Making it work

How do you do it? A question I find myself being asked rather frequently. Finding a balance between the kids and the home and all the “extras” I take on, as well as starting a new business….. it can be a daunting a task. For me that answer has always been simple, I just do. There are things in my life that I am not willing to seperate from and that means that I sometimes just have to buckle down and figure out how to make it work.

This is where my OCD works to my advantage. I am a planner. I have a schedule for our days and my week is laid out in front of me on my calendar. From the moment I lay my head on my pillow on Sunday night I know when I need to do what and my planner is a color cordinated, highlighter crazy mess that only I can truly understand. But it works… for me.

My biggest chore is keeping my house together. I have a 5 year old, an almost 2 year old, 2 dogs, and my husband and myself that do a lot of living within these walls. And with a lot of living comes a lot of mess! If I didn’t break up the cleaning and household chores across my week, I would spend most of my time chasing myself in circles just trying to scrap through.

I get questions about our “schedule” and the “system” all the time. People that see my planner always ask what in the world that mess is. And then there is the family binder and the master schedule that always get questions too! SO I have decided over the next few weeks I am going to do a regular blog series that highlights the finer points of the system and the schedule and try to break it down a bit for the question askers.

The plan is to start with the family organizer and master schedule. This is a system that I have spent a great deal of time tayloring over that last couple years until I finally got it to where it works for us! Then I will get into my personal planner and the weekly system that keeps us organized….Watch for these beauties to start popping up this Sunday!

No Regrets

It’s amazing how the most thought-provoking moments of our day can come from the most unexpected places. You think you are going in for an interview and will be answering all those “greatest strength, greatest weakness, a time you messed up” questions and out of left field comes a blow. That blind side you never expected. I’m quick on my feet so it doesn’t send me for a tailspin, I was caught off guard but quickly recovered and the lady never saw my stumble. But after I had left that interview that question was still floating around in my head….

If you had to give me the single most important guiding principle of your life, that one thing you always look show you the way or help you make important decisions, what would that be?

What the hell is this? That isn’t on the list of questions they give you to ask when interview people. This is the thought-provoking stuff that keeps some of us awake at night. My answer to her was simple…. I do what is right. I don’t always look out for my own best interest but for the best interest of everyone and I do what is right to do, even when it isn’t the “cool” thing to do. YAY!!! She applauds, tells me that is the kinda answer she is looking for, and we move on to the next. I made it through the rest of the interview and I must have done alright because she offered me the job on the spot and wants me to start immediately.

Flash forward several hours later as I am tucking the kids into bed and I am laying in bed staring at the ceiling and that damn question is still floating around in my mind. Why? It was an interview question, I got the job, it must have been the right answer. So why is it bothering me?

Move forward some more, as the 3 am hour rolls around and I still can’t fall asleep and it hits me. It is sticking around in my mind because that was a cheat answer. That isn’t really what my life has been about. I know what my guiding principle has always been, and it definitely isn’t doing what is right. Anyone that knows me will tell you that I have done my fair share of wrong….

My life has been lived by this guiding principle: Have NO Regrets. Don’t dwell on the past, I can’t change it. I can’t change who I was, I can’t change what I did, so own it. Know that everything in this life has contributed to making me the person I am today, so it can’t be that bad. I came out alright in the end. At least I think I am alright. But even when I was at my lowest, and doing what was “right” wasn’t necessarily on my radar, I was still living by the “have no regrets” idea. I have realized that this philosophy has changed in form a great deal over my lifetime. Before it was about having no regrets because everything I did was what made me smile, and my life was about being happy. Don’t regret what you do as long as you enjoyed doing it. Then I had that moment that changed my life and that idea became more focused on other people. One other person in particular. I was going to do everything I could to be the bigger, better person in the face of controversy and do everything I could to ensure that 20 years of that day I would NEVER have to worry about someone coming back to me and saying I was the reason they weren’t there. So I invited the one person in the world that had hurt me the most back into my life to experience the most painful moments of my life. That other person never showed up, despite being called and invited back several times. And I never really expected they would be there but I didn’t want to regret selfish actions later in life. I have been told many times that a “lesser” person would have gone to great lengths to ensure they didn’t have to see this person, but I rose above and to this day, almost 8 years later, I have no regrets about what I did.

