Sew Stressful

I don’t know why I think I can sew but every once in a while I get a wild hare and decide to tackle another sewing project.

What was it this time? A skirt for me to wear at my brother’s wedding.

I must have been feeling overly confident because I recently sewed some burp cloths that turned out pretty cute. But then again how hard is it to sew a square spit rag? The burp cloths were nothing compared to the skirt.

In my defense I didn’t think of sewing the skirt a week before my little brother’s big day as a first resort. One of my best friends and I went to several stores skirt shopping and had no success.

Nothing stood out to me and I didn’t want to spend $40 or more on something I thought was mediocre. Not to mention the fact that being a little over a month post-partum I hope to lose a few more pounds of my baby weight. (Note I said, “hope.” We will see what really happens.)

I didn’t want to drop some serious cash on a skirt that might not fit in December.

So the day after my skirt-shopping failure, I packed up my boys and made a trip to JoAnns.

I don’t know what other young boys think of that craft superstore, but my boys hate it. They were out of control the second we stepped foot in the door.

I rushed through the store searching for something to match my brother’s wedding colors as my boys swung from the cart and chased each other around. I finally settled on a green-patterned print and hurried to get it cut.

But I thought I was going to scream at the cutting counter. One of my sons decided to play dead in the middle of the aisle by lying sprawled out on the floor. That’s when the other one decided to pounce on him like he really was dead meat. All the while the young employee cutting my fabric just chuckled under her breath.

I didn’t think it was funny. I grabbed one of them by the arm and he started screaming out that I was hurting him. After half the store had turned their angry eyes on me – the parent that was beating up on her child – I called his bluff and made him admit that he wasn’t hurting at all. That’s when he started laughing and ran off again to chase his brother.

By the time we made it to the checkout line I was ready to cry.

My oldest two boys did end up crying – one hit his head on a metal shelf while trying to (once again) run away from me, the other bonked his forehead on the credit card swiping machine while trying to hang onto the counter like an upside-down acrobat.

I didn’t want to say it while we were in the store, but in my mind I was thinking it served both of them right.

I cut my fabric out later that night and was itching to start sewing but ran out of time. The next day I started bright and early stitching my skirt together.

I think I let my boys watch more TV that day than they have in a long time. As long as they were being good while I was working with my sewing machine, I didn’t really care.

The sewing actually went really well until I went to try the skirt on. I didn’t really know what size to make, but obviously I estimated wrong. I couldn’t cinch up the side. Unless I sucked in all of my air and didn’t breathe all day, that skirt wasn’t going to fit for the wedding.

Luckily I had some extra fabric. I sewed a couple extra inches into the edge of the waistband and readjusted the gather at the top of the skirt. At this point I almost felt like giving up. I had already gathered the top several times after my gathering string kept breaking. (I know one of my friends told me recently about a gathering trick using dental floss, but I couldn’t remember that in the heat of the moment.)

But the couple inches in the back was just what I needed in order to make myself squeeze in comfortably. A few hours and a lot of finishing work later and the skirt was finally done.

It turned out better than I thought it would and was super comfortable. It might not fit everyone’s style but it was perfect for me. (Even if my husband said it looked like I was ready to go to a sock hop in it.)

The wedding breakfast, ceremony and reception were amazing and even though it seemed so stressful getting my skirt together, it was so nice to have something I felt good in. Luckily it was all worth it.

The Turn Off

I’ve picked up on a horrible habit the past month while nursing my newborn. I have spent the majority of his 30-45 minute chow times scanning my social media accounts on my cell phone. Considering he eats an average of 7 times per day, that’s about four hours of time I have been wasting online daily.

And it’s starting to get me down.

Don’t get me wrong, I love checking in on people – especially on Facebook – but let me tell you how little things change when you are surfing the site every three hours for half an hour at a time.

I knew something was getting to me lately, but I couldn’t quite pinpoint it. Was it a mild case of post-partum depression? Not nearly enough sleep? Keeping my oldest two boys from killing each other the last two weeks of summer? A combination of all of the above?

I didn’t know exactly, but something was eating at me, leaving me with no desire to do the things I normally enjoy. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt like weeding my garden, and I used to love weeding my garden.

It wasn’t until I read an article from my junk email folder that I discovered a big part of what was making me blue – digital depression.

I think I have been getting way too much computer and cell phone face time.

The brief article talked about the potential computers, phones and video games have to make people feel more connected, but that they can also make people feel dejected.

