Happy New Year!

Big changes are happening at Domestic Disturbia! I’m moving my blog from this pitiful excuse of a web site to a new fabulous home, full of new gadgets and more crap that I never even knew existed!!

So join me at the new site, http://www.domesticdisturbia.com. It’s so 2012!

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Chill out, moms

Today was Declan’s Christmas party at school, and I had a HUGE freak out when I (mistakenly) thought that several of his classmates had brought gifts for the other kids. (There was goodie bags and various other holiday accouterments in his backpack, I was in a rush and didn’t look at them, then I filled with rage, etc.) I was wrong, but during the time between when I saw all the stuff and actually opened and saw what it was, I was PISSED. My initial reaction to the thought of buying or making gifts for an entire class of 3-4 year olds that don’t even know each other’s names was OH HELL NO. THIS WILL NOT BE HAPPENING. And while my rage was unnecessary (this time), you can’t blame me for believing that’s what happened. Because some of you moms need to CALM DOWN.

Look, I’ve made it crystal clear that I’m much more Rosanne Arnold than June Cleaver. And while I don’t want to be a June Cleaver, I don’t begrudge my June Cleaver friends, or blame them for being so, well, June Cleaver. If you truly love crafting and baking and sewing and making ridiculously cute everything, that is awesome and I’m jealous. I have some truly gifted friends and I am AMAZED at the things they pull off just for the heck of it.

I'm her, but with cuter hair.

But lately, with all the Christmas stuff going on, I keep hearing over and over how STRESSED everybody is, and how BUSY the holidays are, how HECTIC things get. And maybe it’s because my kids are still young, I dunno, but it seems a lot of this stress is ridiculous.

I understand creating memories, family fun and the beauty that comes from making or creating something. I do, really. But if making the perfect Christmas cookies drive you to binge drink like me, don’t do it. That’s what the grocery store is for. So you want to bring something to your child’s Christmas party? Great! But instead of these:

The creator of these cookies blogged that her baked goods took 14 hours to decorate. Pass the meth.

How about these:

Even I can make these. Or buy them.

Why set the bar so high? The kids don’t care. Think back to your childhood. What made you happy: the fact that you got to eat cookies at your desk in school, or the fact that your cookies looked like pieces of art? Exactly.

If you are so stressed out over holiday parties and baking and decorating and shopping and wrapping, you are doing it wrong. A little stress is understandable; it’s a busy time of year. But if the cause of your headaches and hair-pulling are related in any way to frosting, bows or Hobby Lobby, do what the Roseannes of the world do: nothing. It’s much easier.

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A change we can believe in

Like most of the things I care about in this world, I’ve been neglecting my blog lately. Which I don’t want to do, because a couple of weeks go by, then I think “Oh gawd, so much has happened, anything I post is going to be long and rambling and stupid, so I’ll just wait until I have time to do a recap” and then the next thing you know, it’s been 6 months and I’m full of shame and have to quit the internet.

Anyway, even though I haven’t had a super good post ever lately, my blog has been on my mind like always. Paul and I are working together on a full-blown redesign and relaunch of Domestic Disturbia, and I am STOKED. I am ready to put my blog out there with the big dogs and get as famous as, um, all those other totally famous bloggers who are so famous I don’t even have to name them. You know who you are.

The new and improved site is going to be not just my place to rant about how bad I suck at everything I do. It’s going to be more personal, more humorous, have more features and look really freaking awesome (it is the BEST to be married to an amazing web designer). So we are brainstorming and scouring the whole entire internet 24/7 for ideas to copy inspire us, and my little brain is just bursting at the seams with the things I want to include on the new site.

For my faithful followers, I’d love to hear from you, too. What are things that make you read a blog? What makes you come back time and again? What DON’T you like on a blog? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I know we are all super busy and tired during the holidays, so hopefully this is the right time to be a slacker. Stick around, it will be worth it, I promise!

