmeade! Ride a roller coaster that’s set inside Hogwarts! I could die happy!

While I’d jump at the chance to go now, I’m hoping it stays open for many years to come since I want to take Coraline to visit it. After she’s read the books and seen the movies, of course.

Hogwarts coaster (Image found via Google)

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