Monday, December 2, 2013


i totally yelled yesterday. like, borderline screaming rage...well, not screaming, not red-hot shaking, not really rage, just "i've fucking had it!"-type [loud] rant. i didn't name-call or to speak...okay maybe i did say something about ungrateful children...a couple of times. i was ranting about about holiday stress. i was trying to get the kids to help tidy the house after the holiday week trashing, they were whining about decorating for winter/xmas bc i said we could on dec. 1st. but the house was trashed and i said we can't decorate a trashed house. totally logical, right?

well they didn't seem to get the connection, and nobody was doing anything, including my husband. i am stressed out trying to make gifts bc we are broke and i am crafty and have lots of supplies. i clearly expressed my anxiety about holing up in my studio to work while the house is a mess, bc the mess will get worse if i'm not around to help reign it in (i.e. supervise!). the house is extra trashed bc hubs and i have been sleeping in (since there was no school last week) and the kids are unsupervised for a couple of hours each morning which means mischief galore...despite our attempt to curb it by leaving the room with the tv unlocked and tuned into pbs. guess my kids are tired of tv! (good thing i suppose). ANYWAY, the mess is not really that bad if you think about 7 ppl pitching in. an hour would do it. but no one wants to freakin help. okay, i'm rambling...

so, as usual, my tantrum was triggered by no one respecting my need for peace and order (if we want to get all NVC about it) and my clear and respectful (if repeated) requests for help. it was getting toward the end of the day and i was panicking that no one would do their jobs for the day, then it would be time to go to grandma's for dinner and that would eat up the rest of the evening until bedtime! so i lost it. i ranted about holiday stress, ungrateful children, no one helping me, etc. i don't even remember. i wasn't even talking to anyone in particular, just ranting while violently unloading the dryer and transferring the wet clean stuff in (lol). so everyone is begrudgingly doing some pickup/put away as i continue to rant. (they did make a decent dent so it was okay later.) so then i announced i wasn't going to the ILs' for dinner bc i needed a break. so i got a couple of hours to myself to recharge. and i will admit i took some anxiety medication to help me calm down and recenter myself. it helped a lot. i was calm and loving/playful when they got home.

so i don't even know how i could have done things differently. this was a case of me feeling disrespected and worthless...walked all over...because my repeated requests were repeatedly ignored. EVERYBODY KNOWS that mama needs peace and order, and that starts with a clean house. i mean, that's one of the reasons i put them in school! i could not stand living in chaos anymore! i am able to PLAY when i am not bogged down with mental clutter caused by environmental clutter. why wouldn't they want that? you would think they would notice that and want to help. i have certainly verbalized it enough times; pointed out the connection between mama's moods and the level of order in the home. everyone plays better, not just me! the house stays company-ready (or close to it) during the school week, and even on weekends i'm okay with the extra mess bc i know come monday i will be able to get things right again. and they do help. our rhythm just got all fucked up last week. i'm proud that i made it almost all the way through the 9 days without losing it, but now i'm disappointed that i failed at the very end! argh.

today, things are finally quiet, but there are 5 loads of laundry to fold and the sink is overflowing with dishes. i asked hubs to do them yesterday (twice) and then again this morning (twice). he has now left for his jobs and still they sit in the sink. so now, once again, i have to do them myself. 3 days worth of dishes. FFS.
my husband repeatedly says he'll do something and then doesn't follow through. so in the interest of NOT being a martyr, i do it myself because (bear with me here) i'm doing it for ME--no one else seems to give a shit if the house is a shambles. and many times i have asked him to do something and then started to do it myself within minutes, i guess as sort of a point that it needs to get done NOW, not just whenever he feels like it, if he even remembers.