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Birthday boredom

In 12 days, I’ll be 34. Blah. I don’t really care about the number. I feel anywhere from 16 to 76 most days, so being officially another year older doesn’t really change anything about my life.

Normally, I make a pretty big deal about my birthday. Yea, I’m obnoxious about it, but why shouldn’t I be? Why isn’t everyone obnoxious about their birthday? It’s the ONE day a year that is all about YOU. Anniversaries have to be shared. Holidays are celebrated by everyone. But unless you are a twin (or triplet. Or a Gosselin), your birthday is YOUR day. I say make the most of it.

I’m not totally selfish. I try to make the most of others birthdays, too, if they want me to. For years, I did the exact opposite of what Paul wanted to do for his birthday, all in the spirit of celebrating him! Finally, I realized that he wasn’t being humble when he said he didn’t want a party — or any more surprise parties… whoops — and didn’t throw him one this year, but it hurt. Not that his birthday is about me…

Anywho. Maybe it’s from being an only child (ok, most likely it’s from being an only child), but I’ve always liked to do something really fun for my birthday. The fact that it’s 3 days before Christmas makes it more challenging, but I’ve never used it as an excuse. People always say “Aw, it must suck to have a Christmas birthday… do you hate it?” Hell no, I don’t hate it. I love it.

As a child, at least in my experience, having a holiday birthday heightens the excitement. All the decorations, all the music and lights… those all mean my birthday is coming! Well, mine AND Jesus’s, but his celebration is covered. It adds to the build up and the experience. There is a rule, though, for holiday birthdays, no matter the holiday. Unless the child specifies, do NOT group the two together! Do NOT wrap my birthday present in Christmas paper. I wouldn’t do that for you if your birthday was in, say, March. (I don’t wrap presents, actually, so regardless of when your birthday is, your present would be in gift bag from Walgreens.) So just because a person has a birthday on or near Christmas, Halloween, Easter, Thanksgiving, or any other holiday with a decorative theme, does NOT mean you get to get a two-fer out of the deal. So don’t even go there.

This is all kinds of wrong.

I have to say, though, as much as I love birthdays, namely my own, I’m just not feeling it this year. Paul keeps asking me what I want to do, and I keep changing my mind. Part of me wants to gather up my friends and hit the town for dinner and drinks in nice clothes (nice clothes = no baby food stains or nursing bra). Part of me wants to have a nice dinner out with just Paul. Part of me wants to get together with some friends and family and the kids and hit up a cheap and early dinner. And still another part of me wants to just stay in, order take out and eat cupcakes.

I’m not down in the dumps about my birthday, things are just so much HARDER now. A night on the town means a sitter, my mom, typically, which is fine except I like to celebrate with my mom. And anybody else that would be a sitter, I’d probably rather them be with us. Plus, a night out on the town means a late (late for us, which isn’t that late) night, which means a tired mommy and daddy the next day, which kinda sucks.

If we go out with our friends and our kids, it would be an early night, which is a good thing, but it would also probably be a giant damn mess, and nobody would be able to carry on a conversation because there’d be 87 kids dropping food and needing to go potty and the waitress would hate us and none of the women would get to eat (you know it’s true) and it would be annoying.

A date night out with Paul is always awesome, but for birthdays, I like to celebrate with a crowd typically.

So then there’s a fun night in. I can con Paul into picking up dinner and doing the dishes, I’d spend the evening with my short list of fave people, and it would be no fuss, no muss. But is that exciting enough? Sigh. I’m ridiculous.

What’s a girl to do? I dunno. Maybe I should say screw it, and go to Vegas with 30 of my closest friends, family and kids, hire a nanny, get the “Rainman suite” and call it a day. Who’s in?

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Once upon a chicken

I have a million and half other things I need to be doing right now (namely REDECORATING our Christmas tree, since our Griswold tree fell over today), but I have to write this story down so I can look back on it in 20 years (and tomorrow, when I’m homicidal over something) to remember how hilarious Declan is.

I wasn't kidding.

