Last year, St. Patrick's Day came and went. I made my traditional soda bread and we had a corned beef dinner. However, the one thing we forgot to do was make leprechaun traps. The kids were disappointed and vowed to remember to make them this year. Well, St. Patrick's Day snuck up on us this time. I did not make my traditional soda bread. We did get corned beef (if the grocery store didn't have it on sale, I would have totally forgotten to get that, too). However, my kids did remember to build their traps! Since I was crazy busy running kids from place to place, Husband did all of the helping with the traps. This was his first year, ever, building a leprechaun trap, which is why they are't all fancy and decorated. I forgot to get pictures of the traps before they were set off, but the kids and Husband did a pretty good job. We need to up our game next year and catch that little sucker since he made a huge mess in my house!
The other night I noticed something about our family. It's something we do all the time. It's something we don't ever even think about while we're doing or after it's done. Yet, it's so important. It's something I hope my kids see when they look back at their childhoods. It's something I rarely remember at my house and Husband doesn't remember it at all at his house. In fact, I can't remember it at any of my friends' houses. Neither can Husband. In this house, we laugh.
Sounds a little crazy, right? Laughing is something people do a lot. But it's rarely something that a whole family does together. Sure, sometimes families laugh while watching TV, but that's not the kind of laughter I mean. I'm talking about the kind of laughter when everyone is enjoying each other. Just because I don't remember a lot of laughter growing up doesn't mean my childhood was sad. My childhood was great. I enjoyed time with my parents. We had a lot of great moments and moments of a lot of laughter. There just wasn't whole family laughter on daily basis. Every day in this house, there is laughter.
The most important thing about recognizing that there is laughter is that it means there is family interaction. I know I've said this before, but our family just doesn't watch a lot of television. It's not that we're against it, it's just that our family finds other ways to be entertained without it. I have written this time and time again, but it's worth saying a multitude of times, my kids are best friends. The reason we have so much laughter in this house is because of their interaction. They use their imaginations together. In this day and age, it's rare to find kids using their imaginations. Everything is already done for them. Yesterday, my kids literally played together the entire day. In fact, at bedtime, Sunshine cried because Monster has karate tonight which means, "I won't be able to play a game with my brother before going to bed!" That's how close these two are.
The laughter in this house always takes me by surprise. Crazy since we do it all the time. Yet, I'm always caught a little off guard. There are days that I'm having just a crappy day. Then my kids come home from school and Husband gets home from work, and laughter is filling the house once again.
We try very hard to make sure we have family time every day. Thursdays are the worst and unusually end up being our toughest days, overall. You can definitely tell the days where we are insanely busy. Everyone is a little crankier and there's no laughter. Days with no laughter make us all crabby and snap at each other. But we recognize those days and we pull out them. We realize that we need family time and we make sure we make time for each other.
I can count on one had the amount of friends that I have that laugh together as a family. It's sad really. "Laughter is the best medicine". In today's society, kids are so over scheduled that it's no wonder families aren't laughing together. Most of the time, families aren't even home together for more than 30 minutes a night! To us, that's crazy. We're busy, but we almost always have time for each other. Maybe it's because we make sure we make each other a priority. Yes, we all need our down time and time away from each other, but the time we spend as a family, laughing and having fun, or even just talking, is so very special. It's what makes us who we are. Enjoying each other is just what we do.
In today's society, it's not alright for moms to admit when they are overwhelmed. We are supposed to act like we have it all together. For the most part, I do have it all together. Maybe that's part of the reason these past couple of weeks have been so overwhelming for me. Yes, I'm admitting it. I'm drowning.
On February 7, my 84 year old father had hip replacement surgery. I wasn't worried about the surgery. I knew that the surgery was going to be great for him. He has spent the past 6 months barely being able to move, and that's not him. He's the most active guy I know. So, this surgery wasn't an issue, in my mind. Plus, he had his other one done 8 years ago and that went great. Unfortunately, I come by my anxiety issues honestly. The Thursday before my dad's surgery, he was in the ER for anxiety attacks. Apparently, the hospital was his trigger. My dad has always had anxiety, whether he admitted it or not, but this was the first time he had ever had a panic attack. It sucks, because I knew exactly what my dad was feeling. I could feel that tightness in his chest and the feeling like his throat was closing. I could feel how he just couldn't catch his breathe. I could feel his helplessness and his fear. And there was nothing I could do. First, I'm 45 minutes away from my parents, have two children who have things going on, and no help. Second, there's just nothing to do for a panic attack. Since this was his first one, he ended up in the ER, scared he may be having a heart attack. Doctors did all sorts of tests and determined it was anxiety and put him on some medication. It helped. Unfortunately, this is where my life started to get overwhelming. I decided that I needed to by there for my dad's surgery. I wasn't supposed to go, but I decided I needed to go. I am so thankful for my amazing friends. Because of them, I was able to divide my kids and go be with my parents the entire day. Surgery went well. I was glad I was there. But, as any mom knows, when you spend an entire day away from home, things start to get off. You start to get behind.
