Cleaning House

I’ve mentioned before how there are times that this blog doesn’t get written until the day (or even night) before it posts.  I recently even finished writing/editing a post just 30 minutes before it was scheduled to arrive on the internet.  I REALLY didn’t like scrambling that much, so I hope I won’t cut it that close again.

But it’s not just my blog writing that sometimes gets pushed out as far as possible.  Cleaning house is another area I try to stay on top of, but oftentimes it gets pushed to the back burner until the day before we have guests coming over.

I want to do better . . . I really do.  But the truth of the matter is I don’t like cleaning; never have.  From the time I was a child who had to do chores in order to earn a weekly allowance, I’ve disliked it.  Some chores I don’t mind (vacuuming is okay) and others, I loathe (Like dusting.  I can’t STAND dusting!), but I know they all need to be done, unless I’m okay living like a slob . . . which I’m not.

The other problem is that, now, so many things get in the way.  When I was a kid, I’d get home from school two hours before Mom, so there was “extra” time then.  I still put it off until the last half hour before she was due to walk in the door, but I at least felt like I had some fun time before I had to do the “work.”  Nowadays, Craig and I are the ones working all day.  Then we have to come home to fix and eat dinner.  Next there’s either editing photos, or some other aspect of our photography business, or else we’ve got a class or other event to attend at night.  Or maybe we need some down time and just want to chill out on the couch before hitting the sack.  Then bedtime (for me, at least) is 9pm before I start the process all over again the following day.

Okay, okay, if I’m going to be honest with everyone, we probably choose to chill out on the couch on a night when we could clean instead, but most times we’re not in the right mood . . .

C&H Last Minute Panic

There are SO many places where last-minute panic helps you get things done lickety-split.  Obviously it comes down to procrastination for a variety of reasons, but is sounds nicer Calvin’s way.

What I’d really love is to pay someone to come clean our home for us.  To be able to walk in from work and not see the food stain on the kitchen floor that I swiped at when it happened, but just haven’t had enough time to properly mop (or whatever other mess I notice in the house) would be wonderful!  I’m just not sure how much it costs to get a reliable, trustworthy, and diligent cleaning person these days.  In my head it’s more than we can afford right now, but maybe I need to look into it further.

Until I do, I realize we still have to do the cleaning ourselves.  I’ve been thinking lately that the weekend is a place where we could clean and I think I want to start scheduling our home chores for then.  I figure–if Craig and I each clean one room per weekend–the whole place will be clean in just three weeks, and then we just start over again.  That way, it doesn’t usually take more than 30 minutes to clean one room (especially if it’s been less than a month since the last time it was cleaned).  PLUS, we’d have a home that’s mostly spotless.

Now if I can just get in the right mood to initiate this trend . . .  😉

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Ask and Ye Shall Receive

As anyone who’s been happily married for a long time will tell you, communication is KEY to maintaining a happy relationship.  Craig and I haven’t been married a long time, but I can see how important it is already.

That’s not to say it’s always easy, because it’s not.  We’ve each got our own emotional baggage that can lead to fear of upsetting the other person.  Also, the fact that we’re still in the “newlywed” stage means we might not say that something is bothering us (or at least, not right away), because we might still be looking at each other with love-colored eyes.

But it’s essential to talk to your partner and ask for what you need, and what changes (if any) you’d like to see in your relationship.  As scary as it can be, these conversations are necessary, because it can clear up a lot of confusion.  Also, most of us aren’t mind readers, and we shouldn’t expect our partner to be one.  So, how can we expect our partner to give us what we want/need, unless we speak up about it?

While Craig and I have only been married two years now, we’ve been together for five.  And during our first few years together, we discussed this very concept.  I’d read enough books on healthy relationships to know that I needed to speak up for what I felt I needed from him, but Craig also gave me a bit of insight into the male psyche (or at least, Craig’s psyche) to let me know how helpful it is for me to tell him, specifically, what I need/want from him.  He said that 1) it helps him to know exactly what’s expected of him; and 2) he feels like a hero when he knows he’s done something that I wanted (especially when I thank him for doing it), which makes him more eager to say “yes” the next time I ask for something.

It was still hard for me to apply at first.  Maybe because women are geared to anticipate people’s needs and wonder why men don’t seem to be wired that way, or maybe because I’ve been so used to doing everything myself for so long.  But over time I’ve come to see it as a very helpful tool to keep our relationship strong, and also so I don’t get overwhelmed or feel that I’m doing more than my “fair share.”

What’s made it easier for me is that Craig’s so responsive to those requests.  Not only is he open to hearing what I need or want, but he actually DOES it, whatever chore it might be.  He’s REALLY good about doing what’s asked of him, which has helped me learn that I don’t have to do everything myself.

