Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How to: Get your Home Clean(er)

Pre-germaphobia, I was pretty messy.

Messy may be an understatement- just ask my mom. When I lived at home, she would always shut my door when she had guests. It was embarrassing. I didn't care much. It's not like it was dirty per se, more messy. Stuff everywhere. When my mom got rid of the encyclopedias to get new ones, I took the old ones and put them in my closet. Cuz you never know when you need to look something up. Encyclopedia- this means google before google was invented, for all of you kids.
Flash forward to parenthood, where I gave exactly two craps about the state of my house. Now it was dirty too, well at least dirty dishes. I knew someone who cloth-diapered and they would remove the kid's diaper and throw it towards the hamper pile of cloth diapers and cloth wipes, wipe diaper cream on the kid's butt with their hand, and then go about their business, dirty cloth diapers near a giant pile of dirty cloth diapers in the middle of their living room, butt cream on their hands. That's dirty. Mine was more like toys everywhere, clothes everywhere, crumbs everywhere, and piles of dirty dishes.
When I found a job, we hired a babysitter to cover the gap time between when I went to work and when my husband came home, generally never more than 4 hours. We hired her with the mindset to entertain and play with the boys, and to not clean. This was probably the ideal job, since we were paying her $10 an hour to play and chase after some kids, while I hear most parents want the nanny to cook and clean and on and on. So our house was a pit (to the degree my mom told me I should apologize about the state of the house every time she came over) but I didn't care. And then came the sickening when my fragile concept of childhood illnesses was realized and the anxiety stepped in.
So now I have a very clean house. Granted, there are still signs that children live here. Like right now, there is a pile of giant bubble wrap on the living room floor. There is an empty wrapping paper tube that has been brandished as an instrument of pain-infliction, and I see a sock under the couch. But for the most part, tidy. How do I keep it tidy? How can you start an adventure of tidiness? It's not that hard. You definitely don't need to shoot for anal retentive as I have. But to have a house that is clean enough you don't mind if a friend stops by, your inlaws, or even the mailman, that would be ideal.

Have a tidy house

First, learn this mantra: It is up to me. I have mentioned this before, but my rude awakening of parenthood came when I realized that it was up to me. That toilet paper scrap on the bathroom floor would only be picked up by me. The grape that is under the cabinets by the sink would only get picked up by me. That sock laying under the couch will only be picked up by me. Maybe you are one of the lucky ones that has a husband that enjoys helping around the house, or at least has a strong sense of guilt. Mine has neither. And seeing as how he lets me stay home (for the moment), I try to do all the other crap. And also- news alert- men and women have different standards of cleanliness. My husband will "do the dishes" by placing whatever in the dishwasher that he can without too much thought, run the thing, and leave the kitchen. I am strategic to get all the dishes in before I run the dishwasher, put the leftovers away, and then I wipe up the counters, the dining room table and high chair, clean the high chair tray, clean out the sink. That to me is cleaning up after dinner. My husband has stated that I don't need to fold his laundry and should just cram it in the drawers or heap it in the closet. Like I said- different standards. and because of these standards, I know that if I want my husband to go to work and not look homeless, I have to fold his laundry. If I want my jeans to stay the right size, I need to do the laundry (surprisingly, men, hot is not a good setting for all clothes).

Second, work smarter.
There is always a way to do something that will save you hassle. The trick is to figure out what you want to do and how you can best achieve it. For example, if I am doing laundry (which involves a trip to the basement), I make sure to take down things that live down there. The boys are always dragging toys from the basement up, and there are certain ones that are just basement toys (it will save you trouble to designate certain toys to certain areas). I know when I'm heading downstairs and I see imaginext toys on the floor, to grab a few and toss them in the basket. When I get downstairs, I unload them and start my wash. On the way back up, I grab empty glasses, spoons, trash, whatever I can quickly see on my path back upstairs. Why would I make special trips to the basement to sort and clean when I can just do it as I go? I have a little counter space by the basement stairs where I also place things that live downstairs (like my husband's tools, stuff that needs to go in the pantry) to grab for trips downstairs. When I have to go pee, I check the kitchen counter for hair clips, socks, loose toys, to place them in the appropriate room on the way there. Sure, it takes me an extra minute to get done what I need to get done, but it saves my sanity. And it goes back to my first rile- it's up to me.

Three, get storage.
We have a man cave (furnace room with storage room off the side) that had built-in shelves. I bought bins and a label maker, and what a smart decision that was. If you have more than one child, this will save you trouble. After baby #1 grew out of 0-6 month clothes, into a bin they went with a 0-6 month label. Maternity clothes met a similar fate. Clothes that I sized out of while pregnant, clothes my husband sized out of while I was pregnant, all went into labeled bins. Winter coats and boots, etc. Saves so much time. I then got bins for the boys toys. Many sized bins, and see-thru- VERY important that they are see-thru. Like kind items, such as legos, dinosaurs, trains, all have their own bin. I need a better storage system for them at the moment, but they are stacked up behind a baby gate so they can't be completely dismembered. When we are playing downstairs, we get out a project, like trains, and play. When we are done, in theory, the toys go back in the bin and order is restored. I have bins in my youngest's room, for smaller items and ones that don't group together as well. These are the "toy" bins. If we are upstairs and the boys want a toy to play with, we head in there and they get to pick a couple to play with for the day. Eventually they end up on the bookcase in the living room or on the floor, and I eventually herd them back into their bin.

Four, have spaces for things to live.
Be realistic. You can clean and you can put away, but there is realistically no way you can keep everything packed up and clean and tidy at all times. Especially if you have kids. So you need places for things that you use to live when they are out. Because the floor or the couch or the counter is a terrible spot for things to just hang out. We have a low bookcase in the living room that I actually bought from Urban Outfitters when they were re-doing their displays. It was $15. Can't beat that. THe boys know thats where they put their toys. That is the home of stuff.

Five, cut yourself some slack.
You are only human. Have some time to sit.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sleep Debt

When you are a college student, it's totally normal to stay up for 24 hours or more to cram for a final or write a few term papers, and then, in a heap of exhaustion, sleep for a day or two.

Parenting, my friends, is nothing like that.

Oh except for the staying up long hours part. Not the whole sleeping for a long time after part.

When #1 was a baby, he was a fuss. I remember reading about the "witching hour" that babies had before bed, but #1 fussed from 4- 11pm every night. Every. Night. It would be walking, patting, nursing, patting, walking, bouncing, rocking, nursing, patting, all the while, his mouth is open and just fuss crying. Never ending fuss crying.
And don't think I tried everything to make it stop. I gave up dairy. I gave up soy, corn, cruciferous vegetables, anything I read online that could possibly cause gas. Pretty soon I was eating next to nothing that resembled delicious or edible food, and he was still crying.
Your mind slips into an unhealthy place. You finally get him down after a certain rock-step combo in the hall, so the next night you keep trying it, thinking that was the sleepy time magic. Foolish you. The sleepy time magic was you wasting 5 or more hours and crying a half dozen times before the screaming midget decides to give up the ghost.
And then the topper- he refused to sleep for longer than 3 hour stretches. For 18 months.
That's impossible, you say.
No friend, that is very possible and exactly what happened.
At 8 every night I would be tucked in to bed next to the cosleeper, waiting for the next time #1 would pop his eyes open and demand to be fed. Do it quickly, and he might go right back to sleep. He slept right next to me so I could easily be awoken 6 times a night. The thought of having to roll out of bed and go to a separate room was enough to end me.
Luckily, I didn't have many friends during this period. There's something about being in the depths of misery- a self-created misery, mind you- that is very isolating.
Sort of like right now, but that's a different story.
I was so awash in sleep deprivation that I decided a second baby was a grand idea.  I think I had a few months of longer than 3 hour stretches of sleep, but luckily I didn't enjoy them as I was enormously pregnant. And also nursing up until 2 months before I gave birth (nursing while pregnant: it's very possible). And then you repeat the cycle with a second baby (although to be fair, #2 was so much sweeter temperament-wise- still had a witching hour though- no baby is perfect).
I took a job and worked evenings, and it only took a few weeks before my husband had them sleeping in their own rooms. Definitely a miracle. Granted, once again I didn't necessarily appreciate it, as I was working 60-80 hour weeks, getting home at 1 or 2 in the morning, and those sweet boys still woke up at 6-7 every morning.
The sleep doesn't happen now as much as it should. Some nights the boys aren't asleep until 9 or longer, depending how long #1 calls for me or plays around in his room. I NEED at least an hour to myself to unwind- dare I say I DESERVE it. So maybe 10 is the earliest I get to bed. I'm plagued by the "who is going to wake up in the middle of the night" fear, as it strikes when you least expect it. Some cries. Someone had a bad dream. A few weeks ago #1 had horrible leg cramps that had be sleeping next to him and googling furiously, worried that these were indicative of something beyond growing pains. As he writhed in pain, I definitely was not sleeping. The night before he asked to sleep with me as he was snuffy, and it turns out infected with hand foot mouth (again), so two nights in a row with minimal sleep. And we can all guess what happens after that- sickness. Oh it's not a hard pattern to predict. I'm still nursing a horrible night cough some 3 weeks later, and for 2 weeks me and the boys did nothing all day. We stayed home while it poured rain, and we played iPad and watched movies. It was very unproductive but man do viruses take it out of you. I only guessed at hand foot mouth by the sores in the back of my throat (and my husband's coworker's family caught it about 2 weeks later at the germ tree in the mall, and then my husband caught it last Friday).
You should go to bed earlier, you tell me. Yes, yes I should. There are a lot of things I should do.
I am so lazy.
Well maybe not in the traditional sense, since my house is crazy clean.
But I am so lazy. I want to sit and do nothing. I'm so sleep deprived and it doesn't appear to be getting better. I am getting SO much more sleep now than I did when #1 was a baby. It's fantastic. But it still isn't a full 9 hours. Man wouldn't 9 hours be great. I've convinced myself that if only I could get an hour or more of sleep I would be motivated. I would be super mom. I'd bake and do crafts. I'd write while the boys napped instead of laying down and fussing around on my phone. I'd write thank you notes and letters to my friends. I could research. I could read my Bible. But instead I see the end of lunch coming and I just say a silent prayer that they will nap and let me just be still.

