Dec 28, 2010

New Year's A-Comin'...

**I did actually write this on the 28th, but wasn't able to post it until last night, the 30th. Just sayin'...**

What with January days away, I have been mulling over potential New Year's resolutions. The mere fact that I am thinking about them before January 1st is progress. Let's commence with some possibilities, shall we...

1--Consume less sugar. This is actually a resolution in progress--I started around the beginning of December and did fairly decently thru the Christmas sugar rush. Better than I would had I gone unchecked, anyway. Sugar can weaken the immune system, and strengthen feelings of depression...not to mention those nasty sugar-bugs trying to eat their way thru my teeth. It really isn't very good for you. And I feel better when I eat less sugar. Seems like a slam-dunk to me. Except for my immense propensity for it, and my one-Coke-per-day vice. Hmmm...I'm thinking a scheduled taper would help.

2--Eat more vegetables. Gotta replace the sugar with something. Something good would be ideal.

3--Paint the upstairs (interior) of the house. The Cat Daddy and I have a game plan for this one, so I have high hopes for our success. We'll start at the back of the house (our bathroom) and work our way forward, one room per month. We're getting childcare and everything. I also hope to work on organizing each room as we go. This will be more difficult some months, but could give us a nice 2-in-1 resolution. We are awesome.

4--Photo blog on a regular basis. I got a new camera for Christmas, which I'm really excited about, but also nervous about finding the time to learn how to work it beyond the automatic settings. A photo per day would be awesome, but I think I would fail at that within the first week. A photo per week might be feasible, with an accompanying explanation of said photo. Could be one word, could be a friggin' novella. You'll just have to wait & see. But yes, I think I can do that.

5--Structure and routine. Always help me thrive. A regular schedule for my dailies--waking up, bedtime, and back exercises--would help me find a place for a whole bunch of other have-tos, want-tos, and uncertainties, I'm thinking. And I'd strengthen my core while I'm at it.

6--Simplify and simplify. There will be a purging of stuff with #3. Oh yes. We could have a yard sale but for this time around I'm leaning more toward giving, gifting, and donating. Call me philanthropic. Or lazy; either way.

7--Hobbify--music (drums and ukulele), jogging (see #8), blogging (#4). Must carve out some time. This is why #5 could be so helpful.

8--Keep running 3x per week. Hey, some built-in success will motivate me to keep some of the harder ones. Lay off, bub.

What are some of your resolutions??

Dec 25, 2010

Not a Cult...

I have a hard time watching videos of people doing worship-type music. Like on the WOW Worship commercials where it shows folks closing their eyes, and raising their hands, and swaying back and forth and all. It creeps me out just a little bit, which makes me feel bad, 'cuz I'm not ashamed of Jesus, and I don't want to be afraid of looking dumb, or like a brainwashed cult member or anything. But...I also don't want to seem like a brainwashed cult member. So there's that.

Plus, you know how at the end of a live recording of a worship song they sometimes go into a stream-of-consciousness praise thing? Yah, not my favorite. I'm not against them, per se. I mean, everyone praises God in their own way; there's certainly nothing wrong with going all extemporaneous and improv-y and whatnot. It's just not my thing. So the stream-of-consciousness things have a high cringe factor for me.

Well...regardless of how cynical, sarcastic, grumpy, or whatever I'm feeling, this song never fails to bring me to my knees. Not literally (usually), but in my head (Kari Jobe's lovely voice doesn't hurt either)...

But yes, I do cringe a little there at the end...

Dec 3, 2010

Back In the 'Yenne...

After 2 weeks in sunny Phoenix, we are headed home. About 25 minutes ago the Cat Daddy noticed that the temperature display on the dashboard read 50 degrees, and commented on the beautiful weather (especially compared to a year ago, when we returned from Phoenix to a temperature of approximately 12 below zero). I said, "Ssssh, don't jinx it." He said, "I'm not gonna jinx it, check"

So I did, and said it was 29 and windy in Cheyenne. And the Cat Daddy said, "you're telling me that the temperature is gonna go down over 20 degrees in the next 40 miles?" and I said, "That's what says."

So now I'm sitting in the passenger's seat, watching the temperature decrease over 20 degrees between Fort Collins and Cheyenne. We're calling out the temp each time it goes down.

I don't really believe in jinxing, but if I did I would totally blame this one on the Cat Daddy...
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Nov 27, 2010

Fashion Forward...

Fashion. I go in spurts. Lately I've been wanting to be more stylish. Not that stylish, mind you. Please believe me when I say that skinny jeans are not for me. But I've been considering the leggings and elvish boots--sort of a Robin Hood/Peter Pan vibe. I think I could pull those off.

The problem, of course, is that going from no style to some style requires effort, and I'm a little bit lazy. Fashion for me is a long process. First I have to sit & mull, and then I need to take about 5 trips to the fitting room to find the proper fit of articles, and then I have to reign myself in a bit before I go too far and end up heading out of the store in a tiara and aqua boa (not that there's anything wrong with that), and finally I have to hem and haw a bit more before giving myself a stern lecture and checking out already. Add two small children (who secrete baby-goo and wipe their grimy paws on me) and an inability to handle overly-crowded stores blaring loud music, and I am left with, like, Bon Worth. Not. For. Me.

So what did I do when I found myself at a fancy mall without my children? Did I venture out and pick up said leggings and boots? No. No I didn't. Even though the children were home with Grandpa and Uncle Thomasina, the rest of the family was along which, sadly, is not conducive to my process. I did branch out and find some cargos which were actually flattering, and some standby sweaters and bootcut jeans (which need to be hemmed; this is my reality)...but at that I called it good.

I've often thought I'd like to be on "What Not to Wear." I like it that they teach people to shop for their particular body type and tastes, and I am not so attached to my wardrobe that I wouldn't give it up for a brand new one. And I'm teachable. The only rough patch I could see would be over heels. I do agree that they look fabulous in the right context, but I don't see myself making a habit of them. Stacy and Clinton would have to slap me around a bit, and maybe shake me by the shoulders, and then I would pretend to be--and maybe even convince myself that I was--converted to heels...and then a week later I'd probably go out and buy some sneakers (they'd have canned mine early in the episode). But cute ones.

I'm not dumb though. Sometimes I'll get all starry-eyed about being more stylish, and I have to talk myself down because I forget that fashion is cool and fun, and it is a tool, but it does not define my identity, and changing my fashion would not change other aspects of my life. I have to look at underlying motives, and wishes and dreams and such, and make sure that I'm not putting unreasonable expectations on my clothing.

I decided that my style is classic--I'm too timid to keep up with new styles every year. I do well to stick with my classic stand-bys. My area for development is with the accessories. I'm thinking scarves this year.

I'm still considering the elvish boots though. That could be fun...

Nov 25, 2010


Don't tell the rest of my family, but I think my favorite part of today (Thanksgiving) was hiking at South Mountain with my uncle.

It's not that the rest of the day was bad--on the contrary, it was a lovely day of catching up with relatives. And with minimal drama, even. In fact, on the Lack-of-Drama scale, it might be one of my favorite family Thanksgivings ever.

It's just that the hike was particularly nice. To begin with it was sunny and cold, which is hard to come by sometimes, particularly in Phoenix. Deep blue, cloudless sky, and somewhere in the 40s or 50s. This is how the desert should be experienced; absolutely gorgeous.

On top of that, time with my uncle is hard to come by--he lives in WI, so pretty much the only time we see him is when we are all in Phoenix at the same time. Which happens somewhere around every few years or so, and is always busy what with other family members and stuff. So to have a couple hours to just hang out with one another was a precious rarity. And we were exercising. As far as I'm concerned it doesn't get much better than hanging out & talking while exercising.

And we were at South Mountain, which was a frequent haunt for me back in my high school cross country running days. many good memories. My uncle told me about hiking at South Mountain when he, my mom, & their brother were growing up, & how everything south of Baseline Road was farms, some of which were flower fields owned by Asians who ended up staying in the area after WWII and the internment camps and such, and how his parents (my grandparents) would always buy fresh flowers from the fields and give them to various relatives in the area. I told him it was cool to hear his memories because, while my mom would probably remember buying flowers fresh from the field, she had never told us about it before, so it was neat to get a more complete picture of their childhood, and how Phoenix was then compared to when I was growing up.

Before we left he let the dogs out of my parents' house by mistake, but all was well and they returned a short time later. I think it was more traumatic for my uncle than anyone else--he was worried that he'd completely ruined Thanksgiving 2010 by letting Max & Zoe out, never to return. I told him not to worry, as they always come back. He didn't believe me though, until they did. In the process we found out that my parents' neighborhood has many friendly people in it, ready to mobilize at a moment's notice to find people's lost pet(s). I've noticed a pattern as I've gained experience visiting retirement communities in recent years. My running theory is that the friendly old-people tend to be morning-types. I hear stories about older folks getting grumpy and impatient at the grocery store and such, but I have yet to meet a curmudgeon while out & about on a morning jaunt. There's something about fresh air & endorphins, I think. I mean, who could be mad after enjoying some fresh air and sunshine at the end of November in Phoenix? Not I.

Anyway...the dogs came home and my uncle and I hiked, and then we enjoyed a big ol' family dinner, with the regular Thanksgiving staples, plus a few unique additions by various family members.

Corn pudding and spring rolls, that's all I'm sayin'...

Nov 4, 2010

Down With the Consumption...

Coming from hearty stock, getting sick always feels like a particularly rude statement on my body's part. It's not that I think I have some sort of special immunity privilege & should never get sick (though that would be nice, wouldn't it??); it's just that, being pretty dang healthy for the most part--gratefully so, I might add--getting sick tends to catch me off guard a bit.

