headabovelaundry

Three kids, two dogs, one husband…keeping my head above the laundry pile one load at a time…

Weekly Goals

I am a big fan of “to do” lists.  A quick search of my desk will lead to a discovery of at least ten “to do” lists of one sort or another.  And I am certain that if I cleaned out my car, I would find a collection of grocery lists and errands lists that I bring with me out to the car, but never seem to bring with me into the actual grocery store.

What does me being a fan of to do lists have to do with a blog post?  Well, I haven’t posted an entry in…quite a while.  It’s not for lack of ideas.  I have many.  I could blame it on losing my fancy camera because many of my ideas involve photos to add to the post.  I could blame it on the fact that I seem to be a total moron when it comes to uploading and adding pictures to my blog.  It’s really not that hard, I just always make it more complicated than it is.  A lack of posts could be blamed on my darling cherubs who are home for vacation.

There are many things to add to the list of “Why I Haven’t Posted on My Blog”, but the bottom line is, I don’t have my act together.  I need to have a plan and a goal.  So here it is, for all to see.  Yes, I know it’s already Thursday, so I only have a couple of days to get to work on this week’s list.  (I work better under pressure.)  If I put this list out here for everyone, I’ll be held accountable.  And I’m all for accountability.

So here goes:

  1. Write all the posts I have in my head into a draft.  Note to self:  You know if you don’t, you will forget them.
  2. Change my author name.
  3. Submit some requests to guest post at other sites.
  4. Take the photos I want to use in upcoming posts.  Get them off the camera and uploaded onto WordPress.  Don’t let the point and shoot camera stop you.
  5. Clean off my desk and organize my to do lists into one simple list.

OK.  Here goes.  But first, I have to play a game of Yahtzee with my boys!  (It’s educational and they don’t know it – there’s a blog post in that one too.)

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How Many Accountants Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?

Have any of you visited the lightbulb aisle of your local Home Depot or Lowe’s lately?  Anybody?  Or just me?

The choices and varieties make my hair hurt.  Seriously.  Compact flourescent, old school light bulbs, halogens, LEDs, long neck, short neck, large spotlight, small spotlight, indoor, outdoor, clear bulb, frosted bulb, skinny candelabra base, medium candelabra base, fat candelabra base, stark light, warm light, screw in, snap in.

In the immortal words of Rodney King (RIP, Rodney), “Can we all get along?”.  Why, for the love of indoor lighting, are there so many different light bulbs?  I like choices when it comes to important things (like shoes….or chips), but when it comes to light bulbs, I just want the bulb to fit in the socket and light up when I flip the switch.  It doesn’t seem that hard.

I am currently trying to find a light bulb to fit my Scentsy scenter thing…I’ve been to Lowe’s, Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Loblaws, and still haven’t found the right bulb.  I am also looking for one of those little ultra-sensitive halogen bulbs that fit in under-cabinet lighting.  Can’t find the right style prongs in any of the choices.  Or, if I’m lucky enough to find the right prongs, they aren’t spaced properly and won’t fit.  Argh!

Today, I’m headed to a small, local hardware store in hopes that they may have the bulbs I’m looking for.  In the meantime, I have the words to Debbie Boone’s “You Light Up My Life” playing in my head.  Great.  I’ll be sitting in the dark singing “Alone in the dark, but now you’ve come along.”  You’re welcome!

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Too Busy?

I just finished reading the New York Times article about the latest feeding frenzy craze:  Food Pouches.  In case you missed it, you can find the story here.  Really?  We are that busy?  Too busy to sit our children down and give them something to eat?  Really?

Really.  My oldest son plays in a Pee Wee baseball league.  At his last practice, four kids showed up.  Four out of 12 or 13.  Some of them have quit showing up to practice because their team isn’t very good.  Some of them can’t make it to practice because they are also playing lacrosse, hockey and tennis…at the same time.  Since they are participating in four sports in the same season, practices and games will inevitably overlap.  After all, there are only seven days in a week.  In addition to the four sports, they are also taking piano and/or guitar lessons, math tutoring, and going to school.  Thank goodness for them that the schools around here do not require an hour or two of homework per night.

My son continues to attend every practice and every game (unless he is sick or has a valid reason for missing it).  He is frustrated because his team isn’t doing well.  He is even more frustrated that only four boys are showing up for practice.  He realizes that perhaps they would be a better team if everyone showed up for practice.

