Friday, August 31, 2007

Zen is calling. Is anyone home?

A wise woman once said on this blog that, "YOU make the house great with your happiness. But either way, your next house finds you, not the other way around. "Let the future come to you."

I absorbed those words, partly because Buddhism is speaking to me. It has been for a long time now. Nineteen months, to be exact.

I am far from being Buddhist. But, I'm closer to that than I am of being anything else.

So, trying to live in the moment, trying to find zen in everyday life, I can't help but come back to those words she wrote when I posed the question house vs. location.

In a perfect world, financial situations would allow location over house. But, for many people, that is not possible. We are sitting on the fence with a house that isn't sold, but a longing for a house that is just tippy-toe out of our reach. We know we can afford it, but part of our move is to help offset costs related to our decision to live on one income.

So, I'm left with a lump in my throat, and knot in my stomach thinking that the near-perfect house, which I've already labeled the House of Zen because it is simply simple, just might escape us.

I'm returning to Maezen's words over and over.

My Mom says things work out for a reason. I'm not sure about that. Things work out, but not necessarily for a reason. They just end. And, it's up to us to find the positive in such situations.

That just might be what happens.

Awake parents: If you do nothing else today, go to Karen's site and watch her video.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Strangers we know

For a long time now, I've wanted to write some tales about some of the people Jadyn, Liana and I cross paths with while out walking in our neighborhood.

This is the start of that series. I want to write these before we move, and my memory forgets these fabulous characters.

The Odd Couple

He's tanned, wrinkled, tall and lanky. His green farmer's hat sits high on his 80-something-year-old head.
She's short, chubby and walks with her head to the ground. She wears athletic wear fit for a teenager, though she is about 30 years older than any teens she passes. She's 30 years younger than he is, too.
They hold hands, stop and kiss. Walk a little farther, stop and kiss.
Unlike many others we pass, this couple look like they should live on a farm in the middle of nowhere, swinging on their front porch, not walking block after block in a city filled with pollutions of all sorts.
They walk, they stop and kiss. Always holding hands. Always the same route.
Toothless grins beam up at us as we pass.
"Twins?" she asks.
I nod, asking the girls to wave hello and we keep walking.
They kiss, and walk on.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nope, no fun at all around here

Go here more Wordless Wednesday photos. Don't forget to enter this week's giveaway here.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Everything's different now

As if a giant dinosaur was crashing, crashing, crashing toward us, I swept in and did what I had to do.

Is it a bee, a bug, will it hurt my baby's leg that it's heading toward?

With only a second to react, I chose to squash it.

As soon as I heard the crunch I knew I had done something terribly wrong.

You see, I've murdered many of bugs in my day. But, I'm a mom now. My job is to protect. I've done that before.

This bug didn't deserve to die, and my daughter didn't deserve to watch her mother step on it and crush it to death.

Afterward, I let my foot linger for a while while my brain decided how my mouth would explain this physical violence.

My girl just stared quizzically at my foot, wondering where the bug went, and pointing.

"Bug went bye-bye," I said, wincing inside as I grabbed her small hand and led her away.


As soon as the straw of the juice box hit her lips, a smile fanned out across her face and she waved enthusiastically to her sister, then to me.

It's her way of expressing extreme gratitude.

A wave. A blown kiss. A gorgeous smile beaming from her hazel eyes.


She had been crying steadily for a half hour right around midnight. Even as I held her she cried or moaned, as if in pain.

She clenched my left arm so tightly that I knew she needed me.

She looked up into my eyes, stared into them, and I knew she needed me.

She stopped crying, and breathed shallow and light. She nestled closer into me.

As I laid her down in her bed she rolled onto her belly and tucked her legs under her and moaned. When I patted her back she was quiet. When I stopped she moaned.

She needed me.

I was there.


There we were in one of those Big Box Stores. Me, with my coffee, my daughters in their double-wide stroller instead of a cart.

Walking, walking, walking down the aisles like we've done before, but not for a long time in the stroller.

Cat fight ensues. Poking, hitting, slapping, screaming, crying. And, then the real violence began when one knocked the other in the head with a toy.

All in the middle of the store.

Oh, no. I'm one of those moms now!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sweeping up blog crumbs

Housekeeping on the blog is in progress. I've put the two little ones to work.

If you can bear to read this entire post, which I warn is long and full of venom and spit, you just might be able to enter a contest for a giveaway I'm offering this week.