So now, having been on the road to recovery from a respiratory/sinus/grumpy thing the past week, I'm pretty sure my left sinus has decided to go down for a few days as well.

Really, Left Sinus? You couldn't join in when your partner was all clogged & gunky? "No, I'd rather wait for my own little virus to come along, and then have an individual, dedicated period of notoriety."

Stupid sinus.

So I'm a little indignant right now. Not helping things is the Cat Daddy's fake flu--a reaction to the FluMist vaccine he got Monday--which either developed into or is in addition to the not-strep-but-nasty-all-the-same infection. His boss even pulled him from going on alert, which is a pretty big deal. Not a huge deal or anything, but I'll put it this way: you know you're sick when you have to burn the backup crew. And the doctor ordered him "to quarters" for two days.

His Highness and I shared a cold last week (though at first I thought it was just the rapid onset of fall; sorry if we breathed on you). The Littler One has been the healthiest of the bunch (yay extended breastfeeding), which is unfortunate in its own way since he can't cook or run errands or anything. But he is getting pretty good at throwing stuff in the trash, so I'll take what I can get.

And after a week of are-we-sick-I-don't-know-maybe-we're-getting-better-guess-not-oh-now-you're-sick-too-great-now-I'm-sick-again, I'm circling the wagons until we're mostly human again (or until Saturday, when we have stuff to do).

And I'm having the house fumigated...

Oct 19, 2010

Homemade Play-Doh Is...

Today has been a lollapalooza of domestic divinity. Which really means that I'm just calling myself awesome. But I made play-doh. Made play-doh. And then we played with it for quite a while. And I didn't even fuss when it was time to clean up the millions of tiny bits that had sloughed off the bigger piles.

The recipe (which I got at this site) is surprisingly easy. You dump all these ingredients:

2c flour
2c water
1c salt
2 tbsp veg oil
1 tbsp cream of tartar

into a pot and cook & stir over low heat until it clumps into a big wad & looks/feels like play-doh. Then you dump it on the counter and knead it until it's soft. Then you divide it up and work food coloring into it until you're happy with the colors. Then your son says, "Mom, I need a steamroller!" and you think for a moment and reply "You mean a rolling pin?" and you gladly lend out said rolling pin and the cookie cutters. You might even turn into a puddle of goo when you think about just how creative your almost-4-year-old is becoming.

I know not everyone likes play-doh...I didn't even think I liked it all that much until I made it. But I like it 'cuz it's super-cheap, and super-easy--it came together in about the time it takes to make oatmeal on the stove (rolled, non-quick oats, not the steel-cut ones). And it has only regular, everyday stuff in it. No weird chemicals or anything (not that the name-brand stuff does, either; it may or may not). And I could let His Highness help make it with little extra mess. And it cleaned up super-easily. And it speaks to my kinisthetic learning style (ie, my need to touch and manipulate stuff). I sat there with the boys, molding and smushing and shaping, in between picking stuff up when they dropped it.

If I were really awesome, I'd have added scented oils & stuff, but I don't have scented oils, so we called it good with the "essence of dough" aroma. I'm not sure I'd have wanted to make it smell pretty anyway--it only took one tiny taste for each of the kids to determine that they most definitely did not want to eat it (as for the edible kind, we'll try that another time). I knew I would not want to eat it, but out of sheer curiosity, I too gave it a taste. Tasted like salt--go figure.

Good for the soul...

Oct 14, 2010

"Wow, There It Is..."

OK, Rushmore in a nutshell: awesomely awesome, road-trippy fun.

Last weekend the fam and I took off for the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Cat Daddy and I decided that, since we've been in the vicinity for over 2 years now (living just over a half day away in WY and all), that we'd better get up there while we had the chance. I did a little research (thanks to a surprisingly-useful weekend trip guide I compiled based on links & suggestions from my moms' group, as well as hints from our local friends), composed a loosey-goosey itinerary for the weekend, and we were off.

Mt Rushmore--the primary reason for our little jaunt. We'd never seen it in person before, and we figure we may or may not ever live this close to it in the future, so hey, why not. Way better than either of us expected. I was expecting to pull up, say something along the lines of "Wow, there it is," and that would be it. But they have a whole little park going there. First, we paid $10 to park, and now we are good to go back anytime we want for the next year. Then we walked over to the info/visitors' center and got His Highness a little booklet he could fill out to get a Junior Ranger Trainee prize. They have these for any age group and it would've been perfect for His Highness, except that he was not at all interested in talking about the things we found. But they had a cool trail you could hike that took you to the very base of the mountain. Seriously, you could see up all the presidents' noses into their very shallow, granite nostrils. Perfect for the boys, who were all over the bazillion stairs, and rocks, and moss & stuff. When we finished that loop, we went down into their amphitheatre area where people come & watch fireworks in the summer, and saw their museum of history from the build. To be honest, I saw the mountain and was a little impressed, but my response was still along the lines of "Wow, there it is. Onward." But when you hear the history of how it was built, it gives perspective to just what it took to carve those 4 faces in the big ol' rock, and how much work it is to make sure they stay there. It is pretty impressive.

After a lovely local lunch we headed over to the Crazyhorse Memorial. This is sort of like a Mt Rushmore copycat project, except that it is still in progress after over 60 years. The Native Americans invited a sculptor named Korscjak (sp?) to come and carve it to honor Crazyhorse and the spirit of the Lakota people. My initial reaction to this one was along the same lines of Rushmore, but again once I saw the little orientation video I gained a bigger appreciation for the whole thing. First, you can't tell from the parking lot, but Crazy horse is way bigger than Mt Rushmore--all 4 of the presidents' heads can fit in Crazyhorse's head alone, and they're carving out the top halves of Crazyhorse and his horse. Plus they're doing it all "in the round," which means when they are done you could fly a helicopter around the thing and it will be all sculpture, instead of sculpture on one side and back-of-the-mountain on the other. It's taking so long because Korscjak was a big believer in not taking any government money (I think he would be a libertarian if he were still alive), so they are funding it all from private donations & stuff. Which takes time. The weather was pretty nasty while we were there so we didn't get to do any hiking. The memorial has a kickin' cafe though, where the boys were given free cookies & milk, staving off a pretty heavy meltdown on the boys' part. I put a tip in their tip jar. Oh yes I did. I also bought a lovely little beaded bracelet, and abstained from any other gifties in their shop, which I'm finding can be a formidable challenge for me sometimes (but that's another post).

Well, after those two things we decided, other than dinner, that enough was enough for the day. In the course of our driving we came upon an area known as "Cosmos Mystery Area," and were intrigued. So first thing the next morning we headed over for what I call their magical mystery tour.

Legend says that back in the 50's a couple of college students came up on this area and noticed a strange gravitational variation, so they built slanted cabins on the slanted hills and charged admission so they could do all sorts of slanted tricks for people. Or something like that...I'm pretty sure at least 95% of the demonstrations were simple optical illusions, but it was still a whole bunch of fun, and there was still the fact that many of the trees were growing all crazy-like in that area, so there's at least a slight element of the unexplained. Road-trip-a-riffic. As you can see the Littler One was not at all impressed with the slanty antics. He was mostly concerned with walking and climbing all over everything he could find, and trying to singlehandedly unload the gift shop into his pockets. The favorite for both boys was racing up & down the paved ramp leading up to the gift shop.

Over lunchtime we toured the local Dinosaur Park, comprised of concrete quasi-replicas of 50's-style dinosaur impressions. The visitors' center was closed for the season (as were many of the local sights), so after walking the grounds once we called it good. Besides, we had plans for the afternoon at the local indoor waterpark adjoined to our hotel.

Unfortunately I did not get any pictures of the indoor water park because a) It seemed like an incredibly dumb idea to try to take pictures in the water (even though I've done it before), and b) My battery died. But it was a pretty cool place. I was drooling over the attractions more than the boys, I think--they were just a bit young even for the little kids' area. Still, we managed to coax them into a few trips around the lazy river with its beach-grade entry, and His Highness especially enjoyed going between that and the huge hot tub. The Littler One is most definitely a water baby and had a grand old time kicking and splashing wherever he could. The Cat Daddy and I each got to take a turn in the giant slide that spits you into a big bowl and swirls you around a bit before flushing you to the bottom. And some of us were more tired than others come dinnertime:

And finally, the following day it was time to check out and go home. But on the way out of the great state of South Dakota we stopped by my personal favorite, the Jewel Cave national monument. They have several tours available that go down in the cave. Many people like the hour-long one, but we decided that the 20-minute one would probably do just fine for the kiddos. It really is a fascinating place. It's not officially the world's largest cave, but based on studies they've done they think it might be; they just haven't explored enough of it yet to prove it. This was overshadowed by the Littler One treating us to a tantrum of unknown origin, until we were back up on top of the ground, where he quickly calmed down and hiked happily the 1/4-mile trail we did before piling into the car and heading back into the town of Custer for lunch.

All told, it was a fantastic little weekend. Based on the boys' reactions we decided that the next time, we could rent a cabin and let them play in the woods quite contentedly the entire time. And the great thing about forests is that you can find them lots & lots of places, so that makes me hopeful for future vacations, and it makes me love it that my kids love exploring the woods.

As for the Rushmore-area, we do want to go back again. There are about 47 other kitschy-fun things we want to see and do, and I think it's a mandatory rite of passage for kids to be schlepped around to touristy places whether they like it or not...

Oct 3, 2010

Does Not Do Floors (Often)...

Yesterday the Cat Daddy took the boys out for donuts and errands, leaving me with nearly 3 hours of solitude (except for the dogs, but in this case they were having a lazy Saturday and didn't require anything of me). It wasn't exactly "free" time, as I had promised to do chores.

