October 18, 2011

Fighting the Good Fight

My brother and I a loooong time ago.

I don't know about you, but some of my fondest childhood memories involve some sort of torment and my older brother.  (Older brothers and torture do go hand-in-hand, don't they?)  Whether he was tormenting me or getting me 'back' for bothering him...those were some good times.  :-)

I feel like I learned a lot of life skills and what buttons to push (and not to push) on people from fighting with my brother.  I learned how to be completely mad at someone and still sit across from the at the dinner table each night without getting in trouble for being rude.  (Okay, maybe just MOST of the time!)  I learned how and when to get my revenge.  I learned how to be a good victim.  (Then, I learned that would only work so many times before I would shoot myself in the foot and get in more trouble than he would have gotten into before I tried to frame him!)

My brother and I weren't always very angry when we fought.  We were mostly just trying to irritate each other.  Or we were just bored and there was nothing good on television.  Since he's four years older than I am, our fights were rarely (if ever) physical.  The most I think we ever physically fought were the 'foot fights' we would have on our parents' couch.  Little did we know, the couch was the only real loser in that game.  Apparently, lying at each end of the couch and pushing toward each other's feet could have broken the frame of our couch. 

 That sort of actual understanding doesn't kick in until one has paid for a couch themselves.  I'm pretty sure that I would come unglued if I found my kids to be doing that to my couch!

This one time, my brother and my cousin were ignoring me or leaving me out of whatever they were doing.  I decided to have a 'tea party' instead.  I made some 'tea' alright.  I used water, Comet, some of my mom's favorite perfume, and whatever else I managed to find under the bathroom sink.  I mixed it up in my little teapot, poured it into the teacups, and invited my brother and cousin to my tea party. 

Don't worry, no brothers or cousins were harmed in the making of the story.  They pretended to take a sip and started rolling on the ground and crying and moaning that they had been poisoned.

*evil grin*

Hey, at least they were playing with me!

I remember these things when I see (and hear) my own kids argue.  There are days when I just can't take it and have to ask them to stop.  (Or at least take it somewhere else!)  But, they have to find their places in each other's lives and routines.  They are learning patience from one another far better than I could actually teach it to them.  They are learning to sit across from one another at the dinner table and be civil when they really want to be as far away from their sister as possible.  (Of course, if they are anything like me that just means they are planning to get their revenge another time...when Mom isn't watching.)  I deal with bad behavior as I see it, but I have come to terms with the fact that not every facet of their relationships with each other will actually involve me.  They have to earn each other's respect.  I feel if I force them to respect each other all the time they could start to resent one another for it.  Now, this doesn't mean that I don't pull one aside and speak with them when they are being irrational.  If 8YO is being especially impatient or grumpy with her sisters, I will pull her aside and try to explain her sisters' point of view.  (Meaning:  Your sisters are not just put on this earth to annoy you.  GET OVER IT!) 

I try not to intervene when it comes to the small stuff.  Life is too short to spend it fighting over hair brushes and what to watch on television.  I sort of make it a rule that, if they bring it to me, then I will solve it and BOTH of them will lose. That usually motivates them to work it out themselves, which in turn makes my life so much more pleasant.  

What can I say?  My black and white striped shirt is in the dirty clothes and I haven't seen my whistle in days.  Since I can't be their referee, then they are better off just working it out themselves.

I've just met too many adults in this world that never learned how to fight their own fights or self-soothe and they are not the easiest people to be around.  Most life skills are 'learn by doing' and seeing an adult try to work through these basic feelings and experiences is just ridiculous.  I want my girls to be better prepared for all the curve balls that life will throw their way. 

And I'm also really lazy.


Did you have a sibling to tease and torment growing up?  What are some of your best memories of arguments' past?



September 15, 2011

Knitting, Boredom, and Some Wicked Grass

I have come to realize that I don't talk about my knitting stuff here as much as I would like to.  So, allow me to bore you with a little bit of that!  :-)

I started trying to knit some Mystery Socks from a little Knit-A-Long on Ravelry...but that didn't work out so well!  I just don't think I'm ready for knitting socks with a lace pattern!  I was on my umpteenth attempt when I realized how unhappy the pattern was making me.  I quickly remembered some cheap, self-striping sock yarn I had on hand and decided I needed some simple, stockinette stitch socks that would make me happy. 

And oh, they really do make me happy!

See?  All I have to do is knit and each few rows bring me a new color to look at!  This is the first sock of the pair, but I'm not worried.  Now that I've conquered my fear of turning heels (at least, with this sort of pattern anyway!) I don't feel as much pressure when knitting socks and find it way more enjoyable instead!  These socks make me HAPPY and they feel sort of autumn-ish, you know?

(And yes, my leg really is that white.  I cannot blame the flash on my camera for that one!)

I think I really did begin the new school year with a bit of an illusion that I'd have so much more time to get things done, now that all three girls would be in school all day!  My bubble has officially been burst, I think. I rarely have the time to sit down and knit or read or do anything else I'd have imagined I would be able to make time for.  Between volunteering in my daughters' classes (which I  wouldn't give up for anything at this point!) and the normal upkeep of the house, there aren't as many hours in the day as I'd imagined there'd be.  Just like it usually goes, there are always so many more things I would like to get done that I actually do get done in a day.  Sure, I have more quiet time to myself than I've had in...well, probably all of my adult life, really!  I can start a project and finish it before I move onto something else.  No interruptions from bored, hungry kids and no one following behind me trying to make a mess of whatever I just cleaned.  When I'm actually home, it's pure bliss!

What I can't get over is when I hear (or read) of another mom who has her plate just as full as mine (or even moreso!) and that they are BORED.  Exactly what I this 'bored' that they speak of?  I just can't even begin to wrap my brain around how that happens!  Are they really so on top of things that they actually reach times in their regular days where they have NOTHING TO DO.  NOTHING?  How can that be???  Maybe it's just the procrastinator in me that rules too many of my decisions, but I do not get this.  At all.  I ALWAYS have something that I could or should be doing.  Always.  In addition, I have things that I would spend ALL DAY LONG doing if I could.  But I can't, so I don't.  I actually sort of look forward to the days where I just feel really icky, whether it's from a virus or just a headache that won't leave, because I can actually justify taking some time to take care of myself.  I can watch television, read, or knit. 

You know who gets bored?  Children who aren't old enough to see past their own immediate wants and needs and see nothing in front of them that they actually care to do.  They are bored.  Pregnant women on bedrest who can do almost nothing for themselves but stay in bed.  They are bored.  How can a full-grown woman who is in charge of a home and family EVER claim this?  Do they just not have enough hobbies?  Do they always need to be entertained by someone or something else?  I just don't get it.  Boredom is NOT in my vocabulary!  If I'm bored with something I have to do, I will bribe myself with something I want to do in order to finish it.  And there is always something I want to do, usually right at my fingertips.  I just have to find the time to do it!

In the midst of our usually hectic schedule, Aly (our female boxer) began to sneeze.  She started having these sneezing fits on Sunday that were just awful.  Nothing came out of her nose, not even blood, and she was perfectly fine when she wasn't sneezing.  But the episodes contintued on Monday, so I called the vet.  Living in a pretty rural area, foxtails are always a fear.  I was able to get her into the vet on Tuesday and they agreed that there had to be something up her nose.  She wouldn't stay still enough for the vet to actually get a good look, so they had to sedate her.  As it turns out, she had BLADES OF GRASS in her nose.  She had had an actual sneezing fit in the exam room while they were trying to get a good look up her snout and they saw how hard she was sneezing.  The vet said she would never have been able to get that grass out herself. 

