Friday, March 25, 2011

Dollar Store Dilemma

As a reward for good behavior this week I decided to treat my kids to a visit to the dollar store.  When they were younger this was almost a weekly occurrence but as they've gotten old and gotten more "stuff" we've cut down on going.  We all know most of the toys there are cheaply made and break rather quickly (anywhere from minutes to weeks usually). I knew that they would thoroughly enjoy going and it would help cement the idea that listening and doing what you're told will pay off in unexpected ways. 
The kids were thrilled to hear I was taking them.  They even bypassed on the idea of going home to change out of their pajamas (it was pajama day at school).  I made it clear right up front why I was taking them and the fact that they could pick any one thing.  One thing and one thing only.
I have to say my son was understanding of the rules.  He promptly thanked me for the treat and never begged to buy more than one item.  My daughter only had to be warned once.  My reply was this, "If you ask again you will get nothing so don't ask.".  She knew I meant it so that was the end of the never ending begging that sometimes occurs when I'm out at the store with them.
My daughter is fairly adapt at going through the store and figuring out what she wants.  She will pick a few choices, debate them and then chose.  And that is that.  She use to waffle more but has really amazed me the last year in being able to do this.  My son however, will continue to change his mind and it drives me crazy.  He will walk around the store 5, 10, 20 times picking things up and discarding them.  Over and over and over again.  I start to slowly lose my mind and my patience.  I now have to give him a time limit or this can go on for over 30 minutes and he starts to annoy himself with his indecision. 
Today it was between a few different things.  A cash tray with money, a paddle ball, a foam fling type toy, bakugun type toy or a kite.  Back and forth, back and forth.  He continued to narrow it down.  At first the kite wasn't in the running because he didn't see it hidden in its display by an endcap. It was down to the cash tray and the bakugun type toy.  He asked me to put them behind my back, shuffle them around and then he'd pick a hand.  He picked left and it was the cash tray.  This was the first thing he was drawn to anyways so it worked for me.  He's learning how to subtract dollars and cents in school and he thought this would be a fun way to help him learn.  I'm all for that considering he "hates" to "learn".  His words, not mine.
Then he saw the kites right before we made it to the check out.  Dang!  So close, yet so far!  He picked 2 out and we went through the motions of me putting them behind my back and him picking a hand again.  It was a go again.  Until...  I let him know that we could only fly it at the nearby park because our yard is too small.  That put him into a tizzy.  After settling down we came to an agreement he came up with an I can live with.  We got the cash tray today and if he's good all next week we'll go back and get the kite.  Hopefully by then the weather will be a warmer since it's been in the 20's all this week.
In the end everything worked out.  I think these excursions teach kids about making (appropriate) choices.  It also includes logic, problem solving and decision making.  They're definitely learning things without even realizing it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What to do, what to do?

An unexpected day of of school can be a parent's nightmare.  Especially if the weather is too bad to take your child(ren) outside to burn off excess energy.  Sometimes it's not possible to send them outside to play or hop in the car and take a drive someplace fun where they can run around and socialize with other kids.
So, every parent's question is, "How can I keep them from getting bored and driving me (and each other) nuts?  That my friends, is the million dollar question for all. 
This winter (now Spring) has kept me on my toes with all the snow days, early dismissals and two hour school delays.  The calendar may now say Spring but we had snow 3 out of the last 5 days.  Yesterday, my kids were released from school early and today they went in late.  All because Mother Nature must be on vacation and forgot to update the weather chart, which I'm sure she keeps on her office wall.
Here's a list of things I like to do to keep my kids entertained and engaged:

  1. Picnic for lunch-We spread a blanket out on the rug in the living room. I like to have a variety of kid friendly finger foods: strawberries, grapes, finger sandwiches, cubed cheese, crackers, pepperoni and more.

