Thursday, February 28, 2013

What I wish I had said...Women's Conference part 1

I was asked to give a presentation at our stake women's conference last weekend.  I stressed about it and worried about it for several weeks.  I didn't sleep (I wish I hadn't eaten but I did the opposite), I couldn't relax or really think about anything else.  I'm sure my friends were sick of me asking them what they thought on the topic.  The truth of it was...I didn't feel worthy to address this topic.

House of Order, House of God

My friends and family are all laughing pretty good right about now.  I'm not a great housekeeper.  End of story.  And, to top it off, most of the time I'm not that worried about it ever getting clean.  So, how am I going to talk to a group of 300 or so women about House of Order, House of God?  And then it dawned on me.  I'm doing the best job that I can do for ME and MY family, so that's what I tried to convey.

We talked about some of the reasons we don't have perfect homes.  Some of us haven't ever been taught, some of us are rebelling, and some of us are just so overwhelmed at times that we give up.  I had a friend tell me recently that she is afraid to try because she knows she will fail and she doesn't want that kind of stress.  I understand all of those reasons and the many others that we came up with.  I just wish we weren't so hard on ourselves.

We are working mothers, some of us, we are raising our children, we are involved in civic, school and community activities, not to mention providing the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter for our kids. We volunteer at church and have a responsibility to watch over and care for our friends and neighbors.  Sometimes cleaning up our homes is the last thing on the list, sometimes for many years.

I heard a funny quote once that said, "Cleaning your house while children are growing is like shoveling snow while it's still snowing."  I think that is absolutely true.  When I had six children under the age of 11, the last thing on my list of stuff to get done was clean the house, it seemed so pointless.  Of course, it may have been nearer the top of the actual list, but feeding the baby, grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning up spilled kool-aid and carpool usually took up most of the day and by the end, I just wanted to go to sleep.  I ignored my house for a long time.

It wasn't that it wasn't clean underneath (I know how to scrub a toilet and mop the floor), it's just that with so many people living under one roof with their combined total of activities, it wasn't my priority.  Was I embarrassed?  Maybe.  I kept the front room pretty clean and inviting so that I could let people in, but beyond that, you entered at your own risk.  Some might think I'm exaggerating but in my eyes, I was the worst.

As I've gotten older, I've made it more of a priority (even if that means I have to pay someone every once in a while).  My kids are older now and more able to be (really) responsible for their chores around the house.  It's one thing to have six kids under age 11 doing their chores than it is to have eight children under the age of 19 doing chores.  With age comes wisdom.

My chore charts have evolved too and I've taken on more of a zone defense rather than man to man.  I used to assign someone the job of picking up the toys on the family room floor.  Now, they are in charge of straightening up the family room.  Sometimes that means putting away toys, but more often than not, it means putting the cushions back on the couch, finding the DVD case for the movie found under the couch and putting away all the dirty socks and shoes and dirty dishes that didn't belong in there in the first place.  They know what needs to be done, when it needs to be completed and the consequence for not getting it done.

Even then, my house is rarely super clean.  All of my children would have to get their jobs done all at the same time on the same day for that to happen.  And that just isn't going to happen...

Having said that, the point that I really wanted to make was that 1 - Your house will never be perfect.  With the business of our lives, we must accept that our houses will only be as clean and orderly as we want them to be.  Until we made the decision to put it higher on the priority list, we need to stop worrying about it so much.  2 - Pat yourself on the back once in a while and consider all that you have to accomplish in one day.  You are doing more to create an orderly home than you think.  It will get better, I promise you.  And 3 - I know you hear it from "older" people all the time, but I tell you it is true: You will miss it when it's gone.  As much as I couldn't stand the mess that came from my 19 year old, I miss him.  I miss the music blaring from his room, I miss the smell of his running shoes, socks, shorts, t-shirts strewn all over his bedroom (but not that much), and I miss the crumbs from the bazillion peanut butter sandwiches he would make throughout the day.  I seriously do.

So, maybe it took me almost 20 years of keeping house but I have learned to let things go a little more.  When we go to pick up the books that somehow manage to all be on the floor in front of the bookshelf ten times a day and end up sitting there and reading them instead of cleaning them up, it's o.k., they will still be there tomorrow.  When my family sits around the dinner table long after the meal is over talking and laughing about the day/week's events and then we all rush off to a football/basketball/volleyball/cheerleading/
Photochoir/band/scouts/activity days/young women's/booster club/bishopric/or "whatever" event without doing the dishes, it's o.k., they will still be there tomorrow, along with  a billion or so other things that I didn't get around to today.  But, my kids and husband might not.

So, today I will do my best with what I think is important and remember the words of this cross stitch my mother made and had hanging in her room for 30 or so years...it will be hanging in my office as soon as decorating/organizing my office gets higher on my priority list.