Trying to coax her out of the vet's office was funny.  5YO was pushing her from behind while I gently tugged on the leash.  She took each step slowly and carefully and then just stopped walking altogether.  I had to pick her up and carry her the rest of the way to the car.  She weighs 53 pounds now, which I realize is actually on the petite size for an adult boxer.  As small as she is for a boxer, SHE'S NO EASY THING TO CARRY.

Aly now takes antibiotics twice a day in order to ensure that she doesn't get any sort of infection where they were digging around her in nasal passages.  She really is fine now, but I never knew how expensive a couple of blades of grass could be!  

Has this happened to anyone else?  What are the odds?  Do they make special dust masks for dogs to wear on the days their owners mow the lawn?

Could you just imagine if they did? 


September 9, 2011

Veeeeery PINTERESTing...

Thankyouverymuch, Pinterest.com!  

Someone had pinned that an standard-sized Mason jar will fit into most blender bases, which in turn makes your blender a homemade version of a Magic Bullet

You know what?  They were OH-SO-CORRECT. 

I had seen the Magic Bullet advertised and, on occasion, had though it might be nice to have one sometime.  Now, I'd like to apologize in advance to the nice people at the Magic Bullet company because they will NEVER be getting any of MY money.  


I've learned a lot from my brief time at Pinterest.  Most of all, I've learned that a website where you have thousands of great ideas at your fingertips is maybe too overwhelming to actually be as helpful as it should be.  I could be there for HOURS and be so overwhelmed with all the great ideas that I may not actually apply most of these nifty ideas to my own life.  I'm starting to use it more as a reference site in order to look up specific needs, as they should arise.  And thanks to my iPhone, I have a Pinterest app at my fingertips.  I can browse those clever pictures whenever I want!  At first, I though that might be a problem for me, but it really only took me a couple of days to slow my Pinterest pace down to a speed that would not be a deterrent from my everyday life. 

And I am still finding cool new ways to do and/or make things every single day. 
(See above picture)


August 24, 2011

Her New Bigger, Brighter World

5YO is officially a kindergartener.  I mean, I guess you could say she has been one for a week or so now. 

She.  Loves.  It.

I mean, it helps that both kindergarten teachers at our school are AH-MAZING.  Our school is truly blessed to be able to say that. 

In my last post, I was talking about how great it will be to get these kids out of my house for 6 1/2 hours a day.  Just the thought of being alone in my house with no television or other distractions sounded like a dream-come-true!  (Oh...and it really is that good!)  But that's not quite why I'm so excited about school now.  School is giving 5YO what I realize that I no longer can.  She is learning about things in a way that I could never teach her.  She is skipping around the house singing the songs that she has learned at school.  And she is excited.  Soooo excited!  She is learning to deal with other people in a place where I cannot always be there to help her.  These are life skills that aren't always easy to learn when good 'ol mom is always around to fix things.

Up until now, most of her stories are stories about things that I was there to see happen in the first place.  She was my shopping buddy and sidekick for most of my errands and appointments when her sisters were in school.  Now, she comes home with a bunch of stories that are just her own.  And while she's always been my most boisterous child, she has a new sparkle about her that hadn't been there before. 

True independence.

I know this is the part where a lot of stay-at-home mothers start to either feel guilty for enjoying their kid-free time or mourning the loss of their 'babies.'  Not me.  I am so excited to see all my girls grow and I can't wait to see all the changes they'll go through and situations they'll encounter.  They have lives outside of me and that is fantastic. 15YO already has so much of a life outside of us that, if she could drive (and had unlimited funding), she would barely need us at all!  That kid has a life alright!   

Hmm....a life.  Maybe I'll have to get me one of those this year!  In the meantime, I love getting a chance to miss them, reclaim a bit of my sanity, and maybe even weed out some old clothes or toys that they'll never miss.  Plus, I will still help out in their classrooms. 

Oh my gosh!  I'm turning into one of 'those moms' aren't I? 
Why not?  I already have the minivan and the capri pants.  ;-)

August 20, 2011

Is it Monday yet?

Yep.  5YO is now officially a kindergartener!  She even woke up bright and early the first day and told her sisters to, "move outta the way, because the kindergartener has to go potty!" 
Because she's that grown-up now.

8YO is loving the third grade, though she did confess after her first day that she didn't "feel like a third grader yet."  If it makes her feel any better, I don't feel like she should be a third grader either.

And then there's 15YO.  She is a sophomore now. 

*shakes head*

I definitely don't feel like I should have a tenth grader!  She's taller than me and her hand-me-down shoes no longer fit me.  I've entered that strange territory that not all mothers get to:  When their children are bigger than they are.  Seriously, I've tried to stop feeding her....but she just whines and whines and whines....

You know I'm joking, right?  I really do need someone to invent a sarcasm font.  That could clear up a great many misunderstandings on the good 'ol interwebs, dontcha think?

(Okay, so it's technically a *weekend* right now and they are home, but school started last week!)


Yeha, I'm that happy!  I would dance for you myself, but my lack of basic coordination would be sure to result in me breaking somethting I probably value...like a limb!

I had my first experience at being at home alone with all of my offspring in school.  I must say, it was pretty great!  I am hoping to...no, I'd better not say.  Everytime I commit to something and talk about it in this sort of forum, I don't follow through.  The only consistency in me is my INconsistency. 

I do plan to get things more organized here.  I will have more uninterrupted shopping and cleaning time.  I can actually develop some sort of schedule that can't as easily be disturbed by the mood of a smaller, yet more powerful person.  My house has the potential to not only get more clean, but to actually stay clean for up to six hours every single day. 

I can even go to my annual 'icky' appointments at the doctor without having to arrange for childcare.
(I apologize to the men for the possible visual, but the women reading this completely understand!)

I might even blog more regularly! 

But don't hold your breath, because this seems to be something that is far too easily overlooked lately.

Hmmm...maybe I'll make my own....I JUST CAN'T JINX IT BY TELLING YOU!!!

You understand, right?

I do know for sure that I plan to knit more.  I have to say that I am on the verge of being completely addicted to knitting socks.  Attending Sock Summit 2011 a few weeks ago really got me motivated to become a better sock knitter.  Because taking two years to finish one pair of socks does not a good knitter make.

In fact, I need to wrap up the dinner details and continue working on my latest sock...which is a mystery!  (It really is.  It's called a 'Mystery Sock.'  Even I don't know what I'm making yet!)

Maybe I'll post something new this week.  Gosh, I hope so!

Until you read again...

August 11, 2011

Hold on tight....we're in for a bumpy ride!

I hear little footsteps outside the bathroom door.

"Mom!  Where are you?"

"I'm in the bathroom."

"What are you doing?"

"What do YOU usually do in the bathroom?"

To be completely truthful, I was really sort of hiding out in the locked bathroom looking at Facebook on my phone.  They must wonder if I have a stomach bug sometimes, but they don't need to know ALL of my secrets right?

It's not as if I'm just avoiding them, really.  I'm also avoiding the Disney Channel and iCarly and the fact that they like to play with the DVR and make the characters say the same lines over and over.  And the arguments. 

Okay, so maybe I really am avoiding them!  But, that's all about to change because...