  2. Board Games-Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Scrabble Flash, Jenga, Dominos, Bingo, Checkers, Monopoly and Sorry are just a few favorites in our house.
  3. Baking-Chocolate chip cookies, brownies, cake, cupcakes and more.  My children enjoy frosting and decorating goodies before gobbling them up.
  4. Cooking-Both my love to help me prepare dinner.  I haven't gotten to the point of having them chop anything up yet but they do enjoy washing veggies, adding ingredients, setting timers and stirring pots.
  5. Coloring-I like to buy a few large activity coloring books that they can pull out on days they're stuck indoors.
  6. Computer Worksheets-Believe it or not my kids enjoy doing these.  Even my 8 year old son who "hates" school.  I think he likes it because it's just for fun and it's not homework.
  7. Arts and Crafts-I have a box dedicated to arts and crafts.  It's filled with the essentials like: paper, crayons, markers, glue, stickers, foam and fabric pieces, googly eyes, yarn, Popsicle sticks and more.  Whenever I'm at A.C. Moore or Michael's I'll pick up a craft kit or two if they're on sale.  My kids like to paint ceramics, sun catchers, door signs, and more.
  8. Puzzles-I always have these on hand.  It keeps them busy for a while.  I like to get ones that are a little challenging for their age but not too hard where they give up quickly. 
  9. Puzzle books-Word finds, mazes and easy crossword puzzles are a keeper.
  10. Movie Day with Popcorn-Yum
  11. Building forts using blankets and couches/chairs-Lots of fun and creative imagination.
  12. Dance Party-Whether it's the radio, Cd's or ipod the kids love turning on the radio, singing and dancing around all crazy.
  13. Dress up-My daughter loves to dress up and play princess.  She'll put on a fashion show or have a tea party with all of her babies.  I'll do her hair, nails and makeup too for the total girlie experience.
  14. Wii-Though I try to limit video game and computer usage these can be active and interactive on bad weather days.  I love the wii because it gets the kids moving.
The most important thing to remember is keep your child engaged and you're day will go much smoother and you're kids will be happier.  Just have fun and make it a special day together.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lift Someone Up instead of Knocking them Down with Judgement

I can’t stay silent any longer. There are so many people out there complaining about the housing market and being pissed off at their neighbors for short selling on their house or having it foreclosed. I understand you’re upset. I can understand you’re angry. I know this is because it effects the value of your house. The house you have poured blood, sweat and tears into over the last X amount of years. I get that. However, I don’t get why you are so pissed off at your neighbors. WHY?! Do you truly think they want to sell at a loss or lose their house to the bank? If you think this then you’re wrong.

Those people that you may be upset with are hurting right now more than you can imagine. Do you think that most of them didn’t feel the same excitement you did when you purchased your house? Do you think they didn’t put money, time and effort into making it their own? Put yourself in their place for a few minutes before you judge.

Yes, there are those people out there that walk away from a house thinking “fuck it” and don’t care. But that is the vast minority. They’re devastated by the knowledge that they are losing their home. It is not a choice, not an option. It is their own personal fiery hell that they are going through. I am sure they fought to hang on and long as they could. I’m sure they weren’t being unselfish and giving you the finger and thinking…screw them, I want their house to lose value. Think about it. Most people don’t think like that.

These people are on the cusp of drowning. They are aching inside. I’m sure they explored every option and fought tooth and nail for it not to happen. For some, I’m sure the loss of their house ripped their family apart.

Think about it. In this economy there are many reasons why people are losing their homes. It’s not because they were careless financially. Consider this….job loss, work injury, health costs and added or unforeseen financial stress. Pick one, any one. These are the main reasons why most people are selling their home for a lose or having it foreclosed on them. This economy is taking no prisoners. People do not chose to lose their jobs. They do not intentionally get hurt on or off the job. They do not control getting serious life threatening illnesses. They did not plan to have the additional financial burden of supporting their parents. They did not realize that the bank authorized a loan for more than they could afford in the long run. The housing and job market have crashed and there are many victims laying on the side of the road. Before you cast a stone and judge them why not lend a hand to help them back on their feet. A kind word sometimes goes a long way. Don’t condemn what you don’t know. You are not living in their shoes. Be a part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Monday, March 14, 2011

