Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What Is Going On??!!

I've been a bit busy lately. For 2 weeks straight, I worked 45 hour weeks at my PART-time job - that doesn't include the volunteer meetings or my Client work. Or the fact that I am a parent of 2 kids and a wife. We had dinner guests, so of course mi casa had to be clean for that. I did put on a Winter Carnival for about 200 kids and their parents. And to prove that I should not work, I got sick. Down for 4 days!! Truly, I should be a housewife and community volunteer - please be sure to let my husband know...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Truthful Tuesday - MAM

I have this friend that I really like and finally got to spend about an hour or so with yesterday at a coffee shop in Oak Park. You see, MAM has deserted me in the city and has moved to Oak Park. I can't say I didn't see this coming. Afterall, I met her through her blog post on Chicago Mom's Blog when she talked about their plans to move to the suburbs. I just thought it would have taken a few more years to happen.

MAM and her partner, Math Wiz sold their amazing penthouse in the city that I really, really wish we were in a financial position to have purchased as it is in the most perfect part of town for us and I do love rooftop decks and wide open living spaces with Brazilian Cherry floors and, to be honest, the designation of 'penthouse' doesn't hurt one's ego either. Abandoning the city, they moved to Oak Park for it's wide treelined streets, family and stroller friendly sidewalks, homes set back from the road, proximity to the university at which they profess, and the great big homes that you can renovate and make perfect for you to live in for the next 30 years. Chicago has all of this but for some odd reason, they didn't want to spend $1.5 million to attain it.

MAM loves Oak Park and for this I am so happy. A book could be written about the drama they endured when selling said condo/penthouse and trying to purchase - with CASH - another home. You would think a seller hearing the words 'cash sale' in a down economy would skip hop to the closing table. These Oak Park people own the term 'pride of ownership' let me tell you. If MAM wrote a book about it - and she is a published author with a wikipedia page devoted to her, so she could easily do so - no one would believe it to be true. If I hadn't been privy to the torment and tears, I might wonder myself.

At any rate, MAM is loving Oak Park and hanging in there as a new mom for the 2nd time. It was great to sit and chat and get crochet ideas and advice from her. I practically had to arm wrestle the woman to let me pay for a cup of tea for her. Why was it so important to me? Reciprocity. You can't leave MAM's home with just what you walked in with. I have plants, yarn, crochet needles, books, Vermouth ("I like to have a home that has Vermouth in the pantry"), you name it. Yesterday, I bought MAM chai, but left with a little Valentines' pail and coloring pages and cookie cutter for Mini Me and a space heater for my office. She's not quite like a mom figure, maybe more like my mom's best friend, only she can't be because she is younger than me and has never met my mom.

I think I might be rambling. However, I do want to be sure you realize how special MAM is and if you ever get the chance to meet her, you will figure this out sometime between the delicious and exotic food she feeds you and upon arriving at your vehicle with your arms fuller than when you knocked upon her door.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I Love Chicago - Reason 2,403

Technically, this is J's drive home from work. This is one of the many reasons why I LOVE Chicago!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Freaky Friday - Insane Allergy

A few years ago, I noticed the tip of my mouth started to tingle when I ate one of my favorite foods - an apple. It started happening every time. Kind of bizarre for an allergy to pop up at age 35!
Last month, my throat started to close after eating
an apple.
It was scary!!

The other day, I ate a peach. I LOVE peaches.
Guess what? Yes! Peach allergy, too!
According to an eHow article by Jonae Fredericks, apples are part of OAS - Oral Allergy Syndrome and are associated with birch pollen. Now it makes sense. What I didn't realize until I read the article is that peaches and hazelnuts are part of the same family as apples, the Rosaceae family of fruits. It only applies to raw fruit because the allergy causing proteins can't survive when cooked or pasteurized.

Learn something new everyday.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Urban Boy

My son is so cute!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tackle It Tuesday - Inconvenient Lifestyle

When I started back working last year, I thought I knew how to do the working mom thing 'cause that is what I did for 5 years in Tulsa. Yes, but I forgot that J did ALL the cooking, 90% of the grocery shopping, picked up the kids from school, bought the kids' clothes and did their hair (or MotorMouth's hair 'cause Mini Me didn't have hair until she was 2).

Since I was home full-time, all of this fell on my shoulders and it was fine. Until I added work to the mix and having to go to different stores for groceries and the laundromat when our NEW washer stopped working.
I've evaluated our lives - my life - and here is what I came up with. I need to write this stuff down somewhere I can be accountable for them. Here goes on my plans to make life easier for 2010.

