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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Never Bite Off More Than You Can Chew- Procrastination

     I'd hate to admit this, although if you know me, it really isn't a secret... I'm... a procrastinator. When it comes down to it, like the important things- you know, work- an actual job, I can get myself motivated and work extremely well. Unfortunately, I haven't had to work in four years, so motivation has escaped me, most days.

     Around last Thanksgiving, I thought that I would start crocheting again. I had posted some pictures of projects that I could do and even put up prices. I thought that I could crochet enough that I would be able to start doing craft fairs and bring in a little extra income without really having to leave home to do it, giving me more freedom to watch the kids, but also work. I had gotten a couple of orders and did really well until I got one really BIG project. Someone I knew wanted me to crochet a queen size blanket. I figured, "How hard could it be?" Well the answer was- mediumish hard.

     I spent weeks crocheting this blanket. The stitching was beautiful and it came along wonderfully. Unfortunately, our family became plagued with a stomach bug and then the flu. It took up my time because I didn't want to be working on this blanket and then have kid throw up on it, so I didn't work on those days. When the kids got out of school for Christmas and New Year break, I worked day and night to finish the blanket... and I did it! The only thing I had left to do after doing the body, was to put together the extra design- something that I thought could be done easily, but it wasn't. Everything I tried looked stupid. It ended up taking me about four extra months to get it together to a point where I felt that maybe, it was ok and sent it along with a family member to give to the person who wanted it. It didn't have to take that long, especially since the bigger part of it was the actual blanket base, but I got overwhelmed. I didn't want to work on it, because I wanted it perfect and it just looked stupid. I've tried a project here and there afterwards, but I'm just not into it anymore.

     I'm a creative person and since being home, I have written three complete children's stories. I started of with great motivation and even tried to work with someone to get them published, but it was a bust when they wanted $1,500 to illustrate and publish just one. Without an extra income, I figured it could wait. I have, since then illustrated one of my own, but haven't put it together. Right now, it's overwhelming. I don't know where to start; so instead of moving forward, I put it on halt.

     Last year, I started an adult Christian novel and have paused at chapter 11. I started working on it again, the other day after a few months break. Will I be able to continue writing it? It probably won't be very long and really, it will probably be finished with just a few more chapters. It only took me a few days to write the first three. If I put effort into it, I could finish it. I could officially call myself an author. Would I have enough determination to get it published?

     I did, actually, publish a short story a couple of months ago. I went through Kindle Direct Publishing, just to try it out. If you look up "All Hail the Repairman" or my name, Brittany Vantrease, you'll find it there. I had joined an online writing group that sends you writing prompts. The winner of that prompt received $50 and got their short story published. I didn't win, but that's ok. I had actually written something and then got it published. I finished something.

     When we procrastinators pick up something big, it's overwhelming. It can make something we enjoy turn into a chore. I have a friend who told me once, "I'd like to help you, but you know what its like to do something when you don't have the motivation for it." - I paraphrased that a bit, but it was along similar lines. This is from the same friend who always had straight A's when I had C's. She's always been able to work when she needed too, but like procrastinators like me, extra projects can really bring a person down. 

       When you procrastinate, it's better to do the small things first and work your way up to the bigger thing. This blog was something small that I started out with. I may have taken a break from writing, but this is something that I have been able to pick back up, easily. Since my kids are now home for the summer, I'm going to try to work better on not procrastinating because it really makes more of a mess and gives me more than I can do. When I see that there are plates on the table, I'm going to try to pick them up. When the sink gets filled with dishes, I'm going to try to run them through the dish washer before I end up having to just hand wash everything because the spaghetti from two nights ago has dried to the plate and the dishwasher can't touch it. 

     If I do this, work a little at a time, then I won't have to be overwhelmed by the mess that gradually built up and I'm too overwhelmed and anxious to clean, therefor causing me to be anti-social because I won't want anyone to come to my house. I will try to adhere to the schedule I made last year so my kids don't spend the whole day watching tv. I may even exercise and lose the weight I've been saying I was going to for years. But! I will take baby steps and I won't try to bite off more than I can chew. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Are You a Worried Yeller?

     I'm a naturally loud speaker, but when I get worried, I speak even louder. I'm guilty of this every time my kids lose a pair of glasses or when something happens that wasn't planned. My husband accuses me of yelling, but I tell him that I'm not, I'm just excited.

