TO DO: House Rules and Family Meetings

My family is a disorganized mess! For many years, this has worked for us. During their baby and toddler years, flexibility was absolute, especially having them all so close together, being less structured made more sense – as I was deadset on raising independent, free-thinking, personality-filled little individuals. I’ll let you know right now, I succeeded, maybe almost too well…

Now, as they’re all in school and their days are taking on more structure, it’s important that we as a family start introducing some structure. However, the concept is absolutely foreign to us. More foreign than the Chinese or Swiss. Structure is just something we’re not used to, or even really desire for ourselves, but moreso need for the sake of our family and their sanity (mostly my sanity)!

I’ve talked about a lot of these issues in past posts, including the still needed routine, the once-a-month cooking, and the desire to create a household management system. But really, it’s all about building a foundation.

I like to relate to a book I read by Iyanla Vanzant. When I was at the worst part of my depression, many moons ago, I was utterly obsessed with Oprah Winfrey. And everyday before Oprah, one of her regulars had a show called Starting Over (which I desperately wanted to be on) and this is how I came to know of Iyanla Vanzant. Anyways, in this book she looks at life like a house. You have your foundation, first floor and so on and each level represents different aspects of your life, like your values, beliefs, things you were taught, etc.

Well, as my homegirl Alanis Morisette says (we’re like this *crosses fingers*), “My foundation was rocked…” – and mine definitely is. And it’s beginning to crack. Okay, enough with the pop culture references!

What we need to do, as a family, is create some basic rules and some consequences for breaking those rules. I’m talking about foundational rules. For example, my kids have a very bad habit of blatantly disrespecting me, like when I tell them to do something, they’ll get right in my face and shout no and then will sit down and do whatever they want. While I deal with these situations, it seems to be completely ineffective and I think there are a few reasons why that is.

First of all, we don’t have a hard and fast disciplinary action. Often, it changes depending on mood and time of day and season of the sun – who knows why it changes for sure, but it does. One time, it will be get sent to their room, the next time it might be lectured or put in a time-out, other times, I’ll throw my hands up in the air and walk away speechless.

Second of all, we don’t have hard and fast rules. We are rather flexible parents and the rules can often change. For example here, one day Kaeidyn wasn’t allowed to walk to the store by herself and then one day she was. Originally, the rule was no friends on the walks with her, but then she ended up running into a bunch of them on the way home (there is a park between our house and the store), and now the rule is only on the way home. So, a lot of times, the rules are in constant flux.

All of these things would be easy to deal with, in my opinion, if we had some ground rules and a regular forum for us to discuss any changes – especially as the kids all get into pre-teen and teenagehood. Especially if I ever go back to work!… Ugh!

In a Perfect World…

First, as a family, we sit down and draft up these house rules. We say to each other, “this is what we want as a family, this is how we’re going to achieve it as a family, this is how we’re going to behave along the way, and this is what happens when we don’t” – basically, in short, a vision statement.

Then, we figure out a way to display it all nice for the family to see. This way we’re constantly reminded of the rules. We’re constantly reminded of what it is we want to achieve. I want it to be pretty but also functional for us.

Finally, every couple of months, we revisit the rules and the family vision statement and see if how we’re doing things is working and what, if anything needs to be changed.

Definitely something to work on… Anyone have any experience with this sort of thing?

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TO DO: Once-A-Month Cooking

One of my biggest goals is to create some sort of manageable routine that our whole family can depend on. There are many of small steps that must be taken in order to reach the top of the routine staircase and once-a-month cooking is one of those steps.

I cannot even tell you how many times a month, cooking goes on the absolute back burner in this house. As the primary cook in our household, I am really bad at my job. First of all, I love the idea and concept of cooking a lot more than I actually like to cook. Cooking kind of reminds me of doing dishes – I dread getting up to go and do it, but once I’m there I enjoy myself well enough, and once it’s over, I never want to do it again. Generally, my place is not in the kitchen!

I also wouldn’t say that I’m a skilled chef. I tend to make a lot of the same meals and any real chef will tell you I’m doing it wrong every step of the way. To this day, every single time I make a roast, anyone who wanders past my oven will gape and moan about the atrocities being committed. My Mom, to this day, every time I cook that roast will comment that she can’t believe that it’s as good as it is being that I just killed an already dead cut of beef… And my lack of skill doesn’t necessarily reflect on the taste or quality of my meals, since I’ve never had a single person (not even my sometimes picky kids) say that my food wasn’t good.

