Of Mice and Women

Subtitle: Seeking Higher Ground

View from the sofa
View from the sofa

So, in my last posting, I let out a whole lot of tsuris about a whole lot of what’s been going on. For those of you who don’t know from tsuris, it’s a Yiddish word that describes troubles or woes. Somehow, the Yiddish language makes things sound so much better than they really are.

Well anyway, I spoke about the little vermin that walk in the night–mice. It’s amazing to me how one creature, so seemingly cute when read in Country mouse and City mouse, or anthropomorphized into Mickey and Minnie, can terrorize a household. At least this household of 2 moms and two girls, all screaming, well, like girls!

The cartoons are highly accurate. Seeking higher ground must be some innate, archetypal reaction that us ‘double x’ chromosome folk resort to in times of fight or flight. Last Friday evening, my loving, mouse-phobic, partner, spent twenty minutes screaming while standing atop our sofa. When no one responded (we three were all asleep in a heap on the bed), she finally mustered up courage, like a certain lion after a visit to a certain wizard, to ‘run like hell’ into our bedroom and poke at my ribs with the latest news.

The next morning, one was kind enough to greet me for coffee at 4:30 am. Just three minutes later, another, smaller grey monster poked out.

The last spotting, again, by loving, mouse-phobic partner (LMPP), occurred after a lovely bedtime reading ritual with the girls. After completing the Magic Tree House story, where Jack and Annie meet Abraham Lincoln, LMPP got up to turn off the lights. Don’t you know, a little bugger flies underfoot and heads into our bedroom closet? You may have actually heard the screams. I’m certain the neighbors did. LMPP could have taught Janet Leigh a lesson or two for that famous shower scene. (I bet right now you are wondering why none of us heard her while she was atop the sofa? We’ll get into that in another posting.) I was then ‘asked’ by LMPP to perform acts of heroism and bravery. “Go get that mouse in the closet!”

Well, suffice it to say, that did not happen. Loud, piercing cries were abundant. I quietly, but firmly held my ground atop the bed. Our two girls were now shrieking and screeching, tears flowing. They too were becoming mouse-phobic. Truth is, I readily admit to also ‘strongly disliking’ the little grey beasts. I just do it much more softly. In fact, once a sighting occurs, little dancing shadows become hallucinogenic. What was that? Was that? Oh, it a sock…a Lego friend…a Beanie Boo.

The next morning, two things happened. I took to my laptop and wrote a very lovely letter to the building management team, asking if this was what they meant by ‘pet-friendly building?’ To their defense, they came out quite quickly and solved for what was a robust hole behind the oven. Next, armed with the dust-buster, I took a very deep breath and made my way into that dreaded closet. I removed every item that was on the floor. Shook out blankets. Checked inside shoes and boxes. No mouse. No mice. No residue. Was it their day to be in the country?

To stick with my ‘glass half-full’ approach to life, some good does come after finding new friends in one’s home. LMPP cleans and organizes and re-cleans and re-organizes, aerobically cleans. As a person who tends to err on the side of OCD, this works for me. I almost didn’t recognize our home when I came home from work one day after the first spell. Rules tend to get re-enforced for the young-ins too. “Food only at the table. No eating on the sofa. Why are you walking around with that bowl of gluten-free chocolate puffs?”

Which brings to mind the thing that boggles me the most. Of all of the apartments to choose from, why did these little pests choose us? We are vegetarian, gluten-free, egg free, GMO free and organic food consumers. And due to the economics we talked about last week–we eat a lot of rice and beans, quinoa and beans, and variations from there. Our house, while happily messy (because we spend time making memories, not cleaning, like all good Moms do), is not filthy by any measure. There has to be a lot of other apartments where take-out containers, packaged goods, cookies, cakes, and candy that are riddled with artificial colors, flavors and by-products (tested in labs by mice relatives) line the shelves and counter-tops here at the Manor. I smell bacon on the weekends! I mean c’mon…really. Are we your best choice for cuisine? With our food, we don’t even see droppings. That’s right, we constipate mice here in our home.

Knock wood, we haven’t spotted the little monsters for at least four days now. They must have smelled the bacon too, don’t you think?

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Learning to Live Lean, Lean on and Lean In as two moms and two girls

Subtitle: Not a diet

Maple Acres 2

This has been a tumultuous year (or two) in our family. Loss. Pain. Change. Fear. Panic. Anxiety. Surgery, job loss, death, sweet soul-mate pet losses, friend loss, financial insecurity, personal insecurity, moving out of our home, living week to week, working two jobs, missing my family, start-up sorrows, sleep deprivation…and now, just for fun, lets add mice (of which my partner has the greatest of phobias) in our new humble abode…okay. Bring it on…this is life and we all have our proverbial hand of cards to play.

