Category: Mari Farthing

Mari Farthing – Why I Blog

Contributed by August Blogger of the Month, Mari Farthing

Why do I blog?

I ask myself this question fairly often. Especially on those days when the words don’t flow, and I find myself flailing for an idea. Why do I even bother? Does anyone even care? Who even reads it? Why do I do it at all?

Back in the early 2000s, when we were all wearing chunky highlights and chunkier heels and there was still no such thing as a smartphone, I started a MySpace page. I was convinced it was the wave of the future, but this Betamax format was soon eclipsed by the VHS of Facebook. I didn’t want to convert. I already started MySpace and liked how it worked! Plus, I had posted a series of essays on MySpace, usually preceded by a tiny tingle of trepidation, putting my personal words out there for all the world to see.

Soon, I gave in, I got rid of the beta and switched to VHS, metaphorically speaking, and traded MySpace for Facebook. I had boards of flair (How fun! Whatever happened to those?) and I played Mafia Wars and kept pages of notes where I continued to write little ranty or funny essays (mostly ranty) and memes.

I started to hear about this blogging phenomenon. I figured, what the heck? And started my own little blogspot blog. I populated it with those old MySpace posts at first, and then kept going. This blog was where I posted about music, about struggling with being a military mom, about my kids and how much I loved them or how much I was made crazy by them (usually both).

Blogging became an outlet, a necessary way to vent steam, to send out ideas, to get feedback from people. Eventually it also became a place to connect to people I would never have met. Blogging has connected me with people and places and things that matter to me now—people and places and things that I wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to know.

When times were hard, I had a place to vent. Blogging forced me to see the silver lining, to find the lesson in the hardship because I didn’t want to always put negativity out there. Blogging taught me that I wasn’t alone, that other people think about things like I do or have an interesting counter point to make.

I’ve made connections both near and far. Blogging filled a void in me like nothing else could. I joined blogging groups—first, the Music Mamas, a bunch of moms who would write about music, and when asked for my blog name, I said “Mari’s Virtual Notebook,” the first name that popped into my head and the name I regretted for years. I recently changed it to “Mari, Quite Contrary” to better fit my general mood and to subtly reiterate that Mari sounds like Mary. I blogged at a magazine website about parenting stuff and I blogged for a book review website. I blogged about pop culture at Chick Wit. I helped to start up the Oklahoma Women Bloggers. I’ve lived a big life online, which suits me. Blogging let me express things that were hard to say out loud.

And now, I’m in a transition. My kids are older and while I’ve never solely focused on them, they don’t really want me to focus on them at all. I’m learning to share my thoughts and ideas in a different way. Blogging has given me a vocabulary to get through transitions. It’s given me an extended family to connect with, a family who cheers me on or commiserates with me or meets me for coffee or sends me a card, people who will stop me and tell me how much a post meant to them or made them laugh. It’s true, that old saying—you have no idea the people you touch every day with your words and deeds.

So, why blog?

Well, because I couldn’t do it any other way.

Mari FarthingAlong with being awkward, Mari Farthing blogs at and is a prolific social media presence (meaning she drinks copious amounts of coffee each morning and proceeds to avoid housework by surfing the internet). She’s a freelance writer and editor and mother of two.

Which Personality Type Are You?

mari farthing

If you’re anything like me (I think the scientific term is easily distracted by shiny objects), you’ve clicked the link on Facebook and taken the 16 Personalities test to figure out just who you are.

I ended up as an INFP-T, which is a confusing way to say I’m a “mediator” personality type. I could have told you that—my preferred state is holding hands and singing kumbayah, and I loathe conflict. More than once I’ve said, unironically, Can’t we all just get along!?

The types are based on the Myers-Briggs test, which I’ve taken over the years in various iterations. The premise is that there are 16 basic personality types, using combinations of basic types: Introverted (I) or Extroverted (E), Sensing (S) or Intuition (N), Thinking (T) or Feeling (F), and Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).

The N and F in the center of my type have been constants—though I don’t know that I agree but the way this is defined means that I make my decisions are not based on hard facts but on feelings. The first and last letters of my type have been more fluid—there are times when I’m more extroverted than introverted, for sure—I relate to that idea of the extroverted introvert.

