Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Alex's 3rd Birthday!

My baby is three years old!  Alex is our youngest, and it's sort of surreal to me that we have no other little ones after him--when Abby turned 3, Jake was 6 months old, and when Jake turned 3, Alex was 18 months old...we've always had a little one waiting for their turn to turn three.  We have had our last experience with a 2-year-old.  No more terrible twos!  Ha ha--I think the terrible twos are a myth, because the threes aren't much better (and may be worse??), and we have yet to get to the teenage years.  I have no illusions that things are getting easier from here!  Anyway, we celebrated our sweet boy with a Thomas the Tank Engine-themed birthday party, just like Jake had for his third birthday--Alex loves to follow in Jake's footsteps.

my sweet 3-year-old at his party

We just had a small get-together for him after Abby's dance recital--it was mostly family, since folks came to the recital to see Abby and then just came over to our house afterward for cake and ice cream.  I say "small get-together," but nothing is ever really small with my family!  All 7 cousins were running around, plus all the adults--it was chaotic and fun in our little house.  My mom came to stay a few days prior to the party, to help out with all Abby's dance recital prep stuff, and also to help me with the cake--she and I are an unstoppable cake-making machine!  (Click here for a rundown of every birthday cake I've made for the kids up until now!)

For the Thomas theme, I wanted to make a Thomas birthday cake--but not the same one I made for Jake's 3rd birthday in 2012, because it's no fun to repeat cakes!  Thankfully, Wilton has a new Thomas cake pan--they didn't have an available, current Thomas pan when I made Jake's cake, so I had to order their old pan used off ebay in 2012 for Jake's cake.  It was fine, but it was a very complicated cake--Thomas' whole body, and he has a lot of lines and detail that were hard to get right with icing!

Jake's 3rd Birthday Thomas cake in 2012

The new Thomas cake pan is more straightforward (literally and figuratively--Thomas is facing straight forward, so you don't have to do all his bodywork with the new cake!).  Still a time-consuming cake, but not nearly as many starts and stops for me this time around.

getting started--outlining done!

Thomas looks good in blue

never underestimate the difficulty of piping stars on the side of a cake

I probably spent 5 hours icing the cake, off and on while also doing meals and getting the kids down to bed.  I don't know if I'm getting older and therefore less steady with a piping bag, or if I was just tired, but I felt a bit shaky while icing all those stars.  I guess that's to be expected after 5 hours of a cramped hand, but I've never noticed that problem before.  I'm just glad that the stars mask any imperfections caused by a shaky hand!  I think Thomas turned out pretty well:

all done!

in his glory at the party  :)

my birthday boy!

We had a lot of fun and a great celebration of Alex's 3rd birthday!  Now to regroup and prepare for Abby's 7th birthday in just a few days--their birthdays are 11 days apart, but I always try to plan their parties with 2 weeks in between so that I have more time to recover between cakes!  If I was a really smart mommy, I would just move Alex's birthday celebration back to March every year to make my June less crazy--but I wouldn't trade my sweet June babies, even for a less-hectic month of birthdays!  Happy 3rd Birthday to my totally adorable, totally stubborn, sweet boy!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Survival Mode

June is apparently a very bad month for blogging for me!  How is the month already half over?  More importantly, how is the year almost half over??  I pointed out to Dan last night that 2013 is halfway done because it was blowing my mind--I feel like it was just last week that we were setting up the boys' train table for Christmas.  Where has this year gone?  June is always the craziest month for us, with two June birthdays 11 days apart, and with the crushing end-of-the-school year ridiculousness.  Here's just a peak at part of my calendar this month, and this doesn't even include everything!

