30 March 2010

New Year's List Update


Hello folks! I can't wait for the little lady to wake up today so we can go outside and enjoy this spectacular Spring weather. Sixty-nine degrees and the wind is out of the South! A perfect day for the park, followed by some free, yummy pizza. Is it really still March?!

So I wanted to give a little update on my New Year's list. You know, the one over there --->? So far I have very little crossed off of my list. I attended the Open House. I made a decision about Grad School and my application will be completed and sent in before April 1st (yes, I am aware that is Thursday). I am planning out most of my meals every week, but I would like to become more consistent. I have an idea I will outline in a future post. I have two failures and they are that I have decided to forgo the Couch to 5K program. I just have to come to terms that I don't like running, it doesn't feel good to me and I can't commit to something right now that takes so much time. Maybe in the future. So no 5Ks for me. And I have decided against the Wii Fit, I can't justify the expense right now and I honestly don't have the time when I am home. Maybe I'll invest in a Cardio DVD or two. That seems more reasonable.

The rest of the list? Well, now that the weather is getting warmer it will be a little easier to get outside and accomplish them. I'm looking forward to the outdoor events and spending quality time in the fresh air. Seriously, I ask myself all Winter long why I live in the Mid-West. If the Spring/Summer months weren't so wonderful I don't think it would be worth it.

29 March 2010

Manic Monday


Everybody has a case of the Mondays over here. Tantrums, messes, no naps; this is the kind of day that take out restaurants love. The kinds of days that, by five o'clock I'm done. The house is destroyed (which, after the bust weekend we had, it started out that way) and I'm tired, hungry and in no mood to cook. So, instead of letting the day get me down I decided to find a quote to cheer me up/make me laugh and move along to picking up the pieces. It's not a perfect solution, but so far, it seems to have worked. Here's hoping that your Monday is going much, much better than mine!

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.
~A.A. Milne

26 March 2010

Five Things Friday- Stuff I'm Good At


Because I may seem like I don't like myself very much, because the sun is shining today and because I scored two awesome Little Black Dresses on clearance yesterday I'm going to let you in on five awesome things I am good at. Toot, toot! Here goes my horn!
  1. Hand Rolled Cigarettes: I studied in Alnwick, England for a semester in college and when I headed over there I was flat out broke. I have always been a prolific social smoker, so I asked one of my good guy buddies to teach me to "roll my own". They're awesome and so much cheaper! I still can roll a mean cigarette, but don't anymore since the tobacco usually goes stale before I can finish a whole pouch.
  2. Best Dish Picker: I have this knack of picking the best stuff on the menu. Usually when I order something at a restaurant the Mr. ends up wanting to switch with me. I just know what is going to be good! The same can be said of my ability to pick out restaurants, my intuition is mostly right on.
  3. People Reader: Are they really mean? Or just socially awkward? Are they trying to insult you? Or are they endearingly blunt? Worth your time, or best to be left by the curb? I have the knack of reading people and can usually tell within a couple of meetings if I should add or delete their number from my phone. I give everyone a chance, but I have pretty decent nice-dar.
  4. Fabric Whisperer: I have this knack with sewing. Fabric and I? Yeah, we are like this. Nothing I make is overly elaborate or complicated, but when fabric and I get together, we like to jive. Finding the fabric and co-ordinating it all together? That's another story.
  5. Super Mom: I kiss boom-booms, make special treats, build forts and read stories with all of the voices. I am the best mom for this little lady and she in turn is the best kid for our family. I may not always get it right or it may take some time for me to figure it out, but in the end there is no body that gets this kid the way I do. Well, right now. We'll talk again when she's a teenager.
Happy Friday Everyone! Have a glorious weekend!

25 March 2010

My Job


It occurred to me the other day that I have a job. Yes, taking care of the little lady full time is a job, but that's not the one I'm referring to. No, I'm talking about the one that requires full-time dedication, motivation, organization and a eye for detail. The never ending job of keeping a house clean and tidy. For whatever reason I always saw housework as a shared job between the Mr. and myself. Or, I should clarify, what should have been a shared job between the two of us.

But it's not.