First up is the change in how things run around here. I now have an "anonymous" commenter who is leaving comments that I feel are personal attacks on me. In the grand scheme of life, these are minor comments that shouldn't bother me. But, I'm not feeling like being attacked these days, not here, not on this blog anyway. Attack all you want on my other blogs.

So, no more anonymous posts are allowed. Sorry for any inconveniences, which pretty much includes my grandmother. I'm just not into people leaving messages without a name. Let's blame it on my journalistic integrity.

Now, here's 8 things about me you might not know.

1. This is my blog and I'll cry if I want to. I'm a very hopeful, positive person. But, this is a journal, of sorts. What I write about here, what I share here, are my daily internal battles as a mother, as a writer and as a woman. I also attempt to reach some level of humor about some of our daily fiascoes. If my daughters ever do read this blog, it will be a miracle since I'm not copying these posts or saving them. This isn't to say that I'm writing anything I wouldn't share with them. It's purely up to serendipity is all I'm saying.

2. I am not, and never will be the kind of person who fakes happiness just to make life seem better. I am in love with life's challenges, chaos and disarray, which all make for great writing material. Life isn't all puppy dog tails and sunshine and neither am I, neither are the hundreds of news stories I've written or read. In fact, I cannot stand people who put on false smiles just for the sake of others. If you're miserable, be miserable. Don't lie. Be honest.

3. I love being at home with my daughters. Nothing else has ever given me more purpose or pleasure. But, it is also the hardest job I've ever had, which is saying a lot since I spent many days in my working life interviewing people who's loved ones were just killed either by a gunshot, a knife, a car, or God forbid, a train.

4. I often ask for your advice, but I rarely ever take it. In fact, I hate getting advice. I do, however, like hearing about other people's experiences.

5. Never, ever, ever will I think that being thrown up on not once, but twice, in one week is what motherhood is all about. Nor, is catching colds. And, never, ever, ever will I feel blessed for such moments. I am, however, blessed to be able to wake up each day as a Mama, to feel wet kisses on my cheeks and to hold two babies in my arms as much as possible during the day

6. I am slowly becoming addicted to having a clean house, but I still hate cleaning. I am not a fun person when all I have to worry about is having a clean house. I pity those poor families with cleaning Nazi's in control. Then again, I'm cleaning with the hopes of some perfect person walking in with their fat wallet to buy this house. That's a different level of cleaning, I suppose. Maybe that's the kind I hate ... but maybe that's the kind of cleaning I'm now preferring. Oh No!

7. I enjoy cursing on special occasions. Language, in general, and the use of words thrills me. A good curse does my soul good. It's better than smoking, doing drugs, drinking or living with a drunk. It's better than judging others, saying sexist or racist jokes. It's better than stealing, lying and cheating. It's definitely not something my girls will be harmed by as there are many other intricate things about me that will send them to therapy. Still, I didn't grow up in a house with curse words, yet I've cursed as long as I remember. Middle school teaches our nation's children everything they should not do and then the kids march right out those school doors and do it all without their parents ever knowing. With that, I vow to never share another curse word on this blog for fear of God Almighty coming out of the wood work to profess my sins.

8. Fear consumes me. Fear of being forgotten. Fear of being unsuccessful. Fear of being a bad mother. Fear of being a bad wife. Fear of walking by myself. Fear of being watched. Fear of being left. Fear of spending too much money. Fear of dying. Fear of others dying. Fear of running out of money. Fear of my children getting hurt. Fear of my husband failing. Fear of being friendless. Fear of people getting to know the real me. Fear of myself. Fear of never achieving. Mostly, fear of uncertainty.

Gosh, was that 8 already? I was just getting warmed up.

If you are interested in reading some of the posts I've written that profess my endless love for both my husband and my daughters, just go here, here, here and here.

Thanks, Isabel for this 8 Things tag. Mama Zen is up next with a meme about how I'd spend a million dollars.

I think just about everyone on my blog roll has done the 8 Things meme, but if you haven't please let me know and then I'll tag you.

Now, finally, in honor of Writer Mama, who is going to hold a month of Back to School giveaways, I'm going to giveaway a copy of her book, "Writer Mama." All you have to do is leave a comment on this post between now and Friday at midnight. The randomly chosen winner will be announced Saturday. You must leave your e-mail somewhere in your comment in order to win this prize.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Eyes Squeezed Shut

Dear Liana and Jadyn,

So often throughout our days together, I can't take my eyes off you. Not because I'm worried about your safety, necessarily, but because you never cease to amaze me. Silly things, like draping towels over your heads, or my underwear, or your bathing suits, or daddy's socks. It's hard to turn away, to do other things, for fear of missing a single beat of your lives.