I know, right?  My youngest child will be starting kindergarten and this is a whole new chapter of life for me.  (I jokingly like to refer to this time as the 'BonBon years,' but most of us know better than that.)  Life is sure to become both easier and harder for me.  I think.

Honestly, I'm not sure exactly what to expect.  I'm sure my delusions of getting more done will be shattered quickly.  Grocery shopping and trips to the gym will be more peaceful and efficient.  The five-six hours that they are in school will be quieter.  (Maybe)  But, I will now have two classrooms to volunteer in (and no excuse of a small one to care for to get me out of it!) and TWO girls to help with their homework.  8YO has been pretty 'homework-resistant' in the past.  I have no idea how 5YO will be with the whole idea of homework, but kindergarteners usually need a lot of help regardless.  5YO usually races through worksheets with minimal problems, but I'm not going to count my chickens before they're hatched and think it will be easy.  She could decide to follow in her sister's footsteps and fight me every step of the way! 

15YO will be starting her sophomore year as well.  She needs no real help with her homework (though she does like to be quizzed quite a bit on an upcoming test!) but her need for a taxi driver is ever-increasing.  She is getting more and more of a real life and has places to go, ya know!  (BOY do I ever know it!)  Between cheer practice and football games and her AP class and friends and church and...I'm really not sure how it's all actually going to happen!

I guess it's a good thing that I love a good roller coaster.

I guess I can either choose to brace myself in fear, stick to the kiddie rides, or throw my arms in the air and enjoy the ride.  However I handle this, there's sure to be some screaming.  :-)

July 19, 2011

Places, everyone!

Some might say that a home with children and pets in it is very similar to a three-ring circus.  Somedays, I might even say that. 

But as much as my home and family may resemble a three-ring circus, they really don't have as much in common as one might think.  For one thing, no matter how many rings a circus might have all of those rings are organized.  They may look like chaos and there may be people and animals alike going in what seems to be every which direction.  What we don't always take into account are the countless number of hours of planning and practice and the exact precision that is required to make that show possible.  Every person has an important part to play in a successful act and others will suffer should one of them not carry out their own job. 

And there seems to be a job doing ANYTHING in the circus.  After an elephant or tiger 'leave their mark' on the circus floor, a couple of people appear out of nowhere dressed in black and promptly throw down some sawdust and sweep up whatever mess there might be.  It happens so quickly and smoothly that you'd almost think it was ever there at all. 

Of course, my 5YO notices.  That actually might be her favorite part.

The circus is also about calculated distraction.  While all eyes are to be fixed on whatever the spotlight shines on, large crews seem work tirelessly in the dark to set up the next scene or stunt.  If you let your eyes just follow the lights, the circus seems even more magical.  I myself can't help but watch the figures in the dark spots, frantically putting the next things into place before the spotlight comes back to them.

Couldn't we all use that sort of skill in life?  Perfectly timed distractions to take the spotllight off our own mishaps and bad hair days and let us prepare for our next important scene?  SIGN ME UP!

The bottom line is I don't think the sort of mayhem that ensues in most households could actually be planned out and rehearsed.  And we certainly couldn't put on the same exact show twice, which is really a good thing because the audience is usually the same.  Might as well see a new show every time!

What we do have in common is this:  No matter what might happen, THE SHOW MUST GO ON!  And I could totally use one of those background poop cleanup crews, too.

July 11, 2011

The Side Effects that You Don't Hear Enough About

I must say, I really do have a love/hate relationship with this thing!

WARNING:  Exercising regularly and healthy eating may have certain side effects that you may or may not be ready to deal with.

For starters, you will have more energy.  I know they say this.  And the logical part of my brain understands this.  But my inner spoiled brat wants to know how I could possibly get less tired from doing something that makes me SO TIRED.  I am still working on shutting that brat up, but I can say that I feel different at the end of my day.  I am more alert the last half of the day, when I would normally be dragging.  Yet, I still sleep like a rock once I actually go to bed. 

Funny how that works, isn't it?

Another crazy side effect of living a healthier lifestyle is that you might start taking better care of your appearance.  For me, it was painting my fingers and toes.  I haven't wanted actual color on my nails in YEARS.  There's just something about wanting to make my outside feel more like my inside, I guess. 

Something else that is happening is really crazy:  I've started wearing tank tops again.  Even though my arms are still freakishly huge, they are already less jiggly and more defined.  It's not a huge difference, but I can see it.  And I'm proud of it.  It's sort of like knowing I'm actually doing something about my flaws that just makes them something to be proud instead of ashamed. 

And I'm going to stop returning calls to the NFL recruiters that want to put me on their offensive line.  The answer is 'NO' okay?  These arms were meant for greater things...

I've also had quite a bit of fun just shopping in my own closet lately.  It doesn't take much of a difference to be able to wear another pair of pants that just never fit right before.  I wore a pair yesterday that I've had for two years and have never been able to wear.  They are the same size and brand as a second pair I got, but that other pair has always fit and these have not.  Until yesterday, that is.

I must confess that I did not make it to the gym at ALL last week.  Having all three girls home with me and squeezing in trips to the gym is not as easy as I'd hoped.  However, I didn't use that as an excuse to not work out.  Instead, I'd hop on my trusty elliptical or work out with the Wii.  Or go swimming.  There are so many opportunites to move that I really haven't taken much advantage of until recently.  I will still go to the gym and take classes, but that damn Wii actually hurt me worse than the classes do.  Plus, the game I'm working out with counts your correct reps and doesn't move on to the next maneuver until you've finished the reps correctly.  At the gym, I can just stop for a second or grab a drink of water and pick up with the next exercise. 

I'm not so focused on the scale as of lately because it really doesn't matter.  Not today, anyway.  If I'm doing something every single day to get me closer to being a healthier me, then that number means very little in this stage of the game.   My motivation is shifting, too.  I used to just focus on the aesthetic part of weight loss; I wanted to look better.  Who doesn't?  But more than that, I want to feel better.  I don't want to be part of my family's rich history of diabetes and high blood pressure. 

I have been blessed with a body that works.  Use it or lose it, right?

June 28, 2011


As I walked into the gym, I had a knot in my stomach.  After all, I was about to unfreeze my forever-frozen gym membership and take a class. 

I had never taken a fitness class in my life!

A friend of mine goes to three classes a week and she's in great shape.  I want to be in great shape!  (Besides the fluffy, round one I was quickly becoming anyway.)  I want more energy, less jiggle.  I want to feel good in the clothes I actually own, as well as not make myself shudder when I try on something in a store.  I don't tan well and would never just lie out in the sun to bake my skin (though I had done my share of that in my younger years!) but I am wishing that I could because, if the skin weren't actually white, I couldn't *technically* call it 'cottage cheese' on the backs of my thighs, now could I? 

I signed the proper paperwork, dropped 5YO off at the daycare, and wandered toward the crowd of people eagerly awaiting their next session.  I found my friend who gave me a few pointers while we waited.  Apparently, you have to be quick about rushing in when the door opens and grabbing your spot.  And the smaller handweights are a hot commodity.  You have to be quick to get your little 'area' set up properly. 

In a flash, the other class ended and people started filing out.  The instructor comes straight from a cycling class next door and immediately teaches the body sculpting class. 

I'm not completely sure she's human.

