Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Let the Baking...End!

Well, that does it. I'm done baking. My husband isn't, but I am. Why? Because my hip decided it had had enough and 'twinged', making me hobble like someone walking on a teeter-totter. So I am listening to my body, and sitting this one out.

At last count, we had over 150 dozen cookies made. The chocolate chips were being demolished, so we need to restock. So my husband has taken the reigns and will complete the tasks. Meanwhile, I'll be making cookies platters and bags for the staff of the two schools my kids attend, as well as a snack for their classmates.

Two out of three parties were attended, and the cookies trays were a hit! People came, they saw, they devoured. Mostly the chocolate chips. I thought for sure the kids would go for the sprinkle cookies since they were so colorful, but little kids aren't as naive as I thought- they went right for the chocolate.

I also made peasant bread and two dips- one was spinach dip, the other was a warm pepperoni dip. Both were consumed in great quantities, but the pepperoni dip won out. I received a lot of requests for the recipe. There wasn't much left!

The last party is our open house, and I have no idea how I'm going to clean up for it when my hip is whining at me. I'm wondering if I can get away with playing supervisor, sitting on the couch like a queenly version of Jabba the Hutt, ordering about my family as if I were the boss. I am the boss when the hubster isn't home- but I would love to just sit there and be the queen bee whilst the house was getting cleaned up. But I know better. The moment the kids see me sitting, they figure they can sit too, then my husband has to light a fire under their keysters. So to save the drama, I'm best to be out of sight, out of mind, so I'll take my gimpy self somewhere else.

To the sewing room, Batman!

My sewing room is where the gifts are stored and wrapped. The room is off limits to family until Christmas. After that, it will become my sewing space again, and my no-cleaning sanctuary until the open house (which is between Christmas and New Years).

I just hope I survive.

Don't get me wrong- I love doing this each year! I love feeding the masses, I love all the company, and I love to see people having a great time. I would just like a little more time to do it all. Twenty-four hours in a day just isn't enough. Either that, or God gives me another body that isn't so gosh darn big to lug around! (like that's His fault and not mine for eating too many chips.) And if He doesn't want to give me a new body (yet), I'd request the metabolism of a hummingbird. For one month. Any more than that and I would slip down the drain when I took a shower.

So the baking of cookies is done for me, though I still have some bread to make. I love making bread. I love eating bread. I love giving bread away so others can enjoy it. So come over my house so I can give you some. And no, this time I'm not making eighty loaves. That's next week.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Let the Baking Begin!

We're in the home stretch of the Christmas holidays, and I'm baking as much as possible! We like to do this every year for special family and friends, and this year I plan to go all out!

What has been made so far:

30 dozen no roll sugar cookies with jimmies/sprinkles on them. Easy to make! I made these all in one day, while everyone was out with friends. My arms still hurt.

12 dozen powdered sugar shortbread cookies. I messed with the original recipe several times, and I'm getting closer to a Pepperidge Farm Milano style cookie. Not there yet, but close! I'm going to sandwich these together with dark chocolate anyway, so there's more like 6 dozen by the time I'm done- if I don't sample any.

What is planned:

Another 30 dozen sprinkle cookies. I have the dough made, I just need time to make them!

40 dozen Monster cookies. These are a no flour cookie made with oats, peanut butter, and chocolate chips (among other things), that everyone loves but I hate, so I don't touch. Oats and me just don't get along.

20 dozen chocolate chip cookies. This is a guesstimate, based on how much time I'll have to bake before I collapse- or the table collapses. Possibly even the floor too, since we'll be storing them in tins in the pantry to keep them fresh and out of little kitty paws. I've never baked around cats, and I found out that cats like to snatch butter cookies and taste raw monster cookie dough. Can't leave them alone for a second- even to answer the phone. Cats are now banned from the kitchen, and my daughter posted a sign to let them know. I hope they can read.

Basically, we're doing about a dozen dozen cookies- or is that a gross dozen? Not sure, but it's going to be between 140 and 150 dozen total. And most are going to go out as gifts for friends, family, and to gatherings like church, Christmas parties, and our open house. Most will be baked this week, if I have anything to say about it. My kids are concerned they won't have any by the time I'm done offering them to others. They like giving them out too, but nervously look back at the tins to see how full they are. I don't think they have to worry, do you?

Did I also mention I'm planning on making homemade breads too? Banana is first on the list, then some peasant bread and maybe some spinach dip and pepperoni dip. these will be the focal points of our goody baskets, as the breads are nestled into a pile of cookies like big, rectangular Easter eggs. I think we'll need a bigger car.

I'm still feeling it in my arms and shoulders. I'll be sporting some major pipes after this! Good thing all that new muscle will be covered in a feminine layer of fat. I don't want to get all bulky and stuff.

I figure as long as I bake the cookies and don't actually eat them, all will be well. Except for the Milanos. Those suckers are mine. Let them eat the oat bombs.

So, what are you doing for Christmas baking? Let me know at

Have a great Christmas and God Bless!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Common Courtesy...Isn't!

Whatever happened to good old common courtesy? I see some people doing things now that I would never even dream of doing! And much of it happens right outside my front door.

You see, we rent our home and the landlord has a huge shed in the back, with a driveway leading to it. We are not supposed to park in the driveway, so the only spot we have to ourselves is the one in front of the house. We also live next door to a daycare. Many of the patrons of that daycare (NOT the employees), seem to think that my parking spot and driveway are there for their convenience.

Believe me, it's not!

Most times I don't care if my spot is taken. I can either wait for the person to come out (most times it's someone leaving or dropping off their child), or park somewhere else- but I can't park in front of the daycare. The last time I did I received a thirty dollar ticket. Most times I can find out whether the landlord is coming that day, and use the driveway on his off-days. He's a pretty nice guy, but I feel bad when he has to come to the door and ask me to move my car.

For the past ten years things haven't been too bad- most of the time people are pretty understanding when I explain the situation and they park somewhere else. But this year seems to be the Year of Idiocy. People not only park in my driveway when I'm out, they park across my driveway, blocking me in! One time I had to take my sister-in-law to the ER and I was blocked in by one of the patrons. I yelled for the woman to come back (and why) and she had the guts to tell me she would 'only be a few minutes'. My sister-in-law has type 2 diabetes, so a few minutes could cost her her life.

Some days it's really hard to be a Christian.

Yesterday was one of the worst. I had a bunch of Christmas gifts in the back seat, with about ten minutes to get the stuff in the house, hide it, and get my daughter from school. I don't normally run late, but you know how it is when you are out Christmas shopping!

I returned home to find not only someone parked across my driveway, but someone else had double parked right beside him! Even if I'd found the first person, he couldn't move his car because of the second car. I'd had enough.

I walked into the daycare, asking in a very loud voice who the manager was. With me shouting the entire time about having asked people not to park there, we found the people involved and they moved. I gave the manager a piece of my mind and walked out, getting into my driveway as fast as possible.

But the story doesn't end there- not by a long shot!

I took the stuff in the house and ran back out to see... another car had blocked me in. This time it was someone dropping something off at the thrift store across the street. Why did I think living near businesses was a good thing? I yelled for the person to move (Hey lady, can't you see I'm parked in the driveway?) and this older woman came out of the passenger side seat and yelled- 'Just a few minutes'! By this time I had totally lost it and began yelling about people making me late to get my kids from school and the rude people who think I have 'Just a few minutes' of my time to waste.

"Where's your sense of compassion?" she yelled back. "Where's your sense of courtesy?" I retorted. "I don't park over your driveway, so please stay out of mine!" She waved me off and she and her friend took their time unloading.

Sometimes it's really, really hard to be a Christian.

I prayed for patience, because if I had prayed for strength, I would have hung this woman by her coat on the nearest flagpole.

Finally, they moved.

I jumped in the car, threw it into reverse, and started backing out- at least until another car parked across the driveway!

Okay, I'm taking a deep breath right now.

The guy sees I'm trying to back out. He sees that I just yelled at someone else for parking there. Yet he still parked. Then he backed up a few feet and waved me on, like everything was hunky-dory. Are you kidding me?!?

He left me just enough room to get out of the driveway at a really tight angle, and without another word, I sped off to go get my daughter. My hands were shaking. It was below freezing outside yet I was sweating. I had not been this angry in years. African bees would have been scared of me. I had to calm down.

Did you know you can pray with your eyes open? God doesn't always require you to keep them shut- especially when you're driving at the time. Nor does He mind if your teeth are tightly clenched- just as long as your praying to Him.

When I got the the school, I parked and prayed a bit more before getting out. No sense scaring the kids.

