Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Pointless Lists

The Lone Johanna For No Reason.
October! Happy Halloween! This year Johanna is dressing up as "The Lone Johanna For No Reason," which means she's a motley assortment of green cape, Iron Man mask, Eric's OSU Beavers jersey and a pair of pajama bottoms. What to the ever, people. I made the cape, by the way, using the Little Red Riding Hood costume my Aunt Ann (hi Ann!) made me when I was like five or something as a guide. And because I don't own a sewing machine, I used the leftover no-sew tape I found in my sewing basket (there's irony for you) that I suspect is from the curtain project I undertook when Eric and I were first married... 18 years ago. Huh. Well, mission accomplished, anyway, and Johanna loves her cape (even if it will never win any prizes), so we're calling it a win.

Also: Why do people get worked up over Halloween? It's a cute little kids' holiday. We need to relax, America.

Um, what was I talking about again? I forget. It probably wasn't that important anyway.

Oooh, but here's a story for you: Last week, Eric went elk hunting with his family in Eastern Oregon. This meant that the girls and I were lawless in the house for a full seven days. It was kind of awesome. There was a lot of recklessness around the dinner table especially--the apple hand-pies Johanna had made at my parents' for dessert became a side dish one night, as an example of said lawlessness. That's what happens when you don't have any adult supervision. I actually shrugged my shoulders as I wrote that. This week we're back to normalcy (I'm a big fan of normal), and proper side dishes have been served and prepared. AND proper dinners, in case you were worried. Not quite as exciting, but there's only so much excitement I can take at my advanced age of 41 anyway. True story.

Pointless list time!

Books read:
So I had been waiting very patiently for Allegiant by Veronica Roth to be released Oct. 22. I had it pre-ordered on my Kindle and everything, so basically I woke up, downloaded it, and that's what I did that day. One thing about my Kindle Keyboard--it's not all that easy to flip ahead, so I am forced to read without spoilers. I know, right? BUT THEN. Abby had me pick up a hardback copy at the bookstore, and I had some time, and I flipped ahead... and was completely and utterly crushed. I've had a few days to work though my emotions now, Thank God, but wow, talk about a roller coaster. The book was just as fantastic as the other two in the series, and I highly recommend all three of them. They are wonderful. Just steel yourself for the ending. War, you know, pretty much sucks. And I think the ending is actually a good one... now that I'm over the shock. I always read a book twice when I first get it (once quickly to see what happens, and then again to savor), but I haven't been able to read this one over yet. Because, hello, CRUSHED. I will, though. Mostly because Abby keeps encouraging me to move on with some other of her series and I am just not ready to let Tris and Tobias go yet. I mentioned I love these books, right? I really just do.

I forgot to mention this before, but I attempted to read Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (maybe last month? Maybe this month?) because it was on sale for my Kindle and, knowing Abby had to read it for Advanced Freshman English, and never having picking it up on my own, decided to give it a go. I think I lasted maybe a hundred pages before I deleted the thing completely--that's right, people, even off my Amazon Cloud. It was terrible. Why is this a classic again? The writing style, the ease in which Ender can do anything... it was just too dumb. Abby has to see the movie with her English class, so lets hope that Harrison Ford's handsome face is enough to save the thing. (I'm not going to link it, either, because I don't want to encourage anyone to read it. Seriously. Don't read it.)

Canning update:
There isn't one. I've done nothing all month. No peach jam as my go-to Christmas gift this year. I hope its fans are forgiving.

Project 333 update:
Ann called to tell me that dressing in all black isn't goth, it's European! That's much cooler anyway. So I'm embracing black again. Which is a good thing because that's half my wardrobe. I would also like to throw this out there: Fleece lined tights? Are like the greatest invention ever. Toasty!

Things I've learned:
Adult supervision is kind of necessary. It is possible to put your socks on when Skilly is in your lap, though it's not the easiest thing ever. Apple hand-pies are actually not the worst side dish ever because, you know, apples. Are healthy! Real letters still do come in the mail if you're lucky enough to have a friend who will write you one. :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Abby Texts: Concussed with a side of Ender

Abby: Hit my head on the mat room floor we were playing a game where you drop to the floor and now it hurtssssss.

Me: Concussion? How many fingers am I holding up? I'm sorry!


Me: At least it sounds cool.

