Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Back in the saddle

No, not riding horses - although I'd like to!

I'm getting back to my ebay business. I've found a new way to create my listings that works better with my crazy day-job schedule, and my kids' needs too.

On the weekend - usually Sunday afternoon - I take pictures.

When I have 30 free minutes at lunch time during the week, I create a basic listing for an item or two. The pictures and initial descriptions are wrong...but at least the listing is up!

That night, I spend another 30 minutes once the kids are in bed making changes to my new listings - changing the picture links, adding measurements, and so on.

It's slow, granted...but 2 or 4 listings a week is better than nothing!

Of course, this works because right now I have a backlog of inventory that needs listed - both consignment items from family, as well as my own purchases. Once that inventory runs out, I'll have to find time to shop again. But I'm not going to worry about that right now!

And don't even ask me about my jewelry making...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Support the Diplomats too!

In case you haven't heard - we're at war in Afghanistan.

And while the troops there definitely deserve our support - they get shot at, after all - most people tend to forget that we have diplomats in danger too.

Diplomats like my brother - working somewhere in Helmand province, trying to settle our problems peacefully, trying to help the Afghan people create better lives for themselves so they aren't so easily tempted by the Taliban to do bad things.

Those diplomats live in the same conditions as our troops - they share shipping containers and tents, eat bad MREs, wear body armor, get shot at. Their families deal with the same stress, with occasional contact (email, skype) broken by long and scary stretches of nothing. They are there to make our lives better, because they volunteered. And they get paid government wages - meaning not that much considering the mortal danger they face.

What they don't get is public support. Where's the bumper stickers? The campaign rhetoric, the photo ops with public figures? Nowhere. Diplomats serve - and sometimes are injured or die - under the radar.

So next time you hear or read about Afghanistan or Iraq - take a moment and think about the civilians serving too. Support your local diplomat!

Monday, January 25, 2010

I know I said I wouldn't

Yet again, I find myself staring down a diet.

Or at least, I want to. I probably need to.

Ugh. Don't you just hate the word "diet"? Conjures thoughts of deprivation, hunger, grumpiness. I don't want to deal with it! And yet...

And yet...

All of the "just eat less" and "just exercise" non-advice out there doesn't help either. If it was "just" that easy, I wouldn't struggle - and neither would the millions of other people!

This time, I have friends trying too - we're all in this to support each other. Will it be successful? I don't know. I hope so...and yet, when it comes down to dinner time (or dessert time, or whatever time), ultimately it's just me and the food.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Now what

I had this plan for the new year.

On the nights when hubby worked late, I would list items on eBay after the kids went to bed.

On the weekends while kids were at soccer/basketball/ballet practice, I would take pictures and maybe shop a little.

We'd keep paying off bills and socking away funds for a trip to Europe in 2011.

Then, hubby decided to quit his job. I can't fault him for the reasons - if you were the general dogsbody of your company, despite being a top salesperson, you'd quit too. Still, with the economy in the toilet, it's hard to see him finding another position with flexible hours at part-time, yet still making decent money.

So the extra money is gone. *poof* The extra time to sell on eBay - without guilt over using "us" time in the evenings...also *poof*. And while I know that our situation is nowhere near as dire as many people lately - it's hard not to be discouraged, even unhappy.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year 2010

Wow, this year sure slid by fast. Things have been so crazy between work and home that I haven't had much to say here - or really, I've had plenty to say, just no time to say it in. So, for the New Year...I resolve to make more time for myself, to eBay and Etsy and blog more!

And if this post is a bit brief...well, at least it's a start. Now, off to catch up on a few favorite blogs that I've neglected too much lately.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Five Years

After about the age of 26, it's normal on one's birthday to reflect on the past with a touch of nostalgia and melancholy. The future stretches on ahead with no major delineator posts, except perhaps collecting Social Security and qualifying for the Early Bird Special. Who wants to contemplate that?

So this week, I'm looking back. Frankly, I'm shocked how quickly the years have flown by.

Even with the visible passage of time wandering my house in princess pajamas, 5 years has snuck up on me so fast. Not that my 'baby' is a five-year-old ... but that 5 years ago was a neon-encrusted year for me. Huge changes, loss, new friendships, soul-searching. I can remember it all very, very clearly.

Yet those intervening years have dulled the neon, making that banner year more of a speed-bump and less of a brick wall. When I consider those I lost - my beloved Grandma for one - what used to be agony has dulled to a tender ache. I miss Grandma Dollie still, and wish she could have seen her little great-grand-daughter grow, but I'm no longer reduced to tears when I see her picture. Concurrently, the new friendship I forged in those troubled times has matured, and become a comfortable relationship I can depend on despite the 1800 miles separating us.

And so the passage of time has been, well, a blessing. Even while etching faint lines around my eyes, slowing me down and adding a few pounds, it has blunted pain and softened hurt. Whatever I think about that new number under "age", I'm grateful to be older.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

No, the Economy is Not Better

I listen to the news, read the major business websites...and despite some rather rosy projections from 'experts', I just don't believe the hype.

The economy is not recovering.

I know this because of my own series of leading indicators:

People in my job are still extremely worried about layoffs.

Goodwill is still packed with shoppers on the weekends.

eBay sales, while doing ok, are mostly to people wanting a STEEP discount, even on already less-than-retail pricing.

There's no way I'll be able to sell my house in the next year or two - heck, maybe in the next 5 years - despite my growing family's needs for more space.

So...I'm going to keep my purchases small, try to keep stocking my eBay resale items while not worrying so much about jewelry and such on Etsy (where sales are hurting), and hope that things improve before Christmas.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Why is this so hard?

