Monday, March 30, 2009

More Stuff....

I've been thinking about "stuff" lately - material possessions. A long time ago, I read someone's blog post about "100 things" - something like some guy decided to pare down his life to only include 100 things and I thought to myself holy crap - I couldn't do that in a million years, unless I could say something like one thing is entire set of cookery and a set of silverware and the dresser in my bedroom with everything that's in it. Individually, I think I went over 100 before I even hit the silverware...okay, maybe mid-way through the silverware, but you get my point. And what if it came down to the lawn mower or the car? Huh? Huh? What do you do then? So I scoffed a bit. I thought - well, if you live in a high-rise and you don't have kids and you don't ever eat at home, it might just work out for you. But for those of us with families and homes and property, good luck. What are we supposed to do with the 100 things in the shed we use to hoe, till, garden, shovel, prune, mow, dig, trim, fertilize, edge, water, rake, weed, saw, I could go on and on....and still come to the same's just not feasible.

But lately, "stuff" has been taking over our life. The other day - last Friday it was, I found myself stuffing newly washed sheets into our linen closet, and I do mean stuffing. More like ramming. Like put my body weight behind it and hold it in place as I shut the door and hope for the best the next time I open the door. And I sighed. Something has to give. Granted, it's a very small linen closet. AND we have four beds in this house, two queens, a full, a twin, AND a pull-out, so make that 5 beds. But let's add in blankets, summer weight and winter weight sheets, summer and winter comforters - whew, no wonder I have no room. And that's just one example. So I re-opened that linen closet door, and literally pulled everything out and reorganized. Somehow managed to get most of it back in with some room to spare just by refolding a lot of it and organizing it a bit better, but it still doesn't help with the overall picture. We have a LOT of stuff! A lot of necessary stuff.

Like, for instance, a turkey roasting pan. Got it for my wedding. It's an awesome pan! Love it. Use it maybe 2 times a year. But I do use it, and I'm certainly not getting rid of it just because it takes up room. So I need to store it.

So in an effort to make our lives more organized, a few months ago Mark and I tore up the "4th bedroom" downstairs to make it an official storage area. In our defense, this room would never have really been a's unheated for one and dark. Mark has his "office" down there, but didn't mind sacrificing the rest of the room to the "cause". So in a weekend, we ripped out the old stinky carpet, cleaned the floor, got a pile ready for the dump, and reorganized the rest. Dandy. Except now, we need shelving. And it occurred to us that we needed some additional storage in our mudroom, so we went to the furniture store this weekend and picked out a piece which will be delivered on Wednesday. Now we're loosely planning a trip to IKEA to get some of their heavy duty shelving systems for our new storage downstairs.

Does it ever end? Stuff comes in the house. Need a place to put it, so we move something to accommodate it, then have to find a spot for the old thing. Not everything can get tossed or donated, so then we need to buy furniture or shelving or whatever to accommodate the old stuff and eventually, when that fills up, we'll find ourselves either deciding we really DON'T need that old thing 10 years down the line, or buying more shelving to accommodate even more old stuff.

So I'm trying to get my head around this. I feel like we do a fairly good job of only keeping stuff we truly use. We've tossed a LOT. And we've donated and sold even more. And yet it keeps coming. I've heard that you expand your possessions to fill the space you are given, and that may be true, but what happens when you start to overflow? Is there ever a house with a large-enough linen closet and enough storage areas and shelving to accommodate ALL your needs? I think not. Because as long as you perceive that you have the space, you'll keep buying. So I can't decide whether we're slaves to our possessions or the other way around.

And don't even get me started on home maintenance. Talk about slavery!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mommy, I Can't Concentrate!

Yes, apparently, Matthew was making a little too much noise this afternoon and was disturbing Jonathan's concentration while he was putting together a puzzle WHILE watching tv. Hmmmm, what's wrong with THAT picture?

