Well I had hoped to have a wonderful “after” post about the Cure, telling you how amazing my kitchen was afterwards, but I basically wrote that a week or so ago. The fact is, the kitchn cure ended up being a bit of a bust.
The first four days were amazing, and I really felt like my kitchen was cleaner, healthier, more user-friendly. Every task after that pretty much blew.
Case in point: Day 5, the assignment was to restock ingredients. Since I already had a pretty well stocked pantry, I basically only bought two things. Day 6, the assignment was to buy tools and appliances to replace the ones I threw away. Well, the whole point for me was that I only got rid of things I never use, so I really didn’t feel the need to replace anything. Also, since both my husband and I are currently sans paycheck, it didn’t seem prudent to go splurge on a fancy gadget.
Day 7, the assignment was to do a “special project” – and while there are many projects I would love to tackle in my kitchen some day, the whole no-paycheck thing made that nearly impossible. I thought about coming up with something just so I could say I did something, and in the end I rearranged my pots and pans. Go me.
Day 8‘s assignment was to buy fresh flowers and bring them into the kitchen. I actually laughed when I saw this one. It’s a nice sentiment, but it was really starting to feel like the folks running this thing were just out of ideas. We have two cats who have a tendency to jump on our kitchen counter when our backs are turned, so I knew any fresh flowers would not be safe in my kitchen. Next!
Day 9, the penultimate assignment, was to MAKE A MEAL. I hate to break it to you guys, but I make meals in my kitchen almost every day. So yeah, I did technically fulfill this assignment. I can’t even remember what I made now…I think it was a spinach pesto pasta? Yeah, let’s say it was that.
And on the final day of this Kitchn Cure, which started with a bang and definitely ended with a whimper, the assignment was to plan a dinner party. I contemplated doing it. I really did. And some day I will. But with a toddler in the house who goes to bed at 7 pm, a dinner party just doesn’t sound feasible. We’ll do it some time, I’m sure. Maybe we’ll make it a potluck, since I’m not sure how I’d get my son to bed AND make a multi-course meal for a group of people. Perhaps a make-ahead casserole?
So yeah. Not a roaring success, but I did re-line my kitchen shelves, clean out my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. I even attempted to clean my oven. My dishwasher has now died a slow, painful death so that could technically be my “special project” – but for now we are handwashing dishes until we have some money coming in again and can justify a big purchase like that. The Kitchn Cure started off practical and ended up feeling more like it was a dreamer’s task. Still, I’m glad I did it. My kitchen stayed clean for about two days, so that’s something.
Timing can be a funny thing. I had a sneaking suspicion I might end up cheating on this whole Kitchn Cure thing, but then the government went ahead and shut down and I was put out of work. Suddenly I had a lot of time on my hands to actually get this stuff done. (Would I rather things had not happened this way? Of course. But my kitchen is grateful, and I’m trying to see the silver lining of the whole no-paycheck-for-who-knows-how-long thing). Also, it made me wonder how anyone who has a full time job and children could possibly participate fully in the Kitchn Cure. But I digress.
I am currently up to date, though I admit I didn’t do one task each day. In fact, the first day I did nothing (after a full day of work), the second day I did tasks one and two, the third day I did nothing (after a day at Disneyland), and the fourth day I did tasks three and four. This is a lot of work, but it’s paying off!
I have been taking photos, but the quality is quite dismal due to poor lighting and me not being used to the new camera feature on ios 7. My apologies. But here are some representative (sort of) pictures for each step.
Step 1: the refrigerator and freezer. My assigned task was to empty it out, throw out things that were bad or expired, scrub the entire fridge and freezer, and put back the good stuff in an organized fashion. It was a roaring success. My before picture was super dark and blurry, so I will only share the after:
There was PROGRESS, my friends. The fridge was not clean. I actually thought it wouldn’t be bad because it was “new” – but then I remembered that “new” actually meant about two years old. And I had never really cleaned it. (Nor had my husband, but let’s not get into that!) It is soooo nice to have a clean fridge. And the freezer? I didn’t even take photos of that because it was too depressing. But I keep opening the fridge or freezer to get things and find myself actually singing, “Helooooo clean fridge!” more than once a day. It’s nice.