      It's not enough that I'm already worried about something, I end up getting into a frenzy. Glasses are lost? Obsess over it until they are found. Talk loudly at the dog, talk loudly at the kids and hubby, and frantically tip over things in search of them. I mean, I'm not yelling if it isn't directed at them, right? Ok, so maybe I am yelling.

       It's not like yelling, I mean- talking loudly, is helping. I often find out that when I take a breath to become calm and say a little prayer that the thing that caused the loud talking reappears after reassessing the situation.

        When I'm in the car and I know I'm late, I talk louder. If a car cuts me off and I tell the other car that they are an idiot, I'm not yelling at my husband, I'm talking loudly about the other car. For some reason, though, he thinks I'm yelling at him and asks me to stop. I then will ask him if he's the person that just cut me off and when he says no, then I tell him that I'm not yelling at him.

       I wish there was something that I could do to avoid yelling... I mean "talking loudly" but it happens when I'm worried.....I mean, I have tried singing it out like an opera singer, but my family just thinks I'm crazy.

      Are you a worried yeller? How do people react? What do you do to change it?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Why Don't Men Get the Same Family Courtesy as Women in the Workplace?

     My husband has been helping me with my LinkedIn profile because I haven't really played around with it before and I may or may not be interested in getting a real job in the near future. One day, when I was asking him about something related to it, he stops me and asks, "Do you have any photos of me dressed up, by myself?" I told him that I had some of him dressed up, but it might have one of the kids in it. His response dumbfounded me.

     "I was listening or reading something the other day that said that employers are more likely to pass by your profile if you have a wife or child in that picture." I asked him why and this is what he said. "It's because they think that if you have a wife or child, that you will be a liability because you may take off more time to go to events pertaining to them."

      So that had me thinking: Don't we all work towards having the same amount of time off? Yes, you have to earn the time based on how long you've worked with a company, but it's pretty standard to start off with X amount of days of paid vacay and sick days. If a company didn't want you to use it, then why offer it in the first place? I know, by law, companies are supposed to offer something, although, don't quote me on that because I'm not actually sure.

     When I first graduated from college, I was two months pregnant with my first child. I truly believe that is the main reason why it took me so long to get hired on at a place full time. I was perhaps a little naïve mentioning to those who were interviewing me that I was pregnant, but I had thought it better to be honest than to surprise them so many months later when I would need maternity leave. However, in spite of that miscalculation on my end, I have worked with companies that had very good maternity leave and great benefits for mothers. At one place that I worked at, they understood that when my kids were sick and needed to be picked up or if there was a doctor appointment that needed to be made, I would be able to take off the amount of hours that I needed to or I could make them up by coming in early or leaving later than the work hours I normally worked. It was easy and there was no need to make a fuss over it.

      I understand that I was very blessed to have that job and the opportunity to work there and get those types of benefits, but there was something that I realized. My husband who worked at that same place wasn't quite as able to take those days or hours off. There was a different type of expectation for him. It was understandable if he needed to go to the doctor, but if it was for a child, it may not have been as welcomed.

      Maybe that was him trying to get out of taking the kids to the doctor and that what was ok for me was also for him or maybe it really wasn't, but I suspect that even if it was ok, that somewhere, somewhere else, there is a workplace who does roll their eyes when a man or even woman, asks for time off for their children and that is just sad!

     I don't want parents to take advantage of having children just for extra time off, but we live in a world now where not every home with children has a stay-at-home mom or dad that can just take their kids to the doctor or to practice or whatever event a kid might have. Even if there is a stay-at-home parent, sometimes those parents would like to be able to go to the doctor or other place or meeting without having to take a child with. I mean, c'mon, my child is going to be just as uncomfortable as I will be if they had to go to my woman's doctor. It's common sense that perhaps that father would take the kids for a few hours.

      So now, employers are giving moms the ability to have a more flexible work schedule- which is great, but they should give father's the same courtesy. Not only all of this, but women are more driven than they used to be and some even have more empowering careers and in order for them to move up, they need the help and support from their husbands in order to succeed.

      This is a different world that we're living in, so please, tell me why my husband can't have a child in his pictures?

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Hi, My Name is Brittany; and I Bake Crappy Cakes

      I don't know if you've seen it yet, but Netflix has a new series on called Nailed It. The moment I started watching it, it called out to my heart and I knew that the show was meant for me. You see, the show is about ordinary people who like to bake, but their skills aren't right where they should be in order for something pleasing to come out of the results.