Yet, there are times when I have to turn away, squeeze my eyes shut, really tightly, because I don't want to see, I don't want to watch the mess unfold. Times like these usually erupt during a meal, following 12 "We don't throw food" statements, and I just want to hit the roof. Or, when I've asked you so many times to keep the dried pasta in the big container, but you insist on throwing it all on the floor. Of course, these moments are few and far (well, fairly distanced) between. They can happen once in a week, or twice in an hour. I just never know. So, I get tired of saying no. I get tired of worrying about the messes. Who cares if I have to spend the first quarter of your nap cleaning for tonight's house showing?

So I close my eyes. Tight. I cover my face with my hands. I don't look until it's over; the rampage settled and all is calm again.


If a toddler throws a piece of chewed up food on your clean hardwood floors and you don't see it, did it really happen?

I'd like to think not.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Unexpected benefits of being a SAHM

Working later than usual, without any help, because The Employed gets to schmooze, eat restaurant food, drink beer and laugh after work hours.

Eating leftovers from a plastic container all while picking up shards of broccoli, cauliflower, and pizza crust while The Employed eats RESTAURANT FOOD with two hands, without being kicked in the head while picking up shards.

Twelve hour day that is topped off by fits of screams that are completely mysterious, followed by only a desire to jump off couch and nothing else while The Employed eats RESTAURANT FOOD sitting down in a chair, laughing, and probably chewing bites thoroughly.

Cleaning for house showings, cooking all meals, writing during naps for extra money, taking ZERO naps all day despite hardly a minute of sleep all night just to keep the household running smoothly with no employee recognition dinner while The Employed eats RESTAURANT FOOD after work hours!

Not that I'm bitter.

Water pouring down my face

Beautiful, earth-quenching rain is keeping us indoors today.

It is relieving in so many ways. The pressure to go outside, to get fresh air, to fill the empty moments with toddler-friendly activities, none of which are usually fun for me, are gone.

Inside, there is plenty we can do together that doesn't involve chasing two babies running in two directions, usually near some pile of dog poop left behind by The Dog. My worries of which plants could cause an illness, which mulch pile will be destroyed and how much grass will end up in my hair and their diapers are given the day off.

Instead of climbing in and out of lawn chairs, getting stuck and needing help out, they're shredding papers for me while sitting in and standing in plastic tubs. Oh, and taking off their clothes. The paper is everywhere. So are their clothes.

I am relieved. My shoulders are sinking away from my ears and deep breaths are coming to me after a night of hardly a wink of sleep.

We won't walk today either. That means no stroller swatting, poking and screaming matches to supervise. No strange characters to pass by near the homeless station or the stop. Of course, it also means no farmer's market produce to fill out plates the next couple days.

Instead, we'll just listen to the drops as they hit the metal roof. We'll watch as the water pours past our house and travels blocks and blocks away.

We'll play dress up, color and listen to great music. We'll nap. Maybe I will, too.

I'll dream of water pouring down my face, cleansing the worries away.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The best sounds of all

Dear Jadyn and Liana,

For months, the two of you have been mimicking animal sounds. I think the first was the gorilla, for which you pound your chests and say uuuuh. Lately, your sounds have gotten so good that we are impressed and ask you to say them frequently. Your quacks sound more like the real thing than ever. You moo, ssss, meow and even baa. You think nothing of imitating an elephant, though you've never met one, or buzz like a bee, though you've never felt the sting of one, thankfully.

But, the best sound you've started to make in the last few weeks are actual words. I've talked about this in previous posts, but now I can officially say you have words. You've been saying bye-bye, but now we can add cracker, help, baby, and ball to the mix. Among your first words were actually two word sentences: I do and I get as in aygit the toys out of the closet or you say aydoo when you've quietly taken off all your clothes instead of napping in your crib.

As a Writer Mama, as a liberal arts degree carrying Mama, as a reading fanatic Mama, I can honestly say I am so happy you are finding a love for words.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Weekend inspiration

The Da! and I both really loved this post by my e-Zen Priest that I felt I needed to share it. She wrote a post this past week about how to make childhood last. I read sentiments often about how fast our children grow up. I find real comfort in Karen's words, even as I know my daughters are growing up right before my eyes. Check it out.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A father's love

Happy Birthday, Da! We hope you have a great Birthday weekend.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Staying sane, I mean social

I have to admit, I sometimes have to drag myself out of this house. I never knew I was such a homebody.

