Brandyn Blaze

Life Between The Scenes

Month: July 2017 (page 1 of 2)

The Princess And The Fish

A couple months ago, my daughter and I joined my mother for a trip to my aunt’s house for mother’s day. The weekend away was a fantastic break from reality. Love and laughter filled our time as we made new memories that we will all cherish forever.

One of those memories, however, revolves around disaster.

You see, my little cousin has an aquarium in her room. On Friday, my daughter came running into the living room, telling me how she fed the fish. Since they’d already been fed, the excess food had to be scooped out and we told The Princess not to do it again.

Of course, being 4 years old and bent on helping whenever she can, she did it again the next day. The family gathered around, cleaning up the mess. Unfortunately, this ended with the passing of one of the fish.

When I told my friend about it the next day, she laughed, stating, “I can’t believe she did it again!”

Despite being sad for the poor fish, I laughed, too.

The thing is, two years ago I wrote a post for “Life, Motherhood, and the Pursuit of Happiness” where I detailed another fish related tragedy.

Today, I’d like to share that story exactly as it appeared on my old blog on April 1, 2015. Let this tale be a warning: toddlers and fish don’t mix.

 

the princess and the fish, funny story, the dangers of combing kids and pets, fish safety, fish and kids, fish and toddlers don't mix, poor fish

 

Last Saturday started like any other Saturday. After loading the little one into the car, we drove the 30 minutes to our hometown to look at what feels like our millionth house. We couldn’t find the place right off, which honestly was a bit of a plus for us. We’re the kind of people who like privacy, and this place definitely offers that.

As we made our way to the door, we spotted a black cat sleeping in a potted plant on the porch, which seemed like a good omen. The house has a lot to offer and I’d really like to make it our own, but that’s not what this story is really about. No, this story is about fish.

poor fish, fish and toddlers don't mix
This poor guy had no idea what he was getting into.

You see, the people who currently occupy the home had a fish tank in the living room. The Princess was instantly drawn to it and we could barely pull her away to look at the rest of the house. Every now and then she’d run off and stand in front of the aquarium, gazing at the fish with excitement.

As we were preparing to leave it became apparent that we were not going to get her away from the fish without a fight. Knowing we needed to go to Wal-Mart anyway, I resorted to bribery. “If you get in the car we can get you your own fish.”

Now, when I made this offer I was planning on just grabbing a cheap bowl and a goldfish. However, Almost-Husband became just as excited as The Princess as they looked at the fish. Before I knew it, he’s talking about an aquarium and getting a lot more than just the goldfish. Ultimately, we wound up going to another store and purchasing 2 fish, a rainbow shark and a betta. We got a bowl to get them by until we got a nice tank. Seriously, I think we were there for about an hour while we decided what we were going to get, with the plan of getting more fish down the line.

If you know anything about toddlers (particularly mine), you know that this was a disaster waiting to happen.

Don’t let her cuteness fool you. This is the face of Chaos.

As we set up their bowl, Almost-Husband lectured The Princess on important matters such as not trying to touch the fish, not putting anything into the water, and not taking water out. She managed to break the first rule within a matter of minutes.

The next day, we sat around watching documentaries on the ocean and researching fish. I know that Almost-Husband and I learned a lot, but I’m not sure how much The Princess actually absorbed. I’d like to think some of it stuck. At any rate, we noticed that one of the fish had fin-rot, so we began looking up it’s causes and how to treat it.

It turns out, grubby toddler hands are a big cause of fin-rot. Seriously, this should have alerted us to the importance of ensuring the fish bowl was out of reach. However, we were foolish enough to think we could teach her to stay out of it.

Monday morning, I stopped by the table to feed the fish. One of them, the one who had gotten fin-rot, had passed away. The other one seemed to be doing just fine though. We decided not to replace him until we got our big tank set up.

That night, as I was cleaning up the kitchen, I heard a big splash. I ran into the dining room to see The Princess standing on a chair, throwing rocks into the bowl. Big, decorative rocks that we keep in a mason jar that is usually out of reach. We had forgotten to put it away after we selected a few to put in the bowl. Oops.

Not only did the rocks scare the bejeezus out of the poor fish, but I’m fairly certain she hit him with at least one of them. After scarring her with my cries of “No! You’ll kill the fish!” and pulling her off the chair, we had a long talk about not throwing things in the water and how it could hurt the fish. She said sorry to him and we went about our evening.

A few hours later I was again summoned from the other room by the sound of splashing. She was reaching into the water. Again, Mom The Yeller reared her ugly head and we had another long talk about not touching the fish.

As I started writing this, I was pretty sure the poor fish was dead. However, a quick glance into the other room proved me wrong. He was swimming happily around his bowl and I relaxed. I wouldn’t have to explain death to a 2-year old after all!

