Category Archives: I Need a Category for This

A Finale for Now

I started blogging soon after beginning my freshman year at FSU. It was a ujournal account, I don’t even remember my username and it was paragraphs lamenting about how tragically I missed my boyfriend. I didn’t use capitalization because #artsy and I would probably vomit if I found those entries.

Cut to today and I’ve shared about college, marriage, moving away, moving back, becoming an actual real life writer, adopting a goofy puppy, saying goodbye to our fur baby and welcoming two kids into our world. Through large periods of both transition and monotony, much of my life has been recorded on these pages.

But here’s the thing. I am basic and boring. The first app on my new phone was PBS, followed very closely by Target’s Cartwheel and Starbucks. I was overly excited to find a high chair cover with a decently cute print on it. These are my victories lately. Having a blog and the (self imposed) obligation to maintain it has added a pressure in my head that asks, "Is this blog worthy?" Quite frankly, the answer is usually a resounding no. As I take stock of every week for Five for Friday, two things happen: I start to search intentionally for the joy, the tiny celebrations or the frustrations that maybe other women and other moms would appreciate. (This is the thread that continues to tug at me and why I’ve plugged away despite lackluster motivation and content.)

But I also become increasingly aware of how little I do in terms of "people are going to care about this." And, really, that thought has no place in my orbit right now. I’m worried about keeping my kids safe and engaged, taking a shower a few times a week, delivering creative and on-time work to my freelance clients and supporting my sweet husband. It’s not very much on paper, or a computer screen, but it fills my days and nights. And when I happen to have the time blogging requires, I want to funnel it elsewhere. Finally putting the Lego pool and patio set together with Addison. Reading a book to Asher. Working out. Starting that children’s book. There’s plenty to do offline right now without the pressure of a perfectly curated online presence. I want to be here, in this moment, while it lasts.

I’ve also started to feel the weight of an older Addison, a young girl with peculiarities and a very specific personality. Is her story really mine to share? I want to err on the side of conservative in that debate and, when she can really understand, allow her to choose her own (pre-approved, fully clothed, thoughtful, heavily firewalled) digital identity.

It’s difficult to step away because I do feel deeply the pull toward creating community, facilitating a space of honesty, of support, of recognition, of hope for the women who are running homes and careers and after crazy children that they sometimes do not like. After three years (first typed "tears" and ain’t that the truth) and some change in this mothering mess…just…wow. Pull up a chair and let’s dish because this sh$t is real. There is so much that "no one tells you" because THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN, SISTER. And the species would die off if they did. I’ve completely lost where I was heading, but eventually I would love to open that kind of dialogue. Sharing and gleaning and growing and returning to our messes a little bit refreshed. One day, maybe. But not this day.

I’m closing up shop for right now. Probably for good.  

So know that if you never commented or commented all the time (love you, Kisha!), read from the beginning or from a month ago, I appreciate every second you spent away from your life to read about mine. Now let’s go tear it up in our boring, unbloggable lives!

IMG_0665

Liebster “Award”

After a seven month hiatus, I found out that Molly tagged me for the Liebster Award, something I’ve never heard of before but supplies me with a free blog post that requires minimal creative energy. Sign me up!

liebsterThe gist is to hype up smaller blogs (less than 200 followers) by providing 11 random facts about yourself, answering a few questions from the nominating blogger and then tagging other bloggers to do the same. I may just do the first part. There’s a reason I fall into the under 200 category.

So here are 11 things that you never cared to know about me.

1. I sometimes like that I am always late because I feel like it ties me to my Spanish roots. But in reality, it probably only ties me to an offensive stereotype. Cubans eating cubans. Cubans eating cubans.

2. I have bits and pieces of two unfinished books carelessly scribbled in journals, and different chapters mentally planned out for a third, a future memoir.

3. I have broken up with and taken back coffee three times in the last six months. Currently I am at a half-caf morning cup compromise.

