New Year’s Resolutions

I have this friend who posts her New Year’s resolutions on her blog and then UPDATES HER PROGRESS THROUGHOUT the year. Like, who is actually responsible and accountable like that? (And if that friend is reading this, you know who you are, you goal goddess).

So FINE. I guess I’ll JUST HAVE TO DO THE SAME. Maybe I’ll actually have some follow through motivation here.

I have a lot of ambitious ideas… And usually what happens when I have a lot of ambitious resolutions is that they don’t get resolutioned… SO, what I decided to do is to take all these dreams I have for 2021 and break them into a much smaller, more reasonable goal. Something so simple it just HAS to done. For me, this is a better recipe for success, especially considering how emotionally draining 2020 was.

Here are my 2021 ambitious dreams vs. the realistic goal:

THE DREAM: Spend the year putting my entire house together

Okay. I have lived in my new house for more than 10 months now… and yet it looks like I’ve lived here for ten days. There’s no artwork or decorations. We patched all the nail holes in the house… and then didn’t touch up the paint, so there’s literal white splotches all over my house. Random doodads have broken off the walls. Furniture still in its box that I haven’t assembled haha. Not to mention the big projects that Dan and I keep talking about. I don’t know why I just gave up putting my house together, I think maybe because of the pandemic?? And hardly anyone was visiting anymore? I don’t know!

THE GOAL: Make a list, do some of the things.

I’m going to walk around and make a COMPREHENSIVE INVENTORY on everything that needs to be done around the house, and then I’ll do one room at a time and pick the top two or three things to do in that room. And I’ll probably be doing that for the next few years or maybe as long as I’m living there. Going room to room and improving as best I can. That’s the only way I can keep my motivation, my sanity and my budget on track.

THE DREAM: find a sexy cardio exercise routine and get into shape

Classic New Years amiright?

THE GOAL: Make a habit of stretching every day, slowly build up a yoga routine

Okay… I really need to be honest with myself here. I want to be in shape, I want to take care of my body, but I know me. And I know that if I don’t start THIS slow, it’s not going to stick. I’ve tried to start an exercise routine many, many times. And I know yoga or tai chi is something that I would have the most interest in. It’s something I can do at home with the kids (even though at that point it will essentially be goat yoga). It just fits me the best. If I tell myself hey get up at five AM and run in the hundred-degree Arizona heat, it’s not going to happen. But if I tell myself, okay five minutes of stretching, I have a much better shot at establishing a habit, which is mostly what I need right now.

THE DREAM: find a cleaning routine and keep my house sparkling

Ahahahaha

THE GOAL: Clean for the 20 minutes the boys are in the bath

Last night, Dan bathed the kids and I ran downstairs and sped-cleaned the playroom. I was SHOCKED at how much I was able to get done while the boys were distracted! I told Daniel we ought to start doing this regularly and he said he would rather be the one cleaning HAHAHAHA Hey man! Either way! We could even switch off! We already routinely wash the boys… so if we made it a routine to speed-clean at the same time, I think we’d be surprised at how impactful those 20 minutes would become! Really!

THE DREAM: Query my Beatles Book in the spring. Have the first draft of my Paranormal Thriller finished by fall. Blog once a week. Publish a short story.

THE GOAL: … I just think I can do it…

I know I get a little carried away with writing … but I seriously think this is doable for me. I only have eight more chapters to clean on Love Me Do. It’s been through three or four beta readers and done well. (It’s always a SUPER GOOD sign when your betas pester YOU for more chapters vs. the other way around!) My NaNo project already has 50,000 words done, so I would say… maybe… 30-40k more? Maybe even for Camp NaNoWriMo in April?? I have a couple of short stories that I’m sitting on and working up the nerve to submit… I usually spend a week or two and knock out all my blog posts for the next few months (if you were wondering how I do it so “regularly”).

… I really think I can do it…

I’ll keep you updated. Every quarter, I’ll use the blog to check in with these goals (April, July, October…)

Best Worst Christmas Presents 2020

My brother and I have this tradition where we try to give each other the worst Christmas presents possible. And if you haven’t been following along, we’ve basically turned White Elephant into a serious art.