So his new “thing” right now is yelling for me after Paul puts him to bed so that I can tell him a story. Paul has already read him stories, so this is nothing but straight up manipulation like only a 3 year old can master. Most manipulation tactics I ignore, but A) I don’t want him waking up Simon and B) who can resist one last snuggle from a giggling little boy? Nobody, that’s who.

So most nights, I go in and he says “Mommy, tell me a story,” and then he proceeds to tell me basically everything he wants the story to be about. Usually it’s a convoluted recap of the day’s events, with some imagination thrown in for good measure. Lately, though, his little imagination is taking off, and tonight, well, he took the cake.

A transcript:

Declan: Mommy, tell me a story. No, 100 stories.

Me: No. I’ll tell you 1 story.

Declan: OK, 1 story from 100 books.

Me: How about 1 story ABOUT 100 books?

Declan: OK.

Me: Once upon a time, a little boy named Declan …

Declan: And my friend. Chicken.

Me: You have a friend chicken?

Declan: Yes. 

Me: What’s his name?

Declan: Ken. But he’s a girl.

Me: So, you have a friend who is a girl chicken named Ken?

D: Yes, she’s my girlfriend.

Me: (cracking up) Of course. Is she big or little?

D: She’s my size! (laughing) You crack me up!

Ken?

Me: OK, so once upon a time, Declan and his girlfriend Ken wanted to go on an adventure, so they went on a walk through town. At the end of the street, they saw a door they had never noticed before. They went in the door, and it was a bookstore, with 100 books…

D: 100 Strawberry Shortcake books!!!!!!!

Me: Oh jeez… yes, 100 Strawberry Shortcake books… etc., blah blah, adventures, a pirate ship, adventures start in books, the end.

I think he’s in charge of story-telling from now on.

 

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Christmas wishes

So normally it’s all fun and games around here on the DD (that’s what I call it in my head. The DD. Or the Double D. The Deez. OK, I don’t call it that at all ever.), so please pardon this trip down Cliche Lane.

I was all set to write a rip-roaring blog post about the epic fail that was Santa photos today. Everyone knew it wouldn’t happen (it didn’t) and I was actually looking forward to typing up the imagery of Declan wall-sliding down Santa’s lap, completely limp from fear and panic, while Simon screamed and reached for me. (There, I described it) But instead, I’m sad.

I’m sad because even if Declan and Simon never get up the courage to sit on a random stranger’s lap and whisper the names of toys to him while their photos are taken (seriously, WHO thought this up?), I know that their Christmas wishes will come true. And I know that for so many kids, no matter who they tell, they will be disappointed on Christmas morning.

I know, cue the Debbie Downer music.

The reason for this detour from the norm is because while we were at the mall, we saw 2 Angel Trees set up. We had stopped on our way to the mall at my church to pick up an Angel list there, but no one was there, so when I saw the ones at the mall, I figured we’d grab one from there. I was so disappointed to see that the trees were both still full of lists, especially since most of the lists asked that the presents be returned by Nov. 30.

I started looking at the lists, hoping that one would grab me more than the others. It didn’t. They all grabbed me. I don’t know what the Angel Tree policies are, but on all the lists that I saw, the boys and girls were asking for pajamas, warm-ups, winter coats and socks and shoes. Some little girls wanted a church dress and shoes, some boys wanted jeans. No one had put toys or books or even “fun” clothes like slippers or Crocs. Maybe they aren’t allowed to, I’m not sure. Or maybe they CAN ask for toys, but know that socks and underwear is more important. I don’t know. But it broke my heart.

I want so bad to instill a sense of empathy and giving in my kids. I want them to know how lucky they are, not because they will have a Christmas filled with toys and goodies, but because they will always have people around them that love then and care about them and will make sure that their needs — and most of their wants — will be met. They won’t have to ask for winter coats for Christmas because SOMEBODY, be it me, or Paul or their grandparents, will always be around to make sure they are warm. But these kids have one or more parents in jail or prison, which means they have one less person that is there to make sure they have soft pajamas on at night. Not that they have one less person who CARES, but one less person there to take care.