the NVC formula works wonders sometimes. saying "would you be willing..." puts the option to do good for someone else into their hands, and people like to help others bc it gives them satisfaction. i just feel like i'm the only one putting forth an effort to be compassionate and empathetic around here. my husband's version of getting ppl to help involves turning into a drill instructor. he feeds off my moods so when i get upset about stuff he steps in a deals with it...meanly. it does not make things better.
 the thing with the kids is that we have made chores/jobs/tasks a mandatory part of daily life, and they have come to accept that (if begrudgingly sometimes).  so when they are just wanting to play (and add to the mess) all day, i get frustrated. i really think the screw-up in our rhythm is what made things so bad. i had to trade the screentime rules for extra sleep (the need for which was brought on by more couple time at night...staying up way too late), and normally they have to do their daily jobs before getting screen time, which is strictly limited under normal circumstances. having unlimited screentime caused them to self-regulate and it lost it's novelty (a good thing). so then it turned to "we can't go anywhere until the jobs are done". but then they got involved in playing (another good thing) and the desire to go somewhere disappeared. result: no more ammo for me. and who am i to disrupt one thing i desire very much from my children--that they are happily playing all day long, no screens, no field trips?

it was just the one day. the week in general was pretty relaxed. i think i was just starting to panic bc things got so out of the ordinary. i like routine, i like order, and i like my alone time. those needs are met while they are at school. i'll be okay for the next 3 weeks but then winter break starts and it will be TWO weeks of everyone home, PLUS the holidays. omfg. i guess i will have to be more prepared for that than i was for this. live and learn.
the tentative plan: try to keep the routine, i guess. the tricky part is the sleeping in thing. we are not morning people, and getting up at 6am on school days is the pits. sleeping in till 8am is a treat, but the kids still get up at 6! i have a feeling we will be adjusting the bedtime over winter break. let the kids stay up a little later (than 8pm) and maybe they'll sleep in a little later than 6am. we like night time festivities anyway, fires, movies, etc. so we will have to spend the last 3 nights getting back into the 8p-6a groove before school starts again (to avoid monster-children), but perhaps it's worth that price. 


i think i'm becoming agoraphobic. or i always have been but have just had to deal with it for the sake of everyone else. i like being at home. i don't get cabin fever. lately i mostly only leave for errands or babysitting jobs. i haven't been going to church, and i don't miss it. i like having friends over, but i generally don't want to go anywhere. it's like this one vehicle thing (going on 5 months now) + 4 out of 5 kids in school (almost 4 months) is allowing the agoraphobic in me to blossom, so to speak. i've always had social anxiety (with strangers -- hate small talk) and claustrophobia, fear of heights...all symptoms. i'm not *afraid* to leave my house, i just don't want to, and will avoid it whenever possible. i am thankful that i have the one-car thing as an excuse. or maybe i *am* afraid. i don't know. i have always "joked" that if i wasn't married with children, i would be a hermit in the mountains somewhere, like the grandfather in Heidi. this is weird. maybe this is just some strange manifestation of depression. or maybe i am still recovering from 5 years of homeschooling with 4+ spirited children with me 24/7. or maybe i'm feeling apathetic about my marriage/life bc i'm thinking too deeply about the past. maybe all of it. maybe i have just given up on some things bc the current (very multifaceted) situation has ripped so many things out of my hands, so in order to survive i have had to just surrender and not care anymore.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Feeling Scroogey Already - Holiday Stress

i have come to dread the holidays.  there are quite a few reasons, and i'm sure they are not unique.  in order to get then off my chest without whining to my friends during this month of gratitude, i shall make one of my beloved lists, right here in my very own corner of the interwebs.

~ the money issue ~

we are broke.  we have been broke for the past 4 years due to hubs being in college and our only income being grants and loans.  and of course, being paid a chunk of money at the beginning of the semester pretty much guaranteed that we were broke by the end of it. but our level of brokeness has increased as each year has gone by.  back in the day, i had a budget of $500 for xmas.  that seems extravagant to some and lame to others.  the budget declined over the years and well, last year it plummeted to $100.  i made it work, and i was actually quite pleased with the results.  we restricted the number of gifts to 3 per kid, and i scoured the thrift stores for weeks and weeks.  I ended up finding each child presents that they were thrilled to get, and they didn't care a stitch that they were secondhand.  I did buy a few knew things, but not a lot.  socks. toothbrushes. new crayons. dollar store trinkets for the stockings.

