Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

As I sit here there is a mess of toys and stuff spread out all over the floor. A fire still roars in the fireplace while Christmas music continues to softly play. I'm still stuffed from bean dip, cookies and lots of coffee. Tonight we'll be dining on leftover turkey and probably going to sleep early. It's Christmas, my favorite day of the year. But this year is a little different. In all of my 31 years celebrating Christmas I cannot recall one that was not sunny and bright. It's always VERY cold, but here in California it always seems that the sun always shines bright on Christmas. Not this year. It's been storming on and off since yesterday, which only seems fitting as 2008 comes to an end.

2008 has not exactly been a banner year and we are pretty happy to see it end. It seems funny that this time last year we were celebrating a much bigger Christmas (toy & gift wise). Little did we know that a week later we would be suffering losses in both of our businesses (my husband and I both being self-employed). Or that by the end of January we would be filing for bankruptcy. We certainly did not know that the economy was going to make our lives harder and harder with each passing month. And we certainly didn't know a few months later my dad would be diagnosed with Cancer.

Like I said, not exactly a banner year.

So as 2008 FINALLY reaches it's end, the end I've been waiting for almost since it began, I breathe a aigh of relief. But I can't help to think about the good things that came from 2008 as well. And that I have hope that the hard work and energy we put into simply surviving 2008 will pay off in 2009. The good things? Well here is my list of things that I'm taking from 2008 instead of what Im leaving behind with it.

1. My Family- My kids are growing more and more each day, and are becoming the people I'd most like to spend time with. They are not only my kids that I love because they are my kids, but people who are warm, funny, smart and a whole lot of fun to be with. They have both just blossomed even more in Kindergarten & Pre-school, and I am proud of them and fall in love with them more each day.

My husband? Well, a lesser couple would have jumped ship long ago. But not us. Each hardship we have encountered has only made us stronger and more diligent in our resolve to make our lives better for us and our kids. He is my best friend, and never in a million years could I imagine drifting though life with anyone else but him.

2. Writing- When 2008 started sucking FAST last January, the first thing I did was pick up my journal again. Then I started blogging and then checking out some freelance writing websites. By February I had my first paying job as a writer. Real money, real writing. I still have that gig as well as a couple of others, not to mention the handful that have come and gone through the year. The writing has introduced me to the world of social media and Web 2.0, and I have developed a love and passion for it. I am now hoping to pursue a career in it as well as writing. By this time next year I am confident that I will be doing one or both for a living.

3. School- I never thought I would find the time or energy to go back to school. It didn't seem all that important to me when I graduated high school a million years ago, and that became one of my biggest regrets in life. One that my husband and I both shared and decided to remedy in 2008. In the fall we both returned to school. Though it's made for a busy semester, as it turns out it was pretty damn smart. Between Early Childhood Classes, Political Science & Marketing I am putting myself in a career I truly feel I was meant to do. My husband is taking music classes, his true passion. It's given him a sense of pride that I could never have helped him to have. It's all good.

4. America- The election in November was one of the greatest moments of my life, and as dire as our financial circumstances along with the rest of the country's is, I've never been filled with more hope and excitement about politics and the future as I am when looking ahead to 2009. This, my friends, is going to be an awesome ride.

4. My Dad's Obsession with Living a Healthy Lifestyle- In the Spring, cancer kind if came out of nowhere and decided to make it's way into our lives when my dad was diagnosed with throat cancer. We weren't sure how it was going to play out. All we knew is that we were pretty damn scared. Cancer sucks, and there really isn't a better way to sum it up. Explaining to my kids that Grandpa was sick was one of the most surreal moments of my entire life. One I don't think I'll ever really be able wrap my mind around. Lucky for all of us though, my dad had other plans that cancer just didn't fit in with. Last night as we enjoyed family Christmas festivities together, you would never know that over the summer he was a man who was unable to speak, had to eat through a feeding tube, and on some days could barely even get out of bed. His recovery so amazing in fact, that his doctor have even asked to write about. Most of it attributed to my dad's obsession with hiking, skating, eating natural foods and living a healthy lifestyle. Cancer didn't stand a chance against my dad's organic healthy mind & body. It will b a long while before any of us are able to stop looking behind us to see if the cancer has caught up with us and returned, but for now he's alive, he's healthy, he's laughing, and swinging his grandkids around like he always has.

You know, now that I think about it maybe 2008 was better than I give it credit for. At any rate, I hope nothing but the best for you and yours in 2009. Everyone I know has had it rough this year one way or another, and I hope together we can heal the wounds of the last year. Both as a country and in our personal lives.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Why I Tweet

I am a WAHM. Working from home part time as a freelance writer, hoping to somehow turn that freelance writing and love of social networking and online media into a work from home job that can actually pay the bills. Until I do make enough to do that, I pay the bills by running a small daycare out of my home.