     We've all been on Pinterest of Facebook and have seen what those cute little baked creations and think, "Hey, I think I can do that! It looks easy enough." So we try to make that cute little thing and it either comes out perfect or not so much. I fall into the not so much category.

      I have tried on multiple occasions- more now that I'm a stay-at-home mom, and have failed on many occasions. Just how many times? Well, you're about to see!

 1. The very first cake that I had ever tried to design was a train cake for my oldest son's first birthday. I found a 3D mold cake pan and bought it thinking that it was going to be so easy to make. I had actually tried to make several cake versions to see which cake batter worked best and settled for a Duncan Hines cake. I'm not a very artistic person, and it shows. The cake frosting started to slide almost as soon as I put it on and the cake leaned so much, I made aluminum foil platforms to keep the train upright.

2. I love Halloween and was delighted to see that a friend of the family had made this cake at a 31 party. This right here, is a Kitty Litter cake. I have made this for many Halloween potlucks and it only gets better each time I make it. For this cake, what you do is make a regular yellow or chocolate cake from a box. Then you can either crumble it up and add chocolate or butterscotch syrup to make it sticky, or you can frost it like a normal cake without crumbling it up. It depends on how gross you want to make it. After that, you crush some golden Oreos and split a small portion into a bag and add some green or blue food coloring to it. The Oreos are the kitty litter. Sprinkle Oreos over the cake. To make the poo, I first used Tootsie Rolls that were molded and shaped to look like poo, but I found that if you roll Little Debbie brownies, they look more like poo. Layer the "poo" in strategic spots and then sprinkle the blue or green "crystal" Oreos over the cake to finish it off. Extra grossness award goes to you if you make the cake in a clean, brand new and washed litter box. It has to just come from the store and a brand new litter scoop. This could be a fail, but I see this cake as a success. 

3. As I have mentioned earlier, I am not an artist. For one of my older son's birthdays, he said he wanted a Ninjago cake. At the time, no one had a Ninjago pattern, so I tried my best to make a cake for him. The cake says, "Happy Birthday" and then "Ninjago" as if writing it was going to make everyone understand what the cake is about. Green is his favorite color so I lined it with green frosting and made little kicking "Ninjas" with a darker color of green.

4. I really don't know what this cake was for. I think I tried to make a second cake, one that was chocolate. My younger son celebrates his birthday the same day as my parent's anniversary. I think that I was trying to be nice and include them in the second cake. It says Happy Birthday and Anniversary. I think it was supposed to go beside this "Soccer Ball" on the side. I made the "Soccer Ball" from a round cake pan and then added cupcakes to form a circle around it. Maybe it might have looked more like a soccer ball if I added some black lines to outline the different "squares".

5. My daughter has been the biggest dog lover. One year, she told me she wanted a puppy cake. So I tried. I used several different cake sizes and put them together. It actually didn't look that bad if you look at the first picture. It was when I tried to add color for it to look like a pink puppy that things got messy.

 6. Two of my children have birthdays close to Christmas. One is in December, the other in January. It shouldn't have been a surprise at the time, but my oldest wanted a snowman cake. So I tried. He might have been more of a success if I had a bigger platform to put him on. Instead, he's hunched back and his hat extends onto a plate next to the plateform.

7. One year, I decided to make a Barbie princess cake for my daughter. It didn't turn out too horrible except the top of the dress is made of fondant. It's not very smooth and the pink and purple coloring is really dull instead of bright. I have never made a pretty purple or pink frosting in my life. No matter how much coloring or fiddling around that I do, they always turn out this color. I do not suggest making a cake from a mold because I don't think it bakes correctly. Instead, I would suggest making several round cakes, stack them, and carve them to make the shape. You might waste some cake, but at least it will taste light and fluffy vs. dense.

 8.  This last year, I tried to make a cookie cake for my mother-in-law. I had never made one before, but decided to try it out. The recipe, actually wasn't too bad. I had some extra dough left over, so I made individual cookies. I thought I would wrap them around the cake, but I didn't have enough to go all the way around. Part of the cookie cake crumbled when I pulled it out of the pan, so I had to add a ton of frosting to make up for it. Like I said before, I'm not an artist, so decorating it could have been prettier.