These are not resolutions. This is stuff I've been mulling in my head for a couple of weeks/months and after the restoration of order in our home the holidays brought, I can finally start implementing this stuff....
Widney Wednesday Once/Month
We do Family Friday every Friday evening but I have let our themed family nights (Widney Wednesday) fall by the wayside. The kids love this and I enjoy creating memories for them. So, instead of pressure to create it weekly - I work full-time now - I am going to do one per month.
15-minute clean
This one is basic but huge. If J and I spend just 15 minutes each per day cleaning, we should be able to keep the house tidy. If you think about, 2 adults doing it is 30 minutes/day and a whole lot can be accomplished then!
1 toy at a time
The Duggars (the family with 19 kids!!) implement this rule. I didn't think it was possible. But I've been doing it with the kids for the past 2 weeks and it works!! They sometimes have 3-4 toys out, but when I see that, I call them on it and order is restored. This is major for keeping their 'playroom/Motor Mouth's bedroom/guest room' tidy.
5-minute bedtime clean
I didn't make the kids clean up every day before bed and the toys got really out of hand. MotorMouth refused to clean up his room because he said he didn't know where to start. I ended up doing it. Not my room. Not my toys. Not gonna do that again. So now I am enforcing the 5 minute clean rule where the kids clean their rooms for 5 minutes before bed. What a difference!
1 load a day
Once my laundry is tamed, I am going to endeavor to wash 1 load per day. Seeing as our washer is working now (no thanks to the Purex 3-in-1 sheets that stopped up our drain at a cost of $135 +plus), I should be able to wash and put away 1 load of laundry per day. If I do that, I should be able to stay on top of things.
Night Prep
I finally started preparing lunches at night and laying out the kids' clothes at night. It really streamlines the morning and makes for a more peaceful morning - until the last 15 minutes when there is still utter chaos and some yelling to 'hurry up!!'

Activity Jar
I have an activity jar so I can do something instead of chilling. I feel guilty chilling, so at least I can do something productive. I was surprised at how many little things I would like to get done - not major cleaning projects but little things, like cut out squares for a quilt, or just go for a walk with the family.
Dinner at Home
Since starting work, I find it increasingly difficult to eat at home on evenings. It is so easy to run out and grab something on the way home, instead of taking 20-30 minutes to cook. That has to stop. I have a list of easy to cook foods and I'm going to be leaving work earlier each day so I can be home to work 1-on-1 with MotorMouth and jump start dinner.

Input Welcome
I still need to figure out a grocery shopping strategy because one store does not cut it for everything. And I need to figure out a weekly deep clean day strategy. Any ideas are more than welcomed.
(Oh, and please don't suggest I look at - I've been there and have taken some of her ideas but I find some of her stuff time consuming to manage.)

It all seems so basic doesn't, it??

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Knowing Me, Knowing You - Jan '10

knowing me, knowing you - january

Time once again for the monthly interview project The Fairy Blogmother started one year ago this month...

1. Showers or baths?
Showers. Always been a shower girl. Just never found the time or the enjoyment in a bath and believe me, I've tried. Maybe I need a big enough

2. What's your favourite thing for breakfast?
Bagel with cream cheese and fruit.

3. What is your favourite George Clooney movie?
You know, I couldn't think of too many of his movies. So I searched IMDB and as it turns out, he doesn't really have a lot of movies - or at least good ones outside of 'Brother Where Art Thou' (which I didn't really care for) and Oceans 11, 12, 13....30 - which I do like tremendously. Oh! And Batman. Remember that? I liked George very much as Bruce Wayne and kinda as Batman but Michael Keaton is my favorite Batman. I did love George in ER.

4. American Idol starts on Tuesday folks, how do you feel about Ellen joinng the judge's table?
I do love Ellen and American Idol. Not sure I'll really get in to the show this year. I think I'm done. But Ellen will make it worth watching, I'm sure.

