Finding Balance in Chaos … or Not

Holy mackerel, y’all. It’s been a freaking year.

What’s that? It’s only January 15?

Yes, I’m aware, but I swear each day since January first has been a month long.

We started the year with my son in virtual school, which is super fun with kindergartners (as I am sure many of you know) and my husband and I working from home. Last week, we added in a quarantined toddler.

Not to mention the domestic terrorist attack on our Capitol. Not that I was incredibly surprised by what happened, but it was surreal to watch it unfold.

I’m not quite sure I’ve ever been as stressed as I am now.

I can’t focus on writing or reading. My patience is thin and short. I have no motivation to work out, and all I want is coffee, cookies, and wine … and a nap or ten.

If I learned anything in 2020, it was that nothing is consistent anymore. There is no such thing as a routine or expected outcome.

One thing I haven’t learned yet is how to handle the consequences. My kids have both been in various stages of sleep regression since March. No one is getting enough sleep and we’re all stretched thing. We’re cranky and tired of each other.

And, I think, that’s okay. None of us know how to operate in a global pandemic. Or how to handle watching in insurrection unfold.

It’s important to admit that sometimes, we don’t have the answers. I know as adults and parents, we’re expected to know how to react in every situation, but some things you cannot plan for.

It’s okay to be wrong. It’s okay to make mistakes.

As long as you know when it’s time to apologize or ask for help.

We’re all humans and we’re doing the best we can.

Mr. President, America is Speaking

Mr. President, America is speaking.

Bear with me today, friends, this may be a bit of a ramble as I gather my thoughts.

Four years ago I woke up in tears. I walked into my 18-month-old son’s room and apologized to him. I listened to Christmas music on my way into work and cried as I noticed that my neighbors had already pulled down their Hillary Clinton yard signs. I cried at my desk. A co-worker took me to lunch and to get ice cream.

Then I got angry. I marched. I volunteered. I canvassed. I donated. I spoke up.

This year, I’m numb but angry. I’m in shock but not surprised.

America is a racist nation. America is filled with single issue voters that have decided their one issue matters more than the rights of their fellow citizens. They’ve decided that they’re okay with racism, homophobia, xenophobia, bigotry, and sexism as long as their white “Evangelical” issues are protected.

Look, I know votes are still being counted. I know this fight isn’t over.

But the tired old man that they elected king is going to do everything he can to destroy our democracy. He’s been slowly picking it apart for four years, and if he wins, I fear for the future my children will face.

Every vote must be counted. Every fucking vote matters. We cannot and will not let voter suppression re-elect the tyrant. I will not lose my country. I will not standby as my country gives into the dark side.

This race is close—too fucking close.

We will not go down without a fight.

Vote Like Your Life Depends On It

When I am stressed, I do my nails. I am calling this mani the Blue Wave.

Today is the day, y’all. I’m feeling all kinds of emotions … hope and fear, mostly.

As a mother.
As a woman.
As an aunt and a daughter.
As a human who cares deeply about the lives and rights of others.

If you didn’t early vote or mail your ballot, please vote today. If you’re in line when the polls close, stay in line—you will be able to vote.

Know your rights. Voter intimidation is illegal. No one can take your vote away.

Save your voting selfie for after you cast your ballot as many states have laws against taking photos in the voting booth.

Take care of yourself today. Be vigilant. Be kind. Be patient. We likely won’t have results tonight.

The State of Things

Y’all I don’t even know anymore. This year has been one punch in the face after the other.

Personally, there have been some highs but the world is literally burning, so those moments pale in comparison to the lows. It’s hard to celebrate a new house or a new book in the midst of a global pandemic that’s infected millions and killed hundreds of thousands or as we watch Black men, women, and children being murdered in cold blood by the people who are paid to protect and serve or as the rights of our LGBTQ+ friends are on the line.

Yesterday, I received the lovely contact tracing call. Last night (7 days ahead of a presidential election) the “Senate” confirmed a radical originalist to the SCOTUS that forever changes the landscape of the court.

I’m not going to lie, it’s hard to remain positive or feel hopeful.

I’m beyond angry. I don’t know if there is a feeling deeper than rage, but I’m feeling it.

