Hobbies cost money (duh)

I don’t knit, but it IS a hobby that costs money.

I’ve been feeling a little blogging schizophrenic lately.  Well, not just blogging.  I’m having trouble deciding how I want to spend my “free” time.

  • Should I keep doing a little at Roman Reboot, but spend more time on another internet project I’d like to tackle?
  • Should I double down on Roman Reboot?
  • Should I stress less about side internet projects and spend more time travel planning and living la dolce vita?

So, you know.  Just the usual things everyone has to deal with.  How you should spend your finite minutes and hours each week.

I was discussing this with James the other day when he was in the shower.  (This is why “free” time is in quotation marks.)  I was rambling on about how I’ve been reading more about blogging on the internet, and I’d like to make some upgrades with hosting and mailing lists and widgets, but I wasn’t sure if I should upgrade Roman Reboot or start from scratch on the new project, but I’d like to do some things to Roman Reboot but they will cost money and can I justify that if the site is just a hobby??

And he said something that is very obvious, but it is something I had lost perspective on.

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Goals for 2015

Well, I looked back on 2014, but I forgot to mention my favorite song:

You’re welcome.  And now on to 2015!  Instead of resolutions, I’m trying for some goals.  You may be getting quarterly updates on these.  You know, just to keep me honest.

Blogging/Writing Goals

Stockpile some posts.  A lot of my blogging is done in real time.  Nap time rolls around, I sit at the computer and share with you immediately.  Sometimes this is fine, but it is not always ideal.  Some topics I’d like to think about a little more.  Sometimes we travel and I can’t write a post.  I like to vary the content so you don’t get just kids or just food on any given week.  This would all be easier to do if I built up some post reserves.  The goal is to have some posts that I can choose from instead of feeling pressure to get a finished product out every day.

Make the blog look prettier.  You may have noticed some site updates.  I am hoping to continue to upgrade.  Until now, my goal has been content, content, content.  I wanted to get on a regular posting schedule, and I generally have.  Creating posts was more of a priority than having a slick-looking platform.  Now I’d like to make the whole thing a little easier on the eyes and easier to use.

Group blog content in a more helpful way.  I’m working on creating a travel resources page.  I’ll also try to work on other ways to organize content so that it may be of use to you.

Read 4 books on writing.  I’ve read Bird by Bird, but I really haven’t read much else on writing.  I love to read.  Getting through a book on writing each quarter should not be a hardship.

Read more about blogging.  I’ve been down a rabbit hole on Blog Tyrant over the last few days.  There is so much I know nothing about.  I’m sort of shocked that I figured out a “.com” way to blog.  This goal is a bit loosey goosey, but I want to get better.

Submit a piece of writing to another platform.  The goal is not necessarily to have the writing published somewhere (something I can’t really control) or to be paid for writing.  I just want to make myself send something somewhere.

Kid Goals

Potty train the toddler.  He turns 3 this fall.  I’m not pushing the potty agenda yet.  I’ve heard that boys generally train later.  But I’d love to cut down our diaper consumption at some point this year.

Get the baby sleeping through the night.  Mac generally still gets up once a night.  Some mights it is closer to 6:00; not really complaining about those.  Some nights it is more like 4:00 am.  Not cool.  I get that a lot of this goal is outside of my control, but I’d like to keep working on it.

Get some childcare.  I mentioned before that we’d like to get some baby parking for Henry a morning or two each week.  Mostly because I think he will love it and it will be good to get some Italian language exposure.  I’m not in a rush on Mac, but later this year I’d like to have some system for some kid-free time for me.  It would be good to have some time to take a language class, exercise, do more writing, wander the city, etc.

Be braver on morning outings.  Up to now, we’ve stuck closer to home so that Mac could get a good morning nap in his crib.  He still naps, but he is starting to be a little more of a pill about it.  I think we may start to venture more far flung and Mac can nap on the go if he needs it.  Morning adventure should get easier as it warms up this year.  I’d like to get zoo annual passes, check out the children’s museum, get comfortable with the kids on public transportation, and more.

