Thursday, February 25, 2010

Organize the Already Organized

I absolutely should be cleaning right aunt, cousin, cousin-in-law and 3 second cousins (or is it cousin once removed???) are visiting this weekend and our house looks like, well, like 3 kids and 2 busy parents live here.  Unacceptable, I tell you.  But, instead of cleaning, I decided to post this TIP. 

Years ago, I organized our linen closet to within an inch of its life.  I'm talking bins with labels, stickers, designated shelves, the works.  And that system has had its ups and downs but has basically held true to form.  For example, on the floor of the closet is a big drawer bin that holds cleaning supplies.  (Before you panic, the bin has a Mr. Yuck sticker on it AND the closet is locked).  That bin hasn't moved once since I put it there.  There is a bin labeled "Kids Medicine" and a bin labeled "Adult Medicine".  One shelf for towels, one shelf for bed linens and nary the two shall meet...See?   It's really quite lovely. 

However!  The problem is this...I haven't cleaned out this closet in forever!!!!  So, while I love to have cleaning supplies at the ready, I really only use 2 or 3 products which renders that 13 year old bottle of ammonia useless.  Not to mention all the things that leaked inside the bin creating quite the Petri dish of combustibles.  I found a few other things in the closet that struck me as 6 die (dice, dices, deeces??), a yo-yo, a bubble maker, pack of matches and a partially used bar of soap. 

I like to keep things.  This may explain why I've held onto a bottle of perfume that someone once told me they liked because it reminded them of their Grandma.  Or why I held onto a set of breast shells from my nursing woes of Joe (he'll be 7 next month).  Or the travel sized make up bags with broken zippers.  Or the expired medicines...

Breath easy people!  I've thrown out a ton of stuff and rearranged the placement of bins so that the cleaning supplies are off the floor and out of little hands' reach and all is right with the world.

So, my tip is this....Even if a spot in your home seems to be organized, if its been awhile since you went through it, maybe it would be a good idea to organize your already organized space.

You're welcome.  Carry on.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Crazy Uncle Cupid

Yes, yes, yes today is Valentine's Day.  While I do not discount romance or reject obvious reasons to receive senseless gifts...I have a confession.   Preparing for holidays is not my forte'.  Every year I promise myself that I'll get an Advent calendar for Christmas, then I don't.  I make a mental note to get an Easter Story egg carton thing, then I don't.  Wouldn't an American flag made out of jello, blueberries and whipped cream be scrumptious on the 4th of July?  Yeah, I wouldn't know because I've never actually made it.

So, while I'm an admitted slacker towards other holidays, even Valentine's Day has a different feeling for me...especially this year.  I liken Valentine's Day to having a crazy uncle that no one talks about but feels obligated to invite to dinner once a year.  Seriously.  All year, the kids chatter about next Christmas, or the parades during the summer, or where their Easter basket might be hidden.  Crazy Uncle Cupid barely gets mentioned until Phil looks for his shadow.  Every year it sneaks up on me.  I'm left scrambling for red paper, scissors, glue, and heart felt sentiments to show Crazy Uncle Cupid that we care about him and promises not to stare at his diaper and quiver of arrows.

Knowing that I'm in charge of Joe's classroom parties, I absolutely had Crazy Uncle Cupid on the brain.  P.S. It's a little shocking how many inappropriate items show up on a search for a classroom Valentine's game.  Since this is Bella's first year of preschool, I was well aware that she would need the required Disney Princess cards with the teeny, tiny blank space for her name.  I was well aware!

Then, snow-a-palooza hit and I lost sight of Crazy Uncle Cupid's impending visit.  For a few days, we just literally could not get anywhere and if we could get there, chances are it was closed.  By the time I was able to venture out, the shelves were picked over and Valentine's Day stuff was being pushed out of the way by drunken leprechauns carrying giant four leaf clovers.  I foolishly thought that the kids might be able to go to school for their parties, so that was my main shopping focus.  Joe cards, check.  Bella cards, check.  Treats for teachers, check.  Game supplies, check.  It never occurred to me to get stuff for the actual Valentine's day.  Maybe I thought I had more time, I don't know.