I'm in serious sleep debt. There is no 18 hours of sleeping to try to recoup.
I guess there is only mental fortitude.
And today is a Wednesday folks. That Saturday looks mighty far away. And for you other stay at home parents, every day is a work day, so Saturday is a myth we tell ourselves.
Isn't parenting fun?

What are tips that motivate you? How do you get through sleepy days?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Ok, perhaps all caps is unnecessary.
But truly come on universe.

I sat down with a friend yesterday for a cup of coffee (and wine, whatever, don't judge) and told her all about my life lately.
It's incredibly jarring.
I hate opening up to people because it's just very depressing.

Not that my friend would have in a million years expressed that. But really, when you are dealing with some crappy things in your life, you hate to scatter your crap everywhere. I almost want to lie or just omit the truth because it brings others down.

"How are you?!"
"My husband lies to me about his drinking!"
"Whelp see ya later."

See? Not very fun.

"How's the job hunt?"
"I've applied to over 30 jobs in the last 2 months and the only people who want to hire me offer $10/hour. I can't get a babysitter for that."

Or even more fun,
"How are your kids?"
"You mean the one that I just miscarried or the two that have been clinging to a respiratory virus for the past 3 weeks keeping us homebound?"

Who wouldn't want to hang out with me?

And I keep buying wine with the expectation of partially drowning my sorrows but then my damn husband drinks it all before I can.

I told my friend I want to start a church for broken people, for honest people.
I'm tired of fake.
I'm tired of lying.
I'm tired of people acting like everything is grand so they don't give a bad image to Christianity.
Well guess what? Anyone can have crap happen to them- good people, bad people, saints or satanists. It is inhuman to smile while suffering. That's why it's called suffering. Isn't it better to reach out to people instead, to say "I am hurting" and "I need help" instead of pushing them away and trying to rely on your own strength?
Whatever, I should take my own advice.
Instead I have been hibernating in my house so as to not cough on people, wondering if the bleak winter will swallow us whole for another 4 months, and whether or not I will reemerge with the will to try this all again, to put myself out there, to have hope.
I'm not suicidal. I'm not depressed. I'm just slowly being drained of optimism.

What I am, apparently, is a product of a controlling household. Who married a control freak. Who can't do anything without being told what to do or how to do it.
I ask God for guidance and have no way to proceed.
I'm in a maze and paralyzed by indecision.
I'm a bad metaphor.

I also saw a psychiatrist who said I don't fit any of the classifications for disorders. So I'm just anxious and depressed enough to be a joy to be around (ask my husband who leaves work early to go drink and not be around me), while not being quite crazy. He suggested some drugs for me but I cannot cope with side effects at this stage of my crazy. He suggested yoga.

Here I go trying yoga.

Monday, October 6, 2014

I Had a Miscarriage

I've been mulling this one over in my head for awhile. Usually, while I am cleaning or cooking or trying to sleep, I write letters in my head. I've always been too in my own head. When I was young it was dreaming up what I would say to someone I had a crush on, how to win friends and influence people. Now, it's angry words, diatribes, apologies, soap-boxes. This past week, I have been trying to find purpose in what seems purposeless.

I found out about 3 weeks ago that I was pregnant.
I found out a week ago that I was miscarrying that baby.
I've gone through about every emotion I can imagine in the past three weeks.
On September 1st, due to extreme user error on my husband's part, we had a condom malfunction.
Shit, I thought, I am pregnant now. No way, said my husband, reasoning that I had just finished my period like three days earlier.
But I knew better.
His family has a fertility problem. They are way fertile. Like way way fertile.
And so I took tests. Probably too many tests, all said negative. And finally on the 17th I got a pregnant result. Even though I suspected I was pregnant, it blew my mind. I had decided firmly against having any more children. I had been bugging my husband to get a vasectomy (its outpatient for guys, in-patient for girls, plus I've already had enough pain associated with that region of my body thank you very much). And now I was pregnant again. My husband was overjoyed. Maybe I will finally get a girl, I thought.
This had to be a gift from God. We used protection (even if used poorly), I was no where near ovulating (at least so I thought), and here I was pregnant anyway. God must have great things planned for this baby.

The reactions from many friends and family were not great.
I got asked if I had considered the day-after pill.
I was asked if I was pro-life.
I got asked if this meant my husband and I were staying together now.
Maybe this is a similar reaction that many people get, but it was jarring. I wasn't proclaiming- I'm pregnant what should I do? Instead I was saying I'm pregnant.
I'm not throwing everyone under the bus. Many people were excited or feigned excitement. That definitely helped get through the bad reactions.
Now I was rearranging all of my life plans, as one would when faced with a life-changing decision. Baby names, how to procure baby items similar to what I had just finally cleared out of the basement and donated, midwife appointment, sleeping arrangements for three kids instead of just two.

And just like that, it was all over.

Normal spotting turned into bleeding. I called my midwife, and her secretary walked me through what to expect with a miscarriage. She had just suffered one at around 6 weeks, like me. Not like me, I thought. This is not what is happening. This is just from stress.

Stress? Oh you mean like your family member coming out of detox, which set you and your husband back $1350, only to drink himself near death for the following 11 days. The phone call that you have to hurry home so your husband can go check on him, since he's incredibly intoxicated worrying about people trying to kill him if he doesn't place a bet. Your husband having to leave you to call the midwife and inquire about your bleeding so he can pick his family member up from the psych ward that he has checked himself out of, claiming he was never suicidal and his .37 BAC level was not a form of self-harm. Trying not to sob in front of your visiting friend and your children when you get the news that you are miscarrying, and your husband is at the pharmacy trying to get meds for his family member's DTs (but thank God that my friend was visiting. I'm sure she didn't thoroughly enjoy being in drama central while there was psych ward/drinking drama and miscarriages, but she was invaluable.).

Even when we were getting the ultrasound and the tech said there was nothing in my womb, when I got up from the table and noticed excessive blood on the sheet, my husband said he was still holding out hope. When I got the numbers back and my hCG level was 32 (what it would be, say, soon after conception), he said he was still hoping. I allowed myself the thought that maybe this was not happening. Two days later, I went in for more labs and the numbers came back at 14. That's when I stopped hoping.
This was happening.
Or is happening.
From the lack of anything in my womb, it happened weeks ago.
How long have I been kidding myself that I was pregnant?

Then came the fun task of telling everyone that I was no longer pregnant.
Now I understand why people wait til 12 or 13 weeks.
I had two healthy beautiful little boys. I'm lucky. Some women can't conceive. Some spend years trying to get pregnant, coping with miscarriage after miscarriage. If I had been 9 weeks or more, I'm told the pain of miscarrying would have been a lot closer to labor instead of a bad period. I'm lucky, I guess.

I don't feel very lucky. I feel messy. I have too many emotions. Mournful, angry, disappointed, embarrassed, bitter, relieved, guilt, pain. I can't sort through it. I didn't have the time to mourn it properly with my husband, as he was moving the belongings out of his family member's house, trying to clean it up so the girlfriend could get some security deposit back. It's kinda too late to mourn it now, as he's a guy and he's over it. His vasectomy has been scheduled for about a month now, and I definitely don't want to try again. I didn't want another kid, but having one taken from me has me wondering what I'm supposed to feel.

