Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I'm Raising Hobbits

I'd never thought I'd see the day when my kids could out-eat me. But it's happened. Not just in one way, but in two:

One, I'm trying to eat less to try to figure out my 'Satisfaction Zone'. Ooh, that sounds like a good book title, or a great topic for my public speaking repertoire- I'm writing that down! Basically, I'm finding out I'm not as hungry as I thought I'd be if I just have a little something now, then a little something later, instead of one big ol' something now. But that's for another post.

Two, my kids are turning into hobbits, without the hairy feet. It's not uncommon to hear the words 'Second breakfast' out of the full mouths of my children- they get a good breakfast from me, and I've found out they get a second one at school- because it's free. I don't care if it's free, if it's not good for you! It's all bread and fat and other yummy things like processed chemicals and near plastics- but that doesn't matter to them, because it's filling. And both of them are eating like rabid wolves. What's going to happen this summer when I'll have to feed them all day long?

And here's the bigger question- How am I going to keep these people fed?

Remember the hobbits in the Lord of the Rings? Remember 'elevensies'? That's my son. He'll eat anything not moving, except for the toxic stuff like fruits and vegetables. My daughter on the other hand, will eat what is on her plate and anyone else's- then dive into the fruit and veggies like a maddened rabbit. I don't actually have a problem with this until she dives so deep that she leaves me with nothing but apple cores and orange peels. Then I get grumpy.

And yet both kids aren't fat- Noooo, only the one who gets fat is the one eating the salad for breakfast.

I'm giving serious thought to changing out their dinner plates for mini troughs. It would just save them time using knives and forks, since they suck it down faster than a Dyson on a power surge. I don't think they even need their teeth at this point! Why? Because by the time I get my fork into the first bite, they're done.

Here's what usually happens at mealtime:

Me: (fills the plates and passes them out, then we pray) Okay guys, who wants..
Me: ...something to....
Son: Can I have seconds?
Daughter: Are you going to eat that, Mom?

If you had teens, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you have teens now, you can empathize. But if you haven't reached this point in your child's life, be forewarned- and stock up now, while you still have money!

By the way, does anyone have a recipe for that elven way-bread? I think I'm going to need it....

Monday, May 21, 2012

Accentuate the Positive

Sometimes life can be frustrating; You behaved on your diet, yet you gained weight, You made a pact to finish something, and falter right at the goal line, or you planned out your day to perfection, but some emergency happened so that nothing on your list got done. 

The important thing is not these events in themselves, but how we react to them. Attitude matters- at least when you get your mind off the initial feelings of frustration!

But how do we do that? The answer is simple- accentuate the positive. Let me give you an example:

The event: I rode my bike to the gym today and it was spritzing out. I weighed myself, and despite having eaten what I was supposed to and in the amounts I was supposed to, I gained weight. Then I wrenched my shoulder while working on the machines. I had to cut the workout short and go home. 

My normal response to this situation would have pointed out every single negative and dwell on it. 
I was rained on. Twice.
I gained weight.
I hurt myself on the machines.
And now I have to ride home in the rain again, with a hurt shoulder, and I have a ton of stuff to do today I might not get done. 
Forget it- I'm going to play computer games all day and take a nap- maybe that will make me feel better- and maybe have some chocolate too.
What a rotten day!

I admit, after all this happened, that was exactly how I felt. I had to mentally stop myself from continuing down that road, rewind, and begin again, accentuating the positive. So now here is the same day, with a new twist:

I was spritzed on- I didn't get wet, and the water felt good because I was sweating as I rode my bike. 
I took a better look at what I ate and drank this past week and weekend, and realized part of it could be dehydration and muscle gain- maybe not all of it, but these could be a definite factor. I'll drink more water this week and eat more veggies, since our weekend camping trip was mostly meat on a stick- lean meat, but still not much veggies or fruit, an the camp water tasted funny, so we didn't drink much of it.
I wrenched my shoulder a little, but not so bad that I can't get anything done at home- I can do all the lightweight stuff and get the kids and my husband to help with the heavier things when they get home. And when it does hurt too much, I'll relax and catch up on my 'must read' reading!
I rode my bike home before it poured!
And chocolate still sounds like a good idea- but only one piece, savored instead of a feasting frenzy.
Not the best morning, but the day is getting better!

Wow! What a difference attitude can make!

This really did happen to me this morning- and I went though both of these scenarios. Good thing for me the positive one was the second one, because if it wasn't, you wouldn't be reading this post! I just had to share that even for a negative thinker (that I tend to be), you can still make changes in your life, one day, one event at a time. The important thing is to get started in a positive direction, and don't look back!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tales of a Borderline Hoarder

I like stuff. I admit it. I like collecting it, looking at it, and sometimes even using it- but when the stuff gets in the way of life, you need to reevaluate your habits.