Health Goals

Build exercise into my routine.  My real goal is to lose the last few pounds from the last baby, but I’m trying to work on process goals instead of the end result.  I still haven’t made exercise a priority, and I need to.  The goal is to try to figure out a time when I can run and to make myself get up earlier for other exercise, like pilates.

Build a paleo(ish) meal plan.  I don’t mind repetition in food.  We end up eating a lot of the same things anyway.  My goal is to have a week or two of meals all planned out so that I can have a ready-to-go grocery list that will equal a meal game plan for the week.  I say paleo-ish because I’m ok with some beans and cheese.  If I get this one figured out, I’ll be sure to share!

Cook for leftovers.  I’ve written before that I struggle on making healthy and tasty lunches.  Leftovers would really help on this front.  For some reason, I struggle on making more for dinner the night before.  I aim to fix this.  I’m eying recipes for soups, frittatas, and slow cooker meals that should result in a better lunch than yogurt.

Cut down on added sugar and gluten at home.  If I can ever get the holiday sweets out of the house, I’m going to try to adhere to a “treats are for outside the house” mentality.  Same for gluten.  Pasta and pizza are OK for when we are out, but we will try to avoid at home.  The Italians make better pasta and pizza than I ever could anyway.  This goal will never reach 100% compliance, but I do want it to be the goal.

Other Goals

Hang up the rest of the pictures.  The goal was to hang up everything before our friends visited at the end of the year.  We have been making excellent progress, but a few left.  Maybe can finish before my mom gets here next month?

Behold my frame wall!

Behold my frame wall!

Make more time for email.  Being away from people is hard.  But in a way it has been good because I’m emailing with some people more than we got to talk when living in the same country.  And then I drop the ball.  Some days life just feels like kids and blog.  I need to carve out time for my correspondence.

Do a big trip each quarter.  That list isn’t going to see itself.

Tackle those neglected corners of the house.  Most things are put away, but a few spots need some work.

The corner of my bedroom where things go to die.

The corner of my bedroom where things go to die.

Make a photo book for 2014.  I actually need to make photo books for every year except 2007, but this seems like a more realistic goal.

Well, that should keep me busy.  Do you have goals?  Resolutions?  Resolutions still intact?  How is it already Jan. 20!

 

Lessons from a (failed) NaNoWriMo

At the start of November, I proudly announced that I would be participating in National Novel Writing Month, a project where you endeavor to write 50,000 words in a month.

And like the last time I announced a goal to all of you, I failed.  I blew it.  Instead of 50K, I clocked in at just over 10,000 words.

So why did this happen?  Why can’t I carry through?  I promise, I’m not usually like this.  Get off my back, internets!!  Sorry, sorry, just feeling a little defensive.  But I do have some thoughts and things to try differently next time.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail

Without heeding my boy, Benjamin Franklin, I did not put together a writing schedule.  The first day (a weekend), I cranked out more than 2000 words.  This will be easy, I thought!  Look at me go!  I’ll just spend a little less time surfing the internet each day, and I’ll be fine, teehee!

Well.  It got harder.  The words did not just magically flow from my fingers.  And I realized that (hopefully) two hours of nap was not enough time for me to eat lunch, respond to a few emails, draft a blog post, and write 1700 words.

So to make it work I would have to (A) cut back on my blog posting, something I did not want to do, or (B) carve out time in the morning or evening to write.  Option B should have been palatable, but I just couldn’t stomach it.  I realized . . .

I’m still fighting feeling too scheduled

I wrote before that my favorite thing about being SAH is the breathing room.  I don’t feel rushed all the time.  Before, it was get Henry up at this time, feed him and dress him and spend time for X minutes, and get him out the door or James would get stuck in traffic.

Now I enjoy the flexibility.  I like feeding Mac and knowing we can just stare at each other.  Granted, there are other interruptions *cough* Henry *cough* but the time just feels different to me.