I wasn't exactly feeling peaceful, but at least I had stopped shaking. And I'd parked a block away so I could walk off the rest of my anger. By the time I reached the schoolyard I was fairly calm and felt I could talk to people without barking like a drill sergeant.

The driveway was clear when I came home, and my parking space was available. So I parked, then waited for my son at the bus stop. After he arrived on the school bus, I told the kids to go into the house- I had to make one more visit to the day care center.

I was buzzed in and went to the main desk. And I apologized for my yelling at the manager- after all it wasn't her fault these people were idiots. In fact she agreed with me about the situation! She has also warned the patrons not to park in or around my driveway, as well as leaving a space for their own school bus. She said she was going to alert the parking authority about the situation, as well as the problem times (dropping off and pick-up), because many people would double park and block the entire street.

I really hate the idea of people getting tickets over this- I know people are hurting financially, and I've been warning people wrongfully parking for a long time. They should know better. There are signs posted by the day care itself, warning of parking violations. The drivers just don't care, and to be honest, I'm tired of telling everyone.

It's hard being a Christian. Sometimes being nice isn't always the answer- On occasion, tough love is required to get the point across. And these people are in serious need of a wake-up call.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Bustle needs to Hustle!

Ever have one of those years? Ever have one of those decades?

We are the people everyone usually envies this time of year. We have the tree up right after Thanksgiving, the house is decorated nicely, but not overly so, and by now we have at least three types of cookies resting in huge tins to keep them fresh for gift-giving. Ninety percent of the gifts are bought, and the only things I usually have left to buy are the stocking stuffers and maybe some new ornaments for the tree that were on sale.

But that was over ten years ago.

Year by year we've done things a day later, then two days, then a week, and now I'm not so happy to say that we just got our Christmas tree. Not that that's a bad thing- many people get their trees as late as Christmas Eve, but for us, this is way too late- two weeks, to be exact. We'd planned on getting the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving!

So far we have the lights on it, but that's all. the house still bears a lot of clutter to clear before we even decorate, and the boxes of decorations are stacked about the floor waiting eagerly for someone to open them up. But not yet. They'll have to wait a little longer.

There are no cookies made yet, but I have most of the ingredients bought. There is a list, and I don't mean Santa's. I love lists. Lists are the best things in the world for someone like me who forgets things a lot. Now if I can only find them, I'd be in good shape.

I have a list for cookies I want to make, a list of the chores that need to be done, and a list for the goody baskets I want to make. But the oven is still a cold hole in the wall, because I have yet to make a single batch. Why? Because my kitchen also needs some straightening up before I start!

I should hire a cleaning service, but they can't do what I really need them to do- which is get rid of my clutter. They have no clue as to what papers are important (like my daughter's drawing of a dragon sniffing flowers), and I'd be afraid these treasures would be thrown out. Of course any bill would be happily tossed, if just for the liberating effect; my husband pays them online anyway, so the paper parts are only needed for filing. I consider the recycle bin the biggest of my filing cabinets. At least that thing gets emptied once a week! So hiring someone is out. I just have to get it done myself, or get the kids to help me. I'm not sure which would be more detrimental to my health at this point.

Sorry about the rambling....Back to Christmas.

Most of the presents are bought, thank goodness! I still have a bit more to buy than I usually do, and there's even some Christmas sewing to finish up. The shopping should only take a single afternoon (I'm a fast shopper), and the sewing projects are fairly simple- I just need to dedicate the time (about three hours total), and I'll be done. But then there's the gift baskets to make for family and friends once the baking is done, and the house to decorate before the baking. And I have two weeks. Maybe a little more than that, but still, I'm almost panicking here! And I hate running late for anything!

Parties are another thing. I have two to attend that are family affairs (and family parties are usually mandatory), and one we're having ourselves- but ours is after Christmas but before the New Year. We've made it a tradition to have an open house a few days after Christmas, just to relax and chat with friends and family- and it isn't mandatory. That week is usually my busiest, because I go all out in making party food; Handmade pie crusts tucked into mini cupcake tins for mini quiches, pigs in a blanket, those ham wraps with the pickle and cream cheese filling- you name it, if it's down home snacks that don't require capers, I usually make it. But then I'm too tired to enjoy my company!

This year will be different. I hope.

This year I plan on making (ahead of time of course!), homemade breads, savory dips, cookies, pigs in a blanket (they can be made ahead and frozen for convenience), dessert breads, and homemade chicken bites that are good hot or at room temp, so I won't be cooking all day. Everything will be prepped beforehand, so when I see something running low I can just pop whatever it is in the oven when needed. No forks, no fancy china- just pretty plates and napkins and a large trash can for easy clean-up.


I just hope to have the house decluttered by then! If not, then a lot of my stuff will be draped in lovely Christmas fabric from my quilting stash. Either way I'll have it covered (forgive the pun!)

I hope your Christmas isn't as hectic as mine! Take time out for a nice hot cup of cocoa (or anything chocolate!), and take a deep sniff of that yummy rich goodness God made especially for women, smile, and relax. Even if it's for five minutes. Think of me and be glad you aren't me (if you have less to do), or be comforted in the fact that you aren't the only Christmas nutball on the planet (if you have as much or more to do!) Then drink (or eat) that chocolaty yum-yum and get back to work! :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Beware the Squisher!

The worst thing you can find is a lump in your breast. The second worst thing to do is go get it looked at, because the doc will always say those four words that make any woman shudder - you need a mammogram.

My last one was five years ago for a good reason. It was my first and my last one, and not an experience I wanted to do again. But I had a lump, and I was afraid it would be something horrible. So I went to the boob squisher's domain and waited for my impending doom.

It didn't matter that there was a private wing just for women. They try to lull you into a sense of comfort when they offer you your very own little locker and a heated robe fresh from the steamer. Though I admit, that was a nice touch. But you always know what's coming- like I kid knows when it's time for a needle in the doc's office.

They told me they have state-of-the-art equipment now, and that it's not nearly as painful as in the past, because it's all digital. But machines have no nervous system, and no mercy. Me having a lump wouldn't matter to a machine that could turn my triple D's to triple Longs in a heartbeat. All at the convenient push of a button.

It's even more fun if you have a lump, because they need to torture you twice- once for the entire boob, then again with a smaller press to pinpoint the lump in question. And the technician had the gall to tell me not to breathe. Duh!

Afterward I asked her just how much of a masochist one has to be to qualify for her job, holding my now flattened mammary like a tender, half-filled water balloon. She found my jibe funny, but never answered. I limped back into the waiting room (yes, it hurt that much!), and joked to the others that I was an A cup when I came into the clinic.

Now I had to wait for an ultrasound. At least I knew this was not going to be painful!

I was gelled up and this little thing that looked like a lady shaver came into contact with my now tender breast, showing me all kinds of things I didn't want to see. Let's just say I stopped counting after she found lump number ten. All lumps under the first one, like a bunch of grapes. But thankfully none of them were malignant!

So being the curious person I am, I asked what those things were. Cysts, was the reply, the technician smiling and handing me a towel to wipe off the goop. "So if I get those drained, I'll be what, a C cup?" I asked jokingly. Of course she told me that it was possible that I could shrink a bit. Then I got an idea.

"You mean those cysts are just filled with fluid? And they'll shrink when drained?" I asked eagerly. She replied in the affirmative. I grinned. "Maybe I'm not overweight after all! Can you use that thing on my thighs?" I looked at her happily, hoping she would say yes. All I got in return was a laugh. Apparently I need a doctors note for her to goop and snoop again, darn it. I need to look further into this!

It's now late evening, and my lump(s) still hurt a little. So If you're scheduled to get a mammogram, beware the Squisher- and wear some really soft, comfy clothing. As for me, I'm going to take an extra soft pillow to bed with me tonight- after I limp up the stairs....*whimper*

Being Thankful For Boob Marbles!

I do apologize for not posting on any of my blogs as of late- you see, about a month ago I found a large lump on my left breast, and went into panic mode.

I hoped for the best, but planned for the worst. Sometimes it's a curse to have such a great imagination! The best scenario would be nothing was wrong, and I just had a boob marble or something stupid like that- whatever a boob marble is. I thought maybe I just banged it and had a bump that would go away. Eventually.

The worst scenario would be cancer- my dad had it (he adopted me, so it wouldn't have been hereditary), and our family went through hell both emotionally and financially. I swore I wouldn't do that to my family. I planned on writing letters to my kids for each of their birthdays as well as those special times like a first date, or driving the car, getting married and anything else I could think of. I wondered of I had that long to write all those letters to both of my kids, hoping I had enough time to bestow my words of wisdom on simple pages of printer paper. I thought of making a DVD as well, just so they would remember me as their mom who loved them very much. Just thinking of doing that made me cry!