I think we all need to take a closer look at our lives if we have to feed our children from a food pouch while they bounce on the couch because we are too busy.  If our children are more scheduled than CEOs, maybe we need to take a step back and re-evaluate.  My children will have their entire lives to learn to play the piano or guitar, speak Mandarin, and have super-structured schedules.  They only have a short time to be a child and be carefree.  I want them to enjoy it while they can.  And even though I don’t cook a four course, five star meal every night, I still want them to sit down at the table to eat my super-duper grilled cheese sandwich for dinner.

8 Comments »

Guest Post!

Today I am featuring my first-ever guest post.  It’s by an up-and-coming writer whose work has occasionally been featured on my Facebook Status Updates.  Please welcome, my middle child, Alex.

My Memory Poem

I remember when…

Our family got our dog Maggie.

When we went in to the dog owner’s house

there were bells ringing which got the dogs all excited.

I saw rugs and cages that weren’t that big.

I saw bowls of water and food.

Every puppy was drinking or eating

because they just came back from playing.

I was so happy we could get a dog

but I also felt sad for the puppy

because he has to leave his family.

Then I bent down and petted all 7 dogs.

I let them lick my face.  It tickled.

After that I stood up and asked the owner “What are their names?”

She told us their names but I forget them now.

I asked her how old are they?

She said around 2 months.

10 minutes later we watched them play.

We heard barking and really hard breathing

because they were tired.

One puppy wasn’t jumping around.  We liked her.

She was Maggie.

I asked my dad can we get Maggie?

We talked and we made up our minds and we got her.

I held up Maggie and carried her to the car.

In the car we heard whining and then she threw up.

I’ll never forget the exciting time we got Maggie.

Alex wrote this for his poem project at school.  He says now he wishes he didn’t write the part about Maggie throwing up.  But it’s a true story – she did throw up.  He remembered correctly.

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50 Shades of Housework

I cannot get behind the whole 50 Shades of Grey craze.  I just can’t.  I read the first book and found it….icky.

A part of my distaste for the book was, indeed, the poor grammar and poor writing.  My blogger friend Outlaw Mama can’t get past the wardrobe choices the protagonist makes (you can read about her feelings regarding the “hotness” of sporting a pair of Converse tennis shoes here).  I can’t get past the violence against women.  Perhaps I was a Puritan in a past life.  Or maybe it’s the whole Catholic upbringing.   My friends who found the books to be interesting and titillating have told me I need to lighten up.  That it’s just fiction.  That it’s entertainment.  That it’s fun.  I don’t find it entertaining.  I don’t find it fun.  I don’t want to take my blog down a path of uber-seriousness, so I won’t go into the sex trade industry and human trafficking and genital mutilation and honor killings.  I read a disturbing New York Times Magazine article about these topics and it took months, if not years, to get those visual images out of my mind.  The fact that people find beatings and submission to be a sexual turn-on just seems wrong to me.

So to steer my post back to the usual light-hearted approach to life that I try to have, I’ve come up with a short list of things that would turn me on.  I remember Oprah once saying that housework is the best foreplay around.  Oprah was on to something there.  Here are things I’ve come up with to tie in housework (Fifty Shades of Housework – FSofH) and 50 Shades of Grey (FSofG):

  • Contracts and Legal Agreements:
    • FSofG Version:  Christian drafts a detailed legal document outlining the parameters of the dominant and submissive relationship.
    • FSofH Version:  Husband completes entire packet of back-to-school documents for all children, without any input from wife/mother.  Documents include, but are not limited to:  medical history, education history, behavior and development history, emergency contact list (super tricky when you are new in town and have no one within a 500 mile radius to list as an emergency contact), lunch contracts, dismissal forms and media consent forms.
  • Ties that Bind:
    • FSofG Version:  Ability to use an assortment of rope, gray silk ties, and zip ties for the “Red Room of Pain”.
    • FSofH Version:  Ability to master any type of garbage bag enclosure:  old school twist ties, drawstring, or easy tie flaps.  First step would require the ability to recognize when garbage can has reached its limit (like the red light signal in FSofG, the trash can’s red light signal is that the drawer won’t close because the trash is too full).
  • “The Room”:
    • FSofG Version:  Red Room of Pain.
    • FSofH Version:  Having the bathroom to yourself for at least 15 minutes, uninterrupted.
  • Availability:
    • FSofG Version:  Being available for sex from Friday to Sunday.
    • FSofH Version:  Being able to sleep in (child free) Saturday and Sunday mornings.
  • Exercise and Physical Maintenance:
    • FSofG Version:  Must workout to maintain endurance for lengthy sexual adventures.  Must be well groomed in both carpet and drape area.
    • FSofH Version:  Workout to maintain sanity and be able to chase down toddler while hurdling over laundry piles in the hallway.  Have alone time in bathroom (see above) so both legs can be shaved at the same time.

