How Do I Make My House a Home?

Bedroom
Bedroom (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

Do you love your house?

I have a love/hate relationship with my house.

I love it because at least we have it. And I hate it because, well, it’s not what I want, or where I want to be.

My husband and I bought this house a few months before we got married. It has three very small bedrooms and one bath. It’s a 1950’s “bungalow.” My husband was in love with the house before we even looked at it. The idea of a bungalow was irresistible to him. Great marketing, right? I was never really that convinced of my love for the house, but I did love the ceiling fan in what was staged as the living room, so I agreed.

It didn’t seem like a big deal to me to not love the house. This was not supposed to be our forever home. We had planned to sell this house before our first child went to kindergarten. But then the economy happened. And the housing crisis, and we have our own financial struggles, so we stay here, in this super cramped house, for fear that we might not qualify for another loan.

Every day our 1950’s bungalow looks more and more like it has been rode hard and put away wet. Sometimes I feel like the house is crumbling around us, and truth be told, I feel embarrassed by it.

There are cracks in a couple of the walls. There are doorknob-sized holes in the walls where doors have been slammed into them. The poor-quality door jams are loose from improper installation, 60 years of wear and tear, and the occasional slam. The paint is chipping. Our bathroom needs a complete overhaul. Our bedrooms are way too small, and we don’t even have a closet in our room. In fact, our entire house has three functional closets. THREE! Our finished basement is wet and moldy. My office is in our dining area. I don’t even want to talk about the appliances. The garage roof leaks and the whole thing just needs to be burned down. For real. I have a hard time keeping up with the gardens, so they like an overgrown wasteland.

I’m not much of a decorator. I have decorations, and pictures, but they are not displayed, because I keep thinking it’s pointless when we need to paint – again, and try to put the house on the market.

How do people make this shit happen, because I feel stuck. I know all of the problems with this house are fixable. But where do we find the time and the money? Do we really want to take care of them, or do we cut our losses and run?

In the meantime, how do I OWN this house, and not feel embarrassed by it? How do I make this house a home?

 

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The One Where I Spill My Guts About My Son’s Behavior

I’m going to be honest with you guys. I’m really tired of my son.

The level of disrespect and general level of unhappiness is becoming so distressing that I’m barely functioning as his mother. I don’t want to be around him. I don’t want to do anything for him.

I’ve given this so much thought – maybe too much. What am I doing wrong? Why is he so unhappy? Is he depressed? Do we have a real issue here?

I don’t have the answer. He is generally a normal, happy boy. Until it comes to me or his father. The way he treats us is just…horrifying. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING is ever right. Ever enough.

Why? How did we create this person who disrespects, demands, and blames us for everything? How did he become so…spoiled?

What do you do when all you want to do is scream, and cry, and hit, and run away?

What do you do when it’s always just boiling. Festering.

When the last thing you want to hear is anyone’s voice. Whether disrespecting, whining, asking, needing.

When you can’t for the LIFE of you imagine what else they could possibly need. What you AREN’T doing?

When the more you give them, the more they want. The more they complain. The more they tell you they hate you. What a terrible mother you are.

Who am I raising? And what am I doing wrong. Isn’t the way he treats me a reflection on my motherhood?

I love him so much. This is not the mother I wanted to be. I wanted to be the mother who has long talks, and listens, and encourages moving away from the norm. Using imagination, experimentation. Trial and error.

But I’m not.

I’m the mother who needs strict adherence to the rules. The routine. Do it now the way I want it done before my head blows off.

I don’t know why. Because I work from here, and I need some level of understanding and order? Because I just need people to not be contradictory even for just a little while?

I don’t know. But please tell me I’m not alone. And that it will be okay.

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Little Old Ladies

Little Old LadiesLittle Old Ladies.

Who used to meet their friends for coffee at Woolworth’s.

Who would wrap their restaurant leftovers in napkins and put them in their purse.

Who used their caring insightfulness to help guide us through our troubles.

Who we named our babies after.

Remember them? I do.

I’ve been struck, lately, by this need for little old ladies in my life. Because, well, I used to have them and now I don’t.

It started when I was selling merchandise at a local festival. This old, wrinkled woman handed me a fresh, crisp twenty dollar bill with her tight, crooked fingers.

“Two buttons please. Keep the change.”

