Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tackle It Tuesdays

Is there something that you've been putting off? Well, if you're like me, your list of things to do may be longer than you'd like. My Tuesdays are like most people's Mondays. Mother usually comes up on Sunday and spends the night and we get out and about on Mondays while the girls are at school. Hence, Tuesday comes at me like a freight train, trying to get caught up, and getting the week rolling. So I'm taking my "to-do" list and I'm going to tackle it... one menial task at a time.

First things first: exercise. I find that this is best done without anyone home to watch me or get under my feet. Now I'm not really a fan of the whole exercise thing, but I've come to realize that to fight a sluggish metabolism, exercise is a must. I've been doing the South Beach Diet (again) since January with excellent results, and combined with exercise (I've been doing cardio and strength training with "The Firm" videos), I've lost a total of 10 lbs. Yay me!! As I write this, I have already exercised this morning, so this particular task gets a big fat (no pun intended) CHECK!!

With not much available time to give the rest of my list the attention it deserves, I'm off to make a dent into that ever-growing pile of laundry. I mean, how many clothes can four people actually go through in a weekend? You'd be surprised to know!

After that... the dreaded junk drawer in the kitchen. It already has a drawer organizer in it, but half the time it's so crammed full that it either won't open OR close. So there's my list for the day... before it's time to get the kids from school. Pick a chore from YOUR list and let's get one step closer to domestic nirvana together!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Operation: Kitchen Organization

Okay, I can be a little OCD about some things... I will whole-heartedly admit that. You would not know it by the way my house looks most days, last Friday afternoon in particular. My father-in-law came and got the girls to spend the night and I couldn't WAIT to light in on what seriously resembled a war zone in my living room. Polly Pockets, mini hair brushes, miscellaneous game pieces, all as far as the eye could see. It didn't take long to straighten it all up, but the real thrill was the next morning when hubby and I sorted through and put some toys in the garage to "rotate" in and out, as well as trashing some of the "junk" toys (like the ones from Happy Meals, The Dollar Tree, and all the odd-ball Polly Pocket shoes with no match). We do this from time to time, but ALWAYS when the girls are gone for obvious reasons. The living room was looking great, and I got on a roll and headed for the kitchen.

I knew I wasn't going to be able to completely overhaul it like I wanted too, after all, the kids would be home in a few hours. But I decided to do what I could, starting with that "drop off" zone on top of the counter. You know what I'm talking about, that space in your house where the mail, the book bags, keys, and everything else that doesn't have a proper place gets left. It was getting out of hand, to say the least. And though the little file box I had bought a while back with a slot for everyone's paper "stuff" has helped tremendously, it was all the other non-paper stuff that was now taking over. I was pleased that it didn't take long to find everything a happy home. Why was I putting all that off? I guess I was figuring that there wasn't going to be any room in the cabinets, oh well.

I don't care how big your kitchen is, I don't think any woman is satisfied with the amount of cabinet space she has. When we first moved into our house 3 years ago, I remember thinking to myself that I should have cabinet space LEFT OVER. Yeah, that lasted about a week. Whatever space I have, believe me, I can fill it up fast. This comes mostly from the fact that I am a pack rat and like to save things "just in case" I might need them later on. Inevitably when I do throw something away, I will need it the moment the garbage truck is hauling it away from my house. I am trying to do better, but like most things, it's a process.

Anyway, as I was working my way around the room, the two major areas I wanted to concentrate on (besides the "junk" pile) was underneath the sink and the silverware drawer. I recently bought a dish pan to put our cans in until they make it to the garage to the recycle bin. Before that, the cans just accumulated on the counter mocking me and my attempt at a tidy kitchen. I took everything out from under the sink and grabbed a rag and some cleaner and went to town (that means I got busy for all y'all above the Mason Dixon!). I put back my vases, cleaners, and trash bags (that were housed there previously) tossed the old magic erasers and such, took cleaning rags to the laundry room, and then placed my dish pan under there. Wow! I know it sounds lame, but it just thrilled me to death. When my in-laws came, my father-in-law was about to throw a can away and he said, "Are you still saving cans?" I said, "Yes, just put it in the dish pan under the sink." He opened the cabinet and said, "Well, how about that!" I think that's code for "That's a super-fine looking set-up you got there!" in man language. That's what I'm telling myself anyway!

