Thursday, November 26, 2009

Family Day with the Turkey or Turkey Day with the Family

So, I spent Thanksgiving Eve at my Mom's.  I spent 12 hours baking 20 pies from scratch.  I feel like I ran a marathon.  The family just adored the new baby, and he's crazy for my Mom.  I met my niece's boyfriend.  She's as close to a daughter as I'll ever have, and I couldn't love her more if she was mine. 

It's funny, she was just over a year old when I met my husband (she'll be 18 in January, but I refuse to be old enough to have her actually be that age, so I am still in denial).  She would always tell me that she wanted a boyfriend just like her Uncle.  I thought it was the cutest thing.  Back to the boyfriend, I looked at him and couldn't help but chuckle.  Being the embarrassing Aunt that I am (why should I treat her any different than my sons? I embarrass everyone equally), I told her boyfriend that story.  To my surprise, he said with a smile, "Y'know,I've actually heard that story".  Now, it wasn't rude at all.  He said it with a twinkle in his eye because apparently he is the boyfriend she always wanted, not like the losers before.  Yes, he is really tall and very kind-hearted, just like her uncle.  They have the same way about them, so much so that after my hubby met him, even he noticed the similarity.  Yeah, I love him, but that man doesn't really pick up on things too quickly, so it really is that obvious.  My niece is so proud of the fact that she found one of her own.  Now, I have to have a talk with him about Easter Baskets.

Y'see, Hubby, back in the day, would make me an Easter basket every year.  He would make these wonderfully elaborate baskets filled with all of my favorite things.  He would like the baskets with fabric and put lace around the edges.  He would even make the bows by hand and even separate the good jelly beans so that i would only have the orange ones(they're the only ones I really like).  He was wonderfully romantic.  Of course my niece saw all of this from the first basket on down.  With every basket or wonderful anything she would tell me that she couldn't wait to grow up and get a boyfriend just like that. 

She has been kind of stuck to my hubby since she was little.  Even so, it still shocks me little to see how he is with her.  When she was 14, she came to stay with us for a week or so.  He took her to the grocery store and came home fairly pissed off.  He announced that he is never going shopping with her again.  I thought that she might have had a hormonal freak out moment.  Nope.  Apparently all the boys from 11 to old and pervy followed her around the store.  She is wonderfully oblivious to such things.  Thank God.  Hubby had to stand vigil in his puffed out super hero stance to ward off the toothless losers that I live near.

Oh, did I mention that this girl is a Beauty Queen and ridiculously smart?  Yeah, she's the girl that we all hated in high school.  It wasn't until I saw her cry that I realized that those girls always knew they were hated.  She is the nicest girl, very honest and not malicious at all.  There are some really mean, jealous girls out there.  I was happy to hate from afar in high school, but nowadays, these chicks take it to a whole new level.  But she's stronger and more resilient for it.

Then, last night when Hubby realized that she found her guy just like him, (after not so discretely grilling him for awhile), he gave me that look.  That look that said, she's all grown up.  That look that said she's outgrown her dream of Prince Charming for a real life prince.  That look that said, "she doesn't need me anymore".  I think she must have seen that look too, because just then, my big giant girl gave him a hug and said "I love you Uncle", and was on her way with her very own prince.  At 6'4" my giant teddy bear can scare the crap out of just about anyone. If they only knew how soft he really is.

I love that he loves my family, well, most of them anyway.  I'm really close to my obnoxious kin and love them for what they are, all crazy included. 


Sunday, November 22, 2009

My List of Thanks

Now that I'm going "home" for Thanksgiving, I need to prepare for our around the table verbal list of things we are thankful for.  I don't know why this is always so uncomfortable for me.  Of course I'm thankful for the usual things, my husband, my family (extensions included), our health and so on and so forth.  I just can't stand being generic about things, especially since everyone says variations of the same things.  So here is a partial list of things that I am truly thankful for.  It's partial because I'm sure I could sit here until Christmas naming all the little things.  I'm sure that in posting this, I'm just as lame as everyone else with their lists of thanks, but here it is anyway.
 I am thankful for:
  • The days I don't have to cook dinner
  • The rare mornings that I get to sleep an extra half hour
  • Unexpected hugs from my oldest (who is "too old" for such things)
  • The look in my husband's eye when he comes home and sees me taking something out of the oven or dryer. (I love the look, the "goose", not so much)
  • My chickens.  Watching the kids get eggs and chase the escapees just makes me laugh.
  • Delightful internet friends who know just when to crack me up
  • My second family
  • Movie night with kids piled up on us making a mess with the popcorn
  • The oldest playing guitar.  It gives me goosebumps every time I hear him.
  • The baby now sleeping for a 5hr stretch, or I'd never have time to visit the computer.
  • For the times when Hubby knows I've had a day, and comes home with something sweet just for me.
  • Fresh baked bread (I'm still struggling with baking a perfect loaf, but it smells so good)
  • That people want my pies for gifts, It feels good and makes for a frugal Christmas.
  • The silly smiles that fill this house with love and make it a home
Though I'm sure I'll be one here before Thanksgiving, I hope your holiday is filled with laughter, love, and lots of really good food.

