Oh. Em. PEE. – the Stench That Launched a New Hobby

Oh. Em. PEE. – the Stench That Launched a New Hobby

For the past few weeks, I have been taking the carpet cleaner to the second level of my home. Like, really giving the carpet up there a ‘what for’. There is a smell in my house and I don’t like it. Actually, I don’t like a lot of things in this situation. I don’t like going upstairs, it is the boy’s area and frankly, it just smells. I hate the smell of their bathroom. I hate the smell of the carpet. I strongly dislike boy funk. Before I lugged the machine up there, I thought that the smells of rotting pee (that, for some reason, I was the ONLY one who can smell it) were from the boy’s bathroom. I constantly used the Alexa to ask someone, anyone, I don’t care if it wasn’t you, but please flush that toilet!

But the smell never went away.

I went upstairs and I scrubbed their bathroom for them. Normally, this is Dave’s job and one that he doesn’t take very seriously. I took an afternoon and was very serious about it. I made that room sparkle. But, the very next day, OMFeta, the smell!

I’m not going to claim super smarts here. I mean, the fact that I have to medicate my sweet pupper, Libby, for incontinence and that my house was smelling like pee never seemed to connect in my frazzled brain. Until the gross day when it did. See, upstairs, in the hallway, there is a long nook area. It is meant to house a few desks, I believe. There is task lighting built-in, multiple outlets and switches. I always used it as a place to store kid’s toys. There is a cubby area and a soft *grass like* rug.

The day had been a bit humid when I smelled the smell that finally got so bad that even the hubs started to notice it. I worked with the kids to remove all the toys, get them into bins and move out the furniture and remove the cozy rug. The cozy, pee-stained, rug. The staining on the carpet underneath was disgusting. There are no washing instructions on the rug. I guess that IKEA assumed that it would not be used as an old lady pupper pee pad. But it was and out to the garage it went.

Over multiple days and two and a half bottles of carpet cleaner (according to the bottles, each were enough to do two large rooms apiece), I turned about 20’x8’ of disgusting into the cleanest carpet in the entire house.

The smell was starting to go away. I mean, no one else could smell it, but I think that it is engraved into my nose memory, because even when I go outside, I can smell it.

But I had a thought, why stop there? I have decided that pulling gross water from my carpets my be my new 2021 hobby. Forget the Banana Bread of 2020, this hot new, still in quarantine, hobby is Carpet Cleaning.

I made Dave clean his room. I mean, really clean his room. We reorganized with a new bookcase that would actually hold his books, and a new closet organizer to allow him to store his gaming stuff. Everything got vacuumed like it was the first time. Then, I roared with my Rug Doctor and together, the Dr and I washed his floor. We did it over a series of a few days, and gave it a total of four passes with soap and once with just the water. In the end, Dave was begging for his room back, the carpet looked amazing, but was still pulling out slightly dirty water.

After I put everything back into Dave’s room, Hank caught me in his room, looking around. The Dr stood in the doorway, blocking him from his own room. Hank’s room is next. I fully believe that whereas his room doesn’t really smell like anything more than little boy sweat, that his carpet is going to be a treasure trove of dirty. I am excited to tackle his room. Next, the stairs, then the library, then the main floor hall, and then, and then…

The day that I run out of carpet, I am going to have to either find a new hobby or start all over.

As for that cozy, grass like, snuggly, perfectly soft, pee rug? I may tackle it later. Maybe in the dead of summer, when the sun is at it highest and the hose water is at it’s coldest. I may lay it out on the driveway and stare at it, with my iced coffee in hand, and just will it to stop being gross by the power of a mom’s glare.  Or maybe, I’ll just learn the lesson and pitch it.

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Sunshine and Stained Glass

Sunshine and Stained Glass

I remember when I was a kid, I had a friend, whose mom made stained-glass in their basement. I remember going over to their house and looking at the glass and thinking how ugly it was. She made stuff that seemed dark and dreary. Browns and dark muddy colors. Now, as an adult, I understand the beauty of a rich brown with light coming through it. The cocoas, the coke colored and the brownie lit by the sun. But as a kid, I just didn’t get it. To me, then, it was exactly what the basement of someone else’s house looked like: dark, damp and old.