I know, I know. Call me crazy. "Three free hours and you chose to do chores? What are you smoking, Skerrib?!" Well, first off, if one asks the Cat Daddy (or most other spouses, I imagine) to take both kids for three hours just for the fun of it, he is likely to put up at least a little resistance. However, if one asks the Cat Daddy to take both kids so one can make the house look visibly nicer, the Cat Daddy cheerfully grabs the kids and the diaper bag and bounds out the door with a veritable spring in his step.

The Cat Daddy also calls home in an accusatory tone and ask if one "left any diapers in the diaper bag" for the Littler One, and one will feel constrained to remind the Cat Daddy that whoever travels with the Littler One really needs to be the one who makes sure there are diapers in the bag. Or at the very least, the Cat Daddy needs to ask one to check for him prior to departure. Because sadly, while one is awesomely-awesome and would never want to throw one's family members under the bus, one is not psychic when it comes to the availability and quantity of diapers in the bag. **End rant**

And also, the wood floors were gross and needed more than a Swiffing, to the point that goofing off the whole time wouldn't have been as fun. So after a lovely (quiet) breakfast and just a little bit of (quiet) goofing off time doing a crossword, I (quietly) set to work. I swiffed, mopped, and dried most of the upstairs. You're not supposed to use water on wood floors pretty much at all, so I went in small sections so I could dry along the way.

Sounds like eyeball-plucking work, yes? But I found it strangely relaxing. It made me think of the mini-series John Adams, where Abigail was up late at night worrying because John totally blew her off while he was over in France, and she would do crazy-tedious things like scrubbing floors, and cleaning each individual window square, and stuff like that. And that made me really grateful that cleaning my floors was so straightforward. It was a dedicated, uninterrupted time to complete the chore, but also to let my mind wander to whatever thoughts came meandering through.

When I was finished I said to myself, "Enjoy it now, because within 30 minutes they will start spilling stuff on it again." So I looked across the sunlit living room and enjoyed the clean for the moment that I had it. Then my crazies came barreling in through the door with treasures to show off and stories to tell, and we were off for the rest of the day.

The ending of the story is that the boys and I had a birthday party to attend, leaving the Cat Daddy with his own 2 hours of kid-free quiet time at home, which certainly helped matters when I was asking him to take the boys out for the morning.

And no, I won't clean your floors for you...

Sep 30, 2010

Bits & Pieces...

I wrote half an awesome post about making a chicken-liver mousse a week ago, but haven't had the chance to finish it (the post; not the mousse). I had a fabulous Glee viewing party for the season premiere, so I thought why not make an over-the-top dish for such an over-the-top show. I've always hated beef liver, but Alton Brown swears that chickens & ducks don't live long enough for their livers to get all "funky." Well guess what--Alton must have a pretty specific definition in mind for "funky," because there was a whole lotta funk going on in my liver mousse (I attempted to call it pate with a fancy mark over the 'e' before realizing the fancy name wouldn't compensate for the taste). I really, really wanted to like it, because I like the idea of using the whole animal--or at least more of it--and less waste and all that, and I was self-righteously wondering why we don't do that as much anymore. I know now--it's because some of the parts of the animal are so dang gross. I made my pregnant friend gag just by tasting the mousse in front of her. For the slightest moment in time I almost didn't hate it on a Ritz cracker. But then I did. No more liver of any type. Ever. LiverWORST, indeed...

...Last weekend they had Parents' Night Out at the Methodist church. This is where the Methodists provide childcare to the community for the evening on a (suggested--and more than reasonable) donation basis. It's an incredibly good deal, and even the Littler One is starting to do much better being left with people other than me, so we are trying to take advantage of these kid-free opportunities more often. And what did the Cat Daddy and I do? Grabbed a quick bite at Chipotle and went home to clean out the garage. Scoff if you must, but we had a great time and got a lot done ("We can get so much done without the kids!" we kept saying). So much so, in fact, that the Cat Daddy can park his car in there now. We were all proud of ourselves, and even swept the garage floor before treating ourselves to ice cream and picking up the kiddos. In that order.

His Highness was not impressed in the least. It disturbed him greatly for Mommy's car to now park on the other side of the driveway (in Daddy's spot), and for Daddy's car to be in the garage. He really wanted us to put the cars back where they belonged. We made a deal with him to let us try it for a week and see what he thought after that. He was very kind and agreed to this trial period, and I think it will work out. I think he actually likes it. He has more room in the driveway to draw with his chalk, and we can tell sooner when Daddy gets home because we hear the garage door open.

It made me think a lot about how grown-ups will see a kid deal with something like this, and we'll think, "Ah, it was so nice when I was a kid and my only problem was..." or "Oh I wish that was all I had to worry about," because our problems are so much bigger and more important. And the more I think about it, the more I think we, the grown-ups, have it wrong. I think a lot of our problems are really, really similar to those of a three-year-old, but they look a little different, and on our good days we have more maturity with which to handle them.

What I mean is, what His Highness was protesting was the change in his environment. We took something familiar to him, something he could count on within the structure of his day, and changed it up on him, and he freaked out a little bit. This is exactly how I tend to react when my world gets a little disturbance in it. I remember a few years back, when I'd been with my company just shy of a year, and my boss(es) called me in and told me I was being switched from one project to a completely different one, AND I would be moving from my office over to the base & everything. I very-nearly cried...I like to think I held it together pretty well, but I know I had the deer-in-the-headlights look because my boss asked if everything was alright. I mumbled something about having to process it all. Which actually was pretty dead-on. In the end it worked out beautifully and I was so glad things happened the way they did; I just had to get through my initial panic and give myself a chance to get used to the change.

And then, of course, I think a lot of times we are really no different than three-year-olds; we just hide our tantrums better. Maybe. A few previous lives ago (during college) I worked in a call center at Bank of America, and our department heads decided that everyone would have to start working Sundays. Oh boy, the uproar that caused. I was out the day of the official announcement, so I was reeling and ranting when I came back to this news. "But I'm really plugged in at my church--I have real commitments!" To which an older co-worker gently-but-firmly replied "You're not the only one, honey." Well, luckily one of the supervisors was kind enough to notice my concern and pull me aside and explain the whole picture. It turned out that most of us would work, like, one Sunday every two months, and we would know ahead of time so we could coordinate with church commitments, and all that. When he took the time to tell me how the management had arrived at this arrangement it seemed pretty dang reasonable to me. I always appreciated that he did that for me. I was able to avoid acting like a complete idiot at work by trying to make some kind of loud and grandiose ultimatum or something...which actually would have been pretty disingenuous of me, because in retrospect I think I was a lot less worried about working on a Sunday, and a lot more worried about having no control in the situation. I don't know if my supervisor recognized this about me, but he gave the control back to me. Empowerment, and all that.

Anyway. As any reasonable parent would, I think my kids are adorable, and sometimes I can't help but smile at their tragedies. But I hope I never get too patronizing to see the very real places where their pain comes from and remember that I have those same places, just with different triggers. Besides, the only reason I don't freak out anymore about things like changing parking arrangements is that I have the experience to know that it usually works out OK (and I still cried a little bit when I gave up my '90 Honda Accord, even though my new CRV was kicka$$)...

...I've been on this life-simplification kick, and my house is starting to stay a little cleaner. Not a lot cleaner, and not all the time. But I think it's fair to say that it's a complete disaster less often...

...My friend has been watching the boys several hours per week so I can get my nerd-work done a little less frantically. The Littler One loves her like a third parent, and he's getting much less anxious about being with people other than Mommy. Today I dropped him off, kissed him on the head, and said goodbye instead of sneaking out. He waved and happily went back to his chicken nuggets. Ms. Sitter told me later she was wondering if he would cry when he realized I was really leaving, but he didn't. He knew he was safe & secure with Ms. Sitter and did great (and was his ornery self) the whole afternoon. That made me happy.

We've also been transitioning him more to his own space at night. He starts out in the guest bed now, the way His Highness did before he got his bunk beds. And anytime he stirs before midnight the Cat Daddy soothes him back to sleep. It took about two tries before he realized he wasn't getting to nurse, so now he's staying asleep until after midnight pretty consistently. Next step is moving the no-nursing time back gradually, but I'll wait until the Cat Daddy's ready for that one...

...So all-told I am getting more routine back in my life, and inserting more into my boys' lives. It feels good, as I do thrive on routine and consistency, and I like to think I've got a decent balance about it. I could probably afford to be more structured even, but let's not get ahead of ourselves...

Sep 29, 2010

Much Improved...

This is actually one continuous spiral. It's like wearing a beaded Slinky that happens to coordinate with 5/8 of my wardrobe. I like it a lot.

There's one fatal flaw with the wearing of bracelets: my children. Luckily, this particular bracelet has proven indestructible thus far. It's been stretched, shaken, tasted, and banged on the counter, and it still looks the same as when I bought it. Keep in mind I'm not "letting" the kids play with it, per se. But I'm also not going to encase it in glass out of reach so it can never be touched. So it's a good thing it's sturdy.

Now I just have to remember to put it on my wrist in the mornings...

Sep 20, 2010


I have decided that I like bracelets.

Having just turned 33 you'd think that I'd have figured this out by now. But fashion has always been a little tough for me. I've made slow, crawling, progress through the years, and just recently I decided a couple of things.

The first thing has to do with properly-fitting bras and I really am not going to get much into it other than to say that I am in contact with a lady at my church who does what she has lovingly termed her "bra ministry." No, it is not a formal, funded item in the church budget. Still, I'm told countless ladies in our community have benefited from her wisdom, and I intend to count myself among those numbers. So I will say this: you really should do some research and make sure your bras fit right. Guys, I can't speak to the fit of your man-ssieres, but I would assume that a good fit can only help you, as well.

