Sunday, December 19, 2010

My name is Megan and I'm a hypocrite.

I confess.  I'm a hypocrite.

The following will completely contradict itself but I 'm not clever enough to help it.

I'm about to complain about complainers. 

December 19, 2010

Dear Mr., Mrs. or Ms. Chronic Complainer (myself included):

Please quit complaining. By complaining, you continually tell others about some horrible thing and by retelling and complaining about this horrible thing you ultimately bring yourself down and those unfortunate enough to hear your complaining.

Do yourself and others a favor. If compelled to complain, then find a volunteer who will not judge you or offer pointless solutions (Husbands are you listening?). Suddenly, your complaining is transformed into venting, a close cousin to complaining and a necessary component of a healthy life. 

Venting is a way to let go of complaints so they don't become the central focus of your mind and that long angry speech you have at the ready is forgotten. Please don't live with your woes because it's exhausting and unproductive for all involved.

Thank you and please feel free to vent (not complain) about the absurdity of this blog.

Kind regards,

Megan Keller

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How the Guilt Stole Christmas

Guilt likes to tell me that my heart is two sizes too small.
Ok, I admit it. I'm not buying a mountain of presents for my kids. I'm sure financially we could fandangle it, but the truth of the matter is that my kids neither want nor need much.

For example, The Big Sister, age 11, has her own pile of electronics, including a cellphone and so many clothes that she could comfortably make it through one whole month without doing her laundry. She would like new things for her new bedroom and she loves all things zebra, but how much zebra print can one girl need? Thing 1 and Thing 2 are swimming in a room full of books and toys now, so I asked family to follow our lead and not overbuy this year. After all, I'm the lady that usually ends up stepping on and cleaning up the toys.

I love the magic of Christmas morning and the excitement of opening presents, but I'm starting to realize that overbuying is a waste of time, energy and money. My kids can't even remember all their gifts from last year. Yet another reason why I'm learning to let go of guilt and the idea of buying a ton of gifts.

I want to create warm memories of Christmas by doing things together. We love to decorate, make and enjoy yummy things to eat and drink, sing our favorite songs or hymns, watch movies and go to church. The gift of time together is more important to us than overindulging our children.

Another thing, I also worry that the gifts we give to our extended family and friends are worthy of the recipients. We try to be thoughtful and hope it comes across as so. Gift-giving, mailing cards and worrying if you've been thoughtful or charitable enough adds more worry and guilt.

It's hard to remember with all these distractions that Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ. And every year, I have to remember why Christmas is Christmas.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Attitude of Faith

I must be growing up. I finally realized that my attitude is the only thing I have control over. I've been aware of this fact for sometime, but it's easily forgotten. 

Attitude is more important than the best to the worst moments that make up me. Attitude is more important than what people say, think or do. Attitude is more important than circumstances, money, success, appearances, talents or those things people respect. You have no control over the past nor other people's behavior nor this imminent course called life. I've wasted far too much time letting the negativity of the world disempower me. My next step is to metaphorically toss out The Cynic's Guide to Life and replace it with a daily reminder to have an attitude of grace. God knows that I need constant reminding.

I'm no Pollyanna and I don't pretend to possess an infectious aura of positivity. I just want to reprogram my unconscious bias of negativity to be more positive. I want my daughters to have an attitude based in faith so
I must continually do the same for myself.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).

Friday, November 19, 2010

Confession #2

Confessions of a Stay-at-Homer

For the love of breakfast!

Confession #2: I don't whip up hot, nourishing breakfast in minutes. Grab something and go before you're late.

The simple reason is my breakfast efforts are wasted on my family during the week (with the exception of Thing 1 and Thing 2). I used to slip out of bed early to bake cinnamon rolls or stand in front of the stove carefully scrambling eggs until they reached the perfect texture.

I would even go upstairs and announce to the Big Sister and Daddy, "Breakfast is ready."
The response was usually, "Ok, be there in a minute."
Waiting to eat breakfast with them, I sipped my coffee and grew more and more irritated as breakfast grew colder and colder.

Then, they would stomp downstairs peeved at my yelling and stuff their mouths full of cold food, running out the door and leaving behind more food than they ate. Basically, weekday breakfasts are impossible due to my family's sluggish morning routines. I can't really say anything, after all, I'm still in my pajamas.

Presently, I have an array of fruit, granola bars, string cheese, yogurt or other snacky foods for the Big Sister to select from. She's such a grazer anyway so I let her choose. The girl has been known to eat anything for breakfast, including steamed green beans once. I can't really prepare for that so I let her decide when she finally saunters into the kitchen. For Daddy, I make sure to have his travel mug full of strong coffee with a splash of milk and some manly to go food like a meat filled bagel.

