Thursday, May 14, 2009

Always a kid

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom act as one with our very soul.

Mom's day with the parents is always amusing--for my kids. They love that my parents treat me as a teenager. It gives them great giggles to see a Mom they don't know, who get hollered at for not cleaning up the mess, told she drives too fast and gets a "what the hell are you wearing look" whenever she visits. I have come to believe its the highlight of their day, and often brings up funny stories for weeks after when they repeat my parents comments to me at opportune moments. Somehow, I can manage multi-million businesses but don't know how to dress myself or eat properly.

Well, I know my parents have nothing but love for me at they make the comments they always have. I often wonder if we just lose the ability to see anything else but the little children when we look at our kids. While its great to see in them the countless hugs, the bath time kisses and cuddle time watching a video on Fridays, its not good to only see the times they were human and let us down by making bad choices or not doing things the way we would have. Its a delicate balance and one we all fail at once in awhile.

I often thought an amusing TV show would be one with parents who second guess every choice they ever made with their kids. Every calammity that happens now is directly related to something in the past in their minds. We see the child climbing out of the crib and the parents laughing, and flash forward to the teenager sneaking out of the window late at night. But now the parents have the ability to go back, and change the original decision, and we get to see a new outcome. So instead of laughing at the child, they sit on him and refuse to let him out of the crib, and then a whole other set of problems develops, like the inability to walk or explore. Sort of "Back to the Future" for families.

The problem is of course, the reality would keep changing too much and who knows what the outcome would be . Severely messed up I am sure. Great TV comedy, but bad reality TV. It is pretty easy to second guess ourselves during stress about the choices we have made and how we got where we are.

Raising kids is a delicate balancing act and sometimes driving the boat backwards seems easier.
But the reality is that the wake of the boat is behind us. We can't turn around are have the water lay back down. We can't re drive the paths we have travelled, we can only go forward. We can't hit reverse, drive back to the hospital and put the baby back in (and who really wants to stay up all night teething again??). I often say during times of trouble that they can't be mine, I was drugged up and think I was given the wrong baby...but then my husband reminds me I didn't take drugs during the birth, it was only after that I needed to take meds to deal with permanent seats in detention, principals with direct lines to your office and modern day teenage rivalry via video tapes on You Tube and texting insults at the speed of light. What ever happened to crying over simple phone calls and passing notes in math class? Dorothy, we're not in Kansas anymore.

Despite all this, its still fun on a daily basis. Often we look back a year later and laugh about the crap that drove us to drink, like the time my son drove a go-cart 8 miles down Transit Road to pick up a friend, and ran out of gas on the way back. Of course, he had to call Dad to come pick him up. What a phone call that was. Or that Maggie regularly jumped on her twin Luke as a toddler to bite him on his back. "It was her only defense." I was afraid to go to the doctor with them for 3 years because I was sure they would think I was biting them.

So whatever it is the kids have done now, it will pass. It's too easy to see every wrong thing they ever did and not see how much they have grown and changed, or see the person they are NOW. Its the cause of many fights and also many hugs and kisses. Groundings become moments to reconnect and reconfigure. We need to try and adapt to who they are now, not the child they were.

All that being said, I have to go take Maverick out of time out. Its time for his sippy cup as we drive to go visit our new best friend, the high school principal.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Ant Farm

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom act as one with our very soul.

Lovely spring time in Buffalo. The birds are chirping, and the brisk morning air envigorates my senses when I open the kitchen window. All seems right in the world, time to clean, time to garden, time to feel joy. Wait, who's that visiting again? Oh, its my friends, the carpenter ants.

Every year, we seem to get a few visiting us, wandering around the kitchen a few at a time. No big deal, and soon enough, they seem to move outside. This year, they came in early April with warmer temps. 6 or so came. We stomped them out. The next morning, maybe a dozen. We shooed them away, killed some with whatever chemical we had nearby. Next week, 2 dozen ants. Hmm, more spray, empty out one cupboard, wash around. Next week, baking cupboard loaded with ants. Open lazy susan cupboar with all oils, vinegars, tea, coffee, loaded. Open cereal cupboard, more ants. Ants everywhere, crawling the walls, in the bathroom, yuck. My beautiful center island gets piled high with all my food. It's 3 feet high with flour, sugar, cereal, pasta, oil and spices. I have emptied the cupboards, vacummed, scrubed. They just keep coming.

