Day 1 – Technology Challenge Follow-up

Before I set the two hour timer (actually it was a two and a half hour timer), I asked my husband / forced my kids to join me in the challenge. My husband laughed when I told him about it and said, “You’ll never survive that.” He wasn’t being unkind. He was being pragmatic. The only part of the statement that bothered me was his absolute sincerity and probable accuracy. However nothing motivates me more than someone telling me I can’t do something, so it was on like Donkey Kong!

The event started full of promise.  I had to tackle a jigsaw puzzle situation (yeah – I know – lame central but it has turned into a thing that will be explained later)  and the kids and husband bailed on me shortly thereafter. 

I played with the kids a bit and prepped dinner.  I also found time to read a book.  It was utterly luxurious.  Again – I know this sounds incredibly underwhelming, but I literally can’t remember the last time I read a book on a workday evening.  I have been working such crazy hours to the point that I sometimes work all night long. Until the sun comes up.  Not. My. Favorite. 

This was the first time I forced myself to shut down when wifi was still permitted and available. It was freeing. But…

But it was also extremely disconcerting. I lost count of the number of times I caught myself mentally reaching for my phone. I was bored.  Thank heavens for that book. I wanted to do fun stuff with my family, but they were excited to the level of “Eh” and maybe a little below that.  My husband had gone to work very early, so he basically slept through the whole gig. Challenge cheater.  I contemplated topics to write about and ran through my work to do lists in my mind.  The kids moved from super bored to rather annoying and made so much noise that I was afraid that they would wake my husband.  They spent a few minutes in their rooms and a few more doing the stairs (it’s my quick tactic when I need for them to clear out some of the frenetic kid energy).  The most disturbing moment was when the kids dashed for their own tech devices right after the challenge cutoff timer sounded. Their relief was palpable. 

What have I been teaching my kids by example? What have we been allowing and unintentionally maybe even encouraging them to do?  This was a challenge I set for myself, but I can already see the importance for my family, too.  

I knew that we needed to unplug more. I could see that we were doing a disservice to ourselves and our kids. However I grossly underestimated the importance of a couple of hours. I thought that we needed a bit of down time that might allow us to take a small break and enjoy the time together.  But in just one evening, I already realize that it’s much bigger and much more important than I had initially perceived.  I’m curious to see what the next evening will bring.

Hold Me Closer Tony Danza

pizzaSo close but not quite right. This is how I feel I am doing on multiple levels of my life. I’ve almost got it, but then I muck it up the further I go. See those jazzy frozen pizzas cooking above? Forget about breakfast, I missed brunch, lunch came and went, and now I’m thinking that this may be linner. It’s the only “cooking” I’ve done in days. I’m not gonna lie. I love me some bad news bears frozen pizza. I just wish it was going to be coupled with anything worthwhile for my family to eat in the next couple of hours.  The older members of the family learned to forage a while back, but it’s not how I would like them to find nourishment.  I am a good cook.  I’ve just been too crazy tired and over-scheduled to do it lately.  And by lately, I mean every day in way too long.

I’m not the suckiest parent and wife out there. At least not today. Yes I am still making my kids camp downstairs, but I did invest in some very nice foldable mattresses that they tell me they love. (This may just be a joint line they are feeding me in an attempt to get on my good side. Little do they know, but they are already on my good side.)

mattressI saw these mattresses online and thought how great it would be to get something I could fold away for storage. Being a mathematician, you would think that I would have crunched the numbers and figured out that they would fold into a cube with dimensions so large that coffee tables would be envious. As I now own multiple mattress cubes, I may have to ditch our sofa and switch to these on a permanent basis instead. We would literally have a fold-away bed sofa, and it would be the only comfortable one in all of history.

Today has consisted of dropping of my smallest at childcare, being frustrated at the mayhem in that room that wasn’t apparent a couple weeks ago, visiting another potential childcare place, being frustrated that there was a teeny playground there, visiting another another potential childcare place, liking their playground, and being totally uncertain about what is best for my daughter. That was today until 9am.

The rest has consisted of business calls, spreadsheet updates, more spreadsheet updates, more calls, and I’m still so in the weeds with all that. As working moms don’t get smoke breaks (at least not in this house), I scattered a few minutes here and there to tackle laundry, dishes, cleaning, more laundry, more dishes, more cleaning… However I have to pause all that now though because I need to stop by the pediatrician’s office before they close, pick up my smallest from mayhem care, and then take my girls to gymnastics while the boys chill at home. I get/have to participate in one of those classes which consists of picking up my two-year old over and over again for an hour. The scale lies. It says that she weighs 35 pounds, but my arms and back know with full certainty that the truth is that she weighs 85 pounds. I also need to go to the hardware store, the UPS store, the pharmacy, and the grocery store. The last of those probably won’t happen, as I committed to work on the fairy garden with the kids. Despite my insistence on mainlining caffeine it throughout the day, even it calls it quits after a while.

astros lightsI don’t have anything ready to go for Father’s Day, but in all fairness to me, I am a total goof and thought it was last weekend. Now that I write those words, I see that this admission isn’t really a positive note either. I didn’t have cards then, but my husband hates cards. What a weirdo. I hate the sappy stuff, but I love me some good funny. However I was able to spring a Father’s Day surprise and load everyone in the car without knowing that we were actually going to a baseball game. Admittedly the level of surprise probably had a lot to do with the fact that it wasn’t Father’s Day. Who knew??? (Everyone else knew.) Surprise to me, too!

