Archive for the ‘My Family’ Category
Wednesday, June 12th, 2013
When I applied for a Maastricht-based job in November, Matthew asked Katherine, “How would you feel about Mommy getting a job and going to an office to work full time?” (I’ve freelanced and worked part time since she was a few months old, but I haven’t had a big-time-commitment office job since before having kids.)
K thought about it for a minute and said, “That would be good. Then we could buy more food. I’m hungry.”
Turns out she was going through a growth spurt. Also turns out that I had accidentally linked job=food in her mind.
Many times I had told her and Joshua, “Isn’t it great that Daddy works so hard so we can buy groceries and live in this house?” I was trying to explain to them that food and housing cost money, and Daddy earns the bulk of our income, and we should be grateful for everything we have and the hard work it takes to get it.
I didn’t intend to communicate that the only reason we work is to eat. That’s certainly ONE of the reasons. But it’s not the only one.
I work because I love dealing with written content. I like organizing it, improving it, and creating it. I feel satisfaction when I produce (through writing and/or editing) an excellent piece of written work. I like helping people. I like assisting organizations I believe in. Marketing helps businesses, non-proifts, and even churches.
I want our kids to know that we work hard to provide for them and take care of them and also that we work because we enjoy using our talents. I want to help them develop their talents and learn how to use them as well. I want them to find work that they love doing and that makes the world a better place.
What are some phrases I could use to talk about work with my kids in a more holistic way?
Photo by Elisabeth Garrett; Easter 2013.
Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
…it’s hard to write about it. Because what do you say? “I have no idea what I’m doing right now.” That’s not very interesting, but it is comforting, because probably a lot of other people feel the same way.
When Penelope Trunk wrote in April that she was having a hard time writing about her life because she didn’t want to face her life, she identified for me what I was feeling too. She made me feel not-alone by sharing her uncertainty, so I’ll pass that along to you. Life has been very uncertain for the past few months, but it’s sorting out now. If you’re having trouble facing your life right now, I hope things sort out for you as well. And in the meantime, watch Doctor Who.
It was also Penelope Trunk who said to try a lot of things in your 20s even if you make mistakes. I tried a lot of things in my 20s, and I made mistakes, and it paid off, because now in my 30s (just celebrated my 32nd birthday!) I’ve narrowed down what I’m good at and what I want to do.
I’ve wanted to be a women’s magazine editor since I was 24. I have an old journal somewhere with my notes on the magazine I wanted to start. That was back when print journalism was still a thing… It took me 8 years, but I’m finally doing it. After two years of planning, I’m almost ready to launch an online magazine focused on women’s mental and emotional health. (Still fixing bugs on the website—should be able to promote it by this weekend.) Since I wrote those original notes, I’ve had three kids, four jobs, and an emotional breakdown, and all of those things are contributing to making the magazine even better.
And if you’re wondering how to find the time to launch a magazine while working from home with three kids, see the photo? I made site edits on Saturday while sitting on the stairs by the laundry room to keep the loads going, and letting Estel play with my toes occupied her for a solid 15-20 minutes.
As I’ve narrowed down my focus to the things only I can do, it’s helped me cut uncertainty out of my life. So I feel ready to write about it again.
Friday, March 29th, 2013
You know what I’m really good at? Mothering a newborn.
You know what I’m not at all good at? Mothering a 6-year-old.
This is because I have mothered three newborns and only one 6-year-old (and I’ve only been doing that for a few months).
When my first child, Katherine, was born, I wasn’t great at taking care of her. I was unsure and clumsy. I was awkward as I tried to hold and feed her. I meticulously researched every option for every decision and then still second-guessed myself. I didn’t know what to do with her all day…after feeding, bathing, and changing, it was only mid-morning, and the day loomed ahead of us, teeming with question marks.
Read the rest of Becoming A Master Parent at The Mom Season, Dani Byham’s blog.
Tuesday, March 19th, 2013
The view from my laptop: Sick baby sleeping on me while I write.
Sometimes you read a little something that washes over your soul with a wave of freedom, that blows into your heart a gust of spring air.