It's up to me. Now, I've never claimed to be a good housekeeper. In fact, I'm quickly coming to realize that I'm quite a sh*tty housekeeper. I can cook, bake, sew and make people feel comfortable, but my house? That's another story. It's not just that I hate doing housework; I don't know how to clean my house some days and when I do, I'm just not that good at it. There are cobwebs on the ceiling, dust everywhere and clutter! Oh, the clutter.

However, I have been hyper Spring Cleaning the last couple of days. Partly because we're going to be putting the house on the market soon and I want to "stage" it as much as possible. Well, as much you one can when an almost two year old lives in the house. That means there are piles of junk waiting to go to Goodwill all over, furniture is being rearranged, and pictures with family being taken down to be replaced with "urban" prints. In the midst of all this cleaning, organizing and redecorating, I realized something.

This is my job.

Like, duh! It's my job to keep the house clean and organized. When I think about it like that, well now, I can understand it! I don't like doing "jobs", I can add housekeeping to the list! For some reason declaring housework as my job makes me want to clean. (Well, comparatively speaking.) This doesn't necessarily mean that my house is going to be spotless morning, noon and night, I'm not good at this, remember? But, at least now I can commit to cleaning, every.single.day. My inner-Feminist is crying, just a little bit.

The rest of me? Singing for joy.

So in the midst of this recession, I have two jobs! Neither are glamourous and, in fact, many wouldn't even consider them jobs! How lucky am I. But hey, whatever gets me to wipe down the stove (yes Beugen, every night), sweep out the cobwebs and throw away the clutter. I'll call it anything, just so I can get it done.

24 March 2010

Just Awesome


Today is one of those days that most things just seem to go right. The little lady woke at a decent hour and sat in bed and talked with us until 7am. Then she actually ate breakfast and colored quietly so I could check Facebook and my email. The dishes were put in the dishwasher, no toys were taken out, so the house remained some sort of clean.

After the Mr. left for work we got in the car and drove over to a new friend's house for one of the best play dates we've ever had. Kids played. Moms drank coffee and chatted. There were no tears. No fights. No drama. Plus, the sun shone. Hallelujah! To make it even better the kid fell asleep on the way home and is still happily sleeping upstairs in her room. OMG, I feel like I'm jinxing something.

I'm pretty sure something terrible will happen when she wakes up.

After nap time we'll head to the park, because it's Spring in Minnesota! Where dad will come and pick up the little lady so I can get my hair cut and spend some time with a friend. Really, this might be the perfect day.

Or maybe it's just because I haven't been sh*t or puked on. The first day in almost six days. But the stomach flu is not something I want to discuss today. Really, it's for your sakes, not mine.

I hope that the rest of your day goes well too. The sun is shining, is it not? It can't be all bad then. :) And if it is, just remember that tomorrow is almost always a better day.

22 March 2010

Guilt


There's always a man or a woman at the corner when I drive up. Doesn't matter the time of year; they're out there rain or snow or hot, humid day. I think they take shifts. I drove by one day at "shift change", I heard one say to another, "The pickin's aren't so good today."

Sometimes I drive an extra five minutes around, just so I don't have to pass them.

Their signs say different things. "Homeless, anything helps." "No job, no money. Please help." I can't look them in the eye as I drive by. I tell myself that I want to help the world, but I can't even stop to help these sad, desperate people. It's not like I drive a fancy car and give the impression of money. I'm pretty sure that my yellow, rusty, missing one mirror, 2001 Ford doesn't put me in the "has it all" category. But it still gets me from Point A to Point B, warms in the winter, cools in the summer and carries the things I need.

It's more than they have. Even if it needs new brakes and wants to kill when it idles.

I wasn't paying attention today when I left the store. I turned right instead of left and got caught at the red light. I so desperately wanted to give the elderly gentleman something. I don't carry cash. The only thing I had to give was a banana. "But they're green." I thought to myself. Would he take it? Would it be insulting? A banana, who gives a homeless man a banana?

I drove by him. I couldn't look him in the eye. I had more than he, yet I still had nothing I could give.

I want to teach my daughter the importance of giving. To share what little she has with those who have nothing. What kind of lesson am I giving her when I pass the corner and leave those people empty handed? How does one teach compassion, empathy, giving to a child? I try to teach by example, but if it's hard for me to give, what am I teaching?