As she's getting her headset on and setting up her music and such, she's naming off all the equipment that each person should have.  Today it was a step with risers, a resistance band, an exercise mat, and two sets of hand weights-a heavier set and a lighter set.  In the blink of an eye, we were warming up on the step and I quickly found my own awkward refection in the giant mirror that covered the entire front wall.  The mirrors are helpful in making sure you can see that you're doing things correctly.  But, it was almost more of a distraction on the very first day.  I wasn't shaped like the people that were in this class.  I was bigger, rounder, and my face got really red almost instantly like a giant red flag, only it was part of my head, not just hanging over it. 

Am I sure I even belong here?  I almost feel like I should have crammed in a fad diet (or stomach flu) or two before I was ready to think I would belong here.

The music was a little too loud to understand the instructor.  Plus, I wasn't familiar with the terminology that everyone else seemed to understand perfectly.  I watched them all seem to fall into position accordingly.  I was a little late to begin each new maneuver, waiting to see what they were actually doing before I attempted it myself.  When I got tired, I did one rep for every two reps that everyone else did.  She must have seen the look on my face at times.  I'm sure I was looking at her like she was crazy.  All of the muscles in my body were ready to go on strike when I would hear "Last time!" and start to think it was over, only to realize that she just meant that certain set was over and she was not, in fact, through torturing my already numb and useless limbs.  Maybe it was the acoustics of the room with the blaring dance mix of the latest tunes or it could have been that I was already dizzy and shaking, but I swear her 'Four' sounded like  'One.' 

So I heard, "Last time!  Seven, six, five, one, three, two..."

Honestly, I was really just listening for the 'last time' and the 'one.' 


That's when I'm sure I was looking at her like she was crazy.  And each time, she would immediately shout, "YOU CAN DO IT!!!"  She was talking to me, I was sure of it!

Then again, it was probably in her best interest to keep an eye on me at that point.  You know...in case she needed to call the paramedics or start administering CPR.  From the way I felt, I wasn't sure I would make it through the entire class.  And my reflection made it look even worse.  She would then occasionally throw in a "HOW ARE WE DOING???"  She did not want me to answer that.  If I could have lifted either of my arms at that point, I would have used it to pick up the other arm and beat her with it.

At least I knew to slow down when I started shaking and the room started spinning!

That clock above the mirror moved more slowly than any clock I have ever seen.  Is this class really an hour long?  Throughout the class, I started noticing people modifying the moves assigned and I realized that it wasn't just hard on me.  This class was hard for everyone.

That instructor just had to be the perkiest, most cordial dominatrix I had ever seen.  Why was she so mad at me?  Had I cut her off in the parking lot or something?  Toward the end, she mentioned that she would be available after the class for any questions or comments. 

So, as the class ended I put away my share of stuff and then asked her who she was mad at.  ( I was only half-kidding, really.)  She politely laughed.  She's heard that joke before, I'm sure.  I also criticized her use of the term 'Last time!' and told her that I only expected to hear that the very last minute of class.  I then explained that this was the first class I had ever taken.  She told me I'd done GREAT.  (I'm pretty sure I was able to maybe actually do about 70% of the moves in that class.  But, if she's willing to lower the bar and pat me on the back anyway, I'LL TAKE IT!)  She was actually really nice and I'll take her class again each week.  (While channeling my inner masochist, if that's what it takes!)

I shook and felt weak the rest of the day, almost as if I'd had the flu the day before.  I ran a ton of errands and came home completely exhausted.  The following Monday, I was back at the gym to take another class.  That class didn't seem as tough, but made me even more sore.  That night, I felt SICK.  I'm pretty sure my body was just in shock.  Normally, my body prefers driving and lying on the couch as forms of movement and entertainment.  Everything in my body was telling me I couldn't do this.

But I'm doing it anyway.  Each class feels more attainable than the last.  They are all challenging and I no longer feel the need to take ibuprofen for the pain, or beat the instructor with my numb, useless limbs.  Sure, my muscles ache from yesterday's class.  But, that ache makes me feel like I actually did something with them.  I feel stronger.  I have more energy.  I have started to use my elliptical and ride my bike again.  I'm drinking 10-12 glasses of water each day.  And I'm tracking all of my food and exercise on SparkPeople.com.    That has to be the best free site for fitness and nutrition on the web!   

I can really do this.  So can you.

May 29, 2011

Just Like Peeling Potatoes

Some people make being a wife and mother look like one of the most natural processes in the world  We all know the women who played with dolls as girls and always treated them as if they were living, breathing children.  (And not the object used to test out how well the homemade catapult works or something that was shoved naked under their bed for weeks or months on end.)  Don't judge.

We all know those women who were meant to be mothers.  Whether they bear children, adopt them, or just always be a most important figure in some young person's life, mothers they always are.  They just ooze patience and virtue while drying tears or complimenting the artwork of a little one.  (Or applauding that same little awkward 'dance' that the kids have shown you for the umpteenth time and more represents a febrile seizure than something you'd pay to see on Broadway.)

Needless to say, I'm not one of those kinds of mothers.

Perhaps one of the most domestic things I think a woman can do is to peel potatoes.  I don't really know why.  I remember my own mother (who, incidently, was totally born to be a mother.  I'm guessing it skipped a generation or something.) standing over the sink peeling potatoes.  When I first got married, I remember going through a phase of making lots of stew.  The ingredients were all pretty cheap and it was a great way to feed my new 'meat and potatoes' husband.  A few times throughout the years I've seen someone standing at a sink, peeling potatoes, and I've thought Wow.  She really knows what she's doing.  She probably has it all figured out.

 By now, it has occured to me that I might even sometimes look like I know what I'm doing, whether it be peeling potatoes or folding socks.  I really don't, so never let me lead you to believe otherwise.  Unlike so many of these 'born mothers' I sort of fell into motherhood like a car accident.  (Actually, it sort of feels like I fell into motherhood by way of a car accident-but that's a story for another time!)  I spoke of getting married and having kids when I was young.  It's not that it was one of my lifelong dreams, I just figured it would happen eventually.  I mean, that's just what people did right?  Right after high school, I had sort of decided that I wasn't going to have kids.  I was going to breed iguanas.  To quote Alicia Silverstone in one of my favorite movies, I was going through my "post-adolescent idealistic phase."

I totally was.

Motherhood caught me off guard at the ripe old age of 20.  I was at a point where I really didn't know what I was doing with my life.  I'd realized that school wasn't really for me at the time.  I was working in a pet store for just a couple of coins above minimum wage.  After already kissing my share of frogs, I was dating a guy that I was sure could be 'the one.'  Of course, they always seem like they will be...until they're not.

Then came 15YO. 

I'm not going to lie; the first few months were mostly hellish.  I didn't know what I was doing.  I think perhaps the biggest problem that 15YO had as a newborn was that she realized that she was in the care of someone who did not know what she was doing.  Kids (even newborns) pick up on this stuff, you know!  It was awkward and exhausting and I felt bad that I had never really been a 'baby person.'  That guilt was such an unnecessary emotion, because I'm still not much of one. 

Enter:  David.

15YO was 5 when I met David.  I had already been bitten by the 'baby bug' and so had David.  I had 8YO nine months and five days after our wedding day.  5YO came just about three years later.  Both were planned.  Had I not had 15YO the way I did, I'm not sure I would have had any children.  15YO (as a baby) taught me how to be a mother.  She taught me that I actually wanted to be a mother.  I'm not even sure where I would be right now had that fateful 'surprise' not been bestowed upon me just over 15 years ago.  It's just been so easy to be her mother, so enjoyable.  I can't even really take credit for her great attitude toward school, rules, and her parents.  My skepticism and horrible study habits do not seem to have rubbed off on her.