The one that surprises me most is the last letter. I was always a J—focused, goal-oriented and orderly. But now I’m a P—casual and preferring a mix of work and play. As a woman of a certain age (cough—46—cough) I totally agree with this. I don’t worry about things the same way I used to. Whether this is a result of getting older, changing priorities as my children get older—as I get older—as my life changes, I’m not really sure. But I’m okay with it.

I don’t like to be defined by anything and I won’t let myself be boxed in by a website that tells me that I’m a four letter word (if you can call INFP a word, that is), but it does offer insight into why I am the way I am—like that it’s no surprise that I tend to speak in metaphors or that I hate being late or that if I don’t have a creative form of expression I get stabby. It reminds me that I need time alone to recharge—but not too much time, because I an easily become a hermit.

There are lots of personality tests like this, but if you want to try the one I did, visit

Mari FarthingAlong with being awkward, Mari Farthing blogs at and is a prolific social media presence (meaning she drinks copious amounts of coffee each morning and proceeds to avoid housework by surfing the internet). She’s a freelance writer and editor and mother of two.

Day Trip Through History

Contributed by OKWB member, Mari Farthing

Before school ended for the year, my daughter’s class went on one final field trip, to the Mabee-Gerrer Museum in Shawnee. If you’ve never been, here are 10 reasons why you should go.

  1. Mummies. Along with a collection of other ancient Egyptian artifacts, you can see the mummy of “Tutu,” and get up close and personal, and the only one you can find in Oklahoma.
  2. Ancient artifacts. Items from ancient Central American cultures (such as the Olmecs and Aztecs), and items from ancient Rome, Greece and China show early culture from around the world.
  3. Paintings. So many paintings, from medieval works to contemporary works, the museum hosts paintings from all eras.
  4. Knowledgeable staff. Tour the museum with a guide if you can—the staff are very knowledgeable about the artworks and artifacts in the museum. Docent guided tours are free for groups of 10 or more and should be booked 2 weeks in advance. It’s worth it.
  5. Gift shop. Seriously, the museum has an awesome gift shop with the usual suspects you find plus really cool jewelry and one-of-a-kind things that would make great gifts.
  6. Hands-on learning. So, like I said, I went with a field trip so this might be specific to a field trip group, but the on-site classrooms provide a great opportunity for hands-on learning for the kids. And yes fine, the adults who like the crafty things. Even if you don’t have a school group, there are family activity ideas on the website ( to get you started.
  7. Ambience. The grounds of St. Gregory’s University play host to the museum and the lawns are gorgeous. The day we visited, the trees were blowing in the ubiquitous Oklahoma breeze.
  8. St. Gregory’s Abbey. There is a working Benedictine Monastery on the grounds of the museum, just across the lovely green expanse of tree-dotted lawn. The Gothic Cathedral features flying buttresses and stained glass and church services.
  9. Location. Seriously. It’s 40 minutes from the heart of the city.
  10. Because you haven’t been there before.

Version 2








Learn more about the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art at

IMG_7704Mari Farthing is a writer and editor in the Oklahoma City area. She blogs about all the things at and likes to spend her free time creating things, enjoying things and traveling with her husband & two kids.

The Oklahoma Standard

Contributed by OKWB community member Mari Farthing

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. It was an event whose impact was felt far and wide, which reached to all corners of our country and even beyond.

After the attack, the people of Oklahoma committed to healing. To help where help was needed. To give—and then give more—to those in need. This terrible act allowed the best part of humanity to shine through, something that’s being celebrated this year as The Oklahoma Standard.OKStandardCommit

The Oklahoma Standard consists of 3 parts:

  • Service: Help someone in need.
  • Honor: Show honor to those directly impacted by visiting the Memorial.
  • Kindness: Be kind to others.

These acts can be small to big, and all of them are necessary. We all hear about how random acts of kindness make someone’s day—this is a way to incorporate that into everyday life. I love this program and how my children are responding to it. You can sign up at The Oklahoma Standard site, and download a badge to show your commitment.


 The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

One of the parts of the Oklahoma Standard includes a visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, which serves the dual purpose of honoring those who were directly impacted by the bombing and to educate new generations about how that event turned into a story of hope and healing.

