Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On Time???

I have found a miracle way to get the kids to school on time!  It’s so simple no one would ever think of it unless they came upon it by accident as I did. Here’s the trick:  do not be involved in the “go to school” process.  Let them take care of themselves.  Ha!  There it is.

We were getting the truck fixed and I had to drive Steve to work after dropping the truck off at the shop.  I told the kids to leave when the timer went off.  I was able to get back home fast enough that I could have driven them and they still would have been on time.  But they were already there, standing out in the cold with their noses dripping and their ears bright red from the cold.  But they were there.  

I told them to zip their coats, but they are too cool for that already.  I walked over to them in the line and started zipping for them.  By all appearances their mother was dutifully caring for them that morning. They all had their hair combed and wore shoes that matched and were weather appropriate.  Miracles happen.  Sigh. 

The real miracle was that I got organized and dressed them before I left.  They walked around the house for a full 45 minutes waiting for the timer to go off.  Then they ran to school hoping they would not be late.  Whatever.  It worked!

Now, here I am a day or so later, running behind schedule.  I decided to shower after the kids were in school so I wouldn’t make them any later.  I can’t find my shoes.  I can’t find a hair brush.  Time ticks away as I search endlessly.  I must comb my hair within the hour!  I continue searching.  Giving up at my wit’s end I finally look in the bathroom drawer.  Oh.  I put the hairbrush away where it belongs.  Ugh!  I never look there!  Why would anything be where it belongs?  How can I blame or punctuality problem on the kids when I can’t handle myself and they are all at school on time without my help?

I begin counting the many ways I waste time.  At least I don’t have the television begging for my attention like we have in the past.  Sometimes we were ready “on time” but turned on the TV.  It made us very late.  TV is a weird thing; so fascinating, yet such a waste. 

Someone I know was telling me about their fabulous television that they bought this week.  It was such a great deal!  It used to be over $1000 and now it sells for $800.  I said, “Next year it will only be $500.”  She didn’t think that was funny.  I should be congratulating her on her find and spending savvy.  But seeing how we loved our hand-me-down TV’s for the first 16 years of married life, she was talking to the wrong person. 

The television we got for Christmas is the first TV we have ever bought.  Last year I had one with me as I stood in line at Wal-Mart for Black Friday. I stressed over it all night long but bought it anyway.   After I got home I continued to stress over it.  It was not a need.  It was not in the budget.  Hubby would be so surprised!  But I was too self conscious and guilty.  The thought of how many meals I could buy for the same price haunted my night mares until I finally returned the TV.  I took it back! 

Yes, I am crazy.  That’s been well established before right?

So, she was raving about this TV and telling me how bad she felt for spending the money but that it was such a great deal.  Wrong person to ask for moral support.

Then I went home and found the coupon I have.  Oh NO!  It expires this weekend!  I better go buy something!  Do I need it?  No.  Do I have the money for it? Not really, especially since I have to buy new tires today. Yet, I still “need” to buy the stuff that will be on the fantastic sale! 

That wonderful “budget” thing we had going has so gone out the window.  We almost made it one whole month before I realized despite my patching the holes in the pants, there are kids with holes in the bottoms of their shoes, the truck needed to be fixed and have new tires, and the kids STILL want to eat all the time.  Sheesh.  Sometimes it would be nice to live in ignorance and not know that we didn’t pass the safety inspections and just carry on with life.

On the other hand, what fun would it be if we actually got everything we wanted?  Boring.  Predictable.  Expected.  Life with kids is not any of those.  For that matter, life without kids is not predictable. 

Brenden has told me that when he is older, like 110 years old and an adult, he will still not understand girls.  Some things never change, and some things never stay the same.  I am cherishing the time I have with family today, with or without a functioning budget.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reaching towards the goals

Here I sit in my pleasantly comfy home while listening to the sirens of yet another accident – I hope – related to the recent snow storm, feeling like superwoman!

For the first time that I can remember, perhaps ever, we have made a budget plan and it worked out to equal possible.  There was enough money on paper for everything I could think of with ten dollars left over.  Could it really be possible?  Could we actually save ten dollars a month towards having a vacation or something?  Perhaps when the next vehicle breaks down we will have money to cover it?  The truck has been getting a bit moody lately.  But my mind screams no!  There must be something missing!  Did we remember to feed ALL six children?  We can’t possibly have a positive balance in the budget.

We decided to sleep on it and wait for the revelation to present itself.  Low and behold, it did!  This weekend as I was counting the pairs of pants with holes in the knees (eleven!), I looked at the bank account and decided that no, we do not have enough money to clothe all of the children.  Feed them, yes.  Clothe them, maybe not. 

