Tag Archives: homemaking

How Does One Make the Perfect Life Choices?

I’m sitting in an airport waiting for a delayed flight, wearing bright orange compression socks, thinking about the latest book I’m writing. It’s been harder to write.

The main character is divorced. She was pregnant when her husband left her for her friend and she had to quickly get a job. She goes back to school to get a secondary education degree because her bachelor’s was in English.  

She had planned on getting a Master’s and possibly a Doctorate in English but then she met John. They fell in love. He got a job and they got married and she didn’t get a Master’s. When she got pregnant with their first child, she kept working. Then the two of them together decided she would stay home with their son. After childcare costs, it made more sense. And he made enough. Plus, she believed her kids would be better off if one of them could stay home. He made more, so she stayed home. She often thought about getting her Master’s, but then a kid would get sick and she wondered how she would do it all. She kept putting it off.

Until the day her husband came home and said he wanted a divorce.

She doesn’t think much about her choices (Why bother? It won’t help) until she has to work with a graduate of hers who has just finished her bachelors and wants to go get her Master’s. But she met this guy….

So Grace looks over at all of her decisions.

And this is where I’m stumped.  

Of course women should get an education and support themselves. Of course they should accomplish all they want to accomplish. But what if the two spouses decide that one parent could stay home. They think it would be better for the kids. But then the spouse who stays home loses potential income. Loses years of experience. May pass up on education that would help because they put their trust in their spouse.

Is this possible anymore?

Do both parents need to always work because relationships seem to be so fluid these days?

I stay home. Yes, I’ve had different jobs and done different things, but when I thought of applying to be a substitute teacher and saw they wanted 3 professional references, I started to cry and didn’t finish the application. I couldn’t think of a professional reference. Sure, I had people who would give me a reference, but I hadn’t worked for anyone in years.  

At the same time, I think having one parent able to stay home is great for a family. I think I’m slowly going insane, but besides that, I think it’s a good idea. If possible.

I had a parent home until I was about 12 or 13 and then I would come home and be alone for about an hour. It wasn’t that big a deal. I would do my homework and watch Days of Our Lives. The worst thing I did was eat a whole box of Kudos and then throw up. I never ate another Kudos again and I’m not even sure they make them anymore. They probably heard my story and realized they didn’t have a future.

But I remember when I missed the bus and I couldn’t get a hold of anyone. I was scared. I thought I’d have to stay at the school over night. My neighbor came and got me and it wasn’t a big deal except for the 30 minutes when it was.

I’m around if my kids forget their lunches or nice clothes for a presentation. I pick them up for appointments and make sure things generally run smoothly.

Except for those times when I mix appointments up and I show up at the right time a day late. Or when I give each kid a different kid’s lunch so when I see one on the counter and it says my youngest’s name but I know I gave him something, I just eat that lunch myself.

I’m not a very domestic stay at home mom but I’m a “I’m here if you need me” one.  

As I write from my character’s point of view, I wonder if this is still a good idea.

If I went back into the workforce and actually used my law degree, I would never make the money I would’ve made had I stayed working. I’m so far out of the game, I wonder if I could get a job.  

Some people volunteer and keep up their resume that way. I haven’t kept a file of what I’ve done. I think I was taught you don’t get credit for volunteer work. It’s a service. (And if it gets around that I’m a helpful person, people may actually ask me for help. No one wants that.)  

So what’s the answer?

Is staying home still a viable option?  

How does one make the perfect choices in life? And never regret them?

I would love to hear your views.

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Carry On, Carry On

Today is a vent and gripe.  I feel as though that is sufficient warning.

2nd warning: this post is truly written from a married woman with small children’s point of view.  I can’t prove it, but I think it’s written this way because I’m a married woman with small children.  And I wrote it.
Recently I read a book in my book club where the author goes on a 3 month hike in order to overcome life challenges and “find herself” or something like that.  I have issues with books where the author has a life crisis, leaves everything and everyone and “finds themselves” while on an excursion in Europe or in the woods for an extended amount of time.
These books frustrate me because most of us can’t/won’t do this but still have life changing experiences we have to live through along with complex relationships with spouses and kids and friends and annoying neighbors.
I want a book where the author makes it through the day by blasting music in the laundry room; who sings Carry On at the top of her voice while driving to the school to volunteer; who gets in the car and wonders what would happen if they just kept driving, but doesn’t; who would give anything in the world to take a 3 month walk in the woods but instead gets up, makes her kids breakfast and lunch, figures out dinner and does everything she can to smile at everyone and not take out her angst on those around her.  At the end of the “leave everything books,” there is a sense of accomplishment: I did something amazing.  At the end of my book, there would be the fact that what the author did that’s amazing is get up every single day and do the same thing and know that she would keep doing it and find her sanity in the middle of THAT and have to keep finding it.  (But always suspecting that it is somewhere behind the dryer with the lost socks.)