Abby: So we're doing Enders game like standings in english and so like we do activities and we all have standings. I'm fourth. Swagggg.


Me: Andrew? Is that you? Get some clothes on!

Abby: Dude yolo. I was second for awhile there.

Me: So proud.


Abby: My head is like wooooah. Not bad though :)

Me: Maybe that's concussion after effects?

Abby: Lolol don't think I'm that concussed or I'd have blacked out.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

And so it begins

I found something in Johanna's backpack this morning that has me fairly furious: A series of notes between her and a friend, written during the after school program, with Johanna asking the friend why she was mad at her, the friend responding that it was how Johanna was acting, and Johanna saying she was sorry, but how was she acting?

And the friend couldn't say.

Here's why it makes me furious: I know what it's like to be on the receiving end of such a note, of not knowing what you've done, left only with a vague sense that you are not good enough without any idea of what "good enough" even means.

I just spent an hour writing about my own experiences with being bullied by my supposed friends, from elementary school on up. Including college. But it's too raw, and much more than I ever show people. Even people I'm the closest too. So I can't bring myself to put that out there on the internets for the world to see.

Here's the gist of the thing: I had a hard time. The only thing that saved me was that I ended up with some real friends who taught me that I was okay just the way I was, that I didn't need to act a certain way to make people like me; that just being me was enough. They will never know how much that meant to me, and means to me still.

God, that's still saying too much...

Um, anyway, so as you can see, this note in the backpack of my 8-year-old has stirred up some rather deep emotions. Because I don't want my precious, eternally happy child to feel that she has to be anyone less than herself. Her second grade teacher told me last year that she's never met a kid so young who so completely knows who she is already.

I don't want her doubting who she is.

When I asked Johanna about the notes, she got embarrassed and tried to take them away from me, but finally she told me what had happened. I told her that she does not need to change "the way she acts" because how she acts is fine. Then, seeing her confused face, I told her how girls sometimes try to make other people sad just to feel better about themselves. She seemed to grasp what I was trying to tell her. I certainly hope so.

But now I'm wondering if I should mention it to the after school care coordinator. I don't want to be one of "those parents," but I don't want my child bullied under the guises of friendship. I also don't want to start something worse.

Girls can be so, so mean. It's been that way forever, which makes me wonder: How do we ever make it stop? Bullies come in all forms, and from "good" families, and at all age levels. My worst bullies were college-aged Christian Evangelicals. (And I'm not saying that to blame Christian Evangelicals, just to make the point that people you assume would act one way often don't.) What makes us this way? Why do we have to tear down other people just to make ourselves feel better? Why not lift people up instead?

So... no one ever comments, and that's cool, people, but I'd really like some thoughts on this other than my own. Because I've got a lot of baggage. And I'm not sure I'm seeing what is really there.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Project 333: Week 3 recap

  1. Wow, I'm sick of black.
  2. Oddly enough, though, I could wear a black t-shirt (long or short sleeved) and a black cardigan every day of the week.
  3. I bought a new black sweater to replace the one I didn't like.
  4. Um, and a new teal sweater.
  5. And ended up cycling out a few items to make room / have different options.
  6. Because the weather has been GORGEOUS.
  7. And I needed more clothing suitable for the 60s and 70s.
  8. Degrees, that is. Fahrenheit.
  9. I had to take a pair of shoes to the cobbler, too, because I popped the decorative button off at work by tripping on some boxes that SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN THERE but whatever, I'm not bitter.
  10. Much.
  11. Okay, TOTALLY BITTER. 
  12. See? That cute little button.
  13. What I learned during Week 3 is that having color? Is kind of important for your general sanity.
  14. Especially when the weather is sunny and lovely and awesome.
  15. Because otherwise, I just feel all Goth.
  16. Which actually, I probably am anyway.
  17. Lost my train of thought.
  18. Still no one has noticed and I'm deep in Repeat Land.
  19. I feel kind of ridiculous not being able to make it a month with my preordained 37 items.
  20. Such is life.
  21. And I also kind of feel like instead of thinking less about my wardrobe, which is kind of the point, right?, I think more about it.
  22. Maybe because I'm a Project 333 newbie.
  23. I was only going to go to 20.
  24. That didn't work.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Abby Texts: On Coffee and evil vending machines

Abby: Geometry makes me want coffee.

Me: Life makes me want coffee.


Me: How are you going to get it? That is the problem. No transportation.