I’ve got to get a grip and flip the switch on my social media overload.

Just think about what else I could be doing with my spare time. How many books could I read? How much Italian could I finally learn? How much more attention could I be giving my children?

There are a number of things I could be doing.

Now I’m not saying digital overload is the only thing draining me. I am definitely exhausted. Having a new baby has worn me out.

But I think that if I cut back on checking into my “social” life to just a couple of times per day, I will feel better.

So I’ve got new rules for myself. I’m not the type to completely delete my online accounts but there will be no online checking in during meal times, no online checking in while playing with my kids and no online checking in while nursing.

Hopefully logging out will help me log back in to the things I used to love.

Cleaning Revolution

My husband says I am finally at his parenting level.

I have had a major revelation when it comes to picking up the toys around our house. A revelation he swears he had before our oldest son was even born.

I just rolled my eyes at him and told him he could pick up all of our toys if he is so superior. But since he is gone 80 percent of each day at work, that isn’t very realistic.

So, I am glad I have stumbled upon parenting genius.

I think I have finally figured out how to get my boys to help clean up their toys! I have realized something so simple, something that you, like my husband, have probably done from day one.

I am now making my children put away one set of toys before moving on to the next. A novel idea I know, but it is working wonders for my pick-up-all-the-toys-all-the-time anxiety.

I used to let my boys dump out whatever they wanted. Sometimes, OK a lot of the times, I would follow them around like I was part of the help picking up what they dumped or dropped. But my efforts were futile. They would storm through the house making mountains of mess that none of us felt like picking up at bedtime. We were tired, overwhelmed and unmotivated.

We live by storage bins at our house. We have a bin for Legos, trucks, Tinker Toys, dinosaurs, super heroes, etc.

The new routine is that they have to pick up their toys and put them in their bin when they are done with them, BEFORE moving to the next bin of toys. If they want to play super heroes then that’s fine with me. As long as all of the other bins are picked up and put away.

I have an 81-year-old neighbor who I visit on a regular basis who told me several years ago that she taught her kids to pick up and put away one thing before moving to the next.

I shrugged her master parenting skills off thinking that they were outdated and unhelpful. Boy was I wrong. I wish I would listen to people.

I haven’t exactly told my kids that we have a new pick-up-one-thing-before-starting-on-the-next rule. I’ve just been enforcing that kind of behavior and they are following naturally.

The best part is they are motivated to put stuff away because they want to get something else out. It’s amazing!

Like I said, many of you have probably already been living like this for a long time. So I want to know what other tricks you have for soliciting your children’s cleaning help. This mom could use all the help she can get!

Restless Mom Syndrome

I can’t wait for the day when I can sit down for more than one minute without feeling guilty. Because for some reason I have it stuck in my stay-at-home-mom mind that if I sit down for longer than it takes to tie my shoes, I am doing something wrong; some child or some chore is being neglected.

In fact as I am sitting typing this blog post I am feeling a little guilty that I am not playing with my boys who are setting up super hero/villain clusters throughout my living room in preparation of a giant battle.

They haven’t noticed I am not playing with them, so why should I care?

The truth is, I miss being OK with sitting and chilling. I miss things like watching hours of television just for “fun” or sitting on a blanket in my back yard soaking up the sun.

What happened to me?

Now I sit down to watch TV and can’t make it more than a half hour before I notice something in the room that I need to pick up or clean. I go outside to enjoy nature and end up sweeping up the patio or raking the flowerbeds.

Why can’t I stop?

I used to have hobbies – doing puzzles, cross stitching, playing the piano, to name a few. And heaven knows I LOVED getting lost in a good book.

But these days I don’t even dare open the cover to a new novel. I am afraid I will be hooked and therefore neglect all of my “mothering” responsibilities as I waste my time reading for pleasure.  You should have seen me (and my house) a year ago when I read the Hunger Games Series. We were a mess!

It’s not healthy for me to think I can’t take time for myself. I’ve got to find a better balance in my life – A cure for my restless mom syndrome.

Most of the time I think, “I’ll sit and relax when I get everything done.” NEWSFLASH: I will NEVER be able to get everything done. The sooner I realize that the sooner I can relax.

I’ve read some great articles recently from moms who talk about “living in the moment” and “cutting yourself some slack.” I love reading other women’s advice on how to deal with being a mom. But for some reason I only remember what they say for a few days. Then I go back to guilting myself into running around like the energizer bunny never stopping, never resting.

