Monday, January 23, 2012

me, screaming at the tv/computer

I had a little rant yesterday and decided to share it here too ... its about small houses.

Actually, its about advising people on how to utilize their space in small houses better ... when the houses you use to reference aren't small.  Or at least aren't as small/built like mine.

James Young, please come find someone
who actually needs your help!  ME!!!
This rant started when I sat down to feed the baby.  Breastfeeding is a teeny bit boring when the baby isn't pretending to be a Cullen, so I turned the boobtube (so much more aptly named now) on.  It was on the DIY channel and a show called I Hate My Kitchen.  Since I have uttered the show's title a few times I thought to myself:

Self, maybe I will figure out something useful on this show!

And with great hope I started to watch this episode.  The home owners had little sound bites saying things like "Its so small," "Its so ugly" ... I nodded, agreeing and sympathizing with them.  I hadn't seen the full kitchen shot yet, but they showed the cabinets and I thought to myself  with sudden trepidation:

Um, Self, they have more than two lower cabinets next to each other ... that suggests some length in their kitchen ... I don't have that.

Then they showed the whole kitchen.  And my jaw dropped, blood boiled and the yelling commenced.  The baby was much displeased with me.

These people are whining about their "small," "ugly," and "outdated" kitchen while they have at least three times the space I have, about 40 times the counter space, black (and not almond) colored appliances, shiny cabinets ... ugh, I could go on.  Lets just say I would trade them their kitchen in a heart beat.

Reaching to turn the channel, I heard the guy gripe about how you can't walk out the entry way when the fridge door is opened because you get pinned between it and the island.  I had a momentary lapse of logic where I thought to myself "okay, that would be annoying" ... then I realized that you can't open the door to my fridge and walk by at all, not because of an island, but because its basically galley style.

I changed the channel and moved on with my life hoping these people wind up spending $4,000 over budget because I'm spiteful like that.

Later I was reading one of my fave blogs* and there was a guest post titled 5 Tips For Living In a Small Space.

Yay, I thought, I love this blog, there is always practical stuffs here!  I bet I can use this!

So I eagerly started reading.  Tip One: Do not compare your home to other's homes.  Ugh, yeah, that is probably reasonable, but, so not happening.

Creative use of space: Kids don't need rooms!
My shoes do!
But lets give me something to do, not something to not do! I thought to myself.

Tip Two: Embrace the space you have.  Ooooooookaaaaay, I can hug my shoe-box-sized master bedroom closet but I fail to see how this is helping me!

Don't worry, it went down hill from there.

Tip Three: Be creative with your space!  Yippie! Reading on I hoped to hear something uber useful like a way to store kids toys, how to put an extra roll of toilet paper in the bathroom without it becoming a kid toy, or anything another human being would pin and want to do.  What did I get?  Ideas about how you can store things in bathroom vanities ... {insert sound of tires squealing to a halt here} wait hold up, people can use bathroom vanities to hold more than their hair drier?  I don't even have towels in either bathroom because there is no space.  Don't tell me how I can store stuff there, it ain't happening.  Next tip involved a comment about how the author has one whole side of her closet filled with stacked plastic totes.  Allow me to just say that if you can fit even one of those (I assume) big assed 5 gallon muthas in your closet and still put clothes in it AND access any of that stuff I do not want to hear you whine about storage solutions.  

Sheesh, where will I put the Pop Tarts?!
Moving on, and slightly less happy I  read into Tip Four a bit and saw that it dealt with organizing and keeping things clutter free, which I am all for and was okay with.  Until I read this: "One of my nightly goals is to clear off the kitchen island" ... bitch, please.  That is one of my lifetime goals -- to have a kitchen that has an island!  It discussed organizing drawers and stuff, but seriously, when you only have 4 kitchen drawers, and only 2 of them are full sized its not so much about organizing as it is about swearing and not owning much.  

