Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tell Me Why I Don't Like Mondays

You know the story about Mondays sucking, right?  It's the hardest day of the week, yadda yadda.  My son looked at me forlornly yester-Monday morning and said, "I'm just not ready for the weekend to be over." None of us are, babe.  None of us are.

That said, my Monday was uneventful.  I drank too much coffee, listened to the rain, swam down the rabbit hole of online photo editing, but reemerged and remembered to get my kids from school.  On time, thank you.

Then all hell broke loose.

I think many parents can relate to the phenomenon of hitting the door once you arrive home with the kids after school and putting out a few fires.  There's always the requisite, "I'm hungry!" and everyone's favorite, "Can you get me a drink?"  But I was not prepared for the level of crazy my kids plotted for me yesterday.

boy child: "I'm hungry."
me: "Sorry, we're having dinner early tonight."
boy child: "Can I have a drink?"
me: "Yes, give me a minute."
girl child:  "Can I have a drink, too?"
me:  "Yes, just let me get the papers out of your backpack."
boy child:  "Can I have a drink?"
girl child: "Oh, Mommy, here is the field trip permission slip.  I need $3 and you have to sign it."
boy child: "Can I have a drink?"
me to girl child: "Why don't you start practicing the piano?  You can start on the scales."
girl child: "I need your help."
boy child: "Can I have a drink?"
me: "Just try, I'll be there in a minute."
boy child: "Can I have a drink?"
me to boy child: "Only if you ask me 513 more times and say it more whiney.  Oh, here's your homework."
boy child: "I need your help."
me: "Okay, but I need to help your sister."  to girl child: "Why aren't you playing your scale?"
girl child: "I need your help."
boy child: "Put some Miralax in the drink.  I'm having trouble pooping."
boy child walks stiffly to bathroom.
me to girl child: "Please start on your scale.  I need to see if your brother is okay."
boy child cries from bathroom: "I can't do it."
me: "Here's your drink with Miralax.  Do you want to drink it here or get off the potty?"
boy child: "Drink it here." *(I know, gross.)
girl child (growing in distress): "I need your help."
me: "Just try."
girl child tries, misses many notes.
me: "You need some sharps or flats in there.  Look at the notes."
girl child, now crying: "I need your help."
boy child, now crying: "I can't do it."
me, to girl child: "Try it hands apart, slowly.  Watch me play it.  Look at my hands.  Now you try."
girl child, now in full-on tantrum: "But I need your help."
me: "I just helped you.  Now you have to put your fingers on the piano and try it yourself."
boy child, from bathroom: "I can't do it."
me: "Okay, then get off the pot and try later."
boy child: "Can you help me with my homework?"
me: "I have to get working on dinner.  We need to eat early tonight."
girl child, still sobbing.
boy child, leaves for the bathroom again.
I look at clock.  We're going to be late for puppy class if my husband doesn't get home soon.
Call husband, force back throbbing head, ignore sobbing/thrashing girl child and whimpering boy child on potty.
me, to husband: "Do you think you'll be home soon?"
husband: "Just leaving now."
me, smelling something foul: "Oh for fuck's sake!"  to the puppy: "Did you just poop on the floor?!"
husband: "Or maybe on second thought I'll stay put."
me: "Please come home.  I'll explain later."

Well, you get the picture.  And if you don't, here's a visual.

My daughter finally calmed down and abandoned the piano.  My son never pooped because he's a terrible eater.  I cleaned up puppy poop and went to puppy class where said puppy was TERRIBLE.

The day ended with me catching up on Downton Abbey and being thoroughly wrecked with despair.

How did your day go? 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Master of my domain

Quick note, loyal peeps:

I have my own domain name!  I think you can still reach me through addledmother.blogspot.com, but for ease you can now find me at http:/addledliving.com.  Nifty!

Also, I learned how to do this today.
That's my daughter.  Isn't she cute?

Squeeeeee!  Yes, it's totally scrap-booky and yes, I am a little embarrassed at how much I enjoyed doing this.

I'm happy to show you how you can sass up your blog photos, too.  Let me know in the comments if this interests you and I'll figure out how to create a tutorial.