What she donated was not much, really. ‘Only’ ten dollars. But I cannot put a price on the nourishment she fed my soul.

Yesterday I took my son to get his hair cut at this little local place in my little local town.

You know the place. Where they take walk-ins. Where they  know most of the walk-in customers, but it doesn’t matter if they don’t. They still ‘know’ you and find a way to strike up conversation with you as if they have known you your whole life. The owner is the Northern version of Dolly Parton’s character in Steel Magnolias. Sweet, loving, careful, and you betcha she knows all the going’s on in this town, and is not afraid to tell you all about it. Or keep your deepest, darkest secret.

When we aren’t chatting about the new Mexican restaurant that has been trying to open for the last nine months, I overhear the owner telling another customer about the loss of her grandmother this past Winter.

“Oh, I’m so sorry.”

“Oh, thanks honey, it’s okay, I really expected it. I’m just glad that she got to know my kids. It’s so rare that kids get to know their great-grandparents.”

My heart stops. Cracks. And shatters all over her linoleum.

Those are almost the same words that came out of my mouth four and a half years ago, after two days of Thanksgiving dinners with my family and my husband’s, where we basked in the glory of our 18-month old son getting to know not one but three great-grandmothers.’

And then they died.

My grandmother, just days after Thanksgiving, and with no warning, died after suffering a catastrophic stroke.

My husbands grandmother had a stroke on the day we buried my grandmother, finally giving in to rest two weeks later, on December 23rd.

We jinxed it.

And now I’m longing for a little old lady.

So after this heart-stopping moment at the hair dresser, I go to the local grocery store to pick up some bread for some quick, yet soul-satisfying grilled cheese sandwiches. You know, the Heidelberg bread? That  bread my grandmother LOVED and could eat by the loaf? I bought that.

And then I went outside. I noticed a well-dressed dude sitting in his brand new, running car, doing something on his phone. Not unusual. And then I turned after putting my baby in the car, to see a little old lady.

And a young grocery boy asking her which car was her’s and where to put the bags. She pointed him in the right direction, and he, with a shocked and confused look on his face, pointed to the car with the dude on the phone in it, and said, “This car?”

I shared his confusion.

Because not only did the dude in the car not notice his grandmother coming out of the store, he also didn’t notice the grocery boy opening the back driver side door and putting in the groceries. Or he didn’t care.

Most importantly, he didn’t notice his little old lady struggling to get the car door open so she could get in.

What the fuck.

My heart broke, and I started crying. I said, in the shelter of my car, “What are you doing, dude? Help your grandmother! There are so many of us that would give ANYTHING to be able to help our grandmothers’ grocery shop, and you are on your PHONE!”

There was an audible gasp from the back seat as my son realized what was going on. A quiet, “oh mom” from my two year old when she realizes I’m crying.

And then silence. The only silence I’ve had all day.

I pull out of my parking space, crying, as I head home.

Wishing I had a Little Old Lady.

The Sucky Last Few Days

Sometimes I feel like the universe conspires against me.

One step forward, two steps back.

I know the universe doesn’t conspire against me, of course. I know I am in control of my fate and my actions. I must learn from the mistakes I make, for they are made in order to teach me a lesson.

Everything happens for a reason.

I had a shitty kind of weekend. I mean, it wasn’t horrible, just annoying. My husband was occupied with some new music software – his break from reality. I was occupied with cleaning, a little work, writing, and trying to relax and get organized. And trying to give attention to the kids, who are bordering on insane after over a week of not feeling good.They did a lot of nagging, crying, and annoying and screaming at each other.

Fast forward to yesterday. I’m trying to balance an insanely busy schedule with having two kids home all week because the boy has another week off from school for winter break. I’m trying to be positive about this, and I think, it is not unreasonable for me to work until noon each day. I can’t take a whole week off of work right now. About twenty times in twenty minutes I had to say to the boy, “please stop nagging me about my iPod. I’m not downloading any more right now. I’m working. Play with it or something else.” And then came the Justin Bieber videos blaring in my ear and him wanting me to watch. Mind you, I’ve been nagged about the damn iPod all weekend. I’m over it. I lose it. I close my laptop a little too hard, and unhappily say, “Okay, fine, Ben, you have my attention, I will not work at ALL the WHOLE WEEK!”

