Steaming towards the end…

A funny thing happened to me today, and it reminded me of one of my very first posts to this blog. Both involved potty training.

I snuck off to the shower earlier while my kiddos were playing nicely in their room. Halfway through my relaxing shower, the two-year-old comes rushing in. She has business to doo. She peels off her diaper and sits. A few minutes later, I’m hanging over the bathtub trying not to drip all over her as I wipe her bum.

I resume my shower, and she goes off to find a pair of “big girl panties” to replace the diaper now flopped face-down on my bathroom floor. Instead of enjoying the rest of my time in the water, I hear her struggling with getting her legs through the proper holes and I ask the older one to help her little sister out. I shut off the tap, pull back the curtain, and am affronted by an unpleasant steam that is not coming from the shower.

I clean up her mess, but I’m not upset. I’m laughing. It’s the only way to get through days like this. Hashtag MomLife. Also, I’m pretty dang proud of how well she’s doing with this whole potty training thing.  

The old blog post that today’s episode brought to my mind shares my experience with teaching my older daughter to ditch the diapers. It includes a “how to” with step-by-step directions. It’s a great approach for the first-time mom without a clue. It taps into my own mother’s wisdom. She raised five kids, so she has some great tried and true methods.

Instead of sticking to the timeline in my 2018 post, however, I’ve been able to be a bit more patient. For one, I don’t feel restricted to a two-week window. As a first-time mom, I needed everything to go exactly to plan. I had to see the clear path through the woods and be confident with the course before setting out. With the second child, things feel less like a test and more like an experience. I’m much more relaxed and at ease with my parenting now that I’ve been through the gauntlet once and came out fairly unscathed.

Instead of leading with the second child, I tend to follow a bit more. I’m better versed in toddler and I’m able to read her cues. Also, the second one is better at communicating her needs than her older sister was at this age—having an older sibling helps in that department. She’s also easily incentivised by M&Ms, which is a new trick I never used with the first kid. Either way, I’m not inclined to push the younger one to stick to the plan.

Secondly, it’s summertime in Spain! Potty training a kid in summer is easier. She won’t freeze her tushy off. So, I’m cool with her running around in undies until she figures it out.

I suppose my slow approach also has to do with my age and stage. I started this blog while I was staying at home with my older daughter and working on my Bachelor’s degree. I am, now, tackling my thesis for my Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing. Once I complete this terminal degree and my youngest goes off to school in September, it will be time for me to rejoin the workforce. My stay-at-home-and-study days are nearing the end. Each milestone (my children’s and my own), puts me one step closer to the door.

I’m taking the awful job of potty training slowly and enjoying every little steaming success, because this is the last summer I’ll be able to spend with these tiny humans without a 9-to-5 dragging me off to work.

Time flies, mamas! The only real advice in this post: Hold your kiddos as close as you can for as long as you can.

Luv&Hugs,

*Kristine*

Love Unconditionally

Thoughts from the heart….

The idea of unconditional love is difficult for some people to grasp. I understand it because I understand God’s love for me, but my understanding of unconditional love doesn’t make it any easier for me to show it. I struggle to love without expectation.

Some people, like my husband, have a gift for loving unconditionally. I sometimes forget that my wealth of love is abundant and self-replenishing. My mind prevents me from sharing what my heart wants to give.

In a transactional world, I feel blessed to have an extension of God’s love in my own home. Today, let us try to remember that LOVE should always be given freely.

Luv&Hugs,

*Kristine*

A Novel in 30 Days

I’ve done it now! I’ve gone ahead and signed up for NaNoWriMo. What is that? You might ask. Well, it’s an online event where every November people from around the globe sign up to write their own 50, 000-word novel.

Many of you may know that I’m currently working on a novel as part of my Master of Fine Arts degree with Southern New Hampshire University. It’s going well, and I have about 20,000 words invested in it. However, it’s slow and very meticulous work.

I’ve decided to let my hair down with this little side project and get my debut novel jitters out.

September was a difficult month all around, and in October I basically flew under the radar. This month I’m ready to get back into the blogosphere with this fun event. I hope you’ll join me, either by signing up yourself or simply helping to cheer me on. I’ll be sharing my progress here and on the Mothering Humanity Facebook Page.

Where did this new book idea come from? I wrote a short story a few weeks back for SNHU’s Fall Fiction Contest, based on a dream I had. Trying to boil the sprawling concept down to 1,500 words was impossible, and I hated the finished product. I ended up writing an entirely different story two nights later between 1 and 5 a.m., and submitting option two to the contest after confirming with a couple trusty readers that it was the better of the two choices.

Now, as part of NaNoWriMo, I’m going to unpack the unsuccessful bit of flash fiction that was option one, and convert it into a fun-loving little novel in 30 days, giving my characters the room they require to grow.

Since the event starts today, I’ve already wasted 24 precious hours debating whether or not I had the guts to go ahead and sign up. You see… I’ve been wanting to do this for years, and I could never fully talk myself into this madness. But, here I go!

If you think you might enjoy (or need) a welcome distraction from other events this month, please follow me down the rabbit hole as I try my hand at romance writing:

The Shamrock: Pub, Grub, & Love: Everything exciting happening in Maitlin makes its way into The Shamrock, eventually. That’s why this novel takes place in the only interesting hangout this one-horse town has to offer. Steal a bar stool and saddle up to this story about second chances, bromances, and women getting what they deserve.

Thanks for reading!

