What I Am Like Totally Loving Right Now

What I Am Like Totally Loving Right Now

So. Here we are. The ol’ blog that I’ve neglected for ALMOST THREE MONTHS.

It’s like running into an old friend at the grocery store after moving back to a town you used to live in. You probably should have contacted each other once you moved back, but you didn’t. It’s only slightly awkward, but it’s cool. You’re both busy, and you’re totally ready to dive back into this friendship, even if it’s just going out for a margarita every three months.

It’s been long enough since I’ve written here that I actually forgot how to add pictures to a blog post. So, since people all around me are doing NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo, I’ve decided to at least try to get ONE new blog post up this month. Gotta set some goals, right?

So, in an attempt to jump right back in without staring at my screen for 45 minutes, I decided to try the popular “What I’m Loving” format to jumpstart my brain. I generally am not a huge fan of these posts, but that can be filed into the “It’s not you it’s me” category. Usually these posts are about beauty products and $150 purses… and I would just much rather spend $150 on 15 Target shirts in varying colors. As for beauty products… I get pretty excited when I finally run out of shampoo so I can try a new one. Does that count?

Anyway, life has been a little hectic and I’m feeling stretched, so I figured that focusing on things I am happy with is a good way to avoid excessive snark. So, here are the things I’m like, totally loving right now, you guys.

 

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1. Coffee

As per usual, I love coffee. I seem to be extra loving it right now though, for whatever reason. Probably because October was a very busy month for work, and I was staying up late a lot. Also probably because it’s getting cooler out there, and I don’t care how trendy it is right now to make fun of chicks loving fall (flip-flop lovers watch out; someone will tweet about your shorts and iced white mochas and the internet will think it’s HILARIOUS one of these days so don’t get too smug), but dudefriends, I LOVE FALL. So, onto my next topic:

2. Fall

We’ve got this ravine/prairie chunk right outside of our house, and in the summertime, jackrabbits frolic about on it, fully unaware that our building owner will soon be razing it for more poorly-constructed and vomitously expensive townhomes. In the summer, the rabbits are great and it’s awesome to see storms roll in… but in the fall? It’s quiet and windy and I’m pretty sure that if Heathcliffe magically found himself dropped off in our time period/exact location, he’d head straight to that grassy stretch to brood. Oh, would he brood. And then I’d bring him a lovely scarf and a mug of coffee. He would give me a weird look. I would shrug mysteriously and walk back to my house with wind in my hair and a call in the branches of the trees saying, “Don’t stop brooding on account of me; I just thought you’d like a scarf.”

3. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I’ve been listening to Yes Please on audio book, and it has been fantastic. Amy reads it herself, along with celebrities like Patrick Stewart and Kathleen Turner, and it’s funny and sad and feminist and fascinating. Also, I’m listening to it for free via an app from my public library. It’s firing me up to be more productive and creative, and is probably the reason I’m writing a blog post right now. I’m definitely going to have to go back and listen to Bossypants by Tina Fey, because the audiobook experience when read by the author is super-fun.

4. Doctor Who Podcasts: Verity, Radio Free Skaro, Lazy Doctor Who

I’ve had a hard time keeping up with podcasts in the past, and I’ve finally realized that it’s because I was listening to what I thought I should be listening to. I thought I should be listening to This American Life and The Moth (which are both genuinely AWESOME podcasts), but I just couldn’t stick with it. This is because I was hoping that podcast time would be a good mental break… but I was trying to take a break by listening to really real stuff. And when I need a break, I need a break. Luckily, the current season of Doctor Who has been OH MY GOSH SO SO GOOD, and prompted me to start listening to these podcasts. Verity is a show of six rotating ladies discussing recent episodes, and Radio Free Skaro is three dudes doing the same. Lazy Doctor Who consists of Stephen (from RFS) and Erika (from Verity), the most adorable damned married couple I have ever listened to on a regular basis, watching all of the episodes together, starting with the very first one aired in 1963. These are podcasts about something that I love, made by smart, enthusiastic people. Winners all around in my book.

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5. These Things Matter

This is a podcast put on by a cool old friend (well, kind of; he went to my school for one year in junior high, but managed to escape, I thought he was cool from afar) named Kevin and a kickass lady named Taylor, who are comics in Denver. They operate on the idea that the pop culture we love is important, and is worthy of (hilarious) discussion. I’ve said this a lot, but listening to it is just like sitting in a college dorm room talking about stuff you like with people you like. A wonderful escape full of smart and funny discussion. I even decided to listen to their recent episode about the band Sublime (which. I. HATE.), and ended up loving every minute of it. Check it out.

