iris's breakfast: wednesday

By request Iris is enjoying a bowl of vanilla yogurt and cold pizza with green and black olives, onions and green pepper

Also I think Ruby may follow in her sister's footsteps since she's currently enjoying the crust from Iris's first piece of pizza.

This is not the strangest breakfast I've seen around here. I'll try to be better about documenting them.


mount paperwork: climbed and conquered.

It took me longer than expected to tackle the mountain of paperwork in our house but I am happy to report that I'm officially done.

I wish I could say the only problem we had in this area was incoming mail and medical stuff but tragically the kids had a crisis of their own brewing in the corner of our dining room:

They do multiple art projects every day and the table is the most logical place to do crafts so we had set up a little contain-all/catch-all station next to the china cabinet. The problem is I never had a plan for it to begin with so this area quickly became a pile of supplies mixed up with artwork with no real purpose other than sending me into fits every time I thought about it. And can I have a little mommy confession time? Most of this "art" wasn't worth saving. What can I say? We can't keep everything and the majority of this didn't meet closet wall standards.

I tackled this while Ocean was in school, Iris was playing quietly and Ruby was napping. I got myself a big cup of coffee and started going through The Pile. Most everything went into the recycling bin. The pieces that made the cut were those which made me smile with delight. Drawings of our family, hand tracings, writing samples. I didn't follow a set formula for keeping or pitching, just whatever felt right. Then their respective art went into color-coded bins which my mom bought me over a year ago for this very purpose. (I'm a slow learner.) The bins fit neatly on the top shelf in our foyer closet which is located directly on the other side of the china cabinet wall- out of sight but easily accessible.

Now what to do with the art supplies? I have a basket way up high in our mudroom that contains the art supplies over which I maintain control- paint, sequins, glue, markers and tape. I want them to be free to get a piece of paper and draw whenever the mood strikes but I don't want it taking over our eating space. So I cleaned the clutter out of the bottom of the china cabinet and voila:

The far right is an empty shoebox full of paper for drawings. The middle is our trusty craft carousel, full of washable crayons, colored pencils, safety scissors and glue stick. The far left side has an empty shoe box for the kids to deposit finished artwork, and I will go through it when it's full to figure out what stays and what goes.

So here's the finished project:

Other paper-related areas that I tackled last week:

-The corner of the kitchen counter where all the bills land

The amount of crap is staggering


Smaller basket, tidier nook

-My backlog of coupons

Cut and filed

-A cardboard box full of stuff that needed to be sorted, shredded and/or filed

"Shred me!"


As a side note, this project got me thinking about my china cabinet. We bought it off Craig's List a couple of years ago for $40 with the intention of painting it but I just never got around around to it-- does anyone know if I have to sand before priming? Because that will determine whether it gets painted or not. Thoughts?

Also, for those of you who are tackling projects of your own feel free to link your posts in the comments. I want to see your progress!


all better

Nine days and a combined 7 pounds later everyone is finally healthy. The kids are asking for and eating olives and peas. Mixed up in a bowl. For breakfast.

A sure sign that everything is a-okay, digestively speaking.

All surfaces are sanitized and I'm in the middle of the laundry pile from hell as we speak but there's no better kick-off to spring cleaning than a good old fashioned bout of vomit and diarrhea, don'tcha think?

I'm so motivated in fact that I decided to take part in Simple Mom's Project: Simplify. Candice's closet inspired me to start making a dent in some of the clutter we've accumulated over the last few years and the Simple Mom project has some great ideas for getting started with those clutter magnets in the home as well as creating lasting organizational systems to help keep things tidy.

I'm joining the party sooooooper late (why attempt to be punctual now?) but started with, and already made some serious headway in, the paperwork department. I can't tell you how absolutely buried we are in the paperwork associated with Phil's myeloma. Medical bills, insurance forms, disability claims, doctors notes, lab reports... all of you guys who have been through similar situations or have had chronic medical conditions totally know where I'm coming from. And not to mention the normal life stuff like bills, catalogs and magazines that come through the mail and just get chucked on top of everything else. Until now I haven't found the motivation to tackle it all. I mean why on earth would I want to spend a whole evening sorting through a mountain of paper when I could watch reruns of Greek on Netflix? I think the technical term for this dilemma is "laziness". But seriously, I'm so sick of the real estate it's taking up in my life and on my counters so I took a stab at it last night and I feel about 20 pounds lighter. And that's not even because of the stomach flu.

I'll probably skip this week's challenge with the kids' stuff because I stay pretty on top of their clothes already and their toys are no longer a huge issue after last week's absolute kid crap takedown. I figure I'll just tack another week on when it's over and handle my closet and wardrobe then since it might finally be warm enough to bring out some spring clothes at that point. Or at the very least maybe we'll be done with the winter storm warnings and I can put away my winter boots.

Anyone else taking part in Project: Simplify? Or just doing some spring (or seasonal) cleaning on your own? Do tell!


if you don't want to read about me feeling sorry for myself over a dumb stomach virus stop reading now.

Not to be all Woe Is Me but seriously, this stomach bug has been neverfreakingending. Ocean started puking last Tuesday night and didn't leave the couch for about 48 hours. He wasn't able to stomach any food until Thursday when he ate about a dozen Cheerios and a saltine cracker. Progress! Iris started with a tummy ache on Thursday also but never barfed (yay grape juice and colloidal silver) and neither of them have had much more than toast, saltine crackers and a few juice popsicles since. Oh, I mean besides the Doritos this afternoon. You can ask Phil about that. And then ask me about the subsequent fallout. Or maybe not because it was gross.

