Confessions of a Feminist Housewife

Confessions of a Feminist Housewife

I am a Feminist Housewife.

It has come to my attention that there are some out there who believe that I am an anomaly.  Some don’t even believe that those of my kind can truly exist – or that by my becoming one thing, I then negated myself as the other and so became nothing at all.  It’s all very existential – which is very much my bag, baby.  Ya dig?

But, I digress.  I’m at home with a toddler all day, people…my mind wanders.

Anyways.  As this ‘Feminist Housewife’, I often find myself wallowing in an emotion that I never really encountered until I entered this new state of being.  I have called it Feminist Guilt.

I was always a smart kid without having to try all that hard.  I did well in college while spending most of my time worrying about my love life, graduating in four years with two degrees including an area of secondary study.  After school I went through a few certification programs, tucking some more random skills into my belt.  (I collect hobbies and skill sets – it’s what I do.)  Over the years I developed a career in floral design, specializing in bouquet and bridal work.

Then, I got pregnant.  I always knew I was going to have a baby.  It was part of the master plan that I had laid out together with my husband.  I just didn’t always know I was going to be a stay at home mom.  But, it was how things played out.  Day care is not cheap and – surprise surprise – even when you work on some of the most posh weddings in the state, floral design does not pay all that well.  Financially, it simply made sense for me to stay at home.  We also believed it would be best for our family to have a parent at home since BG is on daily medication and for the first year had frequent doctor’s visits.

Did the choice for me to stay home have to do with the fact that I’m a woman?  No.  It had much more to do with the fact that I can identify artwork by period and artist, can tell you how to care for cut flowers, and how to best compose a portrait…and those skills simply pay less than IT, which is my husband’s field.  Plain and simple.  I chose my path because I love it, not because it made me a lot of money.  Yay Feminism for giving me that choice – if I’d had to give into my father’s wishes, I’d be an accountant or something.

Shiver…

So.  Feminist Guilt.  What makes your guilt all feministy, you ask?  T.Swift, Beyoncé…everyone is jumping on the feminist bandwagon.  Why must everything be feminist these days?  Well.  I’m glad you asked.

The Merriam-Webster definition of Feminism is as follows:

          : the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

          : organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests

Nothing there about hating men or high heels.  Nothing about a bunch of unshaven activists wanting to take over the world.  Just a ‘belief that men and women should have equal right and opportunities.’

Now, I don’t know when exactly the words ‘Feminist’ and ‘Feminism’ became dirty words or when they became words that people didn’t want to become associated with.  It is a phenomena that simply blows my mind.  People actually go out of their way these days to say that they are not a feminist.  Which, according to the very definition, means they do not agree that women should have equal rights as men.

Crazy, right?

It’s 2015.  If you don’t think that men and women should be equal, look your mother or wife or daughter or sister or closest female friend in the eye and say it out loud.  I dare you.

I would say through observation that my husband, although I have never forced him to officially declare it, is a feminist.  He washes dishes and helps clean the house.  He helps take care of BG and is a pretty awesome guy.  He supports me in all of my decisions, just as I support him.  He gave me the choice to either work or to stay at home with my child.  But I do constantly worry whether or not I made the right choice for me.

Some women out there were made for stay at home mothering.  They thrive in the household with several children under their watch.  I honestly don’t know if this life is for me, although I am happy to have the opportunity to share so much time with my daughter and to watch her grow.  But I still find myself daydreaming about returning to work.  And I’m sure that when I do reenter the workforce, I will feel guilty about sending BG to daycare and wonder what I was thinking.  But it seems like that single guilt is small compared to the list that I have accrued below…

I feel guilty for not working.

I feel guilty for not pulling my weight financially.

I feel guilty that other mothers are at work while I am at home with my baby.

I feel guilty that some days I wish that I was at work instead of at home with my baby.

I feel guilty that my husband only gets to spend a couple of hours every weekday with our daughter because he works to support our family while I get to kiss her cheek and hold her hand whenever I like.

