Fat Fridays: Tis’ the Season

Good morning everyone. Hope you all are well today. 

I am busily cleaning my house, listening to Pentatonix’s Oh Come All Ye Faithful. (Ok, I had to stop writing there for a second so I could sing along. Ok. Focus on writing.) 

I was up all night thinking about all the things I need to do in the next couple days. My son has a Christmas program at school tonight, and we have family coming to watch. We’re having our annual Christmas Open House on Sunday which involves a lot of cleaning, cooking, and planning. And on top of all that, this week I pulled a muscle in my back and spent a whole day just sitting in a chair. Yesterday I was able to move around, but slowly and carefully. Today I am stiff, but able to move.  But, that put me two days behind on all the Christmas preparation I was planning on doing. And then last night the PTO from the elementary school said we are selling popcorn tomorrow, can you come help? And I said yes, while my eye started twitching. 

I am pretty sure that I pulled a muscle this week because I have been walking around in a physical state of stress. I love Christmas time. I love doing things for other people, making things special for my kids, all the extra Christmas activities. But, it can be stressful. I like my life slow paced. And the whole month of December is not slow paced. At all. And there are a lot of social interactions. And I am an introvert who has discovered over time that I thrive on a lot of alone-quiet time. And I haven’t been getting a lot of that. Last night I went to my son’s basketball game with one of my daughters. We watched both the boys and girls games. Another mom from the team was sitting next to me so we engaged in polite social chitchat. It was noisy. I spent a lot of time talking to my daughter. When we got home I gathered the family together so we could do our nightly Advent devotions that we do in the month of December. We finished Advent and then I gave my husband “The Look”. The look that says, I am done. I need to disappear. PLEASE TAKE OVER!! And my husband, who stayed home with all the other kids, fed them supper, helped them with homework, goes, “What??” All you’ve done is go to a basketball game! But, going to a basketball game takes a lot of energy! 

So, we tag teamed and made it through bedtime, crashed into bed, and then I dreamed about cleaning my house, preparing for parties, and kept waking up wondering if it was time to start the next busy day. 

So, for this blog, the question is, how do you maintain diet, exercise, and self-care during the holidays? 

I think the best I can come up with is Be Realistic. 

The next three days I am not going to have much time, but I plan to get up early tomorrow morning so I can squeeze in a workout. I don’t think I will get to one today though, too many things to do. But, I know that next week I will have more time, so I just have to accept that sometimes you can’t do everything. And as far as self-care, I think I just have to keep reminding myself that none of this is life and death. If I don’t get everything done, it’s ok. All of these things I’m doing are because I want everything a certain way. And if it ends up not being the exact way I want, Who cares? No one else does. Just me. So, I have to keep reminding myself that the level of importance I’m putting on all these plans is very flexible. And diet? Well, there is always January. Though I am going to try and come up with some quick, healthy meals we can just heat up for the next couple days without needing a lot of prep. 

So, I’m off to do more cleaning and then go sell popcorn and then cook and clean some more. And maybe try to remember that this is fun and I love the holidays. 

My Family Isn’t as Weird as Yours!

The other day I saw a link online to a sensationalized article about a family somewhere in Scotland who had ten boys and one girl. (The 11th child was the girl!). Since I now currently have eleven children in my home, I was curious, and clicked on the article. It says that she washes forty-nine loads of laundry a week. What! I mentally counted in my head. I only wash eight to ten loads a week. Unless we have to wash bedding. Then it could be maybe fifteen, tops. Except, my older kids do their own laundry, so I would need to add on about four more loads to that number. And I have a really big washing machine. And it probably holds about three loads worth of some small European type washing machine. So, if you add that all up, say, I do twelve loads, plus four loads, equals sixteen loads, times three, equals forty-eight loads of laundry. Hmm. 

 

The article also says she vacuums her house seven times a day. Well, now that’s just weird. Must be a clean freak. 🙂 Unless her house is all carpeted and it’s small. I could see vacuuming a lot if that were the case. I don’t vacuum seven times a day, but I probably clean my toilet that many times. Too many little boys in the house. 

 

They didn’t mention how many times she washes dishes. I use paper plates. (Not environmentally friendly, not sure what to do about that…)The other day I ran out of paper plates and wasn’t going to be able to make it to the store for a bit. So, we used the regular plates. I washed 3 large dishwasher loads a day, as compared to one large dishwasher load a day, plus handwashing all the oversized pots and pans that don’t fit. Lots of fun. 

