life

No Tech Tuesday Rescheduled Until Further Notice

I am a tech person, I like tech, I use tech, my life is wrapped around tech in some way shape or form.  I still use hand-written paper calendar and to do lists but I also have a gazillion lists on my phone (some I even share with the Mr. through the Wunderlist app), my calendar is digital on my phone (the Mr. is supposed to look at it but that doesn’t often happen), all the phone numbers are now in the phone (I have learned exactly 3 new phone numbers since getting a cell phone almost 20 years ago), and of course the social media aspect of things.  I was on myspace when it was big (who else remembers the drama of when you could rearrange your top 8??) and now facebook, I also use twitter and instagram but there I’m generally more of a lurker/stalker type but I love my tech.  I regularly check my fitbit, I use my laptop for practically everything; I find there are a lot of things I can do now that I never would have dreamed up and a lot of things that I don’t have to do now because of the tech.  Who balances a checkbook anymore?  I look at the online statement and move on!  But the point of this rambling paragraph is that I love technology.  It’s here to stay so we might as well learn to harness it’s power for good instead of evil and deal with it.

That being said, however, I also realize that it is becoming so ubiquitous that it can be a problem.  I have seen the damage it can cause when children are actually addicted to it; every day there are articles out there about the ‘heroin-like’ addictive nature of technology for our children and I can see that.  Obviously some of these articles are clickbait and their headlines are more attention grabbing that some of the science would suggest but there does seem to be a link between phones, screens, and the pleasure sensors in the brain; potentially similar to gambling.  The Mr. loves his phone as well so I had a brilliant plan to implement “No Tech Tuesday” and today was going to be our first attempt.  The rules were simple, from the time the Munchkin got home from the sitter’s we wouldn’t use any tech until she went to bed.  It would be about 2-2.5 hours of time that would just be all face time, all quality time of doing something together.  I thought we would go to the park (since the Munchkin is walking she enjoys parks now), make dinner, play in her room and then she would go to sleep and it would have been a blissful 2.5 hours of quality family time!

Enter in real life, what happens when you’re making plans?  As I was driving home from work with my carpool buddy I started thinking about how I felt like today hit me like a ton of bricks, what could I cook, the Mr. is at the other house working on stuff for putting it on the market and how long would that take, how long would it take to cook something, am I going to pick the Munchkin up right away or am I going to go home first and take these god-forsaken heels off, is it too damp and chilly to go to the park, and so on…you know, the litany of thoughts that start running through your head whenever you have a quiet moment to think.  I decided I wanted to go out to eat, I didn’t feel like cooking and wanted to go to our local haunt which is basically a low key bar, I would even go so far as to call it wannabe gastropub.  

We get to the bar, sit down to eat, order drinks so the Mr. and I both need to log our beers into UnTapped (which by the way got me a badge and a toast from the brewery), the TVs are playing ESPN and they’re everywhere, a friend starts texting me about an issue she’s having (communication and connection, doesn’t count right?!?!) and then it just devolved from there.

Moral of the story?  Don’t make plans!  I am going to continue to try for some no tech time at some point during the week but I’m a mom trying to do the best I can and usually my best is far from perfect.  I can’t feel guilty about all the things I do wrong or only half-right, I have to do the best I can from moment to moment, all I can do is try to get it right the next time.  Here’s to a successful No-Tech Tuesday next week!   

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Snow Days – Then and Now

If you’re in the northeast corridor today you probably have a snow day that you are dealing with, either you’re lucky enough to have a snow day or you’re lucky enough to have to deal with everyone else’s snow day either way you’ve been dealing with storm Stella since this past weekend.  Of course this is not an officially named NOAA storm but it’s a Weather Channel named storm (I believe this is a marketing ploy for hashtags…but I’m not above using it).  Of course here in the Philadelphia region Stella has gone from a Nor’easter that’s going to hammer us to more of an icy nuisance of a storm which probably is worse logistically but more annoying because it’s less fun to play in ice than it is to play in snow and now that I have a kid playing in snow has become cool and allowable again since people tend to frown on adults (As Jo March puts it “roll around like dogs” or something to that effect, my memory and google-fu is escaping me on the direct quote).  But snow days have morphed in the course of my life:

  1. Kid – Woohoo day off from school!  Playing in the snow!  Nothing to do!  (Remember I was a kid before the digital age really took over so teachers weren’t able to assign work if we weren’t in school 🙂 ).
  2. Teenager – Woohoo day off from school!  But I’m going to stay inside where it’s warm and I’m going to be lazy.
  3. College Student – Eff mother nature, still gotta go to school, walk across campus in the snow, but sledding on lunch trays in our free time!
  4. Adult in office job – Eff mother nature, still gotta go to work, drive with all the other idiots in the snow (the idea of working from home was just starting when I was in an office job so it was either take time off or go to work, unless I had a lot of data entry to do that I could do at home and bring in the next day) and no one wants to go out for lunch because it’s a wreck out….can we order lunch in?
  5. Adult as a teacher – Woohoo day off from school!  That I have to make up in June…but I’m still home unexpectedly so I get to catch up on bingewatching whatever show I’m on or movies, snuggle, nap, snack, maybe even get some work done around the house that has been lacking but day drinking!
  6. Adult as a teacher with a kid – Woohoo day off from school!  That I have to make up in June but I get to spend the day with the Munchkin (and coincidentally the Mr. had off too but he’s out snowblowing right now).  An extra day of hanging out with her and trying to get grad work, blog post, ordering for the Munchkin and Mr. birthday party, animals, and everything else dealt with while she’s napping.  Oh yeah and day drinking (snow day mimosas have become our staple around here) but somehow I’m still exhausted and almost want to go back to work!

Through the course of life snow days change and depending on where you’re at in your life you may enjoy them or you may hate them but mother nature has a way of always winning out.  Be safe and have a good day no matter what you’re up to today!

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Poop – A Discussion of Number 2

When you have 4 humans (one who’s not in control of themselves yet and I don’t mean the Mr.) 2 dogs and 3 cats you’re basically spending most of your time dealing with bodily functions including number 2.  You’re a manager of poop: you’re cleaning up poop, you’re washing your hands after touching poop, you’re making sure someone isn’t touching poop and so on.

For one reason or another at this point we’ve been very lucky, for the most part Munchkin’s diapers have been normal and they haven’t really made too much of a mess.  She also hasn’t been that interested in poop finger painting which I’ve heard is a common pastime for children.  She has yet to discover the joys of putting her hand in her diaper and creating abstract art worthy of any modern art museum.  But today I’d like to focus on the four-legged children, specifically the cats.

If any of you have cats you know the joy of the litter box, we don’t let our cats outside for a variety of reasons so that leaves us litter boxes to deal with and that means someone has to scoop them.  That someone is usually me when I’m not pregnant.  While I was pregnant the Mr. was great at scooping but as soon as the fear of toxoplasmosis was gone he conveniently forgot how to manage this task.  Although if you have a man in your life who uses the same bathroom as you do you are probably not surprised that keeping the cat’s toilet clean isn’t a high priority for them.  Most men, in my experience, don’t care what the bathroom looks like, they have a place to go and that’s all that matters.  Even the Mr. who is a bodily neat freak due to a genetic skin condition seems to think I’m nuts when I say something about cleaning the bathroom.  The conversation usually goes something like this:

Me: Honey you need to clean the bathroom this week

Mr.: I just did it!

Me: You mean “just” as in a month ago?

Mr.: ….Oh…..

So here I am in the basement after magically finding 30 minutes to run on the treadmill after Munchkin went to bed staring down into litter boxes full of poop.  We have three cats and we have three litter boxes so I’m just shuffling litter boxes around, scooping, trashing, and stirring just to make sure the litter is at least a little cleaner/drier/less smelly for the next cat who wishes to do some business in peace and quiet and I have the realization that we are surrounded by poop.