*Kristine*

Logo: Image courtesy of NaNoWriMo.

Where Are All My Friends, Facebook?

Living alongside a Spanish Navy base with a large American population for all these years has turned me into “the friend who always stays.” I meet amazing American military-affiliated friends, we bond for the time they have here, and then they move on to their next duty station.

This summer marks my 16-year anniversary of moving to Spain. I have officially lived here longer than any other place in my life. In that time, I’ve said goodbye to some amazing friends.

I keep in contact with many of them to varying degrees. A couple of them I speak to monthly, others quarterly, and still others maybe yearly. Even though these relationships sustained me for a period of time and vice versa, each of my gal-pals has moved on and undoubtedly made new friends at new duty stations or in their civilian lives. Likewise, I have picked up new friends looking for a local companion here. It’s a fact of military life that you must create “framily” wherever you are stationed, so you have a reliable support system while you’re so far from home.

Some of these lovely ladies remain on my friends list on Facebook and we never interact except a like here and there and an annual birthday message. Others I’ve lost contact with completely. But I keep them in my heart, always.

Our shenanigans may prove good book material someday too! Similarly, our shared tears may be shared with future readers via various characters in my fictional works to come.

I love the saying, “God sends us friends for a reason, season, or lifetime.” It also makes me sad, though. I wish I had enough time and energy to keep up with all of my girlfriends, equally. We had some really amazing times together.

Summer is traditionally a high-transfer season for military families. This year, a treasured church buddy moved to the other side of the world.

Even with social media, it’s hard to check up on all my peeps, because Facebook keeps getting noisier and noisier. It was once a place to really connect with family and friends, share life stories, display photos of our latest happenings, and really comment (not just drop an emoji and a word or two and move on).

Have you noticed that social media is barely social these days?

I have to sift through political posts, get past sponsored garbage, climb over individual soapboxes, connect with causes, read newsworthy articles, and check out what some of my favorite pages and groups are up to occasionally. It seems like all these things vie for my attention daily and I forget to visit the people who actually enrich my life.

Most of us are still posting photos and life events, but I get the impression that the majority of the interaction around these posts has become so surface… so superficial.

Aren’t these the sorts of posts for which Facebook was designed?

I mean, it’s become so impersonal that Facebook even gives me suggestions on how to respond to posts by showing me meme options and text/emoji combos and such.

Instead of talking and connecting, I feel we are shouting and subdividing. Instead of sharing our lives with an intimate group, we are sharing our time with strangers on third-party sites. And when it comes time to interact, we are offered rubber-stamp options by an aggregate.

These distractions are only going to get louder and more attention-grabbing as advertisers inundate social media. I know, because I’m learning about social media marketing. There’s a whole field of study into how marketers can target, entice and attract you, and then get you to pass on their message. I think social media marketing has a place, but I also think it should not be given the center stage it has been given in my Facebook feed.

I feel like I’m being smacked with all kinds of ads. They pop up after looking at a friend’s story. They are peppered into my newsfeed. They show up between videos. They top the right side of my computer screen. They even show up in Messenger.

The fact that the ads all relate to things I’ve viewed or discussed with my Facebook framily is creepy. Like… stop monitoring me, please!! Also, stop selling to me while I’m trying to say hello to my fam.

Maybe I’m weird, though. Maybe you like to be sold to all the time. Maybe social media is your one-stop shop for everything: news, entertainment, shopping, and socializing.

If so, you’ll be glad that Facebook has been taking notes for years from various other social media platforms on how to better market things to you. I get the impression from the social media giant that people are no longer viewed as users, but consumers.

According to a study done in Strategic Social Media, Brazil’s former number one social media site, Orkut, shut down in 2014, because other platforms were offering more social features in addition to satisfying the country’s advertising market. With a bit of digging, I learned that the majority of Brazilians switched to Facebook. The platform had apparently successfully merged marketing with social networking, for the perfect online experience.

But why is online marketing so important for Brazilians?

Photo Courtesy of BuzzFeed

In Brazil, outdoor marketing is banned. Bye-bye roadsigns and billboards. No more posters and publicity. How beautiful their country must look, free of advertising! According to an old BuzzFeed article, people actually started taking notice of Sao Paulo’s architecture, while the advertising industry was forced to move online or indoors.

Sadly for me, the successful fusion of marketing and social networking–as Facebook continues to find ways to monetization my online experience–is really taking away from the social experience the site once offered.

If only there was a way to opt-out of social media marketing, or relegate all that sort of media to a separate feed I could tap into when I have extra time.

If you think that the mixture of social media and marketing doesn’t have an effect on you, I’d beg to differ. If we weren’t being conditioned to absorb advertising constantly, we wouldn’t have started “marketing” our own messages to each other and trying to sell each other on certain issues, people, ideas, movements, products and messages.

I can’t even call up my parents anymore without getting into a debate over something they saw or read on Facebook. I want my family and friends back! I want to talk about the weather, what new recipe they’re gobbling up, what milestones my kids are reaching. I want to find out how their relationships are going, what they’re struggling with, and how I can help. I want social media to enhance these relationships by reducing the miles between us, helping us “see” each other, and engage intimately.

I’m tired of all the “squirrels” that are snagging my attention. I’m weary from all the debate. I’m sick of social media not being social. I want a friendly Facebook experience, and I can’t remember the last time that really and truly happened.

Luv&Hugs,

*Kristine*

Featured Image Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Friends Photo by Adrienn from Pexels