Oh, June--such a fun, exhausting month

There's always lots of fun to be had in June, and this month is no exception.  We had Alex's 3rd birthday fun this past weekend (not to be confused with his party, which I always try to have the week before his real birthday, just to give myself some separation and sanity between Alex and Abby's birthdays!), along with Father's Day, which we spent down at my in-laws' house enjoying their pool.  This week includes both my mom and my sister's birthdays, as well as Abby's last day of school, Dan's last day of work at his current job, and the arrival of my grandmother from New Mexico--she just turned 90 years old, and hasn't met my boys yet!  We are all getting together for a big family dinner the middle of this week, and then my little family of 5 is relocating to my sister's house for 4 days so that we can enjoy time with my grandmother and get the kids swim lessons with my sister's daughter.  Phew.  After those 4 days are up, we've got to scurry back home so that Dan and I can have a rare date night (my favorite band in concert! woohoo!!!), and prep for Abby's birthday celebration(s)--cupcakes in the park for our neighborhood and her school friends, and then her big birthday party for family out at my parents' house.  As soon as I'm done with those festivities, my best friend Kerry arrives for a 4-day visit!  Super excited for her trip...more to come on that later.  :)  Then I have 2 days to prep for our week-long beach vacation...and we will probably do something festive for the 4th of July as well.  This schedule might do me in--I'm already exhausted, and it doesn't slow down for another month!

Now that you know what I'm up against this month (and you'll know where I've gone if I drop off the face of the earth for a few days--I'm going to try not to, but I'm having a hard time keeping up!), I'll give you the Challenge #2 update:  I weighed in at 133.2 pounds yesterday, for a loss of 0.8 pounds last week.  Last week was a challenge all by itself, simply because it was my first week without my aerobics classes scheduled.  I combated that issue by schedule two nights last week with friends to get my workout on.  I didn't really plan to be gone for two dinner/bedtimes in one week, but it just worked out that way--and Dan was surprisingly gracious about allowing me that time (thank you, honey!).  The first was Monday night--my sweet friend Brynne and I tried out a new place for Zumba, about 20 minutes from my house.  We had so much fun, it totally rocked, and it's not that expensive--they also have a kids' area, of which I'm slightly skeptical (it's literally an empty corner of the room, demarcated by a line on the floor which the children can't cross...hmmmm), so I'm going to try bringing the kids with me sometime soon to see if I can make those classes work on a regular basis.  Then Wednesday night, I attended my friend Ana's Zumba class at her gym where she teaches--her class was the very first exercise class I attended when I started this Challenge back in January, so I was curious to see if I would keep up better after 22 weeks of whipping myself into shape.  My first class with her in January almost killed me--my face was beat red, I was huffing and puffing, and I was scrambling to try to keep up...but it was my introduction to Zumba, and I was totally hooked.  Ana is an amazing instructor--she is fast, energetic, and her choreography is demanding and fun.  I stood in the front row for her class on Wednesday, and I kept up pretty well--I was still red-faced at the end, but I didn't feel shell-shocked like in my first class with her.  She worked us really hard, and I was sore on Thursday, but I was impressed at my competence with a really good instructor.  We stayed after her class to do 20 minutes of the next aerobic class, so I got even more of a workout than I usually get on Wednesday--and that evening's effort is probably the only reason I lost any weight last week!  Not bad for my first week of no classes--I was pretty proud of myself for figuring out ways to still get my exercise in, although this week, I'm totally flying blind without a plan.

I will get a blog up this week about Alex's 3rd birthday party, to include his Thomas cake!  I just got my mom's pictures from her last night--I took a few pictures with my camera, but she's always good at documenting the process for me.  :)  Wish me luck in surviving this crazy week!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Crock Pot Sesame Ginger Chicken Recipe

I made my crock pot Sesame Ginger Chicken again last week, and it turned out really tasty--this was my second attempt and I feel like I figured out the cooking time, so I feel pretty confident posting my recipe!  I don't want to steer anyone wrong, especially when I haven't worked out the kinks.  I got the basic idea for this recipe from a sweet and sour chicken recipe, but I didn't have sweet and sour sauce--so I made a few tweaks, used a Lawry's Sesame Ginger marinade that we love, and my Sesame Ginger Chicken was born!