I’m sure there are more, but frankly, I’m trying to put that book out of my memory.  I’ve moved on to better reading.

What’s on your 50 Shades of Housework list?

8 Comments »

Shoeless Joe Diner

I know I lack some social graces.  I acknowledge that I spend too much time talking about myself and have an inability to make casual small talk.  And I totally suck at remembering people’s names (although, since I saw the 60 Minutes show about people who cannot recognize people’s faces – including the woman who couldn’t recognize her own daughter – I feel I have a valid medical reason (albeit self-diagnosed) for not remembering people’s names). 

However, there are a few things I do know when it comes to good manners – beyond saying please and thank you (which honestly, today, is exceeding my expectations). 

I know that one should not wear pajama pants when they leave the house (wheeling a trash can out to the curb is the exception to this rule).  That includes shopping at Wal-Mart, people.  Just because they roll back prices doesn’t mean they also roll back the dress code.  Put on some pants, for crying out loud.  I will accept yoga pants, just not flannel Sponge Bob Square Pants pants….especially if you are over seven years old. 

And for the love of all that is holy and sanitary, please, leave your shoes on when dining out!  Today while I was having breakfast with a friend, I noticed the gentleman across from me had removed his shoes while eating breakfast.  His blue and white Nike tennis shoes sat next to his sock-clad feet the entire time he was eating breakfast.  When he finished eating, he slipped his shoes back on and left the restaurant.  Was it a cultural thing?  Perhaps, but the woman dining with him left her shoes on the entire time.  And even if it was a cultural thing, what about “When in Rome…”?  Or what about sanitary and respect for your fellow diners?

And you thought loud cell phone talkers were annoying and distracting?  Try eating a ham & swiss crepe-omelet with hollandaise sauce (yes, I know I’m trying to lose weight to fit in all those clothes in my closet, thank you for the reminder) with someone sitting across from you without their shoes on.  I could only eat one piece of butter-slathered toast.

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Is a Rose By Any Other Name Still a Rose? Or Is It a Weed?

I received a letter from The City of Toronto:  Etobicoke York District’s Parks, Forestry & Recreation Division in the mail today (here in Canada, they like to be very specific with their locations and titles and such).  I almost threw it away without opening it because I assumed it was a reminder that I could still sign up Ryan for camp this summer.  I didn’t throw it away, but I did assume incorrectly.

Turns out, my garden “has been nominated for the 2012 City of Toronto Etobicoke York District Great Gardens Awards Competition.”  My life is nothing if not ironic.  My “garden”, nominated for an award.  The “garden” is a 2 foot by 5 foot section between the sidewalk and my dining room window.  It does look pretty this summer…everything is green, many of the flowers are blooming, the weeds are minimal (I think).  But, the mulch is still last year’s mulch, and it’s faded and weathered.  The flowers have been smashed by wayward baseballs and basketballs, busy-body squirrels, and dogs gone wild sniffing the scent of busy-body squirrels. There may or may not be faded Nerf gun bullets laying among the plants.

The boys and hubs and I  planted all the flowers ourselves.  No expert landscapers, no layout, no plan.  It was a trip to The Home Depot two years ago, where we selected flowers based on the following criteria:

  1. Is it pretty?
  2. Do we like the color?
  3. Is it a perennial?  (I don’t want to replant everything every year.)
  4. How much does it cost?

And this qualifies us for a potential garden award?

What concerns me more is that I have one plant in my “garden” than I’m not 100% certain is an actual flower.  It may, in fact, be a weed.  I know, I know.  I’m a farm girl.  I should know these things.  But I don’t.  I am never certain about the weed/flower judgements.  A few years ago, I was featured in a “Gardens Gone Wrong” story in Real Simple on-line because I inadvertently pulled all the perennials out of my flower bed and staked and fertilized a weed.  It was a beautiful, sturdy weed growing right in the middle of my garden.  Until my next door neighbor stopped by and kindly asked me why I was purposely growing a weed.  Oops.  (But at least it was a weed, not the weed.)