When quarantine first started, there was a Facebook group for Michigan called Rainbows Across Michigan. People were drawing rainbows on their windows and sharing them with the group. They were providing light to those who needed it. I joined the group, but would never draw on my windows: first, I don’t want to have to clean that off at some point (laziness?) and second, I need my windows and my light. My house faces the south, I get gorgeous light in the afternoon that is strong enough to warm my home. Afternoons, sitting on the couch in the sun, drinking an iced coffee with my book are pretty much what I dream perfection to be like. I can’t block those windows.

But I wanted rainbows, I NEEDED rainbows.

I started searching Etsy for rainbows and found a … stained-glass shop. But this shop didn’t have the long-ago lampshades of yore. It didn’t have large, heavy browns, dark green and tan window panes. They had beautiful rainbow triangles, rectangles partnered with Mr. Roy G. Biv and small pieces, splashed with colors that I love. I bought one. I bought a bright, happy rectangle with all the colors of the rainbow.

I hung it up in my front window and immediately thought, Oh No! It is too small! Which is funny since I *didn’t* want anything to block my precious sun.

Afternoons became brighter with colors floating through the room. But I wanted more. I wanted more colors. I went back on Etsy and hearted a ton more. I needed these. For Mother’s Day, my husband (my wonderful, mindreading husband) found the same ones that I loved and bought me two more. A rectangle with a few colors to make a rainbow and a Black Lives Matter fist in deep purples that look like an oily rainbow when the light hits it. They were gorgeous. Absolutely perfect.

BUT THEN!

I was hanging out on Kick Starter and found a campaign for window rainbows. This maker made clear glass prisms that you fill with distilled water and when the sun shines on it, they cast rainbows around the room. And it does! It hangs in the window next to the triangle.

I now have 5 pieces of stained-glass (I added a grumpy looking blue bird) in my home and I am delighted by how happy they make me. Seeing the colors on a day-to-day basis never fails to make me smile and think happy thoughts. Since they project their light into my home (and in different places throughout the day), I am always seeing them – they have not become flat pictures on the wall that begin to blend in, with time, to the wall itself.

I find myself thinking about those stained-glass pieces of my childhood and wondering where those ended up. I never saw them in the windows of that friend’s house and I wonder if I had, maybe I would have fallen in love with stained-glass then. As I am typing the view I have, besides my monitor is my neighbors house and I think that my view could be improved drastically with a new window pane, filled with chocolates, dark greens and other rich hues. Excuse me, I feel the need to click back over to Etsy.

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Ugly is Life, Too

Ugly is Life, Too

Instagram is fun. There are beautiful people, clothing, children, flowers, food, lives – BEAUTIFUL EVERYTHING! But the ugly is also there, we just don’t show it.

Well, guess what? I’m going to show it.

As I type this both boys are grounded.
Both currently think that I am awful.

But they seem so perfect!?

They are, but they are also KIDS.

Dave is nearly a teen. He is exploring his world and his limits – seeing how far he can push his reality and in so, he is lying to his parents. This is the second time in the last 20 days where he has been caught mid lie. The first time, he was caught doing something dangerous, something that I had told him multiple times not to do. I called him on it, he denied, I recalled what was seen, he doubled down on his lie and then got mad when he realized that he had been caught and was getting into trouble. Two weeks of grounding. I was all set to explain why what he did was unsafe and to talk about alternatives. But he lied to me.

Seriously, tell me that you did something wrong, own it. Don’t lie. I keep stressing to my kids that being lied to is an awful feeling, no matter how small the lie. I tell them – I will always ground you for lying, even if I wouldn’t necessarily ground you for the actions that you lied about.

This time, he told his brother something that was hurtful – about me. Hank came to me about it. Not a big deal. However, when I asked Dave about it, he denied. I asked him if he wanted to take a second to think about what he wants to actually say to me and start it over. He admitted to the lie. Again, everything is easy to navigate. No problem is unsurmountable, but the lying is something that needs to stop now before it becomes a habit that he can’t break.

