It’s Just Stuff

Photo by tu tu. From www.unsplash.com.

The Great Stuff Purge of 2017 has begun. It started innocently enough a few days ago, but once the ball got rolling it has gained in size and I am not sure where it will end.

When did we accumulate so much stuff? Where did we get so much stuff? Why do we keep so much stuff? Is it the feelings attached to the stuff? Do we think the more stuff we have the more successful or well-off we are?

I have realized over time that the more stuff I have, the more complicated life seems to be. More stuff to take care of, more stuff to clean, more stuff to deal with. As we have had children the amount of stuff in our house seems to have skyrocketed. There is more kid stuff in my living room- an easel, a play kitchen, a small table and chairs, a pack and play, a baby swing, and more- than regular furniture and adult stuff. I have to pick up all my kid’s toys each evening; I have to have a clean sink and empty counter top, if I don’t it drives me crazy. Maybe I am just weird. Maybe I am just a product of my environment, my mother’s house is always neat and tidy.

I have also come to realize that lots of stuff, messes, and disorganization seems to enhance my anxiety. I don’t think most people are bothered by that kind of thing, but I have noticed that places, like a certain family member’s house which is full of wall to wall stuff pliled on stuff really bothers me, almost to the point of having a panic attack. It is really difficult for me to spend holidays with family there, especially when the house is crowded with people.

For an embarrassingly long time there has been a pile of mail, mostly credit card pre-approvals, paid bills, junk mail, and other stuff that has needed to be sorted and either recycled or shredded and recycled. It has always been on my list to do but has always been put aside in order to take care of something more important. A few days ago I finally told myself that I had to get motivated to clean it up and get it out of my house before my maternity leave ended. I hated working on shredding it, waiting for the overheated shredder to cool enough to start again, clean up the tiny peices of paper left all over the floor, and then take out the bags for recycling. But when I was done it felt so good to be rid of it. That helped motivate me to take care of some other tasks I had been putting off or hadn’t had time to take care of yet.

Next, I decided to take all my maternity clothes off of their hangers and box them up to store in the basement. I took the three trashbags full of pre-pregnancy clothes down from the shelf in the top of my closet and began to sort through it. That lead to making piles on my bed, which after getting interrupted dozens of times over the next few days, never got folded and placed in my drawers.

Yesterday while Oscar was asleep in the baby swing I went to work to tackle the piles. I started to weed out old clothes that are too worn out to be anything but rags. They went into the trash. I separated all of the out of season clothes, like shorts and tank tops, to store on the closet shelf. I made piles for t-shirts, sweats, pajamas, around the house work clothes, and then hung everything else. As I began to put the clothes away in my dresser drawers I realized that it would not all fit.

I then decided to further sort through everything. Uncomfortable underwear and bras that always get shoved into the back of the drawer? Toss. Socks with holes? Toss. Trouser socks that don’t have a match but I was for some reason holding on to in hopes that it would appear? Toss. After matching up all my socks I decided that I didn’t need a trillion pairs of both white and black socks. Donate. Old belts that came with pants but never matched any of my outfits? Toss.

Then came the shoes. I struggled to get all the shoes hiding underneath the bed, out of reach. I pulled all the shoes out of the bottom of the closet. If it was too worn out it was thrown away. My feet got bigger when I was pregnant with Abby and never returned to their original size so I had several pairs of shoes that either didn’t fit right any more or were very uncomfortable to wear. I had continued to wear most of them because I couldn’t justify the cost of spending money on myself to replace so many “perfectly good” shoes, to the disadvantage of my poor feet. Into the Goodwill bag they went.

I now must admit that there are still two tubs full of clothes in my son’s closet. These are clothes that I haven’t been able to fit in for several years and have always hoped to wear again. I haven’t been able to bear getting rid of them. They are nice clothes, they were expensive. Am I an denial that I will never be that small again and will never be able to wear them? A voice in the back of my brain tells me that if I do lose weight (you know, that plan that is always a plan but never really materializes?) then I will have to buy all new clothes. I know I need to let them go, I am just not there yet.

In the bathroom I threw out a lot of old cosmetics that were incredibly old and hadn’t been used in forever. I recycled the random bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion that had just a little bit left but had for some reason been placed under the sink or sat in the corner of the shower unused.

What’s next? I think the bookshelves downstairs need to be thinned out and books donated. The top of my dresser has been a catch-all lately for random things and it needs attention. My craft room needs reorganized and boxes of left over wedding stuff needs photos taken so it can be listed on the local buy/sell/swap page on Facebook. I need to go through both of the children’s dressers to pull out clothes that are out of season and too small. My pantry and kitchen cupboards need reorganized. My office filing cabinet needs cleaned. I could go on and on.

