Thursday, December 22, 2011

Why Stress Over Holiday Mess?

Oh, the irony of that title!

I stressed over messes for years, especially around the holidays. Everything should have been neat, clean and put in their proper places, yet by the time Christmas had arrived, the house was in order, but I was a ragged mess- mentally and physically.

Of course if I had been maintaining my mess in the first place...well, that's trash over the can at this point. I'm now getting my house decluttered and organized, and I know I won't be done by Christmas. And I don't give a rat's patootie either.

Every day I see others stressing about it though- like we all don't have enough to be stressed over! Especially the moms. Moms have a particular need for perfection around this time of year. Moms with kids too little to lend much of a hand. Moms with older kids too busy/tired/unwilling to lend a hand.

It's a lot like planning your own wedding every year. You want perfection. You need perfection. But there's no way in Washington that you'll get perfection. Not when little Tyler just painted the TV with yogurt, and the family pet just did something nasty on the rug concerning pine needles and tinsel.

When you have kids, don't expect perfection. You ain't Martha Stewart, and you can't afford her kids psychologist bills. Give up the ghost of perfection, and put on the ghost of the Spirit!

Who are we all trying to impress, anyway? Those family members we see once a year? Are we afraid of Aunt Mertle sticking her nose up in the air and sniffing distastefully at our skewed magazines, or toys on the floor? Give her some nose plugs and tell her to go see a lung specialist for that 'pug snort' she seems to have. Or tell her to go pound sand. Or just don't invite her over! You need people around you that let you relax in your own home, not make you feel like a bumbling innkeeper!

Just remember, God doesn't give a hoot if our house is messy- He cares only about how welcoming we are. If you feel Aunt Mertle must be there, welcome her warmly and stuff her so full of food that she can't move- it's hard to sniff disdainfully when you're eating good food and enjoying yourself!

You have kids. Kids make messes. It's their job. But if you're focused on the people and not the 'things' around you, you'll not only find yourself relaxing, but having a great time too! So don't stress over holiday mess. I'm not...anymore.

I'm going to sit down with my Aunt Mertle, have a homemade cookie (maybe the one my kids made just for me- a snowman with gloppy icing, one eye and a misshapen hat), some hot berry tea and enjoy myself. After all, isn't the reason for the season to celebrate the birth of Christ?

And who can celebrate when stressed? Take that word and spell it backwards- Desserts! Now that's celebrating!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I Am a Tiger!

I've been reading a book called Change (Almost) Anything In 21 Days, and I must say, though I've had little time to read, what I've read so far has really touched me in some fantastic ways. I thought I'd share some of them with you!

The basic idea of the book is making an affirmation for 21 days by writing it ten times a day. Okay, so I haven't written anything down yet (only because I haven't narrowed my bazillion affirmations to one or two), but I have tried another way, and that's singing/chanting it to myself whenever I walk home from my daughter's school or the gym. Like the book suggests, I kept it simple:

I can do anything; I am confident.

I know it sounds a little silly (after all I won't be a rocket scientist, or a veterinary surgeon in my near future), but the premise is a sound one- I can do anything I set my mind to, and I can do it because I am confident in my abilities. Just doing this little chant every day has done wonders for my self-esteem.

The book also states that being grateful for what God has provided puts you in a more positive mindset. So I make sure I take time out each day to thank God for anything I can think of.

Today, when I read page 34, a story popped out at me and just about slapped me silly. This is what I wanted to share with you today.

A man walked through a forest and saw a fox that had lost it's legs and wondered how it lived. Then he saw a tiger come up with game in it's mouth. The tiger ate it's fill and left the rest of the meat for the fox.
The next day God fed the fox by means of the same tiger. The man began to wonder about God's greatness and said to himself, 'I too shall just rest in the corner with full trust in the Lord and He will provide me with all that I need.'
He did this for many days, but nothing happened. He was almost at death's door when he heard a voice say, 'Oh you who are on the path of error, open your eyes to the truth! Stop imitating the disabled fox and follow the example of the tiger!'

