Tuesday, April 28, 2009

she's a little bit OCD; she's a little bit ADHD. Or something.

One of the most frustrating things I deal with, internally, is balancing my focus. Striking a balance between focusing primarily on fixing/doing/achieving ONE thing and achieving many things all at once is intensely difficult for me. I find myself being a very 'all or nothing' person. (And then I wonder if I don't have some sort of mental illness. But we won't go there.)

Take this housecleaning bit I'm focused on right now...I really, truly feel that if I don't bite the bullet and spend almost all of my at-home time focusing on it until it is completed, it will never get done and I will be roadblocked by it forever. But it is a VERY big project and is taking a long time...and as time goes by I start to feel very antsy that I am not focusing on other things too. I'm not focusing on losing weight, on meal planning; I'm not focusing on Heritage Makers. I'm not focusing on training the dogs. I'm not focusing on my writing. I'm not focusing on exercise or running or finding / signing up for local races. Any number of things I want to be doing (yes, there's more than that, believe me). Determining what my true priorities are at any given time, and staying focused on them, is excruciating. Inevitably I find that if I start letting other things creep in, if I tell myself "oh, ok, I'll split the day between cleaning the house and Heritage Makers", for instance - I start feeling guilty because I'm not also focusing on exercise / weight loss. So I tell myself "Oh, OK, I'll split the day between cleaning the house and Heritage Makers and meal planning. And I'll set regulated times to eat and make appointments with myself to go to the gym every day. Oh, and every time I switch activities I'll spend ten minutes training with the dogs. And I need to make sure I get quality time with the kids in too..." and before you know it, I've squeezed in way too many activities again and my day looks something like this:

9:00 wake, get dressed
9:30 breakfast
10:00 go to gym
11:00 shower
11:30 clean house
11:45 make lunch
12:00 eat lunch
12:30 take Drake to Playskool
12:45 quality time with Oksana
1:00 train dogs
1:15 ...

you get the picture. Every activity in my life getting a tiny sliver of time every day, and me getting stressed out beyond belief when I inevitably fall OFF SCHEDULE, and getting nothing done because spending 15 minutes a day decluttering the house gets me nowhere fast.

But it is HARD for me to stop chronically overscheduling myself. And I feel like I'm doing something wrong by focusing primarily on one thing (IE decluttering the house). It feels unnatural to me, and I worry that I am becoming obsessive, that my inability to focus on anything else is a problem...but if I crack it open, then I focus on TOO MUCH. So I tell myself this is actually a form of therapy for me; that by forcing myself to focus on this ONE thing, and by accomplishing this ONE thing, I will be better able to accomplish other things in my life. And once the decluttering is done I can put a simple housecleaning schedule into place that the whole family can help with, and we can KEEP it clean, and I can move on to the next project when this becomes routine. It's therapy, right? I'm not crazy, right?

I would like to note that I am not totally obsessive about the ONE thing. My children aren't languishing around unfed and untended; I do spend some time being social; I do spend some time maintaining my current Heritage Makers relationships each day...that sort of thing. But I try to keep it to a minimum while I focus on this one goal. It's just...really damn hard for me to DO that.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Some Great Heritage Makers Specials

There are a few really great specials going on with Heritage Makers right now, and it would be a crime if I didn't share the news with everyone. If you're new to Heritage Makers, this is a great time to grab up some credits for a great price. AND, if you were thinking about sending a personalized Mother's Day card to that special lady in your life...THIS IS THE WEEK TO DO IT. Heritage Makers has an an address book feature that will even let you mail the card directly from the website! Now you have no excuse to ever be late with a card again! :)

As you probably know if you're a reader here, I'm running a contest on this blog. April is National Pet Month and if you stop by and leave a comment on my contest post, you will have a chance to win 1 of 3 12X12 pages or maybe even a free 5X5 brag book! (PS - you don't HAVE to use these items to make projects about your pets, by the way!)
The contest entry is here.
This contest ends April 30th so please stop by today! (And yes, you CAN enter more than once!)

