Day in the Life of a Compulsive Cleaner

I do NOT look this good, or smile like this when I clean!

The ignition coil in our gas oven went out today. Our friend Chris is a contractor and helps us with stuff around the house, but he said this was a project I could do easily on my own. However, after an hour of attempting to get the ignition coil out (why in the WORLD do the manufacturers place screws in completely inaccessible locations??), I resolved that I would just clean the oven instead and wait for Chris to come by tomorrow.

And, boy, did that oven need to be cleaned.

We’ve lived here for two years and I’ve never cleaned it (guilty). Ovens are just such a pain. And it has a self-clean feature, but we have dogs and little ones and that smell makes ME sick – can’t imagine what it would do to them. So I’ve kept putting it off. But now that I had taken everything out of it and saw up close just how bad it was, it could wait no longer.

So, for the last two hours, I’ve been scrubbing. And I don’t mean just the outside — I pulled the darn thing completely out from the wall, cleaned the backsplash, cleaned the sides of the oven, cleaned the inside of the air vent hood above, pulled everything off the burners and scrubbed until the surface was totally white again… Now I’m waiting two hours for the cleaner to penetrate the grime on the inside so I can…. well… scrub some more.

In the meantime, I noticed that the rest of the backsplash was pretty grimmy. Oh, and look at our white cabinet doors! That dishwasher is pretty gross too. Scrub, scrub, scrub…. SCRUB. I literally wore out my scrubbing sponge.

It’s one of those days when the fact that I have Compulsive Cleaning Disorder (CCD – a milder form of OCD, according to me – because I’m the expert), sort of really gets on my nerves. Because, the entire time I’m scrubbing away until the joints in my fingers ache, I’m thinking “man, I have so many other things to do.”

Like get on my blog and write about my CCD.

Sure do wish I had (i.e. could afford) a maid service. Sigh.

“But He’s My Baby” Syndrome

Look at those blue eyes!

They advise you to watch out for the “terrible twos” or “trying threes,” but what people don’t warn you about is the “second child gets away with everything” syndrome.

Admittedly, my second son is only eight months old, so there hasn’t been much that he’s tried to get away with thus far. But he’s started crawling now, and a whole new world of opportunity has been opened up to him — and he thoroughly enjoys putting everything in his mouth that he can get his hands on.

So, what’s the problem you ask? The problem is those overly adorable, huge blue eyes of his. Just this week I’ve had to start telling him no in my “I’m serious” mommy voice. The other day, he finally learned what it means, and he was not very happy with me. In an effort to get a hold of my computer cord, I told him no, and he looked up at me with those gorgeous eyes glistening with tears and his little lip quivering. I had to look away to maintain composer.

What is it about the second child that makes them so much harder to discipline? Don’t think you dads are off the hook either. Our little man has also begun to squirm on the changing table, even nearly rolling off a couple of times. I overheard my sweet husband tell our son, in a sing-song voice, that if he didn’t knock it off, he might get in trouble someday. He later told me he wasn’t ready to punish him just yet. So I noticed.

Maybe it’s the fact that we’re done and two is enough for us. Maybe it’s that my three year old runs me ragged. Whatever it may be, I promised myself that I wouldn’t get that “aw, but he’s my baby” attitude…. and I’m failing miserably thus far.

Learning the “Why” 10 Years Later

My childhood was, shall we say, not always very pleasant. Were there good times – great times? Absolutely. I have wonderful memories of times at my grandma’s house or on the family farm. Those stick out in my mind the most because those places were a refuge from what was going on at home. Now, I know my mom will likely read this, so be sure this is no reflection on her. Much of the crud in my childhood was a result of the crud in her adulthood – her struggles were far worse than mine. Regardless of what we went through, I never had any doubt in my mind that my mom loved me.

It was the other people in the lives of my mom, sister and me that made a negative impact. And I’ve blocked out a LOT of memories from my childhood because of it. When I was about 6 we took a family vacation to Disney World. I don’t remember a single-solitary moment from that vacation. The only images in my head are the photographs I’ve seen so often since that time. I hate that, other than my childhood place of refuge, the only memories I have tend to be the bad ones – if any at all.

