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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Enjoying my kids this summer

Summers have historically been kind of brutal for me.  I can't be the only mom that has not looked forward to it.  Yes, I love my kids.  But summers...They're hot.  They're labor intensive.  They're emotionally draining.  Did I mention they're hot?  They are just seriously exhausting.

But I do love my kids.

So this summer, come hell or high-water (only one is likely during Texas summers), I'm going to gladly anticipate it and enjoy my kids throughout it.  In order to do that, I have to keep a few things in mind.  Maybe this will help you, too (unless you're one of those moms that makes me feel bad by totally loving summer):


My main goal for our summer break this year isn't to stuff it so full of activities that I end up resenting my children.  Granted, we do have a pretty full calendar already, but nothing is set in stone.  If we're I'm tired and stressed, we'll just chill at the house and swim or bake or watch TV all day.  ;)  It's summer, afterall.  Summer was made for wasting time. 


It is just plain hard to keep everything running when the kids are home all day (or is it - more on this later!!).  On any given day I like to have a certain amount of things done:

 - dishes (getting behind on dishes just kills me)
 - kitchen floor swept (this is not overkill for a mother of 3 boys with no dog)
 - counters cleaned off (so I can breathe)
 - loaf of bread made (breadmaker, y'all, it takes 5 minutes)
 - food planned for and served (even if it is just bean and cheese tacos)
 - laundry worked on (my new system is actually working great, btw - gotta blog about it)
 - workout/jog (comin' atcha, 26.2!!!)
 - pool care (summer is much harder than winter)
 - toys put away at the end of the day
 - kids bathed, etc.
 - nighttime routine with kids

And those are just the everyday things.  There are a ton of peripherals that need to get done in the interim (entertaining, volunteering, shopping, organizing, other obligations).

So my recovering-perfectionist self wants to say, "Okay, kids, Mommy has to do all of this before we leave."  And then I'd work my fingers to the bone while the kids sat on the couch watching Netflix.

So then I'd see the idiocy of that and be tempted to say, "Oh kids, let's just leave those dishes in the sink and those clothes on the floor and go to Six Flags."  You can see that that's still dumb, right?

"Oh but they have to know they come before housework," right?  Still wrong.

Mamas (et al.), I've turned a new leaf.  I promise to tell you more about this after I get a better grasp on it, but this summer I'm not going to lead my kids into the entitlement trap!!!  They'll work for what they want and reap the benefits that come with responsibility.  If they want to go to Six Flags, then they'll have the house clean and their snacks packed.  Boom!  New leaf, y'all.  (We've started on this, and they are seriously different children - and not robots, I promise.)

Don't Forget to Bond

I know this sounds like I'm being overly sentimental or overly ambitious, but, in all seriousness, if I just take my kids from place to place and don't actually engage them, then it's all in vain.  And I'll be the first to admit that I'm totally guilty of that.  

Taxiing them around all summer doesn't grow love.  I'm not doing anything to build their character by buying them all the pool toys they want.  That's so obvious; I know, but I do it anyway!  Why!  You probably don't do that, but I'm just sayin'.  I really do want to connect with them.

For our family, I really think that getting the us as a unit to a healthy place will bring us closer together.  We've GOT to nip this entitlement thing in the bud.  Once we get in a good place on that, which we're working on, we'll be able to work on the next steps, like fostering creativity and curiosity through shared experiences.  I'm super excited about that, and I can't wait to tell you how it goes (I have a little something up my sleeve for that one).

So yes, this is quite idealistic, but I'm alright with that.  ;)  Here's to thriving this summer, not just surviving!

Monday, May 20, 2013

26.2 is calling my name

Okay, y'all, I only have a minute to write because there's spaghetti all over my kitchen floor and table, and I have to get to a Cub Scout meeting in 30 minutes after I clean the kitchen.

BUT I wanted to tell you that you won't hear from me for a few days because my computer is resting safely at the Apple Store while it gets a new hard drive (this is the hub's laptop that I don't normally use).

BUT I wanted to say it here so that it's real and I'm accountable...that I'm going to start training this month for 13.1 in September and 26.2 in November.  Both are really, small, local races, and I'm super excited about it.

I was a total glutton today...and yesterday...and the day before....and I really need to get my ascot in gear with my diet and exercise.  Last time (and only time) I trained for the 13.1, I was in the best shape of my life, so I really want to get back to that.

