Hi – A Reentry Blog Post

You can’t find your voice if you don’t use it. Or so says Austin Kleon. Lately, I haven’t been using my voice as much as I would like. I want to write, to reflect, to tell my story, to show my work.  I want to write about my work and my family and books and cheese…you know…the important things.

I keep getting stuck, though.

Part of it is that my job is so reflective that reflecting has come to feel like work in the most banal sense of the word.  I am extremely reflective by nature and find it rejuvenating, but I haven’t been doing it enough for myself lately.  My work as a coach has me supporting others’ reflections and reflecting on their reflections. Reflect, reflect, reflect.  I have to make sure that I’m part of that reflection.  I have to make sure I don’t get lost in the reflection.

And that brings me to the second reason I keep getting stuck – I keep thinking I’ve lost my voice. I haven’t though.  I just keep forgetting to use it. My wonderful friend Jen Vincent wrote a lovely blog post about me this summer. As part of her post, she read through my entire blog (no small feat) and compiled her favorite words of mine into this slideshow.

Erin Jackle is Awesome from Jennifer Vincent

I have come back to this slideshow again and again, and it never fails to surprise me.  Those are my words! That’s my voice! It’s always been there, and I just need to use it.

Write Something

One of my goals for this year is to rebuild my writing habit.  Writing has fallen by the wayside over the past couple of years, at least in terms of this blog.  I still write papers for classes and write at work, but I haven’t been writing for myself lately.  Writing is not only something I love to do, but it’s my most powerful reflection tool.  It’s still early in the year, and I already feel like I’m struggling to write.  It’s not that I don’t have ideas — I have plenty of ideas — but it’s more that I’ve developed this mindset that every post needs to be polished and meaningful.  So I get stuck because I don’t always have the energy to write something amazing, and I’m out of practice so it’s tricky to get started.

I just need to write something.  Anything.

Just like reading begets reading, writing begets writing.  I need to get back in the habit, practice, and put my words out there.  Even if they aren’t my best words.  The more I write, the better I’ll get.

So, tonight, that’s what I’m doing.  I’m just writing something.  I am quite literally writing about how I need to write more.

One of the things I value most about this blog is that it’s always been my place to tell my story.  This has been my space to share about and process all that has gone on in my life.  I miss taking the time to share my story and to connect with all of you.  I’m working to get back to that place.  Writing this now, it occurs to me that I never shared something with you.  A couple of months back, the team I work with spent a morning together sharing TED-style talks.  I poured my heart and soul into developing my talk which was about the importance of telling your story.  Creating that talk is what sparked my desire to write again.  It reminded me what a powerful tool storytelling is and that I needed to get back to it.  Anyhow.  I figured, I would go ahead and share my talk with you now.  It’s long and it’s not the highest quality video, but I’d love your feedback if you do take the time to watch.

How do you keep up your writing habit?  What does sharing your story do for you?

Brand New Name, Same Pretty Face

I know, I know, I know.  Yesterday I threw your lives into upheaval when I decided to change my blog name.  I promise it’s ok.  I’m still me.  See:

photo 2 photo 1Still me and my cheese-faced girls!

I’d been thinking about making a change here for a while.  My blog just didn’t feel like me anymore, and that made me sad, because this space has been with me for so long.  I wasn’t ready to give it up, but I needed a change.

My blog had been “the state that i am in” since it’s inception almost 9 years ago.  That title came from a line in this Belle & Sebastian song, “and he wrote a pocket novel called “The State That I Am In.”  It was the perfect blog title for so many phases of my life, the end up graduate school, the early years of my marriage, my first teaching job, my struggles with infertility.  It just fit so well…until suddenly it didn’t.

I knew I wanted a change, but I also knew I wanted to change to something that would still be an amazing fit.  A few months ago, “mischief managed” popped into my head.  It definitely felt right, but it took me a while before I got up the courage to make the switch.  Maybe it shouldn’t be such a big deal, but I was having a bit of an internet identity crisis.  I didn’t want to change just to change, but I also knew that “the state that i am in” had run it’s course for me.  Still, changing your name after almost 9 years feels sort of monumental.

Well, yesterday, I decided to do it, and here we are.  Lisa helped me move over to my new domain and made that pretty new header you see up there.  I am so excited about this new space!

Why “mischief managed’?  Well, if you know anything about me, you know I’m a huge Harry Potter fanatic.  “Mischief managed” is the incantation you use to wipe the Marauder’s Map clean. Oh, by the way, I’m @MarauderErin on twitter now.  Anyhow, in my book, you can’t go wrong with a Harry Potter reference in your blog title, but it’s not just about the HP connection.  I have 2.5 year old twins and I teach preschool special education.  Managing mischief is what I do.  It’s what I live and breath every single day.