Sometimes we can get a weekend away, but instead of preparing for our trip by getting a divorce, selling all of our possessions and buying a tent, we arrange frozen meals, babysitters, finish laundry, and leave activities for everyone involved all the while knowing that we will be coming back to exactly what we are leaving.
Is there a book like that out there?  Would anyone read it?  Is it written as fiction?  Does everything come together at the end for her or is it more honest and she admits that she knows once she gets through this stage of life, the next one will just have a different theme song…
In my lowly opinion, it takes real strength to stay sane while visiting the same dinosaur museum 3x a year for the last 10 years.
Thank you for reading.  I appreciate your attention.  Now if you don’t mind, I must go read up on the two hypotheses that explain Cretaceous extinction and try once again to learn the correct pronunciation of creatures that died THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO CAN WE JUST MOVE ON?

Thank Zeus and Apollo

Two weeks ago, I promised my daughter I would take her to OZ The Great and Powerful.  But then my son was exposed to whooping cough and due to the fact he slept with one blanket he woke up with a cough and the school nurse took his temp which was 99.3 and I went in to volunteer and went home with a kid which screwed up the week because I took him to get tested which then kicked in a school district policy and he stayed home the rest of the week.

But all my daughter knew was that I had PROMISED her and it didn’t happen.  The injustice of it all was really just too much to bare and had she been independently wealthy, I’m pretty sure she would’ve moved out.

I recently rectified the situation by taking my children to OZ The Great and Powerful.  It was fine, by the way.  But it taught me a lesson.  I’m never promising my children anything ever again.  Without a stipulation.  

The stipulation I have chosen is: as long as Zeus and Apollo agree.  This way I can get out of things that don’t quite work and teach my children Greek mythology (along with useless Magnum PI trivia.)

Because if I say I will do something, I generally can and do what I say.  But sometimes girl scouts, piano, swimming, cub scouts, homework, sleep, and bad teen television get in the way.  And I’ve been trying to do a cleanse.  Which means I’m in a bad mood and having a sugar withdrawal headache.  But none of these things seem to be good enough reasons.

Which is why the Gods invented Zeus and Apollo.

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Pre-fab sugar cookies

With the holiday season upon us, I find that my deficiencies are magnified.  (Although those of you who actually read this on a semi-regular basis are probably wondering how the holiday season is different from any other day of the week in the magnifying my deficiencies arena.)  In particular, I realize I was not meant to be a “homemaker.”  -At least not one that cooks, cleans, or makes decorations for the home.
I was at the grocery story trying to buy unprocessed foods for my family when I walked by the ready-made cookie dough.  I am supposed to make two-dozen cookies for a church activity on Thursday.  As I slowed down between the refrigerated area and the baking goods aisle, I started to question my development as a sugar cookies manufacturer.  From the age of ten to about eighteen, I made sugar cookies by myself.  I rolled out the batter, cut them into Christmas shapes, baked them, re-rolled and cut the dough until there was only a tiny bit left, baked all those, made homemade frosting in multiple colors, frosted and decorated the cookies and then cleaned the whole mess up.  (My mother didn’t thank me enough for this, by the way)  I did this every year like clockwork.  In fact, I have an unhealthy addiction to frosted sugar cookies due to this habit, I believe.  So with this as my background, I wonder why have less than zero desire to make sugar cookies now.  I used to love it and now it is a pain to buy the tube of dough and roll it out a few times to make a couple tree shaped cookies.  Am I giving up on a cherished tradition by not making the dough by hand?
And then I remembered the book I read on the biography of Betty Crocker.  She isn’t a real person, by the way.  It was more a history of the corporation, but I am going to personify the company because they have and why stop a good thing?  So women used to pride themselves by how good a cake they could make, according to Betty.  Many women wouldn’t use a mix when they first came out for shame of it all.  At the same time, many people found that the mixes worked better and tasted better because all of the ingredients were regulated and sifted nicely.  (I personally think brownie mixes are generally better than homemade.)  It saved women time to use the mix and many found it to be a luxury.  Now when we bring a “homemade” cake to an event, it is generally from a box.  (Unless your name is Gail Welch; then it is made from scratch no matter what.)
So I thought about this history and realized that I was simply carrying on the evolutionary process, as it should be by using pre-made sugar cookie dough.  This was created to ease my life, which is hard enough when making sugar cookies with three children.  I still make the frosting by hand, but now I only make green, red and white instead one of every color in the food-coloring box.  Stars can be white instead of yellow.  I have spoken.  And I really only like to make the frosting because I like the cloud the powdered sugar makes.  I can pretend I am inhaling a different white powder and then pretend nothing bothers me for the rest of the day.
So I guess this is not a deficiency.  It shows how adaptable I am to evolutionary changes. I do, however, still have issues with tadpoles turning into frogs, but only when they are doing so in a bowl in my kitchen.  In fact, next year I may buy the pre-cut sugar cookies to show how evolved I am (and to make one less thing I have to clean up).
Now if I could just figure out how to make Rhodes rolls (pre-made frozen rolls you just have to defrost and stick in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes which supposedly every Mormon on the planet knows how to make except for maybe three.)

