Friday, October 29, 2010

Frantic Friday #4 - Lazy Mommies

I had a friend recently tell me a lazy mother cleans her own house.

I promise I do not feel lazy when I am on my hands and knees scrubbing.  I do not feel like a couch potato while I am doing laundry.  And I certainly do not feel like a slacker when I am decluterring the kid's rooms. 

So what exactly did she mean?

As I have often found out, it is easier to clean myself that to have my kids "help" in the process.  It is much harder to teach cleaning than to just do it.

This week I decided to teach my kids to clean. Honestly, I was amazed.  It took 2 days, but bathroom were cleaned, toilets were sanitized, furniture was dusted, floors were swept, mopped and vacuumed.  Sidewalks and driveways were swept, bedrooms were picked up, clothes were put in the laundry, bed were stripped and made.

I may have heard a choir of angels singing through the event.

While it was not quick, and I am sure it will be equally slow the next time, I realized I have 2 little helpers who are capable, and I am raising adults, not children. While they are slow and inaccurate, they will learn and eventually I will have a clean house.  I got an extra workout in the process, but I may just have found my new favorite helpers in the process.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

External Motivation - KeepThings Moving

Motivation can be a hard thing to come by. Some days being motivated is just more than I can deal with.

Then something happens.  Think of it as instant perspective.  Someone gets sick.  Someone is in an accident.  Someone dies.  All of a sudden you are motivated by what others did not do.

Here is the problem with motivation.  It is fleeting.  You can feel motivated right now, and completely at a loss 5 minutes later.

Mood changes motivation, urgency changes motivation, heck, the chance to go to bed early changes motivation.

The key, or so I have been told, is to stay motivated.  Great athletes have coaches who motivate them and keep them on track.  Scientists and engineers have deadlines and people they are accountable to. Teachers have students and parents who constantly see what they are teaching.

What do you have?  Are you accountable to anyone?  Do you have to check in and take stock of where you are and what you have done?  Would your projects still be undone if you had to tell someone about your progress? 

When it comes to preparation, it is easy to lose sight of the goal and flounder in the "I'll get it done later" mentality.  May I suggest a little motivation may be in store, a little accountability to keep you on track?  Find a friend and do this together.  Check in to see where you are, and encourage each other.  In the end, you will have accomplished more and you will have helped a friend do the same.

Motivation can be a beautiful thing.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Motivational Monday #22 - Eat Your Vegetables!!!

Tonight my son and I had an age old argument..."But I don't want to eat my vegetables, I don't like them!"  And I replied with the age old mommy response, "You don't get anything else until you eat them..."

As I was cleaning up after dinner I thought about why it is I told my child to eat what he didn't want.  Other than I am gunning for meanest mommy of the year award, what was I trying to teach him?  After a little thought on the subject I decided the important lesson in the vegetables was to use what you have before wanting/needing/acquiring more.

The old phrase, "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without," really is a disappearing concept.  In our world of newer, better, faster, we often dispose of what we have to move on to the next thing before we have used the last thing.  Always wanting what we don't have is a dangerous row to hoe.

So while I may have told my child to eat his delicious vegetables, what I really meant was, use what you have before you ask for more. 

Another phrase comes to mind here, "waste not, want not."  Gee, you would think our grandmas sat around coming up with sage advice or something.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Frantic Friday #3 - Really?

Some days I find myself running around and getting a ton of stuff done.  Other days I don't.  When I look back at those days when I "accomplished" a lot, I have to wonder one thing...I did that intentionally?  Really?

Have you ever spent a day doing everything on your checklist, I mean absolutely everything?  How do you feel when you are done?  What do you remember of your day?  My guess is you don't remember much of your day, or much of what was even on the list.

Today I spent the day sitting on the couch with my little one watching a movie.  I got absolutely zilch accomplished in my house for almost 2 hours.  My dishes are still stacked, my laundry has not been started, and my bed was unmade.  On the flip side, I snuggled, I cuddled and I giggled.

All in all, I had a very productive day.  And if you ask me why I think that, I will respond with, "Really?"

Monday, October 18, 2010

Motivational Monday #21 - Experiment - Even if Snot is What You Get

Today I tried to do something new.  It did not go well, but before I get into the gory details, let me tell you I have learned a lot about what NOT to do.

If you may remember, I posted a lengthy celebration blog about when I finally learned how to make the perfect cinnamon rolls.  Please don't be disappointed that I don't include a recipe, it was more a journey about making good things when you substitute out the bad and put in the good.

Lately my family has found out we need to eliminate gluten/casein/eggs/soy from our diet.  I am sure a few of you just gasped as you realized I will be eating rice and beans for the rest of my life.

Partly because I am stubborn, and partly because I am hungry, tonight I attempted zucchini bread without wheat flour or eggs.  I wish I could tell you it was amazing, but it turned out smelling wonderful and being a perfect replica of zucchini snot.  Yep, snot.  Apparently I have not mastered the knack of baking with xanthan gum yet.