I feel guilty that women before me struggled for the right to work outside of the home.  Now, here I am – educated, healthy, and at home washing diapers…  

I feel guilty that my husband is able to provide for us singly when others can barely scrape by working together.

I feel guilty for thinking these thoughts.

I feel guilty for feeling guilty.

I look at my little girl – and I feel guilty for ever wanting to leave her alone.

My insides are fighting against themselves.  One moment I realize that I have been gifted with an opportunity to raise my child myself.  I get to see her make discoveries and help her learn new things every day.  It is magical.  I am able to take care of my home in a way that would be so much harder if I was also working.  I understand that some women desire this with all of their hearts and I do not take it for granted.

But the next moment, I am crushed by the idea that I am losing years of myself.  I will lose work experience, friendships, opportunities for personal growth beyond the familial.  I hope to return to work when BG goes to preschool – but while I don’t know if we will have a second child, the chance has not dwindled to zero quite yet.  What then?  By the time I reenter the work force, things will have changed.  I will have changed.  I will need to relearn what my fingers once knew by heart.  My beloved coworkers will have moved on and forgotten me.  Maybe the job I once had won’t even exist.

How do we remain relevant to the outside world when we step away from it to become mothers?

Yeah, yeah.  I suppose the grass is always greener on the other side.

It’s hard, this whole motherhood thing.

C’est la vie, n’est pas?

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Recipes

Ten Tried and True T-Recipes: Just Say No to Alliteration.

I love cookbooks.  Reading them, looking at them, stacking them…you get the picture.  I’m a bibliophile to start with and when you combine books with FOOD – well, let’s just say they are one of my favorite things.  I used to be a steadfast subscriber to Everyday Foods magazine (yes, magazines count…) and so I also have a rather large stack of Martha Stewart inspired recipes to flip through at a whim.  I was absolutely heartbroken when I was told that they were discontinuing the publication and moving to digital.

No, I don’t own an e-reader.  Digital books are blasphemous.  Please disregard the fact that I’m communicating with you digitally right now.  Shhhhh…

Anyways, gone are the Sunday afternoons where I sit on the couch surrounded by piles of magazines while I make my weekly menu and grocery list.  Now, I flip through Pinterest.  I do admit that I miss the tactile connection of planning our week, so I do occasionally get out my old magazines and all of my cookbooks and make a mess.  But for the most part, Pinterest is a pretty handy way to organize my recipes.

In an effort to not only remind myself of some of my favorites, but to share as well, I’m posting ten tried and tested recipes that I have located through Pinterest.


Easy Oven Fajitas

Easy Oven Fajitas

So easy it is crazy. Serve with rice, tortillas, you pick your poison. TIP: I throw in a can of rinsed black beans as well.

Stir-Fried Turkey in Lettuce Wraps

Stir-Fried Turkey in Lettuce Wraps

This is a Martha recipe. So you know it’s good. The secret here really is the fish sauce. I don’t really understand how something that smells so terrible can taste SO good. I serve this with a bowl of quinoa, a little bit of Hoisin and Sriracha. We never have leftovers. Ever.

Chicken with Peanut Sauce and Sweet Potatoes

Chicken with Peanut Sauce and Sweet Potatoes

I love one pot wonders. Although, this isn’t really a pot. More of a pan, I suppose. Just chop everything up, stir in your sauce and cook. Then, devour. Could be served with rice.

Italian Chicken

Italian Chicken

This is definitely a part of our regular rotation and every time that I make it, B comments on how good it is – which I love, because it is SO simple. More fun to make in the summer because I can use our own tomatoes and basil – and then serve it over zucchini noodles. Even better over pasta, but you can argue with my husband about that one…

Balsamic Glazed Steak Rolls

Balsamic Glazed Steak Rolls

Good for you.  Yummy.  Steak.  Need I say more?