Secondly, I want to be more intentional about accessorizing. I have toyed with the idea of buying a scarf or two--progress in itself--but I'm really not all that into jewelry and such. And I really do prefer simplicity--I don't want to accumulate a ton of belts, or purses, or shoes, or really much of anything. I like a few basics that make me feel pretty, and then call it good.

I've kept my eye out for cute necklaces for a while now, but the thing about necklaces is that you have to remember to take them off & put them on. Which means I would likely wear them consistently for a few weeks and then be onto the next thing.

I don't know whether I'm any more optimistic about bracelets--after all, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't leave a single bracelet on all the time--but as I looked down at my wrist today it occurred to me I was still wearing the paper bracelet from our trip to the (semi-)local veggie-picking farm this weekend. I really should cut the silly thing off...I mean come on, Skerrib. While I had a great time picking veggies with friends, that's not why I've kept the bracelet on. There's nothing particularly cute or symbolic about the paper or anything. But it's still there. I'm pretty sure I simply like having something on my wrist.

So, having eavesdropped on a few conversations along the way, I have some ideas as to where I might be able to find something other than American flag paper to go on my wrist. I will be staking out local accessories bargains and, if everything goes well, I may post photos of my wrist in the not-so-distant future...

Sep 13, 2010

Our Grasshopper Friend...

Yesterday the Littler One had a fever, so the boyz and I stayed home from church (the Cat Daddy was on music team, so he went). Everyone's been asking if the Littler One is teething, and yes he is, but at the same time I couldn't be sure that teething was the sole cause of the fever. And it is generally frowned upon to take a warm baby into mixed company and declare "He's fine!" unless one is absolutely sure and has a notarized medical affadavit--or something--to prove it. Which I didn't, so we stayed home.

While I was disappointed to miss out on all the fun & fellowship & God-stuff, it occurred to me that going for a jog might take the sting out of being quarantined. Dr. Sears is big on the healing properties of fresh air for sick babies in many circumstances, and I'm big on fresh air for the prevention of neurosis in mommy-shut-ins. His Highness is not huge on the jogging, but with a little persuasion--and the promise of a playground visit--he can usually be convinced. It so happened we had one of those "flying saucers," where you pull the string and the plastic frisbee-thingy flies high in the air, and you chase after it and have all sorts of fun, so we agreed that he could bring it along to launch at the park at the end of our jog.

I must have been feeling extremely charitable, because we also agreed that Max, who snuck out the door as we were heading out and refused to go back in the house, could come along on the jog, and we would swing by and grab Zoe on the way to the park, since she likes the park but hates jogging.

After much leash-grabbing, and double-checking and baby-buckling, we were on our way. My current favorite route is an out-&-back, combined with a loop around a nearby neighborhood. About 3 miles total. We live in what I feel is a perfect area of town--our neighborhood is just off the last stoplight in town, after which one heads off into the still-rural parts. This particular route includes a dirt road, paved "Greenway" (awesome walking path), and the aforementioned neighborhood. Sometimes we encounter horses, cows, and/or goats, and most days it has little traffic so you can hear yourself think.

So as we hit the dirt road, the boys were being extremely adorable and humming along with the bumpy-bumps, and I noticed the plethora of grasshoppers jumping all over the place, dodging obstacles real & imagined, and so on. Suddenly His Highness said, "Look, I have a grasshopper friend!" A good-sized grasshopper (2 inches?) had hopped onto the stroller frame, apparently hitching a ride on our adventure. We have talked a lot about grasshoppers lately, so this was very exciting. We didn't think much about it until we realized that the grasshopper hadn't hopped off, despite another little grasshopper friend that had come & gone. His Highness put his hand out, which I figured would spur the little bugger off the stroller, but I was surprised to see it drop down onto His Highness's knee and stay there, facing forward.

So we kept moving, hitchhiker in tow. His Highness declared that the grasshopper liked him, and I couldn't disagree, seeing as how it was taking in the sights while sitting on his knee. We discussed why it might have chosen to come along with us, and why it had such big eyes, why it had tickly legs, and how His Highness was so gentle and not-twitchy, both of which are qualities of a really good grasshopper friend. Now I don't know much about grasshopper behavior, so my worst-case-scenario mind had to rifle through the possiblity that it might be dying and that's why it wasn't hopping off, and the less-macabre-but-grosser possibility that it could be getting ready to lay eggs, or excrete something or other on His Highness's knee, but I played it cool and assumed that the little creature really was just on adventure, maybe out finding himself like a college student backpacking through Europe.

We continued--the two kids, Max, the grasshopper, and myself--all around the neighborhood and back onto the Greenway, toward the dirt road and so on. We discussed what we would do if the grasshopper never jumped off, and (I) decided that if it hadn't jumped off by the time we reached the traffic light to cross back into our neighborhood, we would gently put him in the tall grass along the dirt road. Having seen a few too many Disney movies in my life, I pictured him singing his way through the grass in search of his family, and I hoped that it would be close enough that they would find each other without having to set off on any major treks or sing sweet & wistful songs by moonlight before removing a teeny beret or scallycap, and bedding down for the night with a lump of dirt for a pillow and a few blades of grass for warmth.

As we were approaching the end of the dirt road we also decided that, since he was such a good grasshopper friend, His Highness could be the one to conduct the grasshopper placement. But guess what? Suddenly His Highness called out, "He hopped off! My grasshopper friend hopped off!" And it was true. The grasshopper had jumped off, as much as I can tell, in very nearly exactly the same location where he had joined us to begin with. He went on his merry way and we went home and grabbed Zoe and went to the park to launch the flying saucer-thingy. His Highness was beaming away, tickled to death about our little adventure with his grasshopper friend, and to be honest, so was I.

Like I said, I don't know much about grasshopper behavior. His Highness and I make guesses about them hanging out with their families, but I don't know if that's common grasshopper habit, to form family units and stay close to them. So it is with zero authority that I surmise that the grasshopper might have stayed with us, hoping that we wouldn't kill it and hoping that we would return to where it had hopped onto the stroller so it could reunite with its family.

And maybe, just maybe, it sang a little song along the way...

Aug 31, 2010

As Seen On (Late-Evening) TV...

The Cat Daddy will vouch for me on this one; we really saw it...

An infomercial for the NEW! 35mm Vivitar Film Camera! Why spend hundreds on digital cameras, when all that technology is so difficult, with the wires, and software, and stuff. Point-and-shoot, auto-focus, the whole shabang. For just $10 you get two film cameras and two whole rolls of film!!

And later I got to catch the tail-end of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I'm a bit of a dork, and a bit of a Trekkie, so it's always a treat for me to catch a little TNG.

The strangest thing happened, too. I tuned in for the last 10 minutes or so, then they showed the credits and all that, and then had a commercial break. And THEN, the show picked up again, exactly where I'd tuned in to begin with. So again I caught the last 10 minutes, followed by the credits and such. It was like my own little personal temporal rift, or time loop, or something. Which I thought extremely appropriate for TNG, since they had entire episodes on things like that.

Poker game with Data, anyone???

Aug 30, 2010

And Then It Begins...

Most of the kids around here have started school. I'm pretty sure U-dub and L-Trip are in session, and FoCo (how the cool people say Fort Collins, I'm told) is again crowded with CU students.

His Highness starts preschool for real next week. He attended his school's summer drop-in program, but for purposes of photos and officiality and all that, I'm counting next Wednesday as his First Day of School Ever. He'll be going three mornings per week. At church he'll be moving up from the toddler room to Children's Church. And he's old enough to start Cubbies at our church's AWANA program. We've been contemplating doing a gymnastics class this fall as well, to foster his mad motor skillz and crazy energy, but not sure how much we want to take on as far as actual and real commitments go.

So suddenly he has begun the phase of life where he has stuff to do. I mean, it's true that preschool is "just" preschool--there's some leeway in there. We're not talking a loss of GPA and/or college scholarships if he's late too many times or we decide to take a couple weeks off to visit the fam or anything. But we are now back in the position of being up & out by a certain time most days, and likely starting to talk about going to school even when we don't necessarily feel like it, because that's the beginning of what commitment means, and stuff like that. And now I begin to take on the role of chauffer--running him to and from school, and AWANA, and maybe even the gymnastics.

I'm certainly looking forward to the routine of it. And His Highness LOVED doing the summer program at school, so it is likely that he will enjoy it yet again. I get nervous about starting to let him go--it seems so soon, and he seems so young. The reality though, I think, is that he is absolutely ready. I'm nervous only because it is new to me, this phase of life where my kid begins to have significant parts of his world that are outside of me. I'm taking a little time out to see it for what it is, and to recognize yet another of the tiny griefs one encounters as a mom.

Not a lot of time, though--I don't want to miss out on the fun of it...

Aug 26, 2010

Fashion Choices...

I've been amazed with both kiddos, as I've watched their preferences develop. I'm not against their having preferences; it's just that they're always a little earlier than I expect. Today I put sandals on the Littler One, but then he found his new tennies and very clearly (and yet completely non-verbally) let me know that he wanted those instead. I gently told him no, since we were rushing out the door, and that we can do tennies tomorrow. And I was yet again amazed that my 16 month old cares about what is on his feet. It made me happy to see him developing more and more into who God made him to be.

This week's theme is shoes. Since it's summertime, we've been putting both boys in sandals most days. There have been days, however, that His Highness says, "I want socks and shoes!!" Loudly. Sometimes we convince him that sandals are a better idea, sometimes we outright force the issue for convenience (on the way to the pool, for example), and other times we say, "OK, go get your socks and tennies." I am very much in favor of letting him choose that sort of thing for the most part. This week has been interesting though. Yesterday he said, "I want socks & sandals." Not just regular socks, though. Awesomely-awesome red, white, & blue striped socks. With sandals.