Step 2: The Pantry. Again, my assignment was to take everything out, get rid of expired stuff, clean the shelves, clean the pantry items, and put them back in an orderly fashion. I took it one farther and put new shelf liner on the shelves, because why not? It went a little something like this:
This one was another doozy. I thought it would take me maybe an hour, tops. It was more like two. Possibly more. Granted, the whole re-lining the shelves thing was no small feat. And I got rid of a lot of stuff! But again, rewarding. And I keep peering in my pantry and smiling.
Step 3: Appliances and Tools – this task was surprisingly tough. I was told to take all my appliances and kitchen tools out of their cupboards and various hiding places, get rid of the items I never use, clean the items I do, clean the cupboards, and put them back. I donated four bags of stuff to Goodwill after this step, people. I’m not exaggerating. I also re-lined the drawers and reorganized all my tools and utensils. The photos are only representative of this part, but I promise it was another step that was a lot of work!
I’m pretty proud of myself. I got rid of silly things like a mango pitter and kiwi scoop, things that have very little use in my kitchen. I gave away a bunch of small appliances and items that we just don’t use, things that were well-intentioned gifts but simply not practical, like our THREE fondue pots. It was refreshing. My kitchen cupboards have a little more room to breathe.
Step 4: Deep Clean. This step was not fun, and yet it was. I was supposed to deep clean my kitchen, getting the nooks and crannies that normally don’t get much love from the mop or the sponge. I interpreted this my own way – to clean things I never usually clean, at least not properly. This translated to the top of the range hood and refrigerator, where dust and grime accumulate unseen. Also to mopping the floor properly, not just swiffering or spot-cleaning. I also wiped down the cabinets, inside and out. And last but not least, I cleaned the oven. GULP.
Friends, I had *never* cleaned my oven before. I’m ashamed to admit this. Many a chicken has been roasted, with drippings thrown askew, and no cleaning took place. I do not have a self-cleaning oven, and therefore it just sat dirty for several years. Today I attempted to clean it the all natural way, using nothing but water and baking soda, as I read on countless blogs and cleaning web sites. They all swore that if I made a paste of baking soda and water, smeared it all over the oven, and let it sit for several hours, the grime would wipe away with great ease. And, well, it sort of worked. But not really. I am not including photos of this step because, well, there isn’t much visual evidence. I wish I had taken before and after photos of the range hood, because I really worked magic on that one.
So that is that. I’m not quite halfway through but my kitchen looks amazing already. I don’t know what more can be in store at this point because I feel like I’ve covered almost all of the kitchen now! But rest assured, they will find more corners for me to clean and things for me to throw away, I’m sure. If the government shutdown continues for another week, I might actually complete this whole cure!
There isn’t anything horribly wrong with my kitchen. It could use some updating, definitely. But until I suddenly have a gazillion dollars, any major renovation is a pure fantasy at this time. So when I saw that one of my favorite blogs, The Kitchn (over at apartment therapy), was doing their annual “Kitchn Cure,” I decided to sign up.
What is it exactly? I’m not sure, to be honest. But for 10 days I will be given some supposedly not-time-consuming assignment to help make my kitchen generally “healthier.” Cleaner, perhaps. Better stocked, perhaps. Better organized, I’m sure. I’m going to blog about it here to let you know how it’s going.
Want to join me? Sign up for the Kitchn cure here! It starts tomorrow (Monday).
Have you ever fallen into a safe bubble of routine and semi-normalcy and general happiness and well-being? If not, I recommend it. Of course when I felt like I was in such a bubble, I had to up and change everything.
Well, just one thing. Despite my lack of blogging around these parts, I haven’t been up to much beside my new normal. Working full time, taking my son to and from day care, solo parenting at night when my husband is working. Doing family things on the weekends. Generally enjoying life but also treading water a bit at times. Life can be hard.
Then we finally got the call that we got into the day care closer to our home. We had been on the wait list for TWO YEARS. I kid you not. I debated over what to do, as this had been our first choice. When we first started at our second choice day care I had a lot of issues with the way they handled things, and kept my fingers crossed that we would still get into our first choice eventually. Of course, eight months later, we’ve become accustomed to the way the second choice did it, and even grew to like it quite a bit. E was in love with his teachers, and, chatterbox that he’s become, constantly talks about his friends at day care. So the idea of taking him away from all that just seemed mean.