Teriyaki Salmon with Sriracha Cream Sauce

Teriyaki Salmon with Sriracha Cream Sauce

This is one of my husband’s favorite meals and my go-to for special occasions. TIP: I leave out the sweetened condensed milk in the Sriracha Cream Sauce and instead add a little sprinkle of brown sugar to save on calories and an entire can of sweetened condensed milk. Still tastes great and reminds me of the delicious sauces they use at Japanese restaurants.

Slow Cooker Potato Soup

Slow Cooker Potato Soup

I’m a sucker for anything cooked in a crock pot, especially with BG running around like crazy. This recipe isn’t a part of our usual rotation as it isn’t the healthiest of soups – but it is great for family gatherings or snowy winter days when you just need a cozy treat.

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken

This stuff is for real. Like for real, for real. So good I can’t even. Tastes better than a lot of Chinese food I’ve bought these days. Very easy to make, doesn’t take a lot of ingredients, and SO yummy.

Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries & Pecans

Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries & Pecans

Do you like Brussels Sprouts? Then go. Make this. Make it now. One of the best recipe finds ever.TIP: I substituted Blue Cheese for Gorgonzola (because honestly…who has Gorgonzola?) and it was delicious.

Skinny Funfetti Dip

Skinny Funfetti Dip

Skinny is a relative term.  “Skinnier than some” is perhaps a good phrase to use.  Either way, it is delicious and so easy to make.  I made this dip A LOT when I was pregnant.  It is delicious.  Best eaten in moderation, of course.


Now go.  Eat and be happy.

Patience: Infantile Hemangioma

Lip Update: A Surprising Dose of Reality

I haven’t posted any updates on Baby Girl’s lip lately because there really hasn’t been much to report!  We did have a minor scare when she tried to climb an end table (yes, we have a climber…) and ended up bonking her lip just to the side of the hemangioma.  It began to swell quickly and started bleeding, but thankfully stopped after a few minutes.  I, of course, was frantic on the inside.

“What if it doesn’t stop bleeding, what if it ulcerates, what if, what if…”

Brave little girl simply accepted her cuddles and began to play again as if nothing happened.  While it remained kind of swollen for a few days, likely it was just a normal fat lip suffered by an overly rambunctious toddler and the hemangioma wasn’t affected at all – even though it does seem slightly larger than before, perhaps just because it was aggravated by the bump.  Or this size change could just be my parental paranoia kicking in…

(Sidenote: I realize this will be my life pretty much forever.  I will worry while my oblivious daughter continues to happily do whatever it is she does.  I also realize this is payback.  I love you, Mom & Dad, and I am sorry for all the fun I had when I was younger – especially in high school.  Ok, not really that sorry.  But what I am sorry for is making you worry.  Swear.  XOXO)

Back to the topic, we also had a dermatologist’s appointment at Children’s Mercy last week.  At this point it seems like we aren’t aiming for large improvements in the size, although the doctor was happy with how things are looking – so my imagined growth probably is exactly that…imagined.  The color is definitely lightening and the inside of her lip is shrinking a little as well.

On their own, hemangiomas can take years to fade and shrink.  We have certainly sped up the process with the medication and hopefully bypassed any more growth, ulceration, any scarring, extreme facial stretching, etc.  And while not at large as some dramatic cases, I believe the word the doctor last used to describe BG’s hemangioma was “significant.”  So, I don’t feel as crazy for obsessing like I do.  I just want the thing gone, even though it has become just as much a part of her as her cute little nose.

Again, patience is key –  I keep telling myself that.  But it always seems hard to see improvement when you are so close to what you want improved.  It’s been hard for me to smile and agree when people comment on how great her lip is looking, when I am comparing it to how she looked yesterday – not how she looked last month.

But then, last week, when I was finally finishing up a photo album of the girl’s first year – I found a photo that kind of startled me.  This was taken in March of 2014 right before we started her on the corticosteroid and by far the time at which the hemangioma was at its worst.

