Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Progress in Making Resolutions is Hindered by My Lack of Initiative

It is once again that wonderful time of year where every one is guilted into making resolutions, the achievement of which would bring about absolute perfection, never ending happiness, and possibly world peace. Unfortunately I am too lazy to reach that far, so I am hoping to become just a little, teeny, barely noticeable bit better. In fact I am so lazy I decided to only make one resolution. With such a limited supply of motivation, and hoping to be fair, I decided to interview each resolution and choose the best one. Here is how it went:

So, Stop Yelling at the Kids, what brings you here today? What? You think I’m too quick to raise my voice? Psychological damage to the kids and all that? Well, I’ll consider it, but my house is noisier than a jumbo jet, so I’m pretty sure picking you would equal never being heard again (and as far as I can tell, I’m only heard 5% of the time already).


Loose 10 Pounds, what are you doing here?!? I thought if I ignored you long enough you would really go away. Some goals just can’t tell when they aren’t wanted. Yes, I’m aware I still have those pants in my closet, “just in case" and I think of you every time I accidentally look in the mirror clothes-less, but let’s be real; I can work on weight when I have less stress in my life. Take a look at my 6 kids and husband’s job- it ain’t happen’n anytime soon. Can you hand me those cookies on your way out?


Stronger Effort to Keep My House Clean, I’m sorry but you came at the wrong time. With Christmas exploded all around me and my kids under my foot for two weeks, I know there is no way my house will ever be anything close to clean until my kids are closer to 30. If you tried me at the beginning of the school year when I am basking in less kids time, you might make more headway. Hey, don’t cry. It’s not MY fault New Year Resolutions come when my kids are on break.


You do realize, Spend Less Time on the Computer, that I am typing this on my computer right now. Why are you wasting my time?


Bwah-ha-ha-hee-ho-ha-ha-ha-ha, gulp, sputter. I’m sorry, bwah-he-he, snort, I don’t mean to laugh. He-he-he, cackle. No, Replace Chocolate With Vegetables, come back! Ho-he-he-he. I didn’t mean to laugh. Bwah-ha, snort, gulp, sputter. No, really, you maybe should go . . .


Where did Go To Bed and Get Up Earlier go? Already off to sleep?  Well, I guess that’s an automatic disqualification.

Stay on a Budget? I’m sorry my husband is conducting his interviews down the hall.

Read My Scriptures Every Day, you’re so worn out and frail from years of use, I’m afraid to even interview you.


What?!? There’s no resolutions left to interview? Did they all just give up and go home? Isn’t there anything I can do that involves absolutely no personal effort or growth? I suppose I will resolve to resolve nothing this year. That is something I’m sure to keep.

Are you making better headway deciding on your New Year’s Resolutions?

(In actuality, my list making mania could never let an opportunity like New Years go by without seizing it. I’ve already spent a few days evaluating and deciding goals I want to make for this year. Also tweaking my routine and reorganizing how I create and follow my lists. But that would be boring to write about, so you get my blowing off steam instead.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Keeping to Tradition (of Forgetting Garbage Day)

This morning my dear husband stood in the middle of the kitchen and excitedly asked, "garbage?"

I, always on the same wavelength as my soul mate, tried to figure out how we could have lost the garbage can.  "It's missing?"  I ask, for an instant thinking he may have never known where it was in the first place (he did need help finding the dishwasher soap the other day).

"Did you take it out?"  he replied (complete with eye roll).  And that is when it hit me that, despite my best efforts, I have forgotten garbage day the week after Christmas AGAIN.  You'd think after I posted this last year, I would have remembered...

The Trouble With Garbage

{posted January 2009}

There is a fast held, unintentional tradition at our home: I will forget garbage day leading up to and winding down from Christmas. I'm not sure why this tradition persists. After the first few years you'd think I would make a more concerted effort to NOT forget. Yet, every year you can find me hitting my forehead with my palm as I see the line of now empty garbage cans lining my street.