~ the time/energy/opportunity issue ~

so every year that we are broke, i have to find creative ways to provide gifts for our family members.  i have tons of craft supplies and could easily, between my husband and myself, be able to produce lovely gifts for everyone on our lists for little to nothing out of pocket for us.  but time and opportunity are a rare commodity around here.  so the handmade stuff usually ends up going to the extended family.  Last year they got hand-dipped beeswax tapers, handmade wool dryer balls, handmade (melt & pour) soaps, etc.  in the past i have done sugar free & fat free hot chocolate mix (bc all of the grandparents and aunts/uncles are more "diet" conscious than we are -- we prefer whole-ish/"real" foods and not over-processed chemical shitstorms), felted wool coasters, crocheted whimsical/unique bookmarks, knitted/crocheted scarves, inexpensive photobooks (from CVS) of the "best of 20XX", etc.  simple, quick stuff from supplies already onhand; things that are unique and infused with love.  but those particular things are not the best gifts for children (with the exception of the photobooks -- they have been a bit hit with the littles!).

~ is it worth it? ~

for children, i mean.  to make things.  my kids are slobs.  because of a combination of against-the-grain parenting philosophies, my desire to avoid conflict/take the path of least resistance, and my own laziness when my older children were younger, i have failed to establish good habits in my children.  habits regarding taking care of their items and their home environment.  if i am not on top of everything everyday by myself, the whole house goes to shit REALLY quickly.  so i try to supply my children with sturdy, high-quality, repairable toys so that they will withstand rough use and last a long time.  they still manage to break these toys.  an overabundance of clinical-level hyperactivity amongst my children does not help things (it also drives me batshit and i have to take sedatives to make it through some days without completely flipping out). so when it comes to handmaking playthings for them, i am apprehensive.  i have made many baby toys which have held up well bc they are simple crocheted/knitted or carved wood toys.  but then the simple dress-up clothes have not held up so so well.  drawstring to the cape goes missing and suddenly it's a useless piece of cloth.  the ladies full-skirted half-slip that was upcycled into a little girls dress-up ball gown got the petticoat ripped off of it, so now it is a short, "flapper" dress.  still loved, but disappointing to me.  the bendy dolls and gnomes that i have experimented with in the past have been taken and ruined, whether by having been left in the yard at the mercy of the elements, or kicked unter a bed to gather dust bunnies and provide the inevitable florida bugs a tasty feast.  so while i want more than anything for my children to have these beautiful, handcrafted, open-ended toys, made with love by their mama, i cannot bear the heartbreak of seeing those things destroyed.

~ the influx of shit ~

"shit" being stuff.  new stuff.  all five kids' birthdays from november to february, and xmas thrown in there.  with overly generous grandparents in the picture, i'd say we end up with AT LEAST 50 new playthings (or plat SETS) in the house during those 3 months.  that doesn't include the gifts that hubs and i receive.  it's great that the kids get fresh playthings, really.  i do not resent the generosity that provides my children with things we could never afford.  i am a minimalst at heart, and we have 7 people living in a house built for 4.  take that an add to it the garage that acts as a storage unit for everything from things we still haven't unpacked since we moved in 9 years ago (I KNOW) to things friends who lived with us for a while left, things we inherited when various elderly family members passed away, and of course, things that are no longer useful to us (outgrown clothes, toys, etc).  we just have too much stuff.  we have PLENTY of storage space.  it is just not used efficiently, and there is a ton of stuff in there that just doesn't need to be.  but i do not want to just chuck it all and be done with it, since deep in the rubble there are sentimental things from my childhood (or my children's infancy) that i truly want to keep for scrapbooks and/or memory boxes.  so to chuck everything at once would be to risk losing something precious.  (i promise, i'm not a hoarder.  really.  i'm talking memory boxes the size of a file box here.)

