Musical Cleaning aka My Boring Blog (pun intended)

After my emotional vomiting post the other day about how I’m too happy to be your lovable curmudgeon of a blogger I got a bunch of messages and emails crying out “Oh please Jen, just blog anyway! We need your voice in our lives! You’re amazing and fabulous and everything I want to be when I grow up!”

Well I might be exaggerating a little bit, but they did contain the general theme of “just write random shit Jen, I’ll probably read it anyway” which I promise is not what I was fishing for when I wrote that but thank you anyway.

I’ve decided to listen to both of all of my loyal readers and writing random shit that’s on my mind instead of abandoning the blog… today that random shit is that I have a new method of keeping my house clean that I’m calling “Musical Cleaning”. When I say I keep my house clean I should probably put “clean” in quotes… I am a highly creative and highly disorganized person with two small children. The only way my house is ever going to stay clean without the quotation marks is if I start doing meth or maybe crack cocaine and I have no intention of doing either. I value my teeth and ability to bend over in the shower far too much.

laundry room
This is a picture of my laundry room at this exact moment… I just wanted to make sure nobody was getting TOO impressed with my whole cleaning spiel.

Musical Cleaning is basically the adulting version of musical chairs. You pick a playlist (preferably something upbeat) and clean one room furiously and with great gusto until the song is over. As soon as that song is over you stop whatever you’re doing and move to the next room and clean it until the next song is done. Repeat until you’ve done all the main rooms in your house. If a room isn’t totally clean when the song is done, fuck it, it’ll be there tomorrow for another song.

There are a couple reasons I think this approach is the bomb. First, it’s not overwhelming. If I look at a super messy room and say to myself “I’m going to clean until this is clean” the reality is I won’t… I’ll find an excuse to do something else and not put a single thing away, but I can do basically anything for the duration of Livin’ La Vida Loca.

Secondly every room doesn’t have to happen at the same time, just at some point during the day. If I try to clean everything I will get interrupted two minutes in and then never start cleaning again after that, but unless one of my kids is bleeding profusely from the head they basically never need something that can’t wait till the end of one stupid song.

Thirdly, and probably most importantly, it gets me to do something without feeling like I have to do everything. And doing something… anything… is what adulting is all about after all.

See y’all, that’s what you get when you tell me to “just write”… you get posts about cleaning my bathroom and Ricky Martin classics. You brought this on yourselves.

Apparently I’m Too Happy To Blog

I’m not really sure what to do with this blog anymore.

If you haven’t noticed, the bulk of my writing over the last few years has essentially been hilarious complaining. Well maybe not hilarious… maybe more like slightly amusing and I’m flattering myself.

A friend told me once that nobody gave a shit about the things I wrote about… only how I wrote them. She said I had a talent for bitching about every day nuisances in such an amusing way that people actually wanted to hear me do it. I looked back through my most popular posts which were all about things like baby vomit, being slightly ill, or how poorly I react to 20 minutes without internet and couldn’t really argue with her.

But recently I’ve become unfortunate enough to have gotten basically everything I’ve ever wanted. Or… you’ve become unfortunate enough for me to have gotten everything I’ve ever wanted.

I’ve always had the best husband in the world but since he landed this fabulous new job I actually see him once in a blue moon (something that rarely happened before while he was working the old job that paid peanuts and trying to finish yet another degree). That job also moved us out of my least favorite environment (fuck the desert) and to my absolute favorite place where we bought my absolute dream house. My kids are healthy, my dogs are assholes but they’re adorable so who cares…

I think about writing here and have nothing to say that I think anyone gives a shit about. Nobody wants to hear “Dear Diary, Today I finished my book, colored with chalk for two hours with my kids, lazily sat in the sun drinking coffee and playing ukulele, and made salmon for dinner. It was a beautiful day.” My life is beautiful and amazing and fun and perfect… but I don’t know how to write those things. I know how to write about my inability to act like a grown up and trips to the ER.

I don’t want to just talk about my kids or homeschooling cause the world has enough of those blogs and honestly I think most of them are boring too. And I have my own story, I don’t want to drowned in my children’s.

I don’t want to be one of those bloggers who just writes responses to shitty things that happen in the world because that sounds depressing.