As for the silverware drawer, I wish I had taken a before and after picture, seriously. I'm ashamed to admit how much it needed to be cleaned, not just organized. So again, I took everything out and got my Antibacterial Windex on the job. I washed all the silverware and my husband even took his Lowe's gift card that he got for his birthday and we bought a wooden expandable utensil tray. By now I guess you can tell that it doesn't take much to get me excited, but it looks awesome. On our organizational roll, we also bought a wire contraption to attach to the cabinet door for wax paper, aluminum foil, etc. That in turn freed up a whole other drawer, so I began to separate cooking utensils between two drawers instead of cramming them all into one. I'm telling you, I am fired up now! I'm going to get into the cabinets one by one and go through the whole kitchen and organize myself silly! Seriously, it has given me such a sense of peace to open a drawer and be able to actually FIND something (Oh, I found lots of stuff while cleaning. Sometimes two or more of the same things. That's just wasteful, buying something because you can't find it, or worse, not knowing you had one in the first place!). Maybe I'll even post some pictures of my progress if I'm not too embarrassed of the "before" shots. Next stop on the "Operation: Kitchen Organization" route? I'm thinking Junk Drawer. Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Don't Push It

I'm having a really hard time with this bombardment on young girls to be more "grown-up." Being the mom of two little girls, I'm appalled at the clothes retailers are offering our daughters. While shopping for underwear this past Christmas for my 4 year year old, I was hard pressed to find a package of panties that weren't bikinis. BIKINIS?? Seriously? For a FOUR YEAR OLD?? I mean, who could blame the pre-school set from wanting to keep their panties from peeking out of their LOW-RISE jeans, right? Heaven forbid!

Because Anna is handicapped, she still wears diapers. I can't find a pair of regular-rise jeans to cover the tops of her diaper to save my life. Because of this, we've resolved to wearing lots of stretch pants . Osh Kosh does have wonderful, age-appropriate clothes and we get a lot of jeans from there... on sale, of course. But what about our local Supercenters? Who are the buyers going to market and buying these clothes to put in these stores? Do THEY have daughters? I hope not.

Now, I know all about supply and demand. Retailers wouldn't sell such items if there wasn't a demand for it. But where are the parents and their sound judgement when a four to six year old girl wants to dress like a scantily-clad "pop sensation?" As a teenager, I wanted to dress like the girls on MTV because I thought they were "cool," but you better believe that I never left the house with my belly showing. Looking back, the only crimes of fashion I committed, were wearing shoulder pads or the occasional "big hair band" t-shirt. Oh, yeah, there was that summer before senior year where my friend Stephanie and I were trying to see how many items of black clothing we could add to our wardrobe as heavy metal wanna- be's. It turned out that it wasn't many. That was the extent of our rebellion!

While at my mom's house over the weekend, we were channel surfing trying to find something to watch on television. We stopped on a local channel that was advertising gowns for formals and prom season. Every single dress (with the exception of one that was vintage from the 50's) was cut so low in the front or the back, that underwear couldn't have possibly been an option. Another had a split so high up the front that the poor girl had to keep her hand in front of her private area as she was walking down the stairs to keep from giving the viewers at home a show. Finally the camera-man had enough decency to cut away and let another camera catch her from a different angle. There is something to be said for leaving something to the imagination, however old-fashioned that may sound. I know I wouldn't want my daughter left alone in the company of a hormone-crazed young man for 3 or 4 hours in that dress. Would anyone?