Tip Five dealt with managing your "stockpiles" and I think if you can store extras of anything anywhere I don't want to speak with you anymore, and certainly won't be reading your tips on organized living.  

So here is my goal: I want to either find an actually useful/applicable article that will give me tips I can use or I want to write one myself.  If you have a home built in the 80s when storage was apparently very un-trendy, your backyard is bigger than your house, you have no laundry room but rather a section of your garage with a washer and drier crammed into it, and the biggest closet in your house is actually the shed in the backyard then I want to know your tips for storage and organization!  Otherwise I'm going to mope in my 1500 sq feet of mess and work on a new blog series of my own!

*This is one of my fave mom/money/practical blogs, but I am not linking to the original article (you can search for it if you really wanna) because this isn't exactly a friendly commentary LOL

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Yay, I can fail at this too!

I was so excited to make my own baby food. Really, I felt so jazzed about the whole thing.  I was reading up on recipes before Thing 2 could sit up and was already figuring out what I'd make loooong before I was actually making it.  I was having one big hippie, rainbow-shittin', successful-mama-moment dreaming about how I was going to do something wholesome and right for my little boy.  He would grow up all strong and noble, knowing how to write in cursive, match his own socks, and win the Nobel Prize -- despite my failure at cloth diapering -- all because his mommy made him his first foods.

And it has been one big massive failure.  He hates it. Anything. Everything.

I tried rice and oatmeal first, even though I was biting at the food-processing-bit, and he had super fun allergic reactions.
Oatmeal Art ... unfortunately,
 consuming it made him violently ill

So I researched, and decided to start with orange/yellow veggies first and move to the greens, then fruits.  This is supposed to lay down pathways in the brain that lead to healthy eating habits later.  Supposedly by eating things in this order he would be less likely to develop a sweet tooth -- which led me to believe my mother was giving me chocolate by IV at 4 months of age, but this is beside the point.

I talked with my awesome pediatrician, found websites, read books, then went to websites with simple how-to-recipes that a monkey could follow.  A brain dead, blind monkey ... with a peg leg.

I tried sweet potatoes first.  I grinned like a fool and my husband took pictures.  Baby shivered like a naked man lost int he arctic and gagged like I had asked him to lick a live 9V battery, but he got used to them and eventually he would eat them with only a minimal shudder. But he would eat them.

Yams? Um, two bites then he mutinies.

Squash? Oh hell-to-the-no. You'd swear its torture.

Carrots? Ha!

Avocado? If he could run he would have.

So I figured maybe I just really suck as a baby chef.  Really, who would be surprised by this particular development?  Bought carrots.  Jarred carrots.  He tried those and while it made me feel like less of a failure as a cook (he ate even less of those than he did mine) he still wouldn't eat them.

Giving up I bought pears today.  Pears are yummy. They are fruit, the thing I had intended to not give him until after we'd successfully navigated the less sweet and tasty stuff.  I bought Gerber in a plastic bin, didn't even attempt to make them as it is a lot of freaking work for him to gag on and refuse.

Sigh. Nope.

Now he is sick of the sweet potatoes and won't eat them anymore either.

"Oh Lawd, that airplane is back!"
I let him play with it, play with a spoon, eat in a high chair, on my lap, eat it warm, eat it cold ... in a house, with a mouse ... and a partridge in a pear tree … he wants nothing to do with anything I give him that is "food" ... but he is quite into breast milk still. He also loves to watch people eat and grabs at our food.

I know nutritionally he is fine, I know he can continue this way more or less for a bit. He is about 32 inches long and weighs 23 lbs or so ... not like he is wasting away or anything. I am just baffled. My oldest was inhaling baby food by this age.