Friday, November 20, 2009

All Kids Are Not Created Equal

I've been a bit obsessed and freakish about trying to make things equal between my four boys.  Recently, my emotional side came to the realization that my logical side was right.  I have spent so much time trying to make sure that each boy had my undivided attention for a little each day.  This is time that is separate from homework time and clean up time.  It is just Mommy time.  Trying to make sure that each child doesn't feel less loved than the other or doesn't feel left out, has left me pretty darned pooped and emotionally depleted.  Each one is different and special because of it.  Different people have different needs.  They have always shown me when they need more from me and in what areas.  Instead of trying to force them into my daily plan, I have decided to let them dictate their needs to me, well somewhat anyway.

My oldest was an only child until he was six.  He is sensitive and quiet and very bright.  He understood that when his two little brothers were babies they needed a lot of attention.  We were finally getting into a good comfort zone as the youngest got a bit older and wouldn't ya know it I got pregnant again.  It took me a long time to realize how torn he was between being happy and feeling like it would mean even less time with me.  Now, since the middle two go to bed an hour and a half before him, we have plenty of time to catch up or read together or whatever.  He is great with just knowing that I'm there, even if he chooses to spend his free time doing fun things instead.  So as far as time goes, he's covered.

I was more worried about my second born.  I got pregnant with number 3 when he was only six months old. He has never really had me to himself.  I have tried to squeeze in special time with him to make up for that.  The thing is, it isn't like with my first who was used to having me all to himself.  Number 2 is happy to get love and really seems to enjoy the time I spend with him helping with his homework.  It seems to be enough for him.  He has enough of my time to feel important and when he needs more he comes and spends time with me rocking the new baby and telling me about his day. It's funny, if I ask about his day he never has much to say.  He only talks when he's in the mood to.

Number three is my little mushball.  He is very sensitive.  With the older two in school this year, he has me mostly to himself all day.  He is happy to help with the baby when he can.  He sits with me for awhile after the baby's morning feeding and he just snuggles.  The days we're running all over town and he skips his daily snuggle, he tries to squeeze it in later and it is hard for him to understand that I can't just stop helping with the homework, or stop cooking dinner just to snuggle.  Those are the times my heart breaks a little.  How do you tell your kid that you don't have time for love.  Anyway, I'll usually let him stay up an extra ten or fifteen minutes just rocking him in the rocking chair.  That seems to do the job.

Having a 3mo old that is breastfed makes it very obvious that kids of different ages are not at all equal.  The baby relies on parents for everything, so they take priority(for the most part) and we work around that with the others.  Letting the bigger ones help me with baby tasks has helped them bond with the little one and though it may take a bit longer, it is awfully sweet to watch how gentle they can be.  I think that settling into this perspective will ease some of my late afternoon stress.  Unfortunately, it is all too easy to feel like an inadequate parent over things that the kids barely notice.  All I know is that if I'm less stressed, the whole house feels a bit lighter and you can't beat that.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Home for the Holidays

I have finally settled on a decision about Thanksgiving.  We will be driving 5hrs to see my family.  I suppose we should probably go visit all my husband's siblings too, but I'm the designated pie maker and will be tethered to the kitchen all day on Wed.  So, if hubby wants to take the 4 boys to visit his family, more power to him.  I really do not foresee that happening though. 

There is this burgeoning feeling of foreboding.  My family is, well, quirky.  There are a lot of us and tension tends to be heightened during the holidays.  I'm hoping that next week will be fabulous, peaceful (to a certain degree) and happy.  I will be doing my best to foster warm and fuzzies in my kids, so that they don't get so frustrated.  It's a little hard for the boys to be over there.  My sister and her kids live with my Mom, so, the cousins have all grown up there. When they start to argue, like kids do, the cousins are quick to make them feel like outsiders and mine end up running to Grandma for reassurance that of course she loves them just as much as the cousins even though they live far away. 