I told my brother that I needed more decorations for my new house… This is the present that arrived on my doorstep:

A giant wall decal of two seniors I don’t know riding a golf cart…

Meanwhile in Utah, my brother opened a personalized calendar, meticulously made with love and care by his dear, dear sister. Merry Cringemas Bro.

Here’s a video I made of our Christmas Morning. Enjoy.

Guess Who’s Back? Back Again.

Hi, did you miss me?

I KNOW! You thought I was gone for good! You thought you would never have to dust off this old blog ever again. Oh ho ho how WRONG YOU WERE!

It’s actually been so long that I have to re-learn how to format this blog. What is this new layout, WordPress? This is so weird wtf.

2020 was a year huh.

Understatement.

I had a lot of soul searching to do. A LOT. (Tell you about it another post) Right now I’ll just give you a little rundown on what I’ve been doing since I ghosted this blog…

Match: Stayed home.

April: Stayed home.

May: Stayed home.

June: Wow, we still doing this? Okay, stayed home.

July: Stayed home.

August: Stayed home and turned thirty.

September: So this is a forever thing, right? Stay home for the rest of my life.

October: Stayed home with spooky ghosts.

November: Stayed home with turkey.

December: Stayed home for Holly Jolly time.

Yep, just survival mode. But, despite the sad emptiness of this website I HAVE BEEN WRITING. A lot. I mean really A LOT.

March: Journaling through my crippling anxiety

April: Journaling…

May: Journaling… (wow I now have an actual 400 pages of journaling how did that happen???)

June: Editing my Beatles Book

July: Beatles Book

August: Beatles Book

September: Beatles Book (Oops, said Beatles Book too many times and summoned a poltergeist)

October: Outlining a Paranormal Thriller for NaNoWriMo

November: Winning NaNoWriMo

December: … Should I start blogging again??

So now that you’re all caught back up, you can enjoy your weekly awkward story time or whatever it’s gonna be. (I’m not doing a schedule this year because that’s going to ruin my element of surprise.)

2019 Predictions: Did They Come True?

I needed a calendar last year. (2019) So I finally decided to make one of those personalized Shutterfly calendars. But I kinda sucked at it and it ended up having all this random blank space, so instead of fixing the format I just decided to fill it full of month-to-month predictions. You know, just what I thought maybe we would be doing in July or October or whatever. And honestly, it kept us all entertained all year!

So now (2020) I decided to look over just how many of my monthly predictions came true and how many did not.

I posted them here, so you could see each one:

 

January

“See a lot of Uncle Jeremy”

True

After we really started to struggle with The Residency, Dan’s brother came down for a couple of weeks to help out.

 

February

“Meet Donjeta”

False

My brother Collin had an Arizona trip planned so that we could meet Donjeta (his then-girlfriend, now wife). They had to cancel last minute due to an unexpected surgery and we didn’t meet her until March

 

March

“Deal with difficulties at work”

True

We terminated our residency in March.

 

April

“Jack will suddenly like nursery”

True!

My painfully shy firstborn did not want to be babysat. He did not want to run off and play at the playground. And he REALLY did not want to go to my church’s nursery class. Then one morning in April, just like I dreamed… he decided he was over that phase. And none of that stuff was a problem anymore.

May

“Have a hard time potty training, but a surprisingly easy time transitioning boys to new beds”

Mixed

They both still suck. Casey transitioned easily.

 

June

“Have successfully made it through residency and start the job hunt”

False

Already had the job

 

July

“Be trying to extend the contract on our apartment”

False!

We briefly considered leaving our apartment and renting a house but ultimately signed a lease renewal in early August

 

August

“Be going to Utah for a wedding”

True!

Both my brother and close friend ended up choosing August for their Utah weddings

 

September

“Casey will be walking”

True!

Casey took his first steps in September

 

October

“Have a breakthrough with a writing career”

False

Sadly no. By this time I had decided to put away my YA contemporary to work on something completely different.

November

“We will be cooking Thanksgiving ourselves”

True!

Dan worked on Thanksgiving so we stayed in Arizona. I wasn’t even going to cook a Thanksgiving meal but caved the day before.