But then I started thinking- did I want to leave this world sad and depressed? Did I want to go out angry? Neither seemed like the best way.

If God wanted me that bad, I figured I would go out laughing- being the positive person I think I am (please read the hidden irony). I had the funeral planned with me wearing a T-shirt that said "Shhh! I'm just sleeping!", and wanted to be buried next to my dad, whose headstone bore the single word meaning "male bovine bowel movement" (his favorite word in life). I still had no idea what to put on my own stone (though an arrow pointing to my dad's gravestone, bearing the words 'Yeah, what he said' was considered), but I knew it would have to make someone smile when they came to visit. That's how I intended on leaving this life, making people laugh as I made my way to heaven.

God had other plans. He used this as a wake-up call to get me back on track and back into Him. I admit that I haven't been the best I could be in His eyes, and we both knew it. But sometimes God has to be blunt to make a point, and making boob marbles is one way He does it. At least for me. I needed to sweat this out a little first.

This is what I have learned so far:

* I stopped putting off inviting people over because my house was messy.
* Both my husband and I made a list of people we wanted to invite to dinner, and will go down that list at least once a month.
* I am planning more lunch dates with friends. I'll no longer wait until I have the funds to go out- I can always invite them over to my messy house!
* Hug my kids and husband more often, and tell them that I love them. Every day, several times a day.
* Pray more. A lot more.
* People are more important than Facebook games.
* My husband and kids are more important than anybody on this earth.
And last but certainly not least:
* Be thankful to God for everything! Including boob marbles.

So please take these words to heart and accept my apology for not posting for so long!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Raiding the Candy Bowl

The Halloween candy was sitting there in my pantry, so out of sight, out of mind, unless I was craving a little chocolate. A piece here and there, and I was fine. But one day I reached into the bowl and got a surprise. The kids dared to eat some of their own chocolate candy! My survival instincts went into panic mode, and I found myself having several pieces each time I went to the bowl- and the visits were more frequent as each day passed.

I know the kids noticed, and my husband noticed too, but no one said anything. What happened next was claimed to be an accident. My husband said my daughter had left a honey jar at the edge of the shelf, and the lid wasn't on straight when it was knocked off, right into the candy bowl. So honey dripped into the bowl, covering everything. Sure it did.

I hate honey. And worse yet, I hate touching wrapped candy that's coated in honey. And they all knew it.

But I am a very clever mommy- honey washes off!

So now I grimace when I raid the bowl, but then I run over to the sink and do a quick warm rinse on the candy, then towel dry, and settle down triumphantly in my chair and crack open my cache of goodies. They may be smart, but I'm smarter. The only downer is when some of the water seeps into the wrapper, and I have wet candy to eat. But that doesn't happen often, and fingers can be licked clean, as long as there isn't any honey residue.

So I'll enjoy the run while it lasts, which might not be much longer after having taken a look at the remaining candy. Especially the chocolate.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Confessions of a FaceBook Addict

When I first went on FaceBook, I was a skeptic. Why on earth would anyone be on this thing for hours at a time, telling people about clipping their toenails, and other trivial things? Why let us know about your most recent fight with a loved one, or posting pics of your cat licking himself? And what was with all the games?

Then I played Farmville, and I was hooked.

I spent my days not blessing my family be cleaning the house, baking or doing all that mom and wifey-type stuff, but playing facebook games. The lowest point in my life came when I was online more than with my kids, and I was playing thirteen games simultaneously. Yes- thirteen games. All at the same time.

It became an obsession.

The house wasn't being cleaned, the dishes remained in the sink, and even making dinner was put on hold because my farm needed tending, or I had to dig just one more hole to find the treasure. I was bowing willingly to the idol that was facebook, as well as my computer screen. Even when I managed to get offline, I was still playing games I bought off of a game site. And my family suffered for it.

It took me almost a year to wean myself off of these games, by cutting down until I was playing three. Not bad, but it still could take almost three hours for me to 'get satisfied' enough that I could shut down the computer. The funny thing is, since I'm a freelance writer at home, I couldn't just shut the computer off all the time- most of the business of writing was done online too!

That was when my husband got me a laptop. I don't play games on it, and have no connection to the Internet. It would just be too tempting! I use a flash drive to transfer my writing to the main computer now, but even with this great technological advance in my home, I was still playing too many computer games.

Then something in my life changed. Sorry, I can't tell you what it is just yet- and please don't ask. Let's just say what happens next could be life changing, and not for the better. And no, my hubby and kids are fine- it's just me who's changing. The changes I've already seen in myself are amazingly good despite what's happening. People blossom in adversity.

I've deleted all the time consuming games. I admit I still play one, but I can play it within ten minutes, and I don't need a bazillion facebook friends to play it. No one will die, and I don't need to worry about time constraints. Canceling those games was a big step for me- like an elephant attempting a jump. (Elephants can't jump, but don't tell them that.)

My morning ritual consisted of being on the computer and telling the kids to do their chores. It usually wound up with me yelling, and them feeling harried and unappreciated. It was hard for me to keep my temper, all because I was playing a game that took precedence over my kids. And I never even realized I was doing it until this weekend! I knew I yelled too much at the kids, but I could never seem to stop myself.

This morning was different.

I awoke with a sense of purpose- that I would simply refuse to do anything today that wasted a lot of my time, I was going to spend time with the kids, and I would do my best not to yell. Please note I never promised I wouldn't yell at all- that would be a harder task than an elephant jumping!

I folded four loads of laundry, got more laundry into baskets for washing, and got the kids up and moving. As they ate breakfast with their dad I got dressed, put some of the folded clothes away and went downstairs after my husband left for work. I greeted my kids with a smile and kisses to their foreheads as they went upstairs to get dressed. The computer was on, but I passed right by and started straightening up the place a little. I was so tempted to sit there and play the games, but kept moving. I had to or I would be sucked into my addiction like ants in a vacuum cleaner.

When the kids came down for their morning chores, they were surprised to see me straightening up, instead of being on the computer. I even suggested we play some of the silly songs we heard on Youtube and other sites (the kids love Fred's- The BabySitter's a Vampire, the Gummy Bear song and the Crazy Frog Brothers), and they loved it! As long as they did chores I would replay their favorites, and we got a lot done. I only had to yell one time when they were paying more attention to the screen than to me, and I sat down once with my son because he wanted to do things his way, like not put his sneakers on until the last second before he had to go to school. Last week was a nightmare because he did this and ran late, so I sat him down and firmly told him this was not something under his control. I was Mom, and he needed to be ready for school, Period. In a calm voice. He actually listened. And I didn't have to yell.

In fact, when they did a chore well, I thanked them and kissed their cheek or hugged them. They loved it and beamed under the light of praise.

At the bus stop (which is right at my corner) I asked my son what he thought about this morning. He said he liked it. He liked that I helped and coaxed him to keep going, he liked that I played the music, and he liked that I wasn't yelling all the time. And he wanted it to continue, despite my lack of judgment concerning his footwear. He got onto the bus smiling and kissing me on the cheek.

I asked the same from my daughter as we walked to school, and the response was the same. She had fun doing chores for once, and liked the fact that I had helped and allowed them to play silly songs while we worked together. It was one of the best mornings I've had in a long time. And I didn't play a single game. I didn't even want to.

I came home and made something to eat, and only then allowed myself to play my one game. Ten minutes tops. And now I'm here making this post.

When something happens that changes your world view, it hurts to look back and see all the wrong you've done in the past, but it's really a necessary evil. You need to see what you've done in order to change things. Even passive wrongs like playing too much on a computer can do a lot of damage if not controlled. I might lose a few battles, because changing habits can be very hard to do- but the end result is worth more than gold to me. Today I was a real mom again, and not some game junkie who acted like she was a mother. Let the crops die. Let the animated treasures lie undiscovered. That doesn't matter. What matters is that my eyes are finally opened to see what I've been missing- real life with people who truly love me- and I have not been loving back the way I should.

I'm making changes, and I plan on sticking to those changes. Not just concerning games either, but life in general. No more being 'too busy' for inviting friends over for dinner. No more 'too tired' to snuggle with my husband. No more 'I have to do this first' when it comes to my children needing me. It just doesn't seem that important anymore. I've been too 'me' focused and 'thing' focused instead of 'family and friends' focused. And really, how much real love can you get from a computer anyway?