19 March 2010

Five Things Friday- Procratination


If this list was "Five Things I'm Good At", procrastination would be at the top. Making lists would also be up there, but that's because I enjoy planning everything out, only to procrastinate following it through. I never said that I was normal. So here it is, the top five things that I love to procrastinate on. I don't have an explanation as to why; it's just the way I am.

  1. The Laundry. Have we covered this topic extensively enough? Yes? Alright, let's move on.
  2. Leaving the House. This one mystifies me. The Little Lady and I love to leave the house, I'd put it up there as one of our favorite pastimes. However, I'm almost always running late. I think, "I can just read one more blog or do a load of dishes." Heh, wrong. I always underestimate how long it takes us to get out of the house and to our destination.
  3. Deadlines. I work my best at the end of a deadline. Papers turned in at 11:59 PM, the day they are due. Tickets paid right before a Warrant is issued. I like to leave things until the very last minute. Just in case I decide to change my mind.
  4. Buying Gifts. I have the best intentions. I love to pour over gift guides, planning the perfect gift. When I find something I tell myself that the occasion is too far away, I'll just buy it later. And then never do. Or forget. Not cool.
  5. Getting oil changes. I am very aware how many miles my car has on it. I also know when I'm due for my next oil change. (Ok, when my car is due, I try to refrain from getting my oil changed.) However, the time comes and passes and it's like pulling teeth to get me to go into the garage. Strange. I always have to apologize to the mechanic, and then to my car, for not keeping her up like I should.

18 March 2010

Growing Up


Growing up my parents were fairly strict. We knew our limits, and we were reigned in close. Looking back, my mom was a little bit "crunchy". Our clothes never had wording or brands displayed on them, often the were homemade. She baked/cooked everything from scratch. We were allowed to watch a bare minimum of TV everyday, we didn't have cable. Our toys were fairly gender neutral, except for the few knock-off Barbies I had or were given as gifts. We all played with the trucks, the Legos, the games; my sister and I read a lot of books.

I don't remember my mom playing with me, not that she was neglectful, but getting down on the floor to play? Not in my recollection. I do remember that she would color with me at night sometimes. Sometimes. She expected us to play on our own, and we did! My mom emphasized things like, good food, a comfortable house, togetherness. We did a lot together as a family. All vacations were taken together. We ate dinner together every night. It was a rare day if we left the house, more often than not we spent the days at home. My mom stressed consistency, routine. We were her focus, her life and everything she did was with us in mind.

Now that I am a mom I'm shocked to see how much my mom has (subconsciously) influenced my parenting.

I don't buy clothes that have labels or logos on them. Rare is it when the Little Lady's clothes have words on them. We don't have cable and I try and limit the amount of character based TV that she watches. Dora is the exception. She loves it so hard, she interacts with the characters and I can actually see her learning while she watches it. I'd rather see her watching Shaun the Sheep or Fraggle Rock. I don't play with her as much as my friend's do with their kids. The Lady plays well on her own, for whatever reason. We play together outside and we read a ton of books everyday. But mostly she reads to herself or plays with her dollhouse.

I make dinner most nights and it's not from a box. My house is never very clean, but it's comfortable. I like to think it's the type of house that you would call cozy. The only real difference is that the Little Lady and I leave the house everyday, at least once. We would go insane if we stayed in all day. That's just our personalities. Weekends and weekday nights are family time. Ninety-five percent of all trips we plan, we take the kiddo with. She goes where we go. We try to eat dinner as a family every night. It's hard with the Mr.'s erratic schedule, but the Lady and I hold out as long as we can.

I can't believe how much I'm turning into my mom (there are other things, but I don't want to scare you away today). The most amazing part is that I'm glad that my mom imparted these traits onto me. I never felt like I missed out on anything (well, a Mr. Potato Head, but that's another story) and I'm glad for all of the time we spent together as a family.

I just hope the Little Lady feels the same way in twenty-odd years.

