Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Apple Cider

Have you completed your clothing inventory yet? The initial set up can be quite time consuming. However, once you have the system in place, updating it each season won't take up too much time.

If you haven't finished your inventory, that's okay. Keep working on it this month as you have time.

Googles for today:

"how to make your own cream cheese" (hint: there is a reason we buy cream cheese ready made at the store)
"cost of living calculator"
"where is the battery in my GMC Acadia" (under the front passenger seat!)

What did you research today?

My daughter's birthday is in October. I try to keep the Master Calendar light the week of her birthday. This allows me to finish the details of her party.

Today, we are going to plant onions, make cider, and take a deep breath.

Onions are hearty in Zones 3-9. Find out what zone you are in here.

Onions are a cold-season crop, easy to grow because of their hardiness. Wonderful news for me and my black thumb. According to Google, "onion sets" (a small onion bulb planted instead of seed) are best because they can be planted without worry of frost damage and have a higher success rate than planting seeds directly, or planting a transplant.

Plant your onion on a raised bed, or a raised row, at least four inches high. Onions need full sun, not shaded by other plants. Soil should be well drained, loose, and fertilized. If you are planting onion sets, don’t bury them more than one inch under the soil. Practice crop rotation with onions, which means plant onions one year, and another crop in that place the next year.

Onions are heavy feeders (like my 15 month old). You will need to fertilize them every few weeks with nitrogen to get big bulbs. When the onions push the soil away and the bulbing process starts, you can stop fertilizing. I did not know this, but if you water your onions more, they will be sweeter!

Now that the onions are settled in, let's make some cider. I love the way hot apple cider makes the house smell. If you aren't in the mood for hot cider, take a look at this idea for cider slushies that I found on Pinterest.

We are going to make a family friendly apple cider, and then I am going to give you a tip to kick it up a notch after the kids go to bed. Apple cider is forgiving and versatile. You could add cranberry juice, orange juice, cloves, nutmeg, etc. to this recipe. Experiment with what you have in your cupboards. Come up with your own unique family recipe!

Ingredients for Family Friendly Cider:
(serves 5)
5 mugs apple juice
1 tablespoon cinnamon
caramel flavored syrup to taste (optional)
whipped cream (optional)

Combine apple juice and cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Pour equal portions into mugs. If you wish, add the caramel syrup to the kid cups, top with whipped cream, and sprinkle with additional cinnamon if desired. Check the temperature first to make sure it has cooled off enough to serve to your kids.

Additional ingredient for Adult Cider:
Van Gogh Dutch Caramel Flavored Vodka - if you haven't tried this, YOU MUST. It will change your life.

After the kiddos are snuggled in bed, add the caramel vodka to your cup and finish off with whipped cream. Enjoy!!!

Finally, it is time to take a deep breath. Schedule time for yourself today. Whether it be one minute, ten minutes, or thirty minutes. Make time for just you. Nobody else. Sit down with your cider. Take a moment to enjoy this season. Close your eyes, feel the warmth coming from your mug radiate through your fingertips. Let your thoughts float away, like clouds in the sky. Block out the sounds of life around you. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Focus on the smell of the sweet, spicy cider. Drop your shoulders. Relax your jaw. Exhale, and let all of your stress and worries go for just a moment. They will still be there when this moment is over.

Even though I don't want to go back to reality, the time is here for me. If you have more time, by all means, sit there and enjoy yourself. Don't have any guilt over the fact that you're sitting there doing nothing, while I have three kids climbing all over me while I try to prepare dinner.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Update, Confession, and Solution

Mr. Perfect has a job!  He started a new job earlier this year.  He absolutely loves it.  I am so happy for him, truly.  And also happy for our bank account.  Ha!

That is the update.  The confession is that the transition has not been smooth for me.  His job schedule is not consistent, with different days off each week.

As a result, I let my routine get out of control.  I have not been keeping up on my DailyZones.  For the most part, I was able to keep up with the other items listed on the Master Calendar.  I also planned my daughter’s second birthday party using every inch of my Ultimate Party Planner.