Next: Part 2: Managing Distractions

Friday, February 8, 2013

I'm A Poet and I Didn't Even Know It...ha ha ha, not really

I have a lot to say.  I have these things all stuck in my head and they need to come out.  It isn't necessarily because I think anyone else needs to read or hear it, but if I don't write about it, it stays stuck there.  It causes me to lose sleep and to be distracted when I'm awake so I write.

I belong to a fabulous group of LDS writers called ANWA (American Night Writers Association).  I have been a member for over ten years now and have appreciated the things I have learned and accomplished.  It is through this group that I found an outlet for the crazy stuff inside my head and how to get it out there.

I don't write a lot of stuff for the general public, but I do write a lot.  I write for a newspaper called The Beehive (you can read my latest article here), I have been published in our local Independent paper, I am on Facebook more than necessary and I blog.  I even wrote a fictional story a while back that needs some serious editing.

Writing is a major outlet for my creativity.  But I'm a mother and wife first so sometimes my writing gets put on the back burner.  That's why I love my writer's group so much.  It gives me a reason to write something...anything, to keep the creative juices flowing, even if it is only once a month we get together.  

At our meeting last night, we learned about Acrostic poems.  Basically, you take a word and write it down, like this:
S
T
A
C
Y
So, the subject of my acrostic poem will be Stacy...me.  Then, you start your poem by using the letter at the beginning of each line to create your poem.  Here is an example:

Someone once said
That I could become whatever I wanted
And so I set out to be a 
Career girl, then motherhood called and I answered
Yes.

So, that is kinda cheesy but you get the point.  It can also be something like this:

Words all jumbled inside my brain.
Really wanting to be shared.
In the quiet hours of the night or day.
The keyboard gets used.
Everyday I try to carve out time.
Reassured that someday when the kids are grown, the time will come.

Haha.  I'm the worst!! But it is kinda fun to see what you can come up with.  So, stop what you're doing and write me an acrostic poem in the comments, seriously, those took me like five minutes, obviously...Get those creative juices flowing, I dare you.  I'd love to see what you come up with.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Technology Is Awesome and It Is Not Awesome

I love technology (but maybe not as much as Ben).  We are hooked up to the internet so many ways at  our house including phones, ipad, computers and satellite t.v.  I have some awesome apps on my phone that help me use my brain like Words with Friends and Ruzzle.  I love listening to music without too much commercial interruption by using Pandora, I have the scriptures and other gospel resources at my fingertips with LDS Tools, Gospel Library, Mormon Channel and Indexing.  I can read from my favorite books while sitting in my car waiting for children to be picked up by using my Kindle, Deseret Bookshelf, or listening through Audible.  I take pictures of my kids and upload them to Instagram and Facebook with one click of a button and I rarely miss an e-mail because I get that on my phone too.  My State Farm Pocket Agent saved me from getting a ticket the other day because of no proof of insurance and I save money at Hobby Lobby with my coupon app.  I check my bank account from my phone and I can even watch movies from Netflix.  All these apps were free plus many others I use on a regular basis.  I absolutely love my phone and everything it does for me. 

But in the same breath I hate it.  I hate that I sometimes feel dependent on it. I wish I didn't feel like it is some sort of lifeline and I can't live without it.  I try to keep it in my purse or leave it upstairs while I am downstairs, but eventually it finds me and I get caught up in my technology love affair.

Many times I feel like I have lost all my manners.  I still remember when call waiting first became popular and I'd be talking to someone and another call would come in and the person I was talking to would say, "Hold on, someone else is calling," and put me on hold.  That might be innocent enough but what I heard was, "someone more important than you is calling so I'll get back to you."

When I drive in the car with my kids, sometimes I pull out my phone (if they are driving, not me) so I can hurry and get some e-mails answered during my "down" time.  If I'm driving, I tell them to pull out my phone and send a text for me.  What a wasted opportunity while I have my kid's undivided attention to talk to them.

The other night, the whole family was upstairs watching t.v. and I think Ben counted 4 of us on phones, one on his ipod and one on the ipad.  Talk about multitasking in the worst way...it's making me sick.

I think we've lost our ability to have real conversations one with another.  Our attention spans are growing shorter because we have to be using our phone while having a conversation.  It is frustrating me to death.  But guess what?  I still do it.  I know how I feel when I'm trying to talk to someone and they keep checking their phone. I feel so unimportant, as if they are waiting for something better to happen because I'm not interesting enough.  I'm completely guilty of it too.  I'm not laying blame anywhere I don't already have personal guilt.  I still have to remind my children that the kitchen table is a cell phone free zone.  Why do I have to keep repeating myself?  Because we are addicted.

My family is gonna hate me cause I'm cracking down. Starting today, there is going to be a new set of rules in our house.  So, if you can't get me on my cell phone, Facebook, blog comment, e-mail, text or house phone, just come over to my house and visit with me and I promise I won't pull my phone out and look at it.

Out of curiosity, what are your technology rules at your house?