When the mailman could safely deliver the mail, I saw the tell tale penmanship of Grandma.  Not even the worst snow storm in recent history could stop her from getting cards to the grandkids in the mail.  As I held the velvety red envelopes in my hand, a trickle of panic ran down my spine.  Kinda like if you woke up on Thanksgiving morning only to realize that you forgot to defrost the turkey.  I had done NOTHING for Crazy Uncle Cupid's visit.  On Saturday, I hastily got out the craft box to have the kids make cards for Grandma.  I quickly realized that the decorations I thought we had must not have survived Crazy Uncle Cupid's last visit.  Maybe no one would notice...of course they did.  Saturday night, the kids whispered to Jay from their cozy beds that they were soooo excited for Valentine's Day....then Joe whispered "What do we do for Valentine's Day, Daddy?"  Huh. 

Sunday morning, THE morning, Crazy Uncle Cupid's morning, Jay hustled out to Giant Eagle to get last minute decorations and candy.  So, with the kids none the wiser, we celebrated Crazy Uncle Cupid's visit with heart shaped foods, pink and red teddy bears, more card making and paper heart cutting, and dinner by candle light.  During Bella's prayer tonight she said "Jesus, thank you for the best Valentine's Day ever."  Whew!  Crisis averted.  Plus, the kids still have their school parties to look forward to.

So, I'll take comfort in the knowledge that the point is not the preparation for the day, but how we make the day special in whatever way we can.  The kids didn't care that the house hadn't been decorated for days or that we didn't get them elaborate gifts.  They were excited to help tape hearts to the wall and put stickers on the windows.  The best parts of the day were when they got to blow out the candles on the table and call Grandma to thank her for the cards.  It was a good day.

See ya next year Crazy Uncle Cupid!  Maybe, by then, I'll be ready for you.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mindless Eating and a Sore Throat...

A month has passed since undertaking the Zaleo Challenge!  An update is in order!

After revamping the ol' diet, there have been some pretty remarkable changes and revelations.  Probably the most startling thing I learned was HOW MUCH MINDLESS EATING I was doing!!!  If you asked me to define my daily eating habits, I would have said healthy.  I'm a pretty boring eater, so I really don't mind eating the same things repeatedly...for breakfast, plain oatmeal with blueberries and cinnamon...lunch, either tuna with spinach or turkey...and dinner, chicken and a vegetable, lots of fruits throughout the day, etc.  Sounds good, right?  If we're being honest, there are several things I'm leaving off that list...

Take for example eating the little bits and pieces of food left on the kiddos plates at breakfast.  Then, handfuls of pretzels throughout the morning masked as "just getting snacks for the kids".  At lunch, for every sandwich made, a knife full of peanut butter is consumed (and I don't even love peanut butter!).  Since crusts are taboo to my children, I go ahead and make them "disappear" (the crusts, not the children).  A slice of cheese for the young ones equals a slice of cheese for the momma...and so on and so on.  One day, I realized there was some type of food in my mouth and I stopped in my tracks and thought "What am I chewing on?  I don't even know what's in my mouth!"  After dinner, here's a Hershey's Kiss for you...and one for me.  One for you, one for me.  Oh, I'm done clearing the table?  Have a Kiss.  What?  I left the bag of Kisses on the counter?  Well, I should eat one before putting the bag away.  Let's not forget the late night snacking which may consist of some salty treat like chips and cheese or a sweet morsel like cookies or maybe both.  And can we talk about Ranch dressing and it's creamy goodness???

Now, I realize that when looked at individually, some of these things are not inherently bad foods.  Pretzels, whole grain bread crusts, cheese?  Not too bad...BUT.  The amount!  It's no wonder I haven't been able to achieve the goals I had set for myself.  Namely, losing the baby bulge belly. 

