Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tools (or on my OCD tendencies)

** this was originally posted in 2012, but I thought it was good enough to share again. Enjoy! **

First of all, let me be clear that I have never been diagnosed with OCD, nor am I really sure that the tendencies that I have would even be classified as OCD, but that's what I call them, and that's what I've been told by others, so until I get another explanation, there ya go.

I've always enjoyed a good list. To do lists are my forte. At work, I'm known for "the list". At home, I have a chore list, a grocery list, a meal planning calendar, a daycare planning calendar, expense tracking worksheets, and even gift giving lists. All tracked on Excel.

Oh, how I love Microsoft Excel.

They all started innocently enough. Other than the To Do List (which I've used since I was way younger than anyone should use To Do Lists), they all came about after Jena was born, as tools to help me manage what seemed like an overwhelming amount of responsibility.

I love a list. I believe lists can be invaluable tools.

And I've been thinking a lot about tools lately.

You see, a few months ago, on a Friday, I had brought my chore list to work for some reason. When I left that evening, I accidentally left it on my desk. I remembered just as I pulled in the driveway.

And nearly had an anxiety attack.

I mean, how would I know what chores to do if I don't have my list?!? How will I know what needs to be done?!?

My list, it's organized by regular chores & special one-time chores. It's a matrix in order by date-last-completed, so I know exactly how long it's been since I've done what. I check them off as I go. It tells me what to do next.

And here I was, on a weekend where Jason wasn't gonna be home, and I would have all kinds of time to get housework done, and I didn't have my list.

I can't explain to you the kind of panic that set in. I can also tell you that I knew exactly how crazy that sounded. But it didn't change anything. I was completely hobbled without that list. I think I did manage to put one load of laundry in that Friday night, and Saturday morning I took Jena and drove to my office to get the List.

And yes, I knew exactly how crazy that was. But it didn't change the fact that I needed that list.

And I've been thinking about tools ever since.

Okay, not like constantly ever since, but... you get the idea.

And then, a few weeks ago... I did a load of laundry, and didn't check it off on the list. And unlike my usual remember-within-a few-minutes-and-run-to-the-kitchen-to-mark-it-off, I didn't even remember until the next morning.

I can't tell you how big that moment was, when I realized that I wasn't having anxiety over not recording the fact that I did a load of laundry.

Yes, I know exactly how crazy that sounds.

I never did check that load of laundry off.

I did check off the next load. And the next. And various other chores.

But it was different. I felt different.

I felt... like I was on the edge of something big. I was either going to have a breakthrough, or a breakdown. And in those moments, it felt like it could go either way.

Next thing I know, we needed groceries. But I didn't have time to get my grocery list together. You know, put it together in Excel, in order by aisle, look thru my paper coupons & mark the list accordingly, look for online coupons & mark the list accordingly, check the flier for discounts & mark the list accordingly... it takes time, and I hadn't had time to do it yet. But we needed food.

So I went grocery shopping.

Without a grocery list.

Without one single coupon.

Without knowing what was on sale.

There was something liberating about that trip to Kroger.

Like, really, actually freeing.

I felt free.

I was lucky enough to be by myself, and I dawdled in each aisle, perusing items & prices for what my family would want versus what was reasonably priced. It was probably the least draining shopping trip I've ever had. I dare say I felt energized leaving that store.

And I haven't marked a single chore off my chore list ever since.

Now, granted, there are times when I worry that I've missed a chore, when our house is a mess and I think "maybe I really did need that list".

And then I remember that our house was a mess before, and maybe it's a teeny tiny bit messier than before, but... if so, not by enough to really notice.

I can see when the hamper is full and laundry needs to be done. Or the sink is full and dishes need to be done. Or the garbage is full & needs to be taken out.

Mental note: clean the bathroom.

Why? because it needs it

It's not that I didn't see these things before, it's that I was handicapped by the very tools I created to help me. Or rather I was handicapped by my dependence on these lists.

Example? Sure.

Let's say the living room floor is dirty.

my reaction then: "yuck. The floor is dirty. I need to do laundry so we have clothes to wear, and then if I have time, I can probably do one or two more chores. But I can't sweep the floor until I straighten the living room and pick up toys & things. I'll have to see if anything is higher on the list than "straighten the living room" and "sweep floors"."

my reaction now: "yuck. The floor is dirty. I need to do laundry first so we have clothes to wear, but then I should have time to do one or two more chores. Maybe tonight I'll pick up the living room & sweep the floor."

See the difference? Of course you do.


I'm thankful for my lists. I think when I started using them, when I was truly overwhelmed, when I was fighting PPD, when I was struggling with so many issues, I needed them. I needed tools to help me handle the everyday tasks that others take for granted.

Tools are great like that. Tools are meant to be used when one is lacking in the ability to complete the task by themselves.

Think about it. I mean, if you could hammer in a nail with your bare hand... would you ever buy a hammer? Probably not. You need the tool.

But somewhere along the way, my tools became my crutch.

