Things I was terribly confused about as a child

I get confused about a lot of things. These days, they tend to be things like how construction loans work, whether traditional or Roth IRAs are better, and if I remembered to turn off my curling iron. This level of confusion is nothing new. I’d say I’ve been in a perpetually confused state since I was a kid. When I was younger, though, my misunderstandings where much more comical. Take, for instance, these examples.

1) How lotteries worked

My grandfather bought lottery tickets quite often, frequently using my birthday as his numbers. He always told me that if he won he would buy me the horse I had wanted practically since birth. Apparently the concept of some sponsor just giving away millions of dollars was too much for my young brain to comprehend, because I was convinced that “the lottery” meant winning a horse. I was under the impression that some lottery man, as I referred to him, would call you if you won and then you would go to some massive farm with every kind of horse imaginable and just pick whichever one you wanted. Imagine my disappointment when I leaned that all you won was a ton of cash.

Luckily, when I was seven I got my horse Apache and was lucky enough to live the dream of many horse crazy little girls.   
2) Cavities

Now, this one is not entirely my fault. I don’t know if this is something all pediatric dentists use to try and explain the importance of good dental hygiene to young kids, but my dentist would always tell me she was looking for “cavity bugs” hiding in my teeth. From this, I got the idea that there were actually little bugs that would get in your mouth and eat your teeth. I guess it was effective, because I was always super good about brushing my teeth. Unfortunately, my dental woes are still many for reasons beyond my control, but that’s another story.

3) Yule Logs

Back before I got my horse when I was seven years old, I would wish on every star, eyelash, birthday candle, and 11:11 for a horse of my own. Once I figured out that the “lottery man” was never going to call and offer me a horse, my efforts to aquire a horse by other means doubled. I would try ANYTHING. 

The year I was five, Christmas rolled around and I was sure that I would at long last be getting a horse of my own. Why, you may ask? Because my aunt had told the about the magic of the Yule Log. Now, to be fair, I don’t actually remember what she told me about Yule Logs. Just, I assume, that they are some kind of special log you burn around Christmas. I took this to mean that any log that happened to be in the fireplace was a Yule Log and that you could make Christmas wishes on them that were sure to come true. So I plopped my little self down in front of the fire that Christmas Eve and whispered to the Yule Log my ultimate Christmas wish. I politely requested a purple horse that could fly, possessed human like intelligence, and would respond only to me. I had high standards, okay?? 

Now, I can’t express this next part enough. My parents did a really good job to never squash my imagination, so at this age I still whole heartedly believed in magic and Santa Claus and that Barney the dinosaur was my best friend. So I really and truly thought I was getting my purple horse (that I planned to name Wind Whistler, after my favorite My Little Pony) that Christmas. I was kind of crushed when, although I got lots of wonderful presents that day, none of them was a horse. In fact, I may still be a touch bitter about it.

4) Middle Names 

Around the time of the Yule Log debacle, I remember having a minor identity crisis. My kindergarten teacher was writing my name on a bunch papers, and I saw that she was writing three letters on all of them- M.E.R. My initials, of course, I just didn’t know it at the time. I figured out that the M and the R were my first and last name, but I couldn’t figure out what the E was. I asked my teacher, and she told me that was my middle name- Elizabeth. I was oddly baffled by this. I don’t know if I had just never realized I had a middle name or had known at one point but forgotten, but that night I made it a point to ask my mom about it. Unfortunately, I was a little jumbled up, so my question came out something like this: “Is Elizabeth really my name?” My mom, assuming I meant, “Is my middle name really Elizabeth?” told me yes. Which I then took to mean my name wasn’t really Megan but Elizabeth. Wanting to rectify the situation as soon as possible to avoid problems down the road, I spent all of recess the next day telling my friends that they would have to start calling my Elizabeth because that was my real name. Luckily, my best friend Sarah took matters into her own hands and called my house that night and asked my mom, who quickly set me straight that my real first name was, in fact, Megan. And all was well for the next 7 years until I decided I hated my name and needed to change it to something obnoxious and “unique.” Luckily I hear that wanting to change one’s name is considered developmentally normal and is fairly common amongst pre teens… 

5) Siblings

I was really sad that I was one of the only kids in kindergarten who was an only child. When a teacher asked me if I had any siblings, I decided to make myself fit in and say I had a sister named Kelsey. I talked about playing in the yard with Kelsey and exploring the woods with her. I told stories about my dad getting mad at her when she stole our neighbor’s Barbie doll. All of these stories were true. I just wasn’t describing my sister. I was telling stories about my family’s German Shepherd.