Patience: Infantile Hemangioma

If you draw a line down from the tip of her nose, you can see that the right side of her mouth is so tiny and petite while the left side droops, distending her cheek and the rest of her face.  To be truthful, at this point I rarely looked inside her mouth because the tissue was thick and tough to move, so I really don’t know how large it was on the inside.

I sometimes look at photos taken of my girl as a newborn and wonder – “Who is this baby with no spots?”  Now, I see this little kiddo in too big sunglasses with a droopy lip that I used to kiss, as if I could make it all better – and I realize that this is no longer my baby either.  She is growing up and changing – and her hemangioma is changing too!  Yay!

Patience: Infantile Hemangioma

We have come such a long way!  Her mouth is nearly symmetrical.  The tissue has softened and shrunk.  The spots have faded from a solid dark maroon to a pale splotchy pink.  Finally, I get it.  I can see what everyone has been telling me.  That photo has struck it home.

Her lip looks awesome.

Even though we still get people at the grocery store asking “Oh – did she fall down?”, the obvious stares are dwindling.  And even though some days I feel like her lip looks like it might be growing again – I quickly chalk it up to my own anxiety and move along.

While I have high hopes that my little weirdo will never be normal, I am feeling much better that at least she will appear to be at first glance.  It will make it easier for her to sneak up on the unsuspecting…

We go back to the dermatologist in two months.  The doctor thinks we will be able to try to start weaning her off of the propranolol then.  There is a 20% chance of regrowth which will require us to go back on medication; but that also means that there is an 80% chance that we can be done with the medicine entirely!  Then, nature takes its course.

You know what?  I kind of hope a little bit of those spots hang around.  How else will I recognize my girl?

Favorite Cheesy Crackers

BG’s Favorite Cheesy Crackers

I love junk food. Like a lot. Like a lot of a lot. So, having certain foods in the house is simply a no for me. Even something that seems as harmless as goldfish crackers can prove disastrous when I’ve got the munchies. To prevent unnecessary binge eating, I just don’t buy snack crackers and this keeps me from devouring a whole package in a single sitting!

However, with a toddler in the house crackers are so handy! Not only do kiddos love crunchy snacks, but crackers are super convenient for moms, too. So, I set out to find a homemade, healthier version with less sodium and preservatives than store bought.

And guess what? I found it. Baby Girl LOVES these things. We often have to remind her that she only needs one in her mouth at a time, because she really will shovel them in.

I based this recipe off of the Homemade Goldfish Crackers found here. I adapted it to be more friendly for my baby by leaving out the salt and substituting 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour for 1/2 cup of the all purpose flour. I made it more mommy friendly by rolling out the dough into a full sheet and using a knife to cut out squares rather than cutting out cute shapes. (Although, when I’m channeling Martha Stewart, I do use some square serrated edge cookie cutters to make them look similar to Cheez-its.)

The original recipe is definitely delicious and I do recommend it if you are not focused on keeping a mostly whole grain diet. My whole grain recipe toasts up a little crispier – and Baby Girl likes both versions equally.  Yay for having a health nut baby! (Although I did discover this week that she harbors a love for Sonic tator tots along with broccoli and tofu pudding…shhhhh…)


Favorite Cheesy Crackers

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
3 TB cold butter – cubed
2 TB cold water


You don’t absolutely need a food processor for this recipe – but man, does it make it so much easier.  An alternative is to use a pastry blender or a fork to mix your ingredients.

First, dump both kinds of flour into your food processor (or bowl, if you are using a pastry blender.)  Then, on a low setting, add your butter a cube or two at a time.  If you are using a pastry cutter, dump in all your butter at once and have at it!  The flour and butter mixture should form thick crumbs.