But we did it anyway. It was one of those things – weigh the pros (not making him commute 45 minutes each way with me every day, actually getting to work from home on occasion, staying home when I’m sick instead of infecting all my coworkers, to name a few), against the cons (OH MY GOD CHANGE IS SCARY HOLD ME). The pros won out. We made the switch.
This week we took E for short visits each morning at the new day care before going on to spend full days at his old one. Yesterday was supposed to be his final day at the old day care, and I envisioned tears from the teachers who have become attached to my little cutie, and maybe some confused tears from him, too. It’s a bittersweet thing for me to know I will no longer have his company on my commute every day, so there were bound to be some tears from me, too. Instead, there was vomit. And lots of it.
Sorry, was that gross? Tuesday night I was hit like a ton of bricks with stomach flu, and spent the entire night running to the bathroom. Fun times. It meant there was no way in hell I could go to work Wednesday, which meant I couldn’t take E to his final day at his old day care. My parents swooped in to rescue me and babysit (THIS is exactly why we needed a local day care!) since I could barely stand up without feeling woozy. So E didn’t get to say goodbye to his teachers and friends, and I may very well feel guilt over this for the rest of my life, even though I’m sure he will forget them in a couple of weeks.
Today, however, he did go for his first day at the new day care. I was nervous. He probably wasn’t, although he did say “no, no” and cling on to me as we walked into the building. He seemed happy when we left him, though, and I am chomping at the bit to hear how his first day went. My fingers are tightly crossed for a report of a good nap, happy eating, happy playing, general friendliness with the 19 (yes, 19!) other toddlers in his class.
It’s change, it’s scary, and I don’t know if it’s the right thing. But it took us out of our comfort zone, and it will force my son to learn to be uprooted and put into new situations. Best that he learn that skill now so he doesn’t end up a pukey bundle of nerves like his mama.
as of this month, I will be officially parenting a four-year-old. four is no joke. three? three seems fresh. soft. three is still vaguely baby-like, or at the very least, a part of toddler-hood.
four is a whole other ballgame.
when gus got to the “terrible” twos (which weren’t really) people told me, “just wait for THREE!” and when three was, dare I say, fun? they said, “omigosh four. that’s when you must stock up on vodka.”
but four always seemed so far off. even in the last few months when he’s been answering “how old are you?” with “three and three-quarters!” as he hurtled along toward this crazy age.
FOUR. no more baby. no more toddler. a fully-fledged kid. all gangly and silly with a sense of humor that tends heavily toward toots.
we have conversations now. he tells me about things he learned, or drama with the other kids at preschool. we talk about current events sometimes, when they filter in. he asks questions… oh goodness he asks questions. the other day I took him to a baseball game and began his education in america’s pastime. we had such a good time together. I’ve always enjoyed being around him, from day one. but now I can honestly say I enjoy his company. I enjoy the distinctive element he brings to the table. his insights and opinions and ideas. it’s a whole facet of motherhood that is new to me, and one I’ve looked forward to since before I was ever even a mother.
so I want to make one thing clear. he is not difficult. but sometimes, parenting him can be.
I find that I am constantly searching for the best way to approach this stage of his life. I don’t always find the right answers when I need them. I make mistakes. he tests his boundaries. I lose my temper. he exerts his autonomy. I lose my patience. I’ll think I’ve found a good path and the next day I read an article about how that particular approach will scar my children for life. some days I mentally high-five myself because I am so winning the motherhood thing. some days I want to crawl into a hole because I fail. at. everything.
finding the love is effortless. parenting is hard. if there’s anything I’ve learned in the last four years, it’s that.
but another thing I’ve learned, I guess, is that no matter what is happening in the world of motherhood, we are never alone. as much as we may feel that way as we see every one of our contemporaries doing it better, healthier, more consistent, etc. I think we all have the demons, don’t we? the self-doubt and the bad days and the moments when you just don’t know what to do.
so four years. overall, I think it’s going to be a good age, this four. I think five is going to be harder (on both my heart and my patience), and I think kindergarten… well I can’t really think about kindergarten at this point. but four… four is going to be good.