I know, I know… That sounds like a large undertaking, in fact, it is most certainly more than I will get done before my maternity leave is over, but it feels so good to keep going. I want to see how much I can do. We certainly don’t need so much stuff. It’s just stuff.

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More Ridiculous Things I Have Told My Toddler

Photo by Viktor Hanacek. From www.picjumbo.com

Every day it seems I find myself saying something crazy to my kid. Most of the time I forget to write it down, but occasionally I remember. Enjoy!

1. You’d better watch out, you just about poked yourself in the eye with your toe.

2. Your chicken is not a phone. Eat it.

3. Your turtle doesn’t swim in milk.

4. Don’t rub ketchup in your armpits.

5. Quit licking your toe and go pee.

6. No, I won’t show you my boobs in the middle of Walmart.

7. Crayons do not work better if they are put up your nose.

8. You can’t look through my belly button to see the baby.

What a Day

Photo by Viktor Hanacek. From http://www.picjumbo.com

Before I start, just a little disclaimer: this is not the post I planned to publish today. Instead, I needed to vent a little bit about my day so far. I will warn you, I do get a little graphic, so I’m sorry.

I woke up to the sound of my husband’s alarm clock at 6:00 a.m. because mine didn’t go off at 5:00 a.m. When I tried to roll out of bed (rolling my rotund form is easier than trying to sit up these days) I was struck by an awful leg cramp. Holy moly, that hurt. I limped my to the kitchen to start coffee and begin breakfast. Both my husband and daughter took three attempts to rouse them out of bed, so they also were late to get up, late to get ready.

As I was getting ready for work after my shower, brushing my teeth made me feel sick to my stomach. A few minutes later I puked up all of my breakfast and coffee. Yay, oatmeal with raisins- Not going to eat that again for a long while. I am a very violent vomiter (is that even a real word?) and when I looked in the mirror I noticed that I had broken several blood vessels in my face and have red spots all over my cheeks and around my eyes. Soon I get sick again and this time puke so hard that I pee on the floor. Ugh. Being pregnant is great sometimes. I gave in to my emotions and sat and cried for a few minutes.

After quickly taking another shower I get dressed and begin applying makeup. At this point I feel like I have something stuck in my throat and keep coughing. I drink water but it doesn’t help. Abby has to go potty so I sit her on the toilet and then the coughing makes me sick again. I quickly run for the other bathroom, luckily only steps away, as I try to cover my mouth and yell to her to stay on the potty at the same time. I lose the rest of my breakfast and clean up again. After placing Abby back on the potty (she got off to see where I was headed to so quickly), helping her put on a pull up, and then washing her hands, I look in the mirror to fix my hair, only to notice that my mascara has run and I now look like a cross between Alice Cooper and Humpty Dumpty.

By this point we are late and I try to make myself as presentable as possible. Abby has zero interest in being helpful as I try to get her socks and shoes on, saying that she does not want to go to the babysitter, she wants to stay home. When we get in the car she screams and acts like her car seat harness is too tight. She whines about not having her Moana doll for the next fifteen blocks as we drive to daycare. When we arrive she complains that we are at daycare and tells me I am mean. We go inside and she immediately runs to the babysitter for hugs and wants nothing to do with me. That feels great; woohoo, I feel like Mom of the Year.

I get to my office almost twenty minutes late. In less than an hour three different people ask me if I am feeling OK today, so I must look like a hot mess.

What else can go wrong today?

Being a Nerd and Owning It, or Just Be Yourself 

Photo by Derik Hussein.

I was a super nerdy kid.  I was never interested in sports.  I was involved in Girl Scouts from first through tenth grade.  I played three different musical instruments in the school band and participated in our church handbell choir for almost ten years.  From first grade on I wore glasses.  In the early years I was not particularly careful with them, so I was prone to breaking my glasses; I remember having a couple pairs held together with tape until I was able to get a replacement.  My mom encouraged reading early and I excelled at reading.  In second grade I could read at a fifth grade reading level, and the older I got the farther ahead of my classmates I read.  I remember once during library time I wanted to check out a copy of a children’s version of Moby Dick, but the school librarian didn’t think I should check it out because she believed it was above my level of reading and comprehension.  She quizzed me in front of the other students and I was able to take the book home.  My voracious appetite for books only grew as I grew older. I was lucky to have several adults who recommended or gave me books to read that expanded my horizons.
In elementary school I discovered the Star Trek and Star Wars movies.  In the fifth grade I began to beg my mother to let me stay up past my normal bedtime to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation on TV at 9:00 p.m.  I was made fun of for my glasses.  I was made fun of because I liked to read at recess rather than playing dodgeball or some other game I wasn’t interested in or good at.

