January 31, 2012


Have you ever heard or thought about that question, "If my house were on fire, and all the people/pets were safe, what one thing would I want to save?" I've thought about that question many times over the years. Partly because I feel that it helps me to deal with the idea of something horrific; it's not as scary if I think through what I might do. Partly because I want to check up on myself to see what is truly important to me. It's one way to arbitrarily take stock of what I'm putting my faith/attention into.

Most of the time, I don't come up with many/any things that I feel I would HAVE to have. Pictures of past events would be nice, but if I have the people themselves, then I don't really need pictures to remind me why I love them. Mementoes from people I have lost, or that I find special for some other reason, like my first Bible, given to me by my grandmother (who died 13 years ago); my husband's, children's and my own baby books; maybe jewelry because some of it is meaningful or worth enough to get at least a little bit of money if we needed it. That's about it.

Honestly, most of the time I end up thinking along practical lines. If I had a bit of time, I would grab clothes, shoes, wallets and a toy for each kid so they'd have something to comfort them. And blankets/coats if it was winter. Then I think of grabbing things like birth certificates and other documents that would help us rebuild.

This exercise usually makes me feel like I'm doing a decent job at combating materialism in my life. My lack of attention to objects is genuine. I'm not manufacture a lack of concern for my stuff to trick myself into thinking it's not important when it really is.

However, the way you'd react in a difficult situation is a pretty arbitrary test. The harder test is in the here and now, the everyday. Am I reflecting a lack of materialism in what I buy, keep, and pay attention to? I have to admit that too much of the time the answer is no. I'm guilty, like many others, of buying things to make me feel better and buying things I can't technically afford. Nothing extravagant. I've never been a big ticket spender.  A new shirt here, a new toy for the kids there, an extra meal out. It isn't about how expensive or how often, it's about my heart. And too often my heart wants to spend money for the short term endorphin rush, or to avoid making a meal, or make me feel like I'm giving my kids a good life by creating a memory or making them happy.

But it's all short term. And too often I feel crushed by the weight of my stuff, which is the biggest indicator of all that I have too much.

To be completely honest, there are times when I go through my mental fire exercise that I almost wish something like that would happen and take all my stuff away (though I don't want the damage or risk of injury to myself or others). I wish for freedom and I often don't feel I can get it without it being forced upon me!

With all of the times our family has moved, we have been able to really pare down our stuff. When a move has to be done quickly, especially, you get pretty ruthless with it. "Do I really want to haul this 1,000 miles across the country?" So we haven't held onto as much as we could have. But I still see a problem. I still want to stop buying new stuff, and stop putting too much sentiment into the stuff we have by holding onto it when it is no longer needed. I want to feel free of the burden of too much and focus more on what is important. That's the part of my life journey I find myself walking in lately.

January 10, 2012

Show me the money

So, I have some cute kids. And, yes, I know everyone thinks that (that their own kids are cute). But then you have the times when other lovely people (mothers, usually) start saying things about making money off the little cherubs. You know, "You should put him in modeling." "I think he would be so cute in a diaper commercial." And, about the following picture, "This should be in an ad for blueberries!"
First of all, I have never seen an ad for blueberries that 1, wasn't in a grocery store circular, and 2, featured anything but a picture of blueberries.

Second of all, I have NO idea how to get a get into "The Biz" (of commercials and other money-making print endeavors). And I suspect I'm far too lazy to pursue it. AND I'm pretty darn sure that my spirited children would never follow directions at a photo shoot, making the whole thing moot since I'm sure professional photographers don't put up with crap like kids acting like kids.

But it sure would be nice to finance my kids' future sure-to-be-even-more-astronomically-priced college educations with their very own adorable mugs. Any advice is welcome, but also will probably not be taken. (Since I'm lazy, as aforementioned.)

January 3, 2012

The trouble with children

When there are kids involved in your life, everything is not just a little harder, it's a LOT harder. When you go out to run errands it doesn't take twice as long, it takes FIVE times as long. I only have two children, but I have to imagine that as you add children you add at least three times the difficulty per additional child. I plan not to test this theory, however. :)

Today was a perfect example of the upped difficulty level. And we were home all day!

It started at 6am with K waking me up to tell me he and his bed were wet. He is a bed-wetter, which is SO annoying (tons of laundry, grossness factor, inconvenient timing). But I don't chastise him for it since I was one too. And it's hereditary. So technically it's my fault. I do get upset with him because he puts up a huge fight if I ask him to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and only recently has consented to even go before he goes to sleep without a huge fight. I'm careful not to blame him, but make him see the need to deal with this issue. So far, not much is happening. Nothing is easy with this boy!

But anyway...

So I was woken up early, had to change K's clothes and bedding and get him tucked back in. Half an hour later, he came in asking for his bear, which he usually sleeps with and couldn't find (and later discovered was in the laundry basket with his sheets). Jim took care of that one since he had to get ready for work anyway.

Another half an hour later, when I was still very groggy, K came back in the room to tell me firmly that it was 7am (the earliest he is allowed to get out of bed) and he wanted breakfast. I was not a happy or gracious mother while getting him his food. I hate mornings and yet have to put forth tons of effort each day to take care of my family and try not to bite their heads off. I don't yell or lash out, but I guess I still need to work on not resenting them.

The next fun part of the day was when I decided to workout. I need to get back into a routine to stay healthy and in shape, so I've started making more of an effort after slacking these past few months. Kids make this endeavor three times as hard! K actually played in his room most of the time (miracle!) and only came out to ask questions and bother S, but S was with me the whole time. My half hour workout took about an hour, with him crying, sitting on me, stepping in front of me, turning off the TV, stealing my hand weights, pushing me, etc. Sigh. I guess it ups the difficulty level, but when he renders it impossible for me to really move, then I'm not getting much benefit.

Later I tried to do the dishes. K wanted to help, but today I just wasn't up to his "help". I just wanted to be done. While working on this chore, however, S took all the recyclables out and threw them around the kitchen, took clean dishes (plastic) from the side table and threw those around, got between me and the cabinets to try to push me away from it, stood on my feet to try to make me pay attention to him, took my hand multiple times to take me places, asked for every kind of food he could see ("na-na?", "bread?") and so on.

Add to this that every time the kids DO leave me alone, they are usually employed with wrecking whatever room they are in. So one chore is done (yay, clean kitchen!) and two other rooms are destroyed ("Why did you take out every car you have and just leave them all over the living room?").

No wonder all I want to do once they are in bed is lay on the couch!