 

December

“We will move into a house”

False

But December is when we decided to become serious about the home search process

 

Pretty interesting. I got it about half right. 50/50 chance your random prediction will come true! I ordered another Shutterfly calendar for 2020 with 12 more predictions. So tune in next year to see if the 50% still holds up…

Life Update: So Much to be Grateful For

I just wanted to quickly let you know that things are going extremely well for us lately.

Dan’s job has been close to ideal. And my loved one with cancer has had a successful surgery in which they were able to remove the tumor.
2019 has been one of the hardest years of my life, but it’s ending as lovely as it could have. Each trial has been equally matched with a miracle and I’m leaving this year with even more than I started.
The biggest take away for me is the responsibility I feel to give back to others. Good and lucky things don’t happen to everyone every time. I want to remember my good fortune and work hard to help others.
So anyway! Thank you so much for the prayers and positivity. I really believe in my heart that it has made a difference and I’m so grateful to each and every person who has taken the time to read and care.
Love you.
PS Sorry for the quick and hasty writing but it is NaNo season after all. 🙂

Life Update: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

THE GOOD:

So last time I gave you a full-ish update, I mentioned that Dan had gotten a part-time job and we were still looking. Yo, Pharmacy is not a joke right now. Anyone thinking about going into it should know that getting a job is REALLY DIFFICULT. And not just for an unfinished resident. I mean, IN GENERAL, it’s incredibly competitive.

But something kind of amazing has been happening to us lately…

The job that Dan landed is a PRN job which if you are not familiar with the medical field it basically means “as needed” or like “a substitute pharmacist pretty much”. He was told that it would probably only be one weekend a month. Like ten hours or something like that. So yeah. It was a PANIC. Ten hours a month ain’t a real job. So we were up to our necks trying to find something else.

BUT THEN. Once Dan got all trained up, he started getting a lot of shifts… and then a second site hired him… and then they started giving him remote shifts. Now all of the sudden he’s working full-time.

I kept watching our Google calendar fill up month by month before finally, I realized… this is the job. Dan loves it. It’s the EXACT company that he wanted to work for. And he gets to spend a TON of time with the family. Like… this is it, dude. Why mess with such a good thing?

There are other little details that need to be ironed out since PRN isn’t a traditional job, but I think we can make it work and I finally feel… settled. I spent the last however many months feeling on edge and overly anxious about “THE JOB” when… it was there all along. He had it within the first six weeks.

THE BAD

I always have to mention the writing so here it is.

I re-read my last “Life Update” from May and it made me freaking whimper. EVERYTHING IS STILL THE EXACT SAME. LIKE NOTHING HAS CHANGED ALL SUMMER. Isn’t that dumb!? I work on stuff every day with like so little to show for it. And I know, emotionally, I’ve had a lot on my plate… like honestly a bowling ball on my paper plate. But still! It really sucks. Because through all the hard days the ambition has not gone away. In fact, I would say that the ambition has only gotten bigger and meaner. Like a fat, feral, untamed ambition eating me from the inside out. And all I do now is sulk around the house complaining that I don’t have ten more novels finished since May.

I just want something to happen. Anything. A big gust of wind in my sails. I need to feel like I’m moving forward.

THE UGLY

It’s been a very difficult time for me personally.

Someone very close to me has been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. I don’t want to say who it is, to respect their privacy, but just know that it is a relationship that is absolutely irreplaceable. Every day I have to wake up and imagine what my life would be like without that person. And I don’t know what’s going to happen.

If you are the praying sort… or you vibe with vibes… or you’re a really cynical person but you’re good at sending funny memes… just keep me in mind, I guess.

Other than that kids are doing great! They are so sweet. Getting bigger every day! Life overall has been good… which is weird because it’s been the absolute worst year of my life.

Also in retrospect, I should have started with the worst thing and ended with the best thing. Welp. That’s what I get for trying to do some cutsie title. SORRY. Tune in for, hopefully, some cheerier updates down the road.