And today this philosophy has evolved even more. Today I have 2 beautiful children that are the center of my world and I want to be the BEST person I can be for them. So everything I do is making sure that 15 years from now when they are able to look back at the things I have done and the person I am, I will be a person they are proud to call their momma. I don’t want to look on myself at that time and have questions to answer.

So why is it that I have such a clear understanding of what this guiding principle is, yet it has been keeping me awake at night? I think my subconscious mind is telling me I need to reevaluate some things in my life. I am at a make-or-break moment and I am standing with a foot on both sides of the line.  And that is something I might later regret….

Life Happens

New Years Resolutions…I think we can all say we do it. We start the year with grand ambitions of all the things we are going to change, how we are going to lose weight, get organized, give more to charity and spend more time just “enjoying life”. Yes? And New Years day comes, and we make our list, and by February 1st that list is no where to found and we only have a vague recollection of what was actually on it. All those plans fade away as we realize we might have been a little TOO ambitious and before we know it we have turned the corner on this amazing year we were going to have and it is right back to all the old ways we hated so much.

the list

I can’t lie… that list above is my list for the year. All the things I HATE about the New Year and I made it my mission to succeed in all these things. There is something wrong in this mommy-brain of mine! But instead of making one BIG list of these insanely crazy feats that I know I won’t actually accomplish, I changed the way I am looking at my new years goals in hopes that seeing them in a different light will help me make them a reality.

1 – Lose weight. Yea, I know, we all say it but few of us do it. So instead of leaving it at “lose weight” I made myself a plan. I pulled out my yearly planner (the one I can’t live without) and made some check points along the way. I know what my ulitmate end goal is, and I know my own abilities. So on Monday of every week (from now until May 1st, then I will reevaluate and do it again for the next few months) I wrote myself a little positive note and made a check point for myself. Saying “I want to lose 50 pounds” is daunting, and most of us aren’t able to see the small progress when we are so focused on the end result. I plan to celebrate my successes and not beaet myself up completely over small set backs. LifLIFE HAPPENS, we need to learn to roll with it (thats another resolution all on its own!!)

2 – Get organized. HA! If you know me at all you are probably laughing because I am a little bit OCD and most people tell me that I am more organized in my everyday life than they are on their best days. And while I agree that I am usually pretty on top of things, I also know that my system needs some refining. It isn’t exactly working for me as well as it used to and I know I need it needs a style update. I made myself an “organization” checklist. I am working on a project I like to call “52 Weeks of organization”, where I plan to take one task each week and knock it off the list. Of course I didn’t make the list for all 52 weeks at first, I picked my Spring List – things I plan to get done between now and May – and am picking ONE thing on that list to do every week. I didn’t assign specific weeks to each thing because sometimes LIFE HAPPENS and we have to adjust. So if I end up with a super busy week I can pick a smaller task like cleaning out a couple cabinets in my kitchen that need attention, or working on clearing out my linen closet. And on weeks that I have extra money available, and more free time, I can take on the task of painting the bathroom, or putting cabinets in my laundry room!

3 – Give more to Charity. I was raised knowing that I was blessed and my mother taught us that if we are able to give, we should. That doesn’t have to be money, that can time too. So this year I am getting back to all the things I have always loved doing! I am rededicating myself to Relay For Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society that I have been a part of for the last 12 years, and I am planning on giving a weekend to Hospice, where I used to be a counselor at a Bereavement Camp for Kids. I MISS those things, they were a part of me for so long, and I feel like those things helped chape me into the adult I am today. I am losing sight of some things that were always important to me and I want them back! I got out of touch of things when LIFE HAPPENED but I am reconnecting this year! (I already got a jump start on this one, I have sent an email to the volunteer dept at Hospice asking for all the info and dates for this years camp!! SO. EXCITED)