Crud, soon I am watching the little fellows march everywhere in neat uniform patterns. I think its a scene for an Alfred Hitchcock movie, where the ants take over my life, slowly eating all means of wood, destroying the infrastructure. I try to ignore them, use ant powder. Nothing. Finally laying on the couch, one crawls over me. That's it. Now I am mad, they are invading my precious nap time. They must go!

"Can I declare carpenter ants as dependents?"--me, 5 Am one morning

I google the carpenter ant. Nice, the worst thing you can do is use pesticides to kill them instantly. The queen just gets mad and makes more babies. Great, I am causing the queen to have to have more sex. Like its a tragedy for her, she's probably grateful for the action. I however, am sick of this. I look up the correct chemicals to use. I need to get ones to make them ingest the poision and take it back to the nest.

It suggests following the ants, to find the nest. 14 years of this, and we have never tracked down the nests, but I am on a mission now. I am possessed. I have a wild look in my eyes. All activity stops in the house, and we must get these damn ants out. I spend the day watching my own personal ant farm. We buy ant traps, and they don't seem to work. DH goes back to store to buys something else. I stand guard over them, following them.

DH comes back with powder. Another $50 bucks spent. We watch them, follow them. Check the garage overhang honey. DH crawls up there with flashlight, nothing. Maybe they are in the sofet by the breezeway. Open that up, nothing. The back patio roof. Nothing. I know, the crawl space. He spends an hour crawling all around and emerges looking like Peanuts character with a cloud of dirt following him around. He even looks like he has hair with the cobwebs and dirt clinging to his scalp. Nothing there.

Watch the little guys some more. I've got it, the stairs, they must be under them. DH knocks a hole in the back of the kitchen closet. Nothing. Well, I always wanted that closet to be bigger, now it is. We are out of ideas now. Spend the day dropping powder on them. Now I have white ants crawling over the kitchen, nice. A blizzard of pets.

The next day they seem to be gone. We wait the week, they haven't come back. Clean up, put everything away. Go outside, get out the chairs, enjoy the hot air. Wait. What's that? The ants are out here now. Get the powder, give me a beer, time to get back to ant work.

Oh the joys of spring. I think I'll say they are crawling in a virgin Mary pattern so at least I can charge admission when everyone comes to pray over them. With enough people, I am sure we can crush them. Not.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The New Economy

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

I was listening to John Tesh radio show and he was talking about ways to save money is this soft economy, common tips we all have thought of like making coffee at home or look at going down to one car (how on earth can I be chauffeur to the world if I don't have a vehicle???) but he also talked about buying EXPERIENCES instead of things.

This made me pause and think, hmmm. We all sit down and budget and review our money, and what we think we "have" to pay for, but what if did a macro view and shifted what we buy overall? Or how we buy and what it does for our economy?

I've thought a lot recently about customer service (or lack of) and shifted how I make my purchases accordingly. One thing I really can't stand is waiting in long lines to pay for my purchases. It drives me crazy, but add in waiting in line to SELF-SCAN AND PAY and I get a little nutso. Large restaurant chains where you sit and wait like a herd of cattle are another push button for me. Expensive toys that cost as much as feeding a family of 4 for a week have also given me pause lately.

I don't eat out often, but I am trying to go little local restaurants to help keep our economy going. I think small businesses really drive this country, so we all need to keep them in business. I love Cafe Espresso for a nice, European intimate Italian experience. Just fun to have drinks or great pasta dishes in a cozy atmosphere. I also stopped at Chester's in East Amherst last week for great Cajun food. A bowl of gumbo, a plate of jambalaya and red beans and rice for $10, how cool is that? I was at the Lake Effect dinner by UB last month and enjoyed the potato pancakes. I just love dinners that offer french toast or stuffed jalapenos--what's not to love?

I've shifted some of my mindset of where to shop to get good deals. Adding in thrift stores has been fun. Carousel Clothing and Gifts has wonderful like new clothing and bags, as well as home decor that is fun to browse thru. What's not to love about a $5 sweater or Vera Bradley bad for 1/3 of retail? Used book stores are fun to browse in for unique and classic books. Its good to just slow down and let the mind wander when in there. And Salvation Army half price Wednesdays are sure to bring out the giggles. Maverick loves the Abercrombie flannel I picked up for $2. Who knew deals can make your heart sing?

Time for me to also go back to homemade pizza nights. No, the quality of the crust suffers, but the toppings get creative as you use up leftovers and pile it on baby. Make your own snacks instead of grabbing the family size Doritoes. Homemade popcorn (yes, soccer boy, you can cook it on the stove, not in the microwave), bake your own soft pretzels and cinnamon tortilla crisps are yummy. The twins may whale there's nothing to eat, but suddenly apples get stuffed with peanut butter, raisins and chocolate chips or bananas get heated with some chocolate syrup and marshmallows for a gooey mess that warms you up.

