Wednesday, July 2, 2014

3 Things That Keep Me Sane

When Cory and I finally make it to bed, it's usually already tomorrow. I've been this way for, oh, at least 25 years. I'm a night owl. A morning dreamer.

Sometimes it catches up with me in the form of scrutinizing the day ahead of me, combing it for the possibility of a nap. It doesn't matter that I almost never actually take one, it just helps to know I could if I wanted to. In theory.

I mean, it's messy. It doesn't make a lot of sense and there are a hundred different times I wish I'd been wired like a normal person. Alas.

I want to be organized and buttoned-up. I want to be that mom, task-oriented and scheduled. I tried for years.

But then I realized it actually caused me more stress than it curbed.
I'm a spicy mama, and this? Our spicy home.

We're mild spicy. If we were green curry, we'd be a four, which is pretty dang hot if you're a non-Thai lady, but also no cause for fire extinguishers.

Our home rockets wildly between tidy and the kind of disorder that inspires my four-year old neighbor to sniff, "It's a mess in there."  (Come ON, Yahir. It was laundry day! Cut me a little slack. Jeez.)

There are a few, teensy weensy things that have proven to bring order to my wonky life. They often align right around the first of the month.

First, we do our budget. Every single month. For the past 9 years.
Getting paid monthly has it's down-sides (see end of month near-starvation and general edginess), but it does make it easier to know exactly how much you have coming in, and exactly how much you have going out.

There have been times, over the years, that we've ended up in bi-monthly pay situations, but in our minds, it's easier to think of it all as one lump sum of cash.

Across the financial hilltops and valleys of our marriage, this budget has saved us. Now, making less than we have made since our second year of marriage, it shows us that everything is going to be alright. Or it'll at least be close enough.

Besides, next month? A clean slate.

I love that. (Clean slate carrot dangles on the end of the string only if you spend less than you earn!)

Second, I make a menu plan.

Or not.

But it's always so much nicer when I do. It simplifies life, gives me one less thing to lose track of or flake out on. This tends to happen when I'm in a more cookish mood, which happens to be occurring right now.

Here's my menu for this week:

Sunday - Grilled hot dogs with cabbage slaw
Monday -Greek Quinoa Salad
Tuesday - BBQ Chicken and Avocado Quesadillas (but with red onion and jalapenos added)
Wednesday - Tomatillo-Braised Chicken Thighs, Corn, Melon
Thursday - 5-Spice Beef and Broccoli, rice
Friday - Thai Quinoa Salad (around the world with quinoa!!!)
Saturday - Fish tacos with mango salsa and purple cabbage, black beans

I also planned to make:
Blueberry Coconut Pecan Breakfast Cookies (GF!)
Carrot Zucchini Apple Bread
Fresh Cherry Tart

Breakfast is usually peanut butter toast, whole grain frozen waffles with PB, homemade egg McMuffins with ham, smoothies, or cereal.

Lunch is Fend For Yourselves, which usually involves left-overs, but sometimes Ramen noodles. Once a week we try to meet Dad for lunch for $1 tacos or at the pizza joint that gives jail employees a ridiculous discount.

This works for me because it helps me keep my food budget in check when I shop for groceries ($500/month for food, toiletries, cleaning stuff)  and we eat out less (separate budget) because I have a plan and boatloads of produce and meat that'll spoil if we forget about them. It also helps me retain my mind and morale since cooking is cheap, edible therapy for me, especially when I'm here with all of the peoples for all of the days.

The last important thing I do is wipe the calendar and get a start fresh. Nothing feels better than seeing a clean expanse of white. Helps me breathe. It doesn't stay that way for long, but it's a great mental re-set for me, and I'm reminded that almost all the things that fill our days are good things. If they weren't? We would chuck 'em.

There you have it. All my tricks, and I do mean all, except for the one about my elbows bending backwards, but that lost its cool factor somewhere around 1989.

PS - Word has it my blog has been raised up from the dead. Hallelou! Technology is such a brat, sometimes.