Breakfast may be deemed the most important meal of the day but I'm not going to convince my family nor myself of that. Sleep is far more appealing than a hearty breakfast. I'm just happy to recognize that my family doesn't really prefer a weekday sit down breakfast. It's far more important that they're eating something at home instead of zipping through a drive-thru. Also, it's a lot less annoying for everyone.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Top Ten Reasons I Blog

10. I can't waste all my time on Facebook.

9.  Fergie is so 2008 and I am so 2000 and late.

8.  Writing with a pen is only for my signature.

7.  I stubbornly resisted myspace, Facebook & Twitter. I had no choice but to eventually join the blogosphere.

6.  My mama has encouraged me to blog for years. I listened to her, finally.

5.  I need a creative outlet that allows for constant distractions and interruptions.

4.  I like to read other people's blogs so I naturally thought, "Hey, why don't I do that?"

3.  How else am I going to dispose of all the useless thoughts floating around in my head?

2. Toddlers can only handle so many opinions and stories per day. Also, age appropriate content limits our discussions. 

1. Do you have a better way for me to inflict my opinions on the universe?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Creating something out of nothing

My mom lightheartedly describes me as a beer budget girl with champagne taste.  I find it a crime to apply this statement to just me.  Who doesn’t yearn for more than they have, especially my can’t-resist-a-bargain mother?  She grew up in a low-income family with four siblings, which means she knows what it is to want and long for something of your own.  Fortunately for our family, she remembered that exhilarating feeling of obtaining a desired object and managed to almost always meet her three children’s never-ending material wishes.  Growing up in the ‘80s, my siblings and I were completely captivated by the attractive experiences that commercials and advertising promised.  Somehow on a meager income, our parents managed to spring for the expensive athletic shoes, dolls and action figures that we all coveted. I fondly remember my sister, brother and I appreciating our possessions or finding them extra special if we didn’t get them instantly.  On the other hand, I had an insatiable appetite for books and fashion (I’m still looking for the perfect brown boots) so I learned to make do by borrowing books from the library and reproducing the latest trends with second hand clothes or what we could find on the sales rack.  Though my parents attest that I was consumed with bouts of envy, I reveled that my family had limited means.  It meant my dad went to work and my mom stayed at home. It meant that we lived in an old ranch house filled with history, surrounded by untamed pastures not a stark, modern home with a neatly manicured lawn. It meant that I didn’t have dance class after school but I produced my own routines in my bedroom.  Most notably, it meant that if we couldn’t buy it then we had to make it.
My mother describes me as the creative one and she encourages my artistic abilities with endless materials.  At thirty-one with a family of my own, mom still makes me feel like an excitable little girl again by sending me a box full of craft supplies.  She’s a hunter on the prowl for bargains in the sales bin or at garage sales.  She’s the epitome of thrifty.  Once when I lost the brush to my watercolor set, she furnished me with a handful of Q-tips.  While she was being penny-wise, I was discovering that objects had more potential than their intended use.  As a result, I spent a lot of time hovering in the kitchen waiting for empty cans or packages and hunting for scraps of fabric to create new things.  The best part was these things were going to be tossed out.  Anything I created had to have greater value than trash.
When I was nine, my mom showed me the wonders of a hot glue gun. With her help, I was turning my plain headbands and barrettes into garish works of art (รก la Madonna, pre-Gaga period).  I sought after bits and pieces of fabric, lace, ribbon and old jewelry to make new creations. It was rewarding for friends and strangers to ask, “Where’d you get that?” only to reply, “I made it.”  I found it thrilling for people to admire my crafts that I created.  I had the same manufactured clothing and accessories as everyone else, but I doctored mine up to fit my style.  Thank God for the brash style of the ‘80s, otherwise, it wouldn’t have been permissible for me to bedazzle, bleach and splatter paint half of my clothes.  

