Feeling overwhelmed? Unload the dishwasher.

Standard

If the daily grind of a messy house is like a murky pool of water, then unloading the dishwasher is like pulling the plug. There is no hope of any clutter swirling down the drain and off your to-do list until that dishwasher gets unloaded.

With six young children frolicking in my wake, the tap is always on, per se. The toys, the laundry, the dishes…one look at the bottom of my closet would have crippling effects on even the strongest of neat-freaks. When I take inventory around the house, I gasp! Where do I even begin? Each room needs immediate disaster relief, a chemical spill response unit!

It was like a zen ah-ha moment for me when I learned to take a deep breath, put the kids to work in the playroom, and then go unload the dishwasher. Music helps too.

You see, for me, a clean kitchen is like a fresh breath of air. It’s like stopping for gas on a long road trip and stretching out your legs. You know you have to cram back into the car eventually, but it sure is refreshing to take a turn or two around the sunflower seed aisle and get the blood moving again.

When the dishwasher is empty, the sink can give up her mess. When the sink is clean, the counters become free of their piles. When the counters are crumb free, most of those crumbs are now on the floor and it is time to sweep. Once the Cheerios and other debris is scraped off the floor, the mop can do her thing without interruption. And once the kitchen sparkles like the top of the Chrysler building, you’ll feel like you can conquer anything! Vacuuming, dusting, baseboards, the bottom of the closet! You become a whirling dervish bent on sanitizing those cup holders in the back of the minivan for sure this time. Nothing can stop your momentum now…

Except a crying baby. But that’s okay! You got a load of laundry in and your kitchen floor is glistening, and your dishwasher is humming. The machines are working for you! That’s a win.

Soon the other children will surface from the playroom, war-torn and hungry and won’t it be pleasant to prepare a lunch for them on a gleaming countertop? Don’t worry about the inevitable mess and dirty dishes lunch will produce. The dishwasher will beep soon enough and you’ll get to unload it all over again with a deep breath and an “OOOoooAAAMMMMMMMMmmmmmm……”

And if you can savor every moment of that baby as you try to rock him to sleep after lunch, all will be right with the world.

So close to NYT Bestseller list!

Standard

Our book, “Motherhood Realized” is rapidly climbing up the charts! It is rated #1 one on Amazon under the subject of motherhood, and has climbed to #111 all around book on Amazon! That’s huge! We are within shouting distance of making the New York Times best seller list and we only have until this Saturday to make the list! If we do, our grassroots efforts will have paid off and the world will get to read something really uplifting and really powerful about motherhood. A force for good! 

So if you have thought about eventually buying the book, can I plead with you to buy it on Amazon today? I bought multiple copies for baby shower gifts and for mother’s day presents for dear women I admire in my community. Go ahead and read the over 100 5 star reviews. It is worth every penny of your $12.

Click HERE!!

Thanks so much for your help in getting this book out to every mother who could use some encouragement,

Margaret

My big book debut!

Standard

Some exciting news everyone! “Power of Moms” has selected one of my essays to be in their newest book called “Motherhood Realized,” and it is available right now on amazon.com! “Motherhood Realized” is a wonderful anthology written by moms who are deep in the trenches of motherhood and who have managed to pen their nuggets of wisdom in inspiring and often humorous ways. A great Mother’s Day present!

It’s an honor to be part of such an amazing project. And there is certainly something special about seeing your words printed and bound. Click here to see it on Amazon. I hope you get to read it!

Motherhood Realized: An Inspiring Anthology for the Hardest Job You'll Ever Love

Dear Mr. Daylight Savings

Standard

Dear Mr. Daylight Savings,

If I may have a word. I’m sure you had your reasons for coming when you did, but may I be so blunt as to remind you, no one likes an early houseguest. I don’t care much for your clock advancements anyhow, but did you have to come when there was still snow on the ground?

I understand this whole hullabaloo of pushing our clocks forward grew out of an effort to ration candles in the early days and later electricity, but can’t I just promise to not turn on the lights until after 7:30pm?

Early to bed, early to rise. That’s been our motto. So why is Daylight Savings purported to be Ben Franklin’s brainchild when it flies in the face of his most famous maxim? Do you know how hard it is to rise early when every cell in your body moans that it’s 4 o’clock in the morning? The pitch dark and bitter cold aren’t helping your cause. My eyelids have gained two pounds.