Good Housewife Crock Pot Sesame Ginger Chicken

Prepared in a manual 3-quart round Crock-Pot. 
Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cook Time:  3.5 hours
Makes 4 servings.

  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb.), cut into halves
  • 1 cup cut carrots (or baby carrots)
  • 1 cup Lawry's Sesame Ginger Marinade
  • 1 (8 oz.) can pineapple chunks in juice, separated
  • 1.5 bell pepper, chopped
  • Green beans (as much as preferred)
  • Broccoli (as much as preferred)
  • 2/3 tsp minced onions
  • Rice, prepared per directions (I use white Minute Rice)

  • Cover bottom of crock pot with carrots.
  • Top with chicken.
  • Combine pineapple juice with water to 1 cup, then pour over chicken and carrots.
  • Cover and cook on low for 2.5 hours.
  • Remove chicken and carrots from the pot; drain and discard liquid from the pot.
  • Return chicken to the pot.
  • Pour Sesame Ginger Marinade over chicken.
  • Top with carrots, pineapple, bell peppers, broccoli, green beans, and minced onions.
  • Pour 1/2 cup of water over the pineapple and veggies.
  • Cover and cook on high for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until chicken is done.
  • Prepare rice separately, per directions.
  • Serve chicken, pineapple, and veggies over rice with as much sauce as preferred.

Nutritional Information:  Between 320-370 calories without the rice, depending on how much chicken, veggies, and pineapple you eat.  I ate half of a chicken breast with extra sauce (around 180 calories) with 1.25 cups of rice (225 calories), plus some peppers, green beans, broccoli, and carrots (around 100 calories).  I also ate almost all the pineapple, because Dan doesn't like pineapple and Abby isn't a fan of warm pineapple...and because I love it.  :)  That's about 70 calories (although I didn't eat all the juice by myself, since that was part of the cooking process for the chicken, so 70 is probably a little high).  My whole meal came to around 575 calories.

Good Housewife Crock Pot Sesame Ginger Chicken

I really reduced the cook time from my original attempt, mostly because I'm not a big fan of shredded, dry chicken.  :)  The lower cook time doesn't hurt the flavor at all--I think you could even reduce it to two hours before discarding the liquid from the pot, but I didn't want to risk not having the chicken cooked through.  If you want more of the Sesame Ginger Marinade flavor in the chicken, you could actually marinate the chicken in the marinade for a few hours before starting the crock pot--I haven't tried doing that, but may in the future just to see how it turns out.  If I marinated the chicken first, I would still follow the recipe, but probably only add 3/4 cup of the marinade to the pot instead of a full cup...don't want to overdo the sesame ginger.

Dan, Abby, and I ate this meal last week (the boys had leftovers from a previous night that I needed to use up), and Abby declared it the best chicken she's ever tasted, and begged to know when I would make it again.  I remembered that I had enjoyed it the first time I made it back in February, but I was again pleasantly surprised at how good it was.  I could probably make this once a week and not get tired of it!  Dan thought it was delicious and took the leftovers to work with him for lunch the next day--that's always how I can tell it's a hit, since my husband really doesn't like leftovers.  :)  The next time I make it, I will have the boys try it again, and hopefully get a good response from the whole family!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Week of Binging