What My Day Looks Like with Two Little Kids

Okay, so a year and a half ago, I made a schedule of what it was like to have one kid. Well, here’s my schedule of what it is like with TWO KIDS. When I was pregnant with my second, I looked and looked and looked for this kind of post… I could never find it. So I MADE ONE MYSELF YOU’RE WELCOME.

*I will note that there is no schedule with the second for the first few months. And then they dip down to three naps a day and it all comes back to you. By the time it’s two naps a day. NO PROBLEM.

yup

8:00 (ish) Wake up, breakfast, get everyone dressed

Honestly, it’s such a mystery when my day is going to start lately. My baby is very consistently like 8-8:30, but for whatever reason these past few weeks my Toddler has been like 7-9. I wake up, I give the baby a bottle. Jack has a waffle, cereal and strawberry milk, (which he wants every day). I have to change everybody, sit the toddler on the potty. Eat breakfast and get ready myself, which is probably the biggest challenge. Showering has to be quick and I’m usually getting out soaking wet to move the baby back to his toys.

9:00 The daily chores

Every day I make the bed and do dishes. And then I have one chore assigned for that day of the week, like laundry or bathrooms. Sometimes I get them done before the baby’s nap. Most of the time I don’t.

10:30 or 11:00 Casey’s Nap

I put the baby down and then play with Jack, but I let him pick what he wants to do.

12:00 or 12:30 Lunch

I wake the baby up. Which always feels mean but worth it to get a mutual nap from the kids later. We have lunch together and if my husband is home we’ll go out somewhere fun.

mccarthyme

1:00 “Recess”

I call this time Recess in my mind. Pfft. That’s probably dumb. But mostly it’s just where I let the kids play rough and tumble for the last little bit before they sleep. During the blistering Arizona summer, I pull out the plastic slide and try to make a fun play place inside.

2:00 Both kids Nap

This eclipse is everything but it’s so hard to navigate. Jack first and then Casey. If I’m lucky I can get about an hour to myself. I *try* to reserve this time for writing, but honestly a lot of the time I’m so tired I end up sleeping!

4:00 Variable. Usually screen time

Whenever the kids wake up I try to keep it chill. I don’t have a set time for this, but every single day I try to have a reading time where I just read the kids books for a while. Right now, Jack is loving “Pajama Time”

pjtime

5:00 Dinner

I learned the hard way that dinner has to be as early as possible or the kids get GROUCHY. I’ve started meal prepping and it’s honestly SAVED MY BUTT. I can feed the kids when I need to and there is still a meal for Daniel when he gets home, I don’t have to worry about staving off the kids until later.

6:30 Some kind of adventure

Okay, so… here I just try to do something fun. Swimming is a good option right now in the heat and I prefer sunset swims because 1) Not as hot 2) Shade. Don’t have to sunscreen the kids! 3) For some reason, we get the pool to ourselves at that time and 4) THE SKY IS SO PRETTY!

If we don’t feel like swimming, we go to the play place at the mall. In the cooler months, we’ll go to the park or something.

8:00 Getting ready for bed

Bath. PJS. Brush Teeth. Prayer. Bottle. Blankies. Bed.

8:30 Both kids go to bed

I’ll probably have to put the toddler back like 600 more times. But then Daddy and Mommy get to hang out! And be so exhausted to do anything other than zone out in front of the TV…

bedtime

A Sappy Post About My Sappy Wedding Anniversary

Guess what day it is?

 

Five years ago TODAY Daniel and I were marrrrrrrried. Woooohoooo! In honor of this sweet, sweet, milestone, I decided to write a sweet, sweet blog post for my sweet, sweetheart. It will be so sweet in fact that it might make you sick if you ingest too much of it… so be prepared. CUZ IT’S ABOUT TO GET ROMANTIC UP IN HERE.

oneiwant

Dan. What up, bro?

Maybe no one else will read this post. And that’s okay. Because today is about you, my love. So I’ve been thinking lately, about all the times you’ve told me how you feel “boring”. And that’s just crazy. For me, you are the opposite of boring. You fascinate me. My life comes alive anytime you come home from work or wake up next to me or spend time with me (when you honestly could be doing anything else at the moment). My heart goes from zero to fifty, like, just at the chance to hang out with you, because you are just a big ball of FUN. And I wish I could think of a better way to say that… like, you know, if only I were some kind of an author or something and I knew how to write words.

