Call me narcissist if you must but this blog is all about ME. I have another blog about my kids, whom I love and adore writing about. But I was Nicole a long time before I was mom and I don't intend to give up being Nicole overnight.
You can read all about my kids at Naptime Optional.
Or you can follow along on our Arizona adventure on my 365 project blog.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
But today we reached a milestone. A BIG one. ALL of our stuff is FINALLY at our new home. It took us almost a week, and 2 U-haul trucks plus a lot of other driving back and forth in our car for all the "small stuff." But it's done now. The rental house is cleared out, cleaned up, and keys returned. We have officially closed the door on that chapter of our Arizona adventure. And I couldn't be happier about it!
Don't misunderstand, there is still a LOT of work left to do! I'm sitting on the floor surrounded by boxes that will likely takes weeks to unpack. Both garages are full of things that were just tossed in haphazardly so we could get the firsts U-haul returned before incurring yet another day's charges. There are 5 ceiling fans still in boxes sitting under my stairs and even more curtains waiting to be hung. (Nothing like moving into a new home with no window coverings to make you feel like you are living in a fishbowl.) The kitchen table is still buried. Clothes are still in suitcases.
But we are here! We have beds to sleep in and the kids feel like each day is Christmas as we find and unpack one more box of "lost" toys.
And I finally feel like I can slow down. I embrace the fact that it will take weeks (maybe months) to feel settled in and I can relax a little. I can take time to take my kids to the park again. (The weather is finally cooling down so such an activity is actually pleasant now.) I can go to bed at a decent hour. I can work my body without completely beating it up. I can take the time to eat a decent, healthy meal. I can take a morning to go volunteer at school. I can watch a movie or read a book or take a bubble bath! Because if this is going to take weeks anyway, what's the rush?
Friday, October 14, 2011
I just got up and I already want to go back to bed. Partially because I am still tired, but mostly because moving day is now less then a week away and I haven't yet begun to pack. I packed up some of the kids' toys last week but I haven't yet REALLY started to pack. Every time I try I stare at everything not knowing where to even start, then I get overwhelmed so then I just find something else to do instead. I just can't seem to wrap my head around the idea of moving again. I am very ready to be in our new home I just wish I didn't have to go through all the hassle of moving. It just feels like I JUST did it! It hasn't been long enough for me to forget what a pain it is. And this time we are really on our own to do it. Maybe that's why it's so hard this time. I just keep imagining me being the only person helping my husband lug heavy furniture up the stairs. All those stairs! What was I thinking?
I guess deep DEEP down inside I know things will somehow work out. I just wish I could convince the growing knot in the pit of my stomach of that.
I guess I just need to start somewhere. Baby steps, right? So, now it's time to get to work. I have some packing to do.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
There was a line in an episode of Scrubs in which JD refers to Elliot as a piping hot bowl of crazy. My husband laughed and laughed at this line, and has quoted it many times since.
Unfortunately, that is likely how the lady at the utilities department now describes me to all her friends and coworkers.
I'd like to blame it on the anxiety of the impending move and the associated anxiety and stress of getting ready to close on a new home.
Although that may have accounted for some of my craziness today, I think I mostly just got tired of stupid bureaucratic rules that I feel powerless to change.
I called the city utility company today to arrange for the water to be turned on, and the lady on the phone asked for my Social Security Number. I had already talked with both the gas and electric company who both also requested my SSN, so this request didn't surprise me. I declined to give it to her, as I had with the gas and electric company. Both the gas and electric companies wanted it so they could do a soft credit pull to make sure I was going to pay for my utilities should they go to the effort of turning them on for me. Upon refusing to give my SSN both utility companies instead assessed an up front deposit that will be refunded once I have made 12 on time payments. This is not a practice that I'm thrilled about. It sort of feels like a "guilty until proven innocent" approach. I mean what happened to just turning my power off if I don't pay? But, the deposit is refundable and it gets me out of giving my SSN. So I pay the deposit.
I assumed the city utilities would have a similar policy, so I politely declined to give my SSN. The lady on the phone informed me that I would then have to come into the office in person and provide identification before they would agree to service. And so I loaded my 3 kids up on the car and drove an hour to the City offices because it is that important to me to not give out my SSN unless absolutely necessary.