Favorite Cheesy Crackers

Next, we add the cheeeeeeeeese!  Here is where I personally add an extra step, as I shred my own cheese.  I purchase blocks of cheddar because they are often cheaper than buying pre-shredded bags of cheese and because I try my best to avoid any unneccessary preservatives or chemicals in our diet.  I certainly don’t worry about this 24/7 – like I said, I love junk food.  But I do try to cut down in some areas so that the bulk of our diet is whole and clean foods.  It is completely up to you as to whether you shred your own or use pre-shredded.  It will not affect how these crackers come out.

Add the cheese little by little, blending just like you did with the butter.  Your crumbs will begin to get thicker.

Now, we add water.  Again, your crumbs will just seem to thicken a little and you may wonder what the hell is going wrong because you are out of ingredients and this looks nothing like crackers…  It’s ok.  We’re still on track.  The dough doesn’t really form until you put a little elbow grease into it.  So get your hands in there and press the crumbs together until a ball begins to form.  Try not to over handle the dough as you want to keep the butter and cheese from warming up too much.

Favorite Cheesy Crackers Favorite Cheesy Crackers

The whole wheat recipe tends to be a little crumblier than the original version, so you may need to add a little more water (very little, only a few drops) to get the dough to form.  Divide your ball into two and chill for thirty minutes.

Preheat your oven to 374°F.  Yes, 374°.  I have tried this recipe at 375°, thinking that the one little degree difference wouldn’t matter if I cooked them for a shorter time – but my crackers came out far too hard for Baby Girl to chew and some were even burnt.  Go figure.

Pull one of your dough balls from the fridge and press it flat with the heel of your hand.  Then, roll it flat with a rolling pin.  It may take a minute or two to warm up.  You will want to roll it as thin as possible.  The dough will be a little dry, so just press together any tears and keep rolling.

Favorite Cheesy Crackers

Now comes the fun part.  You can use a cookie cutter to cut out whatever shapes you like.  I recommend keeping things small – no bigger than 1″.  A quicker method is to take a butter knife and cut long strips horizontally and vertically to make 1″ squares and fast work.  This is absolutely my preferred method as I am usually making these at about 8:00 at night while washing diapers, making lunch for the next day, and hoping Baby Girl’s bedtime sticks…

Favorite Cheesy Crackers

Next, poke holes in the middle of all of those tiny squares.  I’m not doing this to punish you, I swear.  This is necessary for our crackers to vent steam and prevent them from bubbling – just like pie dough.  Now you know why Cheez-its have belly buttons.

Favorite Cheesy Crackers

Throw your crackers onto some parchment paper on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven for 15-17 minutes depending on your oven.  My crackers are usually perfect at 15 minutes, but it may take some trial and error to get these just right.  A little too long and they will be crispy – a little under and they will be biscuity.  Both ways are yummy, but depending on how well your little one chews you might find they prefer one over the other.  Or big one, for that matter…my husband likes these, too.

Once I have the first batch in the oven, I take out my second dough ball and begin rolling out the second set of crackers.  By the time the timer dings, they are ready to go right in.  And just to warn you – your house will smell like macaroni and cheese.  Mmmmm…

These have become a staple in Baby Girl’s menu.  It does take time and effort to make these for her rather than simply reaching for a box – which is all too tempting to do and I won’t deny that we use Ritz as a treat – but I am always so proud and pleased when she tries to eat three at a time.  It always makes me more mindful of grabbing a handful.  I desperately want her to grow up having a healthy relationship with food.  I want to instill within her the idea that homemade foods are normal and special; that good food is not always fast food.

And I want her to miss my home cooking if she ever dares leave me and declare that she’d rather have my cheesy crackers over store bought any day.

Favorite Cheesy Crackers

Don't Give into Diaper Funk!

We (Don’t) Need the Funk

I’ve already professed my love for cloth diapers here. There are some days, of course, where my love staggers. Like when I have the stomach flu… Or when Baby Girl has the stomach flu…

My tummy flutters just thinking about it. Excuse me. (Burphg.)

But, for the most part, things have gone rather well in our cloth diapering adventure. Sure, there have been mishaps and missteps. But parenting is nothing if not a learn-as-you-go kind of deal.