What's God's plan with all this?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Interventions and Co-opting the Story

My best friend and I had a discussion after September 11th about social media on that day. Everyone feels the need to state where they were when it happened (the attack on the Twin Towers, by the way), how they feel now, how great America is. The issue, my friend stated, is the co-opting of the story. Many people died. Their loved ones were directly impacted. One might say we were all impacted in a way, but it's really their story.
I've been thinking way too much about the co-opting of story. For example, I had anorexia pretty badly in 9th grade. It impacted my life. But my mother, while she didn't have anorexia, was deeply impacted by my eating disorder. Is she not allowed to have a say in the story of an eating disorder? If she wanted to write an article about how anorexia impacted her, it would be truthful as it is coming from her perspective, living with a daughter with a hidden eating disorder. What about people from my school? Could they claim they were impacted by my eating disorder, even though they weren't me, they weren't family, and they had little or nothing to do with me? Where do we draw the line of what is acceptable for impact, and what is not?

All this is muddle around to what I'm going through at the moment. It isn't my story. It's not in my day-to-day existence. But it is still impacting me greatly.
I have a family member who is a heroin addict.
That's pretty big. And apparently the face of heroin is no longer what it was when I was growing up, because this young man isn't what I would ever consider a heroin addict. And yet, here he is.
Is it co-opting his story to be upset? Or his ex girlfriend who has 3 kids with him, all under the age of 4? She has suffered the worst through all of this (and I'm sorry, I know addiction is a horrible illness, but it's an all-consuming selfish thing), having to pay for everything, going back to work like 4 weeks after she gave birth because she had no financial help from him. She knew about his drinking problem and guessed that he had a pill problem, but this whole heroin thing came out of nowhere and quickly escalated. She left as soon as she knew, as anyone would, but she's left living with one of her family members in a less-than-ideal situation because she has to work overtime just to pay her bills and provide her kids with food and daycare. She told me about finding the burnt spoons, the belt around his arm. I told my husband, who moved to swift action. I contacted their last involved relative, who wanted me to get everyone together for an intervention. I called around to clinics to find where he could go to detox, what the costs were, what options for financial help we could find.
This isn't my story, but I'm involved.
He doesn't know I'm involved. No one besides my husband and his girlfriend probably know that I'm involved. Maybe it's better that he doesn't. When my husband's mother was dying and I was pregnant with my first, I did everything I could. I was over at her house at least 3 times a week bringing her food, trying to clean up, paying her bills, running her business, knocking myself out. And I couldn't save her. She still died. Can I save him? Probably not. This isn't my family. Maybe it's better that I do what I can from behind the scenes.
That's not to say that I don't care. I care so much. While I'm cooking, cleaning, trying to get to sleep, I'm writing these epic letters in my head. What I would say to him. How I could help. Words that might just resonate and get him to clean up.
I can't stop.

I've seen my fair share of A&E's Intervention. I used to watch it every week. I would be filled with nausea and dread while watching it, regardless of the addiction. My heart ached for these addicts. My heart ached for their families. I saw what worked and what didn't. I don't know what will work, what words will influence him, and what will make him angry, make him feel unsupported, alone, hopeless. What if I wrote a letter that just pissed him off, or worse, made him feel like what right do I have to say anything to him.
And so I relay messages to my husband, try to get information about rehab, try to find supportive things to say.

But I have so little supportive things to say.

I'm mad.

Why do we keep getting hit with this crap? When does this family get cut some slack? Philandering, alcoholic, abandoning father, mother killed by cancer, history of family addiction. Great. Hooray. Like the Kennedy's but without any money. Much less romantic that way.

What do I say? What do I do?

What would you say, what have you said?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sweet Sweet Irony

Since I quit my job in February, I have been forced to face the reality of the job market.

As in - the job market sucks.
Oh no it isn't, the recovery is great, says you with a great job or a rich hubby.
Yeah shove it.
I remember when I was 250 applications past pathetic after I got my Master's, there was a chime everywhere apparently to get thee to a grad school. Hahaha. I am rolling in my seat. When you have applied for over 250 jobs and haven't received a call back on more than one (that would be me, folks), you start feeling like the set-up for a bad joke.

And now I'm right back there again. Except I have this unexplained missing time from my work experience. What was she doing for 3 years? And it's not like I can write "having kids" since that's info they supposedly don't want, but info they will use to damn me just the same. God bless all these women popping out puppies and then shlepping themselves back to work so they can have a decent job. The rest of us, who thought we were doing the "right" thing by our kids, have instead crippled our careers. Or at least set them back 5-10 years.

I went to an all-day training class that was supposed to help provide me the skills that employers would seek. Instead it was full of staff members from a large local employer, who all told me I just need to work their sales phones for "a few years" to put in my time to travel the ranks. Oh really? I got a Master's so I could work for $10/hr for two years and give more money to daycare than I would bring home? Tempting.


So I've applied to maybe 20-30 jobs in the past month, and actually putting effort into it. I've been tailoring my resume, rewriting the cover letter, filling out completely needless iterations of my resume and then attaching my resume since I love exercises in futility. Yesterday I get asked by a woman that I have met once to chat with her. Mind you, my husband met her when he took the kids to the park down the street, she has two boys who he said were well behaved, and she invited us to her older boy's bday party that we didn't end up attending. So basically random stranger asks me to talk with her. I'm weirded out by it because I don't know her but my husband says I'm being a weirdo. She didn't want a playmate, just to speak with me. I decide ok I will be a decent human being and go meet her. She then asks me to provide daycare for her 10 month old full time and her 4 year old on Fridays.

She met me once when I walked by her house with my family.

Is this weird or is it just me? I guess it's no more weird than putting an ad on craigslist or up at the local college, but the difference being I didn't ask, I don't know her, I didn't solicit. And, I do NOT want to do daycare. I don't even like my kids, let alone some strangers kids. And what do I do if they are sick or my kids are sick? Ugh. No. Just no. So apparently, moral of the story, the only jobs I can get are the ones I haven't applied for.

Oh look, a pint of Ben and Jerry's.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fat Lazy Slob- i.e.: Don't EFF with My Family

My sister and I haven't always gotten along.
Like say the entirety of high school.
Or when we were in junior high and she chased me with a butcher knife. 

Ah the joys of youth.
And being one year younger than my big sister.

Once we had kids, we actual realized we have more in common than we don't have in common.
We understand how truly weird our parents are.
As our family always said- I'm an idiot and she's my biggest fan.
And while I love her, she can drive me batshit crazy. I can just assume she meant something or sense a tone in her voice and it's done. I'm pissed. We can fight over the silliest things, yell, and then magically we are over it. The joys of family- they are family regardless.
And BECAUSE she is my sister, I am allowed to be grumpy and upset, or to say crap about her.

But don't for ONE. SECOND. Think that you can say ANYTHING about her. OH YES IT IS AN ALL CAPS MOMENT my friends.

She did something I'm not exactly in support of, but once you have kids you understand-
She left her kids in the car (it was about 60 out, early afternoon, so it's not like it was hot) to run inside a store, grab an item, and pay for it. In total, she may have been away from the car for about 5 minutes max. Now I am the ocd worrier who would think of someone crashing into my car or trying to steal my children, so I wouldn't do this. But I understand why she did. They are 4 and 6, loud, bratty, similar or equivalent to my children (just older). 
When she came back to her car, a man in his truck next to her berated her for leaving her children in the car. She responded, "They are my children and you should mind your own business". That's a step better than I would have said, and also had no swears.
He responded by calling her a fat lazy slob and said he was going to report her.

I could kill this piece of crap bastard. First of all, the nerve. He said he noted it. Great. It wasn't hot, no one was crying, it wasn't a long time. Second, the hypocrisy. She said when she got there his dog was in the car without him. Oh so it's good enough for your dog but not for human children? Third, he's sitting in his truck sucking on a cigarette berating my sister? Imma murder him. 
It just reiterates the vastly different standards that men impose on women. She was dressed nicely, had makeup on, did her hair. Maybe she could stand to drop a few lbs, but what mother with children, especially young children, couldn't say the same?
And lazy?

My sister has been working full time while putting herself through nursing school, currently working nights in the maternity ward, and taking care of her kids during the day.
You are the most ignorant person in the history of persons I have called out on the internet, sir. 

I've definietly had my share of "helpful" people giving me unsolicited parenting advice. But insults? Fat-shaming? No.
And what do you think will stick with her? The words of love and support from her family? Smiles and hugs from her kids? Accolades on the job? Good grades?
Or some verbally abusive misogynist bullcrap from a random stranger?

It just makes me sick that one person could, with a few words, cut down a person I love so much and who has done so much for me. 

I'm done with humanity for the night.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Living with someone with issues

This is most likely too personal of a post. Oh well.
A blogger I follow writes about her dramatic childhood in a cult, and how she suffers PTSD and other issues, like depression and anxiety. She talks about having bad days or even weeks, withdrawing, needing to sleep or retreat.
She makes it feel all very compelling and horrible. Which it is. This isn't to minimize that at all.
But there is another side of the story- her husband.
He is married to someone that retreats, that needs to curl up in her shell, so to speak. She withdraws, sleeps, does whatever she needs to make it. Her husband is left to deal with everything else. The house. The kids. That is a lot of pressure.