Without divulging every tragic circumstance my childhood entailed, I can say that it was a constant struggle with disappointment. My dad wasn’t around much when I was young. My parents split when I was 2 years old, and my mom tells me that I cried frequently until I was nearly 6 years old because I was convinced that I was a bad girl and that he left because of me. So the abandonment issues started at a young age. My mom’s second husband got a sick satisfaction from beating her outside my bedroom door several nights a week (we went to Disney with him, which is why I remember nothing). He nearly killed her. While her third husband wasn’t physically abusive, he was emotionally, as well as very manipulative and controlling.

For the first 20 years of my life, I never had a father figure that treated me as a daughter deserves. As a result of that, and several destructive relationships (all sought out in an attempt to fill that void in my life), I battled severe depression around the age of 18-19. My freshman year of college was riddled with guilt, self loathing, loneliness, depression and thoughts of suicide. I put on a good front for most, but those closest to me saw through it all.

What amazes me is how God allows you to go through some horrible circumstances with a divine plan in mind. For years you hear that God turns every situation for his glory, but sometimes I’ve wondered if I would see why on this side of Heaven.

Gloriously, in recent weeks, I have seen the “why” in full force.

A young woman very close to me is battling the VERY SAME THINGS I did during those early college years. The similarities in our childhoods reveal a scary resemblance. And her compassion for others (and tendency to put their problems before her own) runs deep in my heart as well. God had a plan in mind all along. I am one of the few people in her life that understands what she’s going through and, as a result, one of the few that has been able to reach out to her and help her through this very critical time.

For the first time in my life, I’m grateful for my testimony. While I would never wish the struggles I dealt with on anyone else, and would never want to live them again, finally seeing some good come of them has been utterly amazing.

Sometimes it takes a few years, but God DOES work everything out for good to the glory of those that love Him.

What Target Isn’t Telling You about Its Return Policy

When you visit the website, you find a brief explanation of Target’s return and refund policy. From here, it all looks like any other return policy (with the exception of Wal-Mart, which will take virtually anything back that is on their shelves, God bless them!). Okay, so you need a receipt. That makes sense. If you don’t have one, they can look up the purchase using the credit, gift or debit card you used. Great. If it was purchased from your gift registry and you weren’t provided a gift receipt, then your registry acts like one. Awesome.

It all sounds so simple, but let me assure you, it’s very misleading. My sister just had a baby and stocked up on Target brand diapers beforehand. After the baby arrived, they decided that they preferred Pampers and went to take the diapers back to exchange them. The process took over an hour.

Diaper Dilemma
First, they didn’t have receipts for the diapers, so they absolutely could not receive a refund. Mind you, these were TARGET BRAND diapers – it’s not like they bought them somewhere else and were trying to screw Target over. It was something Target carried exclusively, but no matter, they still wouldn’t refund the money. They had to be exchanged for the exact same brand. But they didn’t want Target diapers, they wanted Pampers. Oh, well, in that case, you have to find something of a greater value to exchange them for, in the diaper isle, so that you’re paying Target more money.

Lowest Possible Value
Oh yes, you read that right. An even better example is my sister’s attempt to return an unopened bottle of DHA prenatal vitamins, normally on Target shelves for $20. Again, they didn’t have the receipt because she was planning to breastfeed but that didn’t work out. So Target gives “credit” for the “lowest possible value” of the item. In this case, $10. Now tell me, has Target EVER sold anything other than last season’s fashion leftovers for half off? Absolutely not – not something that remains on their shelves every day.

Wondering about the “credit” part? Ah, yes. Well, that means that you can’t actually even get cash in hand for that ridiculously discounted amount. No, you have to pick something on the shelves in the same isle (oh yeah, the same isle) to exchange for the item. Oh, and the item you pick, it must be of greater value than the exchange rate they’re giving you. And it can only be one item (not two items that add up to the amount).

They picked some protein bars. Turns out they were $0.85 less than the value Target was giving for the vitamins. The customer service rep had to call a manager over to approve the 85 cent difference – and, to my understanding, the manager was pretty ticked off about that fact. All over a whopping 85 cents.

