Wining Wife®

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I Can Do Hard Things – You Can Too (Cents of Style Fashion Friday Story)

Cents of Style You Can Do Hard thingsI’m 22 weeks pregnant with baby number 4 (a girl!), and so I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make 2017 the best year yet. One of those things I’ve been thinking about is where I’ve been. That’s why when Cents of Style  announced they were looking for Fashion Friday stories to accompany a deal on their Inspirational Graphic T-Shirts, I signed up. I chose to wear the “You Can Do Hard Things” shirt. I’m kind of surprised my regular jeans are still fitting me, usually at this point in a pregnancy, I have to saddle up with the saggy baggy maternity jeans brigade. This year is about reclaiming and rebuilding for me. That involves coming out of a sequence of years where I did a lot of hard things. 

In fact, I spent a lot of years doing hard things. It’s important to remember that I got through those hard things – and came out stronger for it. I graduated from high school early and started college in what would have been the spring semester of my junior year of high school. Then, like many 18 year old girls, who think they know everything, I was in a hurry to grow up. So, I got married. That didn’t last long. It wasn’t a good relationship, and I left – after a split lip for Christmas, a broken nose for Valentine’s day, and a heck of a lot of bruises between then and when I left 5 months later.  Not long after, I learned I was going to be a mom, and 3 months before my 21st birthday, there I was, starting a life with a small person – going it alone as single momma. Believe me, I did a lot of hard things in my 20s. I worked full time at one job while going to college full time as a philosophy major – and – I worked part time as a logic tutor. I honestly do not  know how I did it. 

I managed to get an award for being an active member of my community, take on a roll as treasurer of my honors society, Phi Sigma Tau, host open mic poetry nights at my workplace, and of course raise a kid. I graduated with my BA – with honors in the major – and applied to graduate school. Those were some tough years, but I graduated college with a 3.8 GPA

Philosophy, if you don’t know, is a traditionally male-dominated field. Being a woman in philosophy really is not for the weak. There’s still a lot of the “old boys” club mentality that goes on. So, when I got to my Master’s program, I really wasn’t surprised by the fact that I was one of four women entering to join two other women in the department. The rest of the 30-odd students were men. Even so, I rose up to the challenge the departmental makeup presented, and finished my degree in 2 years, with a 3.35 GPA

 When I joined my Ph.D. program, the stakes were even higher, even though there were more women in the department. On the home front, my very bright 8 year old was having a very rough time at his school, and I made the decision to pull him out and homeschool him – as a single parent in an intense Ph.D. program. I continued to do well in the program (3.8 overall GPA), but had another hard decision to make. I got in trouble for “working too much.” The graduate student union had a rule about working more than 30 hours – and I was working as a TA and an RA in another department. I was doing so because the stipend for being a TA was low, and I still had work study monies left over.  I was at risk for losing my TA-ship, which would have meant taking out more student loans to finish than I was comfortable with. On top of that, I was getting weary from the pressure to be at all departmental functions when it was difficult to afford a babysitter for all of them. Plus, I had a lot of pressure coming from back in California to hurry up and finish and go back to California. And, I was tired. So being tired, burned out, and worn down, I made a decision I still question from time to time. I left my Ph.D. program the semester before I was supposed to finish taking my comps.

After I left, it was 2008. The economy was flailing. I applied to over 200 jobs. Over 200. I had an MA degree and most of a Ph.D. Can you guess how many interviews I had? 

0. I had 0 interviews. The job market was that competitive. So, I looked at my kiddo and took a deep breath and made another hard decision: I decided to start my own writing and editing business. And the rest is history, sort of. I got into another nasty relationship that left me with PTSD. Then…I met my now husband, we added to our family, moved across the country, and added to our family some more.

And now…here I am, in the house we bought, and I’m working on reclaiming that fierce woman who did all that hard stuff – and more hard stuff I’m probably not even writing about here because, hello, this is a blog, not a book. “Reclaiming” is my word for 2017. “Reclaiming” because after you do a lot of hard stuff, you get tired. After 2 babies and with a 3rd pregnancy, it’s time to revamp my wardrobe, get new makeup, pay more attention to my hair – fix my piercings (my nose piercing closed!) and take steps to feel more fabulous. This momma of almost 4 is tired! SO…to do that, i’m still going to have to do some hard things – give birth, continue putting my businesses together and building, get our home organized, and keep going. 