If I could find jeans for ten dollars each, I still have over a hundred dollars sitting here with holes in the knees.  So, I decided to begin mending them.  I unstitched the leg seams of a few pants.  It took forever!  I had to keep reminding myself, this will save me one hundred dollars.  This will save me one hundred dollars.  After the third pair, I was done for the night. 

This morning Stephen was walking around in his underwear.  “I have no pants that aren’t wet or have holes in them!”  (Wet from playing in the snow yesterday.)

Aha!  I have a pair ready for repair.  I managed to complete it, with it being wearable and the kids were still on time!  Apparently the most difficult part is the seam splitting and winding the bobbin.  (My machine requires careful taping to wind the bobbin correctly) I even combed their hair before they left.  The rest of the day can be rotten and it will still be a great day because of my great morning!

Otherwise, I wish I had the dedication and drive that my children often do.  Stephen saw an ad in the paper for yarn.  Last year he learned how to “knit” a hat.  He completed one with my help and began another on his own.  The second was still waiting for him to complete it.  When he saw the sale, he asked to make a deal with me.  “If I finish the one today will you take me to choose my own yarn tomorrow?” 

Sure, what would it hurt for me to say okay to that?  It has been incomplete for months.  Well, he finished it and the first thing out of his mouth the next morning was, “Remember what we’re doing today?” followed less than an hour later with, “Remember our deal?”

When I told him he had to do a chore first, he did it!  Then he wanted to leave right away.  “Don’t you want lunch first?  I am cooking it right now.  It’s almost done.”

“No.  Let’s go get the yarn!”

Needless to say he took his time trying to choose the very best yarn.  (Since I limited his options to less than the 25 he wanted.  I allowed him to get three since they were on a good sale and I am saving hundreds of dollars by mending our pants.)   He now has about 7 inches of a scarf. 

Dallas is mad that knitting gets in the way of playing.  I wish it was easier to get him to eat dinner.  And Marek sits patiently next to Stephen watching and “helping” him knit by slowly pulling the yarn out of the bundle as Stephen needs it.  Evan and Brenden are oblivious to the knitting issue, but Lily can’t wait to try it on. 

Who is it for?  “Whosoever might need it.”  That’s right.  He is simply making the scarf and hats for the sake of making them.  He tried to choose gender neutral colors so that he could give them to the homeless shelter or the Festival of Trees (the local children’s hospital charity) 

I want to be like my kids when I grow up.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Does physical exercise equal brain power?

Today marks the third day in a row that I have officially exercised, as in gone to the fitness center and worked out.  Whew!  I have heard that exercise is good for your mood and brain as well as the rest of your body.  More exercise is supposed to result in better sleep and increased memory functioning, so I’ve heard.  Well, here are my results so far.  I have had less than 5 hours of sleep each night since Monday.  I was getting closer to six before that. Although I must admit I probably have a better attitude, I cannot for the life of me remember what day it is!  

Monday I was frantic trying to get Stephen’s homework project (major project) complete.  Our printer is broken so I emailed stuff to hubby at work, begging him to print it.  I called to be sure he got the message and everything was turning out fine.  After dinner we settled in to face the long night, planning to stay up till midnight if necessary to complete the project.  Then Stephen said, “Oh, yeah.  That’s not due till next week.”  Well, goodnight!

Tuesday I rushed home from the grocery store.  I had taken too much time shopping and the older two kids were home from school alone.  I didn’t know if they had a key or not since our last visitor borrowed it. She left it here, but I don’t know if it actually got back into the backpack where it belongs.  I was also concerned we were going to be at least ten minutes late for cub scouts.

I pulled in the driveway and the neighbor girl was there waiting for us.  “Can they play?”

“No.”  I said, honking the horn.  The boys had not even tried to go inside.  They both came running from the back yard.  I hollered, “Hurry get in!”

Girl says, “Why?”

“Because we’re leaving.  Hurry!  Get in boys!”

Girl: “Where are you going?”

“Bye, hurry up!  Close the door!”

“But, where are you going?  Can they play later?  Can’t any of them play?”


I start driving down the street before they had their seat belts on, leaving said neighbor standing in our driveway. I felt bad for being rude, but we were so late!  Wasn’t it obvious we were trying to leave?  My frustration was curbed by the boys' happy demeanor.  They didn’t seem to care about anything at all.  Then they asked, “Where are we going Mom?”

“We’re late to cub scouts.”

“That’s not until tomorrow.”

“Oh, well, I guess we are just driving around the block.”