4. In a moment of pregnancy-inspired spontaneity, we recently bought a keyboard off Craig’s List so that I could try to recapture those three years of lessons I took as a child. My dream Friday night involves candles, a song I wrote, Clayton playing guitar, me playing the keyboard and our glorious harmonies filling up the living room. And then Addison trips over the keyboard bench, topples into her play kitchen and I am ripped away from daydreams back into reality. Kids really put a damper on self improvement.

5. A few other things on my bucket list include learning Spanish, traveling to a country where I can actually use my bilingual abilities to get us around, visiting every continent and taking a massive road trip with the kiddos out west.

6. If you couldn’t tell, I am obsessed with traveling. I am also terrified of flying. I am a complicated lady.
The meds had most certainly kicked in before I took this picture.
The meds had most certainly kicked in when I took this picture.

7. Obligatory mention: I was valedictorian of my graduating class of 33 students. Roughly 80% of them are doing more awesome things than I am right now.

8. Even through college, I used to despise and rage over getting anything less than an A, even an A-. And then I took Organic Chemistry, discovered what actual studying and preparation feels like and wanted to make myself a medal for the B I earned in that class. (I got an A in Organic Chemistry 2. Boom.)
Take that, hydrocarbons!
Take that, hydrocarbons!

9. Last week I was pleasantly surprised when I counted the books I read in 2014 and realized I actually followed through on my resolution to read one book a month. This victory was greatly impacted by the “Divergent” week, when I cranked out three books in seven days. My notables were: “Bossypants” by Tina Fey, “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green and a reread of “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The book tower I scaled for one semester in 2012.
The book tower I scaled for one semester in 2012.

10. Being a mom feels nothing like what I thought it would feel like, in the same way being married didn’t feel anything like I expected. You imagine yourself becoming this totally new, redefined person that is altogether different from the previous non-married or childless version. But you’re not. You’re exactly the same person who now has to figure out how to fit this new identity into who you are, in a way that works for you. Having a kid did not automatically make me love cooking meals or cleaning the house or have a strange affinity for pipe cleaners and Elmer’s glue. That realization was actually a relief; I didn’t want to give up me for them. I am happy to have both.
nat addie walk

11. There are 16 names on our baby #2 name list. I am thinking of doing my first blog giveaway. The winner gets to name our child.

And here are my answers to Molly’s 11 questions.

1. online shopping or in-store shopping - Online shopping since Cyber Monday became a thing and since having a kid.

2. black or white – White. Because I feel guilty for choosing black. Thank you, private school.

3. summer or winter – Summer now that we have the paddleboard, even though I have developed a rather surly attitude toward and complete inability to tolerate the Florida heat after living in Virginia.

4. elephant or moose – Elephant. Trunks FTW.

They also make cuter costumes.

5. traffic or standing in line – Traffic because at least I can sing while waiting.

6. piano or guitar – Depends on the day. I like female vocals with a piano ballad and rough male vocals with an acoustic guitar. Skinny Love by Birdy is my spirit animal and one of the first songs I want to learn on the keyboard. Did I read too much into this one?

7. share it or keep it a secret – Keep it a secret. As a textbook introvert, the less talking the better.

8. dance or watch others dance – DANCE. Even if you don’t feel like it, just dance. You’ll always be glad you did.

9. filter or no filter – Filter. Even if you don’t feel like it, just filter. You’ll always be glad you did.

10. beer or wine – Beer. It’s been one of my most intense pregnancy cravings. Sigh.nat beer

11. Jonathon Taylor Thomas or Jesse from Free Willy – Secret Option C: Jared Leto from My So Called Life.

Automation Frustration

Shifting gears out of the deep end, you know what is one of my biggest pet peeves? Automatic bathroom appliances in public bathrooms. I have lived 29 years and have probably been determining the appropriate amount of hand soap for myself for about 26 of those years. I don’t need a fake machine brain to portion out a dollop of soap at a time. That soap dispenser has no idea what may have taken place seconds before someone required its services.