Wow. In all this time, I had no idea I was acting like the fox. I only started emulating the tiger this past week, and that was before I read this. God is so awesomely cool!

How many people do you know who emulate the fox? I know of more than a few, myself included. But how many people do you know who are tigers? And the biggest question of all is this; Which one are you?

Me? I'm a tiger! GROWL!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Conquering the Negative

I have to admit it- we used to be middle class (okay, lower middle, but still in the middle), but with the economy taking a swan dive into the depths of debt, we're now thrown into a whole new era of need. I could cry poor mouth (in fact, I have many times, much to my shame), but what good did that do? People would get uncomfortable around me and start to walk away when they saw me coming. I gave this a great deal of thought, and I've been a big, weenie-burger whiner. I kept putting on the crap-colored glasses and seeing the negative in my surroundings.

The bank account is starving, but we aren't. Due to some awesome bargain-finding skills via me, my husband and my mom, I've gotten wind of some great sales when food shopping; good quality stuff, not the insta-meals that will keep you fed, but are filled with all sorts of chemicals. Home cooking not only allows me to make things fresh, but I know what's going in it. No MSG or yellow number 6, thank you very much!

Just don't ask my son if he's starving. He'll tell you he gets only one breakfast (at home- he sneaks another at school), one snack, one lunch, another snack and only three servings of dinner. The funny thing is we only allow two helpings at the dinner table. I think he sneaks the extra one when he goes after 'helping number two' unsupervised. The kid could eat all day and never be full, and he's only thirteen! Despite this deprivation, he's healthy, so that's another tick on the 'positive stuff' chart.

We never seem to have much extra money, but always just enough money. And that's all that really matters in the long run, right? Anytime we have extra, it's usually stocked away like nuts for winter. I start Christmas shopping in January. By the time Christmas comes around, that gift that was only five or ten bucks becomes a bunch of five or ten dollar items, and everyone gets something. Or I save up until I can get a bigger item. Either way, somebody is getting something.

This also goes for birthdays too- even though I can't always get a gift, I make up for it by inviting a few of my kid's friends over and make homemade pizza and cake. I also whip up my own frosting, and have all kinds of decorator tips from way back in the single days when I had a salary and could afford hobbies. I have yet to take a cake-decorating class, but kids don't usually care- the cake tastes good no matter how pretty the frosting is!

When I look back, I realize that most of the stuff we have was given to us via relatives and friends. We never had to buy a new couch or bed, because someone was always getting rid of theirs. The same thing goes for AC units, clothing, books and other needs big and small. It's just hard to see the blessings through crappy glasses.

God swatted me upside the head last week and knocked those glasses off, and I'm so glad He did. It's really amazing to see the world for it's potential; it's like being blocked by a six-foot brick wall- instead of looking for a way around it, I was staring at the bricks close-up and wondering how I could ever manage getting over something so big. All I had to do was look up to see the obstacle was not as cumbersome as I imagined. Now my vision was clear, and things were looking up. Literally.

I intend to keep this positive attitude. How? By thanking God. For everything.

I found myself asking God for stuff, and very little time thanking Him, except when it was something big or something I might have gotten in trouble for. How many time did you pray when you accidentally ran a red light or thought you broke something precious to someone else? I decided to just stop during the day and thank Him for whatever came to mind. And during that time, not ask for anything. It's harder than you think!

I thanked Him for my warm fuzzy socks that protected me from the cold kitchen floor. I thanked Him for the energy to get the kitchen cleaned. I thanked Him for the chance to bless others that morning, when I was able to offer my cell phone to a motorist who locked her purse in her car. Anything and everything I could think of for that few minutes was glorifying God and no one else. And I came away feeling better about the world in general.