There's always a chance that everything will go smoothly.  I will be praying for that.  There is nothing worse than seeing your little ones with their hearts broken.  Then again, there will be pie and pie can fix just about anything.  We might have to start before Thursday though.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Unexpected Happy

Even though Hubby had over a month to develop a presentation for our oldest son's school, I still found myself trying to get it all done yesterday for today's event.  Talk about last minute.  The weird thing is, I really didn't mind.  I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process.  I was up until 2 a.m. doing last minute changes and additions to the slide show and going over all the other visual aids he was to bring, but I was happy to do it.  It gave me an excuse to ignore my "chores" and do grown up things for a few hours.  I felt needed and helpful and it was a nice change. 

Don't get me wrong, I love staying home with my kids, but after awhile it can wear on you.  Everyone needs a bit of a change every now and then.  The best part about this is that Hubby actually had a good time speaking at our son's school.  He spoke to three different classes and realized that he had enough stuff to speak for hours.  I warned him that would happen, but who am I?  So, Bun #1 is happy and proud because, I must say, his Dad's job is really cool and now everyone knows it.  Hubby is happy, because as much as he knew it would suck, it didn't.  Then there is me, I am thrilled to have had a part in this and it feels really good to still be needed and to know that I can do something well that Dad can't.  Yup, today is feeling pretty darned good.  Maybe I'll try to bake bread again.  Must look for a better recipe.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

You Are Not Me

It is only human to expect others to handle situations, as would you.  However, being that sometimes even you surprise yourself, aren’t you just setting yourself up for more disappointment?

People shouldn’t be thrust into the parameters of those who see them.  I suppose it’s that whole “do unto others” thing.  But just because you do unto them doesn’t mean anyone else will.  Should you change?  The simple answer is, no.  Just see people for what they are and not what or who you want them to be.

Perhaps your time is better spent trying to be the person you wish you were (kinder, more patient, more forgiving), instead of wishing others were different than how they are.  Don’t love them any less because they are not perfect.  Just don’t expect them to act outside themselves.  Take them as they are.

We are who we are.  If you don’t like it, focus on bettering those parts you find particularly dissatisfying. 

Nuggets of inspiration or impossible ideals; I suppose time will show who will emerge from behind the walls of shelter.  Funny how those walls that were built to keep you safe from harm seem to let all the old pain fester as there is no way for it to escape.

We are who we are, aren't we?

Okay, so last summer I was at a crossroads in my life, well not really in my life but within myself.  I began journaling again after a very long hiatus.  Yesterday, I dropped that first journal while cleaning and it flopped open to the entry below.  I was amazed at how putting thoughts on paper helped to ease my mind.


When you spend your life doing what needs to be done, what you think ought to be done, you end up resenting what put you there even if it was all your decision in the first place.

You lose yourself in the mundane tasks of the every day. You become unrecognizable. Those around you come to know this “you” that isn’t, really. So then, what happens when you choose to leave so-called responsibilities unattended? Do people try to understand, or do they just put you on Xanax to conform to the you that never was? Do they still love you when you barely resemble the person they thought they knew? Do you still love them as much even though their ideal is what initially caged you? If they really love you, won’t they stick around for the ride? How much stress is too much? Is it worth finding your way back to you if it costs you your family? What are acceptable losses? Why should anything be lost?

It seems that in realizing how far you’ve grown away form the real you (though you’ve kinda been you this whole time) the journey home keeps taking you farther away from those you love.

Could it be that being who they needed you to be fulfilled you in some way? Now that you don’t need to be that person, do they still need you? Will they understand? Will they leave? Can you live your life surrounded by people disappointed in you, people who no longer get you? What if they can no longer stand by you? What if they just want you to be whom they wanted, even though you no longer resemble that person? In theory, wouldn’t getting back to you, the real you make for a happier home life, a happier hubby, a better example for happier kids? Something that is good for them is good for you, so why not vice versa? It’s your turn to be good to yourself. Wouldn’t they all enjoy a happier you, even if you’re not exactly who you used to be?