Macey’s Thanksgiving Turkey

 

I am sitting at my kitchen table looking at the snow, while my three year old watches Iron Man 2 – don’t judge me.  What’s more worrying is that I find myself strangely attracted to Mickey Rourke in this film.  That is what you should be judging me for, not the fact that I am knowingly raising a delinquent.
It is negative gazillion outside and I need to go to the store for Thanksgiving.  I have to buy everything I will need for a small family of 5 Thanksgiving.  This is not very easy because I do not want to gain the ten pounds I have lost by counting the points that Big Brother, a.k.a. Weight Watchers, has given to every food created.  So I can’t buy a ready-made pie, because my family does not eat pie.  I may not finish off the mashed potatoes but I could very easily sit down with the pie pan three fourths full and finish it off while reading a nice book.  Or a trashy book.  Or both, depending on the size of the pie.  So I am going to make a Weight Watchers pumpkin pie.  It has graham cracker crust, but the rest seems to be the same.  If I don’t eat for the rest of the week, I can have as much pie as I want.  Maybe two.
I was going to buy a turkey breast because three of our five do not understand how much you are supposed to eat at Thanksgiving yet.  Katherine will ask if she has to eat everything on her plate and Seth will have his Storm Trooper hiding in the potatoes before I have to loosen the top button of my jeans.  When I bring out the “pumpkin pie,” they will ask for chocolate cake.  Or just the frosting.  Or maybe just Thanksgiving decorated Oreos.
So here is my dilemma:  do I make the traditional foods, like pumpkin pie, or do I make cupcakes that the kids will like more?  In five or so years, they will be addicted to the traditional foods and then all will be well.  But I have to go through the next five years.  I think I should have gone to my parents.  Then there would have been more people there and they would have succumbed to peer pressure.  Actually, tradition has been eroding from my parents’ house lately.  My sister brings a Costco pumpkin pie instead of making one.  That is almost as bad as making a pie with a graham cracker crust, in my personal opinion.  I don’t care if Costco makes a good pie.  Thanksgiving is the time for homemade food and if you can’t cook, it is the time to eat someone else’s homemade food.  That is the spirit.
So now I am stuck in negative weather, writing down ingredients for recipes I can eat more of while Big Brother is watching.  When really I should be writing stories about other people’s Thanksgivings, selling those stories, and ending up in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  I want to be on the big paper Mache turkey whose wings flap and the head moves from side to side.  I think that is a nice attainable goal.  It’s good to keep your goals attainable during the holiday season.  If you don’t, you end up eating the whole Costco pumpkin pie your sister brings.  In a closet.  Behind the bathrobe.

Sewing at the behest of the Red Baron.

 