Everyone here knows how much I hate housework, but since I started thanking Him for the energy to do it, I've been finding myself humming as I worked! Acting like I was actually having fun! It was a very weird experience, but a good weird. Like Gonzo. And I just had to share that feeling with you.

If you're in a similar situation (and more of us are as each day passes), don't look at the world through crap-colored glasses. Don't wait for God to swat you upside the head. Take a deep breath, take those glasses off, and look at the world from a different perspective- a more positive one. What can you do to bless others? What can you thank God for? What's happening that's good in your life?

I bet you'll feel blessed too!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Let Me Re-Introduce Myself...

Soon it will be a new year, but this is not the reason I'm writing this post. I'm writing this because I want things to change in my life, and the only one holding me back is me.

So I will no longer be afraid to speak my mind- Especially if it's funny.

Let me re-introduce myself. I'm a wife of a fantastic husband and also the mother of two really great kids. All three drive me to madness, but it's a good kind of madness. The kind of madness you can actually write about and not get yourself (or your family) arrested. I'm a Jacqueline of All Trades, but have yet to consider myself a Master of Anything, though people like most of my creative endeavors.

Except the one time I tried to make a dish involving hamburger and uncooked rice. Ugh.

I have no intention to ever call myself a Master except when it concerns big messes. That I know I'm good at- and so far no one else has denied it! Call yourself a Master when you're not, and people call you a braggart. When others call you a Master, yet you don't consider yourself one, people call you humble.

My husband is both The Greatest Handyman Ever and the Encyclopedia Britannica. But these are not his only talents. He can also cook up a storm- if I were to compare ourselves to famous cooks, I'm Paula Deen and he's somewhere between a pastry chef and Rachael Ray. I'm the down home cook and he's the gourmet cook. Let's just say between the two of us, we eat well around here.

He can also clean the house better than I ever could, because he likes to clean- in fact, he can not only do it better, he can do it faster than me- Maybe because he likes it so much. All I know is he's done the entire house before I'm finished half of a single room, and it looks great. Dagnabbit. He's better at a lot of stuff than I am except rolling out pie crust. He can't roll a crust to save his life, but he can pull a fifteen course meal out of the oven in thirty minutes. Weird.

He's also my GPS whenever I get lost. I could call him from anywhere on the planet and he can tell me where I am and how to get home before I get a word out. Strange but true!

My son has finally made it to his teen years, and we call him Wikipedia- he takes pride in that nickname, but unlike my husband, Mr. Encyclopedia, our son is just like the 'Wiki' version- full of 'factual misinformation' that people feed into him. Having Aspergers, he takes many things said in jest as a fact, and will back those 'facts' up with stuff he pulls from out of the blue- but it sounds good to ears younger than himself who don't know any better. When he's wrong he's really, really wrong... but when he's right, he'll blow your mind!

I found out that my son is great with little kids. We went to a summer picnic where there were at least twenty children, and he had all of them playing games he invented. He kept them running around and entertained for a good five hours; my husband and I received kudos from parents that had real, uninterrupted conversations since they gave birth. He's an amazing kid!

My daughter is a girly tom-boy who loves to wear dresses and climb the monkey bars- but not at the same time. When she was little she heard her brother screaming about a waterbug in the bathroom, and she was the First Responder, heading for the Room Of Death with her shoe poised to strike. She's our little Warrior Maiden, and though bugs are beginning to freak her out now, she is always sticking up for others at the schoolyard. She's not afraid to tell someone they're not being nice, and comfort the victim until she can guide him or her to one of the school aids. I can totally see her in a prom dress packing a taser gun. Don't mess with the dress!

She gets excited about everything. I love that about her. She has a big heart for animals and nearly broke down in a puddle of tears when she heard she was still too young to volunteer at the animal shelter. We watched Animal Cops together a lot over the summer, and she wants to save all of them. I think we'll need a bigger yard first.

Both kids are super awesome when it comes to helping others. I am one blessed woman- when these people aren't driving me crazy!