I took my kids to visit the Memorial—they have been aware of it, and have even visited it before, but they are older now, and have a more full awareness of why it exists. It’s a somber place, but also hopeful. A place of meditation and contemplation. We visited on a drizzly Saturday but managed to get there during a break in the weather.

We talked about what happened, about how it changed things, about what it means to honor.


Visiting the Survivor Tree


Cloudy, clear reflection


We didn’t visit the museum on this visit, but we did go into the museum store. I picked up an Oklahoma Standard bracelet for $5 and my daughter picked up a pin to leave at the fence in honor of those who lost their lives in the tragedy.

Eat Local: Irma’s Burger Shack

Just down the road from the Memorial is Midtown, home of a wonderful revitalization that includes many local eateries. One of my favorites that’s been around for more than a few years is Irma’s Burger Shack. The original Irma’s opened on 63rd near Western in 2003, and the Midtown location at Plaza Court, just a 15 minute walk from the MVersion 2emorial.

This part of town is hopping busy during the week, but on a weekend during the day, traffic is lighter and it might be easier to get a seat at one of the restaurants around the area.

If you choose to drive, you get to do laps in the traffic circle… or maybe that’s just me. I’ve had many different items on the menu and have never been disappointed—the only problem we seem to have is not ordering too much food. We chose to start with fried pickles and fried okra and both were awesomely hot, crispy and delicious.

The kids complained about their kid-sized drink cups, but the refills were frequent and plentiful, so that quieted down quickly.

A few other must-visit places in the area include:

  • Verdigris, on 7th St between Walker and Hudson. A shop first opened by two sisters, you won’t leave this shop without finding something you can’t find anywhere else, from antiques to art pieces.
  • Bleu Garten on 10th between Harvey and Hudson, which is like an al fresco food truck court. Their website has a schedule of what food trucks will be available when.
  • The Oklahoma City Museum of Art, which includes permanent exhibits and special exhibits, is just a bit south on Couch Drive between Walker and Hudson.

IMG_7704Mari Farthing is a writer and editor in the Oklahoma City area. She blogs about all the things at and likes to spend her free time creating things, enjoying things and traveling with her husband & two kids.

Holiday Spirit?

Submitted by Mari Farthing, OKWB Community Manager

This post needs a subtitle: A Very Menopausal Christmas.

Every year, ever since I can remember, we drive around to look at Christmas lights. I want to blame (credit?) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (which we traditionally watch on Christmas Eve) for this, but I can recall even back when I was a kid in Wisconsin, there was a neighborhood that would decorate in that Griswald over-the-top style, and we visited Candy Cane Lane even before we had kids, walking the streets in sub-zero weather and taking pictures (with our film-loaded cameras) of the elaborate displays.

Now, I so appreciate our neighbors who decide to throw caution and their utility bills to the wind in order to light up the night with holiday spirit, and it can be like a treasure hunt driving down the street. Giddily, the kids would yell out from the back seat “CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!” until it got silly and they would start pointing at neon signs and traffic lights. Funny business. They got to go out for a ride after bedtime, wearing pajamas and singing Christmas songs and sometimes hitting the drive-thru for a milkshake (because cocoa is just too hot).


Along with the personal displays, there are so many donation-funded drive through displays at parks all over the state, and while we’ve visited a few over the years, there is one in particular that it’s become our tradition to visit. When we loaded up in the car to do our tour of lights last night, I recalled the wide-eyed and pajama-ed kids who excitedly clutched their candycanes and fuzzy blankets, thrilled to be exploring new territory and up past their bedtimes; these are the children of a Christmas past. This year, we loaded up with hormonal and bickering pre-teens (one clutching his smartphone), a Dad with a head cold and a hormonal, menopausal Mom.


Good times.

The kids bickered in the back seat in between stern looks and the random admonishment from me while we adults in the front shared a jaunty conversation consisting of “ah-choo!” and “God bless you,” and not much else since he was rendered all but deaf by the head-cold congestion.

Thusly, we made our way to the park, after only one wrong turn (happens every year), kids complaining of sticky fingers and poking each other in the face with said sticky fingers (as one does). We crept through the park with our holiday music playlist, looking at all the lights with the hundreds of other cars in procession.