So telling you about it was my first step.  ;)  Thanks!  K, gotta go!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Confession of Idiocy

As the title indicates, I have a confession.  So last year I totally thought I was dying.  I mean for real.

In 2012 at some point, I don't know when, I started getting tired and very achy all the time, so tired that I could barely function and so achy that I could barely sleep.  I was also in this huge brain fog and couldn't remember things or think clearly.  All of it was really bad.  The hubs had to miss a lot of work.  The house was a mess.  I had to lay on the couch all day long, and going upstairs was a huge task which required a break midway through.

I had some female stuff happening that automatically made me think that I had cancer of some female sort.  For a few days before I got my appointment, I seriously was imagining dying and leaving my kids and husband behind, and I kept crying (I'm not a crier, y'all).

So I got that checked out, and it was just benign fibroids.  Alright then, so check!  What now?

I had some blood work done, and there was a positive result for autoimmune illness.  Of course.  That made sense.  It would explain all of the fatigue and achiness for sure, even the restless legs I had been experiencing at bedtime.

After a couple of months I had finally gotten an appointment with a rheumatologist, did more (better) blood work, and found out a few weeks later that the original test resulted in a false positive.  Are you freaking kidding me?  I mean, I was glad, but why the heck didn't they tell me that that test has a false positive rate of about 40%?  Why even do the test?  Anyway, I was healthy as a horse, and he was surprised to even be seeing me, as his usual patients are in quite a bad state.  So good!  Check!  Now what?

I went back to my general practice doctor, did some allergy testing, and was about to schedule an echo-cardiogram at his suggestion.  I knew it was overkill, but I was desperate.  I was still feeling terrible, and I knew it wasn't all in my mind.  I had to give up my dream of running a marathon, and I quit exercising entirely as there was no way in Hades I could even walk a mile.

The allergy testing said that I had a bunch of tree allergies, pollen, and a few others like dogs and cats and dust and cockroaches (probably a good allergy to have).  But the girls in the office were like, 'Yeah, really everyone has those.'  And I was like, 'Yeah, no big deal.'  They wanted to me to do immunotherapy to get over the allergies, but after the shock at how much just the testing was (we're a high-deductible family, y'all), I just wanted to get out of there before they could put their hands any further down my pockets.

So I blew it off.  Surely allergies couldn't cause me to feel this terrible?

Soooo.....this Spring rolled around....and yeah.....I was getting knocked out again - fatigue, aches, brain fog.  I just thought, 'I'm not eating well enough, and my immune system is weak.'  So I went and got a ton of vitamins and whatnot to boost my immune system.  I don't know if it worked, but if it did, it was like a bandaid on a broken arm.

I was really starting to feel hopeless, defeated, and depressed again because I felt so terrible.  Finally, a lightbulb came on, and I thought, why don't I just get some Claritin and see if it helps (I had tried Benadryl already, and it hadn't).  Two days on Claritin, and I was completely back to normal.

I've been taking it daily for a couple weeks now.  I know it's not a good longterm solution, but it's sure a relief right now!

Last year when I was feeling horrible, did my mother-in-law call it by saying it was probably allergies?  Yes, yes, she did.  Am I a complete idiot?  Well, it's highly debatable, I'd say.  ;)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Thoughts on Today's American Church

"Consumerism in the American Church" consumerism church "american church" "consumerist church" "the church and consumerism"I'm 33 years old and have been going to church on a regular basis for 20 years this summer.  I've been to a lot of churches, and I believe in its importance in my life as an institution.  My satisfaction with it has ebbed and flowed.  My dedication to it waned at times and at others was inappropriately disproportionate to what it warranted.

Currently, I gotta admit, I'm pretty frustrated, not with any particular church but with the American Church as a whole.  I'm fed up with the slimy consumerism that has seeped into the unassuming church.  (This is a good read on that, if you're interested.)  And I naively participate in ushering this empty ideology into our worship by falling for its precepts - that I have to be entertained, that I have to get something out of it, that it's all about my growth and but also comfort, that my needs should be met at church, that I should be getting fed, and on and on.

I think that this mentality has produced a bunch of over-indulged Christians that are just hopping from one church to another because they think that this new church can "meet their needs" better, and then the church leaders are calling that "growth".  Meanwhile, the leaders are busy producing more and more bigger and better programs to attract more of these over-indulged Christians to their church.

