Wanted to take a quick moment to appreciate grandparents. Good grandparents are important. It's the little stuff. It's knowing what you're grandchildren are into and taking your kids' wishes into consideration, too. It's asking questions. A couple quick examples. My mom called me the other day to ask me if an Ironman birthday card was OK for Monster. Now, most people probably wouldn't even think about it, but my mom did. She didn't know who Ironman was and wanted to make sure it was OK with me. It wasn't. She wasn't offended, she just moved on to another card. Thanks, Mom! I'm so happy you take my feelings into consideration. Another example of an awesome grandparent is my friend's mom. She's going to drive 6-7 hours to go see her granddaughter's dance recital. Then, she's going to give her daughter and son-in-law a weekend away while she stays with the three grandchildren. Grandparents don't need to live across the street to be there for their grandchildren. They just need to be interested. My mom follows this blog so she can see and read about the things we do day to day aside from what we talk about on the phone. She follows what's going on with the kids and asks questions. I remember my grandparents, fondly. My Grandma and Grandpa A. were just plain old awesome. They were all about their grandchildren. I was always over there growing up. Even into my teen years, I'd just go and hang out with my grandma (my grandfather passed away when I was 7) just because she genuinely cared about me. My Grandma D. was great, too! She lived far, so we rarely saw her, but when we did, she always baked me special cookies, colored Easter eggs, played Chinese Checkers, etc. For one or two weeks a year, it was all about me. I hope that one day...in the far, far, far future, I'm an awesome grandparent who will not only be there for my grandchildren, but for my children as well.
I was really hoping to accomplish more today than I did, but it was really nice out. Sunshine and I spent some time in the sunshine while Monster was at school. We did, however, find some time for a couple crafts!
First we finished up our Bunny Candy Pockets. I got the general idea from here. Being from Martha Stewart, this was way too complicated. What we did was so much easier. First, we took construction paper (favorite colors of the kids they are going to), cut a rectangle the width that was wanted for the pocket. Then, we folded it in half to make the pocket and stapled the sides. We could have glued or taped, but I was looking for fast. After that, we cut out ears from the paper scraps and glued them onto the back of the pockets. From there, the kids added faces. When the noses and eyes were all dry, we filled them. Easy and cute.
Little Miss Sunshine also decorated her fairy princess for the garden. Really, this was just a dollar mask from JoAnn's, but we decided to use it as a garden decoration. Monster has a firefly to still do as well.
While our shopping, picked up a little something for Monster's teacher just to let her know we appreciate all she does. Found this really cool idea for a wrapping paper bow on Pinterest. Turned out really good and so easy!
And then the weird part of my day...had a boy, about 10 or 12 comment on my shirt (granted, I probably should not have been wearing it to the community pool). However, I think he was actually just staring at my chest. My shirt is super funny though, so here it is.
Today was a productive, busy day. Love days like this! Other than the general basics (dishes, laundry, floors, toys), I got so much more accomplished! Went grocery shopping and got a meal together for friends who came to join us for dinner tonight. Did some great crafts. Got a lot of the little stuff done. Looking around, I feel like I moved mountains!
First craft I did was a fun "Lucky" project.
Super simple. Very fast. I bought shamrock scrapbook paper at Hobby Lobby, used Elmer's glue and wrote "Lucky", sprinkled on glitter. When it was dry, I added some ribbon to the corners. Stuck it in a frame and I've got new art work.
Next project was one the kids helped with.
This project took a lot longer, but only because of all the eggs that need to be cut out. Still really easy though! First step, go to Home Depot or Lowe's and get a bunch of paint color samples. Next, trace ovals on samples. Cut out all the ovals. I did them three sheets at once to same time. After those were complete, I traced a large circle (my dog's water bowl) and cut out a "doughnut" on which to glue the eggs. For the sake of my sanity, I put the glue on the ring and then let the kids stick the eggs on. When the first layer was done, I just added more glue. While they were sticking eggs down, I tied a bow. When the eggs were completed, I used tacky glue to adhere the bow. A bit of advice....look at how many eggs I made, and cut it by half. We could probably make one and half more wreathes with the left over eggs.
While the wreath was drying, we started on some cute bunny candy pockets for friends. Our friends came over while the ears were drying, so we had to put them in hiding and will finish them tomorrow! And Sunshine only mentioned it once in front of them....She's great with surprises.