I’m going to put on my biology hat for a second: literally we are surrounded by excrement.  One of the characteristics of being alive is the need take material in so if some things go in, that must mean some things come out.  It’s not always poop in the way we think of it, but excrement is everywhere.  And for most organisms (AKA living things) if they don’t excrete waste products toxins build up in their system and they die so this is a really important natural process but back to my life….
I’m sitting there and I’ve got my face in the litter box, I’m doing the shuffle so I can get to each littler box without getting up from the rickety chair that is going to break under me at any second and I’m struck with the understanding that this is life.  Nothing in my life is glamorous: I don’t get to go to expensive parties or wear designer clothes but I do get to be surrounded by poop!  There is nothing bad in my life, there are always things that could be better and ways I could be better but my life is charming in it’s crazy, messed up, sometimes very plain, poop-filled way.  This is why the subtitle of this blog is “Finding Perfection in the Imperfection” because while I dream of things being bigger and better, and maybe someday I’ll have that glamorous life and can afford the jet-setting lifestyle (HA!) it’s not about life being anything other than what it is, it is my response to it that makes a life filled with poop beautiful.

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Cast of Characters

I used to think I was an island during my teenage emo years, there was a period of time where Simon and Garfunkel’s “I am a Rock” was a theme song of mine but I’m no longer an island (and to be honest I never really was but my teenage self thought I was; isn’t it funny how all the thoughts we  have as teenagers start to get blown out of the water when you become a REAL adult??) so here are a few of the recurring characters you’ll meet in my life:

Those that live in the same house as I do:

  1. The Mr. – This is my other half, he’s not better or worse than I am but definitely different.  I’m not entirely sure he’s from Mars, it might be Pluto when it has planetary status but the jury is still out on that decision.  He is the “untrained engineer” which means normal human Earth logic escapes him especially when compared with my biological based brain but I do appreciate his differing perspective, maybe not right from the get go, but eventually I can see the value in looking at things sideways, diagonal and upside down sometimes all at the same time.  Now if only he could learn to close cabinet doors….
  2. The Munchkin – The Mr. and I somehow made an incredibly adorable and perfect daughter, well as perfect as a baby who is just being a baby can be.  She is a great kid, we’ve been ironing out the feeding and sleeping through the night issues but for the most part, even when teething, she’s a great, inquisitive, calm kid.  She’s lulling us into a sense of security that we can handle a munchkin #2 at some point who will obviously be a total terror compared to his/her angel older sister.
  3. Babci – This is my mother.  The Mr., the Munchkin, myself and the menagerie have just moved into my childhood home with Babci (which by the way is going so much better than I had anticipated).  In an effort to set ourselves up for the long-run we thought this would be a good idea.  It hasn’t been without its kinks, moving back in with the woman who taught you how to use the toilet definitely has drawbacks, but we’re going to be able to put our house on the market, save money, contribute here, and be able to afford a bigger house more comfortably to potentially bring munchkin #2 into the world.  Somehow she has managed to go from being alone in her house to having 3 more people and a lot more legs (26 more legs to be exact….).
  4. Kiki AKA Fat Cat AKA Thunderpaws – I adopted this silver tabby from a shelter approximately 8 years ago she is the best cat except for being a chubby girl who is prone to UTIs due to being a chubby girl.  She wants attention, loves to be snuggled and petted…except at the hands of the Munchkin.
  5. Ajax – This is my buddy.  I adopted him from the same shelter I got Kiki from approximately 8 years ago too.  He’s a German Shepard-Beagle (we think) mutt.  He’s the “Brain” of the dog duo, if you’re an Animaniacs fan.  He’s got all the characteristics of a German Shepard.  He’s not the biggest fan of the Mr. but Ajax puts up with him well enough.
  6. Speckles – “Pinky” of the dogs.  She’s a pit bull mix; dumb, but incredibly loyal and sweet.  We inherited her by accident as a “failed foster.”  A friend needed to give her up since the other (small) dog in the house had a Napoleon complex and constantly attacked Speckles, but since Speckles was the new addition to the household she had to go.  She and Ajax have had 1 fight in almost 7 years and Ajax started it so I can’t blame her she just wanted A, ANY bone, she didn’t care which one but Ajax thought he deserved both (spoiled brat) she put him in his place.
  7. Freya – I ended up adopting her because I’ve always wanted a Maine Coon.  She was basically feral but I was the only one who was able to pet her so I decided to bring her home.  Of course she has basically taken up residence in the basement and comes to hang out when we’re in the basement but hasn’t become comfortable with the new house yet.
  8. Merlin – A DLH grey cat that I became the caretaker for when a coworker became ill and eventually passed away.  Merlin is another one who likes hanging out in the basement, he’s getting more bold but he and Freya like having the run of the basement without interference from the dogs.
  9. The Fish Tanks – Yes, you read that right, it’s plural.  At any given time we have 1-3 fish tanks going these are one of the Mr’s hobbies but the addition of the tanks and their upkeep can be a point of contention on some days but he enjoys it so what can I say?  The water bill is a little different with 177 gallons of water running though.