4 – Spend more time ENJOYING life. The OCD inside me makes it nearly impossible to see the beauty in the small things because I am always “dealing” with something that is out of place or not done to my standards. I spend more of my day stressed out than I do enjoying the day. My babies are growing and learning and becoming these actual little PEOPLE, with their own personalities and opinions and ideas, and I am missing that. I want to spend more time PLAYING with them. This might mean some therapy for me to learn how to deal with the OCD in a better way than I have been handling it for many years. But I am willing to do whatever it takes. I am also going to take some time for MYSELF. I love being mommy and wife but there comes a time when I need to love being ME, and doing things that I enjoy. So this year I am making regular “dates” with my momma, one of my favorite people to be around, to work on scrap books. This is something we both love to do and have a great time when we get to do it together.

The motto for this year is LIFE HAPPENS. I have to learn how to roll with the punch when they start falling my way, and I need to make it a point to let the good stuff happen, and enjoy it when it comes!

Did she just call me Super Mom??

Today I was having a conversation with my aunt, who was asking me about all the insane things I have been up to lately. After I filled her in on the happenings of the Babb family she says to me “Well, aren’t you just Betty Home maker?” to which my reply was HUH?? She says “You’re just a super mom!!”

What?? Is this woman crazy? Pretty sure those pain meds have made her a little off her rocker because super mom I am not. Actually, after today’s crisis with my 4-year-old I am pretty sure the super mom title is no where in my immediate future. But it got me thinking about several conversations I have had lately and it seems to be a common theme that I am some sort of unnatural human being… I have turned into ONE OF THOSE moms, and I didn’t even see it happen!

Honest truth… I don’t think anything I do is super but apparently by everyone elses standards I have my shit together right now. I spent the month of November teaching the boy child about being thankful for the people in our lives that I like to call the
unsung heroes. We did such crazy things as taking a hot meal (if you can call a pot of chili a meal) to the firefighters at our local station. We made cookies and delivered to the sheriff’s, local cops, and our favorite police man of all (my brother, who happened to be working the night we were making deliveries!) We have recently turned our focus to doing good things for others, with no expectation of things in return. We are spending this week making cards to deliver to a nursing home that has some residents that could use some holiday cheer, and we will be taking some toys and clothes to a family in need.

I also started this insane Elf on a Shelf thing, which the kid thinks is hilarious and loves waking up in the morning to go searching for him. He as been into all sorts of things and has turned my house upside down! It is really just another thing for me to take care of every night, but hey, it’s for the kids so it’s all good.

I am the family planner/scheduler which gets me into all sorts of trouble. I spent my entire day today working on those “thoughtful” Christmas gifts that I used to laugh at people for doing. With the help of my wonderful mother in law we made a scrapbook for one grandma, a family tree blanket for another, and I got to work on rounding up all my husbands brothers and sisters to take care of mom’s gifts! Pshew.

Oh, and then there is the “cook for a night, eat for a week (or two) freezer meals” that I have begun making. Its much easier this way and saves me time, and money, in the long run but takes a bit of planning ahead. I plan my meals according to my available coupons. Speaking of coupons… I have also started back into my money-saving antics, seeing as things are getting a wee bit tight around here! I am working on building a stockpile again, which I am certain will give me all sorts of headaches for a few months until I get back into the swing of it!

And to top it all off… I got nominated to be the Secretary (and chief party planner) of my son’s preschool PTA. Yes, I said PRESCHOOL PTA. WTF??? Serious, it’s real and I can’t make that up! President Rosie called me today to tell me I am in charge of finding non-religious or specific cultural crafts and planning a menu. Last I checked that was pretty much the entire party, but what ev, I got this! Right?

Ok, so maybe she did call me super mom. From the outside looking in it looks like I am running the world. Personally I just call it controlled chaos! But Super Mom sounds much cooler! Especially if Super Mom gets a cape!