I don’t think I can write about serious stuff because I can barely take myself seriously, how can I expect other people to.

So what am I left with? I’m left with the perfect life but a blog without stories. And I don’t know what to do with it.

Funschool Sunday

What we’ve been doing instead of school these past couple weeks.
funschooling
1
. Learned the difference between the skeletons of birds that can fly and birds that can’t. What makes flight possible?
2. Aquarium
3-4. Zoo
5&15. Circus skills
6. Learned about the solar system through art.
7. Learned about crab life cycles, eco systems, how to find/catch/cook them.
8. Walked through the life cycle of salmon.
9. Learned about the edible plants in our yard.
10. Painting
11. Learning to ride bikes.
12. Climbing
13. Reading
14. How about pi and pie.
16. Powell’s City of Books

Hello, My Name Is Jen, and I Am An Old Lady

This morning started out like any other morning. I got up, started the coffee, went to the bathroom… but then, as I was washing my hands, I saw it. One bright silver hair mixed into my otherwise pitch black unruly mane.

hair

Just sitting there… staring at me. All silver and beautiful and very very much not black. Just sitting there staring at me like it was no big deal… like it’s very existence wasn’t a HUGE something.

The last time I found a grey hair on my head I was 20 and had a full on meltdown in the bathroom at my work, because I was positive I was now going to be like my stepdad… completely grey by the age of 22. My crisis was averted when I quickly discovered that it wasn’t actually a grey hair, I had just gotten sunscreen on one strand so I could wipe it off and move on with my life.

But this was definitely a real grey hair and it was definitely attached firmly to my head (I double and triple checked) and I couldn’t decide how I should feel. I’d always swore once I started going grey I was going to do so gracefully… because old age is a beautiful privilege that a lot of people don’t get, and because silver hair is gorgeous, and because embracing the maturity that you’ve earned is a wonderful thing, and because I want to set an example for my children about how I’m not afraid of getting old and about how society’s fixation on youth is stupid and blah blah blah.

And on the other hand I AM NOT EVEN 30!! All those cliche quips about aging gracefully I said when I thought I wouldn’t STILL BE IN MY FREAKING 20s when I started dealing with it! And OMG seriously you guys I AM NOT OLD YET!

So I had a crisis… but not a normal kind of crisis, I had a crisis over deciding whether or not I am supposed to have a crisis right now. A crisis over the possibility of a crisis over one stupid hair. Even at the time I realized how stupid it was so since I clearly can’t be trusted to think through this on my own I messaged a couple friends who’s opinions I trust nothing but the above picture… and got the following responses.

“It’s Beautiful!!!”
“I have tons of grey hair… clumps… but I kind of love grey hair so….”
“I’m jealous! It’s gorgeous!”
“I’m going grey all over, I hope mine turns silver like yours so I can be one of those badass silver haired old ladies.”
“Awesome! If you get a bunch more you can totally be Anna from Frozen for Halloween this year!”

So apparently the conflict I was having over the whole thing was not reflected in the minds of the women I love, trust, and turn to for advice in life. And since I pride myself on surrounding myself with amazing, strong, fabulous women I may as well take their advice when it’s offered… or when I specifically ask for it… so at least for now my crisis has ended. I am aging gracefully and embracing my new found natural highlights.

And yes I do mean “highlights” to be plurel… I went on a small search and officially have at least 3 shockingly silver hairs. But I’m ok… I’m ok… I’m ok… (I’m going to keep saying that until I’m fully convinced.)

The Beach is Only 1.5 Hours Away

So seriously… why don’t we go more? An hour and a half… that’s it. And we’ve been there only twice since we moved here how many months ago. (In my defense, David has been gone on work trips at least half that time and two kids at the beach by myself isn’t something I’m up for.)

Well yesterday we went. David is a hunter/fisher at heart and the Oregon coast is more full of clams, cockles, and crabs than you can shake a stick at.

clamming

The kids spent their day building with the sand, drawing in it, digging for clams along side David, investigating all the different forms of beach life… they learned all about the different kinds of clams, especially razor clams because they were the kind we were looking for. Of course they wanted to know where the clam’s poop out of because everything at this age leads back to the topic of butts.

