Brain Dump

I am seriously dumping my brain into this blog post just because I don’t have anywhere else to get rid of the overload.

The second is that right now my brain IS a dump and I need to declutter it.  Man, I would really like to get rid of that theme in my life.

So here we go – I will attempt to make this somewhat organized so that I don’t totally scare off my 1 remaining reader, and so that when I revisit this post, I am able to make sense of it and see if I have progressed at all!

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding And The Meaning of ...

Image by Earthworm via Flickr

Physical house clutter – well, I can’t say that it is any worse, but it is definitely  not any better!  I live in my dream house – there is nothing else in the house that I could honestly want.  There is way more space than a family of 4 needs.  It is structurally a very pretty house.  The house is filled with roomy closets and ample cabinets.   There is absolutely no reason why this house should be this cluttered!  If there were 7 people,  maybe.  But even if there were 7 people living in this house it is large enough that it should not be this cluttered and disorganized.  The only thing that I can complain about regarding this house is that the interior is not painted (waiting on $$$ to get that done).   The rest is completely a result of poor habits.  So I am back on the band wagon to get this house finally organized.  I was talking to someone the other day who put it into perspective for me.  We moved into the house 3 months after we adopted our 2nd daughter (adoption in January, move in March).  I had a hysterectomy in April.  That month was spent just getting things in place where my family could function while I was on major lifting restrictions from surgery.  From that time forward my family has lived from one “crisis” to another.  About the time that we would start to feel like we could move forward another would hit us.  They ranged from 3 occurrences of cancer in my father, my husband being laid off, a dear friend’s death, giving up some of my personal goals so my husband could be a small business owner, the economy crash hitting my husband’s business hard, knowing there was something wrong with my oldest but not being able to get anyone to listen to me and then finally finding an awesome occupational therapist to help us out.   Those were the major issues and don’t include all the little things that occur on a daily basis.   The result is that we never really moved into the house.  We never established systems that worked for the long term.  Those are the things that we now need to do.  Our lives are starting to calm down and hubby and I are once again working together instead of working on the parallel and never meeting! 

Emotionally I need to let go of a lot of things.  This is tied very closely with my spiritual life.    Throughout all of the things that I have listed above I could look back and see where God had worked in my life.  But I was unable to truly focus on and find Him during the events.   I am now consciously working on training my soul to search out God, to pray constantly,  and to praise Him even during the bad times.  I have a very long way to go, but I can see where I have grown.  I have taken the first step in signing up for a Bible Study at our church that takes place during Sunday Morning Religious Education for the girls.  DH is going to be going with me.  I look forward to sharing this experience with him and learning together.  My youngest will also make her First Holy Communion this upcoming spring.  It is a time to reflect on His gift of Himself to us.  While this will make for a very busy year with retreats and classes, it will make my journey towards peace much easier to follow since there will be a set path for me this year.  In the journey I need to find where God wants DH and I to be regarding family growth – are we to adopt another child?  What role am I to play in the lives of young people as my girls grow?  How do I let go of that desire to have “just one more child” in my home?  How do I let go of my anger and disappointment at not being able to be a stay at home mom?  How do I let go to dream of home-schooling my children?  How to I ensure that faith and morals are passed on to them in this fast paced, way too worldly world in which we live?

Physically I am a mess.  I am at my all time highest weight EVER! I have taken a giant leap in this arena and started taking Tae Kwon Do.  My oldest and DH have been taking it for a little over a year.  My youngest and I signed up last week.  I have been to 2 classes.  I was wringing wet by the time the class was over, but I really felt good.   As my body begins to become more accustomed to the increased activity, I will tackle my dietary habits and those of my family.  This will be a tough area for me.  So much of my physical challenges lay squarely in the lap of the whole reason I was unable to bear children.   It is a vicious cycle that is incredibly difficult to break and control.  But if I want to be around to see who my girls turn out to be, I need to become proactive.  So one step at a time.  I refuse to try and change to much at once regarding my physical self – but I WILL make the needed changes and be able to be a physical presence that does not embarrass my girls.  To hear that I am a hot mama from my DH would be nice, too!

Finances are finally starting to look up.  They will continue to be tight as we dig out of the hole incurred by the economy.  But we are slowly working away and will get there.  I need to take a more active role in conserving money and squeezing every drop of value from each penny.  I have started to coupon and watch sales.  It is a steep learning curve for me.  Over the last few years I was grateful just to have enough money to get food for the girls – we got necessities only.  Now that we can start spending a little more, I want to continue to be frugal and get as much value as possible.

