Reading Good Books

I made a reading goal this year. Reading has been on my back burner for a long time, and I can't believe how happy it makes me and yet I wasn't making time for it. Alas, the problems of most adults. But my goal in life is to do more things that I enjoy, and to do this I have to set little goals to get there. When I read I am happier, I am more reflective, I am more peaceful, I don't feel like 45 minutes of my life was sucked away through the evil Netflix monster. I also believe that everything we experience mentally and spiritually will go with us after this very short mortal life, and that makes me even more passionate about self improvement and experiencing all that life has to offer, and what history can teach us, through other people's experiences and lives. I can't believe how many places I can travel and how many people I meet through books, from my cozy little couch.

The lofty goal of 20 books this year is what I'm aiming for. That may be normal for some, few for some, I won't admit what a big jump it is compared to the last several years. Eek.

My first few books in 2017:

The Burnout Cure. Please read this if you are a tired ( feeling burnt out) Christian mother, or if you are a Christian mother who isn't too tired and overwhelemed...yet.

Alexander Hamilton. Amazing. Wonderful. A beast of a book but worth it. If you are a friend or neighbor you know I've been reading this since January because I'm a total nerd without an edit button and can't help sharing everything I was learning during his story. Also, I had to look up words about every other page (sometimes 3 times on a page). Chernow's vocabulary is...vast.

1. It doesn't matter where you came from (stop using that as an excuse)

2. It also doesn't matter if you had a crappy childhood (his mother was a prostitute, died when he was 13, creditors came and took everything (which wasn't much) He caught his first break because of his own hard work and dedication. Which brings me to #3...

3. Hard work and education can get you far (Read, read, read, read, read)

4. Marrying the right person is kind of important

5. Be open to new methods and ideas, with open, even medicine (both Hamilton and his wife survived the Yellow Fever because of this)

6. Follow your passions

7. Stick to your guns: your beliefs, your values (and maybe even literally, your gun)

8. Friendships impact who you are, choose very wisely

9. Grief changes you

10. Family is everything

The next book I read was the perfect one for after Hamilton:

A Man Called Ove. Please read, I laughed. I cried. I loved all of the characters, especially Ove.

Designing Your Life This was an interesting read about learning how designers think during invention and applying that to your life path. Written by two professors who both changed their professions in their mid 40's/50's and now teach this class at Stanford.  I can't recommend it enough for anyone feeling stuck in their profession/life, trying to decide which way to go for their profession/life and especially parents of High School seniors and seniors themselves. Way interesting to find out how effective life plans are found and prototyped (what lights you up, what energizes you, what drains you etc), also how most people will live 2-3 lives as far as professions and personal life.

Next up...
How Reading Changed My Life

Forget Me Not (By my friend Ellie Terry! Her first novel!!!)

I'm on the hunt for more books this year. Let me know any suggestions.


the best vacuum for a house full of dirt and pets

I have been on the hunt for a good vacuum, since ours recently died. When we first moved into the house I splurged on a Dyson. It was amazing. Its form and function flawless, and it SUCKED big time. I loved it. I washed the filters and thought they were dry (they weren't) so moisture got into the vacuum and over time, think 5 years, it lost suction. *Sidenote, if you have a Dyson and when you turn it on or off it sounds like an airplane taking off of a runway, you have moisture in the engine. You're welcome. Oh, and we also had a carpet beetle infestation and I used the dyson to clean it all up. This took, like, 6 months and I couldn't even look at the Dyson without dry heaving. I haven't written about the infestation yet, because, well...still dry heaving. Urp.

So of course I went to Target and bought the cheapest vacuum there was, a Shark Navigator. There was no way I was going to spend money on a nice vacuum on the off chance my house was still, cough cough, infested.  At first the Navigator worked awesome as far as suckage power, but it's design and form. UGH! It fell over every time I used the wand attachment. I don't curse but I think I cursed more than 100 times over 18 months with that dumb vacuum. When it first broke I was like YES! A new vacuum, but my stupid handy husband fixed it! My excuse was gone. Then it broke again!!!! Again, handy awesome husband fixed it. And then the 3rd time it broke (not even joking) I finally threw in the towel. I had had an amazing vacuum for 5 years and then this flimsy one couldn't even handle my abuse for 18 months. Weak sauce.