I am better now. I am stronger. I am healed.

I am not perfect. Far, far from it. But I am ready to stop depending on my tools, and start depending on myself.

I am free.

Right now, I am not using any of my lists or calendars for home. None of them. I may reinstate one or more of them in the future (after all, I am a little concerned I'll forget to buy laundry detergent on my next grocery trip), but for now... I'm content to toddle into the world, finding my way again, figuring out how I'm gonna do this, how am I gonna manage these tasks. I'm happy to be in a new phase of home management, redefining how I will manage my home. I will make mistakes along the way, I am sure, but I also feel quite confident that in the end I will be doing a better job than I ever was before.

As always, thanks for checking in.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Coping with a husband being gone so much

** I originally posted on this topic back in 2011 when I was working full time outside the home. This is updated to add some notes now that I have a couple of years of experience as a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom and my children are older. **


As a fire wife, one of the struggles is being home alone. A lot. Feeling like a single mom. A lot.

In fact, I have a whole new respect for single moms. And for military wives / moms. Because I know how hard it is with as much as Jason is gone, and I can't imagine being on my own all the time, or until he came home on leave.

It's important that you voice your frustrations to him. Not in a I'm-pissed-at-you-way, but in a I'm-frustrated-and-I'm-struggling-way.
He needs to know what you're going thru.

This is also a good time to ask him what his frustrations are with his schedule. Like missing out on kids' milestones, not playing with them as much, not enough date nights with you, etc.

It's important that the two of you at least try to understand where both of you are coming from, because you are both in very different positions.

You're not in the normal two-income family, where both parents leave in the morning, and both parents come home every night, Monday thru Friday.

You're not the normal one-income family, where he leaves in the morning and comes home every night. Depending on shifts and second jobs he's gone 24-48 hours at a stretch, or sometimes longer.

He's spending nights away from home, having dinner, spending time, and sleeping with other people, while you take care of the kids and the house by yourself after putting in a full day of work.

He doesn't have a "weekend", as his shift includes Saturdays and Sundays. He'll work holidays too, leaving you to handle the celebrations alone. He will miss your daughter's soccer games, even though they're on Saturdays. He will miss a lot of family events thru the years.

This creates stress and frustrations for each of you, but you each have a different kind of frustration.
He has the frustration of not being there, and you have the frustration of being there alone. It's very different, so you must communicate.

The fact is that being in a situation where your spouse is gone much of the time, well... it sucks. It just does.

As far as taking care of the children, and the house:

Things became much simpler for me when I just took Jason out of the equation, when it comes to taking care of the house and the kids.

You just do it yourself. If you need a sitter for some reason, you take care of arranging it, and you do what you need to do. You do all the daycare drop-offs and pick-ups, even if he's home. You plan on doing all of the housework, even if it's his off day. You handle all of the feedings, all of the baths. You feed all the pets, clean all of the poop (pet & baby - ha!). You get everyone dressed in the mornings, get everyone ready to go. Even if he's there.

Keep him in the loop on everything, but just accept it as what you have to do so he can do what he has to do.

This has really helped me / us. It doesn't make the actual work any easier, but it eases a lot of frustration because I don't feel I'm counting on him to do something that he's just not going to do.

And then when he does volunteer to take care of something, it's like a bonus. For everyone.

And that lowers everyone's stress level.

At the same time, you need to realize & accept that you can't do everything. Prioritize what's most important. Obviously taking care of your child(ren) is a must, but other housework, chores, etc.... prioritize, and do the top things first, even if they're inconvenient or unpleasant.

Give it some time & figure out what you can reasonably do in a day, a week, etc. Then talk to your husband and see if he can pick up some of the rest. If not, or if he's not sure, factor him out of the equation.

If that's just not a possibility, then your choices are paying someone to do it (ie. housework), or it just not getting done (ie. housework), or not getting done as frequently as you'd like (ie. housework).

Guess you can tell what doesn't get done at our house, huh?  (ie. housework - ha!)

And you both have to accept that. Because it's reality.

You can't beat yourself up because after working a full day outside the home, or spending hours each day schooling your children, taking care of the kid(s) by yourself, and the putting another couple of hours of housework in before bed, you're still not "done".

You will never be "done".

He can't come home expecting a clean & tidy house, perfectly stocked cupboard, and dinner on the table after you've been working full days outside of the home, or homeschooled the children, doing all (or the vast majority) of the childcare yourself, and all (or the vast majority) of the housework yourself.

It's not physically possible. It's just not.

Oh, you might have a mountaintop moment once in a while, but it's unreasonable for either of you to expect things to be maintained at that level.

And for all the SAHMs out there, one thing I figured out really quickly since becoming a SAHM is this little secret that those who work outside the home don't get (or at least I didn't, and I still think my husband doesn't):

If the kids are home all day, not in school, or pre-school, or in daycare, or wherever, then that means they have more time to make messes in the home. I totally did not grasp that until I started staying home. When I worked, sure messes happened, things were untidy, but the waking time that Jena was home was limited, therefore messes were limited. This is not the case when you all stay home every day. Not. At. All.