You Got to have Friends

Women need a support group of friends.  Women also need a variety of friends.  There are friends we can tell anything too.  Then there are more casual friends that you bond together over a particular thing.  We have childhood friends, mommy friends, co-worker friends, internet friends and the list goes on and on. It's good to have a variety of friends that you can lean on for support because they each fulfill you different needs in a friend.
I have a few close friends but a large support circle of  friends.  I think in each of my circles I have one or two go to friends are can discuss anything with. 
I have an old childhood friend that I have lost touch with a few times but somehow we find each other again.  We were the best of friends through middle school and high school.  We lost touch for a few years after she moved out of the area and our interests became more varied.  As most teenagers, we had a stupid spat and it separated us for a while.  But, we're like sisters, bonded for life.  We found our way back to each other and I attended her wedding about 12 years ago.  She was living out of state at that point so it was hard to keep in touch.  She was a busy newlywed and I was single working insane hours as a retail store manager.  We lost touch again.  It took another 8 years to reconnect.  We had both moved several times since the last time we spoke so it was took a lot of hard work to find each other.  I finally bit the bullet and joined Facebook because I saw this mini photo of a person that looked a lot like one of her sisters.  I signed up and immediately sent out a message asking the person if they were who I though they were.  I was blessed to find out it was indeed her sister.   I was immediately given her email address and told that my friend had been searching for years for me too.  It was joyous reconnecting again.  She is like the sister I never had.  Even when we've been apart, she's always been in my heart.  I believe every woman should have at least one friend like this.  I feel very blessed.
Another type of friend is the co-worker friend.  I have several of these type from past jobs.  However, it's great when this friend becomes more.  Unfortunately, I've also been burned badly by numerous of these types of friends so I'm now much more leery of this type.  My close co-worker friend was someone I didn't even connect with when I first started that job.  I felt we had nothing in common and she was the distant sort.  That all changed when I became pregnant with my first child.  She too was pregnant and due 8 weeks before me.  We bonded after that and have been close ever since.  She went on maternity leave and never returned to that job. I think that helped our friendship because we didn't have any work drama after the kids were born.  Nine years later and we still keep in touch weekly and get together at least a few times a month for lunch and shopping at the mall.  I can share anything with her and I know she'll listen with an open mind.  She's there with advice and support.  I love this about her. 
My third type of friend is my mommy/school friend.  This is a friend who has kids in your child(ren)s school.  You may have met them while hanging out with your kids in the neighborhood, at the local part, in the school yard or at a school function.  Beware of these friends because some are fake and like to cause "mama drama".  You might miss the clues at first but when you see them run as fast as you can in the other direction.  You do not want to get sucked into mama drama.  Been there, done that.  It's so not worth it.  After all is said and done you may lose a person you thought was your friend, you may lose shared friends who don't really know what happened and your child may lose a friend.  I'll touch upon these things in another post.  For those of you that have been reading my blog for a while, you may remember a post about a bully mom.  Those are the ones that cause mama drama and are so not worth having in your circle of friends.  Find moms that you can connect with.  However, do not try to force friendships between your children.  It may become an issue later.  I can think of one particular friend when I write about this category.  Our children are not friends but will play with each other and, I guess, are friends of a sort.  We connected in a way through my son and her daughter.  Our kids were in speech together during kindergarten.  We didn't meet until I moved into the house behind her right before first grade.  She has become a wonderful friend and neighbor.  What connects us is she has two daughters with disabilities and my son has a hearing impairment.  She is a great support system.  I can always go to her when I'm looking for advice on how to handle a situation at school or a CSE (Committee on Special Education) meeting.  She gets it.  My son is not considered "special needs" and sometimes I have difficulty maneuvering channels. If I don't fight for him he'll get lost in the shuffle.  She is always giving me advice and feedback on my questions.  I can talk to her about anything and she's non-judgmental.  Truly an amazing woman.
When I look at my close friends I realize how truly blessed I am.  I have 5 or 6 that are my go to woman.  I know that they will listen, offer advice and support me whenever I need them.  Everyone should have at least one friend like that.  Foster those friendships and you will reap the  rewards of someone who will always listen and have your back.  Remember to return the favor to them too.  You get back what you put in.  Also, cut any negative, gossipy, mama drama types from your llife.  They are not worth all the energy they are sucking out of you (and possibly your family).  These woman can come back to haunt you.  Trust me, I know.  It's been a year and a half since I cut one of those from my life and she haunts me because her daughter is in my son's class and she is a neighbor.  It's truly like hell.  If I'd known then what I know now I wouldn't have allowed myself to become so close with her and her family.  Hindsight is 20/20 so we have to accept, move on and learn from our mistakes without becoming jaded.
I am truly thankful for my wonderful friends.  Without them I think I would be lost.