It started when I began indulging myself in all my interests, flitting from one to the other like a hummingbird amongst flowers, never really settling on just one thing. And it was never half-way either- if I was doing quilting, I had to have all the colors (just in case), all the threads, and as many patterns and doo-dads I could get my hands on. Then I wanted to do denim purses, and no pair of used jeans was able to escape my clutches! (insert evil laughter here). I also love to cook, so I gathered gadgets and gizmos that would turn me into a culinary genius- everything from cookie cutters to pasta makers.

Our two-butt kitchen was now nearly impassable from all the clutter, as well as the living room, dining room and the bedroom, because that was where I stored my craft supplies. I became so stressed over the mess I couldn't even gather the energy to do anything with it. I had shut down, mentally and emotionally. 

A few years back the show Hoarders pushed me in the right direction. I started seeing that my stuff was looking like the piles those hoarders had, only my things were nicer. Why? Because I hadn't left my treasures around long enough to fall apart- yet.

At first I denied this revelation- after all, I didn't have any bugs or dead yaks in my clutter, and my piles were organized- I knew precisely where everything was- I just couldn't get to it.  

I could sew all day every day for the next ten years and still have enough fabric left over to make a cozy for the Washington Monument. Okay, maybe two cozies.

I have enough jeans stashed away I could clothe a third-world country for the next five months years.

I would have to go to culinary school for a decade to know how to use half the appliances I bought, yet I only have the counter space for a toaster and a microwave.

And I hated the idea of getting rid of any of it! 

But with help from a friend (who is a neatnik and was totally shocked when she first walked into my house that she needed to sit down and 'contemplate my space', but I knew she was plain old flabbergasted), she encouraged me to get rid of things and reorganize my house to make the most of it.

The first decluttering wave took me two years. The second wave had taken a year. And now I do little waves on a regular basis to keep up with the clutter. This will be an ongoing job and will never be finished for someone like me, because I still like to collect things- I'm just in better control now!

Sometimes I still suffer from CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome), but it's not nearly as often as it used to be. I still need to work on turning some chores into habits (like cleaning *shudder*), but things are coming along nicely- just so long as I don't have any more interests!

If you are like me in this capacity, let me share some of my mantras I used when I was going through things:

If it doesn't make you happy when you look at it, ditch it. 

Don't think about it- there is no second guessing. Keep it or get rid of it, now.

If it doesn't have a place, it doesn't stay.

Never ask yourself if you'll use it. You'll always say yes- eventually I will. Ask yourself, DO I use it- this is a yes or no question.

The more you declutter, the easier it gets.

Think about how nice it will be to have that space back!

These mantras worked for me, but you might want to add or change them. Do what works for you. But the main thing is Do It. It might take you a few months. It might even take a few years. But the results are worth it! I feel more confident about inviting people over now, and don't mind of someone drops by. I don't have to hide messes, or tell them they can't come in, and feel shame when I answer my door anymore.

It not only a blessing to me, it's a blessing to my family as well!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mom vs. Maid

As you know, I have two children- a boy, age 14, and a girl, age 11. It is at this age where independence rears it head (and not always an ugly one), yet I am constantly bombarded by younger parents telling me I'm too hard on my kids. I say 'young' parents for two reasons- One, they are younger than me, and Two, because they haven't realized what independence is for their kids.

Let me explain some of the situations that have occurred in the past year or two.

Why don't you carry your child's backpack for them? Because I won't risk throwing out my back because my kids overloaded them with stuff like books, bricks, and their latest science project. I saw one mother of five carrying all of her kid's backpacks, while they ran around free as birds. Sorry, I'm not their personal pack-mule- though I am as stubborn as one sometimes! The rule here is: If you pack it, you carry it. The only time I assisted was when they had a huge amount of things to take to school in the beginning of the year, or bring home at the end of the year. My son learned the hard way and now uses his locker for most of his books instead of carrying all of them in his backpack.

Why don't you pack their lunches for them? My kids have been self-sufficient in this area for two years. Why? Because I provide the stuff to make sandwiches, and they get to make them. When they make them, they eat them- but when I make them, they might get traded for something 'better' like junk food or candy or thrown to a stray dog. It doesn't matter how healthy I make these lunches either- the fruit doesn't get eaten (at least by my son), and I get complaints that I put too much/too little of whatever it is on their sandwich, making it completely inedible. I certainly tell them the choices they have, but they do the work themselves. If that makes me a bad mom, so be it- but I don't think so.

Why do you give them so many chores? Chores are a way of life- no house can run right without at least some chores going on! And why should I do it all myself, when they can help? What would take me an hour, can be done in twenty minutes(or less) with two extra sets of hands to help- and that gives us more time together having fun as a family. Besides, I want them to be responsible citizens and be able to care for themselves and others when they move out- and they will move out, eventually-  or my husband and I will move instead. Either way they'll be on their own- especially if we move out of state so they can't ask me to do their laundry. Yep- I taught them how to do that too! That doesn't mean that they like to do it!