So, here’s my new home on the internet.  I’m excited about the change and excited about writing on a more regular basis.  I hope you will stick around with me!

 

The Hair Bow Company

Boring disclosure language:  The Hair Bow Company provided me with a sampling of their products to review.  However, all opinions about said products are my own or those of two 17-month-old goofballs.

Part of the joy of raising little girls (or just being a girl yourself) is getting to dress up said little girls (or yourself) with pretty, girlie things.  So, I naturally jumped at the chance to try out some fun hair clips, flowers, and bows on my girls (and myself).  Now, as often happens with toddlers, my girls had other plans.  You see, they love hats.  Anything that you put in your hair is a hat.  And the purpose of hats is to put them on and take them off repeatedly.  Thus, my dreams of girls with cute bows and flowers were dashed!  Take a look…

Mom, these flowers sure are great for holding.

Here, Evelyn, try the green headband instead.

I distracted Charlotte with a headband long enough to snap a picture with this darling flower in her hair!

Evelyn’s got the model pout down.

Well…this is just hilarious.

It’s taking some practice, but we are starting to get the hang of wearing lovely things in our hair.  Of course, it’s tricky with two.  You don’t just have to worry about them pulling it out of their own hair…they love to steal each others!

But like I said, it’s not all just for little girlies.  I adore some of these clips myself and wear them regularly.

I love this hair clip!  And it’s only $3.99!

I didn’t do the best job putting it in, but I love these crochet flowers to jazz up a ponytail.  Also?  They are $1!

The feather petal flowers are my favorite thing in the shop.  I wear this constantly.  For only $1.99, I plan to get more!

Well, you get the idea!  The Hair Bow Company has so many fun clips and accessories, and the price is fantastic!  I am definitely a fan…and I want you to be a fan too!

The Hair Bow Company is offering a discount to my fabulous readers!  Just enter the code “state10” for 10% off your order.  The coupon expires 3/31/12, and you can use it twice between now and then.  I think you all definitely need some hair clips for Easter or spring weddings.  Happy shopping!

You can find The Hair Bow Company here…

Mug Swap — (Insert Something Clever About Mugs Here)

There is something so wonderful about curling up on the couch with your favorite mug full of something tasty.  It’s one of the best things about winter, in my opinion.  Even when it’s 60 degrees in January like it has been in Chicago this week.  Since I love mugs so much, and one of my favorite mugs was a gift from someone, I thought it would be fun to arrange a mug swap!

My favorite mug full of yummy Trader Joe’s chai.

Want to participate?  Great!  Here are the details…

  • Fill out this form by Wednesday, February 8th.  Don’t worry, all of your info is coming directly to me.  It’s not being posted for the world to see.
  • I’ll send you the person you are buying for by Friday, February 10th.  Take some time to get to know your person, and then get to shopping.
  • Pick out a pretty mug and something fun to drink in it.  Plan on keeping your goodies around $15.
  • Pop your package in the mail by Friday, February 17th.
  • Enjoy a tasty beverage in your new mug!

Questions?  Ask away!  Otherwise, fill out the form and let’s swap some mugs!

Accent Vlog

After watching accent vlogs on Lisa and Ginger‘s blogs, I decided it looked like fun and wanted to play along.  Apparently the theme of my blog this week is vlogging…and yes, I’m wearing the same clothes in this video as I did in the signing video.


 

Say the following words:
Aunt, route, wash, oil, theatre, iron, salmon, caramel, fire, water, sure, data, ruin, crayon, toilet, New Orleans, pecan, both, again, probably, spitting image, Alabama, lawyer, coupon, mayonnaise, syrup, pajamas, caught

Answer these questions:
What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
What is the bug that curls into a ball when you touch it?
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
What do you call gym shoes?
What do you say to address a group of people?
What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
What do you call your grandparents?
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
What is the thing you use to change the TV channel?

So, what do you think?  Do I have an accent?

Twitter, I Love to Hate You

With over 27,000 tweets under my belt, I think it’s pretty clear that I love twitter.  I tweet constantly.  I tweet cute pictures of my girls, I tweet about ice cream, I tweet about my woes, I tweet about pretty much everything.  Clearly, I’m a fan.

And yet, there are times when I find twitter so exasperating I could scream.

I love being able to go on twitter to connect with so many people.  It’s a great way to keep up with the hundreds of people I love on the internet even when I can’t get to their blogs.  I love being able to talk about anything and everything with so many people.

——

Then there are days when I just want to smack twitter.  Like when Amy Winehouse died.  My twitter stream went something like this…

“OMG. Amy Winehouse died. SAD PANDA.”

“Amy Winehouse was a druggie. Insert inappropriate drug addiction joke.”

“Amy Winehouse is dead?????”

