Thursday, October 11, 2012

What Did You Expect?


This morning, I took my kiddos to school per usual.  I was planning to make a stop in the classrooms to see if I might be of some assistance, but made a pit*stop at the restroom first.  I wasn't in there 30 seconds before I heard one of MY kids outside the door...

"Get away from the door!", I snarled.

REALLY????  I can't even get a minute's privacy in a public restroom either????  Geeeezzz Louise!!!!


We all have them.  Some are realistic, and some are off*the*charts*ridiculous. 


Think: someday I'll be Mrs. Justin Bieber Michael Buble & he'll sing softly in my ear every night as I drift off to sleep. 

Yeah.  No.  Not realistic.  At. All.

Having a neat, orderly home at all times in the midst of raising teens toddlers.  Not realistic.

Never being late for church & yet still having well-dressed & perfectly behaved children.  Not totally realistic, either...but I'm working on it.

Having a well-balanced meal on the table each, that's more like it.

Sometimes, we set our goals for ourselves pretty high....and, sometimes, that's a good thing.  I think that having something to work for & look forward to is healthy & gives life purpose.  However, I also believe that the goals we set for ourselves should be set through prayer & even consulting with our spouse. 

I know I have been guilty of consulting with my latest issue of Homeschooling Family or Better Homes & Gardens, and setting my expectations based on the fabulous things that I see there.  Then, when I fail to live up to my goals, I feel like a failure. 

Whaaaat??  I can't get my 8 kids to behave perfectly in public, while all lined up in age/height order according to eye color & shoe size????  If Michelle Duggar can do it with 32 kids, I can do it with 8!!!!  I'm such a loser!

I am overweight, my hair is dull, & don't look just like Julia Roberts???  She is older than me!  I am such a slob!

Ugh....I can't make my dinner, curtains & tablescapes all coordinate with my blouse like Sandra Lee????  I can never have company again!

These are all silly examples, but I'm guessing you're a smart enough person to understand my point.

First of all, I would like to point out that real life is messy.  Kids play.  Food gets dropped.  Puke gets spewed. Dishes get stacked.  Laundry overflows.  Schedules get altered (or forgotten).  Weight gets gained.  Life happens.

What we should expect is the grace to be able to take each percieved setback & see it for what it is.  Ask yourself this question: If I am upset about this situation, what should I be doing differently?  In other words, analyze WHY you feel frustrated/angry when things don't go your way go as expected. 

Are you throwing a fit?
Are you being realistic in your expectations for yourself, your kids, your spouse, your friends/family?
Will life suddenly end if you have to change your thinking?
Are you being selfish?

Yes, this is a pop quiz.
Yes, these are trick questions. 

God is good about throwing curves in our way when we have mapped out a perfectly straight path for ourselves.  That is a necessary ingredient in making life more interesting.  More importantly, how we handle these curves determines whether or not we are growing up & maturing or if we are still spoiled little kids throwing a tantrum because we didn't get our way.

Say, you have all of your self expectations within normal range, you handle life's curves with suave & finesse.  In other words: you got it goin' on.

Let me ask you this:  What are your expectations of others?


Thursday, October 4, 2012

...On Turning 40.

So, yesterday, I turned the big 4-0. 

Very quietly.

Without fanfare.

I have had an entire year to ponder the implications of turning 40 & how people react to that number, and I have come up with some thoughts. 

Wanna know what they are? (if not, find something else to do...)

First of all, growing older does not bother me in the least.  I don't care about my age...for reals.

Know why?

I'm happy.  Ecstatically, blissfully, thoroughly happy.  True story.

No lies, though, my life is far from a Norman Rockwell-esque portrait.  It's crazy, organized chaos that causes me fits & frustrations, and, frequently, tears.  I am not a perfect wife, mom, friend....person.  But....I am right where I am supposed to be & I can feel that in my gut.  I am content.

Oh, sure, there are things that I would have done differently had I been the one in charge of my destiny, but then...the question begs to be asked...would I have been as fulfilled?  An inkling in my mind says no.  So often, we think we have it all covered...but, there is so much down the road that we cannot see. 

When I was growing up, I never thought I would have 8 kiddos to raise. 