over the years, my children have destroyed many sentimental items of mine.  i have hardened my heart to it and told myself over and over that "they're just THINGS." but that doesn't make it any less sad.  i finally packed up the irreplaceable stuff and put it in a box on a high shelf in a locked room, to be taken back down when the kids are MUCH older.  so i get that things are just things.  i do not have a hard time deciding to get rid of things, and i have become more and more ruthless about it in the recent past.  i lamented to my husband that we get rid of things that we shouldn't HAVE to get rid of, because if we are going to be able to teach the children how to take care of things, said things (all things, not just toys, but household items, too) need to be stripped to a minimum.  so that is the idea while i cull our possessions these days.  this time of year gives us a chance to start over.  but the culling is tedious and can be very overwhelming.

~ and finally, nuclear-family-of-origin issues ~

my nuclear family of origin (mom, dad, sis) are not close.  i won't hijack this by explaining why, bc that would take days.  however, suffice it to say that the holidays rub salt into the wound that i have tried to keep swept under the rug of my consciousness.  it hurts.  i do not have a close, loving relationship that i so desperately crave with my family.  so when holidays come around and we can't get together due to schedule conflicts, i feel undervalued.  this is especially true when my sister is able to make the trip to visit our parents and i am not.  so i go to my in-laws' house and celebrate with my husband's family, all the while feeling lonely and unloved because my own family did not try harder to include me in their celebration.  and then when we DO get together, it is surface-level visiting with a slightly formal air to it.  then the (always brief) visit is over and i am left feeling abandoned again.  i have friends who are very close with their parents and siblings.  i have learned to be apathetic about it, but underneath that i am envious and wistful.  and the worst part is, i feel like it's too late to fix it.  i have closed the door of my heart to them after enduring far too many rejections.

so all of that, you see, is why i like the holiday season to pass as quickly as possible so we can get on with starting a fresh new year (and perhaps consuming an entire bottle of champagne myself on NYE, haha), and i can focus on enjoying the lovely florida winter weather.  this too shall pass.

~ namaste ~
(at least i keep telling myself that)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

dear pinterest gods

dear pinterest gods,

i hate burlap. it's rustic-looking, and i like rustic, but it's scratchy and i prefer not to touch it, especially for long periods of time while cutting and gathering and sewing and gluing it into a stupid freaking wreath. so please make it not popular anymore. #annoying

next, please inform the human race that it is not safe to use pallets for indoor projects. people are going to start dying and it will be your fault. #lawsuit

please ALSO inform the human race that it is not necessary to have 10 different "natural" cleaner recipes. one spray bottle of water, vinegar, and dish soap will clean and sanitize almost anything. if you have a specific task (like polishing wood or removing mineral deposits), refer to pin. but if you make all of those formulas, i can guarantee you that at least 80% of them are just going to rot in your fridge before you can use them and make you feel like a housekeeping failure. #wordtothewise

finally, i am not a bored housewife with gobs of time and money on my hands, so knock it off with all the ridiculous projects that scream that. #aintnobodygottimefodat

if you could give these issues some attention, it would be greatly appreciated. feel free to impress me with your phenomenal prayer-answering skillz. #greatexpectations



Monday, September 23, 2013

My Dollar Tree Shopping List

...because i see this all over pinterest and i thought it would be cool to publicly document mine, since it already exists in my phone's notepad app!  :D  you should know that i have 5 children under the age of 12, and they are VERY curious and VERY hard on a lot of this list is stuff we go through like water because of their mischief and/or play.  :/

good deals:

:: timers.  i love timers and use them for everything.  you can never have enough timers!  my kids break things so this is the most affordable way to keep me in good supply.

:: baby board books

:: ziploc baggies

:: tiny trash can liners -- those super thin, scented ones on a roll that are the perfect size for a bathroom trash can.

:: emergency candles -- 6 pack!  these sell out quickly.  great when you use candles a lot, like at the dinner table or during story time.

:: kids watches.  no special features (e.g. alarm), but they tell time!  they also sell out quickly

:: seasonal decor (fake flowers, entry table decorations, etc.)