We got over that, and I opened my laptop back up. Long story short, when I slammed it shut I damaged my hard drive. The combination of this and the fact that I have mistakenly not taken it or the baby with me a couple of times when I left the room for thirty seconds and she has managed to drop it, had really done a number on it. I worked on it all day yesterday and I have been working on it all morning today. Oh yeah, and I hadn’t backed up any files for quite some time. Like, a long time. So there’s that. Pictures are what I’m most worried about. I don’t know how I’m holding it together.

Live and learn.

The worst part is the anger I feel toward myself. That I couldn’t control my temper, and I hurt my son’s feelings. That I have potentially lost a lot of important information and memories because I was angry, or too busy, or stupid. Mostly stupid. That I’m probably going to cost myself money to fix the computer. Money I can’t afford and could have been spent elsewhere. I’m trying to stay positive, but some days I just want to throw in the towel.

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

 

Does Fashionable Equal Confident?

As someone who is actually very strong and confident in so many ways, I feel awkward thinking and feeling this, let alone writing it for everyone to see.

I often wonder how people develop their sense of fashion.

I really have no sense of fashion. Mine is more like, sensibility. If it fits and is comfortable, I wear it. I am very bitchy if I’m uncomfortable. Who isn’t, right?

I don’t really accessorize. I have some nice pieces of jewelry that I wear sometimes. I mostly wear the one same pair of earrings. If I remember. I blame this on my mom, because that’s just the right thing to do, right? She wore the same pair of earrings day in and day out for 20 years. But at least she wore them every day.

I always feel like I need to do more. To up the style. I mean, my sensibility works for me in a way, but I could look…nicer. Trendier. Not quite so blah, for lack of a better word. I might even dare say I would like to be “fashionable.” Whatever that is.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that I am totally uncomfortable with my own body and in my own skin. When it comes to that I have zero self-confidence, so when it’s time to shop, I feel like I have to skip on the trendy and go with the tried and true.

Which isn’t really so tried and true.

But when you feel shitty about yourself, you get caught in a rut.

confidence-and-self-esteem-by-elaine-griffin-designsDo you remember when I disclosed that I am a planning over-achiever and I bought some new clothes last year so I would actually get dressed in the morning?

I got a bunch of cute tops that I figured I would pair with skirts. In Upstate NY. In the winter. Fail. It looks like you have to have more than tops to make a wardrobe where I live. Pairing cute tops with sweatpants or pajama pants is just stupid.

What I want is jeans. They never go out of style! I would absolutely love to be able to find a pair of jeans that I felt looked good and were comfortable. But jeans are so…hard and uncomfortable. I hate having anything around my waist! I need something softer, thinner, and a little stretchy. But not the kind of stretchy that 20 minutes into wearing them they are falling down. I have that, and it is totally uncomfortable and unflattering too.

And so, I have not maintained my commitment to not looking like a hobo. If it weren’t for the fact that I’ve been working out, I’m betting I would not be getting out of my pajamas most days. Instead, I’m trading that for workout clothes, which is a close second on the loser scale. At least I’m working out, which will hopefully change how I feel about my body.

In the meantime, I need the perfect pair of jeans.

My other issue is footwear. I have Paris Hilton sized feet, but without the footwear budget to make them look hot. I have big, clunky boots, and big, clunky sneakers. That I wear when I work out. I have a hard time finding anything in my size. I used to have luck at PayLess, but lately that had changed, and now the local PayLess is out of business.

I don’t even know where to begin with the shoes, I really don’t.

Here is my issue with accessories. I don’t have a place that’s mine where I can keep them all but still see them. Our house is super tiny with very little closet space. My closet is in the baby’s room. My accessories are put away in a container on a shelf that is very small. They are buried under things like deodorant, lotion, and tampons. I kind of need to have things accessible and in my face to think about them. So where do I put my jewelry and scarves? I have a nice little wood and wicker shelving unit, but no place to put it. I wanted to put it in the bathroom, but it’s too crammed and I got vetoed. I can put it in the baby’s room, I guess. And I can never be able to let her play in her room because she will get into it.

Will I ever have a place to put my stuff?

It seems I’m left with a to-do list and a lot of questions. Will any effort matter? Will I follow through with getting dressed even if I don’t leave the house? Will an attempt at being fashionable help me feel better about myself? How do I make the time to think about what I’m putting on? Why is this so hard for me?

Do you think being fashionable helps boost your confidence?