Trust them. Trust that they love you as you love them and that they would rather live a life with you altered than without you at all. Though “trust” is a big word, don’t let it scare you. You have faith. So have some faith in them, they love you always.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Humble and Happy

I should not feel guilty.  There truly is nothing to feel guilty for.  So then why do I still harbor guilt?  See, it is my innate nature to feel guilt.  It has always been that way.  I would prefer that things be different, but it is a process and something I will be working on for a long time.  Anyway, it seems that with everyone going through hard times right now, I would be the only one around me who is trying to see the glass as still half full.  Now, I'm not a perpetual optimist, I just don't really see how dwelling on everything that we no longer have, or can no longer do will help any.

So, I received a string of phone calls and talked to half a dozen loved ones.  Usually, people are too busy to be bothered with calls more than 10 min.  But I was on the phone for almost five hours.  Yeah, I got nothing done yesterday, but at least I was there when they needed me.  I was the shoulder for the world, or so it seemed.  Usually, I'm alright with that.  Really, I am.  But as I was listening to my loved ones cry and vent and continue to stress out through these trying times, all I could do was listen.  I don't know any more than anyone else about what the economy is going to do next, or when more jobs will become available.  Yesterday was spent listening to them and encouraging them.  I listed things that they could see positively.  I reminded them that their kids are safe and healthy.  I don't have much money to offer them, after all, I too am struggling, but I did offer a beloved chicken or two if they ever need it, free babysitting is always available as well.  Just because the parents can't afford a night on the town, doesn't mean they can't have some alone time at home.

As I gently reminded them about all the things they still had, and how Christmas is not about expensive presents, I was reminding myself as well.  This is where the guilt comes in.  As I felt their pain, mine was lifted.  As I told them about all the good things in their lives, I was reminded of all the good things in mine.  I hung up the phone yesterday and prayed that they can see the good in their lives, because the bad could swallow them whole.  So I have guilt for feeling happy and thankful while they seem so miserable at the moment.  I can't very well thank them for uplifting me, even though I did not know that it was exactly what I needed.

The Holidays mean so much to so many people.  Unfortunately, there are many who subconsciously equate gifts with love.  I would much rather have someone bring me a loaf of fresh baked bread and spend some time.  For months, I've been talking to my children about "less is more".   I've began feigning excitement at the thought of them making gifts for the grown-ups.  Funny thing is, I'm actually getting excited about it now.  They are making lists of things that they want to try to make, and even if I help them most of the way, if it is feasible, then we will try.  I'm happy to be getting away from the commercialism of the Holidays and of life in general.  There has been increasing amounts of pressure and stress surrounding Christmas.  How do we out do the year before.  It's not spoken, but the feeling is there.  Now, it is obvious that this is not going to be the most prosperous Holiday.  We will all do what we can and focus on people instead of things.

I am grateful for my children's health and happiness.  They can find joy in nothing and everything and I hope every day to absorb some of that fascination with the world.  People are so afraid of letting their kids down, but it takes an awful lot to do just that.  The only way to do that is to not try.  We can't give up hoping things will get better and we can't dwell on how bad things have gotten.  Things can always be worse, and perception can make things feel a lot better.  Kids take on the views of their parents.  Even stubborn kids eventually hop on board.  Last Christmas, we put up our decorations, and I thought it was all lovely.  Then, while watching the movie Elf, the kids went nuts to see the store full of paper snowflake's.  So, of course, we spent the rest of that afternoon making what seemed like hundreds of paper snowflakes.  They loved it.  Even my oldest, who really didn't want to be bothered, got excited as he volunteered to put them up all over the house.  They didn't let me take those things down until long after the Christmas tree was gone.  Wouldn't you know, that a few days ago it was my oldest who asked me if we could make more paper snowflakes this year.  Of course, my answer was a teary-eyed "we sure can".  They boy actually did a little jig.

Yeah, I think that everything will be fine so long as we make the best of it.  Humble and Happy, it's a good place to start.

Monday, November 9, 2009

What to do?

Just this side of feeling overwhelmed, and just that side of bliss is an odd place to be.  There is so much looming on the horizon.  Siblings going through their muddled journey and friends pulling for attention often seem too much to handle.  Being a wife and mother, that tends to take priority to all other roles until, of course, there is a crisis.  I don't know if I should be glad or offended that due to sheer distance, I'm out of the loop by at least a few days.  By the time I get the info, everything is old news.  Should I feel less important because I'm not the first one called, or should I be thankful that they fill me in once the main drama dies down a bit?