This is also true of things that I might need of him with regards to our relationship.  If I’ve noticed that I feel bad about some aspect of us–or that I’m worried I might feel bad in the near future–I’m able to sit down with Craig and tell him what I need to change in our dynamic.  He calmly listens and together we’re able to come up with a solution that can ensure that I’m getting my needs met, but where he’s not being too put out either.

It’s been such a wonderful relief, over the years, to know that Craig’s on my side and willing to step up if I need him in whatever capacity.  To know he’s there for me–TRULY there for me–has been one of the best things about our relationship.  That helps strengthen the trust, which just goes on to strengthen the relationship.  It’s one of those cycles that’s actually wonderful, rather than vicious.

So I encourage you all to ask for what you need; and not just in romantic relationships.  This sort of thing helps strengthen other relationships, too.  What they say is really true . . . the answer’s always gonna be “no” if you don’t ask.  But if you do ask, you just might get what you want.

Letter to Lake Michigan

Aaahhhhh, Lake Michigan!  It’s been so long since I got to swim in your warm waters.  Oh, how I’ve missed you!

You were my first foray into a body of water that’s so big I couldn’t even see the opposite shore.  And I remember your waves were over five feet tall back then.  Of course, I was a kid at the time, so my memory might be a little off on the actual height, but they were taller than me. So much so that I felt certain that someone could surf there.

I barely remember the 90-minute car ride from our house to your shores near Holland, but I very strongly remember climbing out of the back of the station wagon, sand already getting on my feet from what others had dragged back to the parking lot, and I remember my excitement that my family and I were gonna spend several hours soaking up the sun’s rays while swimming in your blue water. It felt like it took forever to get from our car to the shore, and when my parents finally found a spot to lay our towels, I couldn’t kick my flip flops off fast enough, so eager was I to jump in.

We only came to visit you a couple times in my childhood, but those few times stayed with me even after I left Michigan to explore the rest of the world. I’ve gone snorkeling a few places in the Atlantic Ocean–mostly off the coast of the Florida Keys–and I truly enjoyed swimming with sea turtles, and seeing the brightly-colored corals, but no matter how lovely things were under their waves, I still longed for the salt-free taste of your liquid. I even asked whether or not it was possible to snorkel in the Great Lakes, but was sad to learn that those things don’t appear in bodies of fresh water.

Living in Chicago for ten years, I got to swim in you again. Only a couple times, but it was more than I’d done in the ten years since I’d moved away from Michigan. In my memory, your Eastern shores were much sweeter than those found in the Windy City, but I was still thrilled to wet myself in your waves once again.

Whenever discussions with other people turned to swimming and which shores people liked best, I always touted you, my wonderful Lake Michigan. I extolled the virtues of water that was clear and warm, yet had no briney after taste. I also talked about how swimming in you didn’t leave one with a sticky feeling on their skin. And again, all this could be found in a body of water that was large enough to seem like an ocean. Most people didn’t agree with me–or try to tell me that I’m not supposed to drink the water–but that’s okay, I still love you (besides, you can’t help but taste the nasty salt water on your lips).

When Craig, Athena and I visited you during this recent vacation, I must say that you were chillier than I remembered, but I know it was a longer and much colder winter than in recent years, so I forgive you for submerging us in icy water when we stepped off the sand into your oh, so welcoming waves. I personally felt that I’d come “home” once again, and your enveloping embrace was all that I needed to know you’d missed me, too.

Athena also remarked on how nice it was to not have to spit out gritty salt after reemerging from beneath the surface, and she’s since commented on how she wants to come back to visit you again.

Thank you, Lake Michigan, for giving me some wonderful childhood memories (and now some adult ones, too), and thank you for staying just as pristine as I remembered. I hope it’s not another 30 years before I get to touch your wonderful waters again.

I Love to Coast

I loved theme parks as a child (what kid doesn’t?), but I especially loved the ones with roller coasters in them.  I’ve been somewhat of a thrill seeker most of my life, and roller coasters are a (reasonably) safe way to get said thrill.

Dad would sometimes take my brother and me to Boblo Island, which sat between Ontario, Canada, and Detroit (it closed down in 1993), or to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.

Boblo Island was kind of like a small fair/carnival on steroids.  There were lots of rides like what you’d find at a carnival, but there weren’t any real thrill-seeking rides.  That’s why Cedar Point is probably my favorite amusement park simply because of the amount of roller coasters it has; 17, including two kiddie coasters.  I used to think that was the most in any theme park, but doing some research I found out that it’s actually tied for 2nd place with another park.  Apparently Six Flags in Valencia, California has 19 . . . guess I need to take a trip there soon, huh?

Still, Cedar Point will always hold a special place in my heart, because that’s also where I won my first stuffed animal from one of the midway games.  I was 10 years old, and it was the Dime Toss game.  My dime landed squarely on the plate on my second try, and I was so excited.  I chose a giant orange lion that I kept well into my 30s.  Also, one of their coasters is called Gemini, which has dual cars “racing” against each other on dual tracks.  Not only is that a very cool, wooden roller coaster, but it also happens to be my zodiac symbol (what can I say, small things like that excite me).