9. My daughter has really gotten into flowers lately. I decided to take a chance and use my Wilton cake piping set and try my hand at making flowers. They weren't terrible when I started to make them, but I think the frosting should have been thicker or something. The flowers kind of melted and again, I'm not an artist, so the stems aren't great, either.

10.  My son told me he wanted a Pokémon cake for his birthday, last year. I tried, really, I did. It is really difficult to make red frosting without it turning pink. So this year, I bought the frosting from a can. The frosting tastes good, but I find that when I frost with premade frosting, that the cake kind of tears up with it and then the cake looks crumby. Instead of making my own black frosting, I bought some icing in a tube. I have found that with those, it either pours out too quickly, or it blasts air from time to time. The black icing came out quickly and unevenly so it made little swirls and waves and if it wasn't doing that, it would blast out air, causing the icing to splatter. Not fun. Maybe if I had a steady hand, it would have looked nicer, but he liked it anyways. 

      I have tried several other cakes throughout momhood, but this post would be super long if I posted them all. I hope that you enjoyed looking at these cakes and got a good laugh out of them. Don't be discouraged if you can't draw or if your baking skills could be better. I have found that NO matter what cakes I made, the only one who laughed at them was me... and maybe a few other adults who tried to tell me that they were wonderful, but I knew deep down inside, they wanted to laugh.

       It's really the thought that counts and I did something good for my kids that they can always remember and look back on. "Remember that time when mom made that cake that was supposed to look like a baby, but instead it looked like a demon?" "Oh yeah! That was the best!" *Insert laughter* 

      If you get the chance and you have Netflix, watch Nailed It. Deep down inside, we are all thinking, "Hey, I could be on this show. I think I might have a shot. How do I apply?" It's funny and I've actually learned a few things from watching. I actually applied to be on the show. There's no indication that they could be doing another season, ever, but if they did, I think that I "Nailed It" with all of these!

Watch this trailer and tell me what you think!

Do you have any cake fails? If you can comment them, I want to see!

Monday, February 19, 2018

New, On Amazon....

Hey everyone!

So.... I've been practicing my writing with this blog. Lately, I've been coming across ads on Facebook for writing contests and decided to try it out. Two weeks ago, I decided to enter the contest. I lost, unfortunately, but I liked my short story enough that I thought I would try to publish it.

If you would like to purchase it to read, you can click this link below. The story is a short story, so I have it priced for $0.99.

I really hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Comment below to tell me what you think!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Appetizers and Sweet Ideas for the Super Bowl or any Pot Luck

Sports are played all year round and many people like to get together to root for opposing teams in a friendly rivalry. If you are like me, you don't really care who wins so you root for the team opposite of those you care about just to get some competition in, or you mostly come for the appetizers.

If you've ever been to a potluck or have had to bring a dish to pass, chances are, you have a go-to snack that you like to bring that's easy to make. If you have hosted an event, you may go one step further and provide a meat dish. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Does Your Child Have ADHD? It Isn't the End of the World.

My oldest child and I are alike in so many ways. Often, being alike causes us frustration because we know how to get under each others skin. But because he's a lot like me, I am able to understand a little bit about how he's feeling, what can cause him to get angry, or how to handle a situation so it doesn't blow up in his face. I've been there, I've reacted the same way.

The Last Straw

         A couple of months ago, my son was having a difficult time in school. I was called into the office, one particular afternoon, and while I was there I asked to have a meeting with my son's teacher, the principle, and the social worker who works at the school. I threw down my gauntlet and demanded that things be changed.

The principle got called away for something and when she was gone, I asked the social worker, "Do you think that there is a chance that my son had ADHD or some version of it?" and he said, "I think there's a big possibility that he does." With help from the social worker, we were able to have the school psychologist come in and assess my son. She gave his present teacher, his teacher from last year, his case worker from this year and last, the social worker, and my husband and I a questionnaire to fill out.

From the questionnaire, we found out that he had traits of a child with ADHD and varying degrees of anxiety- probably because he wasn't able to learn the way that a focused child could learn.

Take Action!

Right after we reconvened, we all talked about the next steps. I changed my children's primary care physician to one who would be able to make appointments and specialized in ADHD in children. We met with the physician and she was impressed by how much the school did and our involvement with getting a diagnosis. She didn't have to do an assessment because we had one right there with us from many people who see him everyday. She told us that most children only get one done through their parents and because we did it the way we did with others involved, the questionnaire wasn't biased in anyway. She talked to us about options and recommended that we do medication. She spoke to us about the side effects and what each medicine would do for him.

