Tuesday, August 24, 2010

One last camping trip before school starts

The other day I fell asleep to the sound of my kids playing a board game (in a friendly manner, even). In the morning, they decided they wanted to play some more. This is what I love about family vacations - even if it's just a camping trip. It's that sweet time of unwinding and leaving all of our obligations behind. No housework, no bills, no catching up on work, no neighborhood friends knocking on the door at all hours of the day.
Don't get me wrong, we have a great arrangement in our day-to-day lives. My husband has decent work hours, I work from home and my kids' friends are fantastic. But there's something about not having the option of playing with friends that forces my kids to appreciate one another. And there's nothing sweeter than watching your kids enjoy each others' company and get along.
Here are some pictures from our camping trip:

Show-Off and The Queen getting along!

An exhausted Lo-Lo passed out in the canoe

Yum-Yum going back to his roots, LOL... he was born in the jungle!

A homemade swing!

What do you love most about family vacations?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Much Needed: Help Cleaning House

I've slipped again on my housekeeping. I've mentioned before that I can only seem to keep up on so many things at one time. My work is doing fine, thank-you, and I'm getting back into the swing of things with my church responsibilities. But my housework is SCREAMING at me... I need HELP cleaning house!

And now that school is starting soon, I can no longer afford to neglect it.
So, I'm jumping back on the bandwagon with a great system I found a few months ago at a blogging conference that I went to. I met an amazing woman, named Marie Ricks, whose business is geared to poor, pathetic, unorganized and distracted girls like me that need help cleaning house. She created the House of Order system to make getting your house in order a simple, manageable process.

I started using the system back in May and saw a HUGE difference in a matter of days. The system is relatively simple, but that's the magic. Even though I mocked the program for a long time (because it utilizes a bunch of index cards - one more thing for me to lose), it's pretty easy to follow and it makes a noticeable difference.

Basically, Marie gives you a few tasks that need to be done on a daily basis: tidy the kitchen, a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, etc. If you do these things every day, they only take a short amount of time and your house will stay presentable, at the very least.

There are also weekly, monthly and quarterly tasks for an even deeper clean and more orderly home. The beauty is that you can start where you are and build up as quickly or as slowly as you need to. I never got past the weekly tasks (and I didn't even always do those), but my house was getting more organized, I was finally catching up with laundry and I felt comfortable having unexpected visitors.

Some of you, no doubt, will think it's silly to need a system or help cleaning house. But others of us (and there's more of us than you would think) really need the guidance and structure. Marie is patient and kind and she really knows her stuff.

So, my new school year resolution is to pick it back up and get things in order before all of the school papers start to pile up again and take over our lives. I'll let you know how it goes...

What do you do to keep your home orderly without spending all day to do it? Really, please comment - I NEED all the help I can get.
(Photo courtesy of BoredLA.com)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Discipline Tips: It's no fun being grounded!

Last night I pretty much grounded all four of my kids for the rest of their childhood experiences. Okay, it's only 2 days, but it feels like ETERNITY to me!! And that brings up an important point. Why do we like to torture ourselves so much?

Like when my mom used to tell us, as she was whipping our hynies, that it actually hurt her more than it did us. ???

Okay... okay.. I guess I can see that. I choose not to spank my kids, but seriously I think it would be less painful... to me, that is.

Because they didn't do their chores, even though I threatened them with all but their very existence, they are now confined to the INSIDE of the house (where I am) with only the company of their siblings. There is to be no TV, video games or computer time. What is there to do, you ask? Well, fight and bicker, of course. Oh and don't forget: Make. A. Bigger. Mess.

I HATE being grounded..... When does school start again?

Several new posts available

Hi Friends!

Just wanted to remind you of my recent move to Wordpress and a new domain.


I've got several new posts listed, for your reading pleasure :). Including:

Being Grounded is No Fun

I Want My Cake and I Wanna Eat It Too

A Pending Adoption, A Wardrobe Malfunction and A Sick Kid

Priorities: A Balancing Act

Check it out and save the new website. I hope to hear from you soon!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I Want My Cake and I Wanna Eat it Too... Confessions of a Work-from-Home Mom

I work from home and while that is a luxury I'll freely admit, it's still actual work. I think sometimes being a work-from-home mom is over glorified. Still, even I am guilty of making it out to be more than it is.

For instance, I like to get a regular paycheck, but I still want to act like a housewife. I'm learning, though, that work-from-home mom and stay-at-home mom are not quite the same thing, unfortunately. Since I'm home, it's easy to think that I'm available all of the time to do whatever I want to do. If my friends want to get together for lunch, dinner or anything else, I want to be there. If there is a field trip at my kids' school, I want to be there. When my husband isn't working, I want to not be working too. I want to sleep in, go to the gym, watch all of my favorite television shows, social network and blog whenever I feel like it. I also want to get paid. But getting paid means that I have to work - unfortunately.

So, even though I have more flexibility than I would at a regular job, I do have to sacrifice some freedom in order to keep my working obligations.

It means that I have to choose what's MOST important to me. For me, it's really important that I'm available to my kids when they come home from school. In order to do this AND work, it means that I have to sacrifice some sleep and get up early in the morning. Of course, getting up early means that I may not be able to stay out late with my girlfriends. And working in the morning means I may not be available for weekday morning visits or every field trip. That's the price of having a job - whether it's at an actual place of business or at my home.

Whenever I forget these basic truths (which is often, regrettably), everyone pays the price. I end up missing out on the things that matter most... like family time, after school chats and homework help. I have to be self disciplined enough to treat my home job as seriously as I would a real job - set up a schedule and stick with it.