And the towel dispensers. Oh my word. Those things can push me over the edge. The motion sensor must be a millimeter wide and my spindly little wrists are not substantial enough to activate it. I can never, ever, ever perform that sassy wave and grab that people with presumably meatier wrists have mastered. I am reduced to banging and upper body calisthenics to see that tiny red light, and then just as I am filled with glee at my success, the wheel stops. The paper towel for my dripping wet hands is the size of a toilet paper square. By the time my sopping hands can finagle it out of the machine, it’s nothing but wet, crumbling shreds. And there are still giant beads of water falling from my fingertips and pooling on the floor.

Not to mention the automatic toilet flusher. Flush when I blink or turn my head 3 degrees to the right, but not when I am finished peeing and frantically waving my hand in front of the sensor. There is a line of women outside that door and they can probably see my shadow of insanity in this stall. Finally, we all know the end result is a ninja kick to the miniscule manual black button. For some reason it feels like a failure of womanhood to use it.

My deepest fear is what may be coming next: automated toilet paper dispensers. Cannot, will not tolerate it. I’d rather pay to use public restrooms. I’ll take up a second job for my Bathroom Budget, but PLEASE do not mess with my toilet paper.

Identity Crisis

Saturday night I pretended to be

a. under 25
b. childless
c. awake after 11 p.m. and
d. in my element at a bar with hip kids wearing outfits I didn’t even understand

tallhart2

While those parts were a little misleading, the glaring truth was that
yes, being a mom and crawling around the floor with my mesmerizing mini-Clayton fulfills all of my heart,
and
yes, my soul feels alive when I am in the midst of creativity—music, theater and, most relevant, good writing (Mindy Kaling’s book need not apply).

I want to write, and my blog is the best forum I can think of to do that right now. It’s completely on my own terms and I have the luxury of writing always or never. But I want to write about more than spit up stains, even though many days that’s all that comes to mind when I dig for content. Of course by content, I mean a clean shirt to wear to Target.

There’s not a real reason why I’m sharing this. Maybe accountability. Maybe because it needs to stop echoing around my head and just stick on a page somewhere. But the motivation fairy hit me square in the face Saturday night, right around the first chorus of Tallhart’s “Drunk Kids.” (Hey, drunk kids, it’s a commentary, not a celebration. Put your plastic cup down and pay attention. Sorry, where were we?)

tallhart3

This is what drives me. To create with words. Not for money, because I get paid enough to shift commas around and pitch retirement homes, but to constantly step into who I am at my core. If I am not writing, I do not feel whole. That’s a heavy statement for someone who blogs once a month about the different fruits her kid is eating, but it’s a truth I realized years ago and bears remembering. Out loud. In a public space.

I am not asking you to stick around to read it. I know that one time I may have been witty and actually funny and worth a glance. I also know it’s been many moons since that day. I’m fine with that: my 8 pound, 3.7 ounce excuse is satisfactory for me.

But now I need this. To feed my soul and feel awake creatively, resulting in
a more gracious wife,
a more patient and attentive mother,
a more understanding friend
a more effective leader and even
a writer worth reading.

Thanks for sticking this transition out. The past two years have brought on an astounding number of changes to the who, what, where and why of me. Inevitably, my voice as a writer must change with it. I think I’m ready to see what that voice will say.

And most certainly that voice will say it sarcastically.

Okay, fine. There will still be A LOT of Addison up in here. I’m already embarrassing her in real life, may as well complete the digital circle.

nat A rays

Shout Outs

Even though not much is going down in my thrilling life, that’s not the case with a few people I know.

My friend Laura, who I pester incessantly about running and whose puppy Bryson is betrothed to, ran her first marathon this past weekend. Chicago didn’t even see her coming. Congrats, friend! (Also, you need to start a running blog for me to read obsessively.) Send her congratulatory and anti-inflammatory thoughts this week, ok?

