Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

Lost and Found

My ostensible reason for visiting my parents this week is to help them start cleaning up their house and get rid of a bunch of stuff. No, they aren’t downsizing or looking to move, but they are beginning to think about selling the home down the road. They’ve been doing some much-needed improvements and upgrades and they know it’s time to make a dent in the accumulation of items. My parents have lived in this house since 1997 and both my sister and I are long since moved out. Well, I’ve moved out and my sister is not currently living there since she is living abroad for a few years. Over the years I’ve more or less purged my old room of childhood items, but almost all of my sister’s stuff is still living with my folks, filling her old room and overflowing into my old room! Combine that with my parents’ tendency to hang on to things for sentimental reasons or because it might be useful at some point in the hazy future, and you have a houseful of stuff just taking up space. Don’t get me wrong–this is not a criticism! There is nothing wrong with keeping sentimental items! But there is a point where you just have to discard something.

Enter, moi. When it comes to dejunking, I am ruthless. Oh, is it slightly broken or discolored? Trash! Is it a size too small? Give it to Goodwill! Haven’t read that book in over a year? List it on Amazon! When my family moved away from Billings, we gutted our home so we could move everything in one moving truck. So I have lots of practice.

See, the weird thing is, I actually get a kick out of loading up a garbage bag full of random  house junk and dumping it in the curbside trash can. It’s very satisfying to have a chest of drawers full of God only knows what, then deal with it, and presto! An empty chest of drawers! Then you get to dust the chest and fill it with things you actually want to have around. Or if one of the drawer pulls is missing and there’s a glittery pony sticker from 15 years ago on the side, you get to throw the chest out too and go buy a new one! Double yay!

It’s been a bit of an adventure, going through my old things and random stuff my parents have stored away in unused rooms. I found lots of little trinkets I used to love as a girl. I found a pink plastic jewelry box full of sea shells and cheap costume jewelry and interesting-looking rocks and tiny carved animals. A little girl’s secret stash. I found old textbooks from college: ear training and music theory, psychology (barf!), statistics (barf x infinity!), a book about drive in movies. I found clothes I haven’t worn since I was 8 or 9. Apparently my mom was saving those in case I had a little girl. I looked her in the eye and said, “I would never dress my little girl in those.” Can you imagine? I was 8 in 1992. Ick. Just ick. “Here honey. Do you want a neon blue scrunchy to go with your stirrup pants and side-knotted t-shirt?” Never in this life.

But by far the most exciting find was my journal I started keeping when I was a freshman in college. I know they say those are the best years of your life, but O Holy Mary, I am so glad those years are behind me! I read a few of the entries and it was just horrible. So horrible. I got a crawly feeling on my skin and I couldn’t keep my face free of scowl. When it got to the point that one more page would cause actual physical pain to read, I chucked the journal in my big garbage bag along with the stupid posters, dried up markers, and partially completed crossword puzzle books.

So, yeah. When I told my aunt I was helping my parents start to clean out their house, she laughed and said, “You’re going to need more than a week!” Yes. That is so true.

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Soaptastic

Today when I went up to visit my Grandma in Northwest Ohio, I stopped by my cousin Karin’s house to pick up some soap. Karin is actually my dad’s cousin, which I think makes her my first cousin once-removed or something like that, but for simplicity let’s say cousin Karin! Anyway, she started this great home business a few three or four years ago called Abundance Soaps. She is amazing and farms bees for wax and honey, and keeps an herb garden, and makes these fantastic soaps from scratch using a cold process method. Her business is all family run and the soap is made from entirely local ingredients in small batches, hand cut into bars, and delivered with fantastic customer service. She sells the soap in stores around her local area, as well as at craft shows and online. I think she also does “spa parties,” kind of like Pampered Chef if you’re familiar with that business model. My family has been using her soap almost exclusively for the past two years. It is the only soap I can use to wash my hands that won’t exacerbate my horrible dry skin in the winter!

Please visit her website and look around! I didn’t ask her permission to promote her business on my blog, but I don’t think she’ll mind. Thanks, Karin!

I’m not trying to sell you soap or anything like that. I just really admire the guts it takes to start a business in your home using just your own skills and the skills of your family members. That is such a leap of faith. My husband Jeremy and I have a dream to start our own home business but it’s really hard to know what to do. What will be something we could succeed at doing? What would be useful and in demand in whichever market we choose to set up shop? When is the right time to take the plunge?

Have any of you started a home business or a small business of your own? When did you know it was time to do it, and how did you know what business to start?