(By the way, this is what attention-deficit people do instead of editing or sending out essays, writing their columns, laundry, and eating meals.)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mama Likes . . . my monthly column

I write a column too.  Here's the latest one (only available online this month, local peeps):

Mama Likes . . . Cyclo-cross

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Finding the Right Tools (subtitled: Still Learning From The Golden Girls)

Some of you may know this about me and some may not:  I am the "lucky" person/owner of two very different dogs.  Technically, my family are the "lucky" people/owners, but I do the bulk of the training and feeding and walking.  Everyone else does the loving and chastising.

Lucy is my grande dame.  She's 110 pounds of drool and fur.  Part St. Bernard-part Golden Retriever (we think).  Charlie is the mini-Schnauzer we found on the highway last September.  Lucy is almost 8.  Charlie is almost 8 months.  Lucy is gentle and loving, but fiercely loyal so don't be getting up in my grill.  Charlie is a noisy little whippersnapper.  In Golden Girls-speak, Lucy is my Dorothy and Charlie (while younger than Lucy) is my Sophia.

Or for a more urban and equally dated comparison, Lucy is my Willis and Charlie is my "Whatchyoutalkin'bout?" Arnold.  Charlie drives Lucy crazy.  She drives all of us crazy.  Her nickname from The Huz when he likes her is "Charles Nelson Reilly" (because, like me, all of his pop culture references pre-date the year 1985).  His nickname for her when he doesn't like her is "You Little Shit."

In order to calm the crazies for Charlie - especially while the roofers were here and the back yard off-limits last week - I have needed to take the dogs for more walks than normal.  Yes, I know, I'm supposed to walk the dogs daily.  Guess what?  I don't usually do that.  Call the ASPCA.  Lucy is a bear to walk.  She has dragged me down the sidewalk once and knocked me over when I was 8-months pregnant.  In the middle of the street.  I now have a harness for her, but she still barks like this "WOOOOOOF.  WOOOOOOOOF."  Think angry James Earl Jones with a cold.  She also still pulls on me.  I hate walking her.  Charlie is more of a ping-ping-ping racing around in circles kind of walker.  She's not annoying on walks because she only weighs 10 pounds and doesn't bark much . . . on walks.  In the house is another story. (She also would rather relieve herself indoors, but let's try to stay on topic.)

The other day I bought two useful tools: a harness for Charlie so she would stop choking herself on walks and a y-connector leash thingy.  Yes, that's it's real name.  The y-connector allows me to hook both dogs together so that I walk with one dominant leash.  It also is a mess of mesh straps and buckles.  I took the dogs out with my new series of straps yesterday, dubious that it would make any difference.  But, hazaa!  It was the easiest walk I've had with the two beasts!  Basically, Lucy walked Charlie.  In my head my dogs sound more street than they really are:

Charlie: This smells good.  And this smells good.  Oh, lookee here, this smells good.

Lucy: (yank)

Charlie:  This smells g-  Bitch, I was sniffing that!

Lucy: Talk to the paw, Chuck.

This leads me to firmly believe that tools are important.  Let me rephrase that: tools are important, yes, but the right tools are imperative.  Y-connector thingy = right tool.

I'm looking for the right tools to help me organize my ADD brain better.  I'm always looking for tools to help with my essays and now a memoir.  And parenting tools.  I have a parenting toolbox, but lately the screwdriver is not what I need to hammer in good eating habits.  I am always looking for new and more effective tools.

What tools can you NOT live without?  What new tools have you discovered in life/parenting/art?  What tools would the Golden Girls use?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My daughter is a slave driver and blog design trevails

Quicky post on a busy day during a crazy week in a napping house, where everyone is sleeping.  Oops, wrong book.

Hello Wednesday, whatcha knowin'?

Here's what I need to tell you today:  it kinda sucks to have two ADD parents when you want to get to school on time. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Don't stop believing

Well, you helped me reach my goal, friends!  25 READERS!!