The lives of forty other people are about to be exponentially more exciting when they receive their baby shower invitations this week for mom-to-be/best friend Leah. Buckle up, ladies. It’s on.

I also think I forgot to introduce you to my very first niece/goddaughter, Sarah, Clayton’s brother’s new baby girl. She made her debut a few months ago and is not that size anymore, even though I was secretly hoping she would stay six pounds until I got to hold her tiny cuteness in my hands. But she is healthy and still adorable enough for me to claim as family. Pretty sure they’re going to have to hold me down and force her out of my arms when we visit in November.

Sarah Jade3

Snippets

I have no long narratives to share with you at the moment, so all you get to munch on are snippets. Unless you’d like me to recount in expletive-laden detail about the debacle that was Florida State vs. Wake Forest. I didn’t think so.

I was escorted out of Ross by the security guard for having a smoothie. Apparently they now have a ban on food and drink? Maybe it’s only for drinks that are pretending to be food…? I know, I’m kind of a badass. And Ross really is the epitome of unforgiving high standards.

Why do all athletic shoe designers swear that chicks want pink, purple or pink and purple shoes? We’re not all six years old. I rebelled and shopped in the men’s section. Again, me = badass.

PA042273During the half marathon, I had to fight my shorts from riding up for the last four miles. They were quite stubborn about the whole thing. So I bought my first pair of running tights. That’s alotta spandex on alotta thigh. If you happen to see me plugging along out there, avert your eyes and we’ll both pretend nothing ever happened.

This sort of thing occurs on a daily basis. Please note Bryson’s stray left foot. He is so excited when Clayton gets home that he pretty much tolerates anything. The men in my life are weird. 

PA012272

And then last week I got a nice dose of Reality Check with a side of Humiliation. One of the reviewers of a brochure draft I wrote left this comment: “This is so wrong I don’t even know where to start.” Well done, me.

Smoothie Queen

I really wanted to write a post yesterday. In fact, I drowned in the waters of Pinterest searching for some inspiration for you. But all I found were way too many drool-worthy graphic rugs for a fictitious home office in a fictitious home. So, totally productive, of course, just not very blog-worthy. Except that here I am, blogging about it.

Clearly the content ain’t coming. Just around the bend, I have some secret posts collecting dust waiting to be read by the world. Or by my mom. Whatevs.

In the meantime, I’ll tell ya about one of the recent developments in the Noa household: smoothies. That’s right. We’re super mega hard core party animals and are gang bangers nuts about our new homemade smoothies. Perhaps to an unhealthy level, suggested by these [obviously pre-planned] texts from my husband yesterday:

"Would it be possible to bring me my lunch?”

“It is in fridge.”

“Maybe smoothie?”

As you already know, I’m an excellent wife and put a halt on my incredibly important task of pinning motivational running mantras to make my husband a smoothie. Now, I haven’t mastered the proportions or blending levels just yet, so I’m not going to do something silly like write a recipe. Who would ever trust me to write a recipe, anyway? That’s all kinds of disaster and personal injury lawsuits waiting to happen.

However, I did spend a solid year in high school (and one 50-hour, paid-cashmoney-under-the-table week in college) working at Smoothie King*. So basically, I am a bit of an expert on how to correctly unpeel a banana, pretend like you’re studying the labels on the supplements when you don’t feel like working and gain 10 pounds polishing off the leftovers of every smoothie you make in an 8-hour shift.        

Here are the random ingredients that typically get tossed into one of my specialties. Clayton and his 7% body fat get a scoop of sugar in their smoothies; me and my love handles do not.

Yogurt
Milk
Bananas
Frozen Raspberries and Blueberries
Muscle Milk Chocolate Protein Powder
Chocolate Syrup
Peanut Butter

They’re always way too thick to drink, so I use a spoon. And the world’s largest coffee mug.