At night, when we need milk or half and half, I usually prefer staying home and letting The Da! go out to buy them. I do make the once-a-week trip to the grocery store, but I even managed to skip out on that last week.

I know that I should leave the house, make some new friends. I know that socializing is both good for me, and for the family.

But, with no relatives close by -- my SILs, who do live nearby -- are not social with me, I'm forced to rely on friends. Since I'm not originally from here, my original group of friends don't live close either. Most of the friends I made here were from my ladder-climbing career life that didn't include sippy cups and kissing boo-boos.

Another aspect of the problem is that I always have a deadline looming, which means I am on the computer every second of the day when possible. That means, the cleaning, the de-cluttering from the day, has to be done at other times, especially since we want someone to buy the damn thing.

By day's end, I'm just too tired to go anywhere. I feel too sweaty, too mentally and physically exhausted to go out of my way to see people. Normally, I might shop -- because shopping does get me out of the house -- but I'm trying not to do that now.

Perhaps a gym membership, or a class would be good for me.

Perhaps I need to create a dating service for local isolated moms to meet other isolated moms. I guess a play group really wouldn't hurt, either.

My goal tonight is to get out of the house. For me. For my sake. For my sanity.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Greener isn't possible without more green

As soon as the For Sale sign went up, so did our hopes. Even though our motives for moving were strictly aligned with convenience of being closer together each day, and spending less money each month, easy times have made those motives less pressing.

Instead, fleeting thoughts of all the hard times we've had in this house dashed before our minds and the possibility of leaving it all behind, finally, for something brighter, safer, more civilized grew like weeds before us.

Our new house will have cleaner neighbors, more quiet neighbors who don't curse so much, less drug addicts, less trash-filled sidewalks, a more family-friendly environment, etc.

The fantasies spiraled out of control.

Until we started actually looking at other neighborhoods -- in our price range.

What we've learned, quickly, is that our neighborhood is not that bad, after all. We knew the house was outstanding, but we know it more now. Each house we've looked at -- all entirely too small for a family of four with a big dog -- barely stand out as potential, let alone promising. Except one or two.

Each has one property within sight that is unsightly. Each has some kind of a loud noise to interrupt the sweet moments -- a fire station siren, traffic from the Interstate, construction. Even friggin' airplanes taking off from a local airport.

How will this work?

Unlike this house, most of these houses need something substantial, like a finished basement, a deck, or a fenced yard, to make them functional for our family. For the right house, we're willing to put in the effort, if there is any cash left, which is doubtful.

The truth is, despite what our families might feel inside and never actually say, the neighborhood that we're in now offers everything we're looking for in our new house. It's got charm, walkable destinations galore, character -- lots of characters, too. Half the people who walk by our front stoop appears to be mentally ill, poor, uneducated, homeless, on-the-verge of homeless. These are the kind of people many Americans only read about in newspapers.

But, they are real people and I love smiling at them, and wishing them a good day. I love capturing a gleam from them as they realize they are waving to twins.

And, we've got color here -- not just at the farmer's markets, either. It's not drastically white like these other neighborhoods, where we're more likely to hear country music instead of Latin and R&B. And, wake up one morning and smell what our neighbors are cooking and your mouth will drool. It takes everything within me not to go barging in asking for a bite.

This is what I want our daughters to grow up with.

What we're realizing, now that the house is actually for sale, and despite the once-a-year dramatic hardships, this house is our home, and it's going to take four really special walls to replace it.

If anything can.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Celebrating transitions

Each of you, with some help from me, took off your sandals yesterday, and learned what it feels like to walk barefoot in the soft green grass, to gallop along cool, damp brick walkways, and trek through woody mulch. You passed from texture to texture, carefully, sometimes with a slight wince, but always with eagerness, always with a smile.

I, too, am treading lightly, but eagerly this week as we transition from two naps to one.

My writing will suffer the most since the only way anything gets done around here is while you are napping. I'll have to be a bit more organized, a lot more flexible and slightly more ahead of the game than usual.

But, I learned from you today as you stepped one foot in front of the other into new territories.

Some steps require a little more gentleness, a little more attention, but in the end, it's worth the adventure because new doors fling open, and fabulous light that shines down on us.