I’m worried that some day my battery will run out.

Heaven help me realize that I don’t always need to vacuum the floors and wash all our clothes before leaving on vacation. The beds don’t always need to be made before we leave for school in the morning.  And the dishes don’t need to be washed before I head to bed at night.

How do you make time for yourself and what do you do with that time? How do you let yourself relax?

I Quit!

Tomorrow I will embark on the second retirement of my professional career. I am quitting my job as a digital/social media specialist for MarketStar.

Why, you may ask, am I quitting a part-time job that pays me really well to work at home from my living room couch? Because despite my every effort to minimize the impact my job has had on my family, it has made a difference in our lives. Mostly mine.

If any mom tells you that starting a job — even if it is part-time from home — had no impact on them or their family, they are either lying or superwoman.

I’m not saying starting a job creates a negative impact, but it definitely changes things.

You can’t possibly toss another juggling ball up in the air without the risk of dropping one or two others you are already juggling. You may want to juggle them all, but won’t have the focus to do so.

For me tossing the work-at-home ball into the air caused me to drop two others — the sleep and personal-time balls.

I have worked hard during the past 15 months to get up long before my children to put half of my daily work hours in before they woke up. That meant they didn’t even know I was working. It also meant I had to go to bed early or fight to stay awake during the afternoon hours — especially during the past 7 months.

I would put my other two to two and a half hours of work in during the afternoon while my oldest was at school and my three-year-old napped. That also meant that they didn’t know I was working. But it left me with virtually no personal time to do anything I wanted like reading, crafting, watching TV or even cleaning.

Not to mention the fact that when you have to get a babysitter one or two times a week for work (even though I worked at home there were meetings and events I was required to attend in-person) who wants to get another sitter for girls-night-out or date night?

Sounds selfish right? It probably is.

I’m burned out so I am throwing in the towel. Summer vacation is quickly approaching and my three-year-old no longer wants to take naps. It’s an ideal time to quit.

I like my job. It is easy and rewarding. I have always enjoyed working, but finding and squeezing in an extra four hours of professional work each day so I can bring in some extra bucks has turned out not to be worth it for me.

It has caused me to focus on things I don’t want to.

Besides I am sure my life will complicate when I bring home a new little baby this summer. I want to be able to give him, and my older two boys, my best. I have always wanted to stay at home with my little kids and I don’t want to take them for granted.

I am sure there will be times when I regret my decision to leave — like the first Friday I don’t get a pay check, or the first afternoon that I am bored out of my mind wondering what to do with myself. But for now I just feel lucky I have the option to quit. Some moms don’t.

But either way, in my opinion, everyone has to decide for themselves which balls they are willing to juggle and which ones they might have to let drop.

No Cookie Dough Love

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I love making sugar cookies and I love my boys. But I do not love making sugar cookies with my boys.

That is one more activity I am going to add to my I-wish-I-had-the-patience-to-do-that-with-my-kids list.

I have tried a few times to make yummy treats with my little ones’ “help.” But it never happens the way I think it should. The way I daydream it will. I guess it’s too much to ask a 3 and 5 year old to whip out their Martha Stewart skills.

My sons have no sense of order. No sense of tidiness. And when it comes to making cookies I swear they think our kitchen has transformed into an evil scientist’s lab. Either that or a Playdoh making factory – especially when we get to the cooking cutting part.

Last Sunday I decided to make heart-shaped Valentine’s cookies with the boys. It was going to be a great reverent Sunday afternoon bonding experience.

Yeah right.

We hadn’t been cooking five minutes before the first splash of flour rained down on my recently mopped kitchen floor and the stress sunk in. Our reverent activity turned into a nagfest as I tried to control them as they dumped ingredients into the Kitchen-Aid bowl.

Things only got worse when we started rolling out dough. I turned my back for a split second and they shoved their hands into the can of flour. I turned back around to a puffy white cloud and four pint-sized flour mountains on top of their “cookies.”

That’s when I lost it. I yelled at them for making a huge mess. All of a sudden our “fun” family activity had taken a turn for the worse.

My husband offered to help the boys finish. I am sure he could tell I was nearing a breaking point. But I was too stubborn to stop our fun-filled activity.

I had a giant ball of dough to roll out, cut and then bake and I realized my children weren’t going to be any “help.” So I gave up on getting their help. I gave up on keeping order.