Right?

Please tell me there’s not a secret to this.

Ok, good.

Anyways – the only real problem I’d say we’ve run into with our diapers is FUNK. Oh, yeah. Funky funk. It’s to be expected. I’m actually rather proud that I’ve managed to care for my diapers as well as I have. I’m an absent-minded procrastinator by nature – but apparently being MOMMY helps cure that at least a little.

I wash our diapers every other day as part of our routine and very rarely miss by half a day if we have a schedule altercation or sickness. I rinse, wash with diaper detergent, and rinse some more. But it seems that the microfiber inserts that I use in some of the pocket diapers – and mainly those that she wears overnight – retain quite a bit of ammonia despite my keeping up on routine cleaning.

Again, understandable. Most babies my little girl’s age probably wouldn’t be going potty in the middle of the night as much as she is. Even though she is nearly fifteen months old, we still wake her up at 10:00 pm to give her a 6 oz bottle of milk to help regulate her blood sugar due to medication she is on to treat an infantile hemangioma in her mouth. So, until we stop giving her that bottle there is no chance she is going to wake up with a dry diaper. (Oh, potty training. I will see you someday. Sigh…)

Back to stinky pants: first thing in the mornings, BG’s diaper would be unbelievably smelly. Terribly smelly. Horribly smelly. Hold your nose and run smelly. After a few days, I decided there was no way that this was because of something we were feeding her or just from normal overnight wear.

TIME TO STRIP.

Stripping your diapers is basically a way to super clean your diapers.  There are a few different methods.  Some involve simply lots and lots of hot, hot, hot rinses!  Others use classic blue Dawn dish soap to remove oil build-up.  I decided to purchase an ammonia bouncer to try – because ammonia build-up from overnight use seemed to be what I was fighting.

 

Rockin' Green: Funk Rock
Enter Rockin’ Green: FUNK ROCK Ammonia Bouncer.

This stuff was actually pretty great. It did require me to use disposables for a day so that I could soak all of my diapers at once and then run them through a wash cycle – but hey…disposables happen. I picked a day on the weekend when my husband was home so that I could spend some time sorting through the diaper drawer while he kept the kiddo and set to it.

dipes2

All in all, this was an easy process. I washed any dirty diapers first, although I didn’t worry about drying them before moving onto the soaking process. I dumped every single diaper we owned (stinky or not) into the bath tub, filled it with lukewarm water and added 4 TB of the FUNK ROCK. A little stir and I closed the door to forget about them for a few hours. Once they were done soaking, they were a bit of a hassle to wring out but all part and parcel of ‘What-Must-Be-Done’.

Because once the diapers were all rinsed, washed, and dried – you know what? They smelled GREAT. They even felt better! I had begun to notice that even when ‘clean’, some of the microfiber inserts were starting to feel stiff and not as soft as they used to. Apparently the culprit behind this was ALSO ammonia, because after the Funk Rock they were almost back to form.

I now occasionally use the Ammonia Bouncer as part of my pre-soak routine and will definitely do a big soak again in the future. I highly recommend using this if you are getting some strong smells from your wet bag or your sweet baby! There is always a way to fix what is going wrong and usually the solution is pretty simple. Don’t immediately think that you are doing something wrong, don’t give up on your cloth diapers, and don’t live with the stink!

Time

So Much to Do! So Little Time!

Oh! Hello, Blog. I didn’t see you there. You sort of snuck up on me. Sorry that I haven’t been around lately. The holidays, visiting family, sick baby…you know how it is. Time just seems to fly by. At least it does until it doesn’t… I have no idea where the last several months have gone, while at the same time it seems like the days stretch on forever. I suppose that’s the curse of being a stay at home mom. It can be, unfortunately, a monotonous thing.

I love spending my days with my little girl – I really do. She has proven to me that it is possible to have more than one soul mate. BUT – and I know that parents everywhere will screech at these words – I just wish she was older, already.