However, when Almost-Husband came home from work the poor thing had passed away. What appears to have happened is that one of the rocks The Princess tossed in there was actually not a rock at all. Whatever it was, it disintegrated, leaving weird fibers in the bowl and making the water dark and goopy. Ultimately, this is what killed the poor thing.

In searching for the moral of this story I’ve come up with a few vital lessons we’ve learned from this experience:

  1. Toddlers are much to curious to trust around fish.
  2. If you’re going to ignore lesson #1, be sure to get a container with some sort of lid.
  3. Don’t spend money on fish for your little one. Go with a little goldfish. I should have gone with my instinct on this one!
  4. Don’t let yourself get excited over a pet that most likely won’t last more than a few days.
  5. Speak up well in advance if you don’t want your partner to use your kitchen utensils to scoop up dead fish. Seriously, I now need to replace my pasta grabber and my colander because, EW!
Maybe one day we will be able to try this experiment again with a better outcome. Until then, I think we’ll just stick with our cat. At least he has the ability to get away from The Princess!

Learning To Overcome Indecision

I’m an overthinker. Something as simple as choosing a seat in a restaurant is overwhelming. I’m constantly thinking about every possible outcome of any decision that lies before me, and every variable of decisions that would come from that those outcomes.

This overkill of analysis can be paralyzing.

Suddenly, none of the options before you seem like the right one and you find yourself unable to make the simplest of choices. It’s what causes you to spend two hours adding movies to your Netflix cue, only to rewatch something you’ve seen dozens of times. It’s what makes questions like “What do you want for dinner?” unbearable. And it’s just as frustrating for us as it is for the people who have to witness it.

Something as small as deciding what to eat at a restaurant becomes an internal debate. You want to try something new, but you don’t want to waste money on something you don’t like. Sure, that steak might be good, but that sauce may not be as good as you think. You’d better order those chicken nuggets instead.

Of course, this habit of picking the safe option bleeds into the bigger decisions. You stay at the job you hate because it’s all you know. You put up with mistreatment because standing up for yourself could backfire. Moving to a new city gets put on the backburner. Asking for a raise or trying a new hobby remain passing thoughts. Success and failure both seem terrifying, so you just keep choosing the metaphorical chicken nuggets.

Ultimately, we are robbing ourselves of happiness by thinking too much about things that don’t matter.

In my “Instruments of Life” romance series, the main character, Maggie, is also an over thinker. As I watch her learn to relax and trust her gut, I find myself growing along with her. Taking calculated risks is definitely the only way to find success in whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish. Coupled with mindfulness techniques, you can absolutely learn to silence the endless questions and analysis and make decisions with a clear head.

It seems to me that with any decision we face, there are three options.

1. Go with the safe option. This is often wrapped up in the decision to do nothing at all.  Sometimes this is the best decision, but we must make sure it’s not chosen purely out of fear.

2. Allow someone else to choose for us. Either through inaction (not asking for a raise) or explicitly asking someone else to make the call, we often stunt ourselves or settle for something we don’t want out of fear. Again, sometimes we need that push from others to expand our horizons, but we must ask ourselves if this is what we truly want. Do you really not care where you eat? Or are you afraid of picking something the other person won’t like?

3. Take the reigns ourselves.

Obviously, we want to take control ourselves. That’s why we run over all the angles in our minds until all the options seem terrible. Overthinking allows us to think we have a little control. We tell ourselves we are trying to make an informed decision, while blocking ourselves into inaction.

So, how do we break free from this cycle?

 

overcome anxiety, overthinking, indecision, worry

 

Start small

You don’t have to make giant leaps right away. Maybe you start with ordering something unusual from a favorite restaurant, or you take a different route home from work. Shake up your rut a little bit and get used to getting out of the safe zone. Then move on to bigger decisions. Answer honestly when someone asks where you want to go. Choose the movie. Once you get more comfortable with this, you can apply these decision making skills to bigger quandaries.

Slow down and breathe

Give yourself a moment to think about what you really want and figure out if this is something that needs to be decided right now. Clear your head so you can focus on the task at hand.

Know when to distract yourself

Obviously, distraction shouldn’t be your go-to move, but it can be useful. If you’re anxious about a decision and it doesn’t need to be decided right this minute, find something else to focus on. You may find that after your brain gets a little break you’re able to figure it out. Just don’t distract yourself to the point where you don’t make any decisions at all!

Ask yourself some questions.

How big of a decision is this really? Anxiety can make even the smallest decisions seem insurmountable. Think about it in the grand scheme of things. Does your decision really matter in the long run? What’s the worst that can happen if you choose either option? Is the worst really that bad? What do you stand to gain from choosing ___________? Is it better than not doing __________? Instead of bouncing around from possible outcome to possible outcome, think about the reality of those outcomes.