I love the way your eyes crinkle when you smile. And I love your laughs. Sometimes you have this high pitched “HA” and then other times you sound like a freaking duck choking on a popsicle stick. I love it though. Like that’s when I know we’re on a super good inside joke, is when we’re both WHEEZING like we’re dying.

I love how at the end of the day when we put the kids to bed, our activity of choice is trashy reality TV with a side of cheesecake. Like, that’s all I want in life, honestly. But I also love the things you watch when you’re not with me. Like, documentaries about lions and people detailing their car or something. Videos with scammers scamming other scammers. And divers collecting stuff in muddy rivers. I just like the small interests you have. I don’t know. It’s attractive to me. Because, sure, like you could be SUPER into sports or something. And be that guy who’s into sports. Or working out or something that is some general interest. But I really like that you like weird things. I like when you want to show me a video about space or tell me a weird fact you learned that day. I really, really love that about you.

OH MY GOSH and how lucky that we have the same taste in movies? I mean, basically. All I want to watch are old movies. And you adamantly refuse to watch the same movie twice unless it’s Black Hawk Down or American Sniper (for some reason?).

dankids

I love the unique way you walk. I love your voice. I loved your voice when you called me up for our first date, even though I basically interrupted you to tell you I was on the news for doing a flash mob. Ah, the way you say my name too. When you’re talking to someone else about me it’s this nice soft “Val”. But when I’m in trouble it’s, “VAL-REE!”

This is selfish, but I really love the way you love me. I love that you confidently tell people that I’m an author. Like as if I already had a successful career or something. And when you want to bring me to all your parties because you think “I’m an ace up your sleeve”. (I wish!)

aww

I love the way you love the kids. You are a great dad. You worry that you’re not. But you really really are. You are always RIGHT THERE to take them and play with them. Give me a break or help me with something around the house. Ha. You are the Starsky to my Hutch when it comes to chores. I’m so incredibly lucky that I married a guy as helpful as you are.

Seriously, and it’s not just me. Like that is your legacy. I think you get a call every freaking day from SOMEONE needing your help and advice. Whether it’s about car stuff, or medicine, or a financial decision. YOU are the person that everyone turns to because you are competent AF!!

dadgrad

You make me happy every single day, with all the puns. And all the pranks. There has not been a single day that I have not laughed since I met you. You are a hidden treasure in a lifetime ocean of day by day challenges. (Another “River Rat” reference?) Just when I think there is no possible way I could love you more, you do something else that gets me. I feel like the Grinch, except my heart is blowing up to like thirty sizes bigger.

I just love you. That’s it. I really do.

Literally Just a List of Things I Want to Remember About My Children

So Jack turned three yesterday.

 

They grow up so fast. Literally nothing else they can do fast. Putting on shoes. Picking out what they want for lunch. You know, walking. But growing up… I swear sometimes I look over at them and feel like they look more grown-up than they looked AN HOUR AGO.

So anyway, in honor of my mommy nostalgia I decided to make a list of cute things that I don’t want to forget about how they were at this stage of life.

 

#1 Jack refuses to call hearts by their real name, he insists they are “farts”

#2 Casey’s favorite song is “Skidamarink”. No matter how hard he is crying, he will immediately stop if you start singing that song.

#3 Jack calls grandma and grandpa “grampens”

#4 Every time we go out everyone comments on how happy Casey is

#5 Jack has a major obsession with hats

#6 Casey loves to put toys in his mouth and turn them into actual whistles

#7 Jack has to point out every single cactus he sees… and we live in Arizona

#8 Casey eats his entire weight in blueberries… every day… like at what point does he turn into Violet Beauregard?

#9 When Casey crawls around on the floor, Jack joins in because he thinks they’re “playing doggies”.

#10 Sometimes it’s overwhelming. Sometimes it’s beautiful. Sometimes it’s just going through the motions and you don’t catch these little moments. But it’s always big love and big rewards.

 

HAPPY LIFE LIVING GUYS