Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rainy days and Thursdays. . .

Rainy, rainy Halloween here this year.  All day it has drizzled and sprinkled and misted.  And I had to run errands rapido because the kids got out of school at one o'clock today.  So little K and I were in and out, in and out of many a store in less-than-stellar shopping conditions.

And quicker than you could say bad hair day, my hair looked as if I had stuck my finger in a light socket.  It was crazy large, frizzy and wavy.  I had skimped on the straightening time this morning, though it wouldn't have mattered.  The humidity would have made quick work of my efforts anyway.  I began entering doorways sideways.  I think I could have easily starred in a horror movie.

Now we're home and we're into day one of token usage.  So far I have removed two tokens from naughty boys. . .but the day is still young.  My hair is back in a (giant) ponytail and I am getting ready to get down to business.  The business of dressing children in Halloween costumes to go beg for candy from the neighbors.  We will be debuting a garden gnome, a Pokemon trainer (in a costume I find rather lacking), a football player and some sort of Kingdom Hearts character.  My oldest is hanging out with a friend, because soliciting neighbors for candy feels a bit too juvenile for a 13 year old.  We are planning to use umbrellas to ward off the deluge and then just hope for the best.  It's warm, the kids are young, and hey - free candy is taking a bit more effort this year.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Starting tomorrow, my husband and I are hoping to see better behavior in our boys.  How, you ask?  Well, here is our plan:

Years ago when my children took naps and Dr. Phil made cameos on Oprah, I heard him talk about currency.  As in "What is your child's currency?  What is most important to your child?"  And I'm sorry to report, around here, all three of our boys' currency is screens.  TV, DS, Wii, computer, my iPhone, iPad, iPod. . .you get the idea.  Using some sort of electronic device is almost always what they would choose to do with their free time.  In the summer our guidelines were pretty strict, but since school has started, mommy hasn't been policing it well enough and sometimes the screen usage is a wee bit more than I'd like to admit in writing.  

SO!  Screens are the currency, and tokens are the ticket.  We have decided to allow the boys to earn tokens (each worth a half hour of screen time) by showing good behavior.  They can use up to one hour a day (after their lists are finished after school) and save extras for the future.  If they are not behaving, we will take a token away.  

We are hoping to a) encourage the boys to be kinder to each other, b) nip bad behavior in the bud, c) scale way back on screen time, which often contributes to their bad behavior in the first place, and d) keep a shred of our sanity.  

I'd really like to accomplish a-d, but if pressed, I would be happy to settle for d.  If I indeed do not lose my mind, I'll try to post preliminary results of this new disciplinary plan.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Horrors

I am not a fan of Halloween.

I said it.  Does that make me un-American?  Anti-kid?  Against creativity and mindless chocolate eating?

Well, sue me.  I am not a fan.  Except about the mindless chocolate consumption.  I am a big fan of that.  

But the rest of it?  No thanks.

A few reasons to back up my statement:

Costumes, oh the costumes.  Need I say more?  I am cheap and unbelievably uncreative, so helping my children decide what to wear for Halloween taxes every aspect of my personality.  They tend to want store bought costumes, which I hate and refuse to spring $15-20 apiece for, so we have to come up with something ourselves.  Except I am not crafty or creative, so this is a big hurdle.  I suggest the easiest things I see on Pinterest, but the kids are not interested.  They want to wear all black and be a ninja.  Or flip their hair a lot and be a rock star.  This translates into a pack of kids walking around the neighborhood basically looking like they have no costumes at all, and begging for candy.  The neighbors love us.

The pumpkins.  Carving pumpkins is messy, disgusting, smelly and dangerous.  And did I mention messy?  The kids come up with crazy intricate ideas for their pumpkins, and I'm all like "How about triangle eyes and a circle nose?".  But no. . .they want extremely specific characters.  Luckily, my husband comes through with all the artistic skills I lack and helps the kids create jack-o-lanterns like these:

Jack Skellington, a flower, a traditional jack-o-lantern,
a Pokemon character and Sonic the Hedgehog

So while I am jamming the knife into my youngest daughter's pumpkin (who was the only one who allowed me to carve hers - she is too young to know how wretched I am at this) and yelling for all the kids to keep their distance lest I fling the knife out and hurt someone, my husband is calmly carving Sonic the Hedgehog and a Pokemon character.  Sigh. 