:: hair ties & clips -- since they get lost or broken so easily, i'm not paying 2-3x the price for the name brand ones!

:: funky nail polish and basic makeup -- i rarely wear makeup and the nail polish is just for kids' fun, so quality doesn't really matter.  they get the job done.  and they have a shade of lipstick that i LOVE, so it is affordable since kids tend to get into that and ruin it (and their easter dress...ahem) as well.

:: natural chap stick -- they have an all-natural beeswax chap stick that comes in 3-packs!

:: purse- or travel-size medications (ibuprofen, tylenol, gas-x, etc.)

:: pregnancy tests!  same quality as in your doctor's office.  (BUT, you can get a 20-pack for $5 on amazon, so that's definitely more worth it if you are TTC.)

:: liquid soap.  this can be hit or miss as i once bought 3 bottles of the stuff that didn't even suds in our hard water.

:: bar soap.  they carry the oatmeal/honey and the lavender bars i like so much.  i recently started buying the 3-packs of dial natural (or something like that), and i cut them in half and use them as hand soaps -- my kids are huge soap-wasters so this cuts the cost down to about $0.17/"bar".  this way, i only end up spending around $1/month on hand soap.

:: placemats

:: pot holders

:: butter dishes (flimsy, yes, but cheaply replaced when they break -- they always get broken no matter how much i pay for them!)

:: kitchen sponges & scouring sponges

:: bandaids & other basic first aid items

:: shoe laces (multipack of different lengths and colors)

:: some school/office supplies (pens, pencils, sharpeners, folders, dividers, sharpies, dry erase markers, scotch tape, workbooks for homeschooling)

:: mailing supplies (for mailing letters and shipping small things that i sell online)

:: magnetic dry erase boards (we have gone through a bunch of these since they are flimsy, but i use them to write my husband's to-do list on.)

:: wooden clothes pins -- i use them for all kinds of things, but most often as chip clips...the kids love to play with them so they get lost/broken a lot, so have to buy more every now and then.

:: kids clothes hangers.  they are an affordable way to supply myself with plenty of hangers for the big semi-annual community consignment sale.

:: tiny bottles of goo gone.  my kids tend to dump things out, so this is no big loss and i can keep them all around the house.  my one complaint is that they don't have the squirty top.

:: duct tape -- small rolls, but since my kids are also tape-wasters, having a smaller roll around means less to waste!  especially since a full roll is around $5.

:: spray bottles for DIY household cleaners (i keep them all over the house).  another hit-or-miss item; some of them are just fine, others leak right off the bat, argh!

:: playing cards -- 2-packs!  these are pretty much one-time-use items for my kids; they cannot keep a deck whole to save their lives!

:: sunglasses -- i have even found fashionable ones that fit over my eyeglasses!  and no big loss when they get scratched or broken.  i'm done buying $20 sunglasses!

:: twine.  i use it to repair woven/wicker baskets that i use for decorative storage all around the house.  also good for kids play/projects when i don't feel like having them waste a $5 skein of my yarn!

:: paring knives.  i have mostly had success with these.  once i had one that fell apart after a few uses, but the new line of brightly colored ones with matching sheath have held up just fine so far.

:: some of the storage containers -- leftover food containers seem decent, the plastic, handled tubs and baskets are too. 


things that are NOT worth buying at dollar tree:

:: scrub brushes -- they break easily and the bristles just suck.

:: can openers -- they just straight up don't work.  better off with a $1.97 one from walmart!

:: kitchen towels (unless you like the tea towel size -- i don't; they are just glorified wash rags!)

:: microfiber cleaning cloths -- they fall apart after one wash!  i'll stick to my walmart ones, 8/$5.  much higher quality.

:: some of the storage containers -- the plastic baskets and woven/chipwood baskets are super flimsy -- they do not hold up to frequent use AT ALL.  the sterilite knock-offs are pretty thin and break easily, plus the tops tend to not fit very well and you are liable to crack it trying to get it off!

thanks for reading -- this was fun!  :)