I gave each of them a ball of dough and let them have at it. They rolled and cut and mixed who knows what into their dough samples for a long time. They each made their own “delicious” cookie filled with all kinds of goodies and topped with cherry fruit snacks.

Giving up on the perfect cookie-making experience did wonders for my nerves but it was a devastating for my poor, innocent kitchen. When we were finished I swept up an inch of flour from off of the floor.

I have fond memories of rolling out dough and helping my mom make treats. Those memories don’t include my mom ever yelling at me for the dough sticking to the table or for flour getting on the floor. How did she do it? How did she keep her cool? We always had a great time. I am worried my children won’t have any memories like that. I wish I were more patient.

I think a lot of times I set my expectations far too high. I should have realized that making cookies with two little boys was going to be disastrous.

Maybe someday I’ll be ready to try making sugar cookies with them again. But probably not until I can get on some anti-anxiety meds.

Take That Turkey

It’s no secret that I struggle in the kitchen. I set off the smoke alarm every time I make French toast or pancakes. So I was probably being a little ambitious when I decided to try cooking a turkey.

Right before Christmas I saw a killer deal on turkeys at my local store. I rummaged through the pile of frozen birds and found the smallest 97-cents-per-pound one that I could see. I took it home and chucked it in my freezer.

I thawed it out a few weeks later and got ready to put it in my Crock Pot. But no matter how I arranged it, it was not going to fit. At least three inches of the bird’s backside was still sticking out the top.

Not only did the turkey not fit in my pot, I couldn’t find the giblet packet. The instructions said it would be by the gravy pouch, but they were nowhere near each other. No matter how many times I peeked inside that naked bird, I couldn’t see it.

So the giblets were still inside and I had nowhere to cook my turkey. I found a broiler pan in the drawer under my oven and decided to try to cook it on that. I was going to cook the turkey all day in my Crock Pot, but it only needed to cook a few hours in my oven. So I cleaned everything out of my fridge’s bottom shelf and stuck the pan and the bird in there to stay cool.

When it came time to throw it in the oven I didn’t have an oven bag so I poured some sautéed celery and onions on top and brushed some vegetable oil all over the turkey’s skin.

I was scared to death that we would cut it open and “poof” it would be hollow like the one on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. So every 45 minutes I opened the oven door and brushed more oil on top.

Success! Several hours later it was done and it was juicy. My husband even found the giblet packet. It was near the turkey’s rear, not front.

Those burnt looking things on top are the onions that I used to season the bird. And no, we did not eat those.

My family had a great turkey dinner and we ate sandwiches for days.

But the best part about my turkey turning out was the fact that I was able to use the cooked meat for two other main dishes. I made Creamy Chicken (Turkey) Noodle soup and Chicken (Turkey) Enchiladas from the leftovers. Two of our family’s favorite meals! I’ve included the recipes below if you want to try them.

The turkey-cooking success was a step in the right direction. I’m not ready to cook prime rib or anything, but I am getting better. I just need to keep trying.

What have you made lately that has been delicious?

Here are the recipes for the soup and enchiladas. I got them from two of my best friends who really do know how to cook .

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients:
2 quarts water
5 chicken bouillon cubes
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
3 cups cooked cubed chicken
celery and carrots (as much as you like)
1 box of mini farfale (butterfly) pasta noodles or a bag of egg noodles

Instructions:
Chop celery, carrots, misc. Boil vegetables with the water for the pasta noodles. Cook the noodles in the water with the vegetables as directed on their box. Then put 2 quarts of water in a different pan with bouillon cubes until cubes dissolve. Then add cream of chicken soup and sour cream. Drain the noodles and vegetables and add them too.

Chicken Enchiladas

Sour Cream
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
Milk
Onion
Small can of chopped green chilies
Tortillas

Take about one cup or so of sour cream and mix it with a can of cream of chicken soup and a small can of chopped green chilies. Pour a small amount of milk in until it is creamy. Take a tortilla, line the middle with a small amount of the sauce, a handful of chicken and some cheese. Roll it into an enchilada shape then put in a baking dish. When you have used up all of the chicken, take the remaining sauce and pour it over the top of the enchiladas. Sprinkle the top with cheese.

Bake at 375 for 45-60 minutes.

The Purge

I have big plans for my house. Big plans that I don’t always have enough energy for. But regardless of my energy level these days, I am determined to enact one of my biggest plans so far. I am going to affectionately call it “The Purge.”

