Spousal Miscommunications

We had a moisture problem in our hall bath. Water had managed to get behind the tiles surrounding the tub and change the shape of the wall—and by change the shape I mean it used to be, you know, flat, and then it became not-so-flat. Each time we bathed the baby I swore it was only a matter of time before tiles started falling into the tub. We finally decided something had to be done and started the process of hiring a “Tile Guy”. First Tile Guy wanted too much (for what he wanted we could have installed a Jacuzzi tub in our bathroom and I could have hired someone to bring me drinks while bathing) second Tile Guy didn’t show, but third Tile Guy’s price was right and he was able to start the job quickly. Hubby suggests putting in tile that matches the beige-ish floor tiles and going with a larger tile rather than the small white tiles that were there. I agree and we take a trip down to the local home improvement store to check out what’s available. Indeed they had shower wall tiles that matched our floor tiles, and they were larger—I’d say about a 5-6” square as opposed to the 4” squares we had. Somewhere along the way we had a conversation that went something like this:

Hubby: So, you like the darker tiles?

Me: Yes, they’ll look nice with the floor tiles since they match.

Hubby: And you like the larger tiles?

Me: Yes.

Fast forward to day of tile installation and I glance down the hall to check on Tile Guy's progress. After the unfortunate realization that the plumber's butt "feature" also carries over to Tile Guys I then look to see huge 12” tiles going up on the bathroom wall! The same size as the ones on the floor. What the…? How on earth did this happen, I’m thinking. I call hubby at work to blow my top politely explain the situation and his response is: “You said you wanted the larger tiles!” Umm, yeah, larger than the ones we had—not as big as the ones on the floor! So, hubby comes home [he’s only right down the street] to check on things as I’m asking Tile Guy if you can even use these tiles on a wall because to me they look like floor tiles and I’ve never seen that large of a tile on a bathroom wall. He assures me you can use them and that he’s had other bathrooms done with them. After much debate between the hubby and I in front of poor confused Tile Guy we finally decide it’s fine, no biggie, we’ll stick with it. And the bathroom does look good. I think the moral of the story here is that next time I need to “get it in writing” since apparently hubby’s interpretations are vastly different than mine. You’d think I’d know better by now.

Moving in May(hem)

In celebration of May and mainly because I felt now was the time, SAHM is moving to it’s very own home! www.survivethemayhem.com Blogger will not leave any readers behind though, as the blogspot address will still work. So, are things like “Survive the Mayhem” t-shirts and mugs far behind? Yeah, probably.

Child Custody, Deadbeat Dads and a Truly Failing Legal System

You hear much talk about our legal system and its failings. While I can’t discuss much of it with any knowledge, there is one aspect of it for which I have quite a bit of personal knowledge: the Family Court system and how it handles child custody, unpaid child support and other issues surrounding this topic.

I find it very disturbing that some states have an “equal-parenting-time-regardless-of-how-much-of-a-louse-one-parent-is” custody policy. This does a great disservice to children. While I firmly believe that in most cases a child having two parents is certainly better than one and in the case of divorce it’s the “ideal” to have frequent and continuing contact between both parents, it is not always within the best interests of the child. Many state’s laws do not recognize this and their one size fits all policy is harmful. I guess I also find it pretty distressing that just because we live in a world of folks whose problems include drug use, abuse and other such behaviors that the negative actions of a father who toes the line between neglect and abuse are simply overlooked.

It is disturbingly ironic that within our legal system if you are a criminal, or are even just accused of committing a crime, you get free legal representation. Yet if you are, for instance, a mom simply trying to defend your rights and the rights of your children after a divorce you must pay for legal help, and pay dearly. When dealing with a dead-beat dad situation, oftentimes going after the unpaid support costs many times more in legal fees than is recuperated. This is truly unjust. It’s also of great concern to me that our legal system tolerates less than scrupulous attorneys skirting the legally allowed procedures and even more troubling when much less than honorable judges allow them to get away with it.

In closing and on a personal note, this would be an excellent time for the good folks at Toyota, AT&T and other fine corporations to purchase advertising from SAHM: Surviving Assorted Home Mayhem. You see, I have some legal bills to pay, and well, the pay for being a SAHM isn’t going to touch them!