If you've been going to church at all in the past 15 years, this is probably not surprising to you and you likely share a lot of the same frustration.  At times in the 20 years of my church-going (6 of which I was just a teenager), the distinction between Jesus and the Church got blurred.  Many times, I was tempted to throw the proverbial Baby (Jesus) out with the bathwater (the church).

And I'm sure you already know this, but this I consistently remind myself: the church is perpetually imperfect, and that's okay.  Jesus didn't say we had to be perfect.  It's comprised of flawed people save by His grace and HIS grace alone - not by works, not by being at church every time the doors are open, not by singing worship songs, not by praying for hours on end, not by reading the bible, not by helping the poor (all good things, obvi).  His grace is the only way we'll be able to stand before Him.

So all that said, I'm just gonna let Jesus be Jesus and let the church be the church.  Jesus is beautifully self-sacrificial and perfectly loving.  The church will continue to be imperfect, flawed, and frustrating this side of Heaven because it's made up of people like me - flawed and broken but redeemed.

My resolve right now is to not be a consumer and to not turn my children into consumers.  I'd much rather they and I be disciples.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Project Week: Guest Bedroom with Plank Headboard

Hey y'all.  I'm sitting here on my couch on Mother's Day in a quiet house blogging while the hubs and kids are at Six Flags.  Don't get me wrong - I love spending time with the fam, but on Mother's Day this mama just needs a little peace and quiet.  

So anyway, last year you may or may not remember I talked about my plans for my guest bedroom.  Here's a refresher.  ;)

Well, it's a year later, and I've finally made some headway.  

I still want to put something long over the headboard and something tall over the dresser, but hey, it's taken a year to get to this point; I'm in no rush.  Also, the gold fan is still there, but that's low on the priority list.

Before we got the floors done, we had it painted in there (one of my favorite colors - Sherwin Williams' Green River), so I left everything off the walls for a blank slate.  I also lengthened the curtains with some clearance tablecloths that I got at Target (they were seriously cheaper than I could have bought any fabric for).  

And during Project Week all I did to this room was:
 - change out the gold door knobs to oil-rubbed bronze (made a HUGE difference)
 - moved my red bookcase (not photographed because there's still nothing on it) from the attic to this room
 - fixed two broken drawers in this Ikea dresser (like ya do)


 - made this super-cool headboard that's going to survive the apocalypse 

I am so in love with the way it turned out, and I'm really proud of it.  It was hard work!  And I wasn't even sure if it was going to work - big risk.  But the only real problem with it is that it weighs a TON.  (It's attached to the bedframe, but I also anchored it to the wall three times across the top in the back of it.)  

I made it with all of the scraps and leftover wood that the flooring guys were going to just throw away (same wood that I also used for the bathroom frames).  Well, I had to have something to put it together on, so I screwed it onto the super, heavy-duty piece of plywood (from the back).  

For the sides and trim and whatnot, I literally just looked around my garage for what I could use.  I had saved SO much from the flooring scraps, and I had a lot of scraps that a friend generously unloaded on me.  

I'm definitely still learning how to build, and I don't have all the coolest tools or anything, and I'm no Ana White, but I really enjoy it.  I've come a long way since the little step stool that I built two years ago on which I stripped all the screws (which is holding up great, in case you wondered - hehe).  But practice makes perfect, so I'll keep at it!

Okay, that's finally it from all of the projects from my project week.  I'm tired just recounting them!  And guess what, I'm so not doing anything to my house for a long while.

Oh, and also, you'll likely see me in the same clothes I've been wearing for quite a while because my clothes budget is pretty much in all of these projects!  Oh, and my new minivan....yeah, I'm looking at that in the form of wood floors all over my house.  94K MILES will just have to grow a bit more, but I'm FINE with that!  Choices, y'all.  ;)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Project Week: Master Bathroom Remodel

When we moved into this house, we kind of understood why the people just moved out instead of updating.  I mean, it is really a daunting task if you're not up for it.  But seriously, I'd much rather do it the way I want it than live with someone else's choices, so I was definitely up for the task.

So this is what it looked like the day we moved in.  Michael always said it looked like a bathroom that belonged on Seinfeld.  