Now I will admit right now that this sort of taste (or lack thereof) comes from me. Up until the past year or so it was one of my most comfortable footwear choices to wear socks and Birks. I haven't done it in a while, but I'm not guaranteeing that I never will again, either.

The Cat Daddy and I both really try to tread that line of grace. We're very much in favor of rules and boundaries, but it has to make sense, you know? We don't want to spend all this time pounding down rules that, 20 years down the road, will have us wondering why we cared what color shirt he wore or what sort of product he wanted to stick in his hair for 6 months, or whatever. So, as long as he's settling down and going to sleep in a reasonable amount of time, we allow him to take his cars to bed with him, and we let him run naked around the house (when there are no guests over), and choose his clothes most days, if he wants to. As long as he's aware of the consequences. When he puts his shoes on the wrong feet I say, "Hey, those are on the wrong feet," and His Highness says, "I like them that way," and I say, "OK, as long as you're aware of it. If they start hurting your feet, just switch them back." If he wants ME to put them on the wrong feet, though, I won't do it. I say, "No, if you want them on the wrong feet, you'll have to do that yourself." And sometimes he does.

So, regarding the socks and sandals thing, I said, "Are you aware that socks and sandals aren't very stylish? People might laugh a little 'cuz it looks a little funny." And he replied, "That's OK, I like to wear socks & sandals." And I figured with an attitude like that, he could handle it.

So I helped him with his socks and sandals...

Aug 23, 2010

Murmurs and Musings for the End of the Month...

Semi-lazy home day today. Summer's winding down. Still chipping away against clutter, schedule crowding, and other little things that intrude on the pursuit of a simpler life. I cleaned out the junk drawer and got rid of random extra stuff. Up next is bathroom cleaning, followed by an evening jog...

Had a grand time with the Fabulous Z's last week. Mr. Z. is deployed to the desert, so the Mrs. and their kids came to see us for a week. Made trips to the jumpy place, the library, and of course Sam's...sat around & talked a whole lot...hung out with some of my moms' group peeps (I decided Mrs. Z. would be a fantastic addition to the club if she lived here)...finished off the week with the carnival-esque Frontiercade on base and a surprise birthday dinner for the Cat Daddy. Awesome people, mediocre food: the Chili's in our town has gone down a bit in the way of quality. Not terrible, just not great.

Anyway, what was great was catching up with our friends. Mr. Z. and the Cat Daddy are BFF's from way back, and we always enjoy their company. The Cat Daddy took their youngest, age 7, for a haircut. His reaction to his new do? Giddy relief that he still had his ears (the Cat Daddy and Barber Glenn have a way with the youngers). Their last night, after the kids were in bed, we three grownups stayed up late making dumb jokes, talking about music, and testing my new erasable pens & hi-liters.

I'm very pleased to hear where kids' music has come lately. I found the kid-station on XM (116). My kids really like it, but I'm pretty sure I like it even better. I was working in the nursery at church recently, watching an old VHS of a very well-meaning lady who dressed up weird and sang cutesy songs. Certainly adequate for the kiddos, but pretty lame as far as I'm concerned. And what does that say about how we view our kiddos, that we are willing to let them listen to lame stuff? Maybe it says more about us that we are willing to tolerate it for our kids who go nuts for it. Who knows.

Meanwhile, in the car we jam with the likes of Jack Johnson (from the Curious George soundtrack), Amy Adams (Enchanted), and Averil Lavigne who did an awesome cover of the Spongebob theme song. Mrs. Z. told me about Dog Train, which I guess is a collection of mainstream artists doing songs written for kids. I've only heard a couple, but what I have heard is great. Catchy for the kids, but also cool enough that I don't mind getting them stuck in my head.

Go find the penguin song by John Ondrasik (of Five for Fighting) and see if you don't agree...

Aug 13, 2010

The Pull of Neurosis...

Challenging week this week. Between kid-stuff, and home-stuff, and nerd-work stuff, it adds up to worlds colliding. I am really feeling the pull between family and work...I've been working on a project and was hoping to finish up a big part of it this week. Until it went all hinky on me. I panicked a little, and then called in for help, and more or less determined that I need to start over, and it will be slow work, and I won't finish this week like I was hoping.

At first I was freaking out because I felt like I was letting everyone down. But they've been able to work the problem from their end, from a completely different approach than I've been using, and will have what they need in time for next week. A big part of me is way relieved. My insecure parts come out, though, and I think "Geez, they don't even need me," and I get all neurotic.

The thing about engineering is that it's all about solving problems. All of us are always learning and figuring out new things. The bigger picture is that, with several people working together, problems get solved, but at the same time it can be easy to feel sad & small when you are doing your best and it still isn't as good as someone else's solution.

Plus I am an expert in guilt, so I manage to paint myself into a little guilt-box, where I feel guilty no matter what. While I am working I feel guilty about not being with my kids. While I'm with my kids I feel guilty about not working. When I call for (and receive) help I feel guilty about not being able to solve my problems on my own.

I'm really pretty neurotic at the moment, I guess...

Jul 31, 2010

Headed Home...

We're on the way home from a week at the beach. We are in Beaver UT for the night, and then tomorrow we'll do the home stretch into the 'Yenne. Beaver has nothing on Oceanside. Even though the beach was really rocky all week, and I bit it on the ocean floor while boogie boarding, and our feet were endlessly sandy despite continually sweeping the floor in our "number one home" (His Highness's term). Our hotel room here in Beaver is bigger than the teeny cottage we lived in for the week, but it doesn't matter: Oceanside is still better.

I have not done a whole lot of studying on the theology of the afterlife, but I'm pretty sure that I will live on the beach in heaven. My "mansion" will be a sandy little cottage, perhaps a little bigger than the one we were in this week (which was awesomely awesome in its tiny efficiency), but not by much. I'm almost certain that Jesus himself is the kind of guy where you can't quite tell if he's homeless or a beach bum--the scruffy, long-haired, windblown, sun-drenched guy sitting on a city bench, wearing a pullover windbreaker and drinking an energy drink as I jog by at 7:30 in the morning. Except he won't even need a board to surf. And he will teach me how to catch waves like no other.

I hope to post more on my musings from this week. But for now, it's to bed because we are up early to hit the road...

Jul 18, 2010

Real-Life Toys...

I could get rid of all the toys. People would think I was hopelessly depriving my children of life's most basic joys. My own mom would tell me what a mean mommy I am, and would probably send boxes of toys to try to cheer up the boys, since their mom had obviously gone off the deep end.

The thing is, except for a couple of favorites, I don't know that His Highness and the Littler One would even notice the missing toys. They'd be all, "Hey Mommy, where'd the trains go?" and I'd be like, "Ummm, they're being repaired, here's a bucket!" and they'd grab the bucket and start putting things in it, and His Highness would probably ask for some string to tie to the handle, and then I'd find them digging through the kitchen drawers, stealing my stuff and inventing strange new functions for the rolling pin, and having a glorious time all around.

Then later they'd go, "Mom, where are the blocks?" and I'd say "They're taking a nap; here's a paper towel roll and an empty water bottle!" and they'd occupy themselves for an hour. But not before going back into the kitchen and swiping more stuff out of the drawers.

We could get them an awesomely awesome play kitchen, complete with food, utensils, and even friggin' appliances, and they wouldn't like it as well as going through the drawers in the real kitchen, playing with whatever random stuff they find. The Littler One is a big fan of the red plastic chip & dip tray. He hits it with stuff, uses it to hit other stuff, and holds it up to his face to see the world with a red tint. His Highness's current favorite is the rolling pin. You can find a lot of variations on hitting with a rolling pin.

Before you panic and start imploring me to keep the toys for the sake of the children, fear not. We won't be getting rid of the toys anytime soon.

The Cat Daddy and I need something to play with, after all...

Jul 9, 2010

The Better Over the Good...

I should be out jogging, but instead I'm sitting on the 'puter while the Littler One naps and His Highness ostensibly watches Sprout (but really he is looking around and plotting ways to destroy coffee table drawers and such). I took some time to catch up with a few of my regular bloggy-peeps. I miss reading blogs.

This summer, in addition to my regular nannying gig (ie rearing my kiddos) and managing my moms' group (more or less), I am work-working 10 hrs per week from home. I've probably said it before, but it is surprisingly difficult to get this time in during the week. Which is a bummer...I really enjoy my engineering work, and I wonder if being home with the kids makes me appreciate it more just because it's something different and apart from all the diapers and potty-training and sandwich making.

Usually I try to work during the time formerly known as "nap time," but is now "quiet time" because His Highness is napping less & less. In theory it is still nap time for the Littler One, but as he is a wild card, sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't.

I heard someone talk once about giving up the good in favor of the better. I think you can take it to the extreme and guilt people by beating them over the head for having hobbies & liking to do stuff that isn't necessarily "useful." On the other hand, I think there's something to it. With my working gig this summer I was talking to myself ('cuz I do that a lot) and saying "Man, Skerrib, how are you going to fit it all in," to which I replied, "I think I'm just going to have to pick & choose, and let some things slip for the time being." I was pretty sure this included bloggy-blogging, because of the simple fact that it's time on the computer that I need to be using for drilling pretend holes in pretend hunks of material, and also because I am particularly slow when it comes to writing. And I need to sleep sometimes.

But then I was like, "NO! I like it, I don't want to give it up." So my compromise as been the quick, off the cuff, stream of consciousness sort of posts I've been doing lately. And very little time for keeping up with others' blogs. It's a bummer but, at least for now, it's a good thing that I've had to set aside in favor of other stuff.