 Now, I wasn’t confused about whether a dog was the same thing as a sister. I was just tired of never having anything to contribute when my friends started telling stories about there siblings. My friends and teachers all believed me…until my teacher asked my mom how old Kelsey was one morning when she dropped me off at school. My mom as was like, “Uh, maybe three? I don’t really remember when we got her.” I can only imagine how confused both my teacher and my mom were. 
Me and my “sister” Kelsey  

Thanks

For a long time I thought that Thanksgiving was the most overrated holiday. I’m not entirely sure what I didn’t like about it. Perhaps the Christmas lover in me just saw it as the final obstacle between me and the most wonderful time of the year.

Maybe it was my decade long hatred of turkey. And also pumpkin pie. I know, it’s weird. For the record, I balanced out those turkey free years by eating a smoked turkey and brie sandwich every single day for an entire summer the second year I worked at the restaurant.

Whatever the reason, I realized just this year how much I was looking forward to Thanksgiving and I was kind of surprised. I don’t know if Thanksgiving is just the kind of holiday that takes a certain maturity level to appreciate or if a strange obsession with pumpkin pie is on the rise (unlikely.) I do know that I have so many things I am thankful for, and so many people I want to extend thanks to this holiday season. So, a big thank you to:

1. My boyfriend

This is the guy who never fails to make me laugh, puts up with my neurotic tendencies, and is always willing to cook a delicious dinner no matter how late he has worked. Of course, I guess when the alternative is anything my meager cooking skills manage to whip up he is fairly motivated. He is a friend, lover, and partner all rolled into one and I love him dearly.

2. My parents

My mom and dad are just plain awesome. Time and time again I am amazed by them and everything they do for me. My dad is my go to mechanic, fixer of all things, sitter of the dog, and an all around amazing man. My mom is the one who listens to me complain without judgement, shares my sense of style and my love of horror movies, and is the Lorelai to my Rory. Hopefully that explains it.

3. My grandmother and aunt

My grandmother and aunt are two other major influences in my life. My grandmother is such a giving woman. She regularly makes dinner for us and always keeps my favorite ice cream in good supply, just in case. My aunt has always been like a second mom to me. In addition, she is a wonderful traveling companion, excellent financial advisor, and an all around cool lady.

4. The rest of my family

I have a fairly large extended family. I may not get to see all of them as often as would be ideal, but I always look forward to getting together with them around the holidays. They are a fun, loving, kind hearted bunch and I appreciate them more and more as the years go by.

5. Charlie

Charlie has only been with us for two months, but I can’t imagine life without him. There is no creature quite like a dog, who lives only to love and be loved. There is no day that can’t be made better by Charlie’s untiring devotion, love of life, and appreciation of the simple things. Like cheese. Cheese is good. So is sleeping on the bed all day (Psst! That helps his anxiety!)

6. My coworkers

I’m not sure how I would have survived the first few months of this school year if not for some truly wonderful coworkers at both of the schools I have the privilege of working at. I must have asked ninety billion questions by this point, but they have always answered with a smile and a willingness to help. I am so grateful for their support and I’ve learned so much from them.

7. The woman at the gas station

At the start of the school year I got into the habit of stopping at a gas station for coffee. Weirdly and inexplicably, this is the best coffee outside of the coffee from the restaurant I work at during the summer. But what really makes the coffee worth it is the woman who works there. Even at 6:45 in the morning she is always friendly and cheerful. She always greets me like a friend and never fails to compliment my outfit, my hair, something. I’m always disappointed when she is not there, and I appreciate her kindness more than she knows.

8. My friends

Leaving high school and then college is a strange thing. The people who have been such close friends to you move, start the next chapter of their lives, and things shift. So I just want to say, to all of my friends, those from high school, college, work, wherever, that I am so glad to have you in my life. We may not talk or see each other often, but the fact that I can always call or text you out of the blue with whatever is going on in my life means so much to me.

9. Callie

I can’t give thanks without mentioning Callie. I miss my sweet cat a lot and she will always hold a special place in my heart regardless of who she lives with.

10. Everyone else

Okay, this is beyond broad. But I feel like I am so lucky to have so many positive, uplifting people in my life- former teachers, mentors, fellow volunteers, and so many others. I am grateful for the presence of all of those people who may not fall into one of the above categories and everything the have taught me. I am the woman I am today because of everyone on this list.

Thank you, and I hope everyone has a wonderful day.

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Links to various places on the internet that have successfully distracted me

Someone needs to take away my post titling license. Clearly I cannot come up with a short, to the point title today. The above was my third attempt. On an unrelated side note, I cannot clean a litter box without causing minor plumbing disasters.