I remember most of the displays from years past; some of them showing their age with a bulb out here or there, some that we decided are best viewed at a distance. We wondered at the giant, orchestrated display that we didn’t tune our radios to but rather listened to our own music mix (can we not do that, please? I’m tired of that song). We saw a few new ones, the kids argued whether the blinking lights were really seizure-inducing or just annoying, and I tried to hold onto my holiday spirit.


Surely this was it; the end of our traditional tour of lights. It made me sad, but I didn’t see how this would be fun anymore when the kids were clearly over it. And honestly, I was just tired; I had spent two days cooped up with these grumpy tweens and at this point, they were just sawing away at my last untouched nerve.

Big sigh.

We reached the end of the display, driving through the blinking tunnel, putting our tip in the bucket and turning our headlights back on. I thought to myself, “so much for that.”

And then, from the back seat, he said, “I love coming here to see the lights.”

And next to him, she said, “That was so cool. Thanks for taking us.”

I felt my heart thaw out and grow a little bit bigger, just like the Grinch. And then they started up with the bickering again. Between sneezes, my husband turned up the music and we all sang along (even though the kids changed the lyrics), and I said a prayer of thanks for the holiday spirit that’s still in here with us.

It may not look or feel the same as it did when they wore footie pajamas, but it’s still there, just the same.

IMG_0384Along with being the Community Manager of the Oklahoma Women Bloggers, Mari is a menopausal mom of two tweens (pray for her) who enjoys cooking, knitting and running. She blogs about her life’s misadventures at

Pumpkin Spice Overload

Submitted by Mari Farthing, OWB Admin

In Oklahoma, you know it’s fall not because the leaves start turning or that you must break out your sweaters—rather it’s the barrage of pumpkin spice everything. As evidenced by these Pumpkin Spice Oreos my husband brought home from the grocery store this past weekend. And now I believe (hope?) the pumpkin spice flavor trend may have jumped the shark.


I should preface this by saying that I’m not a fan of the ubiquitous pumpkin spice latte—being more of the “brewed coffee with room for cream” tribe myself, I have no sweet tooth when it comes to coffee. But these Oreos… I mean, they’re cookies. What’s not right about a pumpkin spice cookie? More snickerdoodle than true Oreo flavor, these cookies are not something I would buy, but when Daddy takes the kids to the grocery store, I know that there will be treats.

This will not unload a pumpkin spice deluge into my world this season, but it will give me another reason to get my behind out on the track and run this week. And it’s worth mentioning that I am thankful that it wasn’t the classic Double Stufs in the shopping bags that landed on my counter this fateful day, as those are truly my guilty pleasure, and I may have absconded to a quiet place with that blue bag of cookies for a little “me” time.

While I might not head to the coffee shop for a pumpkin spice latte before the option is removed from the menu, you might find me snapping up the last pack of pumpkin spice wax melts. They make the house smell so good, makes it feel cozy especially when it’s chilly outside. I’ll start up my warmer while I sit and enjoy a nice cup of brewed coffee with cream on a crisp, autumn morning. Maybe while enjoying a cup of pumpkin spice Greek yogurt or chewing my pumpkin spice gum (Spoiler alert: not really. I saw these items on the shelf, but alas; there they did remain.).

What about you? Are you all about the pumpkin spice?

IMG_0384Along with not being a fan of pumpkin spice everything, Mari Farthing is an administrator of Oklahoma Women Blogger. She also writes about all kinds of stuff at Mari, Quite Contrary and about writing and editing at Mari Edits.

Local Flavor: Heroes & Hamburgers

Submitted by Mari Farthing, OKWB Admin

We had a free morning and the kids were itching to go somewhere… anywhere! We’ve done all the normal hot spots and needed something new. A visit to a local comic book store (which I recommend—friendly, funny staff and a big selection!) gave me the idea to head to Paul’s Valley, to the Toy & Action Figure Museum.

It’s just about a 40 minute drive (in good traffic) from OKC, so there’s really no reason not to go. I used a coupon from MetroFamily Magazine (which can be downloaded from their website) for a free kid admission and then when I showed my ID to the cashier with my credit card, she told me that there is also a military discount—so even though I was planning to spend just under $20 for the three of us, I ended up paying about $7. You can’t beat that!