Of course, there is more to this than our daily schedule. Our lives, too, are about to change. New adventures are upon us.

Wait for me.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Vacation fever

Dear J and L,

I recently read a blogger -- wish I could remember which one -- that wrote that once you have kids, there is no such thing as vacation any longer. It's just travel.

I can see how that is probably the case. Every day is hard work around here. The weekdays when I'm primary caregiver between 10 and 12 hours a day. Weekends, though while I do have some backup, the two of you have your way of keeping both of us busy all day.

While I'm sure a vacation would be just as physically demanding, my mind longs to be elsewhere. You probably sense that at times.

Your father and I have had some great vacations, though, so we can't complain. Our first was to the beach, which is where we're hoping to take you in a couple weeks. Summer can't be summer unless your toes touch the hot sand and your little meaty thighs are dotted with salt water. I would argue that summer isn't summer unless you sit for a couple hours picking hard shelled crabs until your fingers sting from Old Bay seeping into all the wounds caused by the labor. But, one thing at a time around here. Sometimes, I realize, we're lucky if we make it downstairs without a temper tantrum.

Our next vacation, I think, was to New York City. Since then, we got engaged in New Orleans, hugged and kissed our way across Grand Cayman and shopped and toured Boston/Cape Cod. Not so bad.

Soon, you will see what I'm talking about when I say that there is no better feeling than an ocean breeze hitting you square in the face, and a gaggle of sea gulls swarming around you.

You'll get it, too.

Nobody can escape vacation fever.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Location, location, location

It's important, right?

But, when funds aren't endless, what's more important a really nice house, or a really nice location?

Right now we have a very nice house, in a pretty good location. But, as I've written before, it's in a third-class city that has third-class manners, at times. All with first-class taxes.

We're trying to do things differently this time around, trying to be more wise about what we get (not too big, not too small so we won't quickly outgrow it) and where we buy it. We still want the user-friendly walkable destinations.

It has to have a nice yard both for us, and for the dog. It has to have a decent kitchen or the potential to be great.

And, finally, it has to have a user-friendly work/play set up. In other words, I need an office -- particularly one I can write off on taxes -- with a playroom right next to it.

Am I dreaming?

If you had to choose right now -- one or the other -- great location or great house, which would it be?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

'Cause Moms don't face enough challenges

MamaBlogga has come up with yet another genius idea. I feel the need to support her that all I'm going to say today is go check this out.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Then and now

Then ...

Now ...

For more Wordless Wednesday photos go here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Moments in time

Dear Jadyn and Liana,

Perfection is not something I strive for. It's more that I aim for satisfaction, contentment or peace, like a river on a calm, windless day. There are waves, yes, but they are small, relatively unnoticed as we float up and down on the current.

Our days go so fast now. I still take notice around 3 p.m. that I have another three hours to go on my own, but we're so busy I don't have time to count down after that.

We've had some glowing, amazing moments lately. Soon you will turn 19 months. It's no wonder. I just brought myself to tears looking back at some of your baby pictures. BABY pictures. You have turned into little girls. Silly, giggling, energetic girls.

I write less letters, and take less pictures these days, I know. It's not because I don't want to write, it's because what we've been experiencing lately is indescribable.

For example, yesterday at breakfast (or lunch or dinner) this is what happened:

We started out eating our meal. Jadyn, who is starving, ate well. Liana, who is either too hungry to not hungry at all, takes a few bites and then closes her eyes, grabs her bib, yanks it off and starts sobbing with her mouth wide open. Eyes still closed, little to no tears fall down her cheeks. As soon as I take her plate and tray away, she cries more to get out of the chair. Once down, she's fine.

Jadyn, you usually just eat through your sister's dramatics. When you are done, though, you yank off your bib as well, which sometimes results in carrots hitting my face as you pull it out from between your belly and the tray.

But, it's not all crying. Well, mostly it is these days. It's a lot like the first year, too, because I rarely understand what the cries are for anymore.

The two of you played a fun game of tug o' war, with an exercise mat. It was all fun and games until Liana lost her grip, the mat fell to the floor and Jadyn sat on it. Angry Liana lost it -- collapsed on the floor, and sobbed. Jadyn, clearly doing this passive act to annoy your sister, gets up, and the game resumes. Until ... Liana loses her grip again, Jadyn sits, Liana collapses, etc. This went on for several more times before I had to intervene and take the mat away.