As for what's happened, I promise I will reveal what's been going on when I get more details and information. Until then, please pray for me and my family, and that I be a blessing to them as much as they have blessed me!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Son, The Literal Lawyer

I love my kids. I really do. But sometimes they can work a nerve so bad that even the most patient parents would lose it- and I am not one of those parents. This morning, my parental nerves got a workout they've never experienced before. Why?

Because my son is on his way to becoming thirteen, and he has Aspergers. This is not a good combination!

Aspergers is a form of autism that affects each child differently, so there is no 'one way' to handle it. Basically you need a lot of patience (something I don't have), and the willingness to explain things a thousand times without going completely mad (Sometimes I can do this, but for only so long before my lips become numb).
Aspergers affects the neurons in the brain, making them not truly understand the subtle structures of socially accepted behaviors. But it makes up for it by making the brain super absorbent concerning math, science or music. Many of our great inventors could have had Aspergers, now that some historians look back into their history.

I've been reading this great book called Parenting Your Asperger Child , and I've found out some interesting things. My son, whom I thought was a Rule Boy, is actually a Logic Boy. He is fantasy oriented and has OCD tendencies.

You think with all that interesting stuff, he might be more inclined to clean his room. But Nooooo! You see, if he was a Rule Boy, there would be no issue- I would tell him that he needed to clean his room, and he would, because it was a Rule. But Logic Boys have the infinite power of reason, so they don't need the rules as much- but they need a plethora (that means a lot) of reasons to do anything they don't like, before they decide to do it. And if my reasons aren't good enough, well, it just won't get done.

"Because I said So" doesn't cut it anymore.

"Because if you don't, you won't have ice cream" is better, but he'll also settle for some other type of sweet snack if he really doesn't want to do something. He also takes things literally, so anything said must be weighed and measured carefully, otherwise (in his mind) it will be written in stone, and I couldn't change his mind unless God Himself came down off of Heaven to tell him differently.

I've asked God to do that very thing, but He just chuckles at me. God has a weird sense of humor- that's why he came up with the platypus- just to let us know we don't know everything, and that life should be laughed at sometimes. And that moms really need to watch what they say to their kids.

And now my darling child is entering teenagerism, when kids tend to think they know everything anyway, but he now has a double dose of 'Know-It-All-itis'. One day he might be a great inventor, or a scientist- if he makes it to adulthood. And right now his future is a little shaky.

I believe he would make a good lawyer, but only for those tough cases that can't find any legal loopholes. I'm telling you, this kid can find a loophole in the most solid of rules. He's a 'think outside the box' kind of child. He's brilliant. But he's also a big pain in the butt sometimes. A lovable one, but still.

The room isn't the only war zone in the house. He argues about what I ask him to wear, what chores need to be done, how they should be done, why they should be done, and in what order they should be done. The same goes for cleaning up a room. I told him to 'straighten up the living room' and he took it as 'pick up everything off the floor and dump it onto the couch'. After a ten minute explanation as to why that isn't considered
straightening up the living room, he argued that what he put onto the couch was neatened, and took up a lot less space than it being all over the floor.

So in his mind, He did exactly as I told him.

I looked at the dirty socks and wrappers from a late Halloween snack and conceded that it all did seem quite neat- the socks were folded and the wrappers were smoothed and flattened, held by a pumpkin head trick-or-treat bucket. But that wasn't my point. Straightening to me was cleaning up and clearing out. But tell that to a twelve year-old with an 'I'm always right' complex. To him it was straightened, and no matter what I said, I was dead wrong.

Then we had The Great Debate concerning school clothes.

ME: (seeing him dressed in the wrong shirt) Please change your shirt- it's not the right one for school.
HIM: (huffs and puffs) Mooooom! It's dark blue! (coming close to show me, even though he is the one who's colorblind)

ME: (calmly) Yes, it's the right color, but you need to have a collar.
HIM: Mooooom! It's fine!

ME: I'm sure you can tell that to the principal when you get there.
HIM: (storms upstairs to change as I smile in triumph)
(At this point I think I've won- until he comes down in a navy turtleneck)

ME: Honey, that's not the right shirt for school.
(stomping of one foot, and a that snarky head toss teens give when the parental unit in question is particularly dense) It's the right color, and it has a collar!
ME: (trying not to lose my temper and duct tape his butt to the wall) Yes, it does, but not the right one. You need-
I know!
ME: You need a polo shir-
HIM: I Know!

ME: (has had it and uses the 'Mom' voice) Get upstairs RIGHT NOW and get on the proper shirt! And do NOT interrupt me again!
HIM: But-

ME: No buts! No arguing, no more telling me what the rules are- Go DO it- NOW!
HIM: (Stomps upstairs and takes his sweet time getting ready)
(fifteen minutes pass)

ME: (calls upstairs) Time to go! Are you ready?
HIM: (yelling from behind his closed bedroom door) I'm doing what you told me to do!

ME: How long does it take to change a shirt? It took you less than a minute the last time...
HIM: I know! I'm looking for a clean one!

ME: I just sent up a ton of clean shirts! You can't find one?
HIM: I thought they were dirty so I put them in the hamper!

ME: So get them out of the hamper!
HIM: NO! They're mixed in the with the dirty clothes now! I can't- Oh wait- I found one!

ME: (Thanking God for small favors) Hurry up then- It's almost time to go!
HIM: I know!

(three more minutes pass- on the verge of missing his bus)
ME: Come on honey! The bus will be here any minute! (HATES being late)
HIM: I know!

ME: (sees the school bus coming down the road) Now! The bus is here!
HIM: I know!
(sounding like a overweight elephant, he thunders down the stairs- we run out the door with him barely able to get on his coat and backpack as we run towards the corner)
(we get there just as the bus arrives, me wheezing like an asphyxiated moose)
HIM: (with a sweet smile, gives me a kiss on the cheek) I love you mom!
ME: (just gapes at him in surprise as he gets on the bus) Ah...bye Honey! Have a good day!
(five minutes later I'm walking my daughter to elementary school, glad to have the exercise to calm my nerves)

The relaxing morning I was hoping for was dashed to bits, lying amongst the debris of my living room floor. You see, the couch never was cleared off. The cats had found the wrappers and were busy playing with them as I was out with my daughter. I came home to shredded silver all over the rug, and two very happy cats. Then I sat down and started working on this post.

It isn't easy being a mom, and it sure isn't easy learning how to handle a child with Aspergers. I'm going to continue to read the book, and see if there's something else in there to help us communicate better. One thing I have to admire about him though is his tenacity- no one will ever stop him from doing what he wants to do- I just have to make sure he's on the right track when he does it!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Does Being Fat Really Mean You're Unhealthy?

In a word, No.

You hear it all the time on the radio and TV. Get fit! Be healthy! Well, I'm sorry health gurus of the world- I'm fat, and I'm healthy. If you look at my medical charts, I'm darn near perfect, at least concerning blood chemistry.

Take a look in the dictionary- the definition of healthy is having good health; well; sound. in fact, in my edition
(Websters New World Third College Ed.), it even says large and vigorous! That last one surprised me a bit.

The definition of fit is to be the proper size and weight; in good physical condition; healthy. Yes, it does say healthy, but if you look under healthy, you do not see the word fit.

What I'm not is fit. And there's a huge difference, if you excuse the pun. I can only run so far before I get out of breath, and I'll never win a triathlon at this weight. But being thin doesn't mean you're well, and that's where the problem lies. I can run circles around some of my thinner friends. Just because people are thin (though they may look good), doesn't mean they're fit. But people tend to lump together fit and healthy as if they're the same thing, and that's just plain wrong.

Let's take a look at my medical chart. My blood pressure is low/normal (I forget how it goes, but it's either 80 over 110 or 100 over 80) and my heartbeat is 60-70 beats per minute. In some health circles, that's close to being athletic! That is, if you don't look at my weight.

I have no issues concerning blood chemistry- sugars, cholesterol, triglycerides..all that good stuff is within the norm. I'm just under the bar concerning iron, but a little spinach or broccoli can fix that. I also have hypothyroidism, which means my thyroid is a lazy bum and won't do it's job- so I have to take a supplement to compensate. It contributes to being overweight to a certain degree, but it isn't the only factor.

And my weight? I am a svelte 312 pounds. Do I like being this big? No. Am I working on losing weight? Yes. Am I unhealthy? Absolutely not! And I know there are others out there just like me.

I walk two miles a day taking my daughter to and from school for a total of ten miles, and as a family we go for walks when we can on the weekends. I do eat more than my metabolism can handle, but I eat very little junk food. I cook at home (so I'm aware of every ingredient) and we have veggies and fruit aplenty in the house. In fact, I'm eradicating as much sugar from the menu as possible, and limiting how much my kids eat of it.