Also, Heritage Makers will be featuring a "Pick Of The Month" moving forward; a popular product at a fantastic price. Well, this month it's our 8X8 storybook...normally $49.95; in April you can get them for $39.95 (limit 3)! This is a fantastic deal and is probably our most popular storybook. If you are going to be working on any 8X8 projects this year, now is the time to stock up on credits! More information here.
If you'd like to place an order, just call or email me and I will make sure you get this great deal.

And of course, don't forget that Club Premier is still only $100 for a full year of a premier studio account, through the end of May. That's $8 a month for premier for a whole year!

Finally, Mother's Day is coming up soon..if you haven't already made a personalized card for that special lady in your life, now is the time! Do it this week! Don't forget you can even use our address book feature to mail that card directly to Mom. And we still have our great Mother's / Father's Day special (a free greeting card when you buy a 7X5 or 7X10 storybook).

Please contact me to take advantage of any / all of these great specials. Happy storybooking!

Pic Of The Day

Oksana pulling Piper, a friend's daughter, in our wagon while we visited the zoo last week.

Accountability

I've decided to hold myself accountable for cleaning up those roadblocks in my life, and to that end, I'm publishing before, during, and after photos as I work on it. Starting, as I mentioned yesterday, with decluttering my house.

I have been working room by room, and following a basic method as I work. First I do a general pick-up, make the room somewhat liveable. Then I work around the room and declutter, pulling out stuff that can be sold or given away or packed up or otherwise moved elsewhere. I'm trying to get rid of a lot of stuff. This is really hard for me. More on that later, I'm sure. I'm getting better though. Once everything is decluttered, I've been giving the room a thorough cleaning...something my house hasn't seen in far too long. Dusting, cleaning ceiling fans, windows, walls, mopping, vacuuming, peeling stickers off walls (hey, I have two toddlers; stickers are everywhere!), etc. This process takes a lot longer per room than I had initially imagined; even in the rooms that were in pretty good shape, it takes a long time. I thought I'd at least be working downstairs by now. But I digress.

So far, I've finished four rooms: the master bedroom, the kids' room, the upstairs bathroom, and the upstairs hallway. Sadly, I don't have any before pictures of those areas, though perhaps in the future I will provide some 'afters' just for references' sake. And to make sure they don't get messed up again.

Right now I am actively working in our dining room, which is full of piles of clutters (mainly clothes and papers) that I pulled out of the four rooms I tackled previously.

Without further ado, here is the dining room, from all four corners:


Before

After


Before, with a bonus shot of our dog Pepper.

After. Obviously not a lot of work was done on this side of the room.


Before (yes, this is the room people see when they come to our front door. The horror! I know!)

After. Again, not much work was done to this side of the house. Hey, anybody in need of a crib mattress?



You might be wondering "what the hell is THAT?" That, my friends, is a leprechaun. A life-size stuffed leprechaun with a terrifying rubber face. A leprechaun that was gifted to us this past St. Patrick's Day by my brother, who works for the Village I live in as, yes, a garbageman (amongst other things). Yes, this filthy, frightening leprechaun came from the garbage. And yes, he's sitting in my dining room and greeting people when they come to the front door. I'm not sure WHAT I'm going to do with him. I'm thinking about repurposing him for Halloween somehow, or possibly gifting him to my friends at the Raven's Grin Inn, if they have a use for him. But I remain undecided, as it is dreadfully difficult for me to give up THINGS, especially unique things that I MIGHT have a use for some day, especially if they will possibly fit into my Halloween display or my Not House On The Rock House. Therein lies my problem.


Before

After. This is where the bulk of the work happened yesterday, so naturally it's the darkest / worst photo of them all! At least you can see that the tower of stuff has shrunk drastically. I culled a lot of the pile that you can see in the 'before' photo; a lot of that was stuff that migrated out of the bedrooms. It is now in boxes for the garage sale. I just need to decide where to store those boxes!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pic Of The Day



The kids are excited to help me bake the lamb cake for Easter.

roadblocks

I have a lot of dreams; a lot of things I'd like to accomplish in my (hopefully) long life. I am also chronically impatient. Part of the reason I struggle so often to complete my goals is because I tend to try tackling them all at once; it's like I can't help myself. I get these great ideas, and they just flow and build upon each other, and before you know it I'm trying to build an ark and be a hairstylist and open my own spa and gaming center at the same time. All while being the best wife and mother and housekeeper and financial officer possible for my family.

