Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Procrastination Station.

I have a long and not-so-proud legacy of being a procrastinator.  In high school, I remember a lot of panicked late nights trying to finish U.S. History IDs or Calculus homework (the latter of which will go down in my mind as THE WORST HOMEWORK EVER).  The only thing I probably did in advance of due dates was memorizing lines for plays and songs for musicals and chorus.  I still have nightmares involving not knowing my lines, songs, or dances for a show.  I haven't performed in over two years!

Summer iced tea.
The last two weeks have been a blur of finishing things that I've had MONTHS of free time to finish.  I am writing some encyclopedia articles for an online encyclopedia one of my professors is helping to edit.  I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity to put some publication credits on my CV, and I'm also getting paid.  However, something held me back from starting these articles until July started.  Maybe I was afraid because I hadn't written something like that before.  Perhaps I felt like I wasn't the right person to compose some of the articles.  I'm not sure, but the experience has definitely resulted in some introspection.

Working smarter, not harder.
I'm ALWAYS happier when I got something done in advance.  Never have I regretted getting something done early enough to let me edit, revise, and maybe even turn it in before the due date.  As a M.A. student, I did this all the time, partly because I was unhappy and during the week, had little else to do but read and write.  I need to remember both the panic of waiting until the last minute AND the relief of having things completed on-time and without rush.  I used to believe that I produced better work when I waited, but I now know that is absolutely not the case.  The work I produced under the gun was good enough.  Sometimes I wish I could go back to undergrad (for a lot of reasons, but this is a big one) just to tell myself to work a little smarter.  Read for philosophy class.  Read in advance so I could have pre-class discussions with my very bright classmates.  I squandered some of the opportunities of being in the honors program, in that I didn't always connect enough with my classmates about the amazing ideas we were being exposed to.

Taking more time to appreciate beautiful things.
I'm very thankful that next week is our family vacation.  I will have a week to spend with my in-laws, my little family, and perhaps even my sister and her boyfriend.  After that, I have another week before anything school related starts.  I'm going to get my hair done.  I'm going to indulge in a pedicure with some of my grad school lady friends.  I'm going to host a play-date and do crafts with Elliott and his friends.  I need to be able to hit the ground running once school begins again, but I can't do that without a little decompression.

What lessons have you learned from procrastinating (or, if you are like my sister, from NOT procrastinating)?

- M.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


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Modern Happiness.

“The only time you should look in your neighbor's bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don't look in your neighbor's bowl to see if you have as much as them.” - Louis C.K.

"Comparison is the thief of joy." - Theodore Roosevelt

These two quotes have been tumbling around in my brain a lot lately.  Despite all that I have, it seems easy to get sucked into a vortex of envy and loathing when one looks over the fence and sees all that green grass.  The Internet makes this easier than ever before.  Historically, there were always ways to tell what class a person was or what one suspected they had going on in their lives.  For a very long time, it was how one dressed.  This changed in the industrial age when ready-to-wear clothing made it affordable for everyone to dress like the class they wanted to be.  So, we had to find new ways to make each other feel inferior.  Cars, houses, appliances...I think the idea is clear.  Still, in the United States, we have deemed ourselves a "class-less society," which is laughable.  We all consider ourselves middle-class.  No one wants to be lower-class (whatever that means), but no one wants to be elite either.  

Thanks to the Internet, we can more easily see the things people have, partly because they spend time posting them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  So-and-so bought a house; him-and-her are having another baby; this-and-that are getting a promotion.  Suddenly you're sad because those people are doing the things you wish you could do.  Oof.  It's the worst.  It's probably weird of me to admit it, but from discussions with my friends, I know I'm not alone.  

But I have a full fridge (of weird food; it's been a strange meal week here), I have a car that runs and lets me listen to music on my commute, and I have a healthy family who makes me really happy.  I have a house to protect me when it rains, and it has enough space to let me grow tomatoes.  In short, I'm a really lucky person.  Why do I let the joys of other become my insecurities?  