I'm not leaving or anything, BTW. Just thinking out loud. Or something.

**Random subject change**

Why, oh WHY does His Highness seem to deliberately want to wake up his brother? I know why. He wants attention. He wants me to get off the computer and play with him. Ah, well. It's time I close this and go play with my kid for a while before lunch. And maybe a jog...

Jul 6, 2010


His Highness may hate me when he's older and finds the most embarrassing moments of his childhood posted for all the innernets to see, but some things just can't be kept quiet.

So we've been potty-training. It's a long and arduous story, with much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth on the part of everyone involved. We're nearly there, though. In fact, His Highness has a pretty much perfect record when allowed to do two things: cavort about naked as a jaybird (or at least bottomless) and do his business in the backyard. So I guess you could say he's housebroken., much like a beloved pet. Which, come to think of it, he kind of resembles sometimes, so there you have it.

The backyard thing is mildly controversial in our house. The Cat Daddy doesn't like it because he doesn't want His Highness think that it's a normal and socially acceptable way of doing things. I think it's fine as a stepping stone on the potty-training journey, and I know for a fact that it's better than his pooping in his unders or on the floor indoors.

A week or so ago, however, he crossed a line. First, he ran out the front door without permission. This is a big no-no, and it's something we've been working on, but as with so many things in life it's a process. I heard the screen door shut and went over to the door to storm outside angrily and give him a severe lecture while pulling him back inside, but as I put my hand up to open the door I saw that he had The Stance. The peeing one, that is. I need to clarify, as well, that he wasn't merely standing "in the front yard." He was in the front corner of the front yard, about as close to the sidewalk as one can get, so that anyone walking by would have to dodge his derriere.

It gets better. Across the street from our house are several back yards. So we look out the window to fences every morning. Awesome for privacy, especially when one's son is nekkid from the belly down, peeing in one's front yard. Not so awesome when, for the first time in two friggin' years, and at the precise moment one's son is peeing on the front lawn, the neighbors across the street open their back gates to let guests out of a child's birthday party.

It was at this moment I decided that I should probably go outside and at least provide a presence. I bought myself a little time by asking "What on earth are you doing??", but I was under no illusion or expectation of accomplishing anything of substance with that line of questioning. Not that I expected to accomplish anything more by going outside, but I figured it would prevent a well-meaning parent from walking him back up to the house, only to find me standing there watching. It would just be tough to explain, that's all. "I guess he misunderstood what I meant by 'Yes, you can pee in the yard,'" and so on.

But it gets better.

As I exited the house I thought, "Well, looks like he's done. I'd better get him inside and have another talk about wearing underwear and stuff when out in public." And then I saw him take 2 steps forward, squat down, and put his head down so as to look behind him. Can you guess what that meant??

Yes. The Pooping Stance. In the front yard. Down by the driveway. In plain sight. While the children were coming out of the gate across the street.

Mercifully, in no time at all he was standing again, saying, "Mom, I pooped! Mom, come look at my poop!!"

So I did. Then I ushered him inside for the wiping of the bottom, and grabbed some wipes and stuff so I could go back out to collect the poop for flushing. I figured as much as the Cat Daddy dislikes encountering dog poop when he's mowing the lawn, human poop might just send him over the edge. Or maybe that's just me; I dunno. Either way, the poop got flushed.

Then we finished off with a bit of a talk on the finer points of front yard vs. back yard, and clothing oneself when one is in mixed company (intermingled with praise for having pooped not-in-the-house, and all that).

And of course, not going out the front door without permission...

Jun 29, 2010

The Pains of Routine...

I decided recently that it was time to punch up the routine a bit. I've deliberately been very lax about routine since His Highness was born; or maybe it's more accurate to say since I stopped working outside the home when His Highness was just over a year.

Regardless, I now get up at 7 pretty much every day, and I write out a daily schedule for myself the night before so I can remember the things I want to get done that day. I rarely get everything done that I want to, but the majors are usually accomplished and that feels pretty good.

The kids remain a wild card. Ideally they sleep until 7:30 or 8, which is great because it gives me time to groom in peace. And even 20 minutes of grooming in peace does a suprising amount of good for one's sense of calmness throughout the rest of the day. This is especially evident on the days I groom in semi- or no peace, such as when certain 3-year-olds are up by 6:30 and eat breakfast and watch TV for a while, which still lets me groom, but not as peacefully as if they had slept an extra hour. Just saying.

Routine is good for me; I thrive on it. Still, I don't think there's any way to completely control the day to accomplish everything I want exactly how I want to do it. I think it would be dangerous to think otherwise. A day can go like clockwork, but eventually wrenches get thrown in, and one just has to be ready for things to fall apart in any given week. Like when children are especially grumpy from waking up early, and they are yelling at each other and you no matter what you do to try to distract or help or cheer them up.

My kids woke up early today, by the way.

I think one of the constant pulls of parenthood is that balance of letting things revolve around my kids and teaching them that things can't always revolve around them. We do errands, and cleaning, and regular old life, but I don't want it to be at their expense, you know? Within that they need to know their value and their priority and importance over the stuff.

I think we're on our way to a decent equilibrium. Today is full of blips and burps along the way, but I think it's all part of finding our way, and I think we're doing a good job.

Off to Sam's. We have to buy food for the 80 people attending my moms' group BBQ tonite!

Jun 4, 2010

10 Awesomely Awesome Things About the BolderBoulder...

1. Timing tags--You tie this little plastic thingy to your shoe, and it records your start time, end time, and mile split times. That way if you're running a little late--due to crazy porta potty lines, say--it's still just fine; you can start with whatever "wave" you are able to mingle with when you get to the starting line.

2. Mobile lockers--A shipping company--FedEx, for example--parks a buncha trucks near the start and hands out trash bags. You put your stuff in a bag, they give you a number, and your stuff is driven to the finish where you can claim it after you're done. Well worth the $2 cost, in my opinion, especially if you don't have the fortune (as I did this year) of having personal assistants to drop you off and pick you up and look after your gear. Or even if you do have assistants, and still decide to send some stuff via mobile locker. It's that cool.

3. Live music--Various bands set up along the race route. Rock & roll, etc. The 80's cover band was great. The belly-dancers were undulatory and bare midriffed. The djembes were, of course, awesome (but I'm a little biased there). A young teenager sounded strikingly like Bono to me--that kid had pipes. Speaking of which, the bagpipes were Scot-a-rific. And Elvis was...well, Elvis. He high-fived me, which I thought was cool.

4. Costumes--Folks dressed up as any-and everything. Faeries. Ballerinas; or at least tutu-ed runners. Captain Hook...or Captain Morgan; I couldn't tell which. Pinocchio, complete with strings. Sadly, caterpillars were against the rules.

5. Drink stations, official--According to legend there are margaritas at the drink stations, but dang it if they didn't turn out to be Gatorade instead. I was a little sad about that. Not a lot sad, but a little.

6. Drink stations, unofficial--Much of the route wound through the local neighborhoods, where residents were kind enough to cheer on the runners and offer refreshment. Here the term "drink" should be applied loosely. There were marshmallows via slingshot. Shots of red something or other. I felt it necessary to partake of as much as possible, in order to make the most of the experience. In the approximate order of consumption I had Doritos, bacon (though I declined the Krispy Kremes), and beer (I opted for the Dixie cup rather than the pint-can--I'd have felt bad wasting 15 oz of beer that someone else would've appreciated more). "I thought you didn't drink beer, Skerrib," you are saying. Well, in this case I made a special exception, although I must say it wasn't a very impressive effort. After a promising first swig, I sort of hack-gagged down the second bit. It's probably not a very good idea to drink beer while attempting a 6-mile run.

7. Thousands of running partners--my final, official finish time was 58:11. I was shooting for under an hour, so while I didn't smash my goal, I did meet it. My pace varied greatly, but was always in the 9's as far as mile times, and I felt pretty comfortable (relatively-speaking) the whole race, which is not normal for a 6-miler. I attribute this comfort to all the people and sights along the way. Distraction can be a powerful ally in the world of running. Maybe drinking beer while attempting a 6-mile run is not such a bad idea after all.

8. Athletic supporters galore--the human kind, that is. I got a bazillion cheers and high-fives, and pretty much felt like an anonymous, unknown superstar. The kids, of course, gave the best high-fives. They should just hire children to line race routes all the time. Heck, I should just hire children to line my running routes all the time.

9. Swag bags--I got a reusable lunch bag full of snackies at the finish. I'd have gotten an entire can of beer had I had my ID with me (a hex on the Cat Daddy for discouraging me from bringing it!). Would I have drunk it? Probably not. But I'd have sipped it, for sure. "What's with your obsession with alcohol at a race, Skerrib? This is so not like you." Sorry, it can't be explained.

10. Sponsor booths--Free food. Enough said.

If you are ever remotely in the vicinity of Boulder, CO during Memorial Day I highly recommend this experience. You can run, walk, or any combination thereof--it's much more about the experience than about the race itself. You can even ride in a wheelchair, as long as you provide your own arm-power for said chair. But you get (usually) gorgeous weather, lots of things to see and do, and a little exercise to boot. You can't beat it.

But I'm still pushing for margaritas next year...

May 27, 2010


His Highness and I have been duking it out lately. Not physically (for the most part), but definitely a battle of wills. He is so very three-and-a-half. I have decided that three-and-a-half-year-old-boy is analogous to teenage-girl. Not exactly the same, mind you, but with several similarities...