Now if I could only get them to clean up their own mess in the kitchen. What's that Ma, you said the same thing to me 30 years ago? Who me, I'm miss perfect. I would never get flour all over the dishwasher and floor while baking, would I?(Don't ask the queen this; she's still in therapy to recover from last year's baking day.)

OK, maybe I can save up for a maid. Or swifter for dishes (I think that's called paper plates). Or just blame the kids, again.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dinner for the Week in 60 mins

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

Just do it needs to be my motto for the year. I tend to procrastinate big time and use any excuse to do something else. It comes down to organization mostly.

The kids are off school today and wanted to see a movie last night. I put off cleaning and weekly chores on Saturday, so I had to do them yesterday. Normally, Sunday is cooking day. I make the big old-fashioned Sunday dinner and usually at least one more thing for during the week.

So, here it was crunch time, I cleaned, its time to cook and I was blowing it off, or I might of, but I decided instead to have Maggie and Luke help me, so I could do my 3 hours of cooking in an hour. It was the price they had to pay for fitting the movie in around Sunday dinner. As we rushed, DH kept asking what we were doing, and they replied "Cooking for the week." And we did, in an hour. Pretty much side dishes need to finished, but all meals should be assembled and heated in less than 30 mins this week.

We made: Pasta con Vodka sauce with chicken. I have started making my sauce, so I made a huge triple batch, split some out, made it into vodka sauce, which I made a double of. Cooked chicken and pasta, and finished it. Put double Pot roast in oven, half will be beef stew another night. Baked chicken wings and strips of plain chicken for me (trying to be good.). Twins mixed up and rolled meatballs (no Luke, half-pounders do NOT work here) and baked them. Nice to have a double oven to play with. Kids also made a huge bowl of salad and cut up veggies for wing night.

We save a lot by not making convenience meals or take out. I try to show them real food doesn't take too long and is fun. We also started making our own cappuccino mix. They can make it hot or cold. For about $6, we make a huge 3 pound coffee can that last the 3 of them 2 weeks.

Now if I could only automate laundry into an hour a week, I'd have it made.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Self Care

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

"Your overweight self doesn't stand before you craving food, she's craving love."--Marianne Williamson

I did my weekly grocery shopping yesterday and finally tracked down the January issue of "O" magazine (no Mr. Clancy, its not about orgasms, its the Oprah magazine, get over yourself already.) I've not really ever been a reader of her magazine, but I wanted to read about her comments on struggling with her weight. Yes, I could have trekked to the library, but my weekly trip has been rescheduled out of my life for a couple of months now. So, I found her comments on her struggle last year with her 40 found weight gain very informative, and here is one part that hit home for once:

What I've learned this year is that my weight issue isn't about eating less or working out harder, or even about a malfunctioning thyroid., It's about my life being out of balance, with too much work and not enough play, not enough time to calm down. I let the well run dry. Here's another thing this past year has been trying to teach me, Oprah continues, " I don't have a weight problem--I have a self-care problem that manifest itself through weight."

Now I have heard the self-care line many times before, but it really clicked when I read that, or you could say, I finally listened to it after searching out just that article. For the past 40 days or so I wanted to read that and kept thinking about it--why? I say we really do get messages when we are ready to listen, and not just when we need them.

A self-care problem, me? I decided it must be an issue when I closely examined my dear friends Christmas presents to me. Syd's Mom bought me beautiful purple gloves and a scarf--after hearing that I never have gloves because my kids take them, and lose them, and I don't get out to replace them, I just drive around like a bag woman with mismatched gloves. (honestly, this story gets worse). The queen bought me jammies, "Barking All the Way" is on them, in honor of my dog Molly, who never shuts up when we are on the phone. The jammies are because I often can't find cuddly clothes to lounge around in, the sweats are dirty, the 2 pair of jammies are lost in the sea of laundry I haven't finished. And Mrs. GM gave me a glass measuring cup for liquid measure and a wine opener. She watched me try to get the cork off my wine opener so I could open another bottle, using pliers and whatever else, and decided maybe I had an issue with the old one. Again, why buy a new one, only I drink wine, its okay, never mind me, just go on.