I have been trying to play catch up ever since then. It hasn't been successful. I am not saying that I am overwhelmed because my dad had surgery. It just happens to be where it all started. In fact, the very next day, I felt overly successful because I stayed home and got a ton of laundry done, but there was still so much more. The crazy beautiful weather we have been having hasn't helped. The last thing anyone wants to do when it's 60 in Ohio in February is stay inside and work!
It's just one thing after the other and I can't catch up. Normally, I feel a little behind in everything. I look at my house and see all the things that need to be done, but I also know that those things can usually wait. This isn't like that. This is a complete feeling of being lost. I look around and not only do I see so much to do, I can't even think of where to start. I'm very behind on laundry. Part of my anxiety (yes, I know I said I wasn't going to talk about it, but this plays a part) is that I can't have anything left in the washing machine overnight. That limits my laundry time. I can't do anything late at night because I have to be up late enough to throw it into the dryer. I can't run the washer or dryer too late because it keeps Sunshine awake. It's a Catch 22.
So why am I so overwhelmed? Let me tell you what my Thursday afternoon looked like. It was early release day, which was a blessing. It was a blessing because that gives me more time, oddly enough. I picked Sunshine up from school at 2:30. We had a little Mommy/Sunshine time until I had to get Monster from Chess Club. However, I had to get Sunshine ready for dance before going to get Monster. As soon as Monster got home, he had to get into his gi for karate. I had to take him to karate 40 minutes early because it was watch week at Sunshine's dance, which happens to be at the same time as karate. Monster left homework at school. Fortunately, we live close to the school and there happened to be a blood drive going on at school so the school was open. So, we ran up to the school on our way to karate/dance. Monster ran in and grabbed his homework. I dropped Monster off at karate and then Sunshine and I ran over to dance. I spent 45 minutes watching Sunshine dance (I can't believe how big she's getting!). Then we ran back to karate. Monster was running late, so I called Husband to see if he was home yet. He had just walked in the door, so I ran Sunshine home, told Husband what the dinner plan was, and then ran back up to karate. Monster was finishing up when I got there. Came back home, dinner was almost ready. Help finish up dinner. Get everyone to sit down and eat. Do dishes. Have the boy do his homework. Now, let me say, this is awful for several reasons. First, the school has implemented a no homework thing, so him haivng homework is rare. Second, he's in advanced math. Some of the stuff I can help with, but some I can't. This happened to be something I couldn't. He spent an hour on 6 problems with Husband, working extremely hard the entire time. During this time, we have to do flashcards with Sunshine since she had a timed math test on Friday (she passed, BTW). That takes us right up to bedtime. Then, I look around. I see all the things that I needed to accomplish, but didn't get a chance to do. And that's just one evening.
I look at my calender and it's a crazy overlapping mess. Add to that my daily list of things to do, and I don't even have a moment to breathe. The other day, I looked at Husband and told him I need help. I told him I'm completely overwhelmed. Being the amazing man he is, he asked what he could do to help. The thing is, there's really nothing. He can't go to meetings for me. He can't take off of work to make sure kids are where they need to be at the times they need to be there. For us, time together as a family is important, so we try to space work out to allow us time to be together. Lately, though, that's been an issue for me. We make time for us and then my work load backs up. Important things pile up and get lost in the shuffle. Actually, it's mostly me that gets lost in the shuffle. I have been carving out a tiny bit of time every day to take Puppy for a walk. That's my happiest time of day, until the last 4 houses of the walk. I get to those last houses and all I can think about is the amount of work waiting for me and how I should have thrown a load of clothes in the wash before heading out the door or that I need to get out and pick up sticks , but I don't have time, and on and on and on. Yesterday, a friend of mine, who has kids who are pretty darn busy as well, commented that she wants to head back to work because she's bored. I don't have time to be bored. I really wish I did. If I had time to be bored, I'd be heading off to find a job as well, but I honestly don't see a point where there will ever be time for that again.
Everyone jokes and says they need more time in the day, but I honestly just need more time. Or a bigger house so that the time I do have can be better spent. Or kids who actually sleep through noise. Or people around who are willing to spend time with my kids. Or a chauffeur. Or a cook....that one would be the best. I can't wait for Spring Break. I'll have a little time then. Time to catch up. Time to be with my family. Time.
Everything in life is about perspective. I've always believed it's important to try to see things from other people's perspectives. Everyone brings their own unique perspective to the table. If you can't see something from another perspective, then you need to at least accept that others' views are different than yours. Lately, it's been more and more difficult to see things through another perspective, but, I still try to accept differences. What I can't accept is people who don't even bother trying to see things through another's eyes. Those people just piss me off. And more and more people are pissing me off.
