Tools of the trade
I do the cleaning in our house because unfortunately, it won't clean itself.  I figure since there are already a million other things that I have to nag remind Mj about that neither one of us needs the aggravation of me asking him for the 3rd time when he's going to clean the toilet or vacuum.  I do it myself and it gets done.  He is responsible for trash day, picking up after himself, and keeping his desk and one of the extra rooms he uses tidy.  That seems to be plenty for him to keep up with.  He cooks way more then I ever will do and either one of us starts the laundry when the hamper lid won't close or he runs out of undershirts; whichever comes first.  The kitchen counters, dishes, stove etc are done throughout the week on an as needed basis by both of us, or just me if I get too annoyed with his habit of letting them pile up and sit.  Can you guess which one of us is the "neat one"? 

When I lived in my studio it took me about an hour tops to clean the entire place from top to bottom.  It was easy and didn't take up too much of my time so I didn't mind it all that much.  Since moving into our house it takes so long that I find myself dreading it more and more.  It's like the gym.  Once I get started I'm usually ok, it can be soothing and satisfying and I like the finished results but finding the motivation to get going is tough sometimes.  Cleaning is usually a Saturday morning affair so I can get it out of the way and have the rest of my weekend to relax and have fun.  If I didn't get to the laundry that's no big deal to leave for Sunday, as long as the cleaning is done.  I like everything to be clean at the same time AND I'd rather not be cleaning something every day so I do it all at once every other weekend.  Unless I'm feeling really lazy and/or busy in which case I might put it off one extra week.  Because it takes me so long I decided to track exactly what I was doing and how long I was doing it to figure out if I could trim down the time.  We have 3 bedrooms,  2.5 bathrooms and two living spaces.  These are examples of three different torture cleaning "sessions" and how long it took me.  

54 minutes:  Dusting blinds and all surfaces 
25 minutes:  Vacuum carpets/Floors
50 minutes:  Clean Bathrooms
35 minutes:  Swiffer all floors
2 hours 44 Minutes

1 hr 10 min: Dusting all surfaces, blinds and window sills
45 min: Vacuum carpets and floors
46 min: Clean Bathrooms
6 min: Trash
2 hrs 46 min

43 min:  Dust all surfaces
33 min:  Vacuum carpets and floors
45 min:  Clean bathrooms
5 min:  Trash
2 hr 6 min

The 1/2 bath and the extra full bathroom don't get much use so those are pretty quick.  I did find that I was wiping down mirrors that didn't need to be wiped and vacuuming and mopping carpets and floors that hardly get used so I have cut back on that.  I dust behind the DVD/Satellite box/Playstation/Xbox hub and other surfaces that aren't quite dusty but it seems to pop up overnight so I think it's just better to stay on top of it.  We don't wear shoes inside so I don't think it necessary to mop every single time.  I also don't do the blinds, window sills and baseboards every time either. 

I woke up to my neighbor blasting Barry Manilow on Saturday morning.  Should I be embarrassed to admit that I really liked a lot of the songs?  Somehow music makes doing anything more tolerable so I got out of bed, blasted some i tunes of my own and started in with the dusting.  2 hours and 6 minutes later I'm finished and I'd hate to see how much longer it would take me if we had a bigger house.  I take pride in keeping a clean and neat house and like it that if someone drops by unexpectedly I won't be embarrassed by the condition of my home.  I really enjoy the finished results of all of my hard work....that is until the Mj storm rolls through and leaves his trail of destruction.  It's actually kind of a work out too.  Either that or I'm totally out of shape because my body usually feels fatigued by the time I'm done.  The good news is that I have the entire three day weekend ahead to have fun without having to even think about cleaning.  The bad news is that next weekend or the weekend after depending on how lazy busy I am I get to do it all over again.  I noticed that our neighbor behind us (the one who likes Barry Manilow) has a maid and sometimes I really wish we did too.  Maybe someday that would be possible, especially if we ever got a bigger house, but for now I'm it.

How do you divide household chores in your house?  How long does it take you to clean or are you lucky enough to have a cleaning service?  What is your typical cleaning schedule?