I then began the hunt. I literally (ok probably exaggerating here) read 1 million vacuum reviews for a house with hair. We have my long hair, the girls' hair, our narcissistic cat's hair and our horny dog's hair. Oh, and 2 acres of grass and dirt. So yeah, we need a good vacuum.

These are the THREE Vacuums I tried, I know. I'm crazy.
Electrolux Canister

Dyson Complete

Bank Vault Canister

I decided on trying a new brand, since the Dyson scratched our wood floors and the Navigator was the bane my existence. I went with an Electrolux Canister, I love our Electrolux washer and dryer so wanted to try it out. It was really great for our tile and hardwood floors! Super easy to use and pretty to look at. I was happy! It SUCKED! It was great! And then 5 days later the vacuum carpet head attachment was squeaking. Like that plastic, squeak, squeeeeeeeak, squeak, squeak. And I had it. I shipped it back the next day. No way am I paying $$$ for a vacuum to have it squeak at me after 5 days.

As I like the canister type of vacuum I then went with a SALE! on costco for The Bank Vault canister vacuum. I know, really pricey, I'm not sane remember? But this was bagged, and we have family with allergies so I felt it was worth the purchasing price. And oh baby, I really like it! Sturdy, form, function, suckage power were all hitting 5 stars for me!

But then....I was at a costco warehouse and the Dyson Animal Complete was on sale, like, big time, and I couldn't' resist. So I bought it to try it out. At this point I have two vacuums in my house. Can I also add that I hardly, ever ever ever return things? Like, I'm just stuck with it forever no matter what. But not this time, nope. I was determined to find the right vacuum, and the Dyson was so much less (and came with so many attachments I had to google what they do) so I went for it.

**another sidenote, I need to use the word "so", like, so much less**

I decided to find the ultimate vacuum test. I moved our bed to vacuum completely under it. It has been a year since I did a deep clean under there. I took the Bank Vault canister and slowly ran over the area where the bed was FOUR TIMES. Then I took the Dyson (which sucks, holy cow batman, it's strong) and quickly ran the same area over, but only TWICE. You guys, the canister was full of dust and dirt. FULL. It was disgusting. So my lovely Bank Vault was returned. I just could not live with a vacuum that I can't fully trust like that. I felt betrayed, all those promises and it could't pull through for me.

So here I am, with the Dyson. Admittedly, it isn't as awesome on hard wood or tile, but it has a FAN and high shelf attachment. Seriously, I can dust my fans like zippittydooda! easy!  And i can't tell you how much dirt, hair and dust it picks up. Every day. It's gross. I will also admit, I can tell I sneeze a lot using the Dyson, I think bagged vacuums are better for allergies, but I still sleep better at night knowing I'm getting the upper hand at the constant dirt  and hair battle.

The End.


the coach master

We now have a middle schooler in the house this year. And because our county school district is full of a bunch of not so smart individuals who run the transit system plans (seriously, screw drivers have more purpose on this earth), her bus is supposed to pick her up first, then drive 30 minutes to get the farthest kids out of town, and then drive back past our house for school.  So of course, I drive her. It's actually nice, we get a few minutes alone and confirm the day's plan. Who is picking up whom, where are we going etc. Every day is a different gamut.

And every day, as I turn down the road to get me home I drive past one of our many trailer parks. I would consider this one a little more nice. It's tidy and small and there is a sense  of order to it. And the second trailer in along the road is the Coachmaster. I would say, circa 1970's. Why do I notice the coach master? Because it's gold trim is still shiny. After all these years, someone has taken a lot of pains to keep this beauty looking quite fine. There is also a sense of ord to the items around it. The chairs, the porch, etc. And as I pass the coach master I wonder, who lives there?