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Frenemies

So Stephen and I are in Ohio now. I was really excited to come visit my parents for a lot of reasons, but I only want to write about one of them today. The last time we came to visit my family in Ohio, we brought our dog, Quinn, with us to stay and live with my parents. Quinn had been living with us in Billings, MT but for one reason or another, I decided that he was no longer welcome in our home. We had the dog before we had Stephen, and when we brought the baby home we had some problems that I just could not learn to live with. Quinn is big and noisy and he would stomp around and wake up Stephen from napping. Or Quinn would try to get between me and Stephen because he was jealous or territorial or who knows what. I kept getting mad at the dog, and my confessor told me to avoid near occasions of sin, and since the dog inspired Anger, I decided the dog had to go. Anyway, that’s the background. When we came to Ohio back in May, Quinn stayed behind and Stephen continued to mature in a now dog-free house. Stephen was about 12 months old when Quinn left us, and now he’s 21 months.

Okay, so the point of all this. I was excited for Stephen to meet Quinn again and play with the dog since he has so much fun with Sashimi at home. I thought the dog would probably not run away from Stephen like the cat does, and they would get to have some real fun! Well, it turns out Stephen runs away from the dog! He sees the dog from afar and thinks he is great, but if Quinn comes close Stephen wigs out. Like, screaming, crying, horrible running away wigs out. He giggles at how silly the dog is over there, but if the dog comes over here to be silly, it is the end of the world.

Here is proof that they used to get along great.

I guess when you’re as young as Stephen, 9 months of absence makes a huge difference and he forgot all about what it is like to live with Quinn. This development in the Stephen/Quinn relationship is making my visit so far really a drag. I have to pretty much carry Stephen all over the house to keep him up above dog level. And close the door to whatever room we’re in to keep Quinn out. It’s sad because I want to be with the dog and now I have to be mean to him! It’s not his fault he’s a big, goofy, 75 pound dog that scares the crap out of a 2 foot tall toddler! Not to mention my nerves are already on their last short lengths because we all know baby screams–even the justified ones–are very trying.

I’m hoping when Stephen wakes up from his nap today we can have some structured together time with him and Quinn and make the dog less terrifying. Though, Quinn did cause quite a big of trauma in the pre-nap warm up period so I’m not extremely hopeful. If they can’t work it out, it’s going to be a very long week.

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Sashimi the Cat

We acquired Sashimi the Cat back in November 2011. He has an interested story. At the time I was working as a parish music director at a church in Billings, MT. One day I showed up at the office and the other office ladies told me there was a cat in the women’s restroom in the back of church. So I went in because I can’t resist a kittykitty and there was this cat. He was straggly and shy but warmed up to people very well, and I could tell he was beautiful underneath the weather-worn exterior. He had magically appeared in the church parking lot a couple weeks prior and just that morning had finally allowed the pastor to scoop him up and take him inside. Well, little did this cat know that Jeremy and I had been talking about getting a cat to grace our home, and since I had pretty much fallen in love with this cuddly cutiehead, I called Jeremy right away and he arranged to come take a look. So we came back to the office later that evening and Jeremy loved him too! The nice office lady said if we wanted to take the cat, we should just do it–you know, before anyone else decided to take him! So we did! The next day Jeremy took him to the vet to determine age, sex, and general healthiness and found out for sure that the cat is a neutered male, now approximately four or five years old, with fairly decent health. We named him Sashimi because we are terribly clever and witty.

Well, it didn’t take long to figure out the possible reason Sashimi’s former owners had abandoned him a church parking lot. Sashimi is very sensitive and he has a delicate stomach. There was a period of time when I kept a cat puke clean up kit on my bedside table at night, if you take my meaning. And one time Jeremy had a very close call involving his face and a retching kitty. After a vet visit or two, we got special sensitive kitty food and the problem cleared up. Now he only pukes about once a week, unless the food is getting to the bottom of the bag, then he pukes pretty much every time he eats some food. Sigh…it’s a hazard I guess we are willing to live with.

But he really is a wonderful kitty. He is the snuggliest, wuggliest, prettiest, kittiest kitty I have ever owned. His fur is majestic and magnificent. He takes what we call “fur days” where he lays around for 12 hours straight. We call them fur days because his fur is so majestic that he needs to take a day off of doing other cat stuff to just focus on growing fur. He sleeps with us every night, either on my feet or above my head on the pillow. That took a little getting used to when we first brought Sashimi home, but now we love it! He is not stingy with purring. He even kind of plays with Stephen, if Stephen doesn’t act too wild and pull Sashimi’s tail or run too fast or pet his fur too hard. Okay, maybe he doesn’t really play with Stephen. Actually, he has been taking many more fur days now that Stephen is super active and has decided that Sashimi is his number one amigo…

So, that is Sashimi the Cat. I hope you enjoyed meeting him. Tell me about your wonderful pet friends!