And thank the Lord, I'm hardly ever sick. And my family is healthy too. And I'm the only one who isn't a normal weight.

We need to realize that words have power. They can be used to manipulate others into thinking the wrong way about things. Being fat isn't the best body type to be, but that doesn't mean that person suffers from a ton of health issues. Being thin doesn't mean you don't suffer from health issues! In the past, insurance companies have stopped fat people from getting health insurance (or any kind of insurance for that matter), without even glancing at their medical history. All they saw was the weight and crossed us off as a risk. Laws are being passed now to stop this, but it will take time before people understand we are not a walking health hazard just because we're fat.

I'm not saying that there isn't an epidemic of weight gain in this country- I'm not saying that everyone should be fat, and that fat is wonderful- or that it doesn't carry some risks. I would love to be thinner- but I'm not going to starve myself to do it- or take diet pills, or skimp on meals. That would make me unhealthy in the long run! I'm just pointing out that 'fit' and 'healthy' are two very different animals, and should be treated as such.

My Daughter is on Youtube!

My daughter was asked to sing in church again! My darling husband loaded it into Youtube- isn't that cool? Here she is!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Life In the Fat Lane

I have to get a little serious here folks. There's something that's been on my mind for some time, and I wanted to share this with you.

Maybe you're seen my facebook photo. Maybe you're heard me talk about my weight in the past. But the simple fact is, I'm fat. And people seem to have no problem pointing that out to me- like I don't know. Being fat is something I deal with all the time and don't need to be reminded of, thank you very much.

Kids are especially insensitive, and though their comments hurt, I take them with a handful of salt instead of a grain because they're kids- and kids tend to blurt out anything that's in their heads. It's their nature.

It's the adults I want to smack upside the head sometimes. People really need to think before they speak, especially in front of others.

Here are some of the insensitive things that have been said/implied by strangers and friends that you should never utter to a fat person:

"Wow, you must eat a lot."- as subtle as this statement is, I overeat for my metabolism, but I don't actually eat a lot. I consume just as much as my husband does (he's a normal weight), but he has the metabolism of a jackrabbit.

"Is something wrong with you to be so...heavy?" - I suffer from hypothyroidism, which means my thyroid isn't producing enough stuff to make my metabolism work right. It doesn't help matters, but it's not the only reason I'm fat. Thanks for asking.

"Do you really think that will fit?" - It might, if I could wedge myself into that closet-sized dressing room. If I'm holding an item of clothing to try on, chances are I think it will fit. I'm usually a better judge of that than you are.

"You're eating an awful lot." If I asked you to be my diet buddy, or requested the assistance of the food intake police, this statement would be quite appropriate. However, it's not appreciated when I'm paying for my own meal and you're with me as a companion.

"Wow, you've gained weight!" Thanks, I never noticed. I was 110 lbs. this morning. Darn bee sting made me swell up. People who make this particular comment should be required to wear a fat suit for a week.

Some people use subtle gestures or body language to express their feelings about your weight. They might not actually say anything (at least until you bring it up), but a gesture is worth a thousand comments. Here are a couple of examples:

At a party someone was serving chips to those who were sitting around the room. She offered the chips to the person to my left, then walked past me and served the person to my right. "Excuse me," I said with a practiced smile. "I'd like some please." Only then did she offer me the chips, muttering "You don't really need these, honey." I don't really need to attend your party either, and I don't really need to give your daughter an engagement gift. Offer me the dang chips and mind your own business.

Sometimes I get dirty looks when I have something yummy like ice cream. It didn't matter that I hadn't had a cone in two years, or that I had just lost twenty pounds and decided to splurge on a few calories, but that people thought I was still 'too fat' to enjoy ice cream- like it was only for thin people. It makes me want to sit on their skinny little stick legs and break 'em. Or eat a bean burrito right before I sit on them- either one would work nicely for me.

(But I digress, that's a judgment on my own part. Skinny leg bones are the same size as my own- they just have less padding and girth.)

All I'm asking for is a little respect regarding my weight. I am not dirty, or a pig, and I'm certainly not a lesser being because I'm fatter than you. If I want help, I'll ask, otherwise just be my friend or offer me a smile if you don't know me. It will make us both feel good.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Days Off...Aren't!

Ever notice for us at-home moms that when the family has a day off, it's usually more work for you?

There's also more play of course, but you lose that 'so-and-so is not in the house so I can clean/bake/read a book' time. And good luck with trying to get them to help with the chores!

During school/work days, they all have their own chore assignments; yet when a 'day off' is declared, all bets are off- this is a day to be lazy. Except for the moms.

Clothes still need to be laundered before the pile gets up and eats the family pet, tables and floors need to be cleared of debris so the house isn't condemned, and food needs to be prepared so everyone stays alive. Oh sure, they could probably make their own meals, but they would likely consist of jellybeans, chips and chocolate, washed down with sodas that contain enough caffeine to make a tortoise win a triathlon.

You could just let them have all that junk (it's just one day after all, states your spouse), but in your heart of hearts you know it will take you a week or more to retrain them that 'all that junk' was just a once in while thing, and not the new daily meal regimen.

You feed them good meals with vegetables every day for years, yet they just don't get that this is the regular routine- give them a day of junk, and they think mom has changed her nourishing nature overnight, going to the 'Junk Side'. Go figure. And as loving as your spouse is, you can't leave him in charge- the last time you did, the kids had ice cream for breakfast.

And ice cream is about the only thing you can't sneak veggies into- ever try to slip some spinach into the ice cream maker and tell them 'it's the new mint'? Trust me, it just doesn't work.

Moms could just take a day off themselves, but the entire family unit would shut down within minutes. Cries of boredom would ring out, hunger pangs would send them writhing on the floor in agony, and injuries would be abundant because no one bothered to pick up their coats, bodies flying everywhere as they try to walk over them.

But no one can go to the emergency room, because nobody can find their socks.

So we moms must be diligent in caring for our families, even on those so-called days off. Maybe if we get everyone out of the house for a while (yes ladies, you need to go with them), and enjoy a day away at the park or just go for a drive, we moms can have a lot of family fun and relaxation too!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Life is Like a Sewing Room...

Okay, maybe not a sewing room, but certainly a room- take a look at any room in your house. Is there any space that you are completely happy with?

If you're like me, probably not- at least until you get that room cleaned up!

Sometimes our lives are so full of activity, that we forget to maintain things- and I don't mean actual things like dusting furniture and clutter- I'm talking about maintaining us.

Sometimes our inner selves resemble our surroundings. Mine was a cluttered mess (aka sewing room), not knowing where I wanted to be and getting lost in the mental mess; I can honestly say my house was reflecting the real me- sloppy and lazy.

I was sloppy in my thinking- saying things without giving a thought to what I was saying, waving others off if what they said didn't pertain to me or my interests. Sloppy in my heart concerning others- and God in particular. Mentally lazy because it was just too much work to change myself.

Then I went and cleaned that sewing space. And I learned a lot more about myself other than how to label items properly!

I found that I liked things where I could find them, and it was worth the work involved to get to that point. I'd also learned that it's much easier to maintain the space once it's neatened. But how was I going to do that, when the problems were inside my mind?

Clearing out mental clutter has to be one of the hardest jobs on the planet- especially if you're a writer like me, whose mind is always going in different directions! Even my ideas have ideas sometimes, and I tend worry a lot- mostly about silly things that will never happen. So the first task to do was to clear these thoughts out, and focus on what was important to me. Really important.

I'd made a list of all the things on my mind, then started crossing off the least important ones first, moving those items to a new list to be tucked away for later. Then I kept narrowing it all down until three or four remained. This was my Focus List.

Then I jotted down everything I wanted to change about myself under each listing. Not too many, but enough to get started. I could fine tune later. Now I'm working on each change, one day at a time. Any other things that clutter my thinking get written down and put aside. I'm decluttering my mind!

The best part is that once I'd gotten the ball rolling, things started to click together! You see, when fixing once aspect of your life (or house), it tends to trickle down and effect other areas in your life! And the work gets a little easier each time.

One thing to keep in mind though, if you plan on doing the same thing- unless you're living alone, things will not stay neat, nor will they ever be perfect. Kids and a husband are people I can't control (okay, the kids I can- but only to a certain point!), so I can't expect everything to be just as I want it. But I can control how I react to clutter and interruptions, and whether I decide if it's going to get me off track or not. And most times I have decided not to let those things sidetrack me.

So life is more like a sewing machine- everything stays together much better if the stitches are straight!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Job Well Done!