I hate bugs

I know, I know...I really need to get over this phobia
I'm laying on the couch watching TV and minding my own business when I catch the sight of a disgusting pincher bug slowly crawling across the carpet.  Instead of grabbing a shoe like a normal person would do I stand there frozen in one spot staring at it before racing downstairs to grab a cup from the kitchen.  I could have tried the vacuum method but I didn't think I had time to lug the vacuum all the way upstairs and get it plugged up.  The worst thing that can ever happen is for a bug to totally disappear on you.  Granted, it was anywhere before I spotted it and could have been hanging out for a while but that was before I knew it was there.  Once I know it's in my space and I can't see it...well that's really scary.  The last time I tried the trapping method it didn't work.  With the loving support of my sister I picked up the shoe that I had put the leg of one chair on top of and one week later the offending spider had escaped.  I'm too chicken to kill this bug so I feel I have no other option but to try it again.  Uggg...I hate being afraid of something so small and harmless.  It makes no sense, but I guess that's why it's called a phobia.  So, I put the cup over the bug and then look around for something heavy to weigh it down. Ridiculous as it is that cup will likely sit there all week until Mj comes back as it is doubtful that I will ever find the courage to pick it up.  By the way, why do they always show up when he is gone??  It may or may not escape but as long as I don't KNOW for sure that it is NOT under that cup I will be comforted by the knowledge that it can't get me.  Even though it sucks that I will have to look at that sitting on the floor day after day.  It does absolutely nothing for the decor.

A Nice Weekend

After dropping Mj off at the airport on Thursday morning I was a little bit sadder then I expected to be.  He was gone pretty much all of 2009, is out of town at least one weekend a month and has already gone on his first of three long work trips for the year.  I'm used to this for the most part and tend to think I'm quite the pro at having him be gone but apparently that is not the case.  I could already feel myself starting to miss him on my way back to work. 
We wore this baby out but he didn't complain
I'm glad I had a nice diversion to keep me occupied this weekend.  I went up to visit my big sis on Saturday.  We always have a ball together.  I got to her house at around 12pm and we were out the door with my cute little nephew in tow by 1pm.  We did errands, a little shopping and went to dinner.  We split a 1,400 calorie Chocolate Brownie Obsession at TGI Friday's.  Yep-they were kind enough to put that awesome number right there on the menu for us.  Then, we finally headed back to the house.  My nephew was so good the entire time.  We took him in and out of his car seat a million times and he got loaded up into his stroller over and over again but did not cry or fuss even once.  I still can't figure out how we managed to stay out so long.  We didn't get home until around 9ish and when we did we got comfy and relaxed while drinking Moscato wine (our favorite) and eating Haribo gummy bears (another favorite).  We only made it until 11:30pm before we were so tired that we had no choice but to go to bed. 

Sunday mom and dad joined us at Big Sis's house for a Dad's day BBQ.  More wine, Turkey Burgers and a bunch of other yummy side dishes.  We have so much fun spending time together that I didn't really want to leave.  But alas the work week lies ahead so at about 7:45pm I loaded up my car and hit the road for the 1 1/2 hour drive home.   I unpacked, showered, called Mj then fell into bed.  The weekend was great but it went by way too fast as usual.  After work today I forced myself to the gym to burn off the weekend indulgences and was so SO glad to finally get home after a long day and have another Monday down.  I got into my jammies as fast as I could, grabbed some food and happily settled down for some HGTV.  The only thing missing is Mj.  I'm so tired!  I'm definitely going to bed early tonight.

Define Soulmate

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:  A soulmate ( or soul mate) is a person with whom one has a feeling of deep or natural affinity, similarity, love, intimacy, sexuality, spirituality, or compatibility. A related concept is that of the twin flame or twin soul, which is thought to be the ultimate soulmate. In New Age spirituality, the ultimate soulmate is the one and only other half of one's soul. However, not everyone who uses these terms intends them to carry such mystical connotations
soul mate
a person with whom one has a strong affinity

a person for whom one has a deep affinity, esp a lover, wife, husband, etc
soul mate Noun
1.  A person ideally suited to another as a close friend or romantic partner