I'm writing this because I am living with a person with issues.
As long as I've known my husband, he has had issues. That's sorta what drew me to him- I liked complicated. I liked wounded. I had a significantly misplaced Florence Nightingale syndrome. When I first met him he had blown out his knee and could barely walk, if that tells ya how big my issues are (and perhaps he feels he is living with a person with issues, but I'll explain the difference later).

Other issues?
father abandoning the family after cheating on his wife
verbal and emotional abuse of his mother by his father during his formative years
strict religious upbringing
death of his mother from cancer which she chose to treat naturally
no communication from any of his father's side during or after her death
father a raging alcoholic
just to name a few.

And he withdraws. He retreats. He sleeps. Excessively. Granted, it has improved in the past 5 years. But that's like saying the cancer has improved. It's still cancer. The sleep drags on from morning into afternoon. It starts and nap time and stretches into dinner. It takes up days of work, family time. And the drinking to deal with issues. The constant "I'm going to quit" and never quitting. The "you could have it so much worse" explanations. How he isn't mean since he isn't calling me a c*nt like his dad called his mom. That he doesn't drink near as much as his dad did. And then I start feeling guilty. Maybe I am a princess. Maybe I do expect too much.
And I deal with it. I take the boys to the park, go to playdates, do what I can. They say "where's papa" and I tell them "sleeping" if I just can't figure out something better to say. I worry incessantly that they will develop his sleeping problems, his drinking problems, his compartmentalizing of emotions, like how my eldest's eyes changed from blue to green when he was 2. The genetics will be too strong and win out.
I worry.
I clean to help with the worry.

I get yelled at for saying anything because dammit he is working on it or dammit he wants to change or dammit he isn't even sleeping that much or he needed to drink because it was a long day or his back hurts.
And I'm alone.
By myself.
While the person I'm living with who has issues is trying to deal with their issues.
I guess I wait around hoping that someday it will be different.

Maybe he does too.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

On Being Quiet and Lies

I'm a talker.
And a massive over sharer. So much oversharing. Yeah I'm a bit deprived (and depraved) now that I'm back to full time staying at home (minus two days a week that I clean for a couple hours in the evening- that is over soon and doesn't truly count).

I'm also a Christian. I was raised Methodist, dabbled in Charismatic I suppose, and am back to confused and nondenominational. The thing that has me super challenged (SUPER) is this notion I keep reading/hearing about the power of the tongue.

I'm definitely not confused about the Bible's point on the power of the tongue- life and death is in the power of the tongue, it's the rudder that steers your whole body, what proceeds out of your mouth is what you are on the inside, etc. Got it. But there are so many (too many) pastors and speakers who talk about what I essentially believe is lying.

Now wait a minute, sweet Pastor isn't advocating lying.

Sure s/he isn't, sure. Sarcasm.

They are saying to speak positive words, to speak what you want your situation to be. My mother-in-law, when dying of cancer, would not discuss her sickness at all. She was being HEALED by the Lord and to say otherwise or discuss other treatments would be showing your doubt. And DOUBT means you WON'T get your HEALING. Sorry for the caps but this just was so upsetting to me. Not then, because I tried to be the good daughter-in-law. I prayed (boy howdy did I pray, like it was my job and rent was due), I spoke positive words, but I doubted. And for awhile I thought it was my fault that she died. Because I had doubt. I was the ship being tossed by the sea. I'm not so narcissistic that I believe that I caused her death, but I have a niggling voice that says it was my doubt that countered her wonderful faith.
Anywho, yeah I get easily derailed by that topic.
So these speakers want you to speak positive life-affirming words. No more whining, complaining, worrying. "Things may not be great right now, but the Lord is working on me and everything will be ok," is what we are supposed to declare.
That's a difficult one for me. I've tried to be that person, that positive person. Guess what?

Sometimes things are not going to get better. Ok sure, I guess my mother-in-law went to Heaven so things got infinitely better for her, but she still died and left her family here on Earth. We all had to deal with the blow-back from some incredibly faithful and hopeful woman not getting the healing that was promised her if she just believed with nothing wavering.
What hope do I have if the most Godly person I know followed that directive to the nth degree and still didn't get answers to her prayers?

And when are we supposed to get out of bad situations instead of praying and hoping and saying positive words to the world?

My aunts-in-law had breast cancer as well, and they took traditional medicine to treat it (radiation/chemo) and they are all alive. Joyce Meyer was in a bad marriage and got out of it before she married the man whom helped her with her ministry. When do we stop speaking these words of positive hopes for our lives, and start taking action?

Or the bigger issue, what if we can't get out of our situation (for whatever reason)? Are we not allowed a chance to talk about our problems, have fellowship with others, or do we bottle up our problems inside? I know I know, give them up to the Lord. Well let's say you give them up to the Lord but you are still miserable and there is nothing you can do. That is a tough spot indeed. I guess you must keep speaking words of positivity, even after years of no change, no forward movement. That is beyond depressing to me.

It seems like lying to yourself and lying to the world.  Look how together I have it!! Sure my husband is an alcoholic! Sure my wife spends all of our money! Sure my kids are living in sin! I will keep saying how well they will do in life, how much I love my husband, what a great financial steward my wife is. It'll all just be ok!

Or the alternative is just be quiet.
And hope all the pain and hurt and anger just stays bottled up.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Easiest Dinner Ever

I don't know if you are like me, but I HATE making food. I am not yet to the short-order-cook phase (and I feel like if it got that bad, I may burn the house down and head for Bermuda). There was a time I loved to cook, even tried out fancy recipes in cookbooks that required long grocery lists and hours of prep and cooking. That was during my vegetarian years (a good 16 years, people- I didn't hop on the trendy bandwagon), and I tore through book after book, trying out different cuisines. They weren't all successes, and I was also unemployed during a brief stretch, so time didn't matter.

Now, I do not have the luxury of time. Usually I am preparing something while children are pushing and crying and doing who-knows-what in the other room. It is not enjoyable. By the time dinner prep rolls around, I have often already made 3 meals that day. Yep, cuz the lunch I prepare is not approved, or else I have to make my own lunch because as tempting as mac and cheese is...
Needless to say, I lack inspiration. I want my family to eat healthy, but I am not going to knock myself out to prepare something fanciful only to have two little boys turn their noses up at it. It is enough to cause me to cry. I'm not big into forcing food on my children, especially since the older one has a super gag reflex (like gags when he touches oatmeal). I've gotten into a bit of a rut of quesadillas, meatloaf, spaghetti, grilled chicken. I know they'll eat it, it's fast, and who can complain.
I forget about the easy stuff.
Like this:

Super Quick Quiche

This is LITERALLY the easiest and most adaptable recipe. Throw in what you have. It's great for leftovers. I usually cook up a big pan of veggies and have a bowl of leftovers that I throw in mac and cheese or quesadillas (for super quick lunch that's healthier). Today, I had some purple veggies I bought especially for this, hoping the color would entice the boys.

5 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 or more of cheese
salt and pepper
I added curry powder, turmeric and garlic salt
I cut up 2 large green onion stalks, about 6 fat purple asparagus stalks, and a quarter of a purple pepper.

Beat the eggs, milk, spices and cheese in a bowl, add to a Pam-sprayed pie pan. I cut the veggies up very thinly so they would be sure to cook quickly and thoroughly. My son picks out peppers if they aren't cooked enough (and calls them spicies).

Throw in a 375 over for 20 minutes. Cool and serve. Personally it tasted like it could have used more cheese, but was pretty tasty. Even my eldest ate it. I gave him a bite and asked how it was. He declared it delicious so battle won this time. The younger wasn't too impressed, even with ketchup, but he's also teething so he picks and chooses which meals he will actually eat.