Due to my lack of organization, I began feeling very overwhelmed at home.  I felt as though I wasn't spending quality time connecting with my kids.  I felt distracted instead of focused.  I put emphasis on everything I thought I wasn't doing perfectly; parenting, finances, crafting, gifts, house projects, cleaning, LIFE, etc.  Instead of taking life one step at a time, I had this huge pile of emotional baggage.  It was unnecessary negative thinking and self-doubt, and it consumed me.  I was feeling blue, but couldn’t really pinpoint where that feeling came from.  My husband has this great new job after being unemployed for 6 months.  Why was I sad, instead of grateful?

Eventually, I became anxious about every little thing.  I was so paralyzed that I just did nothing.  Well, not nothing.  More like, I sat in my bed, eating ice cream from the carton while watching a German film from 1998 without subtitles, crying because I didn't understand as much German as I thought I should.  I always intended to brush up on my German, but I never make time for it (because, hello, it’s German, and I live in Northern California).  Since I was in an emotionally unhealthy state, this tiny thing that didn't really matter was the focus of my life.

As a side note, I figured out all of this without the help of a therapist, thankyouverymuch.  Actually, that is not 100% true.  I went to therapy for years, so I'm sure some of what my therapist told me stuck.  I'm still going to take the credit.

I thought I would get used to Mr. Perfect’s new schedule.  I thought I would find my all-familiar “rut”, and get back into my comfortable, safe, routine.  It finally occurred to me that the routine I was doing was based on a certain lifestyle that no longer existed.  A lifestyle of my husband being unemployed and home with our children.  This new job was certainly not that lifestyle.  I had to figure out how to adjust.

The solution is still in progress.  I am trying new things, and I will see what works.  If one thing doesn't work, I will try something else.  I have a couple of ideas, so even if the first idea works, I might still try the second idea, to see if it works better.  I am open to failing and making improvements until I find something that works for our family.

In order to manage my time appropriately, I needed to make a list of what I wanted to be doing.  Then I could create a plan to implement each of those things into my daily routines.  What I was actually doing was scrolling through Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest, watching random things on TV that I didn’t even like, and staying up too late.  I was living without intention and it left me feeling (obviously) unproductive.  Here are a few areas where I wanted to be investing my time:

Daily Zones
Read Books

There are a few more (like brushing up on my German).  I know that I can do a few of these things at one time and be successful.  I cannot incorporate all of the things on my list into my schedule and do them all well.  I have to decide which are the most important to me now, and save the rest for another time, or include them when I have extra time, and then be okay with the fact that there just isn't time to understand old German films during this phase of my life.

Because Mr. Perfect doesn’t have the same days off each week, I created two schedules.  The first schedule is a list of the things I want to do if Mr. Perfect is at work.  The second schedule is a list of the things I want to do if Mr. Perfect is at home.  These are just the things I am doing for myself.  Of course, I still have all of our regular family events, like karate, tap class, dinner, playtime, bedtime routines, etc.

Then I can look at my day of the week, look at his schedule, and know which items I will be doing that day.  I am starting with what I would consider a "light load" each day.  Once I have an idea of how much time these events are consuming, and get comfortable in this new routine, I can include additional areas of interest as desired.  This will help me avoid feeling overwhelmed from the very beginning.

The other option is to forget about the seven days of the week.  Mr. Perfect works 6 days on, 3 days off, a nine day cycle.  I can list the things I want to do on each day of his week, regardless of which calendar day it is.  I do like this option, but if Day 3 lands on a weekend, I could possibly squeeze more into that day than if Day 3 lands on a Tuesday.  If I go this route, I will have a list of options for the days I end up needing more to do.

Within each item is a more detailed plan of how to achieve specific goals in each category.  I don’t just write “Exercise on Sunday” and expect that will happen.  In order to be successful, I have smaller steps to guide me each day.

Do you have any tips or comments about how you deal with your household routine when work schedules are inconsistent?  I would love to hear your ideas.  Leave a comment below!