If you need a reminder that you too can do hard things, or you’d like to check out the various other inspirational graphic tees available at Cents of Style, click here (affiliate link). The tee-shirt is so super soft and comfy – and fit over my pregnant belly just fine.

Inspirational Graphic T-Shirts for 50% OFF + FREE SHIPPING w/code INSPIRE17

*I was provided with the t-shirt by Cents of Style in exchange for writing my story.

Happy New Year!

Can you believe it’s 2017 already? I can’t. Of course, I spent the last quarter of it battling some sort of nasty respiratory virus that cleared up just in time for December Madness – two birthdays, Christmas, New Years, and all of the planing that goes with that. My word for 2017 is “Reclaiming.” You may be wondering what that’s about, well, let me tell you about it.

Since my daughter was born in 2013, a lot of things have slid – my hair, my nose piercing closed up, and though I do love fabulous fashion, I haven’t put the effort in that I’d like to when it comes to having a wardrobe I love. In fact – LOL – most of my clothes are old and being held together with threads – the clothes that fit, that is. Of course, I’m pregnant now too, so fixing some of these things will wait until the second half of the year (like finally getting the phoenix tattoo I’ve wanted for years). So basically, I want to reclaim the fabulousness that has sort of faded in the shadow of baby and toddler tending. It’s still there, but in the wake of my husband’s job change, moving twice in the past year and a half, and all of the craziness that comes from that, I’ve let some of my usual things slide. It’s time to stop that.

This year, I think, has good things in store. I have more book reviews to share with you; I’m looking forward to selling more of my handmade goodies (you can find my Facebook group for that here, please request to join); my teenager is graduating and heading off to college; a new baby will be joining our family in May. Lots of good stuff! I’m looking forward to getting some of the guest posts I’ve accepted up, and to sharing older wine notes with you. Before I got pregnant, we had some great wine last year. 

What are your plans for the new year? Have you chosen a theme-word for the year? Do you have resolutions or goals for the new year? Please share them  in the comments!

An Announcement…

Be sure you watch this video aaaaaaaaaaall the way through. 

 

You watched the video, right?

With that announcement, comes the announcement that I’ll be needing a few guest bloggers to write about favorite wines between now and June.  I have several review notes ready myself to post, but it would be great to have others’ voices as well. If you’re interested, read my guest-posting guidelines and drop me a line with your ideas. 

Back to School Tour: First Day of Preschool Edition (And Giveaway)

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Wining WifeIs it already that time? Little Miss is beginning preschool (at home). I can’t believe how quickly they grow up. Tiger Boy has started his senior year of high school at the local public school, and we spent a good part of the summer talking about college options, and ended the summer with a couple of college visits. It doesn’t seem like it was so long ago that he was learning his alphabet and looking forward to attending preschool himself. 

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Continue reading

Build Confidence in Yourself

How to build confidence in yourself Wining WifeLast year, I wrote the post, “Please, Keep Your Insecurities to Yourself” after someone who called herself a friend suggested I go on a diet following my posting of pictures of myself on my Facebook page. Mind you, I wasn’t posting the pictures and saying, “Hey, help me lose weight!” I was posting the pictures and saying, “Hey, check out what I made myself, and by the way, I think I look pretty flippin’ awesome.” That kind of feedback can make it rough to build confidence.

Well, a year has passed. I had a lot of great reactions to that post. Lots of women added me as their friends, thanked me for saying the words I said over there, and said they thought I had courage. A lot of women also said, “I wish I had that sort of confidence.” I’ve done a lot of thinking about how to respond to people who would like to build confidence. Continue reading

It’s Tax Time and Budget Wake-Up Call Time

Photo by:  Alejandro EscamillaHave you done your taxes? If not, don’t worry, I’ll be here when they’re done. 

There’s nothing like going through and analyzing all the figures during tax time to make you say, “Hey, we spent how much on what?” In fact, I’m thinking that a regular (weekly) analysis of our spending will help us stay on track for our financial goals. We’ve done well in a lot of areas. We cut back spending at thrift stores, on sewing supplies, on our entertainment expenses, alcohol, and on buying books. But holy WOW do we spend a LOT on food. Like a lot too much a lot.  We’ve even cut back on eating out, the past month excluded (because hey, who wants to cook in a half-packed and then half-unpacked kitchen?). But our grocery bill is still way too much each month. 