Abby: I'm going to um. Run to db*

Me: Do you have money? Because otherwise...

Abby: Lol no because the vending machine ate my dollar. :) U SHOULD PROBZ BRING SOME HOME FOR ME.

Me: Then you'll be up all night

Abby: No I won't! I promise I'll sleep!


Abby: Passing the vending machine of all evil and I kicked it mmm yes.

Me: Good. Show it who's boss!

Abby: Kicks viciously at the vending machine. RIP dollar.


Abby: I'm going to avenge the dollar. I need you to get me some toilet paper, whipped cream, and duct table. And some dutch bros. Purely for morale ;)

Abby: The most necessary part of this is the dutch bros. THE WHOLE PLAN WILL GO AWRY WITHOUT IT.

Me: Ahem. I see how it hinges on coffee. IT ALWAYS DOES.

Abby: Caffeinated is better than decaf in this plan, though either will work.

*db = Dutch Bros.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Project 333: Week 2 recap

After the first week of Project 333 and the positive lessons I had learned, as well as a few random feelings of plain awesomeness, I was unprepared for what happened in Week Two. Namely: A case of the blahs.

This confused me at first. I have plenty of clothing choices. And I actually like the clothing in my closet. So why was getting dressed stressing me out?

Then it hit me: I was trying to wear only the clothes that I hadn't worn the first week. I really hate being told what to do... even by myself.

Forget that. After two days of trying to wear all the things, I bagged it and went with how I always get dressed in the morning: Something stands out that I really want to wear, and I build my outfit from there. I was much happier with the outfits I wore, and, as it happened, I managed to incorporate one or two previously unworn items anyway.

Clothing. Is weird.

P.S. What I've learned about working from a capsule wardrobe is that Fall is one crazy dude. I go from wearing sweaters and long sleeves to pulling out my flats and tank tops. In like a 24-hour period. I've managed to be comfortable regardless of the weather with my 37 items, though, so whatever, I guess.

P.P.S. Still no one has noticed.

P.P.P.S. I've come up with some interesting combos I probably wouldn't have noticed before with all my clothes distracting me and whatnot. My navy tank with my orange-red sweater? That was my hit of the week.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Johanna Show

Johanna has decided that for Halloween, she's going as The Lone Johanna For No Reason. "Lone as in lone wolf," she explained, "like without a pack. Like I run without a pack." This is actually not true. She literally has kids following her around. My theory is she's so quirky and happy that they just want to see what she'll do next. I know I do.

Apparently this costume requires an Iron Man mask, a black cape, Eric's Oregon State Beaver's t-shirt and pajama bottoms. "Sorry, Mom, we're going to have to go to Walmart for this stuff," she added as an afterthought.

Also: She's purposely trying NOT to match. Um, except she never matches, so I'm not sure what the logic is here. You'd probably have to be eight to understand properly. Anyway, my mother has been charged with keeping an eye out for an Iron Man mask--she gets out more than I do. And I REALLY do not want to go to Walmart.

Crap, I totally have to go to Walmart.

Johanna spent all her free time one fine Monday evening working on this equation. Can you solve it?
Answer: Infinity. DUH.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Project 333: Week 1 recap

(I don't expect I'll do recaps EVERY week, mostly because that will be really boring, but also because I imagine I'll run out of things to say about it eventually. I mean... right?)

So guess what? It's the end of week one and I've worn 31 of my 37 items. I know because I'm keeping track. Call it being anal curiosity. I never really pay much attention to what I wear, so it's kind of interesting to see what I'm actually using.

Here's what else I learned during Week 1 of a "limited" wardrobe:
  • 37 items is plenty.
  • That white tank top I added as an afterthought was my most worn item of the week--four times.
  • I decided on my denim jacket at the last minute--I also have a fitted beige jacket I love--and I'm glad that's the one I chose because it goes with everything (I probably wouldn't have worn the beige at all). I wore it twice this week.
  • I'm pretty sure I'd have forgotten about my flats if I didn't just have three pairs of shoes to choose from. 
  • I really do not like the black cardigan I inherited from Abby (online order that didn't turn out quite like she had hoped). I am itching, itching, itching to replace it, but I don't trust myself in stores just yet. My high-brow theories tend to get tossed by the wayside when I'm confronted by pretty clothes.
  • It's way easier to get dressed when you don't have so many options.
And of course no one has noticed what I'm doing. I'm pretty sure no one will ever notice even when I start majorly repeating items (that's my Ugly Shirt Theory: Everyone is so worried about their ugly shirt that they don't even notice yours). It's not about them anyway.