The worst part of this tradition is that I am too cheap/lazy/determined to see it through to take the excess garbage to the dump myself. I choose the much less fun option of over stuffing my garbage can every week until all the garbage is gone. During most of the year this can be accomplished by the next week (as long as I don't decide to clean out my fridge/basement/closets that week, I'm sure I'm too smart to accidentally do that more than a few dozen times).

But Christmas provides enough trash for a week all by itself. In fact I have more garbage the entire month of December. Add to that the missed week (or two) leading up to Christmas and there is a lot of build up. One year, I forgot two weeks before and one week after Christmas. Yes, I do hold to this tradition that strongly. I spent three months compressing sacks and filling my can overflowing. If you don't believe me, ask my neighbor, who had to notice the sacks of extra garbage piled on my back porch. I really am that cheap/lazy/determined to see it through. (I do make sure the garbage waiting to go has the paper, packaging remnants, empty food boxes, and other nonrotting type things in it.)

This year I was determined to break with tradition. Until two Mondays before Christmas. As I drove through my neighborhood on the way home from running errands, I couldn't help but notice the blue garbage cans sitting along the curb. In front of all driveways but one. Palm, meet forehead. How did I not notice the cans on my way OUT of the neighborhood? I must have a strongly developed BLIND spot for the sake of tradition.

I went out to the garage for some forgotten reason early the Monday before Christmas. While frowning slightly at the unsightly pile waiting its turn from last week I realized the day. ACK! I almost forgot again. It had snowed all weekend so I ran into the house grabbed my boots and coat and ran the garbage can over the icepacked driveway entrance and out onto the street.

Then the week after Christmas, Monday morning again, my mother-in-law was kind enough to remind me of the big day. Of course, I don't know what led her to believe I'd forgotten. Hmmm. Anyway, she saved the day and my forehead from another slap.

Despite these two saves I'd still missed a week, so now I sit exactly where I am every January, with a pile of garbage sacks waiting their turn to enter the garbage bin. With all the extra company and accompanying trash, I should be trash free by at least February. As long as I don't forget garbage day again. I mean, who would be silly enough to forget garbage day on a regular basis?

Once a month isn't "a regular basis", is it? In fact, while writing this post I realized this isn't so much a Christmas tradition as a monthly tradition in my house. Christmas just makes forgetting garbage day A LOT more annoying. I hold that it is Peter's job to take out the garbage, even though I am the one who has always done it. "Always" not being the most accurate term in this case. But if I can pretend it is his job, then I can pretend it is his fault, right?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Normal? Don't Waste Time With That Fallacy

The other day I pulled out the good hot chocolate.  Stuff that requires milk instead of water, may cost more than drinking shaved gold, and must be how heaven tastes.  I keep it hidden from my children so it doesn't get wasted on their less cultured palates (it might kill me to see it congeled and forgotten on the cupboard like I regularly find the other hot chocolate).  So when my oldest son asked to have a cup, it was a big deal to allow him 4 tablespoons from my hoard.  And when I saw the teapot heating up as my oldest daughter pulled out a packet of Swiss Miss, I felt rather gracious informing her of my temporary generosity.
"That's okay, Mom, I like this kind just as well,"  was followed with a reflective "I know that's not normal, but I don't mind not being normal all the time."  Those are words of comfort to the mother of a near teenager.  I have noticed lately that many people, even at my age, are still battling the idea of Normal.

Normal.  There are three lifestyles I've noticed that are based around it. 

  1. There are those who spend their whole lives on a quest to achieve Normal with all goals centered around reaching that blessed state.  Differences sprout embarrassment or self castigation and are often hidden in shame.  If only I {whatever} like everyone else, then I would be happy, productive, liked.  If Normal is crafty, so must I be (even if I hate crafts, I just pretend).
  2. Then there are those so frightened of Normal they spend their lives running or hiding from it.  They think if match up to Normal too often, they will cease to exist as an individual.  They spend their whole life making sure they don't like Normal.  If Normal is crafty, I'm not interested in crafty.  I won't even try.   (I must admit that there was a time when this described me and I didn't do things merely because it was Normal or popular with women my age.  It wasn't until I overcame my fear of Normal that I found I liked scrapbooking and baking bread)
  3. With similar fear, but stronger reactions, are the fighters.  Somehow they see normal as an evil that must be eradicated, with shame and superiority as favorite weapons.   Normal is wrong and they seem bent on proving it.  Normal is mundane, small minded, ignorant, and low class.  They are different and that somehow makes them better than Normal. If crafty is Normal then those who like it should be ridiculed, I have too refined taste for such things.

