I’m a little embarrassed.

I just realized my last blog post was from JUNE. That’s pretty bad, but one could say I was a little busy. Between a trip home to California to visit family, the holidays, welcoming our third Perfect Child to the world, Monkey Boy starting preschool and my GI Joe leaving for a few months, I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off. All that running around, you’d think I’d be in great shape. HA! I managed to gain a respectable 70 pounds this pregnancy, apparently most of it in my ass. Not only did I outgrow my maternity jeans not once but TWICE, but it was a few weeks before I could fit into the largest pair AFTER I had my son. Pretty sad. Usually losing 30 lbs in 3 weeks would be a spectacular accomplishment, but when you still have 40 lbs to go before you fit into your regular clothes, it starts to seem hopeless.

And so, at 4 weeks post partum, I purchased a treadmill and got to work. I was told I could walk if I felt well enough, so that’s what I did. Of course, with two energetic preschoolers and a newborn who eats constantly, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Thirty minutes of walking turned into an hour of running between the treadmill and the baby swing to stick the pacifier back in while he smiled and giggled his evil baby giggles. I guess he wants momma to be nice and soft.

The following week we had a bit of luck- a friend of a friend happened to be selling their spin bike so we snatched it up. My GI Joe had been wanting one for a while but they were so expensive that he just couldn’t do it (he has a phobia of spending money). It seemed so perfect until they brought it over and I realized that not only does half my living room now look like a gym, but there really wasn’t even room for the treadmill and now we’re adding a spin bike? I have to say, though- getting up and seeing all that equipment staring you in the face makes it hard to “forget” to exercise.

So now, two weeks into getting back in shape and I’m down a whopping 1.5 lbs. Really?! Two weeks of working out 6 days a week and that’s all I lost?? Now I’m starting to remember why I hate this whole weight loss thing. I suppose I figured that if breastfeeding burns 300 calories a day PLUS I’m working out 20-50 minutes a day I really should be able to not worry about what I’m eating. Not the case. So while it was fun to eat whatever I wanted while pregnant, it’s back to watching those calories and giving up my weekly package of Hostess SnoBalls. *Sigh*

Of course, it’s not all about seeing those magic numbers on the scale. I really want to be healthy. We ran a 5k two years ago and actually had fun (I know! “Running” and “fun” in the same sentence!) and I’d love to do it again. In fact, what I’d really love is to do the Midnight Sun Fun Run, a 10k that happens at night during the summer solstice when it’s light out pretty much all the time. I want my kids to see that BOTH their parents are in shape and healthy and that exercise isn’t a four letter word. I know that the Princess had a blast running that 5k and she’s already excited about doing it again this year.

When I first sat down a few minutes ago to start typing this out, she came up to me and asked if we could all go for a walk tomorrow. I started to make up some excuse- it’s too cold (well, it’s actually unseasonably warm at 7 degrees with a forcast of- GASP!- a POSITIVE 14 tomorrow), Monkey Man is getting over a cold, the baby has been fussy- but then I realized that I really don’t want to set an example of making up excuses not to exercise. So I said sure and I’m actually kind of excited about it! Yes, I’ll have to bundle us all up which will probably take a good hour of searching for lost mittens, chasing after kids, zipping zippers that have been zipped and subsequently unzipped by little fingers and I’ll be fried before I even step foot out the door, but they say exercise is a good stress reliever. We’ll see about that.

Fake it til you make it?

According to Wikipedia (the final say on EVERYTHING), “‘Fake it till you make it’ (also called “act as if”) is a common catchphrase that means to imitate confidence so that as the confidence produces success, it will generate real confidence[1]. The purpose is to avoid getting stuck in a self fulfilling prophecy related to one’s fear of not being confident.”

Let’s put this in the perspective of being the Perfect Housewife. According to the “fake it til you make it” theory, if you act like a Perfect Housewife, you will start believing you are a Perfect Housewife and will eventually BECOME a Perfect Housewife. I dig. But how do you pretend to be a Perfect Housewife? I’m not encouraging you to become a total snot and go bragging to anyone who will listen about how awesome you are (although I’m sure you are). Being a Perfect Housewife isn’t about keeping up with the Joneses. It’s about making your life and your families life better by being the best you can be. Who cares what your neighbor thinks, as long as you husband and kids think you’re the best thing since apple pie and you happen to agree.

I think the easiest way to “fake it til you make it” is to make yourself feel like you’re doing a good job. This doesn’t mean you have to do things the hard way. Let’s take house cleaning. You don’t need to get down on your hands and knees and scrub your kitchen floor every night. My little cheat is to vacuum. I put it on the bare floor setting and go to town. So much easier than sweeping! Then I take my Swiffer wet, do a good once over and throw out the manky cloth. Granted, every once in a while you still need to get down and dirty and do a good job, but a vacuum and a Swiffer can make your kitchen look so much better, which will make you feel better.