If you haven’t voted, make a plan for 11/3. VOTE. Don’t be cute and vote for Kanye because you believe the bullshit being spoon-fed to us by Fox News, Russia, and internet trolls. There is too much at stake this year.

Oh, and wear a fucking mask.

I’m Speaking

“Mr. Vice President, I’m Speaking.”

“If you don’t mind letting me finish, we can then have a conversation, OK?”

These two phrases (and the fly) are what struck me the most during last night’s Vice Presidential debate.

I’m speaking.

Such a powerful statement in two simple words.

As an educated woman with a career, I was never taught or encouraged to say those two words. Though, I’ve thought them every time a man spoke over me or interrupted me or refused to pay attention as I spoke. I’m not alone in this. Every woman in America is familiar with the silent seething that accompanies these moments.

At the end of the debate, I sent a co-worker a text saying I was going to order us shirts that say “I’m speaking” for us to wear to meetings.

Senator Harris exuded power and confidence as she refused to yield her time or voice to the white man who, without a hint of shame or hesitation, worked to overpower and silence her. She didn’t flinch. She looked him dead in the (pink) eye and said, “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking.”

When my daughter is older, I will play her clips of Senator Harris during last night’s debate. Our voices as women matter. Our words matter.

Thank you Senator Harris for reclaiming your time and asserting your voice.

It’s Okay to not be Okay

The other day I read an article about how kids are responding to quarantine.

Sleep regressions.

Behavior regressions.

Potty-training regressions.

Ugh. Yes.

It’s hard being cooped up in the house with your parents all day. It’s hard missing your friends. It’s hard to lose your routine. It’s hard to comprehend all of this when you can read yet.

It’s hard to figure out how to explain all of this as a parent.

I was under no illusion that working from home with my husband, two kids, and three pets would be easy. I understood it would be difficult and I very much get that I am lucky to be privileged enough to do so.

We are safe. We are healthy. We are together.

I should be grateful. I am grateful.

But I’m also losing my fucking mind.

Last night, I slept on the hard-wood floor beside my daughter’s crib because she screams bloody murder when she wakes up every hour unless someone is in her room with her. And, of course, she won’t sleep in our bed because that would be too easy.

My son had his first accident in almost a year. He’s started hitting, screaming, and breaking down anytime he hears the word no. He’s almost five, and I’d naively believed we were past this.

But COVID-19 had other plans for us.

Is it possible to have a parental regression? I feel like all I do is yell and ruin their lives. I have no idea how to handle any of this. Like, there’s no training for parenthood but there’s literally nothing on this. I hope therapists are prepared for the onslaught of COVID kids in 2030.

I see other parents doing arts and crafts and showing off their stellar parenting skills. I see advice on doing all these things, and yet I don’t know where to find the time.

Between normal work obligations, meetings, mini-crisis, cooking, cleaning, tempering temper tantrums, balancing my spouse’s work needs and meetings, and keeping us all alive, I don’t have the time or mental capacity for much else.

I have reading commitments for the blog and Bookstagram to keep up. I have a new book I’m writing (about an unemployed, single, childless woman with one elderly cat, of course). I have me to remember and take care of.

I don’t have the energy to curate and prepare the materials to make shaving cream art or macaroni necklaces every single day. We try to get outside and play in our yard when we can but that is time away from work. (Hello guilt, my constant friend.)

So many well-meaning people want to remind us parents that we’re living in a historic moment and should cherish this time with our kids. I’d love to, Susan, but it’s kinda hard to cherish a time filled with screaming, sleepless nights, and mounting pressure. There’s no playbook for this and it’s hard to stomach advice from people not living the same quarantine life.

My sole hope for my family is that we make it out intact and alive. We won’t be learning any new skills or creating mini art museums.

I’ll do my best to take things one day at a time but I know me well enough to know that I’ll be stressing out over the future. After all, I’m not about to let this pandemic change too much.

I have to constantly remind myself that it is okay to not be okay. It’s okay to breakdown on occasion. It’s okay to not have the answers. It’s okay to feel smothered by your children. It’s okay. None of this is normal. We’re all doing the best we can, and if the best we can do is give in to allowing our kids to run around the asylum naked, then run they will.