Mr. DS, did you know my young children have piano lessons at 7am? 7am. The sky used to be swished with pinks and yellows as they walked to the neighbor’s for lessons. Now it’s black as ink in a don’t-forget-your-flashlight, frightening sort of way. It used to be a pleasant time slot. Now getting them up, fed, dressed and out the door all while fumbling around in the dark so as not to wake the baby that finally fell asleep, well, our new routine feels more like hazing. 

And that’s another thing, MR. DS. My baby used to go down every night at 8pm like clock work. Emphasis on “used to.” Now I have a very fussy, very shrill baby on my hip during the whirlwind of everyone else’s bedtime routines. And remember–I’ve been up since what feels like 4am. And believe it or not, the virtue called patience, ironically, has a time limit. 

To be frank, I wasn’t thrilled to have you stay through the summer– it’s nearly impossible to put tired children to bed before 10pm when it’s still light enough outside to sunbathe, but I was willing to put up with your summertime shenanigans because summer is summer.

But now I hear you intend to extend your stay until November? This is unacceptable. This is a deal breaker. Just how many weeks into the new school year will you insist my children march off to the bus in the dark? Only to re-invite yourself to stay again 4 months later? Your hostess needs more time to recover. My apologies for my boldness, but there it is.

I know you mean well. You’re trying to give me the gift of time. The gift of daylight. I do not wish to be misunderstood, so I will use small words: I do not want it. You believe your gift is time, but I assure you your “gift” feels as though time is being ripped away. Each time I glance at the clock, I’m horrified to find the hour is more advanced than I had originally supposed. The afternoons are passing at a lightening pace since you settled in and I don’t like it one bit.

I only have a few precious years with all my children living at home. A few precious years is all I get. The time is passing faster than I’d like without your meddling. Please stop insisting on pushing these hours forward because in a few years, November or no, I will never be able to turn these clocks back.

I look forward to your response. Until then, I’ll be Googling the Internet for real estate in either Arizona or Hawaii.

Cordially,

Time Warped

 

Is “crap” a swear?

Standard

One day a woman approached my mother and said, “Your teenaged sons have taught my toddler a word we don’t allow in our home. It’s so bad, I won’t even say it. I’ll spell it.”

What horror. I’m sure she was thinking, Oh please no. Please no.

“S-H…”

Oh no, even worse than I thought! No, no, no, no….

“U-T. U-P.”

Oh. Is that all? I’ll handle it.

There is a list of words I don’t allow in our home either. The rude rendition of “Be quiet” is indeed among them. So are words like stupid, idiot, jerk and so forth. I call them “fightin’ words” as they invariably start a fight, and so as not to confuse them with real bonafide swears. 

Years ago, I subbed for a Sunday school class of six year olds where I should’ve used the adjective “foolish” to describe how Billy in the story had made a poor choice but I let the words “stupid mistake” slip out. From there the lesson derailed. All they could talk about was how they couldn’t believe the teacher “swore” (she said the ‘S’ word!!) in class while I feebly attempted to defend my poor word choice. I was not asked back.

And while “stupid” is not a swear, now I know, them’s fightin’ words. Words like “stupid” were easy enough to tamp out when all my children were at home full time and I could trace back every word in their limited vocabularies to either myself or to PBS Kids. Now it’s different.

For example, my sixth grader can innocently exclaim, “I can’t believe I forgot my assignment! I’m such an idiot!!” Meanwhile, his parrot of a two year old sister happens by and decides to weave the word “idiot” into the fabric of her dialogues the rest of the day. Charming.

Lately, she’s taken to using the word “crap” to express any kind of displeasure or frustration. While not the language of poets, but not necessarily a fightin’ word either, “crap” never really bothered me until it started spewing out of the mouth of her otherwise angelic face. 

In a home with zero tolerance for curse words and on top of that, a home that struggles to put the kibosh on fightin’ words too, there are very few expletives left for a frustrated grade schooler. Sadly, “crap” has won out as the one word mom and dad don’t tsk their tongues and purse their lips at. And my kids revel in it.

Well, no more. It only takes one trip to the bank where the teller kindly hands your toddler a lollipop and they wrinkle their nose and call that particular flavor “crap” to realize, oh crap, you’ve created a monster. 

So I’ve created a new list of questionable words apart from the swears and the fightin’ words. I call them “Ugly Words,” because they just make you look and sound ugly. So “crap?” Them there’s an ugly word.

My goal is to help my pretty princess, who spends the majority of each day twirling in a pink tutu, to associate ugly words with the word “ugly” itself. And who wants to be ugly? 