I stumbled on a comment on a very old blog post from Jennifer Fulwiler, now of Conversion Diary, back when she wrote on The Reluctant Atheist. Jennifer and her husband felt like they were called to do “more” in the world to help people but couldn’t figure out how. Her commenter said:
“For husband and wife, the admonish[ion] of Christ to feed the hungry, care for the sick, and clothe the naked starts right there with your spouse and kids. There’s plenty of opportunity to care for the sick while comforting a spouse or child whose being ravaged by the flu. There’s plenty of opportunity to feed the hungry just by bringing your babe to the breast to nurse. There’s plenty of opportunity to cloth[e] the naked by providing for spouse and childrens material needs.”
That freed me when I read it a few months ago, and it frees me as I read it again today. We have been sick for something like three weeks…I lose track, because it’s been such a long blur. Viruses and flus and coughs and colds have swarmed around and through our family as we’ve swapped diseases with each other and the rest of Maastricht.
Thursday, March 14th, 2013
This is a guest post from my brother, Daniel Castle, in response to my post What To Do When You’re Afraid of Being Wrong. Daniel is a pilot, and is therefore never wrong. What’s awesome about Daniel (besides the being a pilot thing) is that he bucked traditional wisdom about majoring in Engineering or some such at the Air Force Academy and majored in English, because he loves writing as much as flying. I think this is a great example of specialization…anyone can pilot a tanker*, but how many tanker-pilot-humor-writers do you know?
*That’s not true.
TL;DR Version: Be awesome. Awesome people don’t have wrong opinions.
My husband, Matthew, thinks his brother-in-law Daniel is always right.
1. Be a pilot. And insert that fact into any and all conversations (especially when there are strong opinions present). This simple fact will end all arguments and make you the automatic winner. Everyone knows you don’t argue with a pilot because you can’t win*. If you’re a pilot, you can also use your civilian airline captain’s voice, which is like a Darth Vader stranglehold trump card against any contrary opinions. “KSHCK, Goooooooooood morning, ladies and gentlemen, this is your eeeeeeeerm captain speaking. You are wrong, KSHCK.” Coincidentally, this brings me to my next point.
Thursday, January 17th, 2013
Nearly everyone bikes to school in the Netherlands (and work as well – even the prime minister!). View From the Cycle Path has a cool video that a dad made showing the bike traffic of parents and kids on the way to a Dutch school in the morning.
School busing is totally a foreign concept to the Dutch. Kids walk, bike, take public transportation (train or city bus), or, sometimes, get dropped off by car. One company here has created a bike bus that allows one adult and eight kids to pedal together. They’ve sold about 25 of them. I’m curious to see if it will catch on more.
When I drop my 6-year-old daughter, Katherine, off at her Dutch school, I usually also take along 4-year-old Joshua and 1-year-old Estel. I use a three-wheeled bakfiets, a cargo bike. Picture:
Wednesday, January 16th, 2013
An illustration that my sister-in-law Amy did for me.
I joined a new PR tool called HARO – Help A Reporter Out, so I get a daily email digest from reporters looking for sources. I responded to a request for an article about moms, and today Molly Cerreta Smith used my quote in her story on SheKnows called “From Mom to MILF.” It’s about how busy moms can still make themselves feel good about their appearance.
Here’s what I sent Molly:
I am a mom of three little kids. I spend most days that I’m home wearing jeans and a hoodie. I work part-time in media-facing work. I feel much more confident and capable at work than I do at home…I’m a great writer, editor, and speaker, but I feel like I fall short as a mom and homemaker. For work, I often wear a pantsuit and high heels, and I feel like I can take on the world! So an instant confidence-booster for me is to get dressed up in my work clothes.
I find the best of both worlds when I have on a suit and my Ergo baby carrier with one of my babies in it, like when I am speaking (baby often comes with me!) or at a conference.
Because of this, I came up with a personal tagline: I look good wearing a pantsuit and a baby. Meaning, I feel good when I find the balance between my home and work life, and that usually comes from blending them together.
The backstory of my tagline goes back to 2009 when I was attending a national convention. I was running around in a suit carrying Joshua in my Ergo (baby wearing) and caught a glimpse of myself in a mirrored door and thought, I look AWESOME!
I loved the concept of “looking good wearing a pantsuit and a baby” because it seemed to capture where I was with my dual jobs…working part time as an educator and media liaison for a non-profit and being a mom of two small kids.