Life is all about choices. Sometimes it feels like we have no choice in a matter, but, that in itself, is a choice. Each choice leads to another choice. Choices also lead to consequences. It is weighing the consequences that makes us believe we have no choice. Buy the Coach purse or have next month's rent? To me it seems like a no brainer. I'd rather have a roof over my head than a stupid purse (and yes, I just called Coach stupid). However, a lot of people look at it and figure that they can figure out how to get extra money for the rent. My husband and I choose to live within our means. From reading about debt in the is country, a lot of people make the opposite choice. For us, the consequence of living in debt isn't worth the choice to buy all the latest technology or wear designer clothes.
I'm working very hard on changing my perspective/attitude about certain things. I've always been a realist. I'm not a glass half full or empty person. I'm more of a "do I want more or am I done with my drink" kind of person. That means that sometimes, I do see the glass as half empty. And that's a choice. I'm trying to stay out of the negative by realizing choices have been made for a reason. Last week, a friend announced she was pregnant. Recently lots of people have been pregnant and with all those people I've just been glad it wasn't me! This one though, stung. I still don't know why. We made a choice to be done having children. I spiraled down for a moment thinking that even if we wanted to, we couldn't have kids. That's not true. We could have kids until menopause if we wanted, but we have made choices on how that would affect our way of life. After logically going through all the choices we made and why we chose not to have more children, I felt much more positive. (And anyone who remembers how horribly sick I was for 9 months with Sunshine would completely understand why I wouldn't choose to do that again).
We've been working hard at teaching Monster and Sunshine that there are choices to be made every step of the way. Each choice leads to another choice based on the consequence of the previous choice. For example, Monster chooses not to brush his teeth in the morning. That could lead to a cavity, which he will have to get filled (that's my choice). There's the consequence. Is the consequence worth it to him to choose not to brush his teeth in the morning? Some days. Being as my kids are only almost 3 and almost 6, most of their choices are made by me and Husband and their teachers. Their choice is to listen or not listen. They listen, good stuff happens. They don't, bad stuff. I know it's not always that black and white. Life throws you curve balls. How you handle them is your choice though. Sometimes, things really are just unfair. How you deal with that is a choice. I'm trying my best to take time, get emotional, push through, and then get logical. That's my choice. I choose to move on. I choose not to dwell. I choose to be happy.
I love cleaning. Yes, I'm sick. Spring Cleaning gets me super excited. My friend, "M", pinned this site for Spring Cleaning. I felt giddy. Supposedly, you only have to do one item every day. Then, I read it. Come on, M! You can do better than this! Let's take this step by step and see why this list, just doesn't make the cut. I'll group like items together so you can get the point faster.
1. Dust light fixtures and ceiling fans--microfiber dampened with vinegar is good.
3. Dust all horizontal surfaces—tops of doors, picture frames, shelves, baseboards, counters...
Um, you should probably be doing this at least once a month anyway so there's not a huge amount of dust. Great way to clean ceiling fans is to use an old pillow case, put it over each blade, then wipe. Super easy and no mess. Another reason why this doesn't work is because if you are only doing one item a day and supposed to be starting with number one, then, by the end of week three when you're supposed to be done, you've got a dusty house again
.4. Magic Eraser or spot-clean the walls.
5. Wipe down circulating fans, wall, and floor vents with a cloth dampened with vinegar.
Being as I have two small children and a messy dog, I spot clean my walls ALL the time. For a good deep clean, I take vinegar, water and essential oil, and wipe down all the walls. This takes hardly any time because the regular maintenance makes so you don't have to scrub. A quick wipe and you're done. You can do a room a day, but I like to just get it done. My whole house takes about an hour (and that's with the kids up and running around). I wipe down my vents every time I vacuum, which is every day. I also clean my baseboards at the very least once a month. By clean I mean wipe down with Murphy's Oil Soap. Monster actually loves this task, so I leave it up to him. He also does the door frames with Murphy's, at least what he can reach.
7. Take everything off the bed and launder, including things you might wash less often like comforters or bedskirts.
Please tell me you wash your sheets and other bedding more than once year. I do comforters every two weeks and bedskirts once a month.
