Around Here Normal is Just a Setting on the Dryer.

After spending over a decade in law enforcement, victim services and social work, we circled the wagons and brought our kids home from public school. Now, we are on year five. After the first years, we learned to lay to rest all of those good intentions of facilitating unrealistic goals of growth, having tri-lingual kids, and raising prodigal children. We now focus on strong vitals and an education that stands just above 3rd world countries.

Frankly, our boys live like college freshman – stay up late, sleep late and cram like it’s their job. Yes, we have the same 24 hour day as the rest of you, but the mental exhaustion of homeschooling puts that productivity at around 4 hours a day. By the time I do my own jobs, home school and some typical chores, I am mentally done. So, I add wine to the equation and gain a few more hours of productivity.

What do I do with this 2nd wind, you might ask? Mostly, I curl up with a book and ignore all types of responsibilities for a couple more hours. What are my boys doing during this sacred time? They are enjoying endless amounts of technology – YouTube, Xbox, Ipads, TV, etc. Why? Because it keeps them quiet. Because it keeps their vitals strong. Because it protects my sanity.

My boys often ask if we are normal and I say, “Yes!” with resounding confidence. I explain to them that they belong to an internationally, renowned private home school program, I somehow manage to work enough to contribute to my part of the household bills and 80% of our food budget goes to home-cooked food! Did I mention the strong vitals?? We are good, I say!

What’s ‘normal’ anyway. Around Here Normal is Just a Setting on the Dryer.

If Everything Is Coming Your Way, Then You Are In The Wrong Lane!


It’s that time, once again, which we all sit down with pen and paper to set forth unrealistic goals for the coming year. With the best of intentions, we proclaim that we will become the person that we have very little chance at actually becoming. We share our goals within our circle, so that when we fail, others can celebrate in our misery. Perhaps we do all of this so that we are guilt-free for the debauchery we cause our bodies and souls on this very night? If we plan to diet, we embrace gluttony. If we plan to eat healthy and exercise, we become one with the toxins that enter our system in one evening. If budgets are on our horizon, we spend money like its 1999. Maybe you plan to quit smoking, so tonight you will go through a carton. We won’t even venture into the abyss, if your goal is to drink less.

Regardless of which unrealistic promise that you are making to yourself this evening, let’s talk about reality. Life isn’t meant to be easy. If in 2017, you find that everything is going your way, you are very sure to be in the wrong lane. The other shoe will drop. Your New Year’s Resolution should be aligned with the stars, tides, Black Magic and Murphy’s Law. Cause it ain’t gonna be easy. Don’t set yourself up with concrete ‘rules’ for 2017. Celebrate tonight, without guilt. You deserve it for surviving 2016.

Instead of making promises, pick one word and adhere to it for all 12 months. What word? That is up to you, but make sure that Regardless follows it. Make your WORD + Regardless, be your new mantra. Your WORD will serve your personal, family, work, friends, spiritual needs, financial needs and health. Your WORD needs to be all-encompassing. There are several online areas to pursue your WORD.

For example, instead of diet, choose MODERATION and do it regardless if there are 15 Cookie Exchange Parties in January or six weddings in June. Eat healthy before you go and limit yourself to the sweets/alcohol. Instead of exercise, choose CONSISTENCY. Be consistent in your active life – join an adult league, play more WipeOut on the Kinect/Wii, play a game with your kids or do some crunches before bed, if nothing else. Instead of saying that you will volunteer more, choose SERVE. Make it a point to something for someone else every week or month or quarter. If you are seeking less stress in 2017, choose SIMPLICITY. Practice saying no, at least once a month. Want to spend more time with those you love? Choose BALANCE. See where I’m going with this?

I started choosing WORDS two years ago, and it is total life-changing. Whatever WORD you choose, it should serve in every single area of your life. In 2015, I chose Consistency. In 2016, I chose Balance. In 2017, I choose PROGRESS.

This blog is about survival and I would be remiss if I didn’t share this particular means! What’s your WORD for 2017?


Thoughts of this Deranged Mom at Christmas!