So the things that we did BEFORE project week, were: 
 - got the carpet pulled up and the tile done
 - got the wallpaper torn off and the walls textured and painted
 - spray painted the drawer and cabinet pulls nickel
 - hung the plank wall
 - got the gold faucets replaced
 - prepped the wood for the mirror frames

The frames were a MAJOR project.  Oh my flipping goodness!  HUGE!  But it would NOT have been as big of a deal if I wasn't using reclaimed wood.  Since I had to piece it together, it complicated the whole deal greatly.  So here was the process:

 - pick out pieces of leftover hardwood flooring wood to use in each bathroom that were roughly the same width
 - cut all of the pieces for each bathroom the same width
 - cut all of pieces to fit around the mirror
 - sand and stain ALL.THE.WOOD.
 - use Liquid Nails to attach them to the mirrors (use tape and boards to hold it up there while it dries)
 - touch up paint from where the duct tape tears off the paint
 - use clear waterproof caulk in the inside border (if not you can see the back of the wood through the mirror) and where the wood touches the counter

To do all four mirrors (two in ours and two in others) was quite the task.  I wanted to do it so badly, though, so I stayed motivated.  It was well worth it in the end.  I also used the leftover stair wood to make shelves for the baskets.  Keepin' the clutter off the counters...feels good.

I also changed out the blinds to Roman shades.  I love the warmth and earthy texture it brings.  I also put up hooks for the towels.  We had nowhere for them before, except over the glass.  Hello, tacky.  So I'm glad we got that little bit of functionality taken care of.

And the last thing we got done last week was replaced the gold glass.  SO HAPPY!!!  So now that the doorknobs were all done that week, too, we are totally debrassed!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Know Your Strengths

I'm diverging a bit from my regularly scheduled posts to write about something that's been on my mind lately.  Michael took this Gallup test a couple weeks ago called the Strengths Discovery.  He got so much out of it that he told me to take it, too.  I was kind of poo-pooing it at first because I've take so many of those kinds of test, but it was really very valuable to know.

They say that you don't grow by knowing your weaknesses - seriously, though.  I agree!  I am WELL aware of my weaknesses, trust me.  When I focus on them I feel defeated, deflated, weak, insecure, insignificant, and powerless.

But when I know my strengths, I feel empowered, invigorated, and ready for greatness!  

So I took this test, and they only give you 20 seconds to answer each question, so you can't think too much about what you answer.  And there are no clear right or wrong answers; it's all on a spectrum.  For example, (this isn't really a question, but it's similar to what they might have) you would have to decide where you fall on this spectrum:

I read a lot........................................................................I enjoy people.
<>That's me  <>Sometimes  <>Neutral  <>Sometimes  <>That's me

The test took probably 20 minutes, and when I was finished, they told me my top 5 strengths, which were:

1. Relator - "People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal."
I'll be honest, though. I don't really see this one. I see relationships and working with others as one of my biggest challenges. Interesting that it was #1, though. Maybe I see it as such a challenge that it's too much on the forefront of my mind and that's what was showing up in the test.  I don't know; this one eludes me.

2. Achiever  - "People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive."
Uh, yeah, kids; that's me.  ;)  I love to work hard, but you may have known that about me.  There's a certain someone who thinks that I'm too stressed out at get-togethers when I'm off in the kitchen doing the dishes or cleaning up.  But I really do enjoy it!  I AM learning the balance of putting people first, though, so I've stopped cleaning up right away for their sake, not mine.  ;)  

3. Command - "People who are especially talented in the Command theme have presence. They can take control of a situation and make decisions."
This one is a challenge for women sometimes because we don't want to come across as bossy or another "b" word we all know.  But hey, if you're a woman and you have a command strength, own it with grace!  It's a gift.  ;)

4. Activator - "People who are especially talented in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They are often impatient." Yes, yes, yes!  I do not like to talk about things for very long; I just want to do it!  My biggest pet-peeve is when things get planned to death and never happen.  For me, this should have been my #1 strength.  Just do it!  :-P  

5. Focus - "People who are especially talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act."This is basically just follow-through.  Gettin' stuff done.  Yep, that's me.  I hate to leave a project halfway done.  

Okay, so you might be thinkin', 'Well, gee, I don't have those strengths.  Annie's so pompous.'  And that's perfect!  Know YOUR OWN strengths!  The world wouldn't work as well if we all had the same ones.  

You don't have to take the test to figure them out (although if you do want to take the test, it's $10 - wah-wah).  A little journaling about it can probably uncover the same things that the test would and save you ten bucks.

Let me know what yours are!  I'd love hearing about it.  Most of all, just know them for yourself and be empowered!  :)


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