It really wasn't until I met Mj that the soul mate question ever really crossed my mind.  Up until then I was very doubtful of the concept and didn't give it much thought.  There is the life I led before Mj and the one I lead after.  The after is way better and such a stark contrast to the before.  I am a better happier person since I met him.  He literally saved me from myself.  The very fact that this person has transformed my life so much got me thinking.  If ever there was a soul mate then he must be it.  The answer you get when you ask someone about soul mates can be very telling about their relationship history.  It seems that if you have met your soul mate you know it and you are a believer.  If you have not then you aren't sure it exists and/or don't believe that you have met him.  The other question that comes to mind is can you have more then one?  If there is only one perfect soul mate in the entire world for you then the odds of finding that person are slim to none meaning that most who believe they have found their soul mate really haven't based on pure odds alone.  Makes sense, but I don't like those odds.  I think you can fall in love multiple times but all of those times won't be "real."  It's something you think is real and true at the time but don't realize it isn't until you have experienced it with a soul mate.

He is my heart
I don't think any of those definitions of soulmate do the word justice.  "A person for whom one has a deep affinity" could be anyone and a lot of  people at that.  A soul mate is more then a deep affinity.  It has to be.  I know there are mythical implications and I'm not really sure what I believe about all of that but I do believe that I have met my soul mate...whatever that is.  For me it means that I have met someone who is the perfect person for me in every way.  A person who I am meant to be with.  How else could our relationship be so easy and amazing?  How else could this sense of comfort, peace and certainty have washed over me despite all initial efforts to fight it? We have fun and enjoy spending time together. I am totally at ease in his presence.  There is no drama nor has there ever been.  I trust him completely.  There is this myth that relationships are hard.  Not only that, but that they are supposed to be.  If you believe this then maybe you haven't met your soulmate.  My relationship is not hard at all.  We don't fight.  We ebb and flow around and through each other as naturally as could be.  His strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa.  We are on the same page in so may ways.  We agree on a lot and what we don't is usually simple enough to resolve.  We know when to push or when to pull back without being told.  I find it difficult to even be mad at him.  We balance each other out in a way that makes loving him and being with him feel like something I was meant to do.  Does it annoy me that he has some sort of aversion to putting away his stuff?  Yes, but this amazing ability to love him deeply in spite of any flaw that he may have is somehow stronger then my annoyance.  Anything that comes with loving this man is worth putting up with and it hardly even feels like a sacrifice.  I may drive him nuts to no end but there he is every morning giving me a kiss before he goes to work while I'm still in bed.  We respect each other and I find him to be one of the the most handsome men alive.  Without a doubt I know that we will be in love and happy together for the rest of our life and that there is nothing that we can't handle together. 

Is this presumptuous?  Perhaps.  But it's the way I feel.  There is simply no doubt when it comes to him.  It is painful to even briefly summon the thought of what life would be without him.  I shake my head and push it away because of this feeling that life is not worth living unless he is by my side.  At times I am totally overwhelmed with this incredible feeling of love for him.  This indescribable wave of emotion that brims out of my heart and fills up my soul.  I am so lucky and happy that this wonderful person has been placed in my life.  Sometimes when he kisses me on the top of my head or gives me a tight little squeeze for no particular reason there is a moment of clarity where I say to myself, "Oh my gosh, he loves me." And it is such a thrill.  This is very powerful stuff!  I've been married before.  The first time around never felt even close to this.

He might be my soul mate but that doesn't mean that I can take him or our relationship for granted.  I'm not saying that challenges won't come our way or that there will never be problems.  Life is unpredictable and anything can happen.  Maybe we will eventually have an argument or something bigger to tackle but I feel that we are so well matched that we will be able to deal with it.  Together.  Having said all of that I still don't think I've defined soulmate but I'm ok with that.  Like Love it's a feeling more then anything else and experienced in so many different ways by different people that it cannot be fully captured or defined.  Words alone just don't do it justice.

Do you believe in soulmates?  If not, then why?  If so, have you met him?