“We shouldn’t make jokes about addiction. It’s a serious disease.”

“How can people be so upset about Amy Winehouse when all those people died in Norway yesterday?”

“You can be sad about TWO THINGS. Geez. Amy Winehouse AND Norway are sad.”

Can I just say that it got old really quickly?  When twitter gets a one track mind, I just lose all interest.

——

On the other hand, twitter is often a huge source of support for me.  It’s a great place to vent.  It’s a great place to ask a quick question about how much your baby weighs or what kind of mascara to buy.  It’s a great place to go if you just need a laugh.  I love having hundreds of friends at my fingertips.

Of course, not everyone on twitter is super sweet and wonderful.  I’ve definitely had people say some pretty snarky things to me.  I’ve had to be careful about who I follow and who follows me, and I’m learning to unfollow and block when people get nasty.

——

Perhaps my biggest peeve about twitter, though, is that it’s so easy to misunderstand someone in 140 characters.  It’s hard enough to read sarcasm in a blog post, but in 2 sentences?  Doesn’t always go well.

I know when I’m feeling sensitive about breastfeeding, twitter usually isn’t a good place for me.  Tweets about how someone feels like an awesome mom for breastfeeding suddenly feel directed at me…even when they clearly aren’t.  That person is just tweeting about their life.  It generally has nothing to do with my boobs.

I know it’s easy for people to misunderstand me too.  For example, yesterday I tweeted, “There is no such thing as a quick trip to the store with two babies.”  Now, most people with kids could empathize with that.  It’s hard to run to the store with kids, right?  Seems like a fairly innocuous thing to say.  And yet, I had two seemingly snarky responses letting me know that it’s also hard for moms of singletons to run to the store.  That it’s not just hard for people with twins.  Sheesh.  That tweet wasn’t meant to say anything other than it’s hard for me to run to the store!  Let’s not over-interpret, ok?  Happens to the best of us, though

——

Still, despite my many peeves, I really do love twitter.  It’s my daily source of love, friendship, entertainment, news, and snark.  What more could you want out of social media?

Do you tweet?  What do you love/hate about it?

Follow me and join in the fun!

Alleged Mommyblogging

Since having the girls, I’ve felt a little lost in terms of my blogging life. I’m not really sure where I fit in anymore, and the truth is that I wasn’t really expecting to ever have to think about this. I’ve always just considered myself a blogger. A personal blogger or a life blogger if you want to be more specific, but really just a blogger. When I wrote about the early days of my teaching career, I didn’t call myself an education blogger. When I wrote about my infertility, I didn’t call myself an infertility blogger. I was always just writing my life story, and my readers were along for the ride.

That all seemed to change when the girls arrived on the scene. Sure, people stuck around for a while to gush over cute baby photos, but even that ended pretty quickly. And sure, I expected to lose some people and make new friends in the transition — that’s pretty standard — but I wasn’t expecting it to be such a huge transition. Motherhood brought about so many changes in my life and in my relationships, but I never really thought about how it would affect my life on the internet.

Apparently having children made me a mommyblogger. Allegedly. Or something.

Here’s the thing, though…I’m not really sure what that term means. What exactly is a mommyblogger? Previous readers and communities I’ve belonged to have used that word with such disdain that it’s certainly not something I’d ever want to be. At the same time, it seems that term was assigned to me by the simple fact that I have children.

So am I a mommyblogger? Is a mommyblogger just a blogger who has children and writes about parenting? Or is it something more sinister than that? Is it always such a charged term — implying some PR grubbing parent selling out all over the internet? Or does it just mean a mom who blogs?

For me, it really doesn’t matter. I don’t need or want a label. I plan to keep writing about my life as I know it no matter what others call it.  Though, I am going to assume if you are anti-mommyblogger that you aren’t talking about me!

But I still want to know…what is a mommyblogger?

I’m seriously asking. I’m genuinely curious. What does the term “mommyblogger” mean to you?

Twinlet Video Blog

I’m convinced that they know when the camera is on and refuse to be their usual goofy selves, but this is still cute…

Internet Redux

I’d love to write you a great post, but my brain currently isn’t functioning at all.  So, let me point you in the direction of some other fabulous posts that have recently (or not so recently) popped up in my reader…

  • It’s Not So Different — Katie talks about her adoption fears, and how waiting to adopt a baby really isn’t all that different than waiting to give birth.
  • Lisa‘s Fearless Formula Feeder Friday post — Lisa’s breastfeeding and pumping experience simultaneously breaks my heart and infuriates me!
  • The Truth About Postpartum Depression — Chelsea talks about those super tough mommy times that we all have, but often don’t talk about.
  • A Moment — Ginger’s fantastically lovely post about a moment with her little man.

Enjoy!