I didn't even like kids. 
However, if I hadn't given life to each one of these people that call me Mom...would I be the same person I am today?  Would I be as fulfilled?  Little voice is saying, no.
There are things about my life that are exactly as I had planned out, though. 
I am in a wonderful church, serving God with most of my ability (there's ALWAYS room for improvement there).  He is faithful to me, even when I have been otherwise distracted and ungrateful.
We are blessed to travel often.  I love making memories with my kids & husband.  We have made choices in our 20 years together, that have facilitated this in our lives. 
We don't use credit. 
Top of the list of best decisions we've ever made.(Disclaimer:  this does not include house & car payments.) 
We chose to live in a double-wide manufactured home (yep, we're trailer trash) rather than take out a $250,000 loan to build our "dream" home that we had designed ourselves.  Memories of experiences rather than crown mouldings were more important to us.  
These decisions have brought me great peace.
You know, I have gray hairs.  It's ok.  Really.  I do get some hi/low lights put in my hair &, if some of the gray gets covered, great, if not, no biggie.  See, I've earned those hairs.  Each and every one.  Maybe you gave me one!  Who am I to turn down a gift???  LOL!!!  Seriously, my only wish is that I turn into one of those old ladies with gorgeous blue white hair.  I kinda feel like the grays represent the trials, tests & experiences that I have gone through.  They represent: life.
One last thought on getting older....well...hmmmm...I forgot what it was.
Hey, can you read this post ok?  This font seems smallish...........

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Parental Blackmail

If you have missed me, well, I am baaaaaack!!!  Hahaha...

I vowed to myself not to apologize *again* for not writing on here for an absolute eternity.  So, I won't .

To me, Blogging = Fun.  So, if I sit in my comfy red chair, pull out my laptop & proceed to ignore all of my other responsibilities pour my heart out to the great internet void, then I have that nagging feeling of "shouldn't I be doing something useful?".

My solution: block time on my calendar each week to devote to doing this & then it isn't a waste of time, it's what I'm SUPPOSED to be doing. :)
Problem solved. 
I hope.
I have had such an eventful summer....I'm sure....but I can't remember any real specifics, & I don't really want to talk about that anyway.  Let's suffice it to say, Summer 2012 was crazy busy & we were all glad to slow down & get back to school! 
One thing I do know for sure, is that, behavior-wise, the kiddos were MUCH better than in past years!  Yay!  In the interest of keeping it real, I will confess that I was totally DREADING the summertime. Seven kids in the house....all day long...every day....for 12 weeks.  Nope, not a recipe for quiet & meditation.  About 3 weeks before school let out, I began formulating a plan. 
I've never been real big on rewarding expected behavior.  I mean, breathing is reward enough for being an obedient child, RIGHT? 
Apparently not. 
I had a plan for sanity.
Heee heee heeeeeeee.....
Here it is in a nutshell:
     1. There was a chore sheet. 
I just picked up some grid-type thingies at the local teacher's supply store (in fact, all of my supplies came from there) and some small stickers to coordinate.  I wrote the chore down the side & the day of the week across the top. 
I kept it simple:
     Make bed, brush hair, put jammies away, set table, etc...
     Do chore = get sticker
     2. There was a behavior/character system.
This was the BIG DEAL.  This was what I really wanted to work on. 
Again, in another nutshell:
  They each had a large star with their name on it. 
  They had an assigned number of smaller stars affixed to the large one with Velcro.  The older they were, the fewer chances stars they had.
  Bad behavior/character = star removal.
  Star removal = loss of privileges.
  Loss of privileges = incentive to do better next time.
Yay me!!!
     3. There were prizes!!!
This is the part I lifted from some other source that I cannot recall at this moment (the point is that it didn't originate in my skull).
  I found a box & put "Milky Way Store" on the side of it (It was all an outer space theme).  Each item in the box had a monetary value (using garage sale stickers).  I picked up all kinds of stuff that I don't normally buy:
Beef Jerky
Air Head Candies
Chocolate milk (that nasty stuff that doesn't have to go in the fridge)
Coupons for privileges
You get the point.
Now, for each star they had left at the end of the week, they received a dollar amount which they turned around & spent in the Milky Way Store.
Brilliant, I tell ya!  Brilliant!
4. Consistency was rewarded, too.
There was a larger goal as well.
There were 12 mind-numbingly long weeks of summer & if they achieved "Stellar Behavior" for 8 out of  12 weeks, they would be able to go to the water park. 
Not 7 weeks.
Not 6 weeks.
EIGHT weeks.  Firm.  No negotiating.
Two didn't get to go. :o(
I will be honest here, I tried everything I could think of to make it possible for those two to be able to go, but to no avail.  First, it wouldn't have been fair to the others & Second, well, it would make me a big fat liar. 
I'm sure this is all clear as mud, but the long & short of it is this: It's September & I'm still reasonably sane!  I chose not to continue this little system past the summer & all the kiddos were bummed.  Does this mean success????  Come next June, I'll put up another excessively tacky bulletin board in my hall, holler for a meeting & lay down the summer's rules. 
Hey, I'm not ashamed to say it.
I essentially blackmailed my kiddos to be good.
It worked.
If you would like me to email you copies of the "rules", I would be happy to do that.  Just leave me a comment with your email address.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March Menu & My Methods

Ok, ok, I know it's forever since I've blogged. I have been texted, emailed, called & just generally chewed out for it. I don't really have an excuse other than, I was just plain ole uninspired.