All I know is that the Holidays are on the horizon and I have no real plans.  Should I take my kids (incl. an infant) 5 hours down to the rest of the family?  The house is crowded and no one really gets along to well.  The stress of the day doesn't subside until the dinner is over.  By then, we're just usually to tired to argue and so we are content to just be.  However, it would be the first time they get to see the baby, but right now that seems like the only plus.  On the other hand, we could have a perfectly nice Thanksgiving at home with just us.  We did it last year and there wasn't much stress.  I even had the house all cleaned and the kids in bed by their regular bedtime.  Yup, last year I even got to hang out Thanksgiving night with a friend I hadn't seen in years.  The whole day was just lovely.  I know that just because last year was nice doesn't mean that this year will also be virtually stress free. There is also a third option.  A good friend of the family has invited us for Thanksgiving again.  We've gone in years past, and it would be nice to visit and spend time with my other family.  I'm just not sure that I want to leave my family drama for someone else's.  Oh, what to do, what to do?

I've decided not to worry about it for now.  Things will fall into place.  My kids are fine with whatever we choose.  They are happy to just have turkey and a stack of homemade pies. 

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Well, to get to my pen apparently. 

Today we inherited a chicken.  Well, not really.  Our two smallest chickens tunnel out on a regular basis.  It has become routine for my 4yr old to go to the pen with me and walk the chicken to the door so I can let her in.  Though, sometimes he gets feisty and chases her down and catches her.  He gets so proud of himself.  This is an easy task as the chickens never go more than two feet away from the pen.  Which makes me wonder why the bother to escape in the first place.

Anyway, today, we set out for our normal routine and as my son was walking around the pen wrangling the chickens, I noticed that there were three and one of them was very large.  I couldn't remember if we had one that looked like that.  I counted my chickens twice and they were all there.  We had someones rouge chicken.  The thing about it is that the closest chickens to us are across the street and down the way.  Not far for us bipeds but a good trek for a chicken, even a big chicken.  This chicken got along well with my two escape artists and went into the pen with them.  Since this is my first batch of chickens ever, I had no idea what to expect.

My roosters had not issues with this new chicken in fact, out of 14 chickens only two of them bothered with her.  Unfortunately, my cutest chicken, one that had never bothered anyone, turned queen B****.  Once she noticed this new bird she pecked at it and squawked at it.  This new chicken was easily three times the size of Cinnamon, but she was so sweet that she would not fight back.  I took this new bird to the side and fed her and made sure she got water, and for awhile none of the chickens bothered her.  But when I went back out there later the poor thing was huddled behind the cage in there in an attempt to escape Cinnamon's wrath. 

So when the middle school bus let out, I asked the boy who lives at the closest chicken house if he was missing a chicken.  He said "No, but yours escaped and was running around the bus stop this morning".  No, mine don't leave the perimeter of the pen.  Anyway, he came to take a look and thought it was his chicken so I let him take her.  I'll find out later if it is in fact his.  It should be, there are no other chickens around here.  But if it isn't, I think I want her back.  She was such a nice chicken.  Unfortunately, I'll never look at little Cinnamon the same way again.

On a different note, our smallest rooster has an attitude problem.  He's taken to attacking my son when he goes in and cares for the birds.  He's rough with the hens too, even though most are twice his size.  He drew blood from my son's leg yesterday.  I think I'm done with him.  He'll make good chicken soup.  I think he's of the black skinned variety.  He's a mixed breed rooster, but has black shanks and five hairy toes.  I've never dresses a chicken, ever.  Not looking forward to it.  I'll be putting this off as much as possible, but if he doesn't settle down, he has got to go: (

How Much Is Too Much?

I remember when Middle School was a world away from home, when I could do anything and my parents only knew what I let them know.  Now with technology paving the way, I am forced to keep daily tabs on my son's grades and other miscellaneous hoo ha's. 

The sad thing is that if I don't, I get emails during class time informing me that my kid isn't paying attention.  Ya think?  He's eleven and lazy like every other eleven year old.  Why would a teacher take time away from teaching to let me know such nonsense?  I can see emailing me for particularly bad behavior or if he's failing, or emailing or calling after school.  But to contact parents regularly about a behavior that they obviously find annoying but is not at all effecting his grade, come on.  There has to be some rules, some standard to follow.  I have a teacher emailing me about three times a week and another that I never hear from, regardless of how he's doing. Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.  He got a B in that class that he "never pays attention" in btw. 

