A Day In the Life

It’s a lot easier for me to be present during the school year because my time is inherently limited while I’m working all day away from the Munchkin so I am having to work hard at not letting the moments I do have this summer slip away by watching TV or playing on my phone around the Munchkin but as always I’m a mom in progress, because that’s the only kind of mom there is!

Right now I am off for the summer and the Mr. has started a second-third shift job (it’s supposed to be 8 hours but routinely lasts 10+) resulting in him not getting  home until the wee hours of the morning and thus making me parent numero uno Monday through Friday because he’s sleeping usually until damn near nap time and then is gone by the time dinner, bath and bed and I’ve noticed a few things about myself in this new daily schedule: Continue reading “A Day In the Life”

Where Have I Been?

You may or may not remember from the introductory post I did a while ago that I was in graduate school working on my masters of science in biology and since my last class (biostatistics) ended I hunkered down and started studying for my comprehensive exam which was a 4 hour test on 10 classes over the course of the past 4 years.  Between still working full time, having an energetic toddler, and studying for comps I decided to take a hiatus from writing.  After I finished my exam I had to spend the next 11 days down at Mississippi State University running from lab to lab completing the capstone portion of my masters.  It was a grueling almost 2 weeks but I finished my program and was informed last friday (July 7, 2017) that I passed the comprehensive exam and I’m pretty confident that I’ll pass the capstone class.  Now I’m just waiting on the official word that I am a MS degree holder.  While that is good news I definitely had some adventures when this Yankee city girl ended up in the wilds of Mississippi. Continue reading “Where Have I Been?”

Halfway to Motivation

As with most new-ish (I’m 13 months postpartum at the point of writing so I’m not sure I can blame this entry on being a “new” mom, but I’m going to try…) moms and women in general I am concerned with my overall health and appearance.  Mostly for health related reasons but also for some vanity but at this point I’ve have just gotten to a low level of concern and I haven’t been able to translate that into any actual motivation to do something about it.  I was hoping at my yearly wellness visit the doctor would say I was ridiculously unhealthy and going to die tomorrow if I didn’t change something about my life because maybe that would have been the kick to the @$$ that I needed but alas I’m still a relatively healthy 35 year old. Continue reading “Halfway to Motivation”

Meal Time with Toddlers

If you have ever wondered what it was like to feed a toddler, go look at some abstract art and imagine talking to the Swedish Chef and then I think you’d have some clue of what meal time looks like in our house!

One of the greatest (and scariest) things as a parent is watching your child become more independent – except for meal time. There are so many things about toddler meal time that just make it a fun and exciting adventure every time you sit down to the table, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks you’re never entirely sure what you’re going to get.  We have been very lucky with my daughter, she is a good eater and has been from start.  She was trying to eat foods at 3 months old….so we let her (that’s what baby lead weaning is all about right?!?!) but that brought a whole new set of challenges to parenthood.   Continue reading “Meal Time with Toddlers”

Birthday Parties – A Celebration Amid the Messiness

While I may be a messy mom and definitely not a pinterest mom I’m a happy mom with a network of friends and family who can’t be replaced.

This weekend was the big birthday party that I’ve been working on “planning.”  I use the term loosely since I didn’t do a whole lot but it was an adventure to say the least.  The Munchkin turned 1 last month and the Mr. turns 40 next week so we combined the parties and had an affair.  She had a pink sparkle cape and he had a “vintage dude” shirt.  We invited family and friends; had food, music, and just a really good time.  

I attempted to keep it low key because the Munchkin wouldn’t remember and the whole point of living with Babci is to save money so spending a ton of money on a party is counterintuitive to that goal.  I also am not a fan of huge, elaborate parties for children because anything you want to do for your kids that means you have shoulder that burden so why make yourself crazy?

I ended up ordering some food from a local grocery store as well as some chips, snacks and drinks just so the people are fed, plugged my cell phone into some speakers for some music, had a few things for the kids to do and otherwise it was just a time to have some fun!