Put on the breaks.

All those questions can turn into an endless loop if you let them. Tell yourself firmly to stop the line of questioning once they’ve all been answered. Going over them repetively isn’t going to get you anywhere. Quiet your mind once more and make a choice.

Stick by your decision!

Don’t scare yourself out of doing what you know in your heart to be best.  Follow through with it. A note here, while I wouldn’t suggest easily letting others talk you out of something, if someone presents a fact you hadn’t thought of, take it into consideration. Ultimately, though, your choice must come from you, no matter how big or how small.

Practice, practice, practice!

Like any skill, you can’t expect to master this overnight. In fact, I would be lying if I said that I am anywhere near perfect myself. I still have moments where I can’t make up my mind to save my soul. I still worry over the same decisions and get nowhere. However, I find myself getting better and better as time goes on.

In the end, you have to decide you want to control your life. And it all starts by making decisions.

 

 

My Own Personal Fairy Tale

This past weekend marked 11 years that my husband and I have been together and our first anniversary as a married couple.

It’s hard to believe we’ve spent more than a decade together, and it’s even crazier to think about how much longer it’s been since our story really started. Today I thought I’d share our tale with you and celebrate our love for the whole world to see.

It all started 15 years ago in a record store.

I was a 15 year old girl with a serious rock-n-roll addiction. I was convinced that I’d grow up to be a record producer and had struck up a friendship with a man who owned a small studio. He offered to teach me how to run the equipment in exchange for helping out around the place and I jumped at the chance.

One day, we ran to the mall, I believe we were exchanging some speakers that didn’t work, and stopped off at the record store. I flipped through the CDs, hoping to find something cool to add to my collection as he talked with the owner.  I’ll never forget the second I looked up and spotted the cutest boy I had ever seen standing right across the room.

I remember being so nervous and trying not to stare, wishing I had the courage to go up and say hi. I also remember the utter delight and excitement that poured through me when I noticed him talking to my friend.

I kept to myself, and continued flipping through CDs until my friend told me it was time to go. As soon as we were back in his SUV, I asked who that kid was, unable to hide my crush on the boy. He laughed and told me his name and that I would be seeing a lot more of him, as he was going to be helping out around the studio as well.

Of course, I spent extra time getting ready on the day I knew he was going to start, determined to make a good impression. Before the end of the day we were talking music and by the end of the summer my crush had only grown stronger.

As the summer drew to a close, we found ourselves facing our last day working together. He was about to head to California to visit family, although at the time I thought he was going back permanently. As we rode in the back of the SUV as our boss drove us home, we slowly inched our hands closer together until our pinkies were touching. We both kind of smiled nervously at one another before we linked our hands together, holding on until we reached his house.

Before he left, I gave him one of the billion rubber bracelets I always wore, which I learned years down the line he had worn the entire time he was away.

I didn’t hear from him again until shortly after school had started. I saw him in the halls once and we caught up for a minute and I gave him my new number, but we never got in touch. Some time later I’d seen him again and we’d once again swapped numbers, and still didn’t contact each other.

Fast forward 4 years and you’ll see a 19 year old version of me coming back home for summer break following my first year of college.  We wound up finding each other on Myspace and messaging back and forth for awhile. I still had just as much of a crush on him as I’d had back then, and I was determined to get a date. Soon we’d made plans that quickly got cancelled, but I hadn’t given up hope. A few weeks later I found my opening.

After spending an entire summer following Poison around, a few friends and I had plans to go to a show in Cedar Rapids. The Gibbs Brothers Band, who had opened for Poison, were shooting a video there, which we had learned about while we were hanging around backstage at one of the shows. They were playing at a bar with a Poison tribute band called Posin’, which sealed the deal for me.  I was beyond excited, but when the day came everyone else had backed out.

I was determined to go anyway and started looking through my contacts, hoping to find someone who would be able to go with me last minute. I still remember the smile that crept onto my face as I landed on his phone number. After an afternoon of uncertainty, I finally had an answer. I picked him up in my beat-up ’89 Camry and away we went.

He likes to remind me that I nearly crashed on the way there as I took a turn too hard, and I like to remind him that I was incredibly nervous and a fairly new driver. He also likes to remind me that I did eventually smash my car in the parking lot before the show. At the time, it was mortifying, but as far as first date stories go, it definitely adds some flavor!

Before long I was sitting in his lap as we enjoyed the show, and eventually a gal we’d met convinced him to dance with me.  We had a blast that night, and by the time I dropped him off I was certain we’d started something. I remember sitting there nervously, anticipating a kiss, and being shocked when instead I got a hug and a request to call me later.

The rest, as they say, is history.

 

young couple, new love, beginning of our love story

We look so young!