What none of these people seem to understand is that Normal is really quite imaginary.  There are certainly norms and things many people have in common, but nobody typifies everything.  The longer I live the more I see how little anyone has in common with Normal.  Actually, a lot of conceptions on Normal depend on where you live.  I may be Normal with my 6 kids in Utah but I am odd here.  And it doesn't matter to me if I live where it is Normal or not, I enjoy my large family.  If you still think that everyone else is Normal and you're the odd one out, you need to look a little harder.  Besides, if you spend your time seeking, fighting, or hiding from Normal your going to miss how fun it is to be you! 

Don't be scared of not being Normal.  Hate chocolate?  Embrace that fact.  Prefer odd hair colors?  Why not!  But don't be scared of Normal either.  Like to scrapbook?  Read Twilight?  Prefer McDonalds?  Don't let a fear of Normal get in the way of liking what you like.  And if you find a knee jerk reaction to Normal is to argue or feel superior?  You need to reevaluate.  There are norms that should be argued, but there are norms that have good reasons, too.

So I say be who you are and throw Normal out the door.  It is when you stop worrying about Normal that you see how illusive a concept it is.  I hope my daughter keeps wanting to be herself.  I hope she continues to not mind Abnormalities and that she doesn't shun something merely because it's Normal.  I hope she knows that the only thing completely Normal is the lack of Normal.  I hope she can embrace that fact wholeheartedly.  (And I hope she continues to prefer the cheap hot chocolate so I can enjoy my expensive stuff in peace).

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Decorations (I'd like to claim temporary insanity)

Ever have a great idea that then becomes a teeny tiny bit of an obsession?  My cousin's wife gave me the idea for the ornament wreath and making it somehow gave me a bug.  A make all homemade ornaments this year bug.  I'm happy with the results (although I lack the photography skills to give it justice).

Homemade Ornaments:

Paper Triangle Balls:

(I made these a decade ago, but homemade all the same!)

Gingerbread Men (& Women):

Popcorn Garland:

The Wreath that Started It:

Bought this (but it took 3 years to figure out how to get it to stay on the top of the tree):

I'm thinking of posting tutorials these ornaments (wreath tutorial here), since most are a conglomeration of lots of google searching.

I'm finished now.  Except a Christmas banner and possibly these trees

Friday, December 4, 2009

Spontaneous Dancing

It is completely normal to break out into spontaneous dancing, right?  I was going to cut down the video into smaller clips, but I figured some of my friends and family might enjoy the entire 2.5 minutes.  A  few notes:

  • Elise was once grounded from her ipod and I begged Peter (who had done the grounding) to finally give it back because repeats of songs like this were making me crazy.
  • Last time my sister was here, her husband concocted a plan that involved running around the beach on New Year's Eve in boxer shorts.  Took video of Peter and him doing it, but Peter didn't want me to post it.  So I didn't.  May not have told him about this video.
  • This was during Thanksgiving break.  I had 6 adults and 10 children in my home (although at the time one sister and family had already left to go home), so judge kindly the state of the kitchen.
  • Don't ask about the kitchen cupboard doors, it is a sore spot and one of the joys of renting.
  • Don't ask about the decorating, either, as I am reluctant to spend too much money decorating a space unique to a rental (first person to point out we may live here longer than any other house our married life will get their pinky toes broken).
  • Yes, my sister really is that skinny with 2 babies the age of my youngest or younger, and yes, I am behind the camera the entire time so you can't compare our stomach sizes (or dancing ability).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Peter, Black Friday, & Sleep Deprivation are NOT Budget Friendly

