Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Blessings

There were a lot of blessings this year. Probably more than 2013 of them, but I won't list that many because this is a blog, not War and Peace Part Deux. 

I'm blessed by God. He has surrounded me with people who have taught me a lot this year, and also made me think, laugh, and love much more deeply than I used to!

I'm blessed because we have a house. We also have a mortgage for the first time ever, but it's a true blessing because it isn't like rent- the payment will never go up and when we're done, we'll own this sucker.

I'm blessed with my husband. Fantastic guy that does way too much sometimes- Like paint the kitchen two days before we have more than thirty people over for a party. Or make pies in the wee hours of night (which is about 9:30 pm for us morning people) just because he wants to. 

I'm blessed with my kids. They voice their perspectives often, giving me a lot of my material for my book. I get unlimited hugs and occasional kisses (only on the cheek or forehead from my son, because he's saving himself for his future bride). My son is tall enough now to get the stuff that's too high, and my daughter is flexible enough to get the stuff I drop. 

I'm blessed for family and friends. Some have become both!

I'm blessed by my readers. Your feedback and uplifting comments really make my day, week, month and year!

Have a fantastic New Year- may it be a blessed one!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Down the Home Stretch

It's almost Christmas. 
It's almost New Years. 
And I'm almost ready.

I had many, many goals set for this month. I have achieved one goal, one-half of one goal, and one-tenth of another. Maybe two-thirds of another goal. Let's just say I'm a smidge backlogged.

What was the one achieved goal you ask? I finished my Christmas shopping. I'm usually done by November. I wasn't done until last week.

Some cookies were baked. The ones that were are now half gone and I didn't even eat any! After all, classmates and teachers need to eat too. I still have two mega batches to do, but not anywhere near the one-thousand I usually make. And no, I'm not kidding this time- that's how many I usually make! It's Christmas Eve-Eve, and I'm still baking.

We decorated the living room. The cats de-decorated the living room. We decorated the cats and duct taped their butts to the wall. Okay, the last part isn't true, but I really wanted to do that- but I like the little goobers too much, dang it all. At this rate, we might be finished decorating by New Years.

We're keeping Christmas on the down-low this year. Not a lot of fundage to play with, so keeping it simple is not only the spiritual ideal, it's a necessity- unless we rent the kids out to help others unload their goodies or set up one of those hanging kettle things and hand them bells to ring. 

Other goals are: 

Having the house clean. Fat chance with all the new decorations- I mean cat toys all over the floor. It's a hazard just to walk, no less clean!
Set up for a Christmas Visit Party. Make goodies, bake more, and have something for everyone without going broke. Some people have dietary limitations, so being the hospitality oriented people we are, we'll be serving water from a local spring and organic grass grown in our backyard. It's organic because my son never mowed the whole dang summer.
Fold all the laundry before if topples and kills me. If I don't, the family will come home to find a huge pile of clothing with only my hands and feet sticking out of it- and the cats sleeping on the top.
Not go stark-raving bonkers. So far I've been able to hide my neck twitches by playing Michael Jackson music and pretending it's a dance move when the family is home. 
Finish gift wrapping. This should be done in 3.2 seconds, since everything the kids are getting will fit in one box- all of their dirty laundry they left on their floors throughout the year. And a Christmas Tree scented hanging thing I bought at the car wash to keep the stench at bay. 
Okay, they won't be getting that- but it felt good to write it!

And last, but certainly not least, I'll have my book written by New Years!
Yes, the book is in it's final stages before I send it out to be critiqued, and hopefully ready to send to an interested agent by the end of January. I'm so excited! I won't tell you the title yet, but it's a lot like the Erma Bombeck series of books- funny little stories and my perspectives on life as a woman. By this time next year, I'll be an author!
How do I know this? Because I'm hopeful, and if the agent doesn't take on the book (foolish mortal!) I'll self-publish that sucker. Either way I'm going into print sometime in the near future.
I'm so excited!

But for now there are edits, to make, cookies to bake, and cats to shoo away from decorations and laundry. 

It's the Home Stretch, and when the new Year comes, I'll start it off with a resounding nap!

I hope you have the best Christmas ever! 

Monday, December 16, 2013

When Does The Madness End?!?

In the past two weeks, my incredibly insane (but lovable) husband took on tasks I've been needing for the past year. He finished the renovations of the kitchen (cabinets and shelving), put up shelving in our little office space in the living room, and shelving in my sewing room. In two weeks. 

And yes, we have a lot of books and gadgets that we need shelving all over the house!

Everything was finished up this past week. I am ecstatic!

I was also insanely busy putting stuff away in my new cabinets and shelves- and I'm still not done!

Now I have a clutter-free kitchen because (almost) all the big gadgets are on the shelves and not the counters- including a deli slicer, mixer, food processor and the rice cooker. The cabinets are filled with all of the boxes, bags and baking ingredients that have been littering the counters forever. 

And yes, I really do use those items a lot in my kitchen. Especially after I found out I can cook barley in the rice cooker- we have a ton of it!

I can now put away all of my books in the sewing room (which is a lot, since he had to fix the first set of shelving after I put too many books on it and broke the dang thing) ), and the counters are becoming clutter- free for cutting fabric and unfinished crafting projects.

The office space now has room for me to put things where I need them without them falling off the desk (with the cats' help) in piles!

When will the madness end?!?

Having jobs like this finished and implemented feels a lot like that first spring day, when you open the door, looking at the sunny brightness, hands on hips as you take your first deep breath of warm fresh air. Ah, what a great feeling! A very nice pick-me-up right before the Christmas chaos.

The best part? Now I have room for bake Christmas breads and cookies!