So I was a little disappointed, and by a little, I mean my kids cried and my husband and I laughed our backsides off about the disaster.  My kitchen is trashed and I have 2 perfect loaves of zucchini flavored snot.  I wonder if this is how the "Every Flavor Beans" in Harry Potter were imagined by the author.

I have two options at this point (of course this is after the obvious, get rid of the snot loaves step).  I can either declare we will never eat zucchini bread again, or get this right.  I may have substituted a few too many things out of the recipe.  I may have overdone it with the xanthan gum, and I may have, just maybe, had a few too many expectations of the result.

So now I will try again.  I will attempt a different recipe with a few less substitutions.  I will bake when the kids are not around to smell the possibilities, when I may have once again created snot. I will find success.  I will learn how to make bread.  I will add variety to my diet, and I will learn a new skill.

Because if I don't, you will see a lot of rice and beans at my house....sigh.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Frantic Friday #2 - The Crusade Against Visual Clutter

A while back I had a professional organizer come to my home and office to take a look around.  While my house was clean, she told me I had way too much visual clutter.  I was a little taken aback, the things in my house are the things I use and need ready at hand.

She patiently told me that we can tire ourselves out just by having too much to look at, and a room should not be so overwhelming to the eyes that we don't even want to go in there.

I started a crusade that very day to get rid of visual clutter.  While I can't tell you I have accomplished my mission yet, I am doing much better.  But a crusade against visual clutter can be an overwhelming task and Frantic Friday posts are really about one simple thing you can do to make your world a little calmer. So I am going to suggest one easy step.

Find one room and get rid of the visual clutter in that one space.  Pick a place you go to unwind, which for me was my bedroom. Get rid of piles and knickknacks.  Clear off surfaces such as dressers and nightstands.  Eliminate anything out of place and unwanted.  Create a visual space with not much to look at.

You may wonder if I am asking you to take down all your pictures and get rid of your granddaughter's artwork taped to the wall. My answer is that it really depends.  If your artwork is hung in a visually calming manner, as in straight, with coordinating frames, and grouped in logical patterns, then my all means leave it.  If it is haphazard, not well thought out and a little overwhelming to look at, then I suggest you thin it out.

Once you have cleared up the space, make the bed, put away the dirty clothes, dust, vacuum and open the blinds.  I know the space may feel a little bare, but give it a few days.  You will realize how calm you feel when there isn't much to look at.  I find myself heading to my room when I feel overwhelmed and need a little peace.

As a fringe benefit, I find myself resistant to buying decorating items for my home.  Unless I have a specific need for matching picture frames or such, I don't want to add to the visual clutter of my house. This means I save money...and that is always a nice thing!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

An Ounce of Prevention...

We have all heard our moms say wise things.  There was something about not crying over spilled milk, something about the golden rule and maybe even a little something about what goes around comes around.  I am convinced mom's are handed a book of trite expressions when they leave the hospital.

The one I remember distinctly is the one about an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  So true.

So while you are wondering what to prevent, think about what you least want to cure.  With so many options, I am sure you will come up with something.  Maybe funeral wishes, or life insurance is on your list.  Maybe having a will or trust drawn up, or custody arrangements made for your children will top your list.

Whatever it is, remember now is easier than later.  Really.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Motivational Monday #20 - Preparing the Least of These Things

Very often we look at preparation as the big stuff, and don't get me wrong, the big stuff is important.  Having food, shelter, money and a plan is essential to emergency preparedness.

Sometimes, however, it is time to look at the least of these things, in other words, the small details.

Let's start with food.  While as a whole, food is a big deal, the details of the food are also important.  Do you have food storage you can eat?  Do you know how to cook it?  Does your digestive system know what to do with it?  Has it expired?  Do you know when it will expire?  Can you transport it?  Do you know what is the most important part to take with you?

Now onto shelter. Do you have portable shelter?  Do you know how to use it?  If it is a tent, do you know how to put it up, how to stake it down, and do you have the correct tools stored with the tent?  If it is a mobile home or trailer, do you have fuel, do you have tools and do you have a map with acceptable locations to stop and sleep?

Money is one of those things we have at our fingertips everyday.  With credit cards, ATM machines and paypal accounts, few of us carry much cash.  In an emergency, cash may very well be king.  Do you have any at home? Have you calculated how much you need to get your family to safety?  Have you doubled that amount to account for emergency prices? Do you have it in small bills, as the standard $20 may be more than you want to pay for a good or service in an emergency when change is scarce.

A plan is an important part of the process, but how detailed is your plan?  Do you know what road you would take to evacuate in each direction? Do you have supplies identified and purchased?  Do you know first aid and CPR? Do you have supplies for pets?  Do you know what neighbors will need your help? Do you have a way to contact loved ones? Do you have your information ready to travel with you?

I think I may have just overwhelmed you, but that was not my intent.  You have heard the term, "the devil is in the details." Well, I would put forth that really the saying should be, "Peace of Mind is in the Details."

After getting your basics roughed in, it is time to look at the details one by one.  Hopefully you will never need to use those details, but how wonderful it will feel to be prepared!