I tend towards massive limitations on the type of foods I’m willing to eat as well, which make the whole once-a-month cooking idea that much more daunting for me. In our house, I am definitely the pickiest eater. I’m not a huge fan of any fruits and the only vegetable I eat regularly is corn. I seem to really enjoy foods that come in cardboard boxes – although I think that’s more learned than it is actual enjoyment. But things like onions, mushrooms, the things you normally add for additional flavoring in freezer cooking, really turn my taste buds off. Just writing them makes me cringe a little…

However, all those negatives and excuses now being laid out, I cannot stop obsessing over the idea of being able to easily pull out a basically prepared meal from the freezer and have dinner on the table with only a tiny bit of preparing. And most definitely a lighter clean-up. It just looks and sounds like a blissful experience. What? I just have to pop this in the oven for dinner tonight? Like a pizza? It’s perfect!!

I’ve read many things about this fantasy land known as freezer cooking. They all say the same things, but I often wonder, can I really do this? Is this really me? It’s something I would like to try and at least be capable of providing a definitive answer to that last question.

TO WRITE: Something Non-Erotic and Fictional

I do write non-erotic fiction, I’m almost absolutely sure of it! For many years now my main focus has been erotic fiction and erotic non-fiction and any other writing is in the form of articles or resource pieces.

Prior to erotica, I stuck mostly to poetry – that I would then add to music and make a song out of. It’s been a really long time since I last wrote a song and I’m pretty sure my last masterpiece was an on-the-spot piece consisting of two chords and words that rhymed with “tree”, thus making this song “The Tree”. Could I tell you anything about the song now? Nope!

What I’d really like to experiment with is sci-fi/fantasy writing, but I’ve often found that I struggle intensly with it. Especially being that I’m not a huge fan of reading it and so far the only fantasy/sci-fi type books that I’ve gotten into (thanks to The Boyfriend) is R.A. Salvatore’s Legend of Drizzt series (seriously love this character!).

I’d also really like to try my hand at some literary humor. I tend to not even try to be funny in writing. Sarcastic sometimes or maybe darkly witty, but rarely ever outright funny. The smiles on people’s faces during reading any of my pieces would probably be more devious than one of sincere and genuine humor.

I’m kind of not sure where to start with this one. If it doesn’t involve sex or intimacy, I’m kind of lost on what to do with characters and plots. I don’t get ideas in my head about non-erotic things or non-educational things very often, so it’s kind of like fishing in the dark and seeing what I come out with.

The Boyfriend has been working on two stories, very sporadically, that I would eventually like to contribute to. I feel like I could tell the story so much more differently than him, but inspired by his original storyline, that it could be a very interesting thing to do. However, he would totally have to finish one of them for me to do that with 😉

TO MAKE: Household Management System

Some people think that having a binder dedicated to the running of the household is a useful tool to have. I would normally agree, except that in my house, if it’s paper (or walls), it gets drawn on. And while these 4, 6, 8 and 9-year-old beautiful abstract flowers are nice to have, it makes keeping organized impossible!

So, we bought a white board thinking this would solve the problem. That white board is still sitting in my closet and we’ve lived here for three years with the goal of putting it up… In two different ways we’ve tried filing cabinets. I have a rolling drawer one, which is now completely broken and I have a little desktop one that just kinda gets shoved full of papers and then forgotten about.

This is one of those situations that really has me stuck on my goal of creating routine. To create a routine, I need to have a household management system in place. To get a household management system in place, I need some type of routine. It’s a total catch-22/vicious cirlce type of situation. Where do you start? What was first – the chicken or the egg?!?!?

In a Perfect World…

If we lived in a perfect world – well first of all, I would have a job, the kids would be homeschooled and have after-school activities to go to, there’d be a vehicle and a driver’s license, we’d live somewhere else in the world, etc. However, we’ll just use today’s world as an example of how a home management system might work or how I’d like it to work…

First, there’d be a station at the most commonly used door. I’ve seen many variations on this space, but mostly, I’d want:

  • A garbage can for junk mail
  • A mat for shoes to be placed on
  • Hooks for coats and backpacks
  • A table with a bowl for keys and change
  • A mirror
  • A place to put important mail and school stuff that has to be looked at every single day and organized!!