Right. Appalled yet?

Gift Card Limitations
So, let’s say you’re returning something that was a gift but have no receipt. Thank God you were able to find it on the gift registry. But you won’t get cash, you get a gift card. Okay, that’s fine – no qualms there.

So, let’s say people didn’t do your registry right and you accidentally got two strollers at your baby shower. You’ll want to get a refund on one of them, and most won’t complain about a gift card to spend on other things (like diapers) down the road. Oh, but sorry, Target only allows $70 to be put on a gift card as a refund in 12 months time. And that’s not per individual, it’s per household.

Which is why my sister and brother-in-law had to exchange the diapers instead of getting a gift card refund – my sister had already returned $70 worth of baby gifts without a receipt. So they picked out the diapers they wanted, but it still took over an hour because, by golly, Target has to do a separate transaction for every single item. Seven bags of diapers to exchange means seven transactions, and seven receipts to hold on to just in case.

Lesson Learned
Moral of the story? Keep every single receipt you get from Target purchases. You might want to just start a “Target Receipt Box” to put in your closet. And if you’re giving someone a gift from Target, for goodness sake, get a gift receipt so you don’t have to put them through this.

I doubt anyone will boycott Target for its serious lack of quality customer service. I know I won’t shop there as much, but we actually prefer Target brand diapers. Turns out, though, that my sister still has boxes of diapers that she would have otherwise returned. Instead, she’s selling them to us, which is about the only thing in this situation that I can’t complain about.

Hubby Time is a Must

Yesterday, the hubby and I went out on the town – it was the first time we’d done anything alone since the baby was born. It was nearly 8 hours of just me and him and it was so much fun. We didn’t do anything spectacular, just perused the antique festival at the fair grounds, went to dinner and (GASP) went to the mall. Traffic was so crazy because it was the first nice day after everyone had been stranded indoors for 2 weeks following the snow storm. While I would normally find this to be a nuisance, it was a really great opportunity for us to chat. As Josh said, it was nice to have an adult conversation between us that didn’t involve the intricate bowel movements of a newborn and toddler.

While everyone seems to know it’s important to find time to spend with your spouse, few people actually comply. But it really is necessary in order to maintain a health marriage, especially after you have kids. Date night is an absolute must, and Josh and I were so overdue for one. Many people may not agree with me on this, but other than your relationship with God, your marriage is your first priority. Even with young children like we have that are pretty much fully dependent on us for their daily activities and needs, I believe that my relationship with Josh should be prioritized over my relationship with my boys. While the boys fall a very close second to Josh, they will one day be on their own, and Josh and I will have only each other again. Our family is not the family we envision if we’re not constantly focusing on making our marriage work in the best way it can.

Many couples go to marriage events during the Valentine’s holiday as a means of rekindling the flame and strengthening their relationship. This is a great opportunity – we did it too, after all – but why do this only once a year? We should be working every day to build a stronger and healthier marriage.

Josh and I have these goals, among others, for our marriage – while we haven’t accomplished everything on the list yet, we’re getting there:

  • pray together
  • snuggle time at least once a week (even if it’s just cuddling together and watching a movie at home)
  • working for the betterment of our marriage through a book, Bible study, etc. on a regular basis
  • date outing at least once a month – get a babysitter and hit the town!
  • a weekend away 1-2 times a year
  • show affection for each other regularly, both physically and verbally
  • work to envision our marriage as a partnership: C-O-M-M-U-N-I-C-A-T-I-O-N
  • sex once a week ( oh yeah, I wrote it for all to see…) – which will require planning – no spontaneity with a 4 month old and 3 year old!

I challenge every married couple to put a list together and constantly work to accomplish their goals. We’ve found that having kids this young makes it much harder to maintain the strength of our relationship without extra work. But we’re all in this!

So, what’s on your list?

Just a Little More Time

This evening has not gone well. The day started off fine – the hubby let me sleep in and I came downstairs to find he had done a couple chores for me. I took Eli to swim lessons, lunch went well and everyone went down for nap okay. But every moment of the day was spent with me doing something for someone else, whether it was my kids or my jobs. So, this evening, I sat my toddler down for his dinner, put the baby down for his evening nap and attempted to start my workout. I told Eli that he could watch a movie when I was done. In two weeks, this is only the third time I’ve been able to workout – something I’m wanting to do every day, after all, I have about 50 pounds to lose. All I needed was 30 minutes to do something for me.