Finn spent most of his time just digging. Digging digging digging.

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And Verona spent a lot of the day just running along the surf with joy.

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Being Single is OK, Being Cliche is Dumb

Dear Single People,

Quit bitching about Valentine’s Day.

Yep, I went there, I did. And yes, I’m well aware that I have no right to be telling you this seeing as how I haven’t been single on the big V Day since high school… but not having the qualifications to tell someone what to do has never stopped me before. (And isn’t the whole point of a blog the ability to run your mouth about things whether anyone should give a shit about your opinion or not?)

I get it… not having anyone to hold your hand over a candle lit dinner on February 14th means you’re not the key demographic this very minor holiday is aiming at. What I don’t get is why that stops you from having Valentine fun.

I am a little bit French, half “dark something” (<– that’s the technical term), and possibly Hobbit… there is not a drop of Irish blood in these veins that I’m aware of. And yet, somehow, I still manage to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like it’s my mother fucking job. I can’t imagine anyone in this world who would describe me as particularly patriotic… yet I still manage to celebrate the 4th of July every year. Nobody within the key demographic that holidays are aimed at want to stop other people from having fun right along with them.

I’ve never been carded while attempting to buy a Car Bomb on March 17th and had the bartender say “Sorry lady, you’re definitely over 21 but that last name is clearly German. Go home and drink some ice tea you non-Irish poser, today isn’t for you.” I’ve never had the guys working the firework stand on July 4th shoo me out of the tent because I’m a Mennonite who doesn’t say the pledge. And I promise nobody is going to slap the glue stick out of your hand if you get out the red, white, and pink construction paper and try to make your BFF a card.

Sure, Valentine’s Day is about love, just like St. Patrick’s Day is about Irish heritage, and July 4th is about patriotism. But those days also about chocolate, green beer, blowing shit up… and chocolate, green beer, and blowing shit up all awesome.

So if you’re sad about not having a special someone in you’re life that’s fine, I understand why that might be bummer, you’re allowed to be bummed. If you just don’t like Valentine’s Day and don’t want to celebrate then don’t, you’re don’t have to. If you really, genuinely, get off on hating Valentine’s Day then invite another single friend over and eat cookie dough all night while you commiserate, cookie dough is magic and sometimes wallowing feels good.

But loudly bitching about Valentine’s Day because you’re single doesn’t make you sound edgy or counter cultural or like you’re making a point. It just makes you sound like a cliche, and that’s lame.

Instead go buy that 75% off chocolate on the 15th. I know I will be.

Why I’m Not Allowed Near Art Supplies

I was talking to a friend a few days ago who told me she can’t leave art supplies out because then her kids get into them unsupervised and there is always giant messes and she just can’t handle it. I was like, yep, I hear ya. I can’t leave art supplies laying around within people’s reach either. But it has absolutely nothing to do with my kids.

Today there was a bunch of ribbons, tacks, and various kinds of paint that got left out for whatever reason. So I picked them all up and put them away. Just kidding!
art6
I started to go clean up the kids room and was like “Hmmm… I bet I could use this ribbon to find a better way to display the kids art!” and spent like an hour measuring, cutting, and planning… then hanging floral ribbons from the ceiling to floor in my hallway that I can use paperclips to clip the kids’ art to now so I don’t have to fight with tape. Ta-da! The good news is I now have a super easy way to display my kids’ art. The bad news is I didn’t clean a damn thing.

Then I thought since I’d gotten too distracted in the kids room I’d clean my room instead… but then I saw more ribbon and was like “Hmmm… I bet I could use the rest of this to find a better way to organize my earrings!” so instead of cleaning a damn thing in my room I made an even bigger mess by dismanteling a giant picture frame, pounding the metal things that hold the glass in down, spray painting it blue… then not liking the blue and spray painting it green… then deciding the blue really was better and spray painting it blue again, then measuring, cutting, and planning how I was going to use the ribbon, and trying multiple ways to hold the ribbon in place until I found one that was successful. Ta-da! The good news is once I hang that bad boy up on the wall in my room I’ll have a super easy way to hang all my earrings and other jewelry so I don’t have to go all pirate on my dresser every day and dig for buried treasure. The bad news is I didn’t clean a damn thing.