Luckily the BFF and another friend became the “caterers” and took over the majority of work in the kitchen at the beginning of the party (after I arrived a little late and with tipped over cupcakes and the Mr. attempted to get the place up and running) so I actually got to enjoy myself and socialize.

However, if you were expecting a pinterest perfect party, this was not it!  In no particular order the pinterest “fails” of the party:

  1. Not enough centerpieces (and they were just cheap paper ones from oriental trading)
  2. Cake was only a sheet cake from the grocery store
  3. There was no actual theme to the party – the favors were dinosaur duckies and temporary tattoos, the Munchkin was wearing a pink cape, and there was a “vintage dude” banner
  4. The invitation was digital
  5. There were no special treats
  6. I was wearing jeans and sneakers
  7. The Munchkin was wearing a “superhero loading” onesie
  8. We didn’t really hang any decorations
  9. We didn’t have organized games or activities to keep the kiddos or adults entertained
  10. We didn’t have the attendees write cute letters to the Munchkin (although I kinda wish we had LOL)
  11. Pictures were hung in no particular order
  12. We didn’t decorate the high chair
  13. I did nothing crafty other than use shutterfly to make a photobook
  14. When we all started singing the Munchkin got upset
  15. It was not “magical” in any sense of the word, nor did I attempt to make it so – this was a willful negligence on my part

There was nothing magical about it; the cupcakes got a little damaged on the car ride from the store to the party, and we ordered way too much food (I’ve got lunch for days) it was still a great time because it was made special by the people who shared it with us and the fact that I wasn’t a crazy momma who couldn’t enjoy herself.  My family is truly blessed by the others who are part of our lives both actually related and not.  While most of my friends don’t have kids they are really good at treating my Munchkin like their own and are wonderful people.  My cousins have kids around the Munchkin’s age so it’s nice to get together with them and while I asked for no gifts the Munchkin and the Mr. were recipients of kindness and generosity from the people in our lives.
While I may be a messy mom and definitely not a pinterest mom I’m a happy mom with a network of friends and family who can’t be replaced.

No Tech Tuesday Rescheduled Until Further Notice

I can’t feel guilty about all the things I do wrong or only half-right, I have to do the best I can from moment to moment, all I can do is try to get it right the next time.

I am a tech person, I like tech, I use tech, my life is wrapped around tech in some way shape or form.  I still use hand-written paper calendar and to do lists but I also have a gazillion lists on my phone (some I even share with the Mr. through the Wunderlist app), my calendar is digital on my phone (the Mr. is supposed to look at it but that doesn’t often happen), all the phone numbers are now in the phone (I have learned exactly 3 new phone numbers since getting a cell phone almost 20 years ago), and of course the social media aspect of things.  I was on myspace when it was big (who else remembers the drama of when you could rearrange your top 8??) and now facebook, I also use twitter and instagram but there I’m generally more of a lurker/stalker type but I love my tech.  I regularly check my fitbit, I use my laptop for practically everything; I find there are a lot of things I can do now that I never would have dreamed up and a lot of things that I don’t have to do now because of the tech.  Who balances a checkbook anymore?  I look at the online statement and move on!  But the point of this rambling paragraph is that I love technology.  It’s here to stay so we might as well learn to harness it’s power for good instead of evil and deal with it.

That being said, however, I also realize that it is becoming so ubiquitous that it can be a problem.  I have seen the damage it can cause when children are actually addicted to it; every day there are articles out there about the ‘heroin-like’ addictive nature of technology for our children and I can see that.  Obviously some of these articles are clickbait and their headlines are more attention grabbing that some of the science would suggest but there does seem to be a link between phones, screens, and the pleasure sensors in the brain; potentially similar to gambling.  The Mr. loves his phone as well so I had a brilliant plan to implement “No Tech Tuesday” and today was going to be our first attempt.  The rules were simple, from the time the Munchkin got home from the sitter’s we wouldn’t use any tech until she went to bed.  It would be about 2-2.5 hours of time that would just be all face time, all quality time of doing something together.  I thought we would go to the park (since the Munchkin is walking she enjoys parks now), make dinner, play in her room and then she would go to sleep and it would have been a blissful 2.5 hours of quality family time!