And because I like to honor my promises, here is the drawring I said I would post when I reached
25 READERS.  Ladies and, well let's be honest, ladies, I present to you my 1982 sketch of Journey.  You're welcome.

I over-worked Neal's eye a little, but I think it makes him look intense

And a bonus on this momentous occasion, my 8th-11th grade sketch pad:

Why I couldn't afford a new sketch pad over 4 years, I cannot answer

In case you cannot read what I wrote on the cover, I apparently needed to list my favorite bands so I wouldn't forget.  This is what I wrote:

The Cars, Squeeze
The Thompson Twins
Cyndi Lauper
Human League
Tears For Fears
Nina - German group (99 luftballons)

Don Henley
The Cars (?)
INXS (?)
Bruce Springsteen
The Big Chill soundtrack

Yes, I just admitted that Foreigner produced my 16-year-old theme song.  (Soul dying a little)

For my next challenge, I'm going to make it harder.  If I can garner another 25 followers - that's 50 total math-challenged readers whom I love and don't judge - I'll post a later piece of art from my Duran Duran era that will expose why I have ADD.

Some of my friends have asked, "But how do I follow?"  It's easy, gentle readers.  Here's how you do it.

Look at the right hand side of my blog and you'll see the word "Followers" under which is a button that reads "Join this site."  Click on this button.  Viola (or "Walla!" as my daughter likes to say), you've followed me.  Thanks so much!

Wasn't that easy?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

This is not how I thought I would die

Hi there, Chicken Little writing to you from the Gateway to the South.

Remember when I was hiding from roofers who were soliciting door-to-door in my neighborhood?  Well, I finally hired a contractor!  Due to moist weather conditions, the following is what happened after that momentous decision:
  • I had to wait until after the holidays for the roofers to schedule (no biggie).
  • Roof materials delivered, including an enormous dumpster in front of my house (I get it; shingles have to go somewhere).
  • It rained.
  • It rained some more.
  • The roofers came (hooray!) and sloughed off part of the roof.
  • The roofers took a lunch break.
  • The roofers never came back.
  • It sleeted.
  • And snowed.
  • With half of my roof torn off.
  • The roofers returned (hooray again!).
  • The roofers stood in a circle in my yard for an hour.
  • The roofers left.
  • I still had a shovel on the dormer next to my bedroom window.
  • The roofers returned (this morning!) and threatened to cave in my ceiling while I took a shower.
I know it's noisy work, but honestly, there was some major banging and shaking going on right above my head in the bathroom.  This is not how I thought I would die.

Remember when I flashed the tree guy outside my bathroom window?  Well, I now am nervous about getting out of the shower or getting dressed . . .  in my second floor bathroom.  There's a reason only the lower half is frosted glass - because no one will ever see into the top half.  Unless you're me.  And it happens twice in one year.  No, I didn't flash the roofers, but I dressed back turned to the window, huddling beneath my towel.  Fool me once, ya know.

In other news, I have blog buttons!!!  Check them out.  Right at the top of the sidebar.  (Now if Kate at Nested could show me how to make a screen shot with arrows, this could be a tutorial.)  And . . . they work!  Hazaa.  I'm a blogging genius.

Actually, I followed two great tutorials that I will share with you because everyone deserves pretty buttons.  The most helpful one is from Sew Many Ways.  The second one is specific to adding an email button, which you will find at JoJo & Eloise.

That's all I got.  I'm off for a coffee date followed by a lunch date followed by a playdate/coffee chat followed by a meeting about neighborhood burglaries because I like to keep it real after a day of being Lady Grantham.
My husband says she always looks like she just smelled a turd.  He's classy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A long-winded explanation of why I am smiling

It's Wednesday, y'all, and I just want to shout, "Yee-Freakin'-Haw!  I finished my last packet of the semester!!!!"  

Wait, you don't know what a packet is, do you? 

You see, I'm a grad student (as well as one each of the following: writing professor (on leave), freelance writer, mom of two crazy kids, wife (I feel like that needs to be said, even if it sounds June Cleaver-ish), and what else, volunteer, oh oh and blogger.).  Most people don't exactly understand my grad program.  Many think it's a joke or a waste of money - friends and family who I love, mind you. But it isn't.  I've learned a great day and formed an amazing writing community of smart, funny, talented writers across the US and across continents.