Hank, on the other hand has decided to take a small hiatus from school. Like, apparently, quite a long one. Homeboy has not been working on his cursive writing, to the point where he is several letters behind and the letters are now a foreign language. He has also not been doing his work with class, but instead, turning it in with question marks dotting the page. All those breaks that we had been taking walks on? Well, it turns out that, those aren’t breaks.

Well. Gold star for mom, right?

Both kids are grounded. Meaning, no electronics. No Switch, no tablets, no handheld gaming systems, no Alexa reading their books. We’re now all living on the prairie with self-entertainment – with real books! Paper ones. And conversation. Educational conversation about how to be good humans.

It isn’t easy being a parent. It isn’t easy being a kid. It isn’t easy teaching and learning life lessons. But it is our duty to do so. And you know what? It IS Instagram worthy, even if there isn’t a glitter filter to soften the message.

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I’ll Take The Cake, Please!

I’ll Take The Cake, Please!

Please be aware that if you purchase something from one of my links, I may be receiving a compensation through the vender.

The Four Tops sang it better than I could ever write it:

Sugarpie honeybunch
You know that I love you
I can’t help myself….

Honestly and truly, as much as I add fruits and veggies and hide them, and manipulate them into places not expected, they are not as a big of a hit as sweets with Hank (and frankly, Dave and me, too). After being on the verge of failure to thrive for so long, you better believe your pancakes and jelly, I’ll make that brownie or cake or cookie.

Just like I said on the bread post, I like mixes better than mixing my own flour blend. Even with careful measuring, I never seem to get them right. So, if I am not using a box mix for something, then I am using premix gluten free flour. And again, for us, we are looking for wheat free, which is different than gluten, however, gluten is found in wheat.

A party without cake is just a meeting. – Julia Child

I love cake. Like, I L.O.V.E. it. Because I love it, cake was one of the first things that I tried to make Hank-safe. In the beginning, we had eliminated so many foods that we couldn’t use box mixes, so we fell in love with Depression Cake, or Wacky Cake. This cake was a Great Depression invention to deliver deliciousness within the limitation of lack of supplies. This cake doesn’t need dairy or eggs and works well with alternative flours.

Hank and I worked on this recipe from Budget Byte$ today and we loved this interpretation of this classic recipe. We subbed out the all-purpose flour with our favorite gluten free version. Happily, the substitution is a one to one, so we didn’t even have to do math to do the changeover (yay!). If you are able to have nuts or seeds, both add a lovely crunch and added flavor profile. Many recipes have raisins, this adds not only flavor but also just a bit of extra moistness that will bring a smile to your face.

Whereas, Hank has eaten this cake multiple times before, this was his first time making it with me. He smelled the cocoa powder, and decided that it wasn’t going to be sweet without the added ingredients. He smelled the vinegar and *almost* changed his mind about the whole thing. Once the batter was mixed, he got to taste the raw batter and was SHOCKED that it didn’t taste like pickles.

To top off this beautiful dessert, the recipe that we followed has a simple chocolate icing using water, rather than milk. Normally, I would use coconut milk, but we followed with the water and we didn’t even notice the lack of coconut fat. It was divine.

Overall, we loved it and in fact, both boys launched a scheme to try to get a piece for breakfast. And morning snack. And lunch dessert. And afternoon snack. And, of course, after dinner.

BUT WHAT IF we don’t have time for the whole prep and just NEED cake in 30 minutes? We use King Arthur Flour brand Gluten Free Chocolate Cake.  Happily, it also comes in yellow cake, which is also very good.

BUT WHAT IF WE NEED CAKE IN THE NEXT 30 SECONDS?! Please don’t judge, we all have these days where we need cake and need it now. Well, King Arthur Flour to the rescue again with cookies and brownies in a cup. Just add water and nuke in the microwave, super easy.

Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet. – Sarah Louise Delany

How do you top your cake? A simple and elegant with powder sugar in a pretty pattern? Tub frosting? Duncan Hines has worked well, as long as we double check the ingredients – these usually contain soy and for us, we need to watch for caramel color as that can be made from barley.

I normally use a twist on the standard butter cream:

4 Cups of powder sugar
1 Cup butter alternative – I use Earth Balance
2-3 Tsp of vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp of milk – I use coconut milk

Mix and love.

