Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The comfort zone

In order to become good at something, one has to consistently push themself outside of their comfort zone. And for once, I'm not writing about running. But about a deep personal frustration with my domestic "abilities".

Despite being a mother of a 2 year old and a full time step mom of a 9 year old, I often think I can get away with acting like a 19 year-old. Somewhere between my teenage years and my current life as a 30 year old wife and a mom, I missed that whole growing up and taking responsibility phase. A little embarrassing for a soon-to-be MD, PhD, ultramarathoner to admit. But I have always been good at pushing myself in academics and fitness, since I perceived those as important. However, when it comes to cooking and cleaning, my life is in shambles. When I got to college and I had never done laundry, washed dishes or even learned to how use a wash cloth, all my friends thought it was funny, but they also assumed I'd learn. Well, let's just say, I learned to barely get by taking care of myself, but when I was thrown into this motherhood of two and wife to crazy-busy physician and full time physician myself, I was not prepared.

I started this blog, Sea Legs Girl, to show people (including myself) that they should not be afraid of becoming a new person or of leaving the security of old habits behind. Just because I have spent a lifetime being a horrendous and lazy cleaner and generally unsuccessful cook, doesn't mean I can't change!

This blog is principally still going to document my journey to becoming the fastest female ultra runner in the world, but is now also going to document from time to time my domestic battles. And maybe even a domestic PR from time to time.

First I would like to document what happened when I decided to take control of the hidden and not-so-hidden "dust" in the living room:

Next, I had an idea for organizing our bedroom. This in "the running shelf", which I bought used at a bazaar. It is dedicated to running clothing, so we don't have to be digging through all of our other clothing to find the important stuff. My goal is that this will all eventually be clothing of a technical fabric nature, but that may require winning lots of races or running many races with Olga, assuming she'll continue to pass the same amount of clothing on to me :).

Finally, Natali had a friend over for dinner last night and I asked her friend what she liked to eat and the first thing she said was "spaghetti". Sounds easy enough, right? Well, I had never even attempted it before. Just to be clear, on those rare occasions that I do cook, I generally prepare Asian food. And I NEVER prepare meat, with the one exception of fish. But then, I found myself wondering if I really should embarrass Natali and get even more of a reputation as the crazy step mom or if I should just learn to make the stupid spaghetti. So I made it. And it had meat in it. Just to be clear, had it just been The Lorax I was preparing for, I never would have made meat, but Natali is old enough to have developed eating habits long before she met me, so I try not to give her too hard of a time, preferring that she most of all be happy. Not only did I make the spaghetti, but I did something else that is completely contrary to my food preparation beliefs, which is peeling. Yes I peeled the carrots, since Natali won't eat them unpeeled. After months of her not eating my carrots because they weren't peeled, I finally gave in. (Just as an aside, I would always leave the peels on believing that all kids exposed to the small amounts of bacteria and dirt, etc. benefit from having less allergies and acid reflux as an adult, due to this slow and safe development of their immune-system).

Here are the carrot peels.

Here are the happy kids eating spaghetti and a mother behind the camera claiming her first domestic PR.


mmmonyka said...


Ewa said...

I am so with you about peeling veggies. We try to eat organic and those I scrub well and my family has to put up with how I prepare them. They know better to complain.
I think importance of domestic skills is vastly overrated but I for one wish mine were better. It would take me less time to do anything in the house.
BTW, I am 52 and I am far, very far from being a good housewife. I figure (hope) I make up for it in other areas.

Barefoot AngieB said...

Nice job on the domestic PR!!
I have a therapist or a visiting teacher scheduled to come over about once a weeks so I know I have to clean at least that much!

Emily Pease said...

I agree about peeling vegetables, especially carrots. I used to love eating carrots "Bugs Bunny style" unpeeled and whole!

Great job on the domestic PR, although is that ketchup on the table being used as spaghetti sauce?

I wonder if Natali would accept a bit of spinach in the spaghetti? It adds a lot of nutrition without being too noticeable!

cherelli said...

Ha, well done! I am not the most dedicated domestic housecleaner around...I have trained Brett to put up with a few crumbs on the floor and I avoid vacuuming whenever possible. I don't separate whites from colours in the wash (figure if its cold water I shouldn't have to). But I have been working on my culinary skills a lot lately, it's kind of fun!

Diana said...

I think I read somewhere that there are a lot of nutrients in the outer layers of a carrot, so it's better to keep them unpeeled. If Natali likes them unpeeled, can you ask her to help you peel them? It can save you some time and teach her a valuable skill. Plus, you get the added bonus of together time in the kitchen.

I hope you don't get too frustrated that you aren't totally amazing at everything in your life. Besides, being good at domestic tasks is overrated. This is coming from someone who obsessively cleans and organizes, by the way.

Looks like everyone enjoyed the spaghetti. Delicious!

sea legs girl said...

Before the confusion gets out of hand: Emily Pease, that IS ketchup on the table, but it was NOT used as a substitute for the sauce :)! It is just a condiment Natali likes to add to everything, including spaghetti sauce. And I can assure you she would fish out any spinach I added, painstakingly.

Oh and Diana, she actually likes the carrots peeled. Maybe that's waht you meant, but you know, I just had to set the record straight.

Anonymous said...

Feel free to use the old phrase
"A clean house is a sign of life wasted"...



sea legs girl said...

Malene, oh, just what I needed: another excuse! Thanks ;). I do like the saying, by the way.

SteveQ said...

I'd send you my recipe for spaghetti sauce, but the continuous skimming off of fat would probably make you retch.

I get to claim bachelorhood for my domestic slovenliness, but I also have to admit I scrubbed my bathroom just before the plumber came during an emergency to disguise the worst of it - and it then just looked like it needed scrubbing. I've gotten better over the years; inmy youth, I though curtains and bedsheets were interchangeable.

I have 15 cardboard boxes filled with just running t-shirts. Can't throw them away.

Marathon Princess said...

This is great and sounds a lot like me except I love cooking as long as meat isn't involved. Cleaning, well that is a another issue :) My husband, the biologist, is with you on kids needing a little dirt to help build the immune system, his latest question is is it also helps in cancer prevention in a small way.
Oh, and to finish my PhD I need to do clinical hours in opthalmology, can I come hang out with you? Kidding, but would probably make the hours a little more interesting.

Helen said...

I'm looking forward to the next post where you describe teaching Natali and The Lorax to cook and clean. Though I guess teaching someone something requires the teacher to have knowlegde... darn - just trying to help out!

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sea legs girl said...

Steve Q, Of course I'd love the recipe. I adore cooking in theory, and even like reading recipes, but the chance that I'd actually use a complicated recipe is slim to none. But things may change. Nothing wrong with using curtains as bed sheets and vice versa.

Marathon Princess, interested research project your husband has there! I'll have to watch for related results. Please come to Denmark to do your ophthalmology clinical hours! It would be so fun. The people in my department are so nice. I know you're probably not serious, but just send an email if you are :).

Helen, oh trust me that transfer of very little knowledge is going to happen as soon as possible. Natali has already learned many of the essentials, such as setting the table and bathing The Lorax. And The Lorax has learned to pick up after himself and even use a rag to wipe his spot clean. So cute.