So, in a nutshell this is what I do:

I study creative writing (in my case, the genre is Creative Nonfiction (or CNF) ) in a low-residency program (and in my case at the amazing Spalding University MFA in Writing Program).  Students in this program come to campus twice a year, in the fall and spring, to workshop their writing with a small group of 5-8 students from around the world, and an excellent published writer as their workshop leader.  This is called a residency.  Each residency lasts for ten days.  We also attend lectures, have special projects to create, have visiting writers, and visit cultural attractions. Then the semester begins.  A regular semester lasts about six months, with a packet of original writing due every four weeks.  Each packet consists of 35-40 pages of original work and critical analyses. 

To make matters more confusing, I have studied abroad with the program twice (once in Buenos Aires and once in Italy) and once at home on the Louisville campus.  Each of MY semesters have been a "stretch," meaning I take a little longer to work on my packets (six weeks instead of four).  During the semester, each student is assigned a mentor from the faculty, with whom we work one-on-one via email and phone calls.  We submit our packets of original writing to this mentor for feedback.  Each semester we write five packets.

I just submitted my fifth packet of my third semester, bitches!  Next semester is my last.  Hard to believe.

In honor of my achievement and of my free block of time to write without deadlines (except for the monthly column I write) until I start prepping for summer semester (in IRELAND!!), I will leave you with a photo of happiness posted on Facebook this morning by Dog Bless You.  (I love their page.  You should go to there.)

I am covered-in-puppies happy

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

And that's why I call myself a writer . . .

I am not a religious person, but I don’t know how else to say this: I feel blessed.  Maybe I’m blessed by the universe, who knows.  I am definitely blessed with friends.  Two sweet friends tagged me to participate in a blog hop and answer a bunch of excruciating questions for public consumption.  On second thought, maybe I’m cursed with friends.  Anyhoo, Kate at Nested and Anna at The Silent Isle, thank you.  I enjoyed reading your answers, was greatly informed and wildly impressed (Anna has a novella due out in September!)

One other note before I start the exercise of anguish, I learned something very important that I feel I should share with my fellow bloggers.  I already wrote this post.  Yep, wrote it and lost it.  Blogger was kinked up and when I thought I saved my changes I didn’t.  Then when I thought I would copy and paste the post for security (which really was a great idea) I copied and forgot to paste in a Word document and thus lost everything.  Note to self: copying and not pasting is stupid.  I am not defeated, however, and here I am rewriting the whole dang thing.  Be kind.  I have not answered questions about my non-blog writing in public before.  And even though I write a monthly column for The Paper and have published several essays, this is well, I may throw up a little in my own mouth, so be gentle.

Here goes the questions of doom:

1) What is the working title of your book or project?

Funny story: I have two projects because when I get overwhelmed and irritated with one, I shelve it and go to the other.  One is a collection of essays with the working title "I May Be Indecisive, But I’m Just Not Sure.The other is a memoir (I see you rolling your eyes so just pretend you’re interested) with the working title "Chronic.No it’s not about marijuana.  It may have a subtitle, something like this: "Chronic: Marriage, Moving & Medication.Maybe.  Or maybe I’ll erase the file.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book or project?  

See, it’s irritating that I have two projects because now I have two answers for each question.  However, it’s fitting given that my collection is about being indecisive.  The collection has grown one essay at a time.  It started as a project about parenting without organized religion, but then I realized I’m ambivalent about pretty much everything and that it is a raging motif in my life.

The memoir is newer and I’m very insecure about it at this point.  I tend to write about taboos in an effort to break them, to talk about what makes us most uncomfortable.  So why not talk about my year without Crohn’s medication, a year of medical trials that ended badly?  Why wouldn’t people want to read that?

3) What genre does it fall under, if any?

