Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sometimes You Just Gotta Be Flexible

I think it's finally happened. My semi-organized world is falling apart. 'Semi'- organized because there's always something interrupting, changing, or otherwise turning my schedule higglety-pigglety, no matter what I do.

In the beginning, my schedule was a beautiful work of art. I had it honed to the point of perfection. I was even following the thing on a regular basis, which was a miracle in itself! But that was also my biggest mistake- I was striving for perfection in an imperfect household.

You can't have anything perfect in a house with kids- it's impossible! At least if you want kids who don't need serious therapy when they're older. You also can't have a perfect schedule with a husband either- not even if you live with your soul mate (like me), because you just don't think the same way about everything.

Basically, my schedule worked when things didn't change. The moment things did change, I'd have to develop a new one. Not that I mind making new schedules (much), but having to make an entirely new one every month or two is a bit daunting after a while.

Of course it would work like a charm if I was living by myself (no one to mess things up), but then I would miss out on all that good family/spouse-type stuff that I love more than chocolate! So what am I going to do now?

The schedule I had worked great, but I recently joined a gym and didn't allow enough time for that. And there are so many other things I want (and have) to do during the course of a day, but trying to do all of it in a single day is getting me frustrated. I feel like a mouse in a maze, with no cheese at the end. I've got to stop striving for 'perfection', and going for 'getting a lot done'.

And believe me, 'Getting a lot done' is a much better feeling than 'Perfection'! Why? Because perfection is very rarely possible- especially if you're an at-home mom. You can't even count on getting things done with kids out of the house, because you know when you're almost done that perfect schedule, someone will be getting sick or ripping their pants, and you have to go pick them up or deliver a change of clothing to the school. A mother's life is rarely dull. Getting a lot done is at least an achievable goal, whereas perfection isn't!

The big question is this- how on earth do I make some kind of schedule that allows time for everything? Well, I'm still figuring that out, and when I do I'll let you know. All I can say for now is it sure won't be perfect!

I can say this; whatever I manage to schedule will be more flexible than a circus acrobat- it's going to have to be- I have a lot of interests!

So when I get into a perfection rut, I'll take a deep, relaxing breath, and think pretzely thoughts- when it comes to a mom's schedule, you just gotta be flexible!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Time Flies When You're Exhausted!

Wow, what a week!

Easter break (not Spring Break- I call 'em as I see 'em school districts!) might be a break for the kids, but definitely not the parents!

Especially this particular week- you see, Good Friday is also my daughter's birthday. The big One-O. She's now officially out of the single digits. So it was a moral imperative to have a party for her. And if you've read any of my previous posts, you know my house was a disaster and not ready for any kind of frivolous activity.

Yep. I said was. Oh, parts of it still are, but the important rooms (living room, dining room, my daughter's bedroom and the nook were all cleared and cleaned. Since my husband was pulling 15 hour workdays, he couldn't help- and of course he was the one that actually likes cleaning. Can you sense the irony?

I put on my Militant Mom cap and whipped the troops (aka my children) into a cleaning frenzy. We decluttered. We vacuumed. We got rid of stuff. And best of all, both kids cleaned their rooms to the best of their ability. Which in this mom's mind, is pretty darned fantastic!

Next were the party favors. Four girls were invited, so I had to get everything I would need for activities and goodies to take home. She wanted a Monster High theme, so I also had to get the proper color frostings for her homemade cake.

I was ready. The house was clean, I had homemade pizza ready to bake, and the macaroni and cheese was cooling on the counter. (these were her menu choices for the girls for lunch.) I was going to do face painting and have the girls make their own jewelry. The doll cake was frosted in Monster High colors (hot pink, while and black) and the cake itself was going to be hot pink with black chocolate animal stripes inside. Now all we needed were the guests.

The party started at noon, and my daughter waited outside for her friends and classmates to arrive. 12:30 she was still waiting. By the time 1:00 rolled around, my poor baby almost gave up! But then a single car pulled up and her one Christian friend popped out. She was so excited! The 'party' was only supposed to be until 3:00, but I told her mom to let her stay as long as she wanted, since she was the only attendee.

They were so busy opening presents, eating, and playing with my daughter's new gifts that she didn't go home until almost 8:00! My daughter had a blast, and we had a lot of pizza and macaroni left over for dinner, so I didn't have to cook.

