I Want to Marry My Mop

I never thought I would be excited to mop my kitchen floor. I don’t know, it must have something to do with crawling around on all fours wiping up crusty food stains and muddy shoe prints.

Sounds like a great way to waste a half hour, right?

Not to mention the fact that I naively laid 12-by-12-inch white tiles throughout my entire kitchen within the first six months of home ownership. I know the black-and-white checked floor looks really cool – like I have my own little pizza parlor – but I seriously wish someone had warned me about that one.

Especially now that I have kids.

I recently broke down. I spent $47 of my hard-earned birthday money and bought a wicked steam mop. Honestly I don’t know why I didn’t by one 7 years ago as my own housewarming gift.

I guess I held out because I thought steam mops were a lot more expensive.  I borrowed a Shark Steam mop from a friend a while ago and thought it was nice, but the pump-handle action coupled with the price tag kept me at bay.

I ended up buying a Eureka Enviro Steamer from Amazon.com. It was less than $50. And now I no longer need to buy floor cleaner. The steam is supposed to be a lot more sanitary anyway.

Why didn’t I do this earlier?

Not only is the new mop extremely quick and efficient (I can mop my kitchen in less than 5 minutes) it has also helped me relax a little in the kitchen.

In a way feel like that crazy lady on the old Resolve carpet-cleaning commercials. You know, the one who said, “That’s okay,” when her son spilled grape juice on her cream carpet, or her dog tracked mud throughout the living room.

When my kids shed food from their plates onto the floor, I almost smile and say, “That’s okay.”

Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration. I still snap at them sometimes and the control-freak in me still pours their Kool-Aid and grape juice into sippy cups.

But in all seriousness I am extremely happy with my new mop. I’ve decided that I need all the help I can get when it comes to keeping my house clean.

And although I’ll probably periodically drop to my hands and knees to scrub those darn 12-inch white squares with bleach cleaner, I definitely won’t do it on a regular basis.

Now if only I had a vacuum that didn’t suck.

He Packs, She PACKS

Here are the bags I recently packed while getting ready for vacation.

My husband made the comment a couple of weeks ago about how women are always stressed out before going on vacation. Oh really?

After running (with the kids) to get the van’s tires checked, buying diapers and gas from Costco, picking out everyone’s favorite treats from Winco, hauling 4 loads of laundry up and down our stairs, and then packing 1/3 of our home into several miscellaneous bags and boxes I can tell you why this woman was stressed out the day before our most recent vacation.

My favorite part about getting ready for our trip to Yellowstone two weeks ago? My husband telling the boys that they could go outside and have a water fight while I got everything together. Keep in mind, my boys don’t like to do anything without me and my husband was conveniently occupied with meetings over at the church house. Add a fussy 2-month-old to the mix and needless to say, I was up til’ 11 p.m. getting stuff ready to go.

Here is the bag my husband packed while getting ready for vacation.

It’s hard being in charge of everyone’s crap. My husband did his packing two nights before we left. He shoved everything he needed for the four-day trip into one small over-the-shoulder duffle bag.

I wish I could say everything else we needed fit into a similar bag. I managed to cram the rest of our trip needs into two suitcases, a large picnic basket, medium cooler, giant toy/activity bag, big diaper box, camera bag and purse/diaper bag.

And I packed light.

I guess that’s the difference between a woman and a man. I wish I was more easy going about packing and didn’t worry about all the things I might forget.

Luckily the trip was well worth the work. But each time we get ready to go out of town and I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I seriously wonder if it will be worth it.

I guess I can’t help falling into the stressed-out-before-we-go-on-vacation woman category. Next time I’m going to let my husband do the packing, that way if we forget anything, it will be on his watch.

Tasty Tortillas

I refuse to buy any more cheap tortillas – even if they are only .88 cents at the local grocery store.

No matter how long I microwave them or how slowly I try to peel them apart, I end up either shredding them to bits or wearing them to paper-thin thickness in the center.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t eat a juicy taco on a paper-thin tortilla. And heaven knows my little boys can’t.

I should just stop at Costco and get the jumbo pack of quality tortillas for less than $5. But I haven’t dared brave that store since the arrival of our newest baby.

So a couple weeks ago I tried my hand at making homemade tortillas. My boys and I were craving cheesy quesadillas after church on Sunday but we only had a couple of store bought tortillas left. (Why I thought to do this right after church when we all were starving is beyond me.)

Anyway, I found a super easy 5-ingredient recipe here here.

After mixing the stuff together and letting the dough sit for half an hour, I was ready to roll.

I am definitely not a pro at using the rolling pin. Most of the tortillas ended up looking anything but round. I actually think the shapes got weirder with each tortilla. But no matter the shape, they all taste the same, right?

My oldest son helped me roll the dough into balls. Here’s what my table looked like when he was done.

My husband came home just after I finished toasting the last tortilla. I think he ate 1/3 of the batch right then. That meant either they were really good or he was really hungry.

It turned out to be so easy that I thought I’d share the recipe. If I can do it, ANYONE can.

Now I don’t know that I’ll make them all the time, and I’m definitely not ready yet for a job at Costa Vida, but it was really nice to have a success in the kitchen for a change.

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?

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