Enter in real life, what happens when you’re making plans?  As I was driving home from work with my carpool buddy I started thinking about how I felt like today hit me like a ton of bricks, what could I cook, the Mr. is at the other house working on stuff for putting it on the market and how long would that take, how long would it take to cook something, am I going to pick the Munchkin up right away or am I going to go home first and take these god-forsaken heels off, is it too damp and chilly to go to the park, and so on…you know, the litany of thoughts that start running through your head whenever you have a quiet moment to think.  I decided I wanted to go out to eat, I didn’t feel like cooking and wanted to go to our local haunt which is basically a low key bar, I would even go so far as to call it wannabe gastropub.  

We get to the bar, sit down to eat, order drinks so the Mr. and I both need to log our beers into UnTapped (which by the way got me a badge and a toast from the brewery), the TVs are playing ESPN and they’re everywhere, a friend starts texting me about an issue she’s having (communication and connection, doesn’t count right?!?!) and then it just devolved from there.

Moral of the story?  Don’t make plans!  I am going to continue to try for some no tech time at some point during the week but I’m a mom trying to do the best I can and usually my best is far from perfect.  I can’t feel guilty about all the things I do wrong or only half-right, I have to do the best I can from moment to moment, all I can do is try to get it right the next time.  Here’s to a successful No-Tech Tuesday next week!   

Dinner Prep Obstacle Course

If any of you have toddlers who can now begin to entertain themselves and you try to cook dinner at home most nights then you will feel my pain on this one.  

The Mr. can cook but he can mainly cook comfort food or short-order cook type stuff, you’ll survive on it but different flavors and a variety of vegetables is not on his radar so the majority of the cooking is my job.  I also prepare the menu and do the grocery shopping which means I am in control of the types of food that come in the house and I’m ok with this responsibility (it also means that the Mr. is responsible for the majority of kitchen cleaning, yay division of labor!) but being the momma means that the Munchkin likes to spend her time with me in the kitchen while I’m cooking.

Here I am minding my own business and in walks (*gasp*) the Munchkin to see what mommy is doing in the kitchen.  Content that she’s in the same room with me she now goes back and forth to her favorite cabinets to pull out various kitchen things (pots, pans, lids, bowls, measuring cups, etc…).  I love her engaging with the pots or the pans and being with me in the kitchen.  I think it’s good for her to play with things, especially playing with things that don’t have buttons or make noises other than what she makes with them because even though I am a “techie” person there is value in the low-tech.  Her new favorite experiment is taking pot lids and throwing them to watch them spin and wobble until they stop and then she throws them again.  I tell ya, this kid is working on understanding physics.

The problem is that these cabinets of hers that she loves are right in front of the sink and the kitchen is not huge and spacious like the ones you see on HGTV, it’s a normal old house kitchen.  I’ve gotten good at being aware of the Munchkin now that she’s gotten mobile but now I have to worry about all the things she’s leaving all over the floor, needless to say I’m getting more nimble by the day!  It’s a lot harder when I’m also trying to manage a hot stove at the same time.  Luckily she’s not too interested in what’s going on with the stove just yet because she just wants to make noise with her kitchen instruments or an obstacle course for mommy.  
There is no big message or revelation about life with this post it’s just an observation about how I now have to add constantly watching for trip hazards to my daily life, add one more mess to the messy life of a working mom!