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6. Thermal Shirts, and Crocheted Stuff. So, still, basically Fall.

Target and Old Navy both are going nuts with thermal shirts. You know, the waffley kind that make you feel like you’re hip regardless of how many days it’s been since you’ve had a shower? I love them. And they have been on sale. See above statement about buying a bunch of the same shirt in varying colors. Also, I got some lovely goodies in the mail from the even lovelier Katillia at Momma Sweet Pea Crochet. Be looking for a giveaway in the coming weeks, ya crazy kids!

7. Tomato Timer

I’m planning a post (gasp ANOTHER?) about productivity on this blog pretty soon, but I still want to throw this in here. I’ve recently stumbled upon the “Pomodoro Technique” for creativity, and it has been a GAME CHANGER. Its simplicity is deceptive. You basically work in hard sprints of 25 minutes, focusing on one task, then take a short 5 minute break before jumping in for another 25. (You can try this tomato timer here, but you can also just use the stopwatch on your phone) After a few of these periods of time, you do a longer break, between 15-30 minutes. I am amazed at how much work I can get done in 25 minutes when there’s a guaranteed 5 minute break ahead of me, and when I’m purposefully allowing myself to only focus on ONE THING. “So far, November’s looking up in the productivity department,” she said, nonchalantly, as she was secretly scrambling around the room knocking on any piece of wood available.

So. What about you? What are you, like, totally loving right now, friends?

Settling In and Giant Pickups and Stuff and Things

Settling In and Giant Pickups and Stuff and Things

One of my awesome friends just wrote a blog post focusing around the fact that she hadn’t blogged in a long time… which was a good jump-start for me. So, without further ado…

Updates, kids, updates.

Moving.

We’ve moved. We’re now living in the town where I went to college, and it is WEIRD. This is the town that watched me turn from an over-dramatic high-schooler to an over-dramatic college student, and now I’m here as a slightly less over-dramatic  adult. So weird. I don’t have a lot of intelligent things to say about that, except… it’s so weird.

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Kindergarten.

Charlie started kindergarten. His first two days were half-days, so it still felt a lot like preschool. We’ll see how things go on Monday when he goes ALL DAY.

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Kearney Observations:

-It is an amazing feeling to let your kid run off through a park with a new friend and not feel like they’re in danger the SECOND they leave your vision. I love Omaha SO MUCH and I miss it like CRAZY but also a woman got stabbed closing up her shop that was a few stores down from where I worked, and that is totally terrifying.

-I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had a GIANT-ASSED pickup pull out in front of me and then drive SUPER SUPER SLOWLY after doing so. Usually there are high school-aged dudes in cutoff shirts driving

-On a different but similar note, a policeman pulled out in front of me, then pulled me over to apologize for doing so, and provided me with the phone number to report him, if I chose to do so. I did NOT choose to do so. Thanks Mr. Super Nice Police Dude.

-On a note similar and also usually involving GIANT-ASSED pickups full of dudes, people seem to like to race when the traffic lights turn green. Like, there’s engine revving and a definite feeling of competition at 2:00 pm for utterly no reason at this random intersection. Am I sending off competitive vibes from the inside of my van with “Bananaphone” by Raffi playing at mild volume? Is the strawberry-flavored toothpaste stain on the front of my shirt sending out overly-dominant signals? Have I somehow offended the artificial testicles hanging from below their Ford F150? Is that how you write out “Ford F150?” Either way, I’m baffled.

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– The public library here is wonderful. They have a beautiful children’s section and a study room with a wall-sized window, which is amazing.

-The view from our house is gorgeous. I get to watch jackrabbits play together in the morning and have a full view of any weather rolling in. It’s surreal and beautiful.

Work

One of the main reasons I’ve been slacking in the blogging department is my work. Between moving and parenting and deadlines, I haven’t had much time for anything else. Here are a few of the things I’ve been working on that you might be interested in:

Mugs Half Full (An original parenting comic from Erin at Human Illustrations and myself):

Mission: Improbable –> This one’s about the difficulties of ACTUALLY getting out of the house… even for fun adult time.

Museum Memories: The Good, the Frazzly, and the Bubbly

Freelancing Stuff at ApproveMe:

Don’t be a Jack of All Trades… be a Freelance Superhero

How to Network (Without Feeling Sleazy) in 10 Simple Steps

Promises, promises.