Up until the economy stepped in, my business was a pretty successful large family daycare, but now I have three kids that I watch (5 if you count my own) and not a whole lot of adult interaction. I started freelance writing as a way to appease the writing bug that’s forever resided in a small spot in the pit of my stomach, and then as the daycare slowed down, freelance writing became a way of making extra money and helping us survive.

As I got more and more involved in writing online and began exploring the wonderful world of blogging I found myself getting into the various social networking sites hat was becoming all the rage. MySpace, FaceBook, and others. I even opened an account on Twitter, which sat dormant for a very long time. Those sites were fun, but never really seemed to serve a purpose. Other than reconnecting with some old friends from school.

Then not so long ago I rediscovered Twitter. And Twitter moms. Within a week I was tweeting daily with moms all over the country, and then began networking with people I’d connected with on other sites I wrote for, and the next thing I knew I was following and networking with some of the biggest names in online social media and blogging. Pretty cool.

So what is it that I’m getting from Twitter that I value the most? Strangely enough it’s not the networking and the amazing things I’m learning about social media, government, and writing (though I’ve come to value those things immensely), but it’s what I like to call the “break room factor”.

I enjoy working for myself more than any other job I’ve ever had. And that says a lot, considering I’ve worked in radio. And that’s pretty fun.

The one thing I do miss though about working in an office is being part of the world. At my last job (and every job I’ve had) the break room was where it always went down. The best and most innovative ideas about work came from the casual conversations had over coffee and doughnuts in the break room.

And of course there was always advice to be given out about the kids, gossiping about Lost or who got kicked off Survivor, and commiserating about and discussing all the latest news topics.

When I started working for myself out of the home to be with my kids, I didn’t realize how much those break room conversations meant to me. In fact you could even say that it wasn’t until I discovered Twitter that I realized it.

Because for me that’s what Twitter has become. My break room. If I’ve got an idea about social networking or an article that I want to bounce off of somebody, I can tweet it and get a response. If my kids do something cute, or something that drives me nuts, I can throw it out there in Twitter and at least one mom will know what I’m feeling. And of course if I want to know if anyone else thought Justin Timberlake was hilarious on SNL last night, well you get the picture.

Twitter has kind of become the world’s break room, where everyone can get something from it. It’s out of casual conversation that the greatest ideas and innovations are born, and Twitter is full of casual conversations about amazing things.

Well, and about Justin Timberlake in a leotard, but I digress.

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Online Playlist

Song 1 Etta James - At Last.

It was pointed out to me that I am slightly weird. Before you say anything, yes I have had that pointed out to me before, but this was in reference to something new. I recently discovered Now, I have known it to exist for quite sometime now, but it was not until recently that I finally dove in and created my own playlist.

I am now addicted. I don’t know that I have the most eclectic playlist ever created, but since I have received comments that it’s weird, I feel it has served its purpose. And at 54 songs, it’s really only the beginning.

Song 2 Patti Smith - People Have The Power.

As I write this I have my playlist playing (as you can see listed). I love the new technology and how in minutes you can do what years ago it took many of us hours to do. Create the ultimate mix-tape. Really, that’s what these playlist are, right? Only with access to almost every song ever heard, thanks to the web, we can almost perfect the ultimate mix tapes.

I, so far, am quite proud of mine. And it’s not because these are simply songs that I like. To me my playlist (much like my JamsBio) is a representation of my very soul. Each and every song represents some part of me, and is one of the key ingredients to making me, me.

Song 3 David Bowie - Magic Dance.

So what if people find Sam Cooke, Pantera, Dolly Parton and The Smiths clash. For me it’s just the music of my life. The things that touch my soul. My own personal art collection if you will. Except of paintings its words and music that create the picture.

I will continue to add songs to my playlist. And I will continue to rebuff the people that mock my odd selections. Because they are my pieces of art. A collection that I have spent a lifetime building in my own head.

Song 4 Public Enemy – Fight The Power.

Yes, I am a musical schizophrenic. But with all the great music in the world, in every genre, it would seem strange to turn off any of it. Life is full of variety, so why shouldn’t musical tastes be full of the same?

Song 5 Terry Reid - We Are What We Are.

Monday, December 8, 2008

December 1980

When I was three years old we had a big couch that folded out into a bed. It was a perfectly 70s looking thing. It was black and white with a paisley pattern. On the weekends or special occasions my parents would pull out the bed and we would all curl up to watch a movie or whatever. This morning while drinking my coffee and surfing the web I came across a news item that, in an instant, took me back to one particular memory I have of that old couch.