10. Take rugs and mats outside and beat with a broom handle
I shake my rugs out each time I vacuum. I wash them about once a month. We really only have one at the moment, so I'll let this one go.
11. Vacuum the floor REALLY thoroughly before you put the rugs back down.
As opposed to doing a half-assed job? I know I'm a little crazier about vacuuming than most people, but come on, if you're really cleaning, then not only are you going to vacuum floors thoroughly before putting rugs back, but you're also going to mop or scrub. About 3 times a year, I get on my hands and knees and really scrub all my floors. The rest of the time, I used a steam mop or quickly wipe down vinegar and essential oil.
12. Spot-clean the carpet
Spot cleaning for Spring Cleaning? Just get your carpets cleaned.
13. Give the kitchen a deep clean, especially the parts you usually skip (drip-pans, anyone?)
Am I the only person who does this several times a week? Even my cabinets gets Murphy's Oil Soap once a month. Oh, and when I did live someplace with drip pans, I cleaned those daily and shined them weekly.
14. Check expiration dates in your fridge, pantry, and medicine cabinet, and bring things to the front—or to the garbage!—accordingly.
I do this at least once a month. It helps that when I stock my pantry, I rotate older stuff to the front. This saves time in the long run and doesn't take but 10 seconds longer. The fridge is rough because we are constantly going through condiment spurts. We buy a bunch because we're trying new recipes, then, we fizzle out. Fridge clean out day is every Tuesday night though since Wednesdays are garbage days.
15. Give the bathroom(s) a deep clean, especially the parts you usually skip.
I have one bathroom for 4 people.. I'm always doing a deep clean or else it's just gross.
19. Go through your wardrobe and if there's things you never wear or haveworn out either donate them or put them in a rag-bag
I am constantly doing this. Unfortunately, it's not for cleaning purposes. It's just because I've gained so much weight, nothing fits. Last spring, I did go through my clothes and donated a ton of clothes that I had when I worked. I realized that if I get a job outside of the house again, my clothes would be seriously outdated.
23. Polish and condition wood—anybody know a good green way to do this and nix the orange-glo?
Again, I do this at least once a month, including my window frames. I use Old English, but I don't really like it. I am looking for something better, but still have a lot of Old English left.
Now, obviously these aren't all the ideas. She did have some really good ones.
2. Sweep cobwebs in corners and along the ceiling.
I hate that job. Really hate that job. Maybe it's because I'm only 5'2" so I actually have to get a chair for this task.
6. Get a new vacuum filter (seriously, when's the last time you did it?)
Great idea for people who aren't me. I do my filters a lot. I vacuum a lot.
8. Sprinkle the mattress with baking soda and let sit for at least an hour, then vacuum it all up with the brush attachment. You can do this while your bedclothes are in the wash to save steps!
I do this about 4 times a year. A lot of people don't think of it though.
9. Vacuum all upholstered furniture and vacuum or launder curtains.
Again, I do this way more, but I know I'm weird that way. However, nothing beats freshly cleaned curtains on a warm, breezy day!
16. Go through your make-up and throw out anything that smells funny or you never use.
If I wore make-up, I'd do this.
17.Wash windows inside and out. A mix of water and vinegar with a microfiber cloth work great!
18. Scrub out all window tracks with soapy water and an old toothbrush.
This needs to be done at least twice a year, Spring and Fall. I use vinegar and Purification oil. Screens should also be washed. In fact, those things will probably be this weekend's project.
20. Bring summer clothes to the front and hide winter clothes in the back.
I do this for my kids. I'm constantly rotating their clothes out. I'd do it for me if I had seasonal clothes.
21. If you have a wool coat, bring it to the dry-cleaner's—I know, not cheap, but it's only once a year!
I do it with all my coats. I dry clean the wool ones and wash the others. In Ohio though, this is a May project because you never know when you'll gets snow in April.
22. Treat any dingy whites to a soak in vinegar or borax. Might be a good time to do the dishcloths, too!
I have wanted to try this. I've just been putting it off because I'm embarrassed to take pictures of my "befores".
Some good ideas. Some stuff I do, but mostly this is not just Spring Cleaning. I believe that all of this needs to be done either all the time, or at least in the spring and fall.
So what have I done so far to "Spring Clean"?