The end-of-the-school-year/two-June-birthdays crush is upon me...and I'm not doing a great job keeping up!  I'm sorry I was MIA at the end of last week--it was a little crazy.  After my not-so-great day on Monday, I really tried to be more patient with the kids on Tuesday--and I even got to make my messed up crock pot meal from the night before, so the day was definitely a lot smoother than Monday.  To improve my mood and make Tuesday a success, I binged on M&M's (totally ignoring my sign) and pretzels...not exactly my best effort that day food-wise.  The temporary high of chocolate worked, but then I actually felt sick Tuesday night...I'm not sure if it was more emotional than physical--I was so angry at myself for eating so much.  It's a really fine line--I want to cut myself some slack for those not-so-stellar food days, but I feel gross in so many ways when I binge on junk.  I woke up with new resolve on Wednesday, and really stuck well to my food plan that day...not sure I could make up for the damage done on Tuesday, but I was at least trying and not just giving up!  I rushed around on Thursday, trying to prep the house for the weekend's festivities (Abby's dance recital and Alex's 3rd birthday party!)--my mom arrived Thursday afternoon to help me with Abby's dress rehearsal that evening and then stay overnight to help with the cake and party prep.  I did well food-wise on Thursday as well--trying to put my binge far behind me, but also knowing that I had a lot of cake and icing in my future!  Friday was pretty much all cake decorating for me--some cleaning, but mostly eating icing and spending hours with the piping bag in front of Alex's cake.  I ate WAY too much icing...always happens.  Saturday was a whirlwind of dance and party--I will hopefully get a few posts up later this week with the cake pictures and more details about the weekend!  Here's a look at how I did with my calories and sugar intake last week...not good:

M&Ms and birthday party food...high in calories!

yeah, it was ugly

At least I got in my exercise last week to counterbalance the horrible eating.  Wednesday evening was my last evening Zumba class--my regular instructor had already stopped teaching the week before, so we had a new instructor.  She happened to be the same instructor that I've had a few times when I've attended the Friday afternoon class, and she's really good--she has a lot of enthusiasm and energy, and I was happy to at least be somewhat familiar with her routines!  I missed my old Wednesday instructor, though--I guess one nice thing about the military life is that people are constantly moving...not just me.  I'm sad to be done with my aerobics classes here due to our "move" to Dan's new job and schedule, but at least my favorite instructor already moved--knowing that I was missing her class would have been harder on me!  I also snuck out on the cake decorating for a little bit to attend the afternoon Zumba class on Friday, too, because it was my very last day of this aerobics session, and I didn't want to miss it.  It was bittersweet--the last 20 weeks in those classes have really changed my health so much, and I'm so grateful for the experience, and so nervous about the weeks going forward without those classes.  It will be nice not to have the evening crush of trying to get to those classes right at dinnertime, but I will miss that time to myself, and of course, the massive calorie burn!  Now to the task of figuring out how to replace those classes...

So, you're probably wondering if I gained 3 or 5 pounds last week, right?  I was, too, when I stepped on the scale yesterday morning--I was pretty nervous considering my caloric intake all week, and my general bad feeling about myself because of that.  I was shocked when I read the number on the scale--134 pounds, for a loss of 1.2 pounds last week!  Only 6 more pounds to my goal weight--29 pounds down!  I don't understand it, since the previous few weeks I had been so good about my food and my exercise and lost so little each week, and then I totally jumped into a vat of fattening foods last week and lost so much.  Maybe my body just needs those crazy weeks to jump start my metabolism again--or maybe last week will come back to haunt me in my weigh-in this week...I just don't know.  This week is less busy, so I'm hopeful that I can stay on track with my food a little better and get some exercise in as well--and manage to post a few blogs about the fun we had this weekend!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Monday is NOT a Fun Day

Yesterday was one of those days when I probably should have just gotten back into bed as soon as I got up in the morning...and I totally would have, if that had been an option.  I had grand plans to get a lot accomplished--namely, uncovering the house because it looks like a Tazmanian Devil has swirled his way through the living room and kitchen.  Mondays are my days for de-cluttering, according to the Cleaning Schedule, but there's so much clutter built up from the weekend that I wasn't sure I could accomplish that goal and the 50 other things that needed to get done.  I started with getting laundry in the washing machine (after sending Abby out the door in the rain with Dan to catch the bus), and I was feeling decent about getting that chore started early so that I could focus on clearing out the junk all over the floor and counters from the weekend.  We had a busy, fun weekend...which was great, but come Monday morning, the boys and I were definitely fun-ed out--aka, exhausted and cranky.  They were hitting and screaming at each other, and not sharing more than usual--and I was barely awake, on a mission to get my stuff done, and not wanting to deal with their stuff.  It was ugly--I wasn't getting much done because I was putting out fires between them every five seconds (and dust busting cereal off the floor...grrr...), and there was lots of yelling out of all three of us.

not happening yesterday...