## side note - I determined my top priorities to be: laundry, grocery shopping, and doing the dishes. I figured if I could keep clean clothes on my family, food for them to eat, and clean dishes for them to eat off of, then I was doing pretty well. The rest I look at as bonus. ##


As far as scheduling goes, we share a Google Calendar, that I can access at home or on phone, and he can access on his phone as well. This has helped immensely when it comes to scheduling even the little things.

I can see when is shifts are (because even though they are every 3rd day, like clockwork, I still cannot keep that straight in my head), when he has extra things to do, when he has jobs for the family business, etc.
He can see when I've made plans and he needs to be home. In fact, now that we have a family business, there are often days that I block his calendar so he or his brother don't schedule him work. I only do this if I really & truly need him to be available, or if we've discussed it and he's agreed. This is important. He can trust me to only block his schedule when I absolutely need him, and I can trust him to honor my requests in his schedule.


He's doing what he feels he needs to do to provide for his family financially, and even if he might be willing to look at another career path eventually, well, it's not going to happen overnight.

So you just have to come to terms within yourself with the reality of your situation, as it is at this moment, and deal with it in the best way you can.

You make it work. You do what you need to do, and you make it work for your family.

It's not fun. It's not glamourous. It sucks. And sometimes it really, really sucks.

But you do it. You make it work.


And there it is. My advice on how to handle your husband being gone so much.

Thanks for reading! And hopefully this will help someone out there get a handle on things! Does anyone have any advice to add?

Friday, February 24, 2017

I heart messy houses...

...that aren't mine.

The other day I dropped off some Pampered Chef items at a friend's house. I've never been to their house before, and couldn't stay I just peeked thru the doorway, and was relieved to see that it was messy.

Same thing when we dropped by my cousin's house a few weeks ago.

Or when someone in my moms' group on Facebook posts a picture of their disaster of a house and says they don't know how they're gonna get it clean.

I realize that this might sound mean or something, but I don't intend it that way. It just reassures me that I'm not alone. That I'm not the only one that doesn't always have a neat house. That maybe, just maybe, our cozy little mess is, in fact, normal.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Multiple Personalities

Do you ever feel like the multiple versions of you are at odds? I do. All the time. Especially since becoming a mom.

Take tonight for instance. Jason wants to have a date night. One that entails having my kids spend the night with my parents.

The wife part of me thinks that sounds awesome. Would love it. Sounds like a great plan. Great idea, hunny. Let's do it.

The mom part of me thinks that's a horrible idea. Why would I want to spend even more time away from my babies? Who would come up with such an idea? What an idiot!

And of course then the housekeeper part of me has to butt in and say that if I have enough free time to have a date night, then I really need to get in there and scrub that bathroom. Ugh.

I don't think I have had as much internal conflict as I have since having kids. It seems like just about every day I am being pulled in a million different directions. I definitely think the hardest part of being a mom is juggling everything. This was true when I worked full time outside the home, and it's still true now that I'm a stay at home mom.

Anyway, still haven't decided what to do about tonight. The wife part of me really wants that date. Really wants it. The mom part of me thinks it's ridiculous to spend the night away from babies when it's not necessary.

We'll just have to wait and see who wins this one...

Friday, February 10, 2017

But What if I Like my Ta-ta's ??

As I get closer to my surgery date I've been doing some thinking. And yes, one of those is my ta-ta's. Let's face it, I have some pretty big gals. 46DDD here. Borderline E cup. And my girls are sure to shrink.

Not sure how I feel about that. I mean obviously if I'm getting smaller everywhere else, it would look ridiculous if my girls stayed as big as they are. But the truth is I like my big breasts. I do. Not gonna lie. My husband likes my big breasts. He does. So losing size in my chest area is not something I'm looking forward to, and I do have concerns about how much I will like what my breasts look like after my weight loss stabilizes.

The sort of not really good news, but realistic news is that for literally 20 years I have wanted to have a breast job done, but planned on waiting until after I was done having kids. See, there's a pretty significant size difference between my boobies. It varies somewhat based on my weight, but stands at a half to a full cup difference. In most clothing you can't tell, but I know, and it bothers me. There are certain cuts of tops that I don't wear because it makes the size difference really apparent. My husband doesn't care. But I do. It bothers me. So, I figure I'll wait about two years post-surgery to ensure that my weight is pretty stable, then see what by breasts look like and get a cosmetic surgery consult.

Anyway, I'm starting to ramble on here, and I did enough of that in my video (below). Enjoy! And as always, thanks for checking in!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Oh Jena

Jena has been begging us to let her have a YouTube channel for a while now, and after much discussion, we finally let her.

So far she only has one video up, but she's really proud of it, so if you wouldn't mind checking it out, watching it, liking it, etc. you would totally make an 8 year old's day. Just sayin'.

Plus you get the added bonus of seeing my messy living room.

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