Everyone say it with me- WOOHOO!

I'm finally finished cleaning my sewing room!

Yes folks, it's official- everything is where it should be, and if it didn't have a spot, I put it out on the porch. I have a lot of stuff on the porch now!

I never realized just how much clutter I was clinging to until I started decluttering and leafing through my craft books. Many of the books are brand new (or close to it), and I've hardly cracked the spine on them! Not that they aren't good books (many of the quilting books)- I just have too many with similar patterns or crafts. So I gave them up, along with a lot of craft stuff.

I might just be selling it all soon- I'm not much for yard sales, but I was thinking of putting an ad in the paper or online. I think I have close to 50 books!

I really need to learn how to add pictures to this blog so I can show you my 'new and improved' space! The room has really opened up, and every container is labeled and stacked for easy access. I love it!

There's really only one problem now. Have you ever cleaned one shelf, only to notice how shoddy the rest of the cabinet looked? So you do another shelf, and another, and pretty soon you're restoring the entire room! Well, I did an entire room, and now I want that to happen in the entire house! No more sticking stuff in one spot because it doesn't fit into another, no more hot spots for clutter....I couldn't imagine having one room like that, no less my entire house!

When I had finished cleaning, it felt as if a huge weight came off my shoulders- and I liked that feeling. Even my kids were impressed when I showed them! But the entire house? No one is in my sewing room but me, so that's much easier to control. But with three other people using all the other space, I have a hard time seeing that happen- at least for more than five minutes.

The hardest part for me is maintaining the space- which should be the easiest when you think about it! But I usually wait until my life is threatened under piles of falling debris before I do anything. A bad habit I know I have to break, but there it is!

For now, I'll take refuge in my nice, neat, clean sewing/writing room when I get too overwhelmed. I have to be there anyway due to so many projects, so I don't think that will be a problem!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Spring Cleaning- in the Fall?

I admit it- I'm not the best housekeeper. I hate cleaning! But I hate clutter more.

Last week I got fed up with my sewing space- things were too cramped and stuff was piled everywhere, some piles leaning farther than the Tower of Pisa. Some had decided to take the plunge entirely, scattering
supplies and fabric about my floor like giant confetti. I had to do something.

I found my stash of graph paper and sketched out a rough layout of the floor. Then I guesstimated the size of the furniture, making little rectangles of paper that represented my sewing machine, table, bookcases and cabinets. I toyed with them for a bit until I came up with the perfect layout for the room- and of course almost everything had to be moved!

I happen to be blessed with the most supportive husband in the universe, and he agreed (with a muttered 'about time!') that I did in fact need to revamp the space. I made plans for a writing space too, because I was tired of my writing materials being scattered about the house. My husband heartily agreed this was an excellent idea, since my writing projects were often mixed in with his piano music!

There was one stipulation though- He said I was going to be the only one to touch my supplies- he refused to take the blame for anything that got misplaced or wound up in the same void as the socks go when doing laundry. I agreed (since I don't like anyone touching my stuff!) and rubbed on some elbow grease and got to work.

Clearing and cleaning is one thing, decluttering is quite another! I found I'd kept a lot of stuff I would never use. So I started a new Pisa tower of patterns and other supplies, boxing them up before they fell over and killed someone. I am now 90% finished, and the unwanted supplies are happily sitting on my porch awaiting new owners- once I place an ad. I want the room to be finished first though- you know how it is...You think you're all done, give away all the stuff, and just when you finish organizing, you find just a few more things that could have gone out too.

So I'm waiting. I should be finished this week!

I'll be so happy when I can finally open the windows and get some of that fresh air I talked about in the spring- but why do I always manage to finish spring cleaning in autumn??

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Life in the Super Hectic Lane

I have to admit I'd never thought I would ever be in the fast lane of life. I'm a homebody most of the time, and like life to move along at a nice pace. However, I can still say I'm not in the fast lane, because I blew past that lane a while ago! I'm now in the lane of the Super Hectic, going so fast my poor mind can't seem to keep up.

The past two weeks especially!

The quilt is almost finished! I should have that done sometime today, but today is also Grocery Day, and of course it's 96 degrees out. I wasn't going out because of the heat today, but other obligations outside the home have warranted me to be out and about- dagnabbit!

A few months back the car broke down on a hot day similar to this one (alternator blew). But I believe I failed to tell you that last week on the same stretch of road, I broke down again! This time the coolant decided to blow all over, making the engine smoke. Using skills that would even impress those at NASCAR, I drove, turned off the engine and coasted, stopped to cool the engine, started and shot forward, and repeated this until I got home. It was a triumph I hope I never have to do again, but I was very glad God got me through it without a mental breakdown!

We found out that hose and a temp gauge needed replacing. It cost a whopping 15 bucks to fix it all. After all that, you can't tell me there's no God!

However, I might be taking a different route to the store- that road seems jinxed!

Blessings were in the mix though- I had silently prayed that God would give me some kind of indication of what He wanted me to focus on in life- other than the mom and wife stuff. You see, I have been struggling with whether to focus on sewing or writing as an at-home career, and simply couldn't find my way. So I decided I needed a little help (okay, a lot of help) from Him.

I asked Him to show me a cardinal if He wanted me to write, a Blue jay if He wanted me to sew, or a white dove if He had other plans- and I left it at that.

So when Grocery Day came along, I had forgotten all about my prayer until my daughter pointed out a pretty bird in someones garden as we drove by. It was a bright red cardinal! I love it when He answers prayer!

Now it's the week before the kids go to school, and I have organized their clothing and supplies so they'll have what they need when the time comes. My son is going to middle school for the first time. Because he has Aspbergers, there will be a yellow bus stopping door to door from the house to the school, which is a great relief to me! My son loves to talk (he takes after his mom), and I seriously doubt he'd have made the right stops if he had to use public transportation. I could imagine getting a phone call later that first day..."Sorry about this Ma'am, but your son seems to have gotten chatty and was dropped off at the bus terminal...can you come pick him up?"


I still have to get the schedule from the bus driver, so I know when he's supposed to be ready. It could be as early as 6:30, from what I hear- but I hope not!

And I completely forgot this was a three day weekend! See what I mean by Super Hectic? You know you're going too fast when you forget there's vacation time coming up! Okay, so it's not my vacation time (we haven't had one in twelve years), but my husband is going to be off from work. No 5:30 alarm, and no place to go- we invented the 'stay'cation before they had a word for it! But what a blessing it will be to be able to get off that Super Hectic highway and go on the back roads to do a little sightseeing with my husband for a while!

So if you are like me and cruising the Super Hectic highway, you know there isn't much time to smell the roses- or even see if there are roses! So this weekend I offer you a challenge- take at least two hours for yourself and do something that doesn't require 'accomplishing' anything. Read a book, people watch, play with the kids (although that is accomplishing something, anything fun doesn't count as work!), and do something to let your mind and body relax.

I plan on sleeping late and taking a walk in the park with my family this weekend! Just get off the highway and enjoy yourself!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Devil's Playground

Sometimes when you think things are going so well, the devil pops up with a big bat to mess you up. And lately, he's been popping up in my kitchen!

This past Thursday was my husband's birthday, and I baked and cooked all day to celebrate for when he came home. I did some cleanup on Friday, but just ran out of time to finish everything!

Saturday came, and I wasn't feeling well, so my husband was stuck doing about twenty dozen cookies for a friend's wedding reception, as well and the homemade lemonade and homemade iced tea for a special punch I make for the day of the wedding. Now if you remember anything I've told you about my husband in the kitchen, you'll remember that he always makes a huge mess- I don't care of he's making himself a cup of tea- he will use every pot, pan, and utensil to get the job done.

I was too busy to notice this at this time because I was not well, and then we had to get up Sunday for church, and zip over to the church where the wedding was held to setup the cookie tables and punch. Others had baked too, so I set their cookies onto fancy trays and readied punch bowls.

After the wedding, while the bride and groom were receiving and welcoming people, my family (yes, even the kids!) were working the tables getting glasses of ice, making the punch, and doing any last minute stuff to make sure everything looked right.

People came...and came....and came! Glass after glass of punch was taken, enjoyed, and refilled, and I had just managed to keep ahead of the crowd of guests. I loved every minute of it, but I never really got to talk to anyone unless they were in line. But the punch (and our efforts) was really appreciated!

One thing I wasn't expecting was that we had to clean up afterwards. No one told us (I was just asked to setup) but apparently if you agree to setup, you agree to clean up as well. When we finally finished and had the car loaded, I just wanted to go home and relax.

This was simply not to be.