So I did literally the least I could do, and grabbed 2 lists, one for a little boy and one for a little girl, both who want pajamas. I plan to get them the warmest, softest and sweetest pajamas I can find, and throw in some bedtime books as well. I wish I could take all the lists and make all their wishes come true, but I can’t. I hope that my small gesture, and the gestures of so many others, can help ease some of the stress that these families face during the holidays.

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Time management

I am always looking for ways to cut corners around the house. Even though I’m trying to get better at housekeeping, I’m still inherently disinterested in anything to do with cleaning or organizing. I am always on the lookout for the domestic equivalent of a “get rich quick” scheme, so when I came across this article the other day, I immediately jumped all over it. “Clean Your House in Less Than an Hour,” it says, and then helpfully breaks down how to tackle each room in the most time efficient way.

After reading the article, the first thought I had was “Obviously this writer doesn’t have kids.”

NOTHING can be done efficiently with kids in the house. Literally, nothing. At least, not with small kids in the house. Once you have older kids, so I’m told, they can entertain themselves or each other for more than 5 minutes at a time, but that’s not what I’ve got. With a 3.5 year-old and a crawling baby who is into everything together, I get maybe 2-3 minutes at a time to focus on any one task — and when I am I focusing on only one task at a time? — so I already know that if I follow this plan, I’d fail miserably.

So for any other moms out there thinking of trying to accomplish a clean house in 60 minutes or less, let me tell you how it really goes down. My comments will be italicized.

Clean Your House in Less Than an Hour Maybe a Day

Zone 1: Bedrooms
Approximate time predicted: 10 minutes per bedroom

Do a clean sweep. Strip dirty linens and toss in the hamper. Stop oldest child from running off with all your pillows to make a fort. Permit him to jump on bed, but quietly, because the baby is sleeping. Stash unnecessary items clogging your dresser or nightstand in nearby drawers or closets. Gather all dinosaurs, Underoos, firetrucks and pop-up books and put them on the bed, where they will stay until you put sheets back on the bed, and then they will return to the dresser/floor/nightstand/under the bed. Empty the wastebasket. Think “hotel”-you want spartan surfaces to help the room look tidier. I disagree. Spartan surfaces promote climbing and more crap-piling. Just keep your own stuff out rather than replace it with kid stuff.

Make the bed. Take a tip from hotel maids: Rather than trying to tuck sheets under the end of the mattress, lift up each corner of the mattress with one hand and tuck with the other. It’s faster. Put fitted sheet down. Remove child. Put flat sheet down. Child immediately crawls under it and “hides.” You have to find him, then join him in the tent, after you find the flashlight and his stuffed dog to go camping. While scavenging the house, the baby wakes up. Abandon all further chores while baby is changed and played with for a few minutes.

Zone 2: Bathroom

Approximate time predicted: 9 minutes

Do your prep work. Spritz the sink, vanity, shower and tub with your all-purpose spray and let sit. Before spritzing, remove bath toys, Thomas toothbrush, bubble bath bottle and bath seat from tub and sink. Place in hallway. 

Tackle the toilet. Sprinkle baking soda into the bowl, give it a thorough scrub with the toilet brush, then flush. Next, spray a microfiber cloth with all-purpose spray and wipe down the outside of the toilet and tank. Ok, obviously this author doesn’t have sons. I don’t “sprinkle baking soda” or “wipe” the outside of the porcelain throne. I hose that bad boy down with the strongest chemical concoction I can legally buy. I also scrub down the 3-foot radius surrounding the toilet, since it is apparently just a “suggestion” for the 4 and under crowd. Cleaning the toilet alone should take 9 minutes.

Clean the mirror. Spray on glass cleaner and, starting in the top corner, wipe in a circular motion. Don’t do this. Leave the streaks and dust, they cover the dark circles and bed head. +1 minute.