My thoughts for the Christmas season:

  1. To celebrate my hubby’s payday, we bought the good trash bags and a box of wine. I wish I had the money to buy wrapping paper to wrap them.
  2. Good gingerbread houses are one of the things required by Facebook to remain in the good parenting network.
  3. Good gingerbread houses with two boys are a myth.
  4. Why do my boys think they know how to hang Christmas ornaments?
  5. Is it appropriate to ask for Christmas money to pay for wine and cigarettes?
  6. Why is good wine so expensive?
  7. Why is my 8 year old fascinated with cardboard boxes and duct tape?
  8. I’m totally wrapping these vitamins for Christmas presents!
  9. Why am I wrapping presents, when they will just tear them a part?
  10. Why did I even buy this?
  11. Should I re-wrap this gift with the appropriate size of wrapping paper? Or just slap a bow there?
  12. Should I have bought the batteries to this?
  13. Why didn’t I ever realize the amount of energy that went into making Christmas memories?
  14. I really should have bought more wine.


Please help me welcome my very, very, very first Guest Blogger! She is just trying to survive!


How I Got It and How I Plan To Get Rid Of It

By Christina Ruhl

I was sitting at my desk a few days ago, looking discouraged at the numerous piles and general disarray.  Feeling pressure to put out another fire, I had to move paperwork and unopened mail to sit and get to my laptop keyboard which created yet another pile.  This pile went on the floor!  I finished handling the current emergency and still, surprisingly didn’t feel better.  Why?  Starring out the window, trying to decide what to do next, it began to occur to me that my life had become a series of emergencies.  Sometimes there were several in a day!  In the past, I would have referred to them as fire drills but now it felt different.  Lately, it feels more as if I am on the moving track of a carnival game with someone throwing a softball at me…then a picture came to my mind of me sitting and people lofting hand grenades at me and then in a panic I am desperately trying to find the pin!  One after another, after another just as I find the pin and put it in, here comes another one.  I am a hand grenade specialist.  This is no way to live, for me or my family.

I kept hearing the line from the Talking Heads song “Once in a Lifetime; Well, how did I get here?”  Part of it was just life circumstances.  Totally out of my control and I was just trying to do the best I could for my family.  For a year and a half I was working two part time jobs in retail, between late October and New Years it was more full time hours.  Between that and the normal Mom/Wife duties I was just triaging on a daily, even hourly basis.  I could blame it on just that, but that wouldn’t be an honest assessment.  Years ago, as a new Mom, I not only wanted to be involved but also help others.  Still today I find so much joy out of helping people.  The thing I didn’t realize, until I took a step back and looked hard at the situation, some of the people I was helping became grenade launchers.  They got comfortable with me catching their grenades and just expected I would without care for the timing or difficulty.

Here’s the real question, do I want this title?  It does give me a sense of being needed but that is far outweighed by the stress it gives me and my family.  The easy answer is No.  Okay, so how do I get rid of it?  Now, the hard work begins.  I have decided to take an almost microscopic look at my life, specifically the grenades that I handle. As each grenade comes, assessing:

Is this truly important for me to handle?

Would it be better if I let the launcher handle it?

Does the person I handle the grenade for appreciate it or are they taking advantage of me?

What could I be doing instead and does that have more value to me and my family?

The hard work begins today.  I started training a woman to take over a large volunteer position I held for the past 2 ½ years.  She was enthusiastic but despite the time I was taking to go through the process with her, she continued to try to throw (a grenade) more work back on me to simplify the training for her.  For example, I was showing her step by step how to go through a part of the job.  About ¾ of the way through she says, “You’re going to write all these steps down for me, right?”  My response usually would have been something like, of course I will.  But today I swatted that grenade away and said as nicely as I could, “Well, I think this would be a good time for you to jot down things so that it will best help you remember the process.”  It wasn’t easy but I did it!  It’s a small victory but I feel the more of these I have, the easier it will be to get rid of my title.

Finally, I have decided to keep a diary as I go through this process.  It will give me a reference of my achievements and stumbles along the way.  My ultimate goal is achieving a balance in my life of giving to those that I love without giving my sanity.  I’ll let you know how it goes…