 

Soon we had moved in together and six years later we had our amazing daughter. The following Christmas he asked me to marry him, catching me totally off guard as we stood in front of his entire family.

On the 10th anniversary of our first date, we finally tied the knot in a beautiful ceremony we wrote ourselves, using rings my husband made for us himself.  It was an amazing feeling to stand up in front of all our loved ones and celebrate our commitment to one another and honestly couldn’t have gone better. Cementing the fact that we want to spend our lives together was a wonderful way to tie up the decade.

 

wedding collage, my love story, combined wedding wiccan and traditional

 

 

Through the years we’ve certainly had our ups and downs. There’s been moments of bliss and times of strife. We’ve grown and changed along with each other and have chosen love in every step along the way, even when it wasn’t easy.

And at the end of the day, that’s what love is. It’s unconditional and strong. We’re there to support one another and cheer each other on. We weather the storms together and join each other in celebration when the skies are clear.

I am so incredibly blessed to have such an wonderful person by my side. This is one story I would never rewrite.

 

 

 

 

Why I Am Not A Pinterest Mom

Every now and then I scroll through my Pinterest feed and marvel at all the crafty moms out there. I pin a ton of projects and recipes, telling myself that I’ll create something just as beautiful when I have the time.
Then the day comes when I find myself fighting a creative itch. I scroll through my boards and find something wonderful to copy. With excitement flooding my brain, I grab a sheet of paper and jot down everything I need and head to the store to buy the necessary supplies. Then I sit down and remember that these projects rarely turn out for me…especially when I produce them in a rush.
The following post is another throwback from my old blog and show’s you exactly why you’ll rarely find pin-worthy projects on this blog.

not a pinterest mom, pinterest fail, cake fail, not crafty, mom blog problems

****Originally posted 4/21/2015 on Life, Motherhood, and The Pursuit of Happiness***
I woke up this morning with the idea that my daughter and I would make a cake together. I had some cake mix in the cupboard along with some tubes of icing and a package of icing tips that were supposed to screw right onto them that had never been used.
 
I planned on writing “Celebrate Everyday” and making a few flowers or something in red, and then using the white as a border. It seemed easy enough and I was excited as we got down to mixing the batter.
 
Now, baking with a toddler meant that I would have to account for spills, fishing eggshells out of the mix, and comforting said toddler when the loud mixer startles her. With this in mind, I managed to get through the actual baking process without much stress.
 
After the cake had cooled and my daughter was busy playing with her dad, I got down to what I believed would be the fun part. 
I spread on the can of frosting with a huge smile on my face, envisioning how amazing the finished product would be. Almost-Husband would tell me how wonderful it looked and that I was so talented. I’d smile and say thank you before taking some great pictures for the blog.
 
As I moved on to the icing tubes I realized that the tips I had did not, in fact, screw onto them. They were two different brands, because of course they were. Not one to be easily dissuaded, I attempted to do the white border while holding the tip firmly in place on the tube. That only worked for a moment. 
 
No problem, I thought, the border can be a little wonky. The lettering will be much easier!
 
Ha! No, the writing was not any easier. I gave up after the “C” and just scrawled “CAKE” and threw on some sprinkles.  
not a pinterest mom, cake fail, perfectly imperfect

Beautiful isn’t it?

This really shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me. As you may have already noted, I used a boxed mix and pre-made frosting, despite the fact that I actually enjoy making cakes and what-not from scratch. I did this for one reason: I’m mostly lazy. 

I also have no patience. While most people would have attempted to fix whatever mistake they made and continue on, I say “Screw that!” and move on. I want it to be awesome and I want it to be easy. 
 
This is why I tend shy away from Pinterest. Aside from the fact that any kind of creative projects tend to cost money, there’s also the knowledge that I am just no good at that kind of stuff. 
 
Don’t let the dresser revamp fool you, by and large I fail at these sorts of things. Most of the time, it is due to my impatience. Something goes wrong and I give up or rush through it. I’m not going to waste my time doing things that I’m not good at…even though I know that “practice makes perfect”. 
 
What’s interesting to me, however, is how much pressure there is to be crafty, especially if you’re a stay at home mom. Even more so if you’re a stay at home mom that blogs
 
You see all the fabulous stuff on Pinterest and you see your friends posting on Facebook about doing various crafts for holidays and birthdays. You kind of get the feeling that that’s just what moms do. 
 
Well, not this mom. 
 
This mom uses boxed cake mix and cooks Hamburger Helper on the regular. She reads and writes and plays guitar. She occasionally draws a silly cartoon or sews something. She plays hours and hours of Peggle when time permits. She does a lot of things, but trying in vain to recreate some fancy craft project or recipe she saw on the internet is not one of them.
 

How about you? Are you a Pinterest mom? Why or why not? Tell me all about it in the comments below–don’t worry, no judgement here!! 

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