16 March 2010


"...understand that to nurture and love others with the grace you desire means taking care of yourself and cultivating your own inner harmony. Inner harmony grows not by finding ways to get away from your child, but by giving yourself the gift of a hot bath at the end of a long day, reading a book of poetry, talking to a friend on the phone, taking a nap, crying, getting a massage, having a day off from cleaning and cooking, staying in your pajamas all day, swimming, going out to eat, or attending a conference. Do something for yourself as you give. Learn to laugh at yourself and not take yourself so seriously."
Peggy O'Mara, The Way Back Home


I found this quote via Amanda Soule's blog, Soulemama, and it really struck a chord with me. I struggle so hard sometimes balancing life as a mom, wife, friend and human being that it's nice to be reminded that I not only need to take some time for myself, I deserve it as well. And so do you. Whether you're a mom, a wife, a husband, a dad, a son, a daughter, an employee, a boss or simply a human being. We all have responsibilities and sometimes they can bog us down, so take some time and do something meaningful for yourself. It's important! Not just for your own mental health, but also for your relationships. Aren't you the most happy after a good run, or a pedicure, after sleeping in, or an hour of peace and quiet? I'm going to make it a priority to do this for me. And for everyone else that surrounds me.

15 March 2010

Spring in Minnesota


Something wonderful happens in Minnesota, in the Spring, when the sun shines. People leave their houses, they greet their neighbors, you see children riding bikes down the street, music wafting from backyards where the scent of the barbecue lingers in the air. Kids jump in puddles, poke sticks into the snow piles that still remain, covered in black soot and gravel from the long months of Winter.

You can see peoples skin again.

Everyone has a smile on their face. Hands swing as they go down the street. Car windows come retract and people start looking at each other, not past and down the street. They connect; recognize their humanity, see each other as equals, not just as faceless blobs that hurry down to get wherever they are going to.

You'll never have a friend like a Minnesotan friend in the Spring.

The whole world seems lighter. And it is. Literally. The sun shines and the wind becomes milder; not the hot, humid breeze of Summer, but the soft, gentle wind that encourages you to open your windows and let the freshness in. The days are longer. People make plans to socialize and move about after a day of work. It's no longer necessary to hermit away in your house, tired and weary because it's dark and cold.

Spring is like crack for the soul.

Something wonderful happens in Minnesota, in the Spring, when the sun shines. People feel alive. They smile and sing. People other places besides to the house to the car to the destination and back. It is exciting, invigorating. You actually want to move. People turn their faces up, towards the sun, to catch the weak (but growing stronger!) rays shining down. Thanking the world for becoming warm again.

12 March 2010

Emily's Guest Post


Welcome my good friend Emily to The Chocolate and The Cheese today as she graciously enough wrote up a great post for us today. Em and I have been friends for years; roommates, classmates, moms-in-crime. I'm so grateful for her friendship and the fact that our lives have taken similar courses.
Take it away Emily!

My dear friend, MP asked me to write a guest post for this wonderful blog and true to form, I’m turning it in about a month late (oh, okay, six weeks)—but I haven’t just been procrastinating, I swear! The truth is that I’ve been struggling to come up with a post written cleverly enough to befit this space—no promises about the end result of my efforts.

Anyway, I considered writing about what a kind, intelligent and all-around wonderful person, MP is, but nixed the idea after realizing she’d probably just think that I was about to ask her for a REALLY big favor. So, instead I’m going to tell you about my guilty pleasure. We all have them, but mine is, perhaps, a wee bit more embarrassing than your secret stash of Us! Weekly or the cookies you hide behind the healthy snacks that you’re training your kids to eat. For those who know me in real life, no! I’m not going to write about Murder She Wrote; this is far worse than my affinity for J.B. Fletcher.

You may be wondering what could possibly be worse than a tattooed, supposedly hip, twenty-something winding down with J.B. Fletcher every night. Well, trust me, just... yeah, here’s how it goes down: Every afternoon, after feeding the kids lunch, laying the boy down for his nap and shutting the girl’s bedroom door (with strict orders to stay in her room and actually be quiet during “Quiet Time”), I creep down the stairs and shamefully pop in my favorite DVD. While I’m waiting for him too appear on screen, I close the drapes because quite frankly, there are some things that my neighbors just don’t need to see. Then there he is, lean but muscular, oiled and tanned in his short striped shorts and crystalled tank top and he says to me, “Let’s Sweat.”