Verdict- seriously easy. I am going to make it once a week, maybe with ground turkey, broccoli, other cheeses like mozzarella. If your kids are adventurous you could do wild and crazy things.
It doesn't make a huge amount though.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

DIY: Making the Most from a Bad Situation

We were away this past weekend on an impromptu up north trip (very impromptu- as in husband said he was going to work Saturday and Monday, decided not to work Saturday, and as we were walking in the woods like 30 miles from home, decided we should do an upper peninsula jaunt). Perhaps that it why I am feeling more able to cope. We don't often do "vacation", let alone have something we plan actually go fairly smoothly, yet this happened. We rushed home from our walk, made lunch and packed up all the things we would need for an overnight or two in the UP. At that point, we were thinking we would visit my parents on Drummond (as they invited us for the weekend, but as one of us was thinking of working 2 out of 3 of the days, it wasn't going to happen), and then go up and explore where my husband went to college. The plans grew from there, but shrunk back down as we realized how poorly our 2 year old sleeps away from home. Like really poorly. But that's another story for another time. Both boys did pretty well in the car (thank God for smartphones and devices), we managed to actually see everything we planned to see (such beautiful waterfalls!), the weather was beyond spectacular (it was in the 80's in the UP all weekend- couldn't have planned it more perfectly), we got in before the bugs were too bad. God truly blessed us with safety, clear roads, healthy kids, happy kids. There were some hiccups- as in the 2 year old refused to go to bed in under 2 hours of trying, or the detour trying to get to Kitch-iti-kipi that almost sent us away (but the husband said he was so thankful we went- it is gorgeous. Seriously- it's so hidden trying to get there, no giant signs or tourist traps. But it's Michigan's largest natural spring. Google it. Maybe I'll post pics tomorrow. It's unbelievable. Super deep, crystal clear, ginormous fish just chilling. I couldn't believe the husband had never been, especially since he went to school up in the frozen north). Overall, it was the best last-minute decision we have ever made. And we rolled with the punches fairly well, like the 2 restaurants we had to leave before we resorted to an Applebee's in Houghton for lack of something better for the family (and yes, my husband argues it's because of the crazy gluten-free diet that I'm such a nut about and one of my crazy little crazy-person delusions, but I'm pretty content being gluten-free for the moment, thank you very much).
So very long intro to the DIY, I know. I'm nothing if not long-winded and my stories are pretty pointless (I get long-winded narrative from my grandma). Yesterday, I'm cleaning up the house, and had to make some bleach-water, as the toddler bed I pulled from the basement looked like it was covered with either mud or poop, and I didn't want to mess around if it was poop (in retrospect it was probably mud, as the final time the husband disassembled the crib- which couldn't fit through our doors assembled- he threw it all outside in a fit). I decided to clean the counters with the mix, as my oldest was having some tummy issues and I was worried it could be more than it ended up being. I'm wiping the counters, etc, not really thinking anything. We went outside and walked down to the park, and when we were walking back I looked down and noticed a big ole bleach spot on the front of my shirt. Now it's a Pink by Victoria's Secret shirt, which I have already had the pleasure of noticing that the color from some of these shirts bleeds like no other. This luckily wasn't a bleeding color type, so my shirt under the bleach spot wasn't discolored. But I'm sitting there with a pretty big bleach spot, wondering what I'm going to do. By this point I'm cleaning up after dinner, and decided to just smear other parts of my shirt on the counter to see if I'd get a similar effect. Yep. Unfortunately, my dipping effect wasn't exactly like artwork, but I was like- voila. There it is. I will make my own art shirt. I took it off and laid it out on the table I was going to spray anyway, and sprayed the shirt with the mist setting of the bottle, trying to get some bigger splatters too. I got the back as well, with only the mist setting as I decided it didn't need big smears (also, it has an interesting back so it doesn't need to be fussed with). I rinsed it in the sink with warm and cold water, not sure if either would stop the bleach from further bleaching. I laid it out to dry and this morning, I am quite pleased with the results. The bleach solution I used was like 1 to 10 parts water? Probably a little strong, but I don't like to mess around. I will just have to remember to wear white shirts or ones I don't like in the future when using bleach solution. Duh, right?
The shirt is wet in this picture. Slightly lighter when dry.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Attempting: Motivation

I seriously lack motivation.
I pray often for motivation.

Well, moreover I pray for a path. I feel like once I had a path I would greatly increase my motivation down that path.

Then again, maybe I need the motivation first in order to find that path.

Damn double edged sword.

Lately, I have found some motivation (and if you aren't motivated and don't want to be motivated, trust me, it's cyclical and pretty soon I shall be discussing my intentions to sit and watch mindless tv and eat Ben and Jerry's), just little tiny pearls of motivation.

My main motivation comes from that stupid quote that boils down to insanity is repeating the same thing over and over expecting different results.
Am I the only one quoting this to myself like daily?

For example, I was hoping that by June I would be ready for shorts season. One key factor you should know about me- I have not worn shorts since I was a kid. In ninth grade I had a pretty significant eating disorder, and that was the last time I wore shorts. I didn't fully appreciate the shorts-wearing then, since I was enmeshed in a body war. After that, I have grown to realize that my legs were not legs that should be enshrined in shorts. My calves have always been reminiscent of butch German weight lifter legs (and I'm part German so it's totes ok for me to say that). No matter how much I work out, what type of exercises I do, my calves do not slim down. My husband calls me sturdy. Don't know how much I appreciate that, but I do resemble it. A couple months ago though, I decided I would wear shorts and June 1 would be my estimated arrival date. I've lost all of the baby weight, and while I'm not quite back to wedding-day weight, I'm pretty close. Granted, much of the weight has changed it's location since having children, but I'm still stuck with large calves (and now a baby gut). I'm working out more, realizing that crunches of some sort have to find their way into my repertoire, as well as squats. I'm hopeful squats will help with the bathing suit portion of the summer. I have also not worn a bathing suit in a number of years. Lie- I wear it but with a shirt and shorts over it. I do not want to hand off my boys my body issues, because it is more common for guys to have body issues nowadays. I must be in a swimsuit and shorts. This must is moving me forward into working out more regularly. Last night, for example, I wanted to work out. I put on my workout clothes. I had no motivation. So I slept in them and before lunch today I worked out. It wasn't extensive, but anything is better than nothing.

Another motivating factor is this feeling that looms over me, a feeling that I don't want to get to be 40, 50, and wonder what I did with my life. I realize that there are only so many hours in a day, and I'm not dramatically changing at the moment. There has been too much bad news and upheaval recently that I'm not trying to reinvent my own life wheel. I'm just taking inventory of where I am and where I'd rather be. For instance, while I love my children, I do not need to spend any more time with them. This isn't something I need to work on. I spend almost all day everyday with them, and it would be close to impossible for me to spend more time with them. Instead, it's my goal to spend more time reading and knitting. I used to read obsessively until grad school. After that the reading train was derailed and she's been in the shop ever since. I have also discovered recently that I would rather read a YA novel then an actual novel. Yep, I am pathetic and worthy of slander, but I don't have a month to devote to one book (and I'm not a slow reader by any stretch, I just don't get much alone time. It's incredibly difficult to get anything done when little people are asking you to watch something every 3 minutes). I just read a YA novel in about 3 hours the other night. Is it mind candy? Perhaps. But it's reading, it's selfish me time, and I crave it. Also, knitting. Love to do it. Once again, difficult to accomplish with little people climbing you and demanding lap time. With the hour or so I get to myself each night, I need to decide what takes precedence. And these are top of my list. I also need to start getting up earlier, maybe working out then, and doing some spiritual stuff.
But it's hard to motivate.

What are you trying to motivate to do?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


I found out on Sunday that a family friend's child committed suicide.

I shouldn't say child, he was early 30's.

I didn't know him at all, but apparently he went to our school (then again when I went there, the class size was over 1000 I think, so pretty easy not to know someone even in your own grade, let alone someone in a different grade).

I don't know his story, I don't know what had happened in his childhood, youth, adulthood.

I know that he was married.
I know that he killed himself in a gruesome manner.

I can't even begin to wrap my head around it-
what it takes to get to that point
what his family must be dealing with
what his wife must be dealing with
As a parent, I don't know how you would ever recover.
I can't fathom it.
As a wife, how do you go on and potentially remarry someday?

The thing is, everyone gets completely screwed with a suicide. Everyone you met will spend the rest of their lives wondering if maybe they could have prevented it, could have convinced you to get help.
Your parents blame themselves.
Your partner blames themselves.
God forbid you have kids, and they blame themselves.

It's a huge burden to give to them for the rest of their lives.
I don't think a day would go by that your loved ones wouldn't think of it.

I know the issue is much more complicated than that, the emotions a depressed person must be going through, the pure emptiness in order to contemplate ending one's life.

But I'm strictly talking about the wake of destruction left in the path of a suicide.
Because that's what it is.
I don't think any man is such an island that no one would be impacted if they killed themselves.

And it's not a smart plan. You die. Game over. You can hope and theorize about some afterlife or not, but when you take it into your own hands, who knows. Maybe there is, maybe there isn't, point being that you are dead.
I dont' want to turn this into some sort of PSA, but things get better.
I've been at some pretty low points in my life, where I couldn't imagine things ever changing.
They did.
I've known several people who have tried to kill themselves before, and guess what? Their lives got better too. And they are glad to be alive.
I'm not trying to say I know that everyone's life is going to be some rainbow and unicorn happiness, cuz it won't. But if the option is deal with the bad crap that comes into my life for the chance to deal with happy stuff too, I'll take that option.
And there are always people who want to talk to you, to help you. Maybe it seems like you are alone, that no one cares, but it's so false.
It's sort of like when I had an eating disorder- I constantly had to tell myself how ugly, fat, gross I was in order to keep myself going. If I opened my eyes to the truth in front of me, to how skinny and deathly twigish I had become, then I probably would've been horrified. Maybe it's like that- convince yourself how alone, unloved, undeserving you are. But it's a lie. There is always going to be someone there that wants to help you, to reach out if you'd let them.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Oversharing Online: SOAPBOX

It's soapbox time.