Study pegs mom's market value at nearly $117,000: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

So, I'm worth six figures, huh? Nice. The SAHM gig is no cushy job, that's for sure. When I hear complaints from dear hubby about how he "worked all day" I look at him and reply "what do you think I did all day?" Just because I didn't get a paycheck doesn't mean I didn't work--believe me! Lately, in addition to my usual mom duties I've been fielding girl questions from the teenager (as yet another one calls him to say she likes him) while chasing after my incredibly active toddler who literally does laps around the living room. His new thing has been wanting to wear his big brother's helmet and then running around the house. Great, I have my very own crash test baby!

Study pegs mom's market value at nearly $117,000: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

Dora, is that you?

So I’m strolling though Target with both teenager and tot in tow (okay, the teenager wasn’t so much “in tow” as he was hanging out in the electronics department checking out the video games while I shopped) and I come across this….. Cracked me up! Perhaps the Target employee in charge of cleaning up the aisles wasn’t so much of a Dora the Explorer fan.

More Mayhem and it’s Name

A large part of my daily mayhem consists of being home all day with a little one who is very high energy, cannot/does not entertain himself at all, can’t stand for me to leave the room, gets into everything, falls off/runs into things, frequently has bumps, bruises and boo boo’s and is overall just extra cranky. Yeah, good times. Well, I’ve recently discovered that my cute little one actually has SPD/Sensory Processing Disorder (also known as Sensory Integration Dysfunction) so there really is something behind his behavior. And here all this time I just thought he was a little snotbucket. It’s fortunate to have caught it early, to get treatment (Occupational Therapy) and hopefully things will improve. It was a true “Aha!” moment as I learned that kids who have sensory issues behave in just the way my little darling does. SPD is difficulty handling information that comes in through the senses—not just hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch, but also the proprioceptive and vestibular senses, (yeah, like I knew what that meant!) which apparently tell us where our arms and legs are in relation to the rest of us and how our body is oriented toward gravity. Additionally, he's also not getting his needs met for tactile input. Someone with sensory issues can be either over-sensitive or under-sensitive, my child is in the latter category. OT will get him lifting, pushing, pulling, and working until he gradually becomes more alert to the feel of his body and its surroundings. Thank heavens he starts this much needed therapy this week. In the meantime, we are working on his communication skills and have actually heard some new words out of him lately. We are also working on signing with him and he’s already picked up a few signs! I must admit I am really enjoying learning this with him! So, we are very busy around here with all this learning, therapy and new ways of doing things. It’s pretty challenging and time consuming but all very necessary under the circumstances. I am hopeful now that I know why my child has been so difficult thus far, along with knowing there is actually something that can be done about it that things will improve for him.

Better Ways To Go Green | PARADE Magazine

This is a great little article in today's Parade Magazine. We are using several of the suggestions for "being green" although there is more we can do and we will continue to work towards that. I found it interesting and agreed with the concept that purchasing clothing from a renewable resource is not necessarily the best way to go and the suggestion to purchase [and continuing wearing] classic, timeless pieces in quality fabrics, is ironically the exact same advice I've been giving to clients for years related to simplicity and style--who knew I'd been doing a "green thing" all along! Here are some of the other things we've been doing.

We all have reusable, stainless steel water bottles and take them with us wherever we go, even the baby has a little baby version with a sippy lid! These things are great and I highly recommend them. We also fill them with tap water, filtered through our faucet instead of bottled water or water purchased from a service.

The majority of our furniture is used: we have antique, real wood. Not only have they withstood the test of time, they still look great and we did not purchase new things, let alone pieces with particle board, etc. The new things we did purchase (such as baby's crib) are real wood pieces which will last for generations.

We have recently invested in the reusable totes/shopping bags to use for all our shopping trips.

When the old washer and dryer died we decided to get quality, energy efficient front loaders.

We've been purchasing more green cleaning products and less chemical items. I will say however that when we can't get a green item to work properly, we will use what does to get the job done. Case in point: a while back we purchased a eco friendly He laundry detergent for the front loader. For some time we actually thought that our brand new front loading washer did not work! Our clothes came out smelling like they did going in and all the dirt, stains, etc. were still there. We actually had a repairman out to check out our machines and we finally discovered it was the darn detergent! We may as well have been washing with plain water. We went back to an old standby and voila! Our clothes were clean and smelled that way, too.

We recycle. We have bins set up specifically for this in the kitchen to make this as convenient as possible and our city provides separate bins for the recyclables to go in.