As tired as I was, I was also angry. Where were all these so-called school friends? She was disappointed that the other girls didn't come, but loved spending all that time with a really good friend.
My daughter had taken her lemons and made lemonade.

So for her birthday, my daughter gave me gifts. The gift of perspective. The gift of forgiveness. The gift of loving acceptance. She wasn't mad or bitter about the others not coming, and when school starts on Monday, she will be playing with them again just as she did before the party.

And I hope that all the adults out there (including myself) will follow her example.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart. Now Mommy is going to eat some cake and take a nap.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Doing Something Different

Ever get into a rut? You find yourself doing the same things day after day, with no vigor, no energy, no fun? It might just be your mindset, and not the tasks before you!

Dare to do something different today- even if it's something silly like putting on your socks before you get dressed, or skipping around the house when no one's looking! Large or small, just do at least one thing out of the daily routine.

Get into the mindset of doing small things in a way that would make you (and those around you) smile, or even laugh! Put on some music that you haven't listened to since you were a teenager, and do what you have to do- including housework- but this time put some energy into it! Wear something funky and fun, put on two different color socks, anything that will put you into a more positive mindset!

If you're not into the music or clothing thing, have lunch with a friend you haven't seen in a while- one that makes you laugh. Do something out of the house you don't normally do, like take a neighborhood walk, visit a park or window shop- just so long as the activity makes you happy! Part of being in a rut is the mental attitude- and once the attitude changes, the rut tends to disappear!

But what if it doesn't?

Then you need to give a great deal of thought as to why the rut remains. Maybe God is telling you that changes need to be made in your lifestyle or work, parenting or marriage. Maybe you haven't been putting enough effort into making things interesting! Interesting in a good way.

Start with the small things- Change your work space (and home space) to include things that have a positive bent to them. Your favorite bible verse printed out and put on the wall (or fridge), a new plant in the window, Inspirational quotes framed and hung on the wall (Mine is: Inspiration doesn't come to you; You need to go after it with a bat!), or a nice picture of something you like. Put these things in a space where you are the most, so you see it every day as much as possible.

As for relationships and work (aka the big stuff), the only changes you can control are in yourself. A positive attitude is a big part of it, but you have to also put a real effort into relationships and your job, not just coast along (which is probably how the rut started in the first place!) Change what you can (including finding another job if need be, or counseling if in a marriage and kids), and accept things you simply cannot change. Pray, talk to friends and family, and find ways of making life a bit happier, if not easier. Find the gold in those Horse-Poo Days!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Who Have YOU Been With??

Cats are funny creatures.

For the first time in eons, I went for a bike ride. Not just any bike ride, but one that took me to my gym. I worked out on the machines, then on my way home, I met a very friendly dog who loved being pet and played with. I got home and put the bike away, then entered the house.

I was met by The Inspection Team.

My two cats came up to me, not in their usual way (Boo-Boo actually bounds up to greet me, while Scootch could care less), but both approached me with a caution akin to parents catching their kid doing something naughty.

Then they started sniffing me.

Neither one wanted to be pet- in fact, when I leaned over to do so, their back did that rubbery thing where they twist just far enough away to keep you from touching their fur. Forget it Lady, they seemed to say, squinting their eyes as they hit the spot where the dog rubbed against me, We know you were with Someone Else.

They regarded me with those big yellow-green eyes. Prepare to be ignored.

Then they walked off, without even a meow. That was when I realized I'm no longer in charge. Perhaps I never was. It was nice while it lasted though.

Oh they'll love me again eventually. After all, dinnertime is only a few hours away, and they haven't had their daily treat yet. Then I'll be back in charge once more- at least until the food is gone.

In the meantime I plan on finding all kinds of things that have scent to just see what they do when I get home next time. Maybe I'll touch some flowers, pet a few more animals, or maybe bring home a small rock (they love those for some reason!)- Anything to get them to sniff me again- it tickles!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Keeping In Perpective

I posted this in my other blog I'm Fighting Fat!, And I liked it so much, I posted it here as well!

First off, let me say this- I LOST FIVE POUNDS!!!!

I stuck with my gym schedule (Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Tuesday and Thursday are optional) as well as eating more veggies with my meals, and the scale decided to show me something great this week! I am now a slender 315 pounds...YAY!