I just can’t seem to execute everything on the list. Ever. Every time I mark something off the list, five more items take its place. I am trying. I’m not succeeding like I would like to, but if caffeine can’t keep up, neither can I. So we will have our linner pizzas. I will break my back yet again. We will fairy garden a bit. I will have to work over the weekend some. Laundry and dishes and dust and life will keep happening. And my husband won’t care about the cards.

Hold me closer tiny dancer…
Count the headlights on the highway…
Lay me down in sheets of linen…
You had a busy day today…
“Tiny Dancer” sung by Elton John

I read these lines, and all I could think was “Ugh – linen sheets? Not soft enough and what a pain to iron!” But with or without Tony Danza, it’s still a lovely song.

***MoJo***

Just Because You Say That Doesn’t Make It True

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Flavor interpretation is highly subjective but my own taste buds would like to say this – Dutch Chocolate My @#&!

It feels to me like the only way that this could correctly be labeled as having a Dutch chocolate flavor is if they meant that it tastes like it has a hint of chocolate, and the rest is comprised of actual Dutch people.  And based on the taste, I’m guessing that it’s specifically Dutch feet.

I continue to try so hard to break my carboholism and sugar cravings.  However the bulk of the alternatives are highly unappealing to a Kraft Mac N Cheese connoisseur such as myself.  My eating preferences are so low rent that I am genuinely dismayed when I discover that we have selected a restaurant with a kid menu offering fancy macaroni.  Did we ask for truffle oil and homemade pasta?  No!  Bring out the box mac with the yellowy orange salt we have referred to as cheese since the dawn of time!!!  That rule does not apply to Red Robin or Luby’s.  We salute your mac.  High five to you!

It’s gotten to the point where I am hovering inches over my kids’ steaming plates of carby goodness so I can vacuum in the steam as I try desperately to chew the smells.  I then hand them their food sadly.  They take their plates from me with quizzical looks and eyebrows raised.  Then, just to spite me, they eat the food!  Okay it’s not spite.  They are just eating. But it feels spitey because I’m so damn hungry, and I’m totally salivating watching them gulp their food down as my own fork hovers immobile over my vegetables.  Can’t.  Eat.  Salad.

So I pay two thousand dollars (twenty) for a scoop of powder (it’s a big canister but still very pricey in my world), and that scoop tastes like feet (or what I imagine feet would taste like as I have yet to taste them personally).

The grand point I am trying to convey is this. This powder is el stinko grande and that bums me out.

I’m really really hungry, and I adore good naughty food – even the non-boxed non-preservative variety.  For now I may have to resort to cracking open a box of mac for the kids just so I can eat the smells again.  Perhaps I could hold a spoonful of steamy carby mac under my nose as I eat my veggies, and they will taste less like unhappiness.  I don’t know about that, but I am certain that I need to change my ways before my kids are old enough to figure out how to call the special home to take me away.

I would love any tips you can share if you have faced this food dilemma and defeated it.  If you were born a veggie fan, believe that tofu should be part of your daily meals, or include spectacular salads on your “Foods I Crave” list, I’m not asking you.  Don’t.  Even.  Try.  We still have the love, but you can’t possibly comprehend my anti-veg stance.  I was born this way.  I am a dyed in the wool carboholic.

So what do I do now?

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***MoJo***

Ostensible Order – A Deceptive Diversion

Superfluous organization is pure nectar of the OCD gods.  Helloooo sweet spice rack.  I should clarify that my commitment to maintaining my spices in this fashion has less to do with OCD and more to do with the immense amusement I feel each time someone tells me what a nice rack I have.  My other non-spice rack doesn’t typically receive the same commendations, so I get my kicks where I can.

When people enter my pantry and see this spice rack, their tendency is to react in one of three ways:

  1. They are genuinely in awe of how lovely it looks and how wonderful it must be to have access to so many seasoning options.
  2. They are quickly troubled by the way I leap into action returning the little jars into place that have been relocated by a fraction of a nanometer.  These same people also appear to dislike my icy stares, but it’s a necessary defense that I must employ.  There are those who seek to bring chaos to my spice rack, but thou shall not mess with the jars.  <– Commandment # 11.  Look it up.  (Or don’t look it up.  That’s probably a better plan.)
  3. They roll their eyes because they know me well enough to see through veil and recognize the reality.