Vanilla Hazelnut Cold Foam Cold Brew

If you’re anything like me, you’re really missing Starbucks. I mean, I’ve been making my own coffee at home using Coffee Over Cardio (affiliate link, including a coupon to save 10% on your order with code 10andreanourse).

Earlier this week, the glass beaker for my French Press cracked 😭), so I busted out my cold brew tumbler and brewed a “pot” of Coffee Over Cardio’s Doctor’s Orders (Vanilla Hazelnut) and decided to get fancy.

Vanilla Hazelnut Cold Foam Cold Brew

  • 1 Cup Coffee Over Cardio Doctor’s Orders (Cold Brewed)
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Ice
  • 1/2 TBS Stevia (split)
  • 2 Squirts Sweet Leaf Vanilla flavored Sweet Drops
  1. Pour the cold brew into a cup, add 1 squirt Sweet Drops and 1/4 TBS Stevia. Stir.
  2. Add ice.
  3. In a separate cup, add milk and remaining stevia and Sweet Drops. Using a handheld frother, froth the milk until desired firmness is reached. If you don’t have a frother, you can put into a container with a tight lid (that’s really important) and shake it until you can’t feel your arms.
  4. Pour foam over coffee.
  5. Ta-Da you’re a barista!

I’ve made this recipe twice now & it’s pretty damn perfect. Highly recommend. You need this in your life. And, to save 10% on your Coffee Over Cardio order, be sure to use code 10andreanourse at check out. Added bonus? You’ll be supporting a woman-owned small business.

Finding My Voice in this new Normal

What’s on your agenda this week? Mine? Stay home. Keep the humans alive. That’s it.

As we settle into this new “normal” I find myself reflecting on our old normal, and I’m beginning to wonder if all the things we found important are important now.

Somewhere in this crisis chaos, I’m starting to find my voices. As all the parts of my life melt into one inside our home, I’m finding that I may not like how each voice has evolved over the years.

My writing voice. I spent last year trying to write the books I thought the industry wanted. I focused on serious stories with a message. And, while I loved what I wrote, I’m realizing it’s not what I want to write now. Now I want flawed, relatable characters that do stupid and funny things and find themselves along the way. I want to laugh and roll my eyes at their antics. So, that’s what I’m writing now and I’m writing it for me. Writing has always been my escape, and I need that more than ever.

My mom voice. This voice is loud. It’s impatient. It’s loving. It’s distracted. It’s tired. Every day is a learning experience, and I’m trying to find the softness and patience my children deserve but it’s a struggle.

My wife voice. This is the hardest one to define. I don’t know if my wife voice and I are even speaking the same language.

My work voice. Ugh. Working mom life has always been a tug of war. Now that my work and mom lives are literally one and the same it’s even harder. I get to juggle an important meeting with my boss while my daughter is screaming at me, “I pooped! I poo-oooped! Mama! I pooped” and my boss is doing his best to ignore it. I get to try to explain to my small children that even though Mommy is home, Mommy can’t always play.

Despite the messiness and insanity, this new normal is hard but rewarding. By doing this little thing of staying home, we can actually make a difference.

This pandemic isn’t a hoax or something blown out of proportion. It’s not a political pawn. It’s not a chance to have parties and gatherings.

It is a sober reminder of our humanity and how each and every action we each take impacts our neighbors, friends, and family.

Finding Comfort

How are you doing?

The world is a messy and slightly scary place right now. The place I used to seek refuge in is now the only place I can go. I’m naturally a homebody until I have to be, then I start itching to go places.

Our daycare closed this week, so now my husband and I are working from home with two kids, two cats, and a dog. We, like millions of people around the world, are going a wee bit stir crazy.

Last night, I pulled out the emergency chocolate chips and baked up a batch of the most comforting cookie I know.

What’s a book that makes you feel the way that freshly baked chocolate chip cookies do?

You know, that warm, pull you into a hug, soothe you from the inside out kinda feeling.

For me, these are books that I got completely lost in. They took me out of my life and into another life, time, or even place, which I desperately need right now.