Oh, hey, I also don't mind wearing things a few times before washing them. Dudes, I work at a newspaper office. It's not like I'm running marathons. I'm just sitting around writing stuff.

So no regrets for jumping on the Project 333 bandwagon. Bring on Week 2!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My first attempt at Project 333

I'm not exactly the poster child for counter culture (I'm a bit too uptight for that), but I do tend to like things that are... different. I think that's why minimalism appealed to me in the beginning. It's the exact opposite of what we're supposed to be doing (which is consuming. A lot). I'm a big fan of exact opposite. It's not that I'm trying to be contrary or anything. It's mostly that the exact opposite is a lot more interesting than the mainstream.

So when I first heard about Project 333 a year or two ago, I was immediately intrigued. To break it down: You pick 33 items that you wear just that for 3 months. But it's not a lesson in depravation (you can replace items as needed); it's about simplifying.

I mean, that sounds kind of awesome, right? Kind of weird and really different from all the consumer-ladden messages out there in the world. But while it appealed to me, I wasn't sure I could actually do it. I hadn't come out as a minimalist yet--I hadn't even begun to think about what minimalism might look like. I guess what I'm saying is that I wasn't ready yet.

But my life has changed a lot in the last year, and I don't have to think about what minimalism would look like anymore because we live it every day. (Or, I should say: Eric and I live it, Abby lives it until you start talking about her books or clothes, and Johanna is a hoarder.) But I haven't bothered with my closet yet, not really. I've gotten rid of a lot of items... but I also bring in a lot of items. I mean, I really, really like clothes. And I tell myself I don't have that extensive of a closet anyway. (Fun fact: Yes, I do.)

But still... this idea intrigues me. And that's what I've been working on for the last couple of weeks: A pared-down wardrobe. The fall cycle of Project 333 started Oct. 1, but I started two weeks before that, using the extra time as a dress rehearsal. It also took me that long to figure out the rules. I am all about rules. (I told you I'm uptight.) My biggest issue was what counts in the total and what doesn't. I mean, undies don't count, but do scarves? Shoes? Jewelry? My coat? My "weekend clothes," which includes my one pair of jeans and my only sweatshirt and my extensive long-sleeve t-shirt collection? How about tank tops, which I wear underneath my clothing?

In the end, I decided to include everything that wasn't an accessory. Or my PJs. And somehow managed to get it down to these items (it took three tries, though, full disclosure):

7 pairs pants: black cords, black dress, grey dress, beige, what Eddie Bauer calls "driftwood," jeans, denim dress
3 skirts: grey plaid, black, purple
1 dress: black/white
1 coat: black dress
1 sweatshirt: navy/thrashed
5 sweaters: black, grey, plum, orange-red (cardigans), grey turtleneck
1 jacket: denim
8 button-down shirts: light grey, dark grey, black, white, plaid flannel, navy/white dots, dark blue, teal
3 tank tops: navy, white, black
2 long-sleeved t-shirts: white waffle, black
2 t-shirts: black, navy
3 pairs of shoes (all black): boots, my dress work shoes, dress flats

That makes 37 items, in case you're counting. Well, in my defense, I'm counting my coat and my tank tops, and tank tops are practically underwear, okay? Still, it turns out 37 items is quite a lot. Except I have this nagging doubt that something is going to come up and I won't have adequate clothing, or the right clothing, or... I suppose that's most of the point of this exercise anyway, to prove I can. I'm ready for the challenge.

To give myself an idea of what I'm actually wearing (I worry about not having enough, but I feel guilty about having four more items than what's called for in The Rules), I've turned all my hangers backwards. When I wear something, I place the hanger forwards. I'm just kind of curious, you know? Will I end up wearing everything, or will I still only wear 20% of what's in my closet, which is average? (I was going to link Internet Proof of This Fact, but whatever, everyone knows it, just Google it, see? I was right.) Although I'll have to let Eric crunch those numbers for me because, ick, math.

So... I'm coming out as a Project 333 participant I guess is the whole point of this post. I'll let you know how it goes. So far, on day 3? Not so bad. :)