And the reality that this display fails to disguise is this:

a juniper berries

Juniper berries?  I thought that those were for throwing at each other while waiting for the bus to arrive.

  1. I don’t have the slightest clue how to incorporate most of these spices into my cooking, and almost all of the jars remain sealed with plastic wrappers around the lids confirming their lack of use.

    a celery salt

    Celery has salt?  I only use salt salt.  Apparently celery also has cream, and I have the soup to prove it.

  2. Every spice displayed in this collection expired between the years of 2008 and 2011, and I worry that their antique food status only qualifies them to be ingredients in a witch’s brew for certain death.

    a star anise

    Star anise?  Quite lovely, but if it wasn’t in a spice bottle, I probably would have given these to my daughter to make an organic bead necklace.

  3. The real reason that I don’t use them is because frankly, I just don’t want to mess up all that pretty.

If you walk a little farther into the pantry and look slightly to the right, you will find that my OCD is selective at best.  What I actually incorporate into my cooking isn’t anywhere near as aesthetically pleasing, but you wouldn’t know that since my cooking incorporates other delicious flavors that are neither expired nor vacuum-sealed shut.  I will confess that this rule does not hold when I attempt to grill steaks.  Those are less savory and more akin to replacement soles for my husband’s work shoes.  I don’t why I can’t figure them out, but if you ever come for dinner and I offer to personally cook you some steaks, it’s probably best to assume that I dislike you.  With a passion.

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Most people’s lives are very similar to my nice rack…I mean spice rack.  (Ha! It never ceases to amuse me.)  At a glance, the pretty and organized parts look really good on the surface.  Delve a little further, and it’s probably not quite as put-together as the display implied.  And if you dig really deeply, you may uncover the parts that we typically don’t celebrate if we even notice them at all.  The mundane.  The messy.  The unpretty.

The semblance of order is beautiful, and it flirts with my incessant desire for predictability, consistency, and control.  But even I know that it is merely a veil.  Life refuses to commit to coloring inside the lines.

So forget the order and give up the false hope of maintaining control.  Appreciate the amazing and wonderful magic of unpredictability that can only be found outside the pretty.  Also maybe stick with the chicken at my table.

But keep your paws off my rack.

.a1 mystery spices
Seriously – what the heck do people make with this stuff?  No.  Don’t tell me.  I’m sticking with salt salt.  These are expired anyway.

 

*** MoJo ***

This post was inspired by the WordPress weekly photo challenge.  Details are below for those interested in joining the fun.

Order

The sites below approached the concept of order in completely different yet completely fantastic ways. I love each of these posts. They inspire me and remind to keep my eyes and my perspective open. Thank you calmkate, serendipity, colonialist, lifeofangela, and kochiphotography for your superb submissions.

calmkate’s corporate configuration –
https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/36430263/posts/1489880021
serendipity’s own spice shout out –
https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/32386031/posts/1110289965
colonialist’s clever colony –
https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/13900062/posts/9733
lifeofangela’s affinity for alignment –
https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/110993086/posts/15269
kochiphotography’s beauty of the birds –
https://kochiphotography.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/order-of-the-birds/

One last note of thanks to my dear friend Maria.  I am tremendously grateful for your beautiful friendship in my times of order as well as my times of chaos.  You are a gift in my life.  🙂

Salads – Even Calories Don’t Want Any Part of Them

No veggies were harmed in the making of this photo, but that was only because nobody wanted to eat them.

Here’s the thing about salads – it seems to me that they suck. Nobody walks into Cupcake Corner and orders a Kale-nilla. Never. Yes I can appreciate a bowl of lettuce, tomato, egg, bacon, etc., but once you have all that together, you’re basically consuming a loose sandwich minus the bread.

I so dream of being the girl in the veggie section of the grocery store spinning around joyfully with arms extended as “The Hills Are Alive” plays over the loud speaker. Those people do exist.  I know some of them quite well.  Heidi – I’m talking to you.  (As much as I resent this woman’s sincere love of all things healthy, she looks fantastic – damn those fresh veggies – and she’s a darling and an amazing person – double damn – I can’t help but totally adore her!)

No need to schedule an intervention with the local garden co-op.  We are big fans of fruit. Those grow in the ground, too, so stick THAT in your organic quinoa.  Also I have sometimes been known to grow vegetables of my own just for fun.  Sadly that joy is gone as it now appears that one who grows these things is actually supposed to eat them as well.  Bleh – vile weeds!

