Thursday, August 29, 2013

M.O.M. (Mom Operating Manual)

The kids and I got this book from the library the other day...
I think I enjoyed it more than they did, but seriously, it is so funny!

I think younger kids might not "get" it -- in fact, a lot of the reviews on Goodreads said so, but my older 3 especially LOVED it. It's nothing to be taken seriously -- that's not the point. We had a lot of fun reading it together and laughing at so many things we found similar to what goes on at our house. It's definitely one of our new favorites!

I think it would make a fun gift for a Mom who is right in the middle of the chaos we call Parenthood. We all need a good laugh, right? When writing this post, though, I realized the reason I find this book so funny may be because I am PAST a lot of the little people chaos. I survived, and now it's funny... mostly.

I especially enjoyed the "Troubleshooting" section highlighting certain auditory signals that may indicate minor malfunctions with your Mom

Heavy Sighing -- possible cause: Are you abusing your access to the duct tape? Quick fix: STOP it!

Groaning -- possible cause: Did you forget to flush the toilet again? Quick fix: Flush the toilet?

Snapping -- likely cause: You won't put your shoes on. Quick fix: Put your shoes on!

Eerie Silence -- likely cause: OVERLOAD. Quick fix: Call grandma!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Following in their Mother's "blogsteps"

Okay, so you may have noticed there are two new blogs on my profile:

Ask the Kat  (Kaia's blog)


My sweet daughters have been watching me blog for years now and just last month decided they wanted to start their own blogs, so we did. Right now, I'm the administrator on them and we just figured out how to add Zoe as a contributing author. So the blogs are a work in progress for sure.

I'm really excited for them to have this creative outlet. They both love writing and they both have HUGE imaginations. It's been fun to help them get these blogs going. If you have a minute, go check them out -- I know they would just LOVE a comment or two.
My girls... :) Zoe (left) and Kaia (right)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Friends and Flylady to the rescue! Oh, and an ICE BUN!

Alright, since my last post about de-cluttering and not mending everything, I've been feeling a lot better about the whole situation.

For one thing -- I signed up for FLYLADY emails again. She's like a personal online coach for organizing and taking control of your life. I've been going through spurts of following her suggestions off and on since, oh, 2001? I think. Whenever I'm following her "flight plan" I ALWAYS feel better and my house looks better and feels better too. You should seriously check her out! It's really easy to do AND well, easy not to do, and that is my problem. I need to stick to it. Her daily emails can be quite overwhelming at first, but most of them are just testimonials and I don't always read all of them -- you'll soon figure out which ones you need to read. Here's my (super fancy) Flight Plan for each day. I took the Flylady's suggestions and modified it a bit to my needs:

Also, several friends on Facebook gave me some really good suggestions to help tackle the clutter and excess in my house. My friend, Tawnya, sent me this great article about the "time cost" of our stuff and it really hit home. The minimalist lifestyle is really big right now -- a lot of it is just TOO much for me to process, but like Tawnya suggested, you can study up on it and find a "comfortable spot" for your family. :) I like that. Like a thoughtful spot?? Ahhhh.

My friend, Sharon, (I'm quoting you, ok???) said:  "I came to a similar revelation within the last year - just how much time I spend managing all my stuff. I move it, I organize it, I clean it, I fix it all because WHY would I get rid of something that I might need someday?? I've been just purging through stuff like crazy and the things I've realized is 1) We have way more stuff than anyone needs 2) I have NOT missed anything 3) I use the stuff I keep a lot more because I can find it and have time to use it and 4) It gets easier to let go the more you do it."  

This was great for me to hear --- I can do it, I can do it. I especially LOVE #3. Everyone suggested, including my dear friend, Maggie, that I should start with clothes.

SO, Monday got crazy -- LOTS of kids here playing and me trying to focus on the kitchen (keeping my sink clean and shiny is one of the Flylady's best secrets). When I'm consistent with it, my house IS "magically" much neater. I wonder why? I think it's like the broken window effect -- but inside. When the family sees the kitchen undone (including me) they're much more likely to leave out this or pile up that. It's true. SHINE YOUR SINK EVERY DAY! (Meaning, you have to have ALL of your dishes washed so you can actually get to the bottom of your sink to clean it!)

Tuesday -- well, on Tuesday, we got a PIANO, but that's another story. (We're keeping it here for a friend for a long while and I'm just thrilled!) Thank you, Debbie!

So, Tuesday, we attacked the kids closets and dressers. I guess I should take pictures. It felt really good. We didn't get rid of a whole LOT (since we just moved in April and I'd gone through stuff), but we organized everything and the kids got to decide what clothes they like the most. I also made labels (really fancy with painters tape, ha ha) to put on their drawers.

Anyway, it made me feel REALLY good. It was actually fun! Kaia always enjoys this because she gets Zoe's hand-me-downs -- but then, we have to go through her things again. I'm feeling better: I have a plan and I have great friends and family -- there isn't anything else I need, right? Well, maybe some GUMPTION.