The devil took that darn bat and managed to dirty almost everything in my kitchen. Cookie trays were piled here and there, mixing bowls and other odds and ends balanced upon each other like culinary acrobats, and we had yet to empty out the car which was also filled with things that needed washing. And there was no dinner to eat either.

I found that when truly desperate, fast food can be a wonderful thing! So that's what we did. Eagerly. Because cookies and punch do not a full tummy make, especially since one has been working a cookie buffet for the past three hours.

Don't get me wrong here- I truly loved doing all that we did! We love serving people food and drink, but we had hoped to do a little mingling too. And then coming home to a kitchen that looked like the Devil took a baseball bat to, well, that can be more than a little disheartening!

The good news is, I have been chipping away (sometimes literally!) at this mess and have it almost under control. My kitchen will be clean once more by the end of the day today! At least that's what I'm hoping for- we have a dishwasher, but most of what I have to clean is either too big to fit or has to be hand washed, like my non-stick pans and bakeware. I have decided to let them air-dry so I can get some much needed sewing and writing done....

...Like this blog!

I was watching snippets from Will Smith, and he said something that really clicked with me, especially since I can get very overwhelmed concerning big projects. He said (and no, I'm not quoting) that his father came to him and his brother when they were young boys and wanted them to build a wall. They were daunted by the task, but he told them that all they had to do was build one brick at a time, and make that brick the best laid brick you could lay. It took them over a year I believe, but they did complete that wall!

My problem was I was focusing on the entire kitchen, when I should have focused on a single dish. Not even a sinkful of dishes- just do one dish at a time and you can get to where you want to be- with work. I need to write that man a letter!

My kitchen will no longer be the devil's playground- he might try to mess it up, but the next time he shows up with his bat, I plan on God helping me snap that sucker in half- and sending the devil home with it!

Hmmm....Once the kitchen is finished, I wonder what God wants me to chip at next?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Slow and Steady Wins the Race!

You might recall in March that I declared war on clutter. Honestly it was more of a fistfight, but my intentions were to declutter the house that month and never have to do so again. Hah!

I am a borderline hoarder, and what I originally thought was decluttered, wasn't. In fact, everything was still a mess! Just a neater one.

Remember the tale of the tortoise and the hare? I can tell you that I am not a hare (perhaps a little hare-brained, but definitely not the fast-paced creature in the story), but more of a plodding-along reptile that can never seem to gather any real speed when it comes to things that don't interest me- like cleaning.

Now it's the middle of August, and I'm still working. My house is not a simple one-month project like I'd originally thought. But I do have some good news!

Thanks to the help of my kids (yes, I taught them help clean too), my arch nemesis, the kitchen, has been completely transformed into something I'm happy to cook in! Straightening up simply wasn't working. The reason? There was just too much stuff to work with!

I love kitchen gadgets, and collect them on a regular basis (read: collect=hoard). Things were starting to pile up, and I was quickly running out of room in my tiny kitchen. No amount of 'neatening up' would work, and I was tired of tripping over things. My family was too.

The little bit of counter space I had was cluttered too, and things began to navigate to the stove top. Not good when you're cooking almost every day! I became tired of moving things around to cook, and I wound up shifting things to the floor- then tripping over them.

Now you see why I call myself a borderline hoarder! 'Borderline' only because I decided to do something about it before it overwhelmed the entire house and turned into the next feature on that popular cable show, Hoarding.

The first things me and the kids did was remove everything off of the kitchen floor. This was no small feat, and soon the dining room bore the clutter removed from the kitchen. This was just to see how much stuff was on the floor, and how much space I had to play with in the kitchen. I had twice the space- and that wasn't including any of the removable storage I had. That was emptied too- I was not only cleaning, I was decluttering as well. All if it made a pretty impressive pile in my dining room. One I could no longer ignore and shift around.

It took a total of three days to complete the process, but it was done at long last! The local thrift shop was bestowed with appliances I had yet to use (and probably wouldn't have used in the next ten years), and the things that I use a few times a year are now in my storage spaces, the regular use items are sitting on my shelves within eyesight, and the clutter is completely off the floor. The only things there now are my trash can, a big bag of potatoes, and a serving tray we use for snacks for the kids when we have a movie night. The floor was swept, scrubbed, and mopped until it shone. It still amazes me just how nice this kitchen that I used to hate turned out.

The clutter on the counters (that didn't go to the thrift store) were stored as well, and that left enough room to prepare a meal. Oh, I could do meal prep before, but now I had enough elbow room that I didn't knock anything over!

I celebrated by cooking a huge pot of soup- large enough so I don't have to cook for at least another day or two, just so I can finish clearing out and cleaning the rest of the first floor.

I went to bed exhausted each night, but greatly satisfied that we were finally making an impact. I never realized just how much it bothered me to come downstairs to a messy house. I smile when coming downstairs now, and not tripping over stuff feels really good!

Though things are still coming along slowly, they are coming along- at a nice steady pace. And that, my friends, really does win the race in the end!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Summer, Schools, and Still Sane!

Okay, so maybe not-so-sane, only because I just finished my back-to-school shopping. Egad, I think I spent as much as the government spends on solid gold back scratchers!

But I digress. Sort of.

Picking up where I last left off in my last post, The quilt is coming along nicely! I hope to get a picture in the Ruby for Women blog, and possibly more in the issue itself. I thought there might be a little too much color in this quilt, but I was very pleasantly surprised!

Unfortunately, the 'almost finished' baby quilt is still in that particular phase, and will remain so until I get a few more obligations done. Then those baby UFO's (UnFinished Objects) will be dealt with and sent to someone other than their maker (insert evil chuckle here).

As for the cookies for the bride, once I told her that a 'small' group of 200 guests means at least 1000 cookies- something I had no time to bake. She gave it some thought and realized that some of her guests were diabetic. She also has a few more baking volunteers, so we will only be doing one large batch of monster cookies (about 20 dozen). She decided that there will be cracker and cheese trays for those who can't have sugar. Whew!

Summer has been zipping by faster than a woman driving to a 90% off sale, and I had to kick those messy gnomes out of my house. With a group effort (me and the kids, not the gnomes), we managed to get part of the house looking decent- just don't walk past the dining room. The kitchen was invaded by gnome ninjas during their weapons drill, and I'm still trying to clean up the mess. Darn gnomes!

Of course, as you all know when you houseclean and declutter, the moment you finish, you get inundated with more stuff. Like school supplies. Mountains of them. And guess who has to pay for it? Certainly not the ninja gnomes in my kitchen!

It still surprises me every year just how much these supplies cost. Some of the things on the list seem silly to me, like a calculator- and not just any calculator- a certain brand and model! Why aren't they learning to do math in their heads like we did? And why do they have this thing called 'the new math'? Wasn't the old math good enough? When my child needed help with math last year, I told him to call his teacher- I think she was the only adult that understood the darn stuff!

I can't imagine what will happen in sixth grade- some of the stuff he was learning last year were subjects I didn't get until high school! Like algebra, for instance. What fifth grader can use algebra over the summer? Unless he was trying to calculate just how many gallons of water filled the public pool, I just don't see the logic in it. But maybe that's just me.

And they say it's the kids who have homework. Hah!

In the meantime, I'll spend my time sewing, cleaning, and swimming with my kids in the public pool (after he calculates the water used) until summer ends and the homework begins. Maybe if I still have the ninja gnomes, I can get rid of them by making them help with homework! I can see the note to his teacher now...

Dear Teacher,
If there are any errors in my son's homework, it is because the ninja gnomes simply didn't commit to the task and ran screaming from the house. Please excuse my son from homework for the rest of his life, to spare his parents from going to the loony bin in purple polka dot straitjackets, mumbling gibberish about algebra and the new math.

Sincerely Yours,
A Desperate Parent

Yes...I think that would work! Don't you?

Now I have to go sort all these supplies out before the kids get their mitts on them. Have a blessed day and enjoy the rest of the summer while you can!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Time Flies When You're Busy!

Gosh, has it been two months already? I have a reason for being so late, Dear Readers, really I do! Lots of stuff has been happening, and all of it good!

Exhausting, but good!

After the cleaning spree I soon ventured back into the world of sewing- once I could make a path through all the stuff I had piled there from cleaning the rest of the house. I'm really beginning to think gnomes have invaded my house, and brought their stuff with them to use as rent!

Yet it looks like all my stuff. Strange, isn't it?

Well, I found two baby quilts I was supposed to finish and so far I have one almost done. I would have had both finished by now, but I was seriously sidetracked by life in general.