I managed to get lunch on the table at a decent, early time--which is totally crucial for Monday success since Abby has dance class and I need Alex up from his nap early in order to get her to class on time.  Dan even came home at the tail end of lunch and helped me corral the boys into their rooms for nap and quiet time.  Of course, getting lunch on the table at a decent time does not ensure getting Alex down for his nap at a decent time--it usually helps, but he managed to mess up the timeframe yesterday by refusing to eat his lunch (and just generally being crazy slow about all of it) and also by taking forever in the bathroom before nap.  It was after 1pm when I got him down, which is tight when I'm trying to get out the door for dance class by 3:45pm.  Dan was still here, so he and I pow-wowed about the plan for the afternoon--he said he could actually get Abby at 3:50pm, drive her to dance class, and pick her up for me so that I wouldn't have to drag everyone out in the rain...perfect!  Dan went back to work, and I had about 2 hours to get my stuff done.  First on my list was more laundry (had to get delicates out of the least favorite part of the laundry process, other than folding!), and then my stomach was growling, so I made myself some lunch and sat down for a few minutes.  I had just finished eating when Jake called because he needed to go to the bathroom--and while I was upstairs with him, I heard my alarm go off on my phone indicating that Abby's bus would be arriving soon.  I dismissed the alarm when I came back downstairs--I had asked her to walk home from the bus stop since I knew Alex would be sleeping (Mondays are her early-out day, so it always conflicts with naptime), so I had some extra time to get a few more things done before I stood outside and watched her bus drop her.  I always watch her get off the bus and walk all the way home--it just gives me peace of mind to know that she's in my sight the whole way.

My mom called to talk to me about stuff for Abby's upcoming birthday party--she was at the store and had some questions about what I needed her to pick up for me.  I chatted with her while pulling up the recipe for the crock pot meal I was fixing for dinner (Sesame Ginger Chicken), and started thinking about the prep for getting the pot going--it was already almost 2pm!  I was off the phone and prepping food stuff for dinner when I heard a noise at our front door--the mail slot, which I thought was odd, because the mail had already come for the day.  I panicked that somehow Jake had gotten out of his room and was attempting an escape out the front door--I was on my way to investigate when I heard a little knock on the front door and I realized my failure...  Abby was at the front door, which was locked, after having walked home unsupervised from the bus!  I felt awful--I've never done that before, and with the creepy stuff happening at her school two weeks ago, I totally should have been more vigilant with my sweet girl.  I can't believe I got wrapped up in other stuff and forgot one of my most important duties of the day!  Ugh.  I just felt awful.  She came in and we chatted about her day at school, and then she had a snack and read to me from her chapter book while I again attempted to get something in the crock pot.  I had the chicken prepped with carrots in the pot, and turned it on shortly after 2:30pm...and then I perused the rest of the recipe.  Crap--it called for cooking it on high for an hour, then switching the pot down to low for 2+ more hours...before draining the liquid, adding veggies, and cooking for another 45 minutes or so.  The draining and whatnot would have to happen around 5:30pm--smack in the middle of my step class.  Obviously this is not a good meal to make on a night when I have an exercise class--because either Dan has to handle those last steps (draining and adding all the veggies), or we eat really late.  Neither option is great.  This week is my last week for the aerobic program I've been doing here, because the 10-week session is coming to an end, and I'm fairly certain I'm not signing up for the next session because of Dan's changing work schedule.  I called Dan at work, totally frustrated with myself for the poor planning, and hashed out a new plan for our evening:  he would come home at 3:50pm, at which time I would take Abby to dance class and then head over to the pool to swim laps for about 45 minutes, before running back over to the dance studio and picking Abby up at the end of her class.  Then I would be home around 5:15pm, and be able to handle the last few steps of the dinner prep so that we could eat around 6pm.  I was okay with skipping my final step class--a little bummed about it, but at least I was replacing it with some exercise, and it was what worked for my family last night.