Those who live in different houses but will show up on occasion I’m sure:

  1. Uncle Messy – This is my older brother, our relationship is pretty close.  It waxes and wanes like any sibling relationship but I know that no matter what I can count on him to help out.  He is also probably as opposite me as a sibling can get.  I’m loud, extroverted, obnoxious and often don’t think before I speak (hence the reason why writing is a good thing, hello editing!) whereas he is an introvert, quiet, thinks way more than he speaks most days and is a really good soul.
  2. Aunt Messy – This is my sister-in-law.  She is another one who is a different person than I am and matches my brother pretty well but we are on different ends of the personality spectrum but she’s a great person to have around and I can always count on her for running advice, races to sign up for or really cute animal pictures (since they are currently living with 1 dog and 4 cats).
  3. BFF – This is my best friend and surrogate Aunt to the Munchkin.  She and I have our similarities and differences across the board but she’s been in my life for 20 years and the sister I never had.  We may have our differences when it comes to certain things but I wouldn’t trade her for the world, she is also another person I can count on to drop almost anything and show up for help if necessary.  She’s the person who I get to watch Trashy TV with on our “family TV night” where we can be snarky, drink wine and I don’t feel ashamed at spending some valuable productivity time on watching the best examples of the “Boob Tube”.
  4. Uncle Toodles – Munchkin’s surrogate uncle, he’s been in my life for almost as long as BFF (going on 19 years now) and I can count on him for most anything.  He’s a little goofy (as is most of the people in my life) but he keeps me either really angry about the state of affairs in the world or laughing because of some of the stupid s&%$ he finds on the internet.  He’s my go-to buddy to discuss almost anything ranging from the very deep and personal to the incredibly stupid.  Curiously I grew up a mile away from Uncle Toodles but it wasn’t until Uncle Messy and Uncle Toodles ended up in college together approximately 3 hours away that we met.
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About Your Messy Mom

Now that you’re with me on this voyage I thought I would tell you a little bit more about me.  I am a woman with no generation; some people want to lump me in with the Xers and some people want to put me in with the Millennials.  Other demographers have even given me and mine our own little sub-group: the MTV generation.  I think what that means is that I, and most of my friends, have no generation of our own.  We are a straddle group and I’d like to believe that we take the best from both the Xers and the Millennials.

I’ve had a computer since I was 4 and the internet since I was probably 12 so I guess in some way that does make me a lot like the “Millennials.”  I’ve had technology and I’ve used technology before it became just point and click so here I am starting to use it in a way that will hopefully help me become a better mom by carving out something of my childhood dreams here on the internet.