I hate facebook.

It's not facebook's fault. It's a social connection tool. Awesome, I get it. But it has been abused.
Terribly terribly abused.
Now I won't even get into the bane of "Hit 'like' if you love your dog, ignore if you want your dog to get hit by a car and die within an hour" type posts. Those are super annoying, and also a good reason to abandon facebook, but they are not my main gripe today.


What do I mean?
It's your friend who posts every gut-wrenching detail from their family's stomach flu outbreak. It's the old classmate who constantly complains about the weather, their job, their car, how exhausted they are, etc. It's your friend who insists on sharing every picture taken at their 3 day wedding extravaganza that they did themselves from Pinterest, using Mason jars, fedoras, gluten- and dairy-free everything from scratch, and locally sorced wildflowers harvested ethically.
We get it.
You're life is suuuuuuuuuper important.

Well just get over it and delete them from your friends' list, or hide their feed, you say.

This post isn't for you then, bossy britches. I have a feeling you might be the oversharer if you feel that way.

This blog post is meant for the rest of us, those fed up with the minefield of their daily newsfeed.

I actually quit logging onto facebook because I didn't want to deal with it. So many of my facebook "friends" would post everytime their children are sick, and in minute detail. I personally couldn't handle the anxiety, regardless of their proximity to me.
I feel bad, because I would like to see cute baby pics, hear about who is getting married, etc, but not enough to deal with the anxiety mess that I always end with.

And besides, if they are not good enough friends with me to tell me in person or over the phone/email about their exciting news, then I don't even care that much.

What is it about this social platform that makes people want to overshare? Or is it certain personality-types who are driven to pollute this media with the oversharing?

Maybe it's the thought- well they are my friends, so they want to know what's going on in my life, and if they don't, then they can unfriend me.
That is a good point.
But the overshare is never-
"I am so constipated- omg I need to take some stool softener stat"
"I had some awesome sex with a random stranger last night- thanks Bacardi!"
"My cramps are so bad I could punch a bitch, no seriously. Come at me"
It's not that these people overshare every last detail. There is still (thank God) some level of appropriateness.
I just don't know why some people can comprehend what is appropriate to a certain degree, but be flagrant in other areas.
This just in-
NO ONE wants to hear about your bodily secretions or the bodily secretions of anyone in your family. Trust me.
Did you have a gorgeous baby, a lovely honeymoon, some awesome GlamourShots? Please, post one or two of the highlights. NO ONE wants to scroll through 100 pictures. Well, I want those pictures saved online, you say. There are only about 1000 different options now to do so. Dropbox, Snapfish, Kodak, what have you. Those would be an awesome way to make sure you have a saved copy.
Was there a delicious sandwich at lunch?
Enjoy it and stop taking damn pictures of it. Seriously  NO ONE cares about your sandwich.

This would be an excellent post to discreetly share on facebook if you have friends who are guilty of these things, but you are too polite to call them out.

Or you can do like I do, and avoid. At all costs.

Although I had a brilliant idea (thank you, self. You are welcome, smart self.).
We need it to be required that all posts are tagged in a specific way.
Posting something happy, like a wedding, a baby, a new job? Then you select "happy".
Posting something sad, like a puppy dying, spilling your coffee, student loans? Select "sad".
Posting some illness plaguing your family or friends, like cancer, the flu, pink eye? "Illness".

There could be several categories, or it could even lump "illness" into "sad"
(and as a side note, "we are finally recovering from 4 days of puking our guts up" is not "happy", ok?).

That way, if you are having a shitty day and want to punch someone in the face because your ovaries are exploding or some jerk cut you off in traffic, you could hide everything labeled "happy" so you don't feel the need to consume 3 milkshakes.
Or, if you are needing a pick-me-up and want to see happy puppies and smiling babies, you can select "happy".

Seriously, how great would that be to filter out all the unwanted brain rot?

And while we are at it, how about a feature to "hide" every single forward someone shares, or score from some stupid online game, or anything that Snopes would rule out as false?

Then again, I hear facebook is a dying medium- that growing numbers of teenagers don't even know what it is. I guess they are snapchatting or tweeting or insta-whatevering.

So this is just a big soapbox rant.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

iFail at Technology: Otterbox Defender

I pride myself on being a pretty smart individual. I've never been arrested, punched, and for the most part I give decent advice.
I apparently have a black thumb when it comes to technology.

Today, I attempted to put together the Otterbox Defender for iPad Air.

And I failed so hard.

Like epic amounts of failing.

Here's a lovely shot of the case from Amazon.

I researched my butt off to find something that would not allow a toddler to break an iPad. And although this one has it's flaws, it seemed like it would honestly do as good of a job as any sane person could ask.

So I get my package out, I pry off the included screen cover (it shows in the pic being used as a stand, another bonus feature, but I can't seem to figure it out for my children). No instructions. Yep. Super awesome. I wave my fist in the air, but what can you do when you buy it off of eBay for half price amirite?
I google "how to take apart otterbox defender ipad air" and get a lovely video that shows me how I should be doing it. He says a credit card will significantly help in removing the impossible silicone outer layer. I try a credit card. Doesn't work. Maybe Otterbox does not like Discover Card, so I try my license, I try an Olive Garden gift card. Nada. I'm trying to be pretty careful not to tweak the eff out and just rip it off she-Hulk style. Because, as I said earlier, I bought it off eBay and pretty sure Otterbox doesn't honor shady second market deals.
I watch another video, thinking maybe I just need another opinion. So very unhelpful. I'm trying to use my own brute strength minus the credit card to get that damn silicone liner off. Oh the struggle is very real. I don't even care if I break it if I can just conquer this damn silicone gasket.
I call the husband and beg him for assistance. He tells me how much I fail as a human if I can't get it off.

Then I grab that damn credit card and try again.

And lo and behold some mighty miracle occurs where I actually pry back part of the silicone gasket.
Hard part over, right?
H to the no.
It's about 10 more minutes of trying to pry this off the entirety of the "high-impact polycarbonate". It's difficult normally, then add to that the fact that all of the ports have special covers made out of the silicone. And if you pull too hard you'll rip it (supposedly, then again this is some rugged ninja silicone). Fiiiinnnnnalllllyyy, I get the silicone off. Hard part over, right?


There are all these tabs you need to push in to get the polycarbonate case apart. I just cut my fingernails two days ago and apparently that's the weapon of choice. Luckily the video suggests a butter knife, which pushes the tabs just wonderfully (thank you, video). Then I nestle the sweet little iPad inside, snap the polycarbonate case back together (which is very satisfying to hear, like the lockdown of potential smashed iPad). Getting the silicone back on is much easier, although not entirely easy.

Outcome? If my children can somehow get that iPad out of that case then I have either won as a parent or I'm quitting life entirely because I can't manage to outwit a 3 year old.

This is the most difficult case I have ever wrestled onto a device. It seems ridiculously secure. We shall see. All-in-all, another day where a simple piece of plastic has left me sweaty, near tears, and feeling like a failure to the human race. Well played, Otterbox. Well played.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Reviews of Things: Go Diego Go

One day you might be a parent, or you are already one, or you may even just watch a kid because you are kind or you kidnapped it. Either way, you will be subjected to some pretty brutal stuff. Diaper changes, burping, baths, crying fits: all of these could be in your future. How to get through it mildly unscathed?
I'm here to help.

Cuz I'm a giver.

I'm going to review stuff (cuz stuff is great) so you know whether it is a good thing, a bad thing, and save yourself alllll that mental anguish of finding out on your own.

First up, a gem in children's entertainment:
Go Diego Go.

This is an older Nickelodeon show, and I'm pretty sure they came up with it after Dora the Explorer. In fact, Diego is a cousin of Dora.
There are some cool aspects of the show, like finding out more about wildlife and learning traits of animals. We discovered this show on Amazon Prime. Our cable company just upgraded so you have to have a cable box to get cable, and I am so decidedly lazy that I didn't call them to get a free box (yeah, you even get the box for free- but man it's hard to dial numbers ughhhhh), which meant we had nothing to watch upstairs. Then by chance I discovered that you get FREE streaming movies, tv etc with Amazon Prime, which we already have because we buy all the diapers in the world. So we have been watching new shows, such as a really cute one called Pocoyo, and then others like this lovely Diego.
If you are new to the Dora franchise, dear sweet little Dora attempts to teach your children Spanish, and repeats directions to places about 3000 times per episode. I hate Dora. I don't believe in violence against children so I won't gouge her eyes out, but I would sit her in the naughty corner for sure. Diego is also trying to teach your children Spanish. I don't appreciate this aspect, since my kids can't even speak English. It's mildly amusing, since Diego will say some Spanish word and ask you to repeat it, and my kids will utter forth such unintelligible goop. 
Also, the character is voiced, at least for the first three seasons, by that little boy from Wizards of Waverley Place, who I just googled and turns out he is Spanish. So checkmate, Diego. 