I'm sure there are other things we can do as well, but this is good start and every little effort helps to make a difference.

Better Ways To Go Green PARADE Magazine

Tales from the Trails

This weekend we dusted off the bikes, debuted the new bike trailer for baby and all headed out for a family bike ride. I broke out my bike riding attire only to be horrified that in my black bike pants I pretty much looked like Shamu. Whoever said black is slimming never saw me in a pair of bike pants with remaining baby weight. Despite my appearance, off we went. We are fortunate to live near wonderful bike trails which have been extended and improved in recent years. I had not been bike riding since at least a couple years before being pregnant with baby so I was actually a little apprehensive about getting on my bike. My dear husband said; “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine, it’s just like riding a bike!” Yeah, he’s hilarious that way. Turns out he was right! Anyhoo, an hour+ later, I was red in the face, sweating and sore, but had such a great time! Baby actually fell asleep in his little bike trailer! Teenager enjoyed telling his ol’ mom how to actually use the gears on her bike and daddy looked adorably geeky with his special rear view mirror thingy on his bike helmet. Photos below for your viewing enjoyment. Oh, but none of me—no Shamu shots, sorry.

It’s a Simple Thing! TM

“Clutter Catchers”

As promised in my previous post, I am starting a new thing here on SAHM. I'll be regularly posting new ideas to help organize and simplify home and life. I'll be including these ideas in a regular post unless I come up with a way to make a separate listing of all of them but these posts will be easily identified since they will all have the heading "It’s a Simple Thing!"TM

Use “Clutter Catchers” in various rooms of your home. Find attractive containers to place strategically in areas where clutter seems to gather. As you run across items that need to go back to their “home” in another room, etc. contain the items temporarily in the clutter catcher. At the end of the day or other time you’ve designated, take the clutter catchers around the house and put items back where they belong. Using this system gives you a place to house all those little odds and ends that otherwise would clutter up your surfaces, get lost, broken or misplaced. It also allows gives you a portable device to carry all the items at once back to where they belong. Of course, this is only workable for smaller items since I’m sure you don’t want "life size" clutter catchers around your home! (Hint: compartmentalized containers, such as silverware caddies work great because you can have a different slot for different types of items.)It’s a Simple Thing! TM

It’s a Simple Thing! TM Intro

I recall quite a while back, Martha Stewart’s website used to feature her calendar of “to do’s”. It would list such grandiose tasks as "re-wiring the chicken coop" and other things I cannot even imagine being on anyone’s to do list! It made for very entertaining reading! I found this feature pretty darn funny as someone who teaches the more you simplify your home and life the happier you’ll be—I guess in that respect you could consider me "the anti-Martha". While Ms. Stewart proposes better living essentially through complication I propose better living through simplification. I was also thinking about how Martha offers various “it’s a good thing” snippets of info and decided along a similar (but more realistic) line I would like to offer my own brand of helpful advice; i.e. “It’s a Simple Thing!”TM dedicated to offering little tips and tricks to help organize and simplify home and life. Please feel free to email me with any ideas you might have and I may include them in upcoming posts of this new feature on SAHM.

There are so many things that can help make life better and often even the smallest action or system can make a significant positive difference.
“It’s a Simple Thing!”TM

Digging out from Under the Clutter:
The Secret to Organization Revealed

It’s Spring and many folks are thinking about Spring Cleaning. I mentioned in my very first post that in my previous life [read: before becoming a SAHM to new baby] I spent over a decade helping folks with home organization. Ironically, I started my business as a Professional Organizer (way back in 1994) not because I was an organized person but because I was just the opposite and wanted to help others with something that had been my own struggle. Over the years of consulting, coaching, teaching and speaking on the topic my role evolved into what I referred to as a Life Simplification Strategist: meaning, organizing per se in my opinion was not really what it was all about—finding strategies for simplifying home and life was what people really needed and what I did. This is something I firmly believe in and incorporate into my daily life, though I no longer take on clients at this point. As I mentioned, I struggled with clutter and disorganization so it has been an ongoing effort to keep the focus and stay on top of things so that I can live my life with the order and organization I desire. There is absolutely a need for people to have strategies for simplifying various everyday aspects of life—both tangible and intangible. But one of the first things to realize is a super-secret special bit of knowledge that kick starts one’s ability to have organization in their home and life...I’m going to tell you what it is because I think everyone needs to know this, even though there are those who don’t want you to know. Ready for it? Here it is...get rid of half your crap! ;-) Seriously folks, we have too much stuff and many of us don’t even realize it. Most homes I’ve been to over the years were filled with approximately fifty percent (give or take) more stuff than they needed/used/wanted. Now there is some confusion these days when someone mentions “simplicity”. I am not necessarily talking about the voluntary simplicity movement here, I am talking about a level of personal simplicity that is something you can live with. For some folks that may be much less than others, it all depends. I only advocate simplifying things to the level you are comfortable with.