I know a lot of the standard tips – coupon, meal plan, shop the sales. And they are good tips! But I still haven’t managed to get my food bill down to a more reasonable figure. Here are some of the challenges:

  • I have food allergies. I can’t do conventional foods. I’ve tried. I break out in a terrible case of hives. I also have to have GMO free foods. I’m allergic to GMO corn, soy, and wheat. I wish I were making it up/overreacting, but the last time I ate Green Giant corn, my tongue swelled up. 
  • We don’t do many processed foods…so we tend to avoid the things that coupons are made for – boxed foods, many canned prepared foods and soups, frozen meals are all things that very, very rarely make it to our list. Pretty much the only processed foods here are snacks for the kids. I’d love some good kid-friendly snack recipes 🙂 (particularly picky toddler friendly ones). 
  • We’ve already pretty much cut out soda. Every once in a great while, we’ll treat ourselves to a bottle of Izze soda, but we have a Soda Stream. I’d love more recipes for it! 
  • I try to include fish twice a week. It’s hard to do when you’re also trying to be environmentally conscious/avoid factory farmed fish. It’s expensive! Ideas for how to save money while having a conscious in this respect would be great. We also don’t do the big fish (tuna, shark, etc) b/c I’m breastfeeding…and, well, mercury. 
  • We do beef once a week or so.  You know, to protect our hearts and all. It’s definitely cheaper in the food-run, but more expensive in the long run in terms of medical bills.
  • That leaves chicken and pork – both are expensive! I try to do thighs, but I’ll be honest here folks – I HATE them! Plus they’re high in cholesterol…which leaves roasting a whole chicken. And I do it, but I’d love to buy antibiotic/hormone free chicken breasts at a reasonable price! 
  • Being organic means there aren’t a lot of coupons out there. If you know a resource, please share it in the comments. 
  • We do meal plan. That really hasn’t made a big dent in our grocery budget. I’m not sure why not.
  • We just bought our house, and I’m excited to garden, but I don’t have a lot of uh…green thumb experience. Do you have resources? Favorite sites? Best things to plant for a novice food gardener?

Okay, so here’s the thing! I’m opening this up to your ideas. One lady in one of my Facebook groups suggested making a budget based upon caloric needs – which is a great idea – has anyone tried that? 

Please, please, please, share your ideas with me in the comments! I’d love to shrink down the grocery budget a good bit.

Moving Through Grief

The three of usSo, my older brother died. 

That seems like a really tactless way to put it. I could say “he passed” or “he’s no longer with us,” but that seems euphemistic and to avoid looking at what happened in the face. I have tried several times to write this post, and I’ve struggled with it – both in terms of putting into words how I’m feeling and in writing the post itself. It hurts. The emotions are still very raw.

The picture to the right is of the three of us – my older brother, myself when I was about 4 or so, and my younger brother. I had it as my profile picture on Facebook for a bit, but had to change it, because it hurt to look at the photo. 

You see, a few days after Christmas, my sister-in-law let me know that he was missing. The next day, they filed a missing person’s report (I live in the southern midwest, my niece and sister-in-law are in California). 

The past month has been a bit of a blur…both in terms of the sad feelings I have and just in terms of sleepless nights with a toddler and a newborn. I’ve been dipping my toes into the getting back to work water, but it’s been hard.

I’m digressing. This is the problem with this emotion that I’m feeling. I keep trying to get away from it,and I keep getting distracted with other things. The other night, I had a dream that I’d wanted to show him something, but then in the dream, I’d remembered he’d passed away.

So what happened, was that he went missing on Christmas Eve. I guess my sister-in-law and niece kept thinking he’d just turn back up, and that’s why it took them a few days to report that he was missing. I don’t know if he’d taken off like this before. I don’t really know that, because once I was an adult, we weren’t really all that close – different life paths and all. I had a reporter trying to ask me for a quote about the kind of person Rick was when he died. I can’t answer that question very well, because truth be told, the almost 14 years between us meant that I didn’t know him as well as I should have known a brother. We grew up in different households too – he was raised by my grandparents, not my parents. So there was that.