So, to try to get the point across, I thought I do it with photos. Seems strange and pointless, right, since we've been hit with photo after photo after photo recently about everything going on in our country and world. This demonstration is a little different though. This has to do with my 4 inch heels. I'm 5'2". I don't think anything of it. It's who I am. But when I put those heels on, I literally get a whole new view on life. Perspective is important. If we don't accept that others have different perspectives than we do, then we become part of the problem.
These are pictures taken without heels and then with heels. They were taken with the same camera (my phone) fromt the same eye level and angle. Same exact picture, but from a different perspective. It's really amazing the difference in what you see.
I am not saying you need to accept things that you do not like. I'm saying you need to try to understand others' view points. If you can't understand them, at accept they have a right to their opinion. The person next to you may be looking at the same thing, but see it in a whole different way.
Snow Day!!! Whoo hoo!! We love snow days in this house! I'm not the mom who is upset because my kid is missing school or because it's more time I have to entertain my kids. I embrace snow days. This snow day a little different because there wasn't actually snow. There was ice. Playing outside wasn't an option. Going someplace wasn't an option. I, of course, made a list of things that I thought we should do on our day off. My list didn't get done, but it didn't matter. It was all fun stuff. First thing both kids did was grab a book! They spent a good portion of the day curled up reading. We made some chapstick and some lotion bars. We did some electricity experiments. We polished nails. We played a little Minecraft. We baked some almond cressents. Mostly, though, we enjoyed being together! We had a relaxing, fun day off!
Anyone who knows me knows I don't cook. I'm willing to bet that people don't know WHY I don't cook though. I don't cook because I live with picky eaters. No, I'm not kidding. I'd love to say it's just my cooking skills, but even when Husband cooks, and uses a new recipe, no one likes it. When Husband and I first moved in together, I loved making new recipes. He hated almost all of them. So, I stopped making new stuff. Then, after having Monster, we got bored with our food and I started making new recipes again. Again, he didn't like most of them. Years go by and we go through this song and dance every other year or so. We're at that point where we're bored with the 3 meals everyone can agree on. Again, I try out new recipes and I'm reminded of why I hate to cook. No one likes anything. Last year, I made stew. It was a simple crock pot stew recipe. I made it because I wasn't going to be home for dinner and thought it would be more efficient if dinner was hot and ready when the family wanted to eat. Who was I kidding. I got a phone call saying that dinner was horrible, but everyone was trying to get through it. I came home, tried the horrible stew. It tasted like.....stew. That's right. It tasted like every stew I've ever had in my whole life. With the way the other three were talking you would think it was poison. When I tell them it tastes like stew I got, "Hmm, I guess we just don't like stew then". And that was the end of new recipes for a while...unless, of course, it was a dessert recipe because I have a high rate of success with those.
Fast forward through countless meals that no one likes and we get to today. I had a meal all planned out. Chicken with a new rub recipe, au gratin potatoes, and green beans. Simple, right? Well, I misplaced the rub recipe (not like it matter because no one would have liked it), so I had to find something, fast, that I could do with the chicken. I found a recipe for spicy citrus chicken. I had all the ingredients and it went well with my already planned out sides. Surprise, surprise, no one liked it. Husband didn't like the citrus and the kids didn't like the spicy. I thought it was good. It was chicken with a little kick. Not only did no one like the chicken, but only Monster and I ate the potatoes. I'm not kidding when I say one would think I stuck toxic sludge on Sunshine's plate and not cheesy potatoes. I put one tiny piece of a potato on her plate and she made gaggind noises while eating it. Husband has never been a fan of au gratin potatoes, but he'll eat them. Only thing everyone ate were the green beans. I didn't get any of those, though because it was all everyone else would eat.
Cooking dinner should not be cruel and unusual punishment. I understand that cooking for kids can be difficult, but it's not just my kids who are picky in this house! This is why we eat the same three meals all the frickin' time. This is why I hate cooking dinner. Every night around 5:00, I have a deep sense of dread because i know that either a) I'm cooking the same shit I always cook, or b) no one is going to eat what I'm making. This is why I lose it with Sunshine when she asks what we're having for dinner. Who cares? No one is going to eat it! I envy the moms out there who can serve their families cereal for dinner when they don't feel like cooking. No one in my family eats cereal. That's right. No one eats it which means I cook a hot breakfast for my kids almost every morning (sometimes the littlest one and biggest one will eat granola).
So I hate to cook. BUT....my new endevour with baking leaves room to spill over to cooking, which I'm pretty excited about. I can cook things that I'd love to try and others will actually appreciate it. My family will eat the same three meals, but at least I'll be able to cook more than the same, tired meals night after night. And if you happen to be someone brave enough to come over to our house for dinner, don't be surprised when I say it's a new recipe. My hope is that someone will eat what I cook!