I am going to go through every inch of my modest home and remove everything that we don’t use or need. I am going to purge our junk pile.

I started last week with my kitchen. I have dreamed of a bigger kitchen with more cabinet and countertop space for years. But that doesn’t mean it’s ever going to happen. So, rather than keep dreaming I went to task.

I put together a giant box of old pans, cups, Tupperware and small appliances that I have not used in the past 7 years. Why on earth I was keeping some of that stuff is beyond me.

I packed it into the back of my van and drove it to the nearest Deseret Industries before I had a chance to change my mind on items like my worn out skillet that no longer has a temperature gauge.

Now when I open the door to grab a cup for my kids, I don’t have mismatched plastics falling out on my head. The insides of my cupboards look good.

But the kitchen is just the beginning. I plan to purge every room in my house.

My husband thinks I am already nesting, but I know it’s more than that. I actually got the purging idea from my friend Amanda who completely overhauled her house last summer. She got rid of nearly everything that wasn’t a necessity.

That totally inspired me.

They talk a lot in my religion about living within your means. For the longest time I thought that meant, “Don’t buy anything you can’t pay for.” But I’m starting to realize that it’s not just about money.

I visited Amanda after her purge and she heI have big plans for my house. Big plans that I don’t always have enough energy for. But regardless of my energy level these days, I am determined to enact one of my biggest plans so far. I am going to affectionately call it “The Purge.”

I am going to go through every inch of my modest home and remove everything that we don’t use or need. I am going to purge our junk pile.

I started last week with my kitchen. I have dreamed of a bigger kitchen with more cabinet and countertop space for years. But that doesn’t mean it’s ever going to happen. So, rather than keep dreaming I went to task.

I put together a giant box of old pans, cups, Tupperware and small appliances that I have not used in the past 7 years. Why on earth I was keeping some of that stuff is beyond me.

I packed it into the back of my van and drove it to the nearest Deseret Industries before I had a chance to change my mind on items like my worn out skillet that no longer has a temperature gauge.

Now when I open the door to grab a cup for my kids, I don’t have mismatched plastics falling out on my head. The insides of my cupboards look good.

But the kitchen is just the beginning. I plan to purge every room in my house.

My husband thinks I am already nesting, but I know it’s more than that. I actually got the purging idea from my friend Amanda who completely overhauled her house last summer. She got rid of nearly everything that wasn’t a necessity.

That totally inspired me.

They talk a lot in my religion about living within your means. For the longest time I thought that meant, “Don’t buy anything you can’t pay for.” But I’m starting to realize that it’s not just about money.

I visited Amanda after her purge and she helped me to see that rather than always dreaming of a bigger house, nicer things, and more of everything, I need to be satisfied with what I have now.

That’s what’s behind the purge. No longer am I going to hold onto unnecessary items because someday I may have room or need for them. I am not going to live in a dream world where I keep everything I get because someday I may have time to use it or have a bigger home to put it in.

My husband and I have talked about moving in a few years, but what if we don’t? I love my house now, why not make it the best I can and be happy with what I have?

It probably sounds easier than it really is going to be, and I am going to have to conquer my inner pack-rat tendencies to get this done, but little by little I am going to purge my life and my attitude.

I’m starting on the laundry room next.

What have you purged from your life lately? What do you do to minimize all the “stuff” in your house?
lped me to see that rather than always dreaming of a bigger house, nicer things, and more of everything, I need to be satisfied with what I have now.

That’s what’s behind the purge. No longer am I going to hold onto unnecessary items because someday I may have room or need for them. I am not going to live in a dream world where I keep everything I get because someday I may have time to use it or have a bigger home to put it in.

My husband and I have talked about moving in a few years, but what if we don’t? I love my house now, why not make it the best I can and be happy with what I have?

It probably sounds easier than it really is going to be, and I am going to have to conquer my inner pack-rat tendencies to get this done, but little by little I am going to purge my life and my attitude.

I’m starting on the laundry room next.

What have you purged from your life lately? What do you do to minimize all the “stuff” in your house?

Butt Prints in my Tub

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I have been thinking of writing a series on my blog for a while now titled “Stupid Things I Thought I Could Do.” After refinishing my bathtub I couldn’t resist.

For some reason, Google searches and YouTube “easy” how-to videos have led me to a false belief that I can do or make anything. I have tried a series of Internet-inspired projects this year. Some turned out — like refinishing the back of my ripped love seat — others didn’t — like making corn-starched-based sidewalk chalk paint.