Tonight, though, I am gonna share some very inspiring information about how I do groceries/menus. Wooooo*Hooooo!!!

First of all, let me preface this by stating that I have had (yet again) very few original ideas in this area (as with most areas of my life). There are some wonderful books/blogs on this very topic. I've tried a lot of methods, & this is what is working for us. For now.

My method is this:
I consider our month; when we will be out, special events, church nights & so forth.

We usually have date night several times per month. I don't know when those days will be, so I am very flexible with my menu.

I pull out a couple of my numerous recipe books/magazines/print-outs from Pinterest & choose several new things to try.

Several years ago, I decided to sit down & make a list of everything I make that our family likes. I divided it into sections: Beef, Chicken, Pork, Meatless, Soups, Crockpot, Sides....etc. This is my *Go-To* list to choose from for the month. I update it periodically as we decide that a new thing we've tried is a new family favorite.

Using the menu I have just created, I make my grocery list. I do not buy for the whole month...cause it's sorta a pain. I have done it, though.
What I do, is buy for about 10-14 days at at time. This puts me at the grocery store roughly twice per month.
I confess that I am somewhat a creature of habit. When I go to a store, I tend to head to the same section first every single time. With that in mind, I created a grocery list for the Wal*Mart in my area based on my method of shopping. This is one of the SINGLE BEST, TIME-SAVING activities I have ever done! I simply print it out & check off the items I need. Doesn't get much easier! :)

Now the part of this process I hate more than any other part....heading to the grocery store.
I usually spend 2+ hours, use 2 baskets, & spend $300+ each time. I take the time to put find it, put it in the basket, stand in line, unload it (according to how I want it bagged, thank you), re-load it (according to how I want to put it in the car), & unload it again. When I get home, I....only carry in the bread & bananas...things I can't bear to have mushed, then I sic the kiddos on it. We ALL pitch into the job of putting stuff. Everyone from toddlers to Daddy are in on the job. It takes 8-10 people 30 minutes to put it all away.

When I am done...we usually eat out for dinner!!! HAHAHAHA!!!!

I have been trying to get the forms I use into some sort of format that I can insert into my blog....but I'm pretty much stumped as to how to go about it. So, I will type this out, and at the end of this posting, I will list the documents that I use. If you are interested in having a copy, please email me & I will happily send them to you as well as any recipes that look interesting to you.

Here is our menu for March:

Oven fried chicken


*Crockpot Chicken & Dumplins

Baked Ziti

Date Night/Mini meatloaves (previously made & frozen)
green beans

*Crockpot Salisbury Steaks
Mashed Taters

*Crockpot Island Kielbasa
Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

Chicken Pot Pie
Sauteed Broccoli
Deviled Eggs

Beans (Pinto) & Sausage

BBQ Baked Potatoes

Creamy Chicken Stew
Skillet Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Frozen Lasagna (cooked, of course)

*Crockpot Honey Sesame Chicken
Stir-Fry Veggies
Asian Salad (still looking for recipe)

Pork chops
Corn on the Cob
Broccoli & Rice Casserole

Little Ceasar's Pizza

Irish Beef Stew
Crusty Bread

*Farmer's Casserole

Poppy Seed Chicken

Beef Stroganoff
Green Beans

*Crockpot Beef Enchiladas
*Corn, Bean & Avocado Salad
Spanish Rice

Cheese Stuffed Shells

Homemade Burgers
Pasta Salad
Baked Beans
Banana Pudding


*Baked Potato Soup
*Herbed Muffins

Chicken Spaghetti
Pea salad

Beef & Bean Chile Rellenos
Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes

Taco Salad

*Spicy Chicken Kebobs with mushrooms & peppers
Okra, corn & tomato saute

Homemade Pizzas

Pot roast with Horseradish sauce & vegetables

NOTE: Items marked with * are new recipes.

Here is a list of the forms I use:

Blank Calendar

WalMart Master Grocery List

Master Meal List

You may email me at: diayoung (at) sbcglobal (dot) net

Let me know what you think...was this helpful at all?