I should include our two cats, Boo-boo and Scootch. One was named after Laverne and Shirley's stuffed cat (even though he's grey and white and not black like the stuffed kitty on TV) and the other kept getting underfoot, and I had to constantly tell him to 'scootch out of my way' all the time. So the names stuck. Boo-boo likes to knead and lick my arm when he wants comfort, and Scootch has learned that if he leaps onto my desk and sits on my mouse (which I'm usually using at the time) he will get some pets and attention.

They're here to make me see the lighter side of life when I start taking things too seriously. Scootch isn't the most adept at ' sticking the landing' and falls off of things periodically- he's our clown. Boo-boo is a one-person cat and has taken a shine to me, but is only now warming to my husband after a year of being in our care. Neither one wants to be cuddled to death by the kids though, and they will swat at them, only using their claws on the rare occasion when the kids refuse to back off.

Sometimes they remind me of my kids whenever I'm eating; they put their little noses near my plate, asking in their own less noisy but more subtle way if I'm going to finish what I have. Nine times out of ten they walk away from the tidbit offered, which is more than I can say for my kids, which will not only take a bite, but take my plate and hork down the whole thing if I let them. Especially my son, who burns off the calories before he's even finished chewing.

And yet I'm the heavy one in the family. Go figure.

Now a few more nasty truths.

My house is a mess. Not just a dinky little I-really-need-to-clean-up-that spot kind of mess, but more like a dear-God-where's-the-shovel? kind of mess. We were in the process of moving, but the finances fell through, so now I have a partially-packed house where the only organized things are in the boxes.

I also have a lot of clutter, because I'm a packrat and I'm lazy. I hate going through stuff. It takes forever. And most of it is stuff that would fit nicely into a junk drawer. In fact, most of it was in a junk drawer before I decided to clean out. Pencils that break when in the sharpener, screws of all sizes that might have come from things we tossed out; dead pens, dried-up rubberbands; parts to things that might be important, but only my husband knows what they are. And that's just scratching the surface!
I'm getting a box that says 'Fossils' and tossing it out into the trash when it's full. After twelve years in the same rental home, I believe most of this untouched clutter could legally be called fossils, so I wouldn't be lying. Much.

If this keeps up, they might be calling Hoarders on me. My husband probably would have already, but he can't find the phone.

I. Am. Lazy.
If I can get away from cooking every night, I will. Making bigger meals helps, but it makes a bigger mess. I'm still deciding whether it's worth it or not. However, soup can be made in bulk with little extra mess, so I plan on making it more often.
I like sitting in a sunny window and reading the day away, as well as fighting off monsters on my PC. I was a facebook addict, and had to stop because the family was being seriously neglected due to my awesome facebook farming skills and my arcane powers of destruction. Fun but totally time-wasting. And that's not why God put me here!

I am a Christian.
This is not a nasty truth, but some people do give me a wide berth when they see me holding a Bible. It's like they think I'm going to start running about the schoolyard yelling 'Repent!" while smacking everyone upside the head with the Word. Oh, I've thought about it (sounds like fun actually), but I'd never do it. I'm not a nut, religious fanatic, or cultist. I love Jesus and He loves me, and Satan and I will never be buddies. Period. I'll mention God on this blog, but I will never be preachy. I hate preachy people. But I will tell you that God has done a lot for me, where I have yet to return the favor- like I ever could. God is good all the time...and me? Well, let's just say my record is not remotely close to exemplary.

So that's me and mine in a nutshell. I promise I will give you no less than my best efforts, and I won't be afraid to tell the truth. Not that I've lied in the past, but you can keep the truth hidden by keeping silent. I'm tired of muzzling myself.

I'm Beth Brubaker, and I'm lazy, messy, and lose my cool with my family sometimes. I love to laugh, sing, and I cry during sappy girl flicks. I love to eat, read, and find joy in the little things. I love God, my husband, my kids and my cats, in that order. And I love to write.

Nice to meet you! God Bless!