Upon arriving at the office I provide my ID and then the gal behind the desk again asks me for the SSN. I explain to her that I was under the impression that if I came personally into the office I wouldn't have to give it. I explain that I packed up my 3 kids and drove an hour specifically to avoid giving that information. She proceeds to explain that she is sorry I misunderstood but I still have to give my number, coming into the office was just to prevent me from having to give it over the phone.
At this point I'm starting to get mad because loading my kids in the car was NOT the way I wanted to spend my afternoon and now she was telling me it was all for nothing anyway. Assuming she wants my number in order to do a credit check I provide her with a copy of my credit report (with my number blacked out) that was given me by my lender.
At this point she explains to me that they don't do a credit check. The purpose of providing my SSN is merely to provide a unique identifier so that when I call on the phone they can assure they are talking to me. She tells me, "It's a security measure." So just to clarify I ask, "so basically you are just using it as a PIN?" She confirms that they ONLY reason they want my SSN is to use it as a PIN.
So of course I ask-why can't you just assign me a randomly generated 9 digit number then. As long as I know it and you know it it provides the same amount of security when I call on the phone without the exposure and risk associated with giving you my SSN.
Her response? "It's just our policy to use your SSN?"
"And what if I refuse to give it to you?"
"Then we will refuse service."
"What is to stop me from giving you a bogus number?"
"I guess if you feel good lying to me."
"Well that's just the thing. I don't want to lie to you. But I need water turned on at my house and I see NO need for you to have my SSN. So what choice does that leave me?"
The conversation went back and forth like this for quite some time. I tell her about how my Dr's office was at one point hacked and my SSN was compromised.The office then had to provide credit monitoring for everybody whose records were compromised and had opened themselves up for a class action lawsuit and this is what the city was opening themselves up to with their antiquated policy of requiring a SSN. Her response was that in all the time she's worked there they have never had any problems. To which I replied by saying that no problems in the past doesn't guarantee no problems in the future because let's face it, their little office isn't exactly Fort Knox.
I may or may not have used a few, shall we say, choice words. (Ok, I did.) I asked several times to speak to a supervisor, which she continued to refuse to let me do. We argued around and around and around in circles until I was so angry I was literally shaking and on the verge of tears all at once.
I swear I'm not typically "that" customer. This confrontation was so not typical of me. But something inside just snapped.
In the end, I am sad to admit, I gave her my number because bottom line is that I have to have water at my new house. I wish I had given her a bogus number. I'm typically a very honest person so I'm not proud of the idea of giving a fake number. But I'm not too fond of the idea of them having my SSN either. Really the only reason I didn't give a fake one is because I was so worked up at that point that I couldn't think straight enough to come up with something that I'd remember later.
I have since though written to the Utility Billing Administrator (yes, that is a real job title) explaining my dislike of the current policy and requesting that my number be scrubbed from their system and that I be assigned a random 9 digit number as in PIN. I cited Section 7 of the Privacy Act of 1974 (thank you Google!) that says
"It shall be unlawful for any Federal, State or local government agency to deny to any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individual's refusal to disclose his social security account number." Sec. 7(a)(1).
I don't know that you can interpret water and sewer service to be a "privilege provided by law" but it's a start anyway.
I also intend to write a letter to the City Council as well as to the Mayor if needs be.
Is their policy outdated and in need of revision?Defiantly! Am I getting just a tad worked up this? Perhaps. Am I a piping hot bowl of crazy? You bet! But I've never heard of a single person who changed the world by rolling over and playing dead.
Monday, October 3, 2011
In the end we ended up with a completely different fan that wasn't even originally in the running.
This fan is brushed nickel, has 52" blades, and holds 6 40 watt bulbs (for a total output of 240 watts). The biggest downside of this fan is the downrod mount but that is made up for in the fact that this fan was only $39. Yes. $39. (It appears to be an old model that they are clearing out.)
Yes, when I realized I could get 8 of this fan delivered to my door for $344 the decision was easy.