The small gift shop greets you when you first enter, and it’s filled with store-branded items (the store’s logo is pretty cool) plus toys both old-school (accessories for full-size GI Joe dolls—err—action figures) and new (Minecraft!) to satisfy kids of all ages. And when you walk through the archway into the museum proper, you are assaulted in the best way possible with all things toy and action figure.

Though the museum is relatively small (about the size of a strip mall storefront), you could easily spend hours here, especially when your kids find the play room (more on that later). But a picture’s worth a thousand words, so I’ll just show you some of the fun we saw:

IMG_6272Captain America keeps the world safe for democracy.

IMG_6283Some action figure favorites, including Lost in Space figures and Mork!

IMG_6287“Look! It’s Watto! Get a picture!”

IMG_6288Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na, BATMAN!

IMG_6304The play room at the museum. Not shown: the teens &
twenty-somethings playing just out of frame.

IMG_6303This was the lone Pokemon my son found, in the play room;
he wanted me to include it here.

The play room was stuffed with all kinds of costumes and toys, and my kids spent a full hour there—would have spent longer if I hadn’t wrangled them for lunch—and while this surprised me since they’re not little kids any more, they were not the oldest kids in the group. With action figures and cars and bright red rotary phones that counfounded most of the younger set, the play room was bright, fun and welcoming.

After we had our fun at the Toy & Action Figure museum, we were beyond hungry—bordering on hangry—and I was all set to go to the restaurant next door. Problem is, my car was in 2-hour parking and my time was up. And the line for the restaurant was out the door (a testament to the restaurant in a small town that can have a line out the door!), so we decided to head back toward the highway. I’d seen a little diner that looked promising, and we were not disappointed!

IMG_6306On Grant Ave (State Hwy 19, exit 72), just east of I-35 and surrounded by chain restaurants, the Happy Days Diner sits, like a slice of old-school charm. We were greeted by a giant glass case of pies as we walked through the door and shortly after that a hostess who seated us in a sparkly vinyl upholstered booth. It smelled great and looked old-fashioned except for the modern pop songs coming from the juke box. My daughter ordered the chicken strips, my son and I both ordered the cheeseburger with seasoned fries. As we waited for our food, we discussed what kind of pie we were going to get after we finished our lunch.

But that never happened because our lunch was so filling! My son said it was the 2nd best burger he’s ever had (and he knows good burgers. His favorite is a buffalo burger he got a year or so back), and I’m inclined to agree with him. I wasn’t thrilled to only have American cheese to choose from, but this is how burgers used to be! If you’re gonna eat a burger? Make it a good one. This burger put others to shame.

lunchMy lunch dates & their awesome food!

Then we were back on the road and headed for home. There are lots of other things to see and do in Pauls Valley, and we’ll go back to do them. But since it’s just 40 minutes down the road, it’s close enough that I don’t feel bad about not getting it all done in one day.

B+W head shotSubmitted by Mari Farthing. Along with being an administrator of Oklahoma Women Bloggers, Mari blogs about all kinds of stuff at Mari, Quite Contrary and about writing and editing at Mari Edits. Mari will be one of the speakers at the upcoming AWBU 2014 conference, held in Rogers Arkansas September 6-8.

August? Already?

By Mari Farthing, Oklahoma Women Blogger admin.

Sometimes I truly hate to be right. I predicted that July would fly quickly by, dropping us into August without so much as a “thank you very much,” barreling toward back to school and fall with no respect for summertime. And oh, how right I was. July for me went by before I could even catch my breath! But now, with just a few scant weeks before school stars, I’m holding on with both hands.

IMG_6016Heading back to the car after a few hours of crystal digging in the mud.

IMG_6024One of the most fun things I did in July was to visit the Great Salt Plains to take my kids crystal digging. Unfortunately, the great salt plains were more like a great salt marsh on the day we visited, but we still had fun… though I couldn’t understand why we were instructed to carry water with us to wash the crystals out when all the crystals we found were underwater!

It was still a whole lot of fun even though it was a far cry from the dry, dusty plains we were expecting. In fact, very little about July has been what I expected; there were days when we wore long pants and kept the windows open to catch cool breezes, in the middle of the day in July. It was a far cry from those record high temperatures of years past and I’m not complaining. July might have flown by, but it was a good time to be an Oklahoman.