Let me just say: I can't believe how BIG my children are getting! Time is flying by....
I'm VERY proud of them -- we had a really good last week of summer and first day of school.
Gabe and I were at the highschool on Monday picking up his schedule. When we were crossing the road, Gabe said, "Wait, Mom, don't cross yet, didn't you see that truck?" I just looked over at him and smiled and he said, "Well, I don't want anything to happen to you, I kinda like you."  MADE MY DAY FOREVER! Yep. 

Oh, and this is really random, but SO awesome, I wanted to share: During June, Beck played T-ball and we were always SO HOT watching his games. One day, Zoe decided to take an ice cube out of the cooler and put it in her bun. GENIUS. It has been my go-to hairdo for anything outside this summer and definitely for yard work. Seriously, it really helps keep you cool and it doesn't melt for quite awhile. I took a picture of Zoe's "ICE BUN" to show you -- the ice is the white circle in the middle, but in reality, we usually bury it completely inside and close to our head. Try it! (I really REALLY don't like to be hot.)
Funny how it's almost September and since we moved in April, I've completely lost track of my 2013 Mantra: Balance, Exactness, Focus.

Well, it's never too late to start. At the end of every Flylady email, she says: "You are not behind! I don't want you to try to catch up; I just want you to jump in where we are. O.K.?" 

Let's GO!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Brain Dump... Deja vu? Wait... a BREAKTHROUGH!

I think I already have a post somewhere titled, "Brain Dump".

I shouldn't blog sometimes, really. Today I woke up in a bit of a funk.

My mind is SO full. SO FULL.

There is just SO much to do, so much to remember, so much to plan, so much to even think about.

Not to mention all of the "stuff" that happens everyday that I don't expect or can't plan for... let's not even go into the crazy of all that!

I used to be better at taking one thing at a time and then, moving on to the next.

I'm not sure if I've lost that ability OR if there's just SO much to do... my brain is ready to explode. Seriously. I sit down to make a to-do list and I can vaguely decipher a flow of activity somewhere in the back of my brain. Much like a blender swirling with words and phone numbers and check lists and fuzzy clouds of ??? Just LOTS of fuzz really.

At the front of my brain, the part that is formulating and typing these words at this moment, there is just a clear, resounding FUZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Like a low hum or a white noise that purposely? or thankfully? blocks out all of the swirling blender stuff. I can't seem to turn the FUZZ off any more.

Problem is: I desperately need to dive into that blender and deal with some of that stuff!

I woke up spouting off my to-do list to my husband this morning in between deep sighs of frustration and stress. Ever patient (patiently?), he listens and always has a good (if not always logical) strategy to attack my day. He's not a stay-at-home mom (obviously), so he just doesn't really get it, but he sure tries.

Today, however, I think he said something rather profound. I won't bore you with my BOOK of things I need to do/should do/could do/want to do/really have to do, because I know you have your own. Maybe our books are rather similar? Maybe not? Either way. Life is busy. Life as a mother at any phase, age, or number of children is BUSIER than ever.

Zeke was standing in our closet trying to get ready to go to work (bless his heart!) as I'm purging and pleading and well, basically, whining. We were talking about building more shelves in our closet, because, you know, that's what everyone needs right after they move into a bigger house, right? Seriously though, shelves for HIS clothes, because I have a huge basket and two boxes FULL of things that need to be mended and they're taking over our closet. What?? Yeah, it's embarrassing and rather ridiculous.

It's not that I don't mend -- I do -- every couple of months I take a day and just mend stuff. My kids usually end up wanting to sew something right along with me, which is good, but my overall progress is greatly diminished, but hey, I have kids that like to sew. That's a good thing in my book.

Anyway, the mending basket mysteriously multiplies overnight. Really! Just when I think I've made a dent, it's full again just a few days later.

Is it obvious to everyone, but me? Zeke simply said, "Don't mend. Just don't. In the grand scheme of things, mending does NOT matter. The kids have plenty of clothes. Prioritize what they really need and THROW THE REST AWAY." Isn't he a genius??

Inside though, I instantly recoiled at the thought... THROW THE REST AWAY????? What the? I can't.... WASTE something??? How do I define WASTING something? How can Zeke say that and be okay with it? It sounded SO lovely, SO simple, SO right. But.... THROW THE REST AWAY? I want to feel that way too.

For months (YEARS), I've been praying about how I can get it all done and how I can feel LESS stress. I've been thinking all morning about what Zeke said as I've been watering our lawn and doing laundry (YEAH, there's a wake-up call). Don't laugh, but I think I seriously have a hard time getting rid of stuff or just the idea of wasting stuff. I'm not sure if I've always been this way. Our house certainly isn't overflowing or anything, but the things I do to save stuff or get the good out of stuff *might* be considered a bit overboard by other people.