Clutter drives me crazy, as it does many of us. The trouble is we are living in an age and society that teaches us to have more, want more, and do more. It’s hard to combat this but when we don’t, we find ourselves unable to eat dinner at the table because it’s stacked with stuff, no where to put the groceries because the cabinets are already full, no place to prepare meals because the kitchen counters have papers and other junk covering it, embarrassed to have people over because all the surfaces are filled with clutter …the list goes on. Once we admit that there’s just too much it’s time to resolve to start eliminating and then putting those systems and strategies into play to deal with everyday tasks. That in a nutshell is heart of getting organized and simplified. But yes, it’s hard to do…hard to find the time, because well, we have lives!
It’s also hard to let go of the excuses:

“I paid good money for that!”
“I might need it someday”
“They don’t make ‘em like that anymore”

Yes, I’ve heard them all! One of my favorite excuses had to do with guilt. A lady at one of my seminars told the following story:

“Many years ago I took a sewing class and my project was to sew a sport coat for my husband. I went all out and bought the best material and spent a lot on this project. I really worked hard on this thing and was determined to make a wonderful sport coat. Well, the class eventually ended, the sport coat was still not done and sat unfinished in the hall closet. Life went on, months and then years went by and every time I opened the hall closet I felt guilt… guilt because my husband could have used that sport coat, guilt because I spent the money for the supplies, guilt because I took the class and never finished the project, and guilt because I just didn’t accomplish what I set out to do. I finally got tired of beating myself up over the whole thing and one morning I went to the closet to grab the coat, marched it out to the trash can and slammed the lid. I was finally free! And besides, I’d divorced that husband years ago anyway!”

This cracked me up! The things we do to ourselves! So, if we let go of the excuses, the guilt, and yes, about half the “stuff” we own we can focus on getting organized and simplifying our lives.
“Have in your home and life only things that provide necessary function, add true beauty, or bring genuine happiness. If something is more stressful than joyful, find a way to simplify it or eliminate it.”

Life is in the Details
“Mommy Dresses Me Funny”

I get a lot of flak in my family for being…well, being me. Being in a household with all males “the boys” often complain when I dress up the baby, especially on holidays. You see, I am pretty traditional in many ways; I believe in and enjoy dressing up, particularly when the occasion calls for it. One such occasion would be church (even though I realize now days most folks are ultra casual), and even more so when it’s Easter. So, yes, today the baby was wearing his adorable Easter outfit, a bubble romper with a peter pan collar and Easter bunnies in the smocking on the front.

Yesterday when we went to the egg hunt he was wearing another similarly styled Easter outfit.
By the way, both these outfits are actual boys outfits, purchased used (I may have a desire for the finer things but always try to save as much as possible) and worn previously by other darling little boys last Easter. The baby looked adorable, but as these outfits are pretty dressy, traditional and well, I guess you could say “foofy” and if you combine all that with a kid who’s dang cute (not that I have a bias or anything) we get lots of folks saying “What a cute little girl!” I’m sure my dear little baby boy is thinking “Umm, no, I’m a boy, but my mommy dresses me funny!” But you know what? I don’t care. Frankly, I like being different and while part of me wishes more folks cared to dress up (themselves & their kids) part of me feels like, hey, to each their own! One of the many fun things about being a mommy is enjoying things like dressing up your darling little baby in special outfits (yes, even boys!) and he’ll have the rest of his life to wear jeans, t-shirts and tennis shoes!

So, I guess what I am really saying is that I am all about simple pleasures in life, and for me this is one them. Yes, there are far more important things in life than clothes, looking good, etc. But over the years I’ve come to learn that sometimes we focus so much of the big, dramatic things and become all consumed with them to the point that we miss the simple little pleasures in life—the things that turn everyday occasions into “special occasions”. Whether it’s a great cup of coffee, a nice glass of wine, an extra few minutes of snuggling before getting up in the morning, making your teenager laugh by being hilariously embarrassing or just being happy to see your baby look cute in his Easter outfit, these are the things that give added meaning and make life worthwhile.