Every January, we start off the year with the "Get 'Er Done" attitude. Busy, busy, busy is always the theme. As a matter of fact, my last post was all about all the crap that I need/want to accomplish. So, three days later, what changed? Nothing but our perspectives. I won't get into details, but at the stroke of midnight on Jan 1, Husband was the most hopeless I had ever seen him regarding a new year. Anyone who knows him knows this is not normal. Then there was me. I had plans on taking down all of the Christmas decorations on New Year's Eve to put away New Year's Day, but was too tired to do so (I only made it until 10pm...yes, I'm a lightweight..but I did wake up at midnight thanks to the fireworks). That meant New Year's day, I already felt rushed. Then a series of unfortunate events happened, which I will not bore you with, but they left me feeling like 2017 was already not going to be a good year.
Then, Husband and I talked. This has been the best Winter Break in long time. Monster thinks it's been the best break ever. Husband thinks it's probably pretty darn close to the best break ever. (I still hold that 2013 break was the best ever, but this one was really good.) Anyway...we decided we need to bring Winter Break into our every day lives. It had nothing to do with things that we were doing, but all about things we were feeling. Everyone was happy. Everyone liked each other. Everyone helped each other.
A few days after we got home, the bickering started. Not just with the kids, but with all of us. Husband and I decided this was unacceptable, especially coming off such a great time. Together, as a family, we all sat down and created a mission statement. Everyone thought of things that they believe this family is about. After doing it individually, we all came together to discuss. It was interesting because we all came up with pretty much the same ideas. Our family mission statment is this:
Our Family Will:
~ Enjoy every day together, having fun and being together as much as possible
~Always treat each other and others with respect and kindness, even people we don't like
~Always be there and help each other and others in need
~Always keep each other, family, and friends safe
I think it's a pretty good mission statement. It sums up how our family feels we should act. This weekend, we're going to come up with family goals. Our family probably spends more time together than a lot of family's, but togetherness is important to us. So, we are going to work on it. We're going to work on all being happier together and meeting each other's needs. That's going to mean slowing down. That's going to mean that not everything gets checked off a list. And it will be OK. It will be OK because we're doing these things to make us better family members and better people.
Looking Back at 2016
My favorite experience: Went to the zoo
Being with my family a lot. Getting my Brown Belt.
My Biggest Accomplishment: Being a good girl at the zoo
Getting my Brown Belt
My Favorite Place to Visit: The zoo
The Best Meal Is: Pizza
If I have a day free, I like to: Spend time with my family, play baseball, play on the playground
Be with my family
My Favorite Book: Madeline
My Favorite Movie: Finding Nemo
Goonies and Transformers
Looking Ahead to 2017
I want to continue to: Be with my family
Be good at school and not read when I'm not supposed to
I want to try: Playing the piano
To be nicer to my sister and less grouchy in general
I want to stop: Talking grouchy
Being grouchy to my sister
I'd like to visit: The zoo, ballpark
Florida, zoo, parks to hike
One way I'd like to grow in 2017: I'd like to learn to play piano
My goals for this year: I want to be a better person.
I'd like to be less grouchy.
Every year, I make my lovely little motivated list of stuff I want to try, things I want to make, books I want to read, etc. Well, let me just say that 2016 was the year of getting nothing accomplished. Therefore, instead of my happy cute little titles, I'm stating it like it is....crap to do. My list of things that need to be done is a mile long, already and it's just January 1. This year, at least, I have found people to bake for! Not only am I going to be baking for my friends, but I will also be baking for a local establishment that offers free desserts, soup, sandwiches, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, etc, to it's patrons. It's a safe place for teens to hang out after school and is religiously based. I'm pretty excited about this new endevor. That being said, I also have a ton of actual work to do. I will not bore everyone with the countless things that I need to do in 2017. That list is saved on my computer for just me. What I will be posting though, is foods I'd like to try, things I'd like to make, and tips I'd like to test out.
Books to Read:
See all of 2016 books since I only read 2 of the books on the list
And there you have it, since I know everyone was a waiting a whole year to see what my new projects would be. I am now off to start checking things off my To Do list for the day. Hope everyone has a very happy, healthy 2017!
This year, like every year, we went to Florida for Christmas. This vacation was a first though. This was our very first family vacation with just the 4 of us....ever. We have never gone on vacation without other family members. Husband and I were worried that we would all be at each other's throats and would be miserable. This vacation was a test for us. A test to see if we could do this on our own. It turned out to be one of the best vacations ever. Of course we had our moments, but, overall, it was great! We went to the beach every day and swam all but one day. People asked why we didn't go to Disney or Legoland or someplace like that. Well, it's because our family is content without that. We are happier to sit in the sun at the pool or on the beach. We like to be where there's no crowds and no hassles. It was just what our little family needed to regroup.