Wrap up
Good: educational, keeps kids involved, lots of animals which kids love
Bad: my kids are too incomprehensible to be bilingual, stop telling me to stand up and climb like a jaguar- I'm sitting down and I want to stay down, thanks, and speaking of jaguars, pretty sure that Diego having a pet jaguar is teaching kids that jaguars are friends, which might not be great if you live in a jaguar-heavy area, and finally, his sister Alecia says they are animal scientists which I kinda question since they are what like 8 and 11? Maybe rules are more lax in whatever country they are from.

Overall- much better than Dora, more educational than Spongebob, but has a few flaws. Nothing that watching 9 seasons of won't fix.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Inevitable

I have been lulled into a false sense of ease.
My complacency got the best of me.

Last night when I returned home from cleaning (which is bound to happen when you own a cleaning business), I asked my husband down the boys had gone to bed.
And the inevitable had happened.

My baby has learned to climb out of his crib.


When this happened with my eldest, the very next day we got a toddler bed and set him up (and then we learned that he cannot be contained by a toddler bed, so we threw a couple of twin mattresses on the floor for maximum sprawling pleasure). It was a steep learning curve, but within a week he was a big boy in a big boy bed.

So I had to face some of my fears.
Namely, sharing a closet with my husband.
Even more so, cleaning out aforementioned side of the closet that may or may not have been where scarves go to die.

Yeah, only about 50 scarves. No hoarding going on here, nothing to see.

During nap time, I attacked the closet like a madwoman, and was able to clear up a spot for my husband's stuff, while packing 3 bins for storage (1.5 of purses, .5 of winter scarves, 1 of sweaters), stuffing a bag to try to sell at resale, and 1 for donations. And I still have a mountain of scarves on my bed, as I have yet to decide their fate.

But I have made some progress!
Please ignore the reflection of my terribly trashed room. Pretend you can't see it. I know I do.

Now to figure out how to get the boys to sleep. The crib is in the diaper room, ie where we do diaper changes. Both boys are still in diapers (yeah he's almost 4, lay off, I'm exhausted) so the diaper changing table is key. There is an old dresser for my husband's clothes, and much stuff on hangers in the closet (which has no door on it). A small child cannot be left to his own devices in that room, as many of these objects can be climbed, pulled over on oneself, or used to murder/cause bodily harm. The boys could sleep together in one room, and the room that the crib is in is the larger room, so it would make sense to relocate the two twin mattresses to that room. There is just soooo much work to make that room safe. My husband would disagree but then again he would let a fairly tame monkey watch them, so he is not the arbiter of sense.

All I know is, since he can climb, the boy is climbing.

It's inevitable. Fish gotta swim, boys gotta climb.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hobbies: Knitting

I tend to be a perfectionist. (And also a procrastinator, but that's a different story for a different time).

I don't want to do something unless I can be perfect.

About 13 years ago, I took a knitting class with my ex at a local community center. From there, I was hooked (or I guess that's for crochet- get it? Get it?). I made all sorts of poorly executed acrylic nightmares, mostly in scarf form, and bequeathed them to beloved family members, who wore them one and promptly hid them (I'm looking at you, mom).

I bought books, needles, and as much cheap cheap yarn as I could, and would go on spurts of vigilant knitting. Now I learned knit and purl originally, but never taught myself other skills (the community lessons were short and the teacher was a bit scary). I was afraid of experimenting and failing. When I moved back home my mom even paid for me to have a one-on-one with a local yarn shop owner, during which she taught me cables (and I immediately forgot since I'm one of those people that needs to do something like 10 times before I remember).

When I was pregnant with my first, I started going to that little yarn shop all the time, and I bought a set of expensive (at the time) interchangeable needles, nice (at the time) yarn, and all the accoutrement. I made a baby blanket for my future progeny, and made a friend who has since turned into a knitting fiend.

After giving birth to said progeny, I discovered a little site called Ravelry.

My eyes were hence opened to all that I didn't know.

I learned that the "nice" yarn I was buying at the local shop was actually pretty cheap! I learned the expensive set of needles I bought were just the tip of the iceberg. And there are sooooo many more skills necessary to this whole knitting thing than I imagined.

My good friend has since taught herself these skills and can do cables, sweaters, color work. I can do big and little squares and rectangles. That be all. I be dumb.

But damn if I didn't go whole hog on this hobby.
Go big or go home, right?
If I have all the right gear, then at least I have a chance of succeeding.
And if not, then I look like I'm talented, even barring lack of talent.

I give you- the right gear.
Needles that have about a year wait to get them custom made? Dyakcraft Darn Pretty Interchangeables.
Yarn-specific bags? Tom Bihn yarn stuff sacks.
Yarn from Germany that only goes on sale at 3 am Michigan-time, and sells out in a matter of minutes? Wollmeise DK in Maus Jung.

The project? A free cowl pattern from Ravelry- honey cowl. And that little bit has taken me months, mostly because I get it out of the bag, knit two rounds, and go to bed. I'm old. Or I get onto Ravelry and just stalk things, search through people's stashes. 
I can't knit with multiple colors, I can't pick up stitches or make socks, but the crappy cowls and scarves I can knit are made with pretty yarn.

Maybe I'll even guilt myself into learning more, since I have so much money tied up in this thing.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Blame- Hot Button Topic

Yesterday, my oldest felt warm. By midday he was sprouting a high fever, and after nap it was up over 102. He was just acting like normal, perhaps a bit more draggy. Before dinner it was 103.2. So that's when I threw both boys in a warm bath, gave him some ibuprofen, and waited for the temp to drop. I usually am a panic-er (haha like you couldn't tell from my previous posts), and want to ibuprofen my boys up when they get a fever. I did some reading about fevers, how important it is for the body to get hot to fight off the infection, yada yada. Everything I was reading said a virus from a simple cold can sprout a high fever for 2-3 days, and after that you should be concerned. Last night his fever went down, he was still acting like his normal, brother-hitting self. I slept on the mattress next to his, and around 5 a.m. he was up, trying to convince me to wake up. He was warm and I decided to give him another dose of ibuprofen.
This morning, he felt a little warm, but was acting normal. By midday he was up to 101.7, but didn't seem to be moving from there. He didn't nap, and after, while he was sitting on the couch watching the millionth episode of Bob the Builder (on amazon prime instant, can't believe I just discovered that), he just looked too flushed for me. I took his temp- 103.2. Again. Dammit. So I called the doctor's office and raced to his appointment.
At the appointment it was 103.2. The nurse even seemed surprised by that. He was too interested in her temperature-taking-thingy, scanning his nose, the wall, his knee. The doctor came in, asked some questions, and listened to him breathe. My husband (who arrived to help me wrangle both boys just before the doctor came in) told him to breathe deeply. So he did. And that's when she heard it. The crinkle, apparently. He has pneumonia, she told me. And that's when my heart fell through the floor. Pneumonia. In my professional knowledge of pneumonia (which extends to basically how to spell it), only kids like the sick one from "Secret Garden" get pneumonia. And here is my kid, suffering from it while I'm hoping that his fever will burn off an illness. Holding back tears I asked her some questions about it, none too reassuring (especially that they would give him an antibiotic but if his fever didn't break in two days we have to come back and have him put on something else).
Once I got home I decided to google pneumonia. Trust me, don't do this. Phrases like "number one killer of children" pop up. It isn't pretty.
Then I started playing the blame game. And not in a normal, sane-person way. I didn't think- what did I do wrong, was it because I took him out in the cold, etc.
Nope. The blame game I play is on a whole 'nother playing field.
Photo from last time he was super sick
The blame game I play is, what have I done to upset God. When I worked my last job, my kids started to get sick often. Each time I would think, it's because I just spent a lot of money at the store. Or, it's because I was talking crap about my husband. I'm wondering if the pneumonia is because we didn't go to church last week, because our youngest had a cough. Or is it because I am questioning tenants of the faith? Am I the only one to think this way? 
I didn't think this way when I was growing up. I was raised very middle of the road Methodist. I had crappy things happen, but I felt they were just crappy things. I dated a crappy guy, it was because I made a bad decision. I got sick, it was because I wasn't taking care of myself, etc.
Now, I feel like what I hear in church and what's happening in my life are at a conflict. If by His stripes I am healed, if I am sick or my kids are sick, why is that? Because I haven't had enough faith? Because of sin nature? If I pray for health and immunity for my children and they get pneumonia, is it something I have failed to do in my faith walk? It's like when my mother in law was dying, she fully believed she would be healed. Why wasn't she? Was she not in the right part of her faith walk? We are told all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed, so does this illness show that I do not even have faith that size? 
Maybe I need to sit down with a theologian and ask some questions. Or maybe I just need to read my Bible, talk to God on my own level, and come to my own conclusions. Or maybe I am not supposed to do that, and this is just a test from the devil? I just feel very stranded here with my faith, knowing what I  feel and believe, and what I am told and preached to. Everyone stands up, yells Amen, that by His stripes we are healed, but maybe it's just meant as our souls are healed, we can go to Heaven, not there will be no pain or infirmity again. One of the Apostles says that those with the most faith will be tested the most.
All I know is I am praying that the medicine works, that the pneumonia goes away, and that he won't get it again soon, which they say is a possibility for a few months after.
Once again with the too raw post. There is humor in my life. I'll let you know after the pneumonia and funeral for my neighbor, ok?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Saying Goodbye