--Extreme emotions: This is the one where he is seemingly content one moment, but erupts into screams when I cut his sandwich wrong, or ask if he'd like to wear a shirt with his jammies, or give him a vitamin when he wants to pick it out, or ask him to pick out a vitamin when he wants me to choose one for him. It's not cyclical or all that predictable, except in retrospect when I am wondering why my funny, cool, impish kiddo is suddenly in need of a drink to calm him down--Like beer. Or lithium--and I realize that he stayed up watching TV with the Cat Daddy and then woke up at 6. Then I go "Ah, no wonder. He needs a nap." Which, upon suggesting a rest, triggers more screaming and/or crying, which triggers my response of "Do NOT make yourself vomit!" Which is always a fun phrase to utter in public.

--Eclectic fashion choices: Starry PJ shorts with reindeer slippers. A polo, underpants, and doggie ears. Or just a polo. Or nothing whatsoever. Apparently I am the mother of cousin Eddie.

--Squealing and screaming and giggling, intermingled with periods of angst and drama.

--Chauffering him everywhere: Unfortunately he doesn't even have his driver's permit yet.

--Selective obedience: Awesomely-behaved for everyone. Except Mom.

This was us today: a friend took us to pick up my car from its scheduled maintenance. While I was getting carseats situated and such, His Highness ran inside the dealership. Friend went in after him and walked him out, which he did very calmly until he saw me, when he dumped his cup of water and ran the other way.

Which is all to say that, even though he won't start preschool until the fall, we will be taking advantage of his school's drop-in summer program a couple days per week. I think the time apart will be good for him & me, and I know that Ms. B. won't take any guff. So that's good.

And now I am nodding off in front of the 'puter, so I shall end with my standard ellipses...

May 7, 2010

Angry Tree Huggers They Are Not...

I know I'm not the only person who doesn't like talking on the phone, but does anyone else out there have anxiety about it? Seriously, I've got issues.

I just made 2 calls. One was a bit of a tough call--I had to talk with a member of my moms' group whose dues were, well, overdue. It took me a week to work up the courage to make the call. I got worried about if she might be having trouble affording them, or was mad at the club, or something like that. I stumbled through the call, and I thought of more questions to ask her after I hung up, but overall it went well. Turns out she's planning to pay them in the next couple weeks, so no biggie. I felt dumb for feeling so nervous...but I was still nervous, and I was still SO relieved after it was over.

The other one was to our local botanic gardens to sign up for a fantastic family gardening class. It's a series they've been offering this spring. I'm really good at killing plants, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn how to keep them alive, and a fun thing to do with His Highness. We took the first class on how to plant seeds a month or so ago, and we now have a tray of tomatoes & cucumbers in the living room, waiting to be transplanted to the back yard if we ever get a reliable warm season (June 1st, I'm told). The cucumbers might've died while I was away last weekend, but I prefer tomatoes anyway.

The point is this--I was calling about taking a class, one of which I'd taken before. So I was familiar with the process, AND I was familiar enough with the folks at the botanic garden to know how kind and not-hostile they are. They're kind of on the tree-hugger end of the spectrum, and tree-huggers, in general, rarely yell at people who are calling to sign up for a gardening class. And still, after I had a lovely chat with the local tree-hugger and signed up and everything, I realized how nervous I was.

What's the deal with that? I have no idea. I know that I'm a nervous-type, and therefore it seems that I simply get nervous more often (even though I can hide it well). I have to give myself pep-talks for really ordinary things, and sometimes I have to settle for the fact of doing something even though I'm nervous. Because sometimes that's what has to be done.

Anyone else have quirks like this??

PS--I went to the dentist today. No cavities!! Yay me.

May 5, 2010

The One Where It All Got Away from Me...

I was totally gonna write a fantastic post during naptime today. As usual, however, my family picked up on my me-time vibes, and everyone knows that when dogs and small children pick up on me-time vibes they feel compelled to squish the living daylights out of any and all opportunity for said me-time.

As with most everything in my life, I have mixed feelings about me-time. I really, really want to be fully engaged with my kids and to make the most of their small years. Partly because they go so fast and I don't want to miss it. Also because it gives them way fewer opportunities to burn the house down.

And can only do so many eat-clean-diaper-play-nurse-nap-tidy-diaper-eat cycles before one wants to poke one's eyeballs out. And I enjoy Target as much as most anyone, but when errands are the height of excitement in one's week, one begins to lose perspective on the world and starts melting down over things like losing receipts, dogs bolting out the door on a merry chase, and so on. And then one ends up giving the Cat Daddy a 15 minute play-by-play on a 10 minute breakfast, and how exciting are repeated spoonfuls of Cheerios, really??

Part of the trick for me is discerning what qualifies as me-time. I usually get to shower by myself, but about 61% of the time the kids are going through the bathroom drawers and trying to run the hair dryer while I do this. Does that count? I jog 3 times per week, which helps keep my spirits up a whole lot, and I often get some time to think or pray or whatever. But about 90% of the time I'm either pushing a kid or two in the jogging stroller or watching them from the treadmill in the (fabulous) parent-kid room at the base gym. Does that count?

I think the determining factor is actually pretty subjective. If I feel refreshed, then I tend to think that me-time has been accomplished. Otherwise, no dice.

Take today, for example. The plan was to put the kids down for naptime and have some peace & quiet to look up how to do a crescent-chicken-thing on the pizza stone, and blog about how many nice people I've been getting to hang out with lately. Doesn't that sound nice?

The reality of life intervened, however. In the course of connecting with one friend, another friend dropped by with some books I had ordered. Normally pleasant and easily manageable happenings.

But not today.

In a rapid course of events, the doorbell rang, the dogs barked, and His Highness came barrelling out of his room where he should've been well on his way to dreamland. I opened the door to find my friend, and the dogs AND His Highness all pushed their way out and down the street faster than a speeding bullet. And then the Littler One started crying. So I had to hang up the phone.

Then I grabbed the Littler One and surveyed the situation where half my family was gallivanting along my street. I called for His Highness and had only slightly more success than when I called for Max & Zoe. Finally the neighbor-friend convinced His Highness that the dogs would follow him inside. Eventually. The dogs are so squirrelly that I usually just wait until they run off some energy and come home again.

So we chatted for a while until Zoe came running up. Then Zoe ran back out again. Then we saw Random Neighbor driving around and trying to capture the dogs (in a good way), so we thought maybe we should go outside and encourage them to come in. So finally the dogs were in. Then His Highness went a little nuts. I surmise that this is because he knew he was supposed to be napping, and wasn't, so why not run around like a crazy person and yell and scream and hit?

Now, amid this, there was much rejoicing around the peeing aspect of the potty-training, because His Highness is a certified Master Pee-er, which he ably demonstrated by peeing in the potty and then deciding to run around in nothing but his shirt. Which seems a little odd perhaps, but at this stage of the game, I'm perfectly fine with it.

He is not yet a Master Pooper, however. This, too, he demonstrated by pooping on the floor. You might think, "Um, maybe if you put some underwear on the kid he wouldn't poop on the floor." To which I would answer that, while disgusting, pooping on the floor is less gross than pooping in underwear. Trust me on this.

Unfortunately for His Highness, he just kept unraveling from there. He is currently sequestered to his room until 2012, with a slight chance of early release for dinner, but an almost certain ticket directly to bath & bed after that.

The Littler One really wants me to engage with him, and the Cat Daddy really wanted to borrow my lappy to check his stuff, but I kind of went over my limit for exasperation and tomfoolery, so I sit here stubbornly, nursing the Littler One (which is really what he wanted anyway) and typing one-handed in between steps of making the chicken-ring-thing, of which I finally found an illustration so I'm fairly confident the filling will remain contained.

Did I get any me-time? Well, I don't feel so much refreshed, so I'm leaning toward no. But I got a lot done today. I gave a quick little briefing for my moms' group, worked out at the gym, shopped for groceries, and made lunch before commencing with the afternoon's festivities. And I'm dangerously close to finishing this post. For that I feel glad and relieved.

And I did put the kibosh on the Littler One hanging out in the big oven. Even though it wasn't hot, it just didn't seem like a good idea...

Apr 20, 2010

Along Country Roads...

I haven't read any Donald Miller stuff in a while, but I'm reading Through Painted Deserts. It's a journal of his leaving home via a road trip with a friend some years back. They took several weeks to drive from Texas to Oregon, where he lives to this day.

I've only read two of his other books--Searching for God Knows What and the ever-popular Blue Like Jazz. I like his style of writing. It's very conversational, almost stream-of-consciousness, and quite poetic at times (The first two make me feel like I could be a real writer. The last one not so much, 'cuz I'm not all that poetic). His words just sort of seem to wander out onto the page. It's deceptive, though, because I think it takes a whole lot of skill to sound so casual while conveying ideas so nicely.

Anyway, he's becoming so popular that I shy away from his stuff a little bit...but I really do like everything of his that I've read. I don't agree with everything he says but, you know, whatever.

The biggest idea I've gathered from Through Painted Deserts is how separating from the fast paced everyday life changed his perspective. It's in the same vein as the standard needs-vs.-wants discussion. He describes it as getting away from the lies that we start to believe when we are watching ads and living among people, such as those that tell us that eating certain foods or wearing certain clothes and so on will somehow fulfill us. Meanwhile, when we get out of the marketing bombardment we find so much to enjoy in the things God has put right in front of us. Like nature, sunrises, and such.

It's good timing because I've been thinking along those lines lately. The other night I took out the trash and it was the perfect kind of night for doing such a thing: chilly but not frigid and dark enough to see a few stars, but sort of bright as far as nighttime skies go. I was outside maybe 30 seconds but I slowed enough to take it in and be aware of the quiet and the beauty.