Nevermind how many times MY concentration is utterly destroyed by BOTH of them...or that I can barely get a word, thought or action in edgewise half the time. But I had to have an inward chuckle at that one. And couldn't resist recording it for all posterity!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Some Birthday Pictures

We start off with the requisite "wheeled toy" to add to the already overwhelming collection that's already in the house....this one is from PlanToys, which we love since they use sustainable wood products and it's an American company. The toys are really cute, all made of wood, and with the cars in particular, the wheels are rubber so they ride really, really, really quickly across the kitchen floor!Next, we have either a Hot Wheels or Matchbox (I've long-since lost track) Monster Truck Jam ramp. When you're not using the thing as a ramp (noticed the smashed up cars on both sides!), the whole thing folds up and can be used as a carrier for up to 10 (yes, 10!) Monster Trucks. How many Monster Trucks did the thing come with, you ask? 1. How many more Monster Trucks does Jonathan need, now? According to Mommy Math, 0. According to Jonathan, 9. Darn - shouldn't have taught that kid to add and subtract!
And, of course, what child's birthday can be celebrated without giving a LITTLE something to the OTHER child? Well, let's see, Mark and I gave Matthew Ramone and Flo, and Grandma and Poppy gave him Ham and Halloween somebody or other, then later, we gave him Mack - the one you can load up Lightning McQueen and transport him all around.....this kid made out almost as good as his brother!And, finally, we get to the cake. I have no idea why Jonathan wanted a jack-o-lantern for a birthday cake, but I asked him three times on three separate occasions, and he never wavered. So I borrowed some cake pans from a friend's mom and voila. The stem is an upside-down sugar cone. It was a collaborative effort between Mark, me and my dad while Jonathan was at the bowling alley for a little party for one of his school friends. He was delighted when he saw it - glad I could make him happy, and HOPE he doesn't want something like a pirate ship next year! I'm not artistic to begin with, so these kids birthday cakes are taxing my limits!

OH, Okay, one more. We gave Jonathan this cute little butterfly net, along with a child-sized hoe he can use in the garden this spring and summer. He quickly found out he could catch a lot more than just butterflies! Watch Poppy's glasses, Jonathan, remember the time you broke them...and then you broke Daddy's....and.....

Next birthday, MINE! I keep asking Jonathan how old Mommy is, he keeps saying 29 (I'm not kidding!) Love it! The tricky part is asking how old Mommy is going to be! Then he says what any normal pre-schooler would say: 30. Hmmmmm, what to do now? Oh well - guess he'll find out it was a joke sooner or later!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Today is Jonathan's actual birthday - nevermind we've been celebrating it since Saturday! My mom, dad and sister came up on that day and we had cake and a party, and then I had to make cupcakes for his school yesterday, and today I'm getting suckered into making yet another cake-ish item since, well, it IS his real birthday! Luckily, we still have some presents to give him, or I'd be off to the store today, too!
Anyway, Jonathan is now 5, and although I find that hard to believe, I was also reflecting on how much he's done and seen in this short little life he's had so far. The child has a passport (that's the photo we used for it, above), and now has his first, of hopefully many, stamps - Mexico - acquired just a few weeks ago. He's quite the traveler - so far in his young life he's been to Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Virginia, Washington, D.C., North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and California...whew! Did I miss any? He's literally climbed mountains, and he's played on the seashore. We've hiked, we've biked, we've visited huge cities and tiny towns. He's ridden a horse and been bucked off, and he's ridden a camel. He's been on a roller coaster and been bowling. He's been swimming in pools where the heat has been unbearable, and been bundled up in snowstorms and blizzards and gone sledding with teeth chattering in the cold.
Of course, all this adventure comes with a price: he's been in the emergency room 4 times already. Although, admittedly, he wasn't injured while traveling or going on adventures. (Well, sort of) We'll keep our fingers crossed on that one!
But anyway, as he grows older and older, we hope to add to this list - a list of places he's been and cool things he's done. We want to show him and his brother the world, literally and figuratively!
Happy Birthday, Jonathan. We love you tons!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

STILL In That Vacation Bubble

Ya know, it wouldn't be so bad if we didn't have sub-zero wind chills half the week! Then I could just start to enjoy "spring" around here and quit thinking about why in the world we left Mexico in the first place!! But this is my last blog post about our trip - mainly because the rest of the pictures really aren't worth posting, and to be truthful, we actually didn't take that many.