My main goal this fall is to get a solid work schedule established, which will include keeping up this blog… even if it’s mostly just general updates. We’ll see how that goes, eh?

Stress and Stress and Stuff and Things

Stress and Stress and Stuff and Things

Oh man, friends. 2015 has turned out to be quite the roller coaster so far.

The M Word

I announced it on Facebook and in a blog post on Her View from Home, but I recently realized that I never announced it here. We’re moving. Paul got a full-time lecturer position in a smaller college town, and we’ve suddenly got a very small window of time to get our affairs in order and pack up our whole lives.

That’s a very dramatic way to put it, but dramatic is just kind of how I’m feeling right now, so since this is my blog, I’m not going to fight it.

There are more pros to this change than there are cons, but the cons, to me, are suuuuper rough. We’ve been mind-blowingly lucky with the friends in Omaha who have welcomed us into our lives. I already have incredible friends in this new town, but I’ve raised my babies with these other awesome people who have raised their babies with me. I’ve swapped baby carriers, dropped my kids off with friends for the first time, and talked about preschool with these human beings. I’ve had old friendships rekindled and cultivated, and become close with people I never thought I’d meet.

The part that gets me more than my own friends is my poor, sweet Charlie. He cries every time he remembers that we’re moving, and tells me which friend he’s going to miss. I can barely even type this without turning into a blubbering mess. Ugh.

My point isn’t to be a bummer… just to express how much I love all you Omaha people, and how all I want to do when I think of leaving you is this:

 

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(That’s supposed to be a gif, but it’s clearly not giff-ing. Oh well.)

E is for Excitement

Now that I’ve gotten the lamenting out of my system for the moment, I’ve got to talk about the pros. There are so, so many pros. We’re going from a grad school/adjunct family lifestyle to that of one that involves a full-time position somewhere. That is going to be a relief to us in so many ways, ranging from financials to family time.

Kearney is so much smaller than Omaha. So, so much smaller. We will spend significantly less on gas, and will be able to ride our bikes a lot and practically. I just got a totally awesome cargo bike that can haul everything from groceries to small humans. Our lives are going to slow down significantly. Charlie will go to school, and as much as it makes me want to find another Leonardo DiCaprio gif, I know he’s ready for kindergarten, and I am also looking forward to getting some of the one-on-one time with Lucy that I used to get with Charlie.

Because the rental market in Kearney is similar to that of the gasoline situation in a Mad Max movie, we’ve found a very expensive, very large place to live. The price tag is painful and it’s definitely more house than we need, but the thought of living in a big, new home has both Charlie and I warming up a little to this whole idea of moving. Upon realizing that there are four (3.5 but from what I understand about toilets that means four whole toilets, kids) bathrooms, Charlie’s eyes lit up and he said, “MOM. That means if EVERYBODY needs to poop and pee at the same time… THEY CAN!”

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And speaking of one-on-one time, I’ll get to see a lot more of Paul. Between the consistence of his new job and the proximity of grandmas and grandpas, we’re going to be able to have a little more “hey, we’re married people!” time than we have in a verrrrrrry long time.

And it’s not like I’m moving into some place hundreds of miles away where I don’t know a soul. I’ve got another friend who just moved across the country, and I’m pretty in awe of how she’s handled it with strength and grace. I’m very lucky to be moving to a town where two of my bridesmaids live, and where I already know more than, like, 50 people. This is not going to be a frigid tundra of loneliness.

W is for Work

I have to say that, despite how NUTS these past few weeks have been, I’m super excited about the present state and future of my writing business. With Charlie going to kindergarten (again, insert ugly sobbing here) and Lucy getting older and more self-sufficient, I’m going to be finding myself with a lot more time for more work and new clients. Here’s a little link roundup of some of the newer stuff I’ve been working on, if you care about that kind of thing:

Mugs Half Full: Dad Edition 

How to Build a Proposal that Wins over Your Customers’ Hearts 

Five Lessons Freelancers can Learn from Taylor Swift 

How to Get it Done (When You Just Don’t Want To)

I’ve also been taken on over at Her View from Home as a monthly writer, which I am excited and nervous about. My writing has really switched gears from personal to business this last year, and it’s fun and terrifying to force myself to talk about my feeeeeeeeeeelings again.

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So. There’s more to write about, but this post is pretty long. These are big changes and I need to write about them. I’ve written in the past about how my blog is like a super-understanding old friend who picks right up where you left off, regardless of how long it’s been since you’ve talked. I’m reminded of that again tonight, as I think about all the other friends in my life, and how grateful I am for their understanding, and for the beautiful pieces they add to this life-sized puzzle of mine.