Monday, March 07, 2011

So this is it

I'm sitting here with an electric heater on me keeping the living room warm.  This past weekend was a new low but we made the best of a bad situation.
Our oil tank is empty.  It's really not surprising considering the last time we had a delivery was at the end of the summer.  That was the beginning of the end of our financial cushion.  I didn't realize how bad it was because my husband never chose to share it with me.  Unfortunately, we have separate accounts and take care of different household pieces so I didn't know.  I've always wanted a shared household account but I understood that my husband was burned by his ex-wife when it came to money.  She drained all their accounts when they split, let their car be repossessed (rather than sell it), lived in their house until the bank foreclosed on it and wrote bad checks.  I get it so I don't push.  It's small in the scheme of things.  However, he's always been clear with me on how our finances sit.  He's always had some savings to fall back on.  Now it's all coming down around us.  The extra mortgage payment sitting in the bank is gone and there's nothing left sitting around.  The end is slowly, perilously drawing closer and closer. 
The biggest drain is my parents and my heart is sick over it.  Nine years ago my dad lost his job of 30 years.  His plant closed and everyone was out of work.  My mom came to stay with us and help with my son, who was a baby at the time.  It helped them financially because it was one less mouth to feed, less energy being used in their house, etc.  My dad finally admitted that he could not find a job where they were living.  He left my brother in charge of the house, found a job where we were and moved in.  Ever since then we've been carrying most of the financial burden.  We paid $100 extra a month in rent because my parents were living with us.  We paid the whole rent.  We were under the impression that once my dad got back on his feet he would start helping with the rent.  One year turned into two, turned into five and it never happened.  Sure, he would contribute to the groceries here and there or part of an oil delivery but nowhere near half or a third of the cost for us to all live there.  All of us (6 of us in a 3 bedroom once my daughter was born) was way to much.  It put a huge strain on my marriage and my relationship with my parents.  The good that came out of it, is that my kids got to see their grandparents every day.  Too bad they had trouble enforcing boundaries with them.  It was rough.  My husband and I were both retail managers working on salary.  At one point we both were working 60 plus hours a week and I was commuting 45 minutes each way. 
The strain got unbearable.  The bickering worse.  My husband and I knew we couldn't continue to live that way.  We knew our marriage was unraveling quicker each day and we fought tooth and nail to survive.  Finally, after searing off and on for a few years we found a two family house to purchase.  It wasn't exactly where we wanted or how we wanted to live but we knew we couldn't continue going on as we were.  Ideally, we needed and wanted my parents to find their own place but that wasn't going to happen.  We couldn't abandon them because we are not that kind of people.  That was part of the mental and emotional battle we both had going on.  My dad committed to being able to pay a certain amount of the mortgage each month.
Now we are where we are.  My dad has never actually paid the amount he committed too originally.  We are still not in our ideal living situation.  My dad acts like he's the primary mortgage holder and tries to call the shots.  He doesn't get it.  We pay over $500 more a month then he does.  We have identical places except their attic is finished.  They have more livable space.  I don't begrudge that, especially since I like our side more.  What continues to kill me is every time we struggle to make the mortgage payment my dad doesn't get it.  If we ask him to put in more money he says he either a) doesn't have it or b) needs us to repay it within 7 days.  It kills me.  We have been very clear about the situation.  He has blinders on and refuses to listen.  At the end of this month he will be driving to visit my brother who is 6 hours away.  He will spend at least $500 while he is gone.  I don't begrudge him getting away but paying the mortgage is way more important.  I don't think he understands that he will be losing the roof over his head too and that if it comes to that he will not be welcome to live with us.  His only "solution" is for us to move in with them and rent our side out.  Make that a HELL NO!  We bust our asses and pay the majority of the mortgage we're not going to pack up everything we own and live on your side with you.  We did that before (but them living with us).  It didn't work.  They treated our house like it was their house and we were living with them. I didn't mind them feeling at home.  That's how it should be.  But it wasn't like that.  It was like we were visiting.  Lights blazing everywhere, living room TV running my mom's TV shows 24/7 and her claiming one couch as hers.  I can only imagine how they would treat us if we truly were living in their house.  It would be a nightmare.  To top it off (and I mean no judgement or disrespect to anyone) but my mom is a pack rat (hoarder) and a smoker.  She use to smoke outside when she lived with us and the first year in this house (2 yrs ago) but not anymore.  I can literally smell the smoke seeping through our shared wall (their kitchen, our entryway into the basement).  It's too much.  I draw the line.  I can't live that way and I can't expect my family to do it either. 
My husband is actively trying to find work out of state, where the cost of living is reasonable.  We're hoping to rent out our side of the house.  Until then we continue to keep our heads up and get by the best we can. We did get kerosene for the oil tank.  Unfortunately, nothing will kick in.  My dad is trying to figure out why now.  The temperatures last night fell below freezing.  I had to leave the faucets all dripping and pray the water didn't freeze.  We ran the electric heater upstairs at a 65 and stayed warm all night.  This morning I turned on the downstairs heater too.  While the air is warmer, there's still a cool breeze in the air.  Doesn't help that all the windows in the old house are extremely drafty no matter what I do.
I'm off now to pick up my son from school while my daughter goes to girl scouts.  I pray that the furnace will be working when I return.  I don't know what we'll do if it's not.  We've been showering next door.  I've been doing the dishes by heating water on the stove and pouring it into the sink.  We'll survive but it won't be easy.  Praying the temperatures heat up soon.  We can't afford for anyone to come out and look at anything.  It's a disaster right now.  Keeping my head up, my mind clear and my attitude as positive as I can.  If I don't I'll be a sobbing mess and that won't help us right now.  Too bad a great paying, work from home job couldn't land in my lap right now.  Or we could win the lottery.  Either of those would work right now.
***Chin up and moving forward.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Just trying to make it