I am sharing this post as part of the Throwback Thursday Linkup with Project Motherhood NYC.

And so I’m back…from outer space

super nova by the SmithsonianWhen you generally blog at least every-other day, not blogging for over a week seems like a really, really long time.
Remember this post?
This was the last post I wrote, except for yesterdays incoherent stream of consciousness post.
It was the beginning of what I call being sucked into a deep deep dark dark pit. A wormhole, if you will. Thanks to Fadra, for the clarification between wormhole and black hole, and how it relates to being a parent working in the home. I won’t even begin to describe it. Funny thing about it though, you don’t realize you are in it until you shoot out the other side.
I’ve been writing my butt off this morning. Little bits here and there. So I can give you a sneaky-peaky at the posts for this week.
Tomorrow I will resume the Crazy Eyeris series. I got my skates yesterday! I wore them around the house. In fact, I’m wearing them now. My butt muscles hurt, but it’s a good kind of hurt.
Wednesday I will give you 101 things I want to do this year. Thanks Emily! It’s really given me something to think about, and I’m somehow going to tie it in to the twelve goals in twelve months idea, from Midlife Mixtape.
Thursday I will tell you who I am pretend inviting to my fake birthday dinner in March. It’s going to be extra special!
Friday I will unveil my picks for the Versatile blogger award. Something I have been giving a great deal of thought to. I’m very pleased with my list.
So today I’m catching up. I’ve almost up on my blog reading. I’ve made dinner and bread. Both of the kids are fed (twice even!) and clothed. The house is clean. Laundry is in process and WILL be finished AND put away. I worked out. I’m in my skates. I’ve worked, and caught up on some projects in desperate need of attention. I’ve planned the rest of the week. I’m pretty stoked you guys! I think I might even read a magazine and make cookies with Ben. Mom fail – Ben missed the bus. Mental health day, I guess.
When do I get one of those? Someday when I go back to outer space, I guess. In the meantime, and probably for a short time, I’m organized and I’m motivated. Bring it, universe!
Have you ever been stuck in a wormhole?

Every emergency plan should include ginger ale

My wake up call came at 3:30 this morning. The baby was up, this time with a little drama, which required nursing, rocking, back rubbing. The funny thing is I kept hearing some sort of faint moaning/crying sound. I was thinking ghosts at first. I mean, naturally, right?

And then I thought there was something intuitive going on in my brain. There was a child close to me suffering somewhere. Something was up.

And then the baby was almost asleep on my shoulder when I heard the cry from the next room. You know the cry.

Like a siren in the night.

“OH NO! I THINK I’M GONNA THROW UP!”

Then the cough. You know the cough.

So I throw the baby in the crib and run into the boy’s room. Call the hubs to come get the now screaming baby.

I manage to get the boy out of bed and start steering him toward the bathroom, which is literally only about ten feet away. We can make it. We can make it, I think. We didn’t. But thankfully, OMG, so, so, thankfully, it was a splatter-free barf on the floor. Which is amazing since we have hardwood floors. It may have been from my pushing the boy’s head close to the floor to minimize splash. That was a tactic I learned from my dad. Thanks Dad!

Even though his groove was to shove my face into the toilet. Thanks Dad, for the face swirly while I barf!

**DISCLAIMER**All of this face shoving is done gently and lovingly.

Moving on.

Now I’m hoping that no one else gets this barf thing, whatever it is. I shared cole slaw with the boy last night, so I’m feeling really good about my chances. Not.

So by the time I cleaned everything up and we got the baby back to bed, which was no small task, I’m up. Uppity-up-UP! I’ve got work to do anyway, so it’s all good, although I know I’m going to want to die by noon. Aside from the work, let’s not fool ourselves. Kids never throw up just once. So why go to bed when I know I’m going to have to get up again? Go hard or go home.

As I’m working, I’m thinking about the day ahead. A trip to the store is a must when you have a sick kid. It’s just what’s done. I’m sure I can find something I need. What do I need? I take a mental inventory of my supplies. Crackers? Check. Soup? Yep. Bread? In the freezer. Applesauce? Got it and it’s even homemade! Ginger ale? Set! Wow, I rock with my supplies!

Then my mind wanders and I think about my freezer stash. Dried and canned goods supplies. My water stash. My first aid kit. My battery supplies. My candle stash. My paper for hands and butts. I’m set for an emergency. Not a large emergency mind you. But a couple of days of snow in, with a little power outage thrown in for fun.