Yesterday, I was talking my nine year-old daughter, who thought two tears was an awful long time to be losing weight. I asked her what she thought would be reasonable, since she has been teased about her weight in school. She is not fat, by the way- she's just beginning to 'blossom' and her body is readying itself for some major changes which have already begun.

But that's another post for another time. :)

She felt a few months would be reasonable enough to lose over 150 pounds. So I broke it down for her. "How much in a week would be reasonable then?' I asked. She replied 'About ten pounds a week.'

Ten pounds a week is reasonable? I proceeded to set her straight before I had an anorexic/bulimic on my hands!

I explained that was more than a pound a day, which was way too much to expect anyone to lose, fat or thin. One to two pounds a week is reasonable, and after letting her do the math, she realized that it was a lot more reasonable to lose it in two to three years. Thank goodness!

She had an excuse to think that way though- sometimes I watch The Biggest Loser, where people are losing a lot of weight in a short amount of time. But that is to the extreme, and she is only nine years old. But that got me to thinking- how many times have we as overweight people done the same thing? (just not as extreme!)

Here are some other things I have heard people say (and some I have done myself!):

If I eat just salad, I'll lose so much weight!

Oh really? And just how long will that last? A few days? I know that if it was me saying that, I would start telling myself that tuna salad counted, them shrimp salad, egg salad...then I'd find a way to make a steak and french fry salad!

Nothing wrong with salad, but it needs to be balanced for your body, not just for the people on TV. My salads come with some kind of protein in it, whether that be pine nuts, boiled eggs, or roasted chicken sprinkled on top. I need that protein to keep me from being too hungry! Some don't, so you need to try different things to see what works for you.

If I go to the gym every week long and exercise three hours a day, I'll lose weight really fast! (after all, Biggest Loser people were doing six hours a day, so three isn't as extreme...right?)

Diving into a gym routine is the best way to end up burning out and wasting that gym membership money! Even I thought I could go every day, and found I was pretty sore from working out for only an hour! I would suggest starting slow, and go three times a week to start- but commit to that three days! Do the other two days if you feel good enough to do so, but promise yourself those three days, no matter what. That way you aren't setting yourself up for disappointment (because you didn't go each day), and you aren't hurting yourself by overworking your muscles.
Start with lighter weights on the machines too; doing ten reps (repetitions) with less weight is much better than doing three reps with too much weight!

I'll skip all the good stuff I like to eat, like junk food and dessert. I'll eat rice cakes and water, and have one meal a day.

The 'good stuff' usually isn't good, and we all know it. Chips happen to be my downfall, but have refused to deny myself chips if I'm really craving them. Feeling deprived isn't the answer to losing weight- moderation is. So instead of having a bag of chips (like a did in the past) I have a handful. I put it in a bowl and close the bag. That way I'm not tempted to take more, and my tongue is a happy camper. I've found that if I eat out of the bag, I eat a lot more chips that I thought I did- and the bag sometimes gets finished off before I realize it!
However, if I find myself finishing off the bag again and again, I'll either re-bag the chips in sandwich bags, or buy the snack bags instead.
And if it's ice cream, instead of a bowl I'll buy small cones- you can only put so much on a small ice cream cone!

What I'm trying to say can be summed up into one word. Moderation. Moderation in eating so we aren't stuffing or starving ourselves. Moderation in exercise so we don't flop on the couch or tear every muscle during a workout.
Just remember that doing the same diet/exercise program as someone else might not be the best thing for you! Do what you can do, go a little farther than you think you can. There's nothing wrong with challenging yourself concerning diet and exercise- but doing anything without the proper perspective can hurt you- mentally and physically.

Ask me how I know.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Finding the Funny

Is clean humor a dying art?

I love reading. I love books. And this weekend I went to window shop at a notable bookstore and perused my favorite sections- Sci-fi, crafts, and humor. I found a lot of good choices in the latter two, but was shocked when I went into the dwindling aisle that was the humor section.

Almost every title had a prominent curse word in it. I'd say 80% of the books in that section were not family friendly, and yet there were family friendly books mixed in with them, like Fox Trot and Baby Blues.

Even after seeing a title that looked funny (based on the What to Expect When You're Expecting series- but from the stork and baby's point of view), the first sentence bore a word that begins with the sixth letter of the alphabet- I shut the book without reading further- it's not something I would ever give to a new mother.