To me, Spring Cleaning is about starting fresh. Lots of purging. Lots of fresh air. Windows washed. Floors cleaned. Things put in their places. I still have a lot left to do, but, since I do most things routinely, I'm not too worried. Hardest thing is getting the windows done. I need a warm enough day to be able to take the windows out, but not too hot so the house isn't unbearable. I also need a day where Husband is home because, even though I'm doing better, lifting out all the windows is extremely hard on my back. I also need to steam clean my carpets. That's easy since the kids like doing it. Other stuff that needs to be done includes power washing the porch, scrubbing paw prints off the siding by the mailbox, and getting new welcome mats. Maybe I'll scrub the siding right now since I have a moment...
It's our anniversary. 10 years. I am truly blessed. I honestly married my best friend and soulmate. It's hard to believe that this crazy journey all started almost 17 years ago.
Sept. 3, 1995, I left home for the first time (technically second, but that's another story). I moved to Athens, Ohio to start my life as a college freshman. I didn't know anyone. I was truly alone for the first time in my life. A friend of mine's cousin, whom I had met all of once before about 10 years prior, also was there and alone. The friend had given her my number and she called up. Even though I didn't really know her, I headed over to her dorm. That's when fate stepped in. I happened to go to this person's room, whom I really didn't know, who happened to live in the same dorm as Husband, who happened to be walking around the dorm with another guy introducing themselves to everyone at the exact moment I was there. Husband and I literally hit it off instantly. He was easy to talk to and fun to be around. He had a way about him that just made me feel, and this sounds, goofy, at home. It was like I had known him for my whole life. The two of us have seen, or at least talked to each other, everyday since.
It took us two years to actually start dating. He was my best friend and I didn't want to mess that up with a relationship. I knew I couldn't live without him in my life, so I was scared to take that next step. Finally, a New Year's kiss sealed the deal. When we told people we were dating, their responses were, "You mean you weren't dating before?" That's how joined at the hip we were.
Fast forward to 2000. I had already graduated college, but stayed in Athens to take some additional courses, work, and wait for Husband to graduate. We already knew that once he graduated we would be moving someplace together. Our first place was cute little townhouse. It was a great starter place.
In April of 2001, I headed back to Athens to visit a friend. When I came home that Sunday, Husband had dinner waiting for me. We ate and chatted about how much Athens had changed in just a year. Then we talked about what he did over the weekend while I was away. While in Athens, I bought him a t-shirt...super exciting, huh? After dinner, he said he had something for me. I told him I had something for him, too and wanted to go first! I gave him his t-shirt. He, came around to my side of the table, got down on one knee and started to pull out a box. I hit him and told him that it wasn't funny.....Here's where I back up..... Husband "proposed" to me several years before that with a pack of cigarettes as joke...a not funny joke....Back to the story at hand. He told me it wasn't a joke. I told him he could keep going. He then asked me to marry him.
March 23, 2002. We had the party of the year. Most women get all sappy and sentimental over their wedding. Not me, at least not too much. It was a seriously awesome day. We were very nontraditional. First, we were already living together. Second, Husband's main job of the day was to pick up my wedding dress since I needed to get my hair done. We did pictures before the ceremony, not after. In fact, our parents didn't even come to our place first, they just met us at the church. Pictures took about 20 minutes, so we had time to kill before the ceremony. The whole wedding party sat around in the back of the church playing cards. To this day, Husband's one cousin swears we had the fastest ceremony in the history of weddings. What rocked though was the reception. Or maybe it just rocked because I had the never ending Screwdriver. Either way, it was a fun party. After the reception, another nontraditional thing we did was have our bridal party sleep over. Yup. They slept in our living room. I fell asleep before everyone else. Such a super romantic night. Not what most women plan, but for me, for us, it was perfect. It was who we were.
For the past 10 years, life has thrown us many challenges, but we have faced them all, together. That's what a lot of people don't understand about our relationship, the together part. This marriage isn't two sided, it's a partnership. It's built on not only love, but friendship, respect, honesty, and understanding. A lot of people think I'm the dictator in this marriage, but I believe that's because they don't know Husband well. I couldn't tell him what to do even if I wanted to. And everyone knows I wouldn't stand to be bossed around. Here's where people get confused. Husband and I communicate. It's a crazy concept, I know! Another wild and crazy thing we do is compromise. There are things that neither of us will bend on, and that's good. That's healthy, but we respect each other's side. There are other things we give in on because they aren't as important to us as they are to the other person. We are a team. We are equal partners. That's what keeps us strong. I thank God every day that I found my other half. Husband truly does complete me. Without him, I am lost.