In my teenage years, Mom and I traveled with some friends down to southern Ohio to visit Kings Island.  This theme park has 14 roller coasters, including The Beast, which currently holds the record as the longest wooden roller coaster in the world.  It’s spread out over 35 acres and is AWESOME!  If you want a POV video, check this out.

There are also lots of shows and stuff at Cedar Point and Kings Island, but I’ve never been someone who enjoys those as much as I do the rides.  For me, there’s no other reason to pay as much as you do for a theme park.  Maybe I feel that way because you can always see a show–whether it be a play or the symphony, or what have you–but you can only ride roller coasters if you go to a carnival or amusement park.  Plus, there are always such long lines for the rides that you wouldn’t be able to get on all of them if you spent an hour or so of your day sitting down, watching a stage show.

The longest line I ever stood in was two hours when the Magnum XL-200 came on the scene.  Normally I don’t like to wait for more than an hour to ride a coaster, but it was the year the ride had opened, so EVERYONE wanted to be on it.  And it didn’t disappoint.  It was the first ride to go 200 feet in the air and reached a top speed of 72 mph.  Plus it goes out over the water.  VERY cool!

It’s been several years since I’ve been to either theme park, so it’ll be cool to visit them again.  It’s been even longer since Craig visited them, too, so we’re both looking very forward to this trip.  Plus, we get the added pleasure of introducing Athena to our favorites.  She’s also a thrill seeker (at least as far as coasters are concerned), so we’re ready to stand in lines and spend all day screaming our lungs out.  By the time this gets posted, we’ll have already spent a day at Kings Island, so those screams of joy will have already happened.

Old Stomping Grounds

We’re going on VACATION!!!

Next Monday, Craig, Athena and I are heading back east for a two-week trek around the Midwest.  We’ll arrive in Ohio and visit a theme park, then drive up through Indiana to Michigan to visit with friends and family (and some swimming in Lake Michigan), then we’ll head back into Ohio for another theme park and fly home.

This trip came about because Athena has wanted to meet my side of the family ever since Craig and I got married.  She met a couple of them at the wedding, but most of our families didn’t make it to Chicago, so this is a chance to rectify that.  Plus we’ll get to introduce her to the two BEST theme parks in the country (in my opinion): Kings Island and Cedar Point.

Going to the Midwest in August isn’t necessarily the smartest move on our part, due to the mugginess and heat, but theme parks in that part of the country are only open in the summer months, and June and July were packed with other activities.  Besides, maybe we’ll get to experience a nice, warm summer thunder storm.  *sigh* I miss those.

Craig and I will also get to show Athena around our old stomping grounds.  We’ll get to drive by the high school where we first met, the houses where we used to live, and other places along Memory Lane.  Plus, it’ll be GREAT to be back in the land of People Who Call It “Pop.”  😉

Another thing that Craig, in particular, is excited about is visiting a real Putt-Putt course.  He and one of his friends used to compete in Putt-Putt tournaments throughout the Midwest (and even one down in Florida), but for some reason there aren’t many Putt-Putt opportunities out here in California.  There are several miniature golf courses, but as Craig’s told me several times, Putt-Putt and Miniature Golf are NOT the same thing.  So, we’ve made sure to include a quick stop to one of them on our way from Ohio to Michigan.  Craig has even found out from one of his friends that there’s a tournament in Ohio while we’re around, so maybe he’ll get a chance to compete again.

You know that old saying about how you can’t take the [BLANK] out of the girl/guy?  Well, I think it’s true to a certain extent, which is why it will be nice to go back and see where we came from.  I couldn’t wait to leave Michigan when I was younger, so I could go off and explore the world, but I still enjoy visiting it every now and then.  There’s some real beautiful places to be seen there, as well as other assets.

For one, the Midwest stability.  I don’t mean to imply that other places in the U.S. are “unstable,” but there’s a certain heartiness to the people from that part of the country.  There’s an earthiness that I didn’t find while living in New York, Florida or even out here in California.  I get that same Midwest feeling here in Alameda, which is probably one of the reasons I find it so charming, but I don’t notice it in other parts of the state.

Another thing that will be nice (providing it happens while we’re there) will be to experience the rainy season.  Until the recent three year-long drought, California normally gets rain during the winter months, which means it’s cold!  It’s the kind of cold that seeps through your clothes and into your bones.  But out in Michigan and the surrounding states, it rains during the summer.  And it’s a such a warm rain that you don’t mind being caught without an umbrella (unless you’re dressed up for a fancy night out).  It’s so warm, it almost feels like you’re just standing under a REALLY big shower head.

So, hopefully we’ll get to enjoy all the things we’ve gone out there to see: friends, family, fun and even a little precipitation (I couldn’t find an alliterative synonym).  I’ll write a couple blogs while we’re on the road, and might even have some photos to share.

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