          She also asked a question that surprised us. She asked, "Do either one of you lean towards ADHD tendencies?"
          My husband looked to me and I raised my hand. "I do."
         "It's very common that children who have ADHD have a parent who also carries that trait. Have you been diagnosed?"
         "You should. I have ADHD, too and there is such a difference when I'm on the medication then when I'm off. I'm more focused and don't forget everything and can finish a sentence without getting distracted."
          "Maybe I can clean my house and it won't look like a hoarder moved in before it's clean because I can actually focus on one task."

If At First You Don't Succeed, Try Again

        So.... We started my son on medication. It has been an extreme ride between convincing my son to take it, trying the different dosages to find one that works, waiting for refill dates to approach, fights with the insurance company to approve a dose that works best, and so on and so forth. We think we've found it, though- the perfect dose. Don't be afraid to ask your doctor questions. One of our biggest fights with our son was trying to get him to take his pill. His gag reflex was in overdrive and the only way that we could get him to take it was to open the capsule and pour it into some applesauce. If we didn't ask her if it was ok, she wouldn't have known it was after researching and our fight for something better would have resumed.

The Results Are Outstanding!

        The teacher says that he's a model student when he takes it. He still participates in class and is still extremely creative. He is still him, but more focused. One of the things that we were afraid would happen is that he would take the medication and then disappear. The doctor and the social worker, who also has ADHD, assured us that medication is different from years ago. It is made now so children don't go bonkers or be plain and boring. It's designed to work with your child's brain so they can focus and that's it. They will still be creative and be themselves. It was a relief to see that it was true. In fact, I think it made my son even more creative because he could focus on the task at hand.

If You Could Make Yourself Better, Wouldn't You?

        Do you remember when I said that my son and I are alike in many ways? It's very true, but there is one thing that is different, besides the fact that I'm 30 and a girl while he's almost 8 and a boy. ADHD is more difficult to diagnose for girls. When I was younger and even in college, I had a tough time remembering to do my homework and also had anger/behavioral issues. I just looked like a bad kid, kind of like how my wonderful son was perceived, but really, those are just common issues with kids with ADHD. My son has a chance to be able to learn and get good grades. He's able to control his frustration with change and gets to be a model student. I didn't have that option because ADHD was still sort of a new concept and a question was never raised about me having it. I recognize it now as I'm older and I watch my son. I used to play house with my pencils and during math, my numbers were assigned genders and I daydreamed all of the time. I never remembered homework until the teacher asked us to turn it in. It took me longer to learn to read than other kids, but once it clicked, I loved to read and I love to write. I still jump around from point to point and when I clean my house, you can't tell because I don't focus on one room, I jump from one task to another. I have to make a point to get working and focus my energy on getting things done. Inviting people to my house is a big motivation.

        Having my child diagnosed with ADHD wasn't the end of the world. It was actually a relief. It gave me some answers and now I know that my child's poor behavior wasn't because I was raising him wrong, it was because of his biology and thankfully, there is something that we can do for him. He's going to be able to learn better and behave better because he's going to be able to focus. He's not going to get frustrated every time a subject is changed or something out of the norm or unexpected happens. He's going to be able to adjust to things and he's going to be able to succeed because he doesn't have the lack of focus holding him back.

       Don't be afraid to advocate for your child. If you suspect that your child has a mental block of any sort, don't be discouraged. Learn about it and start looking for ways to help. Medicating your child doesn't mean that you're a bad parent, and having your child on medication doesn't mean that they are broken or that you've done anything wrong. Biology happens and in my case, I am probably the parent who gave my child that gene, but with support, great things can happen now that we know.

Do you have a child or are you someone who has ADHD or ADD? Did you take medication for it? Did it change your life for the better?

About Me

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Hello! My name is Brittany and I'm a writer, obviously. As a stay-at-home mom, there are many things that I have to figure out in order to run a house that appears to be more sane than insane. It's not easy to be a parent and I hope that this blog is able to encourage other moms out there to live life happily and to understand that there can be mishaps along the way, but those mishaps don't define you and anything can be overcome with perseverance and will.

How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk- A Book Review

I didn't like reading this book... but I like the book.    I know that may sound bizarre or weird, most definitely confusing.  You see, ...