Go back to the sink/tub. Use the toothbrush to quickly scrub hard-to-reach spots around the fixtures.Then, working back-to-front, start in one corner and move horizontally, wiping the counter, vanity, fixtures and handles. By this point in time, just grab a wet washcloth and wipe down what you can because it’s lunch time. Do the same to the shower and tub. Any remaining cleaner will be splashed away during the cannonballs that will take place in the evening’s bath.

Mop the floor. Using a water-dampened microfiber mop, quickly mop your way out of the room, beginning in a far corner and ending at the doorway. Again, just focus on the toilet area. The rest gets flooded nightly during the aforementioned bath time.

2-hour time lapse now takes place while you prepare lunches, change diapers, attempt to eat something yourself, find a desired TV show for oldest, nurse a baby, put baby down for nap time and chug a cup of coffee.

Zone 3: Kitchen
Approximate time predicted: 12 minutes This one makes me laugh the hardest.

Declutter. Spend a minute or two removing any clutter from countertops-put items back in the cabinets, stash papers in a drawer. The emptier your counters, the cleaner your kitchen looks. Collect markers, Play-Doh containers, books, placemats, bibs, Hot Wheels and drawn-on grocery lists, and look around for a place to stash them. Throw Pile them neatly on the kitchen table.

Wipe down appliances. Swipe the fridge, dishwasher and stove with a damp cloth. Use something stronger than just water to get the slobber and Goldfish-encrusted fingerprints off the entire kitchen. I’m thinking fire would work best.

Tackle the floor. Starting in a far corner, sweep your way out. Then give the floor a fast once-over with a water-dampened microfiber mop, again working your way out. This is the clincher. First of all, if you have a crawling baby who eats finger foods AND a white cat like I do, you will sweep constantly. It’s all I do, not that you can tell. Second, once you have swept (for the third time that day), you are not ready to mop. You are ready to chisel. Cheerios, Puffs, Mum-Mums and Yogurt Melts, once they have been in a baby’s mouth, turn into a form of adhesive that rivals Superglue. You think you get them all when you sweep after every single meal, but you don’t. There’s always a few that get away, and now you have your work cut out for you. And really? Only mopping with water? No. Water won’t touch the grime that oozes from the skin of children. Boiling hot bleach is a good start.

Zone 4: Living Room
Approximate time predicted: 15 minutes

 Clear the clutter. Quickly scan the room to see what’s out of place. Stash scattered items like remotes and DVDs in drawers; neatly stack magazines on the coffee table. Wrong. See what’s out of place? Probably everything is out of place, because while you’ve been cleaning, your kid or kids have been unsupervised. DVDs are either locked away or are under the entertainment center. The remote hasn’t been seen for hours. Magazines don’t go near kids unless you want them shredded. Just grab whatever toys you can in one load and dump them in a corner or bin. 

Dust. Start in one corner of the room, and follow the same how-tos as in the bedrooms, working top-to-bottom and back-to-front so that the dust falls onto the floor. And if you have blinds, swipe them with the long-armed duster. Don’t even bother.

Make glass gleam. To clean glass surfaces, spray a microfiber cloth with your glass cleaner and wipe in wide circular motions, working from one back corner to the front. Now this is one chore that kids can help with. I give Declan a bottle of vinegar and a paper towel and let him go to town. Granted, he only cleans one square foot of the window, but just check it off the list, the baby is waking up.

Vacuum. Speed-vacuum yourself out of the room, starting in the farthest corner. Wait for baby to wake up to do this because not only is it a loud tool, the screaming that will commence because your 3 year old is “scared” or is missing his show because he can’t hear it could wake the dead. Stop 3 times to hear what it is he’s trying to tell you. Finally, give up.

And now your house is clean! It only took 8 hours, if you are lucky, and you can repeat the process in 3 days. Now pour yourself a drink, you deserve it, because the house will be trashed by bedtime.


 

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