Well, it finally happened.  What my husband and I have been worried about for months now. 
Yesterday, I noticed the water in the faucet never quite got past lukewarm.  It wasn't icy cold but it wouldn't get hot.  I didn't want to fully acknowledge the obvious, so I put it on the back burner.  Hubby got home early and him and my son went with a friend and his daughter to see a basketball game in the city.  They were able to go because my husband's friend gets free passes to things like this.  I'm very grateful they were able to go and enjoy a guys night out because they deserve it.  And to be honest, it gets tiring being stuck in the house all the time. Part of it is due to the crappy, unpredictable winter we've had here.  But most of it is because we are broke.  Broke, broke, broke.  Sad, but true.  We've accepted the bitter pill rammed down our throat.  So, it was nice that they could get out and I wasn't going to ruin it by telling my hubby something that could wait.
I woke up this morning and the house was still at 60 degrees.  This is where we keep the thermostat set as of late.  I run an electric heater downstairs during the day and turn one on upstairs before the kids go to bed.  When I go to bed I turn it off.  I'm constantly concerned about electrical fires.  A family in our town had one on Christmas day and that's when I decided that the heater stayed off at night.  To be honest, we haven't really missed it.  So, since it wasn't any colder than normal, I thought maybe (just maybe) I could be wrong about my conclusion for the lukewarm water the day before.  I tested the water.  Nope, still lukewarm.
My parents live next door to us.  We share a 2 family home that we primarily pay for (part of the whole we're broke thing).  The silver lining was I went there and was able to use their shower.  Hallelujah!  I told my dad about the water and he said he'd go over to check things out.  We both knew it was one of our biggest fears come true.  I wanted it to be some minor miracle where the hot water heater shut off and just needed to be reset.
Yep, my prayers for a miracle were not to be answered.  I couldn't cry and rally against god.  I knew it was coming and there was nothing we could do about it.  Our hands are tied financially.  We're doing all we can to hold onto the house at this point and make the mortgage payments.  My dad came back with the obvious answer.  We were out of oil.  Goodbye heat and hot water.  Goodbye.  I don't know how the house stayed at 60 degrees all night last night, but I am eternally thankful it did.
Here's the dilemma about being a middle income don't meet the requirements for any kind of financial assistance EVER.  It sucks!  I know living in a lower income household is worse.  My heart aches for people in that situation.  I don't want to be there and we're struggling on the verge of the precip and ready to tumble over into the darkness.  The fact is between my husband's salary and my unemployment/comp we make too much for assistance.  No one takes into consideration the necessary cost of living.  Sure, we don't have to own a house but we can't even sell the house for what it's worth right now.  We've only had it 2 1/2 years. We got it right before the housing market totally crashed.  If my dad was able to actually contribute the money he claimed he would to the mortgage we wouldn't be in this mess.  We've slowly made our way through our little bit of savings.  Every month we are late on all our bills except the mortgage.  I don't know how we're going to make the payment this month.  I'm scared and worried but I keep it inside because freaking out is not going to help the situation.
The oil problem has been over our head for a while now.  We received our last oil delivery back in July.  The cost was over $700.  We still owe about $350 because of the monthly late charges.  They refuse to deliver any more oil.  My dad even asked back in December if he could pay (cash on delivery) for a delivery for us.  Don't know how he could afford it, but he tried.  They said no.  We had to pay our balance in full before they would deliver.  We can't win.  They won't deliver until we pay the whole bill off and if we do pay the whole bill off they will only deliver if we pay cash on delivery.  So, even if we could by some stretch of the imagination pay it off we can't afford to fill it.  It's a no win situation.  We're truly stuck. 
My husband is going to go to the gas station after he gets home today and fill up a couple gas cans with kerosene.  I wish we could avoid this but we have no choice.  We're in a no win situation and I'm worried we could very well be homeless in a few months.  I keep tapping down the worry.  Trying to think positive that everything will work out.  My husband is feeling the pressure of it all since he is the main income holder.  He's about ready to lose it.  He is the "bread winner".  He holds it all together not only for our family but for my parents too.  Not that my parents really realize this.  They are in denial.  I think they believe we have money hidden away some place and are just asking them for more because we want to save ours.  It couldn't be farther from the truth.
I can feel the house getting colder as I type, even with both our electric heaters running.  The next few days will be ok but by mid week the lows will be below freezing and I fear about the pipes freezing.  Hopefully the kerosene will get us through the next few few months.
The pressure is on and the fear is there.  Going to go try to put on my happy face for the world so they don't realize how close I am to losing it.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