It’s been messy. It’s been tearful. Well ‘F’ that—we’ve sobbed enough tears this past year; but not enough that they don’t keep flowing. It’s been– the kind of year where you can truly recognize what family means and who your friends are.

Through all of this, there must be some lesson that can help me to redefine what success and failure actually mean. This requires lowering the volume on the often loud, and thunderous narrative that takes place in my head. You know that voice…I am trying with all of my might, wit and Mom-superpowers to fully grasp that feeling like a failure and failing might actually be two different things.

As a family, we’ve had to change a lot about how we live each day and exist in today’s ‘ca-chinging,’ credit card culture. Frugality does not come easy for all. So very hard to do when you have two adorable, loveable and well deserving girls (insert that failure feeling here). So hard to do when it hasn’t always been the way we’ve done our life. When prior salaries have had different places to insert a comma.

Enter the new world of our frugal-foursome, wear we live lean, lean on, and lean in.

Live Lean:

  • Slash the budget and stop the hemorrhage. This requires tremendous discipline in thought and outcome (and the realization that we are still bleeding)
  • Cut the cord—goodbye Comcast, hello Netflix
  • Control has to win over convenience, which is really just a luxurious money suck—Eat home, brown bag lunches, snacks and beverages, avoid quaint coffee culture
  • Sell the house—downsize, move, rent
  • Kill the guilt that fuels spending and brings on a different kind of guilt—make memories, give experiences, learn to live well with less. Discover the joy, contentment and happiness in ourselves and with each other

Lean On:

  • Seek ways to continually course correct our new ‘lean awakening’, leaving senseless squabbles behind
  • Share the burden of stresses that I hold so deep and internal
  • Recognize that ‘thrift maven’ may come in stages for those of us that are more ‘spendy’ and ergo, less frugal

Lean In:

  • Control what I can control
  • Always lead by example
  • Keep my ‘cup half full attitude,’ even when I question the what exactly is in the cup
  • Work hard and make the time to play hard—it’s just as important
  • Set goals together for a purpose, because some may just find the simple act of saving for savings sake boring

Are we better? Are we fixed? No. Are we always on the same page? No. But we are wiser. And with that wisdom, there have been moments, sweet joyous moments of pure bliss.

There’s no going back. Yes, we would like some more financial stability. Yes, we would like less pain, and most certainly (and quickly!) an absence of vermin. But for now, we are where we are and we are constantly becoming who we will be. We are a beautiful work in progress.

We know together that one cannot buy good parenting or good partnering. Frugality and discretion won’t change our love for one another as we walk the path less purchased. We will definitely stop along the way to welcome the happiness in the small moments as they appear.

More to come on this, I am certain.

Out, damned mice.

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Two Moms. Two Girls.

Our Girls, Luka and Neko
Our Girls, Luka and Neko

Mom. A tiny little word filled with great big feelings. Being a mom, one of two in this relationship, is no easy task. Some may say it’s the toughest job in the world. This is not a news alert or a smoking gun. Any of you out there with the pleasure, and I do mean pleasure, of being a mom know that. (I’m kvelling…)

I’m the working mom and my partner, the love of my life, is the stay at home mom. While together, we are raising our two little awesome human beings to be wonderful people on the planet, Meghan clearly has the harder job (and I am often times filled with insane jealousy). We don’t claim to know everything, and we certainly know that parenting cannot be perfect, ours included. In fact we often strive for imperfect. The ‘P’ word itself is forbidden—invoking low self-esteem, eating disorders, $0.76 on the dollar, lack of interest in math and science, and probably even global warming and middle-eastern unrest.

We live in the age of ‘Leaning In,’ yet Barbie is still poorly proportioned. Pink prevails. It is not the new black. Our ‘Mighty-Girls’ choose twirly-swirly dresses over sensible clothes every time; and please, don’t get me started on their shoes. I’m becoming quite accustomed to the fact that a hike ‘over the river and through the woods’ will elicit the exact same wardrobe choice as a fancy party for my ‘little women.’ Cool. No sense arguing. Pooh says, “Be who you are.”

Well, they sure are who they are. And I love every minute of it. And Meghan and I will continue down our path to raise smart, brave, courageous, kind, grateful, empathic loving girls who will one day, hopefully a very long time from today, become women with those same traits.


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