It didn’t happen.

Eli had about 20 questions about his dinner (ah, the age of three, where every moment in life, no matter how mundane, is an inquisition). The baby refused to go to sleep, screaming at the top of his lungs. I think I paused my workout video 4 times in 15 minutes. While attending to the baby, Eli finished his dinner and started asking for his movie. In utter frustration, I turned my workout off halfway through, put in Eli’s movie and attempted to sooth the baby (to no avail). I had to remove myself from the situation. I put the baby in the swing and I went to the opposite end of the house.

As I cried (literally) out to God in surrender, my dog came over to me. He often comforts me when he knows something’s wrong…. but not this time. No, he wanted me to feed him. Arg.

So I fed the dog and went back to the baby. Changed the baby’s diaper – still not happy. Apparently he was hungry, too – except that he ate just two hours ago and usually goes 3-4 hours (see, I should have had time to workout). So I fed the baby.

Meanwhile, Eli is attempting to make me laugh by dancing around the floor like a goofball; he gives me a hug and says “I love you, Momma.” Lincoln finishes his bottle and grins at me from ear to ear. While I’m still frustrated, I certainly can’t stay mad and these adorable boys.

Then Lincoln throws-up all down the inside of my shirt.

(((sigh)))

Confidence as a Mother

We’ve been on an interesting ride for the first 3 months of Baby Lincoln’s life outside the womb. One thing I’ve learned in all of this is to be confident in the fact that I’m his mother and I know better than anyone else if something is wrong with him.

In all of this, I’ve weaned on whether or not someone was actually wrong with him or if I was just over-thinking and over-reacting to the situation. The last two visits to my doctor’s office were the worst. During the first, while maintaining a calm demeanor, I made it clear that something was wrong with my baby other than acid reflux and we needed to be active in trying to figure it out. The nurse practitioner already gave me the indication that she thought I was pushing it; especially since when she suggested it was the things I was eating while nursing him that were causing problems and I told her flat out I knew that wasn’t the case. To appease me, they ordered an ultrasound to make sure his stomach was emptying correctly. It was, and I knew it would be. After that, I did my own research on his symptoms and found a condition called lactose overload. All I had to do was change the way I nursed him, and he was a different baby in just 4 days.

The last doctor appointment was just two weeks ago. Link had been doing great for a couple weeks, but he had started to show signs of problems again. Nursing had gone from a 30 minute occurrence to a 45 minute to one hour long ordeal. He would swallow, cry, swallow, cry, etc. One day he was inconsolable and that was the last straw. I knew something was wrong and made an appointment to get in to the doctor that day.

When they weighed him in the doctor’s office, I immediately started to cry – my three month old had lost weight since our last appointment! When I brought it up with the nurse practitioner, however, she blew it off, stating that it wasn’t that concerning and that we would keep an eye on it. Again, I thought I might be over-reacting, based upon her feedback.

But she called me the next day. She had talked to the doctor and he was VERY concerned about the weight loss and wanted me to start supplementing with formula immediately. MY INSTINCTS WERE RIGHT!!! The NP hadn’t said anything because she “didn’t want to over-react” and give me cause for undue concern. Shouldn’t she at least have mentioned that she would talk to the doctor about it!?

At Lincoln’s weigh in today I saw a different NP in the office. I won’t go back to the other. She informed me that Lincoln was in the 5th percentile that day we found he was losing weight. When he was born, he was in the 25th-50th percentile. No one told me he had dropped to the 5th – I would have lost it if I knew.

All of this to say, I should trust my instincts as a mother more – I’m his advocate. I’ve known from the start that something else was going on besides acid reflux. And, while Lincoln isn’t perfectly healthy yet, he’s happier than I could ever imagine him being. If only I had spoke up more, been more assertive, we might have figured this out sooner. Lesson learned. It certainly won’t happen again.

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