Then I’m startled back to reality. “MOOOOOMMMM!” He threw up again.

I go to him. It’s a small amount this time. In a bucket. Holla. I go to get him some ginger ale. Because I have an excellent emergency stash!

emergency_preparedness_by_Elaine_Griffin_Designs
why no ginger ale? MOM FAIL!

MOM FAIL!!! I’m out of ginger ale! I gave the boy the last of the ginger ale in the last round, it seems.

And so this pretty much sums up my week. And my life, really. The illusion of preparedness. A missing link. Quite possibly one of the most important links, too.

Whatevs. I made a mental note to hide a bottle of ginger ale in my emergency stash.

Who’s having a pity party? This girl!!!

woman screaming by Bibliothèque de Toulouse on Flickr
woman screaming by Bibliothèque de Toulouse on Flickr

This morning I’m having one of those mom-fail, pity party mornings.

So, I never get a chance to sleep in. I’m either up starting my work day at around 4:00 am, and/or I’m the one who gets up with the kids when they get up at the azz-crack of dawn any given day of the week.

So yesterday morning, as I’m eyeball deep in work at 5:30, the baby wakes up. Won’t go back to sleep. I’m sorry, but for me, that is too early! For someone who doesn’t really nap well, that makes for mommy, an almost 12 hour day. Alone with children. While working. My husband got up around 6:00 to help out, but by that time, I’ve already been super-annoyed, not totally loving and supportive, stressed-out, then crying-out-of-guilt mommy.

This morning, my husband gets up at approximately 5:30 again with her, after I’ve battled it out since 5:00, when my son woke up screaming for me through a dream.

And they played downstairs happily in the living room, while I was working at the dining room table. So I cry. Here we go with the guilt again. But now I feel sorry for myself, too. And all I can think is, “I just want to play happily. I just want to greet my children with a hug and a smile. Not an annoyed and frustrated, ‘ssshhhh! It’s not time to get up! You’ll wake (your brother, your sister, your dad).’”

It’s frustrating. It’s this stupid too-small house with the too-thin walls. It’s the light sleepers. It’s the part-time work I have to piece together in order to make staying at home work. It’s the time, patience, and dedication required when starting and growing a business. Required to find me. Required to find how this all works for our family.

But then I have to think, as I’m sure you all are, “PUT ON YOUR BIG GIRL PANTIES AND MOVE ON!”

I guess it does work, even if it is hard. I know how lucky I am, even though sometimes I let the stress get to me and I feel like throwing in the towel. Our home is more than livable, even if it is small. We have income. I have two beautiful children and a husband who shares in the responsibility of monitoring them.

Haha, sometimes that’s what it feels like, you know? I’m just a monitor. A 24-hour monitor.

Every person has these moments, parent or not. What do you do to get through these times?

Letdown.

sad faceYou know that feeling you get any post-huge holiday, where you have planned and plotted, prepared and executed. And suddenly what you’ve been eating-breathing-sleeping for days/weeks/months is over. You just walk around your house aimlessly, not knowing what to do. And…it feels really damn empty.

That is how I feel post NaBloPoMo. Suddenly, I have writers block. And I’m tired. And I have absolutely no thoughts. NO THOUGHTS, PEOPLE!

After a month of marathon writing, which I so totally enjoyed, I have spent the last several days not even thinking about writing. It’s like, if I don’t have a goal, then what is the point. Because come on, folks, there was no WAY I was missing a day. That’s just not how I roll. I always meet or exceed my goals! Okay, not always, but you see where I’m coming from. And I love blogging, right? So why the let down because I am sans a goal? That’s just…dumb.

I’m almost wishing that I had NaBloPoMo’d this month. But I thought I needed a little break from the pressure. And I had a shit-tastic Thanksgiving weekend and then week after. And honestly with Christmas coming and having all sorts of commitments, it is for the best that I did not participate. Right?

So today I’m writing this little ditty because it came to me, and you know as writers, when something comes to us, we have to write it down, lest it be gone for-ev’s. But tomorrow I’m picking myself up and I am going to have some writing ideas. I mean, I have some, but I’m not in love with them right now.

If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, I would love to hear them. Come on people, help inspire me!!

happy face