Date Night Do Over

This was going to be an all day date.  I didn't know him that well so it could either go really good or really bad.  He did all the planning so I had no idea what we'd be doing.  He picked me up and we went out for pizza and go cart racing.  After that we went over to Walmart and bought kites before heading to the beach.  We flew kites in the park and then when it got really chilly we drove over by the water and talked in his car while we watched the sunset.  We never did make it to the movies that night.  That was three years ago but I'd say things went pretty well considering the guy that picked me up for what was to be our 2nd date is my now my husband.  I had so much fun that I wanted us to do it all over again.
Lunch time
Three years later it's June instead of March.  That's how long it took for us to work this special date into our Mj's travel schedule.  The first time Mj got a red light ticket on the way to lunch in what was to be our first official picture but this time after a quick stop at the car wash we got to Filippe's Pizza without incident.   The place has this mob type atmosphere about it and was totally unchanged from three years ago.  We even got seated at the same table where it took about 10 minutes for our eyes to adjust to the darkness in the windowless room.  Within 15 minutes we'd each ordered beers, small pizzas with our toppings of choice and some garlic bread.  We were both starving by the time our piping hot pizzas were brought out.  Forget about being lady like.  The pizza is so good that I didn't care if I looked like a pig last time and ate the whole thing by myself.  I planned on demolishing it again and almost made it but neither one of us could finish our last slice.  I can appreciate chivalry so I did not interfere with his desire to pay for everything before but this time I thought it might be a nice gesture to pay for lunch.
One for me, one for you.  Pizza & Beer.  Love it!!!
We went over to the Speedway next.  We were still in the system from three years ago (me with my maiden name) so we didn't have to fill out the release of liability forms.  We got into our race cars and waited for our signal to go.  Mj took off like a lightning bolt and had already turned three corners by the time I was just barely into my first.  As expected he lapped me.  The next time I saw him coming up behind me I sped up to try to keep him from passing me again.  I put up a good fight and held him off for a while but eventually he passed me up again.  He finished first and I was 6th.  Out of 6.  I get nervous going too fast around corners because it feels like I'm going to tip over.
Suiting up
Ready to Rumble
After that we went to to Walmart to get our kites.  As we walked in Mj said, "This was the very first place I ever held your hand."  I remembered and my little girly girl heart melted when he said that he remembered too.  After asking a couple employees where the kites were, two of which didn't even know what they were, we discovered that they had kite strings but no kites.  Huh?  So we got bubbles instead.  Don't all couples in love blow bubbles together?  It's June which means June gloom in So Cal.  So not only did the sun disappear as we got closer to the coast but after we got to Mission Beach I realized that the sun sets much, much later in June so even if it had come out we wouldn't have stuck around to watch it set.  We blew bubbles and cuddled on the blanket and enjoyed ourselves anyways.  When I got too cold for comfort we left.
Time for bubbles

Three years ago after leaving Mission Beach we drove by the mall with the idea of going to the movies and ended up chatting in his car with the engine running in the parking lot for about an hour instead.  We weren't sure what we wanted to see and were contemplating how crowded it would be.  I liked him but I didn't know if I LIKED him, liked him.  I had a good time and all but being out with him all day totally disrupted my normal exciting routine of staying in on weekends and I was ready to get home.  Not only do I like him now, I love him so I figured it would be OK to extend our date for another couple hours and this time we made it to the movies.  Bridesmaids was the perfect date night movie to cap off such a great date.  It had everything I love in a chick flick to keep me happy but was sprinkled with enough comedy and raunchy bits to keep him entertained.  I must say the date was even better this time.  We got to go home together at the end of the night and that level of comfort and love that I enjoy so much is already there. 

I hooked him on our 1st date at TGI Friday's.  We both ordered dinner salads and I think it was the 1st and last time I ever saw him do that.  He already liked me enough to plan on spending a whole day with me for our 2nd but it wasn't until our much simpler 3rd date at Souplantation that I fell in love.  I met him after work and watched him play a Basketball game then with him still in his gym clothes we sat there forever talking well after we finished eating.  There was nothing fancy about that date, but something about that night just did it for me.  Our 4th date was a gondola ride and the most romantic of them all but that 2nd date still stands out for me.  I thought it was so cute how he planned out all of those activities and at 7 hours it was the longest date I'd ever been on.  Maybe I hadn't quite made up my mind about him yet but it sure didn't take long.  The rest as they say is history.