A Mom's Gotta Do, What a Mom's Gotta Do

So, this weekend I was sick. Achy, sore, exhausted sick. Kids and hubby to the rescue. They were great about letting me rest, kept the noise level down and continuously check on me and brought me food/water. Love them to pieces for that. I swear aliens took over their bodies temporarily, but you won’t hear me complaining.

Hubby took the kids out during the afternoon to the skating rink. They had open skating for a few hours and then my daughter had lessons a little after that. The kids had a blast. One of my son’s friends was there and they got to hang out. My princess skated the whole time with her daddy. And I got peace and quiet. Heaven, right?

Not so much. That’s because I’m a bad, sick mommy. I’m my own worst patient. While everyone is home it’s easy to stay in bed and relax. I know if I don’t one of two things is sure to happen. I will either over do things and no one will stop me or I will be told to sit on the couch in the middle of the chaos, all the while wanting to straighten up. Better to hide in the bedroom and force myself to relax.

At this point, most of the aches and pains were gone and my energy was slowly coming back. I had to take it easy because I didn't want to become exhausted. Within minutes of that front door closing I made my way slowly downstairs to find something to eat and a book to read. Too bad I can’t have tunnel vision because I saw the mess. Granted, not a major mess but still a mess that my hands itched to clean. I don't like clutter, but I can deal with it.  A house is not a home without clutter...I just wish I could hide mine better. It's the little things laying thrown carelessly about or piled up where they're not supposed to be that drive me slowly insane.

I figured I’d straighten up a bit and that would be that. Seeing the tracked in dirt on the kitchen and entryway floor drove me crazy. So I got out the broom and started there. Then I saw that our stairs could do with a good sweep so I did that too. There were a couple of dried up food spills on the floor so I cleaned them up. I didn’t have the energy to actually mop. Plus, I detest mopping.  Was that food crumbs I spied under the coffee table? I try to limit the kids eating in the living room because crumbs just can't be helped at their age. I grabbed the dirt devil and sucked those up too, along with other tiny miscellaneous things clinging to the carpet. I finally made my way to the cupboard to get a snack only to find it gone…fodder in someone else’s tummy. Dang it all to heck! I expended all my energy cleaning up and wanted to reward myself with a treat. That’s when I noticed some Tupperware crammed into the wrong space, so I rearranged that too. I went back to the living room. I folded up blanket laying on the floor and put it neatly over the back of the couch. I straightened the pillows. I picked up my daughter’s pillow pet and various kitty Webkins and put them on a corner of the couch. My son had left a waded up t-shirt and a few toys laying around. Those went onto the other corner of the love seat. His Crayon Maker was laying outside of it’s box so I tidied that up and put the box back under the end table where we keep it hidden.

I was finally ready to make myself something a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of tea. I went to grab my book and noticed the dust collecting. So, I grabbed my duster and quickly cleared away the dust.

FINALLY, I made it back upstairs; just a bit winded from my mini cleaning spree.