8YO is her opposite in so many ways.  I figured after having 15YO turn out to be such a sweet young kid that I must know what I'm doing in this whole 'motherhood gig.'  8YO taught me how wrong I could be.  She screamed all day for months.  Looking back, I think it's a blessing that I didn't get all ooey-gooey around babies.  People like that are the ones who want to throw their babies out of windows when they cry the way mine did.  Instead, I knew it wasn't personal.  She didn't cry like she was in any pain.  If her diaper was clean and dry, she wasn't hungry, and cudding with her wouldn't help, I would just lie her down.  Sometimes I would put her back in her crib, sometimes I would keep her nearby in her infant carrier and bring the screaming little creature from room to room with me.  She still ate and did all her usual baby tasks as she should, so I didn't worry.  And I didn't take it personally. 

She eventually grew out of it.  I'm still just sure that she was aware that she couldn't do anything for herself and it simply pissed her off to no end.  As soon as she was able to roll and start to crawl, she was a completely different baby.

5YO seemed like the easiest baby ever.  At first I thought it was because I had already done it twice before, with two completely opposite babies.  Then, I realized what the third baby taught me:  All I really knew was that I knew NOTHING.  From that point on, I gave myself a break, didn't set the bar very high, and that first year just seemed so much easier. 

I'm not saying that parenting isn't hard.  It certainly can be.  But so many people seem to make it so much harder than it needs to be.  It all starts with the word 'birthplan' and then seems to go downhill from there.  I detest the word 'birthplan.'  It gives expectant mothers a false sense of security.  They think that if they make a plan, it will work out as such.  But having a baby is the first in a long series of lessons that ultimately teach us that we DON'T really have much control in the way of anything when it comes to our kids.  We can raise our children one way, and some children will carry those lessons into their adult lives.  The rest of them, well they just might spend the rest of their lives going against every single thing we tried to teach them as children.  And we have no control whatsoever.

I love that my girls are getting bigger.  I am excited for every milestone that we have ahead of us.  I've always loved my girls, but I like them more as people every single day.  I don't mourn their lost infancy.  I do get the opportunity to snuggle someone else's newborn and sniff the top of their head (they should really make a candle that smells like that!) and then I'm quite fine handing them back over.  Those babies already have a mother.  They don't need me and I don't feel that yearning to be needed.  It's nice to hand them back and then go home to sleep in my own bed.  All night long.

My living room has gone from being swallowed up by baby toys to being swallowed up by books, games, backpacks, video games, and knitting crap.  (Okay, so the knitting crap is mine!)  Even our clutter is growing, changing, evolving! 

I still have no idea what I'm really doing here most of the time.  I can't seem to stay organized, be on time to most things, cook enough healthy meals at a decent hour, and get the girls to learn to pick up after themselves.  I'm at a loss most of the time.  Except for those fleeting moments where I'm standing at my kitchen sink, peeling potatoes.... 

April 22, 2011

Knit, Read, Watch

I am home alone.

Yes, you read that right.  Alone.  It has such a beautiful ring to it, doesn't it? 

I love my family, I do.  But, 'alone time' has become so precious to me because it so rarely happens.

What to do?  What to do?  I could do just about anything I want to right now.  (Within reason, of course!  That trip to Ireland is just going to have to wait a bit longer.)  The problem with the time I get to myself is that I usually squander most of it away just trying to decide what to do with myself.  I guess I don't do well with more than a couple of options.

The girls spent last night with Grandma and Grandpa.  I spent a good hour or so alone in a store I don't usually go into with the kids unless I absolutely need something.  You would think that the kids getting older would make shopping trips easier.  (Yeah, you might think that!)  But the truth in the matter is that the infant carriers and fussy toddlers who get into everything (when they're not trying to make their escape!) get replaced by taller, more confident people who can find a reason to ask me to buy them just about anything.  When they're not doing that, they're annoying each other and making all of us miserable. 

Honestly, I do take all three of my girls a great many places.  But, they are usually the same sorts of places.  Target and Sam's Club are sort of neutral shopping places where we have pretty much had all the arguments we can have and we all sort of know our places in those stores.  When it comes to those stores, we have a system and it seems to work for us.  Most days.  But, embarking on a new journey in a store that's not on the usual agenda is just something I'm not usually up to if I can help it.

I wasted some time browsing in a store and bought a couple of practical little things.  I met David for a quick dinner on his last break (he had a late night) and ended up getting home pretty late myself.  Late and aloneJust me and the dogs.  (And the cat...can't forget Snickers!)  I had thought about maybe going to Starbucks by myself and just grabbing a coffee and sitting in a comfy chair somewhere and knitting my sock.

Oh, yes...my feet are really that fugly!  I dropped something on my big toe and it is taking forever for the nasty purple spot to grow out.  This sock has a fraternal twin on another set of needles.  I actually knitted them toe-up at the same time on a magic loop.  This worked well when I was increasing for the gusset and turning the heels, but I decided it was time to separate them when it was time to just knit the legs.  And these were started a LONG time ago.  I just pulled them out of hibernation on Tuesday and had the presence of mind to turn the heels. 

So, knitting at Starbucks.  Alone.  David would probably say that sounds like something an old lady would do.  Well, I guess I'm too old to be an old lady because I started thinking about how tired I was and how coffee that late might keep me from getting a good night's sleep and...I just ended up going home to knit in front of the television!  (I'm thinking 'old lady status' would be a step-up for me at this point!)

On my way to bed, I started seeing spots.  (That's the first sign of a migraine coming on for those of you lucky ducks that don't know what I'm talking about!  Well, that and unexplained fatigue...which somehow explains last night a bit more, doesn't it?)  I just went to bed.  I didn't take anything or do anything else.  I was that tired.  I must have slept through all the miserable stuff.  I don't recall getting any of the sour, queasy feelings or any of the actual headache.  I do feel like I just had a migraine, so I'm just taking it easy today. 

 I was all set to watch 'Eat, Pray, Love' on Netflix.  My coffee was going and breakfast was almost ready.  I haven't seen this movie yet, nor have I read the book.  Just as I was about to hit 'Play,' I started overthinking it.  (Shocking, I know!)  I've never read the book.  Knowing me, watching the movie first is a surefire way to ruin my chances of ever reading the book.  I can't think of a single storyline that is the same in the movie as it is in the book.  Can you?  I can read the book and then watch the movie without any problems.  The movie starts to stray a bit from the book, I make mental notes of the differences, and I can still sit and enjoy it because I know how the real story goes.  The book also gives so many more details and insights that you could never really get from just watching the movie.  So, even if it's different I can still enjoy and appreciate the movie because I really feel like I know what's going through the characters' heads.  However, watching the movie first just makes the differences between that and the book even more noticable. I start to read the book and come across the first difference and this voice just starts streaming through my head, "This is not how it was in the movie.  This is not how it was in the movie."  It's crazy, because I can't seem to turn it off.  The longer I read. the more things I see that were changed in the movie.  The more changes I see, the more irritated I get.  Eventually, I usually just put the book back on the shelf to be read another time.  I can't tell you how many books are sitting on a shelf and may never be finished because of that voice in my head that won't let me enjoy it because I blew it and saw the movie first.  Maybe I can wait long enough to forget exactly how the movies went and I can allow myself to enjoy those books once again.

