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Friday, July 20, 2018

Do You Worry About Being Remembered?

     I don't know if it's just part of being a woman or maybe every human feels this way from time to time, but sometimes, out of nowhere, I get into a weird funk. Sometimes it happens when I'm reading a book or when I'm listening to old songs (this is usually what gets me) and I get taken back to a time years ago. Sometimes it happens when I try on a pair of clothes and they no longer fit or when I see a picture of myself and think, "That's not what I look like in the mirror." I can get really down and I start thinking about what it was like in school.
     I used to be a very outgoing introvert... I think the terminology might be ambivert, now.... or maybe I'm wrong about that. I was the type of person who liked to go meet people, but after a while, I liked to just be by myself because I overwhelmed myself from trying to get popular. I was the type of person who tried to befriend everyone! I was the person who followed the calling, "Go forth and make disciples" (especially when it was competition time in the youth group.) If I knew you, you probably were getting invited to church all the time.

       I used to be cute and skinny and had many boyfriend prospects. It was nice to know that people liked me and that I could make friends so easily. Perhaps that's why I get into funks now. As a stay-at-home mom, my priorities have changed. My friends are my kids and my family members. Yes, I wonder from time to time if someone thinks about me and has great memories of me just like I do them. It can be discouraging when I think about how large my group of friends were, even though I still had my close group of friends too.

      I thinks its natural though, to separate from each other. We're all at different parts of life, right now. I've been blessed to get married right out of college and have kids right away. At some point, we had to grow up. We went to different colleges because that was what was right for us. We had to move away because we had better opportunities. When I get into my funk and I wonder if I'm thought of often or even on occasion and hope that I'm thought of fondly, I should be glad to have had those experiences at all. We weren't dumped by our friends, time and life just happened and we should be glad that our friends are happy and wish the best for them.

     Here's my challenge for you: If you think of someone from the past, pray for them. Let them know. It's funny how we have this thing called Facebook. Send them a message; a word of encouragement. Don't be shady about it, because that's just weird. Say "Hi, I was thinking about you today. Remember when....?" It might brighten their day, and if they're like me and feeling down about their weight or feeling a little lonely, it can turn a funk day around to a good day. So let's encourage each other, today!

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. 

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, ...