As a kid, I always looked up to him. I wanted to go to concerts with him, because concerts seemed cool. My mom wouldn’t let me because of something called “pot” and things called “drugs.” I had no clue what that stuff was when I was 4; I just wanted to be where he was. I promise you, this is all related.

So sometime around Mid-January, my niece called me. She was upset. I knew what she was going to say. I just didn’t know the context. Evidently he died on Christmas Eve. He was wet and out of his mind when people saw him collapse. It was natural causes, but the news reported he had methamphetamine in his system. He was 51 years old. I don’t really know how to wrap my mind around everything. 

When he’d visit us, as a kid, I’d bust out my flute, or my math book, or my latest ballet routine. I wanted to impress him because I thought he was so cool. It’s not cool to die with meth in your system. I’m angry with him for drugs; but I understand the kind of pain he was masking by self medicating.  

I can’t remember a time in my life where my sister-in-law wasn’t part of it. I know that they started dating at some point. I know that they’ve had ups and downs. I know that she’s hurting beyond words. I don’t know what to say to her. I don’t have words. My ill-timed awkward habit of making jokes is out of place, and her need for someone to hold her hand through grief is great. I can’t be that person right now, because it’s all I can do to function from one day to the next for my kids, for my husband, for my self.

The night I got the newsThe thing they don’t tell you about grief is that it’s a circular process. It’s not just like denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Some days, I still feel shock, like when I had the dream. Other days, I burst out in an angry waterfall of tears. Some days it’s hard to do anything other than hold my kids tight, give them love, and hope that they all three feel the mad amount of love I have for them, and that they never feel the need to self medicate. My younger brother is an alcoholic. He spent his 30th birthday in the ICU being diagnosed with liver cirrhosis. Yes, I run a blog titled “Wining Wife.” Yes, I think it’s super important to be healthy. Yes, I think that having a cocktail once every month or so or a glass or two of wine a week is fine. Having two bottles of vodka a night…is probably not a great idea. I’m glad that he’s given up drinking. I was very very close to him – despite fighting with him all the time – during our childhood. Both my brothers gave up school in high school. My older brother eventually got his GED. I have an MA in philosophy. Life directions…  Life is never smooth; it’s never “neat.” There are always hills and valleys to navigate – sometimes at the same time – like the birth of a very much wanted and planned baby coupled with the death of the sibling.

I joined some Facebook grief groups. Because I honestly don’t have the tools to deal with this. I know how grief works. I’ve studied it in my intro to psychology classes. But when it happens to you, it’s kind of like someone took a giant frying pan of sad and slapped you in the face with it, then immediately poured ice over the wound to numb everything. Or, maybe that’s just me.

And I think that’s why I’m struggling the most. It’s because it’s not clear. I still feel joy when I hold Little Man and go with Little Miss to her gymnastics classes and dance classes. I can hold my husband’s hand at a restaurant and appreciate both the extremely delicious meal we’re enjoying and the fact that I won the gift certificate allowing us to enjoy the meal. I can still smile in pictures, not only because it’s a picture, but because, even through the grief, I don’t believe that the people we love ever truly leave us.  I think they live on in our memories of them.

I’m sad for the relationship we didn’t have as adults. But relationships require the efforts of two people…and while there were a few attempts, lack of time, different lifestyles, and location kept us from being close. I’m glad he got to see my oldest run in a cross-country meet, and I’m glad that my oldest did get to meet him. And I know it will take time to heal. And I guess that’s where I’ve been for the past few weeks. Just kind of processing everything and riding the waves of the various emotions I feel right now. 

My niece was born three days after my thirteenth birthday. Boy was I excited to be an aunt. Well, and sometimes my thirteen-year-old self would pretend that she was my own little one when I’d go with my dad to the store to pick out some outfits for her, when I’d change her diapers, when I’d prepare a bottle for her and hold her close, when I’d bathe her, when I’d help my dad feed her baby food because my mom was sick and my sister-in-law needed a break. And it was all a joy to me. And I was always thrilled to see her and play wiht her…because I’ve always loved children and I’ve always wanted children. My niece will always have a part of my brother with her, in her blood, in her soul. I can’t imagine how much pain she is in right now. I wish I could hug her. But grief is a journey you wade through on your own. Sure, you can have people around you, they can hold you up and hug you, but the emotion is something that each of us experiences. It’s something that is uniquely my own; her own; my sister-in-law’s own; my mother’s own…grief is.