Now my style has changed more to professional dresses, and now I’m wearing baby 3, Estel. I’m still wearing high heels, and now I’m doing it all on a bike (since we moved to the Netherlands).
Do you have a personal style that makes you feel confident?
Tuesday, December 4th, 2012
Snowflakes flurried against the other side of the glass door on Monday morning, able only to enchant me, not chill me.
Katherine stayed home from her Dutch school (ostensibly sick). She and Joshua ventured out into our tuin twice to catch snowflakes on their tongues, shortening the crystals’ inevitable descent into a watery grave.
When they clambered back indoors, I warmed them with caramel hot cocoa (a tablespoon of Nigella Lawson’s salted caramel sauce stirred into warmed Chocomel), and then we created snowflakes of our own. The Whoflakes we wanted to make were too complicated for tiny fingers still figuring out fine motor skills, so we chose simpler patterns. Katherine struggled to make the cuts without her lost left-handed scissors. Both kids unconsciously opened and closed their mouths in universal unity with the blades. The scraps of paper that escaped the trashcan started to drift up like indoor snow on the grassy green rug.
As Matthew and I boiled our third kettle for tea, I noticed out loud how happy I felt. Finding enjoyment in everyday life isn’t a given after you’ve struggled against depression.
A year ago, I was relishing the new concept of a newborn gift without the gift-set of PPD.
Two years ago, I was crying at the Messiah‘s aria “despised and rejected,” because sorrow was still so raw for me.
Three years ago, I couldn’t fathom the chore of dragging out the decorations in a holiday season that culminated in my sobbing my way through Christmas Eve.
Friday, November 30th, 2012
(I’m letting you peek in on an email to my husband, because I’m betting other couples have similar issues. Can you relate?)
I think what our marriage needs is a ménage à trois.
I was reading an article about the three basic career paths, and I realized you are a Winning person, and I am a Relationships person, and neither of us is a Details person. We actually both prefer looking at the big picture. You excel in a leadership role in a corporate environment. You hate actually building out your ideas at the detail level.
I excel in helping people, loving people, and writing about and for people. I can DO details, but I don’t enjoy it. My favorite part of party planning is the planning, not actually executing the details of set up. (The only part of my life where I like details is in writing, and dealing on the word-by-word level. But that is because it’s a sub-set of Storytelling, something I do enjoy.)
Neither of us actually likes precision and details. So we keep trying to shove that stuff off on each other, and we both suck at it.
Friday, November 16th, 2012
photo by Eric Stephen Vorm
Carl Jung sent us to marriage counseling last week.
The results of the Jungian type marriage test my husband and I took said: “MatchIndex = 59% unsatisfactory. If you are in a marriage, it is recommended to seek professional help.”
Matthew and I took the test last week after a great little post by Penelope Trunk, Myers-Briggs Envy, renewed my interest in MBTI. The post is about the natural limitations personality type can place on your realistic career options. She also mentions personality influencing parenting style, and I laughed because the two types she mentions (ENTJ and INFJ) are my husband and me, and she pegged us perfectly. (Go read it. It’s so true. I really can’t be bothered about money, and Matthew orders room service for the kids.)
Personality is far from the only factor that influences success in careers, parenting, and life, but it does play a big part. Choosing a role for yourself that is far outside your natural inclinations will leave you with a lot of hard work in overcoming your initial limitations, and you may never find real success and fulfillment.
This applies to romantic relationships as well. Some personality types just work together more easily than others. The Personality Page site points out, “Two well-developed individuals of any type can enjoy a healthy relationship [however] XXXX’s natural partner is the XXXX.” It offers these pairings for all 16 Myers-Briggs types.
From the moment our pre-marital counselor said, “Well, I was going to tell you not to get married, but then I saw how much you’re willing to work together to resolve conflict, so I think you’ll be okay,” Matthew and I knew our marriage would take constant effort from both of us to stay strong. Nine years later, we got a reminder of the difficulties inherent in our pairing when we recently did the Jungian test that offers a “quantitative measure of partners compatibility.”
The results said: “MatchIndex = 59% unsatisfactory. The analysis below points out the problems in your relationships and makes some recommendations for the optimal behavior for your particular case. If you are in a marriage, it is recommended to seek professional help.”