A week or so ago I ran with a friend. She did 10 miles because she's training for a marathon in the fall. I am not training for a marathon in the fall but I am training for a 10K in a month, so the Cat Daddy dropped me (and the Littler One, safely strapped into the single jogger) off at her halfway point, and we did the second 5 miles together. Nearly half the run was along a quiet stretch of road looking down upon the whole city, so while it wasn't all that early it was still calm and lovely, and reminiscent of the sunrise runs I used to take back in the day (and plan to take again eventually). We were talking about the simplicity of running. That's one of the things I love about it--grab a pair of running shoes and you're good to go. No extra equipment or gear to lug around. At least, none that's required. You can get into headphones and heart rate monitors and all sorts of fun stuff, but you don't need those things to go for a run.

When we reached her house, we high fived as her husband brought out tall glasses of water for us, and then we basked in the endorphins a bit before stretching out and getting back to the grind of chores and screaming kiddos.

The thing I love about morning runs is doing something that is just for me as the first task of the day. After I finish my run I'm more ready to take on the regular grind (other than wanting to take a nap, that is). It's another little way of sticking it to the man a little bit...

Apr 14, 2010

Fun While It Lasted...

So, my sacrum held for a week. Now it is out again. Lame.

I'm disappointed but fully functional, so that's something. It could be much, much, worse--a fact I am aware of, and grateful that it isn't so.

And hey, at least I don't have tuberculosis...

Apr 7, 2010

Normal Is Wonderful...

For the moment, my butt is in place.

Butt bootcamp went off without a hitch over the course of the latter half of January and all of February. I came away feeling stronger and more fit, which was a good feeling. I also came away feeling awesome, as I had declared myself as such early in the program.

Sportsmetrics involves plyometrics, which is a highly technical term for jumping. It's aimed at female soccer players--high schoolers in this case--for ACL injury prevention. I was a bit of an odd (wo)man out, having been out of high school for a few years, and being there to try to stabilize my butt instead of my knee, but whatever. Hanging out with high school girls made me miss all the great parts about teaching in my previous life. And after I declared myself awesome, they kept calling me awesome. Which was awesome.

Since the end of Sportsmetrics, I've been back for 2 follow-up visits so that the PT could try to whack my sacrum back into place, as it had been out for several months. No dice the first time, but finally, today, she did it. Now, anyone out there in the manual therapy related fields, if you ever want a case study, lemme know because I have it on high authority that I have one seriously stubborn sacrum. And anyone in the Cheyenne area who needs some PT, also lemme know because I can give you names and numbers...these guys are good, I tell you.

My problem seems to be whatever ligament it is back there. Sacro-tuberis? Something like that. The running theory is that, way back in high school softball when I dove backward (more or less) to catch a fly ball and threw it out of whack initially, the ligament loosened enough to make it really difficult for the SI joint to remain stable. On top of this, it took 9 years before the root problem was diagnosed (my main symptom is headaches--not so easy to deduce that my butt would cause them), so that was frustrating. And it seems I have joints which, to begin with, are on the loose end of normal, which isn't necessarily a problem, but throw in a trauma such as a fall and things can get a little hinky. And you can't just up & re-tighten a ligament. In my case the best option seems to be to compensate for the loosy-goosy ligament with muscle strength; hence my myriad exercises and semi-obsession with all things core strength.

Things were good for a while with this approach, but ever since I started having kids it hasn't been the same. It could be that the hormones of pregnancy and nursing (of which I've been doing one or the other constantly for the past 4 years) are keeping my joints just loose enough that the sacrum flops about all willy-nilly. I'm actually hoping that this is the case, because even though it means no certain end to the problem for a while, it also means that there will be an end. The scarier thought is having to consider other medical options involving needles and such, which I would consider, but only as a last resort and I'd have to think long and hard about them.

So I'm not sure how much hope to hold out that my sacrum will hold out. If it follows recent patterns, in 2 weeks it will slip at some random moment as I'm sitting down to use the bathroom or something. This would be frustrating, but not surprising. If you are a praying sort of person, please pray for me and my butt.

In the meantime though, I'm trying hard to keep perspective on the situation and enjoy the relief while I have it. If you hear me murmuring about how good my butt feels, bear with me because it really does feel wonderful when it feels normal.


Mar 25, 2010

A Bee In Your...

I've been thinking about my grandma this week. She'll be 90 at the end of this year. She's still pretty dang sharp--lives on her own, drives, and all that. She and my mom do most everything together, which is good because someone has to keep my mom in line.

For probably longer than I've been alive, Grandma's gotten her hair done (as opposed to doing her own styling). The style has varied some over the years, but the basic structure is the same--short, curled, teased, and Aqua Netted in place. This is the sort of hair where you don't take chances. You have a dedicated hair routine at bedtime, a perking-up hair routine in the morning, and under no circumstances do you go gallivanting out in the rain without some sort of hair protection.

Now, being an adult and having my own purse, I can guess at the contents of Grandma's purse, but as a kid I remember a basic few: Wrigley's Spearmint gum, mints, Kleenex, nail file, and the ever-present, never failing, fold-up rain bonnet. Living in Phoenix, she didn't use the rain bonnet all that often, but I do remember it on occasion. It always struck me as a silly, if handy, thing to keep around, but it's one of those things that always said, "grandma" to me, so there you have it. If nothing else, I understood and appreciated its function. And still do.

While I understood the rain bonnet, the thing I never "got" was the plain old handkerchief tied around the head, which I would sometimes see on other ladies. I mean, what on earth does a simple piece of fabric accomplish? It reminds me of women and girls from some arbitrary "Old Country" in WWII-era black and white photos, wearing sensible knee-length dresses, similar to Edith Bunker, along with lace-up shoes and either nylons or simple cotton crew socks, and looking not particularly happy, but somehow joyful just the same. But did they keep the rain out? I think not. Plus now, it's entirely appropriate for ladies to wear baseball caps, or to just tie their hair back with a hair tie or scrunchee.

(Incidentally, I'm pretty sure scrunchees have been way out of style for a while now, but I still wear one on my wrist, and most days it makes its way into my hair by 10 am due to grabbing and such by little hands. I have yet to find a hair tie with the same balance between tension and comfort that I can achieve with the right scrunchee.)

Well, I've lived in Cheyenne for over a year and a half now, and I finally put two and two together with old ladies wearing handkerchiefs on their heads and...the dang wind. Perhaps there's a little vanity involved, but here it's a very little vanity; it's more an issue of not having one's hair yanked out by the roots in the kind of gusts we get. A handkerchief can be tied snug enough to protect one's hair-helmet, without smushing it flat. If Grandma lived up here, I'm certain she would keep at least one handkerchief with her at all times, plus an emergency one hidden somewhere in her purse, in case she ever forgot.

I know that's what I'd do...

Mar 10, 2010

Stuffy Stuffington...

Today I'm thinking about my war on stuff. Over the years the Cat Daddy and I have had the standard discussions on the ins & outs of stuff. Here's what we've come up with...

Stuff, in and of itself, is not bad.

Wanting to have stuff is not bad.

Caring more about stuff than about people is bad.

(On the one above I was going to say "Caring about stuff more than people or Jesus..." but Jesus is a person, after all, so I left him out. But I didn't really leave him out. Got it? Good.)

Caring more about stuff than about God breaks one of the ten commandments (I could probably put Jesus in this one too, but I didn't).

We like stuff. Not all stuff, or stuff simply for stuff's sake, but we are definitely fond of certain stuff.

He (the Cat Daddy; not Jesus) likes big stuff, good stuff, new stuff and a lot of stuff.

I like good stuff and functional stuff, but not too much stuff.

With some stuff, we will pay more for good stuff.

With other stuff, not so much.

...and that pretty much sums up our overall philosophy on stuff.

Lately, I've been feeling overwhelmed by our stuff. I like being organized, and having a place for everything, and all that, but I think it's also way too easy to get trapped into a constant upsizing cycle, where you get more space to hold your stuff, and then turn around & get more stuff to fill your space. Pretty soon, no matter how organized you are, it's still just a lot of stuff to keep track of. I've been feeling that way lately, anyway.

I thought about areas where I can get some tidying systems in place, and so on. I thought of some FlyLady rules I don't mind sticking to, such as concentrating on one room per month, doing 15-minute quick-cleans, and so on. The Cat Daddy has taken on much of the laundry as a personal challenge, which has been a big help. Still, in the end I decided that the only way to fight the clutter would be to get rid of stuff.

So I've been going through our house again, paring down stuff. I'm not as ruthless as I'd be by myself, but then again I have three other people to consider, so there's that. has been huge--I'd always considered books to be permanent residents, but since I can get new books out of the deal, I'm getting rid of more of my old ones. When all is said and done I'm more or less getting new books for under $3 each, and I feel a little bit better knowing I'm sending the old ones to good homes.

I think next will be putting more pics on the walls. We have a stack of 6 pics we need to frame before we can put them up. Hello, Target.

In this process there's still stuff coming in (new books, picture frames, etc.), but I'm hoping it's efficient stuff. Books that will be read (and maybe even sent to someone else), instead of sitting on the shelf unopened for years. Pictures that will be on the wall instead of cluttering the guest room closet. And so on.

I read an article in Reader's Digest a few months ago about getting rid of stuff that you otherwise might not have considered parting with. The author, for example, gave away a table that had been her & her husband's first woodworking project together. It took a lot of time and some convincing for both her & her husband to be ready to give it up, but in the end they gave it to some newly-married friends who had always admired it. So it was a really meaningful gift, and they knew it was going to someone who would take good care of it, so maybe it wasn't quite as hard to let go.

I'm not, like, selling our bed or anything, but it did make me think a little differently about which stuff I would & wouldn't part with...