I think I need to re-think my whole gardening plan.  I think I should pull everything out and plant annuals.  Then I will know what is a weed and what is a flower.

Until then, I have to decide if I should fill out the Garden Awards Competition Questionnaire.  I guess the judges don’t need to know I can’t tell a flower from a weed.  There is no plant IQ test for this award…

5 Comments »

Wardrobe Dysfunction

I’ve spent the last two weeks cleaning out my clothes closet, moving out the winter clothes, moving in the summer clothes, and trying to weed out the fashion “don’ts”.  (Well, actually, if I remove all the fashion “don’ts” in my closet, I’ll probably only be left with my super-cute Coach rainboots and a pair of sparkly flip-flops.  So I remove the obvious “don’ts” and leave the questionable ones.  Much better.)  It took me two weeks to organize the closet not because my closet is so huge, nor because my wardrobe is so vast and wonderous (see “don’ts” above), but because I am easily distracted by things like Facebook and sunshine and kids’ baseball games.  And because cleaning out my closet is just too depressing to deal with in one fell swoop.

I’ve read a ton of organizing books, am a huge fan of Real Simple, and subscribe to numerous home organizing/simplifying websites and blogs.  I know what I need to do. I started out organizing my closet by sorting all my clothes.   I had piles of clothes that should go to Goodwill:  clothes that don’t fit, clothes I haven’t worn in the last year, clothes that still had the tags on because I had nothing to wear them with, clothes that were in disrepair or stained.

I looked at all the piles and I looked at what I had left in my “keep” pile.  Hmm.  My logic may be flawed.  My “keep” pile consists primarily of cute shoes, yoga pants, and my $9 t-shirts from Costco (that, truth be told, should probably be in the Goodwill pile as well).  I refuse to buy any new clothes when I have all these beautiful, nice, questionable “don’ts” clothes to wear.  I don’t need a trip to the Goodwill, I need a trip to the gym.

So instead of doing what the organizing gods at Real Simple tell me to do, I did what any sane woman in denial would do.  I took the Goodwill pile and re-sorted it.  It’s time for some tough decisions:

  • The two adorable skirts I bought from my friend’s trunk show that I still haven’t worn because they are a bit snug and make my tummy look too…tummyish?  Keep.  Hang them up front and  center of my closet to remind me every day to lay off the Ruffles and lay on the treadmill.  I consider hanging them on the refrigerator door, but ironically, while the stainless fridge is a fingerprint magnet, it can’t hold a magnetic hook.
  • The two fancy skirts I have for more formal gatherings – one suede with gorgeous gemstones around the bottom and worn once to a neighborhood Christmas party and the other a beautiful iridescent teal skirt that I’ve never worn but got for a great price at a Talbot’s clearance sale – I also keep.  Someday, I’m going to have another fancy party to go to, and I’m going to wear one of these skirts.  They’re classics.  They’re always in style.  Or they’ll be vintage.  And vintage is always in style.
  • The sequin encrusted top I wore to the John Mellencamp last year.  It still fits and it will also always be in style.  Again, a bit fancy, but I should keep it.  If nothing else, I’ll wear it to school pick-up one day just to give the other mommies something to talk about.
  • The pair of size 6 Gap khaki pants.  I have to keep these just to keep the memory alive.  These pants hold a special place in my heart.  You see, I’ve never been a size 6.  Well, not until one day during the summer of 2005.  When I was in middle school, I suddenly went from a size 14 girls in sixth grade to a junior size 7 in seventh grade.  I skipped right over 2, 4 and 6.  And back in my day, that ridiculous made-up size 0 didn’t exist.  (Size 0?  Come on, people, that’s clearly a made up size to make skinny girls feel better and chunky girls feel worse.)  I hovered between sizes 8 and 12 for most of my life (except while pregnant, when all bets were off).  After having the boys, I started seriously exercising again and was on my way back to an 8.  Then, we bought a new house and I was all stressed out about buying an expensive house.  I dropped some weight.  A lot of weight.  My pants were falling off my hips, I could see some of my ribs, and I was stressed but thin.  I went shopping for some new pants and found this great pair of size 6 Gap khakis.  They fit – a SIZE 6!  So of course, I bought them.  And then, before I even got a chance to wear them, they were too tight.  I’ve never worn them.    But I keep them as a reminder that, for one day in the summer of 2005, I could wear them.