However there is one thing that surpasses fresh veggies on my personal “Items I Utterly Disdain” list.  No. It’s not heart disease, but good guess anyway.  It’s something sinister and insipid and terrifyingly worse. That’s right. It’s the photo someone just took of you that you wished you never saw.  You know.  The one where you look pregnant​ when in fact your oven has been bunless for years.  The one that made you wrench the phone from their hands so you could delete it before anyone else saw it even  though those same people are seeing the real live you and already know what you look like. Ugh.

And that leaves me here.  Spending my hard-earned money and buying vegetables.  And these aren’t the kind of vegetables we normally get – the ones that hang out untouched in the fridge for so long that they actually sprout a whole new generation of vegetables before finding their standard final destination in the circular file. I will actually have to eat these new veggies.

There will be no arms out spinning in the store.  I refuse to be excited about my no calorie lettuce wedge with other no calorie vegetables and carbless joyless dressing.  Nevertheless I must make this move now.  I can no longer withstand the ever-present threat of an updated family photo that might be posted online or even worse – in an actual home until the end of time.  It looks like I’m going to have to call that vegaholic friend of mine for tips, and maybe while I attempt to change my body, I will also find a way to change my mind.

NOT!  Don’t even dream it fresh veggies.  You will never compete with my love for basically every other kind of food (including your beloved fried brethren).  But I guess you are going to be joining us more more often, so I’ll just have to deal.

This post is dedicated to all of you who enjoyed chips and queso today.  And it is now also un-dedicated to you same chips and queso people because now I want chips and queso but all I have is a damn salad.

***MoJo***

 

There Is Only Room For One Lunatic In This House and I Called It First

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Remember pinwheels?  These cheerful little treats have been sold since the days when marketing departments felt that giving childhood goodies names like ding-dong and ho-ho was a good plan.  To be fair, they didn’t have urban dictionary, and I’m doubtful that those specific terms had truly spread their wings at that point.

Each morning, I drop the big kids off at their respective schools and then head with my smallest to her daycare.  We don’t put her in daycare because my husband and I both work to pay the bills and our companies prohibit toddler companions.  It’s strictly due to our shared love of strep throat, ear infections, and the judgement of other parents who choose alternate lifestyles. 

Our few minutes en route to said daycare consist of driving directly toward the rising sun, fighting with sunglasses that won’t stay on the face of a two-year old, and proving once more that there are zero placement combinations for my car’s sun visors that will cover the two-inch square of sunlight perpetually aimed at my child’s face.  Redirection is my technique of choice, so I make sure to have little snacks in the car to keep her occupied.  Thus enters the pinwheel onto the scene.

As with every cloudless morning, my toddler was angry about the sun’s ongoing assault on her retinas.  I reached back and passed a pinwheel into her small hand.  She was instantly appeased and my eardrums were given a momentary reprieve.  That moment was not to last because she went from sedate to hysterical one minute later.  She was so upset that I was concerned that maybe I had unintentionally handed her a roll engulfed in flames.  Thankfully I remembered that I had left that one at home.  But why was she so upset?  What in the world was going on?  She was so distraught that I had to pull the car over to stop whatever was terrorizing her.

I parked, jumped out of my seat and rushed to open her door.  There was no blood.  No broken glass.  No barbed wire.  Just a two-year old with tears streaming down her cheeks pushing a pinwheel into my face.

And then I saw it.

IMG_20170608_143538_01Someone had taken a bite out of my daughter’s pinwheel.  But who could have done this?  The other kids were already at school by the time I had handed her the freshly unwrapped treat.  No rogue animals were roaming the vehicle.  And given that my little daughter had a chewed on pinwheel in her hand, crumbs around her mouth, and sugar and cinnamon on her clothes, I knew that it couldn’t have been her.

Many people don’t believe in mother’s intuition, but I can assure you that it is a very real thing.  Mine snapped on in an instant.  I understood exactly what had happened. 

That twisted pinwheel had taken a bite out of itself.

For whatever reason, this particular pinwheel felt the need to pull a cruel prank on my child.  It had also tried to trick me into thinking that my toddler had taken the bite herself and then forgotten about it, but I would not fall into its trap.  I was no fool.

So I did what any rational mother with a limited supply of pinwheels would do.  I took the maimed roll from my distraught child, turned to face the other way, mashed the thing back into a shape moderately close to a circle, and placed it back into her little fingers.  She was elated to be given a “new” pinwheel and the world began to spin once more.

With the exception of the rare bowl of ice cream my husband and I attempt to tiptoe past our kids (with zero luck), I truly enjoy sharing all that I have with my children.  But being the craziest person living under this roof has always been my thing.  I am confident in my cutting edge techniques on making comments and choices that don’t just border on being nonsense – they are straight up bonkers.  But here she is infringing on my position as top lunatic, and she’s only two.  This kid has raw talent you just can’t teach, and her skills are increasing at an exponential rate.  Although I called it first, I think perhaps my reign is at its end.  I am being out-crazied by my toddler.

***MoJo***

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