Then, we’d need to figure out some way to keep track of all the things we have to keep track of. Like when certain “days” are at school, when bills are due, when birthdays are and when we should start planning for them… I’ve attempted a variety of different mediums for date tracking (online calendars, wall/fridge calendars, apps, etc.) and none have ever stuck.

Really, I just need to pick a method and then become consistent with it. Do you notice the common theme here? Consistency – I need to be become more consistent in EVERYTHING!!!

I hope to spend the next month really trying to figure out how to make a routine and home management system that will work for us, so that when school starts (especially being that all 4 will be in school and then I’ll be able to think about going back to work soon), we have something in place that will help us keep track of everything. Because I do not need another repeat of the disaster that was last year or the years prior…

Does anyone out there feel like they have an organized life, a consistent routine? Do you think it’s easy to maintain or do you sometimes struggle too?

TO DO: Paperwork, Phone Calls and Errands

So, for years, there has been a slew of things piling up to conspire against me – okay, really they’re not actually conspiring. It’s just things that I have put off over the years that I should and really want to absolutely get done.

For example, I still don’t have my driver’s license, even though I’ve had my learner’s license. And I only have one birth certificate for one of my kids… So, let’s go through the list of all the paperwork, phone calls and errands that I really should get done…

  1. Get My Driver’s License

    I obviously just told you about this, but seriously… I think it’s ridiculous that I’m almost 28 and will have to start back at the beginning of the graduated licensing system, when I would’ve just had to have taken that road test when I was 16 to have my full driver’s license now.

    What holds me back from getting it? Fear mostly. Fear because I haven’t taken a test in a really long time, fear because it’s been a long time since I really drove… Who knows for sure.

  2. Get a Library Card

    I used to have a library card, I think. And I’m pretty sure I owe money on it, I think. It’s hard to remember because it was when we first moved here, I think and we’ve moved a lot since then. I need to at least pick up the phone and find out one way or another.

    I really want a library card though. I want to be able to read more than just what I have on my bookshelf (which is currently almost all stuff that I’ve read or have no interest in reading), plus our library hosts a ton of really awesome events and I could just see me going to them if I had a reason other than the event to go to the library.

  3. Make Doctor’s Appointments

    This is kind of a multi-step to-do, which is exactly why it hasn’t been done and keeps getting pushed so far to the backburner. First, we need to get our medical situation sorted out. Since The Boyfriend and I are now claiming common-law, all of that stuff has changed and neither of us has really taken the time to find out how exactly…

    Then, we haven’t been to see our family doctor since Carter was first born. Does that still mean that we can go see him? I’m not sure… But anyways, have you ever tried to book an appointment that includes a PAP smear for 5 people at a time (now 6)…? It’s epic work! That also involves me knowing exactly when The Boyfriend has off and generally I tend to rely on his reminders the night before.

    Finally, we need the whole work up. We all need to get just regular ole physicals, then we all need to see an eye doctor (especially The Boyfriend who is virtually blind without glasses) and finally, we all need to go to the dentist. That’s basically 15 different things to worry about right there!! That doesn’t include the paperwork, potential costs, nothing…

    It’s very daunting!!!

  4. Get Birth Certificates

    This one needs to be done by the time the kids go back to school, so it’s probably the only one that I’m pressuring to get done like yesterday. We’ve got Carter’s birth certificate, which I have to find a safer place for and now we need to work on getting the three older kids theirs.

    This one just mostly involves taking the long walk or bus ride to the place and putting in the purchase. Plus, it’s going to cost a pretty penny…

  5. Start a Savings Account

    Now that The Boyfriend has gotten his promotion and we’re getting more into the swing of how our monthly income is now going to work, it would really be nice to start some sort of savings system.

    This one is mostly about researching our options and then choosing what’s going to work best for us and then experimenting until we get it right. But it would be nice to have a plan going into the whole experience of saving money.