Apparently we've just become de-sensitized to so many things in our society. Inappropriate language, violence, sexual innuendos are everywhere we turn. We can't act surprised at how fast our children are growing up when they are trying to emulate their Bratz doll's sense of fashion, or are learning who knows what playing Grand Theft Auto. My girls are not yet at the age where they are asking for a particular style of clothing, but Jamie Ruth does ask for certain toys she sees advertised or asks to watch particular shows. I try to guide her to make choices about dolls that I feel are appropriate but she never fails to reach for the doll that I feel looks like a "hootchie." When I ask her what she likes about that particular doll, she explains that she's pretty or that she likes her lipstick (how could she miss the lips on the doll, really? I mean, she looks like a blow-fish!). If I'm lucky, I can usually steer her towards a new Dora or a Barbie that comes with it's own horse. But how long will that last? As far as TV goes, even shows that are supposedly kid-friendly come with their own set of problems. Though the language may not be as foul as you would find on one of the major networks, I have a problem with telling someone to shut-up or calling someone an idiot, and I have an even bigger problem when my four-year-old tries to do it.

So what's a parent to do? Here's an idea... be a parent. My mom was never interested in being my friend when I was growing up. She always told me that I may have a hundred friends, but I only have ONE mother. So many young parents, especially, are trying to be their children's best friends. Your child doesn't need another friend, what she needs is some guidance and a role model in you. So what if "EVERYONE ELSE" has a particular doll/game/shirt/CD. My step-dad always met my plea of "But EVERYBODY gets to do this or have that" with "not EVERYBODY, Lindsey. YOU don't." Go ahead and put that quote in your arsenal to use at your discretion. I have.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Another "A-Ha" Moment

There is so much I want to squeeze into my day today. After enjoying a small break yesterday from our busy weekend, I've hit the ground running this morning. The laundry is underway, the kids are at school, I'm checking my e-mails, and hopefully I can get some exercising in after I watch some of the inauguration. Then there's the bank and grocery store run... I think I need another cup of coffee.

Before I get started, I've been thinking about something interesting my brother-in-law said this past weekend. After my sister had endured a little teasing about her need for a little petting (this being her first pregnancy and all these changes she's experiencing), I defended her and tried to explain the complexity that is the "professioal fitting" at a bra shop and how band and cup size is determined (all the while trying to convince her that the actual cup of a 40B IS bigger than the cup of a 36C... trust me on this. I have Sears lingerie department experience!). Anyway, Blake asked if anyone ever noticed how I always had a story to make somebody else feel better. I didn't know how to take that at first. He's a big teaser, but he's also a pretty observant guy (and I don't think he wanted to cut my sister any slack in her attempt for some sympathy!). I began to ponder on it, and I realized what a compliment he gave me.

I'm a true people person. Anyone who knows me, knows that. I'm also very affectionate. I hug everyone... or at least anyone that will let me get close enough. And I'm not talking about those hugs where you lean in and pat, pat, pat. I'm a squeezer. It's just the way I am. It's like a handshake... I don't like a wimpy, flacid, half-hearted handshake. When I shake hands, I reach out, hold firm, and look the person in the eye. Exactly what that says about a person is up for debate, I guess. I think a firm hand shake says that you are a strong, confident, and outgoing person. Likewise, a strong hug conveys strong emotion. It's genuine and encouraging. All of those things are characteristics I hope I can always possess.

God tells us that we SHOULD be encouragers: "Therfore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another, Romans 14:19 NKJV". The world is full of criticism and we as humans are always going to fall short of our ideal that is Jesus. Therefore, I count it a priviledge to do the work of God in being kind, supportive, and inspiring to others. There are many things that I'm not able to do, but giving encouragement in kind words or hugs is not only some thing I CAN do, but something that comes easily to me. This "a-ha" moment has brought me a considerable amount of clarity especially in answering the question of "What is it that I'm supposed to be doing?" It's possible that I've been doing it all along. Thanks, Blake, for bringing it to my attention.

Friday, January 16, 2009

And So It Begins...

It's true. I'm finally embracing this technological age and I'm starting to blog. What's next, Facebook? My little sister would be so proud of me!

There is so much that I've been wanting to share with others (and learn from others) in the way of products and services for children with special needs as well as topics like serving God, motherhood, frugal living, and all the delicate balancing that goes along with being a stay-at-home-mom. And let's face it... how completely therapeutic is it to write about the things that are most important to you, allowing yourself to contemplate, hopefully resolve some issues and possibly help someone else out in the process? Sounds "win-win" to me. So here I am in the shallow end of the blogging pool (with my floaties on...tee hee) and I'm ready to dive in! And so it begins...