And so, I keep moving, one day, one hour at a time. 

I keep on moving through the murky waters called “grief.”

Happy New Year from Wining Wife

12301274_928986570524098_257289394_nOkay, so I’m like…a few days late, but still! Happy 2016! I’m still getting used to toddler tending while also snuggling a 3 week old. The teenager, of course, needs teenager attention too, so things have been a bit busy around here. I’m excited to be back at the computer and writing this post, though, and I’d love to share some of my 2016 plans with all of you. There are some really cool things in store!

1. Finish the launch of Ronda B. Handmade

Before I had Little Man, I’d been planning to launch a new business featuring handmade items. I’m still working on this, even though a nasty cold and then delivering little man delayed the process a bit. Sign up to receive a notification when there are items in the shop here.

2. Launch a new branch of my writing and editing consulting business

I’ll have more updates on when this will happen. A business plan is in progress.

3. Start tot school with Little Miss.

I have all kinds of great resources to begin tot school with her; I just need to set some time aside. She already knows her alphabet, and some of the sounds of letters, her shapes, and her numbers from 1-10. It will be fun to do art projects with her and some of the fun science experiments from Mudpies to Magnets and More Mudpies to Magnets as well as build on her knowledge. I don’t plan on doing more than 20-30 minutes of learning activities a day as we also do a lot of learning through play in our home.

4. Sew more from my stash

I have a lot of fabric and a lot of patterns hanging out. It will be nice to make use of the resources I have. One of the ways I’ll do this is by participating in The 100 Item Sewing Challenge.

5. Share more recipes and get back to the cookbook a week challenge

To be honest, this probably won’t start until February. But I’m looking forward to getting back to it!

6. Share more wine reviews with you

I have some notes and photos of a 30-year-old wine we opened up and enjoyed with our Christmas dinner. I’m really looking forward to sharing that with you.

7. Get fit

I want to get back into running and being active. After a pregnancy, postpartum depression, and another pregnancy, my body would love for me to move it more. It will be fun to explore our new community’s outdoor areas through hiking about as well.

8. Read more

Wining Husband and I have a LOT of books. I’d love to make my way through them! I’m also realistic, so I’m not even going to say I’m doing the 52 week book a week challenge. Because, let’s face it. I have limited time right now to sneak away and read.

I have other things on my radar for this year too. What sorts of goals do you have for this new year? Please share in the comments!

Little Man is Here!

I’m pleased to announce that our new little squish has arrived. It’s taken me a few days to post about it because, well, exhaustion. He was 7lbs 14oz and 21 inches long. Labor didn’t go exactly as planned – I made it through 99% of it natural and then elected to have an epidural at the last minute after being stuck in the very painful transition phase for 2 hours waiting for him to turn – and it was long as it started 6 days before I was induced to get regular contractions. As soon as I got the epidural, he turned, and he entered into the world! He loves to eat and snuggle, and he squeaks in his sleep.  I’m so happy to hold him, and I’m looking forward to sewing more and taking advantage of some of the area’s wine tastings! 🙂 

I got to go home just in time for Little Miss’s birthday, and we celebrated it a little bit late. I did not make her dress, but I did make the tights she wore with her party dress. In all, it has been a very busy few weeks since I last posted. I had intended to participate in the Six Degrees of Separation blog tour hosted by Sew the Show (check out some of the stops), but after having some early contractions, I came home and promptly came down with a nasty cold that would not go away. I also wound up not making my little gal’s birthday dress or Christmas dress (but I had backup dresses available). But I think new little man is well-worth it. He makes a very nice addition to our family. His big brother quite enjoys him too :).

Dream a Big Dream…

DSC_0493I just spent the last little while crying.

Perhaps that’s too personal to admit; perhaps it’s pregnancy hormones; perhaps it’s just extreme frustration at the gap between where things are and where I really really want things to be. I’m inclined to think that my statement is a combination of all three. 

You see, I’ve always been a dreamer. I’m not one to dream small dreams. I’m not even one to dream medium-sized happy to be there dreams. Continue reading

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