I was appalled by the crassness of it all. And those books that weren't full of curses were just plain stupid. The humor was either based on rudeness, or sight gags that made me wince. And I know there's some clean humor out there, but not on these shelves. Many of the clean humor titles were in the religious section, because the writer's were Christians. But who would think to look in that section for humor? Not me- I had to ask the customer service desk to help find it!

Then it hit me. There was really nothing prominently displayed for the adult reader who was looking for clean humor. No Erma Bombeck. No Bill Cosby. It's like truly funny stuff was wiped clean off the planet, and all we had left was schmutz; much like someone ate the yummy banana and left us with the icky black peel.

I think I know why God put me on this planet. To write humor books. And who am I to deny God? So guess what I'm going to do- I'm going to be an author. There, I said it.

Wow, that was pretty scary to write!

I've already thought up several book titles, even as I write this. Brainstorming (at least for me) is easy. Writing books is hard. Fun, but hard. But I really feel that I've finally found my niche in the big Circle of Life. Now I just have to stop shaking in my sneakers and do it.

I want to help people find the funny in things. In all situations. In the everyday problems that can bring us down. I want to make parents laugh in such a way that they can share the humor with their kids. I want to make the world smile.

And at the bookstore, I want people to see my book among the schmutz and exclaim "Finally! Some good, clean humor!"

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Value of Time

What is it with these professionals that think it's okay to show up late to an appointment?

I go to the doctor's office on time, only to find out the doctor isn't even there yet- or I have to wait for him to finish with another patient, and go in at least thirty minutes later than my appointed time.
The cable guy comes late, while I sit and stew, wondering when I can get my errands done. The plumber shows up two hours late and greets me with a smile.

What he thinks is a returned smile is me grinding my teeth in frustration!

But I don't yell, because I need him to fix the leak in my basement. A sink full of dishes and six loads of laundry are great motivators to just shut my yap and let him do his job- now that he finally showed up!

I am an at-home mother, wife, and homemaker. So why is my time not valued as much as those with a degree?

For instance- I was at a doctor's appointment for one o'clock. I showed up early (because I hate being late), and brought a book to read until he was ready for me. One o'clock passes, and when I look at the clock again, it's now it's one-thirty. I ask the receptionist when was he going to take me in (since I was the first patient), and was told that the doctor hadn't even arrived yet!

I had several thoughts about this. One,there were too many witnesses if I tried to kill him when he did show up. Two, if I'd throttled him, we were in a hospital, and they could easily revive him after I'd made my point. Three, if I had killed the man, I would never get my little five minute exam done.

Then I'd have to make another appointment.

This was just a little 'How are things going?' checkup, that would have taken only a few minutes. I was told to wait, and they finally decided to stick me in a room with a robe that wouldn't cover a gnat. I think they did it to keep me from starting a riot, because I was causing dissension among the ranks of the other patients. It was almost two o'clock before the doctor came strolling into my room.

And I let him have it.

I did get an apology, but was also told that doctors working in the clinic (where I was) had other duties before they come here, and that I should not get upset if they're late. It didn't matter that I would now be late to pick up my daughter from school- I was told to make other plans for her pick-up the next time.

Oh Really? Over an hour waiting time for an exam that took less than five minutes to perform- and I'm the one who needs to schedule my time better?

It looks like there's a professional that isn't so professional, isn't there? Buck-up Buster- you need to schedule your time more efficiently and stop wasting the time of others!

I wonder how they would've liked it if their professor in med school decided to show up whenever he wanted? It might have taken them another year to get that degree! But that's okay- you're just a student....right?

Then my plumber says he's got 'something to do' before he comes to take care of my cracked pipe. He was supposed to be here at eight-thirty, and doesn't show up until two hours later. In the meantime, I can't do what errands I need to do for my family, because I have to be home waiting for him.

Somebody really needs to smack these people upside the head.

When we actually do find a professional that's on time, we're pleasantly surprised. Why is that? Because we're of a mindset that says it's okay for them to be late. But if we're late, they charge us! I wonder how my doctor would feel if I'd billed him for my wasted time. That would definitely be a 'YouTube' moment!

I'm not accepting excuses anymore. However I'm not going to be unreasonable either- I can see being a few minutes late, but late over an hour past the appointed time? No way, Mister. And from now on I will tell them so.

Right after their work with me is done. :)

So how valuable is our time as wives, mothers and homemakers? Priceless. But we need to speak up if we want the world to know that- especially concerning 'Professionals'- who aren't!