So my closet is back together, I have a small bag of clothes to drop off to Goodwill, and I can resume my normal everyday tasks of vacuuming dog hair, making snacks for the kids, and hanging out on Facebook.  And if you see a girl in Costco rocking some black yoga pants, white t-shirt and fantastic cute shoes, that will be me.  Because I still don’t fit in those super-cute skirts.  But I will.  Soon.

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Put Me In Coach

Tonight is Owen’s second baseball game of the season.  Tonight is also my second night as assistant coach of Owen’s baseball team.  Actually, I consider myself the assistant to the assistant coach, because I’m in charge of scheduling snacks, keeping score, announcing the batting order (good thing I’m a good yeller, I can shout out who’s up to bat, on deck and in the hole, then tell the kids that “in the hole” is the proper term and it isn’t anything naughty), and keeping the kids from climbing the wire batting cage while they are waiting for their turn to bat.  I am not actually teaching the kids how to play the game.  Phew!

So, I’m one game into the season and I’ve already learned some valuable lessons:

  • Keeping score is not an easy job.  You have to pay attention all the time.  There is no time for chatting.  No time for getting distracted by the dandelions on the field.  You must pay attention to the game and the little boys who all look the same under their black baseball caps and batting helmets.  You have to wear your glasses so you can read the numbers on the back of their t-shirts.  We may say it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game, but to these 8 year olds, the correct score matters.
  • Baseball gear seems to have a mind of its own and an ability to move without human assistance.  For years, I have spent countless hours searching for misplaced baseball caps, gloves, cleats and uniforms.  I blamed my children for not being careful with their things and not putting them back where they belong.  I was wrong.  I’m getting ready for my second coaching gig and I’ve already lost my official “Coach” red polo shirt.  I had nothing to do with it.  One day it was here, the next day it wasn’t.  Clearly it wasn’t me who didn’t put it away properly.  I mean, really, why would I casually toss it down somewhere instead of hanging it in my closet where I would be able to easily find it the night of the game?  The shirt has hidden itself from me.  It’s obvious, isn’t it?  And all these years I was blaming the kids.  Sorry, boys.
  • The baseball diamond is no place for cute capri pants and even cuter plaid canvas Sperry’s.  Nope, not a good place at all.  The red dirt on the field may match the pink and orange plaid on the Sperry’s, but it doesn’t look good.  And the dads roll their eyes when you ask the boys not to kick the red dirt on your cute shoes, cute pants and bare ankles.  So, note to self, don’t dress up for the game.  Find your official “Coach” polo shirt and pair it with some yoga pants.  Or jeans.  Jeans seem to be ok too, based on the dads’ coaching attire.

If I’ve learned this much after only one game, imagine the knowledge I’ll be able to share after a complete season.  Stay tuned and be prepared to be informed!

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Who’s On First

I’m in a bit of a bad mood this week. I’m in a bit of a funk.  And it’s things like this that just push my “irritation quotient” a bit too high: 

6. Obsessions— Be it a clean house, germ phobia, paranoia, hoarding, eating, or even exercising.  The rituals we obsess about will bump our husbands from their rightful spot as first on the priority list. Identify it, and seek professional help.

This blog post was a Top Ten list of ways to push your husband away.  It’s from a blog I subscribed to because it provides some thought-provoking and insightful messages.  Sometimes.  A bit too religious for my taste, but I use a filter and pick and choose what works for me.  Sometimes I take away some positive things.  Other times, it makes my blood boil.

Today it made my blood boil.  My husband’s rightful spot is first on my priority list?  Really?  First?

Maybe my blood is boiling because this is the second time this week that I’ve read something that says because I am a wife and mother, I should come last.  This particular post says my husband should come first and foremost in my life.  A few days ago I read a blog post that said as a mother, I should set aside my wants and needs to focus on my children.  That they are my sole reason for being.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband and my children.  I do.  But the fact that I should spend my time putting all of them first and foremost in my life is wrong.  Just wrong.  There has to be a healthy balance.  And this is not healthy.  At least not in my eyes.  I think in order to be at least an adequate wife and mother, I need to focus on myself a bit, too.  I think my sanity should be first and foremost.  Because a sane, happy woman is a better wife and mother.  I’ll make myself (more of) a crazed lunatic by putting everyone’s needs ahead of my own.

Maybe I’m just a self-centered woman.  I sure hope not.

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