I know, I know. Enjoy her while she’s little. And I do! I love her little kisses and her little fingers and her little smiles… She’s probably the brightest, sweetest, most adorable child in the entire world – no bias, duh – and I cherish every one of her ‘beeps’ and ‘doops’ as she tries out her voice.

It’s just that we have so much to do!!

And the winter world of Kansas affords few opportunities. It simply isn’t worth it to take a toddler out in below freezing temps. So we stay inside where it is warm and play with stuffed animals, watch Doc McStuffins, color in coloring books, and eat cheerios.

But I can dream of doing more.

And I dream of my darling girl shining as I take her to the ballet in new sparkling black shoes. I imagine her getting imperious looks from docents as she scoots through the Nelson, on the search for what will be her favorite work of art for the day. I think about whether or not she will be a fantastic gymnast, or maybe a ballerina, or a soccer star…or if she will follow in her mother’s footsteps and not be that great at any of it. I wonder what she will be interested in, nearly giddy with the anticipation of encouraging her to love everything. I want to have conversations with her and be astounded by what she has to say, no matter how small it might seem.

I feel like we’ve talked about my handle on patience before. All of that still applies. I have none of it.

For now, I will focus on being content to snuggle her when she is sick…because she is too busy for cuddles when she is not… I will treasure the kisses she has learned to generously give. And I will do my best to sneak away and work on blog posts while she is napping. Because, Blog, that seems to be the only way you and I will ever have any time together.

She and I simply have too much to do.

New Year's Resolution

Resolve to Be Better and Stuff

Psychologists have studied how we view the passage of time – and yes, they have found a connection between growing older and feeling like time is passing faster.

Crap.

Ok, I know I’m not old. Getting older has never really bothered me. I’m a strong believer in the idea that the best is yet to come. But, man – can things please just slow down a little? I’d barely gotten used to the fact that it was 2014 and that I am the Cheerio handler of a small human being who looks exactly like my husband…and already you’re telling me it’s 2015 and I’m almost 31 – when I haven’t really realized I’m 30 quite yet.

At least I have this New Year Resolution business figured out. Really, truly. Trust me on this one. A few years ago, I figured out the secret. My resolutions in the past have always been about my body. I would change it every year, hoping that by morphing and moving words around somehow my motivation would kick start and miracles would happen.

I resolve to lose weight. Ok, that didn’t work. I resolve to work out. Yeah, that happened for about two months. I resolve to lose ten pounds. I gained twenty!? Ok, I resolve not to gain any weight.

Sigh.

Instead, I changed the way I thought. I stopped making such specific resolutions that were destined to spiral me into depression as soon as I spotted failure on the horizon. I resolved to simply have a better year. That’s it.

Don’t make a resolution to suddenly become a gym goer, or to become a staunch vegan, to lose weight, or to quit smoking, or to drink less, or to save money – although these are all very valiant decisions to make. But these sorts of choices shouldn’t be made because you feel like you have to come up with a life-changing declaration by midnight or you’ll turn into a pumpkin. These should be lifestyle changes that you are truly prepared to make – not to try out for a month, quit when you are overwhelmed, and then feel guilty about for the rest of the year and maybe part of the next…

No, no. Forget guilt. Forget failing. Don’t set yourself up like that, please. Choose this for yourself, instead: Resolve to have a better year in 2015 than you had in 2014. Maybe this does include losing weight or tossing cigarettes. Or maybe it just means you make a new friend or get out of a bad relationship. Maybe you read more or get angry less. Reconnect with family or adopt a pet.

Maybe on January 1st, you don’t hack off a hunk of knuckle on your fancy new mandolin slicer that your husband got you so that you could be awesome in the kitchen.

Ok, maybe I’m off to a bad start…

But the point is, that I still have 364 days left to have a better day. As long as I spend those days trying my best to be as good and happy at being myself as I can, then I have been successful.

Resolve to be better. Because the best is yet to come.