Monday, December 27, 2010

Year-End Recap

With the end of the year in sight, I wanted to review my goals from the beginning of the year. It seems almost an exercise in futility as I KNOW I have failed in several places, but it's still important to see where I did & didn't measure up to my own expectations. So here they are again, my personal goals for 2010:

God & Family
* incorporating structured Bible studies into Wednesday's lesson plans. This was almost TOO easy to change. I am happy to say that we now have a weekly Bible study, as well as lessons on Christian role-models as they appear in history.
* monthly date-nights... this was a tough one to keep up, with almost nine MONTHS of battling a shingles infection gone wild that has left my right eye permanently damaged. Having a car break down, the dishwasher die, and my daughter with some sort of chronic congestive difficulties for the past two months has not helped either. Still, we have managed to schedule (and keep) date-nights for ten of the past twelve months. And yes, it's been lovely going out somewhere OTHER than late-night grocery runs just the two of us!

Around the House
* the daily chore-schedule... this one seems to have been hit-or-miss. We DO keep it up, but only 4 days per week. Perhaps a re-vamp of the system is in order?
* And the 15-minute morning cleanups? Not bad. We are finding the time to do this only twice per week rather than the five times I had planned, but this in combination with our evening chores is keeping the house nicely manageable.

and Just for ME
* losing 30 pounds... yeah. Oh, how I wish I could forget I ever promised this! Unfortunately I was not ALLOWED to exercise until August due to the dratted shingles. However from then 'til December I truly have no excuse other than laziness. I am now 20 pounds heavier than I was at this time last year, and absolutely hating it. However I AM almost a week into a new exercise regime, and have recruited my husband as accountability-police. So there is a light at the end of this long, dark, scary tunnel.
* And my weekly crafting? Yep, that was forgotten in the middle of hourly dilation drops & steroid-induced migraines. I HAVE been crafting more since fall however, and plan on continuing as I have these past three months. There are already quite a few new crafts lined up on my to-do list, and I have a happy little recruit who is looking forward to helping me which should ensure that this actually happens.

Well there it is. I've not completely failed, but I definitely need to stay motivated this coming year. This will be my contemplation for the rest of the week - determining how best to tweak, change & add to this knowledge for NEXT years goals!

Monday, May 10, 2010

the marks of motherhood

From the time I was three, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a mom and work with kids. I told people I was going to be the greatest mom that ever lived.

My first real "experience" with motherhood began while pregnant with my son. I had HUGE purple trails running from bellybutton-to-thigh, that were several inches wide and ITCHED. When I asked the doctor what they were he told me quite frankly, "Oh, those? They're the worst case of stretchmarks I've seen in 28 years!"

Welcome to motherhood... you're now marked for life.

And yes, they grew even LARGER with my second pregnancy. My son used them as racetracks for his Matchbox cars as he "played with the baby" in-utero, and my daughter's knuckles were clearly visible through my paper-thin skin. I was told that they would fade, promised that they would disappear, and people swore that they would stop itching. They were all wrong - they're still with me, still purple, and even after 15 years - they still itch!

Over the years I have been shocked & embarrassed by, resolved to endure, accepting of, and finally proud of these marks. They are a visible symbol of my efforts at becoming that "greatest mom that ever lived." Each one of these purple trails is here to show me that to become the greatest mom, there are things I will need to endure, and that things will happen beyond my control that I just need to accept. They are the merit-badges I have earned on my journey through motherhood.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said that "true friends will leave footprints in your heart." My kids chose to leave roadmaps on my belly - and as I look at them I no longer see scars or deformities... but a sunrise of hope & success rising above flames of frustration & failure. The marks that once terrified me have become my inspiration to try harder each day.

Every mom has a story, and every mom carries her own marks - I just wear a few of mine on the outside. I only pray that others can learn to accept their own marks sooner than it took me to accept my own.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine's Day - great intentions gone wrong

Alright, it's time for mama's annual soapbox about love, appreciation of your significant other... and Valentine's Day.

To begin with, I would like to point out that I am an absolutely hopeless romantic. I swoon when my husband brings me a bar of my favorite organic chocolate, and STILL get all fluttery when he holds my hand, or calls me “honey.” We have been together now for over half our lives, and in two short weeks we will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. In honor of this, we will be visiting a bed-and-breakfast that actually serves a gluten-free vegetarian breakfast where we shall dine on a hand-packed picnic dinner before a roaring fire, before availing ourselves of the six-foot round hot tub, to soothe our arthritic joints. And the next day, after spending the morning gleefully sleeping in & having someone else serve us breakfast, we will pack up the kids to go on a private horse-drawn sleigh ride in the country.

I LOVE to find ways to show my husband how much I love him. During the summer, I will take the car after he's fallen asleep, fill up the gas tank and sneak his favorite energy-drink into the cupholder for him to discover in the morning. I like to call & chat with him every single day during his lunch-break, and again during his drive home from work. I like to email him little jokes or photos that make me laugh... or just to say “Hey, did I remember to say “I love you” before you headed out the door?” And lest anyone think that this is a one-way situation, my husband is equally inclined to show me daily how much I mean to him. I am currently healing from a particularly aggressive bout of shingles that infected my eye. And since this happened, I have not cleaned a single dish – nor prepared more than the most mundane of meals. My husband, who works nearly 70 hours per week, has been keeping the kitchen spotless AND preparing special vegan meals for me for the past month... and I haven't heard a single word of complaint. And on top of all that, he has been frivolously spending his vacation time driving me to every single one of my doctor's appointments, helping the kids keep the rest of the house in order, and tucked me into bed by 8pm each night before staying up to straighten the living areas. Yet he still remembered that our anniversary is coming up, booked us a wonderful night away from home, and has been discussing possible finger-foods for our picnic dinner. Now if that isn't love, I don't know what is!