That’s all I can think of at the moment, although I’m sure that I’m forgetting at least three other things, which I’m sure will come to me. All of this would be so much easier if I just had a routine

Well stay tuned for updates about this particular goal and maybe in the next year or two, I’ll be driving and reading at the library 😉

TO WRITE: Finish The Brighton Tales

A few years back, after reading The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by Anne Rice writing as A.N. Roquelaure, I was suddenly very inspired to write a story that it seemed I had been waiting my whole life to write.

The characters became vivid personalities in my mind and the plot spurted out without any force at all. I clearly saw the Kingdom of Brighton in all her glory and quickly knew that this was a tale of duty, honor, sacrifice, dominance, submission and most importantly, sex.

I sat in front of my computer and in 3 days had easily hashed out thousands of words on this story that nagged me with urgency. I remember complaining often that my hands hurt from typing so much so fast and the whole time The Boyfriend was commenting jealously, as his own story that he had imagined his whole life, sat untouched for weeks.

After this 3 day explosion of writing, I re-read what I wrote. And I realized that this was definitely the pre-first draft version. But I needed to get it down, get it out and it’s been an amazing framework to build off of. However, I’ve only been building ever since and I get stuck right around the same part every single time and therefore, The Brighton Tales is no closer to the end than it was when it began.

More and more everyday, I hear the characters that I’ve already written and the ones that I haven’t put to paper, calling me to finish their story. I have visions of the beautiful kingdom, the castle dungeon and the way of these people from another time, another place and how they lived their lives and the legacies they left behind. My thoughts are immersed in and consumed by The Brighton Tales.

And this is the reason why I MUST finish writing this story.

I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to do it just yet. I’m experimenting with a few different options at the moment. I have some notes going in Google Drive, of course. This is where I tend to just slap my thoughts as they come along. Then, to organize that, I’m using LitLift, sorta. I was using it a lot and then it slowly started being used less often. I look at it pretty often…

My main focus is just to continue to write what I visualize and eventually it’ll all come together. I tend to get lost in doing things like character sheets or thinking about how I’m going to make it even better writing. But really, I just need to finish the story! Stop trying to force perfection and just let it happen naturally.

You can see that pre-first draft version here on the old Rantings. Just remember that it’s just a framework! And you can always follow My Writing & Erotica to stay updated on how The Brighton Tales is coming along.

TO DO: Create and Follow a Routine

One of the greatest problems I’ve faced over my lifetime is sticking to any type of routine. For the most part, I’ve managed okay with the lack of routine, although there are times when I seriously question how okay I’m actually managing.

It’s long been a goal of mine to create a manageable routine and follow it enough that I feel the effects of it, as I’ve been told magical stories about circadian rhythms and been instructed on the benefits of habit.

I often hit a variety of stumbling blocks, which stand in the way of ever sticking to routines. First off is the kids. Kids are very unpredictable and you have to have some flexibility when working with routines. I also have four of them, plus a man that often acts a little bit like a kid, so there are five people to consider when making routines.

Then there’s the fact that I’m a stay-at-home mom. The only reason I have to get up in the morning is to get the kids off to school. I am also a procrastinator and a perfectionist, one of the most horrible mix of qualities I’ve ever encountered.

Finally, when I envision my ideal routine, it includes steady waking and sleeping hours. However, that doesn’t always work out since The Boyfriend often works varying hours and we go to sleep together. It also gets in the way because I sometimes suffer from insomnia, although not nearly as bad now as it used to be.

In a Perfect World…

If we lived in a perfect world my routine would consist of an early morning wake up and workout. During the morning hours, I would clean my house from top to bottom including a load of laundry every single day. During the afternoon, I would focus on all my online work, spending no more than 4 hours on it.

Once the kids returned home from school, I’d love to spend more time with them. At the moment, this time feels rushed and uncontrolled. We hurry to make and eat dinner, we sometimes forget to check for homework and by the time the kids go to bed, stress levels are through the roof for everyone.

I’d like for this time to have dedicated space for homework, then making dinner together as a family and eating it as such, and a nighttime routine that helps the kids relax and unwind as well as prepare for the day ahead.

Finally, I’d like to have a bedtime routine for myself. Ideally it would include at least an hour of reading, time enough for snuggling and a regular falling asleep time.

Over time, you’ll see updates on this post as I attempt to reach my goal, so stay tuned!