My relationship with DH went through some rough patches over the last couple of years.  As the money canyon got more narrow, the emotional river ran faster and with many, many rapids.  We went on a World Wide Marriage Encounter this summer.  It was the perfect way for us to reconnect.  He put it perfectly – it was like we were both trying to reach each other, but we were on opposite sides of the Grand Canyon.  Over that weekend we finally met at the bottom of the Canyon.  There is a ranch down in the Canyon, along the Colorado River with a small, clear stream running through it.  It is called Phantom Ranch.  DH and I both felt that we finally reached the Ranch that weekend and were finally able to talk to each other without shouting across a gaping chasm.   We have a lot of re-tweeking to do on our communication, but we a finally on the same path, walking the same direction and holding hands while we travel.   I am so blessed to have him in my life as my partner.  After 21 years of marriage I still get butterflies when I see him.   He and my girls are what motivate me to become a better person, to live more fully, to laugh more, to move more, to be less weighted down with emotional/physical/house clutter.

So my journey starts with one step.  This first step is towards my bed to get adequate rest to be able to tackle my projects.  Catch you on the flip side of the clock!

Trashing the TV

Turn it off

Image by nitrodog via Flickr

Yesterday I talked about some of the concepts/lifestyles that I would like to take from The Waltons and put into my own life.  One thing that I listed was getting rid of nightly TV routine.  I would like to have some traditions to replace the TV.  Here are some things that I have been thinking about introducing or doing more routinely.

~Reading a book out loud.

~Putting together a puzzle as a family

~Reading the Bible

~Playing Wii together as a family

~Praying the rosary

~Playing board games/cards

~Listening to books on CD

~Going for a walk

~Sitting on the porch and identifying sounds in the dark

Does anyone have any other suggestions?  Any suggestions for games that would interest the whole family, including adults?

Priorities

The Waltons

Image via Wikipedia

During this time I have been recuperating from surgery, I have taken some time to look at things in my life, as I alluded to in my post yesterday.   Much of my time was spent in front of the TV, as my surgery took my right arm and hand out of commission. 

I am a serious sucker for TV shows that were popular when I was growing up.  In particular, shows that portray life as I would like it to be.  One show that I never grow tired of watching is “The Waltons”.   There are so many things about that family that I would like to include in my own family. 

First, let’s start with the things that I would like to include but will probably never happen.  The chances of me living on a mountain, surrounded by family and friends is probably not going to happen.  I would be content with about 7-10 acres that contain a small woods, a stream, a large yard where I can plant a garden, and farmhouse similar to the one the Waltons lived in, but with a few more modern amenities – a couple more bathrooms,  and a gas range/oven.  Being a SAHM to a large family with a husband that worked from home is probably not in the cards either, but I can still dream. 

Now for the things that I can incorporate into my family.  Slowing down.  Being involved in every activity at school and church is not something that our family must do.  Family dinners.  There is absolutely no reason that my family cannot sit down to dinner at the table, say grace and share our day with each other at least 5 times a week.  Turning off the TV.  A lot of people will say that watching TV is the modern version of listening to the radio.  I sincerely disagree.  The TV is something that seems to suck my children into it.  There are many other activities that we can be doing – listening to music, listening to books on CD, reading books out-loud to each other, playing games with each other.  All of those activities encourage interaction with each other.  Choosing activities that support our Christian beliefs.  There are a lot of worthwhile activities that my children can get involved in through school.  But there is an edge to all of them – fund-raising, competition, and interacting with lots of children who don’t share our value of respect.  I am not saying that I want to totally shelter my children from these things, but I think elementary school is a bit too young for it to infiltrate every part of their lives.  Talking to my children.  I know this may sound like a no-brainer, but sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of the day, bouncing from activity to activity, getting homework done, getting chores done, I realize that I have not really talked to my girls.  I am missing golden opportunities to get to know them, to help guide them to follow Christ, to become compassionate, respectful adults. 

So, things in my house need to change.  No they are going to change.  Step by step I am going to reclaim my family.  I am going to take a step back in time and enjoy the simple things.  It is not going to be easy.  It is not going to be without some withdrawal pains.  But I think my family will be the richer for it.

Family Friday

I love crafts.

Between my gramma having a crochet hook in my hand from the time I was 5, and her ability to make anything fun, and her depression era frugality – well, I was destined to craft.

But I got hung up somewhere on rules, “doing it right” and all the other things that can stifle creativity.