But every year, as we pack away our Christmas goodies and start browsing seed catalogs in anticipation of spring... we are faced with Valentine's Day. And oh, how I loathe it!

“Buy your sweetheart a dozen red roses to show her how much you love her!”
“Hallmark... when you care enough to send the very best!”
“Joe's Diner: Steak & Seafood Valentine's Special – call now for reservations!”
and then there's my husband's all-time favorite. “If you REALLY love her, buy her this diamond necklace... on sale now!”

Men, believe it or not, some girls actually can't STAND roses! Know what would make MY knees turn to jelly? A $5 bunch of daisies from the grocery store... because THAT is my favorite flower! Here's my quick-tip for men everywhere, hoping to impress their girl this weekend. Get her a bunch of her absolute favorite flowers, instead of the obligatory red roses this year. Likewise with the dinner-out approach. Sure, I can see that if you both have a full-time job the concept of having someone else cook dinner & clean up afterwards is appealing. But honestly, how romantic is that dinner going to be after waiting for 45 minutes to be seated, when the entire place is packed to the roof with other people who had the exact same idea for dinner? Dinner out is great – but for a romantic evening out, why not wait for a less busy day?

Then there's the store-bought greeting card. Rather than rant for hours, I will quote the comedian Jim Gaffigan. “That's an odd ritual really, where we go out and buy cards that already have things written in them... I'll just add my name here at the bottom... Here ya go!” Honestly, what happened to hand-made Valentines? It doesn't take much effort to place a few stickers onto a sheet of paper, and hand-write a message... yet how many people do this anymore? And sure, I know some people think they're not "talented" enough to cut a simple paper heart. Five years ago my husband & I started emailing each other free e-cards every day during the month of February. Someone else “decorated” the cards... but we write the sentiments ourselves. This is FREE – yet it is so much more meaningful to me, than a pink card with some naked cupid could ever be. Sheesh, I don't even LIKE pink!

And the jewelry. What is a guy supposed to do these days to show his girl that he really REALLY loves her... if she's allergic to metal? My husband cringes every year from Thanksgiving to March as the radio chastises him for not properly showing his love for me with some lifeless chunk of metal & rock. Sure these things are pretty, and every once in awhile I think it might be nice to be able to wear them myself. But having developed an allergy to all metals but platinum a dozen years ago, these things are forbidden to me. I don't need a shiny rock on my finger to show me how much my husband loves me, he shows me each & every day.

I think that the IDEA of Valentine's day is a great one. We should all take time out from our busy lives to show our loved ones how much they mean to us. But for heaven's sake, can we please use a little imagination rather than following the crowd? In our house, Valentine's Day is a family day. With our wedding anniversary less than two weeks away, we keep Valentine's Day low-key to save money... and then splurge on the post-holiday clearance goodies as inexpensive goodies for our OWN special day. This year the kids & I have planned an entire day's worth of wonderful home-cooked goodies, and the kids have chosen a few movies for us to watch as a family in the evening. There are handmade paper decorations sprinkled throughout the house, and my daughter has already laid our her all-red outfit for the day.

Now if your loved-one likes flowers, BUY them flowers... but get them their favorites, not the ones we've been conditioned to send! If they DON'T like flowers, what's wrong with a new game for their favorite console, and an evening reserved to play with them? Maybe your sweetie has been craving tacos... what's wrong with fast food for dinner? This year for Valentine's Day, I would like to challenge my friends & family to find new, creative and non-standard ways to show their loved ones how much they mean to each other. Let's reclaim the holiday from the grasp of commercialism and REALLY show them that we care.

And please... let me know what you do! I'm always hunting for new & creative ideas myself!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year, New Goals

Nothing like starting the year by procrastinating, right? Here I am, a full week into the new year & only now getting around to compiling my annual goals. This is actually fairly important to me - because what I write down, I tend to accomplish. What I only tell myself I will do, doesn't always happen.

For me, this is a time to sit down & go over the last year, and ponder what "worked" and what "needs changing" and plan to change one or two things in order to improve my life. I like to break things down by category, and change a little from several areas of my life rather than simply focusing on one aspect of me. So for THIS year, these are the things I would like to change.

God & Family
* I will be incorporating structured Bible studies into our Wednesday lesson plans. We already do Bible memorization, but it's time to STUDY now too!
* and I will be writing in monthly date-nights with my husband - 15 years of saying I'll do it is enough, every 4th Tuesday will be date-night!

Around the House
* We have had a daily chore-schedule for years... starting this year, we will be USING it to keep our house company-ready & de-cluttered at all times.
* And this leads to my second goal... I have been making the kids work in their rooms for 15 minutes each morning, but have NOT done so myself. This year they are holding Mama accountable... when they do their 15 minutes, Mama works in HER room too!

and Just for ME
* I will be working on losing another 30 pounds this year... more would be nice, but when I lose weight slower, I tend to keep it off.
* And finally... this year I am putting my crafting on the calendar as well. The kids are old enough that I can "steal" two hours each week, so starting now every:
1st Saturday is sewing day
2nd Saturday is paper scrapbooking day
3rd Saturday is "miscellaneous crafting" day
and 4th Saturday is digital scrapbooking day.

None of these are lofty goals... at the moment I am much more interested in being able to accomplish each of my goals than in creating imposing lists that sap my time & motivation. So now it's time to get everything written on the calendar, and begin the changes!