Monday: Relationships and Changes

Happy Monday! We made skillet lasagna last night in celebration of Garfield’s favorite day. It was delicious, I have leftovers for lunch today.

In light of the changes rolling through for me over the course of the next month, I wanted to talk about changes and relationships in general.
Obviously, we all know in theory that you can’t get into a relationship, expect the other person to change and also expect the relationship to remain healthy. Theory and practice are often disparate, however. Today’s conversation isn’t about expecting change from someone, but rather about weathering change as a family.

For example, one of the changes that my family has undergone several times (and will soon undergo again) in the past five years has been job related. Aside from the company I currently work for being acquired over a year ago, I’ve also had a company I worked for go out of business and another contract end so that I needed to find a better place for me. I’m happy to say I’ve never experienced any period of unemployment, but finances are one of the great stressors in a relationship.
My answer to this stressor is open communication. That starts at the dinner table, usually (or any meal we share, but it’s most often dinner).
This doesn’t mean that the second I get home, I spill out a whole bunch of “blarrrgh” about the way my day has gone. Instead, after some time playing with Aubri and otherwise unwinding, I’ll talk about things with Jamie. I keep her updated on our budget, and she goes with me grocery shopping most of the time (a task she hates, but she goes so that we can have that time together).
It’s a work in progress. I want to teach her to do budgeting and keep track of our finances, because I don’t want her to have struggles in that regard if anything ever happened to me. But we take it one step at a time.

Other changes that face a family… illness, moving, family changes, even births and deaths can really impact the dynamic of a family, at least for a time. In my experience, it’s important to get away from the source of the distress to get everything out into the open. I like camping trips for that, but any long drive or even just a few hours to picnic away from technology. If you have teenagers, this will become especially important. Talking may not solve the problem, but it won’t be solved in a bottled condition, either. Getting away is the most important component. As Einstein said, we cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it (paraphrased).


Friday: Steampunk World and…

Greetings, and Happy Friday! If you have the misfortune of not being off on the weekend… happy whatever day it is to you. Just remember, it is five o’clock Somewhere.

On Fridays I kinda feel like this blog is just a directory of links… Speaking of, I recently stumbled across this delightful directory of Steampunk Fashion resources–do check it out!

News in Steampunk for the day:
The European Steampunk Convention is happening at the end of this month, and it’s going to be ridiculously huge. If you’re planning to be in (Western?) Europe during that time, don’t miss it!

I might be the only one to not have noticed this, but I remember Kevin J Anderson mentioning it around the time of AnomalyCon this year. I found the album cover at Starbucks and remembered–Clockwork Angels, by Rush (friends of Kevin’s) and the book, by Kevin–don’t miss the lovely pairing. The book just hit shelves along with its album counterpart. Here’s a link to an interview about the partnership.

The Steampunk-themed Educated Gentlemen and Ladies Who Do Assemble to Imbibe trivia gathering will continue this month, likely changing to Saturday the 29th. Hopefully we’ll have a new Trivia Artist awaiting his chance to shine.

I have almost no other news to report…more things need to be planned! We expect to announce the bulk of our special guests at AnomalyCon in the last two weeks of this month, so stay tuned!

Wednesday: Adventure and Travel: End Days of Summer and All Hallows Eve

Well, we are fast approaching the autumnal equinox. As the mornings grow dewy and cool, we find ourselves looking back over the bright days of summer and wondering where the year has gone.
In the next few weeks the frenzy of All Hallow’s Eve will begin to set in, for those looking forward to an opportunity to garb themselves in splendid attire for all to see.
With that in mind, I’ve been seeking out some interesting decor ideas for this year’s Halloween party. So here are the first five of ten tricks to get you going. I may be posting this list preemptively, but I’ll bring up more ideas as we get closer to the real party time.

10. A friend of mine recommended using tapioca balls (as used in boba) in a jar to make them look like rat’s eyes. I believe if you soaked just the pearls in several drops of food coloring and then floated them in ice cold water (so that they floated at different levels) in a big glass jar, they’d look extra spooky.

9. Of course, this time of year encyclopedias are easy to acquire at thrift stores or even for free on Craigslist. If you’re only going to use them as props, try spraying the covers and edges lightly with a silvery spray paint to make them look aged and creepily dusty. These are a great addition for your haunted library!

8. My personal favorite for staircases and similar areas are silhouette rats. You can cut them out from black construction paper and fix them to the walls with double-sided tape or ticky tack. I got the template from Martha Stuart.

6. If you aren’t feeling up to the task of carving pumpkins, try carving mini gourds! They make great looking goblins when they’ve dried out. Turnips are also a good choice, but make sure to coat them with citrus so they don’t start smelling weird.

5. Granite textured spray paint lends a creepy air to everything–try making tombstones out of cardboard or foam and painting them for a realistic finish!
The next 5 to follow next week–stay tuned! If you want a real adventure, we’ll talk about making creepy spiders that even your roommates will hate…

Monday: Relationships and Awakening

Awakening… as in, I am awake! I apologize for the lack of posts previously. I had some things happen, and no buffer, so I went silent for a while. I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen again.

So, some of you might be aware that I have an addiction to planning things. What that really comes down to is a crazy need to know everything before it’s going to happen. Jamie would say you “can’t plan spontaneity,” but of course I disagree on that point. Unfortunately, she sometimes reads my blog posts, so I can’t tell all of you the diabolical secret plannings I have for Christmas/our half anniversary for her. But, suffice it to say, they will be awesome.

Today’s subject is actually planned spontaneity, mostly because I think it’s a subject that bears scrutiny. Repeatedly.

In the frustrating world that is our existing lives, everyone is busy. Busy working, busy with errands, busy repainting the house, busy cleaning the car. Busy with video games, busy reading, busy gambling their relationships on the assumption that their loved one will understand why they are busy. Busy making a living instead of living their life.

We’re all guilty of it, but sooner or later–usually sooner–it will catch up to us. We develop wrinkles between our eyebrows, gray hairs in our 20s, and an inexplicable desire to run off to a deserted island somewhere (or maybe that’s just me). In the long run, the only safehaven from the maniacal existence of our lives is potentially our relationships.

I’ve taken up the hobby lately of meditating on my lunch breaks and listening to classical public radio on my way home from work. I find that I’m less irritable when I get home, which preserves some level of our interaction. Since I work and Jamie does not, my sole purpose in our relationship when I get home is to save her from the baby–who is usually cranky and bored with the house by this point. This state is our own fault, of course, because we take her with us and spend lots of time socializing her daily, and have since she was born.

So where, in those moments, is there time to be spontaneous?
On Friday I had to stop at the store for an onion, and brought an inexpensive bouquet back with me. Unfortunately, she was in the bedroom when I got home and didn’t get to see it in all its unsmashed glory, since she came out before I was finished putting it in the vase. But it’s the thought that counts?
In our technology age, sweet text messages are usually the only way to keep communication open while I am at work. But once I get home… We have to plan the interaction, or exhaustion sets in and we lose sight of the important things–each other. I recommend programming alerts like “Kiss her,” or “compliment her.” I try to sneak at least 3 “You’re beautiful…” kind of comments into every evening. But the planned spontaneity that works for you may be different from ours. The point is–you have to add that effort into the mix. Without balance, life is meaningless. But honestly, you could be heavy on the family slice of the pie, and no one would hold it against you.