When I was in middle school I became obsessed with reading science fiction and fantasy novels.  I devoured The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  Of course, in middle school there is a change in school social structure.  Unlike elementary school where everyone is friends, middle school becomes divided into different groups and cliques form.  I always felt as if I didn’t really belong in a certain group and tried to hide my nerdiness, to no avail. My haircut, the hopelessly uncool clothes my mother bought, and my ginormous glasses all branded me as a nerd.  I attended a small school and never had a group of friends that shared my interests.  Recently when my husband and I watched Stranger Things on Netflix I thought,  “Wow, that’s the group of friends that I should have had as a kid!”

During my high school years I still felt like a nerd.  I got all A’s and was the editor of the school newspaper for a year.  I participated in the Academic Contest with other school students in our school’s League. I was a member of the Scholar’s Bowl and the National Honor Society.  I tried harder to be cool and hide my nerdy interests so that I would fit in, but I never really did.  I often felt ashamed that I was so “weird,” as other kids called it.  I never dressed right, never played sports,  never had the right car, the right hairstyle, the right interests, the right music, and whatever else was or was trying to be, have, or do.

After high school I took a semester off and traveled.  When went to college I slacked off my first two semesters and did not do well.  I had a somewhat late rebellious phase and was determined to not be the dorky person I had always been.  I lived a much more carefree and bohemian lifestyle for quite a long time, trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life.  I remember having an epiphany at a Dead concert at Red Rocks.  I was having a conversation with an older couple who had followed the Dead for years.  They were living the lifestyle they loved.  They were doing what they loved.  They weren’t trying to be something other than what they were.  They were happy.

I had never lost my love for all things sci-fi, superhero, or fantasy.  I am a huge Doctor Who fan.  I love graphic novels and am chomping at the bit to read The Walking Dead Compendium 3, which I received for my birthday but haven’t started yet.  I am dying to watch the new Wonder Woman movie.  I could sit down and discuss at length why the newest Star Trek movies totally suck and why the newest Star Wars movies are fantastic.  

My husband and I have attended three Comic-Cons together.  They have been some of the most fun experiences of my life.  There were so many people there that were having the time of their life, surrounded by so many encouraging people who shared so many of the same interests, some of whom had dressed up as their favorite characters, not caring a bit what the rest of the world thought. 

I am tired of trying to fit in to someone else’s mold, of trying to be someone else’s ideal.  I don’t care if I wear more band or TV show themed T-shirts than LulaRoe leggings or skinny jeans.  I am happy with who I am, nerdiness and all.  I no longer feel like it is something I should feel ashamed of.  I have never been more comfortable in my own skin.  I no longer care to change who and what I am to make others like me; if they don’t, it’s not my problem.  Love yourself.  Be who you are and own it.  It’s the only way to be.

A Long Time Away 

Photo by Viktor Hanacek. From http://www.picjumbo.com

It has been over a month since I last published anything.  I have been amazed each day to see that my page has still been visited – thank you to those of you who have.  

I haven’t published anything for several reasons.  I ran out of ideas for a while.  I went through a period where I thought maybe I wouldn’t come back… my readership isn’t very high, would anyone really notice?  Would anyone really care?  Does what I write about matter to anyone?  I was ill with bronchitis for over a month and felt too awful to do anything beyond the everyday necessities.  I felt stressed and a little depressed due to work, worn out and exausted from being pregnant and running around after a toddler.  Meh.

But, after much consideration, I decided to return.  My writing may not mean much to some, or most, but if another mom can identify with it, and me, then I feel like I am making a small difference and that makes me feel good.

So I guess you are stuck with me. 

I look forward to updating you on my latest thoughts, what’s been happening with my pregnancy, what’s going on in our family, and more.  Stay tuned!  

A Page Out of the Toddler Rule Book

Photo: Samantha Sophia/Unsplash

The older my daughter gets, the more obvious it seems that toddlers operate by a different set of rules. 

I happened to find a page from the secret Toddler Rule Book and decided to share it with you.  Enjoy!