Then I was talking to my friend Brittney, the conversation went in a fun/weird direction, so I drew a picture of what we would look like if our houses burnt down. That’s us sitting on our ash covered home foundations drinking coffee and waving to each other. The good news is… well actually that one wasn’t helpful at all other than maybe mildly amusing Brittney. And I didn’t clean a damn thing.

Then I walked past some paint and made a bunch of happy envelops to send people mail… letters that maybe I’ll get distracted enough to write someday. Or not.

I also played a lot of Beatles songs on the ukulele cause it was that kind of day and cause I probably shouldn’t leave that laying out where I can see it either. And I read a lot of books to the kids and they joined me in a lot of the art because I am good at spending time with my kids… just not good at keeping my house from looking like a tornado went through it.

You know what I didn’t do?
art5

Clean a damn thing.

Funschool Sunday

What’s been going on in our little corner of the homeschooling universe.
funs
1. Collections
2. Sculpting
3. MagnaTiles and Light tables
4. Face painting
5. Being a veterinarian
6. Learning about circuits
7. Learning about vogue-ing
8. Learning about air pressure
9. Learning about aerodynamics
10. Learning about electrical currents
11. Building
12. Clay
13-14. Swings
15. Cooking
16. Glazing

Ashes in my Pine Tree

This morning my doorbell rang and I found an old woman on my porch who announced herself with the phrase “Good morning, I’m about to ask you the strangest question you’ll be asked all day.”

Just for the record, if you’re trying to spark my interest that intro is a pretty damn good way to do it.

She then proceeding to hold up a big ziploc baggie full of ashes and asked if I would mind if she laid her mother to rest in my front yard. Yes, you heard me right, she wanted to spread her dead mother’s ashes on my seldom mowed lawn.

tree

Apparently this whole part of town used to be one farm, specifically her family’s farm. They’d lived there for generations and the morning her mother was born (in what is now my neighbor’s house) her grandfather planted the giant tree out in front of my house in honor of her arrival into this world. As her mother grew she spent huge swaths of her childhood under/in that tree as it grew right a long with her and had always said that she wanted to spend eternity in it’s shade.

The whole property had been sectioned up and sold to people building city property some time around 1930, so this lady had been going through the neighborhood for I don’t even know how long with old maps, property deeds, and county land records trying to figure out exactly which house her mom and grown up in and subsequently which tree she wanted her ashes under… and was pretty sure it was this one.

I, of course, told her to go for it.

And that’s the story of how there came to be a really old lady spending eternity right outside my kids’ bedroom window.

Conversations With My Children: Marriage

Verona: “What happens if I want to marry someone but they don’t want to marry me?”

Me: “Well you won’t have to deal with that for a long time because you an’t get married until you’re a grown up but if that would happen you’d have a couple options. If they loved you and wanted to be with you but just didn’t want to get married you could just be together and not get married.  You could also stop being with that person and it would break your heart but eventually you’d get over it and maybe find someone who loved you as much as you loved them.”

Verona: “I don’t want my heart broken.”

Me: “Unfortunately most people get their heart broken at least once in their lives, it’s part of loving. But as long as you eventually find someone who loves you as much as you love them and treats you good that’s what matter.”

Verona: “Oh yeah, they have to treat me good. I don’t want some dirtbag who lies to me.”

Me: “Good, keep that attitude. But where’d you hear that?”

Verona: “Movies. But if someone doesn’t want to marry me I have another option, besides breaking my heart or being with the without getting married.”

Me: “Oh yeah? And what’s that?”

Verona: “I’ll lock them in the basement. I’ll keep them in my house and never let them out.”

Me: “Interesting, what about when you leave the house? What would stop them from leaving?”

Verona: “I’ll have dad come over and guard them for me.”

Me: “Hmmm, ok. But that will only keep them in your house, it won’t make them want to marry you.”

Verona: “They’ll have to marry me because I won’t ever let them out until they start making better choices. And the better choice is to marry me. Because I’m awesome.”

Me: “You are awesome, but I’m pretty sure that’s how love and getting married works.”

Verona: “Well I guess we’ll see.”