Warning: Opinions Ahead

Now that I've been blogging awhile readers are likely to be forming certain opinions about me. So far, I can imagine things like:

"Too lazy to cook lentils!" "Clumsy enough to yank out own eyelashes" "Too wide for a thong" and other such amusing notions from recent posts. Oh, that's only the beginning! Of course with a fan base of three, I haven't been in too much danger of scrutiny yet. But, since it's naturally only a matter of time before Oprah and Ellen are asking to interview me I get a few more readers onboard it will inevitably begin. As I am on the verge of being plenty old enough to not care what anyone thinks forty *gasp* I imagine I'll be bolder in sharing my own opinions and various thoughts. Stay tuned.

You really can buy anything at the warehouse clubs!

So recently we we're at Sam's Club - the hubby's one aisle over looking for Alka Seltzer and I'm pushing the baby down the next aisle with other health & beauty items when I stumble across something that looks familiar from all the commercials: Enzyte the natural "male enhancement" stuff. Just as I see it the hubby walks up behind me and I jokingly say; "Look honey, they sell that male enhancement stuff here!" as I turn around to see his reaction I realize it's not the hubby but some other man! Yeah, gotta love those moments. When the hubby actually did come find me I had to tell him about my faux pas and of course I had him rolling with laughter over that one. Once again, my “I Love Lucy” qualities come out in oh-so-entertaining ways. I of course have to remind my hubby how “lucky” he is to be married to such a character. Somehow I’m not sure he quite sees it that way all the time. Hmmmm…..

So they make them afterall!

Today I went grocery shopping with the little one. I love Trader Joe’s…I find something new and exciting every time I go there. And by exciting I mean things like… cooked lentils! Something I recently looked for and thought did not exist. As a good source of protein I thought it would be a great food for the baby now that he’s mostly feeding himself table foods and we are getting away from baby foods. Yeah, I’ll admit it: spending time in the kitchen is not my favorite thing. I keep telling myself it’s because we have a small, hard-to-work-in kitchen, something I refer to as a “one butt kitchen”. Sadly, if mine happens to be the one butt then there’s even less room, but back to my original point. A few weeks ago when I was at my regular grocery store I asked if there was such a thing as cooked lentils—I mean, there’s cooked lima beans, pintos, garbanzos, etc, so why not lentils? There weren’t…and worse yet a nice lady who heard me ask the clerk and started extolling the virtues of lentils also told me where to find them in bags and let me know “it only takes water” to cook them. *sigh* if she only knew. Yeah, sometimes I’m that lazy. So, my grocery trip was a success, baby got a balloon and was quite happy, and I cleverly managed to put all my groceries on the lower part of the cart thus avoiding the inevitable reach, chew & throw maneuvers from the baby. The last time he did this he chewed through the cardboard on a box of crackers, nibbled on the end of some green onions and hurled limes directly at the produce guy. Good times. Good times.

They want me to do what?

Lately we’ve been experiencing trouble with our diaper pail. I wrote to the company telling them of our difficulties and have posted their response for your reading enjoyment:

Hello, I do apologize for the trouble. Below are instructions to assist with adjusting the rubber ring.

Please follow these steps correctly and take your time:

1.) Please take the two side knobs off and open the top drum. Take everything off that is blue expect for the ring.

2.) The top portion is called the “top drum”

3.) Open the top drum and work with one half of the product first.

4.) Flip it over so the top part is facing you.

5.) Notice the piston in the middle is surrounded by a hollow tube.

6.) Take the tube out of the blue ring and you can notice it is in the grove of the ring.

7.) Put the blue ring in your hand and peel it back. Place it under and over the rim of the diaper pail.

8.) Place the hollow tube in the groves of the ring on the inside of the diaper pail.

9.) Rotate it to secure the ring is in the groves. Test it to make sure it does not pop up on any side.

10.) Do the same thing for the other side.

11.) Then reassemble the diaper pails top drum and place it on the bottom pail.

Note: If you are still experiencing problems with the rotation of the top drum, please try the steps again.

Apparently they left out:
12) After swearing a little, give up repair attempt and go out and buy a new diaper pail!