Earlier this year my bathroom was driving me nuts. The paint was peeling off the walls. The baseboards were splintering. The toilet seat was rusting. The sink was nasty.  I hated to go in there.

So I decided I would enlist the help of my husband, my girlfriend and my grandma.

It started out really nice. In October I peeled the wallpaper off, removed the patches of chipping paint, ripped off the baseboards with a crowbar, took out the old-school medicine cabinet and unhinged several cabinet doors. Next, my friend Heidi and I primed every inch of the place.

A few days later she came over again and we slapped some joint compound on the walls and textured the entire room. My grandma came down next and helped me paint the walls a bluish-grey color. Then I painted the cabinet doors and ceiling white. Things were looking so good!

We had a little trouble getting the plumbing to fit right with the new sink, but nothing would prepare me for what would happen next.

It had been about one month since I started the remodel. I thought that was pretty good for only being able to work on the room sporadically.

The second week in November my husband was going out of town for work and would be gone all week. That’s when I chose to refinish the tub. That’s when everything went wrong.

I bought a cheap epoxy-paint tub refinishing kit from the hardware store. I read the instructions that came with the kit several times. I had to scrub the tub with a major cleaner, rub it down with steel wool and rinse it all out three separate times before beginning to pain the stuff on.

I decided to start on a Monday night at about 8 p.m. Nearly 5 hours later I was done.

It was literally the hardest thing I have ever painted in my life. The gooey paint went on thick and unevenly. I had to massage the brush over the surface again and again in order to get it to smooth out. After one coat the tub looked terrible. I could still see the old white peering through the uneven brush strokes. The manual said that I needed to put in on very thin and it would take at least two coats.

The second coat was a lot harder to paint because I couldn’t lean on the tub anywhere. I had to arch upside down and sideways to get every inch covered.

I never was able to get the edges of the thing to coat. We had recently caulked the sides of the tub and apparently the epoxy-paint didn’t want to adhere to the silicone. By 1 a.m. I wanted to scream. I was tired and stressed. I went to bed hoping to get some sleep.

Luckily things looked better in the morning. There were a few brush strokes on the side of the tub that I couldn’t get smooth, but other than that, it was a major transformation.

My tub before was old. It had scratches and water stains streaking its sides. This new creamy white looked good in comparison.

One of the instructions in the kit stated that you had to keep the room temperature above 72 degrees for three days in order for the paint to cure — that was the one instruction I couldn’t control.

Unfortunately my furnace died the night I decided to paint.

I thought that maybe the tub would still work. It still looked good. I waited the next three days like the instructions stated before using it. Meanwhile my boys and I bathed at my mom’s house and I had a new furnace installed.

But the new heater was too little too late. I sat in the tub after the third day of drying only to find that the tub’s paint hadn’t settled and I was leaving butt prints behind on the bottom.

Talk about discouraging. I did all of that work in vain, and I had my butt prints in the tub to prove it. I tried desperately to smooth them out of the bottom and then waited three more days for the tub to cure.

Still more butt prints.

I called the number on the kit’s package and the customer-service agent told me that temperature was critical in curing the new paint. She suggested I put a space heater in the room for 24 hours and then test the tub.

It didn’t work.

I called again and a different customer service agent told me that if it hadn’t cured in 6 days, it wasn’t going to work. He told me I could remove the new paint by stripping it.

Wow. I was mad. I had done all that I could to follow the instructions on the kit and worked so hard to make my tub sparkling white to no avail.

Luckily my husband is always there to clean up my messes when one of my do-it-yourself projects goes awry. He stripped and I peeled the non-cured paint from every inch of the tub. I have sanded the tub’s edges until my fingers were raw.

We finally finished it all on Monday. The tub doesn’t look perfect — obviously there was a reason I wanted to refinish it in the first place. But it looks amazingly better than the shoddy paint job I pulled over it. And at least now when I bath I no longer leave butt prints behind.

Who knows what I’ll think I can do next.

My Hate of Grocery Shopping

If I didn’t have to eat to live, I would never go grocery shopping.

The grocery store and I do not mix. Add children to the equation and the combination is lethal. Normally I come home and want to cry, take a nap or start ordering all of my food from Schwans.

No matter how much I plan and how many coupons I clip, our trip always takes twice as long as I want it to and I spend twice as much as I planned.