From this basic recipe, you can change the whole taste of the cake. Sub out the vanilla extract with ANY OTHER extract or… juice. Fresh lime and lemon bring a fresh take on a yellow cake. Fresh raspberries mushed and mixed makes a chocolate cake absolutely sinful. I especially love adding Sunbutter to my frosting along with cocoa powder for a chocolate “peanut butter” dream.

If you mix your frosting and it seems like it is too watery, add more sugar. If you mix too much (GASP!) just bag it, label it, and freeze it.

With Hank’s birthday coming up, I have a request to make a gingerbread cake. I can’t wait.

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What if we loved ourselves?

What if we loved ourselves?

This week, I was hanging out on Facebook and saw in one of my groups, a woman who had taken her book outside to read. She was sitting, prettily, in a lawn chair on her porch with a huge smile on her face. She wore a dress with flip flops. She looked happy and frankly, excited about the book in her hand. The snow around her would have been up to Hank’s knees. There was a child in the background, in full snow suit, playing in the snow.

She captioned the photo that she was going to be outside reading while in the middle of a hot flash. She ended her comment that she looked like a whale.

I was so happy for her until that last line. In fact, it made my tummy drop. I immediately responded that I hoped that she enjoyed her book and that she was beautiful.

Why do we do this? Why do we allow ourselves to be so rotten to ourselves? I have looked at my stomach and my stretchmarks and belittled myself. Why? I don’t usually care what other people think about my appearance, but I really care about how I think. I know that my body housed two + children and has walked me miles, has treated me with care, but I look at myself and think about my faults.

What if we looked at ourselves and are thankful to those stretch marks? Our bodies expanded to allow for babies to grow. Or our bodies expanded to allow for more of us to love? How amazing is it that our skin does that for us?

What if we look at those added pounds and dismiss them? I’m not saying that being unhealthy is amazing, but not every pound over our “ideal” number is a pound of awful.

What if we look at our curves and be grateful that we have them? What if we look at our straight lines and love them for what they are? What if we look at our puckers, scars and blemishes and just shrug and move on?

What if we tell ourselves that we’re allowed to take that selfie and post it without adding a disclaimer to the world that we know of our faults?

And to those who may decide that they need to point out anything that they feel make us less than perfect? What if we let them go along with our own feelings of discontentment?

What if we choose to be happy with ourselves?

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Let those resolutions live and die!

Let those resolutions live and die!

It’s that time of year! It’s time to say good bye to 2020 and hello to 2021, time to air out the house and bring in the fresh air. It is also time for half of my Facebook friends and family to post that they hate going to the gym and seeing those who made resolutions and then watching them fail. BUT, I say, yes! Yes, to the resolutions. Yes, to going to the gym, only if it is only for the free trial period. Yes, to moving a yoga mat from the closet to the livingroom and letting it sit there.

I think that as humans, we look at new beginnings as an important reawakening, but what are we awakening? Is it the resolution or the idea that we deserve some sort of inner change? Do we need to follow through? No. Did we do harm by failing? Also, no. We get into our heads every day and bog ourselves down with how we’ve failed ourselves, but even through those “failures” there is something we didn’t fail. We put ourselves first.

How do we continue thinking of ourselves when our resolutions get away from us? Small changes! Even the very small.

I will:

  • Carry a reusable bag with me to limit my plastic usage from quick trips to the store. Stored in the car or in your purse, you can pull it out and know that you are making a difference to our world. If we’re taking care of the whole, we are also taking care of the individual.
  • Walk after I eat my lunch. A quick five-minute walk – brisk or otherwise – can put us into a better mood. Get that blood moving!
  • Seek the sun! (with, of course, proper protection.) We need the sun to live, but we also need it to feel good. All that Vitamin D is free for the taking, get out there and soak it in.
  • Drink your water! How many of us are living on coffee, wine, or pop (soda?) and forgetting about water? Drink it up!