My son has Aspbergers and just graduated elementary school, so I had to find a middle school that had autism support in place, because the school he was slotted for didn't have such a program. So I spent most of June searching for the perfect school for him. And yes, I found one! YAY!

I had also volunteered to be head cook at our church's Youth In Action Camp that started the week after school ended, cooking for all of the counselors. Forty of them. Three meals a day.

I survived!

I survived with a smile on my face, and forty very hungry counselors were sated. I was even given a round of applause at the end of the week for my efforts!

But was that all Ladies and Gentlemen? No! I was also asked to help out for lunches during the second week, because the head cook that week was lacking in helpers. So I was quite the busy bee- and I loved every minute of it!

Then we were invited to a wedding, and I know the young bride well enough to make her a lap quilt. She's one of those special people that understands and appreciates the art, so I will work my hind off getting it done for her in time.

She is getting married in August.

There is a reprieve though- I was told she's having an 'official' reception two weeks after the wedding, and I was told I could wait until then to gift my quilt, because the bride wants to show it off to everyone. I asked why she wasn't having a reception the same day as the wedding, and she said she was- but it was just for the small group of wedding guests only, because of lack of funds. She was going to have a cookie reception the day of the wedding. I had never heard of that, and thought it was a fantastic idea! Then I wound up opening my big mouth and asked her who was going to make the cookies.

I forgot that she knew my husband and I are home bakers. So guess who is making the cookies for her guests? I even offered to make her a giant 14" chocolate chip cookie as a centerpiece. I'm wondering if I should become a professional caterer at this point. I seem to enjoy feeding the masses!

I also have a few other sewing projects slotted for customers, as well as little side jobs such as mending and replacing buttons on clothes. Not to mention I am writing for Ruby too!

So now you know what I've been up to! You'd think I'd lose weight doing all this, but I haven't had a chance to weigh myself. The last scale I owned had a serious defect- especially after it accidentally flew out of my bathroom window.

So we'll just say I lost weight and leave it at that!

The kids are finished camp now, and I will be spending a lot of time with them too- but I hope I'll have time do finish all this work before the summer is over! If I do, it was all God's doing for slowing down time for me!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Footprints is MOVING!

After having long and fruitful conversations with my editor Nina, Footprints in the Mud will now have a new home- in Ruby for Women's new blog! I will be posting other thing as well, like hints and tips for crafts, home, and kids, as well as articles and blurbs to entertain and inform. I do apologize for the lapse in posts as of late, but this was too big not to be a part of! Hope to see you ate the new blog!

Here's the link:

Have a fantastic day, Dear Readers!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Just a Note...

Due to some potential changes (good ones!), Footprints on Facebook will not be running this week. I hope to bring something wonderful to you soon, but these things take time. So sit back, relax and finish off your chocolate bunnies and jellybeans (you know, the ones you snuck out of the kid's baskets when they weren't looking!)- it won't be too long before Footprints returns!

Thank you so much for visiting- it is very much appreciated!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fried Brains, Anyone?

I used to have a fairly decent brain. It worked well in 'the olden days' (back in 2009), but I think I've overused it. It's now looking like a shriveled raisin, with the memory capacity of an Atari 64 processor.

It must be all the latest changes.

Not only am I trying to do the mom thing, the wife thing, the weight loss/healthy eating thing, the writing thing, the sewing thing and the house care specialist thing (I like the sound of that much better than saying the housework thing!). There are a few other 'things' I could mention, but I risk an overload if I do- besides, I've already forgotten them!

And now comes the worst part- the scheduling thing.

Don't get me wrong- I actually like making schedules- I'm just no good at keeping them. At least until now.

A little advice here from one who knows- When making a schedule for yourself, it tends to be much harder than doing so for someone else. Why? Because, as humans, we tend to overrate ourselves personally. We just know we can do so much more than Ole whats-her-face in the next room. So we overschedule, and wind up with fried brains and a worn out body that's crying out for chocolate.

You need to sleep, you need breaks, and you also need a good healthy dose of perspective. You have to know what you're truly capable of; if anything you should be underestimating yourself when it comes to making a good schedule!

One thing I've learned through the years is to have a little breathing room penciled in on the list. That way if you're running a little late in one area, you're not up to your armpits in unfinished tasks by the end of the day. Ask me how I know.

You also have to have a sense of proportion as well- sometimes I just can't do all I want to do that day. I might have to reschedule it, or I might just have my husband or the kids chip in to help. Both ideas work well, and I still get my goal accomplished sooner or later.

Patience is indeed a virtue, and not something I possess in massive amounts. But it's a muscle I've had to stretch and strengthen a great deal as of late just so I can remain sane. Why? Because sometimes things happen that get in the way and capsize even the most organized of schedules.

Like the kids getting half days. Or Easter break. Or my husband has to work late. None of this stuff fits into my regularly scheduled program, and my brain turns into the Emergency Broadcast System, flat-lining with that dull monotone signal that says "Sorry, my brain is not here right now, but if you leave a message, I might get back to you- if it decides to come back. This is not a drill."

Being patient and flexible has saved my scheduling (and my sanity!) many times. Especially around the holidays.

For me, I have blocks of scheduled time I use to get things done, and in between those blocks are the 'flexibility minutes' that help keep me on track. Those minutes are spent walking the kids to school, doing errands, or having a little computer time to myself.

Don't forget to also allow some time to relax. And time to get used to the new schedule.

One of my very bad habits is that I do something for a week, decide it isn't for me, and let it go. You have to think of it like getting on a treadmill for the first time. You're using muscles you rarely (if ever) used before, and it will take more than a week of you doing it to see if it's a good fit for your day. I suggest you try making out a schedule and doing it for a month- write down things you might want to tweak a bit, but stick to it as much as possible. After the month is up, redo it if you need to and have another go. Pretty soon you'll find yourself much more productive- and a lot happier!

This week has been a hard one, but I know it'll get easier as I go. I'll refresh my poor little raisin brain over the weekend, and do it all over next week.

So...who's with me?

Remember that you're not doing this just for you, you're doing this for your family and most of all, God. And if you start getting a raisin brain, just take a deep breath, and thank God for chocolate in all it's glorious forms!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Conquering Clutter!

It always happens in spring- the air becomes warm, and you want to open your windows- but you can't, because all kinds of miscellaneous stuff is stored against them. Great for insulation, but not good when you want to rid your home of Houseitosis- the homemaker's version of bad breath.

So you take the stuff off of the window sills (the cats helped me remove my plants by knocking most of them off) and place all that stuff somewhere else- any flat space will do. But then you realize there aren't anymore flat spaces. You have now run out of spots to store things!

I'm a packrat by nature, but when things get a bit too much, I do have the will power to remove what's bothering me. It isn't easy, but it can be done!

Trust me on this- you are talking to a woman that used to have over sixty boxes of crafting supplies that travelled with her through three moves. And a lot of it was still brand new in the package!

The first decluttering took me nearly two years to complete, from the attic to the basement. Now we do an annual cleanout, just so my hubby and I are sure I don't collect and store anymore treasures. You would be amazed at just how much one woman can accumulate and promptly forget about!

One trick I used to use was the Transfer Method- scooping everything up and putting it somewhere else, just to make the one area look good- at least for a little while. But then something else would come up, and I would have to tidy another area, and back the stuff went- along with other clutter from the other spot. After a while that became really annoying, and I finally realized that it's time to get rid of some things.

And that can be a really scary thought!

I also have another character flaw- I get overwhelmed rather easily. And just thinking about going through all that stuff makes me want to crawl in a hole somewhere and hide. But I can't, since I stored some other stuff in that hole from the living room a few months ago. With nowhere to hide, I took out one of my 18-gallon tote containers (which was surprisingly empty!), and started loading it up with the clutter that littered my desk.

My goal was to empty at least one spot of clutter (or until the tote was full), and go through it when I watch TV. Time passes much faster when you do this, and it doesn't seem like such a hassle because you're distracted. Most of the stuff I saved wound up in the recycle bin, and by the time I had emptied the tote, I had very little to organize. Then I sorted everything and put it away before starting the next spot.

Dump, sort, repeat. Your place will start looking better almost immediately, and most of it will probably be going to the recycling plant or the thrift store. 'Going Green' feels good!

If you get overwhelmed like me, start small- one shelf, your desktop, a kitchen counter...whatever it is, just start small. It won't be long before you can walk into a room and smile in stead of groan!

I'm happy to say I can now open most of my windows, and the fresh air feels and smells wonderful! But don't worry, I promise I won't let all this cleaning go to my head- No being a perfectionist, like dusting the cats, for instance. Just keep things neat enough that I can smile when I walk into the room.

And you can too!