And creepy spiders and ghosts and ghouls decorating my house?  No thanks.  I'll stick to happy fall decor, like pumpkins and gourds and leaves and all manner of orange things.  

Last but not least, the Halloween candy.  Finally, this miserable holiday redeems itself.  Enormous bowl-fuls of chocolate on my counter?  This is a tradition I can support.

Perhaps Halloween isn't all bad, after all.   

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Why is it that blog posts in bullet form are becoming the norm for me?  Am I not able to produce a singe-focus post these days?  Apparently not, because here comes anotha one, in short-attention-span bullet points:

  • We bought a new car!  (read:  an '08, with 100,000 miles on it).  But we all love it!  It's a red suburban, with 9 seats and a DVD player!  The kids were beside themselves with joy and I had to put the kibosh on watching a movie every. single. time. we are in the car.  They got over their letdown and now are content in fighting over who sits in which seat.  I, on the other hand, am getting over my severe qualms about driving the huge thing.  It is wider than the (already big) Astro, and longer too, so it is an adjustment.  I think I have perfected the 16-point-parking-space-exit, with hopes to soon be able to enter a parking garage.  Baby steps.  
  • My eldest daughter and one of my sons were in our local production of Annie Get Your Gun over the weekend.  It was a great show, with lots of talent and spectacular sets and costumes.  My daughter was a socialite, complete with a dance number and line and mic!  She looked beautiful and did a fabulous job.  My son was adorable as a cowboy (I might be prejudiced about the good looks of my children - don't judge!) and tried his very hardest to do his best.  That being said, he was the most active cowboy on the stage.  He wandered around the group of cowboys, vying for a better view of Annie and Frank during the shootout scenes.  He spent several moments reaching out and touching Sitting Bull's elaborate headdress.  Dear reader, my heart was pounding every time he was on the stage!  I was so worried he would cause a scene, pull the headdress off the chief, get into a scuffle with another cowboy, you name it!  At one point when he was reaching out to touch the headdress, I actually said his name quietly (from the upstairs mezzanine).  It was involuntary!  I was desperate to redirect him and tell him to stand still.  Our family thought it was hilarious, but I must admit, I just found it terrifying!  Thankfully, the show ended without incident and both daughter and son had a wonderful time.  And my heart began beating normally again.  
  • My littlest K got a game of Old Maid (full disclosure: as a kids' meal toy from Chick-fil-A) the other day and she and I and various family members have enjoyed playing it with her.  For probably the first 10 games, though, every time she got stuck with the Old Maid at the end, she would say, "I got the Old Navy!".  I abdicate all responsibility in that.  
  • My husband will not be home for dinner tonight and the children are super excited.  Not because they don't love their father, but because if Daddy isn't home, they think they will get a "fake dinner".  As in, Mommy won't really cook (because apparently that is a horrible prospect!) and they can have macaroni or cereal or chicken nuggets.  And you know what?  Tonight they're right!
  • We have converted from the Budgetary Smackdown to what I am fondly calling the Freedom Budget.  The kids think my names for things are super cool by the way (do you believe that?).  We are entering a building project at church and are participating in the campaign, so we are actually operating with less, but I feel like we have more!  I remind the children we are free to choose what we spend our money on.  We are free to make smart decisions and the like.  The kids are not really buying it, because to them it boils down to:  fewer McDonald's trips (actually none so far) and not getting what they want whenever they want it (which they have never experienced anyway!).  However, we feel good about our new budget, and I hope the kids will someday see it was a good experience.

I must end this post now and begin preparing our fake dinner!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Seven things I'm lovin' right now

In no particular order:

Little K's delight over her new days-of-the-week undies.  She is loving choosing the right undies for the right day.  Bonus - she's learning and stylish at the same time!

The cooler weather.  Fall seems to have finally arrived! Now if only winter wouldn't follow. . .

My 12 year old's handsome face.  We got his confirmation pictures back finally (because I was incredibly slow in getting them ordered) and I love them.   I may or may not have hugged him too exuberantly when I was looking at them.

Children without fevers.  Little K seems to be on the upswing today, thankfully!

Aldi-brand Velveeta.  Gird yourselves, readers.  Some of you may cringe at what you're about to read.  Yes, I had to buy some Velveeta (so of course I bought Aldi's version) for a recipe last week, and yes, last night I enjoyed some salsa-cheesy goodness with tortilla chips.  If eating it was wrong, I don't wanna be right!