In this instance turns out price was king.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
I am not a fan of a floor lamp being my only light source plus I am a huge fan of ceiling fans so we optioned to have the bedroom and living areas pre-wired for ceiling fans. But it is just that-a pre-wire. No fans included.
At Lowes yesterday we found a fan that Mike is in love with and a fan that I am in love with. And this is a classic Mars vs. Venus scenario. Mike is completely focused on functionality and I am fixated on style.
Here is the fan I like.
I like it because:
-It is brushed nickel, which is the color of the hardware throughout the house
-It is decently sized with 52" blades
-It holds 4 40 watt bulbs, for a total light output of 120 watts
-I hate when you look at a light fixture and you stare straight at the light bulbs-this fan solves that problem in what I think, is a very stylish, unique fashion.
Here is the fan Mike likes.
He likes it better because:
-It, too, is brushed nickle to match our hardware
-It has bigger blades-60" to be exact, which means more air flow
-It hold 3 60 watt bulbs, for a total light output of 180 watts
-This fan has an option for flush mount. The one I like requires downrod mounting, which can sometimes lead to more wobbling at higher speeds
-This fan also hides the bare bulbs for softer/diffused lighting but I argue it's a more traditional way of achieving that, and is not nearly as stylish.
So what do you think? What is more important.....Form or Function????
Monday, August 29, 2011
I actually thought that having less stuff unpacked would mean I'd feel more organized and put together. I thought it would be a chance to try out a new Zen lifestyle. But I find that it just makes me more unorganized then ever. For example all the office is all packed so I don't have my paper filing system in place. So papers from school pile up all over. I mean it's just little stuff like that but lots of little stuff is starting to add up and I don't feel like I have a handle on any part of my life.
The 2 1/2 hours spent in the car each day running to and from school isn't helping any, either.
I literally have 6 half finished blog posts. And ideas for half a dozen more. I'm flowing with ideas-but never have 20 uninterrupted minutes to get any of them out!
So while I try to catch up with my life if you have a minute today tell me your favorite, easy, inexpensive time management/organization tip. I could use ALL the help I can get!
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
In the meantime, something a little funny to make you smile today. Because I'm a giver like that.
A few weeks ago I sent a text message to my parents with a picture of our new driveway.
A few days later we found ourselves stopped at a red light right next to the construction site for the Gilbert, Arizona Temple. So of course I snapped a picture and sent it to my parents.
Weeks later my dad sends me the following email:
(Thanks for the chuckle, dad. Hope you don't mind me sharing it! If you do, it's too late. I already did!)
Friday, August 5, 2011
But you see, I'm still kind of processing it all and although parts of it were great, other parts left me a little bit broken. So I don't think I can write about it.....yet.
But I will.
In the meantime I will share this.
Sunday morning before Summer School started I was having brunch at the Paris buffet. From among all the things I could choose from to eat I decided to grab a fortune cookie. I honestly didn't even want to eat it. Part of me just needed a good fortune. I was feeling a bit nervous about what lie ahead of me and I think I was looking for a little comfort or encouragement.
I don't think it was by accident that I chose the cookie that contained this fortune.
A simple enough message. Little did I know how much I would need this message in the upcoming days.
Monday at lunchtime I was feeling particularly exposed and vulnerable. I slipped over to grab some lunch at the food court across the street. I was standing in line for Chipotle but the line was long and taking forever and adjacent was a Panda Express that had no line at all. So, I jumped lines and grabbed some Orange Chicken. Which meant I also got another unexpected fortune cookie.
Once again, the perfect message to encourage me when I was struggling.
I'm still trying to piece together all my thoughts and feelings about my experiences over the last week. I feel like I am on the pinnacle of an important decision and I don't want to rush into it. But whatever I choose I will be forever grateful for these two little gems of wisdom sent to inspire me at a time that I needed it most.
You may call it coincidence, but I call it a remarkable blessing!!!
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
One of the things that pulled me through was looking for small things to be grateful for.
A furniture dolly/hand truck.
A ramp from the trucking company that was wide enough for the furniture dolly. At one point I was feeling tired beyond limit. Even with the furniture dolly unloading the truck was taking extreme effort and I wanted to quit. As I was directing one load down the ramp I noticed how narrow the ramp was, and how the wheels for the dolly really just barely fit. I was suddenly aware of what a wonderful thing that was!