I don’t know what it is about buying food for our family, but it brings out the worst in my boys and me.

Heaven help me if I have to go to a store with car carts. It never fails that the seatbelts have been broken off so my kids can climb out of the car’s doors freely. Usually they try to make a break for it while I’m rolling them quickly and I nearly run over one of their arms.

Then there’s shopping with the extended double-seated carts.  I have a serious love-hate relationship with those things.

One week I drove around the entire parking lot looking for an extended double-seated grocery cart.  I normally start our grocery trips hunting up and down the aisles looking for them. Because when we don’t have them, half of my food ends up smashed or broken as the boys fight while riding in the back of the cart. And I refuse to let them walk beside me.

Our favorite grocery store parks the giant haulers outside, which I think is totally stupid. Year round it causes a problem.

In the winter the door greeters have to help me push inches of snow off of the cart’s seats, then they get upset that the snow dripped inside the store. In the summer the seats are roasting hot and my boys don’t want to go anywhere near them.

Can’t they just park them inside?

This summer after hunting down a cart then draping it with my reusable shopping bags to keep it from burning my little boys’ bums, I pushed it on inside. Only to be totally floored when the door greeter cautioned me to not let my kids fall off of it.  Seriously?

I’m sorry that I improvised making a buffer between my boys’ bottoms and the blistering-hot plastic. Oh, and I didn’t want to strap scalding-hot seat belts across their poor little tummies in order to secure them in tightly. Rest assured door greeter man, their safety is my prime concern.

Maybe if you didn’t park the carts outside they wouldn’t be so hot and I wouldn’t worry about their under thighs blistering on contact.

All of this before we even buy a thing.

Sometimes while shopping my boys get what I call “grabby hands.” They stick their hands straight out from the cart grabbing and hitting everything they come in contact with on the shelves. That’s especially fun while rolling down the canned-food aisle.

Other times it’s a constant, “he hit me”/ “he pinched me” whine-a-thon. Yet another reason why I both love and hate the giant double-seated carts. I guess the urge to pinch, hit or bite your brother amplifies tremendously when you are in close proximity. Riding side-by-side, they just can’t help it.

I started buying a $2 cup of popcorn chicken for them to share while we shopped so they could keep their minds and fingers off of each other. That worked out well for a while. Until it got to the point where they started fighting over that too.

Every once and a while, my children surprise me by actually behaving when we stroll through the store. Then all heck breaks loose as we hit the checkout line. They must sense that freedom is near and all of their pent-up energy bursts through.

I have a particularly fond memory of my oldest kicking, hitting and biting me while we were checking out one day. I wouldn’t let him have a toy at the end of our trip and so he was taking his wrath out on me. I’ll never forget the older lady in line behind me. She helped me strap his tantrum-throwing body back in the cart so he couldn’t get to me to hurt me.

All she could say was, “I promise you it gets better.”

What am I supposed to do when they throw fits like that at the finish line? I’m not about to abandon a chuck-full cart by the side of the cash register and go home empty-handed.

I am sure it would be less stressful to shop alone. But I don’t always have the luxury or energy to go in the evenings or on the weekend.

Ironically, sometimes I think that it will be faster if I go shopping alone. Not true. I have been able to go alone a few times and it has taken me much longer. I guess something about pushing two little boys who are beating the crap out of each other makes you bust a move through the store and grab only the necessities. When I go by myself I pause to window shop. I get distracted. And I take twice as long.

But I can’t blame them for all of my grocery store blunders. I have problems when I am by myself too.

One night before their birthdays I went shopping by myself to get groceries and one of their presents – spin-brush toothbrushes.  Early on in my trip I dropped one of the stupid brushes on the ground and it started spinning. It spun and vibrated in my cart for more than an hour while I did my shopping. I’m sure the other customers walking around the store at 10 p.m. wondered what on earth the humming sound was coming from underneath my purse.

It seems as if I can’t win. And yet I can’t very well let me and my family starve because of a little chaotic grocery shopping.

Every once and a while shopping, I run into a mother just like me. She’s rushing through the store pushing a cart that is bursting at the seams and chastising her fighting, unruly children as her coupons and list fall to the floor. I have to fight the urge to give her a hug or a piece of candy. She has done something for me I can never repay. She has made me feel normal.

Luckily I only go shopping every two weeks. That way I have 14 days to forget about the pain. I am hoping that lady at the checkout stand is right. That it really does get better. But for now, I’m not holding my breath.

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