Maybe.  I have a mind like a steel trap.  I can remember the most insignificant details about all sorts of random things, yet I once spent almost 30 minutes looking for my car in a parking lot because I can never remember where I parked.

Yeah, I'm special like that!

I guess I've pretty much talked myself out of watching this movie for now.  I'll either end up buying the book or find someone to borrow it from so I can read it before I watch this movie.  I can't think of anyone else in my house that would be interested in this movie with me, so it will be saved in my 'alone time queue' for another day.  Sure, I have a ton of other things I could be/should be doing.  But how many of them can I do while sitting on my tookus?

What do you do with those precious moments where you could do almost anything?

April 17, 2011

Time Well Wasted and Embracing Technology

It's a beautiful spring afternoon here in Rural Suburbia and I find myself planted in front of the television.  Aside from the repeated questions from my 15YO, it's been a perfectly enjoyable day. 

"Who is that?  Is that her dad?"

"Is that her son?  The one she gave birth to?"

"Who is that?"

It wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't already answered those same questions just a few minutes before.

Do you have someone in your life that makes time in front of the television somewhat stressful?  David sort of does, too.  He can usually keep up with who-is-who in whatever we're watching, but he can't always keep track of what everyone is saying.  He's not yet 40, but his hearing has suffered some.  Therefore, I suffer some.  I have half a mind to just permanently use the Closed Captioning to avoid having to answer 'What did he just say?' one more time.  Then again, the more than occasional typos would probably drive me even more insane!  Either way, I can already see us as one of those elderly couples who are constantly yelling at one another even though we're not usually fighting.

So, we're watching 'The Love Saga' series on the Hallmark Channel.  Yeah, it's addicitve.  It takes place in the pioneering days when everyone headed West to homestead and worked like dogs to have a place to call their own.  Granted, no amount of hard work would afford them indoor plumbing or some decent hair care products, but it's a good storyline nonetheless.

It's so strange to think that people could lose a spouse due to a bump on the head or a pesky gunshot wound only to turn around and marry someone else before they have even had the chance to grieve.  No time to grieve when they are crops to harvest and children to rear.  Blended families were probably more common then than they are now with all the the flu epidemics and typical Wild West antics.  (Hint:  The dudes in the black cowboy hats are usually the bad guys.  Some of these folks don't seem to realize that!)  People married out of timing and convenience.   

There is something about seeing all these uber-domestic women churning their own butter and killing their own chicken dinners that makes me want to bake.  From a box.  In my oven, where I just turn a dial and push a few buttons.  You know, the way it should be.

8YO was watching the movies with me for awhile and she concluded, "It's so good to live in the future instead of the past.  The future is way better!"

Now, that's a girl after my own heart.

I'm going to sign off before this laptop battery dies so I can hug my refrigerator and embrace the techology that surrounds me.  OH...and put some Neosporin on this paper cut so it doesn't turn to gangrene and cause me to lose the whole hand!  (SO HAPPY to be kidding about that one!)

March 28, 2011

Because Every 2nd Grader Needs Falsies...

Whether we actually feel we have them or not, breasts are a big part of a girl's life.

I was reminded of this very thing today when David flipped on the television and people were outraged by the new bathing suits that Abercrombie and Fitch are currently hocking.  In case you live under a rock and haven't heard all the commotion, they are selling a variety of bikini tops that seem to have the boobs already built-in.  They cleverly call them 'Lightly Padded' and are targeted to girls between the ages of 7 and 14.  Supposedly, they initially referred to them as 'Push-Up' but have taken that particular description off their site. 

Geee....I can't imagine why...

Upon hearing about this, I couldn't help but think about what my own reaction might have been when I was a kid.  I couldn't WAIT to get my own set of knockers from as far back as I can remember.  My mom loves to tell people the story about when I was about three or four years old and she walked into the bathroom to find me crying in the bathtub.  Upon asking me why I was crying, I answered her, "Because I don't have any boobs to wash!" 

I think I cried those same tears all through high school...


I don't think my mom would have bought me a padded bikini top.  In fact, I know she wouldn't have.  Aside from the whole 'sexualizing young girls' argument, my mother just didn't buy many things that weren't practical.  I'm not sure how she would have felt about it morally, but she certainly got her share of laughs when I would take the plastic eggs that her L'eggs panty hose came in, pop them under my shirt and strut around to show off my new 'rack.'  That being said, a bikini with built-in boobs?  I would have totally wanted one!

I'm really not sure why I was so focused on the whole idea of having boobs as a kid.  It became even more of an issue when I was one of the last of my friends to get them.  I would have never stuffed my bra, though.  I saw too many things on television where girls tried to get away with that, drawing even more attention to themselves and eventually getting 'outed' and being ridiculed.  Being exposed as 'fake' seemed even more humiliating than having a flat chest and having the whole world know it.  Besides, I could just wear baggy shirts and slouch a lot to keep them guessing.  (In my head at the time, that made perfect sense.)

If I really stop and think about it, I wasn't visited by the 'Boob Fairy' until I became pregnant for the first time.  Unfortunately, she didn't arrive until she could bring along her sisters...the 'Thigh Fairy,' the 'Ass Fairy,' and the 'Stretch Mark Fairy.' 

For me, they seem to be a package deal.

I've been truly blessed by the fact that my 'girls' have served me well.  They have fed three babies and filled-out their share of cute tops.  I look around and see so many people who have been affected by breast cancer and lost theirs and I think of a friend from long ago.  She passed away years ago, but she had already conquered colon cancer and lung cancer by the time I'd met her.  She broke it down plain and simple one day:  I know a lot of women are completely devastated when they lose a breast.  After losing my colon, all I can say is, "Take my breasts.  Let me keep my colon!  The colon is a much more inconvenient thing to lose, trust me." 

That really put things into perspective for me.  I also remember her for her phrase she used a lot when she was feeling the effects of her chemo and someone asked her how she was. 
"I've been worse!  It can always be worse, you know."

I miss her.

However you look at it,  breasts are a big deal for most girls.  (Okay, boys too!)  I don't see anything wrong with a little girl wanting to play 'dress up' and wanting fake knockers.  Most of the time, it's on the same level as wanting to walk around in high heels or wear lip gloss.  Little girls usually grow up wanting to be like their mommies.  And that's usually okay.  Usually.

But little girls wearing falsies as a part of their regular wardrobe?  Totally not the same thing.  It will be really interesting to see how this whole thing plays out.  I'm curious to see which of my daughters' friends (if any) will own one.  Just like it is with everything else, there will always be parents on the sidelines, waiting to judge the one who breaks down and buys the controversial 'thing' that everyone is talking about at the moment.

In the end, I don't think any of the girls who get these particular bathing suits are going to be scarred for life or anything like that.  This is just one more thing to blur the lines a little bit more between fantasy and reality.  I know I won't be buying them for my daughters.  My 8YO could care less...she has no interest in makeup or anything like that.  She enjoys just being a kid.  My 5YO....she would totally want a 'padded top!'  (Gee...I wonder where she gets that from?) 

But, instead of making such a fuss that something like this actually exists, I embrace the opportunity to say 'NO' and stand my ground.  This world is full of things that we don't agree with.  We can't change everything around us to suit our own needs or wants, so we need to arm our children with confidence and common sense.  I am raising my daughters in hopes that someday they will make smart choices on their own in this world, not the protective bubble most of us instictively want to keep them in.  Those bubbles can't last forever, and why should we want them to?  To quote a brilliant character from a profound animated movie about being an overprotective parent: "Well, you can't never let anything happen to him.  Then nothing would ever happen to him.  Not much fun for little Harpo." 