Like all good Santas (are they all female or is that just my house?), I had made my list and checked it twice (or 100 times- don't judge my list making ways).  Nearly everything had been ordered, shopped, or at the very least planned.  I was a little short on Joseph so I scanned the Black Friday ads for ideas.  There, on page 4,096 of Toys'R'Us, was a {*Christmas*Present*Censor*}.  Five-year-olds love to jump and this might direct his energy in a less parental back straining direction (how often must I remind him not to jump on my back?).  So at the lovely hour of midnight I sent my husband out to purchase said item and promptly went to bed.

Now if you are unfamiliar with Black Friday, let me tell you it has long ago stopped being about the exceptional deals that save our meager budget.  Now we do it for the joy of the hunt.  We love pouring over the ads, making a grand scheme, and dreaming (in much too short dreams) about the deals we'll be making.  We've never been in a riot, instead having many a pleasant chat with all the other crazies waiting in line at 4 in the morning.  My husband and I find it, well, fun, something we look forward to and are disappointed if no door busters call our name.  I, however, was eschewing the nontraditional midnight time in favor of a 5 o'clock run to JoAnn's for $1.50/ yard flannel.

I knew I was in trouble when I woke to the phone ringing at 4:00AM; it could only mean one thing and Peter's brief message (when I was unable to find the portable phone in time) confirmed it: he was in Walmart and had been since leaving Toys'R'Us.  I knew he had been looking at that ad a little too long and often.  I stumbled around (I am blind without glasses, contacts, or light of any sort) until I found my cell phone and dialed my husband's  number, which promptly rang on the back of the couch.  He must have borrowed someone's phone to call me!

Even in my half awake state, I realized nothing good could be had from Peter wandering the door buster filled aisles of Walmart for 4 hours.  I grabbed his phone, threw on a jacket and trudged through the rain to the car.  Due to my husband's schedule, we had yet to doorbust in our new state and I was unsure about how busy it would be.  Pulling into the parking lot left no question: the entire thing was filled!  The doors were blocked off with one small entrance for the floods of people entering.  I walked the aisles for an hour, with no success, looking for my husband to deliver the phone and check his cart (in retrospect I should have used my cell phone to take pictures for People of Walmart, but I was too tired to think about it at the time).

Admitting an inability to find him among the throngs, I trudged home to await my fate.  My husband made it home by 5:30 and I surveyed the damage.  While waiting for the 3 {*Christmas*Present*Censor*} he stayed around all night to buy (arguing quite reasonably that it was the best deal he had ever found), he had wandered the store adding things to the cart.  For. FOUR.  hours.  His purchases included the board game, {*Christmas*Present*Censor*}, which we already own, and a {*Christmas*Present*Censor*} game that I had already bought (and showed him!).  There was also the {*Christmas*Present*Censor*} and the {*Christmas*Present*Censor*}, oh, and a {*Christmas*Present*Censor*} that we had discussed and decided not to buy for Joseph this year (ironically he was the one who wanted to wait till next year).

To make a long story even longer, he spent way more than the $30 I planned.  He did finish off the two older boys lists (even Ethan's list, which is always double due to his late December birthday).  He laughed about some of his choices (later when he wasn't sleep deprived).  Some of it will be waiting for birthdays, others will be added to Santa's list in lieu of things I hadn't yet bought, and still others will sit and taunt me with their hilariousness.  And Peter is grounded from Black Friday shopping alone.

The End

P.S. I had a lovely time at JoAnn's and A.C. Moore.  Hardly any crowds and plenty of flannel to go around.  Even spent time talking to a lovely woman about our Thanksgivings while waiting in the fabric cutting line.  I stayed within my own budget (kind of).

P.P.S.  I am glad Peter likes to be involved in the present buying and that we are blessed enough financially that blowing the budget was funny and not stressful (I do allow extra room every year in the Christmas budget because he buys something not in my plan for the kids) .