Snow Days – Then and Now

If you’re in the northeast corridor today you probably have a snow day that you are dealing with, either you’re lucky enough to have a snow day or you’re lucky enough to have to deal with everyone else’s snow day either way you’ve been dealing with storm Stella since this past weekend.  Of course this is not an officially named NOAA storm but it’s a Weather Channel named storm (I believe this is a marketing ploy for hashtags…but I’m not above using it).  Of course here in the Philadelphia region Stella has gone from a Nor’easter that’s going to hammer us to more of an icy nuisance of a storm which probably is worse logistically but more annoying because it’s less fun to play in ice than it is to play in snow and now that I have a kid playing in snow has become cool and allowable again since people tend to frown on adults (As Jo March puts it “roll around like dogs” or something to that effect, my memory and google-fu is escaping me on the direct quote).  But snow days have morphed in the course of my life:

  1. Kid – Woohoo day off from school!  Playing in the snow!  Nothing to do!  (Remember I was a kid before the digital age really took over so teachers weren’t able to assign work if we weren’t in school 🙂 ).
  2. Teenager – Woohoo day off from school!  But I’m going to stay inside where it’s warm and I’m going to be lazy.
  3. College Student – Eff mother nature, still gotta go to school, walk across campus in the snow, but sledding on lunch trays in our free time!
  4. Adult in office job – Eff mother nature, still gotta go to work, drive with all the other idiots in the snow (the idea of working from home was just starting when I was in an office job so it was either take time off or go to work, unless I had a lot of data entry to do that I could do at home and bring in the next day) and no one wants to go out for lunch because it’s a wreck out….can we order lunch in?
  5. Adult as a teacher – Woohoo day off from school!  That I have to make up in June…but I’m still home unexpectedly so I get to catch up on bingewatching whatever show I’m on or movies, snuggle, nap, snack, maybe even get some work done around the house that has been lacking but day drinking!
  6. Adult as a teacher with a kid – Woohoo day off from school!  That I have to make up in June but I get to spend the day with the Munchkin (and coincidentally the Mr. had off too but he’s out snowblowing right now).  An extra day of hanging out with her and trying to get grad work, blog post, ordering for the Munchkin and Mr. birthday party, animals, and everything else dealt with while she’s napping.  Oh yeah and day drinking (snow day mimosas have become our staple around here) but somehow I’m still exhausted and almost want to go back to work!

Through the course of life snow days change and depending on where you’re at in your life you may enjoy them or you may hate them but mother nature has a way of always winning out.  Be safe and have a good day no matter what you’re up to today!

Poop – A Discussion of Number 2

Nothing in my life is glamorous: I don’t get to go to expensive parties or wear designer clothes but I do get to be surrounded by poop!

When you have 4 humans (one who’s not in control of themselves yet and I don’t mean the Mr.) 2 dogs and 3 cats you’re basically spending most of your time dealing with bodily functions including number 2.  You’re a manager of poop: you’re cleaning up poop, you’re washing your hands after touching poop, you’re making sure someone isn’t touching poop and so on.

For one reason or another at this point we’ve been very lucky, for the most part Munchkin’s diapers have been normal and they haven’t really made too much of a mess.  She also hasn’t been that interested in poop finger painting which I’ve heard is a common pastime for children.  She has yet to discover the joys of putting her hand in her diaper and creating abstract art worthy of any modern art museum.  But today I’d like to focus on the four-legged children, specifically the cats.

If any of you have cats you know the joy of the litter box, we don’t let our cats outside for a variety of reasons so that leaves us litter boxes to deal with and that means someone has to scoop them.  That someone is usually me when I’m not pregnant.  While I was pregnant the Mr. was great at scooping but as soon as the fear of toxoplasmosis was gone he conveniently forgot how to manage this task.  Although if you have a man in your life who uses the same bathroom as you do you are probably not surprised that keeping the cat’s toilet clean isn’t a high priority for them.  Most men, in my experience, don’t care what the bathroom looks like, they have a place to go and that’s all that matters.  Even the Mr. who is a bodily neat freak due to a genetic skin condition seems to think I’m nuts when I say something about cleaning the bathroom.  The conversation usually goes something like this:

Me: Honey you need to clean the bathroom this week

Mr.: I just did it!