Thanks, Dory.  I couldn't have said it better myself!

So in my humble opinion, I don't think these 'lightly padded' bikini tops are hurting anyone.  Yes, they are tacky.  No, I won't be buying one for any of my daughters.  (And if someone else buys them one, they still won't be allowed to wear it.)  But a bathing suit alone should not be able to actually affect who a child is as a person.  Aren't we trying to teach them to see beyond that anyhow?

However, this is a nice change of scenery from all the Charlie Sheen chatter...

March 24, 2011

Skunks, Septic Tanks, and Dogs Who Don't Learn

Sometimes, I think my life could be a sitcom.

Living in Rural Suburbia certainly has its perks.  For one, you can see a ton of stars...most nights anyway!  Just twenty minutes away, the lights of the city seem to make so many of them disappear.  Another great thing is that our houses spaced-out pretty well.  No one is so close to anyone else that they have to watch the volume of their television or anything like that.  We do have a few neighbors who like to occasionally blast mariachi music into the wee hours of the morning, but I don't care as long as it's on a weekend.  We can, if we so choose to, have chickens and goats and horses and...you get my point.

The upside of living out here is so apparent that it's often easy to take for granted.  The downsides aren't so obvious most days.  We rely on a well for our water, which basically means that running the sprinklers too much can affect our power bill as well as the life of our well.  (Can you just pull $20,000 or so out of your arse to dig a new well?  I certainly can't....)  We also have to have a propane tank for our heater and hot water heater to function.  We live too far out to be able to hook up to our local power company for gas.  We have the option to buy appliances that only require electricity, but we just use what we have and spend a large chunk of money to fill our propane tank annually.  (Always buy it in the summer.  The more you need it, the more they can charge you!)  Another detail that keeps us separate from most of modern civilization is the need to have our own septic tank.  Since we are already accustomed to being responsible with our water use, our septic tank is normally not something we worry too much about.  A toilet left running or something like that could cause some expensive problems to our septic system...not too mention some foul-smelling side effects!

Evidently, too much rain can cause very similar problems.  It appears that our septic tank became full of water recently.  A few days ago, David noticed that the toilet in our back bathroom was flushing 'more slowly.'  It would still flush and a plunger made no difference whatsoever, but it hesitated before the water would actually flush down.

Red flag.

It was also pointed out to me (by David) that, when our front toilet was flushed, the back toilet would gurlge. 

Another red flag.

The final straw was yesterday morning when David discovered the front bathroom to have a large puddle of water in the floor.  It's still not clear whether that water was from the toilet or the shower.  15YO had just taken a shower and isn't always good about closing the curtain the right way.  It was, however, the motivation we needed to realize we could really have a problem on our hands if we didn't get it corrected soon.  David went outside and discovered that the mud directly over the location of the septic tank smelled like it belonged IN the septic tank.  It's been raining a TON for our area.  We are not used to this much rain, even if we do need it.  We have a dry well that branches off from the septic tank and collects any overflow from said tank  David was able to get the day off so he could stay home and figure out the situation.  He started digging down to the tank itself and looking for the cap.  He knew he could open it up and see if it were actually full or if there were some other problem.  It's not easy to find the cap for the septic tank, but if the guy who came out to pump it had to so much as pick up a shovel and find it himself, it would cost anywhere up to another $100.00. 

Yeah, ouch!

From what he could tell us, the tank WAS full...but it was mostly water.  We have some cracks in the top of the tank, but nothing he's really concerned about.  All that rainwater might have been able to seep into those cracks and fill the tank.  (That's just a theory, though!)  We don't really know for sure, but things seem to be back to normal now.  We won't really know for another month or so when then rain dries up enough for things to go back to 'normal' around here. 

Whatever that means!

To be safe, we have to tighten our belts on water use even more.  We will be taking what David likes to call 'RV SHOWERS' for the next 2-4 weeks.  (Wet your hair and body, turn off the water.  Wash hair, lather body, turn on water.  Rinse off, turn off water.  You see where this is going.....it's like CAMPING!)  He also wants us to limit our toilet flushing, but I have hard time accepting that one.  (That one is WAY too much like camping for me!  Why don't we just dig a hole in the ground and build a little shed around it?)

I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

As it was, 8YO stayed home from school because she didn't feel well.  It was cold and rainy and windy and all we really wanted to do was lie around snuggled under a blanket together reading or watching television.  We had just finished dinner and were sitting around in the living room watching 'The Middle' when the dogs went outside.  They weren't out there but a minute or so, but came back in after being sprayed by a SKUNK.

Because our day needed more excitement, right?

I had been burning candles all day to keep the smell of HUMAN EXCREMENT at bay and it had worked, but those poor candles didn't stand a chance next to that freshly-sprayed skunk smell.  The dogs are hunkered down in the dog house outside and I am cranking up the heater so I can bring them in the house (one at a time, of course!) and treat them for the smell.   This is the second time this year that I have had to treat these dogs after being sprayed by a skunk.  I'm just glad I have plenty of baking soda, peroxide, and dish soap on hand.  Despite what we have always been told, tomato juice doesn't really work. 

And the peroxide will give them some lovely 'highlights' in their coat, just in time for spring!

February 28, 2011

Front-Loading Washers and Three-Legged Races

I'm pretty sure this goes without saying, but every marriage is different.  While I'm pretty sure that the great majority of them follow the same basic rules of marriage, the details all depend on the individuals.  Things that David or I do might cause the next World War in another marriage.  We pick our battles, for the most part.  We find those things that we care about and we fight for them....or bottle them up and save them for later.  (That just so happens to be my specialty!)  Sometimes our spouse/significant other can do something that we had no idea would piss us off until it does.

David and I have had quite the 'learning experience' in the past couple of weeks.  We decided to buy a new washer and dryer.  Now, being the person who does 100% of the laundry 100% of the time, I wanted to be able to pick out the new ones.  I figured it would take us a few weeks to really do our research, shop around, and get a decent deal.  After a bit of talking, we both knew we wanted to get a front-loading washer.  Relying on a well for water and living in a place where water is not exactly found in abundance, we were ecstatic to find out how little water the new gadgets really use.  Of course it would be nice to have all the bells and whistles that come with the new contraptions, but water and energy efficiency were the initial draw for us.  The price was a bit of a drawback, but you get what you pay for...if you do your homework.

We officially decided on a Wednesday that we would actively begin shopping for them.  Now, our washer and dryer were still functional.  They had their quirks and all, but working around those quirks just became a part of my daily routine.  I guess you can say that I felt no real pressure to buy anything RIGHT NOW.  I wanted to take my time, ask around, check out the displays in the stores, open and close the doors and push all the buttons...you know, have fun with it!

And then there's David.

David is so much more of the 'NOW' mentality than I am.  I am definitely a thinker and David is definitely a doer.  Evidently, that Wednesday night was rather sleepless for poor David.  His mind was racing as he figured out the best game plan for making a big purchase like this one.  I had planned to spend a bit of that Thursday just doing some online browsing.  You can learn a lot about a product if you visit enough sites, read enough reviews.  David ended up at a store after work and found a deal that he just couldn't pass up.  He called me, had me see what I could find online about this particular washer and dryer set, and made a deal with the salesguy that he just KNEW he would never be able to make again.  The whole concept of shopping for big ticket items stresses him out and he needed it to be done now

And David bought that set right there on the spot, without me being able to so much as push a button or open and close the doors.  I never told him "Yes.  These are perfect!  Buy them." but I also never told him "NO."  And I didn't realize how much it would bother me until it did.  It really bothered me that I didn't feel like I was the one who picked out the new washer and dryer.  I had it in my head that I would do most of the shopping, find what I wanted and, if it was something that David agreed on, then we would buy them.