I've made a promise to myself concerning self-improvement, as of late.  Most goals are tangible: get in shape; eat well; crochet; write 1000 words a day.  However, a few are mental, and most people will never notice they occurred, which is fine.  The above quotes pretty much sum it all up.  Be happy with the wonderful life I have and ensure that I'm doing what I can to lift others up.  Teaching helps me do that.  I do a little charity here and there.  I think my happiness will increase if I keep all this in mind.

I hope you enjoyed this little philosophical side-bar.   I'll get back to talking about crochet, gardening, and E in due time.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Not-So-Secret Garden.

If you follow me on Facebook, which most of you do, you have been subjected to posts about my small garden.  I have never really attempted to have a garden, so I've been very excited about its successes.

First, there is nothing that beats eating food you've grown yourself, in terms of eating veggies.  Throw in some DIY veggie dip (just a packet of ranch dressing mix and an 18oz container of plain greek yogurt), and it's a fantastic afternoon of snacking.

Second, a garden is something I can share with Elliott.  Most of my hobbies are not 2-year-old friendly.  Crochet involves scissors, as does scrapbooking.  School certainly does not interest a toddler.  However, he has enjoyed watering and caring for the plants from the beginning.  He's obsessed with watering plants.  Both grandmothers have purchased little watering cans for him so he can help them with their flowers.

Here is our garden, or at least the plants we put in the ground.  Everything else comes up every year whether we like it or not:

Sunflower: My sunflower is really my pride and joy of the garden.  I cultivated it from seed, and despite somehow killing its greenhouse-mates, the sunflower came through strong and tall.  This is Elliott's plant.  When we water, I fill his can up and its a perfect amount for the sunflower.  It looks like it is getting ready to flower soon, which will be really exciting.

Sunflower plant today.

Planting day!  I got the seeds for $1 at Target.

Basil: My mom has been a big help with the garden, purchasing the rest of my plants as Mothers' Day gifts.  Basil can weather the heat of a PA summer and the occasional days when I forget to water.  I haven't "harvested" any basil yet, but it smells amazing.  PLUS: I have an adorable metal bird that helps me find it amongst the insane vines from my tomato plants.

Adorable basil marker (Jo-Ann Fabrics)

Can YOU find the basil?

Tomatoes: I have two varieties of tomato in my garden, cherry and beefsteak.  Tomatoes love sun apparently, because these suckers are tall and out of control.  I'm learning about determinate and indeterminate plants (indeterminate has vines), and about pruning.  I had to tie my beefsteak plants up so the vines grow up and not all over the poor basil.  My cherry tomatoes need to be re-staked entirely, since the cage I bought was cheap and couldn't handle the robust nature of my plant.  I've harvested 9 cherry tomatoes, but there are A LOT of tomatoes appearing every day.  Elliott is happy to help keep the tomato population under control.

Beefsteak plant in the quality cage.  It's almost 6' tall.

Ripening vine (these tomatoes have been eaten).

One of many fruitful vines.
So far, my first foray into gardening is a mild success.  Next year, I would like to expand my garden.  In addition to tomatoes and basil (or the pizza margherita garden), I would like to add peppers, potatoes, onions, mint, and one other herb.  I may even get crazy and add lettuce.  My Pappy has been advising me here and there.  He has always had an incredible garden.  He and my Oma lived off of a garden before it was cool and Pinterest-y.

Thanks for taking a little tour!

- M.

Monday, July 15, 2013


Today, Elliott Zachary is two!

Chatting on the phone.

Mike Wazowski grape platter
We had a party for him on Saturday with family and some friends.  It was Pixar themed, and he had an Up themed cake.

I find it difficult to believe that the little guy playing with his new Woody and Buzz dolls is two.  Sometimes, he seems older.  We joke that he's been two for a while.  I can't believe that two years ago, we were sitting with him in the ICN, learning to be parents to a kid on the outside.

Us as a new family.


E on his first birthday

We are such lucky people.

- M. & J.