So, in the past month, I have become acutely aware of what I eat, when I eat and how much.  At first, it was really difficult and I had to employ some pretty lame tactics that, embarrassingly, I stole from the Biggest Loser.  Chew Extra! Sugar Free gum to avoid senseless snacking! 

We have not taken any new measurements yet to compare to the original numbers, but I have gone down a jean size, lost some lbs, and been able to lift more weight!  We're moving in the right direction!

There is one thing that I cannot find an answer to, though.  Since eliminating refined sugar, I have only given myself 2 "free" meals where I can eat whatever I want.  Both times, I had some sugar and both times I immediately got a really sore throat!  Like, really sore!  What's up with that?  I tried to find an answer by surfing the inter web thingy, but to no avail.  Anybody have an answer?  Anybody?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Inspirational Stories???

Recently, Jay wrote an article for a local online news site about the great, dedicated teachers in our school district.  He got a ton of positive feedback and it prompted many to take a stroll down memory lane thinking about the teachers that inspired them to follow their dreams.  It got me to thinking about what teachers I would list that inspired me...and I came up blank.

I have a less than stellar educational background.  It's not that I'm not smart or couldn't do the work, it was more like I didn't want to do the work.  And I didn't want anyone to tell me to do the work.  Cruising under the grade radar was just my style.  My grades weren't bad enough to fail and bring unwanted attention my way, but not good enough to have any expectations put on me.  Perfect.  I was well into my senior year before I realized school started at 7:30 and not, in fact, at 9:00.  Oops.  That did not improve my GPA.  Having detention was the best shot for any homework getting done, so it worked itself out.  I was much more concerned with making people laugh than learning about the War of 1812. 

It was not the fault of the teachers that I was uninspired.  A few may have tried...most just tolerated me...some maybe even thought I was funny.

My fourth grade teacher was pretty and she smelled nice.  It totally freaked me out one Halloween whilst Trick-or-Treating, she opened the door of a house and offered us candy.  Why wasn't she at the school?  Who's house was this?  Am I in the Twilight Zone?

My sixth grade teacher was supportive as I struggled with horrifying migraines and social awkwardness.

On the first day of seventh grade gym, the teacher called my name and said "Vance, huh?  I've heard of you.  Your reputation precedes you."  Uhhhh, what?  I asked my dad that night what she meant and he said "It means you're a b*@$&, and everyone knows it."  Well, let me tell you!  That started quite the tumultuous relationship between Miss Anderson and myself.  At every opportunity, I would do anything possible to annoy her, and she would do everything in her power to not get mad.  She got mad a lot.  I remember it like it was yesterday...I fell asleep during health class and woke up to an uncomfortable looking Miss Anderson trying to explain to a bunch of 10th graders the benefits of the Today's Sponge (Yes, I'm that old).  Of course I laughed out loud and this was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.  I had to carry my desk out into the hallway and sit out there for the rest of the semester.

But then, we had a moment!  It was during 11th grade gym.  We had to go outside to play softball with another gym class.  Things were going smoothly until the one (and only) mentally handicapped girl in our school went up to bat.  Something or other happened and the girl flipped out!  She threw herself onto the pitcher's mound and started swinging the bat around.  Neither her aide or our one (and only) elderly security guard could talk her down.  It was becoming really awkward as we all had to stand around and pretend not to stare.  After a few minutes of watching the poor girl flail and refuse to go into the school, I walked up to her and said "Hey Joyce.  Can I walk in with you?"  Like a switch was flipped, she stood up and we walked arm in arm into the locker room.  Later that day, Miss Anderson sidled up to me and said quietly "Ya did good, kid.  You're alright."  For some reason that meant a lot to me and even though no one else heard it, it became a symbol of truce between us.  She may have even laughed out loud at some of my antics by the time I graduated.

My 12th grade physics teacher was I shot him in the neck with a gum band.  That's a different story for a different time. YOU have a teacher that inspired you to follow your dreams?  Let's share.