(In case you’re wondering, the puzzle is 1000 pieces, and depicts a bunch of coffee paraphernalia that is covered in millions of coffee beans, and is titled, “Espresso Yourself.” It’s beautiful and fun and also frustrating and perplexing as hell.)

Thanks, friends.

Black Day: The Monster Rock Band by Marcus Sikora

Black Day: The Monster Rock Band by Marcus Sikora

Disclosure Stuff: I received an eBook preview of Black Day: The Monster Rock Band in return for this post. All opinions are my own and reading is awesome so high-fives all around!

I know, I know. Lauren’s doing another sponsored post? Doesn’t she usually blather on about how she really doesn’t do that kind of thing?

Well, sometimes I do, when it’s something I think is totally awesome. Plus, the compensation I’m getting from this particular post is the best kind ever: reading.

I recently got to check out a sneak peek of a new children’s book called Black Day: The Monster Rock Band, written by a local author named Marcus Sikora, and his mom, Mardra.

Black Day stars a young boy named Brad who desperately wants to be in a rock band… regardless of who’s in it. When he stumbles upon the band practice of a group that just so happens to be made up of monsters, Brad has no intention of changing his plans. Not only do we get to watch Brad use his resourcefulness and gain acceptance from his spooky band members, we also get to see the inception of a town’s newest Halloween tradition. I love that the book promotes the importance of recognizing people’s value, whether we fully understand them or not.

One of the things that makes this book special is the fact that the author, Marcus, is a young man living with Down Syndrome. His mother, Mardra, writes beautifully about their life together on her website, and I feel privileged to be allowed a glimpse into their lives. Marcus is a vibrant guy with an honest demeanor, and seems to be more emotionally intelligent than most of the people I’ve met in my life. Definitely more so than I am.

Let’s get real here, though. I think the most awesome thing about this book is that I got to see Marcus singing onstage before I had any idea that he had a book about a rock band cooking in his head.

I met Marcus and Mardra officially last year, but it turned out that I had been watching them sing Karaoke together since 2011 at one of my favorite (but sadly closed now) Karaoke bars. Mardra’s got a killer voice and can belt some 90’s alternative music without breaking a sweat, but the real showstopper is Marcus and his rendition of Harry Belafonte’s Day-O. I’ve gotten to watch Marcus’ accomplishments all the way from the stage to the page, and I feel incredibly honored.

The Details:

Black Day: The Monster Rock Band is a 40 page hardcover book, and is available for $20 online here for delivery in July, and immediately available for purchase at the Bookworm in Omaha, NE

-For more info about the book, you can head over to www.BlackDayBook.com.

-There will be a reading and book signing event at the Bookworm on Friday July 11th 1:00 pm. -You can follow Marcus and Mardra on Facebook and Twitter!

Very Complex and In-depth Video Book Review

I asked Charlie to do a little video book review about Black Day. He may or may not mention a lot that the book is scary… just bear in mind that even a dash of ominous ambiance is enough to have him covering his eyes.

The Local Awesome: Special Kneads LLC

The Local Awesome: Special Kneads LLC

There have been plenty of changes around here in the Bonk household.

One of the biggest, though, is my back. Specifically, my upper back. It turns out the mysterious and glamorous world of being a barista is pretty cool, and also pretty hard on your upper back region.

The thought of getting a massage has been floating around in my brain for a few months now, but where was I to go? I was planning on using my hard-earned tip money, and wanted to make sure I spent it at the right place. Most of the massages I’ve experienced felt good, but were fairly impersonal and often at a massage chain.

For once, however, my procrastination and indecision paid off.

Enter Tina Wilson, LMT to order a latte during my shift and save me from my plight.

Tina owns a small business called Special Kneads LLC just a few storefronts down, and her business’ motto is “Massage for Everybody.”

I don’t know what it was about her… whether it was the clever business-naming abilities, her warm and down-to-earth nature, or a combination of the two, but when I was done chatting with her, I knew exactly where the money in my tip jar was headed.

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The actual massage experience was just what I was hoping for. The reception area is bright and open, with a big picture window facing the street. Local art is hung on the walls of this surprisingly large space, which made me feel welcomed and excited.

I’ll admit to being a little concerned about the bright atmosphere when thinking ahead to my relaxing massage, but I was happy to find a dimly lit and peaceful room waiting for me.