That’s right, people, Richard. F*&#*n Simmons and for the next thirty-eight minutes and some-odd seconds, I sweat to the oldies, baby, and I love it. Go ahead and laugh, I know it’s funny, but something about him transforms me from my cynical, “I only run when I’m being chased” self into a person who really wants to push my body to be healthy. Maybe it’s because I know that he’s been in my shoes and has really struggled to get healthy, or because of his energy and enthusiasm (I can't believe I'm admitting this!). Whatever the case, when I’m done, I feel good; not just my body, but my whole self. I feel renewed and more like the glass-half-full (but twenty-five pounds lighter) kind of person I want to be.

So, while most of my friends see their cool boyfriend Gym a few times a week, I’m going to continue my secret, shameful, rendezvouses with my silly boyfriend, Richard.

10 March 2010

Changes


Sometimes I think this blog is dangerously close to becoming a self-help site. If you feel the same, please let me know. However, until I here somebody complain, I'm going to continue with my train of thought. And those trains keep coming back to how I want to change my life.

Now, I don't want you to get the impression that I'm unhappy. Quite the contrary. I simply have been evaluating some elements in my life and want to make some changes. Blame it on the season. Maybe it's Spring cleaning on overdrive? Or perhaps it because even bigger changes may be coming down the turnpike. In any case I've decided that since I am an adult, a mother, a wife and much closer to thirty than I have ever been in my life, it's time for me to "grow up".

Not that I'm out until 2am every night and living the night life. (Ha, the thought of me doing that now actually made me laugh out loud. As if I could stay up until 2am and then function with a toddler all day who wakes at 6am.)

What are these changes, you ask? Well, for one thing, I'm keeping my kitchen clean. I'm wiping down the stove and making sure that the sink is clean and the dishes are done.

Not monumental enough for you?

Well, how about getting tough on clutter? I'm trying to eliminate all those piles of "stuff" that are laying around the house.

Still not impressed?

What if I tell you that I'm trying to do more things for myself, that make me happy and give me a sense of accomplishment.

Now maybe we're getting somewhere.

Finally, I'm spending each day looking for the good things, the positive things, the things that make me glad to be living here, now, with this family and in this city.

Are you gagging yet? I'm not perfect, but I'm not going to let my imperfections control me anymore either. I'm lazy by nature, but I can accomplish things when the want is there. I generally have a care-free, "go with the flow" temperament, but I still get stuck in ruts. So simple changes to make my life just a little more clean, streamlined, joyous, and organized. These are the changes I think that I'll be making.

Sigh, I feel better already.

09 March 2010

What I'm Reading- Blog Edition


Hello folks! Do you spend as much time on the internet as I do? I am embarassed to admit how much time I'm online, so I'm not even going let you guess how many hours a day I log. So, what am I reading? Well, I'm glad you asked! My daily blog roll changes frequently, by I wanted to share with you some of the fun new blogs I'm currently checking out. Let me know what you think.

08 March 2010

Mix it Up


The last few weeks I've been in a funk. Crabby, cranky and generally just feeling rather off balance. The little lady wasn't sleeping well (which meant the rest of the family wasn't sleeping well), the winter seemed to drag on and I just couldn't bring myself out of the blues. Finally last week the sun came out, the weather turned a bit warmer and I began to come to terms with the fact the we may be a no nap house from here on out. After reading my good friend Sarah's blog post last Thursday I decided to turn my day upside down and shake this funk for good.

We went about our morning routine like any old, normal day. I went to the gym, the lady got to hang at the daycare and afterward we ran some errands. Then came nap time. Dun, dun, dunnnn. After just one attempt at putting the aforementioned lady down I decided to scoop her up and finish the errands that I didn't get to in the morning. We returned some movies, grabbed some apple juice and mama juice (aka, Diet Coke) and took a nice walk. Let me tell you, there is nothing more fascinating to a toddler than water running in a gutter. The girl was in heaven!