Our next door neighbors are pretty awesome. When we moved in we weren't looking to really become chatty with any neighbors. It's just not part of my (introvert) personality. But our neighbors north of us were just hard not to like. They were retired folks, always inviting us over for a beer after my husband got done with work, welcoming me to stop by with the boys whenever I wanted to, even offering to watch them if I needed to run someplace. Granted, they had a lovely home full of things that little children would just treasure to break and smash, so we did most of our socializing outside. In the summers we would talk over the fence, once or twice we took them up on the offer of beer and conversation in their backyard while the boys tried to dig in their garden.
They would tell me, in a hushed voice, how they would wave to my oldest son when he peeked out of the blind during nap time. They knew he was supposed to be asleep, but he got such a thrill out of peeking and waving at the neighbors- "friends" he called them.
Then in November, our Neighbor Grandpa went to the hospital with bad back pain. Not only did he have a crack or some such horrible thing happen to his vertebrae, they found lung cancer. He underwent radiation and chemo, and they found it had spread to his bones. After several rounds of treatment, he passed away yesterday. I knew something was amiss, as the street was literally lined with cars for the few days leading up and preceding it. Neighbor Grandma called to let us know what had happened. What can you even say? I tried to remember what had helped when my mother-in-law passed. Just sorry, praying for you, here for anything you need. How do you go about life as normal when someone you have shared it with for the past 50+ years is gone? I can't even fathom.
Both boys are down with colds, coughs, one small fever. It makes me feel like an ass for the anxiety I feel over illnesses. I would take a cold, a fever, even throwing up over cancer. Any day.
I'm so sick of cancer that I could just scream.
I understand, sin nature, evil in the world, yada yada.
Right now I'm just trying to focus on how to say goodbye, to those just lost, to those lost long ago.
And I can't even...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Method to the Madness

See, I didn't start out as a cleaner. I am sloppy by nature. As a kid, when my mom had friends over she would shut my door so as to avoid embarrassment. I just didn't care. Same in college- I'd drag home my laundry over break that I had been saving up for weeks. But things have changed out of necessity. If I were to avoid laundry altogether for a week, I would have over 8 loads. Now the cleaning happens because I am the sole cleaner. And also the mild ocd anxiety issues I have about cleaning. But as I have said before, I am QUITE lazy. Whatever I do, I must be efficient and quick. I clean the bathroom twice a week, but I'm only in there maybe 15 minutes. And this is a full clean, a full top to bottom scrubbing the floors clean. Granted I have a tiny closet-sized bathroom.
I start after bedtime. Whoever goes to the bathroom last (usually my oldest), I'll spray the bowl with cleaner after the flush. Then I pull all hand towels, get one wet, and use the wet side to wipe down the mirror, and the dry side to wipe it off. I'll throw those in the hallway, along with any towels. I shake out the bath rug, and hang that over the shower curtain rod. I'll spray down the bathtub (start at the bottom, with the drain, faucet, sides, working your way up to you don't get cleaner raining down on you. I'll then spray the sink and sides of the sink. After that, I can either go finish up with bedtime, or if kids are asleep, I'll go back with my dish gloves. Dish gloves are my Godsend. Mine are nonlatex and have a cotton lining. Fab. I scrub the toilet bowl first, in case some of it sprays off toward the floors. I then spray the toilet bowl edge and underside of the seat, wipe, spray the top of the seat and back of the lid, wipe, and then top of the tank, handle, and top of the lid and wipe. I am super unecofriendly and I use toilet paper for this toilet clean, mostly so I don't have a dirty rag to worry about. I am conscious of how much tp I use, so it's not exorbitant. Then I clean the sink, then the bathtub. I start with the top working my way to the bottom. Now comes the floor scrubbing. I spray the floor closest to the door (sometimes the walls and baseboards around them if they are dusty or dirty- usually the bottom foot of the wall or less) and wipe up. I use the same rag I used for the sink and shower, just much rinsing in hot water. If you don't clean often, maybe you should use separate rags for each section. The rag gets rinsed out thoroughly after each pass. I work in small two foot sections, mostly because the floor gets slippery if not completely rinsed. I work my way to the tub, then to the sink, and finally to the toilet. I wipe the walls first (do this one day with a white washcloth and you will never look at your toilet the same way), then the sides of the toilet, and finally the base and the floor. I rinse the rag a lot, and when I'm all done with the floor around the toilet, I'm done with the rag. That goes in the laundry. I wash my gloves off, turn on the shower to rinse everything down the drain, and job over. 
I can do this in a quick fashion, especially since I do it twice a week. Some woman on the internets was saying how you shouldn't use water when cleaning. I don't know how I feel about that.
Anyway, I've learned if you set up a method for your cleaning, a schedule per se, you will get done so much quicker, and if you clean regularly, you'll find your cleaning sessions greatly shortened in time. 
For example, cleaning your toys, etc that can be bleached. Most people do this like twice a year maybe, or only after a sickness, right? I try to do it once a month, usually on a Sunday. Sunday tends to be my cleaning day. I wait until all of my dishes are done and after bedtime, as I don't have to worry about my sink being off limits. Then I just throw all the toys that won't be harmed by water into the sink and dump a cup or so of bleach in. Then I just let it sit overnight usually, and drain it in the morning. Be sure to use a white towel or one you don't care about, since even after rinsing, some bleaching of the towel will occur.

Also once a week, when I run out of my cleaning solution, I will make up two spray bottles. I just added a bottle with a bleach solution to my arsenal, so we shall see how useful it will become.
If you try to make certain cleaning practices into habits, your house will look cleaner and you'll get quicker. Have you ever had a kid who had the stomach flu, or had it yourself? It's horrible. You will do anything to avoid it, and afterward you clean like it's your job and rent is due. I feel- why clean after it happens? Maybe cleaning beforehand like you are cleaning up after will prevent it from happening at all. 
But I could be wrong. Call me crazy.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Looks Can Be Deceiving

A few weeks ago I cleaned my closet.
It was much overdue.
I couldn't shut the doors, there were piles everywhere, too many hangers, etc.
I commandeered my husband's storage cubes since he had clothes in there untouched for the past two years. I sorted, made piles, donated things. I got serious about the closet.
In what little time I had.
Here is the remaining side of the closet:
It's hidden back behind the closed door. The door can't even be opened because of the stuff in front of it.
So I have nice tidy spaces amidst messy spaces. This, I found, is what being a mother is all about. You take care of the things you can, and try not to feel guilty about the things you can't. My closet is an easy space for me not to care about, since it is quite tucked away. My room is basically always shut so the boys can't rampage through it, and I rarely have visitors. No one will see this space (especially since the door can't be moved to access it). 
I recently came to the realization that: 1. I am the one who will clean things. If something is messy, it is up to me to clean it, or it shall remain in that state indefinitely. 2. It is FAR easier to keep a space clean if it is uncluttered.
Both of these realizations suck. I am not a cleaner, pre-children. Sure, spring clean. Sure, deep clean occasionally. But every day clean? Nope. I have had to whistle a different tune lately. Two solid-food-consuming boys make a mess. They have dishes, dirty clothes, messes everywhere they go. I can't turn a blind eye (well I could but my cleaning OCD would get the best of me). So I do dishes after every meal. Those five minutes post-meal save me from a 30+ minute daily dish-a-thon. I vacuum daily. I steam mop at least weekly, if not twice a week. I clean the bathroom twice a week. There are quite a few tasks that I do that pre-baby me would be shocked at. But pre-baby me really had no effing idea what she was getting in to. 
To the second point, eliminating clutter. Now I love me some clutter. I like collecting things. I do not like parting with things. But when you live in a 950 square foot house without a garage or really many closets to speak of, you have no where to put the clutter. It lives on the counters, on shelves, in broad daylight. When trying to clean around these piles, you start to realize how little you need the clutter. Now I am a clothes and shoes-a-holic. I want it all. I can foresee every reason to keep every item. I could gain or lose weight. I could get a professional job. I might need to go to a fancy event. Blah. A million reasons why I am a slave to my clothes. So I went though and got rid of. I gave my friends and family a chance to pick through it. That helped. At least it doesn't feel like such a betrayal to the intentions I had for the clothes if I give them to someone I know. So the piles dwindle down. 
I still have clutter. I still have areas I need to control. But it's like life, you deal with what you can when you can, and give yourself some grace to deal with the rest when you can.