While I experimented with styling, I realized that no one in the world can bring your ideas to life in the way that you can.  So when others copied my art projects or ideas, I wasn’t irritated because each of us creates with a combination of unique gifts.  This notion became apparent to me in first grade when we were instructed to complete a paper bag puppet project.  Our teacher handed out the materials including templates for an owl and scraps of construction paper.  We were to color and paste the owly elements on the bag and then we could personalize our puppets.  I chose to make glasses for my owl and noticed that several others began to do the same. It was a bit annoying to feel imitated.  Did they steal my idea or was it their own? I sat at my desk carefully cutting and realized how ridiculous it was to be upset when I lifted the idea from Mr. Owl from the Tootsie Roll commercial. In essence, we all create wonderful unique things, making our own distinctions on old ideas.  Approximately six billion people are living in the world; each of us armed with one-of-a-kind creative gifts, talents, and goals.  For example one individual may have a strong desire to become a model parent, in another it may be expressed athletically, and in another it may be expressed  in enjoying nature, painting, singing or inventing.  We all need to express ourselves.  We have a need to express our ideas, make a home and most importantly create ourselves.
Day in and day out, we discover more about whom we are just by living life, taking in information through our senses, learning by doing, observing others and trying things on our own.  This ignites our interest and generates our desire to self-discover and ultimately create.  Just like life, creating is both a satisfying and frustrating process.  Taking a single concept to conception is a problem solving journey, you’ll always come out on the other end with experience (a.k.a. mistakes).  When creating, you have to approach your project knowing that your plan may not turn out flawlessly but those mistakes may push you to look from a new perspective.  Life and creating are learning processes.  Let’s face it.  Sooner or later, something is going to go awry.  Still, we all crave that rewarding feeling from working with your hands and creating something out of nothing.  It’s about getting your hands dirty and making use of what you’ve been given. It’s about enjoying the process rather than the perfect result.  It’s how you handle your mistakes that will show you what you’re made of.  If you need a convincing metaphor then take a quote from my clever daughter.  While sketching the peonies in our garden, she wrote: “Life is like a potted plant.  You can’t go anywhere unless you grow.”   Go where no one else has ever been. Follow your intuition and discover something wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.  So go out there, grow and create your voice in the world.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Say YES to NO

Paul and I work under the motto, "Believe it and it is yours." We believed he was going to get a new job in a new location, so he did. In fact, I believed it so much that I began pulling myself away from my volunteer duties at church and I purposely tiptoed out of the auditorium when parents were supposed to sign up for PTA committees.

Now that we are in Brownstown, my eyes are beginning to twitch at the thought of the bazillion volunteer prospects lining up for me. After all, I stay at home so my schedule is completely open. Well, it's sort of completely open. I have two little variables that are the proverbial monkey wrenches in the majority of my plans a.k.a. Thing 1 and Thing 2. The Big Sister is very flexible and well-adjusted so I don't really consider her a variable. She's old enough now that she just busses and carpools everywhere (A harder adjustment for me than I'd ever admit. I'm used to carting her everywhere).

I will be involved in church and at Big Sister's school, however, I realize that when you say yes to something you're really saying no to another. So I only say yes to things that I can do from home or at my leisure. You need cookies? YES. You need a casserole? YES. You need me to be there at 5 and pick up two other kids along the way? Um, I'm not sure I can do that. How about I send some snacks? Yes, I realize that food is my major donation. I like to make food or things in general. Posters for the basketball tournament? I'm your girl.

Say yes to no. Remember: you want to create a better life for you. It's not worth stressing out about the next PTA meeting when you'd rather just have a decent evening at home with your family.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Confessions of a Stay-at-homer

Dear Santa, I'd prefer an enamaled cast-iron Dutch oven in red.
Confession #1: I hate ironing. I never perfected the art of ironing nor do I want to. 

What is remotely enjoyable about ironing? I'm not the graceful sort and I hate fighting a clumsy ironing board and arranging miles of cord. Another thing, where is a good place to iron? Just like a litter box (We have a cat free house), there is not a good place for an ironing board. Luckily, there's always more than one way to do tedious chores.

My hubby learned quickly never to bring me a shirt and say,"Can you press this?" After it took 20 minutes for me to very poorly press his first shirt, he resorted to tossing his wrinkled clothing in the dryer. This method of "ironing" became unreliable and tiresome, especially when he was running late. Finally, he went on one of his lone shopping outings. When he returned, he burst in the door like a proud hunter with his first kill.  I knew I was in for a surprise. His kill turned out to be a steamer and one of his best purchases. It was only $20 and we've had it for over 3 years. Now I have to find a use for that nearly new iron I have in the laundry room.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Meals: Not just for nutrition but adventure too!

WARNING: If you aren't interested in Family Circus-type cuteness (ok, maybe not that barfy), then you can beat it.  However, I will continually beam about how cute and smart my kids are and that my husband is a God-send.

One thing I look forward to is our meals together. When scheduling allows, we eat dinner together with the TV off.  I know amazing! We learn more details about Lexi's day when she isn't distracted from a screen (i.e. phone, laptop, TV), Paul shares stories from his day and I love to retell the funny things that Thing 1 & Thing 2 have been up to. Before meals, Thing 1 & Thing 2 have a particular interest in prayer. It's pretty darn cute to watch Thing 1 energetically interlock her fingers ready for prayer and Thing 2 follow her sister closely and attempt to match our words. Thing 2 finds it amusing when we say prayer in unison and Thing 1 loves to close the prayer with a resounding AAAAA-Men! They often remind us to pray because we get caught up in serving and preparing their plates, which makes us feel like decent parents.