Both projects are Creative Non-fiction/Humor

4) If applicable, whom would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

This is the point where I try not to sound like a narcissist.  The main character of both projects is me.  Now I have answered those If-a-Hollywood-director-were-making-the-movie-of-your-life surveys in the early days of Facebook (Don’t feign ignorance.  You know you did, too.  And by the way, Jennifer Lawrence and Audrey Hepburn are NOT realistic choices.).  Uusually I chose actresses who looked a little like me.  Women around the same age with a mess of curly brown hair: Amy Irving, Judy Davis (she’s so intense), or Julia Louis-Dreyfus because throughout the 90s my dad called me “Elaine.”  But I’m going to go for broke here.  If I could cast myself in my own ridiculous melodrama, I’d have to go with Tina Fey (I love you, Tina).

What?  I could look this good. (original image published in BUST Magazine
 5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your manuscript or project?

Essays: One woman’s search for religion, parenting advice, hair color and other important stuff.

Memoir: The majors stressors in life include: moving, illness, and job change; add terrorism to that and you have my first year of marriage.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  

I defer to Kate on this one: let’s get the projects finished first.  I hope to have representation one day.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  

I started my first essay five years ago.  It’s still not finished.

8) What other book or stories would you compare this story to with the genre?  

I’d love to say that the memoir is akin to Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” or Mary Karr’s “The Liar’s Club,” but without the bipolar parents, alcoholism, heroin, and abuse.  Really, I’m not sure what it’s like.  Too soon to say.  Maybe I’ll do sociological research about the year 2001 or medical trials and weave that into the personal narrative, a la Rosemary Mahoney’s brilliant “Whoredom In Kimmage.”
Read this book!
The essays could be a love child of Nora Ephron and David Sedaris or the product of a threesome with Marion Winik, Sarah Vowell and David Rakoff, all of which you know could never happen.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book or story?  

The essays have all grown out of my own search for answers.  I don’t have them and sometimes I write about it to make sense of my world.  Usually I just tell jokes.

The memoir at this stage is an effort to bring light to a subject people don’t read about much: Crohn’s disease.  I was diagnosed in 2000 and spent much of  2001 involved in a medical trial in Washington, DC.  It didn’t go well.  At the same time, I struggled with crushing anxiety.  Then 9/11 happened.  And the anthrax scare.  It was a crazy year.  Oh, and my husband and I were newlyweds.  Wheeeeeeeee.  I’ve written about my own struggles with taboo topics before in an effort to help those with similar issues.  I think that’s my purpose here.  What do you think?  I mean it.  I’m just writing it down at this stage.

10) What else about the book or story might pique the reader’s interest?  

Essays: I compare my hair to tuna fish and Liz Lemon makes an appearance in my bedroom.
Memoir:  I spent a lot of hours in a friend’s hot tub that year.

What makes a blog hop fun is passing on the torch to other bloggers who you may or may not have read before.  Click on these links.  You’ll be happy you did.

1. First up is my sister, Randi, whose blog Children’s Writer’s World offers useful advice to writers of children’s books.  She also runs a children’s magazine at Kid’s Imagination Train.  If your child is a budding artist, look for her guidelines for submitting his or her artwork.

2. Next is the hilarious Christina at Geisha Smackdown.  Christina also self-published a collection of her work with the same name.  You can purchase it on Amazon here: Geisha Smackdown, the book!

3. Last is my friend Different Laura (so coined by my son to distinguish the various Lauras in my life).  Slouching Towards Mediocrity is a very sardonic look at life in the independent film industry and Craigslist.

So, that’s it.

I hope this one publishes.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Morning routines are for suckers (or why you should put googly eyes on everything and listen to The Cars)

A lot of weirdness, mostly contributed by me, happened this morning as I helped get the kids ready for school:

1.  I issued the first ever "Potty Award" in order to motivate and encourage my son to go to the bathroom independently. (Side note: he's 5 and fully capable of doing this business on his own, he's just reverting a little because he doesn't want to go to school after a long break of watching Clone Wars for hours every morning).  (Side note numeral dos: my husband seemed disappointed to learn that I was issuing Potty Awards and expressed his consternation with an, "I didn't know we had Potty Awards" pout from the shower.)  This was a virtual award, by the way.  No goods nor services were exchanged for good potty etiquette.
2.  This rabbi started drinking my coffee while I helped Toby get dressed.  
Seriously, Dude, not cool
3.  I realized that my family may, in fact, be the only family that listens to and watches the weirdo show of the band The Aquabats.  This will give you a sense of what I mean:

4.  I suggested to my daughter that The Aquabats aren't very good superheroes.  They always get turned into donuts or zombies.  She said that's what she likes about them.)
5.  My husband suggested that his new Cookie Monster pajama pants were indeed as sexy as his shirt.
6.  I suggested that I had to have on my watermelon slippers on order for me to match the sexy.
7.  I was informed that I just killed the mood.
8.  My son slumped down the steps one at a time with his arms spread to touch both walls so that I was completely blocked from passing him (thus killing more time before he had to put on his coat).
9.  And my daughter got dressed, went to the bathroom, brushed her teeth, went downstairs and informed my husband that he did not have time to make lunch because they were going to be late. 
10.  I realized she's really the mom of the house.

After the kids and the huz left the building, I checked Facebook and found two wonderful things that set the tenor for the day:

1. Yesterday, I commented on my friend James's photo of Edith from Dowton Abbey with googly eyes, saying something on the order of, "Wow, you can put googly eyes on anything and it's funny."  This morning, James put googly eyes on me.
Bravo, James
 2.  My friend Megan posted a link to the A.V. Club Undercover.  First off, if you don't know anything about this series and you like music - especially 80's music - pause and open a new tab right now!  The Huz and I enjoy this series so much it makes the happy pour from our eyes like Skittles.  The premise is that the staff from the A.V. Club (part of The Onion, if that helps shed a little light on the awesome) contrived a list of cover songs then they invite bands into this tiny round studio to a.) choose a song from the list (if a song has already been covered, it's crossed off and they cannot choose that one) and b.) perform the song in the tiny room.  They film the tiny room concert and then the band signs the walls.  This is now turning into a long #2, but bear with me because the payoff is fab.  So, Megan posted the tiny room concert of Chris Thille's band The Punch Brothers covering (swoon) The Cars.  Oh shut up already.  Here it is:

And if you thought that was just what you needed (it had to be done, people) check out Polyphonic Spree (who the Huz and I think are the happiest band on the planet) covering Neil Young: (sorry no YouTube link and Blogger apparently demands that, so just click on this linkydink).

Ooh, ooh and They Might Be Giants doing Chumbawumba (no shit!):

I am now resisting the urge to wax philosophic about 80s music (even though Chumbawumba aren't technically 80s but definitely have that 80s hook and vapidity), but don't think I won't in the future.  Which reminds me, I reached over 20 followers and I believe I owe you guys a drawring of Steve Perry, circa 1982.
unintended bleed through actually works, don'tcha think?
I drew that in a San Francisco hotel bathroom while my parents snored in the bedroom keeping me awake.  I think I was around 14 and desperately searched the streets for signs of my beloved Journey shopping at Fisherman's Wharf, but I was denied.

My new challenge: I'm at 23 followers (thank you!) now.  If I can make it to 30 (because I like to set reachable goals), I will post a picture of Journey, the entire band, from the teen angst series.  What the hell are you waiting for?!  Follow now!

Monday, January 7, 2013

. . . and a Messy New Year!

Hi All!  Happy New Year and all that.

Are you one of those pesky awesome people who make New Years resolutions?  I have tried making resolutions many times, even had a blog called "12 Resolutions" to try to keep myself honest for a whole year.  Want to know how that worked out?  Three words: Lex. I. Pro.  I am way too anxious and distracted to be held accountable to an arbitrary list I made on Dec. 31 when it's the middle of August and I don't give a damn about mending socks or taking Zumba classes.  If you make and keep your resolutions, I bow in your presence.  You are better than me in every way and I'm not worthy of your company.  If you are more like me, welcome to my blog and read on.