See, that's the problem with forming ideas about how things should be when you have to factor in another person's ideas and agenda and try to mesh them with your own.  Now, we all know those married couples where someone very obviously 'wears the pants' in the relationship.  David and I are not like that.  (At least, I don't think we are!)  I call the shots about certain things, he calls the shots about other things.  The mutual decisions are where it can get tricky.  Neither of us wears those pants, but we each wear a leg.  Watching us muddle through a situation must be like watching a really ugly three-legged race.  It can't be pretty, with all the stumbling and finger-pointing that occurs on the way to the finish line.  But we always seem to finish, and finishing means winning.  In the end, the race was only with ourselves, anyway.

So, after much back and forth between us, we now have a washer and dryer that we like.  (Well, they've been here for less than 24 hours, but they do everything we ask of them and they even play a little tune when they have finished!)  They are the ones he chose, but a trip to the store to play with the buttons and open and close the doors changed my perspective.  I do like them.  I would probably have even picked them out myself, if I'd had the chance!  (Okay, so I'm still working on the 'letting go' part a bit!)  Thanks to David, I even got to paint the laundry room before the new ones came.  He was a huge help there!  I would probably still be painting in there had he not helped!  (And I did get to pick the paint!)  Plus, he found another place who sold it cheaper and got them to match the price and beat it by 10%.  We ended up getting a price that seemed otherwise unheard of for this particular model.  I don't know how he does it!

In talking to other women, I can get anything from "I would be so pissed" to "I could care less, as long as they work!"  Like I said, the rules are different in every marriage.  And those rules will continue to change and evolve as we do.  The things we care about today may not be worth taking a stand for tomorrow, so choose your battles wisely.  (I'm working on that one too!)

February 14, 2011

Because sometimes you just have to let your crops wither.

WHOA!  Where on earth have I been?  A little bit over here...a little bit over there...even a bit over yonder.

So many things have been keeping me from being able to sit down and write.  Most of them were conscious decisions that caused me to spend a lot less time staring at this glowing box connected to a keyboard.  I even let some of my crops wither on my FarmVille farm.  The really sad thing was that I had some folks send me messages out of honest-to-goodness concern for my well-being because I hadn't been on FarmVille in days.  

Frankly, I'm not sure that's the impression I want to leave on the world!

It really started on 8YO's birthday...well, the planning of her little party, actually.  She was allowed to invite five friends over.  We just couldn't have anymore than five because these things get out of control so easily.  Did I ever tell you about the time that we decided to let 14YO invite her WHOLE CLASS over for a birthday party?  That was in addition to the usual number of family and friends.  Of the 22 or so kids her class, 10 RSVP'd but closer to 20 actually showed up...some with siblings!  The bounce house cancelled because it had been raining all night and we (Okay, David) had to come up with entertainment for a buttload of excited partygoers.  To add to the chaos, 8YO was about TWO MONTHS OLD at the time.  I don't handle menial trips to the grocery store very well when I have a newborn.  There are just so many details involved in leaving the house with a newborn...or even just leaving one with someone else!  

I don't do details well.

So, 8YO was having five friends over.  She doesn't care for cupcakes, so I made some pumpkin spice muffins and some chocolate cupcakes so there would be something for everyone.  I decided on an inexpensive craft and a cheesy game.  

Seems simple enough, right?

Nothing is simple when you aren't a very organized person!  My desk, my house, my head...all full of dark, cobwebby corners of things I meant to take care of but just haven't yet.  The road to a cluttered house really is paved with good intentions.  All I can do is look around and calculate the hours, days, weeks, it would take to get in my home in a condition I'm proud of.  (Not to mention the money!)  It's not that I don't know how to clean.  I mean, my kitchen surfaces are always clean when they need to be and the bathrooms are usually kept pretty decent.  I've figured out the key to keeping up on laundry.  (Which, amazingly enough is....drumroll please....KEEPING UP ON LAUNDRY!  Imagine that!)  I've even devised a system where I can't even start a new load in the washer until the stuff in the dryer is folded and put away.  Of all the things you might see when you walk into my house, baskets of laundry to fold will not be among them!

So, the day or so of marathon cleaning that occurs before having actual people over is full of sorting, yelling, and David and I exchanging more than our fair share of dirty looks.  After all, each of us seems to be incapable of seeing our own messes but there is no excuse for the messes that others leave behind.

Sound familiar?

Now, we are in no way even remotely close to being on Hoarders, but I can find hundreds of tiny messes scattered all over the house that all make me feel so outnumbered. 

After enjoying the birthday thing and realizing it was ridiculous to be SO EXHAUSTED at the end of the day, I decided to take action.  I had been an on and off follower of Flylady for almost five years.  Her basic ideas are really good, but she throws in all these crazy little rules that bug the crap out of me and make me resistant.  I won't put shoes on unless I'm going somewhere.  In fact, if I DO plan to be going somewhere, I'm not getting dressed at ALL until I'm finished cleaning.  I won't subscribe to the emails because I can't stand my inbox to be so full of crap that she doesn't even want us to read when first starting out. 


If my sink is clean, that's great.  It's just about as great as anything else being clean in my house, really.  I don't see any direct links between a really clean kitchen sink and my own satisfaction with myself.  I guess I don't really think my house defines me.  It's just a facet, really.  One of the many facets that make me who I am.  Sometimes I'm a great cook.  Sometimes I cake make really cool things on my computer with my scrapbooking program.  Sometimes I'm a decent knitter.  Sometimes I bake something really yummy.  I'm usually proud of the sort of parent I am...so long as we're not trying to be anywhere ON TIME.  (I'm working on that too!) 

So, I'd downloaded the Flylady app from iTunes a few months back.  It's set up really well.  You get the basics of Flylady without all the emotional baggage she tends to push into her blogs and podcasts.  I was listening to her podcast for awhile, but I really can't stand to take advice from really emotional, weepy people.  She started to get under my skin when she almost cried while talking about her shiny sink, but I had to draw the line when she told some lady that she needed to let her MIL change whatever she wanted to in her house while she was visiting because, and I quote, "She needs something to do!  She needs to feel needed!" 

Need to feel needed?  GET A PUPPY!  Don't take it out on your son's wife!

Did I mention that the Flylady was almost in tears while she said that?  She was speaking from her own perspective at the time and taking no consideration for how the DIL must have felt when her MIL came in and made her home feel like it wasn't hers.  Like maybe whatever she was doing for her own family wasn't good enough.

You don't mess with a woman when it comes to her home and family.  You just don't.

Anyhow, that's what I've been up to.  Following little checklists and taking care of business.  Keeping up on that allows little to no time for the fun stuff.  But, I can say that I am more calm these days.  I don't look around and see things that I cannot fix and get that knot in my stomach when someone comes to the door.  Everything seems to just run smoother without any real trying on my part. 

And as soon as they figure out how to add a few more hours into a day (or as soon as I require way less sleep!) I just may have it all.  In some ways, I already do.