A landlord who happened to have a fully furnished rental around the corner that he was willing to let us stay in. Oh how wonderful it was to have a clean spot to eat a meal. A bed to sleep in that wasn't surrounded by the chaos of moving. I know that was a luxury most people aren't afforded when moving.
My iPod full of tunes that kept me moving, kept my spirits up.
Kids who have been mature beyond their age and have found ways to play together and entertain themselves and help one another out. My kids have been amazing little troopers and have rolled with the punches in an amazingly inspiring way.
A husband who was patient with me when I needed 10 minutes (or maybe a little more) to let the overwhelming feelings flow in and be experienced so they could flow back out.
A healthy body. It may have been sore and tired but it just kept doing what I needed it to do. I spent a lot of time thinking about my dear friend, MaeLynne, and how her last months were spent in near constant pain, her body refusing to work the way it was supposed to. My body was just stiff and tired.
We are still working hard this week. The truck is unloaded but there is still a lot to do before we are "at home" but I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
I wrote the above caption on that box 8 years ago, when we were packing to move into our home. In case you can't read it, it says "Nicole's tapes that she needs to chuck but she can't yet-still emotionally attached".
We were newlyweds, moving into our very first house together, with a baby on the way. So much was new and exciting, but a part of me just needed to hang onto those tapes. I knew they were outdated. I never actually listened to them anymore because, well, my CD's produced much better sound quality. Plus iPods and other mp3 players were all the rage. I mean NOBODY was still listening to tapes. But I still couldn't part with them.
Those tapes were the soundtrack of my childhood and teenage years. They contained the songs that got me over the heartbreak of losing class elections, or a friend who was gossiping behind my back at school, the songs of celebration when I aced a hard test. They were a part of who I was I just needed to hang onto them just a little longer.
Fast forward to now, 8 years later. I have spent the better part of 2 months cleaning, and dejunking and packing up my house. 8 years and 3 kids later we've accumulated a lot of "stuff." I found myself easily tossing or donating things I didn't want or need anymore. So many things in my house just seemed to be weighing me down, holding me back. I was looking forward to the new adventure ahead, to the new beginning that this move would mean, and much of that stuff I was content to leave in my past.
As I got rid of the physical "junk" a strange thing started to happen. I found myself getting rid of other things that were holding me back. Letting go of relationships that were no longer serving me. Saying good-bye to old habits that were draining my time and energy. Deleting blogs from my reader that no longer inspired me. Unfollowing people on Twitter who were just trying to sell me something. Anything that wasn't serving a specific, positive purpose in my life was slowly disappearing. It was like doing one of those popular juice cleanses, but without all the extra time in the bathroom.
But then the other day as I was packing the office I came across that box of tapes. They were still in the same box I had packed them in 8 years ago, the quickly scrawled sharpie marker message still (mostly) readable, a thick layer of dust on top. I haven't even opened the box in all the years I've lived here.
But despite my recent rash of purging I didn't toss this box in the garbage can. Instead I lovingly wiped the dust from the top, and carefully opened the box to glance at my past. And decided that part of my past still serves me. It is a part of me. And so I closed the box back up and placed it on the pile of boxes to be loaded on the moving truck.
Because no matter how far I move, or how many new adventures I start, or how many times I try to "re-invent" myself-the true inner me remains the same. My core values remain unchanged. And I think those things are quite alright to hang onto.
Monday, May 16, 2011
I get the message. You REALLY want me to stop making excuses, stop being scared, and to finally start following my dreams. I know it's taken me awhile, and I don't always pay attention to the messages you send me, but I'm paying attention now. How could I not be? You are screaming at me loud and clear!!!!
In ways too numerous to mention you paved the way and put all the pieces in place for our upcoming move to AZ.
Then you inspired Andrea and Jen to offer a two for one on Mondo Beyondo. And then you inspired my soul sister Andria to invite me to be her "plus one" for the whole adventure.
Then Saturday when we ordered Chinese food this was my fortune in my fortune cookie.