I blame my recent week long vacation. It was so darn relaxing I even neglected to take more than a few picture and also apparently forgot how to function in the real world. Not that I care. I got to enjoy this view every morning, which was well worth the temporary real world dementia.

lakeviewCallie enjoyed the view too. Of course, she spent her time outside safely secured in her cat carrier.

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Yeah, we took the cat vacationing. Weirdly enough, she actually likes car rides. Especially when she gets to spend them like this:

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So anyway, I have spent next to no time doing anything but basking in the sunshine for quite awhile and thus don’t have a whole lot of typical blog stuff to detail. However, I have managed to successfully distract myself from the impending doom that is my unorganized bathroom cabinets (and, okay, my closet too) with an assortment of random articles all over the internet. If you find yourself in a similar position of procrastination, have a look.

Also, I feel it’s only fair to warn you: I came across these things through various reliable and unreliable methods and have no idea how accurate/truthful/real some of these things are, so like a good margarita, take it all with a grain of salt.

1. This is why drugs are bad, kids

Some before and after pictures of what meth does to your appearance. It ain’t pretty, I’ll tell you that. It also makes my skin crawl.

2. Maps of vast empires that no longer exist

I really love historical maps. This infographic is a pretty cool way to show just how massive some historical empires were. Britain was basically set to take over the world. The Huns and the Mongols were doing pretty darn well for themselves, too.

3. What to do when you have a lazy cat

Cute pictures, and an idea I will possibly hold on to for a rainy day when I need to procrastinate some more.

4. This pretty much accurately sums up life as we know it

It’s true and it’s funny!

5. Countries of the World Quiz

See how many countries of the world can you name in 12 minutes? There are 196…ready, set go! (Also, why are there so many tiny island nations? Why??)

22 for 22

Today is my 22nd birthday! I started things off with some commercialized iced deliciousness.

coffee

Just for a little something different I thought it might be fun to share a 22 random (and hopefully interesting) facts about me!

1. When I was two years old I made my family sing happy birthday to me  and light a candle every single time I had a piece of left over birthday cake. It took about a week for me to finish it, so that’s about seven days worth of candles and singing. My family apparently blames my grandfather for this overindulgence.

2. To this day I have not learned to whistle. I’ve trained my dogs and my horse to respond to tongue clicks (weird, I know), but my goal for this year is to learn to actually whistle.

3. The vast majority of my friends call me by my full name, Megan. However, my family and boyfriend and work friends all call me Meg pretty fluently. I actually prefer Meg, but I feel weird asking so many of my friends to switch what they call me. I do tend to introduce myself to new people as Meg, though.

4. Until my cat, Callie, decided to live with us, I actually thought I didn’t particularly like cats. She has completely changed my mind. I am such a crazy cat lady now.

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5. One of my favorite drinks is lemonade. Freshly squeezed is best, but I’m not above drink concentrated or even Crystal Light lemonade to get my fix. Sometimes I feel like a little kid when I order it in a restaurant: “Uh, do you have lemonade? And a bendy straw? And maybe some crayons?”

6. My favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird. Always has been. Always will be. My mom read it to me in the 6th grade and I still think it is one of the most perfect books in existence. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve reread it.

7. My first car was a 1968 Mustang. My parents bought it for me when I was 15 and I kept it for five years. I loved that car so much, and I sometimes still regret selling it even though it was possibly the most temperamental car in existence.

8. As a young child I was absolutely in love with Barney. As in the purple dinosaur. When I was three my grandfather (the same one who sang to me for a week straight) bought me a massive stuffed Barney. This thing has to be four feet tall, so to my toddler self he was massive. Big Barney, as I called him, was probably  my best friend for many months. He still lives in my grandmother’s guest room.

9.I have had my horse Apache since I was seven years old. After fifteen years together, I know this horse better than I know myself. The day my grandfather (not the same one who sang to me) gave him to me was one of the happiest days of my life. Apache is now 25 and I still like to believe he will outlive me.

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10. I’ve wanted to be a special education teacher since I was 14 years old and started volunteering with a therapeutic horseback riding program. I loved every single minute I spent working with those kids and horses, and to this day I dream about one day starting my own therapeutic horseback riding program.

11. I did not eat red meat for six years. Basically, ages 14-20. I had a hamburger about a week after my 20 birthday because I realized I was limiting my red meat consumption for rather unhealthy reasons. I’ve been kind of a beef lover ever since. And I’m probably going to chow down on a steak tonight.

