Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Messy Teacher or Librarian

Elle, my five year-old is messy. I know most kids are but she takes it to a new level.

It is not uncommon to walk into my family room and see paper, books, pens and markers all over it. She is always playing some sort of school or library and has to put them all over any open space. And if you touch the books or try to clean it up, she is very protective. So, our family room always looks like someone ran in, tossed 200 sheets of paper in the air and they ran off. In actuality, that's what happens.

I make the whole family clean up the room throughout the week. She makes almost all of the mess so I hate to have the boys clean up her mess all of the time. But, I do most of the time. Every six months or so, I get angry and come up with a living room plan to really get the room back into shape. I usually grab clothing baskets and load up the toys and dump them in the basement for another day (month). But with Christmas coming and our annual New Year's Eve bash right behind it, I knew I didn't want to create a bigger mess in our messy basement.

So yesterday, I dumped every basket of toys out into a hug pile. And while Ellie played with the neighbor girls in the basement, I started sorting. Barbies here. Cheapie throw away toys quickly tossed here. Goodwill box hidden high up so no one can recover items. Pens here. Books there. The neighbor girls left and Elle came in. She was in heaven. Mamma sorted the toys and now she can play. Ugh!

So after work today, I set my timer. Every thirty minutes, I walk in and put away or sort ten items. Sure its annoying. But, I keep it a small number so I don't have any excuses or get overwhelmed. My family room is still a huge mess. I am hoping to get to more of it tonight after my librarian goes to bed.

I have enough years in between the boys and my baby to know this is soon over. I'd be lying if I said I will miss the mess. Yes, she is so so sweet and watching her play library makes my heart melt. But she is so so messy. Years ago, it used to be Legos and Star Wars toys all over my floor. Then the toys slowly stayed in the basement or into their bedrooms so Elle didn't destroy their Lego masterpieces. The boys' toys were traded in for lap tops and iTouches*. The Barbies and markers will soon be traded in for electronics. Until then, I will keep coming up with plans. Toys will be sorted and organized. Ultimately, I will work on learning patience, deep breathing and containing swear words as I step over her "libary." Exhale.

*There is a lot of debate as to the plural form of iTouch online. Is it iTouches or iTouchs? Some people suggested iPods. Apparently Apple has not officially used the plural form of the word. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Birds, Bees and Barking

Dogs. I am surrounded by dogs. And pets. We have a serious pet problem here. Too many to even tell you.

My grandma loved animals and I must have been influenced by her at a young age. Because I am doing the same thing she used to do. She was extremely poor and could barely feed her family. As a housewife, she stretched their money and I remember eating macaroni and cheese (Kraft-like not homemade) and it was watered down to stretch the amount of "cheese." That's how poor she was. By the end of the pay period, there wasn't much left. My dad said they ate like kings on payday and barely made it to the next pay. There wasn't a bathroom, just an outhouse and dogs. She must have had at least four at any given time. I am sure there were cats there too. I just don't remember them. She passed away when I was 9.

Two days ago, my dad reminded me how much she loved animals. I was teasing my dad and asking him if he'd like to dog sit for me this week.  During spring break, I am watching my sister's puppy and another friend's dog and their bearded dragon. I also have a older dog and cat that are not very happy this week. Both are doing their best to hide and stay away from our guests.

The visiting dogs are enjoying each other. Too much. There is a lot of loving going on here. So much so that we've had to have a talk to Kyle to explain what is happening. Whoa! It has been a week. Birds, bees and barking.

               (Grandma doing some wort of a dance. I love to dance too! She is wearing a corsage so I am guessing it was Mother's Day. My mom always bought them corsages for the day.)

I am not complaining. My sister watched my guinea pig that gave birth, died and had three babies while I was on vacation last June. She hand-fed the babies for the week. We owe her big time.  My chili is on the stove and I feel so fortunate that I have plenty to feed my kids, have an indoor bathroom and my house is nice and warm. My grandmother's life was very different and I feel so blessed. How I wish I could have her meet my kids, get to know the adult me and meet my animals. 