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Tina displays a demeanor of both professionalism and warmth, which is the perfect combination for a massage therapist, in my book. The massage itself carried on with the pattern that I noticed throughout the entire experience; a pleasant mix of function and relaxation. I had mentioned certain parts of my back and shoulders that were bothering me, and she did not shy away from working out the kinks while also providing a relaxing massage.

Normally, I prefer a little more pressure when I get a massage, but since I knew I would be writing about it, I wanted to get a feel of the standard offering… and I can tell you it’s just the right mix of restorative and relaxing. Tina made it known that my communication was welcome during the massage if I needed changes in pressure or anything else that ensured my comfort.

While the massage itself is of course important, I wanted to make sure I highlighted Tina herself, as her responses to my questions were so very genuine and heartening.

ME: Why did you decide to go into Massage Therapy?

TINA: I chose massage therapy because I was drawn to alternative healthcare. This was largely in part to my mother, who later in life chose to go to school to become a Physical Therapist Assistant. As part of her training she had a massage class and so I was exposed to the health and healing benefits of massage at a young age. I would sometimes give my Mom a back rub (not knowing what I was doing) and she always told me I’d be good at it. I’ve always been interested in anatomy and physiology, but was not necessarily interested in becoming a nurse or a doctor, so massage therapy was a good fit for me. It was a way to be part of healthcare without being in a conventional setting.

ME: What is your favorite part of the job?

TINA: My favorite part of the job is seeing the look of post-massage happiness on peoples’ faces when they come out of the room after a session. There’s no greater feeling than being able to provide relief to people in pain, or relaxation to people whose stress has made living life difficult. I’ve seen people hobble in and walk out straighter and smiling. Or pregnant mothers that waddle in with looks of pain on their face come out as if they’re floating on a cloud. That gives me goosebumps. That makes what I do worth doing. I’m a firm believer that there is a ripple effect that occurs after getting a good massage. If you feel good, then you’re more likely to be in a better mood or be able to carry out your tasks of the day with a better attitude. This can lead to all sorts of positive reactions like being more patient with your kids, or kinder to strangers. I know massage isn’t the only thing that can cause this ripple effect, but it sure helps.

ME: Why did you choose Benson (in Omaha, NE) as the location for Special Kneads?

TINA: I chose Benson for my location, first of all, because the space itself was bright, beautiful, clean and handicap accessible. The way it is setup was perfect for a massage business, and I just couldn’t pass that up. In addition to the space itself being what I was looking for, I loved the idea of being part of a community that is growing and improving and so supportive of local businesses, art and music. It is a good feeling to be part of good change in the area, and to see the transformation as improvements take place. I also love the diversity of the Benson area. I see every color of the rainbow and every age walk past my place. It is always interesting. I’ve had people who have lived in Benson for years stop in just to say hi and to see what we do here and some have even thanked me for opening here. The area has a great energy.

ME: Can you tell me a little about your outcall services?

TINA: I named my business Special Kneads LLC, because I specialize in working with people who have a wide range of “special needs”. I work with people who have developmental/intellectual disabilities, spinal cord/brain injury, or degenerative conditions like multiple sclerosis. Some of these individuals come in to the office location assisted by their caregivers and some of them choose to have me travel to their location because it is easier or the person is more comfortable in their own setting. Sometimes the setting is their home or their day service setting. The bottom line is we adapt to the needs of the client.

One thing I want the public to know is we don’t work exclusively with the special needs population. Our tagline is “Massage for Everybody”. This means we work on everybody and every body. No one is excluded. So whether you have no pain issues and you just want a relaxation Swedish massage, if you have chronic pain and are in need of Trigger Point Therapy, or you are pregnant and are in need of a Prenatal Side-Lying massage, we can help you. We love working on all types of people.

I don’t know about you guys, but that’s the kind of person I want to trust with my massage.

I’m so pumped to have met Tina, and fully plan on sending anyone who asks straight on over to Special Kneads… which leads me to this: Tina is offering all of you awesome readers $15 off any hour or longer full-price massage service for the month of June. In order to get the discount, simply schedule your appointment online using the PROMO code: PENANDCURTAIN. This offer cannot be combined with any other offer or discount, and does not apply to outcall services.

I seriously hope some of you take advantage of this offer… whether it’s a gift for yourself or someone you love. The massage I got at Special Kneads, of course, was wonderful, but it was Tina and her business that ultimately had me floating on a cloud.

Support local. Support good people. Support yourself by getting an awesome massage.

Disclaimery Schtuff:

I was compensated by Special Kneads, LLC with a discounted massage that was tooooooootally wonderful.  All ideas and non-interview words are my own.