12. I took dance for 13 years, kindergarten through my senior year of high school. You’d never know it to look at me, I’m pretty clumsy.

13. When I was fourteen I got to spend almost a month in Europe. I traveled with a group of students and we went to Spain, France, Monaco, and Italy. It was incredible and I would love to go back.

15. My favorite flowers are gardenias. The smell is just so lovely, and the blooms are gorgeous. My boyfriend got me a gardenia bush once. Sadly it lasted about a month in my hands. I do not have a green thumb even though I’ve always really wanted to have a garden. My boyfriend came up with an excellent solution and made me a victory garden for my birthday. It has mint and catnip and phlox and strawberries so many other plants and I’m so excited to take care of it. And Callie likes to stick her face in the catnip, of course. And I apologize for the horrible grammar in this fact.

victory

16. I love brownie batter but I’m not that crazy about actual baked brownies. What can I say, I guess I love the taste of salmonella. Delicious!

17. Also, cupcakes really are my favorite food. I think some people think I exaggerate, but I’m dead serious. I’d live off them if I could. Except I would miss pasta. And hamburgers.

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These are my all time favorite cupcakes. Yellow cupcakes, vanilla frosting, chocolate filling. I’m probably definitely having these at my wedding one day.

18. I really like scary and suspenseful movies. My mom and I both do, and she’s my favorite scary movie buddy.

19. Several of my favorite movies are kids movies. Tangled is my all time favorite Disney movie. Although of course I loved Frozen, too. And both Despicable Me movies warm my heart. In fact, I would like several dozen of my own minions because they are so stinking cute. My ringtone is the minion ice cream party song. Yes, I am a 5 year old a heart.

20. I prefer dresses and skirts over pants, any day of the week, regardless of season. I have a hard time going to a store and not buying dresses.

21. I can do weird things with my toes. Write, pick stuff up, wiggle them independently. My mom calls them sloth toes.

22. My favorite hobby is reading. One of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday- or any day, really- is curled up with a good book. Preferably near a body of water. Speaking of which, I’m off to spend my birthday at the lake!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Ways to Get Things Done

I am not, by nature, a productive person. Not unless you consider maintaining 12+ Pinterest boards, keeping tabs on any social media happenings, voraciously working through all 8 seasons of How I Met You Mother on Netflix, and providing the cat with frequent cuddles productive.

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This is one chore that’s always at the top of my To Do list

Over the years, though, I have devised some tried and true strategies to get done everything I need to. I’ve even split the strategies into two different categories based on personal preference. Decide which strategy type will work for you and then, my friend, you will be well on your way to getting things done.

Bits and Pieces

This strategy is based on the idea that doing little things over time adds up to big things. It can be appealing if you have difficulty sticking with any one thing for more than a half hour (or even a few minutes) or get overwhelmed easily. Avoid it if the thought of small but frequent “To Dos” hanging over your head is stressful or you need to get something done fast.

1) 5 On/5 Off

For this one, first set a clear goal. Let’s say you want to clean your bedroom. You will then set a timer for 5 minutes. In that 5 minutes do as much as you possibly can. Make your bed, or pick up stray socks off the floor. Windex a mirror. Whatever. Just make sure you work hard for that 5 minutes. Then, when the timer goes off, reward yourself with 5 minutes of something “fun,” such as watching 5 minutes of your favorite show on Netflix or flipping through a magazine. As soon as the timer chimes get right back to cleaning intensely for 5 minutes. Continue until your goal is reached.

2) Spread It Out

This one is for goals that might be a bit bigger or more time consuming, such as cleaning the entire house. As a kid I was always in awe of my mother’s ability to clean the entire house in a single sitting every Friday night. If, like me, you find that the thought of tackling such a task all at once is about as appealing as a root canal, then Spread It Out is for you.

You’ll want to start by making a list of all the things you need to do to clean the house. Your list might look something like this:

  • Laundry
  • Dust
  • Mop
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Vacuum
  • Straighten/Tidy Up

Rather than trying to do all of these things in one day, spread them out so that each day has a different assigned chore, like so:

  • Monday-Laundry
  • Tuesday-Dust
  • Wednesday-Mop
  • Thursday- Bathrooms
  • Friday- Vacuum
  • Saturday- Straighten/Tidy Up

Only having one thing to do each day makes the entire process seem much more reasonable, in my opinion. I may not have the energy to clean the whole house at the end of a long day, but I can probably manage a little dusting.