In the end, being a work-from-home mom means that I CAN have my cake and take little bites of it now and then too. It's all about moderation, people.

Do you have questions about working from home? Feel free to drop me a line in the comments section or by email. I'll be following up in a weekly series for work-at-home moms and those who wannabe.

(Photo courtesy of The Guardian.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

A pending adoption, a wardrobe malfunction and a sick kid

So the other day we were driving home from a shopping trip. As we got closer to home, The Showoff says to me, "Mom, do you think we could walk home from here?" "Sure," I say. "But it will take a while." I had my husband let us out anyway, because really, how many more years do I have left before he doesn't even want to be seen with me? Needless to say, it was a long walk but I got to learn a few things from him (he's a TALKER). I learned that he really does like to read. He kept talking about The Five Ancestors, a series of books that he's been reading. I also learned that he has a HUGE imagination and he's a bit of a dreamer. (But who isn't at 11?) And I learned of his plans to adopt kids.

Throughout our walk, he kept mentioning about how he plans on adopting kids. At first I thought that it was just a sweet gesture. Until he said, "Well, I might have just one kid of my own. But that's it. I'm adopting the rest. Do you think that's ok, mom?"

"Well, yes. Of course it's okay. But, Showoff, I don't get it" I said. "Why do you care? It's your wife that will have to carry and deliver each baby."

"Because, mom. Ever since, I found out how you make babies, I decided that I'm just going to adopt. 'Cuz I'm not going to ever do THAT!" ...

Oh, how I hope that thought lasts for at least a few more years.

Of course, if he doesn't change his mind before he gets married, he definitely will after he makes "just one".


On another note. It turns out that Lil' Mama has quite the fashion sense. She has put together some cute outfits for herself and - I hate to admit it - she's had to counsel me a time or two. Like last week. I wore a brand new dress to church and I was pretty excited about it.
Here's a picture of me in the dress:

New hair cut + new dress has to equal fun, right?


The buttons kept popping open whenever I sat down, so I had to go home and change. But I didn't want to. I brought Lil' Mama home with me and I kept telling her how bummed I was. So, what did she do? She fixed it. Yes, my 9-year-old daughter is my personal stylist.

She simply suggested that I wear a black slip underneath the dress and leave the bottom half unbuttoned. And you know what? It completely looked like that's how it was made AND it was more comfortable, too. She saved the day and gave me yet ANOTHER new dress.

Here's the dress afterward:

Anyone in need of fashion advice?


One more: Lo-Lo was sick with a fever last week and it turns out that when his head is hot it turns on his talk button. He was laying down in my room, cuddling with me and telling me about everything under the sun. How this friend likes to play such-and-such and how another friend ditched him, what he thinks his new kindergarten teacher will be like and on and on and on. Then he heard the shower turn on. (Yum Yum had been in the bathroom preparing to shower.) Lo-Lo says, "Oh no, mom. Daddy just got in the shower and I don't think he wiped his butt!"

? ? ? ! ! !

Don't ask... I really have no explanation of where that came from, but I thought it was pretty funny that he came to such a conclusion.

You know, when I step back and really listen and pay attention, I discover that my kids are pretty cool after all. They keep me entertained, anyway.

We really can learn a lot from our kids. What do your kids TEACH you?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Priorities: A Balancing Act

I've been thinking a lot about priorities lately. Maybe it's because my life is usually very out of balance. If I'm caught up and doing well in one area, the other areas are likely to be suffering. I think it's been affecting me more than it ever has in the past. For instance, I may be trodding along with my work and doing well, while my house is slowly falling apart. If I'm on top of all of my housework, you can be sure that I'm falling behind on my work assignments. The same goes with my church responsibilites. And the more I fall behind, the more overwhelming the thought of catching up.

It's always easier, for some crazy reason, to take care of a big looming project with an immediate deadline than it is to care for the small and simple things that must occur on a regular basis. Ironically, these are the things that make life easier to manage and help those big projects to go more smoothly. I think that lately my priorities have been out of whack and I'm paying the price for it big time.

I listened to a talk by Julie Beck the other day and it brought it all into perspective. I can categorize all of my regular tasks into three areas: Essential, Necessary and Nice to Do. The Essential items are at the core of who I am, my values and my most important goals in life. The Necessary items are essential to survival and the Nice to Do are just that: nice to do, but I can afford to put them off.

I find that most of my time is spent in the necessary and the nice-to-do area. I have to work in order to help pay for our necessities (and some nice-to-dos). I have to eat (although maybe not as much as I do :)) and feed my children. I have to care for my home (for my health and my sanity). I don't have to watch television, but at the end of the day it's nice sometimes to unwind and relax with a good show.

Sometimes in my quest to fill the necessary and reboot, I find that it's my children and my husband that are neglected. These are the essentials in my life. My relationship with Deity starts to suffer as well. Ironically, these things don't often require big chunks of my time. They simply require daily deposits. Some days the deposits may be bigger than others, but there needs to be time invested daily. I believe that when I put the essentials first and the necessities close behind, I will still have time for many of the nice-to-do things on my list. But the essentials will never occur if I am upside down in my priorities.

This blog is one of the nice-to-do things on my list. I love it, it's a great release for me, and I get share some special memories that my children can come back to and remember. I get to meet some great people and interact with them. But it's all too easy to let it get in the way of the things that are most important to me (the very things that give me something to blog about, ironically). I'm still going to blog. I'm still going to interact with bloggers. But, I've accepted the fact that I may have to move at a slower pace than I had previously planned. If you don't hear from me here, it's because I'm busy tending to the Essentials and feeding the Necessities.

How do you find balance in your daily obligations?