Me: You mean “just” as in a month ago?

Mr.: ….Oh…..

So here I am in the basement after magically finding 30 minutes to run on the treadmill after Munchkin went to bed staring down into litter boxes full of poop.  We have three cats and we have three litter boxes so I’m just shuffling litter boxes around, scooping, trashing, and stirring just to make sure the litter is at least a little cleaner/drier/less smelly for the next cat who wishes to do some business in peace and quiet and I have the realization that we are surrounded by poop.

I’m going to put on my biology hat for a second: literally we are surrounded by excrement.  One of the characteristics of being alive is the need take material in so if some things go in, that must mean some things come out.  It’s not always poop in the way we think of it, but excrement is everywhere.  And for most organisms (AKA living things) if they don’t excrete waste products toxins build up in their system and they die so this is a really important natural process but back to my life….
I’m sitting there and I’ve got my face in the litter box, I’m doing the shuffle so I can get to each littler box without getting up from the rickety chair that is going to break under me at any second and I’m struck with the understanding that this is life.  Nothing in my life is glamorous: I don’t get to go to expensive parties or wear designer clothes but I do get to be surrounded by poop!  There is nothing bad in my life, there are always things that could be better and ways I could be better but my life is charming in it’s crazy, messed up, sometimes very plain, poop-filled way.  This is why the subtitle of this blog is “Finding Perfection in the Imperfection” because while I dream of things being bigger and better, and maybe someday I’ll have that glamorous life and can afford the jet-setting lifestyle (HA!) it’s not about life being anything other than what it is, it is my response to it that makes a life filled with poop beautiful.

Cast of Characters

I used to think I was an island during my teenage emo years, there was a period of time where Simon and Garfunkel’s “I am a Rock” was a theme song of mine but I’m no longer an island

I used to think I was an island during my teenage emo years, there was a period of time where Simon and Garfunkel’s “I am a Rock” was a theme song of mine but I’m no longer an island (and to be honest I never really was but my teenage self thought I was; isn’t it funny how all the thoughts we  have as teenagers start to get blown out of the water when you become a REAL adult??) so here are a few of the recurring characters you’ll meet in my life:

Those that live in the same house as I do:

  1. The Mr. – This is my other half, he’s not better or worse than I am but definitely different.  I’m not entirely sure he’s from Mars, it might be Pluto when it has planetary status but the jury is still out on that decision.  He is the “untrained engineer” which means normal human Earth logic escapes him especially when compared with my biological based brain but I do appreciate his differing perspective, maybe not right from the get go, but eventually I can see the value in looking at things sideways, diagonal and upside down sometimes all at the same time.  Now if only he could learn to close cabinet doors….
  2. The Munchkin – The Mr. and I somehow made an incredibly adorable and perfect daughter, well as perfect as a baby who is just being a baby can be.  She is a great kid, we’ve been ironing out the feeding and sleeping through the night issues but for the most part, even when teething, she’s a great, inquisitive, calm kid.  She’s lulling us into a sense of security that we can handle a munchkin #2 at some point who will obviously be a total terror compared to his/her angel older sister.
  3. Babci – This is my mother.  The Mr., the Munchkin, myself and the menagerie have just moved into my childhood home with Babci (which by the way is going so much better than I had anticipated).  In an effort to set ourselves up for the long-run we thought this would be a good idea.  It hasn’t been without its kinks, moving back in with the woman who taught you how to use the toilet definitely has drawbacks, but we’re going to be able to put our house on the market, save money, contribute here, and be able to afford a bigger house more comfortably to potentially bring munchkin #2 into the world.  Somehow she has managed to go from being alone in her house to having 3 more people and a lot more legs (26 more legs to be exact….).
  4. Kiki AKA Fat Cat AKA Thunderpaws – I adopted this silver tabby from a shelter approximately 8 years ago she is the best cat except for being a chubby girl who is prone to UTIs due to being a chubby girl.  She wants attention, loves to be snuggled and petted…except at the hands of the Munchkin.
  5. Ajax – This is my buddy.  I adopted him from the same shelter I got Kiki from approximately 8 years ago too.  He’s a German Shepard-Beagle (we think) mutt.  He’s the “Brain” of the dog duo, if you’re an Animaniacs fan.  He’s got all the characteristics of a German Shepard.  He’s not the biggest fan of the Mr. but Ajax puts up with him well enough.
  6. Speckles – “Pinky” of the dogs.  She’s a pit bull mix; dumb, but incredibly loyal and sweet.  We inherited her by accident as a “failed foster.”  A friend needed to give her up since the other (small) dog in the house had a Napoleon complex and constantly attacked Speckles, but since Speckles was the new addition to the household she had to go.  She and Ajax have had 1 fight in almost 7 years and Ajax started it so I can’t blame her she just wanted A, ANY bone, she didn’t care which one but Ajax thought he deserved both (spoiled brat) she put him in his place.
  7. Freya – I ended up adopting her because I’ve always wanted a Maine Coon.  She was basically feral but I was the only one who was able to pet her so I decided to bring her home.  Of course she has basically taken up residence in the basement and comes to hang out when we’re in the basement but hasn’t become comfortable with the new house yet.
  8. Merlin – A DLH grey cat that I became the caretaker for when a coworker became ill and eventually passed away.  Merlin is another one who likes hanging out in the basement, he’s getting more bold but he and Freya like having the run of the basement without interference from the dogs.
  9. The Fish Tanks – Yes, you read that right, it’s plural.  At any given time we have 1-3 fish tanks going these are one of the Mr’s hobbies but the addition of the tanks and their upkeep can be a point of contention on some days but he enjoys it so what can I say?  The water bill is a little different with 177 gallons of water running though.

Those who live in different houses but will show up on occasion I’m sure:

  1. Uncle Messy – This is my older brother, our relationship is pretty close.  It waxes and wanes like any sibling relationship but I know that no matter what I can count on him to help out.  He is also probably as opposite me as a sibling can get.  I’m loud, extroverted, obnoxious and often don’t think before I speak (hence the reason why writing is a good thing, hello editing!) whereas he is an introvert, quiet, thinks way more than he speaks most days and is a really good soul.
  2. Aunt Messy – This is my sister-in-law.  She is another one who is a different person than I am and matches my brother pretty well but we are on different ends of the personality spectrum but she’s a great person to have around and I can always count on her for running advice, races to sign up for or really cute animal pictures (since they are currently living with 1 dog and 4 cats).
  3. BFF – This is my best friend and surrogate Aunt to the Munchkin.  She and I have our similarities and differences across the board but she’s been in my life for 20 years and the sister I never had.  We may have our differences when it comes to certain things but I wouldn’t trade her for the world, she is also another person I can count on to drop almost anything and show up for help if necessary.  She’s the person who I get to watch Trashy TV with on our “family TV night” where we can be snarky, drink wine and I don’t feel ashamed at spending some valuable productivity time on watching the best examples of the “Boob Tube”.
  4. Uncle Toodles – Munchkin’s surrogate uncle, he’s been in my life for almost as long as BFF (going on 19 years now) and I can count on him for most anything.  He’s a little goofy (as is most of the people in my life) but he keeps me either really angry about the state of affairs in the world or laughing because of some of the stupid s&%$ he finds on the internet.  He’s my go-to buddy to discuss almost anything ranging from the very deep and personal to the incredibly stupid.  Curiously I grew up a mile away from Uncle Toodles but it wasn’t until Uncle Messy and Uncle Toodles ended up in college together approximately 3 hours away that we met.