All At Once

Does the thought of waiting until the last minute to finish something give you nightmares? Would you rather just get things done and over with? Or, conversely, did you accidentally “forget” to do something that you now have to finish as soon as possible? Then you should go with the All At Once strategy. While it takes some willpower to slough through a long To Do list, this strategy has the advantage of being quicker than Bits and Pieces and gives you the piece of mind you can only get from being done, done, done.

1) Eliminate Distractions

Before you begin, consider what, if anything, may occur to distract you from your task. Are you planning to write a paper, but have a text from you mom requesting that you call her? Rather than starting on your paper only to be distracted by a phone call from mommy dearest an hour later, go ahead and get that out of the way. Take your dog for a walk, send that email you’ve been putting off, whatever. Just go ahead and finish off those little things that will only serve as excuses to stop working (and thus lose momentum) later.

Additionally, don’t set yourself up for failure. Avoid working with a brand new episode of The Walking Dead on in the background. Stay away from your friends who don’t have work to do. You can do all of that when you’re through.

2) Have It All

Similar to the idea above, make sure you have everything you need before you officially begin. Have your textbook nearby, a cup of coffee in reach, and a steady supply of pens and paper. This will prevent you from having to stop mid work session because you can’t continue as you are.

3) Make It Motivating

Have an outline of  exactly what you need to get done. As you go, check things off. It makes it much easier to see what you’ve already finished and what’s left to do. Plus, it’s really exciting to see the list get shorter and shorter. Also feel free to partake in a low distraction activity (like listening to music) simultaneously to help you get through it.

4) Just Do It

Not to sound like a Nike commercial, but sometimes you have to just suck it up and go. Do it because you know how much better you’ll feel when it’s done. Do it because you have to. Just do it!

 

And that is how I have managed to turn myself into a semi-productive human. Just the fact that you’ve managed to read this far indicates you’re serious about getting things done, so what are you waiting for? Make a plan and get going!

Ways to make your long car ride suck a little less

I have a long weekend coming up and I am planning to spend it with my favorite fella. Hooray!

The only thing less than awesome about this is the fact that he lives 2-ish hours away. I get incredibly bored on long car rides by myself, so in the time that we have been dating I have developed a few tricks to make the trip significantly more enjoyable. Feel free steal a few ideas for your next long road trip.

1. Save a special treat for the trip.

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My all time favorite guilty pleasure food/drink combination is sour gummy worms and diet coke. I realize that these things are about as healthy for you as a gunshot wound, so I try to avoid them in general. Sometimes, though, you just have to have ’em. I decided to make them my special road trip snack so at the very least I have that to look forward to.

When junk food isn’t appealing I sometimes use a trip as on occasion to splurge on some incredibly expensive but  awesome spiced-mocha-freeze-drizzle-caramel-whipped-latte from Starbucks. (Note: That is not an actual drink. Do not ask a Starbucks employee to make it. They will look confused and possibly laugh at you.)

2. Audio books

When I don’t have to drive I often pass time on long trips by reading a book. Highway patrolmen tend to frown on reading while driving, though, so I recently decided to try listening to audiobooks. I download one on my phone and it keeps me occupied for the whole trip. Sometimes I even restrict myself to only listening to the story while driving so I can stretch it out and look forward to hearing what happens next.

3. New music

Just as having a new book to listen to can make things more significantly more interesting, downloading a few new songs just for the drive can be a great way to avoid road trip boredom. I confess to currently being obsessed with Lorde’s album Pure Heroin.

4. The GPS game

When miles of interstate are starting to seem entirely too familiar, try setting your GPS to the “Avoid Highways” option. It will give you a chance to learn a new route to your destination and keep you on your toes. A word of advice, though: it will probably take you longer to get where you are going. And you might have to call your mom for navigational advice when you decide, like I once did, that you know better than the GPS and are going to find your own way. Lewis, Clark, and I would have made quite a team, I’ll tell you that much.

5. Pack a bag

Nothing sucks more than being stuck in bumper to bumper traffic when you really, really need some chapstick. Or water. Or sunglasses. So plan ahead and pack a bag with any random but important items you may need. If you’re really on top of it you can even have a designated bag of all these items that lives in your car and is never (never ever) to be taken out.

6. It may also help to have an adorable traveling companion.

Callie volunteers. She’ll even conduct an all points inspection of your car before leaving. catincar

7. Safety First

Hopefully it goes without saying. But if you really want to make your trip not suck, you should follow all traffic laws and be a courteous driver. Yes, I know that other driver is an idiot. Yes, I know he probably learned how to drive with a chariot during the age of gladiators. No, that does not give you permission to cut him off and/or tailgate him.