Today I received an ad from the local sewing store that specializes in quilting and Bernina sewing machines.  When I first moved to Helena, I went to this store to take a class in quilting and perhaps make friends.  I tried many things when I moved to Helena and I figured this would be as good as scrapbooking.  I didn’t meet anyone at this first class, but I bought an insane amount of incredibly expensive fabric that sat in my basement for the next four years.  Last winter, I decided to start up again.  I broke my Wal-Mart sewing machine and went to my sewing store to buy a Bernina.  I didn’t realize that I needed to talk to my banker before I went.
I was shocked at how much sewing machines can cost.  I was raised by a mother who sews, but upon research at the store, I realized she only sewed straight lines.  Sometimes a zig-zag.  She could have sewn patterns and embroidered and made little Mickey Mouse characters had she taken out a second mortgage.  When I took my “Get to Know my Sewing Machine” class, a woman in there had to choose between a new car and a new sewing machine.  She chose the sewing machine.  I have another friend who can either go skiing in Switzerland or get an upgraded sewing machine.  It shocked me.  Just shocked me.  I looked at my sewing machine, a nice general bottom of the line that could only do 56 fancy stitches and did not have a computer screen that would either spell your name in French but using Chinese characters or possible start Global Thermal Nuclear War by putting the thread on incorrectly.
Sitting in the class reminded me of high school when I used to look around to make sure I had better jeans on than at least one member of the class.  I was looking at all of the numbers on the machines to see if mine was higher than the person next to me.  If it was the lowest one, I would pick it up and carry it out of there.  Luckily, I could do that.  The nicer ones come with huge carrying cases making it harder for a quick get-away.  Of course, if you have a nicer one, you don’t need to get away.  You sit a little farther away from your machine so people can see the number and the cool computer screen.  Like the kids with the Forenza jeans always tucked their shirts in.  Jerks.
So I got the coupon in the mail tell me I could get 35% off.  That is a good deal.  Coupons are usually 10% or 15% with an occasional 25% for your birthday.  But then I read the fine print.  I had to spend $200.  In other words, I just needed to buy another foot for my sewing machine.  That is another way I know my mom wasn’t a true sewer.  She only had 3 feet for her machine.  To be a true sewer, you need at least 22 with one on order.  I even have 6.  I know how to use 2.  But as everyone knows, it is how many you have, not what you can do with them.  (Although I think I can sew a straight line with all of them.)
So there you have it.  I have found myself in the middle of a huge conspiracy created by the Red Baron, I believe, to make me buy a sewing machine that can start WW III once I purchased foot # 243.   Curse you Red Baron.

How to Decorate for Thanksgiving and be the Envy of the Neighborhood

 

I have been trying to find a way to decorate for Thanksgiving.  I don’t want to do much because I don’t really like Thanksgiving decorations and it is only up for three weeks before the five bins of commercialized Christmas décor comes out.  I don’t want to have to put much away (because these xmas bins are HUGE.)
So this year, I thought, maybe I should do something unique.  I should do something to represent the state I live in.  I should get a live turkey and put it in my front yard.  (I’m sure that was what everyone else was thinking I should do as well.)  I started to look into it.
I knew I would need a cage, but I didn’t want a small one.  It would make me sad seeing a live Turkey in a tiny cage in the middle of my yard.  I thought I would get one of those metal ones my neighbor has for her yorkie.  It is almost like a child gate, but metal and bigger.  I know turkeys don’t fly, but I think I have seen a few jump, so I may have to wire two of them together.  I have never seen a turkey jump over a wooden house fence, so I figured this would do.  Never mind that I have never seen a turkey in a neighborhood with wooden fences, but I still thought my reasoning was sound.
I then thought about the food.  I shouldn’t have a problem there.  I live half a mile from a ranch super store that sells poultry every spring.  Live poultry.  Live baby poultry.  You know, chicks and ducklings and stuff.  Just to make sure you know what this live baby poultry is for, they label each animal with the best way to cook it after it has matured.  The cutest chicks every year, hands down, are good for stews.
I also thought of the poop issue.  I can’t get my 3 ½ year old to use a toilet, so I was pretty sure I would have no control over this issue with a live turkey.  I decided to not think about this problem.  (Which is how I am handling the same issue with my 3 ½ yr old.)
And finally how would I get a live turkey?  I thought I could call my friend Cathy who lives on a ranch.  She owns over 56 billion acres.  There has GOT to be a turkey somewhere on her land.
I had all my bases covered.  I was going to have the greatest Thanksgiving lawn ornament EVER and then we could eat it for Thanksgiving.  Perfect.  But then a neighbor reminded me that I live in the Helena city limits and there are laws about these things.  I’m not supposed to have livestock or farm animals in my yard.  I argued that it would be classified as a lawn ornament.  She didn’t agree.  I then told her it was a holiday decoration, thinking this would appeal to the side of her that puts so many Christmas decorations out that you can’t actually see the lawn.  She still didn’t agree.  I told her I would give her all the white meat.  She said that the manure on the lawn would cause a health hazard.  I asked her what would happen if there was no manure on the lawn.  She looked at me like I was insane and walked away.
So now I have no Thanksgiving decorations.  I have decided to look ahead to Christmas, however.  Now if I could just figure out how to get live reindeer to stay on my roof, I will be in business.