I started this blog as a way to chronicle my dreams. I also started it because for a long time I felt like I was the only person out there that behaved this way. I've come to learn in recent years that I am not alone, and it is one of my dreams that this blog will help bring the chronic dreamers together so we can connect with each other, encourage each other, and nourish each other's souls.

But another reason I started this blog is to help me work out ways to simplify my life; to tackle these dreams one at a time and to teach myself to SLOW DOWN. It's not a race, and if I just take my time and build habits and try to do it one at a time (and unless you've got a personality like mine, you truly won't be able to appreciate just HOW difficult that is!).

For a while now, I've felt like there are a number of major roadblocks on my path to success. I've tried to tackle these roadblocks for a long time...but, again, usually I am trying to tackle them all at once with a bunch of other stuff too, and then I get frustrated and give up on EVERYTHING. So I'm trying to identify my major roadblocks and break them down, one at a time.

The first roadblock is clutter. My environment. Lack of organization. When my house is cluttered, then my brain is cluttered, and my mood is cluttered, and it becomes intensely difficult to accomplish ANYTHING. This, I think, is the biggest roadblock in my life; the one that is keeping me from getting to any of my other projects. So this is number one.

Next is body clutter. Fat. Obesity. Something I've dragged around with me for years. Something that, in recent years, has started causing me a lot of health problems. Something I desperately need to fix.

Third is finances. I used to have some really messed up finances. I've come a long way towards remedying that, but it's still a hot-button issue for me (and within my marriage), and I have a lot of improvements I'd like to make in this area.

Those are my major roadblocks to all the other things I want to accomplish in my life. Those are the first projects I aim to tackle. And so...expect to hear a lot of chatter about cleaning and decluttering and organizing for a while, since that's up first.

My first request for help? Share with me some of your favorite blogs and websites devoted to cleaning, decluttering, and organizing. (And yes, I already know about Flylady!)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

happy anniversary

I just updated my profile to reflect that OJ and I have been married for five years as of...today. Five years. There have been times I didn't think we'd make it this long. Then again, there have been times where I've envisioned our whole lives together stretching out before us, and five years seems like nothing. It's all a matter of perspective.

It's been a rough five years; one thing I do not recommend to new couples just starting out is to have children immediately. On the one hand, I am thrilled that we had children relatively young and am really looking forward to spending my 'mature' years with grown children. On the other hand, having children changes the dynamic of your relationship, and so much of your daily life, so drastically that I think it's really advisable to spend some time enjoying each other before taking that step, if possible. We didn't do that; I can't say I regret our choices because there has been so much joy in my life in the last five years. But I can say I had no idea, really, what I was getting myself into. I can also say that I think my relationship with my husband is much different than it would have been if we had waited to have children. In many ways, I think it would have been easier. OJ likens marriage to a rock tumbler; we are the rocks, and when we come together at first we scrape each other quite a bit with our sharp edges. Over time, we smooth things out and create grooves for each other and we come to fit together perfectly. Having kids added a couple extra rocks to the tumbler; there were definitely a number of sharp edges and scrapes for a while.

Nowadays? Well, I happen to think OJ and I both started as a couple of really spiny rocks. A lot of those edges are worn smooth, but we still scrape each other occasionally. We've really gotten into the rhythm of the rock tumbler though, and I have really come to appreciate our grooves. And those two little rocks we added so early? Are really beautiful gems.

I've never done things the easy way. I don't know why I would expect my marriage to be any different. But while I can look back and see how it might have BEEN easier...I wouldn't have it any other way. I am really looking forward to what the next five years will bring.