I am the type of person that would rather know everything about everything than be kept in the dark, so the fact that this bothers me means it's pretty bad.  I can't believe that my kid is the only one who they email home about and with each teacher having an average of 100 students, I can't believe that this nonsense makes the list of things to write home about.  I'd hate to see the emails the disruptive or failing kids get.

I'd like to know what you think about it.  How much is too much?  After all, this isn't an all or nothing situation. 

Friday, November 6, 2009

Reflections in Miniature

When you spend so much time trying to train the little ones to be who you want them to be, why do they only pick up you're bad habits?  I've come to realize the more I try to instill good habits and whatnot into my children, in an attempt to make their lives easier, the more they start sounding like me on a bad day.  Now, I don't go cursing my kids out or anything, but they sure are getting to be snotty little buggers.  Okay, sometimes they're cute, embarrassing but cute. 

Case in point, I took my four year old to my five year old's school Halloween parade. After we saw him and the younger realized that we weren't leaving, he dramatically put his hand on his forehead and announced to the world, "That's it I have had enough"!  Yeah, all the parents looked at me, some of them with knowing smiles and some just shocked.  Yeah, like they never get exasperated with their little brats. 

Anyway, you never know how many bad little habits you have until you see them reflected 100x a day in miniature.  And nothing pisses you of more than seeing how annoying you can be to others, since you sound just like them.  Well, that's how it is in my case anyway.  If you want to feel good about yourself, don't have kids.  If you plan on raising perfect little saints, give up now.  My mantra has become "They're lucky they're cute".  Lord knows it's saved them on many occasion.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Rise and Shine

Oh to be awakened by the sound of chirping birds and the warmth of sunshine on my cheek.  Today, shrill cries from the four year old, followed by the five year old cursing him out (nice, I know) woke me just in time to see both of them pummeling the eleven year old, who was so annoyed that he smashed their lego robot, which fueled the fire that drove the beating to the next level.  Whew, all this before the alarm even went off.  Why couldn't my kids inherit my love of sleep?  So after a morning scolding and a rush to make sure they are all fed, clothed, and had brushed their teeth, it felt like something was missing.  Bingo!  I didn't have the bun on my boob.

Last night my not quite three month old son (yes, all boys) slept a lot.  I was wondering when the four feedings at night would slow down.  He finished eating at about 10 last night.  At 3:46 this morning I rolled over and was abruptly awakened by the severity of pain in my tata's.  They were gigantic rocks.  I looked over at bun and he was sound asleep.  Knowing he would be up soon, I couldn't be bothered pumping.  So I hung out online for awhile.  Bored (which never happens online), I went back to the room.  He was asleep sucking on his fist and I took this as my queue.  I fed him and put him back in his crib.  The boy never woke up.  He missed his 6:30 feeding too.  It is now 8:30 and he is just now getting up.  He must have known this morning would be chaos and didn't want any part of it, haha.
I long for the lazy mornings that I so easily took for granted.  If I could escape for the weekend with Hubby, I think all I would do is sleep, oh and eat out.  Not quite worth the price of a hotel room, or is it....hmmmm.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

By Definition

Is it horrible that I thoroughly enjoy other people's messy homes?  I will never claim to be a good housekeeper.  My house is well lived-in, and always seems messy to me.  There are six of us and three cats, so I will always have laundry to do, dishes to clean, and a floor that has stuff on it, whether it be toys, paper, or who knows what.  Though I do my best to keep on top of things, they still can get away from me every once in awhile (or a little more often, but who's counting). 

The days I make it over to a friend or neighbor's house and see their messes, I can't help but smile when my mess all of a sudden looks minimal.  It is always nice to know that I'm not the worst housekeeper out there.  I suppose if I changed my personal definition of "clean", then I wouldn't mind my mess so much.  Maybe it's that I always have the intention to tackle things, but life happens and cleaning is not really that important in the grand scheme of things.  Now, I'm not saying my house is completely disgusting and should be condemned.  I have a bunch of small children, so I do have some standards.  But I don't vacuum every day, and I don't really care. 

So, I was at a friend's house the other day.  I love her dearly, but she's has a house full of people and four dogs and yet her house was always better kept than mine.  I always felt a bit inadequate when I would get home from her house and look at the tasks still awaiting my attention.  But this time I went over there and it was complete chaos.  I helped her catch up, because it is easier to deal with other peoples mess than it is my own (who knows why).  It was nice to know that perfect really isn't and that me and my mess are perfectly acceptable and the only one who it bothers is me, and occasionally hubby, but he could help if it truly gets on his nerves;o)