Wait a second....maybe there was a method to his madness after all? Hmm....

Monday, December 9, 2013

Had It, Lost It

I was a reasonably sane person before I was married.

I was still fairly reasonable before the children.

Now I am totally insane.

The good kind of sane, not the kind that sends you to the loony bin in those snappy looking white shirts with the long, lockable sleeves.

I used to be punctual. Now I'm a raving lunatic convinced that the space/time continuum is out to get me, and that my husband and kids were put on this earth to make me late for everything. And now that I'm older, my own body betrays me with last minute potty stops.

I used to be organized. Sort of. Let's just say I knew what stuff was in what pile. Now I'm dealing with people who have no clue how to put back scissors, tape, or my favorite pen, and don't have an inking of it's current place of residence.

I used to be able to sleep. You know, the kind of deep sleep that couldn't be roused by an earthquake. Now that i have kids, if I can't hear them breathing from the other side of the house, I wake up in a panic. 
Any slight noise (including 'nightly noxious emissions of a gaseous nature') will rouse me, wondering if an ax murderer came into the house- and if I should tell my husband to go check whilst armed in his tidy-whiteys.

Yeah- that will scare off an ax murderer- especially if my husband hasn't had his 'nightly noxious emissions' yet.

I used to be able to eat. Okay, I can still eat (quite a lot, actually), but it's what I eat and how I eat that's changed. No more leisurely munching on breakfast and reading a book; I have a husband and kids now, and my morning is spent cooking breakfast, making twenty-thirds for my son, and then sitting down to a meal of cold eggs and warm iced tea.
Either that or I have to forage for something I can wolf down in 2.3 seconds, because some emergency came up- or my husband made family plans that require us to be up on a Saturday at the crack of dark.

I used to have a schedule. I still do (sort of), but now there is a lot more space for scribbling out and rewriting stuff because the family doesn't tell me anything until the last minute. Like half-days at school, overtime at work, and certain people inviting fifteen-hundred friends over for dinner- and all I have is a brick of cheese and two eggs. Oh, and they'll be here in fifteen minutes.

I used to have a clean house. Now I have a 'drop zone' of school bags, work belts and totes filled with church sheet music littering my recently cleaned floor. Off come the shoes and socks, scattered liberally about the living room like confetti at a wedding as they head for the nice clean kitchen to get a very messy snack.
Coats never go in the closet- they are now re-purposed furniture coverings that the cats also deem as 'their new favorite sleeping spot'- and therefore irremovable because these little animals have the ability to become liquid and refuse to get off of them. Cats also contribute their fur to help insulate the rugs and furniture, and the only way to remove it is through a paint roller covered in double-sided duct tape. Or burn the house down. 

So why does all of this come to the self-diagnosis that I'm insane? Because I wouldn't have it any other way.

I love these messy people that make me late. I love the cats and their purrs- even as they steal my food right out of my fingers. Who else but an insane person would put up with all that- and still be happy?

Okay, not always happy when in the middle of it, but when I get a chance to breathe....you get the idea.

I had it, I lost it, and yet....I've still got it- and it's better than ever!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Holiday Planning For Those With No Cents

It's happened to all of us.

Just last week it was spring, and now we're smack dab into November- otherwise known as The Holiday Panic Attack.

You look at your bank account and the computer laughs at you. You have enough left after bills to get 30 minutes on a parking meter, but not enough to actually buy anything. So here are a few hints and tips to help get you through The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (other than Back to School Days):

Christmas gifts:

What can you re-gift? Look around your house for things that you no longer need or want but can serve as a great gift for someone else. That old ceramic dish with the chip you used for nuts would be perfect for Aunt Methuselah's new ashtray (the chip serving as the holder for the 'cancer sticks' she uses). 
What about that ceramic owl Granny Gertie gave you eons ago? It would be perfect for your cousin's new house in the boonies! Wasn't she having trouble with birds in her garden? Just drill a few holes in that sucker and add some sturdy rope, and you have a great gift!
Or if you're a crafter, take a look at all the stuff you haven't used in a while. Pom-poms can be made into art nouveau- ever see that painting with all the dots? Same theory, different material- and it's soft too!

As for the kids? Collect their dirty clothes they were supposed to wash weeks ago, wash and fold them, then wrap them. Won't they be surprised Christmas morning!

Christmas baking:

Bake from Scratch if possible. Homemade cookies are cheaper to make from scratch than those store-bought rolls of dough, so let's see if you have enough ingredients. You can always improvise with cake mix, pancake batter or biscuit mix, as long as you have something sweet to add, like small candies (leftover from Halloween), jimmies (or sprinkles), or chocolate chips. Or take a hammer to the fun sized Hershey bars- whatever works! 
Do you already have store-bought cookies? Great! Make a lightly sweet frosting made with cream cheese and heavy cream to put in between two cookies and let them sit in the fridge overnight. The cookies will be soft, and no one will know the better (especially if the cookies were a little stale)!

Christmas dinner:

Have a freezer potluck. Those that insist on coming over must bring something, and you spend the day before the event clearing out your freezer and defrosting. 
The best thing about potlucks is that anything can be served- including BBQ ribs, hamburgers, and those chicken nuggets that were on Manager's Special. 
Have everything 'casual'- that means paper plates and plastic forks- so you don't have any clean up and no one will know you're on your last ounce of dish soap. 
Have someone bring something to drink or make a gallon of 'Christmas celebration tea' with all of your odd tea bags. Feel free to spike it with any leftover alcohol for after dinner.

Do all of these things and you'll not have to spend a dime- and still make everyone happy!*

*writer's note- this post is purely satire- though when in desperation I have considered doing some of these for just me, my husband and the kids! ;P