The kids with the Easter Bunny this year. Oksana is barely tolerating it and Drake is showing off his extra-cheesy face.

Dr Grant, how the mighty have fallen.

It is a quiet night on the homefront. Oksana is asleep in her bed; Drake and OJ are having a sleepover in the basement. Nights like these, I get to sit in my room and pretend that I am single. I watch crap TV (tonight's current flick: Jurassic Park III, in all its tacky glory) and peck out blog entries on the laptop. The cat sleeps sprawled out at the foot of the bed, reveling in the fact that there is atually ROOM for her in the bed. We are both pretending we're single tonight.

Except that doesn't really work so well for me, because I can't go more than a couple minutes without thinking of my husband and son snuggled up together downstairs and getting a smile on my face. I can't go more than a few minutes without thinking about my daughter sleeping peacefully across the hall and wanting to climb silently into her bed and snuggle her.

The noise level in my house was insane today. It was chilly and rainy and everyone, from the dogs to the kids to the cat to the husband, went a little stir-crazy. At one point I attempted to hide in the bathroom, and even that didn't work because once you're a mom, you don't GET 'private time'. And don't even THINK about trying to lock that door.

As grateful as I am for the peace of this evening, as much as it was needed; I would never want to give any of this up. I would never want to be single again. Sometimes it's just nice to pretend, is all. ;) If I wasn't able to pretend from time to time, I could never indulge my love of truly terrible flicks. (How DID this crapfest get such a good cast, anyway?) I would never be able to sit back and twitter random updates as I watch.

And I love having the best of both worlds. A gorgeous, fabulous family that I love dearly...AND quiet time to enjoy my trash.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pic of the Day

Getting ready for the Easter Egg Hunt (Oksana's first ever, that she's been able to participate in, anyway! She was old enough last year but it was WAY too cold).

Monday, April 13, 2009

Givin' Props (to my ho 'cause he's fly)

My husband takes a lot of abuse from me. Not least of which is when I stubbornly refuse to accept his suggestions. Which he insists is because I'm part mule; I maintain that I always have a good reason for it. However, the fact remains that I am frequently initially resistant to change, even when it's good for me.

And this time, oh yes, it was definitely good for me. My husband, after about a year of trying, has finally brought me over to using Google Reader. He's been telling me to use it for a long time, and even sharing content with me; content I've been missing because I HAVEN'T BEEN USING GOOGLE READER. Over the weekend, he finally caught me on my computer and forced me to watch him add subscriptions to blogs I like to Google Reader...and HOLY CRAP. There they all were in a neat and organized format! In date and post order! And I could read them together, instead of emailing myself links and then surfing all over the web to find people's blogs and see if they've updated! (Yeah, THAT was efficient. I know. I KNOW.)

The problem in this case was that I just didn't 'have' (ie MAKE) the time to learn something new. And of course, the time to learn this was all of five minutes, IF that.

So I am now using, and loving, Google Reader. Too much, in fact; I have already added more blogs and sites than I will probably be able to keep up with. (But that doesn't mean I am not open to adding more, so share with me some of your favorite blogs please!)

Another thing my long-suffering husband often laments is the fact that when I finally DO start following one of his suggestions, I never give him credit or thanks, and just go on to adopt that thing as my own. Well, we'll be married five years this month, so I figured it was high time that he got a little credit.

MY HUSBAND, OJ DORSON, INTRODUCED ME TO GOOGLE READER AND I LOVE IT. AND HIM.

Thanks, hon. I'll try not to make you wait for five more years before I give you props again.

Friday, April 10, 2009

what's the definition of insanity again?

I am that scatterbrained mom who tries SO HARD to be organized, and yet I still fail. Not all the time...I would say I do a fair job of keeping things under control, but it's a huge amount of effort for me. I write lists of routines that I constantly have to revamp because they're overambitious. So I write a new one and basically just change the order of things, but I have difficulty paring back, so the routines REMAIN overambitious...just in a different order. I maintain multiple calendars and try to keep them with me at all times. I make grand plans that hardly ever come to fruition because I try to do too many things at once. I have REALLY GREAT ideas (no, trust me, they're FABULOUS) all the time, but hardly ever manage to act on them because I never manage to make the time, or plan the steps I need to take; if they go anywhere at all, it's on scraps of paper with a basic outline, and then I lose those scraps in the mountains of paper that live in my house.