I Heart Quesadilla's

I can still remember my very first Quesadilla.  I was in Mrs. Malone's class in second grade.  It was a bilingual classroom and one day our activity was cooking Quesadilla's.  When it was my turn I put the tortilla down, scattered the cheddar cheese on top and waited for it to melt.  Back at my desk that first bite was an explosion of cheesy goodness.  To this day I still think it was the best Quesadilla I've ever had.  I have a bad memory so I don't remember all that much from my childhood but for some reason that moment stands out.  I went home and told my mom I wanted her to start making Quesadilla's for dinner and I've been hooked ever since. 
My yummy Quesadilla dinner
It's a really quick and easy dinner and I'm all for quick and easy.  Cheese and tortilla only is fine with me but adding chicken or steak takes it up a notch and adds to the deliciousness.  And you can really add just about anything you want for variety. This Crazy for Quesadillas link has 16 interesting ways to make them.  I could eat Quesadilla's for 2 weeks and still have something a little different every night!   I have no problem eating the same thing every day especially if it's something I love.  I'd do it too-except for the cheese factor. It's absolutely one of my favorite foods.  Fattening or not I refuse let myself feel too bad about having it but even I wouldn't eat that much of it every day.  I can justify my cheese habit because it's high in protein and calcium.  It's good fat.  I've tried using fat free and low fat cheese but what is the point of eating cheese that won't melt?  Nope.  I want that gooey line of cheese between my mouth and my hand.  The fat makes it taste better and it's usually worth it. 

I've used Chicken before but Thursday night we used left over steak and added onions.  I had one with a Flour tortilla and one with a Corn tortilla.  Like a lot of foods it's much better for me to get my fix at home instead of a restaurant.  Their version can pack in 1,300 calories or more.  They load up on the cheese and grease up a giant tortilla...or two.  I'll only order one out if it's a reasonably sized appetizer portion.  My at home version is a fraction of that and just as tasty.  The hot gooey cheese....the crispy flaky tortilla.  It's Perfect.

Would You Give it All Away?

MSN Money: Millionaires Who Gave It All Away

Is it totally selfish of me to admit that never, ever in a million years would I give it all away?  I'd donate to causes I believe in.  I'd be generous to my family and friends.  But I would absolutely not give it ALL away.  If that makes me a bad person or selfish well then then color me bad.  Those who do are amazingly good hearted people who undoubtedly have brought a whole lot of good Karma their way.  Totally honorable, but darned if I'm going to sit here stressed and struggling and give all of my money away.  

I don't value and appreciate money because I want a mansion, a Marc Jacobs purse or a Mercedes.  I love to shop as much as the next girl and I enjoy quality but I don't necessarily covet designer things for the sake of it.  I value money for the sense of security and comfort that it can bring.  Even if I went to the same job, lived in the same house and drove the same car having that kind of money in the bank would still change my life.  It's called peace of mind.  If and when mayhem strikes an entire source of stress is eliminated.  I might worry about the incident itself but not how I'm going to pay for it and that is major in my book.  I love my life and I know how lucky I am to have it so I wouldn't mind if it stayed pretty much the same.  I can't guarantee that I would stay in my current job but I'd be working at doing something and it would be something I love.  I wouldn't have to worry about if I'll ever retire.  I'd probably take a lot more vacations and shop a bit more.  Heck, I might even have a baby.  I'm way too practical to be spoiled by money and the trappings of material wealth because I'm not after a high end life style.  I am frugal to the core so I don't think having money would change that.  I'm also a worry wart with a splash of OCD.  Money isn't the only thing that stresses me out but it's right up there at the top and every other worry seems to be a ripple effect of that.  You take money out of the equation and that eliminates at least 50% of my day to day stress.  I'm also a control freak and to me having money represents a greater measure of control over my life.  Because let's face it.  Like it or not, money is the currency that makes the world go round.   I'm sure I'd find plenty of other things to worry about if money were no longer an issue and I know that it doesn't buy happiness.  But neither does feeling broke. 

I've had quite a few daydreams about what I would do if I came into a lot of money.  Giving it all away wasn't exactly what I imagined.  I'd love to be in a position to help others and to do so would make me feel so good.  So, I'm sure I wouldn't keep it all but you can bet I won't be giving it all away.