So, when the PTA called and asked, very apologetic for the short notice, if I could help at the school “tomorrow” I thought who in the world can help with less than 24 hours notice?  Well, I have no idea what day it is or what other obligations I have “tomorrow” so I may as well.   Who knows if I would be busy “Next week”?

This might be why my husband got me a giant desk calendar for Christmas.  I have heard that your projects are only as good as your tools.  Well, I would change that to how well you use your tools!  Yesterday the kids reminded me that you are supposed to check off the days of the week as they pass.  We checked five days and discovered that today is Lily’s second day of dance lessons. It might also help if I wrote a few more things on it.  (Happy birthday to all those in January!  Sorry if I missed it, hope it was great!)

After three days of exercise I can say, yes! I feel much better, much healthier.  But do I have a better sleep experience?  No.  Can I think more clearly?  Absolutely not.  Am I bored of the tread mill?  Completely. 

Luckily we have an X BOX Kinect.  I was playing Dance Central with the kids and discovered you can track your calories burned.  The kids asked about it and Dallas was real excited, “You should do that Mom!” 

Afterwards we sat to watch a movie. (We got a new TV and games for Christmas so it was the thing to do.)  Evan sat on my lap and said, “I can feel you getting skinnier already!” 

Kids are awesome!  I highly recommend them when moral support and brutal honesty are required.  Exercise is great, but the XBOX is much more X-citing.  Will exercise improve memory function?  Time will tell.  Maybe you need to work more than three days to see the results.   Otherwise, we are meeting our deadlines and being punctual much more lately. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!

For Christmas we received a bunch of games (like card games or board games, the old fashioned kind) which lend themselves perfectly to our tradition of playing games all night on New Year’s Eve.  (We also took our kids downtown for the Salt Lake City’s EVE)  So far we still have all the pieces, which is more than I can say for any games that we had previously.  It’s a great beginning to the year!

After we walked around down town, nearly lost Lily in the Bouncetown, decided that the idea of “art” really is subject to interpretation that may or may not be appropriate for children, and complained about it being too loud (imagine that, we complain about noise? Ha!) we found ourselves in the famed “Ball Room”.  This is a giant room filled with 2012 beach balls of varying sizes.  No, I did not count them, nor did my children.  They just advertized it that way.

Last year the giant balls, about 8 feet in diameter, were silver and the person rolling the ball had no idea what was on the other side.  Brenden was rolled over several times.  We expected the kids to be bigger enough to move out of the way this year.  However, the big balls were clear this time.  Apparently that makes them less intimidating and we still got plowed.  Even Stephen was complaining about the big teenager kids rolling him over! 

So, while I had one kid crying and another was approaching with tears down their cheeks I decided it was time to enforce a rule.  Stay near the edges of the room!  The center near the DJ is full of older folks, most of the balls, and throbbing darkness.  (Yes, Lily almost got lost there too.)  The new rule only took the edge off the pain.  We took it for an hour or two and found ourselves home before 10:00.  That was perfect timing to get the tired ones to bed and the others could move on to playing our games.

One of the games is called “Would You Rather”.  It gives you questions that each player votes on and if the votes match, it determines how many moves you get to take on the board.  When Steve read this question, he showed it to me to prove that he was not making it up, “Would you rather have the power to fly or poop rose petals?”  Of course since it has the “p” word in the question, we all knew what Dallas would choose.  But he is smart enough to know that we all knew what his answer would be.  He tricked us and won the game!

Although I was struggling to stay awake, these questions had us laughing loud enough to keep me awake. Questions like: Would you rather hear every cell phone ring in your neighborhood, or smell every fart in the neighbor hood?  Would you rather have a car that runs on happy thoughts but leaves poop, or have a car that runs on poop and leaves negative thoughts?  How about having your face on the ten dollar bill or your butt on the one dollar bill?  My personal favorite; Would you rather belch green mist or fart confetti?  Fart confetti please.

I thought this would be an interesting game but I had no idea it was so kid friendly!  All the things I keep trying to get them to stop talking about… sigh. I can kiss all those “manners” I’ve been nagging them about goodbye.  This was a great game, but I know MY mother would never approve of it.

So far all my resolutions are working out.  Day one (officially since there was no school before).  It would be better if I would write them down, so here they are.  Of course number one for most of the USA is to get in better shape.  I would like to be early to everything and beat all deadlines.  I want to blog more and to be more reliable.  Spend more time with the kids and family, and get the house organized.  (As my husband says, make every room in the house “usable”)  That’s about it for now. Let’s make it a great year!