Today I failed on a small scale. I took my son to Playskool. The problem with that is IT'S GOOD FRIDAY. There IS no Playskool today. So I got there and the parking lot is empty; at that moment the lightbulb went on. Normally I'd just feel a little silly, except that my son loves Playskool, so instead I felt terrible because he was incredibly disappointed. It's also his turn next for Show And Tell, so naturally he was extra excited. "Can't we just make them have Playskool Mommy? PLEASE?"

The glorious thing about Playskool is that it's right across the street from a big park, so even though it's 40 degrees and cloudy and incredibly windy, I took them to the park for half an hour to make up for it. And the glorious thing about kids is they easily forgive and forget.

But me? I'm left feeling like I dropped the ball again. Of the many balls I juggle, this is a small one, true; nevertheless, I live with a constant underlying sense of frustration at the lack of order in my life. I don't know how to get to 'organized'. I think there's a roadblock on that path for me. I haven't figured out how to bust through it yet. I watch shows like Clean House and wish they would come over, or I wish I could take a week's vacation from my job and my kids and my dogs (maybe just during working hours, not necessarily overnights) and get everything in my house decluttered and in order. Maybe if I could achieve it in my house, I could achieve it in my brain and then in my actions.

But that's how I feel about weight loss too...if I could just get to my goal weight, everything would be magically fixed, right?

The picture of me and my life I hold in my head is often drastically different from my reality. I KNOW this and yet I still try to make everything fit the picture far too often.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Deception

I just did one of the (many) things I said I would never do as a parent.

I just bought a replacement stuffed animal in secret, that I intend to pass off as the beloved stuffed monkey my son lost.
My husband and I have reason to believe that "Baby" disappeared at Navy Pier a couple weeks ago; Drake has been asking about him and getting progressively more upset (Baby goes with him everywhere), but has thus far been consoled by reassurances that he's probably just hiding somewhere in our messy house, we're sure he'll turn up, why don't you sleep with this buddy instead tonight, and so on.

Tonight as I was tucking him in, he asked me very seriously "Mommy, would you please look for Baby again? PLEASE? Please find him. I'm really (and here a little sob escaped, just the tiniest of little sobs) getting worried about him".

And my heart BROKE. And all of the lectures I planned before I became a parent, the lectures of 'you need to take better care of your toys', went straight out the window. And I marched straight downstairs to talk to OJ, who agreed that we needed to procure a replacement Baby.
Thankfully Baby is a Beanie Baby, and thus was easily findable on eBay. New, even, it seems. I just hope he looks and feels the same when he arrives. I reminded OJ, "you're going to have to cut a little hole in his armpit and then stitch it up with orange thread when he arrives," because our Baby had an accident, and a little 'hospital' trip, and Drake is very proud of showing off Baby's stitches.

And I know we've become THOSE parents, where we have anthropomorphized our children's stuffed animals. Yes, we have.

If we are wrong and the real Baby turns up somewhere, then I will tuck the replacement Baby away on a shelf in my closet and keep him as a backup in case Baby ever goes missing again.

I told myself I would never be This Parent. That disappointment is a part of life and that my kids would know it's 'just a stuffed animal' and if they don't take care of their toys, they're gone.

But I guess the truth is, I've become a little attached to Baby too. Or perhaps, attached to my son's attachment to Baby. He's too young to lose his friends...even if they are stuffed.

Stranger Danger and Sarcasm

We had a bit of a plumbing problem this morning, so the kids and I were trapped downstairs all morning (and well into the afternoon) while the plumber replaced some pipes in the kitchen.

When he finally finished up at close to 3pm, we were all going stir-crazy. Since it's a beautiful day, I headed to the local park with the kids. (It's nice to finally get some nice weather; it was in the 30's and snowing just a couple days ago. I grumbled about it and my son informed me "Nature's rhythms can be very unpredictable, Mommy.")