                               (Let's hope this a swimsuit! No idea. Great legs, Grandma!)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Never ready

I would run through the alley behind our house and barely make it on time. I'd be relieved to be there only to sit and wait. And wait. And wait. What could the mom be doing? The dad seems ready. She knew I was coming. She knew all week. She is a stay-at-home mom. What does she do all day? And why is her hair wet? She didn't have time to get ready? The kids are fed. And I can tell she cleaned up. What's the problem here? Why did I run? Why do I try to be on time?

I had a babysitter last night. I answered the door looking like a total weirdo with half of my make-up done, hair a total wreck and sweating from trying to clean up in time.  I thought of the McMann family that I used to sit for when I was a teenager. I was literally running through the house 10 seconds before the door rang cleaning up and trying to find something, anything to wear. I told the sitter to take a seat and I'd catch up with her as soon as I could get ready. I couldn't find anything to wear, was missing a boot and needed a shower but ran out of time. I wondered what my sitter thought.

When I was a teenager, the McMann family had three girls, less than two years apart. Wow. I know understand how busy she was. And how much she needed her night out with her husband. She was lucky enough to have three sitters that could walk down the alley to her house. Back in the day when you had to call you sitter, odds were good that one of us would take the sit. I can imagine how excited she was when she heard about us. I know I would be thrilled to have three sitters down the street.

I would never count my money when she handed it to me. But I would secretly try to count it as I walked. I'd wait a few houses and see if the actual amount was anywhere near the guess. I never knew what her going rate was and couldn't figure it out. My guess it was as much as she could find that day in cash. I was happy to make a few bucks and watch TV once the kids were in bed. I knew I was helping Mrs. McMann out. Last night my sitter thanked me for letting her babysit. I love that. And I love that someday, she will totally understand why I am a total mess when I answer the door. And why I am never, ever ready when the doorbell rings.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sweating NOT to the oldies

I like to workout. Wait! Stop! Keep reading. I hate people that say that too. I only like to workout to stay sane. I must work out so that I don't scream at my kids constantly and eat everything in sight. So, I find motivation in my sanity.

And to really move, I must have music. Really, really, good cheesy fast music. I'm talking night club, dance music. I used to make my own playlists or listen to the radio. I started to get behind, listening to old stuff that was really stale.

And then I found the BEST WORKOUT STATION ever! I am so excited that I am telling anyone who will listen.

Now before you go and try to find it, promise that if you hate it, you will try again another day. The music varies and once and a while, the DJ isn't 100% on. So, if you like dance music but don't care for it, come back and try again. And if you like an oldie once in a while, they thrown them in now and then.

The first thing you need is the iHeartRadio app. It's free and easy. It's like Pandora.

Then you need to go to their "Perfect For" category and look for "Working Out."  Then click on "Spin Cycle."

The music is perfect for walking or attempting to run as I do. I lift weights to it too. Or dance. I dance while trying to walk on the treadmill. Thank goodness I have no windows near me in the basement.

And the best part, is if they land on a Lorde song that doesn't really work as a dance song, it will soon ooze into another fun, dance song. You will soon be singing, dancing your way through your next workout. And you may never say that you like to work out, but I promise you will dance your way through it. And maybe saner in the process.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

I'm back. I really am.

I've missed writing. There is a constant small voice whispering to me to get back to it.  Do I write privately? Back to the blog?  The voices. I should meditate instead with my time. Or add more cardio. Read more. Clean more. Organize! Maybe just stick to Candy Crush.

Two things happened this week that turned up that little voice. The first is that I met a writer that I enjoy. I couldn't even speak. Just held out my book for her to sign. I am such an extrovert but so shy when I meet someone I admire. Seeing her in person and listening to her stories was like visiting an old friend. I didn't want to leave. I wanted to just be in the same room for as much time as I could. I left thinking about her life and choices. How when she's home, we probably live similar lives with our families. What the heck am I doing with my life?

And then today, I opened the online version of the New York Times and read an article. It caught my interest and once I read it, I thought "Hey, I could write an article as good as this one." So, I Googled her name and it brought me to her webpage. And on it, deep in her collection of articles, I found an error. This brought me joy. A real writer had an error on her page. Joy because I beat up on myself so often that I think there is no way I could every write. I screw up all of the time. I am scatterbrained. I only get three minutes of uninterrupted computer time on a real computer, not an iPad. I could write. There is hope for me.