After we walked around the block we got buckled in the car and drove over to our next destination. We headed into Crafty Planet for a peek. I always mean to get in that store, but never prioritize the time for myself. They were so awesome and let the lady run around and play with fabric scraps while I shopped. Plus I got some good advice for toddler sewing, and some new fabric to boot. Next we walked down the street to a new restaurant that I've been meaning to get the menu for (they deliver). They had just opened for dinner so we quickly grabbed a menu as we proceeded down the block for our walk. After a little ways the lady needed a rest and a juice break so we sat on a bench and counted the cars go by.

Then it was time for home and a little bit of a movie while I cooked dinner for an impromptu dinner party. The food turned out great, the lady ate and played well and by the time bed time rolled around she could barely make it through one story.

Success.

Now a day that serendipitous is hard to pull off everyday. People's moods, attention spans and overall happiness all come into play. However, it made me realize two things:
  • One, the lady thinks everything we do is cool, if I spin it right. Water running in the gutter? What a cool river! Look, it's a bus! We could be doing anything and as long as I take part in it and we are doing it together, she is going to have a good time; which means I am too.
  • Two, sometimes we just need to break out of our routine. Now, most days the routine is the only thing that holds us together. The little lady knows when it's time to eat, change, sleep all because we do it (relatively) the same, everyday. But it's ok, or even great, to change it up now and then. Variety is the spice of life after all.

So the next time you feel like you're in a rut, change the day up a little. Forget your routine and take a new approach at the day. You might find that it makes the day go by faster and have a little more fun.

05 March 2010

Five Things Friday- Cheap Things To Do This Weekend


After a tough week there's nothing I look forward to more than the weekend. The weekend means that I have back up, some free time and more importantly, time to spend bonding with the family. After the Mr. and I had the little lady we realized the need to get out and about as often as possible. Thing is, kids can be expensive. However, if you get a little more creatively you don't have to spend much more than a couple of bucks per outing. So for this Fridays Five Things post I'm going to give you some things that you can do this weekend, on the cheap!
  1. The library. This is a great place to head to on the weekend. You don't even have to check anything out, just sit and peruse the selection! Did you know that you can also borrow DVDs and CDs from the library? And audio books too? The library is a great resource and place to spend some time.
  2. Explore a new part of your town. If you live in a city chances are you spend quite a bit of time in your own neighborhood. You know the best place to get a cup ' joe, buy your friend a b-day present or grab brunch. Try hunting out a new neighborhood, you new know what gems you will find!
  3. Go for a walk at the mall, before it opens. If you have kids, this is perfect for you. Kids get up early and generally it's hard to find something to do with them until the rest of the world gets up. Most malls open early for walkers. This is the perfect location to let the kids run free, before the temptation to buy hits or the throngs head down the halls.
  4. Ride Public Transit. Take the bus from one end of the line to the other. Take it to another part of town and then make your way back, stopping at any intersection the looks interesting. Or if you have to pee. Peeing on public transit is generally discouraged.
  5. Take out your camera. Most of us have at least one camera laying around, and bemoan the fact that it never gets used. Change that this weekend! Take out your camera and document your weekend. Take some candid shots of yourself, your friends, that hottie that just passed you on the sidewalk. If portraits aren't your thing, go around shooting the unique architecture in your town or neighborhood. You never know what you'll find to take photos of!

Happy Friday y'all!
Enjoy your weekend.

02 March 2010

Not today

I'm sick, the kid is running around like the small tornado she is and I have a To-Do list about "yey long" to finish. Like, should have finished last night, but was too tired because I was sick. Pity myself much? So that being said I leave you with some words that will hopefully brighten your day.

01 March 2010

Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun...


The sun is shining, the birds are singing and everyone in this part of the world is looking forward to spring. Snow is melting, green grass is tentatively poking up and I'm not listening to those of you who keep reminding me that March is typically the snowiest month. Shush. Let me enjoy my sunshine and meltiness; at least for today. This weekend we took our bikes in for a tune-up, which means that biking around town is just around the corner! We also took a bunch of walks around the neighborhood and our favorite places around town. It was fantastic.

It's so nice that I think a walk is in order for this afternoon. Wearing our (wait for it...) Spring Jackets! So if it's sunny where you are today, go and take a walk. You deserve a little taste of Spring after the long Winter!

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