I’m not going to bore you with all the nitty gritty details of my life but I’ve had a pretty good one, I was raised in a loving and stable 4 person family with Babci, my dad (who passed away in 2012), an older brother and myself.  We had a variety of pets (dogs, fish, frogs, and a few parakeets) growing up but nothing had prepared me for the chaos I’ve gotten myself into with 2 dogs, 3 cats and 177 gallons worth of fish.  Throughout my formative years I knew school was important because both my parents were teachers (middle school…I don’t know how they did it) so when I was done high school I KNEW I was going to college but I really didn’t know for what, hence the reason I applied to different colleges with a different major for every college and amazingly they all wanted me.  For a variety of reasons, the college I went to was the one I had applied to as a forensics major (I was originally planning on being Dana Scully)  so I was put on the science track (chemistry, calculus, and biology 9am-12pm M, W, F for freshman year…) but when it came time to do our freshman research I ended up doing small mammalian tracking in an urban forest and loved it; from then on I was an environmental science major.  I graduated college after four years with a BS in environmental science while also earning minors in chemistry, biology, and political science but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with that degree so I didn’t pursue graduate school just yet.  I had interned with the state Department of Environmental Protection but wasn’t hired (yay funding freezes!), I worked for AmeriCorps, I worked for a private environmental firm and then came to be a high school science teacher.  I have now been a science teacher longer than my college and previous working years combined so I guess I’ve found my fit.  I do love my job, it’s tiring some days (teenagers are draining even though I get to send them home!), but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, even on the bad days (and there are always a few every year).  Since I found my niche I also went back and am working on my MS in General Biology, which will hopefully be finished the end of June.  If you haven’t gathered by now I’m not too good at being idle.

Now, however, there is a new development into my working and living career….enter the munchkin!  As of this writing she is 11 months and 1 week old.   She came into our lives on March 20th a healthy amazing little girl after a few days of obnoxious induced labor 3.5 weeks early.  And life changed.  Mostly for the better but we’re knee deep in the trenches right now so I can’t say that I’m the happiest person all the time but I try to do my best. I’m an “older” mom since I waited until mid-thirties (I was not considered “advanced maternal age” by a smidgen but who came up with that term anyway??) but I have no idea what that actually is supposed to mean since I feel completely clueless.

I came to the idea of writing this blog a few weeks ago because I realized that I’m currently on the hamster wheel of adulting and it sucks and it’s draining.  It’s making me miserable because all I feel like I’m doing is cooking, cleaning, paying bills, taking care of the munchkin, the Mr. or doing grad work (take that “Real” Housewives of whatever city/state you choose) and I needed something that wasn’t a “responsibility.”  I used to always love to write and once dreamed of getting paid to write so here I am writing, not getting paid for it, but at least sharing it so I’ll take the compromise.
I am glad you’re here and I hope that you find as much pleasure in this as I do.  I’m going to hopefully keep it light, funny and relaxed but along with giving birth came the incredible weight that I am now responsible for another human being in a world where bad things happen, luckily I have the Mr., Babci, a great group of friends and amazing pets to help along the way.

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Blog Post – The First

I’ve jumped on the blogging bandwagon.  Here I am sitting at the dining room table at 8:26pm trying to write the first post to explain the impetus behind this endeavor (woo big words!).

 

I’ve always wanted to be a newspaper columnist and a travel writer and an actress and a politician and a lawyer and a….the list goes on and on.  I applied to 5 different colleges with 4 different majors (one was “undecided”) because I never really had any direction, I was interested in so many things I never could decide on one thing but through some soul searching I realize that I have always wanted to write.  I’ve always loved writing in many different forms, I’d rather write than read and it was noted during one of my earlier grade school reports that I would often sit down to write instead of playing.  So here I am giving it a shot.

 

This is hopefully going to give this overworked mom an outlet where no one NEEDS me for a little while.  Sometimes it seems I walk in the door and I am bombarded after teaching all day (I did finally settle on a career that I LOVE after all the indecision but more on that later) by the Mr., the Munchkin, and the dogs.  We all know the cats could care less unless they are really hungry and the fish are happily contained in tanks (and they’re really the Mr’s responsibility).
While this is for me I’m also hoping along the way I can amuse some people, share this working mom life and have a great time!

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Welcome to this messy life!