So as I hide for a half an hour a day from my kids, I will write. I need to be here. Or write somewhere. I may not ever get an article in the Times but you will find many errors here. I try to clean it up before I hit publish. But, often times the pitter patter of little feet running into my quiet space is enough incentive I need to get this done and move on with my day. I'll continue to try to add meditation. I am off to workout before the Oscars tonight. And I am sure I will get sucked into a few games of Candy Crush.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Your Next Getaway Awaits

There is another mother that I must lie to now and then. I feel so guilty. She once told me she has never been away from her kids. I made the mistake of telling her last year that I was off to Mexico with my husband. She has four kids! Once she said she had never been away, I made sure to keep my mouth shut. I am spoiled rotten and I know it.

My in-laws started it. I am so grateful that they did.

A few months after Ryan was born, my mother-in-law encouraged us to get away for a few days. We went to Miami on frequent flyer miles that first year and slept through the whole weekend. We were so exhausted and just thrilled to have a moment to ourselves. Being new parents rocked our world. We needed to reconnect and be a happily married couple once again. It worked.

                                          (This is us years ago on one of our trips to Vegas)

Each year since then, we have been lucky to take a little trip to reconnect. We go every fall. Some years with friends, some years we go alone. With the help of all of my family members, we sneak away.

I know in this economy, not everyone can get away. There are ways to "get away" and be a couple without sneaking off to Mexico or Vegas.

Swap a night away with your friends. Ask someone. I bet they'd like to get a night to themselves too. 

Once the kids are away, stay in. Run to the store and buy something yummy, some wine and grab a Red Box movie. For less than $20, you can spend some quality time together and reconnect.

If you have some extra money, you can go downtown to Cleveland and eat at a great new restaurant. I am almost as thrilled to visit Chipotle on my dates and I swear my sister just said the other day that she'd be happy to go to Panera. 

Buy a deal on hotel Groupon and use it instead of buying a silly sweater or tie for Christmas. Time together is more important than another gift.  

If all else fails, tire the kids out, bathe them and get them to bed early. Stay up late connecting over a glass of wine and a game of cards. Take turns sleeping in the next morning.

I like to think of our little trips as preventative medicine. It keeps our relationship healthy and on-track. If you've never gotten away before, start small. Your kids will never miss you. I promise. It is good for them. They will survive. And it is so good for the family. When parents are happy, the children are happy. You are teaching your children that you value each other and the relationship. And if you have gone before, what are you waiting for? Start planning the next trip!

Friday, August 31, 2012

So Cool

One of the coolest things about writing your own blog is that you get to see which posts are most popular and what people are searching for online. Many people stumble upon this blog when they are searching for something else. 

You will never guess in one hundred years what is most popular here at Not Talking. Big Time Rush? Nope. Real Housewives of Orange County. A local restaurant review? Not even close.

My post about being a good host. Yes, you read that right. A post about hosting guests. BORING! I can't even believe it. I have had over 2000 views of this post. I wrote it after an uncomfortable stay at a friend's house. It was all true and from my heart. I have no idea why it has had so many views and where they came from online.

My mom's final post before she died has had almost a 1000 hits and I love that. She would be so happy to know that so many people have read her words. She had just started her blog right before she died. What a great message of loving life!

Fat Cheerleader is number three of my top viewed posts. It is short and not so sweet of a post, written on a low day. It is my most "searched for on google" posts with 161 searches! Who wants to know about fat cheerleaders? Would love to know!

I spent some time tonight redecorating my blog. I included a new subscription section (on the right) that hopefully works better than the one I had before. I am shocked that anyone ever stops by to see what I am writing. I have been writing this blog for over four years and I truly enjoy writing.

Welcome to readers from Australia, Russia and Netherlands. Wow! I would have never guessed that the top three countries that visit my site would be those three countries. I have a lot of friends in Ireland and the UK so I would have thought they would be at the top. Not even close on the stats. Crazy.

When you write a blog, you look to the stats to affirm that you aren't wasting your time. It is plain old fun to see it all in print. Thank you for taking your precious time and checking out my site now and then. I love writing. It makes me happy. I am so glad that you are here.

I'm Not Talking About It, I'm Just Saying...