I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for a while now. My life for the past few months has been that of the Working Mom. After getting to be a stay at home mom for nearly a year, I re-entered the work force and my son started day care. We made the great shift. And so far? So far, we’re doing okay. Instead of writing a post about how much I miss my baby during the day (and I do), and how much I miss being home and having a bit more time to do stuff around here (I definitely do), I decided it’s time to focus on the bright side.
I’m not intending to be controversial, or to undersell the difficulty of going back to work and putting my son in day care. I’m just trying to take a light-hearted approach to this whole deal. So here you go -
The Bright Side to being back at work:
(1) Regular adult interaction. Some of my co-workers are less interesting than my baby. None of them are as cute, and I don’t want to cuddle any of them. But you know what? We talk about things. Politics, movies, food, what we did over the weekend. We have grown-up conversations. On a regular basis. I missed this more than I realized.
(2) Alone time. Ironically, I get more time to slack off and play on the internet than I did when I was at home with my son. (Don’t tell my boss). I have my own office, and I can close the door if I want. Some days I don’t take a lunch break with my friends – I just shut my door and eat at my desk, reading a book. This is a luxury, my friends. Sure, when I was home I could do this sort of thing during nap time. But there was no guarantee that it would be uninterrupted.
(3) Going to the bathroom. In a similar vein to number 2, now I can go to the bathroom by myself and not worry about my son freaking out or somehow injuring himself in my absence. It’s the little things, folks.
(4) Not having to be entertaining. I love playing with my baby more than just about anything in the world. But sometimes? Sometimes I felt under a lot of pressure to keep him entertained. He’s not that high maintenance, he has simple pleasures, and he can even play alone sometimes. But still, I felt like I was failing him somehow if I didn’t come up with fun activities or make his toys talk in funny voices. When I’m at work, I don’t have any obligation (self-imposed or otherwise) to entertain anyone.
(5) Looking somewhat cute. When I was on leave, I wore yoga pants and t-shirts pretty much every day. If I put on jeans, it was for a special occasion. Now? I actually put a little effort into my appearance. I wear decent (or at least I like to think so) clothing, and even put on a little makeup. It’s kind of nice.
(6) Time and motivation to work out. This is a biggy. There is a gym in my building at work, and I joined it. Best. Decision. Ever. When I was home I always had good intentions – after E went to bed, I’d do a yoga DVD or play my EA Sports game. But I never did it. I was too exhausted or too hungry, or wanted to watch some show I had recorded. But now I actually look forward to working out. It feels like I’m spoiling myself. And I can do it on my lunch break or before I start work for the day.
So there you have it. It’s not exactly a rival for spending all day with my beloved child, but it’s something. And it keeps me getting up and getting dressed for work every day. What about you other working moms? Anything I’m forgetting on this list?
So we are no longer part of the landed gentry. … well at least not for the next few weeks.
In the summer of 2008, Masa and I bought a sweet little house. We brought our babies home there, and watched them grow into toddlers (one of whom doesn’t yet toddle.) We dreamed up many projects, some of which were executed, and some that never were.
Nearly five years have passed since we first set foot on land we own. And now? someone else owns it. We closed escrow on our sale last week. We’re leasing it back from the buyer for a few months till the house that we’re buying is ready for us, and I’ll tell you one thing: that’s a weird feeling. IT’s still MY house… but then again, it’s not.
But, theoretically, if all goes well, sometime in May or early June we’ll be picking up and moving our little homestead about 2 miles east to a bigger and better fit, complete with good schools and a Target mere steps away. I’m excited and scared and nervous and anxious to get it all going and begin this new chapter.
Mostly, though, I think I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful that we landed in the right spot for our boys to flourish. Our first little house is the first place they’ve lived, but this new one is going to be the home they remember. I’m really excited about that.
Hopefully once things are rolling along a little further, I’ll share some photos with you and some ideas for what we’ll do to really make it ours. Until then I’m pretty much drowning in loan documents and escrow paperwork.