Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Works For Me: Simplify Traditions

I love Christmas and all the traditions that come with it. Unfortunately, it just isn't humanly possible to do them all and still manage to enjoy them. If I try, I'm a stressed out basketcase by the time Christmas actually arrives. But, if I sit down and try to eliminate some, I feel cheated somehow. Like I am giving up things that I love. What I have learned to do, instead, is to look at traditions from a new perspective:

When we had our second child, I let my husband in on a way he could be perceived as a "cool dad". I told him of the tradition my dad had of making bannana splits for dinner whenever my mom had a baby. "You mean BOTH times?" my smart alec husband asked. It is true. My mom only had two children after me, but I still call the bannana split dinner a tradition and think my dad was super fun for doing it. I realized after thinking about this, that a tradition doesn't have to be something that happens every single year to be a cherished memory for my family.

So, each year I pick and choose the traditions we will do that year. And then I let the others go, guilt free, knowing that I can do them next year. For example, this year I am not doing Christmas cards, a family picture or gifts to the neighbors. I will be helping the kids make gifts for their teachers and a gingerbread house. Both of which we haven't done in awhile. I will also ask my family what they most want me to bake, and then just try one or two other things I've been dying to try. Of course, there are some traditions that get carried out every year, because we love them the most. But, overall, this strategy let's me do the ones I'm most in the mood for, and keeps down my guilt level over not getting everything done each year.

This also applies to other traditions. I only make my kid's Halloween costumes every other year. I don't think I would enjoy doing it more often than that. And this way costumes get a bit more wear for all that effort. (If they don't like what they were last year, they can choose another option from the costume box.)

I, also, only do the big friend birthday parties on odd numbered birthdays. Even years are family only. This maintains my enthusiasm for going all out on fun themed parties, and reserves significant birthdays (baptism, deacon ordination) for special family only celebrations.

Works for me!

Be sure to check out more Works for Me Wednesday Ideas at Rocks in My Dryer

Thursday, November 9, 2006

A Confession: I'm Not Perfect

I was recently reading the comments to a post written by Les, at Smart Mama. An anonymous commenter there made the statement:

"I guess I'm a bit skeptical of the blog world - at least the small portion that I've seen. All it seems like is a way of saying "look at all of the things I can do" or "look at my beautiful home (insert other words here)." Generally speaking, everyone just wants a pat on the back and a comment that they're doing a great job."

I thought about this, and I think to an extent this is true. My husband always says that the blogging world is a big mutual admiration society. Well, yeah, and it's great! Okay, we may show off a bit sometimes. But, one of the nice things about blogging is that it is a place to share yourself and hope someone notices and supports your efforts.

You just can't do some of this in real life. People think you are a huge bore if you constantly show them cute pictures of your kids (unless they are grandparents), or your latest projects and creations. But, in the bloggy world, it doesn't matter. If someone isn't interested in your latest scrapbook pages or doesn't really think your kids are all that cute, they can just visit someone else's blog.

Maybe we don't always share our failures, or weaknesses, or the cluttered corners of our homes or lives. But, generally we beat ourselves up enough about them. We don't need to expose them for further critique. Maybe that presents a limited view of who we really are. And maybe we need to be braver and share some of that side of ourselves more. And some bloggers are much better at this than I. But, really, a blog is the person's who writes it, and she (and he) should just share whatever they want!

But, just in case I have inadvertently duped someone into thinking I am a perfect person (Bwaha Ha Ha!), because I have failed to share my shortcomings, I will come out on a limb here and share a few.

I am not a gardening expert. I am an enthusiastic gardener who tries many things, but that only means that I've also failed at quite a few, as well. Take my garden this year. These are the things that I planted that failed, or that I failed to do with what I had planned:

Beets (Never got around to pickling any yet. They sit in a big bag on my counter feeling ignored.)
Beans (leaves completely eaten by rabbits, no beans.)
Bell Pepper (two tiny peppers that never got big enough to harvest)
Jalepeno Pepper (2 peppers)
Pickling Cucumber (Produced fine, but I never got around to pickling any.)
Sweet Cucumber (succumbed to verticullum wilt, as usual)
Roma Tomato (Died as seedlings)
Jelly Bean Hybrid Tomato (Died as seedlings)
Cabbage (Never got around to planting it.)
Scarlet marigold (very few germinated)
Red Salvia (stunted when seedlings, barely produced any flowers)
Vinca (died as seedlings)
Blue Morning Glory (only had a couple blooms before frost killed it. Plagued by aphids.)
Scarlet Morning Glory (never germinated)
Giant White Moonflower (never germinated)

Also, the daffodils I transplanted failed to bloom, two new perennial plants did not survive the winter, and all of my lilies I planted last fall emerged, turned brown and died. I've also never successfully grown an ear of corn, and have had my tomatoes and cucurbits completely die some years before producing at all.

My thumb is not as green as I would like. It is, however, a very enthusiastic yellow-brown!

I, also, am not great at scrapbooking, quilting, cross stitching, or knitting. I tried to crochet snowflake Christmas ornaments one year. The two lop-sided ones I managed to finish adorn my tree each year, keeping me appropriately humble.

I have severely scorched two pans making dinner since I started blogging. (No, it is NOT related!) My toddler spends half her life wearing only a diaper, and none of my babies have slept through the night before a year. My kitchen floor always seems to need to be mopped. I find housework boring. I haven't washed my windows in 2 1/2 years, unless you count spraying a few down with the hose. Sunday, my family had chocolate chip cookies and popcorn for dinner because I was too lazy to make anything else. And I didn't get the Book of Mormon read by the end of last year. Finally, my "to file" drawer has multiplied into a teetering pile of boxes on top of the filing cabinet.

And, no, these weren't the worst of the things I could have shared about myself.

Are you just shocked?

PS. I can't help but wonder if the anonymous commenter felt just a bit jealous when she made her comment. After all, Smart Mama is an extremely talented, well traveled and smart woman, with a beautiful home and children. Heck, I'm sometimes jealous of her! But, someone once said, "If you compare yourself to others, you will either end up bitter or proud." I think this is probably something we all need to remember, in the blog world, as well as in real life.