sometimes I have so many browsers open, I crash

So that meant I had to prep all the veggies for the pot, get Abby ready for dance class, and get myself ready for the pool in the next 25 minutes--I flew through everything I needed to do, and was just putting the finishing touches on Abby's ballerina bun when Dan walked in the door.  Maybe I was going to pull off this crazy day after all!  Of course, just as Abby and I open the front door, the sky opened up and sheets of rain start pouring down.  She grabbed her umbrella, but I got soaked on the way to the car--I figured it didn't really matter since I was about to get in the pool anyway.  We drove in extremely low visibility to her dance studio and sloshed our way inside...we were both soaked.  My pants were wet all the way to my knees.  I scooted her to her classroom, only to discover that the lights were out...what?  Earlier in the day, another mom had emailed our class to ask if dance class was still on for the day--things had gotten confused because Monday was supposed to be "theater day" (just a regular dance class, but held in the theater to get the kids used to the space and more comfortable on the stage prior to their recital) to prep for this weekend's recital, but then the recital had to be relocated and the new location didn't allow for a theater day...  I had emailed the coordinator last week to make sure there was no theater day (there was never any communication about it), and she confirmed that there would be no theater day.  I just assumed that even though they couldn't practice in the recital venue, they would still have their regular dance class.  So I helpfully responded to the whole class email list that I believed we did have class...  Um, I was so wrong.  Other moms were now ushering their girls in from the driving rain (including a mom on crutches--I felt so terrible!) based on my erroneous assumption.  Ugh--I'm just going to assume that all the class moms now hate me, and I'm sure that's a correct assumption.  Back through the flooded parking lot to our car we went, and I dropped Abby at home before heading out to the pool as I had planned.  I got in the water and tried to shake off the bad day--the water felt good, and I was determined to get a comparable workout to my usual Monday step class.  I swam more than half a mile in about 40 minutes, and then I headed back home to tackle dinner.

I got home around 5:15pm, and went straight for the crock pot.  After my previous attempt at a crock pot meal when I discovered that I had neglected to plug the pot in, I was vigilant about making sure that I had set everything up correctly yesterday.  I had--everything was plugged in, the pot was on low, and I was ready to dump the juices and put the veggies in before grabbing a quick shower.  Only when I went to lift the pot out, I noticed that the chicken didn't look cooked at all--and upon touching the pot itself, I noted that it was cold.  Not hot, not warm, just plain old cold.  I was so confused--I checked the plug, which was securely in the outlet, and then I took the crock out and turned the pot upside down to see if the cord had somehow gotten severed.  I was convinced that my pot was broken, because turning the dial from Low to High did nothing.  I was distraught--my dinner was ruined, and so was my crock pot.  Before throwing the whole thing away, I remembered that I used to have problems with oulets in our house in Texas--when the GFCI breaker on the wall outlet pops, none of the outlets on that circuit will work until you push the GFCI button again.  I looked around the kitchen, and sure enough, there was a GFCI outlet--and depressing the button made my crock pot outlet work.  I had done everything right--I had no idea that the outlet wasn't working.  Ugh.  Poor Dan had to go out and grab Subway for dinner, because he was starving and didn't want to wait another 3 hours for dinner.  I didn't blame him.  I was dejected when I went upstairs to shower--what a totally poor effort I had made for the day.  I missed my step class for a dinner that I didn't even make, I took Abby to a dance class that didn't exist, and I forgot to watch my girl get off the bus.  Not to mention, I hadn't picked up any clutter in the house!

this one is just plain depressing!