Teaching our Children to be Thankful

We have all see the Facebook post, every single day for the last 21 days… “Today I am thankful for…”, you know what I’m talking about, it gunks up our news feeds and annoys the piss out of us all.

Don’t get me wrong, some people are very genuine with their post, thankful for things that actually matter. And others are just plain ridiculous. “Today I am thankful for my new Uggs that look awesome with my favorite jeans and keep my feet so warm!” Yea… you my friend get the true meaning of the Holiday.

I don’t want that to be my kids when they grow up. I want my kids to understand they have a lot of REAL things to be thankful for. So I have started what I hope will be a tradition for many years to come. Starting the first week of November we have been doing Acts of Kindness. I made a list of things I wanted to do, things that would highlight what it is we have to be grateful for, while taking time to express our Thanks to those that deserve it. The “unsung heroes” so to speak. There are many people who impact our everyday lives, people that deserve thanks every now and then, but don’t usually get it.

Our first “not-so-random” act of kindness was taking dinner to a crew of firefighters from our local fire station. I wanted to make sure the night we were planning on going wasn’t a night of meetings or trainings, and I needed to know how many were there so I had to make a couple of phone calls and arrange this prior to the day. But to Jordan it was random. He didn’t know about the planning, as far as he is concerned we opened up our cabinet that morning and decided we had some extra food, it was a cool day, we should take some food down to the wonderful firemen. We discussed how we are grateful that they are stationed right around the corner from our house if we ever need them. I am thankful that we have never had to call them. Though we did have to make a stop there one day when I thought Jordan might have electrocuted himself. They were gracious enough to stick him in the back of the ambulance and give him a once over, then he got a safety lecture on why it is important to not touch electric sockets! Those guys are awesome!!

Next on our list was discussing how thankful we are that we have food on our plates every single day. While it might not always be the food we want (Jordan would live on Chicken Nuggets and Corn Dogs), we never go hungry. I talked to him about the people who don’t always have food in their cabinets or on their tables. We then went shopping and picked up some good “snacks” and fruits to put in the local grocery store’s Holiday Giving containers for their food drive. We also took a jar of change and put in the Salvation Army’s red bucket.

Next we talked about how fortunate we are to have police men and women that look out for us. Jordan is very into Super Heroes and Villains right now so I made this a good guys vs. bad guys kind of lesson. Once I turned it into something he understood he was all about taking care of the heroes! So we spent a day making 18 DOZEN cookies! I made a call to the county Sheriff’s office to set up a drop off time, and to my own amazement there was a Boss man waiting for us in the lobby when we got there. He gave us a tour and then took us to their meeting room where there were 16 sheriff’s gathered and waiting for us. He had scheduled us to drop them off at shift change and took us into the middle of Roll Call to deliver our goodies! We took 8 dozen cookies down to them! Jordan told them WHY he was thankful for them (Because you are Super Heroes and you Keep the Villains away! The guys enjoyed that and got a good laugh) and he gave them his tray of cookies and a card he had made. They each came through and gave him high fives and thanked him for being so thoughtful (the purpose of this wasn’t for recognition or to get thanks, but the sheriff wanted Jordan to see all the guys that would be enjoying his cookies and I am not willing to argue with the sheriff so we obliged and came when we were told!)

We also made a plate of cookies to take to the local State Highway Patrol office, which is located in our town, as well as a plate for our local police (we are in small town USA so the Sheriffs have a special little post in our town with the same 5 guys that run a rotating shift, so we took them their own goods) and we made a plate to take to my brother, who is a police officer in a neighboring town. That’s another small town USA and he runs by himself most nights, so we though he would enjoy our cookies, and it fit into our theme for that night so it was a win-win-win!

This isn’t all about thanks though. The second part of this lesson will be about thinking of the people that are less fortunate that us, and giving back. I have some plans for December that will match our November “give thanks” lessons and am very anxious to see what we learn in the month to come.