IMAG0489 See, I told you it was slow around here.

*I was also fired from the King. By my former-stripper-turned-boss whose sugar daddy gifted her the store. If you read this story two years ago when I told it, well, read it again now. I think I use different adjectives.

We had a customer who came in nearly every day after working out at the gym next door and injecting himself with a heaping dose of steroids. He would order the same thing and added every extra supplement we had, with the exception of the Fat Burner. One day I charged him for all but one of the supplements, a whopping $0.50 savings for him and a loss of about $0.03 for Smoothie King. So. Scandalous. Somehow Bossy Pants found out, fired me in her head and did not tell me the good news. She simply didn’t put me on the schedule. When I came in to check my non-existent schedule, she asked me about it, I said that I did in fact commit the crime in question, and she fired me. But the best part was that she said, “Normally we wouldn’t do this, but we’re trying to change things around here, and we needed to use you as an example.”

It must have been helpful to make an “example” of the employee who had already informed them she was leaving for college (a foreign concept to both managers) in about two weeks. How convenient. I was bitter from the whole situation—apparently screwing the co-owner in the office was of little concern but free Muscle Builder is grounds for termination—until about six months later. I came home for a weekend during my freshman year in college and made a trip to SK. Knowing how ridiculous my being fired was, I didn’t have a problem asking if I could pick up a few shifts during spring break. Of course they said yes. After all, I was the only employee who dusted shelves on my down time and didn’t steal from the tip jar. The owners stayed classy and paid me in an unmarked envelope of cash. And of course I claimed it on my taxes.

The “Great White Invasion” of my heart.

Here’s a topic that’s not completely ubiquitous this week.

Sharks, duh.

I don’t how or exactly when it happened, but I started having a passionate love/terror-inducing affair. With sharks. Because I am a 12-year old boy at heart (and cleavage and fashion sense), it’s right up there with my fascination with dinosaurs. In case you’re not buying this, here is what I received as a bridesmaid gift from my first friend at FSU/favorite Seattlean:

P8021979

Though he’s a tad bruised and chipped from our gypsy life, he will eternally adorn whatever space serves as my office. For ever and ever for all of time because he is that awesome and that is why I never have to wonder if my friends “get” me.

Where was I? Right. Sharks.

I’m going to use a word here that might result in you breaking up with me via text message: majestic. That’s just how it is, kids. Sharks are freaking majestic.

It’s so crazy to me that they’re just out there, swimming around in the middle of the ocean, all massive and predatory, all the time, swimming around, killing stuff, eating stuff, sleeping. All the time. Right out there in the water. It freaks my freak, obvi.

My husband will tell you the last thing I need in my life is visual evidence feeding yet another of my irrational fears. I will tell him to zip it or I’m pulling this Shark Week over right now, mister. 

And, actually, if you caught the Shark Week kick-off this week, they’re NOT out in the middle of the ocean. They’re about six inches from the coast, apparently. Terrifying, no? So, so deliciously terrifying.

P8011969

If it looks like I was at the gym for two hours and didn’t have time to shower before the show started it’s because that’s exactly what happened.

It must go without saying, then, that Shark Week is my fifth favorite week of the year. Right under my two birthday weeks, Clayton’s birthday week and that one week of the year Clayton actually agrees to take off work for an actual vacation, which lets us stand eerily close to the natural habitat of those majestic kings of the water while taking really odd, awkward pictures together. Meet the model and the confused, deaf girl who look like they’re on a bad first date.

P7260837

I really hope you’re watching all the madness on the Discovery Channel every weeknight at 9 p.m. (They didn’t pay me for that. But they should have.) That way you’d understand why this post is absolute crap because I’m simultaneously coming up with excuses to keep me out of the ocean for the next 60 years of my life while Googling where I can get a pet Great White for the spare bathroom. And also snapping my fingers in front of that picture to see if I can get my attention.