It was New Year’s Eve, 1980. We had the big bed pulled out and it was covered with blankets and pillows. My baby sister must have been long asleep, as was my dad on the sofa bed next to me. My mom and older brother were frittering about, and a Christmas tree remained lit up off in the corner.

On the TV was some sort of year-in-review kind of thing, I don’t really remember exactly. What I do remember was a man on the TV saying that 1980 would aalways be remembered as the year John Lennon was killed. What followed was a montage of John Lennon through the course of his entire career. Set to the song, Imagine.

I remember my mom and dad being emotional, and I remember how sad it was. Maybe I was just picking up on how sad it was in my house in those couple of weeks following John Lennon’s death. I was hardly three years old. I’m not sure how I remember any of it. But, I did. I even called my mom before writing this, and she verified the memory to be pretty close to correct.

For me, that New Year’s Eve tribute to John Lennon and hearing Imagine playing in the background was my very first clear memory of being affected by music. And to this day, after all the millions upon millions of times I’ve heard Imagine through the course of my lifetime, it still makes me sad.

My first memory of John Lennon was that he was killed way before his time. The entire landscape of music was forever changed on December 8, 1980. The day John Lennon died. 18 years ago today.

I imagine we’ll never really know what we missed having him taken from us too soon.

I imagine no matter how much time may pass; we’ll never really get over it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Don't Fuck With the Babysitter!

I thought that last summer's nonsense about the 21 Jump Street movie had died down, but now this, this is just BLASPHEMOUS.

Now the 80s definitely saw its share of AWESOME movies. Most followed one 80s teen movie formula or another (mixed social classes chill, friends hang out & overcome adversity of some sort, or poor kid falls for rich kid and serious lessons in love are learned).

But one 80s teen movie was in a category of it’s own. Adventures in Babysitting. The awesome story of a Babysitter and her adventures with her three wards in Chicago. It stars kick-ass 80s movie & TV staples, Elisabeth Shue, Keith Coogan, Stacy Keanan, and a pre-Rent Anothony Rapp. Not to mention a list of other badass names. If you have not seen this movie please rush out and watch it.

I mean right now. It’s cool; go ahead I’ll wait.

Now that you’re up to speed on it’s awesomeness. Here is my troubling news. It’s being REMADE. Remade with MILEY CYRUS. This just cannot be. I really can’t imagine any circumstances where this would be ok, but if there were they would most certainly not be with miss Miley at the helm.

This madness must be stopped! So I am starting a movement. Pass on the message to Disney that this is most certainly NOT cool. Blog it, tweet it, scream it to the mountaintops. To Disney we say, to quote the classic line in the movie, “Don’t FUCK with the babysitter.”

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thanksgiving's Lost Tooth

Well Thanksgiving has come and gone. Lots of warm fuzzy moments like any other Thanksgiving. But there was one incident that will probably make this Thanksgiving stick out in our collective memories more than others. It was the year my brother knocked out my son’s tooth.

Ok, so it’s not as exciting as it sounds. The frickin tooth was hanging by a thread for weeks, and my son would not let us take any extreme measures to yank it out. Turns out all it took was a wrestling match with good ol Uncle Jamie to get it to fall out. It was quite funny really. They were wrestling around on the floor (against my wishes I might add, I’m the mom always threatening that someone’s going to lose an eye, or tooth…)

Our of nowhere my son turned into the dad from A Christmas Story (Don’t Anybody Move!!) and was scanning the floor with this very intent look on his face. We all stopped.

“What’s up buddy?” I asked him. He looked up and smiled, revealing that his tooth has fallen out. We found it on the floor and carefully placed it in his special little tooth fairy tooth holder, and put it up for safe keeping until the tooth fairy could come.

This is his second tooth; the first came out in September. Not that I didn’t think it was a big deal, but I didn’t realize what a bog deal it really was until he actually lost that first tooth. What a milestone. It was his bottom front tooth on the right side. I sweat that’s where his very first tooth came in back when he was a baby, but I can’t be sure.

Now his big boy tooth is almost halfway in, with a big hole next to it where Uncle Jamie knocked out his left front bottom tooth. You think that sounds funny? So did his kindergarten teacher when he told her about it after the holiday. Ha Ha.

Seriously though, as I poured through the contents of my purse to count out money for the tooth fairy to leave under his pillow (a measly $3 is all he got this time, times are tough, even for the Tooth Fairy) I couldn’t help but think about what a big deal it was when that first tooth came in. And now, his adult tooth is coming in?

When did he get so big? How did these last 5 ½ years fly by in just a blink?

You see, this is the problem with both Santa and the tooth fairy, they always leave you misty-eyed.