I just can't help but laugh that I walked into parenthood this time around thinking I was sooo open minded and was going to do so much better than the stumbling act I did a decade ago with Thing 1.  Well in the immortal words of Lennon, life is what happens while your making other plans.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

being judged, by a phone

While there are some things I am quite good at, the God's honest truth is -- and anyone who knows me more than 45 seconds can attest to the truth of this -- I have the world's worst sense of direction.  Seriously.  When God was putting all the skills I would eventually develop into the heavenly Kitchen Aid mixer someone must have distracted the Big Guy when he got to the "internal compass" part of the recipe.  I have none.  At all.  Like I have lived in the same 30 mile radius for over 20 years and still get turned around and couldn't tell you which direction is north even if life itself depended on it.

I also have a car as old as Thing 1.  Standard at the time of good ol' Betty's (yes, I name my car) production were cassette players and driver/passenger side airbags, but alas ... no navigation stuff.  Not even a compass on the rear view mirror that unhelpfully announces I am heading southwest (what good would that do to someone like me anyway?).

So when I discovered I could get turn-by-turn, walk-me-through-it-like-a-baby directions on my phone I was pretty blooming thrilled.  Gone, I thought, were the days of calling my husband only to have him start giving directions with north, south, east and west before he patronizingly says "oh, sorry I forgot ..."  Gone, I hoped, were the days of calling my dad only to have him burst out laughing and say "Good lord, how did you wind up there?!"

I thought that finally my smartass phone would have a feature that could save me in my times of trouble and need.

I named it Fancy Nancy.

Not sure why, but I have a thing for naming stuff and I thought it was so spiffy that my phone could not only talk but tell me where to go ... anyway, back to the point.

The point is this: Nancy is a raging biotch.  And a judgmental one too.

Don't tell me your phone doesn't say "recalculating route" with the same "you are such a bleeding moron" tone of voice and eye-roll Nancy does for me.  If your phone is friendly about your flaws I don't want to hear it.

the genius that is Dobby

(just sharing because it cracks me up)
I will admit to not only being a Harry Potter fan, but also to being mini-obsessed with J.K. Rowling.  She's my hero, plan and simple.  Every time I read anything about her I find myself comparing me to her, which puts me at a ridiculous disadvantage to be sure, but I too was a single mother, want to write a book, have red hair ... but I could read an article discussing that she is female, likes to breathe air, and eat food and would spend the length of that article stupidly exclaiming "me too!" like I was having some kind of major epiphany.

But this morning, while standing outside shivering waiting for the dogs to go numbers one and two before the sun was up, I realized the real brilliance of her writing.

Its not well developed characters with emotional range and problems far superseding the seriousness of those previously seen in books of this genre or for this age group.  Its not the ridiculously complex horcrux/hallows thing that makes me scrunch up my nose and think every time I read it like I am a 12 year old giving it my first go.  Its not any Nazi allegory or the sheer length of the tomes that nevertheless people willingly devoured in under 24 hours either.  No, no, the real literary brilliance of the whole thing lies in Dobby.

Yes, Dobby.

The silly little house elf, and all of his kind, they are the true brilliant spark of Harry Potter.  Creatures that for the first few books Harry isn't even aware of because the mark of a good house elf is that they really aren't noticed.  They move, unseen, in the wee hours of the morning completing tasks that everyone simply assumes will be done.  Unpaid, unappreciated, silent creatures that single-handedly make a household run.  The only time that the existence of such menial tasks is even really noticed is when a house elf is not present to complete it, thereby making it the annoying responsibility of a disgruntled wizard or witch who inevitably will suck at the task because they've always had a damn house elf.

Why, you ask, is this the ingenious gem in the midst of seven huge volumes?  Well isn't it obvious?  We all have our own Dobby, and only a woman, a mom, could write about it so subtly that not everyone would instantly notice?  Harry Potter's mom was killed by He Who Lacks a Nose, sure ... but he had Dobby and Kreature for a time in addition to the harried but lovable Molly Weasley.

Standing there wishing the dogs didn't have to smell every, single blade of grass before they poop on it that epiphany hit me.  We do have a house elf in the mommadeaux abode.

I am Dobby.