Like some 65% of all Americans, I fall into the "overweight" category - yes, I'll admit that out loud. And like the vast majority of people in this category, I have struggled, dieted, and fought over and over to get back to "normal". Why, then, do I continue to fail?

I've struggled with my weight for many years. Even in high school - when anorexia was chic, SlimFast was the breakfast of choice, and I was physically active several hours each day (sports, PE, etc) - I was flirting with the upper limit of that normal range. When I left for college, and swapped field hockey for hours in the lab, the weight started to pile on. Granted, my meals then consisted of mac & cheese, raman noodles, and ice cream - I won't claim to have made all the right decisions.

Still, in the years since college, I've learned many things. Out-negotiating a car dealer. Maintaining a home with luck and Lowes. Using a cookbook, and even making yummy meals from my imagination. The days of microwave cheap are over.

And I happen to think I'm an intelligent, strong person. I've earned an advanced degree in physics. I've weathered some pretty big 'storms' in life. I exercise self-restraint all the time, saving money for trips and getting up for work even when tired. I know all the right things I need to do when it comes to nutrition - lots of veggies, lots of fruit, less meat, avoid restaurants and fast food - and I try to exercise 3 or more times a week.

So with all that going for me...why am I not thinner? Is the dieting industry part of the problem? Meal replacement shakes and bars aren't real food. Counting calories or points or whatever the latest "magic number" is only leads to mild OCD. Every "diet", every "weight loss strategy" revolves around an obsession with food - how much you eat, what you eat, when you eat, and how you workout to counter what you ate. With that much thought and energy centered around food, how can you not be hungry and stressed out - and want something to eat to make you feel better?!

I wish I knew what the answer was. Why can't we just eat - good food, REAL food, nutritious food. Eat soup with dinner because you like the taste, not because you think the liquid will fill you up. Have a salad for the delicious crunch of lettuce, not for the low-calorie aspect. Is there a way to reach that place again? To eat when hungry, stop when full, enjoy - but not too much - the taste, and move on with the rest of your day?

I don't know. What I do know, is that I'm done with dieting. It's never done me any good - it just makes me more stressed, more hungry, and more grumpy. If that means I'll never reach that magical 'normal' number again, so be it - at least I'll be happy.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Beauty Queen Madness

This weekend, I sat through an hour of Toddlers and Tiaras. Boy, do I regret it. Not only is the sight of spray-on tan, stage makeup, curly hair-pieces, and glittery dresses shocking...the stories behind each kid made me ill.

The 4-year-old girl whose mother referred to tantrums as "diva moments" - and shrugged them off, along with the $70,000 in pageant-related expenses.

The 7-year-old twins competing against each other - and mom had her favorite, as everyone in the family and audience could tell. (I suspect the therapy bills for the 'lesser' twin will be legendary)

The cute 8-year-old boy, and his 2-week-old brother - both dressed in tuxedos, and proud mom comparing their on-stage 'performances'.

An hour of self-involved parents, wrapped up in their own dreams of winning children. An hour of tired, unhappy children. Why did I subject myself to this? Why would anyone think this is ok?

Let me just children are beautiful. They have freckles, missing teeth, and silly grins. Their hair is windblown and messy, their clothes occasionally torn or muddy. They laugh and smile and dance around out of shear joy, not to please someone with a "Judge" sticker on their shirt. They will never enter a beauty pageant, but they will win praise - for hard work, for good grades, for being friends with the new kid, for trying their best in soccer. They are learning to value themselves and others for qualities inside each person...and not for the exterior appearance.

If there were an inner-beauty pageant, my children would be winners. No crowns necessary.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My foray into scrapbooking

I'm trying to scrapbook - really I am.

Many years ago (like, 20, but who's counting), my stepmother did a little scrapbooking with me. Of course, back then it didn't have an official name, let alone a whole section at Joann's. Nope, back then we bought plain photo albums - the "old fashioned" kind with paper sheets instead of plastic holders. We used whatever paper souvenirs from the trip we could find - maps, brochures, tickets, postcards - and decorated the blank spaces around our photos. It was rather simple, yet fun to do...and made for a great way to capture a trip.

Those old scrapbooking days lasted just a few short years - as I grew older, and busier, I found little time for it. Slapping pictures together was all I could manage...and once I bought a digital camera, it was even easier to just save everything to disk.

However, as I watch my kids grow older, I find myself wanting to capture their childhood for them - in something other than flash memory, in a way that makes them really recall the summer vacations and weekends away. I'm attempting to scrapbook again.

What a difference...simply walking into the "paper" section of my craft store makes me want to turn and flee. Still, the wide selection of colorful papers does draw the eye; the rows of decorative stickers and ribbons are tempting. My first stop - Disneyana - is overwhelming. So many choices of paper, so many stickers.

Once I try to move on, however, I quickly realize how very slanted this whole scrapbooking thing has become. Princesses? Check. Babies? Check. Sisters, Love, Reflection, Girls Weekend? Check and check. Legoland? Not a chance. I can find all sorts of cute words, cursive titles, and adorable cartoon images. What I can't find are stickers and text that the average 9 year old boy would find neat, that a tom-boy tween won't gag over.

So as I finish the first of my new scrapbooks - and gather the materials for a second - I find that my "new" way is looking much like the old. A little easier, of course...I can create labels on the computer in fun fonts, and the range of archival tapes and glue is great. But still, the decorative details are still mostly ticket stubs, crumpled park maps, and lots of smiling faces.

With puffy Mickey stickers, of course.