I mend clothes and blankets and things until they're literally falling apart between the seams! Among other things, I use THE ABSOLUTE LAST DROP of everything. Toothpaste, syrup, lotion, ketchup, etc. I know it drives my family crazy. It should. It's silly. I have bottles of stuff in the fridge and in the bathrooms turned upside down with the threat, "Don't throw that away yet, there's still some left!" SILLY!

What about the TIME I'm wasting saving those little things and making room for them? What I'm really doing is WASTING my time. My time is so precious. I can't buy time. I got mad at Kaia yesterday for throwing away a half-eaten apple. Yes, I totally agree we shouldn't waste food, but seriously over-reacted for sure. It's just an apple. She's my sweet daughter. I'm embarrassed to even tell you that.

You know, I go through a blog famine here and there and whenever I start again, I always feel so much better. It's very therapeutic. I hope my life of learning things the hard way helps someone else avoid my mistakes in the first place.

Today, I'm going to pray REALLY hard to let go of things that do not matter. Today, I'm going to try really hard to get rid of some things in my house. I'm especially going to re-evaluate my mending basket.

I read somewhere recently about getting rid of 5 things everyday for 5 days and doing that each month. Even little things. I'm going to try it.

P.S. Zeke, I love you more than anything... you are my DENSITY.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The end is near...

The end of summer, that is.

This summer has been a BLUR! Good and Bad and Crazy and calm??? Actually, I don't remember much of it being calm, but overall, it's been a good summer. We survived and for the most part, we're still smiling.

School starts in a week. My kids excitement level decreases greatly as their age increases.
Beck is starting Kindergarten -- he is SO excited, he can hardly sleep! He asks me everyday, "How many more days until I can go to school?" He talks about it all day long.

Kaia is starting 4th grade -- she's excited to see her friends, meet her new teacher, go the school library,  and of course, go to recess!

Zoe is starting 7th grade -- she's excited to see her friends, sort of...

Gabe is starting 10th grade -- he's... um, "school, what? at least I got new shoes, right?"

I'm excited, I am. I'm not gonna lie. It's time. We've had a good time together going to the park and the library and swimming lessons and playgroup and the splash pads. We've spent a lot of the time organizing and enjoying our new house. We rode the bus one day just for "fun". (It was fun for about the first 5 minutes, but it was an adventure!) We made a fire pit in our backyard and have enjoyed roasting marshmallows and string cheese and grasshoppers and...  yeah. We have improved their cooking skills (their request) and cleaning skills (MY request). And we have done a LOT of yard work, but I've really enjoyed it.

I'm not a big fan of the sun. In fact, I really don't like it at all. It makes me very ill every time I go out in it for more than, well, about 5 minutes. Really. So that's hard to work around. My kids have learned to adapt. We stay in the shade or we don't go outside. We've been playing board games quite a bit this summer -- strange, I know, but it's been fun. Our favorites? Monopoly and Killer Bunnies (I'm using the term "favorites" VERY loosely).

Our favorite inside activity though, would have to be reading. We've cuddled up with more than a few books this summer. Well, my kids have. I can't seem to focus... I've been working on "The Lost Hero" by Rick Riordan nearly all summer and I just finished it last week. It's really good -- it just isn't captivating? I don't know what's happened to me... I used to LOVE LOVE LOVE a good YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I still do, but I find myself being drawn to memoirs and even just fictions that are a bit more realistic. Huh. I hope I'm not growing up too much... maybe it's a phase...well, I'm forcing myself to plow through "Son of Neptune" and on through that series. My kids love that one -- they're waiting for me to catch up so we can discuss it. :) Awwww.

We also did our traditional Summerfest day (arts festival) and Cache County Fair adventure. 
I think this ride was called "Dizzy Dragons" or something... so fun! Beck is on the far right, with Kaia next to him, and our friend Monique next to Kaia. (Random girl next to Monique... Beck says she is their new best friend. Ok.)

Oh, one more VERY important thing to note:

This is a CHURRO... the really YUMMY kind from the fair. My friend, Rose, and her family makes them. Rose is Monique's mom. This one has dulce de leche filling (like caramel, but WAY BETTER.)

And this IS Churro (He found his way to our house and well... he's just too adorable.) 
He's our newest family member.
The kids and I think his fur looks like it's sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and his eyes are truly the color of dulce de leche. (I need to post a picture of his eyes). Yep, it's official, we're crazy. 

And it's official: We have the legal limit of cats per household in our city. 4. 
4 kids, 4 cats -- my kids think we are now complete.

More on summer later...

Time to organize a few more drawers and boxes before school starts (as in, I really need to find my social security card -- I'm teaching preschool this Fall -- I start next week! -- and my employer needs a copy of it.)

It's "MEOW or NEVER" (saw that on Facebook!)

P.S. Kaia chose my new background -- it really goes with our houseful of CATS! It's kinda hurting my eyes, but I'll keep it for awhile.
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