Now I'm going to contradict everything I just said in paragraph one.  I didn't exactly make New Years resolutions, but . . .  I have made many to-do lists for the spring.  These are things that have been nagging at me or are just things that I can (and probably should, but I'm not going to go shoulding all over myself) do now that I'm not teaching, the kids are back in school, and the husband is back at work.  In order to NOT LOSE MY MIND looking at lists I've scribbled on envelopes and old homework assignments (which I have done because I just found a pile of them under the printer when I cleaned my desk over the holiday break), I have purchased a few items.  If you are interested in organizing your house, papers, brain, you might find these tools helpful.  You may also think that Mama has gotten sucked in by the vast consumer monster.  Either way, here's what I bought:

A Blank Notebook

This is where I write my daily to-do lists.  Once I cross everything off the list, I tear out the page (but I write on backs because I'm all eco-centric).  If I haven't crossed off everything, the remaining items go on the next list.  I also am using this notebook to gather my writing ideas (I write a column called "Mama Likes" for The Paper.  Check it!) as well as longer-term to-do items, but ultimately, I don't want to jam up the pages because then I will find it overwhelming to look at and won't use it.  Blank notebooks are a cheap fix for the chronically disorganized.  I pay a little extra for pretty notebooks with spiral binding and lined pages because - Cybil Sheppard once said (and I'm dating myself) - I'm freakin' worth it.

Mommy Desk Planner

You can find the awesome at amazon.com or most any bookstore or calendar kiosk

It's hokey, but it works.  I love me some Sandra Boyton "Mom's Family Desk Planner."  In fact, I've blogged about this love before.  You don't have to buy Boyton's farmyard animal planner, but for me it makes the slog of keeping appointments and getting to lessons on the correct date just a little more festive.  Each week is divided into a Mom column and a Family column, to keep tasks separate and organized.  Plus, the calendar has cutesy (and often funny) illustrations and STICKERS to add to your events.  No, I don't need a sticker of a chicken wearing a birthday party hat to remember my daughter's birthday.  Wait, cancel that.  I actually do.  Look at it!

Don't even try to say that isn't adorable
and last but not least, 

An Organizational Book
I don't think you can actually look inside, but if you go to amazon.com you can
Okay, I admit it, I lusted after the book Organize Now by Jennifer Ford Berry the moment I picked it up in Jo Ann Fabrics.  That's a lot of confessing in one sentence.  I even pinned it on Pinterest.  (Follow me on Pinterest if you like.  I pin really goofy and lots and lots of orange things.) More confessions.  Maybe it's the spiral binding or the festive bright kelly green cover, but I suspect it's the week-by-week rational approach to organizing your ENTIRE LIFE that suckered me.  I've looked it over and plan to start working through the book today.  I like books like this.  It offers suggestions, bullet points the important directives, and offers workbook space to jot notes.  It also doesn't dictate any one methodology.  The author basically says, hey here's a way to do it, but if you want to start on chapter 5 because you need to seriously organize your personal spaces but your file system can wait, go for it!  I don't feel judged by this book.  Berry also has a website with loads of ideas that I find completely overwhelming.

I also discovered an e-book that might interest you if you're hoping to do some organizing overhauls on your house/schedule/papers/life (also via Pinterest, from whence all good things now come):

Project Organize Your Entire Life

This is the brainchild of the lovelies over at Modern Parents Messy Kids.  I'll be honest, I haven't read the fine print yet, but it looks promising and the e-book is a cheap $6.99, so I plan to investigate.  If you get to it first, please let me know what you think.
Doesn't that sound promising?
Now that I'm not working, per se, I hope to devote much more time to this here blog and my other writing projects.  That's not a resolution, just a public announcement of a goal that I may or may not achieve.  Given that the latter is a mouthful, I may just call this a pseudo-resolution.  I can't continue though if you don't read and respond, so (warning: begging to follow) if you don't already, please follow my blog and leave me a comment so I know you've been here.  I love positive feedback but am tough enough to handle the constructive as well.  I also welcome suggestions.  See, aren't I nice?

I will leave you with what I'm up against
My big girl, Lucy, showing off her muddy paw prints on the newly vacuumed rug