Dinner didn't get any better--the kids were having leftovers from our dinner out with Dan's parents on Sunday night, and even though it was stuff they loved, they still managed to scream and cry and fuss about it.  Jake likes to make a huge mess and then laugh--he spills applesauce and yogurt everywhere, like a baby instead of a 4.5-year-old.  Alex refused to eat his macaroni because I gave him an orange spoon instead of a blue spoon (seriously?).  At one point in the chaos, I told the kids that I just can't wait until they all grow up and turn 18 and move out of the house so that Dan and I can have a meal without screaming--to which Abby hurtfully responded that parents aren't supposed to say stuff like that to their kids (she's most likely right...), and Alex started crying even more hysterically because he wants Mommy to go with him when he moves out.  Seriously.  I mentally checked out at that point and began cutting coupons--because I was done with my dinner and the coupon inserts were part of the clutter I needed to clear off the table.  The kids kept screaming, and I told them that I was on the verge of becoming scary--they just laughed at me.  They were not understanding the gravity of the situation (ie, my imminent mental breakdown) until I told them that they probably didn't want to make me angry while I had scissors in my hand--and if they didn't all quiet down and eat their dinners, I would be taking those scissors to all their favorite possessions.  I told Jake I would figure out how to cut up his trains (probably not possible, but it would be the effort that counted), and I told Alex that he had better eat that macaroni with his orange spoon or his beloved Lamby might meet my scissors.  It was a stellar parenting moment--thankfully, I don't think anyone believed me, but it did scare them enough that they finally finished their food without me having to resort to further threats.  For the record, I would never cut Alex's precious Lamby or Jake's trains (or anything else important to my kids!) was just one of those days.

I have three kids, so my mind is especially lost

Wow, writing all that out makes me feel like a really bad parent!  It was an epic failure of a day on so many fronts.  Notes to self:  Get more sleep, don't set unrealistic goals for your day when you know the children will derail you at every possible turn, don't forget your children at the bus stop, don't take your kids to activities they don't have, maybe you're not cut out for using a crock pot since you seem to screw it up more often than not, and don't threaten to take scissors to your children's prized matter how bad the day is.  On the bright side, Abby is done with dance, so my Mondays will be slightly easier for the next two weeks until school is out!  And at least I already have dinner prepped for tonight...kudos to me for finding a few silver linings in the black clouds over my entire day yesterday.  :)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Know When To Fold 'Em

The title of this post doesn't refer to Challenge #2--I haven't folded...yet.  I did weigh in yesterday at 135.2 pounds, for a loss of 0.6 pounds last week.  Nothing mind-blowing, but considering that I was so off my game earlier in the week and then ate ice cream on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I'd say losing half a pound is pretty decent for my clear lack of effort!  The slow pace is infuriating me, but I'm not giving up--it's always easier to lose when you have more weight to lose, so now I just really have to dig deep and work for it.  I'm trying not to lose steam and just keeping my eyes forward on the prize--my health!

Shhhh--this is my little secret!

So the title of this post has nothing to do with my weight-loss journey--and more to do with the crazy ideas that pop into my head while doing laundry.  I'm constantly reading about people who have a wild, amazing, and/or totally mundane idea, and turn it into something that makes millions.  Of course, right now I can't think of many examples to illustrate my point--Spanx comes to mind, but there are others, I promise!  I've had two such ridiculous thoughts while doing laundry in my ugly basement laundry room.  The first idea hit me a few weeks ago, when I put a load of laundry into the dryer (keeping a mental tally of the number of items I needed to pull out early so that I wouldn't shrink and ruin them), and then I promptly came back upstairs, got totally involved in some other task, and didn't discover my completely dry load (including the items I was intending to pull early...) until a few hours later.  Urgh!  I can't count how many times that has happened, and how my heart sinks when I realize my mistake.  I work hard to keep our clothes looking good and lasting a long time, so it just hurts when I mess up something simple like pulling a few pieces out early.  I started thinking about how I could prevent that problem from happening again, and I had an idea--someone needs to make a small "damp dryer" that can sit on top of your regular dryer, for those delicate, damp-dry-only items in your load.  That way, when you are transferring your clothes from your washer to your dryer, you can pull the items that you don't want to dry all the way, place them in your smaller, upper dryer, and not have to worry about them overdrying and shrinking.  You would start your regular, big dryer the way you always would, and then run your small "damp dryer" on the only setting it has--dry on low until damp, with wrinkle shield.  That little puppy would fluff your delicates indefinitely, keeping them damp and wrinkle-free until you are able to get them out and hang them on hangers to dry the rest of the way.  If you walk away and forget about your load in the dryer, it's no problem--your sensitive items are safe and damp!  I'm not mechanical or technical in any way, so I have no idea if this would be feasible or if people would even want something like that (other than me--I would jump at the chance to buy one of those things!)--and I'm not going to be creating any prototypes in my garage anytime soon...just not my thing.  But if someone reads this and wants to get on it, you have my permission to use my idea (with royalties, of course)...and as long as I get a free damp dryer when you go into production!