You’d have to stupid, uh, I mean foolish, to keep saying it.

 

One day at a time

Standard

300 pounds lost. 

5,720 loads washed.

13,140 meals cooked.

22,812 diapers changed.

Give or take. These are modest estimates, and the numbers will only increase from here. I don’t make a report of them to make myself a martyr or to seek congratulations. I’m sure your numbers are similar if not higher. I whipped out my calculator today only to reflect a little and impart a lesson or two I’ve learn somewhere between 1 and 22,812.

If anyone had shown me these haunting numbers when I first started this job of wife and mother, I’m sure I would’ve needed a lot more coaxing to go through with it. Thankfully, no one did and I dove right in, head first, delighted at the prospect of making homemade stews in crock pots and getting to buy those teeny tiny diapers the size of men’s wallets. (I still revel in buying size one diapers, by the way. Never gets old.)

The fact is, I would’ve felt overwhelmed. I would’ve said I could never do all that, I’d burn out, make a mess of things. When I made my first homemade stew as a newlywed and burned the roux and cooked it so thick you could’ve stood a fork in it, and not in a good way, if someone had said, “Well, only 13,140 meals to go over the next 13 years and by the way, all those young eaters you’re going to have won’t be as kind or tactful as your darling hubby over there and will spit out any stew this bad and demand a corn dog instead,” I would’ve thrown up my hands and cried.

When it took me a full year to loose the 70 pounds I gained with my first pregnancy (yes, I said 70 pounds. Deal with it.) If someone had said, “Well done! Only 230 more to go over the next decade!” I would’ve kicked that jogging stroller to the curb and gone out for pizza.

If someone had sat me down with a calculator and said, “Okay, so you plan to have this number of kids…let’s see here, times 365 days times the first 13 years….carry the one….ok, that’s X number of tantrums, Y number of time outs, and Z number of times they will cut their own hair. Shall we forge on and calculate what awaits you during the teenage years?”

There is a reason the adage, “One day at a time” exists. It’s because that’s all a mother needs to handle. Just that one day will have enough ups and downs, laundry, laughter and loosing its to fill a novel, so why make tally marks of the past and why worry about tomorrow? Today is enough. 

I can do today.

But if someone had told me about the 33,520 hugs, the 5,380 snuggled up story times, and the countless moments of genuine laughter and joy these years would afford me, well, maybe that would’ve all seemed too good to be true. 

What a relief life is a surprise.

 

First day of school

Standard

Every mother knows this is the true New Year. Back To School is the ideal time to set goals, mark growth, evaluate change and express our hopes for the future. This is when we age up, even more so than on our own birthdays. So it is only apropos to set goals and make plans just like we do in January.

The only difference is, instead of staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve, we rush like mad the night before the first day of school to get everyone tucked in and snoring by 8pm. (Which, ironically, was the first new school year resolution we already failed to reach.)

I find it humorous how in June, we moms long for summer and her endless unstructured hours. We’re fed up with the harried pace of the school year and yearn to have our children surround us as we picnic together in the park with nowhere else to be…

Then come the end of August, we turn into that lady from the Staples commercial singing, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” as we merrily toss school supplies into our carts. 

Now that I think about it, I react the same way during the holidays. On December 1st I’m  absolutely giddy to bust out the advent calendar and all our traditions that go with it. Then by January 1st I’m more than eager to kick the tree to the curb, vacuum up the last of the tinsel and hit the treadmill. 

Is it simply a case of too much of a good thing? Or is the grass greener on both sides of any holiday break?

I will miss going to bed around 11-ish, making breakfast around 10:30-ish, only to get to eat again around noon-ish. But truth be told, I’m rather excited to set the alarm and like a marine be able to boast, “We accomplish more before 7am than most people do in an entire…” Well, maybe not before 7, but you get it. Feel productive. On task. You know, no more “ishes.”

I’m sure a few weeks into soccer season, and a country report and a science fair project later, I’ll be down right nostalgic for summer. But right now I’m ready to embrace the change. I want to get organized. I want to revamp the chore chart. I want to clean out my kitchen drawers. I want to potty train my toddler. 

It’s a new year and I’ve set resolutions for everything from meal planning, to clutter free counters tops, to being a better parent, to taking off these last few pregnancy pounds. Yes, with my alarm set and my new goals in place, I should be running a tight ship with a gentle hand and be back in my jeans by Halloween. Ok, Thanksgiving. Mmmm, maybe more like Christmas. 

Alright, Christmas-ish?

Happy New Year