Are they snowbirds like everyone else? Or as we like to call them at church "Winter Sisters".  I always guess it's a single man in his 60's/70's. Is he from Idaho, Montana or Utah? I would say he isn't local because unfortunately the majority of local trailers are not kept up that nice and neat. It's a lot easier to keep something looking new if you only use it 3 months out of a year.

What does he cook in his trailer? Where does he like to visit? What are his favorite tv shows? Does he read? Have children? Visit family?  Does he have an ex-wife, or is he a widow? Does he have 4 ex-wives? A pension? Step-children, adopted children? Retired mine worker? Lawyer? These are the things that rotate around in my brain as I drive home.  And then I pass the other mom. I see her every morning, and I reflect on my parenting.

Lately I have been working on my parenting with my therapist. It has taken me two years to finally get to talking about this. I tell my therapist, I don't really know how to be a mom to a teenager. My parents were both 40 years older than me (most of the time double the age as the other parents) and not around very much. By the time I was entering the teenage years my mom was a school teacher at an at-risk inner city elementary school and getting her Masters degree at UNR. My dad always had two jobs, a dental practice here and there. During this time he was the head dentist at the prison. I don't remember seeing very much of either of them around this time, or remember them parenting. I really had a more free-for-all reign of my life (again, as far as I can remember). I could hang out with whomever, pretty much whenever. Luckily this is when I started dancing and that kept me more busy and out of trouble.

When I was a brand new parent I was 100% positive I knew exactly what I was doing in life, and as a mother (even though I didn't). Slowly over the years as disappointment, lack of sleep and reality filled the years I had a aggressively  malignant  fear that  someone, somehow would find out the truth,  that I have no idea what I'm doing as a PARENT. I think I can guess that this is a universal fear for most adults, but what I didn't know was that the first people to call you out on your parental failings would be your own children.

Most of my parenting to my oldest children has come from guilt and shame. This is when they are acting out and/or arguing with me, it used to be when they refused to wear the cute outfit, or have an accident in their cute undies, or dare to be fussy at church. When this happens I'm 99% positive I have created a monster and this is ALL my FAULT so I must FIX IT right away to show them how awful they are being and to not be awful but be amazing and fantastic instead. It is simple no?

This usually doesn't go well. UGH.

I constantly hover around them like flies at a summer picnic and everyone gets stressed out and starts lashing out.  Of course, this is with the older kids. With the younger kids I feel like I have these rose colored glasses on  and am enjoying every tooth falling out and every milestone and every cheesy art project brought home like it's a Davinci. Then I feel even more guilt and shame because I was completely out of it and in a dark, dark hole when the older kids were going through the same milestones so take said previous shame and add in MORE guilt and MORE shame because I just plain suck at motherhood.

But not now. Nope. Now my new mantra is NO SHAME.  No shame or guilt about my parenting. Take it completely out of the picture, its' not there. It is what it is and there is no going back. I'm doing the best I can. I was doing the best that I could (even though at times it was really, really atrocious) I always will make mistakes, but NO GUILT.

This is what I think when the small middle schooler climbs out the other mom's car. The door opens and the smoke billows out in waves. Every morning, smoking smoking smoking. And i think "NO SHAME". I'm doing the best I can, that mom is doing the best she can in her circumstances. Yes, I want to pull over and shake her silly with all of the information on second hand smoke and just use one ounce of self control to NOT smoke in the house or in the car but I can't.

I just watch. And think. And am sad for her kid. And sad for other kids. And sad for moms swimming in the guilt. They are doing the best that they can, even if it stinks.

Maybe there is a mom who lives in the Coachmaster, and maybe they had a few kids, and maybe she parented out of guilt and shame and so the years were filled with contention and darkness and they don't have a relationship with Sally or Bob and their grandkids in Milwaukee. I'll probably never know. But I do know that the gold trim is kept nice, and that's saying something. I don't know what, but definitely something. At least it's nice to drive by when it glimmers.

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