  1. No matter what delicious food you are given, always insist on eating what Mom and Dad are eating.
  2. Wherever Mom goes for alone time, find her and bug her until you have her full attention.
  3. Be incredibly quiet when being mischievous.
  4. Anytime adults are in a hurry or have a deadline, use this opportunity to move as slowly as possible and not acknowledge any instructions you are given.
  5. Even though you might be turning purple and shivering while sitting in cold bathwater, this is no excuse to get out of the bathtub.  Keep playing as long as possible!
  6. Even if every episode of Curious George has been watched 70 times, ask to watch it again.
  7. Even if you acted like a food was delicious yesterday, it is perfectly fair to act like it is the grossest thing on Earth today.
  8. Fake ouchies and boo-boos deserve as much sympathy and attention as real ones.  Band-aids are always necessary.
  9. Stickers must be placed on every available surface, from the kitchen table legs, to walls, or Mom’s butt when she isn’t looking.
  10. Stuff anything of an accommodating size into the toilet, clothes hamper, trash can, potato bin, and air vents.
  11. Shoes and socks must be removed during each car ride, no matter how short, especially when full of sand.
  12. Being naked at all times is better than wearing clothes. Always.
  13. It is lots of fun to walk around the house with Dad’s underwear around your neck on laundry day. No matter how many times Mom tries to take them off, find a way to put them back on.
  14. Cookies and marshmallows are acceptable for breakfast.
  15. Push any button that you see.  Remote controls, keyboards, and phones are particularly fun.
  16. Anytime Mom and dad are trying to have a conversation, immediately interrupt with, “Mom! Mom!” or “Dad! Dad!” and don’t stop until you have their full attention, even if you have nothing to say.

Fun in the Sand

The weather has been warm lately and the kids have been able to play outside at daycare.  Can you tell Abby had a fun time in the sandbox yesterday?  When I picked her up she looked like Pigpen from Peanuts.  She was covered in sand from head to toe.  There was even sand in her diaper.  I couldn’t believe how much sand was left in the bathtub after I gave her a bath last night.

The Joys of Being comfortable 

Photo: Andrew Branch/Unsplash

I hate wearing uncomfortable clothes and shoes.  Sometimes dressing up for work each day becomes unbearable by quitting time at five o’clock.  

I have always been the type to come home and instantly become as socially unacceptable as possible.  Ciao, shoes!  So long, bra!  Goodbye, pants!   The first thing I try to do is change into a more comfortable outfit right away.  

I can’t imagine living in a time where women were expected to wear incredibly restrictive undergarments like a corset or girdle.  Heck, I can’t even figure out why some women choose to wear Spanx or thong underwear on a daily basis.  I am super excited about Abby being fully weaned so that I can quit wearing nursing pads and finally sleep without a bra again, for a few months, anyway.

Lately with the body changes I have noticed due to pregnancy, I have put much more emphasis on comfort.  My pants have been fitting more snugly… my underwear have been feeling too tight… anything around my tummy feels uncomfortable.  

I feel as though I am in an awkward stage because I don’t really look different, other than maybe looking like I have gained a little weight.  I don’t have a baby bump.  Some of my clothes are feeling too small but I am not ready for maternity clothes yet.

I have pulled some of my old “fat pants” out of the closet.  They don’t fit well and are too baggy since they are too large, but they fit more loosely around my waist and feel better.  I’ve tried to wear longer and looser shirts, so hopefully the poor fit is not too noticeable.  I have been rolling down most of my yoga pants and workout pants lower around my hips to avoid feeling like they are too suffocating around my abdomen, even though they are not too tight.  I even went shopping for new underwear and what a difference it makes to not feel like you have a wedgie all the time!  

Everything seems so much better when feeling comfortable.  I can breathe easier.  It’s easier to relax and unwind.  I feel happier and less irritable.  Instead of focusing on how much my shoes are pinching my feet or how the underwires in my bra are digging into my sides, I  can more clearly focus on what’s going on around me.  

A more comfortable momma is probably a more fun momma.  Feeling comfortable is more accommodating to getting down on the floor and playing, chasing a kid around the house, or getting up and dancing when Abby comes and pulls me by the hand.  And that’s what really matters.

Cravings

I haven’t had too many cravings thus far in my pregnancy, but today I went to a clinic to train a couple associates and the manager made me try this delicious spicy dip she made.  It was so good, but after I left it left me craving the Spiderman Roll from my favorite sushi place.  

On my lunch break I didn’t have enough time to run all the way across town and then wait for a roll to be made so I went to our local Kroger store where they will make fresh sushi to order. It’s nowhere as good as from my favorite sushi restaurant, but it will do in a pinch.  I ordered a spicy crab roll (don’t worry, it’s cooked!)

Oh my gosh, it hits the spot. Yum!