this is my embarrassing laundry room

The second idea hit me when I was doing laundry last night--totally off my cleaning schedule-dictated Laundry Days, but when it's summer(ish)time and wet swimsuits are involved, you just have to suck it up and do laundry on an off day...  I was killing time while some of Abby's shirts were in the dryer (I needed to pull them early, and didn't want to walk away and forget about them!), so I was folding a load from the other day that had been sitting in my big laundry basket.  I don't have a folding table or really any space at all conducive to folding in my laundry room, so I was uncomfortably standing, balancing the basket against my leg while it was propped up on a desk chair, and folding clothes on top of each other in the basket.  Not exactly efficient.  I was thinking about how much I hate folding clothes, which I usually do while sitting on the floor in my living room--spreading piles of organization that makes sense to only me all around me on the carpet.  My back ends up killing me from sitting in that awkward position, and it's just darn tedious.  Standing in my laundry room wasn't any better.  I thought that if someone could figure out a way to make laundry less brutal, I would love them forever.  Then for some reason I thought about people who scrapbook, and then people who quilt, and then people who coupon.  Those people get together with other people who scrapbook, quilt, or coupon a few times a month or even weekly to engage in a solitary pursuit while in the company of friends--the chore (or hobby) made more fun by lively conversation, tips of the trade, and a social atmosphere.  Why couldn't this concept apply to folding laundry?  Everyone has to do it, so there's definitely a market of laundry folders out there.  I would totally lug my full basket once a week to a plush, tall chair with a large, clean folding surface in front of me, surrounded by other women knocking out their weekly folding.  I would chat while pairing socks together, listen to the stories of the women around me while turning leggings right-side in, and maybe even forget how much I hate laundry for that hour of socialization.  Dan would be hard-pressed to begrudge me that time--after all, I'm performing a crucial Good Housewife duty (doing all the laundry so that he doesn't have to), and if he gave me a hard time about my folding happy hour, I could just say that I wouldn't go if he wanted to fold the laundry for me.  I'd be out the door with his blessing in less than 2 minutes!  I excitedly shared my brilliant idea with my mom, and she laughed and said, "Know when to fold 'em!" and suddenly, a name for my laundry-folding storefront (and this blog post!) was born.

Let's be clear--I'm not so firmly middle class that I don't realize that public spaces to fold laundry already a laundromat.  I've used many a laundromat in my time, and what I'm envisioning is less musky depression (and din of commercial-grade machines), more girls' night out--complete with clean, open spaces with music playing in the background and a beverage/snack bar (vending machines don't count!).  I'd be happy to start small, though--maybe with a laundry-folding co-op among friends where we rotate houses once a week and spread out on the dining room table.  It did cross my mind that folks might not be keen on folding their unmentionables in front of friends, so obviously, you could be selective in the loads you choose to bring--I'd bring loads and loads of the kids' laundry (of which there is never a shortage!), and maybe leave my undies for the privacy of my at-home folding.  Perhaps I'm the only weird lonely housewife who is tired of watching late-night TV by myself while folding piles of laundry all over my floor--but if there are more of you out there, bring over your baskets of laundry and help me get KWTFE up and running!  :)