Another thing about meals is that I have to be open-minded in my thinking. I don't really follow the 3 square meal rules. I am raising a brood of hobbits so I feed them a lot, which means I clean the floors a lot and look for orphaned food that seems to lose its way from the plate to the mouth. For example, Olivia (Thing 2) decided to have onesies (2nd lunch) and I made a pear, egg and toast. Well, Thing 1 couldn't be left out so she also had the same "lunch". While I fixed Emily a plate, Olivia ate her lunch. In those few moments, Livi's pear disappeared. I didn't hear the pear hit the floor and I searched high and low in all the usual places you would expect food to be. Paul even helped me look. I sat next to her the whole time! I was starting to wonder if she had the ability to apparate objects. Finally I removed the children from the kitchen and began sweeping up crumbs and wiping surfaces for the umpteenth time today. Still no pear. I wiped down the table and pushed in the chairs. I noticed a jacket hanging on the back of my chair, leaning heavily to the right. I found the half eaten pear in the right pocket. See! I told you I had to be open minded about meals. I'm just happy I didn't blow it off. It was Papa's jacket and I'd hate for him to find a slimey pear sometime later.

One thing I can say about my family, they're work but it's worth it. The entertainment value alone is worth it, but they mean more than that to me. It's wonderful to learn and grow together, share experiences and create memories. Sometimes all it takes is a misplaced pear.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Multitasking... schmultitasking

I've been sleeping like the dead and waking like a zombie for about a week now. I've got a bit of a cold that has been dragging me down. Waking with sleep in my eyes, and a dull ache coursing through me head-to-toe, I shuffle down to the bathroom to wash my face, a temporary fix until I can reach the coffee pot. The only comforts I have are (of course) coffee and a hot shower. I have a tendency to instantly fall asleep with cold medications. With 2 little ones, I don't like to rely on anything but extra strength Tylenol. One morning, I decided to shower with the curtain cracked while Thing 1 and Thing 2 played within arm's reach in front of the shower. You should know that the shower is near a low window, covered with a roman shade. As I walked past the window and started to enter the shower, Thing 1 (the most dexterous one) managed to pop the shade open. Oh well, aren't toddlers known for ill-timing. While Thing 1 commented on the scenery, "Oh, look! It's the backyard. There's the doggies." I scrambled out of view and wrapped up in a towel. Thing 2 was at the window now pointing and cooing at the dogs. Conveniently, a crew of men were within view preparing to unload grain at the dairy farm next door. Already in a lovely mood, I fussed at the Things to stay away from the window and to play nicely. They minded thankfully and the rest of the day I wondered if the neighbors got a free show.

You thought I would've learned my multi-tasking shower lesson but I gave it another shot tonight. Thing 1, Thing 2 and I all needed to bathe, so I thought we'd try a little adventure. In a cramped photo booth of a shower, I held Thing 2 while Thing 1 played in the bottom. It really didn't work out perfectly for any of us, but you never know until you try. For example, I found out that I could hang onto Thing 2 while showering, Thing 1 found out not to stand behind me too closely and Thing 2 found out she isn't fond of showers. Well, sometimes you gotta make mistakes so you know never to do it again.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Growing like wildflowers

As a wife and mother of three, I am assigned the unglamorous duty of being the hub of our family. Often, I slip into a rut and think of myself as the poor kid cast as the tree in the school play. My husband and children command center stage, bask in the spotlight and revel in the applause, while I stand firmly in the background. I fight my natural tendency to be a cynic and realize that things are as they should be. Would I happier with a career? Not likely. All my skills are best used as a stay-at-homer. Besides, my limited experience in the corporate world tried my patience far more than the fussiest of children. Even though I hold a BBA in Marketing, I never decided what I'd like to be when I grow up. I suppose I am grown up now and the natural course of my life chose my career for me. As a child, everyone told me I could be anything when I grew up. My brain was so addled with girl power drivel that in my mind a wife and mother was the laziest choice I could possibly make. Thank God I came around. I stand behind my choice to be a stable support for my spouse and my children to spread their wings and grow.

A recent move to the country has me searching for meaning in all things. Take wildflowers for example. Wildflowers grow in rocky soil and blossom to perfection under adverse circumstances. If given a nice little place of their own in a carefully maintained flowerbed, they may turn weedy, and produce more leaves than flowers. What a wonderful metaphor for life! Try as we might to be perfect, we can live virtually anywhere, and despite our surroundings, bloom exquisitely. So, you may find yourself in a shotgun shack, you may find yourself in another part of the world, you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile or your may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife. Where ever you find yourself, you've got once in a lifetime. So where ever you are and whatever you do, be imperfectly perfect. As for me, I may have a 24 hour job, but it's up to me to define the job. In fact, I'd like to think I am outstanding in my field.