Then you used Sunday's post on Shutter Sisters to make sure I was REALLY getting the point. How could I not get the message when the post started with this quote:
"We need to find inspiration whenever we can, because when we're spiritually tuned in, everything is a clue pointing us in the right direction."- Sarah Ban Breathnach, Peace and Plenty
So today, as Mondo Beyondo begins I'm listening. I'm jumping in with both feet. I'm ready to find the path you are trying to lead me to. I'm finding the clues. I'm making room for stillness.
Let the dreaming begin!
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Billy Joel's You May Be Right is our song.
Even after nearly 9 years of marriage we frequently quote the lyrics to each other. "If I'm crazy then it's true, that it's all because of you, and you wouldn't want me any other way." That's just the way we roll.
And, truth be told, we both are a little crazy. But we are each our own unique brand of crazy, and somehow we compliment each other perfectly.
My husband is the type who washes his hands 10 times after being in a public place, and who will drive around the block 3 times just to MAKE SURE he closed the garage. He also MUST hear the beep the sound makes when you lock the car from the keyless entry 3 times before he is REALLY SURE the car is actually locked.
Me, on the other hand, will often walk out of Target only to find I never actually locked the car.
I have my own version of crazy though. For instance, when I was packing for our Disneyland vacation I would pick one day's clothes for a child (Shirt, pants, socks, underwear) and then roll that day's clothing all together, put the whole roll down in a gallon size zip lock bag, and then write the child's name on the bag. (Yes, I really did that!!!) That way each day I could quickly account for if I had packed enough clothes for everybody, plus then each day on vacation I pulled out one bag for each child and just handed it to them and knew they had everything they needed to get dressed.
So yesterday I called my sister-in-law and told her that packing to move was bringing out all my crazy. I said "I always knew I was a little OCD....." to which she proceeded to laugh hysterically, then between tears said "I love that you think you're just a little crazy." (I'd be offended, except that she is right!)
See, I was packing toys yesterday, and I couldn't bring myself to just toss all the toys together in a big box. I would first pack each individual type of toy in it's own zip-loc bag and then put the bags into a bigger box.
So as I sat on the floor of my daughter's room separating Fairy shoes from Princess shoes (because heaven forbid fairies should mingle with princesses) I realized just how crazy I really am.
Even the baby dolls got packed away in their own bags to keep them from getting dusty or dirty.
And yes, I do get that it looks like they are in body bags. Which amuses me to no end, which also makes me a little crazy.
Last week I had packed all the Lightening McQueen-type cars and toys, and clearly labeled the box. Then taped up the box and moved it to the basement.
Then yesterday, way in the back of a closet, I found Flo.
A normal person would've just tossed her in with the Hot Wheels since there is an entire box of them as well, and that box isn't sealed up. But no, my OCD required that I go downstairs, cut open the already sealed box, dig to the bottom to find the cars that are just this size, open the zip-loc bag, place Flo inside, reseal the bag, repack the box, then reseal the box.
Yup! You may be right, I may be crazy!!!!
Thursday, May 5, 2011
I always leave the house for a shoot feeling like it's going to be the BEST SHOOT EVER!!!!
Usually I just read a new photography book, or watched a creativeLIVE workshop and I feel like I now know everything I need to know to rock the shoot.
But then I get there and the baby is in a bad mood.
Or the sun is in the exact wrong place and everybody has to squint. (Okay, or maybe the photographer is just in the wrong place.....)
Or I take a picture that I love, only to get home and find that it is woefully blurry!!!!!
There are just so many stinking variables to account for all the time. The professionals make it all look so very easy! But I, at times, find it all so overwhelming.
Yet-the only way to get better is to practice, practice, practice!!!!
So, as always, a big thanks to all my guinea pigs who let me practice on them. Like the lovely Burton Family.
Sometimes the key is to just sit back and wait for the moment....
And let's be honest...sometimes I just take a ton and pray for one to turn out just right.
But at the end of the day I'm just so happy to be out doing something I love. (And I don't mean that in a cliché way. I mean it in the I really have fun doing it even if my pictures don't turn out 100% the way I had hoped kind of way.)
Thursday, April 21, 2011
That is a picture my husband took of me taking this picture.