Tonight I did a Google search for cleaning cheats and was appalled at what I read. While I support doing things the easy way, I do NOT support some of the disgusting things going on in some people’s homes. Blowing dust off surfaces with a hair dryer? Good way to put dust, dust mites and allergens into the air, people. Grabbing all your clutter and shoving it into a closet? That’s an easy way to forget about it, but it doesn’t help. Eventually your closet’s going to explode. Using the blue tablets in your toilets- at least people will think that they’re clean! Gross. I’m sorry, but you need to actually CLEAN your toilet. You poo in there. Not to say the drop-ins aren’t worth it (heck, I use them!) but they are NOT a cure all! And my all-time favorite: spray yourself with detergent and turn on dishwasher and clothes washer and dryer right before your husband gets home so he thinks you’ve been working all day. That’s just deceitful and lazy.

So here’s my list of ways to make your house look better without killing yourself in the process- NO CHEATING INVOLVED!

1. Wash the bathroom mirrors and wipe up the faucets with the paper towel when you’re done.
2. Have your kids help you pick up. This isn’t child labor, they are learning life skills.
3. Vacuum. In order to vacuum you have to pick up first. You’ll kill two birds with one stone… ish.
4. Do your dishes, or at least put them in the dishwasher. This one chore will make your kitchen look 500% better.
5. Add a few drops of essential oil to your vacuum’s filters. This will make your house smell nice while you vacuum.
6. Take 5, 10, or 15 minutes (depending on if company is coming or if you’re running behind) and run around the house with a trashbag, throwing out as much as you can. This will make cleaning later a lot easier.
7. Buy a bunch of hangars. Hanging clothes up is a lot easier than folding them! Plus then you don’t get creases.
8. Baby wipes do a lot more than clean baby butts. They’re good at getting smudges off walls, dust of end tables and handprints off the fridge.
9. Close your shower curtain. Not only does this hide all the ugly shampoo bottles and kids toys, it keeps mold from growing in the curtain folds.
10. Clean top to bottom. For example, clean your counters and then your floor. Otherwise when those inevitable crumbs fall, you won’t have to worry about them falling on your freshly swept (er, vacuumed!) floor.

Have any more tips or tricks you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them!

My newest obsession

I’ve always had a thing for ribbon. I must have caught the fever from my mom- she still has ribbon we used at my wedding over 6 years ago. Recently I was going through a box of sewing paraphernalia and came across 6 or 7 rolls of gorgeous ribbon I had purchased (and never used) about 2 years ago. I immediately got on the computer and googled “ribbon crafts” and was struck by the gorgeous girls’ hairbows that I saw. I don’t know why it never occured to me before; we had just moved from Alabama, where you can see little girls with ginormous ribbon bows on a daily basis. My Princess has super long blonde hair that tends to curl into little ringlets at the end. It’s so pretty and she gets a lot of compliments, but I think she’d get more if she let me actually brush it or pull it out of her face every once in a while. I figured a gorgeous bow might be the perfect bribe: “if you let me brush your hair, you can wear this pretty princess bow!” It totally worked. I’m a genius.

So I got to work and quickly realized that this would be my new obsession. It’s fun, fairly easy and you need to have a little creativity to do it, which I like. I can only make 2 or 3 in one sitting before my fingers start to cramp up, but that’s usually all the time I have anyway. It’s the perfect craft for me! So without further ado, pictures!

Fourth of July bow (she also wore this on Flag Day/the Army’s birthday last week)
Fourth of July bow

Fishing bow, for trips to the lake with Daddy
Fishing bow

Blue and yellow bow
Blue and yellow bow

Pink and green bow (which perfectly matches the ButterflyBabyPlace dress the Princess picked out)
Pink and green bow

Orange stripes and polka dots (orange is the Princess’s favorite color)
Orange stripes and polka dots

Blue and green loopy bow
Loopy bow

Dainty lavender and antique white bow
Dainty lavender and antique white bow

Funky green and brown mini bow
Funky green and brown mini bow

Crazy bow (this has so many layers! It took a while to figure out, but it was fun!)
Crazy bow

I’m going to have to come up with a better way to store these. Keeping them in a box squishes all the little loops down. Not to mention I’m totally running out of room to store these things. Maybe I’ll sell them?? They’ll be hard to give up!

Cover yourself up!

I’m a messy cook. I can’t really blame this one on my new front-heavy figure; pregnant or not, I can’t stir, scoop or serve without spilling something. It’s a running joke in my family that if I haven’t spilled something during the cooking, I might as well go shirtless for the eating because I’m bound to wind up with a lap full of pasta sauce. Tired of changing my shirt three times a day, I finally pulled out one of my old aprons. I have several from my Rainbow Girl days- I would cover a plain white dress with a fancy or fun apron to change the look from event to event. My two favorites are an old fashion style apron with a strawberry print and a frilly green one with cute cartoon frogs in stocking caps. I forgot how cute they are, but most importantly how well they do their job. My yellow shirt has nary a stain or splotch of the Italian crock pot chicken I’m making for dinner. So come on, Perfect Housewives! Let’s bring back aprons! They’re easy to make, but if sewing isn’t your thing, try Amazon.com. I like this one.