The first thing you should know about my kids is: they are NOT shy. In fact, they are incredibly forward. Something I worry about constantly as I try to instill the concept of 'stranger danger' without completely killing their joy in life and other people. So before I've even got Oksana out of her car seat, Drake is on the playground, running up to everyone and telling them "that's my Mommy, Kristi Dorson, and my sister, Oksana Dorson; I'm Drake Owen Dorson. The plumber was at our house ALL MORNING so we're here to play at the park." Don't forget to give them our address, my social, and my mother's maiden name while you're at it, Drake.

Then he runs up to me and tells me "I just told all those people hello and that the plumber was over today. Don't worry, they're all nice." I remind him that you can't TELL if people are nice or not and that he's not allowed to talk to strangers unless Mommy or Daddy are with him. "But Mommy, ALL the people at the park ARE nice!" I remind him that you can't assume that people are nice just because they're at the park; that bad people would come to the park if they wanted to hurt kids because there are lots of kids at the park. "But Mommy, I KNOW they were all nice; they all SMILED!" And I remind him that you can't tell if people are nice just because they're smiling at you; bad people will try to trick you into thinking they are nice.

It kills me, KILLS me, to constantly have to tell my kid things like that. It kills me that we live in a world where kids have to be cautious about talking to people at the park. But it kills me more to think of someone doing something to hurt my child.

Of course everyone at the park WAS nice, and he played with some great kids and we had a great time. He also played with his imaginary friends for a while; and I love that he has no issues telling older kids "my imaginary friend Ginny is swinging on this swing, so please don't swing on it". And that my daughter has no issues with bossing those same older kids around; "come and play wit me! this way! no, let's go this way! come ON!" Though I imagine working on having better 'friend' manners is going to be a struggle with that feisty little one.

On the way out of the park, Drake picks something up in the dirt. "A bottle cap! I'm going to bring this home for you, Mommy, because Daddy told me you like to collect them." (I do, under some misguided belief that I will one day create some sort of art or craft with them.) "I'll take it home and wash it off for you." The bottle cap is, naturally, pretty filthy. "Thank you," I say drily.
Drake looks at me suspiciously. "Is that the OPPOSITE of thank you?" Ah, Drake, your first lesson in sarcasm. I soften it up a bit. "No, honey, I really mean 'thank you'".
"OK," he says happily. "Then you're welcome. And I spit on it to help clean it off for you."

Thank you, Drake.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

National Pet Month

April is National Pet Month! Pets have always been a huge part of my life; indeed, our pets are a part of our family. I know that is true for many of you as well.

This month I would like to help everyone focus on those special, furry members of their families. Let's all share the stories of our treasured pets and also help raise some money for pets in need.

So...A GIVEAWAY! Share your precious memories, help some furry friends, and you too can benefit. On April 30th, I will be giving away:

3 -12X12 pages to 3 lucky winners!
1 - 5X5 brag book to 1 lucky winner!
With these projects, you will be able to create beautiful prints, wall art, and books about your beloved pet(s). (Of course I am here to help you with any questions you might have during the process!)
How do you win? You have 4 (or more) chances to enter!

1) leave a comment on this post and share one of your favorite memories of a pet.
2) spread the word about this contest on your own blog - comment here with a link to your public post mentioning this contest
3) send me your email address (kristi at thedorsons dot com) and sign up for my Heritage Makers email newsletter (or if you are already on my email list, comment and let me know you would like to enter that way)
4) I will be collecting donations via paypal for Tree House Humane Society. For every five dollars you donate, you will get receive another entry in the contest.





Tree House Humane Society is a cageless, no-kill cat shelter in Chicago; they are dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of sick, injured and abused stray cats. I lived near them a few years back and they really do a wonderful job. Every little bit you can donate will be put to good use!

In addition to your collected donations, I will also be donating a portion of April's profits to Tree House.

I will announce the contest winners on May 1st! Good luck, everyone!

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