But, later, after dinner when we have begun dancing and music time, you both did something that nearly sent me shouting down the street.

You held hands and acted out Ring Around the Rosie. To see you both holding hands, and working together in such a special way as little girls, truly sent my heart spinning.

It was also nice that I could just sit back and watch something fun happen for once.

Our days are so full of ups and downs right now. When one of us is up, surely another one will bring us down. Sometimes it's me. Sometimes it's you. Often, it's a toy or something that isn't a toy but you think it should be, like DVDs, tissues or the CD player.

When we're really lucky, all three of us are high as a kite silly, dancing around, making silly noises, experiencing pure bliss.

And, those moments are perfect.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Twinkle toes ...

For a change of pace, go here.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

What a week!

leaking roof
two house showings with positive reaction
then nothing for two days
my mother and brother visited for second time this year
another showing scheduled
flies took over the kitchen
basement filled with water
95 degrees, no car and forced to leave with the girls at lunchtime
yummy broiled fish sandwich at local restaurant i'd never do on my own thanks to so many anti-stroller establishments
seeing my girls learn that being silly gets them attention
seeing red after learning the showing never happened AFTER returning hot, sweaty and miserable from 1.5 hours out of the house
seeing more red as more flies hovered in the kitchen
feeling happy to learn the sewage backup was an easy fix, and wasn't too much of a mess
hoping the flies were a result of the backup, and will never return
The Da! and I got out for a date of miniature golf and Italian ice for $10
wondering how the girls will feel when it's just us again, no visitors.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Non-signs 2 and 3

The Da! still refuses to believe in signs so when we had an infestation of flies at our kitchen window yesterday, he thought nothing of it. Perhaps that's because he didn't have to see them, kill them all, kill more, then kill even more all day. So far today, none.

Instead, we had a basement full of water. Yup, a drenched basement discovered just 4.5 hours before a house showing. Only our second day of showing since the leak in the roof on Sunday.

And, this is not just any old puddle. This is gushing water inside and outside the house when water runs.

I don't know. If these aren't signs, what are they?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Wanna know something?

Ages ago, at least in toddler speak, Mama Zen of The Zen of Motherhood, tagged me with the 8 Things About Me meme.

Honestly, I couldn't think of even 8 things so I got overwhelmed. I tend to be a tell-all so I'm not hiding too much, at least I didn't think. Here, I've just tried to give a mixture of the pathetic, funny, interesting and sad.

But, of course, I am hiding some things, I thought the other day. My girls, on the other hand, know it all.

1. I am easily frustrated. I feel that I have lots of patience to a certain point, and then I want to explode. For example: J and L have been doing a lot of crying, less napping and more fighting. Add that all up and you get one messy situation all day long. Usually after a day of being so patient, one handful of thrown food or one kick to the head picking up the food -- all on a day when The Da! will be later than usual -- I just want to drop to the floor and throw my legs and arms around in a tantrum.

2. I have the highest possible expectations of people. And they tend to disappoint me every single time.

3. I have trouble sitting still for TV most of the time unless it's the food channel or HGTV.

4. I'd give anything for a gourmet kitchen in a nice neighborhood.

5. I'd read magazines all day if I could.

6. A glass of wine at the end of a long day is really all I need, yet I hardly have any on hand.

7. I still only have about 10 songs on my iPod that's how out of touch I am with music.

8. I walk every day between 2-16 blocks unless it's too hot or raining.

9. I've seen dead bodies in real life.

10. I've been to more funerals for people I don't know than people I do.

Oh, duh, I gave you 10. I'm so used to Top 10 lists.

Top 5 Ways to keep it clean

These are the tips I've gathered from you, dear readers -- in a roundabout way. I may have put my own little snippy spin on them because I am feeling at a loss of real, honest-to-goodness thoughts today.

To keep a clean house you must:

1. Sell the kids. Clearly this is the top priority because not only are they mostly the cause of the mess, but they are also not helping you clean it up.
2. Put the husband to work. Sure, mine already does the dishes and the laundry, but it wouldn't kill him to work in a few bathroom swishes here and there.
3. Clean while sleeping. To have a clean house at all times, we need to BE the cleaning, this means that while we sleep we should be cleaning.
4. Scrub floors at least weekly. More than two weeks is gross.
5. Pile the clutter on the stairs. Yup, just stick it all on the stairs, then when you go up, take something and shove it in the closet. Any closet.

So, there you go. LTMD's cleaning tips directly from the readers!