Wonderful, thoughtful gifts, everyone of them, and they all scream that I don't love myself enough to buy things to make my life easier. I put myself last, or in the case of the library, not on the list at all. Push your needs aside and never handle them. I can do without, its okay, I'm a Mom right? I even took exercising off the list. I so treasure my one hour alone before they house wakes from their crypts, that I stopped going to the gym. My husband started working overnights and is often asleep at night. In our tiny house, this means one less room to go to for solitude. I suddenly had no place to have quiet and wasn't getting it. The only time I could grab it was at 4 a.m. when I normally awoke to get up and go to the gym at 5. (I know, again with the why at that time--because I don't take time away from the family at night when I workout in the morning.)

And then the food issues. Well, don't cook vegetables and fruits and seafood that you love, cook crap convenience food because everyone else likes that. There is a point when compromise becomes burying yourself a sea of excuses and you need to dig out and begin again. Love yourself enough to schedule your life with YOU in it. Plan some fun, buy what is necessary to make life livable and don't look back. I started with a chick flick on Friday with Hannah, rolled into Saturday by not working, and added in a trip to the book store on Sunday. Go me.

I actually bought socks yesterday at Marshall's. The size 12's I was blessed with, which double as rocket launching pads for NASA, needed new coverings. I needed them for forever, as witnessed by me canvassing around for baseball socks last week when I couldn't find the last good pair I owned. I have to buy men's to have them last, and wasn't even making the trip for the past year. Jeesh. But I found them and some other goodies as well, like designer jeans for $16, yeah me!

And this whole self-care thing isn't just about putting me in the equation, its about health. As I called my good friend last night to check on her Mom's breast cancer, she reminded me, we both need to lose the belly fat. Most major diseases come from that and we aren't young anymore as we think . Time is running out and we need to get the fat off now, not be a super model, but be healthy.

Time to hit the where are those spinning shorts and sneaks? Do you think they'd let me in With jammies on?

Take care of you, so you can take care of everyone else. Live strong.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

Happy New Year! May Joy, love and prosperity mark all your days of the year, and may good health be with you and your family.

It's time for self-evaluation, diets and belt tightening on the finances. Well, that got me through the morning of New Year's day, now what? Where do we go from here? Oh I know, I'll just think myself to a new me. Poof! I am blond, 25 years old and 125 pounds. Darn, the secret fairy didn't come through again! What now?

Well, I know I need to get back to the gym. And I need to eat better. Okay, I say that every year. I usually do well at the gym but have been having trouble. Try a new time for awhile and see how that goes. And then the food. Well, I need to eat more vegetable and teach the kids that green stuff is not just the pizza crust that fell under their bed. Its actually good for you and fills you up. So my goal is to try a new fruit or a new vegetable each week. This week, I made beans and green. I had it at the Queens' house on New year's day, so I looked it. Kale, okay so I bought that and cooked it. Made everyone eat a portion. No one really likes beans, but I will keep trying. Made chili this week too. Send the air freshener to my house and keep the matches away!! Maybe just a tad too much fiber at once. It's okay to have the windows open when it's 17 degrees out, isn't it?

And then the fruit. We just don't do it. So, I started buying juice for the kids, grape since its so good for you. And I will make a dessert out of fruit more often to get them used to it. We are just out of the habit.

And snacks, well try to limit them. So, I didn't buy them this week. Get them eating them on a weekend treat, and not the rest of the time. And then a nice dessert on Sunday only. Give the cookies and candy a rest. None of us need it. Maggie thinks dinners should just be veggies and sweets. Her twin likes the sour food, vinegar and hot sauce. Go figure that one out--did the taste buds split in have when they were hatched?

And the big one, maverick. He pretty much just wants tacos, pizza and pasta. I'll have to sneak the veggies in on him. I wonder if you can just grind them up and mix them in Red Bull or Monster? If those companies want Mom's on board, add vitamins and veggies and we're in. Convenience rules I guess.

And most of all for the food control, cook again. I made 4 meals on Sunday afternoon. My kids couldn't believe it and wondered what was up. Chili, broccoli soup, chicken picata, scalloped potatoes, ham, salad. They don't know what real food is anymore. Time to hop on that. I know they think dinner comes in a plastic bag to be microwaved, but I'll have to work on that. We don't buy out much, but we sure did get lazy on the premade food issues.

Send me your food tips! I need help. All this cooking wore me out....okay, just an excuse not to go to the gym again. I'll get on that--right after I eat the last of the Christmas cookies.

The best resolution I can make, besides the food--be a better person everyday. Let's get on that, shall we?