Why do you monitor everything they do? Don't you trust them? Yes, I trust them- but I don't want them exposed to every immoral thing in their environment either. I monitor what I can, talk to them about the things I can't monitor, and let them know why I do what I do, and why they can't always see the latest TV show, movie, or video game. I especially monitor the internet. And I watch myself  as well, because I know they'll be looking over my shoulder when I'm on it. Even as careful as I am, those stupid little pop-ups and ads show up on my screen that I never intended for me to see, no less the kids. Stuff happens, and I deal with it right then and there, before they get the wrong ideas.

You actually have them make their own beds and clean their rooms? Yep! I have them change their own sheets too. If they made the mess, why should I always be the one to clean it up? I help them when they need it, but they do the bulk of the work. Just call me Coach- I don't make the plays, but I tell you the best ways to run them!

I cook, clean, pamper, have a good, hot breakfast made for everyone by 6:00 am. I declutter, nurse their pains, and discipline them when they get into trouble. I'm a taxi driver, card shark, and craft organizer as well as board game player and Frisbee tosser. It's hard work sometimes.

I am a Mom, and I wear a lot of hats- but a Maid isn't one of them.

A maid won't teach you to grow- she's hired to do her job, and do it well. A maid won't make sure you're fed right, clean, or bandaged when you fall. A maid won't hug you when you're sad, let you pet the kittens at the pet store, or wipe your nose.I'm not here to be your servant. I'm here to help you become an adult. So pick up your own clothes off the floor, sweetheart, because Momma ain't a Maid!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The World is Like a Dark Room

I woke up the other morning when it was still dark outside, fumbling my way to the bathroom because I didn't want to wake anyone by turning on the lamp. However, I made the mistake of turning on the light when I got there- my eyeballs were assaulted by a searing yellow-white beam of man-made light, blinding me. My eyelids reacted like a mousetrap- slamming shut so fast I didn't have enough time to take in my surroundings. No amount of lid-muscle kept out the radioactive rays that danced in reverse shadow behind my eyes, as I made my way to where I needed to be by feel instead, hoping I wasn't blinded for life.
I tried opening my eyes a minute later, but they refused to budge, either by will or my trying to pry them open manually. My brain seemed to feel that my eyes were under attack, and overrode any orders from me.
But after a while the lights stopped dancing, and I was able to slowly open my eyes. Bit by bit I got used to the glare, and eventually the light was a welcome sight. 
Then I had an epiphany. This is just like man's relationship with God.

I know what you're thinking- 'How on earth did you come up with that idea?' Let's just say I'm probably not the only writer that had an epiphany in the bathroom. 

Here's the train of thought on the matter:

It's human nature to resist God, ever since The Fall. Our world is a black pit of a  room and we don't even realize it- we're just fumbling around in the dark. But then the light of God is turned on, our first instinct is to shy away from it, because we're not used to something so bright. Sometimes it hurts to see it and we shut our eyes as tight as possible, trying to keep all the light out. But you just can't do it. 
Soon you start cracking open an eyelid, letting in a little more light as you get used to it. Then a little more, and a little more. The more you're exposed to the light, the more you get used to it, and the more you begin to welcome it into your life, and you wonder how you made it through life, living so long in the darkness. 

Once you're used to the light, you look around, now fully aware of what you've been stumbling over when in the dark. You no longer have to stumble over unseen hindrances, feeling around for all of those hidden barriers- you can see everything as it is- and here's the best part- because you can see them, you can avoid most of those pesky obstacles. And for those you can't avoid, you can make your way over them easier because you can finally see a clear path. 

It's pretty amazing what happens whilst answering the Call of Mother Nature- or was it the Call of God? Either way, I think it's neat when God does stuff like that to me- like manna from heaven, only the manna are stories, and they nourish the soul!

All I have to say is that He's done this to me a lot, and I've learned to keep pens and paper handy, just in case- and yes, I've even learned to write in the dark, just so I don't wake anyone up!

May you become a beacon of His light, even as you're getting used to the light yourself!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

If You Give a Mom a Muffin Controversy

UPDATE: I have fought for several years for the rights of my original poem, If You Give a Mom a Muffin. As of 1/24/13, I have lost the fight.

I've had many asking for the original post of this poem to prove myself. I've looked for the original post and unfortunately, because I was publishing it in a magazine, I had deleted the original post. It wouldn't have been right to have a copy on my blog and publishing it in a magazine. Because I did this and didn't print it out directly from the blog (confirming the date of the original post), I have no proof other than my word that it was my original work.

It's a bonehead newbie mistake on my part, but the simple fact is, I don't have a legal leg to stand on, so I can't pursue the matter legally.

It's hard giving up on something like this, but I have to, since I have no proof of ownership.

Unfortunately, this also means that I lost the rights to this poem. The person in question had it published in a magazine the same year I wrote it, and by law (since I have no burden of proof), I can no longer claim it as my own. Therefore the book deal I had in progress was also canceled.

God has blessed me with the gift to write, so I'm going to continue using what God gave me.  I have washed my hands of this piece and have other projects to spend my time and energy on. 

May the poem bless you and your families.

God Bless.