Ponder Before You Plant

In my quest to be the Perfect Housewife, I decided it would be beneficial to teach my children where their food comes from. The easiest way to do that, I guessed, was to have them plant seeds and watch them grow. Off to the store we went to buy seed packets and little fiber cups to plant them in. I let the kids pick out whatever they wanted, which turned out to be zinnias, nasturtiums, sunflowers, pumpkins, tomatoes and watermelons. Three flowers, three plants that eventually we could harvest. We spent one sunny spring day planting, Monkey Boy filling the cups with dirt and Princess pushing seeds in one at a time. It was surprisingly fun and the next few weeks were spent checking the cups every day for new growth, squealing any time a sprout had pushed its way to the top.

Now we’re about a month out and anything that’s going to sprout has. In fact, our little pumpkin sprouts have outgrown their tiny cups and GI Joe, who diligently checks our plants on his way to and from work, has been telling me they’re actually dying and need to be replanted. So I packed the Perfect Children up and off to the garden store we went in search of larger pots for our fruits and veggies.

I picked out two long, oval shaped planters and bought them up to the counter only to have the clerk laugh at me when I told her it was for pumpkins. She said I needed something a little bigger and came back with the equivilent of a 5 lb bucket- the largest faux terra cotta pot they had. I said “do we really need something this big? There are only 3 plants!” She said “oh, you have three pumpkin plants? In that case…” and went and got two more. When I reluctantly held up my medium-sized terra cotta planter for our tomato plants she laughed and got a fourth. Apparently those buggers can grow to be 6 feet tall. Who knew? Not me. I’ll probably end up having to replant the tomatoes into three separate containers, one for each plant, but for now my truck (and my wallet) have limited us to one planter for all three plants.

All of this is new to me. My grandma, aunt and mother must have stolen all the green thumb genes from the rest of the family and left none for me. My grandma has the largest, most beautiful backyard in Redding, California, complete with meandering pathways, overhanging wispy trees and flowers as far as the eye can see. It would make the editors of Home and Garden magazine drool. My aunt, an award-winning journalist, writes a blog and column for the Chico, California newspaper The Enterprise Record called “Sow there!” (get it?) and keeps a small but glorious garden herself. My mother, while an apartment dweller now, grew a pretty fantastic floral landscape in our yard while I was growing up. I remember the smell of fresh-cut lilacs filling our house in the summer and I think of my mom whenever I pass a flowering purple or white bush.

And then there’s me. I pretty much kill every thing I plant. I blame it mostly on my forgetful nature- plants, apparently, can’t live without being watered. If I want my house to smell like fresh cut flowers, I buy a bunch at the supermarket. The idea of growing my own food is pretty laughable. I can barely manage to get a seed to sprout, let alone grow to the point where it starts producing fruit or veg. So you can imagine my surprise and excitement when all but a few of our little seeds sprouted and seemed to be doing well… until, of course, they started to outgrow their small containers which had me realizing that I might be a little over my head here. First of all, the thought of replanting these fragile buds is terrifying. Secondly, these plants are going to be HUGE. There’s going to be a lot of growing going on and I’m going to have to keep them alive during that time. I’m starting to wish I had done a little research, picked out some seeds that were death-proof, grew super fast and didn’t get bigger then a foot high. Is there such a thing? I highly recommend this little seed experiment to anyone, especially those readers out there with young kids, but before you buy, do some research. The old saying “look before you leap” comes to mind, but I have decided gardeners need their own saying and since alliteration if fun, “ponder before you plant” will have to do.

Easy soda cakes

Have you ever had a major sweet tooth, gone to your cupboards to see what you have and realized that you had a delicious box of Betty Crocker goodness just waiting to be made? You pull it out with an “oooooh yeah!” and your belly starts rumbling, only to then realize you’re out of eggs? No worries. All you need is 12 oz of your favorite soda and you’re good to go.

What you’ll need:

1 box of cake mix, any flavor
1 can of soda, 12 oz, match flavor to cake mix*
1 tub of frosting

Pour cake mix and soda into a bowl and stir until well mixed. DO NOT ADD ANYTHING ELSE! No milk, butter, eggs, nothing! Follow direction on box for baking times and temperatures. Bake and cool completely. Frost and enjoy!

*suggested combinations:

Chocolate cake and Coke
White cake and 7Up
Spice cake and Dr. Pepper
Chocolate cake and Cherry Coke
Carrot cake and Dr. Pepper
White cake and Sunkist (this will turn the batter orange)
German chocolate cake and 7Up

Button, button, who’s got the button??

I’d like everyone to take notice of the buttons on the left-hand side of your screen. These are clickable buttons that will take you to some amazingly awesome sites run by some amazingly Perfect Housewives. Please check them out and support Perfect Housewives everywhere! If you’re a Perfect Housewife and would like to share your button, I’d be more than happy to put it up. Just leave me a link to your blog and the code for your button or the url to the photohosting site that your button is on. It can be a blog, an etsy or hyenacart account, a not-for-profit dot org, anything! If you don’t have a button but want your blog included, just leave me a link. If you’re reading this through Facebook, please make sure your comments are done through WordPress to make sure I see them!