I absolutely could have made time in the morning or evening and still had plenty of time to stare at Mac.  I just didn’t want to.  I’m rebelling against schedules.  The pendulum was very far in the scheduled direction previously and now I am enjoying being way in the other direction.  I’ll get back to the middle eventually.

Mornings with Mac are still unpredictable, but they are getting better.  In the not too distant future, I’d like to have mornings where I get up, exercise, and spend some time writing before the kids get up.  And when I do, I’d like to . . .

Focus on writing time and not word count

NaNoWriMo picks 50,000 words as “a difficult but doable goal, even for people with full-time jobs and children.”  The idea is that you write words without focusing on your inner critic.  A crappy first draft is better than no first draft.

And I get that.  I agree that there is value in silencing your inner critic.  But I felt like I was writing just to get words out.  Flinging them onto the page to meet a tally.  I’d like to spend a little more time.

The word count also made me discouraged.  Once I got behind, it started to feel impossible to catch up.  I’d like to try more of the Jerry Seinfeld approach on motivation.  Don’t break the chain.   Eventually, I’d like to have a daily writing goal, even if it is just for 15 minutes.  That doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up to more than 90 hours a year.

So we’ll see.  I’m not there yet.  Maybe I’ll try NaNoWriMo again.  Maybe not.  I didn’t get into the Berlin marathon like I hoped (sad face), but at least you guys won’t have to hear about failed running goals anytime soon.  Right now I’m going to just keep trying to blog every weekday.  This seems to be a good goal for me for now.

Did you NaNoWriMo?  How’d it go? 

 

NaNoWriMo. This is happening.

NaNoWriMo

After I dithered about it here, I decided to pull the trigger.  I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month.  It started this past Saturday on November 1.  I’m already 4,938 words in.  Only 45,062 to go!  Gulp.

Because I can’t write a post without caveat-ing, here is my caveat.  I’m not giving myself an out not to finish, but I did pick some easier subject matter.  Instead of trying for an original work of fiction, I’m going for a memoir essay-style thing.  Why, you ask?

First, I didn’t have a great idea for a piece of fiction.  My only hatchlings of ideas involve things like zombies and post-apocalyptic stuff.  Which surprised me.  That is definitely not where I thought things would go.  I decided not to delve into these ideas (right now anyway) because I didn’t want to give myself nightmares for the month, and I worried I’d be out of plot in three days.  With my own life, I should (in theory!) have enough content for 50,000 words.  Also, it is easier to write non-linearly if I want to.

Second, I want to remember.  I’m not sure this book will be shared.  I may try to do something with an essay or two out of it.  This is more for me.  My memory is not great.  On the whole, I’m grateful that I got to grow up before the world of social media, but digital cameras sure help keep things from falling through the cracks.  Writing makes me think about things I thought I had forgotten.  It helps me remember.

Third, I am reading a lot of memoirs right now so this seemed logical.  After being unimpressed with my current kindle selections, I reread Tina Fey’s Bossypants.  I read Lena Dunham’s Not that Kind of Girl.  I just finished Amy Poehler’s Yes Please.  (Order of personal enjoyment: Fey, Poehler, Dunham.)  [Update:  I haven’t re-read recently, but I shouldn’t leave out Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) and Judy Greer’s I Don’t Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star.  So more like Fey, Kaling, Greer, Poehler, Dunham.)  But the one that really tipped it for me is Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend this Never Happened.  As James commented, I’ve never read a book like this before.  There are rambling parentheticals, footnotes, and non sequiturs.  This may sound terrible, but it works.  This is the most I have actually laughed out loud at a book in recent memory.  My life does not have magical squirrels or other West Texas charms, but reading this book made me feel freer about how writing can be.  In the one recent-ish writing course I took, I was told to avoid parentheticals.  Now I say tough.  I adore parentheticals.  This is my book and I can write it however I want.  Thanks, Jenny Lawson.

Anyone else doing NaNoWriMo?