It's officially starting to look like Spring here in Ohio. With Spring comes changes. People are spring cleaning. Wardrobes are being changed out. Even meal plans are changing to become lighter. With all the change and purging, I began to reflect on other areas of life that have been cleaned out. I'm sad to say that I've had many friendships wither away in the past year. I do believe that people come into your life for a reason and they leave your life for a reason as well. Doesn't make it hurt any less though. People whom I thought I would be friends with forever are gone from my life. People, like seasons, change. We are constantly evolving and sometimes those changes pull people apart. Sometimes, it's just better to let go than to try to hold on to something that is fading away. Though I am sad for friendships lost, I do not regret them. I am thankful for the roles they played in my life. I am thankful for the people whom those other friendships have currently led me to on my journey.
St. Patrick's Day is my favorite day of the year. I'm not a huge partier and anymore, but it's still my favorite day. I think it has to do with my draw to Ireland. Ireland feels like home to me. Something draws me to it. Whatever the reason, I celebrate St. Patrick's Day all year long. Or, rather, I celebrate being Irish all year long.
This year was the most beautiful St. Patrick's Day that I can recall (and anyone who knows me personally may understand why I can't recall other St. Patrick's Days). It was a gorgeous 75 degrees. We celebrated by being outside almost all day. That was it. Nothing wild and crazy, just enjoying the day. Being a redheaded Irish girl, I got sunburned, but that was nothing unusual. We had corned beef and potatoes for dinner. We read special St. Patrick's Day books, Lucky O'Leprechaun and A Leprechaun's St. Patrick's Day. Sunshine went around yelling "Slainte!" to anyone who would listen. I had green finger nails with shamrocks and Irish flag toes.
Sunshine had green toes and we all wore green.
After the wee ones went to bed, Husband and I celebrated with Guinness and Bailey's.
Not the wild times of my past, but just as fun!
Each year for St. Patrick's Day, I make soda bread. I make a lot of soda bread. It is a tried and true recipe...tried over a decade. I honestly have not found a better, easier recipe than this. Enjoy! Slainte!
Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter until crumbly. Combine 1 egg and buttermilk; stir into flour mixture just until moist. Fold in raisins. Knead on floured surface for one minute. Shape into round loaf; place on greased baking sheet. Cut a 1/4" deep cross in top of loaf. Beat the remaining egg and brush over loaf. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
A house around the corner from us has been condemned. Apparently, the people living there have not had water for over a year. It's been in horrible condition. Coming home from playgroup yesterday, there were police and men and in HazMat suits. I did get all excited and thought they were taking down a meth lab. Sad that's what I assumed of this house. SPCA was also there because they believed a large animal was living there due to all the fecal matter. Turns out that was all human. They had been using the yard and the house as a toilet. The house is so bad that the city says it needs to be leveled.
Part of me is glad that this issue has finally been addressed. This house has been an eye sore and the "kid" (he's 19) living there has been nothing but trouble. However, a larger part of me feels so sorry for them. What got them to that point and why did no one help?
Back story, which is not coming first hand. When we moved in 9 years ago, the story was that the girl who lived there at the time was wild. Her father had passed away, her mother was in such a state of depression that she couldn't function, and the little brother was 10. Not a great kid, but not bad. Girl turned her life around and got out once she it 18. Life for the boy went downhill. Lots of trouble with school. Lots of trouble with the law. Where was the help? Where was social services? If the schools and police knew there was a problem and no parental support, why did no one step in?
Two years ago, the boy was removed from his mother's care temporarily, but it only lasted a week. It's him who I feel sorry for. My life would fall apart without my husband, but, having two kids, I know I'd need to at least be functional for them. The mother just gave up on life. Problem was it wasn't just her life she gave up on.
My hope is that the boy turns his life around like the sister did. Even though I didn't know these people personally, I always tried to be nice when I saw them. I thought the boy just needed a friendly face. Maybe he needed more than just one.