MOST IMPORTANTLY:

  • I will NOT berate myself for not being able to run that mile, finish that puzzle, have flat feet in downward dog, or finish that book that all my friends are raving over. I will look at my limitations or growing disinterest and decide that sometimes, it is better to let things go. I highly doubt that when I look back at the age of 80, that I’m going to feel bad for not finishing one book out of the thousands that I did read and enjoy.

We’re not competing with ourselves; we should not be seeking approval to treat ourselves poorly because we couldn’t do or follow through with something. We’re coming from a hard year. A really hard year, and it is ok to treat ourselves kindly.

So, feel free to make those resolutions, feel free to tell others about them, feel free to be ok if you can’t follow through with them. But don’t create an inner atmosphere that is more toxic than 2020 was.          

Hank and I were talking today about resolutions. And he said that he had one for me, but wasn’t sure how I was going to work on being even better at it. So, all, here is my resolution that he suggested and I’m going with:

I will be great.

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The Wishing Bridge

The Wishing Bridge

Everyday, Hank comes to me. “Mom, I have a question for you.” I get this question up to three times a day. Rain, shine, snow, wind, bitter cold, blistery hot. I know that it is coming, whether he’s in pajamas or in his day time clothes.

“Want to take a walk with me?”

I hesitate a moment, whether to debate the weather, to finish the drink I was just about to swallow, to decide if the laundry can wait an extra 20 minutes (it always can).

“Please, Cheese, Freeze, Breeze?”

We have a few routes for these walks. We’re lucky to live in a large neighborhood with connecting walkways and sidewalks. Our favorite path takes us in a large circle that has a bridge over a brook.

As we are heading toward it, he collects a rock, snowball, leaf, stick, pinecone – as long as it is small. Well, except the snowball, the bigger the better. Once on the bridge, he takes a second to think about something he wants and then he throws the object over the side to see if it makes it into the water. If it does, his wish comes true. When it doesn’t, he isn’t disappointed, he can do it again tomorrow.

His wishes are for health, for Covid-19 to be over, for us to have a good Christmas, for him to see his friends.

My wishes are for the same, although, I always tell him that I wished for a million dollars.

Taking a moment to focus on the clock as it hits 12:34 or 11:11, I always make a wish. I usually wish for the same things as Hank does.

Do you have a wishing bridge? What are your wishes?

Wendy Price is the author of 10 Little Rules of Hank, available at www.10littlerules.com, on Amazon, and at select retail stores.

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The cure for jealousy is basil

The cure for jealousy is basil

There is a Smith’s song that I have had in my head while I was writing this post. “I am human and I need to be looooovvvveeeedddddd, just like everybody else does”. I am human. I have human reactions and right now, I have one. I have full on jealousy. I am currently hosting the green-eyed monster (I’ve named him Stan) for the weekend. Why do I have this guest? Well. Looking through Facebook and Instagram, I am seeing my friends and family on vacation. Adult-only getaways. Fun in the sun with the whole family. A singleton who decided to just drive away.

I’m jealous.

So, while making a cappuccino for Stan, I reflected on what else do I not have that I want? Well, for one, I want a clean house. Like, I would be jealous if someone started posting pics of clean floors or bathrooms so spotless, you know that they must smell of lemon.

I finished my coffee and told Stan that I would be back, and I started to clean. I started on one side of the house and worked my way to the other side. Though, I did skip the nightmare of the boy area that is the upstairs in my house. I made my bathroom smell like basil; I don’t have the lemon scent. I vacuumed the carpet and took joy at watching clumps of grass (?!? WHAT?!) being sucked up. I removed dog hair from behind furniture and scrubbed the back splash in the kitchen. I handwashed pots and pans. I refilled the dog food container.

I sat down and can smell the basil scent on my clothes and hands. Stan joined me for a drink; he and I switched to water. He also smelled better, like a favorite herb. It had taken five hours to deep clean one floor of my house. I was now too tired to give Stan much more attention. The hubs sat down in Stan’s seat and asked what I wanted him to order for dinner, because he was not going to get my kitchen dirty. Oh, how I love this man.

I’m less jealous, and I know that next week when I have new grass clumps in the living room, I’ll be too tired cleaning to invite Stan back.

I may be stuck at home, but I am lucky to be able to be stuck somewhere I like. One that smells like delightfully like basil.

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