So this begs the real question: Where is Hermione and her S.P.E.W. badges when I really need her?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

homework assignments & fear

For all my numerous faults as a mom, I am at least one impassioned supporter of my children's education.  I can give my children many things ... fodder for the therapists couch, genetic predisposition toward various chronic ailments, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches heavy on the jelly for lunch ... but the one thing that will remain with them, always, in spite of the weather, who is in the White House, or any other variable out there, is their education.  For this reason (and the fact that my mother was just as maniacal and I come from a long line of teachers) I am a tad hard core when it comes to school related things.

Its how I roll.

So I diligently check emails and communicate with Thing 1's teachers all the time.  Like his mother before him, my child never comes home following a bad day without my already knowing the ins and outs of what happened.  Fortunately for me and my child, there aren't many bad days.  Thing 1 is a good kid, I'd like to take credit, but I am pretty sure he is raising himself.

As I was checking my emails the other day though I came across this message from his fabulous teacher:

As part of our Reading-At-Home assignment your child should be asking you about some “funny” stories about you as a kid. Help keep them motivated by giving them some time at dinner to ask you some questions.
Thanks for all you do.

And my blood ran cold.

I know that the teacher wasn't asking me to share funny stores from my teen-years youth.  I have a few more years before high school aged shenanigans come back to haunt me, and I am praying to never need to explain my college years to my kids, or parents for that matter.  I mean really, I narrowly escaped a terrorist bombing and was too drunk to know it and that was just another Thursday night as far as I was concerned at the time.  True story.  Maybe for another day.

But really, "funny" stories from my youth.  I couldn't think of any immediately that would not make my nun-of-a-child get all judgey-pants on me.  Shall I share about the time I dumped my new born sister into a flower pot?  How about when we got cold at the bus stop and lit notebooks on fire?

So I asked my mom.

Yeah that was a mistake.  {Sigh}

After the fourth story where she told me that she explained to the traumatized witnesses that I was in fact her identical twin sister's daughter (we look quite a bit alike) so as to not have them judging her for birthing the demon child with freckles and pigtails, I decided that I needed to make up some stories. This way, I reasoned, I would have something good to tell Thing 1, were he to ask.

Still trying to make something up, I checked my email and I had a gem of an email from my mother reminding me that I could also tell the story the note I gave to a girl on my bus that would have warranted a greater than PG13 rating due to the volume of "eff off"s included ... then signed my name.  First and last.  Hey, I felt strongly about what I had to say, I guess.

But at any rate I have decided that in this one instance, I am going to just hope that Thing 1 doesn't do his homework.

revisiting the time toilet

the original
So my last post was all back patty goodness regarding my finally doing something productive with Pinterest.  I was sooo happy with myself, until I realized that I had neither a place for the item in question, nor did I have the pen I needed to make it work.

Well crap.

It wouldn't be me if there wasn't some kind of face-plant-moment.  Its not rocket surgery or brain science, but I have a tendency to go big go home/over think everything, so the end result is that I don't always know where I am going with my brilliant plans, but I am confident in their brilliance none the less.

While my "free" and "easy" project continued haunting my mind  for a while I eventually realized that the only logical thing to do was to completely redo two walls in my house.  This involved digging out frames I had stored for a day I would eventually need them (knew it would happen!), making a run to Hobby Lobby, and covertly asking St Paul via text where the level and drill where in the garage while he sat at work wondering if it was possible for me to put enough holes in the walls to impact the structural integrity of the house.

I also had to completely redo the "i love you because" picture I found  on Pinterest because I needed it to hang vertically and it looked really stupid the way I had it.

The end result is that the "free" and "easy" project that was also so "quick" wound up taking a whole day, costing me about $30 and required the use of 7 different tools and St Paul had no fewer than 5 panic attacks.  This does diminish the bragging I was doing about how I had finally found and used a Pinterest idea so quickly.

Po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe.

Anywhoo, here is the new fangdangled "i love you because" picture in my completely re-done hallway, complete with our first lovey-dovey messages to each other.

Read the Printed Word!