Which really has NOTHING to do with this post.
My brother-in-law once said that he was impressed by my ability to get things done.
This particular ability of mine has less to do with work ethic or organization and more to do with impatience. When I decide I want something done I want it done NOW!!!! Just ask my husband, he'll concur.
Like the time I was driving home late at night and saw the neighborhood clean-up dumpsters out and upon arriving home made my husband rip out the carpet in the family room because we could throw it in the dumpsters that night. Never mind that we didn't have new flooring yet. Or that we hadn't even talked about new flooring. I just decided I wanted it done and I wanted it done NOW.
That's the way I roll.
So I'm sure you can imagine that for an impatient person like myself waiting is about the hardest thing in world for me to do.
Which is why I am doing everything in my power to fill today up with busy work that occupies my mind so that I can stop thinking about the fact that I am waiting.
Waiting on something that I have done as much as I could possibly do about and is now in somebody else's hands. No amount of pushing or prodding or hoping will change that I am no longer in control of the situation.
And so I wait.
Maybe patience is not the real issue. Maybe it's that I just like to be in control. Because when I'm in control I know how things will turn out in the end. When I relinquish control I have to rely on hope and faith.
In fact, the more I think about it the more I realized that my problem with waiting relates directly with my problem with stillness.
Waiting implies not working, at least for a time. Waiting means submitting. Waiting is stillness.
President Ezra Taft Benson once said, "Yes, men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace."
I read this often, and tell myself I WANT to turn my life over to the Lord. But then when I get to the whole "waiting upon the Lord" part I get impatient. I want to submit, but can't be still.
But today, I have no choice. Something is truly out of my hands and my only option is to wait.
My amazing, creative, talented cousin Andria brought me this locket last week.
Did I mention she also MADE it? And that her timing could not have been more perfect!!!!
I have worn it nearly every day and when I am tempted to be impatient, to turn suddenly in a different direction just because I am tired of waiting, I feel the metal against my skin. I pull it out from beneath my shirt and hold it in my hand for just a moment. I breath in. I breath out. And I find the strength to be still. I find the courage to submit.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
The Oregon Coast
Life is topsy turvy right now. But not necessarily in a bad way. Changes are on the horizon and I'm excited. Stressed and scared and unsure, but excited.
Right now I sit all alone in a hotel room in Oregon. For the last two days I have fully intended to grab my camera bag and just go walking and photograph anything that inspires me.
That's been the plan. But it's been raining and I have instead found peace in a cup of hot chocolate and my the pages of my journal. I can't remember the last time I had this much quiet time to sit and think. And then to listen. To really figure out what I'm thinking and feeling. What my hopes are. What my dreams are. My life is so wrapped up in my home and my kids and my husband that sometimes I completely lose me.
I think perhaps that something bigger than just the rain is at work here, keeping me in. I'm often so quick to fill up every minute of every day. I think something, somebody is telling me to slow down. To relax. To refuel. To regroup. To figure things out because once I get home life is going to come at me lightening fast.
I've written a bunch in my journal these last two days. Some of which I am thinking about sharing here. But I'm not sure yet. It's quite personal. And yet I yearn to feel the connectedness I feel when I am writing often. I miss blogging and the sense of community I feel from it. Life just got busy. And it became just one more thing to do. So I've kind of let it slip away from me a bit.
Plus I also feel a bit vulnerable right now. And I want to know that what I put out here will be embraced, not judged.
So I'm still on the fence about how much to share-but I'm sharing that I'm on the fence about what to share, and that's a start, right?
Friday, February 25, 2011
Good thing nothing that has life and death ramifications is dependent on me these days. Just sayn'
Isn't she sweet? Don't ya just want to pinch her little cheeks?
I have a thing for little baby feet and toes. So I took lots of pictures...
And little baby hands. What's not to love about tiny fingers?
Call me, we'll do lunch!
She really wasn't into cooperating with the whole pictures of sweet sleeping babies thing. But she did such a good job of looking sweet even while awake so I can't complain too much.
Okay, I may have gotten one that looked like she was sleeping.
Stay tuned and maybe by the time she is 1 I'll post some 6 month pictures. ;)