5. Lets say you've got a gift card to Michaels... what would you spend it on?
Yarn. Crochet notions. Classes and supplies for said classes. Hey - how much is this gift card for? I could go on and on...
Now, head on over to The Fairy Blogmother and post your very own Knowing Me, Knowing You.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Recommendation FAIL - Purex

A few months back, I sang the praises of Purex 3-in-1 laundry soap, softener, dryer sheets. I still think they are revolutionary but I no longer am a proud supporter. Turns out, they are WAY too expensive for my tastes - to the tune of $135 for a washing machine repair plus months of lugging a family of 4's clothing to a laundromat at $20-$30 a trip!!!
Our washer and dryer unit is less than 2 years old. Just a couple months after it's 1st birthday, our washer quit draining the water from our clothes. Sometimes, I could get it to work if I put only 3-4 light pieces in on delicate, prayed really hard and hit spin cycle 3 times, turning a 25 minute wash into a 2 hour event. I can't tell you how much sleep I have lost trying to get 1 load we needed in the morning. Or how many evenings I spent away from my family so I could go to the laundromat.
J managed to find someone who fixes GE stackable washers/dryers AND goes south of North Ave. - not as easy to find as you would think... The repair man had never seen a Purex 3-in-1 sheet before. Certainly never 2 of them stuck in the drain, preventing our washer from doing its job.
I am pretty anal about using dryer sheets so, I'm surprised I didn't notice the sheet didn't get put in the dryer. I don't know when or how sheets ended up in the drain, but it was pretty early on because this has been happening for months and months.

This was an expensive lesson.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mini Me

A whole store dedicated to Mini Me...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pass or Fail?

Yes, it's another year end reflection but I'm going to be honest. Really honest.

2009 was a great and wonderful year continuing to build our lives in a new city. Lots of changes. I've had a hard time adjusting to some of the changes.

I thought things would be great when both kids started school. I thought I knew how to do the working mom thing. I thought wrong.

My home has not been really clean since August. I have not cooked every day (or even every week) since August. I have not hung out with friends, done an outstanding job on volunteer work, completed anything I started, or kept up with laundry. Don't ask about grocery shopping.

If I were to be graded on every area of my life, I would fail. I did not excel in any area at the detriment of the others. I sucked across the board. I'm not happy with how things went and I'm sure there are a lot of people who are not happy with me as well.

The last 2 weeks were about getting my life back on track. I literally and figuratively cleaned house. I went back to basics. Our home is clean. The baseboards are clean. The closets are clean. The laundry is put away. I've cooked and baked. And yes, I've spent time with my husband and children. It was wonderful. It was a great reminder of the me I fell in love with after moving to Chicago.

My goal for 2010 is to figure out a way to maintain a balance in our lives. There will be changes. My family deserves to live in a happy, organized home. I'm not trying to be supermom. I just want to be a mom that is on her game so her husband and kids can be happy.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Christmas 2009

This is a bit late, but I've been busy!

We had a wonderful Christmas
celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus
It wouldn't be a Widney experience without drama...
Baby Jesus the crip.
Winter Tree
J plans to keep it up all 'winter'
(like we ever take a tree down before Easter)
Kids' Christmas Tree
We give the children a new ornament each year
The full collection of homemade snowflakes!
Santa said MooMoo can stay until New Year's Eve!!
Spoiled or blessed - you decide
Gifts from 4 sets of grandparents, Santa, godparents, us
And this didn't include all of the Tulsa presents!
New PJs, new robes, happy smiles
The kids asked for robes!
I fixed a traditional Trinidad breakfast
"Playing" with a learning toy
Our 3-yr old 'reading'
We wore our PJs ALL day!!
I spent the day cooking dinner
The BEST turkey recipe ever is HERE
J made this dish that will become a new tradition
It's a cranberry relish on a pineapple bread pudding
(tastes WAYYYYY better than it sounds)
And the reason I spent all day cooking...?
I made my mother-in-law's recipe for dressing.
I didn't realize I had to fricasse chicken AND make cornbread
BEFORE I could make the dressing.
It turned out GREAT. J said it tasted just like his mom's!
Next year, I am going to try my mother's recipe
- it's not as many steps...
It was a good day. A good day indeed!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bye Bye 2009 - Bye Bye MooMoo

And so it ends. A year of changes, challenges, some highs, and, thankfully, not many lows.

One of the highs was a wonderful little cow named MooMoo that joined our family December 1st. MooMoo was supposed to go home with Santa on Christmas Eve, but the children loved him too much to say goodbye so soon.
Santa gave MooMoo 1 more week with us.
At midnight on December 31st, we said goodbye to 2009 and MooMoo.
But not before he left us this present the morning of New Year's Eve...
(Milk Duds. My MIL's idea.)