The butterfly photos above were taken at XCaret, a resort of sorts, I guess you could possibly call it an eco-resort, but more like a "natural recreational area". Basically, it was a large peninsula, privately owned, that you could spend the day doing all sorts of stuff - swimming, diving, snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, sunning on their beaches, floating down an underground river, hiking, eating, watching Mayan shows, strolling through the botanical gardens, the ruins, the craft fairs, the gift shops....did I miss anything? For a flat fee, you got in, then you could pay extra to do some of the more specialized stuff. Mark and I, Jonathan and the in-laws went one day. Rode a nice coach bus down to Playa Del Carmen and arrived at XCaret around 9:30 in the morning. What to do, what to do, what to do FIRST!? They tell you up front that you can't do it all in one day. And they tell you to not miss the Mayan show that starts at 6pm and runs until 8pm. Well, we already counted that out - we were headed back on the early bus at 5pm because we didn't want Jonathan out that late. We figured 8 hours was enough for all of us.
So while the in-laws were kind enough to watch Jonathan for a bit in the morning, Mark and I signed up for a snorkeling trip that went until lunchtime. Mark was a little hesitant, but I somehow convinced him he needed to come with me, so we found ourselves on a boat with snorkeling gear in hand. Ten minutes later, we were anchored over the second largest reef in the world. Into the water we went. Now before I go on, I have to say, I have gills. I grew up swimming since I was about 3 years old, have always had a pool in the backyard, body-surfed in the ocean from as far back as I remember, and will swim anywhere, anytime. I am a certified scuba diver, but unfortunately, don't get much chance to dive anymore. Mark, on the other hand, sinks like a rock. He seems a bit uncomfortable in the water, and truly doesn't like to get his face too wet - even in the shower. So, yeah, he's going to try snorkeling. Hmmmm.

To make matters worse, Mark's snorkeling gear seemed to have some issues - he couldn't get a nice fit with the mask so he had some leakage and it proved to be a fairly windy day, so some of the little white-caps were breaking over the top of the snorkel and these weren't high-end snorkels. Too late - I wished I'd brought mine along - it was back at the villa - a nicer one with a check valve on the end that prevented that. Anyway, Mark lasted all of 5 minutes.

I hated him to miss out, but now I have a goal - work with him in our pool this summer until he is comfortable with the better equipment and maybe he'll be okay for next time. And there will be a next time, my word. Ever seen those tanks at Rainforest Cafe? They have these saltwater tanks with about every color of fish in the world....well, it was sort of like that. The reef was alive with fish of every size, shape, color and description. And the color combinations were astounding - black with royal blue fins, blue with lavender fins, royal blue with bright yellow, red and orange spotted, white and orange was like sensory overload. And the reef itself was amazing. And with the winds and current, everything was moving, and if you peeked into the reef, you could see more fish hiding. As long as you stayed fairly close to the boat, you could go anywhere you want, so I got to spend the next 40 minutes in an exotic world of sea life - lost in amazement, and struck by how silent that world is.

When we got back to shore, we met up with Jonathan and Mark's folks and had some lunch, then we started walking around - we found the butterfly exhibit and saw the marvelous blue morpho butterflies as well as many other gorgeous species. A few pics are above - the one is the blue morpho, the other is called a Malachite. The blue morphos are munching on plantains - everywhere in the habitat they had these laid out, there were half a dozen or more butterflies munching. The trick was to snap the picture when they opened their wings!

After that, the in-laws hit the botanical gardens, while we went off to find some animals for Jonathan to see - they had some in captivity - monkeys, peccaries, an ox, some donkeys and then we found the bird exhibit which had scarlet macaws, flamingoes, parrots and even some wild birds like a Yucatan woodpecker - a life-bird for both me and Mark!
A few minutes in the gift shops, and exploring an old silver mine shaft, and listening to some Mayan entertainment finally ended our day. We caught the early bus back and made it back to the villa in time to throw some dinner on the table and get the little guy into bed.
I would definitely go back there - mainly to take advantage of a few more of the water sports trips and to perhaps catch the evening shows which are supposed to be pretty spectacular. Despite it's popularity, there weren't huge crowds and the place is well-run and clean.
So now, onto the rest of my life! This weekend, our weather forecasts are saying almost 70 degrees, so perhaps I can stop living my life on a very comfortable poolside lounge and actually be able to go outside here in something less than a down parka. One can only hope. Back to our regularly scheduled blogging - next entry: my child will be 5 years old next week....