In hindsight Doritos were a bad idea.

I'm so, so sad for how rotten they feel. I really am. There's nothing worse than when your precious little babies are feeling badly. But mostly the whining feels like it might drive me to drink. I'm not sure if their incessant fussing is actually a result of illness or just the six straight days of PBS Kids we've watched. (Does too much TV make your kids irritating too? No? Just mine?) Once Ocean was able to lift his head off his pillow I finally turned off the TV and Iris flipped out. I told her that our brains were going to turn into mashed potatoes and she stopped crying long enough to look at me completely wide-eyed before bursting into tears.

Mashed potatoes? Seriously? If you're lying I'm totally calling my Congressman.

And just in case you're wondering how quickly you can blow through two gallons of Clorox bleach and 75 pairs of latex gloves the answer is 48 hours. Say what you will about nasty chemicals and landfills but it was worth it because the rest of us were spared and also right now I don't give a rip about anything but not barfing.

What happened to the good ol' days when a stomach virus only lasted 24 hours? Hem. Haw. Sigh.

Here's a cute baby to make amends for such a disgusting conversation topic.

What's wrong with you people? Quit yer whining and give me milk. Milllllllllk.


uncle! UNCLE!

I promised an update on that whole black tie optional situation. I decided to wear this:

But, as it turns out, I got hit with the flu and had to stay home. Wheee! Thankfully our friend Eric went in my stead and he and Phil had a great time at the ball, then went to the bar and closed it out while I was shivering and sweating under my covers, the surrounding floor littered with tissues and Dear God Why?s.

And now, we've been hit with another stomach bug. Only Ocean is affected at the moment and I blame myself for getting cocky since we already had this junk a few times (Hello, immune systems? Are you freaking there?) and I totally slacked on all my preventive ritual silliness. In fact when my precious little guy started ralphing last night I totally panicked because I was completely out of cranberry juice, colloidal silver AND probiotics... and Whole Foods was closed. Thankfully my mom saved my butt as she is apt to do, driving to my house at midnight to bring me the rest of her stash which got us through the night.

Ocean told me that today is the worst day in the world and I can see his sad little 5-year-old point. Also he wailed that he's "a hungry little boy who likes to eat" when I denied him a bowl of Cheerios. So pitiful. But I know he'll feel much better in the morning after some sleep. We ALL will feel better in the morning, I gather.

I'm pretty delirious from lack of sleep and caffeine withdrawal (something about people puking around me makes coffee really unappealing) and I keep typing the wrong words so I'm gonna wrap it up before pulling out the air mattress for the night.

Please send me news of the outside world, particularly stuff about sunshine and warm temps and daffodils blooming and people NOT throwing up.


the story of (our) stuff

Is it just me or does it seem like babies are born into the world and then immediately have all their junk shipped overnight to your house? It's like one day I went into labor and left for the hospital with a neat, tidy home only to return to overturned furniture and primary-colored plastic crap littering every square inch of my house.

All my kids leave little snail trails of stuff wherever they roam but Iris has the most intriguing style of creating a mess. She likes to put stuff in stuff. She gathers every assortment of container she can find-- laundry baskets, tupperware, toy bins, hampers-- and dumps everything she owns into them. Helping her clean up is maddening because it's essentially starting from scratch to put everything back where it belongs. We've talked about it a lot this week because frankly I'm sick of dealing with the mess. The kids don't really have a lot of toys but they do have a few toys with a lot of small parts. Like this:

And this:

And of course, these:

This afternoon I walked into Iris's room where she and Ocean were up to no good. I knew this was the case because as soon as I crossed the threshold into her room they both fell prostrate and remained perfectly quiet and still, as if they were playing dead. They call this Camouflage, and they do it when they're making bad choices. Sure enough, they had a laundry basket full of plastic animals from A to Z, all the play food from their kitchen and about 20 plastic hangers that came out of goodness-knows-which closets. (A nest, Iris informed me later.) Also, Ocean was wearing his Wolverine costume and Iris had blue glitter paint on her face but that seems to be beside the point.

Now I don't know if it's the cabin fever or the snow we got last night or this cold we've been passing around for a month but for some reason this little scene was my tipping point. I got the trash bags and started putting stuff in them. I wonder how often Salvation Army gets "Mom's Final Straw" donations? Well, they're getting one this weekend. Holla!

After a brief lecture on being responsible for their things I tossed the dirty laundry they had emptied from the basket down the stairs and started making my way down after it when Ocean, pointing solemnly at the pile of laundry at the bottom of the steps said, rather altruistically, "Actually, Mommy, you need to be responsible for your things."


black tie optional

Phil and I have an event on Saturday night, at which he is one of the speakers. The attire is Black Tie Optional. I'm having a hard time figuring out what this means.

We all are confused.

And by that I mean I don't want to have to buy anything. The kids helped me go through my already meager closet offerings and it has me wondering if I can get away with my trusty LBD or a cocktail dress.

What would you wear? Keep in mind this is Ann Arbor so things tend to run a degree or two more casual here, and also there's still lots of snow on the ground. (Although I'm pretty sure my winter boots do NOT fall under the category of black tie anything. Right?)