Then along came the girls – those wonderful, fun, creative and MESSY children who did not listen to instructions.   At the time I was way too into my perfectionistic phase to even consider letting them do something that was not going turn out perfect and showcase their perfect genius.  (Do you notice a trend there)

This past year of financial chaos has really made me appreciate moments instead of things.  It has allowed me to not try to be perfect and just have fun creating with my girls.   They love the creative process.  Many times they teach me a new way of doing something because they aren’t limited by the box in which we so often place ourselves.  And you know what else – sometimes I actually come out looking like a superstar when something actually works!

We recently did a craft using crochet thread, water balloons, glue, water, salt and food coloring.  This is NOT my original idea.  I know I got the idea off the internet.  As soon as I find the link I will put it on my Favorite Links for Kids page.

The premise is that air inflated water balloons are wrapped with crochet thread.  Then a mixture of 1/2 glue and 1/2 water is brushed over the thread until saturated.   At this point glitter is sprinkled on the project.  You then hang up the project until it dries, pop the balloon and you have a really cool ball that can be used as a Christmas ornament, hung in a window (they make really neat shadows)  or whatever you want to do with them.

My only original thought to this was a glitter substitute.  I did not have any glitter on hand.  I also hate that once glitter is introduced into our house it takes up permanent residence in the carpeting, on the furniture, and on any surface that could be touched by little hands.  So I was trying to come up with something that might be a little less invasive.  I put about 1/8 – 1/4 cup of table salt in 4 small bowls (like fruit bowls), then I (or rather my oldest)  added 3 drops of food coloring to each bowl.  I sent her to spread out our craft sheet on the entryway floor while I mixed up the salt until the color was evenly distributed.  (By the way, our craft sheet is the plastic sheet we used under the high chair for both girls. Now we use it as their craft sheet – it saved it from the landfill, wipes clean, will cover my kitchen table if there are only 2 people working on the crafts, and lets me remember their baby stage!

So here they are – our decorative balls.

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I swear that I will post the link to the tutorial when I find the website.

Thoughtful Thursday – Your Tongue

My mom quit working when I was born.  One reason was because she and my father decided having her at home with me was something they were willing to sacrifice her income to achieve.  Another reason was because my dad was a street cop at the time, which required him to change shifts every few weeks – 3 weeks on days, 3 weeks on evenings, 3 weeks on nights.   My mother was very, very good at protecting our family time.  While I remember having to be quiet during the weeks that dad worked nights, I rarely remember feeling like my dad’s schedule interfered in our time as a family.  I am sure that took a lot of work by both of them.   I know that they both sacrificed a lot to ensure that I was able to benefit from their undivided attention. 

My question is how were they able to do that?  I look at my life, at that of my girls, and my husband.  Financially, there is no way to have me stay at home, given the fact that I carry the benefits for the family.  But how can I ensure that the girls benefit from undivided attention, that they don’t feel lost in the business of daily life? 

I am trying to adjust my schedule to be available for them.

I make sure that either I or Hubby is available to be at their activities (such as Girl Scouts, Tae Kwon Do, VBS, etc).

I demand an evening a week where we have either a family game night or family movie night. 

I attempt to cook meals and insist that we sit down as a family for dinner a minimum of 4 nights a week. 

But one thing that gets lost in there is time for me and time for my marriage.  How do I meet everyone’s needs?

One way is to follow my dad’s advice -

Put the tip of my tongue on the roof of my mouth and say “NO”

But that is often easier said than done. 

There are so many expectations….

I found this article very helpful.  She discusses not only what saying no means, but also what saying yes means as well. 

At this, the beginning of the new year and filling in of new calendars, I am going to commit to looking at not only what I say yes to, but also what I will be saying no to in that yes.  I commit to being much more intentional in my schedule. 

How about you? Are you going to place your tongue at the roof of your mouth and say NO?

Motivation Monday – Taking the time for the imporant things

One doesn’t fall in love one grows into love,

and love grows in him

(author unknown)

Holding Hands shadow on sand

Image via Wikipedia

This past weekend Hubby and I had the chance to go on a couple dates.  The girls had a sleep over with a friend one night and then had a pizza party at my oldest’s Tae Kwon Do school the next.

Hubby and I did nothing terribly exciting.

We went to dinner where we imbibed in an adult beverage.

We got to eat while our food was still warm.

We rented a movie that was not rated G.

We slept in the next day.

We went to a restaurant and drank endless cups of coffee and compared our date-books and dreamed and schemed about paint colors and decorating ideas for the house.

If you had asked me 21 years ago what a perfect date was, I would have rattled off some grandiose evening with flowers and a fancy dinner and dancing and………

Now I have learned that my perfect date is about time and undivided attention.  It is about holding hands while saying grace over the meal.  It is about sharing jokes only he understands.  While falling in love with him was wonderful, growing in love with him is amazing.