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This post is not about fish tacos

So today was the first day in two weeks that my husband Jeremy had the entire day free from work. He works for our parish church and his hours often involve weeknights and weekends, sometimes just for a couple hours at a time, like when he guest teaches at the youth group or something. And today was with first day in two weeks he didn’t have to go in for even one minute. Yesssss. So we spent the day doing lovely family things like:

1. Eating oatmeal for breakfast. I made three servings according to the tube of oats, and we each ate one serving. One serving for me, one for Jeremy, and one for Stephen, my 21 month old toddler. Yes, that’s right. The toddler ate just as much oatmeal as us adults. And then he was upset when I took away his empty bowl, like he wasn’t done with it or something.

2. Going to the storage unit to pick up the big suitcase so I can pack for my trip. Stephen and I are going to visit my parents in Ohio on Monday. We’ll be there for a week. I’m not sure how much blogging I’ll do while I’m gone; we’ll have to see.

3. Going to the pet store to buy more cat litter and cat food. The Petco in Albuquerque has a refillable litter container. You buy the full container once then pay a lesser price to refill it from the giant cat litter sand box they have in the cat section of the store. Maybe all Petcos have this, I don’t know. I’ve never seen it before and I think it’s great. Also in cat news, the Science Diet food our cat forces us to buy has a new package that now closes with velcro. Velcro. How cool is that?

4. Eating leftover pizza for lunch. And because I’m a good little blogger, I linked you to the relevant previous post, even though you can just scroll down the page and see it right there. Ha. Ha ha.

5. Putting Stephen down for a nap, and then tragically, waking him up again when it looked like he was sleeping too late into the afternoon. Oh boy, that did not go well. It took two cups of juice, four crackers, a muffin, a diaper change, a clothes change, and a box of legos to bring him down from that ledge. And even then he was cranky up until bedtime.

6. Eating fish tacos for dinner.

And now Jeremy is off bottling home-brewed beer with some friends and I’m home alone with the cat and a sleeping toddler, writing a blog post.

How did you all spend your lovely Saturday?

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Pizza Tonight!

For dinner tonight I made pizza. It is the best pizza in the whole world, and I’m not just saying that. The crust is delicious and thin and crispy and crunchy. The toppings are flaming hot and starting to char on the edges that stick up. The whole thing has a wonderful olive oil accent. The crust has actual flavor!  I would totally post some pictures of this magnificent pizza, but I can’t find the camera. I think it’s still in a box from when we moved into this apartment 5 months ago. That also explains why I don’t have any recent pictures of my toddler…hmmm…

Back to the pizza! Oh yes, and also speaking of my toddler, he loves the pizza!

My favorite part of the pizza is you can put all kinds of crazy things on for toppings. Tonight I did one pizza with red sauce, diced bell peppers, pineapple, onion, cheese. Amazing! The other pizza was olive oil, ground black pepper, onion, sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes! And guess what? That one was also very amazing. That’s the one my toddler devoured like he would never eat again ever in his entire life. For some reason this pizza crust gives you permission to go wild with the toppings, and everything always tastes amazing!

Now, before you go all congratulating me on my culinary expertise, I would like to give credit where it is due. This pizza recipe that I use comes from Jim Lahey of the no-knead bread phenomenon. See his website here where I’ve conveniently sent you to the pizza page. Feel free to browse and drool all over the rest of his site as well. It’s actually his idea to put potatoes on pizza, btw. The only adaptation to his recipe that I made is to sub in a portion of whole wheat flour for some of the bread flour. That’s because I like whole wheat flour. Also tonight I did have a bit of a bread flour shortage issue…but that’s neither here nor there.

So, in conclusion, Jim Lahey’s recipe for pizza pretty much rocks the socks off the whole universe, and you can make it at home in the comfort and convenience of your very own kitchen. Also you can put whatever the heck you want on it and it will be super. Cauliflower! Sweet potatoes! Chicken! Meat substitute “meat” balls! Red sauce! Barbecue sauce! No sauce! That weird shredded cheese you found in the bottom of the freezer and it doesn’t look like it has mold on it! Everything tastes great.

A dinner the whole family can enjoy.

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Entering the Blog-o-sphere

This post isn’t really about anything. I’m just writing something so I can see my blog website with any sort of content. I do plan to write plenty of posts that are actually about things. I’m looking forward to writing about my exciting life as a stay-at-home mom and housewife. When I say “exciting” I mean mildly entertaining. I know there are tons of domestic-y blogs out there written by other stay-at-home chicas, but I seriously need to do something to help me keep some perspective. If you come to my blog and read a post or two or three, that’s great. I’m glad you’re here. Now, I’m going to go make some tuna salad because it’s lunch time. Later, gaters!

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