 

They also mentioned that she went grocery shopping twice a week!! I scoffed for a minute, then thought about it. Well, yes, I do go grocery shopping twice a week, but that’s not two GIANT shopping trips. I usually do a really big grocery shopping, then halfway through the week, I go and stock up on fruit, milk, bread and whatever random thing I’ve run out of. Because when I buy an entire weeks’ worth of fruit, my kitchen tends to fill up with fruit flies. Plus, it helps keep things fresh if I go twice a week. But, my second shopping really isn’t THAT big. Maybe just two trips walking from the car to get everything in the house. 

 

The photos of the family in the article showed all the kids lined up in color-coordinated t-shirts. The mom is an exercise instructor and looks amazing despite having just given birth to her eleventh child. The children are all handsome and photogenic. Sigh. My children are beautiful, most of them are photogenic, but several of them have not mastered the art of the “real smile” and instead look sickly or constipated, because, for some reason, that’s what they think they’re supposed to do when someone points a camera at them. I have one child that has literally spent his entire life trying to mess up our family pictures. I won’t mention any names, but if you track down any family photos you’ll spot him. I think that color-coordinating is corny and refuse to participate in that particular form of child torture. Though, all my friends that do coordinate, do look very nice in their photos. 🙂  And, lastly, an exercise instructor I am not. Double sigh. 

 

In the end, I found it really funny to read this article that was trying to make having eleven kids sound like some kind of weird freak show. What? They even brought up the OctoMom. I especially found it funny that I spent the entire article comparing my family to theirs, trying to justify how my family was better. What was that all about? I went back and found another article, not so sensationalized, about the same family. They sounded like regular, interesting people. We’d probably get along pretty well if we ever met. When am I ever going to get over this comparison thing? It’s not a competition. 

 

I will keep reminding myself of this. 

 

Sometimes Cleaning Involves Making a Mess

Today there has been a festive note in the air. Thanksgiving is coming next week, and then we launch full-blast into Christmas. And, my son is coming home tonight after being away at school since August. YAY!!! 

 

With all the approaching festivities, my cleaning bug finally kicked in. Our house was a big ol’ mess. I had the kids help me clean up Friday night, but the problem is we had pockets of clutter all over the place. So, while everything was picked up off the floor, the room still felt a mess. So, today we tackled the clutter. I put two kids on the job of fixing our bookshelves. In order to do that they had to take all the randomly piled books off the shelf so they could organize them all neatly. In the process they also found some movies, toys and papers that didn’t belong on the shelf. 

 

I assigned another child the hall closet. He had to pull everything that had been stuffed in there and make a giant pile on the floor. Then from that pile he could hang up all the coats, put all the gloves, scarves and hats in a box, line up the boots, and put the duffel bags of snow pants back up on the shelf.

 

I cleaned out the Random Drawer that had all our coloring papers, school papers, playdough, puzzles, school supplies, and a bunch of other random kid things. (It’s a big drawer.) In order to clean it out I had to make all kinds of piles on my dining room table in order to sort everything out. 

 

Sometime in the middle of all this cleaning, my husband came in from some errands he had been running. The house looked worse than when he had left. I quickly defended myself. We ARE cleaning. It just doesn’t look like it. We’re going to have to make some messes before it all gets clean. He understood. 

 

Today I also decided it was time to start potty training our youngest. It’s way past time, I’ve just been procrastinating. So, I bought a bag of M&Ms and asked him if he wanted some in exchange for sitting on his potty. Of course! He sat and peed for me. And so far has stayed dry and peed five times in the potty! I’m super excited. But, I know that we have some accidents coming in the very near future. It’s part of the package deal. Some of our kids have potty trained in as fast as a week, and some have taken a year. But all of them had accidents. It’s part of the transition from changing dirty diapers to having clean dry underwear. 

 

One other thing I did today was commissioned my fourteen year old to paint me a Christmas Painting to hang on my mantel for the holidays. She got out her sketch pad and started sketching out some ideas. She showed me one, rough lines outlining the little drummer boy. It was a messy sketch, but I could see what she was drawing. It looked great. I knew that eventually she would turn it into a beautiful picture. 

 

Of course, you’ve probably got the point by now…It has occurred to me this evening, that in order to clean something, or accomplish a goal, you usually have to go through a messy stage where you are making progress, but it doesn’t look like it. 

 

It gives me some hope. I am dealing with some personal shortcomings that have me really discouraged. I have been spending a lot of time recently just thinking about the problem. Trying to get to the root of why I can’t seem to ever overcome in this area. Spending some concentrated time just thinking about this has not been fun. It’s put me in a bad mood. It’s also helped dredge up some old stories from my past that I’ve not properly dealt with. It’s all been rather messy. But, here’s where the hope comes in. Right now it just looks like a mess, but it’s still forward progress. I’m closer to overcoming today than I was a week ago. Sometimes, in order to clean something up, you have to make a mess first.