IMG_6030One of my family’s favorite parks down here in Moore was directly hit by the tornado that came through in May of 2013—but this summer, portions of the park have been reopened for visitors. The playground has been rebuilt (thanks in part to a “favorite parks” campaign by Coca-Cola) and the walking loop is again accessible. During one of our walks, we discovered a few gnome homes among the trees. I always knew this place was magical.

Dee Nash1And now August is here! We are featuring a new blogger of the month, Dee Nash, who is a wife and mother and gardener—perfect to help us promote our August theme of “Local Flavor.” She blogs at several sites, and you can click over to our Blogger of the Month page to learn all about Dee.



Welcome to July

Posted by Mari Farthing, Oklahoma Women Bloggers admin.

No denying it, summer is in full swing! The temperatures are rising, the fireworks stands are open and the mosquitoes are biting. I’ve eaten a watermelon, treated a sunburn and the kids have ran through the sprinklers. July is officially here.

This month on the OWB, we’re celebrating all things hot! Well, mostly I’ll be celebrating spicy foods and finding ways to stay cool, but we all do things our own ways, right? We also decided we want to focus on gratitude this month. What are you thankful for? How much of an impact on your day do you think it would have to start out with a conscious decision to be thankful  and show gratitude? It’s a powerful movement.

For several years, I’ve tried to set my mood to “happy” when I wake up, and last year when I attended the AWBU convention, I asked to be paired up with a gratitude partner, and every day for six months, this stranger and I shared over email a few things we were grateful for. Getting in the habit of doing that on a daily basis made you really try to find the silver lining in just about every situation. I saved all of those emails and it still brings me comfort to read the usually small and easy to miss things we were both grateful for.

me giveaway picOne major thing I’m grateful for is the connection to others that I’ve enjoyed through being a part of OWB, and every month we get to highlight one of our state’s bloggers.

Our blogger of the month for July is Kristal Strong, and we’re so happy to feature this new homeschooling mom! Can’t wait to learn more about this blogger, originally from Ohio.


Welcome to June!

B+W head shotMari Farthing is an administrator of the Oklahoma Women Bloggers.

Memorial Day came early this year and school is out for the summer. Coming from up north (Wisconsin), I remember school lasting long into the month of June, and those last few weeks after Memorial Day always seemed like the l-o-n-g-e-s-t weeks of the year. As an adult, they still seem like the l-o-n-g-e-s-t days of the year, when it’s not quite summer but not quite spring and the kids get restless. My summer routine needs to wind up a little earlier, it seems.

Our June theme is “Staycations”–and it’s a theme I’m very familiar with. During my time as the editor of MetroFamily Magazine, it was an important focus; parents want to know what there is to do and Oklahoma has so very much to offer. With all the different temperate zones in the state, you can spend an entire summer exploring new territory without ever crossing a state line.


Hitting the park—hands down, my favorite way to spend
a summer day.

This year, my Staycation plans will include biking, swimming, crystal digging, animal seeing and al fresco wine sipping. Sounds like a winning imagessummer to me. Hands-down, my favorite book about summer is called (logically) Summer, by Alice Low. It’s one of the books my kids received when enrolled in the Dr. Seuss book club, and it just warms my heart still today when I see it on the shelf.

We like the things that summer brings.
It brings the sun.
It brings the heat.
It brings the things we like to eat.

I don’t know what it is about the simple poetry in this book, but it speaks to my soul. I recall summers spent running around barefoot, swinging in trees, eating watermelon and stealing wild raspberries and rhubarb from my neighbor’s garden. Summers spent in Milwaukee were a wonderful mix of urban and suburban somehow, thanks to all the green space. I wish I could take my kids back to the summer streets I grew up on and show them the things that made me happy. I’m sure they’d roll their eyes and give me a “come on, Mom,” before kicking off their own shoes and playing when they were sure I wasn’t looking.

Come back tomorrow to meet our new blogger of the month for June, Shel Harrington. She’s also a girl from up north like me and her first post is about her summer vacation/staycation to visit her parents’ retirement community. I know she’ll make you smile as you get to know her.

What’s on tap for you this summer? Let’s get it started!

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