Budgets!  We have tweaked ours and it is a beautiful thing!  I know it sounds crazy, but I love the freedom it gives me, and the challenge to make it all work each pay period.

Our church family.  We are embarking on a new church building campaign, and I have been amazingly inspired by so many people as we all reflect on how our church is our family.  What a blessing to be here, in this place, at this time!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday Smile

I looked down this morning during coffee and donut hour (which is, in fact, not the most important part of Sunday mornings, we often have to remind our sugar-lovin' children) at my son's feet.

And got a nice view of two different flip flops.

Yep.  My son wore mismatched flip flops to church.  You win some, you lose some.  I didn't happen to remember to check his feet before we left for church, but, on the bright side, I did remember to bring him and all his siblings.

Big picture, people.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Bits and Pieces

Overheard yesterday:

"I hate piano!" says one boy.

"I'm with ya brother!" says another boy.

Sigh.  I wish for solidarity between my boys.  Must it come at the expense of my favorite instrument?

Yesterday was Old Navy's stuff and save sale.  That means the whole store was 40% off.  Do you know how much I spent?  $2.

Yes, you read that right.  I showed impressive restraint and bought one item.  Of course, that one item was valued at $30, was on sale, then the 40% off, then I had a five dollar coupon.  BUT STILL!  I passed by so many things, dear reader, that would have been fabulous deals.  Items that really wanted to take up residence in my closet.  But we are still in a modified budgetary smackdown, and while I seriously wanted many things, I didn't need any of them.  I left with my $2 top and immediately texted my husband, suggesting I receive a medal for my self-control.  I'm still waiting.

I showed the kids the Jimmy Fallon/Justin Timberlake hashtag clip on youtube yesterday morning.  That may or may not have been a mistake.  The rest of breakfast was spent saying hashtag before almost every word or phrase spoken.  #moretoastplease  #he'slookingatme  #where'smybackpack  #makehimstopmom  #brushyourteeth  #isittimeforschoolyet?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Organized Chaos

Since the start of school this year, I have had several mom friends ask me how I keep up with school and paperwork and homework and sports and lessons without losing my mind.

The quick answer - I don't!  My mind feels lost a good portion of the time, and I'm sure the kids will agree that mom is usually a few cards short of a full deck at any given point in time.

But - the long(er) answer is that I do have some procedures in place to keep that wee bit of sanity I have left intact.  Here's how I keep us afloat:

I have lists.  Every person, every day, every event, everywhere are lists!  I have a personal one with my chores/agenda listed, and the kids each have a list on the fridge with every day of the week listed and what they must accomplish each day after school.  When they get home from school (if nothing else is going on (ha!), they have about 45 minutes to unwind, watch TV, have a snack etc.  Then mom busts out the lists from the fridge and fun begins!  Their lists include the following:  laundry, homework, memory work, reading, practice instrument, take out trash, wipe down bathroom, make lunch for school etc.  They don't have all these chores every day, but if I don't write it down, it doesn't happen.  So each day is unique to each child.  This keeps me from nagging about individual chores.  I just point to the list and make sure everything is getting crossed off while I start dinner.  On a side note:  from about 3-8 pm each day, you can always find me IN THE KITCHEN.  Our kitchen and family room are one big room, so I can supervise much of what's going on while making dinner, assisting in lunch packing (in case a child gets a wild hair and tries to pack all desserts or something) or doing dishes.  Once the kids' lists are done, back on the fridge they go, and they can play outside or whatever they'd like until dinner and bedtime routine.

We also have morning lists.  I have a bunch of pre-printed slips of paper on the side of the fridge with all the things we need every morning (like sports clothes, instrument, snack etc.).  The first person to make his/her lunch after school usually gets one down.  Then the kids can make notes about what might need to be added to his/her lunch in the morning (hot item, frozen gogurt) or cross things off that will not be needed the next day.  I can also make notes on it about what might additionally need to be remembered in the morning (for instance, this morning some fundraising money had to be turned in).

Whew!  It sounds nice and organized, doesn't it??  Usually it works well, but it's not always perfect!  I still somehow miss things or send a child to school without something he/she needs, but it definitely helps free my mind of all those little details.  So that I can fill it with more important things.  I'm not sure what those things are.  But my mind is nice and open and ready, whenever I figure it out.